Sunday, May 11, 2014

Four Ways to Make the Workday Smoother

Image Credit: Free

I absolutely love my work. I get to help people for a living, and work in an office full of upbeat, creative people who care about our patients and clients. But sometimes, I get a little burnt out. I feel the weight of others' suffering, or get discouraged because I don't meet some of my goals or my plans seem a long way from completion. The patient with the easy-to-treat problem does not improve, or the printer refuses to work when I absolutely need to print out a form.

In the natural health world, we often focus on the "soft skills" or actions that build health. Rather than recommend a dramatic treatment, we advise the people who come to see us to adopt simple strategies to give their minds and bodies room to grow health. I have adapted those strategies to my workday. Here are some tips that help me get back on track when discouragement sets in:

  1. Start with the right thoughts. Every morning, I read. A lot. I read sections from the Bible, articles on relationship and books on living your purpose and goals. Poetry, scripture, affirmations, inspirational books can also put you in a good frame of mind to start your day.
  2. Exercise. I am not a great athlete. For a long time, my health left me exhausted after even moderate exercise, and I'm only just now challenging the idea that I cannot do vigorous activities. But I know the importance of movement, both for physical health, and for emotional well-being. So I do lots of little exercise as often as I can. I wander around the neighborhood where I work and a local botanical garden. I stretch, or spend five minute intervals doing small muscle-building exercises. Not as much as I need to, yet, but I'm improving. And guess what I've noticed? The days I do more little intervals of exercise, the happier and more productive I am. 
  3. Meditate. Taking a moment or two to calm your mind will minimize anxiety, improve brain function and help you make more thoughtful decisions, improve your endocrine function, and help your heart health. Even if you only meditate for a minute every couple of hours, you will find yourself more calm and able to handle challenges more easily. This website has great one-minute meditations.
  4. Show gratitude. Thank the people around you for the wonderful things they do. Keep a gratitude journal. Look for things to enjoy and that make you thankful. Gratitude has tons of health benefits, and also encourages positive action. So jot down things that you appreciate. And tell those around you that you appreciate them--share the good feeling!
These four points are not rocket science, but they will keep you in a better mood. Burnout is hard to deal with and miserable to experience, so taking simple steps to prevent hating your daily routine makes sense. Please share your tips below.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Action Heroes Have Incidents

Photo Credit: Bizior

I saw the latest Captain America movie while family was visiting last week. Poor Cap. Without giving away the plot, let's just say all his fancy serums, shield, and let's face it, pretty amazing looks, did not keep him from falling on his face here and there as he saved the world. He used all his talents, but still managed to wreck half the cars in Washington, DC, suffer emotional losses, and have problems he might have avoided if he had made better decisions earlier in the movie.

Thinking about the movie brought a surprising realization. When I do things like Captain America, I usually feel like a failure.  If my plans don't follow an orderly sequence, if each step does not end in an uncomplicated success, I see it as "bumbling," even if I get the final result I wanted.

Do you do the same thing? Do you assume your action-adventures are less-than-perfect if you have incidents? Even if no buildings were destroyed, or killer robots unleashed, or evil geniuses allowed to escape, do you consider a project a failure if it has a setback? Think about the super heroes and action heroes. They get parades and medals and accolades for their successes, even if by the time the movie is over, most of a planet is destroyed. Maybe reaching your goal, or learning good lessons from not reaching it, is worth a pat on the back--especially if you didn't have to change the space-time continuum to get to where you are now.