Month: June 2013

Burnout syndrome – Causes and Cure

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Someone who has a job nowadays is considered lucky and even luckier if he has a job that he loves and meets his expectations. Work is creation, it is a means of survival, is necessary in order to improve our quality of life and the completion of our personality but it is also painful, tiring and sometimes… unhealthy.

The working conditions of workers have improved compared to several years ago, but work continues to adversely affect our mental and physical health.

High demands, the continuing assignments of responsibilities, competition, the workload, the exhaustive time schedule, in some cases bad HR management, the low wages could lead to the burn-out syndrome.

In the mid ‘ 70s the term burn-out was used for the first time in the U.S.A to describe a professional pathology characterized by rapid consumption of energy and reduce work performance.

It occurs with greater frequency in those who work in the social sector (doctors, nurses, social workers, etc.). However, apart from health care professionals, in recent years more and more people are facing this syndrome.

Today, the working day of 10 hours and its extension because of mobiles, laptops, E-mails, SΜS, is something standard to the average ambitious 40year old.

Βurn-out is a wake up call that warns of the need for mental and physical rest, but also of a review of priorities and, more generally, the attitude to life.

What leads to Burn-out

  • High demands and workload.
  • The lack of recognition and reward of our professional skills and performance.
  • The lack of decision control.
  • The delegation of heavy responsibilities.
  • A bad relation with the manager.
  • A bad relation with the co-workers.
  • Monotonous work.
  • Exhaustive time schedule.
  • Lack of meritocracy.
  • Unsatisfactory financial rewards.

Indirectly this condition may be additionally worsened by other factors at work which exacerbate the stress, such as:

Bad lighting

Poor lighting, which affects our productivity, can cause headaches, eye strain, irritable intensity, discomfort, stress.

Noise

Workers exposed to sources of high noise of 90 db (decibels) were less productive, according to research.

In addition, employees who are obliged to undergo daily, for many hours and for many years, intense noise suffer from headaches, nausea, vertigo, fatigue, reduced wellbeing, insomnia, nervous outbursts and other psychosomatic reactions.

Loud noise also stimulates the nervous system, increasing blood pressure, heart rate and respirations causing stress.

Temperature

Working, especially outdoors, to a very high or low temperature and increased humidity levels, can be an important factor of discomfort, fatigue, stress, and other problems.

Are you perhaps a victim of it?

If you have one of the following symptoms, you could be on the verge of work overload or you may be already suffering from the syndrome.

Physical: Exhaustion, headache, digestive disorders, sleep problems (drowsiness, insomnia), hypertension, fast breathing, musculoskeletal pain, loss of libido, disorders of appetite (anorexia or increased appetite).

Psychological: Irritation, anorexia, feeling of worry, easily moved, guilt, apathy, grief, easily irritated, stress, negative mood, low self-esteem.

Behavior: Inability to concentrate, cyclothymia, unable to complete a job.

In addition to the conditions that usually lead us to this syndrome, the character plays an important role as well. People who are more prone to suffer from Βurn-out are ambitious, dutiful, hard working, competitive, and are looking for professional achievement.

Top 5 possible victims of the burn-out syndrome

Doctors and nurses

Executives and employees in high-technology companies

Air traffic controllers

Journalists

Advertisers

First on the list are health care professionals. The stress and the pain they are experiencing has occasionally become a topic of research to scientists.

The contact with pain and death, with patients and their relatives, night shifts, often the adverse conditions of work in public hospitals and in particular the high sense of responsibility can lead to professional exhaustion (Burn-out syndrome).

Work stress “breaks” the heart

A twelve year long research revealed that work stress kills. According to the conclusions of a  long study, those who are experiencing intense and chronic stress in their work area are facing up to 68% greater risk of suffering from a heart attack or angina since stress affects the very chemistry of the body.

Stressed workers who participated in the research showed the higher morning levels of cortisol in their blood. It was also noted that the relationship between stress and heart-related diseases is stronger for men and women under the age of 50.

Recovery plan

Psychologists and business coaches have one purpose: to restrict the brain burn out by:

  • Identify the factors that have contributed to the burn-out.
  • Limit what is or may become an outbreak of stress at your work.
  • Manage your working time more wisely.
  • Increase the hours you sleep. It is very important that you sleep adequately.
  • Do not take more responsibilities than you can.
  • Boldly claim what you deserve.
  • Let off steam by doing something that pleases you.

 

6 Ways to Maintain Your Mental Flexibility

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What is mental flexibility?

Mental flexibly refers to the ability to respond to situations in different ways and deal with new and potentially problematic situations in an effective way.  People who are mentally flexible have the ability to adapt to change, meaning that they are open minded and able to see other view points, they are capable of taking risks and cope well with uncertainty.

They are also generally able to learn from mistakes and come up with new ways to solve problems.  Mental flexibility usually means that a person can overcome a thought process or action that is habitual and do it in a new way with little difficulty.

How can it relate to your health and wellbeing?

Habits are a common part of life, and there is no doubt that developing them can have its advantages in some situations, for example healthy eating or exercise habits.  However, if your life is based around a series of inflexible habits and you do not have a flexible approach to them, this can lead to stress, tiredness and poor quality of life.

By being a little more relaxed with your routines and plans, your life can become much more varied and fun.  There are bound to be hurdles and obstacles that mean that even the best laid plans in life can go astray, and if you do not have the flexibly to deal with this type of disruption it can lead to unnecessary pain and stress.

By improving and maintaining a flexible mind you can improve your lifestyle and mental well-being in the same way that improving your physical flexibility helps your physical health.

6 Ways to improve and maintain mental flexibility

1. Analyze and evaluate your actions

By thinking about why you are doing everything you do, particularly the things that are habitual, you can determine if they are really necessary in your life, the positive effects they have on your life and if there is even a reason you are doing something.

Thinking about different ways to do something can make you more productive and there is always the chance that something that has become a habit is in fact not bringing any advantages to your lifestyle.  If this is the case, why not change it up and try different activities or ways of doing things on for size.

2. Look for areas where it is easy to give up control

Everybody has areas where they are more flexible than others.  When starting to try to improve your mental flexibility, look for areas where it is easier for you to sit back and see what happens rather than be in control.

This is a good way to see the benefits that you can find by being a little more flexible in your actions and eventually you may be inspired to relinquish control in areas where it is much more difficult for you.

3. Train yourself to be more flexible

If you have noticed certain habitual behaviors creeping into your life, try to keep yourself flexible by challenging these behaviors.  For example, if you always clean the house on the same day of the week, try doing it on a different day, or take a different route to work every day for a week, just to break the mold and practice dealing with change in a positive and flexible way.

4. Reward yourself for flexibility rather than perfection

When you feel you have stepped back from your normal instincts to take control and been flexible in a situation which is difficult for you, reward yourself with something you enjoy.  Throughout life, when we achieve perfection we are rewarded for it by praise, physical rewards for recognition.

This can lead to a mindset that makes it hard to settle for anything less than perfection.  By rewarding yourself when you have dealt with a situation in a flexible rather than a perfect way, you can reset the idea that only perfection justifies a reward.

5. Learn from your mistakes

When things go wrong, it is important to look at why it happened and what can be done to avoid such events or improve outcomes in the future.  People who carry on doing the same thing regardless of negative outcomes due to habit and inability to change are likely to be less effective in the workplace as well as outside the office and may suffer continually as a result of the same errors, all of which can lead to decreased mental wellbeing.

6. Look at things from others perspectives

By opening yourself up to other people’s ideas and mindsets you can change your whole way of thinking and experience new and exciting things both in work and life.  Even if your first reaction is to disagree with a particular point of view, think it over before you voice your opinion and open yourself up to the possibility that there may be something to gain from this other perspective.  This type of thinking can help you to take more risks, try new things and generally keep life exciting.

You could also try combining the two perspectives and trying to come up with a way that both can work together in harmony, again expanding your views and coming up with new solutions which can be particularly important in the workplace.

 

Make Your Dreams Reality

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The fulfillment of your dreams is in your hand! Some people may do anything to achieve their goals while others give up with the first difficulty. Nobody is born with a successful life; even the great personalities of history chased a chance in their life following their dreams with passion and dedication.

What can you do to fulfill your dreams? These 10 tips can get you in the right path…

1. What’s your real motive?

Many of the greatest achievements in the world were made by insecure people, i.e. people who had to prove something to the society. They had such a strong desire for change and the word “failure” was not in their vocabulary. For example, Abraham Lincoln was a poor, illiterate boy, until he realized that he can do a lot more than that.

You need to understand your true motives and work when everyone else is asleep, be ready to make sacrifices and be committed to your ultimate goals.

2. There are no excuses

There are always two voices in our heads. The first tells us to work hard and concentrate on our work and the other to give up without a second thought. Stop looking for cheap excuses, beat your procrastination and look for opportunities that will bring you closer to your dreams. Do not forget that ‘when there is a will, there is also a way’.

3. Identify the true principles in your life

Everyone should know their true principles. One of the principles of Apple was to bring change in the world through innovation and it follows it until today. Determine what are the principles that guide you even in times when things are not going so well. Follow these principles at all cost, without making ‘discounts’ in your life.

4. Insist when others resign

Nobody knows when it will fulfill a dream. It may be tomorrow or ten years from now. You should never give up your dream. This is the difference between people who have succeeded in what they are doing and those who have not manage to do anything worth mentioning until now.

Just consider the fact that many people are recognized for their achievements after their death! Nobody knows when it will be the time to get what you deserve but at least you know that you have not given up your dreams.

5. Risks can take you to the top

Without taking risks, there is no reward! Those who have succeeded in life took a lot of risks to get there.  Talent is not enough; you also need to take risks and be ready to change your life and search for something better.

6. Money is not your motive

Money can be an incentive, a reward, but should not be considered your only motive. When you work hard for the sole purpose of making money you may succeed but you will not feel complete! The fulfillment of dreams does not mean a good salary, instead if you work hard and achieve your dreams the satisfaction to your soul is more valuable than any monetary reward.

7. Work from early morning to late evening

Without hard work you cannot fulfill your dreams. This, of course means that you need to find a balance between work, family and sociability. If you are to succeed, you must be “addicted” to your dream and be ready make short term sacrifices for long term success.

8. ‘Study’ can get you a step closer to your dream!

Mike Tyson was not a sports guy, but became what he is through a lot of practice! He watched all the movies related to his sport and worked his technique and succeeded.  What is the take away from Tyson’s story? If your dream is to become a writer then read lots of books, and if you’re in marketing then study everything about sales. Don’t expect that you will magically know everything without making effort.

9. Exercise to fill your brain with energy

If a car has no fuel, it cannot move! So is our body with energy. The more we have, the easier it is to improve the quality of work and our endurance. As stated by Richard Branson: «The key to success is fitness. This is the only way for blood to circulate quickly in our brain and concentrate more effectively on our dreams“. Put exercise into your life and increase your chances for success.

10. Do the right thing for yourself

We all have our moments of doubt and denial. The really successful people though believe strongly that they are doing the right thing for themselves. Even if they spend a few days full of worries, they know that have tried with all their might for their dream. We must never let the doubts take over your life and drive you away from your goals.

 

8 Tips to Organize Your Life Better

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Stress is everywhere, your to-do list is endless and the 24 hours of a day are not enough to satisfy the needs of your everyday life! If you are not in charge of your life you can easily get lost between work, family and personal “wants”. But if you can become a little more organized, you will notice that a day is enough to pursuit not only success, but also happiness. The following tips will help you organize your life better and find more time for pleasure.

1. Organize your office and home

The environment of your home or office can affect the way of living and thinking. Clean up the area and remove any unnecessary objects and items you do not need and try to keep the space clean and tidy.

If you tend to forget where you put things, try to put them in the same position every day. If you spend too much time finding what to wear, keep your clothes nice and tidy in the closet and you will save a lot of valuable time especially in the morning! In general identify activities that are time consuming and non-productive and try to find alternative ways to save time and become more productive.

2. Manage your time through reminders!

Use your diary or the calendar on your mobile to set reminders for the most important tasks.  Do this on a daily basis and schedule the day’s appointments, whether it is a business meeting, or a doctor’s appointment.

Write your pending tasks in an Excel sheet (or Evernote, Google Keep or any other tool you want) and keep a list, which you must update on a daily basis. This is the only way you will be able to maintain a schedule and become more organized.

3. Turn your important tasks… into habits!

When you repeat a task on a daily basis, you can turn it into a habit. If you do the same things every day, like for example making breakfast, checking your email, going to the supermarket, then you will definitely save time by doing these activities out of habit.  Daily organization will help you achieve even your most long-term objectives.

4. Stop using excuses

Instead of constantly making up excuses to yourself and others… try to get yourself together and make a fresh start. Stop complaining for example, that the day didn’t start off well and take responsibility.

If you do not have a schedule in your life, even unconsciously, then nothing will be completed within the day.

5. Minimize distractions

Mobile phones, television and the computer can distract your attention within a few seconds. Keep whatever disorganizes you away from your room and try to concentrate. Nobody said that organization is an easy thing but at least give it a fair chance…

6. Be realistic about your expectations

Perhaps, if you try for example to clean the entire house in one day… you won’t make it! But if you decide to clean one room at a time, then you will have time to do other things as well. It is important to have good judgment and be realistic about your expectations.

7. Outsource boring activities

If you don’t have the time to wash your clothes, take them to a cleaning service or hire someone who can wash and iron them.

If you hate a chore at home or at the office you can get help from a professional, so you will still have time for fun and inspiration. Don’t try to do everything yourself and make sure that you set your priorities correctly. If you had to choose between paying someone to do the garden so that you can go for a drink with friends or do the garden yourself, what would you choose?

8. Reward yourself

After completing a task that needed a lot of work and attention, reward yourself! When there is a reward at the end of a task, things get a bit easier.

 

How to Motivate Yourself to Excercise and Lose Weight

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Losing weight can be difficult and whilst it is easy to start on a weight loss program, it can be hard to follow through until you get the results you want.  In order to motivate yourself to keep up your exercise and lose weight, you may need to develop some tricks to focus yourself on what you want to achieve.  Here are some tips that may help to motivate you to get off the couch, kick start your weight loss and keep it going.

1. Set small, realistic goals

Large long term goals are overwhelming and often lead to dropping out or giving up.  Unrealistic weight loss goals are also likely to be de-motivators as they tend to cause frustration when you find it impossible to achieve what you set out to do.

In terms of exercise and diet for weight loss, a goal such as going to the gym at least three times a week for a month is much better than deciding to go every day for the next year as it is much less overwhelming and achievable.

Remember once you have achieved each small goal, you can set a new one, or increase the time.  Often something you have managed in the short term does not seem so out of reach for the long term if you have already achieved it for a while.

Being realistic is also important as if you set goals that you cannot achieve you will never feel that sense of achievement and success that motivates you to carry on.

2. Do something you enjoy

There is nothing worse than trying to motivate yourself to do something you hate.  It is much easier to find that motivation more often if you actually enjoy the activity, so when choosing your exercise regime, try to find something you love.

Exercise doesn’t always mean hitting the gym and pumping weights for hours on end, there are plenty of other options that burn calories, tone you up and get the heart going.  Investigate classes at your local gym such as body pump or pilates, or try a team sport or even dancing.  If you love being outside, spend more time hiking, running or riding a bike.

Even walking is an excellent form of exercise so get some friends together and go for a walk instead of a coffee, chances are you won’t even realise you are exercising.

3. Exercise with friends

Meeting up with friends to exercise is a great way to motivate yourself; as if you do not go you are letting someone else down as well as yourself.  Exercising with a friend can also be a great opportunity to catch up and can even encourage a little healthy competition that may make you push yourself more than you would alone, or force you to try new things that are outside your comfort zone but which can have benefits for your weight loss.

A good friend will also offer support and encouragement in times when the last thing you feel like doing is exercising.

4. Sign up for a class

Making a fixed commitment to a class can be more motivating that randomly exercising on your own.  For a start you will often have to pay for the privilege, which in itself can be motivating as you do not want to waste money, and secondly after a while the instructor or other members will notice if you do not attend.

Sometimes it is easier to just go to the class than explain why you haven’t been for three weeks for no good reason than that you just didn’t feel like it!

5. Use visual tools

Putting a picture of yourself when you were at your goal weight or a record of your weight loss in a prominent place can help you remember why you are putting in the effort and what you are trying to achieve.

Be realistic about this though, or it can have the opposite effect, for example putting a picture of yourself at 16 or of a 6 ft supermodel on the fridge is likely to cause more frustration than motivation when you are miles away from these ideals.

Tracking weight loss on a graph or table can also be motivating, although be aware that weight loss generally has plateaus and will not drop consistently.  If you are exercising, you may not even lose weight as you are gaining muscle mass, so think about more appropriate tools such as waist circumference or dress size to track your progress.

6. Reward your progress

If you achieve one of your goals, reward yourself with a special treat such as new clothes, a spa day or even a relaxing hot bath.  This will motivate you to set your next goal and achieve that too as you know that success will bring you something pleasurable. 

7. Talk about your weight loss goals

Discussing your weight loss goals with friends, family or your health professionals can be a good motivator as they are then aware of what you are trying to do and will notice if you are achieving it or not.  Knowing that others are looking at your progress will often encourage you to try harder, and it is always good to have the support of another person when you are struggling for motivation.

8. Join a support group

If you are really struggling to stay motivated with diet and exercise for weight loss, meeting with a team of likeminded individuals that are going through the same thing as you is a great way to get support and also to get new ideas for motivation. 

9. Look at what is stopping you losing weight and find solutions

If you sit down and make a list of the reasons that you cannot make healthy changes to your diet or exercise on a regular basis, sometimes it is easier to find a solution.  For example if time is an issue, think of ways you can exercise at home or during a break at work.  The internet is a great place to look for ideas to solve your problems as chances are there are many people out there with the same issues as you stopping them from losing weight.  Finding ways to make exercise easy is a key to staying motivated and keeping it up in the long term.

10. Add variety to maintain motivation

Monotony is boring and will not give you motivation to continue.  Not only this but in terms of exercise, it is thought that variety increases how effective your workout is.  If you find you are bored doing what you are currently, try something new to bring a little excitement to your day and push your body harder.

 

10 Ways to Express Your Self-Confidence

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There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words and this couldn’t be more true when it comes to body language and self-confidence. So far we have being talking about ways to improve your self-confidence but it is equally important to be able to express and demonstrate your self-confidence to others.

Imagine yourself entering a room filled with people. Even before you speak, your image, your attitude, your movements and even facial expression will “witness” a lot about you. Self-confidence and comfort are not expressed only when we speak, but by how we sit, stand and behave.

10 secrets to avoid (or use) for expressing your self confidence

1. Do not put hands in pockets.

It shows that we do not feel comfortable or are not sure for ourselves, where we are and what we want. It is a logical move to want to hide our hands when we feel frustration. What you can do instead is to try to stick your hands on your hips.

2. Do not put your hands in your mouth.

This is the most obvious sign of irritation. Even if you feel overpowering desire to do, consider that everyone is looking at you and avoid it.

3. Always looks straight.

Do not lower the gaze in front of anyone; they are not superior from you. Always look up and straight and engage with other people with determination and a smile.

4. Keep an upright position.

When you are standing, watch your attitude. Stay upright with your shoulders back, even when you are reading. The upright position implies that you are not afraid of anything.

5. Walk in big steps.

The proper way to walk indicates a person who knows what he/she wants. Make sure you are walking with big but steady steps even if it is slower than what you used to.

6. Learn how to handshake with confidence

When someone extends their hands for a handshake, do not be afraid to do it. Grasp the hand across your palm and tighten it so that you both feel the contact and move up and down two to three times. Leave the other to choose when to disengage from the handshake. Also it is important, while handshaking to look the other person in the eye.

7. Watch your hairstyle.

The hairstyle, length and cleanliness of your hair are among the first things the other person will notice, regardless of gender. Make sure that when you go out (or to work) your hair is clean and tidy.

8. Smile.

Regardless of what you believe, when you are not smiling does not mean that you are not determined. A smiling face can bring much better results in your professional and personal life.

9. Do not cross your hands.

The move shows insecure people that try to barricade themselves behind the safety of their hands and not at all open to communication. Even if you feel cold, it is best to look for some warm clothes than to sit with folded hands as if to embrace the same body.

10. Use body contact.

When we talk about using body contact that does not mean you have to go out and start touching or kissing strangers without reason! During a handshake you can use your other hand to pad someone in the shoulder or you can move your body closer as a way to show friendliness.