Thongtaccong Management

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Tag: New York City

10 Stress Management Tips from the Experts

Stress is a fact of life, but being stressed out is not. We don’t always have control over what happens to us, says Allen Elkin, Ph.D., director of the Stress Management Counseling Center in New York City, and yet, that doesn’t mean we have to react to a difficult, challenging situation by becoming frazzled or feeling overwhelmed or distraught. Being overly anxious is not just a mental hazard; it’s a physical one too. The more stressed out we are the more vulnerable we are to colds, flu, and a host of chronic or life-threatening illnesses. And the less open we are to the beauty and pleasure of life. For your emotional and bodily benefit, we’ve consulted experts and come up with 37 easy, natural alternatives to anxiety.

1. Breathe Easily
“Breathing from your diaphragm oxygenates your blood, which helps you relax almost instantly,” says Robert Cooper, Ph.D., the San Francisco coauthor of The Power of 5 (Rodale Press, 1996), a book of five-second and five-minute health tips. Shallow chest breathing, by contrast, can cause your heart to beat faster and your muscles to tense up, exacerbating feelings of stress. To breathe deeply, begin by putting your hand on your abdomen just below the navel. Inhale slowly through your nose and watch your hand move out as your belly expands. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat several times.

2. Visualize Calm
It sounds New Age-y, but at least one study, done at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, has found that it’s highly effective in reducing stress. Dr. Cooper recommends imagining you’re in a hot shower and a wave of relaxation is washing your stress down the drain. Gerald Epstein, M.D., the New York City author of Healing Visualizations (Bantam Doubleday Dell Press, 1989), suggests the following routine: Close your eyes, take three long, slow breaths, and spend a few seconds picturing a relaxing scene, such as walking in a meadow, kneeling by a brook, or lying on the beach. Focus on the details—the sights, the sounds, the smells.

3. Make Time for a Mini Self-Massage
Maria Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D., of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, recommends simply massaging the palm of one hand by making a circular motion with the thumb of the other. Or use a massage gadget. The SelfCare catalog offers several, such as the S-shaped Tamm unit, that allow you to massage hard-to-reach spots on your back.

4. Try a Tonic
A study at Duke University in Durham, NC, found homeopathy effective in quelling anxiety disorders. Look for stress formulas such as Nerve Tonic (from Hyland) or Sedalia (from Boiron) in your health food store, or consult a licensed homeopath.

5. Say Cheese
Smiling is a two-way mechanism. We do it when we’re relaxed and happy, but doing it can also make us feel relaxed and happy. “Smiling transmits nerve impulses from the facial muscles to the limbic system, a key emotional center in the brain, tilting the neurochemical balance toward calm,” Dr. Cooper explains. Go ahead and grin. Don’t you feel better already?

6. Do Some Math
Using a scale of one to 10, with one being the equivalent of a minor hassle and 10 being a true catastrophe, assign a number to whatever it is that’s making you feel anxious. “You’ll find that most problems we encounter rate somewhere in the two to five range—in other words, they’re really not such a big deal,” says Dr. Elkin.

7. Stop Gritting Your Teeth
Stress tends to settle in certain parts of our bodies, the jaw being one of them. When things get hectic, try this tip from Dr. Cooper: Place your index fingertips on your jaw joints, just in front of your ears; clench your teeth and inhale deeply. Hold the breath for a moment, and as you exhale say, “Ah-h-h-h,” then unclench your teeth. Repeat a few times.

8. Compose a Mantra
Devise an affirmation — a short, clear, positive statement that focuses on your coping abilities. “Affirmations are a good way to silence the self-critical voice we all carry with us that only adds to our stress,” Dr. Elkin says. The next time you feel as if your life is one disaster after another, repeat 10 times, “I feel calm. I can handle this.”

9. Check Your Chi
Qigong (pronounced chee-gong) is a 5,000-year-old Chinese practice designed to promote the flow of chi, the vital life force that flows throughout the body, regulating its functions. Qigong master Ching-Tse Lee, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Brooklyn College in New York, recommends this calming exercise: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and parallel. Bend your knees to a quarter-squat position (about 45 degrees) while keeping your upper body straight. Observe your breathing for a couple of breaths. Inhale and bring your arms slowly up in front of you to shoulder height with your elbows slightly bent. Exhale, stretching your arms straight out. Inhale again, bend your elbows slightly and drop your arms down slowly until your thumbs touch the sides of your legs. Exhale one more time, then stand up straight.

10. Be a Fighter
“At the first sign of stress, you often hear people complain, ‘What did I do to deserve this?’” says Dr. Cooper. The trouble is, feeling like a victim only increases feelings of stress and helplessness. Instead, focus on being proactive. If your flight gets canceled, don’t wallow in self-pity. Find another one. If your office is too hot or too cold, don’t suffer in silence. Call the building manager and ask what can be done to make things more comfortable.

5 Time Management Techniques Worth Using

If you read every time management book ever written or go to every time management seminar offered, you’ll be able to boil all the technique “stuff” down to just a few things worth doing. Let me save you some time and talk about a few key time management techniques:

Technique #1: Make and use lists. There is not a single time management discipline or system on earth that doesn’t revolve around making and using lists. You cannot carry it all in your head. For years, I’ve operated with four basic lists:

1. My Schedule. This is for the entire year, day by day.
2. Things-to-Do List. This is a basic “Things-to-Do” list organized by month, week, and day, prioritized as As, Bs and Cs.
3. People-to-Call List. My third list is a “People-to-Call” list, also prioritized alphabetically.
4. Conference Planner. This is just a page for each person I interact with a lot, where I jot down things I need to talk to them about as they occur to me in between meetings or conversations.

You have to get some sort of regimented, regularly used list-making system working for you. If you aren’t making lists, you probably aren’t making a lot of money either.

Technique #2: Tickle the memory with tickler files. The idea is simple: You have 90 file folders: red ones numbered 1 through 30, blue ones numbered 1 through 30, and white numbered ones 1 through 30 that represent the current month, next month and the month after that. Let’s assume you agree to follow up with a client on a particular matter on the 10th of next month. Take either that client’s whole file or that piece of correspondence or a handwritten note, and plop it into the blue file folder numbered 10. And forget it. On the 10th of next month, it’ll pop up all by itself and remind you to do it. Used right, tickler files reduce clutter, serve as automatic memory, and help organize daily activities.

Yes, I’m well aware that there are all sorts of “contact management programs” for computers, pads and phones that can substitute for the file folders in a drawer. If you prefer that, by all means, be my guest. But manual, automated, physical, virtual, or hybrid, a tickler file system can be a very good friend.

Technique #3: Minimize meetings. Nothing ever got done in a meeting. I hate ’em. For a lot of people, meetings are a place to hide out. Or preen and be important. But they’re not a place to actually do work or get anything done. You need a strategy to avoid them. If you lead meetings, you need a strategy to abbreviate and focus them. If you must attend meetings, you need a strategy to escape from them at will.

Technique #4: Block your time. Most people’s schedules only have their locked-in-stone appointments with others. Mine also has my pre-allocated, locked-in-stone appointments with myself and my work. For each year, a lot of time gets locked down months ahead. For example, I clump most of my necessary phone appointments during a month into one day and book my Phone Day in each month a year ahead.

Month to month, I book in various work appointments: speaking engagements, coaching meetings, the time blocks for writing my monthly newsletters or for work on a book. My goal is to have as little unassigned time as possible. If you lay your calendar out before you and pre-assign or block as much of your time as possible, as much in advance as possible, you will then leave yourself only a small amount of loose, unassigned time. By blocking time for important, high-value functions, you prevent the demands of others from moving your best-value activities from number one to number ten on your list, over and over again.

Technique #5: Profit from “odd lot” time. Everything is now portable. A seminar by a great speaker, just about any book ever published, how-to information of every variety–it’s all on audio CDs and DVDs, accessible through online media, inside your Kindle or Nook or iPad. You can use YouTube for something other than watching kittens water ski. Or you can make sure you have an actual book with you at all times. There is no excuse to simply waste time while waiting in an airport, stuck in traffic, parked in a reception room.

Some people give their odd-lot time to returning calls, texts or emails, or to talking on the phone. This is a mistake for three reasons. One, you’ll be doing it hurriedly and without proper preparation, and if any of it is important, it’s too important to do poorly. Two, it’s a bad precedent to set with those who have access to you and with whom you communicate. If you inject randomness, you lose the ability to impose organization. Three, it steals time you need to think, to read, to listen, to get and process input. Constant connectivity makes Jack a dull boy, dull meant as synonym for stupid.

Disciplined use of the time everybody else wastes can give you an edge. The now rich and famous writer of legal thrillers, Scott Turow, wrote his first novel using only his morning commutes into New York City on the train. All around him, others just killed the same time. For most people, these minutes don’t matter. But they can. So when you say to yourself “it’s only 10 minutes,” you miss the entire point of time.