Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: stress

Reluctant Parents at Work: 6 Ways to Grow Your Career Without Growing Your Stress

The following guest post by Julia Merrill fits perfectly into my “Reluctant Parents at Work” series, which are posts that I write from time to time about how difficult it can be to go back to work after staying home with your kids and/or just being a parent and having a full-time job. Some of it comes from my own experience, and some of the posts will come from others, such as this post below. Jobs and careers can be full of stress, and so can parenting. So what I like about this article is that it gives you tips on how to improve your career while NOT creating more stress for yourself. If you have any tips to add to what Julia says below, please feel free in the comments. Also, check out Julia’s article on sleep here

6 Ways to Grow Your Career Without Growing Your Stress by Julia Merrill

If you are a busy business owner or professional, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and severely stressed out. High levels of stress, however, can negatively impact your ability to focus and achieve success. Stress can even be bad for your health. So how can you achieve your work goals without burning yourself out? Try adding these helpful tips to your work routine.   

Make Marketing Easy 

When it comes to marketing your business, try not to worry too much. Using social media is a simple way to drive more customers to your business. Many small business owners use Instagram to grow their client list and help their business gain exposure. If you have an Instagram profile, but don’t have a healthy following for your store, you can use these tips from Oberlo to go from 0 to 10,000 followers in around six months. Simple steps, like joining engagement groups and reposting photos from popular profiles, can net you the follows you need to grow your business with minimal stress.

Keep Yourself on Task     

A chaotic workday can make you feel chaotic all over. Staying on top of your to-do list and tackling one work task at a time is a good way to maximize your productivity. Try using productivity or task management apps to keep your work organized throughout the week. You can input your daily work list and set up reminders that will help you stay in control of your schedule. If you need a more visual method to track your work, try using a planner or, even better, a Kanban board to make the most of your productivity.

Declutter Your Workspace

 Having a disheveled desk can wreak havoc on your work and your mental health. Clutter can lead to increased stress levels and feelings of anxiety, so get your workspace in order. Clean up your desk and grab some organizational accessories to help you keep things tidy. If you have a ton of papers stacking up, try embracing the benefits of digital storage solutions. Breaking your paper habit is a good way to preserve your sanity and the environment at the same time.

Practice Healthy Habits 

When work has you working long hours, it can be challenging to leave room to take care of your health. But practicing wellness habits, such as eating whole foods and taking time to sleep and recharge, can actually help you ward off the negative effects of stress. According to Healthline, regular exercise boosts the production of endorphins, the chemicals that relieve stress, so leave time for workouts as well. By using these self-care steps to keep your body healthy, you can keep your mind clear and focused enough to achieve your business and career goals.

Avoid Overloading Your Schedule      

If you are just starting your career or business, you may find yourself taking on a lot of tasks. While success does take hard work, you have to know when it’s okay to say “no” to taking on additional responsibility. Saying “no” in your work and personal life can save you a lot of stress and preserve more time to make your business into a success. So don’t feel like you have to attend every party or take every appointment that may be offered to you. Leave some time to focus on your success and on keeping yourself happy and healthy.

Get Out and Get Some Fresh Air

No matter how busy your work gets, it’s important to take breaks — and even take time off — every now and then. Get out for a walk in the park during your lunch breaks or take a day off to spend hiking in nature. When things get really stressful, it may even be beneficial to take time to simply relax and do nothing. Inc.com suggests taking time off to rest and recharge actually makes workers more productive, so that vacation may just be the key to your career success.

Getting ahead in business shouldn’t have to mean getting in over your head with stress. You can boost your productivity and make your business successful by following these healthy business practices. So stay healthy, stay happy, and stay committed to your success.

There are still a few days left to enter the photo caption contest and win a prize! Go here for more information! 

 

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18 Tips To Reduce Stress

Below you will see a really awesome infographic on reducing stress. Surely, if you are feeling stressed out, one of these tips is something you can do and is easy to fit into your life, so it doesn’t cause you more stress! I’ve posted other articles on reducing stress before, such as Stress Busting 101: How to Reduce It In Your Life and Parents: Taking Time For Yourself. If you need some stress busters, then check this out from Donna Norton at CustomWriting.org. My favorites are: 10, 12, and 16, although really, most of these resonate with me. How about you? Do you have any tried and true stress relief methods?


Infographic by Donna Norton Custom-Writing.Org

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Stress Busting 101: How To Reduce It In Your Life

We are coming upon one of the most stressful times of the year for people–the holidays. This contributed article has some good tips to consider to focus on reducing your stress:

We all lead busy lives and can find ourselves feeling stressed from time to time. Heck, not even time to time for many of us; more like all of the time! It could be family, work, health, or other issues that can lead to the stress, if not a combination of them all. But whatever your source of stress is, it is a good idea to take control of it now, so that you can deal with it and find ways to eliminate it. After all, stress can make many aspects of your life worse, such as your health (both mental and physical).

Professor Cary Cooper, from robertsoncooper.com, has stated that in our lives, there is always a solution to the problems that we face, even if it doesn’t feel like it or that it feels impossible. But when we just let things carry on as they are, it can make things much worse. The keys to dealing with and managing stress tend to be building up some emotional strength and having less of a “woe is me” kind of attitude. When you do have a victim attitude, you are justifying the situation rather than doing anything about it. Taking control of the situation can help, as well as being positive and having a good group of people around you. Being able to share the load, so to speak, can help massively. Even if it is just someone to talk to over the phone.

What else can you do to address and then eliminate the stress that you have in your life? Here are some stress-busting suggestions.

Be Active

Being active and exercising isn’t going to make your stress disappear. But what it does do is help you to manage it. Exercise can lead to a bit of an escape, as well as reducing the intensity of it all for you. Exercise can lead to a production of happy hormones that can lift your mood. So when you have to go back to a stressful situation, you are likely to deal with it in a better way.

Seek Alternative Therapies

As well as exercise, there could be an alternative therapy that could help you to feel better about things. Regular massages, reflexology appointments or even seeing a chiropractor could help you. Again, it isn’t going to eliminate the stress in your life. But it will help you to deal with it better. The reason behind these kinds of treatments is whole-body healing. The focus, according to myauburnchiro.com, is not so much on sickness, but rather on overall wellness and healthy living. So it could be really beneficial for you to give it a try.

Connect with Others

A good support network of people around you–friends, family, or colleagues–is a good way to help to lift your mood. They can offer support and fun, as well as offering advice to help you deal with the situations that you face. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. It can be good to just talk about your feelings, too, even if you just want people to listen, rather than offer solutions. Sometimes, when we say things out loud, it can help us to resolve the issues that we had on our mind.

Avoid Unhealthy Habits

As we know, there are many things that can make us feel better when we are feeling stressed. But there are also some things that can make us feel worse. We may think that they are going to help us, but unhealthy habits can actually have the opposite effect. Smoking, alcohol, and too much caffeine can actually make our bodies feel more on edge and stressed. In the long-term, these are just crutches and can make things worse. This is especially true if you end up feeling like you can’t get through your day without a bottle of wine, for example. So look for healthier habits, as said above, such as exercise or an alternative therapy.

Be More Productive

You may feel stressed because you have so much on your plate that you need to do. But the key is to be more efficient with your time, rather than spending every waking minute doing things. What things could you tick off your list at the same time? What work can be prioritized and others not as much? Can you get help at home, like a cleaner, for example, so that you can focus on other tasks that have more value to you? Set aside time to be more productive and remove distractions, such as your phone. It could mean putting it in airplane mode, for instance, until you get a specific task done. It is all about working smarter and being more productive, rather than working harder.

Make a Positive List

You will be surprised at what a difference being positive can make. If you find it hard to be positive, then it can be a good idea to take some time out and write out what you are grateful for, as well as the positive things in your life. When you take the time to do just that, it can make a massive difference and, you’ll see all of the good and happy things that you do have. It can put the stressful side of your life into perspective a little bit and help you to refocus.

Help Others

Along a similar line of making a happy and positive list of things in your life, it can also be a good idea to look for ways to help other people. It can give you a different focus and again, puts things into perspective for you. It can act as escapism and does help to give you a happy and euphoric feeling. You may not think that you even have time to do something like this. But when you make an effort to do it, you will see the benefit of it in your life.

Hopefully, one of these ideas helps you handle your current stress. What works for you? 

 

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Cutting The Cost of Parenthood

contributed post

From the moment you first find out you’re pregnant and that initial flush of joy fades, all moms-to-be find themselves asking the same question, “How am I EVER going to be able to afford this?” The good news is that nobody’s ever ready for the trials (and joys) of parenthood; and while of course some expectant parents are financially better off than others, it’s worth remembering that parents of all kinds of incomes have been getting by for as long as the human race has been around. That said, there’s no denying that a child can put pressure on your domestic finances. With the average cost of raising a child to the age of 17 approaching $240,000 , it’s enough to make any parent-in-waiting balk.

The good news is that the cost of parenthood can largely be ameliorated by a combination of ingenuity, thrift, invention, and common sense. While the default setting for many new parents is always “worry”, cutting financial costs is one of the many ways in which moms and dads can make life easier for themselves. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Never replace when you can repair

We live in a culture of disposability, where the pervasive logic is that when something breaks, it should be replaced rather than repaired. This is a shame because with a wealth of knowledge available to new parents through digital means, you can learn to fix just about anything from torn clothes to broken toys. While kids grow out of clothes quickly, you can learn to make alterations that can significantly expand their lifetime, and it’s worth looking into different types of embroidery machines. At a younger age, when kids grow emotionally attached to their clothes yet haven’t learned to be fashion snobs, this is particularly useful.

Plan your meals and batch cook

Whether you’re a parent or not, one of the surest ways to waste money is over-reliance on takeout and restaurants. Sure, everyone loves a treat after a hard day’s work, but a home cooked meal can rival anything bought at a restaurant at a tiny fraction of the cost. You can make a family night in just as special with candles and music without paying ludicrous restaurant prices.

You can also make substantial savings at the supermarket by shopping smart and avoiding impulse purchases. You can plan your week’s meals and shop accordingly, plus save time and effort by cooking in batches and making a bolognese or curry sauce, chili, or lasagna that will last the family for several meals. Reducing meat and dairy and upping the veggies will ensure that your weekly shop lasts longer, too.

Get creative with vacations

Family vacations are often perceived as way more expensive than they need to be. A great family vacation requires only three things; fun, family, and love. Everything else is bells and whistles. Taking a road trip not only saves on expensive flights, but allows your family much more freedom and control over your vacation, reducing the risk of stress and things that can go wrong.

Mom and son photo at the top of the post found here

 

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5 Things I Learned About Living in 2016

1. Life is a work in progress. I’m the kind of person who wants to fix everything right now. This is an impossible and exhausting way to live for two reasons. First, the only person I can control is myself; therefore, if the thing in my life that’s wrong involves another person, I can only do so much to fix the problem. Secondly there are only so many hours in the day, and part of those must be spent taking care of essential needs: since I am a parent, I must provide a home, food, and care for my daughter as well as myself. So a good portion of my time goes toward this. Therefore, the other things I want to do in my life take a backseat sometimes, and that is okay and normal. Everything does not have to happen RIGHT NOW.

2. Listen more. Speak less. I’m still working on this one. But I realized this about myself this year, with help from a very good friend–I often jump to conclusions and speak my mind before I have all the facts. I am working on my listening skills and taking a deep breath before spurting out the wrong thing.

3. Give people a chance. After divorce, most people will tell you it is hard to trust. No matter how bad the marriage was or who initiated the divorce, you were a part of a couple for a while (sometimes a long while) and now you are out on your own. While dating, I have learned that most people in a similar situation as myself are decent and also just trying to live their lives. This kind of fits with number two above, but I need to learn to not jump to conclusions and trust people until they give me a reason not to.

4. Being a parent is hard. Give myself a break. I miss my daughter terribly when she is away from me; but sometimes when she is with me, I don’t feel like I have time to think or process anything, and I am often exhausted. I worry about her constantly, and I am sometimes impatient. This seems to be similar to many other parents I know (single and married); and when I start to feel like “you are doing a terrible job–you should have done A, B, C,” I’m learning to take a deep breath and give myself a break. I love her more than anything, and I spend a good portion of my life being her mom. Every once in a while, I’m going to mess up and it’s okay.

5. Balance is key. To be the best person I can, I have to sleep, eat healthy, exercise, have fun with my daughter, read, write, work, have fun with my friends, and spend time with my parents. The key is to stay balanced. Don’t let any one area take all the time away from another. This is super hard, and again a work in progress; but I am doing better–especially the sleep. Do you know how important sleep is? 🙂

So what have you learned in 2016?

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Are You a Planner or Flying By the Seat of Your Pants?

Is organization and planning in today’s fast-paced world becoming more rare than ever before?  When you ask a busy parent, what are you going to have for dinner? Most will answer: I’ll figure it out at 5.  Wondering what you and your friends should buy a co-worker who is having a baby? Good thing someone is an Amazon Prime member, so the gift can be delivered, gift-wrapped, in two days.

I know for myself I’m often figuring out what I need to do the day of an event or even the day of my surgery (where I wished I would have read the information the night before). I used to be a planner–a big planner–because my thought was that things went better, especially as a mom, if I planned them in advance. But then I got a divorce, and there wasn’t time or energy to be such a planner. So I learned to do a lot by the seat of my pants, and one thing I did learn is. . .we survived. Planning may help, but sometimes, it also causes more stress.

fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pantsRecently, I had a discussion with someone, and here’s what he had to say about a recent business trip, where he was asked to give training with no preparation and fix complicated machinery (which is not his job) in very little time:

I was thinking about this week and how it has been just one ridiculous, crazy adventure after another.  No plans, no preparation, under the gun every single day. And my life has always seemed to be like this…Over the years, I have just learned to shrug it off. I don’t stress over it because I know there is nothing I can do. All I can do is just face it head on and do my best. And every time this week, somehow I made it work. So obviously, the next thought to cross my mind was…What happens when one day we can’t make it all work out? What happens when I fail to figure something out on the fly?

Maybe this has already happened, and I just don’t think about it because I knew it was the best I could do.

How about you? Have you faced situations like this? Do you stress out about them? Do you think they are teaching you coping skills? Do you plan?

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