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How to Treat Yourself Right This Year

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By Gail Peterson

As 2014 begins, you may find yourself making resolutions for a happy and successful year in the office. In determining your key areas for improvement this year, you will likely spend some time reflecting on the unachieved goals from last year, which may cause you to feel some residual stress. While some of the causes for stress (impending deadlines, disputes with co-workers, etc.) are now gone, the memory still remains — occupying valuable space in our subconscious.

In developing a healthy approach to success for 2014, consider the following metaphor: People are like puppies and old dogs can learn new tricks.

My advice? In 2014, treat yourself like a puppy.

It might sound crazy at first, but treating yourself like a puppy allows you to directly acknowledge your needs and come up with viable solutions for the stress that seeps into your life — both at professional and personal levels.

We buy or adopt a puppy knowing immediately that it is not going to be an overnight relationship made in heaven, but rather a long haul commitment that will require effort and training for both the family and the puppy. For instance, when training a puppy to sit on command, it takes a high number of attempts for most owners to achieve success, which can lead to frustration. To solve this, we invest more time and devise a plan that involves help from trainers, experienced pet owners, or written manuals. It becomes a high priority for us to follow this plan because the puppy is now a member of a family.

Conversely, when dealing with stress, it helps to start with a list of goals and objectives, which collectively will become your plan. Tackle each of these one at a time and consider ways to avoid the risk of falling behind in your plan – succumbing to stress that can be avoided.

Find a tool to help you work on your stress issues, be it exercise, a gadget or a person who knows you well and can help you stay on track in carrying out your stress management plan.

Come up with realistic expectations and understand that some of the stress inducing factors at work are beyond your control. For instance, some coworkers will always feel the need to establish control in the office (even if they are working at the same level as you) and some customers will always have unrealistic expectations. Keeping this in mind can help mitigate the stress and allow you to maintain a positive outlook toward work.

If you consistently struggle throughout the year to achieve your goals, and your stress has reached an unbearable level, consider the possibility that a job or career change may be in order. Every work environment is different, and where one employee may thrive, another may flounder.

Remember for 2014, you are the puppy, and the number one priority is dealing with your workplace stress. The puppy in you needs to minimize stress to grow, learn and be the person you want to be. Like owning a dog, stress management is a big long-term commitment that requires a plan of action to be followed day after day after day to realize change.

Gail Peterson is a perpetual entrepreneur, advice giver, and optimist. She is currently heading the post of Chief Rock Picker in her latest venture Too Many
Rocks in Your Pocket.

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Last minute gifts: What to give the career-minded

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22 December 2013
By Alina Dizik

Subliminal stress relief

Work-related stress isn’t a stranger to most of us. To help battle it, entrepreneur Gail Peterson developed Stress Rocks.

The small rocks come pre-packaged in sets of 10. The general package includes rocks labelled “fear”, “anxiety” and “job”. The idea: as you feel stressed about one of these things, grab the labelled rock and put it in your pocket.

Later, remove them (or move them across your desk from one side to the other if you’re sans pockets) as you symbolically leave stress behind at the end of the day.

Ending each day without the weight of the rocks can have a calming effect, she says. While the gesture is symbolic, it may help you cope with real stress.

(BUY AT: Too Many Rocks In Your Pocket; $30 per 10 rocks)

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5 Steps to Bust Holiday Stress

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By Gail Peterson

That time of year has crept up on us yet again! Each year we swear we will be ready, but somehow each year holiday stress finds us before we even have time to break the reindeer sweaters out of storage. The demands of work, family, and friends are enough to weigh anyone down, especially during the holiday season. Before we let ourselves get lost in another two-month blitz of “year-end” work duties and shopping mall madness, we can all take a step back. Here are a few simple holiday stress tips to keep our sanity in check and enjoy stress-free holidays.

1. Get to the core of the issue.

We tend to make blanket statements about work problems when a specific duty or assignment is the real cause of stress. In other words, saying, “My job is really stressing me out,” could actually mean an important budget deadline, sales quota or project is the major source of concern. Associating a broad issue as the cause of our stress can make it much harder for us to do anything to alleviate it. When we zero in on the specifics of the stress, it becomes much easier to tackle it.

2. Use reminders.

Once we have identified the core issues of our stress, a little reminder can be very helpful in keeping us focused. I have found that having a tangible reminder, a rock with a stress word identifier painted on it, allows me to focus on eliminating that particular stressor. The simple act of carrying that rock with me each day reminds me that I have identified my stressor and can work toward relieving it. During the holidays, I carry several of these rocks with me daily to keep me on task. At the end of the day I put them away, lifting the burden, literally and figuratively.

3. Make a plan.

After identifying the stressor in specific terms, and choosing a physical representation of that stressor to stay on task, we must make a plan to eliminate the stressor. During the holiday season, we get tough demands thrown at us from all angles, so a little planning can go a long way. What we are talking about is not just the shopping lists (which are endless), but also a cohesive plan to fix the core issues causing our stress.

4. Stay consistent.

Just like losing weight or saving money, it takes considerable effort day after day to eliminate stress. Once we have identified our stressor and made a plan to attack it we must be willing to put that rock (stressor) in our pocket every day and reinforce positive action towards eliminating it.

5. Remember to relax.

Another benefit of using a physical reminder of our stressors, such as the rocks I mentioned, is that it can also act as a cue to set that stress aside and relax during this busy time. When we empty the rocks out of our pocket, we can use that as a mental trigger to assess the efforts we have made to eliminate that stressor and to take a mental breather. That is the time to read, exercise, meditate, or do whatever activity or non-activity you need to take your mind off the stress. In all likelihood, we will pick up that same stress the next day at work, but as long as we remember to keep those holiday stresses in perspective then hopefully we will all find a little more time to truly enjoy this special time of year.

Positive Thinking Information

By Mayo Clinic staff

Positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health. Practice overcoming negative self-talk with examples provided.

Read the full article at www.mayoclinic.com/health/positive-thinking/SR00009