Three Tips to Reduce Stress: Check Your Notification Settings

In today’s digital age, we are all constantly connected. Need something for work? Send an email. Want to tell a friend you’re thinking about them? Text some emojis. See it’s someone’s birthday? Send them a Happy Birthday on Facebook. Someone’s food pic looks delicious? Double tap the screen.

Communication is at the tip of your fingertips…and in the corner of your eyeballs.

Think about it…how many times a day do you check your phone? How many times does a notification pop up on your desktop? And how many minutes of work are you really getting done with all the popups and side-eye glance at every ping on your phone.

A study from UC Irvine showed that just 20 minutes of interrupted work significantly increased stress levels, frustration, workload, effort, and pressure.

When was the last time you worked completely uninterrupted for 20 minutes?

So do yourself a favor and minimize your distractions with the following tips:

Turn off your desktop notifications.

I had notifications for calendar changes, Facebook, and emails set up on my desktop, and I never even thought twice about taking them off. I just kept annoyingly clearing them off the screen every time they popped up, then getting more and more stressed that I wasn’t getting any good work done.

So here are some instructions to make it easier for you: if you use a Mac (https://support.apple.com/kb/ph18740?locale=en_US), and if you use Windows (http://www.laptopmag.com/articles/disable-app-notifications-windows-10).  Apparently Facebook notifications are sometimes provided by Chrome too, so here are instructions for getting rid of those: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-turn-off-google-chrome-desktop-notifications/

Check your phone notification settings, too.

Do you have any apps where the notifications are turned on but they really don’t need to be. For example, Groupon,

What about Snapchat? Facebook?

Gasp…email?? Yes, breathe…then read on.

Set up an automated email message…

Commit to only checking your email at designated times throughout the day (try 9am, 12pm, and 3pm) and set up an automated email message that tells people when you check your emails. Offer them an alternative way, e.g. phone number, to reach you in case of emergency.

And guess what? 9 times out of 10, it’s not an emergency and you won’t get a phone call.

Imagine all the work you can get done knowing that most of the emails you feel so stressed to answer immediately are not even real emergencies!

 

For one day this week, try turning off your notifications entirely, and pay attention to how your stress levels, productivity and mood improve!

 

To watch this on video, check out my latest Facebook live video.

 

Stress reduction and ways to improve productivity are HUGE topics in my private group coaching program, called "Work Well, Live Well." If you'd like to learn more, please feel free to comment below or private message me!

If your company may be interested in stress management and productivity workshops or private coaching for their employees, please have them visit damonwellness.com.

 

Ways to Prep for 2017 Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time is coming up next weekend on Sunday, 3/12/17. We all dread the Spring one since we all “lose” an hour and our sleep seems to be the most disrupted, so here are some tips to help you adjust better this year! 

DST was originally created to make more use of daylight. As the winter months draw to a close and make way for spring, the sun will rise earlier and set later each day. Back in the day, before the age of clocks, people would rise with the sun to start the day’s work and adapt gradually to the change year-round. The idea to change the clocks to maximize daylight and conserve electricity was proposed by Englishman William Willett in 1905 and implemented in the US in 1918, after the world began operating on measured time and clocks. Check out History.com’s “8 Things You May Not Know about Daylight Saving Time”.

What can you do to avoid that Monday morning grogginess at work? (Please note, as with all of my tips and suggestions, these are exactly that. None of these are die hard rules, and you might want to avoid trying all of them at once- it’s overwhelming and frustrating. Instead, assess which of these really fit you and your current lifestyle before picking one or two to try.)

Cut the lights out a little earlier the night before.

Bright light suppresses our brain’s secretion of melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep at night. So turn the lights out, turn off the TV/phones/screens, and think nice thoughts.

Go to bed and wake up a little earlier.

If you can, try going to bed and waking up a little earlier from now until next weekend. Try going to bed just 5 minutes earlier each night, and set your alarm for five minutes earlier each morning. By the time Sunday rolls around, it will be a more gradual change in your sleep and wake cycle.

Change your clocks…on Saturday.

If the previous trick did not work out for you, try changing the clocks in your house on Saturday instead of Sunday. Then go to sleep at your “usual” bedtime. For example, my bedtime is usually 11:30pm, so on Saturday night, I plan to hop into bed with the lights off when the clocks in my house say 11:30pm, but my cell phone still says 10:30pm.

If you have kids, this can be a fun experiment. Change the clocks without your kids knowing it on Saturday during the day, so that by night time, you can point to the clock and say, “Time to get ready for bed!”

Trick your brain.

Your thoughts are very powerful, so thinking, “I’m going to bed now because it is 11:30” instead of “Ugh, I have to go to bed early,” or “I’m losing an hour of sleep!” makes a difference on your ability to fall asleep. 

Limit or avoid caffeine and naps on Saturday.

This will help ensure that your body is tired and definitely ready for bed when your bedtime comes that night.

Eat a lighter dinner on Saturday.

Our bodies do not get quality sleep when we sleep on a full stomach. Eating a lighter dinner on Saturday night not only encourages quality sleep, but also helps us be hungry in the morning when we eat breakfast earlier.

Go towards the light…on Sunday.

After you survive Saturday night, and to make sure your brain stays awake on Sunday, you will want to stay out in daylight as much as possible. The daylight keeps your body from secreting melatonin, the sleep hormone that was mentioned above.

Be active on Sunday.

Activity means energy burned, which means a more exhausted brain and body on Sunday night, which then means, a great night’s sleep on Sunday, which means you’ll be more ready to tackle whatever is thrown on your desk on Monday morning!

 

Which of these tips resonate the most with you? 

Also posted on Medium and Linked In! 

Reasons Why Millenials are Leaving Your Company

Millenials are known for having one foot out the door when they join a company, and there have have been many studies investigating the reasons why.

A recent Deloitte survey found that "78% of Swiss Millennials think that they are considered for potential leadership positions (compared to only 58% on a global level."  It was then concluded that "Swiss employers are not afraid of considering younger employees for open leadership roles,” implying that millennials in other countries leave their jobs because they are not considered for open leadership roles.

However, I believe this conclusion to be a bit misguided.

Millennials are leaving companies for a variety of reasons.

I can only speak for the clients I’ve encountered in my own practice, but I’ve found that many younger employees complain that they did not get any leadership roles, but when asked if they had expressed their desire to be considered for an open role, they said no.

They may have insecurities that stop them from asking for what they want.

Often their not asking to even be considered is due to a variety of reasons, including:

  • “I’m not qualified”
  • “I don’t want to stand out”
  • “I’ll be considered when they think I’m ready or worthy enough”

 

They may leave because they don’t feel heard or valued.

Since many millenials grew up with parenting styles that included constant encouragement, acknowledgement, and praise, many also be leaving due to feeling like they’re not being heard or valued.

Individualized coaching may give you the biggest bang for your buck. 

It’s very easy to treat these millenials with a “suck it up” attitude, since older generations grew up with the "work hard, keep your head down, do what you're told, and you can climb up to the corporate ladder” mentality.

But what I’m finding is that millennials respond to best is individualized attention and support in developing better coping, stress management, and communication skills. 

When coached to develop new mindsets and habits that promote better team working skills and more purpose and meaning within their jobs, your millennials will experience long-term changes. Not only do you get a better employee who feels valued, heard, and supported, but you also get an team player who wants to stay in your company for the long-term. 

 

Make sure your perks and benefits include individualized support.

So many companies today tend to focus on providing fun gadgets and booze and wellness programs for millennial employees to "keep them happy," when instead, it would be greatly beneficial to consider providing coaching for younger individuals, on topics like effective communication, stress management, time management, emotional modulation, etc. 

Check out Simon Sinek's talk about how companies today have the responsibility of adapting to the societal changes in business today and providing more relevant support to the younger generations. http://bit.ly/2jXDTfq

Have you tried providing individualized coaching in your company to help millenials cope and improve their ability to find meaning and purpose in their work?

3 Overlooked Tips to Managing Mild Depression

This week, some of my tips for recognizing the hardly recognized mild depression showed up in  Bustle article, "15 Daily Habits You Didn’t Realize Can Be Signs of Mild Depression, Because Symptoms Can Be Subtle." Be sure to check it out so you can catch the early signs of mild depression before it snowballs into something more serious. 

So after reading that article, you're well-versed in the little signs of mild depression. What if you recognize some of them in your own life? 

The following are 3 of my top tips that are often overlooked in managing mild depression and preventing it from getting worse. 

3. Move your body.

Ok, fine, this one we ALL know about, but it's one of the hardest things to do. When you're feeling down, getting your body to move is like jumping over hurdles in a marathon. 

More movement also means you're breathing in more oxygen and your blood is flowing, which then means your body and brain are being fed vital nutrients that keep your mind, body, and soul happy. One such nutrient is endorphins, which get released with movement - they are our body's natural "happy hormones." 

Endorphins improve mood, cognition, memory, and physical health. Even if it's just a walk down the hall to the bathroom at work or reaching your arms up overhead to stretch during the day, these little movements can help boost your mood. 

2. Seek out social support. 

Another one of the last things we want to do when we're feeling out of sorts or down is to go hang out with people. Many of us tend to hide at home or turn inwards when we're not feeling so good, but it's the last thing we want to do. 

According to Shawn Achor's "The Happiness Advantage," "social support is a far greater predictor of happiness than anything else." Having people to lean on, talk to, ask for support from means that we get to multiply our own emotional, intellectual and physical resources. When you are not feeling at your top potential, it's the best time to reach out to your support system for those extra resources. 

For those who feel like they have no "friends," even just going to the downstairs coffee shop and having a little "How are you?" chat with the barista can begin to boost mood. When we make a positive social connection, another hormone called oxytocin is released into our bloodstream, which immediately reduces anxiety and improves concentration and focus. 

1. Human touch is one of the most overlooked tips.

Having people is great, but having someone touch you is one of the big mood medicines that are super overlooked. When was the last time you gave or received a hug? 

According to a Stanford University report, "several studies are showing significant benefits in wound healing, pain and anxiety." It's been shown to lower blood pressure, can reduce heart rate, releases oxytocins, and reduces stress. 

How can you incorporate more touch into your life? 

5 Tips to Get more work done and go home earlier

In this busy time, many of us want to work faster so that we can leave work and do the other things that are meaningful and fulfilling to us. Here are 5 tips that are a bit different from what you've seen out there so far.

As a warning, some may seem counterintuitive and time-consuming, but the time spent on these tips is well worth it. 

Tip 1: Visualize

First thing in the morning, do a quick visualization exercise of not just leaving work earlier, but also of WHAT you will be doing once you leave work or WHO you will be spending time with. 

This creates a sense of meaning behind the desire to leave work early as opposed to just racing against the clock.

Our thoughts and beliefs greatly impact our reality, so if you want to get out early but don't really believe that you can, you won't. 

Tip 2: Prioritize...energy.

Prioritize your work by not just time, but also energy requirements.

Consider the amount of time you need to complete one of the tasks on your list as well as the amount of energy it requires. Does it require major focus, or is it one of those tedious tasks that you don't need so much focus for?

Tip 3: Split up.

Split up the time- and energy-consuming tasks into at least 2 parts. 

Splitting up such tasks shifts your mindset to a more positive one. Instead of waiting until the entire project is done, you win and should celebrate each time you complete each part, which tricks your brain into feeling more motivated! 

This trick also allows you to recharge back to 100% instead of plowing through the task as your personal energy battery keeps draining and draining. 

Tip 4: Break! 

TAKE MORE BREAKS! 

This seems counterintuitive, but most people cannot maintain meaningful focus on a task and produce their best work for anything longer than 25 minutes at a time. 

Figure out how long you usually work in a state of flow for - when you feel like your focus is laser sharp and super strong. The minute it starts waning (signs include taking deeper breaths, rubbing your face, looking away from the computer, getting more easily distracted, etc.) take a note of how much time has passed. Then set a timer for that time to work, and when the timer goes off, take a break for a few minutes and do something entirely different, like use the restroom, get a sip of water, give a coworker a hug, etc. 

Trying to work past your time of ultra focus is counterproductive - taking breaks allows you to refresh and reenergize your mind, body, and brain, so that you can work with laser focus again.

You'll get more quality work done faster

Tip 5: Alternate tasks. 

Alternate fast/low energy tasks with more time-consuming/high focus tasks. 

Along the same lines as Tip 4, alternating these two types of tasks helps protect you from burnout. 

For example, work on a large project for 25 minutes, then take a sip of water and check your email for a few minutes. Then return to the big project for 25 minutes, then walk to the bathroom and make a few copies. 

 

How do you like these tips?