4 Steps to Reduce Stress and Refocus at Work in 10 Minutes

One day, years ago when I was working in the health and wellness industry, one of my intelligent and high performing colleagues appeared quite deflated.  This caught my attention because she was always on her ‘A’ game, never asked for help, and was considered one of our most reliable team members.

When I asked her if she was okay, she responded with a sigh, “Yeah, but I just have so much on my plate, and I don’t know how I’m going to get it done.”

I had experienced that feeling earlier in my career, and I replied, “I don’t know exactly how you feel in this moment, but I’ve started a routine that has helped me tremendously when I’ve been in a similar situation”. She was excited to hear my routine, and once I shared it with her she put it into action. Not only did it make an immediate impact but it exponentially increased over time.

Want to know what I shared? Below are the 4 steps to reduce stress and refocus at work that you can apply in less than 10 minutes that my colleague claimed: “changed her life.”

Step 1. Disconnect from all electronics and take a few deep breaths

There is truth behind out of sight, out of mind. Stimulation and stress can shorten your respiratory cycle. Once your devices are out of reach, breathe deeply, as sufficient oxygen flow is what you require most to live!

Step 2Drink a glass of water

Stress can dehydrate you by weakening your adrenal glands, and your brain needs water perhaps more than the rest of your body.  Your brain is 70%+ water.

Step 3. Go for a 5-minute walk (no phone or devices)

Go for a walk and put all of your focus on clearing your head and reflecting on the things you’re looking forward to doing or achieving.

Step 4Find a vacant meeting room or quiet space to sit with only a pen and notepad

Think deeply about your priority projects and tasks that are weighing on you, and jot them down in no particular order.  You need to create space in your mind so you can start to think more clearly. Then, simply number them in order of what you need to begin working on first.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe famously said, “One always has time enough, if one will apply it well”. I’ve found this to be so true. There is no point in letting doubt or negativity build.  Prioritize, and tackle one thing at a time.

After completing these 4 steps, there will be times when you will still feel overwhelmed. Here’s a tip for when you’re still feeling overwhelmed after these 4 steps: Ask for help from a manager or peer. Explain your situation, share the way you are feeling.  It shows how much you care and how much pride you have in your work. It’s important to be confident in your abilities, but showing a sense of vulnerability is also a characteristic of great leaders.

My former colleague tells me that these steps have become a habit when she feels overwhelmed, and they help her refocus and get back on her ‘A’ game.  But be patient, numerous studies have shown that it takes 3 full weeks for a habit to form.

Also, be cognizant that many individuals don’t handle stress well, so don’t hesitate to ask them if they’re okay and share this routine with them. It can change their life.

About the Author Gordon Shuford is the Director of Leadership Development at LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. Gordon has a background in corporate wellness and coaching.

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How to Start Your Day With a Leader Mindset

Jennifer Anniston and Apple CEO Tim Book both rise at 4:00 A.M. and 3:45 A.M., respectively to start their day, get in a workout, or to meditate. I’m not here to tell you to follow suit, instead, here are 4 simple tips to start your morning off right, no matter what time your alarm goes off.

1. Wake Rested. This really starts the night before. You should get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep, and studies show that reading for just 6 minutes before going to bed reduces stress and helps you sleep more soundly. You want to wake up feeling refreshed, as your morning routine is an incredibly crucial time to set the tone for your mindset throughout the entire day.

Former Chairman and CEO of Vanguard Group, Bill McNabb, said “The quiet time between 6:00 am- 7:30 am is when some of my best work gets done. It’s my time to read, think and prepare for the day ahead. I try really hard to preserve that time.”

2. Prepare To Serve

Naturally, you may start thinking about personal tasks or unresolved issues when you first wake up. To prevent this, don’t look at your phone first thing. Instead, brush your smelly teeth, drink a glass of water, read a devotion or motivational quote, and spend a few minutes thinking about why you serve your family and your place of employment.

Our CEO at LearnLoft, John Eades, uses the P.T.S. (Prepare To Serve) Mentality. It’s a practice of saying “prepare to serve” when you change environments to remind yourself to focus on serving others at home, in the workplace, and with anyone you interact with throughout the day. Thinking about serving others will reduce stress, as you’ll avoid wasting energy on racing thoughts.

3. Be Present and Have Perspective

5 years ago, during a human resources chapter meeting, I’ll never forget our presenter instructing us to, “Wake up, go look in the mirror and ask yourself, who am I and who do I want to be today?”. The purpose of this imperative instruction is to be present and have perspective. Great leaders never lose sight of who they truly are and the big picture.

4. Pursue Impact, Not Dollars

If you wake up chasing money, you’ll be let down in the long-run. The one time in my career when I accepted a new job solely for a significant income boost proved to be costly. It wasn’t fulfilling for me and put excess stress on myself and my family. Founder of VaynerMedia, Gary Vaynerchuk, said it best, “When you chase money, you’re going to lose. You’re just going to. Even if you get the money, you’re not going to be happy.”

If you consistently aim to use your passion and skills to make a positive impact on others, you will be rewarded. A consistent morning routine like this will help you set the tone for the entire day and help you become a true leader at home and in the workplace.

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About the Author Gordon Shuford is the Director of Leadership Development at LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. Gordon has a background in corporate wellness and coaching.

1 Surprising Health Statistic Managers Need to Know

Have you ever considered whether or not a team member has called out sick because of you?

According to the WorkPlace Research Foundation that’s exactly what might be happening. Companies that foster highly engaged workforces report an average of 2.69 sick days taken annually per employee, compared to companies with weak engagement efforts, reporting an average of 6.19 sick days.

2.69 vs 6.19

Employees who are overly stressed by their managers are more likely to call out of work whether they are sick or not and are more likely to get sick as well. The latest statistics show 75% of major medical costs in the U.S. are due to stress-induced health issues and 75%-90% of primary care visits are due to stress-induced health issues. Managers must start thinking more about stress and how they can help alleviate it.

What Managers Can Do

The best way to open up the conversation about stress related issues is to have open lines of communication. If you are a manager, the way to open up communication is to strengthen relationships with individual team members. This will allow them to open up when they are feeling extra stress or pressure they don’t feel they can handle. Without a strong relationship, the chances of a team member admitting they are stressed is extremely low because no one wants to be thought of as weak.

Build better relationships by making sure you carve out dedicated time with each individual member of your team. It could be as small as a 3 minute phone call or as committed as lunch once a month. The point is, you are showing them that regardless of how busy you are, you will always make time for them.

If you don’t take time to build strong relationships with your team members, they won’t just call in ‘sick’, there is a good chance they will leave forever.

About the Author Gordon Shuford is the Director of Leadership Development at LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. Gordon has a background in corporate wellness and coaching.

Get Enough Of These 2 Things To Avoid Making Bad Decisions

Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post and host of the Thrive Global podcast, claimed that every bad hire she made was due to being too tired. All of us know what sleep deprivation feels like, whether we’ve been stressed, had to work to reach a deadline, or have children who keep us up.

But sleep isn’t the only factor contributing to poor decisions at work. Hydration is critical for many reasons, and it’s arguably more easily controlled than sleep.

Dr. Don Colbert, best-selling author of The Seven Pillars of Health, begins his first chapter describing several examples of how chronic pain, migraines, and anxiety were significantly alleviated with hydration.

Consistently keeping our health a top priority, unfortunately, is something many of us fail at due to poor decisions. But, what specifically, can you do to ensure you get enough sleep and stay hydrated? Here are some ideas you can put into practice:

1. Use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ Feature on Your Phone

Getting enough sleep has become more challenging with electronic devices always within an arm’s reach. Apple Vice President Greg Joswiak reminded Huffington to double-check her Do-Not-Disturb option on her phone to ensure uninterrupted sleep.

2. Don’t Look at Your Phone When You First Wake Up

A recent study shows allowing at least one full minute to elapse when waking up before looking at your device, proves to minimize stress throughout the course of the entire day. When you do pick up your device, try reading a motivational quote or a devotion on your device before delving into work-mode.

3. Disconnect from Work and Social Media at Least 30 Minutes Before Bedtime

Numerous studies have shown that screen light from electronics can actually delay the release of melatonin, our sleep-inducing hormone. And drop the habit of double-checking your email and social media as your last task before you go to bed. Do this earlier. You need time to unwind from a potential email or post that could either causes stress or excitement.

4. Calculate Caffeine into Your Water Intake

Caffeine can significantly dehydrate you. Drink a full glass of water prior to your caffeine consumption in the morning. To maintain proper hydration, drink 2 glasses of water for every 1 caffeinated beverage. If you drink a lot of caffeine, this means reducing your caffeine consumption to avoid non-stop restroom visits.

5. Drink Small Amounts of Water Throughout the Day

It’s best to drink small amounts of water throughout the day, similar to the suggestion that numerous small meals throughout the day can speed up your metabolism. And drinking a glass of water 30 minutes prior to a meal can help with digestion.

Poor hydration can lead to health issues, leading to poor sleep, increasing chances of poor decisions. You know as well as Arianna Huffington, there is nothing more crippling in the workplace for you and your team than a bad hire.

No one likes making bad decisions, especially at work. Start using these 5 practices to make your health (and healthy decisions) a top priority and encourage your team to do the same. Share these tips with your team.

About the Author Gordon Shuford is the Director of Leadership Development at LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. Gordon has a background in corporate wellness and coaching.

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