“I have so much to do that I will spend the first three hours in prayer.”
As I write this article, the global COVID-19 Pandemic is raging.
And it would be of no use to quote the number of infections and deaths because the numbers multiply each day worldwide.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has increased stress levels for many of us. We face new challenges about our home and family lives, social distancing, employment, and for some, isolation and quarantine.
Stress, anxiety, overwhelm, exhaustion—I believe it is safe to say that we’ve all experienced these emotions, especially during this difficult time.
What Is Burnout?
Herbert Freudenberger and other researchers took up this term in the mid-1970s, and it describes “a state of exhaustion resulting from involvement with people in emotionally demanding situations.”
Also, “physical or emotional exhaustion, especially as a result of long-term stress or dissipation.” (American Heritage Dictionary)
Symptoms of burnout can include:
Depleted energy reserves
Lowered resistance to illness
Increased dissatisfaction and pessimism
Increased absenteeism and inefficiency at work.
Burnout can be debilitating because it can weaken and even devastating, otherwise healthy, energetic, and competent individuals.
Burnout is unrelieved stress, the kind that goes on day after day, month after month, year after year.
Burnout is nothing to play around with or to take lightly.
It’s easy for a person to lose meaning in his work due to mental, emotional, or physical exhaustion due to the long-term unresolved stress called burnout.
The 5 Stages of Burnout
Burnout can affect anyone, at any time in their lives.
I think particularly about family caregivers, most of whom are under extreme pressure day in and day out caring for their loved ones.
But how would you know if you do have burnout?
Psychologists at Winona State University conducted a study where they identified five stages and the symptoms, though these symptoms can change from person to person:
Phase 1: Honeymoon Phase. You have a new job or business venture, and you feel excited but begin to experience stress because you want to prove yourself.
Symptoms in this phase could include:
Commitment to excel
Eager to take on more responsibility
Obsessively demonstrate your worth
Work becomes the only focus
An inability to “switch off.”
Phase 2: Onset of Stress. Values become skewed, and neglect of self begins to set in.
Symptoms in this phase could include:
Anxiety, fatigue, irritability
Life limited to work or business
Trying harder does not lead to success
Dismissal of family and friends
Phase 3: Chronic Stress. Stress levels rise and become more frequent.
Symptoms in this phase could include:
Non-existent social life
Persistent tiredness in the mornings
Obvious changes in behavior
Phase 4: Apathy and Despair (burnout). You see no way out of your situation.
Symptoms in this phase could include:
Feeling empty inside
Phase 5: Habitual Burnout. Experience physical, mental, and emotional collapse. Symptoms become imbedded in your life.
Symptoms in this phase could include:
Chronic physical exhaustion
Chronic mental exhaustion
Loss of hope and trust
These five stages are a good standard for gauging a state of burnout.
The five stages can act as warning signs, signaling potential risk, and a need to readjust.
Who Is Most Prone to Burning Out?
Although burnout has proven to be the result of excess work and stress, medical experts are now discovering that some people are more prone to it than others.
Some people are less likely to suffer burnout regardless of how much pressure they endure.
In determining how prone you may be to burnout, there are two considerations to look at:
Deep prevailing needs within us that can strongly influence behaviors that lead to burnout.
Character traits that amplify the possibility of burning out.
First, consider Need for Achievement:
You are motivated to set challenging goals and push hard to achieve them. Getting feedback on your effort validates your success. A lack of feedback can make you feel stressed, disappointed, or resentful for not being noticed.
Need for Attachment:
You are motivated to fit in well with others.
You spend a lot of time maintaining relationships and making sure others accept you. The need for acceptance can lead to you conforming to the others’ wishes and desires at the risk of fulfilling your personal needs.
Need for Control:
You are motivated to influence others.
Need for control leads you to seek out roles of authority.
When faced with something uncertain, you fear you are losing control, which can cause you to be overwhelmed.
Character traits in those prone to burnout include:
Not able to express confidence:
You likely believe and act in ways that don’t better yourself.
This character trait creates stress when things don’t work out as hoped.
You likely overthink why things aren’t going well for you, which can cause you to blame others for your situation.
A lack of confidence also makes you more likely to give up in the face of difficulties.
Not able to accept challenges:
You don’t accept change very well, or the challenges that change brings with it.
This character of not accepting challenges creates stress because you would rather hang on to the way things are than accept change and the discomfort it brings.
Not able to remain committed:
You tend to see adversity as something negative rather than something that brings about the best possible outcome.
This character trait creates stress because instead of staying engaged and pushing through the difficulty, you check out and isolate yourself or become apathetic.
Thus, we have deep personal needs that can influence our behavior, lead to burnout, and character traits that can make burnout even more probable.
You can become more aware of and avoid burnout by having a clearer understanding of your personal needs and traits.
Manage Your Energy to Avoid Burning Out
“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.”
The most common response to the rising demands of life and work is to put more hours into getting things done.
But the longer hours mean that time isn’t the only resource you use up.
Your efforts consume your energy, as well as your time.
You spend your energy through physical, emotional, and mental activities.
Positive rituals intentionally scheduled and practiced renew your strength.
So, paying attention to your energy levels, and doing things to recharge yourself is critical to avoiding burnout.
Every activity we do reduces our energy.
Usually, when our energy drops, we increase our effort, but in the long run, this only causes more harm and makes us burn out faster.
It’s times like these that we must instead renew our energy levels.
Renewing Our Energy
There are many ways to renew our energy levels.
Consider these seven ways:
Sleep. Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Rest is where recovery starts.
Create rituals. Positive rituals will renew energy levels. My morning ritual, for example, is to a) begin with prayer, meditation, and expressions of gratitude; b) hydrate; c) follow along with two different line-dance routines on YouTube. After my morning ritual, I feel energetic and ready to begin my day.
Slow down. As you sense your energy depleting throughout the day, slow down. Take a few moments to breathe deeply. Try the 7/11 breathing exercise where you count to 7 as you breathe in and count to 11 as you slowly breathe out. You will immediately feel less anxious or stressed, and more relaxed.
Eat and Drink. Not too much. And stay away from sugary drinks.
Take mini-breaks. Throughout the day.
Practice gratitude. Do you have a gratitude journal?
Practice forgiveness. Including forgiving yourself if need be.
Stressful situations in life can trigger a response in our body that taps into our energy reserves for support.
Lengthy and repeated stress responses—prevalent in the hectic lives we live—can have harmful effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health if our energy reserves get wholly depleted.
With higher levels of stress, the more frequent and necessary it is for us to renew our physical, mental, and emotional energy reserves to avoid burnout.
Burnout can seem like the end, but it’s not.
By changing how we prioritize our time and other valuable resources, we can make a complete recovery and emerge anew.
Much like plants and animals in nature retreat for a time of rest during winter, from time to time, we all must retreat to replenish ourselves so we may emerge anew.
If you are experiencing extreme stress that can lead to burnout, you have learned several techniques that you can adopt to recharge.
Just like in springtime, the bare tree emerges after a long winter to put forth leaves.
From burnout, you can also emerge with new energy, habits, and a new perspective, and a new life.
“Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.” –Stephen Hawking, English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author
Family caregivers struggle. And those that also hold down jobs experience extreme stress and anxiety. Juggling work and caregiving duties cannot help but impact their productivity and job performance.
Working family caregivers also, at the same time, want to experience a measure of happiness and contentment.
Is this possible?
Consider just a few of the many consequences to working caregivers, according to a recent National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP study:
6 out of 10 (61%) caregivers experience at least one change in their employment due to caregiving such as cutting back on hours, taking a leave of absence receiving a warning about performance or attendance.
49% arrive at their place of work late, leave early, or take time off.
15% take a leave of absence.
14% reduce their work hours or take a demotion.
5% turn down promotions.
4 % choose to retire early.
3% lose job benefits.
6% give up working entirely.
39% leave their job to have more time to care for a loved one.
34% leave their job because their work does not provide flexible hours.
When it comes to productivity:
The same National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP study found that the costs of informal caregiving in terms of lost productivity to U.S. businesses is $17.1 to $33.4 billion annually.
You Can Improve Your Productivity with These Three Simple Daily Routines
Relax and clear your mind.
A clear mind leads to greater focus and increased creativity.
Substitute unwanted thoughts for desirable ones (affirmations, daydream)
Write your feelings out in a journal
Call a friend
Exercise/get out in nature (walk, run, aerobics)
Breathe deeply (try the 7/11 breathing exercise: count to 7 as you breathe in and count to 11 as you slowly breathe out)
Turn off technology
Our most valuable resource is time.
Having a strategy to organize your day will increase your productivity and help you avoid time-wasting activities; a reasonable amount of order prevents anxiety and reduces stress.
Plan your tasks the night before you go to work (my favorite strategy). This strategy is simple, and it works. Otherwise, you could spend hours debating what you should do at the beginning of your day, which is a time-waster.
Why not wake up, relax and clear your mind, and begin your tasks immediately.
There are many formulas to organize your work.
Try the “Eisenhower Box”:
I will not recount the many accomplishments of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, and a five-star general of the United States Army, but he did a lot.
And his methods for time management and productivity have been studied at length.
The Eisenhower Box
Understand the difference between urgent and important tasks. What is important is often not urgent, and what is critical is usually not significant.
Urgent tasks, for instance, could include emails, phone calls, and text messages. However, essential duties contribute to the long-term mission, values, and goals of the company.
The Eisenhower Box makes it simple to separate urgent/not urgent differences. However, making the distinction over and over again, day in and day out consistently can be tough.
Tip: Never check email before noon. Use the morning to do what’s important rather than responding to what is “urgent.”
Multitasking is a time waster and does not work! You will not accomplish more, in fact, just the opposite. Having fewer priorities leads to better work. You can’t be great at one task if you are dividing your time seven or eight ways.
Thus, multitasking is counterproductive.
According to neuroscientist Dr. Jordan Grafman: “We cannot focus on several things at the same time; something has to suffer. Hence, multitasking can result in superficiality and poor retention. Also, the rapid-fire switching of attention causes people to make more mistakes and takes more time to get jobs done than completing them sequentially.”
The fastest way to get something done is to eliminate the task from your to-do list, which is not always possible.
You must force yourself to delete any task that doesn’t move you forward to accomplish your mission or lead toward your values or goals.
So be prepared sometimes to make hard decisions and delete tasks when possible.
Don’t do “busy work” for the sake of being busy.
The myth of multitasking is that being busy is synonymous with being better.
I like this quote from Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek:
“Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”
In this regard, you should find the Eisenhower Matrix helpful. Using the Matrix will help you eliminate the things that waste your time each day.
You will be more productive at the more important things.
Tip: Never be afraid to let others lend a helping hand; delegate.
How to Find Joy
Yes, it is possible to alleviate the pain of the ups and downs of your job responsibilities as an employee while fulfilling your demanding family caregiver role.
Happiness is a choice you make.
There are ways to create a deliberate positive emotional state.
There are ways to feel at peace and have joy.
Express gratitude—daily; count your blessings.
Force negative thoughts out of your mind.
Concentrate on positive things.
Talk about positive things.
Surround yourself with positive thinkers.
Find purpose in your caregiving role; you are helping others.
Maintain a good social circle.
Smile, laugh out loud!
Follow the example of evergreen trees:
In Canada and the northern United States, you can find hundreds of miles of evergreen forests. During wintertime, these trees endure intense weather conditions, such as heavy wet snow and freezing rain and ice.
But the evergreens thrive. Why?
Evergreens bend, flex, and adjust to their circumstances. They thrive not out of resistance, but through acceptance of what they cannot control.
So, dear working caregiver, how will you bend and flex with your life’s circumstances? How will you refuse to let worry and anxiety steal another moment of your happiness and contentment?
There is strength—not weakness—in learning how to bend and adjust when storms come our way.
Source: A Family Caregiver’s Guide: 7 Secrets to Convert Negative Triggers to Positive Emotions
Notice Dr. Wayne Dyer’s description of happiness as a journey in his book, Pulling Your Own Strings:
“Instead, wake up and appreciate everything you encounter along your path. Enjoy the flowers that are for your pleasure. Tune in to the sunrise, the little children, the laughter, the rain, and the birds. Drink it all in, rather than waiting to get some always-future point where it will be all right for you to relax.
“Indeed, success—even life itself—is nothing more than moments to enjoy, one at a time. When you understand this principle, you will stop evaluating your happiness based on achievements, and instead, look upon the whole trip of life as something to be happy about. Or to sum it up, there is no way to happiness, because happiness is the way.”
Family caregivers perform a heroic and crucial role in our society.
When the family caregiver must also hold down a job outside the home, this can lead to extreme stress and anxiety.
The working family caregiver pulling “double duty” often experiences anger, resentment, and frustration.
Caregiving harms the worker.
Caregiving responsibilities have shown to contribute to reduced employee productivity.
Employees with caregiving responsibilities cost their employers billions of dollars more per year in healthcare costs than employees without caregiving responsibilities.
I could go on and on.
If you are one juggling work and caregiving, I hope you have found the ideas presented in this article that focuses primarily on productivity and organization, helpful.
Be assured; you are providing labor of love under challenging circumstances.
But you can feel joy no matter your situation in life.
“You can’t always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.”—Wayne Dyer
“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” –Thomas Edison
dear friend Charlotte, aged 67, called me with some bad news about her health.
was out walking near her home when she began to lose her balance. She found herself
shuffling along instead of walking smoothly.
gait was off.
poor balance frightened and confused her. She wondered, what could be the
said that she figured she was just tired. After all, Charlotte attended
exercise classes three times each week, which included strength training and
Charlotte told me that later that evening, when she tried to get out a friend’s
car, she had difficulty and needed help.
felt nervous and scared and made an appointment to see her doctor right away.
story short, after a physical examination and numerous lab tests, including a lumbar
puncture, it seems that Charlotte has a condition called normal pressure hydrocephalus
the writing of this article, the doctor needs to perform more tests to be sure.
if Charlotte discovers that she has NPH, it is a long-term condition and
generally cannot be cured. The most common treatment is the placement of a
shunt—something Charlotte’s loathe to get.
most cases, no one ever knows the cause.
the shunt surgery is successful, Charlotte will lead a healthy life, which
means she will keep my independence and will not need nursing care.
praying for my dear friend.
the doctor listed about 20 different dietary and nutritional supplements Charlotte
should take daily.
you know anything about me through my writing, you know that I research
was curious to know what gives with the supplements?
many people, including perhaps you, dear reader, I never took supplements of
any kind. I assumed I was getting all of the nutrients I needed through food.
I went on a quest of discovery.
Are Dietary and Nutritional Supplements?
supplements are not medicines and should not be considered a substitute for
medicine, dietary and nutritional supplements are not regulated by the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They therefore do not need to prove that a
product is safe and effective to sell them.
manufacturers of supplements are not legally allowed to say their products
cure, treat, or prevent disease.
of dietary and nutritional supplements can only say their products “support”
health or “may contribute” to well-being.
supplements are not medicines and you should not use them to treat, diagnose,
mitigate, prevent, or cure diseases.
are more than 50,000 supplement products marketed in the U.S. 50% of the adult
population consume dietary supplements.
the federal government can take action against companies and websites that sell
dietary supplements when they make false or deceptive claims about their
products, or if they promote their products as treatments or cures for
food shall be thy remedy.” – Hippocrates (called the “father of medicine”)
thing on which practically all nutritionists seem to agree is that eating too
much fat can increase your risk of high cholesterol levels and increases your
risk of heart disease.
eating habits include getting sufficient vitamins and minerals (often referred
to as micronutrients because your body needs only small amounts of them).
micronutrients in your body, you could suffer from a vitamin deficiency, which
can result in horrific diseases and medical conditions.
(sailors would succumb to this disease due to a lack of vitamin C found in
fresh fruits and vegetables).
(people still become blind in some developing countries from vitamin A
(soft, weak bones that sometimes lead to skeletal deformities, such as bowed
legs, which result from a deficiency in vitamin D).
the other hand, the benefits of micronutrients include:
of congenital disabilities
and minerals are not the same things:
organic and broken down by heat, air, or acid
inorganic and hold on to their chemical structure
means: Minerals can easily find their way into our bodies through plants, fish,
animals, and the drinks we consume, while vitamins can be challenging to get
into our system from the foods we eat because of cooking, storage, or exposure
minerals and vitamins together keep our eyes, skin, lungs, gastrointestinal
tract, and nervous system healthy.
For our food to keep us healthy, it should include:
(found in fish, meat, poultry dairy products, eggs, nuts, and beans)
(found in animal and dairy products, nuts, and oils)
(found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans and other legumes)
(such as A, B, C, D, E, and K)
Minerals (such as calcium, potassium, and
(both in what you drink and water found in food
you are not getting these necessary minerals and vitamins in your food, this is
where supplements can help.
Blumberg, PhD, professor of nutrition at Tufts University School of Nutrition,
Science, and Policy says about using supplements, “It’s one thing you can do
that’s not too hard to do.”
Blumberg believes that seniors, specifically, need to do what they can to
protect themselves from heart disease and cancer, which happens to be the two
leading causes of death among those over sixty-five years of age.
supplements may include what’s missing in a typical diet.
Dr. Blumberg, it’s clear: a diet that follows the food pyramid and daily
What does he recommend?
B folate (protects from cardiovascular disease and stroke; found in dark green,
yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, spinach, orange
juice, and lentils).
K (good for healthy bones; found in collard greens, spinach, broccoli,
asparagus, lettuce, and kale, which is the vitamin k King).
E (conflicting evidence that this vitamin reduces the risk of heart disease,
cancer, and other conditions, found in fatty foods such as nuts and oils).
and Vitamin D (prevent bone thinning, which can lead to fractures; however, the
best source is the sun).
do not make up for a poor diet. While they can help, they cannot replace many
of the nutrients and fiber found in food.
are government-recommended daily doses of vitamins and minerals considered to
be relatively safe and useful.
megadoses promoted for the treatment of some illnesses may not be good for your
health and can possibly interfere with the absorption or activity of other
nutrients and can cause serious side effects.
possibility of side effects, as well as the lack of substantial evidence
supporting the use of megavitamins, should not be ignored.
and minerals have no calories.
has all the vitamins and minerals.
your diet lacks a vitamin or mineral over a long period, you will develop a
“best” form of most vitamins and minerals is the kind you get from food.
your doctor for diet and nutrition recommendations to treat a health condition.
What to Do?
the labels: Dietary supplements come with Supplement Facts labels that list
active ingredients such as fillers, binder, and flavorings, etc.
the side effects: You are most likely to have side effects from dietary
supplements if you take them at high doses, take many different supplements, or
take them in place of medicine.
the quality: Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) are established by the FDA
that help ensure and identify, purity, strength, and composition of dietary
supplements. These guidelines help reduce the chance of contamination or
improper packaging and labeling of a product.
Questions to Ask Your Health Provider
Before taking any nutritional or dietary supplements, ask:
I need a supplement?
are the potential benefits for me?
does the research say about the benefits?
this product have any safety risks?
is the proper dose to take?
when, and for how long should I take it?
I take it as a pill, powder, or liquid?
term “dietary supplement” describes a broad and diverse category of products
that you eat or drink to support good health and “supplement” the diet.
handful of vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements can never take the
place of a healthy diet, according to David Grotto RD, a spokesperson for the
American Dietetic Association (ADA).
so, the ADA recognizes that some people require supplements because they are
not getting the adequate amounts of vitamins and or minerals they need in sufficient
amounts in their diet.
These groups include:
with food allergies or intolerances
people with diseases such as cancer, kidney, cardiovascular, or bone disease,
just to name a few.
I last visited a health food store, I discovered a dizzying assortment of
dietary and nutritional supplements from vitamins to minerals to diet pills.
seemed to be thousands of options!
since Charlotte’s doctor had given her a list of “must” have supplements, she knew
what to look for.
women are concerned about the future.
women are trying to stay healthy.
women say they worry more about their health than their finances.
article has presented several ideas to help you determine the pros and cons of
using “dietary supplements.”
you still have questions?
I’ve listed several valuable resources you can trust.
“My supplements are similar to my training—I always commit to being a better version of myself.” —Ronnie Coleman
Printed from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary
Single, sixty-three-year-old Lois felt buried under a veritable landslide of debt.
How did this happen?
How did Lois sabotage herself financially?
Lois lamented: “I thought my mid-life years would be stress-free and blissful. It was so easy to get into debt. But will I ever, ever get out of debt?”
There are millions of families in most countries in the world facing the same dilemma. Rare indeed are the persons who manage to live their lives without shouldering a large, sometimes unmanageable, burden of debt.
Getting into Debt
How does one get into debt? Simple! It is a way of life. Governments, multi-national corporations, small businesses, families, and individuals have all come to accept debt as usual.
Pride often creates debt. Debt creates strain. Strain leads to other difficulties. So how does one live in a world that’s debt-oriented and, at the same time, stay out of debt?
Perhaps the first lesson to be learned is pure sales resistance. One cannot enter the door of most financial institutions without being assailed by posters offering loans.
Credit cards are readily available.
Banks are competing to offer the lowest interest rates to entice you to give their services a try.
Over the spectrum from loan sharks to reputable banking institutions, there are millions of successful, aggressive persons who are in the business of selling money.
To them, money is a commodity—like groceries—and their job is selling it to you.
Learn to say NO.
Many formulas exist to define an acceptable ratio of debt to income, but these vary greatly. For instance, some economists feel that a family may comfortably allocate 30 percent of gross income to pay for shelter, such as mortgage payments.
But this formula may not be feasible for the very poor.
So general formulas are often too vague. Consider the whole problem of debt on a personal level for the best outcome.
Some debt may be acceptable, such as buying a house at a reasonable rate.
Other forms of debt may be unacceptable. Debt management includes the ability to reject them. Perhaps the best rule is: Do not buy what you do not need and cannot afford it.
Avoid impulse buying. Even if something is half price, it is not a bargain for you if you cannot afford it.
Follow These Tips to Get Out and Stay Out of Debt
There are plenty of ways to get out of debt. I discuss a few in this article.
Establish a working relationship with a reputable bank.
If you must borrow down the road, this will likely get the best interest rate.
Start paying off debts in some organized way.
Project your anticipated personal cash flow over the next 24 months. Be realistic.
Include every bit of income you expect to have.
List debts in order of priority.
Allocate on a fair basis so that each debt receives at least some payment.
Set a target date to pay off each debt.
Pick up a side hustle.
Sell off high ticket items (jewelry, fancy electronics).
Can the grocery bill be shaved?
Can vacations be cut?
Can luxury items be enjoyed less often?
Can you negotiate a lower interest rate on credit cards—either temporarily or permanently?
Don’t shop too often. Experts say you will spend less if you only buy once or twice a week.
Don’t stay too long. Supermarket surveys have indicated that for every minute you remain in the store for over 30 minutes, you spend 50 cents extra.
Discuss your plan with a bank loan officer. He may be able to show you how to improve your strategy. He may even suggest a debt consolidation plan, which comes with a fixed interest rate.
The world over, people put their trust in money.
Money is in and out of your pocket like a flash!
Yet money is a necessary item in your life.
Money can bring you some temporary measure of happiness if you can see money for what it’s worth. But if you overestimate the value of money and make it your chief goal in life, it can be calamitous!
Take Control of Your Money
If you feel overwhelmed or confused about how to get started, I’d like to recommend a useful resource:
Dave Ramsey is a seven-time bestselling author on finance and money.
He also hosts a popular radio show and podcast.
On Dave Ramsey’s website, you will find a plethora of information, including tools, classes, books, and live events designed to help you control your money.
You could start with an assessment on the site that creates a customized plan to help you with your money issues.
Not only does Dave Ramsey provide advice on debt and budgeting, but also savings, retirement, and taxes.
You should check out Ramsey’s site!
Or you may prefer to use one of the top-rated money management, personal finance, and budgeting apps:
Finally—Think Before You Buy!
Personal debt is out of control.
The world over, people put trust in money.
But money can be gone in a flash.
It’s as if money has wings and flies away.
But as I’ve cautioned in this article, great care should be taken as to how you spend your money. If you are budget-minded, think before you buy, trim down to the essentials, learn to live on less, and are resourceful, you can get out of debt—and stay out of debt!
“We will be more successful in all endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.” –Thigh Nhat Hanh
Towers Watson, a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through competent people, risk, and financial management, revealed its latest “Health, Wellbeing, and Productivity” survey. The survey showed that of those employers able to measure well-being, 86 percent thought that excessive workload or extended hours were the most significant causes of stress.
Do You Agree?
Consider these facts:
One in five workers misses work due to stress.
Two in 10 workers start the week stressed.
Managers are too busy and stressed out themselves to help their team members deal with their anxiety and stress.
One solution for workers:
Learn how to relax.
Medical professionals, psychologists, and psychiatrists agree that learning how to relax minimizes many of our anxieties, frustrations, resentments, nervous tensions, and resultant physical disorders.
It takes no specialized knowledge, aptitudes, or preparations to learn how to relax and how to benefit from its soothing, healing and, calming influence.
But, unfortunately, many of us are too busy chasing material wealth to give much thought to our well-being and take time out to relax.
And so, we turn to stopgaps, to the temporary relief of opiates, barbiturates, and tranquilizers. They serve their primary purpose at first, but before long, they become a crutch, a necessity, a constant need.
And, as our system grows used to these temporary measures, we have to increase the dosage or use them more often, and eventually, we become mental casualties.
What Is Relaxation?
What IS relaxation? According to The Oxford English Dictionary: “To make or become less tense, anxious, or rigid; rest from work or engage in a recreational activity.”
A few synonyms for relaxation: To relax is to lighten, to reduce, to curtail, or to modify; to submit, to comply, to slacken, or give way; to rest, to recline, to repose, to let go.
All of the terms mentioned above, refer to relaxation and have an essential bearing upon our mental and physical well-being. We must take time out to rest and to replenish our energies or else we will go to pieces.
One of nature’s ways to guard against complete physical and mental exhaustion is the need for sleep. Sleep is one of the most critical metabolic functions essential to life. It is nature’s way to ensure the body gets the needed rest to replenish expended energy.
We can abstain from sleep for as many as forty-eight hours without apparent ill effect. However, tests show that beyond the first forty-eight hours, there is a growing loss of sustained attentive ability.
When we don’t get adequate sleep, we tend to develop dizziness, headaches, burning eyes, nervousness, irritability, and lightheadedness.
Lack of sleep also contributes to a growing dullness of perception, lack of awareness, and marked sluggishness in average reflect action.
Thus, sleep is a must! Sleep promotes rest under all conditions and circumstances.
However, the amount of sleep required by an individual is dependent upon her age, her work, her daily habits, and her physical and psychological make-up.
One person could require seven or eight hours, and another five or six hours. However, if you cannot sleep, soundly, and naturally during your customary sleeping hours or if you have trouble dropping off to sleep, you will not experience the rest for your tired muscles.
Restful sleep will allow you to let go of tension, of care, of worry, of anger, or uneasiness.
Sleep is one form of letting go and get the release from mental and physical fatigue and nervous tension.
A Relaxation Plan
Another way restful sleep helps us is muscular relaxation. In his book titled Release from Nervous Tension, Dr. David Harold Fink outlines a ten-week plan for learning how to relax.
Here is what you must do—
Weeks one and two:
“Find a time when you will not be disturbed and undress and stretch out face upwards on a bed. Place one pillow under your neck so that your head rolls back toward the head of the bed. Spread your legs a little and place pillows under your knees to bring them upward and outward at a slight angle.
Move your hands about eight inches from your body and put pillows under your elbows, with your hands hanging over the end of the cushions. “You are now in the right physical position to learn how to relax.
Start with your jaw. Let it sag and droop to your chin, but keep the lips together. Close your eyes, and let the lids meet naturally. Now, as you breathe in and out in your usual way, utilize the power of habit in following voiced suggestions and say to your arms: “Let go. Let go. More. A little more. “
Continue ordering them to let loose, to slacken, to let go, until they do.
“Soon, your inhalations and exhalations will slow down, your arms will loosen up and relax with every breath, and you will experience a new sensation.
Your muscular tensions will be lessened and you will gain a new sense of renewed muscular strength, of increased natural tone and vitality. Practice the arm relaxation twice a day, thirty minutes each time for two weeks.”
Relax the chest muscles.
“Start with relaxing your arms as you have been doing. When you feel they are heavy and your hands grow warm, start talking to your chest muscles. Ignore your inhalations for the time being. Let them be as usual, but every time you exhale, say to your chest muscles, ‘Let go. Let go. More. A little more.’“
Continue telling your chest muscles to let go until you feel them loosen up. Keep this up for a week, twice a day, for half-hour periods.
Weeks four through seven:
“Start relaxing your back muscles on the fourth week, the leg muscles on the fifth, the back of the neck on the sixth, and the facial muscles on the seventh.
In each case, you start with the arms for a few minutes, then with the chest, and then the others in succession.”
Weeks eight through ten:
“For the eighth week, relax the muscles of your scalp to relieve nervous headaches. Let go of the muscles of your eyes for the ninth week. Pretend your eyes are so loose that they will fall out if you do not watch them, and soon you will be rid of the feeling of eye strain.
For the tenth and final week, learn to relax the muscles of your vocal cords. Practice speaking slowly, softly, in a smooth, calm voice, enunciating each word, each syllable, without any strain or particular emphasis.”
Dr. Fink concludes “. . . Ten weeks is a short time to learn to acquire a new skill. Yet, it is long enough to help you combat emotional conflicts, reduce paralyzing inhibitions, improve your general health, and gain a new sense of freedom from strain and nervous tension.”
Normal sleep and muscle relaxations are healthy ways to reduce nervous tension, to neutralize compulsions, and to minimize inner conflicts.
Try the above exercises.
Follow Dr. Fink’s 10-week plan to learn how to relax as this plan will surely bring you rest, ease, and comfort.
Following Dr. Fink’s 10-week plan to learn how to relax is also sure to improve your mental and physical health.