As we enter yet another holiday this week, remember that everyone has expectations; but that doesn’t mean you have to fulfil them! Enjoy the slow everywhere you go. You’ll get there faster. Trust me. You will!

Please share this wisdom with others. How will you say ‘no’ today?

The average American spends 1,778 hours at work each year; the average Brit 1,647. For many, a lot of that time is spent in a pool of stress.

Workplace wellness goes beyond OSHA directives. It’s not just about safety, but also about a feeling of engagement, centeredness and motivation. Yet stress-related absenteeism is at an all-time high, according to a recent study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development. In the UK stress is now, in fact, the number one reason for long-term absenteeism from work.

What is stress? Not all of it is bad. In fact, good stress keeps us feeling alive, But what I’m talking about here is the negative stress that keeps you up at night. And it has increased in recent years.

According to a recent Gallup poll as reported in Manufacturing Weekly, 34% of those surveyed pointed to general job-related stress as the thing they despised most about their current position, as compared to only 28% in 2008. At the same time, and in true American style, only one in five complained about the amount of vacation time they had.

In light of these statistics, wouldn’t it make sense for employers to recognize this trend and do something about it?

Many have.

One such company that sees the preventative value of stress-reduction is GovernmentAuctions.org, a Web site that compiles and provides information about government auctions of seized and surplus merchandise from all over the country. According to CEO Ian Aronovich, they do a number of things to relieve stress such as Thursday six-pack lunches (yes, beer!), a year-round membership to a gym within walking distance from the office, an in-house inflatable punching bag to release any extra aggression while at work, a chin/pull-up bar to show off physical prowess (and give the brain a rest) as well as casual dress and music during work hours. Sounds like a hip place that recognizes the importance of letting off steam.

Debi Goldben, a former child welfare worker in Illinois, used to enjoy a meditation room with a reclining chair, a CD player and candles, which the executive director personally organized.  Inspired by this benefit, she is now transitioning to become a holistic life coach to encourage mind-body-spirit integration, regardless of where people work.

According to Workforce magazine, the California branch of Blue Shield, a leading US insurance company, realized many of its workers were snacking on unhealthy foods and that 65% were actually overweight. In an effort they termed “Wellvolution”, the company replaced vending machine fare to reflect its commitment to employee health.

Savvy companies look at their workers as whole people rather than coin-operated machines. It’s not a waste of time. It’s simply smart business.

It doesn’t take much to regain our internal alignment, but it does move beyond just acquiring certain time management skills. through online time management games or training. Healthy food choices, moments of relaxation and enough time to breathe for proper mind-body-spirit integration are great ways to embrace the power of slow while spending those 1700 odd hours at your workplace.

What does your company do to keep you in alignment? Paying you is one thing. Paying attention to what you need to stay productive is entirely another.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Where in the world is it legitimate to kiss a stranger, drink wine at lunch and ride on the water even during a lightning storm?

If you guessed Italy, you’re right.

If you have spent any time in Italy at all, you will know why it is the birthplace of the Slow movement. It’s not that Italians are, per se, turtle-like. In fact, they are quite efficient (even their trains are on time!). But what informs their unique power of slow is the way they embrace life itself.

“You want to stay all day? Okay! You want to leave, okay, too!” the resort manager exclaimed in June when we found ourselves not wanting to depart after having enjoyed a week of Italian sun. He ended up giving us a free night (and a bigger place at the week’s beginning). When we spent another two weeks there in August, we started to think maybe he was giving us the special treatment.

One day, he stopped by on his bike and smiled.

“I have an idea.”

I winked at him over my glass of Chianti and said, “I like your idea already.”

He told us of a friend who has a sailboat. He’d take us out for a four-hour sail around the harbor of Trieste, “if we felt like it.”

Boy did we ever! Despite the two-foot jelly fish that rolled around the harbor waters, we managed to get on and off the ten-meter sailboat without trouble. It was a perfect, windless day so the sailing part was definitely sloooow. We topped off the evening with a sunset dinner at a nearby restaurant whose salmon made me weep. It was that good!

The last day was a tad cloudy so I headed to Venice while the kids and my husband stayed at the resort for a final day of frolicking. There I learned the water taxis are as punctual as the trains. As we skippered along the ocean to the island of Lido where the Venice Film Festival is being held, I pretended to ignore the lightning flashing behind my new friend’s head. He distracted me with his recounting his latest film in which he plays a priest murderer. I couldn’t help but notice there was a priest sitting in the boat so I felt a blend of relief and fear that my actor friend may have had ideas!

The next day, we unwillingly left our beloved Italian resort on the island of Grado and returned to Germany. We couldn’t help but notice the different pace of life immediately.

It’s good to be home with Italian memories in our suitcase, waiting for the next time to unpack the joy of slow under the Adriatic sun.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Yesterday I had to navigate very icy roads to bring my son and his best friend to a Carnival party. It was stressful as people around me seemed to be driving at a normal speed while I was turtling along, sweating bullets.

Robert Butera offers great insights into why traffic jams are neutral and what we can do about our reactions to stressful events. It all begins with how we frame things.

Read on and enjoy!

Yoga Psychology on Stress Management

By Robert Butera, PhD

How do you face your daily challenges? How often do you feel subtle or extreme stress? Are you constantly reacting to your surroundings without awareness, or are you paying attention and discerning your choices?

Let’s take the universal example of traffic. What do you experience when you are stuck in a serious traffic jam? Often the answer to this question is some kind of negative emotion such as anger, frustration, or pressure. But what if you thought of the traffic jam as a small blessing that allowed you some unexpected time to reflect, relax, or enjoy some deep breathing? It is interesting to note that 20 people stuck in the same traffic jam will have 20 different reactions to the situation. This phenomenon offers a simple yet profound lesson – the traffic jam is simply a traffic jam. It is how we react to the traffic jam that creates and sustains unnecessary levels of stress in our daily lives.

This concept that everything is neutral is one of the primary underpinnings of traditional Yoga Psychology. It is a unique perspective, because when we contemplate this idea, we must ask ourselves: If everything is neutral, then why does stress exist? Yoga teachings tell us that anything that clouds our understanding of reality causes a corresponding amount of struggle in life. To understand how to have positive reactions to life requires us to understand the deeper reasons, values, beliefs, and life events that have shaped our approach to living and relating.

The traffic jam is really just a metaphor for any challenging situation we face throughout the course of the day. When we are emotional, it is hard to take a step back and see things as they truly are. Learned emotional responses trigger unaware reactions.  When we become aware of our triggers, take a deep breath, and review the situation, the possibility of emotional transformation arises. In those few moments, a situation that might normally bring stress into the mind/body can instead bring about a sense of equanimity.

Six Ways to Apply Yoga Psychology to Daily Life

Every time you recognize and understand a personal stress, there is an opportunity for positive change and personal growth to occur. Use stressors you identify as a way of learning more about yourself. Whatever you learn will be interesting!

This six-step process can be used any time, but for many, the end of the day (before falling asleep) is best. Even the busiest person has 5–10 minutes before bedtime to reflect on the events of the day.

  1. Think of one minor stress from the day – something as simple as traffic is better than a profound catastrophe.
  2. Think of the emotion you felt during that situation. Refrain from stating the cause of the emotion. Phrase the statement, “I felt (emotion) while I sat in the traffic.”
  3. Consider how the situation could be neutral. The traffic is just the traffic. It did not force you to have any specific emotion. You had the emotional reaction to the traffic. Some people like traffic, such as salaried workers who get a break. Notice how your perspective toward a neutral situation affects your emotional response.
  4. Understand your underlying belief pattern that creates your reaction to the situation. For example, “Traffic is annoying because I do not have enough time to spend with my children after working all day.” The issue to be understood is not the traffic but the fact that you feel as though you don’t have enough time.
  5. Re-evaluate how you can tailor your belief pattern in a fashion that allows you to have your deep values without evoking stress reactions. “I accept that working will alter my life with kids. However, this is my life and I will accept that children are raised by a village – and I trust my village.”
  6. Let your stressful situations be permitted. Let self-understanding be permitted. As you understand your situations, see yourself as a wise person and integrate the idea that all things are neutral, and you can reduce stress to a minimum.

As you work through these six steps and apply these lessons, remember that the easier part of the process is recognizing that all things are neutral and that you have the power to react without stress. The harder part of the process is accepting the pain that you find when you examine the “whys” of your reactions. Stay present with what you uncover, and use it as a learning tool to positively transform your experience of daily life.

* * * * *

Robert Butera PhD is author of The Pure Heart of Yoga: Ten Essential Steps to Personal Transformation (Llewellyn, $21.95), publisher of Yoga Living magazine, and director of The YogaLife Institute in Devon, Pennsylvania, where he trains yoga instructors as well as students. Visit www.pureheartofyoga.com for more information.