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Monthly Archives: August 2013
Stress is unavoidable and inescapable. It’s part and parcel of our lives. In many ways, our bodies are built not only to handle stress, but to thrive on it. However, there is such a thing as too much. That’s particularly true for parents. Reducing your stress can have some profound effects on your family, and even on your relationship with your spouse (the converse is also true, so start cutting out those stressors now). If you struggle with stress in your family life (and most of us do), here are five important tips for parents to de-stress.
The single largest source of stress in a family is finance-related. Money problems can take a happy home and turn it into a battleground. Money issues stress out parents, and that stress translates to the kids. It’s an endless, vicious circle. The best way to tackle stress from money problems is head on. Get a grip on your financial situation. Do what you need to do to get things back under control, even if there are some drastic measures needed (selling that second car, or downsizing your home, for instance). You’ll be amazed at just how much better you feel when you don’t have those bills (and bill collectors) hanging over your head.
Spend More Time Together
One factor that might be adding stress to your family life is not actually spending enough time together. If you, your spouse and your kids come home then head off to do your own separate things, try doing something different. Set up a family board game night each week, go see a move together, or engage in some other group activity that gets you all together.
Alternatively, the problem might stem from too much time together. Everyone needs a little alone time, and if you don’t get it, stress and resentment mount. Find a hobby that gives you a little bit of time do to your own thing. Start a garden, or pick up woodworking. Learn how to brew beer at home, or start scrapbooking.
If it seems like it’s been years since you and your spouse were out on the town together, planning a date night can be just the thing to reduce stress and even rekindle that old spark. Let the grandparents watch the kids and go see a movie or a show. A nice dinner out, a concert together or just a stroll through the park can do wonders for your stress level.
Learn to Delegate Tasks
If it seems like you’re covered up with a never-ending list of tasks at home, it’s time to start delegating. No single person should be responsible for all the tasks and jobs around the home – it’s just not feasible in our modern world. Delegate to the kids and to your spouse, and then hold them to getting those things done.
There are plenty of other ways for parents to beat stress, but the five items listed above offer immediate help with some of the most common stressors.
Feeling like you’re stretching yourself too thin? There just aren’t enough hours in the day, are there? While no one’s invented a time machine yet, or a way to stretch the space-time continuum and add a few extra hours per day, there are things that you can do to build in additional free time. In fact, chances are good that you have more time than you realize. You’re just not using it correctly. Here are five ways to boost your free time and make better use of the hours you have available.
Cut Out Social Media
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, G+ and the rest are lots of fun. They help you connect with people in your life, and even make new friends. However, they’re massive time sinks. How many hours per week do you spend mindlessly clicking that “like” button or re-sharing the posts of others? How many hours do you sink into Farmville? Chances are good it’s more than you think. Track it, and you’ll see.
Make a To Do List
Lists aren’t all that fun to make, but they can be valuable tools if you’re looking to make the most of your available time. Make a to do list and prioritize it in order of task importance. Check off each item as you complete it. This will help give you a sense of accomplishment and ensure that you’re making the most of your time rather than focusing on unimportant tasks.
Whether you’re doing housework or managing a busy office, you can make more of your available time if you delegate responsibilities. Understand that you don’t have to be the person to complete every single task. Get your kids involved in doing dishes, tidying up the house, gathering laundry. Get your spouse to contribute. In an office setting, delegate responsibilities to appropriate team members.
If you’re like most of us, you spend more time hunting for documents, files, folders and other things than you do actually involved with doing something. Every minute that you spend searching for something that should be right in front of you is a wasted minute. Get organized and stay organized. That applies just as much to your home life as it does to your work life.
Set Goals and Measure Progress
This is another tip that applies equally to home and work life – set goals and then measure progress toward those goals. Perhaps you want to improve your department’s performance by 5%, or maybe you want to finally clean out that storage building. Set your goals, track your progress and then celebrate your successes.
We all have more free time than we realize. The key is to identify where it’s being wasted. With the five tips above, you can cut out wasted time and free up a significant amount of time that you can spend in other, more productive ways. If necessary, start small (social media interaction, for instance) and work your way up to larger changes.
For most of us, our office workspace is what it is. You deal with the desk, chair, office layout/cubicle space and computer workstation that you were given. However, even those of us not allowed to choose our own chairs and desks can reconstruct our office space to enhance ergonomics. If you’re not familiar with the concept, ergonomics is the science of applied design to protect the human body, prevent strain and stress on joints and muscles, while maximizing productivity. The CDC highlights numerous serious health disorders stemming from poor workplace ergonomics, but you can take matters into your own hands and reconstruct that space to protect yourself.
These days, most of us spend the majority of our time on the computer while at work. This means that your computer system’s setup and layout are of paramount importance in terms of ergonomics. You need to be most concerned with two elements here:
The computer monitor should be at or just below eye level, and it should be angled so that you can see the screen clearly despite the glare of those ubiquitous fluorescents overhead. If you have to squint, hunch, tilt your head or otherwise adjust your body to see the screen clearly, it’s not set up correctly.
The primary means of interaction between humans and computers is through the keyboard and mouse. Make sure that the keyboard is at or just below the level of your arms when in a seated position. Have a wrist rest in front of the keyboard to support your wrists. The mouse should be located on the same level as the keyboard and usable without any unnecessary twisting or readjusting of your body.
You might not think a footrest is an appropriate piece of office furniture, but it is. Adding a footrest under your desk can help decrease stress and strain on your legs, knees and hips, and it can also help enhance blood flow. Not all workplaces will happily let you add a footrest to your office, but it should be considered to help protect you.
All of your frequently used items should be kept within easy reach of your office chair. Ideally, you’ll have a document holder next to your monitor, so you can reach it while keeping your elbows near your sides. This also applies to your phone. As a note, if you spend a considerable amount of time on the phone during the day, consider investing in a good headset, rather than using the uncomfortable handset. This will prevent you from trying to type and talk or listen at the same time while crunching your head to your shoulder (to hold the handset in place). A headset can make an enormous difference in your comfort and alleviate phone call-related neck, shoulder and back pain.
Follow these tips and reconstruct your office workspace for better comfort and ergonomics. Your body will thank you.
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