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How to Make Stress Work in Your Favor

Change the way you think about your fight-or-flight reaction, and make it work for you.

Sometimes, stress can seem like a full-time job. Many of us try to avoid it or, failing that, manage or mitigate it. But Kelly McGonigal, a lecturer at Stanford University and author of The Upside of Stress, makes the case for embracing the stress in your life.

“We have this story about stress that says when stress is present, there’s something wrong with me or something wrong with my life,” she says. But the reality is that there’s no stress-free version of your life available to you—it’s always going to be there.

McGonigal advocates changing our attitudes about stress and embracing it. That’s easier said than done, but following several steps can help.

Accept That Some Stress Will Always Be There
Noticing and accepting that stress is a part of what it means to be human and to have a meaningful life is the first step in turning around negative attitudes toward it. “Sometimes, when you’re feeling stressed out, you literally have to say to yourself, ‘I’m stressed out right now because I care about my job,’ or, ‘This is stressful because I’m a parent and parenting is stressful,’” McGonigal says.

Let Yourself Feel The Stress
The people who do best in stressful situations aren’t the ones who seem deliriously happy all the time. In fact, quite the opposite—being able to see the darker side of stress and what you need to learn from the stressor is essential to making it work for you, McGonigal says. That may mean feeling anger, recognizing injustice, or admitting mistakes. Those actions are all necessary for using the stressful situation or state as “a catalyst for deepening relationships with colleagues or family members, for strengthening their priorities,” she says.

Your Options For Dealing With Stress
When you realize the stressor is there and it’s real, you have options in how you’re going to deal with it, says Paul Coleman, PsyD, author of Finding Peace When Your Heart’s in Pieces. He calls these options the “four F’s.” The key is to find the best way to deal with the stress at the time versus falling into patterns and coping mechanisms in a knee-jerk way, he says.
Fight: Anger or blame are typically the drivers here.
Flee: This is where we shut down or pretend the stress isn’t there.
Fold: In this option, we surrender or become helpless.
Face: This option has us facing our fears and dealing with the stressor head on.

Share Your Stress
Dealing with stress is difficult, and those who are better at it have a safe place to be open about what’s bothering them, McGonigal says. Confiding in a trusted family member, friend, or colleague acts as a pressure valve, and you’ll often feel better after you’ve talked out the situation.


TIP TUESDAY: 10 Ways to Differentiate Your Customer Service

by Sara LaForest and Tony Kubica, from Business Know-How online

Just telling your customers they are valued isn’t enough. You have to prove it to them!

1. Have a real, live person answer all of your calls. If you cannot have someone answer all your calls, subscribe to a voice message service and include a message that you will return all calls within one business day – and do it If it is late in the day, it can acceptable to wait till the next business morning. Remember, the message and perception in timing/promptness is, “you count”– you are important and a priority to me.
2. Return emails within one business day (two days maximum).
3. Learn to be comfortable introducing yourself by your full name. When meeting in person, look at people directly in the eye, especially when you first meet them and insure you know how to give and reciprocate a firm handshake.
4. Insure you clearly understand the customer or prospects needs and priorities. Do this by listening sincerely and asking clarifying questions. 5. Listen FIRST and actively listen more than you talk. Ask questions to clarify your understanding of your prospect’s motivation to buy – but do so respectfully and carefully.
5. Keep agreements you make to the prospect or the customer. When you say you will do something, do it when you said you would do it. Emergencies should be the only exception.
6. Eliminate negative surprises for the customer. If there is a problem, acknowledge it quickly, apologize if appropriate and do your best to fix the problem to the customer’s satisfaction.
7. Always have your clients’ and prospects’ best interest in mind. Think of ways you can help them improve their needs to be in the forefront.
8. Think of the long-term sale. That means go slow, don’t push now to sell or attempt to up-sell. Think of the longer-term relationship and resulting opportunities forthcoming.
9. Warning- Flirting and fawning are forms of overselling (as well as demeaning) yourself. Realize how unprofessional and damaging these behaviors are with your customers and prospects.
10. Warning – Don’t expect the customer to understand that you are busy or short staffed. They won’t and they shouldn’t have to.

Sara LaForest and Tony Kubica are management consultants with more than 50+ years of combined experience in helping organizations improve their business performance. They say, failing to improve customer service by showing your clients that you value them is just one way to sabotage your business growth.



What the first emails looked like

Considering how entrenched most of us are online, you might be surprised at what a relatively short time ago these Internet firsts occurred:

1971: First email sent by Ray Tomlinson, to himself. “The test messages were entirely forgettable. . . . Most likely the first message was QWERTYIOP or something similar,” he said.

1985: First domain name registered for Symbolics Computer Corporation, which remains the first, and oldest, registered domain name out of approximately 275,000,000 domain names in existence.

1991: The first website that went live was dedicated to information about the World Wide Web

1992: The first picture uploaded on the web was posted by Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web) on behalf of a comedy band called Les Horrible Cernettes.

1995: First item was sold on eBay (back then it was AuctionWeb), a broken laser pointer for $14.83. The man who bought it told founder Pierre Omidyar he collected broken laser pointers.

2005: First YouTube video was posted by co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo. It has been watched nearly 10 million times.

2006: First tweet was written by co-founder Jack Dorsey.

TIP TUESDAY: 10 Ways 10 Minutes Can Make Your Life Better

(by Gwen Moran at fastcompany.com)

Doing one of these 10 things that only take a few minutes can improve your day, your health, and your mind-set.

Even if you can’t remember the last time you didn’t eat lunch at your desk or you’ve crashed Outlook with the number of meetings you’ve tried to schedule, let’s admit it: Everyone can find 10 minutes. It may be that dead zone before your next conference call or the tiny window after you submitted one project and have to start another. But we can all find it.

But so what? What can you do in 10 minutes that will really make a difference? Choose from one of these quick pick-me-ups to recharge, refocus, and regain your productivity.

1. Meditate.

You’ve heard about the benefits of meditation ad nauseam. It can reduce stress, improve health, and even change your brain. But what if you just can’t get into it? That “monkey-mind” syndrome is something everyone struggles with at first, says therapist Cara Maksimow. For a quick fix or to help you get the practice you need to be good at it, try an app like Headspace, Calm, or Omvana to guide you.

2. Revive Yourself With Aromatherapy.

Keep some essential oils and cotton balls in your desk and treat yourself to a mini aromatherapy session, says Julie Stubblefield, founder of FitMom Revolution. “When you are feeling a bit slow, add a few drops to the cotton ball and sniff,” she says. Peppermint oil will increase alertness without the caffeine crash, she says.

3. Massage your feet.

No, you may not ask a coworker for a foot rub. (Ugh.) But Stubblefield suggests keeping a tennis ball in your office. When you have a few moments, kick off your shoes and roll the ball around under each foot, particularly working the arches and feel the relaxation kick in as you practice instant acupressure.

4. Walk mindfully.

Sure, you could take that quick lap around the block, but psychotherapist Jim Hjort, says that spending 10 minutes walking slowly and with focus can be even more effective. Hjort says, “Focus on your surroundings and how your body moves during each step. Think about each foot hitting the ground, pay attention to the sun or breeze on your face, analyze the colors of the plants on your side, and look at all of the buildings or houses you pass,” he says. “Having an entirely present moment awareness will push thoughts of the day’s stresses aside and help you really enjoy life as it is moment to moment.”

5. Laugh.

Get in some giggles for stress relief and to completely change your mood, Hjort says. Call your funniest friend. Check out your favorite comedian on YouTube. Laugh at your mistakes. “GIve yourself a break,” he adds.

6. Write.

Take out a blank notebook and pad of paper and start to list all the things that you truly are grateful for during those 10 minutes, Maksimow says. You can also write about your feelings or goals—anything, really. Just putting pen to paper can help you sort out your thoughts and tame negative emotions.

7. Get outside.

Communing with nature has a positive effect on cognitive function. Stubblefield says that just 60 seconds of sunshine on your face is enough to improve mood and feel better.

8. Color.

Come on—you know there are few things more inspiring than a fresh box of crayons. A recent Huffington Post report looked at the benefits of coloring in reducing stress. And coloring books for grownups have also topped some best-seller lists.

9. Take a power-nap replacement.

Christine Hohlbaum, author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, suggests a simple exercise for instant rest and relaxation: Place your hands on a hard surface. Breathe in three counts while lifting one thumb. As you exhale say, “One hour of sleep” and lower your thumb. Repeat with all 10 fingers three times. Your body will think you’ve taken a power nap. It’s more about the mindfulness than the deception, but it’s a good way to relax in just a few minutes.

10. Move.

When you’re up against deadlines, muscles may become tense and tight, restricting the ability to relax, Stubblefield says. Simple stretching like touching your toes and reaching overhead can help you work out tense areas and make it easier to relax.