Archive for July, 2013

17 jul

It’s the Little Things

JenJopeDepression is really no different than a guest who’s overstayed their welcome. You just want the guest (depression, in this case) to go … far, far away. You long for the days when you weren’t consumed by feelings of sadness. In other words, depression is a big deal. The good news? It’s the little things that can make you feel better.

Doing anything when you feel depressed is a Sisyphean task, but think about this: Action precedes motivation. How many times have you made a deal with yourself to hit the gym – even if it’s only for 10 minutes — and once you’re there, you complete a solid 45-minute workout? You were unmotivated at first, but by taking action, your motivation eventually caught up. The same idea applies to coping with depression. You might not be motivated to lift a finger – literally – but a little bit of action can make you feel more hopeful.

Eat something healthy
If you’ve been neglecting yourself by eating poorly or not eating much, start small. Make one healthy meal a day. It doesn’t have to be a four-course masterpiece, but eat things that will make you physically feel better. A sleeve of Oreos isn’t going to do that.

Develop a sleep ritual
Sleeping too much or not enough can wreak havoc on your mental state. Even someone without depression feels the effects after a terrible night’s sleep. It might be tempting to take naps during the day to temporarily escape the sadness you feel, but avoid that habit. Create a routine where you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends (sorry!). Give your body a cue near bedtime – read, listen to calming music or stretch.

Schedule positive events
This one may feel daunting because nothing feels positive in the throws of depression. Again, start small. Write down your day’s schedule from morning until night, including when you plan to eat your meals. Are there any positive events listed? A “positive event” can range from simply reading a magazine to dinner with friends (and this one kills two birds with one stone: Socializing and self-care/eating). The point is to include several things within your day that will bring you even a little bit of joy. Too much idle time can lead to anxiety and perpetuate negative thoughts, so keep busy. Another tip: Try to schedule events that will make you follow through, such as a dinner commitment with friends or pre-paying for a yoga class.

Take note of behaviors
Isolation. Drinking too much or using drugs. Excessive sleeping. Do any of these sound familiar to you? These are coping mechanisms, and not good ones. Be more cognizant of how you’re coping with depression and consider how those actions make you feel. Isolation can leave you feeling lonely and worthless. Using substances temporarily numbs the pain, only leaving you worse off than before. Sleeping too much to avoid your feelings is another temporary fix and when you wake up, nothing has changed making you feel defeated.

Understand that healing from depression is a process. It’s OK if you don’t fulfill every task every day. Don’t beat yourself up. Make the efforts where you can and notice when you feel better to keep you moving forward.

Jennifer Jope is the author of www.thebrainpain.wordpress.com, where she documents her own struggles with depression, including what she learned in a behavioral health program. Her health writing has appeared in Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing Newsletter and Body1.com.

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Posted by Jen Jope on July 17th, 2013 in Health | No comments

17 jul

How to Live a Cultured College Life

JennaSmithMy college experience was full of social adventures, both on and off campus. These memorable times usually stemmed from my frustration with books. While I appreciate the knowledge that was given to me, book learning is certainly not where I had the most fun. The truth is that I enjoyed hanging out at the house social events, the quads and the places where people gathered to share ideas.

You don’t have to be a social butterfly to be a popular person; it’s just a matter of putting yourself in the right place with something interesting to say. There is no age group for approval, emerging into a college ecosystem takes considerable effort.

Read on for tips on how you can become the social connoisseur of your college journey.

Clubs

Sororities and fraternities offer a kind of bond that lasts well into adulthood but you can go beyond those organizations and delve into on-campus clubs. Most campuses have a multitude of clubs to choose from and depending on your previous background, you could discover commonalities with the current members of each club. Some clubs are very diverse and you might find christian graduate program students hanging out with Ph.D candidates in the same club or start your own!

Joining these clubs will help you find more people that you can talk to about the things you are interested in. Interest and social merging come from connections, finding those connection grows your social web, to become comfortable and involved.

Collaborate with your new friends on starting your own club. Speak to the admissions office or dean’s office in relation to starting your own brand. You can expand on the current English or Film societies, by offering to host after events for meet and greets. You can create a subreddit dedicated to your club on the social bookmarking site “Reddit,” then take your membership and mission statement to campus administration and secure a physical meeting spot.

On Campus Events

My college hosts concerts once a year where artists of all types come to perform for the student body. Lots of booths spring up with fun games, prizes, and people generally hang out in the sun while they listen to music.

A site like Eventbrite might feature ticketed events you can visit on campus. Campus newsletters can keep you abreast of social events, such as receptions and gatherings. A site like Meetup.com can help you find off campus events in your area where you can meet other students outside the pressures of school life. You may be feeling a bit homesick, and Meetup can connect you with people from your hometown in your new college home. This incorporation of events allows you to merge into the student body with a desire to want to learn more by connecting more.

Talk to Professors

Students often form bonds with professors, and they may refer you to a study group that shares your interest in the specific subject. Take advantage of office hours and discuss meaningful ideas with your professor. If your professor maintains a discussion group, inquire about the subjects and ask for an invitation to learn more. College is as much about networking as it is about learning, so keep the lines of communication open with your professors.

Not only will a professor be pleased with your ability to become involved, but it could lead to an offering of a student teacher, assistance, recommendation letter or heading a study group. Doing so brings admiration from your peers, while bringing a sense of experience for academia and business processing.

Visit the Library

According to The Digital Reader, 76 percent of U.S. libraries offer eBook lending. This permits you to review and catch up on books via your mobile devices. The library is more than just that place you go to study in silence. There are tons of books about topics you may not have considered without the exposure. There is interesting work and reading on subjects like quantum theory, or anthropological studies of African tribal societies.

Challenge yourself to check out a new book on a topic that interests you and you’ll be amazed at how much you will learn by stepping out of your comfort zone. You may discover a hidden talent or passion that comes full circle once you expand beyond what you know. You might even pick up a valuable job skill in the process. Visit your campus library website to check out new exhibits or talks posted there too.

Soak in the Vibe

Campus life is about exchanging ideas and learning new things. It’s also about escaping the stress of the classroom, so make your time outside more cultured by trying out new things. Join local clubs, attend on campus events, talk to your professors and visit the library – your college life will be one to remember.

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Posted by Jenna Smith on July 17th, 2013 in General, Personal Stories, Teens | No comments

11 jul

WorkplaceRx: The Question Mark of Confidence in Dealing with Risk

Kerrigan2“Risk is made up of probability and seriousness, minus preventive actions and contingency factors”—Alan Weiss, Million Dollar Consulting

“The lower the confidence in asking or answering questions, the higher the probability and seriousness of risk”.—Michelle Kerrigan

Operations of the day-to-day workplace comprise roughly 80% of most organizations, making them one of a company’s largest investments and indispensable to business results. Because of their size and varying stages, they are complex systems with a lot of moving parts that can go awry, and often do.

This is a prime target for probable and serious risk.

And, yet, it is often overlooked. Actually, “avoided” is a better word. I know, because it’s the space I’ve worked in for over 25 years. By the time senior management calls me in to do repair work, the damage has already been done. Time, money and momentum have been lost, causing delays, dissatisfaction, and overall frustration.

Now—here’s what I find interesting: once I begin to ask executives questions, the response is invariably the same: their eyes glaze over and they begin to shut down.

I’ve realized that most of the executives I’ve encountered don’t have the confidence to ask questions. Often, this crisis of confidence is passed down to the team, eventually resulting in serious repercussions. They ignore, avoid, evade, and sidestep until all hell breaks loose.

Most of my success has come from asking the questions nobody likes to ask. It has always been my way to diagnose and fix problems. Asking questions minimizes the probability of risk as well as the seriousness.

Whenever I assess a new operation, I closely observe the day-to-day, and sit side-by-side to interview members of the team. I find out what they do and how they do it, and am very curious about the why and when as well.

Here are some of the questions I ask:

Do you have a to-do list? What processes do you use?

What’s your responsibility in the process? What comes before you and where does it go from here?

What are your most important job functions?

How do you prioritize?

How do you follow up and monitor progress?

Who are you accountable to?

If you don’t know the answer to something, do you ask?

What happens when you ask questions?

Responses to these questions tell me a lot—especially the last two. When employees, line managers and leaders hedge, hesitate or can’t answer simple questions, I know something is wrong.

I’ve found that the lower the confidence in asking or answering questions, the higher the probability and seriousness of risk.

Here are a few examples of the problems which can develop:

Sales are lost because people and process fail to deliver.

Delays are caused by ignored or missed deadlines.

Projects frequently lose direction.

Customers and clients complain more frequently (and loudly).

The number of costly errors increases.

Revenue decreases.

People who fear asking questions avoid realistic issues that could impact their organization. The only probability they try to prevent is being judged negatively. That’s the risk they’re focused on.

Lacking the confidence to ask impacts not only preventative measures, but contingency plans too. They both have to do with a proper assessment and appropriate use of questions.

And here’s the amazing thing: when all hell does break loose, corporate contingencies are invariably inappropriate: firings and exhaustive autopsies begin. It is then that executives decide to ask questions!

But the damage is already done.

So—get confident with asking. It forces you to acknowledge that you don’t have the answers, and that’s the beginning of solutions.

The greater risk is taking no risk at all.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace success who, for over 25 years, has been helping businesses and private clients develop the skills and confidence critical to high performance and productivity. Michelle also writes and speaks about the roles confidence and self esteem play in achieving success, and currently produces and hosts a series for public TV entitled Workplace Confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

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Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on July 11th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

11 jul

What Comes After a Cancer Diagnosis?

JennaSmithCancer is perhaps now considered one of the most common illnesses in the United States. A large spike in cancer diagnoses suggests that most families in the U.S. have or had a family member battling cancer. However, being diagnosed with cancer doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. With modern science and technology, doctors have been able to develop new treatments that reduce the risk of cancer metastasizing significantly.

Nevertheless, facing a cancer diagnosis requires a little more than understanding treatments, it’s a psychological and emotional process. If you or a loved one is facing a battle with cancer, you may be wondering, what’s next?

After being diagnosed with cancer, you may want to ask as many questions as possible to your oncologist. Be extremely thorough. First off, you need to understand the details of the cancer diagnoses, which encompasses the kind of cancer, how it spreads, aggression level, size, location and whether it’s hereditary. On your consultations, be sure to bring someone you trust with you for moral support. Oncology appointments can take an emotional toll.

Once you understand your disease, you can begin researching treatment options, including each treatment’s success rates and side effects. This will help you gain a better understanding of what to expect from the treatments.

Depending on the type of cancer, the next step would be to seek out a specialist. With so many kinds of cancer, you may be surprised to find out that not all require an oncologist. For example, if you’re facing thyroid cancer, you may find it best to receive your treatments and further consultations with a thyroid specialist.

Looking for the right doctor or specialist can be difficult. As mentioned, battling cancer takes it’s toll, psychologically, emotionally and physically. There are three characteristics that will help you find the right specialist. Remember to find one that listens to your concerns, explains thoroughly what you have, how it progresses week by week and understands (chemistry) what you’re going through.

The third thing you may want to do is create a cancer program strategic planning guide. By creating a program guide, you can keep track of all finances that deal with your illness. You’ll be able to understand which treatments are most affordable, consolidate expenditures in order to treat your illness and still remain financially stable during remission.

Finally, you may want to ask your friends and family for emotional support. Treatments can be grueling and could take a lot out of a person. Morale fluctuates, and sometimes, you need someone there to help you keep the faith. Your friends and family will probably be the greatest pillar of support, so if you need it, ask for it. You’ll feel a lot better. Support groups are also available for those dealing with cancer. It can be very encouraging and uplifting to be around those who have experiences the disease first-hand. Most physicians recommend patients some form of support. The stronger the morale, the stronger the body and spirit.

Dealing with cancer at first can be a hard pill to swallow, but with a great understanding of your illness, its treatment, looking for the right doctor or specialist, building a financial strategy and with support from your family or friends, you’ll be able to feel a lot stronger while you’re fighting this illness.

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Posted by Jenna Smith on July 11th, 2013 in Family, Health | No comments

08 jul

Decisions, Decisions

MaricleDecision making can be a trying process for some of us. While many people are decisive, take action, and never look back, others hem and haw over career changes, how they feel about a potential partner, and even what to order for lunch. Whatever your decision making personality, taking the time to tune into your own inner wisdom can assist you in making positive choices that you feel satisfied with today, and years from now.

Mixed thoughts and feelings are what we usually refer to as ambivalence. Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary defines ambivalence as: “Simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action.” How can we feel opposite things at the same time? From a psychological standpoint, we all have separate, but overlapping parts of self, which we develop to serve different purposes. For example, I have a therapist, artist, wife, mother, child, and runner part, etc. You can visualize these parts of self as semi-overlapping circles that share certain skills, attributes, fears, insecurities, and habits. To get a clearer picture of this, think of how you behave at work – your tone of voice, word choice, posture, and timing. Now think of how you behave with your pet or your children at home. How would your child respond if you said, “I’d like you to consider moving nap time to somewhere in the window of 3 – 5 pm on weekends, as this would facilitate both afternoon chore productivity and morning play time.” Or vice versa, how would a colleague respond if you approached them the way you talk to your dog? “What a good employee! You met all your productivity deadlines this week! Good employee! Come get a bonus!” Thankfully, we can choose which parts of self to use in different contexts.

Because our parts overlap, more than one part often has something to say about a given decision. Let’s say you have inherited a little money, and are faced with a choice about how best to use it. The fun-loving child part of you says, “Go on a vacation! You deserve it. Life is meant to be lived.” The responsible, parent part might say, “Don’t be so selfish, invest and build up some money for your daughter’s college tuition,” and then a fearful part might say, “If you don’t invest in your retirement, your daughter won’t have anywhere to visit you because you’ll be living on the street!” Which of these voices is “right?” All of them are. The trick is to weed through berating, belittling, or shaming voices and decide if there is a nugget of wisdom there, or just the stones of self-doubt. Once you do that, you can sift through all of the information logically and decide on the best course of action.

How do you let these parts or voices be heard? To explore them, discover how they can help you make better decisions, and use existing strengths in different parts of your life, try the following exercise.

Create a parts map:

Draw a circle on the middle of a page. This represents what I will call your “core self,” the center of you, so to speak. Now draw an overlapping circle and label it with one of your roles (i.e. daughter/son, mother/father, student, employee, cat lover, athlete, skeptic, activist, etc.) Continue drawing overlapping circles until you feel you have represented the major roles/parts of self. Now label some of the qualities, both positive and negative that each part exhibits. Use colors, shapes, and symbols to make your map more illustrative and rich. You could also draw each circle on a separate page so that you can manipulate which circles overlap, depending on the qualities they share.MaricleFigure1

You may find that different parts of self have different strengths that could be used in other parts of your life. For example, in my work life, I have always felt confident and stable. I expect that good things will come my way, and they always have. In contrast, in my love life, I used to fear being left. This clouded my choice in partners and my behavior in relationships. I frequently felt hurt, abandoned, and dissatisfied. At some point, I began using my work self’s positive and secure attitude in my personal life. Using elements of my work self, I was able to let go of my desire to meet someone on a certain timeline, and of course, that’s when I met someone. This is a “fake it till you make it” approach in the beginning, but eventually it will come naturally. These are all parts of you, after all.

Getting a good understanding of different parts can assist you in listening to your own wisdom. You can clear away voices of self-doubt and unfounded negativity, making a path for new endeavors by heeding the inner wisdom that helps you avoid pitfalls and make positive choices.

Amy Johnson Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is a psychotherapist and art therapist in Foxboro, MA. She loves helping teens and adults find ways to live happier, healthier, and smarter. You can find out more at: www.amyjohnsonmaricle.com

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.

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Posted by Amy Maricle on July 8th, 2013 in Health, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , ,

08 jul

Facebook for Your Business: 5 Ways to Market through Social Networking

RobertCordrayWhat started as a cool way for college kids to interact has now turned into a potent marketing tool. Facebook and other social media sites (Twitter, Instagram, etc, etc.) have evolved into something much larger than just a convenient way to share vacation photos.

No matter what market or industry you are in, it is almost certainly hypercompetitive. Finding ways to stand out and reach new customers can be a challenge. Social networking sites have now turned out to be business tools that any business cannot afford to go without. If you are new to the social networking scene then you will want to check out the following Facebook tips (most apply to the other social networks as well) in order to maximize what could and should be an important tool for you.

1. Use Facebook as a way to direct traffic to your official website

Brevity is the name of the game when it comes to marketing through social media. Social media consumers are so accustomed to streams of information constantly flowing in front of their eyes that they have almost become conditioned to skip over the long posts. Keep your Facebook posts brief and instead use them as a way to push traffic to your website where they can find more information.

2. Keep a distinction between your personal account and business page

Many businesses are using Facebook nowadays but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still millions of people who use the network purely for personal social interaction. Be sensitive to this. You’ll want to use Facebook as a way to build your customer base, not annoy potential customers. Keep personal posts, family photos, or strong opinionated posts to your personal page and keep posts on your business page strictly related to business.

3. Branch out and take advantage of new features

Facebook has adapted right along with their users so there are now plenty of features specifically tailored toward helping businesses promote, outreach and keep customers satisfied. It’s not enough for you to learn the basics. You should become adept at Facebook and constantly be looking to utilize new features such as customized and promotable ads or specialized business pages.

4. Be consistent

As mentioned earlier, social media sites are characterized by their rapidly changing nature. If you only post once or twice a week then it is likely to get lost in the stream of other posts that users are seeing. Set specific goals to post daily and, when appropriate, multiple times per day. Keep a variety in your posts so they don’t just become background noise to those that you are targeting.

5. Spread out the work

Your Facebook marketing will go much better if it is a team effort. You will reach far more people if multiple people are posting and sharing your posts. Get your employees on board with your social network marketing goals and encourage them to be involved. If you have a smaller business or work alone then try to find creative ways to entice customers to share your information with their Facebook friends.

About the Author: Robert Cordray is a freelance writer for Namify.com and expert in marketing and business. With over 20 years of experience, Robert is now retired and hopes others can benefit from his writing.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on July 8th, 2013 in Career | No comments