Tag Archives: Job Stress

5 Ways Parents Can Beat Back To School Stress

When it comes to parenting, the beginning of the school year comes with its challenges. The reason is that after enjoying a nice break from school schedules, most of us undergo some sadness when dealing with the reintroduction of extracurricular activities, increased scheduling demands and new timetables. However, just as with any fear in our lives, we need to deal with these challenges, which will enable us to avoid issues such as stress. The best way of dealing with back to school blues as a parent is by being proactive, which will assist you to prevent stressful thoughts. This post gives you 5 practical tips that you should consider.

1.  Changing Your Thinking

Change can be one hard thing to do. However, you can overcome it by talking with someone you trust, which will enable you to get through this process. Remember that focus is one thing you can control. Ensure that you make an effort in transitioning your negative thoughts into something positive that you can control. For instance, you can consider doing positive things such as visiting your colleagues, friends, attending new events and learning about new topics.

2. Practise Getting Back Into Your Routine

When returning to work, it is helpful to practice on what needs to be done be for it all starts. It includes things such as putting on your makeup, getting you and your kids dressed up, and taking your baby to the daycare. This routine is the same when it comes to back to school parenting. If you design a schedule and practice it, it will reduce stress and anxiety while slowly allowing you to build confidence.

3.  Set Up New Goals

Another way deal with back to school stress is to come up with new goals. For instance, you can choose to get involved in the local community through charities or sports. You can also think of conferences and books that you want to enjoy and plan the best time to go. Remember that the best way to avoid stress when your children go back to school is to be active, rather than being idle.

4.  Have Fun

Avoid being isolated by choosing to have a nice time. Keep in mind that although the relaxing time with your kids may be over as a result of the return to school period, you should ensure that you still have time for fun. For instance, you can come up with a calendar of events that enables you to have exciting activities. Consider having a special meal after the first day or go out at the end of the week to celebrate. The benefits of doing these things are that you’ll have something to look forward to, therefore getting your mind off the thoughts and nerves of the end of summer.

5.  Plan a Shopping Trip Another tip to help you beat back to school stress is to consider going out for a shopping trip. Make sure that you plan your budget and write down a list of supplies. If you’re on a budget, you can use the money that’s left for shopping to go out for a special treat.

Dealing with back to school loneliness or stress can be an overwhelming experience. However, using the above tips, you can overcome it. The best way is ensuring that you prepare well, have confidence and hope to take the above challenges, which will enable you to push through.

Week 7: Improving Our Relationship With Ourself

A critical part to the Healthier You program, and something I work with almost ALL OF MY CLIENTS on, is improving our relationship with ourself – starting with changing the way we evaluate our worth.  There are many factors that influence how we evaluate our worth including:

  • Societal values
  • Family values
  • Our experience growing up
  • Pressures such as perfectionism, capitalism and the focus on beauty
  • Need for approval
  • Need for control

One thing we know in psychology, is that people tend to be happier, have less psychological issues such as anxiety and depression, and have a steadier positive experience throughout life when they use INTRINSIC VALUES to evaluate themselves, vs EXTRINSIC VALUES.

EXTRINSIC VALUES (the ones we want to be weary of using) includes factors such as achievements, compliments, approval, and social media responses.  There is a big difference of using EXTRINSIC VALUES as a motivator or goal versus using them to evaluate one’s worth.  A common problem people experience when using extrinsic values to evaluate themselves, is they can be doing everything well, and not be getting the feedback they need.  Extrinsic values are often out of our control and we don’t get accurate feedback because we rely on others – such as a boss (who may not be good at giving positive feedback), society (that often has ulterior motives such as to sell us something), or an arbitrary assessment (such as a test that focuses on a small proportion of your knowledge).  The key message is:

WE ARE MORE THAN OUR ACHIEVEMENTS, JOB, MONEY, ATTRACTIVENESS TO OTHERS, POPULARITY, and STATUS.

 

So………what are INTRINSIC VALUES and how do we incorporate them in our lives?

INTRINSIC VALUES are values that tell us about who we are.  These values are typically consistent throughout our adult lives (and often developing in childhood and adolescence).  There is no intrinsic value that is better than the other.  Here is a Intrinsic Values worksheet that I give out to help prompt thinking.  There are many more values a person can use – but Intrinsic Values list will help you get started.

 

Activity

From the list, choose 5-10 values that are true to you.  This may take a few read overs to go from a larger list to a smaller list.  

A way to tell a true value vs. “nice to have traits” is that if you were to get $500 000 to no longer have that value, would you take the money?  For example, I like being tidy and I know society values it (and those around me), but I would take the money to no longer be tidy.  However, I would not take the money to no longer be kind, helpful or hardworking.  So these are my true values.  Also be aware of the pull towards values that society values – that may not be as true to you.  

Societal values are constantly changing – and remember, this is about finding your own PERSONALIZED values, that tell us about what influences your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.  

Questions to Ponder

  • After looking at the list, is this someone you would want to be friends with?
  • Does this give you any new perspective about why you enjoy certain people, and why others seem not to be a good fit in your life?
  • Do your values give you any new deeper insight about a value conflict when you have been upset or hurt?

Incorporating INTRINSIC VALUES Into Your Life

  • Each week or two (set an alarm), rate yourself from a scale of 1-10 of how much you incorporated these values into your life.  A lower score does not indicate poor performance, it means that may be a value that may need expressing or nurturing in the next coming weeks.  Likewise a 10 does not mean perfection, it means you utilized that trait highly during that time period.
  • The above activity is also good to do when you are feeling down or upset.  If you are upset with another person, focus on yourself, and notice what the situation says about you, rather than being judgemental of someone else.  
  • When working on a new goal, such as a healthier lifestyle, studying for a new career, or trying something new, be extra purposeful of using these INTRINSIC VALUES along side when evaluating progress.  For example, put a sticky note with your values on the scale to prompt you.

Weeks 5 & 6 – Decluttering the Mind: Changing Negative Self-Talk to Something Helpful

 

Negative Self-Talk

The way your talk to yourself in your mind, otherwise known as self-talk, can have a major impact on your life, from your confidence to your choices. Research has shown that most of our self-talk is negative, and is working against us rather than helping us. These negative thoughts often create feelings of frustration, irritation, anger, hopelessness and disappointment.

 

WHAT IS ‘SELF-TALK’?

Even though you might not always be aware of it, we all have self-talk. Self-talk is a positive or negative running commentary about life. Typically, our self-talk happens without us noticing because we are often on ‘auto-pilot’ or that we are so accustomed to our thinking that we don’t reflect on how our thoughts are influencing us.

 

Changing Your Negative Self-Talk Can Help You to:

  • Feel better about yourself
  • Boost your confidence
  • Improve your social life
  • Feel more in control of your life
  • Be more optimistic and effective in life
  • Improve athletic performance (researchers found 11-15% improvement with positive self talk)
  • Improves academic performance
  • Decrease school and work absences

 

Tips

  • Self-talk works best when it is scripted ahead of time and practiced.
  • What works for each person is a matter of personal preference – so make sure your new changes are personalized for you.
  • Addressing yourself by name is found to be more powerful than ‘I’ statements – (i.e. Mallory, you are going to have a good bike ride, all you need to do is start).

 

Negative Self-Talk Personalities

 

 

 

  1.  The Worrier

…. creates anxiety by imagining the worst-case scenario and scares you with ideas of upcoming disaster. The worrier often over-reacts to the first physical symptoms of panic (such as sweaty palms, tightening chest or increased heart rate) and recycles thinking of over-exaggerated fears. The worrier is always vigilant and watching with uneasy anticipation for any tiny sign that trouble is ahead. It over-estimates the odds that something bad or embarrassing will happen and imagines scenes of failure and disaster. The worrier’s favorite expression is “what if…” Our self-talk from the worrier’s perspective will say “Oh no! My chest feels tight. What if I panic, and lose control.” “What if I’m alone and there is no one around to help me?” What if I do something that is really embarrassing?” This fear can immobilize a person and keep them from really living, because of the anxiety that it produces.

 

2.  The Critic

…is the part of you that is constantly judging and evaluating your behavior and promotes a low self-esteem. It tends to point out your flaws and shortcomings at every opportunity. It emphasizes your mistakes and reminds you that you are a failure. It tends to ignore your positive qualities and emphasizes your weaknesses and shortcomings at an unproportional amount. The critic generates anxiety by putting you down for not being able to handle your symptoms of fear or anxiety, for not being able to go places that you previously were able to go, or for having to rely on someone else. It also loves to compare you to others with you always falling short. The critic’s favorite expressions are: “What a disappointment you are!”, “That was stupid”, “Can’t you ever get it right?”, “I am unworthy of others”, or “I am not good enough”.

 

3.  The Perfectionist

…is a close cousin to the critic because it is less concerned about putting you down, but relentlessly tries to push you to do better, and is rarely satisfied. It promotes chronic stress and burnout. It keeps reminding you that you can always do better and you should be working harder, your efforts are not good enough, you should always be pleasing, competent, and should always have everything under control. The critic’s favorite expressions are: “I should… I have to …”. It wants you to be the best and is intolerant of mistakes or setbacks. It tries to convince you that your self-worth is dependent on external indicators such as : work/school/job achievement, money, status, acceptance by others, or the ability to please others. The perfectionist pushes you into stress, exhaustion and burnout.

 

4.  The Victim

…is the part of you that feels helpless or hopeless and promotes depression.  It believes that there is something inherently wrong with you, and there must be something deprived, defective or unworthy about you.  It generates anxiety by assuming that you will never be cured, and assumes the road to recovery is way too steep because you are not making any progress. Victims feel as you are stuck and things will never change, no matter what you do. The victim’s favorite expression is: “I can’t”, and “I never will be able to”. “I have had this problem too long and I will never get better”, “I’ve tried everything and nothing ever seems to work.”

 

Countering Negative Self-Talk

The best way to stop the effects of negative self-talk is to counter it with positive, self-compassionate, and supportive statements. It starts by writing down and rehearsing statements that directly refute and invalidate your negative self-talk.  Remember, your negative, anxiety producing, self-statements have been reinforced for years, and it will take some practice and time to get rid of them. You must slow down your automatic thoughts, and really pay close attention to what you are saying to yourself. These four sub-personalities will help you to decipher which is your favorite way to generate anxiety.

Some of your expressions are simply bad habits and you don’t want to be deceived by them any more. Some are deep seated and you still believe that they are true. You can weaken the hold of your negative self-statements by exposing them to the following questions:

What is the evidence for this?

Is it always true?

Has this always been true in the past?

What is the realistic percentage of this really happening?

What is the very worse that this could happen? What would you do if the worse did happen?

Are you looking at the whole picture?

Are you being completely objective?

 

After noticing the negative self-talk thoughts in your mind, another way to improve your headspace is to add positive coping thoughts. Examples of coping thoughts might be:

  • Stop, and breathe, I can do this
  • This will pass
  • I can be anxious/angry/sad and still deal with this
  • I have done this before, and I can do it again
  • This feels bad, it’s a normal body reaction – it will pass
  • This feels bad, and feelings are very often wrong
  • These are just feelings, they will go away
  • This won’t last forever
  • Short term pain for long term gain
  • I can feel bad and still choose to take a new and healthy direction
  • I don’t need to rush, I can take things slowly
  • I have survived before, I will survive now
  • I feel this way because of my past experiences, but I am safe right now
  • It’s okay to feel this way, it’s a normal reaction
  • Right now, I am not in danger. Right now, I’m safe
  • My mind is not always my friend
  • Thoughts are just thoughts – they’re not necessarily true or factual
  • This is difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s only temporary
  • I can use my coping skills and get through this
  • I can learn from this and it will be easier next time
  • Keep calm and carry on

 

 

Sources

“The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook” by Edmund J. Bourne, p. 164-168.

Helmstetter, 1982; Stranulis & Manning, 2002

 

How Survive Edmonton Job Loss or Uncertainty

5 Ways to Survive Job Loss or Uncertainty in Edmonton – by Mallory Becker, R. Psych.

 

Let’s face it – the job market in the land once known for its high paying jobs, opportunity for advancement, where people would flock to from far and wide currently sucks. It is dismal at best in Edmonton and Alberta. The poor job market came out of nowhere with many people unprepared, and it seems like those who took a pay cut to do the work of 2 other people are the ‘lucky.’  While many things are out of our control, there are some things we can do to increase our chances of survival – as it will (eventually) get better.

 question_mark

  1. Plan Ahead

I’m not saying you need to be collecting bottles in all your spare time, but organizing can help. The issue with many people in Alberta is that we don’t have a rainy day fund, and we don’t do a good job at being prepared. Keep an eye on the job market, make a budget (use a helpful tool such as mint.com), and make sure your resume is ready to go. Get in touch with a headhunter to get pointers about your presentation to employer and get in touch with another job market.

  1. Manage Your Anxiety

There are so many people around us that feel uncertainty and insecurity can be transferred others. The job climate, coupled with a lack of control is the perfect recipe for anxiety. It is always easier to cope with a job loss when you all ready have coping tools. Most people who seek out counseling for crisis, or to “put out fires” often require more sessions and have a longer recovery than those who come to acquire life coping skills. Either way we are here to help, but if you have benefits, use them to inoculate yourself. This way if you loose your job, you can spend your time searching for a new position rather than being debilitated by fear and overwhelming emotions.

causes-of-anxiety-disorders

  1. Network, Network, Network

Many people are worried to “use” the people they are connected to for job prospects. I understand the frustration family and friends have when people only come to them when they are out of a job, rather than discussing opportunities coming out of proactive and mutual 2-way conversation. Talk to your friends and family about their workplaces including potential opportunities, and attend networking opportunities (such an Edmonton Business Association lunch and learn or ask someone on LinkedIn you have similar interests to have coffee). If there is a company you have always been interested in, set up a time to meet up and learn more about the company including potential future opportunities. Remember, 80-85% of jobs are not advertised.

  1. Define Your Brand

Many people in the job market have a difficult time because of the “I’ll take what I can get mentality.” It is very important to get to know your strengths and weakness so you can have a clear sense of what you can bring to a company. It can also be helpful to work with a career counselor (which is a service we provide) or a business mentor to help you focus your brand. A focused brand also demonstrates confidence, which is a trait highly correlated to trust.

  1. Balance

The people who experience the most distress after a job loss often spend too much time and focus on work. They live to work, rather than work to live. This is very unhealthy and can lead to many physical, psychological and relationship issues

business_balance

Make sure you are spending time with your family, friends, hobbies, volunteering, fitness and personal development. A well-rounded person also looks better on paper and in a job interview. The more interests you have, the higher the probability you will have something in common with the individuals hiring you.

 

In the event of a job loss, or if you feel it may be coming – we can help. Avoid having the stress boil over onto your loved ones. We can work on gaining more self-awareness for your personal brand, discuss job-searching strategies, and learn tools to deal with stress and anxiety.