Four Hangups for Self Care and How to Deal With Them

Any person or company in the business of self care can tick off the reasons why you should be practicing saying “no” to things, trying to sleep enough, booking that massage, eating a little better, etc. There are a lot of reasons why we should be doing this. How to do this is a little trickier. Here are four common self care hangups and some ways around them. 

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How Yoga Can Strengthen Your Active Listening

Being a better listener, and particularly, a better active listener, is extremely beneficial in life but also in sales. Sales! The subject of many, many business emails right now. The subject in many personal emails right now. One necessary ingredient in good sales is good listening (aka active listening), and in order to actively listen, you need to be able to sit still.

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Here’s where the yoga comes in. Yoga has been proven time and time again to help with information retention and focus— the key components for active listening. If you are able to absorb what your client or associate is telling you, you will be able to summarize it effectively and have them feel understood. This level of feeling understood directly correlates with better sales.

Philosophically, we talk about putting the ego away so that we can really listen to someone else. Physically, it has more to do with the nervous system.

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If you are feeling defensive and nervous, your sympathetic nervous system is most likely in dominance. That’s the one that takes care of you when you’re in danger and puts you in fight, flight, freeze, or collapse. This is very important when you actually are in danger, or when you have a deadline looming and need to get a million things done. It’s not so great when your sympathetic nervous system is ALWAYS in dominance (like most of us in America). When your stress levels are constantly elevated, this can cause a host of physical and mental illnesses, which in turn leads to decreased productivity.

If you feel relaxed and at ease, your parasympathetic nervous system is in dominance. The parasympathetic nervous system is typically the one that most people living in America need help accessing. This helps you recharge your batteries so you can increase your productivity.

Ideally, we want a healthy balance between the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous systems. Yoga has been found to not only strengthen both of these, but to allow an easier switch from one to the other. This means that you might leave work both physically and mentally on Friday at 5!

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So what does this mean for sales again? It means you will be a better listener. You will be able to concentrate more easily on what your client wants from you, and you will be able to deliver.

I encourage you to try it out before your next meeting, or even right now. Take a slow deep breath in and out. Sit up tall. Let your body relax as much as possible while maintaining healthy posture. You just did yoga.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Talent Retention in the Season of Appreciation

We're nearing the big thank you season. Time for gratitude in many different shapes and forms. You might be planning your end of year office party, figuring out what gifts to get your coworkers and employees, and all while keeping your eyes intently fixed on the bottom line. Here's the funny thing: if you show your employees that you appreciate them, the bottom line and talent retention will improve.  

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Talent Retention in Northwest Arkansa

Given the high turnover rate of both employees and citizens in Northwest Arkansas, it's imperative that companies strive for greater employee retention. Between talent recruitment, retraining, and possible moving costs, companies can expect to pay about 20% of a person's salary to replace them. On top of that, there's the potential for distrust and wariness from clients, potential customers, and even job seekers when there seems to be a revolving door for employees within a company. 

One of the easiest ways to boost talent retention is by showing appreciation for both them and for their work on a regular basis. If you're looking for inexpensive/free ways to improve this in your company, consider speaking your positive thoughts out loud more often. Thank your coworkers for their efforts, and make it known when something they've done has improved the situation for the team (and hey, this works outside the office too). A thank you here and there can make a big difference. 

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Another inexpensive way to show appreciation is through food. Whether you're bringing in a homemade lunch for everyone or taking a few people out after a big sale they made, this can make a big impact on employees feeling valued. 

This is the busiest time of year for many businesses, and your coworkers are probably feeling the stress. As you plan your office party, wellness is an excellent addition to making your employees feel appreciated. Hiring a massage therapist to come do chair massages, having a yoga teacher talk you through some simple exercises for relaxation, or being coached through a meditation are all excellent and affordable ways to show your team how much you appreciate them. 

However you show gratitude for your team, let it ring true with who you are and how your company operates. And maybe get yourself a treat too while you’re at it!

Three Ideas for Mini Moments of Presence

I can’t count the number of times I have taken a break from work by sitting in front of a screen. Whether it’s reading an article, checking social media, or watching a video, I almost never come back to my work feeling recharged. As a professional in the wellness industry, I should know better, but even with the knowledge I have it can be hard to implement screen breaks.

This past weekend, I went camping with my Arkansas family to Devil’s Den— where there is no cell service. A forced digital detox. As a new business owner, this is slightly terrifying. I would also argue that it’s necessary. For several days, I left my phone untouched (aside from grabbing it to capture this gorgeous moonlight) and ignored my day to day work. I thought it would be stressful, and that I would feel like I had lost ground. Instead, I came back feeling excited and filled with new ideas!

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More and more research is backing up the claim that meditation, mindfulness, and practicing presence can greatly benefit the work you do. Toss in some mindful movement (aka yoga) and you’ve got yourself a recipe for increased productivity.

I’m a firm believer in making these things fit into whatever your life looks like. For me, I have two small children and a new business, so I have a large bag of tricks for wedging yoga and meditation into my day in small doses. Here are three quick ways to bring presence back into your day. The next time you pick up your phone to check Facebook for a break, try one of these instead. 

1. Listening Break

Close your eyes and be still. You can sit, stand, lie down, whatever works. Just be still and use good posture if you're upright. Then bring your focus to the sounds around you, without attaching judgement to them. It's almost like making a list. Car horn. Birds. Wind. Etc. Let this observation keep rolling for as long as you care to make time for it. You can do it for 30 seconds or 10 minutes. When you're ready, take a deep breath and open your eyes. 

2. Count Your Breath

If you have 2 minutes, this is a great one-- especially if you're stressed! Again, be still in whatever fashion suits you. Start by taking a deep breath in and out. Then begin to count your breath-- four counts in, four counts out. Do a few rounds of this. One breath at a time, add a count to your exhales. Inhale four, exhale five. Inhale four, exhale six. Go on until you go to eight on the exhales and then continue for as long as you care to. End with a big breath in and out.

3. Focus on Your Goals

Otherwise known as visualization. Start with stillness in your body, and then think about one task or goal that you would really like to accomplish. Picture how it would feel to do this. Hold that feeling as you breathe deeply. This is a good one if you only have a few moments throughout the day to take a break like this. You can practice this one for five seconds at a time, or five minutes at a time.

 

The fourth quarter can be a very busy time of year both professionally and personally. Even when you know taking a mental break would be a good idea, it often feels counterproductive to stop working. Keep at it. Enjoy your usual break time routine, but try tossing a moment of presence in here or there. 

 

Five Easy Exercises to Improve Focus and Productivity

We've all been there. It's 2pm on a Tuesday and you're counting the minutes until the workday is over. Believe it or not, just moving a little and breathing deeply can improve your ability to accomplish tasks and approach your workday more creatively. Not to mention, it can give you a real energy boost! Here are my top five favorite things to do when I need to destress and focus.

Counting Breath
Start by taking a few deep breaths and let those breaths reach the top of your lungs. Your posture may even improve as you do this! After you settle into breathing deeply, start to count the breaths-- four counts in, four counts out. Try to make your inhales and exhales as even as possible. Do this as many rounds as you like, but I recommend starting with five.

Shoulder Opener
Sit tall in your chair, or stand up tall. Reach your arms out wide and keep them the height of your shoulders if possible. Have the palms of your hands facing forward. Take a deep breath here and notice what you're feeling. If this feels great, stay! If you want more, you can reach your palms back slightly and reach the shoulder blades closer together on the back. Make sure you can still sit up straight and take deep breaths. Hold this pose for 3-5 breaths.

Chair Pose
Sure, it's not everyone's favorite, but chair pose is really great for building the strength you need to sit and stand up tall. It's also a great way to wake up and focus mid workday, and you can sneak it in very easily! The next time you're headed back to your desk and getting ready to sit down, stand in front of your chair. Bend your knees and stick your hips back like you're about to sit down, but hover for a few breaths. Make sure your knees are over your ankles-- not in front of them. If you like, you can reach your arms forward for balance. When you're done, just sit on down. 

Forward Fold
From a standing position, bend your legs and hang your torso over your legs and let your head and neck hang. Your legs can be so deeply bent that your belly actually rests on your thighs, this doesn't have to be all about the hamstrings! Take 3-5 deep breaths here. When you feel ready, slowly roll yourself back up to standing. Take your time here, your body needs to readjust to being upright.

Modification: If you have low back pain or blood pressure issues, do this same pose sitting in a chair. From a seat, fold your torso over your thighs and let your head hang. Take 3-5 deep breaths here. When you feel ready, slowly come back up to a comfortable seated position.

Seated Twist
From the comfort of your desk chair, take a deep breath and sit up tall. If your chair has armrests, keep your knees forward, turn to the left, and place both hands on your armrest to help you maintain this twist. If your chair doesn't have armrests, take both knees to the left, turn to the back of the chair, and place both hands on the back of the chair to help maintain the twist. Take 3-5 deep breaths and repeat this turning to the right this time.

 

Reduce Stress in the Workplace with Yoga

No mat required! Wear your work clothes.

No mat required! Wear your work clothes.

Easy modifications like this modified tree pose make workplace yoga approachable for beginners.

Easy modifications like this modified tree pose make workplace yoga approachable for beginners.

Working in an office can present many physical and emotional challenges. Chronically heightened stress levels, low employee morale, and physical ailments associated with the workplace can take a large toll on a person and a team. Yoga in the workplace is an excellent way to bring wellness into the office.

Sitting in front of screens for hours in a day is draining mentally and physically. Many of us are living with chronic pain from various computer and office related injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and forward head carriage. There are also many sources of general discomfort related with sitting in one position all day such as tight shoulders and hamstrings, and core weakness.

Aside from these physical discomforts, even the most peaceful workplace environments come with stressors. While we are designed to deal with moderate amounts of stress, this long term exposure to heightened stress levels is starting to take a toll on us as a society. Being able to regulate and moderate stress not only helps with emotional and mental health, but it helps prevent physical illness.

As any great manager knows, employee morale is crucial to the success of your company. With a weekly yoga class, not only does your team feel appreciated, but they have a great opportunity to bond over a positive shared experience outside of work projects.

Wellness programs are already established in many successful companies around the country. These companies are seeing an average return of $3 on every $1 they put into these programs. This return comes from a decrease in illness, physical ailments, and stress levels, as well as an increase in employee morale, creative problem solving, and team strength.

Incorporating a weekly yoga class is an easy and effective way to bring wellness into your workplace. Your group can participate in whatever way works best for the group. Whether it's a quick lunch break at the conference table wearing business clothing, or a 60 minute flow class on yoga mats, whatever you choose will make a positive impact on the team. Yoga has time and again proven to help with stress management, and having a built in weekly session for your group allows you to use these techniques easily and regularly.