Stress Less…Go Fly a Kite!

kitesI can fly a pretty cool kite, especially after we abandoned our yard and the kite eating tree for the open space of Maine beaches and the quasi-exclusive world of kite enthusiasts. Our kite is not of professional caliber but it is still cool because it was purchased on a trip to Sausalito. Yes, it was made overseas and could probably be purchased in other venues; however, it is a special California kite that survived a rigorous airport check-in and an overhead bin crunch to get here.

Kites were invented in China, where materials ideal for kite building were readily available: silk fabric for sail material; fine, high-tensile-strength silk for flying line; and resilient bamboo for a strong, lightweight framework. . Ancient and medieval Chinese sources describe kites being used for measuring distances, testing the wind, lifting men, signaling, and communication for military and even rescue operations

I’d always associated flying kites as an activity for kids, simple and easy to assemble, rolled tightly and inexpensive. Anything more elaborate was a decoration, perhaps suspended from the ceiling or matching a designer’s vision of a room’s theme.

It’s joyful to see children with an adult, running to get a kite aloft perhaps after some stops and starts, watching it rise high above. Many of us have memories of such an experience and the delight in a successful lift-off on a windy day. But much more frequently, kites have become elaborate and colorful, often requiring strength to launch and monitor. Beaches are an attractive place with wide-open areas and running room. There is an art to moving the kite in tune with the air currents and I’ve yet to see an unhappy person working the lines from below. When there are multiples or very active kites to watch, people stop and pay attention. It’s almost hypnotic. It’s outdoors. And most of all, it’s fun for you and anyone who looks up for a minute or two or more!

• Buy a kite
• Go to the beach
• Go to the park
• Assemble as directed
• Fly the kite
• Share the joy
• Give it away
• Create new memories

©MWeisner2017

Procrastination is the Thief of Time

slowdown500How much do we actually accomplish when fully engaged in avoidance mode? What does it take to get back on track?

Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off.
How many are left? FIVE
That’s the difference between deciding and doing!

Even the most motivated people are not always on task. Often the most seemingly busy people, those constantly occupied, are in reality accomplishing very little. Yet, the TV watcher, who we can readily identify is perhaps the most honest of all…doing nothing.

When you are in action; cleaning, reorganizing, or purging the space, it feels like you are industrious. Activity like this is measureable, producing immediate results, unlike the outcomes from other endeavors that may not be so obvious.

One client, who dreaded tax season, always scheduled a major home renovation simultaneously, compounding her anxiety. Her assumption was that as long as she was going to be sequestered in her home office anyway, she could also supervise the other projects too. After the “dust” settled, we looked at the consequences of her actions and how this compromised her relationships, health and overall well being. The physical upheaval around her made it easier to avoid focusing on the task at hand, her tax filings, which were the priority. Once she was able to see that it was possible to do some preparation monthly, her calendar became her most effective tool. With long term goals in place for the year ahead, she was able to space projects, arrange her time commitments accordingly and never have a contractor near her home in the spring.

• What are you procrastinating about?
• What is one small step that you can take now?
• Write it down
• Put it in your calendar
• Do it!

©MWeisner2017

Claim Your Space

powerposeswomenHarvard professor and researcher Amy Cuddy recently delivered an inspirational keynote address. This was of particular note as she wasn’t supposed to become a successful scientist. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to finish her undergraduate degree. Early in her college career, Cuddy suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, and doctors said she would struggle to fully regain her mental capacity and finish her undergraduate degree, yet she persevered despite the original prognosis.

Cuddy’s research at Harvard Business School confirms that our body language communicates information to others that shapes their perceptions of us. It also communicates information to us that shapes our own self-concept. We can construct how powerful we feel by assuming expansive body poses.

In “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance”, Cuddy shows that simply holding one’s body in expansive, high-power poses for as little as two-minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone, the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds, and lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss. These power poses led to an increased sense of power and risk tolerance.

In other words, Cuddy states that we can fake confidence and power by using expansive body language to change our body chemistry and our feelings. This is especially useful in preparing to speak to a group or in any situation where a self-assured image is important. Whether you face a challenging subordinate, a complex negotiation or a difficult relative, this is a quick way to gather your composure and tap into your power. Begin incorporating the pose into your daily practices, thereby reducing stress and adding greater self-assurance. Claim your space!

©MWeisner2017

The Power of Small Distractions

smooth-stonesOver the years we’ve all seen various desk objects that were more than likely gifts from someone who had no idea what to get, opting instead for a gender neutral item, suitable for work space. Brookstone and Sharper Image were at the head of the curve for categorizing and promoting this “New Age” like approach to serenity, focus, and creativity, enhanced by these purchases. I scoffed at the idea. Even handling some of the doodads seemed excessive and at the very least, a dust collector. Would anyone buy one for him/herself?

Well, “bah-humbug” and fast forward to new research and the power of these small distractions. According to studies done at the NYU School of Engineering, playing with everyday objects at work may boost creativity and help workers de-stress and stay on top of their mental game. Perhaps we all engage in some unconscious hand movement, tapping a pen or playing with a paper clip, but with more of us keyboarding and not needing pages to gather, what else might we turn to? Researchers suggested some of the following as examples and avoid driving your co-workers too crazy at the same time.
1. Rubber toy:
Squeezing one helps vent frustration and lighten the mood.
2. Pen:
Clicking a retractable point rapidly and repeatedly can stimulate the mind just enough to sustain attention through mundane tasks.
3. Magnets:
Fiddling with smooth, plastic coated magnets from a dry-erase board provides tactile stimulation and keeps the hands busy.
4. Executive Sandbox:
Playing with sand is relaxing and can spark conversation. A compact set-up combines an easy to handle blend of sand and polymer.
5. Smooth Stones:
Running the hand over a surface that is pleasing or soothing to the touch can evoke a meditative state and help screen out external stimuli.
6. Slinky:
Stretching and bending a wire coil during long, tedious conference calls can keep the mind busy enough to avoid bigger distractions like e-mail.
7. Coat Toggle:
Pressing and releasing a spring-loaded device provides a satisfying tactile experience that can stimulate creative problem solving.

What is your immediate goal? Try one and see if it’s a good match for you.
• Stress reduction
• Focus
• Creativity

©MWeisner2017