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It is estimated that somewhere between 40 and 50% of American workers are not satisfied with their job. Are you in that group? Not sure? Consider how you would answer this question.  

It’s Monday morning (or whichever day you work) and the alarm goes off – how excited are you to spring out of bed and head into the office?  

a. I can’t wait – I don’t need an alarm!

b. I like my job, but my boss is a pain.

c. Why get up? I could do this job in my sleep!

d. I like my job, but I have not had a raise in years.

e. I am calling in sick.

If you answered (a), it sounds like your job is a great fit – congratulations! If you answered any of the other ways, read on.  

Signs That You Are Underemployed

Underemployment is a term that refers to having a job that does not utilize your experience, education, skills and abilities. Sometimes it is a conscious choice by the employee to take a position of this nature. Frustration occurs when either the underemployment happens over time or is the result of being misled in the job description. Here are some of the signs:

• You are not making a fair salary for the position.

• You are overqualified and not challenged.

• There is no place for growth.

• You need a second job to make ends meet.

• You are making lateral moves over and over.

What to Do?

The first step is to recognize and take an honest assessment of the situation. Were you promised more when you were hired? Do you have a realistic perspective about your skill level? What exactly is not fulfilling about your job? Is the job ok, but you don’t like the company or your boss? The answers to these questions will give you a starting point to begin to make changes.

Do Your Research

If you like your job but don’t feel you are paid enough, do your research before addressing a raise with your boss. There are websites like O-net, PayScale and Salary.com, which list the salary ranges by job title and geographic area. Most have wide ranges depending on your education and experience. But if you are way below the range for your area, that is cause for concern. Once you have the data, you can have a conversation with your boss and see what insight they can provide.

If you are unfulfilled, do you have the skills to move to a more fulfilling job? If you do, this is another opportunity to do your research before talking to your boss. Look at the quantifiable reasons that you deserve to move up in the organization or be given more duties. For example, you have reduced expenses by 10%, improved productivity by 7% or some other measurable data that shows you are ready to move up. Often, when a boss has the data, they can help you.  

Be Prepared

In today’s job market, you should always be prepared with an updated resume and plan for what is next for you whether you stay in your current position or leave. The days of remaining at one company for your whole career are pretty much gone. Do you have a 5-year plan for your career? If not, consider taking time to do so. Where do you want to be in 5 years? Do you need more skills to achieve your goals or find a new position? There are many ways to improve skills through certifications, classes, workshops and education. A plan with clear action steps is essential to move forward.

If you feel a bit overwhelmed or want help with the process, a career coach can also help you assess where you are and help you navigate the path to more fulfillment. In addition, career coaches can help you with a healthy perspective of your skills and talents and can help you improve your interviewing and negotiation skills.  

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Summer is traditionally a time to take a break from work or school and spend time with friends or family on vacation.  Vacations are meant to recharge our mind and body and break the routine of daily life. Yet, too often we return from vacation more tired and stressed than before we left! It’s hard to relax and recharge if you are staying plugged into the office or worrying about unfinished projects. The practice of mindfulness can help us savor our downtime, enjoy our friends and family and come back relaxed.  Here are some ways to incorporate the tools of a mindfulness practice into your vacation.

Mindful Ways to Relax and Renew

  • Breathe.  If you are feeling stressed, pay attention to your breath as it moves in and out of your body.  Focusing on the breath allows us to pause briefly and create space in our mind and body.  The parasympathetic nervous system responds to slower breath and ignites the relaxation response.  Travel can often present challenges with traffic, airport delays and other unplanned inconveniences.  Breathing can help you control your reactions and arrive calm. 
  • Savor.  It’s difficult to savor when you are in a rush at work or at home.  The slower pace of vacation is perfect for using this tool.  Savoring simply involves slowing down and enjoying the experience with all senses. Take your time and become intentional about enjoying your favorite foods and drinks.  Notice each bite or sip and savor the taste, the texture, the smell. Eating and drinking this way allows us to enjoy more and usually consume less because we are paying attention to the physical cues of fullness.  Savor the time.  Vacation is a time to stop rushing and allow time to slow down.  And savor those around you.  Think about what you appreciate about each person and enjoy the company.
  • Unplug if possible.  Whether it is for 5 minutes, hours or days spend some time away from electronic communication.  Unplugging gives us time to connect to what is going on within us and to those who are in our presence.  Research shows that anxiety and depression rates are on the rise and much is attributed to too much time plugged in.  Whether it’s social media, news, emails, texts or other connection, we all need breaks from the constant interruption these connections bring. Also, much of the news and social media content is designed to create outrage.  Our nervous system does not distinguish our negative reaction to this content from true physical danger. This causes our stress hormones to release and makes it hard to relax. Turn on your away message and turn off the phone!
  • Bring these tools back from vacation.  Try to incorporate small breaks in each day.  A long vacation is a wonderful time to relax and renew but it is possible to incorporate these techniques into daily life and create short renewal rituals in day to day living.  The world we live in is fast-paced and it’s important to mental, emotional and physical health to find daily ways to relax. 

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Happy 2019! If you are like most people, the New Year comes with resolutions for change. Unfortunately, most resolutions fizzle out within weeks and the only lasting result is disappointment. This year can be different with a little planning and a new approach to change. Whether you are trying to lose weight, quit smoking, find a new job or relationship or some other goal that is important to you, developing a plan that will succeed happens in several steps.

9 Questions to Consider to Reach Goals

  1. What exactly do you want to change and WHY? Be specific. Instead of a broad goal like I want to lose weight, decide how much and what losing weight will give you that you don’t have now. I want to lose 20 pounds so that I can have more energy to play with my children. Or I want to find a new job that is more aligned with my education and interest so that I can feel more engaged at work.
  2. When would you like to reach the goal? Make the goal time-related. This will keep you on track and allow for a careful plan. If you want to lose 20 pounds by May, you will need to lose about a pound a week. I want a new job by April, so I need to work on my resume by January 15th and apply by February 1st.
  3. What do you need to get started? Prepare! There is a saying if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. This is most likely true. For example, to lose weight, preparation includes removing tempting foods from your home, buying healthy food and prepping it so it’s ready when you are hungry among other things. Many a diet fails when there is no healthy food convenient and the tempting foods are lurking in the cabinet. Preparation is true for all goals and part of the preparation is to plan for obstacles.
  4. What will get in the way of success? Plan for obstacles. Most goals have obstacles, or we would have most likely already done it. Common obstacles are not enough time or money or support. This might require giving up something else to find time or money. This is also a time to check your true desire for change. Change is hard, so you want to make sure this is something you really want. Perhaps list the pros and cons to weigh your desire.
  5. Is this goal realistic? Make sure your plan is attainable. If you plan to lose 20 pounds by next week, that is unrealistic. An unrealistic goal sets you up to fail! This is not to say you should not challenge yourself, but make sure the steps within reach.
  6. Who will help, encourage and applaud you along the way? Find support. It’s far easier to make lasting change when you have a support system. Find a friend, family member, coach to help you stay on track, remind you of the benefits and cheer you on when you hit inevitable setbacks.
    Also, who won’t support you? Even though most people will be encouraging, there are always those who try to sabotage our plan. Usually the sabotage is just a well-meaning attempt to let you off the hook but keep your eye open and have support on speed dial!
  7. How will you be accountable and to who? Accountability is necessary to stay on track. This is a personal decision. Sometimes something as simple as a tracking app will do the trick. More often checking in with a person (ask them reach out if you don’t!) will keep you moving forward.
  8. Who will know what you plan to do? Go public with your goal. Goals are more likely to succeed if you tell others that you are going to do so. For example, I have a goal to run a ½ marathon in April. I have been telling people because I know it will keep me going when I want to give up training through the cold winter months. It has been a goal for many years and this year I am following these steps to make it happen.
  9. How will you stay motivated and encouraged? Celebrate success! Part of your plan needs to be how you will celebrate completion of steps along the way in addition to once you reach your goal. Whether it is words of congratulations, a treat like a movie or dinner with friends, a massage or hike in the woods, make a list and celebrate each milestone.


One last thing to consider is whether January 1st is the right time to start the process. Since it is an arbitrary date, it might not be the best time for you. Not that I am encouraging procrastination! Instead, decide what the best time is for you and tell a trusted person. This will help you stay accountable. Wishing you much success!

The post It’s 2019! Resolve to Try a New Way to Reach Your Goals appeared first on Be Well Life Coaching.

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No doubt about it, December is a busy month! Planning and celebrating the holidays, rushing to finish year-end projects… added to our regular routine can add a level of stress and feeling of overwhelm.  Yet many abandon their self-care routines due to time restraints unfortunately at a time when stress relief is most needed.  Overwhelm results from the feeling of having too much to do and not enough time to get it done.  Fortunately, there are ways to take care of yourself and reduce stress which can be done in 10 minutes or less.  Consider giving yourself these simple (and free) gifts this holiday season.

One minute or less
  • Stop, breathe and relax. When your stress level is rising, physically stop, take a breath and relax your shoulders and jaw.  This quick break will give your body and mind time to reset before proceeding. This will give you time to respond and not react.
  • Take a quick walk around the block or the office. A short burst of exercise will get the blood moving, increase energy and shift your focus.  If walking is not an option, try jumping up and down (which will make you laugh) or even swinging your arms a few times.
  • Stand up and stretch. Doing a few stretches to loosen the tension in your muscles can relieve tension in your mind as well. Taking a quick break to stretch will keep you flexible and reduce the chance that tight muscles will develop into painful knots.
  • Write down any thoughts that are weighing on your mind. Holding thoughts in our heads takes a great amount of energy and makes it hard to focus.  Whether it is a list of things to do or a problem you are trying to solve, put it down on paper to reduce the stress on your mind.
  • Say no! Think about your “should” list and evaluate why each item is important and what would happen if you said no.  Saying no takes less than a minute and can free us from doing things that will leave us feeling resentful or tired.

 

Five minutes or less
  • Go for a walk. Taking a walk gets the blood moving and can help shift perspective and clear the mind.
  • Watch a funny video. Humor is a great way to shift our energy from negative to positive in a short amount of time.
  • Step outside midday to capture sunlight. The days are shortest in December and the decrease in daylight can have a negative impact on mood.   A few minutes of midday light will help lift mood and will also provide fresh air.  If you can’t go outside, sit by a window and take in the sunshine.
  • Meditate or sit quietly. Even if your mind is racing as you sit, taking a few minutes to meditate or sit quietly will calm the body which will help calm the mind.

 

Ten minutes or less
  • Call a supportive person. Taking a few minutes to connect with a supportive person can help with perspective.  Often sharing our thoughts with someone we trust helps alleviate stress and gain insight into any challenge we are facing.
  • Read something fun. Read an interesting article or chapter of a book for a quick break to refocus your thoughts.
  • Go to bed ten minutes early. Give yourself a little extra time to relax in bed especially if you are having a hard time settling down at night.  Getting in bed will send a signal to the brain that it is time to slow down.
  • Get up ten minutes early. Adding an extra ten minutes to the morning can help start the day without feeling rushed.  Often when we start the day rushed, the feeling follows us throughout the day.

My gifts to you are two free stress reducing giveaways.  Download the free E-book 7 Days to a More Mindful Life and a free 45-minute Gentle Yoga session .  Both are designed to help you slow down and relax.  And while you are thinking about it, schedule a complimentary session for January!

I wish you all a healthy, joyful and relaxed Holiday Season!  Please email me liz@bewelllifecoaching.com with questions.

The post It’s December!  Stress Less, Enjoy More This Holiday Season appeared first on Be Well Life Coaching.

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Thanksgiving is a few weeks away and is a wonderful time to remember and acknowledge our gratitude for the blessings in our life.  On the first Thanksgiving in 1621 the English settlers and the Native Americans celebrated with a feast to show their gratitude for the first successful harvest. Since then gathering together with family and friends to share a meal and reflect on what we are grateful has become a wonderful American tradition.  Almost 400 years later we now know that practicing gratitude not only makes you happier but also healthier.  Research shows that gratitude makes you feel better both physically and emotionally and the good news is it is a simple practice to cultivate.

What is gratitude?

According to Robert Emmons, a lead researcher in the field, gratitude is composed of two parts.  First the acknowledgement of goodness in one’s life and second, the recognition that the source of this goodness lies at least partially outside of one’s self.  This may come from other people, a higher power or nature.  While many are naturally more inclined to be grateful it can be cultivated through of a number of simple practices.

What are health benefits?

Researchers have discovered that practicing gratitude reduces stress, improves sleep quality, helps with trauma recovery, depression and anxiety.   In addition, showing gratitude has been shown to be fundamental in improving relationships. Gratitude improves our outlook and can help people when they are dealing with crisis or adversity.  Here are some simple ways to increase your gratitude and enjoy the benefits.

4 Ways to Increase Gratitude

Write down what you are grateful for each day.  Studies have shown that people who write down three items that they are grateful for at the end of each day will sleep longer and more deeply and will wake up in a better mood.  Keep a journal or pad of paper by your bed and jot down those blessings before you fall asleep.  Even if you can only say “I am grateful I am in my bed” it begins to change the way the brain is automatically wired to go negative or what is wrong thoughts.  It also teaches us to look for good things throughout our day and acknowledge them.

Look for opportunities to thank others.  As children we all learn that saying thank you is good manners.  Research now proves that appreciating what others do for us and thanking them for even little things goes a long way toward improving relationships.  Thanking others is a way to show we are not taking what they do for us for granted and also makes us feel better about ourselves.  Be specific about how the action was helpful and be genuine in your appreciation.

Write a detailed thank you note – deliver and read it to the recipient.  We all have people in our lives who have done something for us that has given us an opportunity to grow.  It might be a teacher, a boss, a friend or relative.  Research has shown that writing a very specific thank you note or letter to that person listing how they helped you and then delivering and reading it to them boosts the level of happiness in both the recipient and the person who writes it.

Create a family gratitude ritual.  Expressing gratitude as a family will improve family dynamics and help the family see their shared blessings.  Some families do so verbally around the dinner table and others do so at the end of the day.  Writing the blessings down on slips of paper and putting them in a jar to be read on New Year’s Day is another fun way to cultivate gratitude as a group.

The post How Simple Gratitude Improves Your Health appeared first on Be Well Life Coaching.

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Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer as children return to school and family vacations come to an end. The slower pace and longer days of summer usually provide more time for play and exercise. In September, that time gets replaced by homework and other school and work-related activities. The decrease in daylight hours also makes it more challenging to get outside in the light. Research shows why exercise should be a top priority for both children and adults as the fall begins. It is common knowledge that exercise improves our physical health in many ways, keeps us fit and helps manage weight. Here are 7 more compelling reasons you need to keep or start exercising this fall.

7 Reasons to Get Moving

1. Exercise sharpens the brain. For children this translates to better focus and concentration in school. For adults this helps us continue to learn as we age. When we do aerobic exercise, our heart rate rises and we breathe faster which brings more oxygen and nutrients to our brain.

2. Exercise that requires coordination further builds the brain “muscles” because it stimulates neuroplasticity which means the brain is forming new neural pathways. The science of neuroplasticity shows us that the brain can grow at any age when challenged with new challenges. If possible, do a variety of different kinds of exercise to get the maximum benefit. Consider different forms of dance, Tai Chi or Yoga, or similar activities. If it’s hard at first, don’t be discouraged. If you keep trying, you will build better coordination and balance over time.
There has been interesting new research on the benefits or riding a bike and learning. Studies have shown that the quality and integrity of the “white matter” of the brain for both children and adults. This improvement in quality of white matter means a greater capacity for memory, attention span and cognitive efficiency. One interesting study showed that those who rode a stationary bike while reading and learning new material had an easier time mastering the material and retaining it longer.

3. Exercise lifts mood. This is very important as the fall days get shorter and the lack of sunlight can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Research shows that as little as 15 minutes of regular aerobic exercise is as effective as many anti-depressants for many especially older adults. Exercising outside provides greater benefits because it gets you out in the fresh air which increases oxygen consumption and allows you to absorb sunlight which is important. This can be achieved with an activity as simple as a walk around the block at lunch, walking your dog after work or riding a bike after school. The “runner’s high” feeling comes from increase in endorphins which kick in as we raise our heart and breath rate sending more oxygen to the brain during exercise.

4. Exercise helps you sleep better. Poor sleep causes difficulties in learning, work productivity and increased stress. The greatest benefit for sleep is morning exercise. However, if nighttime is your only option, make sure your exercise is done at least 2 hours before bed or that the exercise is relaxing like yoga or Chi Gong. A walk around the block after dinner serves to help you digest better which will also allow your sleep to be better.

5. Exercise decreases stress. Regular exercise, whether aerobic, dancing, yoga or walking will help relax you naturally and can help you break unhealthy habits. Often people turn to excess eating, drinking, smoking or illegal drugs to reduce stress. Exercise provides natural stress relief. Often, a quick walk around the block can help us put problems in perspective.

6. Exercise helps you connect to others which is also beneficial to the brain. Whether you go to a class, walk with a friend, ride bikes in the neighborhood or go on hikes with a club, the combination of exercise and connection is uplifting to mood and can increase productivity. Consider a “walking meeting” if you are faced with meetings that could be done on foot. Team sports are also a great way to bond with others while reaping the benefits of exercise.

7. Exercise improves confidence for people of all ages. One word of caution is you need to set realistic goals when you start. Celebrate progress not perfection. Each step you take today that you did not yesterday is a step in the right direction!

The post Want to Improve Your Performance at Work or School? 7 Reasons to Keep Exercising! appeared first on Be Well Life Coaching.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem.

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