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Inspiration & Stress Management

Words of Inspiration

Finding meaningful work or going through other difficult transitions can involve hard work. Sometimes it's helpful to reflect on the inspiring words of those who went before us.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -- Howard Thurman

"Being able to do the job well will not necessarily get you hired; The person who gets hired is often the one who knows the most about how to get hired."  -- Dick Lathrop

"If your livelihood isn't making you lively, then what good is it?"  -- Heather L. Davis

"The earth is a spaceship and we're all crew members. Not passengers. We can all pick and change what crew job we want. Enjoy."  –- Buckminster Fuller

"Whether you think you can or think you can't -- you are right." -- Henry Ford

"Great dancers are not great because of their technique: they are great because of their passion"  -- Martha Graham 

"It's never too late to be what you might have been." –- George Elliott

"Let the beauty you love be what you do,
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground." -- Rumi

Stress Management

Both the job hunt and work itself can be very stressful. It's therefore very important to develop strong coping mechanisms and stress management skills to help you get throughout the tough times. Here are a few ideas that could help:
  • Deep breathing. Get in a comfortable and quiet position and focus on slowing your breath. Pay attention to the breaths as you inhale and exhale. You can even say to yourself "inhale" on the in-breath and "relax" on the exhale. When your mind drifts off, gently bring it back to the breath. You can do this in silence, guided by an instructional cd, or relaxing music.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation. As in deep breathing, get in a comfortable, quiet spot and focus on slowing your breath. One by one, tense the various areas of your body. For example, tighten both fists and feel that tension then slowly open your hands and feel the tension leave your body as you exhale. In a relaxed state, you can also practice imagery and picture a relaxing situation or you being successful at something.

  • Take a class or join a group that does one of the following: yoga, meditation, pilates, tai chi, stretching, prayer, quigong, etc. If group activities aren't for you, buy a book, cd, or video (or check one out of the library) on the subject and try it on your own.

  • Exercise. Get regular aerobic exercise. Maybe 3 or so times a week, get out for 30 minutes and hike, walk, bike, swim, dance, or whatever else you like to do.

  • Time just for you. No matter how hard you're job hunting or slaving away at work, build in time just for you where you can do what you love--movies, books, music, dance, gardening, journaling, visiting friends, travel--whatever it is. You deserve it!

  • Get help. Get a coach or a therapist. See your minister, talk to friends and love ones about what's going on. Join a supportive success team.

  • Cultivate your spiritual side--prayer, meditation, weekly religious service, spiritual readings, and mindful movement.

  • Laugh as much as possible. Humor is wonderful for the spirit. Watch funny movies, read humorous books, hang out with upbeat witty people, have fun.

  • Count your blessings. Practice appreciation for all that you've been given all of which you wouldn't want to lose: family, friends, health, enough to eat, safety, shelter, clothing, and so forth. Give to others, volunteer for causes that help those less fortunate than you.

  • The basics. And of course, eat well, get plenty of rest, and go to the doctor when needed.

10 Tips for Mindful Living

Both the job hunt and work itself can be very stressful. It's therefore very important to develop strong coping mechanisms and stress management skills to help you get throughout the tough times. Here are a few ideas that could help:

  • Stop every so often and come back to your breath, notice your breath coming in and going out for a breath or two. While you're breathing, just notice you are breathing. If you like, you may suggest to yourself things like, "breathing in I calm my mind, breathing out I release my tension."

  • Learn to watch your mind; just observe your own thinking. Notice repetitive patterns, the kinds of things that keep coming up for you that take you out of the present moment. Reduce automatic and habitual patterns. Learn to act more deliberately with awareness. 

  • Accomplish at least one task each day mindfully. In other words, while you're doing something, just be doing that one thing, fully present and attentive to what you are doing. For example: 

    • While you're walking, just be walking. Notice each step. 
    • While you're brushing your teeth, just brush your teeth. 
    • When washing the dishes, just be washing the dishes.
  • Remember to exercise everyday. Take a mindful 30-45 minute walk or jog. Notice what you see, hear, smell, taste, feel, and think without judgment. Be present to your environment both inner and outer. 

  • Reduce worry and regret. There's no value in worrying about something before it happens. Equally, there's no sense in regretting the past. Make each moment matter. Try to remain in the present rather than the past or future. "You must be present to win!"

  • Take a few minutes in the morning to be quiet and meditate, sit or lie down and be with yourself, listen to the sounds of nature or take a slow, quiet walk. 

  • While driving, become aware of body tension, Hands around the steering wheel, shoulders raised, stomach tight, etc. Consciously work at releasing that tension. Does being tense help you to drive better? What does it feel like to turn off the radio, relax, and drive? 

  • Stop for 1-3 minutes every hour during the day. Become aware of your breathing and bodily sensations. Use it as a time to regroup and recoup. See if you can let the tension drop a notch.

  • Be mindful of what you are eating. Notice how your diet effects stress i.e. sugar, highly refines foods, and caffeine. Eat one or two lunches per week in silence. Use it as a time to eat slowly and be with yourself. 

  • Take yourself lightly and treat yourself with a great deal of patience, kindness and humor. "He who can laugh at himself will never cease to be amused." 

Steve Piazzale, Ph.D.