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6 Things Parents Should Do to Build Resiliency in Their Kids

Monday, June 12, 2017


Mom and daughter looking at computer togetherWhile we tend to remember our childhood as being fairly carefree, being a kid isn’t always a play date in the park. Our children take tests, change schools, compete in sports, move, suffer loss, make friends, and sometimes get hurt by those friends.
 
To deal with these situations successfully kids need to learn to be resilient. It’s a quality that helps us overcome obstacles, persevere when problems arise, and bounce back from adversity.

Resilient kids are good problem-solvers. Instead of viewing unfamiliar or tough situations as obstacles, they view them as opportunities to find solutions. They’re confident that they can figure out what needs to be done and handle whatever is thrown at them.
 
But resilience goes beyond the simple act of overcoming adversity. A truly resilient child has a whole different mindset than their peers who get hung up on failures. They believe that their mistakes do not define them. They know they have the ability to try again and that eventually things will get better. Interestingly, optimism is positively correlated to resilience.
 
Children who develop resilience are also flexible. They can handle surprises and adapt to new situations. They’re also less competitive. A resilient child’s self-esteem comes from within, so they are more likely to appreciate other people’s talents and work well with their peers. Instead of doing things quickly, they work efficiently and with quality. They’ve learned that taking the time to do things right and learning from others pays off.
 
The bottom line is resilient children tend to be happier, healthier, and more successful. We all want that for our children! The good news is that we aren’t born with some finite amount of resilience. It is a quality that can be taught and developed, and like a muscle built and strengthened over time.
 
So what can you do to build a more resilient child? Here are six tips for more resilient children:

1.     Avoid being overprotective. Overprotecting children fuels their anxiety over trying new things or facing a problem. As a culture, we try to make sure our kids are comfortable, but it often goes too far and starts to get in the way of children developing their own problem-solving skills. Let your children feel a little uncomfortable sometimes, and allow them to take appropriate risks. Teach them essential skills and give them age-appropriate freedom to help them learn their own limits.

2.     Teach your kids to problem-solve. Engage your child in figuring out how they can handle challenges. Give them the opportunity, over and over again, to figure out what works for them and what doesn’t. When they make a mistake, instead of asking them why they did it, ask them how they will fix it.

3.     Let your kids make mistakes. Failure is not the end of the world, and kids need to see that firsthand. Letting kids mess up tends to be more painful to parents, but it helps kids learn how to fix their mistakes and make better decisions next time. Let your kids experience the consequences of their actions.

4.     Focus on effort rather than results. You don’t want your children’s self-confidence to be dependent on accomplishments or praise from others. Teach them that failing at something doesn’t make them a failure. Praise the effort they put into something, even if the results are not ideal. This will teach them to endure disappointment, not be devastated by it.

5.     Help them manage their emotions. A key part of developing resilience is emotional management. Teach your kids that emotions are ok! It’s ok to feel. Then teach them that after they feel their feelings, they need to think and figure out what they’re going to do next.

6.     Show your kids that they matter. Like all people, children need to know they are loved and cared for. It is also important for them to believe that someone needs and relies on them. They want to know their existence and presence makes a difference to other people. Listen to your children and support them. As kids navigate new situations and inevitable disappointments, they need to know that they’re not alone. Communicate openly with them. Cultivate a warm, strong relationship. Even when they make a mistake, they should feel they can talk to you about it.

There are times when parents need some help and support. If you feel like you child is overly stressed and you could use some help them be more resilient please contact my office to set up an appointment.  I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we can meet in person or I offer online therapy if that’s a better fit for you.

Four Easy Ways to Give Your Mood and Your Health a Boost

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Woman reading bookHave you ever physically felt an emotion? When you’re nervous, have you noticed that your stomach feels funny? When you’re excited you may feel your nerves tingling and your heart beating faster. When you’re sad, you feel sore and fatigued.
 
The reason for this is that there is an inseparable connection between the mind and the body. There are complicated interactions that take place between your mind, body, and the outside world. Feelings of joy, sadness, anger, hope, and apathy directly affect your body. You feel emotions in a physical way.
 
So if you suffer from depression you aren’t just affected emotionally. Many physical ailments can be linked to depression. The physical symptoms include digestive problems, pain, trouble sleeping, and dizziness. If you’re dealing with anger you can experience high blood pressure and headaches. Negative thoughts put stress on the mind and body, and science has extensively documented the physical risks of high stress levels.
 
On the flip side, dwelling on positive thoughts can improve your health from the inside out! Actively employing positive thinking can boost your immune system. Think about that. You may already eat right, exercise, get enough sleep and take supplements, but positive thinking can fill in the gaps and strengthen your immune system too!
 
Studies have shown a link between a positive outlook and a variety of health benefits. Lower blood pressure, less heart disease, maintaining a healthy weight, and lower blood sugar levels are all attributed to optimistic thinking. An optimistic attitude can also help you recover and heal faster after injury or surgery.
 
But what if you aren’t a naturally optimistic person? Don’t despair! Here are four small things you can do every day to see the world in a better light and improve your health:
  1. Start off each day with a positive thought. It will help you set the tone for how you will choose to think for the day.
  2. Smile, smile, smile. There is something to the adage, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” When you make the effort to smile, your emotions will follow. Smiling will also draw others toward you creating a positive exchange that can lift your mood.
  3. Live one moment at a time. Stop worrying about the past and the future. Focus on the present and making that day the best it can be. Repeated brief moments of positive thinking can foster mental and physical health. Some of my clients find it helpful to practice mindfulness to help them focus and see the good in their day.
  4. Practice gratitude. Having a grateful attitude is linked to less stress and anxiety, sleeping more soundly, better physical health, greater satisfaction in life and relationships. Look for the moments, big and small, that you are thankful for. Some people keep a gratitude journal.

Positive thinking takes practice, but you can remake yourself into a positive person by re-training your brain to think positively! If you’re looking for the negative, the neural pathways for negative thinking become stronger. Your brain will lean toward the negative automatically. When you practice gratitude, and look for the good, you are activating different neural circuits in your brain. Dopamine and serotonin production is increased, producing calming results. The more you stimulate these circuits in your brain, the stronger and more automatic they become.
 
If you find yourself still overwhelmed by negative thoughts, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment. I also offer online therapy to those residing in Oregon or Washington states so you can get the help you need from the comfort of your own home. We’ll work to put your negative thoughts into perspective and cultivate the positive attitude that will improve your health and well-being.

Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Solitude to Refresh Yourself

Monday, May 01, 2017


Don’t be afraid to be alone with your thoughts, because only through productive solitude and introspection can you know yourself and find peace.Do you make time to be alone with your thoughts? Many people are actually afraid to allow such solitude. Any lull in a conversation and they have to jump in and say something. And when they’re alone, they’re always plugged in…to their phone, to music, to noise in the background. Quiet makes them nervous.

The Altlantic ran a recent article that said that embracing solitude can have huge psychological benefits as it helps you confront who you are and how you can “out-maneuver some of the toxicity surrounding you”. Yet it also reported on a study that a quarter of the woman participants and two-thirds of the men chose experiencing electric shock over being alone with their thoughts. That’s severe!

Clearly, many people are suppressing unresolved issues rather than facing them. While it can be uncomfortable or even painful to confront these issues, in the long run, your mental and physical health will improve if you allow yourself the time to process them. Many people find that enlisting the help of a trained mental health professional gives them the support they need to effectively resolve these stresses. (I’ve had wonderful success using NET – Neuro Emotional Technique to help my clients let go and move on.)

While it’s true that solitary confinement has been used as a punishment that can drive some people crazy, intentionally seeking solitude can be a rejuvenating experience if you know how to regulate your emotions effectively. Productive introspection let’s you get acquainted with yourself, one of the most important relationships you can have. Without such times of solitude you can develop a group mentality. Instead of thinking for yourself, you may let the group define who you are more than you think possible.

How can you find solitude in your busy life?

  • Rise before others and go for a walk outside as the sun rises.
  • Leave the radio off when you drive.
  • Start a practice of meditation.
  • Take solitary walks at lunchtime.
  • Make a day trip by yourself to wander around a contemplative place like the Portland Japanese Garden.
  • Turn off devices and journal about your thoughts in the evening.

The more you seek times of productive solitude the more pleasurable it will become. Some of the long-lasting benefits are that you’ll gain clarity on your priorities, desires, and needs. You’ll know who you are and what you stand for. You’ll reinforce your convictions and beliefs.

If the silence is too painful because you’re plagued by something that you can’t resolve, please seek the help of a trained professional. You deserve to enjoy life more fully. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Or if you’re an American living in a foreign land, please feel free to request remote counseling.

Why Expatriates Can Benefit from Remote Counseling

Monday, April 17, 2017


Woman smiling and looking at computer screenAre you an expat? Are you living and/or working in a country other than your native one? Your reasons for moving abroad may have included secular work, volunteer work, retirement, or a quest to immerse yourself in a new culture for an extended period of time. It is an amazing privilege and experience to live in a new place and learn new things.

To be a successful expat, you know that you cannot simply recreate your old home and environment. So you’re probably working hard to learn the language. Maybe you’re experimenting with new ingredients and cooking techniques. You’re finding your new favorite market, coffee shop, breakfast nook, and bookstore. And you’re getting to know your new community and seek to become a contributing part of it.

These exciting changes and adjustments, though, are part of why some expats struggle emotionally. Take, for instance, suddenly living in an environment where few people speak your language. The people at work may speak it, but those in the community, on public transportation, at the market, and behind the counter at a restaurant may not. To be constrained by language barriers is isolating. Even when you have some grasp of your new language, fluency takes time and the process can be frustrating.

As an expat, you also have to adjust to your new environment. Your new area may not be as safe as your previous neighborhood, limiting mobility and walks alone. Or maybe your spouse is working, leaving you to fend for yourself during the day. And if you do want to grab lunch with a friend while your spouse is at work? They are all back in your native country, and phone calls can be expensive!

This can all lead to feelings of isolation, frustration, or depression. You realize that you could really use the help of a therapist to navigate your transition to a new life in a new country. But how do you find a therapist when you live abroad?

It can be a challenge. There may not be that many qualified therapists in your area. And finding them isn’t always easy. When you do find a good therapist, they may not speak your language. If you are living in a small community, there is also a chance you know the therapist. It can be uncomfortable to open up to someone who has connections to your outside life.

What is an expat to do? To fill this void in mental health care, I am starting a new service designed specifically for expatriates. Remote Counselling Services for Expats utilizes a HIPPA compliant, online video program to connect us, no matter where you are in the world. Via video conferences, I can help you navigate the unique situations that you face.

I have over thirty years of counseling experience, and I am so excited to offer my services to those living abroad! If you are an expatriate and are experiencing trouble adjusting to your new life, please take advantage of this unique, new service so you can get the most of your international experience and your life!

How to Use Mindfulness to De-Stress at Your Desk

Monday, April 03, 2017


Here are some practical ways to use mindfulness to de-stress at your desk so you can mindfully choose mental and emotional states that most benefit you.Is work getting you down? Do you carry the job stresses home to your family, inflicting them with your bad mood? That just creates more stress, doesn’t it? If you’re ready to try something new that stops this cycle, I’ve got a recommendation for you…try mindfulness.

What is mindfulness? Basically it means you’ve developed a focused mental state based on your awareness of the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

If you have a daily practice of mindfulness at your desk, you can release the tension as it begins rather than letting it build like a pressure cooker ready to explode. Try these simple mindfulness ideas and see if they don’t work for you…

  • Focus on one thing at a time. Mindfulness helps you hone in on the one thing you need to accomplish at this moment in time. This helps you avoid the temptation to multitask.
  • Be aware of what your body needs. You know how sitting for hours staring at a computer screen makes you feel. It’s not pleasant. Don’t just sit there and take it. Move your body until it’s relieved. Stand up, stretch and move at least once an hour to relieve any tightening and to remind yourself to keep good posture.
  • Keep yourself centered. You know how stress can make you feel off kilter and out of sorts. Take time to collect yourself. Find a quiet place and relax through meditation or going for a walk.
  • Clear out the clutter to stay in the moment. When all those nagging, little tasks pile up, it’s amazing how much stress they exert on you. If they can be done in 5 minutes or less, clear them out of the way.
  • Breathe. When you get up to stretch, do a few breathing exercises too. Draw air deeply into your lungs and feel yourself relax. Too often people breathe shallowly, which adds to your feelings of anxiety.
  • Remember your purpose. The job isn’t everything. Work is a means to make a living so you and your family are happy and healthy. This puts things in perspective and helps you create boundaries so work stays at work, so you’re no longer taking it home with you.

Sometimes stress builds up and becomes a chronic problem that detrimentally affects all areas of your life. If this has happened to you, please seek the help of a mental health professional. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please feel free to contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can get it resolved and you can move on.


Read more on my website: Managing Stress and Releasing Unresolved Stress.

Are You Managing Your Anxiety or Is Your Anxiety Managing You?

Monday, March 27, 2017


Woman feeling anxiousAnxiety, despite being an unwelcome feeling, is a part of life. It is a feeling of nervousness, fear, or apprehension. Typical situations that cause anxiety are new experiences where you can’t for-see the outcome, high-pressure situations, or stressful events. Anxious feelings are often manifested physically through an upset stomach, headaches, or a racing heart.

For many people, anxiety goes as quickly as it comes. Once the anxiety-inducing event is over, their feelings normalize. They are able to handle the discomfort and uncertainty of anxiety without outside intervention.

This isn’t the situation for everyone though. There are many people who on a daily basis deal with nagging feelings of anxiety. Sometimes they can push these feelings down and go about their day without being too affected. Other times the feelings are so severe that they begin to affect a person’s work, relationships, and health. Anxiety becomes controlling, debilitating, and inescapable. In this case, help is needed to manage the mental and physical discomfort and learn how to cope.

Whichever group you fall into, it is necessary to manage your anxiety more effectively. Pushing your feelings to the back of your mind is not “managing” your anxiety; it is just procrastinating dealing with it.

What can you do if it feels like anxiety is gaining the upper hand in your life? Take a look at these suggestions:

Accept your feelings. Don’t dismiss how you are feeling. Accept your thoughts and feelings, and spend time examining them. By taking ownership of your feelings, you take back your power and control, making the problem feel much smaller. Practice mindfulness. This form of meditation helps you regain control of your thoughts. Consider your thoughts and feelings without judgement.

Challenge anxious thoughts. A lot of anxious thinking is not only negative; it is irrational. Ask yourself: Is there real evidence for your frightening thoughts and predictions? What are the pros and cons of worrying about it? You may think the worst will happen, when in reality there is no basis to think that. Challenge what you believe to be true about what you fear. Retrain your mind to process things in a way that does not feed your anxiety.

Replace anxious thoughts with realistic thoughts. Once you’ve identified the irrational distortions behind your anxious thoughts, replace them with realistic and positive thoughts. Give attention to things that are good and beneficial. Make a choice to be optimistic. Actively look on the bright side. It takes time and practice, but it can be done!

Practice gratitude every day. Looking for reasons to be grateful has a powerful effect on your mental health and emotional wellbeing. What you choose to remember and focus on become the pathway the brain will automatically take. If you constantly dwell on negative things that cause anxiety, your thoughts and feelings become dark and worrisome automatically. You’ve worn that pathway in your brain. But the good news it that those pathways can be shifted. Choosing to practice gratitude shifts your brain to see constructive, positive themes in your life instead of destructive ones.

Do you feel like your anxiety is too severe for these suggestions to help? Do you experience excessive anxiety and worry about daily activities? Does it interfere with your normal routine, job performance, or relationships? Are your everyday worries accompanied by physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, trembling, and stomachaches?

If so, you may one of the millions of American adults suffering from an anxiety disorder. These chronic conditions fill people’s lives with exaggerated worry and tension. Simply the thought of getting through the day can provoke anxiety. Anxiety disorders are relentless and can grow progressively worse if not treated.

The good news is that you can treat your anxiety disorder. Research is yielding new, improved therapies to help those with anxiety disorders to lead productive, fulfilling lives. If you think you may suffer from an anxiety disorder, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office for information and treatment.

6 Things Resilient Business Owners Never Do – Even on Very Bad Days

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Man at desk with computer "Everyone experiences tough times; it is a measure of your determination and dedication how you deal with them and how you can come through them." -Lakshmi Mittal
 
As a business owner you have good days and you have bad days, perhaps even very bad days. Being in control of your own business isn’t for the feint of heart. Probably more than anything else, to succeed in business you’re going to need to be resilient. Resilience is a broad term that refers to mental toughness. It indicates that a person is flexible, tough, thinks ahead, and works thoroughly and efficiently.
 
But sometimes there are some negative thinking patterns that can begin to erode your resiliency. How can you eliminate negative thinking that might be holding you back?
 
Let’s consider 6 things that resilient business owners don’t do:
 
  1. Feel sorry for themselves. Problems small to large are inevitable, but feeling sorry for yourself is a choice. Self-pity wastes valuable time and mental energy. It also keeps your focus on the problem instead of creative solutions. A good way to stop feeling sorry for yourself is to cultivate a grateful attitude, perhaps by writing down things in your life that are positive.
  2. Succumb to fear of change. Change is a part of life. Nothing stays the same. For some people, adjusting to change comes easily. For others, change causes an inordinate amount of stress. Whatever natural reaction you have to the idea of change, a resilient business leader will not shy away from change or let fear hold them back. Your success, both in life and business, depends on your ability, and willingness, to adapt.
  3. Dwell on the past. Learning from past mistakes with a goal to not repeating them is a good thing. Dwelling on them is harmful. You can get stuck in a cycle of second-guessing your choices or wishing that the present was just like the past. Neither of these things are productive. To grow and progress you have to make peace with the past and work through any negative emotions that could be holding you back.
  4. Worry about things they can’t control. Complaining and worrying about things you have little or no control over will not help you. It will only serve to distract you and take energy away from working on the things you can control. Other people’s choices, business decisions, and opinions are outside of your control, so don’t waste precious time worrying about them. Accept the situation, and move forward.
  5. Resent the success of other people. Have you ever felt a little twinge of jealousy when you see someone with something you don’t have? Maybe another business owner received an award or recognition for their work. A resilient leader doesn’t get distracted by jealousy. Resentment takes away your focus from your own work and impedes your efforts to reach your goals. Instead, recognize that the success of another person in no way takes away from your success. Be happy for them, and keep working toward your own definition of success.
  6. Give up. There are some people who can’t handle failure in any form. Their self-esteem is completely wrapped up in their “success”, aka “lack of failure.” But real success comes, not from doing everything perfectly the first time, but from trying, failing, getting back up, and trying again. If you feel like you have failed, try again. Focus on improving your skills, and mastering your craft.

Of course, ridding yourself of negative thought is easier said than done. If you’re struggling with one of these areas, consider getting help from a mental health expert. Rather than being a sign of weakness, this shows that you are ready to step up and be the best possible version of yourself and succeed not only in your business, but your life. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

Continue to Protect Your Children from the Damages of Marijuana

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Since Washington and Oregon have made marijuana legal for adults many teens think it’s okay for them, so we must help them make choices for the best future.Since Washington State and Oregon have changed their laws making marijuana use legal for adults, many of our youth think it’s legal for them and that it’s harmless. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Marijuana use is still harmful. Here are a few scientifically proven reasons why:

  • It puts teens at greater risk for addictive behavior.
  • Because the teen brain is still developing, it can impair the areas that control motor coordination, impulse control, memory, learning and judgment.
  • It’s associated with behavior that results in teen death, such as traffic fatalities, drowning accidents, homicide, and suicide.
  • Because impulse control is impaired, teens are more likely to choose risky sexual activity resulting in STDs and pregnancy.
  • It’s responsible for children falling behind in school and even failing.
  • Teens can be arrested and this arrest record will severely limit their career choices.

Another problem with legalized marijuana is that adults think there will be no ramifications if their boss gives them a random UA. This is not true. Bosses don’t want their employees coming to work drunk or stoned. People need to be responsible about their social drug and alcohol use.

Listing these dangers to your children, however, isn’t usually the best way to reach them. Parents can be good role models by showing children they don’t need to use substances like marijuana or alcohol to have a good time. Help them find healthy ways of coping with the pressures they’re experiencing, such as outdoor activities, hobbies, spirituality, and a strong social network. Keep the lines of communication open as you listen attentively to what they have to say without judgment.

When you do talk with your teenagers, you might approach them from a safety first direction. You might say, “No matter what the law says, I hope you’ll keep your eyes open to the scientific facts. You only get one brain for your whole life. I’m trusting you to take good care of it.” Some parents underscore this by promising to rescue their teenager, without blame, from dangerous situations, including those that involve drinking or drugs.

If your relationship is too tense and you’re unable to reach your teenagers, please don’t ignore the situation, but continue to seek new ways of helping them. Don’t ever give up! Many people have found that talking with an objective mental health professional facilitates discussions such as these. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Parenting Effectively and Managing Depression and Stress.

Who Is Taking Care of the Caregivers?

Wednesday, March 08, 2017


44 million Americans are caregivers of a special needs child or elderly relative or neighbor and they need our family and community support to keep going. Are you one of the 44 million Americans who is the caregiver of a special needs child or for an elderly relative or neighbor? We deeply appreciate the love you show and the hard work you do. We realize that often you’re doing this in addition to working secularly, caring for your own household and parenting your children. Thank you for all that you do!

Being a caregiver is a high stress job. Not only are you dealing with the decline of a loved one, the work is physically, emotionally and financially draining. Many times a caregiver is called upon to perform medical procedures for which they haven’t been sufficiently trained such as giving injections, changing catheters, etc. Plus caregivers work reduced hours or even quit their careers to care for their loved ones.

Recently the New York Times ran an article that helps us to get to know these caregivers better. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Nearly a quarter of caregivers are millennials.
  • Caregivers are equally likely to be male or female.
  • About one-third of caregivers also have a full-time job.
  • About one-quarter work part time.
  • A third provide more than 21 hours of care per week.
  • AARP estimates their unpaid value is $470 billion a year.
  • One in five report significant financial strain.
  • Family caregivers over 50 who leave the work force lose, on average, more than $300,000 in wages and benefits over their lifetimes.
  • Sixty percent of those caring for older family members have to reduce the number of work hours, take a leave of absence or make other career changes.

The demand for caregivers is increasing, while the available number of caregivers is decreasing. Because they’re not getting the support and help they need, caregivers often suffer from anxiety, depression and chronic disease. JAMA reports on a study that shows that caregiving shaves, on the average, four years off their lifespan. And surprisingly, the physical impact lasts long after the job is done. PNAS reports on a study that long-term caregivers’ immune systems are still disrupted three years after their job ends. The NEJM reports that caregivers of patients with long I.C.U. stays have high levels of depressive symptoms lasting for more than a year.

Legislation is trying to ease the burden for caregivers by passing the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act. This has been signed into law by Oregon, but Washington State hasn’t adopted it yet.

The CARE Act requires hospitals to:
  • Record the name of the family caregiver on the medical record of the patient.
  • Inform the family caregivers when the patient is to be discharged.
  • Provide the family caregiver with education and instruction of the medical tasks he or she will need to perform for the patient at home.

If you are a caregiver, please take advantage of local support groups. Reach out to friends and family and schedule time off. Attend classes and talk with professionals about your demanding role. Become educated so you can perform your tasks well and with no risk of injuring yourself. Mental health professionals can help you learn techniques for managing your stress. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. I would love to help.

Available Online Resources:

The Eldercare Locator identifies community organizations that help with meals, transportation, home care, peer support and caregiving education.

The Local Area Agencies on Aging connects patients and caregivers to the services they need.


Stressed Employees? Six Ways to Reduce Stress in a Family Business

Monday, February 20, 2017


Stressed woman sitting at deskAs an entrepreneur, you are used to handling high stress levels. It comes with the job. But what about your employees? They deal with stress, too. High levels of stress can cause or compound a variety of physical and emotional health issues. As a result, stressed-out employees tend to take more time off and be less productive when they are in the office. Their stress can also rub off on you, customers and coworkers.
 
You may think it’s not your job, but savvy business owners recognize that helping employees reduce stress is a top priority. If you work with your family, it is more important than ever to create a positive work environment. The good news is there are many positive changes you can make to create a work environment that reduces the stress you and your employees feel.
 
How can you help reduce the stress felt by your employees? Consider these six ideas:
 
  1. Set a good example. Just as children imitate the example of their parents, so too do employees imitate the example of their boss. Demonstrate what work-life balance looks like. Take time for your family and your wellbeing. Avoid negative attitudes. If you establish a culture of balance and reasonableness at the office, your employees will follow suit and stress levels will go down.
  2. Help them find balance. Even if your employees see you taking time for yourself and trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance, they could struggle to achieve the same thing in their own life. So empower them with information about the benefits of staying healthy through exercise and good eating habits, and the importance of taking breaks. You may even want to create company policies that encourage health and wellbeing.
  3. Communicate openly. Be clear and open with everyone involved in the family business. Create an environment where people feel comfortable asking questions and making suggestions. Let each person know what is expected of them and how they can gauge their success. Stress is reduced when people feel heard and informed.
  4. Don’t be afraid of confrontation. In family firms, conflicts often get buried instead of being resolved. However, avoiding conflict can lead to serious problems. Issues can fester, and progress isn’t made. In order to get to the bottom of conflicts and move forward, you must respectfully and firmly confront the issue. Acknowledge that you may or may not be right, but insist that the family talk things out. Keep talking until you find a mutually agreeable solution.
  5. Create a pleasant work environment. Your employees will do their best work when their environment is free of clutter and full of life. Get to work organizing, filing, and putting things away. Encourage laughter, teamwork, and bonding. Bring in some art and plants. Plants purify the air, reduce blood pressure, and promote positive energy.
  6. Express appreciation. It is a good practice to daily look for opportunities to tell each person how much you appreciate them. Employees need to hear commendation. And if they hear you offering commendation, they will be more likely to express appreciation for the help their colleagues give them as well.
 
A positive work environment is vital when it comes to reducing job stress, forging strong family bonds, and increasing productivity. Sometimes it is easier said than done, especially when it comes to working with family. I am here to help you manage the unique challenges of working with your loved ones. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment.


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