Saturday, January 20, 2007

15 Easy Ways To Relax At Work

Do you have a sore back and stiff neck after only a few hours at work? Does the rush to meet deadlines, constant talking on the phone or finishing off reports seem to wear you down hour by hour? Then maybe it's time to relax for a few moments over the course of each day.

If done right, even a minute of not thinking about work can help you loosen up in the long run. And if you don't think you have time for a five-minute break, you may just be working too hard.

Here are 15 quick, easy tips that will hopefully rest your nerves, up your productivity and postpone the onset of ulcers.

1- Massage your temples
Think of it as massaging your brain, in a manner of speaking. Take your eyes off the computer screen, focus on something down the hall (this helps to ease the muscles that move your eyeballs) and try to relax your whole body. Breathe, and try to forget what you were just working on, even if only for a moment.

2- Listen to music
Whether it's something soothing that mellows you out or something hard and heavy, music is great for a quick escape. Try using headphones at your desk or sitting in your car during a break so you can have the tunes all to yourself. The more engaging it is for you, the more it will release your tension from work.

3- Change settings
Don't let your cubicle turn you into Milton from Office Space . Change your scenery a little bit by reading something standing up, or doing some work in the conference room. You'd be surprised how much even the slightest shift in spatial surroundings will positively affect your composure.

4- Stretch
That's right, stretch. And I'm not simply referring to the "lean back in your chair," yawning, "boy I could sure use another cup of coffee" kind of stretching. Get out of your chair, find a little floor space, and work it like you were on the track team. Touch your toes, flex your calves, make little circles with your arms. The muscles of the body are interconnected so the more you stretch, the more the whole body relaxes.

5- Take a walk
It's best to get outside for some fresh air, but if limitations keep you indoors, even a stroll around the office will help you break the monotonous routine. Focus on moving parts of your leg and arm muscles that have been stationary all day. Even climbing a flight of stairs can do the trick.

6- Exercise
Go to the gym, take a bike ride, go for a jog, or play catch outside with a co-worker. There's no doubt that one of the best contrasts for draining mental exertion is physical exertion. Upping your heart rate a little will get your blood flowing more quickly. Obviously, this one takes more than a few minutes -- so don't blame me if you Stairmaster yourself through a staff meeting.

7- Do something personal
Reply to an e-mail, return a personal phone call, or even handwrite a letter. Reminding yourself that you actually have a life beyond your cubicle is a nice reaffirmation. Also, thinking about a relationship or a fun event can provide a nice mental diversion, even if you only do so for a moment.

8- Have a cup of tea
As the world's second most popular beverage (the first is water), tea has to be good for you, right? Try the caffeine-free variety, unless you're a coffee addict, in which case you might need your little jolt. Tea helps digestion and is great for relaxation.

9- Eat something
A light snack is a nice sensory change from mental grunt work. Something with protein is best, as it is less likely to make you crave more snacks later in the day. Be forewarned that if you eat too much, you'll end up like a lion after it devours its wildebeest -- lazy!

10- Have a drink
Don't get carried away and don't make a habit of it, but a glass of wine or beer with lunch, or a splash of Baileys Irish Cream in your coffee during a break might be just what you need. Sometimes a slight glaze over your tense mood will help you relax and work more efficiently and calmly.

11- Read a comic strip
Anything that gives you a little intellectual stimulation outside of your usual professional mind-set is a good distraction. You'd be surprised how much a five-minute read will help alleviate stress and momentarily erase the nagging thoughts in your head between nine and five.

12- Plan your weekend
Looking ahead to the weekend, or better yet your vacation time, can easily cheer you up. But don't get carried away, otherwise you'll end up despising your workday even more. Take a minute or two to imagine the beach or snuggling under the covers on Sunday morning and before you know it, you'll actually be doing it.

13- Freshen up
Take a trip to a secluded bathroom, roll up your sleeves, wash your hands, and splash some water onto your face. Get some cold water on your temples and on the back of your neck. Aside from being refreshing, cold water on the skin can awaken your senses.

14- Do something creative
Draw a cartoon, paint a little picture, take a photo, write a poem. This will remind you that your brain is capable of tasks other than the ones you repeat all day.

15- Run an errand
Go to the bank or the post office and do something for yourself. You can even pretend that the power drill at the hardware store or the new boxed set at the record shop is, for a few minutes anyway, more important than work.

15 Ways to Win at Job Interviews

When you walk into a job interview, the product you are selling is YOU. The interview process begins when you accept the interview, and ends when the employer decides to either hire you or look for someone more suitable. The more you are able to communicate professionalism with personality, distinction and skill, the better your chance of getting the job.

Before the Interview: Use the 3 P's - Plan, Prepare, and Practice.

1. Prepare for the interview; research the company and prepare questions based on your research.

2. Do mock interviews in order to prepare for all questions, especially uncomfortable ones.

3. Dress professionally even if the company dress code is business casual.

4. Arrive early! (12 - 15 minutes before the interview)

5. Give your interviewer a firm handshake. A powerful handshake and a genuine smile will get you off to a good start.

6. Beware of your Body Language; sit erect, stand and walk with confidence, lean forward toward the interviewer.

7. Build rapport - use powerful, effective communication techniques.

8. Be a good listener. Answer only what's asked, in a brief but effective manner.

9. Show enthusiasm and sincere interest. Don't act desperate.

10. Take notes. You may need to refer to them later in the interview.

11. Communicate your skills, qualifications, credentials and the benefits you offer.

12. Demonstrate your accomplishments; how you improve sales, reduce cost, improve productivity, solve organizational problems, etc.

13. Make eye contact. It demonstrates confidence, trust, and power.

14. If you want the position, ask for it - directly.

15. After the interview: Send a follow-up thank you letter. The letter should state what interests you about the position, why you are suitable for the job, and your appreciation for the interviewer's time.

15 Ways to Stop Smoking

This is not about WHY; you know that smoking is life-threatening, expensive, anti-social and makes your breath smell. This is about HOW because chances are you've already tried to stop and crept guiltily back into the fold. It won't be easy this time either...but according to a new Cancer Research UK study, people who give up for a year have a better than even chance of quitting long-term. And, remember, people who manage to give up smoking are WINNERS.

Because smoking is both a physiological and psychological addiction, you need a two-pronged attack:

1:Breaking habits is top priority, so if you always smoke when picking up the telephone, drinking coffee, logging on, change your routine. Keep busy, do something with your hands, go somewhere interesting where smoking isn't allowed. Or give up on holiday, away from the normal triggers.

2:Simultaneously cut down the drug. Cold turkey or softly, softly... it's whatever turns you off. Cutting down gradually is less painful but many people can't do it - one puff and they're on 20 a day. Try smoking one less every day, or starting to smoke an hour later. Whatever you decide, fix a date by which you'll be a nonsmoker and tell everyone.

3:By willpower alone? Great if you can but nicotine is highly addictive (even more than cocaine). Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) in its many guises (gum, capsules, patches inhalants) reduces the cravings and according to a new survey, increases your chances of quitting for a year by 45%. You should be able to reduce the dose after three months and abandon it after six, although we know two people still chewing after five years! Side effects are minimal - dry mouth, hiccoughs, occasionally palpitations, but no long term effects have been reported. When it doesn't work it's usually because people aren't taking enough or for long enough. Most forms of NRT can be prescribed on the NHS. Acupunture

4:There's no clear evidence about acupuncture but acupuncturists claim that it stimulates the body's healing response and if it works for you, it works. Ditto hypnotherapy which creates a state of deep mental relaxation when you may be open to suggestions about changing your lifestyle. Some people find Chinese herb therapy useful and even herbal cigarettes can help by keeping your hands occupied.

5:Zyban (bupropion hydrochloride), by GlaxoSmithKline, a prescription drug that does not contain nicotine, is thought to double people's chances of stopping. Can be used alongside NRT and works by counteracting the effect of chemicals in the brain responsible for withdrawal symptoms. There have been questions about its safety; side effects can include nausea, dizziness, influenza type symptoms and palpitations. Not recommended for anyone with epilepsy, or a history of seizures or eating disorders. There have been rare cases of deaths associated with Zyban though it's still much less risky than smoking. Try another method first.

6:Persuade a friend or family member to give up with you. Help each other when you're dying for a fag (though no one ever died of nicotine withdrawal). As with all addictions do it one day at a time. Pick up the phone when you're desperate to pick up a fag - Try: NHS Smoking helpline 0800 169 0169 Quitline 0800 00 22 00 or the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation website (

7:Pamper yourself. A 20 a day smoker spends around £1600 a year. Splash some of the cash you save- a weekend in the South of France, new sound equipment, quality wine.

You're worth it!

8:Worried about gaining weight? The average gain is 6 lbs, a small price to pay and you can lose it when your metabolism settles down. Fill up with fruit and vegetable, not sweets and chocolate. Don't ruin your teeth with manic peppermint chomping. Stock your fridge with low calorie treats. Chew pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds or nibble dried apricots, raw carrots, radishes or tiny plum tomatoes. Exercise

9:Exercise will keep your spirits up, work off the frustrations of not lighting up and help keep your weight stable. Swimming, tennis, running, whatever - build a regular routine - it'll generate happy hormones to replace the high you're missing from the nicotine. And now, you can afford to join the health club.

10:Withdrawal symptoms... you'll certainly get them if you were a serious smoker. NRT can help and most will pass within a few days or weeks. Most common are acid indigestion and heartburn, diarrhoea or constipation, insomnia and respiratory symptoms. Occasional problems include bleeding gums, headaches and muscular pains. All are normal and will pass but seek help if they persist.

11:The good news is your sense of smell will improve, your taste buds will perk up and your body will begin to repair itself immediately. Blood pressure and pulse rate return to normal only 20 minutes after stopping, carbon monoxide is eliminated 24 hours later and your body is free of nicotine after 48 hours. In three to nine months lung function has increased by up to 10% and 10 years after stopping your risk of lung cancer has fallen to half that of a smoker. alcohol

12:Don't overdo the alcohol. A few beers or a bottle of wine down the line and your resolve will weaken. Just the one... but it won't be just the one.

13:If you do weaken, make a new resolve and start again. Most people try quitting three or four times before succeeding. You probably didn't even enjoy that rogue cigarette anyway - after a week or so they don't taste so good - it's mostly the idea that's seductive.

14:Any friend who tries to tempt you is no friend; strike them off the list. If you're offered a cigarette, simply say you don't smoke. Say it enough times and you'll believe it. Remember the first couple of weeks are the worst but there will be danger points for months. You can rise above them.

15:Congratulations... you're a non smoker. You're no longer a public menace (passive smoking hospitalises 17,000 under-fives annually), your hair, teeth, skin, nails, will lose that attractive yellow tinge, you'll wake without a sore throat, you can be pregnant without worrying about nicotine damage and you've proved you can conquer a deadly addiction.