Archive for March, 2011
A house is a physical structure. Painting it green on the outside though, is not the same thing as living in the green, inside. Plastering your walls with life-size murals of trees and forests may remind you of your favorite cabin retreat, but it isn’t the same as bringing the greenness in for all to enjoy.
How you live and the ways in which you enjoy life are reflected in your home, not just as a place of residence, but also as your safe haven. All that makes you green — your loving interactions with spouses, partners and children; your spirituality, your decision making, your relaxing moments and hobbies — arise from and emanate from the place you call home in your heart and mind.
Your home is your retreat; the place you come to after a hard day’s work (or a hard day’s play); the place that comes alive with the voices and laughter of family and dear friends; good meals, good conversation, mutual respect and love and peaceful, renewing sleep!
Do you feel green when you walk in the door? Are you happy when you turn onto your street? Your dog or cat experiences a very green moment when they know you’re suddenly there. Or maybe just the quiet, untouched peace of the place, brings a calming, green moment when you know that this is where you belong.
How do you spend green time at home? How do you unwind? How do you have fun? Kicking off your shoes and shedding your work clothes feels so good! Cooking and/or eating a great meal; reading, catching some news on TV, enjoying your child’s pride in getting extra stars on last night’s homework are just some of life’s simple green gifts.
Sharing the comforts of your home with others spreads the green, big time. Casual get-togethers, dinner dates, video or game nights, holiday visits, play dates for kids are ways to enjoy and share your home.
Down time at home lets us recharge and be green in our own personal ways; connect with friends; tackle home projects; read a bestseller; play your favorite music over and over again; participate in an online network; good-naturedly, reach out to others in a reciprocal giving and getting of life-enriching oxygen.
There’s no place like home — your HO2ME®.
Why not make it as Green as can be – For The Best You™?
Trouble paying the bills. Worry about the economy. Worry about keeping our jobs and our homes. Worry about finding a job or a new home. Troubled relationships. Trying to raise kids in a world that is becoming increasingly chaotic and seemingly dangerous. Trying to get through the day much less plan ahead.
Seem at least somewhat familiar? We are not immune to the stresses of everyday life. No one is. While we all cope in different and more or less effective ways, as individuals we cannot escape the impacts of stress on our lives at home, at work and socially; stress is a significant risk factor for our work productivity, our relationships and our health. As employers, we must be concerned about stress levels in our workforce. With the cost of stress estimated at just under $5,000 per employee per year, how can employers not be concerned? Even our government must be concerned about stress levels in our country. Given the social deterioration we see, the erosion of marriages and families, the unemployment rate and the chaos we see in our neighborhoods, our cities, our country and around the world, leaders surely are concerned about this state of affairs, even if for only political reasons.
At The Oxygen Plan, we have a keen interest on stress levels and how it impacts us every day. To date, since introducing our Stress Test and Stress Number®, over 38,000 people have taken the Stress Test. And we should be concerned. In the first month of the Stress Test — September, 2009 — average Stress Numbers for home, work and social were 55, 54 and 55 respectively. That’s yellow across the board. As of February, 2011 the average scores were 52, 47 and 53, also respectively. With a sample of over 38,000 people, that is a significant shift toward the negative. While still all yellow (that’s the good news?) each score suggests stress levels are rising — along with all of the negative effects stress imparts. The work score of 47, down from 54, should be of particular concern for employers. This translates to increased health care costs absenteeism, presenteeism, disability along with decreased productivity and morale at work. And this is before the flooding in the Northeast, ever-increasing troubles in the Middle East and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan — and cataclysmic event that literally and figuratively hit our shores.
America’s Stress Numbers suggest we are in trouble and it is not getting any better. But we are not helpless. We have at our fingertips the means to identify and better manage our stress — as individuals, as couples, as families, as employers and as leaders. We owe it to ourselves and those around us. Stress is the number one modifiable health risk we face. At The Oxygen Plan our mission is to help us all accomplish the goal of becoming a "better you."
- noun, a person of equal standing with another; somebody who is the equal of somebody else, eg. in age or social class.
- verb, to “peer” is to look closely; to look very carefully or hard, especially at somebody or something that is difficult to see, often with narrowed eyes.
Have you peered at your peers, lately? Do they look, act and eat alike?
The New York Times and the New York Times Magazine have reported a particular peer-related study on obesity, asking the question, "do your friends make you fat?" The study concluded that when someone gains weight, their friends tend to gain weight, too.
The findings suggested that especially good friends seem to be the prime enablers in encouraging and influencing others to join them in overeating and in resulting obesity, which gives credence to the quote, "you are known by the company you keep"!
It’s no surprise that we tend to associate with people who share common likes or habits; including recreational eating, among others. Friends do share common habits and, according to this study, common maladies. Some may have hypertension in common; some share inebriation, and now, buddy eating is a confirmed cause of obesity. The opposite is also true, as the same study pointed out, that skinny people tend to "make" their friends skinny and/or mutually adhere to a chosen set of social eating habits.
For some people in some situations, it’s just not cool to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, many of us end up on the heavy end — perhaps, literally — of unhealthy habits and patterns by not trusting our instincts and better judgment, but opting for popularity among our peers. Over-eating; over-dieting, over anything that throws us off balance, over the top and out of the green, interferes with a full and healthy life, physically and psychologically. As a society, we seem almost driven to be noticed; not by singularity but by group consensus.
These are clearly stressful YELLOW and RED social messages that surround so many aspects of our lives, tamper with our self images and self worth, and can’t help but spill over into our work rhythms; to our co-workers; to our home environments and the loved ones who share it; and to other friends and acquaintances. The concept of socializing in the green — or doing anything in the green, for that matter — is severely threatened by peer pressure to "belong".
It’s just a matter of time before we run into problems if we start to believe that there’s something wrong with us if we don’t object to being cloned by the people we call peers and friends.
A guiding factor, in choosing friends — particularly green ones — is to make sure that they care about, respect and appreciate you for who you are, not for your suitability as a new addition to their group.
It’s uncomfortable to incorporate foreign behaviors or actions that don’t come naturally into daily living. So, if it doesn’t feel green and give you an uplifting dose of oxygen (and allow you to do the same) think twice before you become enmeshed in relationships that go against your important core life principles.
Staying true to ourselves, our core values, the lessons we learn from life and, of course, the Oxygen Plan, make socializing in bright green a very attainable goal. Healthy, green, social interactions bring discovery and positive, lasting benefits, and that unmistakable feeling of being completely at ease and comfortable with yourself and with those around you. That’s the healthy mindset of green groups of friends. Making confident, positive green social choices lets you become and share a joyful you with the world, not an unhealthy replica of something you aren’t.
Even the Seven Dwarfs had stress issues. Imagine seven little guys — with very distinct personalities — living with the kind and gorgeous Snow White, but going to work in a Diamond Mine, by day, cheerfully singing "heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s off to work we go". Talk about optimism among competition! Poor Snow White is probably torn, too, making sure not to show too much favoritism among her eccentric little roommates.
Do you ever go to work and think of it as a cartoon environment? Humor is a very good way to diffuse any stressful situation and keep us in the green, if only momentarily. Cartoons or funny visual images, although cute and amusing, are not real. Job stress, is.
Many of us are doing exactly what we want to do; or doing our best at a job that may be a steppingstone to our real goals; or, at the least, finding ways to make the best of less-than-optimum situations in the workplace.
Most of us spend the majority of our time at work, producing products, delivering services and/or ideas for public consumption. It is a place where structure and deadlines; forms and formats; evaluations and strategies are, for the most part, imposed upon us. Pressures to produce the biggest and the best constantly hover in the background of any business, even if you own and operate your own.
So, how do we function and still stay in the green, at work?
- Re-evaluating your core values is a good — and affirming — place to start. Ask yourself, "How much of the best of me do I give to my job?" This brief and empowering self-examination will yield your own appreciation of the green qualities you bring to work! And, you can be sure, that your green attitude is not lost on co-workers or bosses. It is very contagious.
- As employees, we know from the start that we will be working and making decisions for the good of the company. We are doing that job, however, because we were the best and greenest candidates for the position. So, in addition to performing our tasks to the best of our ability, remember that we were picked for the individual skills and assets we bring to the work experience.
- Issues with particular people in the workplace are most commonly the source of on-the-job stress. It’s unrealistic to think that everyone we encounter in a given work day, is going to be green for us. When you see that stressor or an interaction approaching, thinking green on the inside will encourage you to be green, on the outside. Try it. It works! You’re in charge of your thoughts, so why not paint as green a canvas, as you can?
- Trust your own inner dialogue with yourself to a) not be drawn into YELLOW areas and/or b) to look at the situation with objectivity and optimism and c) above all, be true to yourself in the encounter to give and get as much oxygen, as possible. Limiting contact and communication with yellow-ish (or even RED) people — if you can — is the most direct way of maintaining a green mindset.
- Focusing on specific tasks/goals and prioritizing the order in which you accomplish them makes for an unbeatable green feeling of achievement.
- Take breaks — literally walk away from your desk, 2 or 3 times a day to take a peek outside, grab a cup of coffee with a co-worker OR if you need to stay at your desk, just close your eyes for a second, take a few deep breaths of refreshing oxygen, and carry on. Take a book or your iPod to lunch with you. The visual and/or aural diversion holds relaxing, recharging green benefits.
- Look forward to the end of your day; to enjoyable plans you may have with friends or family after work; to shopping; to catching a movie with your partner; to just getting out of the building and into the and green areas of your life.
- Think of the check you’ll see at the end of the week! Very green. Being financially solvent is a happy state of being, for anyone.
Whether we believe it or not, being the best we can be can’t be shut off, at will. We may have to alter the ways in which we apply and accept greenness in the world, but each of us has an awesome core of green goodness to nurture and share — even at wO2rk®!
- July 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- June 2010
- April 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- March 2009