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You know you’re dying to do it, SO JUST DO IT!
Sweep back those depressing room-darkening, awful-ugly insulated curtains!
Pull up those noisy, plastic mini-blinds, revel in the clickety-clacking sound they make and lock the cord in place!
Give a good serious I-mean-business tug to the bottom of the window shade, let it go, and squeal at the whirring racket it makes when it hits the top of the window sash! (Sure beats an alarm clock.)
Unsnap those heavy window locks, press your face to the glass and feast your eyes on winter’s departure.
Here’s the best part. Push the windows way up!
Stick you head outside and inhale the first joyful, rejuvenating breath of spring! The branches of a tree may rustle or hum in the breeze or a mother bird may be disciplining her brood at the top of her lungs. Enjoy it. This spring thing can turn out to be a symphony of sensory delights! Thank you, Mother Nature!
But what took you so long?
Actually, Mother Nature has been faithfully doing her job all year ‘round — even if she has been a little heavy-handed in the snow department. (‘Must have been a bargain on it, wherever she shops.)
More to the point, maybe our own issues of sameness and habit; boredom, and unchanging, locked-tight thinking, have caused us to weigh ourselves down in stressful situations that repeat and continue — not the snow and ice. Come out of hibernation!
One of the beauties of the premise and application of the Oxygen Plan, from its inception, has been its ability to be absorbed and worked by anyone at any time. No matter what seasons we weather – literally or figuratively — the creation of our Personal Oxygen Plan is always possible and adaptable to changing lifestyles; thought and behavior patterns and the passage of time.
There’s nothing better than breathing in oxygen-fresh air — or re-establishing new ways to give and get oxygen which revitalizes our bodies, our minds, our psyches, our physical environments and our relationships.
The mere physical act of doing something small — like opening a window and changing the stagnant air and indoor atmosphere of a brutally cold and snowy winter, for example— is a very GREEN action. It’s positive, it’s healthy; it promotes change or, in our vernacular, it’s like CLEANING HO2USE to make it stress-proof!
The mental spark that prompts us to look at stress in our lives and put helpful programs to work to reduce it, goes hand-in-hand with the physical activities we undertake.
Taking an ongoing inventory of the people, places and things that are YELLOW (or, worse RED) for us; categorizing them, setting rules to toss them away or deal with them less stressfully and, finally, repeating the process, with individual comfort and ease, yields the same results as opening a window, as wide and as high as you can, and taking in healing oxygen to live in the GREEN.
Following and reviewing the four steps of the Oxygen Plan (Inventory, Categorize, Set Rules and Repeat) may already come together quickly for you, or you may choose to seasonally revisit each step and re-personalize them, anew. Compare this thinking to laundering your existing spring curtains or buying brand new ones! Either way, the decision and choices are downright GREEN.
On the first balmy day of a new season, be inspired to configure a way to limit and eventually eliminate contact with a RED person, place or thing by finding a GREEN person, place or thing to replace it/them with. You may love your aerobic workout sessions at the gym, but you’re not crazy about the instructor. Could you go on days when someone else leads the group?
You love your aunt Hilda, but she’s become accustomed to cooking supper for you at her house, once a week. What might have been a fun evening, once in a while, has become a weekly duty. Depending on how YELLOW this situation may be for you, you can replace this routine with a GREEN dinner activity, like volunteering at a local food pantry, where you can give and get more oxygen.
Now’s the time to air out all the possibilities!
Check out our Press Release regarding The October Report on the New Health Metric by The Oxygen Plan.
Click Here to view the article.
At the Oxygen Plan, we pride ourselves in taking a data-based approach to our work. This means The Oxygen Plan is grounded firmly in the behavioral scientific literature. For example, the Stress Test itself is based on generally accepted principles that classify stress into three important areas of our lives: home, work and social. The questions themselves are designed accordingly, providing valid and useful information in each sphere of our lives. The modules of The Oxygen Plan itself “Taking Inventory, Categorizing, Setting Rules & Repeat” are based on the strengths of relevant theories of health behavior change (Stages of Change, Health Belief Model, Reasoned Action and Planned Behavior Model, Social Learning/Social Cognitive Theory (includes Health Locus of Control and Ecological Approaches) to provide an elegant simplicity to helping people change their behavior and their lives in – meaningful and sustainable ways. Because The Oxygen Plan is derived from the strengths of relevant health behavior theories, it has an innate Emotional Intelligence that guides plan users to the meaningful and sustainable changes in their lives without unnecessary words, steps or complexity. By taking inventory and categorizing behaviors as red (carbon monoxide), yellow (carbon dioxide) or green (oxygen), plan uses innately know what to do: eliminate red, problem solve yellow, and go get and give more green! This patent-pending approach works!
How do we know? To date, well over 30,000 people have taken our stress test. The aggregate results of these stress tests in our ongoing study of Stress in America (see press room) suggests that there continues to be a tremendous amount of stress in our society and in our relationships, taking a huge toll on our health, relationships, and our economy. Never before has it been possible to measure, compute, report, trend or aggregate a stress metric as it relates to personal health or organizational cost. Now, we are able to assess stress, calculate the Stress Number®, provide The Oxygen Plan program and re-measure stress for individuals or organizations. ‘The Stress Number® is a significant development in the field of health metrics. We feel the Stress Number® should be used to help individuals and organizations manage health and health care costs just like blood pressure and cholesterol levels, for examples.
How else do we know? As we study our web statistics and compare them to other popular health care sites, The Oxygen Plan performs! Looking at the average amount of time visitors stay on The Oxygen Plan site, we see plan users staying with us for approximately 8:47 while other sites average 7:29 (WebMD), 6:41 (360-5) and 5:54 (MayoClinic.com). On average, Oxygen Plan users view over 24 pages per visit while other sites average fewer than six pages per visit.
Stay tuned for more as we continue to develop The Oxygen Plan. We look forward to providing you more in the way of data-based support for using O2 as the means of helping individuals make meaningful and sustainable behavior change while supporting organizations derive the financial and cultural benefits of a healthier and happier work force.
As much as we at The Oxygen Plan sincerely wish all of you the happiest and greenest of holidays, the message really wouldn’t be authentically “oxygenized” if we didn’t address the fact that for a lot of people, the holidays aren’t always full of jingle bells, gingerbread angels, or maybe not even goodwill to all!
The one major way of not repeating stressful holidays of the past is to leave “yesteryear” behind; look toward the future and enjoy the present for all the new, green opportunities it holds! Like the new, best you, each season is different and can be enjoyed for and by itself, in its own way or by doing something really new. Change your pattern or change your surroundings. Don’t sabotage your green efforts by comparing the experience of a new holiday with past ones.
Here are some additional green, oxygen-infused ways of thinking about the holidays:
Set realistic goals and expectations to keep the holidays “manageable”. Pace yourself and prioritize your time and activities so they don’t occur all at once and stress you out!
Do something nice for someone else. Volunteering, if only for short periods of time, takes the edge off feeling overwhelmed by the bustle of the holidays.
Enjoy things that are free! Window shopping can still satisfy your wardrobe fantasies; taking a drive through town to see holiday decorations can be very relaxing—and funny (especially if your neighbor piles every single holiday figure in creation on his front lawn); help a child make a snowman (if it doesn’t snow, make one out of white trash bags and suspend it from a tree branch!), go caroling or invite the local carolers to stop at your home.
Spend time with supportive, caring green people. Draw your closest people even closer; cultivate new friends from work or school; let old friends know you haven’t forgotten them and value the memories you made together.
Save time for you! If you’re at the center of your family holiday preparations, delegate tasks for others. Now is the time to let your Oxygen Plan life rules, rule! You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
It’s also okay to feel blue or pressured if the holidays have this effect on you. Never fear! The rules you’ve set in your Daily Oxygen Action Plan will take care of those feelings, because you’ve already created successful ways to deal with them!
On this Thanksgiving, we are thankful for the opportunity to share the concepts of The Oxygen Plan with so many of you; and may your winter holidays and New Year be green with health, happiness and prosperity.
Check out our Press Release regarding The September Report on the New Health Metric by The Oxygen Plan
Click Here to view the article.
Check out our Press Release regarding The New Health Metric: The Stress Number®
Click Here to view the article.
What makes counting sheep so conducive to sleep? Why not hedgehogs or wombats? It’s in the droning, the counting, of course? Unless you feel sorry for the soft, adorable, little balls of wool you have recruited to jump the fence, one by one; in which case, you’ll stay awake to make sure they don’t trip and fall.
As you work through The Oxygen Plan, remember that sleeping is a green activity; as O2 loaded as it can get, and is just as important as taking care of your physical and mental health, in your waking hours. However, if you do suffer from insomnia, your mind may be signaling the need for a better way (more Oxygen-infused experiences) to juggle the people, places and things in your life that all seem to come alive, with the stress they bring, when your head hits the pillow! Chasing the red, CO (carbon monoxide) monster every night is exhausting and is in sharp contrast to the kind of natural fatigue that precedes deep sleep.
Adversely, too much sleep can be as harmful as too little sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, oversleeping on a regular basis can lead to depression, weight gain and a variety of other health problems. These results may be the yellow issues, representing harmful CO2 or carbon dioxide experiences, in a bad sleeper’s night. The right balance and subsequent actions can kick a yellow experience into a sublime green one, when you compare the effects of your daily physical and mental activities with the amount and kind of sleep you need. The quality, or kind of sleep you need, is just as important as how long you sleep. Sleep apnea, for example, causes people to wake up frequently, preventing deep and refreshing sleep. According to experts, if you cannot fall and stay asleep within 15 to 20 minutes after you lie down in bed, getting up and/or leaving the bedroom to do something else that relaxes you, is good advice. Sleep will come when we are tired enough.
Sleep is a peacefully private activity, restful and rejuvenating, and plays an important role in your mental and physical health, as it lets your body rest and your brain recharge after each day is over. It is nature’s way of putting the cares of the day aside as it prepares us to welcome the next day, alert and refreshed. The number of hours of sleep you need generally depends on your age and can vary from person to person. According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, people who consistently get enough sleep have a stronger immune system and are less likely to get sick. When we sleep, our bodies produce proteins called cytokines. These proteins help fight infections; higher levels enable us to better fight off infection and illness. These proteins also enhance mental and physical energy and better memories.
As one works through The Oxygen Plan, it’s not uncommon to concentrate on the stressful people, places and things we encounter daily or frequently, when we are wide awake at work and/or play. It’s also not uncommon for personal stressors to suddenly seem to loom larger than ever when our brains are trying to put us to sleep! Diverting our thoughts or developing new ways of dealing with sleeplessness and its causes, can be aided by the steps of The Oxygen Plan. Examining something so easily taken for granted as the need to sleep, can be added to the mix of seeking those positive choices that enhance the best of who we are and the “greenest” we can be — asleep or awake.
At The Oxygen Plan, we define "stress" as what we experience when the demands placed upon us exceed our ability to cope. We experience symptoms or even illness and disease when our ability to cope is taxed severely or steadily over time. Interestingly, the same holds true for organizations! No surprise really, when you consider that organizations are defined by its people. Also no wonder then that some corporations are starting to think about organizational performance in these terms — beyond looking strictly at productivity measures, edicts to do more with less and wellness initiatives.
Consider Sony Pictures Entertainment and how it gets more out of its people by demanding less ("The Productivity Paradox" by Tony Schwartz, Harvard Business Review, June 2010, pages 65-69). Sony Pictures understands that people don?t work like computers, operating continuously at high speeds. Rather, Sony Pictures understands that human beings perform best only at intervals between periods of rest, or at sub-peak performance more consistently over longer periods of time. The author correctly posits that "employees can increase effectiveness by practicing simple…methods that refuel their energy", such as taking a daily walk and turning off email at certain times to improve concentration. The author concludes that if companies "allow and encourage employees" to do this, "they will be rewarded with a more engaged, productive, and focused workforce (p. 67)."
At The Oxygen Plan, we couldn’t agree more! The HBR article derives its assumptions and conclusions directly from the human performance curve, a widely accepted and understood principle that states as performance demands and/or stress levels increase, human performance will inevitable suffer.
Understanding and appreciating this curve is the responsibility of any organization’s leadership if that organization is to thrive. At The Oxygen Plan, we’ve integrated behavioral science and business to develop tools that help individuals and organizations better manage stress toward improved performance, with employees becoming more engaged and focused. Or as we like to say, we help people and companies "live in the green." Sometimes, less IS more!
In support of National Stress Awareness Month, we developed this press release. Please feel free to share it with others.
Click Here to view the press release.
The Green Team at the Oxygen Plan hopes everyone enjoyed a warm Holiday Season and wishes you all the best in the New Year. The holidays and the arrival of a new year – ushering in a new decade – provide an opportunity to reflect not only on the past year but to think critically about our future. We can take a look at our accomplishments, our short-comings and our future challenges. We can consider the state of our health, our jobs, and our relationships. Often, we make New Year’s resolutions to start anew, to correct problems in our lives and improve ourselves in the New Year – all good!
Often, however, we fall short in our resolutions. We lose motivation. We don’t have time. Things come up. Our resolve fades as old habits return. We finish out the year and try again next year. How frustrating!
The Oxygen Plan Stress Test and The Oxygen Plan provide you with a way to not only think and reflect upon our health, jobs and relationships, they provide you with a way to critically assess your life and a tried and true way to make real changes in your life that are permanent.
What’s your stress number? Take the Oxygen Plan Stress test and find out! Learn where you are doing well (green), where you can improve (yellow) and where significant change is needed (red). Critically assess you life with the stress test, then use The Oxygen Plan to make gradual, sustainable change where needed. By eliminating red, minimizing yellow and becoming more green and filled with life-giving oxygen, you will enjoy improved health, better job satisfaction and enriched relationships.
Get started and truly enjoy a Happy New Year!
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