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Ten Ways to Beat Stress and Anxiety

Ten Ways to Beat Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are a part of modern life and there is no way to avoid it. Therefore it pays to know how to reduce stress and anxiety in order to function as well as possible without buckling under the strain. Once you know how to manage stress, it becomes a lot easier to live with. Here are fantastic ways to alleviate stress and enjoy a more carefree existence

1. Exercise

Exercise has proven time and time again to reduce the effects of stress. The psychological benefits of exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol and stimulates the production of endorphins which are the body’s natural painkillers and mood enhancers.

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2. Maintain a sense of humor/laugh a lot

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress and anxiety. Nothing works faster lighten the load and help you feel more lighthearted. Humor lightens your load, inspires hope, connects you to others and keeps you grounded. Laughter boosts the immune system, relaxes the body and allows the body to release hormones known as endorphins that promote an overall sense of physical and emotional well-being. Laugh every day and stress will be minimized.

3. Watch your thinking

Thoughts lead to emotions which in turn lead to behavior. When you monitor your thinking, you alter the associated emotions and behavior. Think thoughts that work for you and you will automatically reduce stress and anxiety. We all have a tendency to work ourselves up by worrying and thinking of the worst possible scenario. This only adds to stress. Ensure that you challenge your thinking regularly. Ask yourself where the evidence is – just because you feel a certain way does not mean that it is real.

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4. Take time out – balance in life is essential

All work and no play leads to a life that is out of kilter. A lopsided life will inevitably lead to stress and anxiety. It’s important to maintain a balance and keep your eye on the bigger picture. I often remind my clients that there is only one of them yet the company that they work for will still carry on. People feel such loyalty to almost kill themselves for their employers. There is a lack of balance and perspective and it is often only once physical health problems kick in that people sit and take notice. Take preventative measures and introduce balance into your life before your health is affected.

5. Express yourself. Be assertive

When you stifle your needs and allow others to take over, this suppression can lead to increased stress and anxiety. Learn to say “no” and stop pleasing others. The more you stand up for yourself the easier it is to keep stress and anxiety in check.

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6. Maintain Perspective

When we are stressed, we tend to exaggerate the possible consequences of our situations which only makes stress and anxiety worse. Try to detach from the situation by asking yourself whether this current problem will still matter six months from now. Sometimes it helps to imagine yourself on a balcony looking down on yourself. From this detached position it is often easier to maintain perspective and remove yourself emotionally from the situation. Once you have detached, it is easier to think clearly and reduce stress and anxiety effectively.

7. Stop trying to please others

If you live your life for others, you ignore your own needs at your own peril. It is never a good idea to put other people’s needs constantly ahead of your own. This can lead to resentment and inner tension. It’s almost as if an inner toxin develops when we do not honor our own needs. This does not mean you have to be selfish but when we try to be martyrs for too long this inevitably ends up being counterproductive.

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8. Follow your own path

In order to be truly happy, it is important to know what it is that gives you that pleasant buzz. That feeling when time flies and you feel alive. Make time for those activities in life that inspire you and fill you with positive energy. Energy awareness is vital in managing stress levels. When we spend time with emotional vampires, they suck positive energy out of us. Limit your time with these people and be aware of where you get your positive energy. Fill up those coffers!

9. Love what you do

Quality of life is important if you want to reduce stress and anxiety. Common sense suggests that if you spend a large amount of your life doing things you really don’t enjoy, this will influence your mood and increase your stress levels. As far as possible, engineer a life that is full of activities that you love. Find your passion and incorporate it into your life as much as possible. Watch your self limiting beliefs and believe that “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

10. Be selective about the news you watch or listen to

We are receptive beings and we are constantly influenced by our surroundings. Be aware of your environment and what you are exposing yourself to in terms of positive and negative energy. Often, the news can be a source of negative energy and can lead to a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness. Of course, it is a good thing to be informed about the world but be aware of the effect this has on you and if you find that you are easily influenced by others and your surroundings, limit your time watching informative programs of a negative nature.

It is a good idea to figure out what works for you and have an anti-stress strategy. Whether that’s regular exercise, achieving more of a work/leisure balance or making time to follow your passion, it’s vital to prepare a system that you can call upon when you feel frazzled. Energy awareness is key in order to reduce stress and anxiety. Limit negative energy sources (difficult people, negative media stories etc) and increase  positive energy sources (fun music, inspirational people, exercise etc) to maintain a relatively stress and anxiety free life.

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Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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