3 ways assertiveness can help reduce stress at work

Feb 06, 2018

Many of us shy away from expressing ourselves openly at work. We may fear that we could come across as too aggressive, or we worry that we may overstep a boundary with our colleagues or boss.  Or we may be concerned about not being able to get across what we want to say in a clear and effective way.

Avoiding conflict and keeping thoughts, feelings and emotions bottled-up can do us more harm than good. While keeping quiet may feel like a safe move, in the long term not communicating openly can cause anxiety and stress.

The good news is that developing a more assertive communication style can help reduce stress at work.  Assertive communication is different from aggressive communication: it is about getting your message across in a considered, honest and diplomatic manner.

1. Assertiveness boosts self-respect 

Communicating assertively involves having mutual respect for yourself and the person you are communicating with.  When we clearly communicate our needs to others, we develop greater respect for ourselves.   Over time, assertive communication also helps us to earn respect from others.

2. Assertiveness helps resolve inner conflict 

When we don’t stand up for ourselves or ask for what we want, we can be left with a feeling of resentment or stress.  Always going with the flow to please others, or saying “yes” when you really want to say “no” creates inner conflict because you are constantly putting the needs of other people first.

While sometimes putting others first is necessary, it is also healthy to express your genuine needs from time to time.  Assertiveness helps break through patterns of people pleasing to resolve this inner conflict.

3.  Assertiveness creates honest relationships 

Learning how to clearly communicate and speak up for yourself helps the people you work with understand you better.  When you can express yourself in a truthful, simple and direct way, you open the doorway for more direct and honest communication.

Building assertiveness gradually 

As with anything in life, developing assertiveness takes practice and courage.

To develop your assertiveness muscles, try starting small with something relatively minor that has been bothering you.  Then, try this.

First, write down what you want to say.  Use “I” statements to let the other person what you want to say without accusing them of wrongdoing.

Second, consider and acknowledge why communicating what you want to say is important.  This may include how you will regret it if you don’t communicate.

Third, rehearse. Being assertive can be hard at first, so practice keeping your emotions in check and standing your ground as calmly as you can.

Finally, commit to it, then go for it!

Afterwards take a moment to reflect on the experience. How was it? Was it worse than you feared? Chances are it felt good to express yourself.

How to make the most out of your holidays

Dec 03, 2017

Holidays bring forth both joy and stress. I know, it sounds like someone gives you free money, but then you have to pay them back later. You have to deal with extra work, even more expenses and even less money than a normal day. Having more than one holiday in a certain month is sure to give you headaches financially and emotionally. But don’t falter. There are a lot of ways to make the best of your holidays. You just have to notice them and take them into account. Here are a few tips.

  1. Plan ahead. Always be aware how much time until holidays come and set out a schedule. I know having a schedule for your holiday’s sounds weird and opposite to the idea of a holiday, but trust me. It’s worth it. Make a list of what you have to do this holiday, like visiting your parents or going out for a picnic with the family.
  2. Handle your budget. Make sure to be on top of holiday costs and plan your purchases ahead in order to not be surprised about extra expenditures. You can always ask your friends if they want to do a joint holiday so that the costs will be reduced.
  3. Relax. Kick your shoes off. Feel the grass tingling your feet. Stress less about everything and anything. Don’t let anything and anyone ruin your moment. Relaxing is just the thing for holidays. Whether it’s with your family, with your loved one, or just by yourself, it’s a very important part you need to take care of.
  4. Correctly manage your extra work. If you have extra stuff to do work, don’t leave them for the last day of the holiday. Say there’s a 3-day holiday, and then comes the weekend. The best thing you can do is finish up the extra work in the first day, so you can fully enjoy both the holiday and the weekend. If there’s a one-day holiday, then you might want to just leave it all behind for a few hours and focus on enjoying your holiday and the time spent with your family.
  5. Don’t get too into it. Be careful not to be too sloppy or go into a holiday-mania if it’s not the case. If there are of shorter holidays, you shouldn’t allow yourself to indulge into the rest and relaxation vicious circle, but be aware that you will have to go to work shortly after.

A family gap year. Is it possible?

Nov 12, 2017

Written By One Of Our Clients

It all started with the realisation that we weren't quite so young anymore, seemed to have missed the homeowner's boat and that “catching up” would require most of our days spent apart and our daughter being cared for by someone else. Even then it was unlikely we would “catch up”.

So discussions were had, plans were made and teary goodbyes said. Then 12 months ago we (two 35-year-olds and a toddler) set off on our version of a gap year. A year into our adventure I am taking a moment to ask was it worth it? Did we get the break we were looking for?

Now to be fair it's not so much a gap year as it's been moving to Cambodia. My husband and I both work but less than we used to. The daily commute has dropped from 60 to 5 minutes. My daughter does go to childcare but instead of being in a centre with 30 plus kids she spends her mornings playing with nine others in the most amazing space and then heads home for a nap in her own bed. We aren’t hopping from one exotic location to another but we have managed a few beach holidays and found an amazing place by the river to escape to on weekends.

Do we miss the comforts of home? Not so much. Do we miss our families? Of course. But Skype, FaceTime, Viber and the odd cheap flight keep us all connected. Our family gap year will definitely stretch into two years. We have gained so much from this experience. We spend more time together, are taking on new challenges, changing our mindset, being brave enough to change our opinions and most of all slowing down. I would like to say slowing down to smell the roses but Phnom Penh doesn’t often smell of roses or anything similar. It is probably also worth noting that having a toddler who can say no in three languages just adds an extra layer of pain when it comes to tantrums but we wouldn’t change anything.

Constant traveling has never appealed to us but spending time in new places does. So for us, the family gap year is the perfect solution. You just need to set yourself up so it can work for you.

3 strategies for a stress-less family holiday

Apr 30, 2017

When I was growing up I dreaded family holidays.

I remember long hot days in the car, my parents sending out distinctive stress vibes as my brothers fought endlessly over one inch of space on the car seat between them.

I was always unsure why we went away: surely being at home was better for everyone?

Now thanks to the Internet, and a different approach to traveling, family holiday stress can be greatly reduced.

Here are three strategies for taking the stress out of your next holiday.

1. Plan to do less

Our modern lives are starved of one essential nutrient: time. We rush from one thing on our “to do” list to the next, and this list is particularly long when we have children!

For your family holiday, then, avoid the temptation to schedule in a lot of activities and sightseeing. Take the pressure off and plan to do far, far less than you would do in a normal day. It is a holiday after all!

The less you plan, the more time and space there will be for reading, relaxing and spontaneous adventures.

Planning less also means you create plenty of space for possible hiccups and delays.

2. Pack less (much, much less than you think you need)

Hauling a suitcase around for yourself is no fun. Hauling multiple cases for an entire family is even less fun.

The less you pack, the less there is to carry. There is also less to unpack and wash. And there is definitely less to accidentally leave behind!

Be ruthlessly zen with your packing. Think in terms of being minimalist and relaxed. Avoid being tempted to bring lots of things “in case” of all sorts of scenarios.

The bare essentials plus one or two things to keep the kids entertained will be more than enough.

3. Stay in an apartment or rental home

One of the best things to happen to family travel in a long time is Airbnb and the rise of people offering their homes and apartments for short-term holiday lets.

Renting an apartment or a house often will work out a lot cheaper than paying for multiple hotel rooms. You will also have a greater choice of location, and get a chance to see a side of a holiday destination that will be different from a normal tourist.

Staying in an apartment also gives you space to breathe and rest, as well as an opportunity to cook for yourself if you fancy it.

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