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3 Ways To Maximize Your Learning As An Online Student

How To Maximize Your Learning As An Online Student

I too had my reservations when I started on my journey as an online student. I was so accustomed to being in a traditional class setting that I could not imagine how I could learn in an environment where I was basically responsible for my learning. If you are new to online learning or you are thinking of becoming an online student in the near future, this article is for you. As a former online student, I think online learning environment is just as effective being in a traditional classroom; however, you must take responsibility for your own learning. Let us have a look at 3 tips that can help you maximize your learning as an online student.

1. Make A Commitment To Read As Much As Possible

Read, read, read, as much as you can…because communication is done via writing you must develop a love for reading. Do not just read the required coursework; take the time to do some supplemental reading as well. As an online student, you want to make sure that you understand each topic so that you will not feel lost as the course and program goes on.

Always remember that as an online student, you are responsible for your learning. While there is a guide for each course and lesson, to make sure the basics are covered, how much you really learn is dependent on you.  Once you make a commitment and develop a study routine, you will find that reading comes naturally.

Utilize the classroom library when doing assignments and even for discussions. I have found that some of the studies are very helpful when searching for evidence to support your writing. Also, take time to read from the list of articles which can be found beneath the course materials. These articles are often marked as supplemental or suggested readings. While these are not compulsory, they are often helpful providing information that can help you further understand a topic.

2. Do More Than The Minimum Requirement

Where possible, do more than the minimum requirements for each assignment. From the very start of your program, develop a habit of frequently engaging with instructors and other students during the discussion periods. For example, if the basic requirement for weekly discussions is to respond to two student’s discussion posts, do not just do the basics, go the extra mile and read more of what is written by other students.

Often times, it is through the experiences of others that we get ideas and are better able to relate a given topic. On the days for discussion, set adequate time to engage in the topic being discussed. If you skim through the discussion posts you will lessen your chances of learning something new.

3. Where Possible Do Each Course Consecutively

If you can avoid it, do not skip your courses. Instead of skipping, delaying, or even rushing courses, do each course in the sequence in which it comes. Delaying a course might affect your learning because each course is normally a step up from the previous course. If significant time has lapsed between end of one course and commencing the next, you might need to review the previous course material in order to understand what the current course is all about. Doing courses consecutively also saves time because your knowledge would be fresh going into the next course.

Final Word

Online learning is just as effective as traditional learning once you the student is fully committed. Do not get in to the habit of idling because once developed, procrastination becomes a pattern. Develop healthy study habits and keep the momentum going. You will find 10 Ways to Engage Students in an Online Course helpful in helping you find ways of succeeding as an online student.

NB: this article was first published at elearningindustry.com.

Are You Tired of Doing Good?

Are You Tired of Doing Good?

At some point in our lives, we all get tired: especially if we habitually do things that do not seem rewarding. One such thing we get tired of is being kind, doing good and helping others. Today, I want to challenge anyone out there who has a good heart not to change because you’re not getting the recognition you think you deserve. In this post I remind you of three reasons why you should continue to do good things.

 

1. The Good You Do Comes Back To You

If you are tired of doing good here is one more thing to consider before you throw in the towel. When you help others, you always receive your reward in some way. Sometimes, things may appear as if they are going downhill; however, once you are a person that renders kindness to others, life has a way of sending people to support you. When you really need the support and do not know where the help you need may come from, the right people cross your path.  For example, for years, while I was working I was good to so many people. When things became tough for me, people I did not know while I was in my good times stepped in to offer their assistance. Here are some ideas for being kind to others.

Yes, the people you help may not always be the ones to help you back, because often times they are in no position to do so. In addition, sometimes, they are so used to taking that they turn their back on you when bad times fall on you. Nevertheless, do not lose heart because of these people…just keep sowing good seeds in different places.

 

2. You Also Benefit When You Do Good To Others

Are you feeling discouraged, because no one seems to appreciate your goodness? If so, I urge you to consider this: being kind is not just about the other person. When you help someone, the feeling of joy and satisfaction you experience is enough

compensation. I could remember during my trials when I changed my perspective. Instead of being grumpy and taking out my frustrations on others, I made a commitment to be kind. To treat others the way I yearned to be treated. At first, this new behavior was challenging. I was so accustomed to retaliating that it took sometime before I could change this habit of rendering evil for evil.

When people hurt us, we can be tempted to put the blame on others, because we may not be in a position to respond in kind to those who hurt us. Always remember that how you feel is no excuse for how you treat others, even when they wrong you. Instead of retaliating, hold your peace and keep helping those who appreciate. I always believe that the reward for helping others do not come from man, it comes from the Almighty God.

3. Doing Good Is The Right Thing To Do

Being kind, doing good, helping others are the right things to do. At the end of the day, one of your goals should be to live in a peaceful environment, and this can only be possible by being kind to one another.

Do not dwell on what you have done for someone in the past: whether or not the person to whom you were kind does not show appreciation. How would you feel if you were unkind to someone? Would it worry you, or would you rest peaceful despite your actions? Your answer to that should be a guide to your actions.

Please share your views of being kind or good to others. I’d love to hear of any experiences you had with being kind to others.

3 Valuable Lessons We Can Learn From The Little Red Hen

 

3 Valuable Lessons We Can Learn From The Little Red Hen

How many of us have developed the habit of reading? In this day and age where technology has made almost everything readily available, some of us have become very lazy to read. Many of the things available in writing are also available in videos. We no longer need to read the news because we now have access to news clips which tells us the basic details.

Technology has helped us in many ways; however, I personally hold on to some of the traditional things I did. For example, instead of just listening to the video in a post, I still have the habit of reading, as long as the alternative is available. I find that by reading I retain and listening to the videos helped me retain more of the message than just listening to the video. Also, some things which are missing in the video are often in the written message.

Check out this Video on my Facebook page where you can hear more insights of the lessons learned from Little Red Hen.

In today’s post, I reflect on how much reading has helped me. In my reading as a child I went to more places than I have ever traveled. And those that I have visited, I knew about them because I read about many of these places first. Not only did reading take me to places I have never been, but also most of the books I read helped build my character. One such book is the Little Red Hen.

Even after all these years I still recall the story of The Little Red Hen, and every now and again when things get difficult I remind myself of this story. My daughter, who is nine years old, becomes curious whenever I mention the little red hen. And then, once I mentioned that name, she makes me tell her the story…over and over again

Today, I want to share three lessons I learned from the little red hen while going through these challenging periods of my lives.

  1. The Only Approval You Need Is Your Own

Many times, we listen to what others have to say and if what they say contradicts our own thoughts we often become discourage. When we are pursuing our goals, some of are so accustomed to seeking approval that when we do not get it we fall into the frame of mind that if it is not approved it is not good. If you are seeking anyone else’s approval and not getting it from them, remember this one thing:

Do not depend on anyone’s approval to live your life. If you have a goal, idea, or a plan for your life, and you share it someone and that someone rejects your idea, this does not mean that you have to reject it. It is your idea, your vision. Keep your vision and work towards materializing it. Many times, we listen to what others have to say and if what they say contradicts our own thoughts and feelings we become discourage and give up.

 

  1. If You Are Waiting For Perfection You Will Wait In vain

Are there seed in your life that you want to sow but is hesitant about starting? More specifically, do you have an idea for something you want to do that you have been thinking about for some time but have not developed the courage to start?

Or do you have a fear that you do not have what it takes to do something you’ve always wanted to do?

You can visit this link for more practical lessons that can be learned from the Little Red Hen

You do not have to be perfect to start. Start anyway. The little redhead was not a professional farmer. But through sheer determination and a willingness to help herself, she was able to sow and reap from the grains she planted.

I had no clue what I was doing when I set out to do this blog. I was told by one so called friend that I was rushing things. I felt lonely. I felt overwhelmed, and those words of condemnation made me feel hopeless for a while. But, I was never one to give up. And so, despite my fears and feelings of inadequacy I started on this journey over one year ago. I am still learning but I give myself a little pat on my back for not succumbing to my fears and what others thought about me.

 

  1. Have A Plan For Your Life

If you want to live a fulfilling life you must have a plan for your life. The plan does not have to be perfect, but you must be able to say “this is what I want in my life.”

Your life may not be going too smoothly now but that does not mean that things will always remain the same. However, to ensure a better future you must make decisions and work towards carrying them out.  Like the little red hen, make it a priority to capitalize on your ideas, and plans, so that one day, the things you did will be of benefit to you.

Regardless to your circumstances now, it is never too late to develop healthy habits. And, one such habit is reading and encouraging others around you to read. You just never know where your next creative idea might spring from.

Please, I invite you to share your thoughts. Are there any character building stories that you have learned from?

Three Essentials For Living and Aging Gracefully

Three Essential Practices For Living and Aging Gracefully

There are many essentials to living and aging gracefully.  As you go about your life, think about the things that can help you enjoy life while facing challenging situations. Although life is challenging, your response to life’s challenges does not have to be negative. This blog by no means cover all of those essentials; however, there are three things I would like you to look consider doing habitually. These include;

If you do not feel like reading, you can check out the video version of this blog at this link.

Focusing On The Spiritual Aspect of Your life

Peace helps us with living and aging gracefilly

I believe that a healthy spiritual life is essential for living and aging gracefully. When you are living in the true essence of the word, it means that you have peace of mind and you are contented with where you are in life. You must realize that having everything do not mean you would be happy: at least not if we do not have peace of mind. You would never be content if you do not express gratitude. You also need to have a source to go to for revival of your internal energy and comfort; especially during challenging times.

Sometimes we might have everything that we ever wanted but we keep feeling as if something is missing. If this is happening to you, consider that your spiritual aspect of life may be lacking. Look at your spiritual well-being and make it a priority to feed this aspect. A healthy spiritual life would help to create that peace and stave that craving that you may find is currently lacking. You can read this article for suggestions on how to find peace and cope in difficult times.

When you focus more on your spiritual self, you will pay less attention to the material aspects of your life. Consequently, you will reduce the stress levels that you feel when you focus ONLY on the material things you desire.

Take time to pray, meditate and build a relations with the almighty, if you are a Christian. If you are not, find some way of connecting to your spiritual self.

 

Focusing On The Physical Aspect of Your Life

If you do not take care of your physical body, inner and outer, then this will affect a number of things in your life. For one, you are more at risk for developing acute and chronic illnesses usually triggered by lack of activity, and proper food intake, and/or decreased immune system.

What you put on the inside of your body will affect the outside of your body and your physical appearance. Take time to make sure that the majority of foods you eat are healthy. Pay attention to excess sugar, salt, and bad fats intake, as these have been known to contribute to low immune system(excess sugar), high blood pressure( excess salt intake), high cholesterol (bad fats), heart diseases among other diseases.

While you are busy taking care of everyone else, do not forget your self-care; taking care of your outward body. Sometimes we are so busy worrying about all our problems that we forget to take care of ourselves. Always take the time, as often as you can, to care for your hair, skin, nails, and lips. If you cannot afford to purchase body care products, make your own home remedies to save money: doing those things helps keep you looking youthful and aging gracefully.

Check out this article for the things that people do to help them age gracefully.

Focusing On The Environmental/Societal Relationships

Sometimes we are so busy we forget to live and appreciate the beauty around us. When was the last time you looked at your environment?  If you have not been doing so, find time to enjoy nature; walking star gazing, moon light relax, hiking, swimming and any outdoor activity. This physical activity and fresh air will contribute towards you living and aging gracefully.

If you hate your job or you are experiencing some relationship issue seek a positive outlet for this issue. Consider finding something you enjoy doing and focus on it. I read a blog recently where the writer shared her story about overcoming alcoholism. The story she shared is very inspiring. She overcame her addiction to drinking alcohol by focusing on something she felt passionate about doing.

Surround yourself with positive people who encourage you and make you laugh. Good company and laughter keeps you alive and helps you age gracefully.

Not because you are going through a challenging period in your life does not mean that you cannot take care of yourself. It is not that I expect anyone to pretend everything is all-good; however, you should not let your situation affect your response to the people you come into contact. Find a way to smile; it is not that you are faking anything; it is that you are helping to brighten someone else’s day despite your personal struggles. A smile is contagious. Share a smile more often than a frown.

What are other things that we can do help us in our journey to living and aging gracefully? Please share your comments below and remember to subscribe for more of these blogs.

Eight Reasons Why I Love My Mother

Eight Reasons Why I Love My Mother

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers across the globe! As a tribute to all the mothers around the world, I decided to write this blog. As I reflect on what it means to be a mother I think of my mother. Sometimes, it is easy to see the faults our mothers, but today, I choose to look at the positive things about my mother. and the reasons why I love her.

My mom had a difficult life. She has made mistakes like many of us. She allowed life to control her instead of analyzing her situation and coming up with a plan for her life.

Today, I take a step even further, so that I can understand why my mother’s life may have turned out the way it did. I recalled my mother telling me that her mother had her when she was very young, about fifteen or sixteen years old. Her mother went to England leaving her behind with her great grandmother who raised her. My mother became a mother at the age of sixteen or so. She did not finish her senior years in school because of her pregnancy.

As I reflect on how these circumstances must have influenced my mother’s choices, I did not spend some of my teen years with my mother, but I really cannot hold any grudge against her. Why? Because she may have had her faults, but she did the best she could. I believe that a child’s earliest memories are some of the most crucial. These memories have the ability to negatively or positively impact a child’s later years in life. And so, today, I will give you some of the main things my mother did in my childhood years that has helped shaped me in to the woman I am today. I hope that if you are having conflict with your mother because of the choices she has made, that you will consider for a moment, the things she did positively.

 

  1. My Mother Worked Hard.

She always tried to make sure that we had food to eat. Sometimes, she took us to the mountain with her. I recall many times when I sat in the shade of coconut and banana trees while my mother worked in the field. When I was old enough, I helped her and she always told me thanks for doing so. And so, no matter how I did not like going to the mountain, just the thought of my mother struggling alone made me give in.

Have your pick of quotes for your mom by clicking this link.

 

  1. She Instilled These Basic Principles In Us

Do not tell lies, she expected us to tell the truth at all times.  Do not idle, whenever she sent us to do something or we went to school, she expected us to return promptly. She told us never to beg others, to be satisfied with what we had. Do not be greedy, share with others. Even if you do not have, no one needs to know your business.

 

  1. She Sent Us To Church So That We Could Know God.

My mother was not a regular church goer, but she wanted us to hear the word of God. In those days the only other means we had of hearing God’s word was via radio.  Hearing the word of God helped me to keep my faith grounded in Him. Whenever troubles came my way, I knew where to turn. Some say that people only know God when they are in trouble, but what would you have someone do when they are in crisis? Would you prefer them to continue down the path of destruction, or seek solace in the word of God? How could I forget? My mother made sure that we said our prayers every morning and every night. And if we forgot she would remind us. It did not matter if we were already dozing off to sleep, we had to say our prayers and we had to say it loud.

 

  1. She Taught Us How To Do Be Independent.

At an early age we had to do house hold task including, sowing, cooking, washing, cleaning, and ironing. Today, I always made it my duty to do those things for myself. Even when I employed a sitter for my daughter, I never included doing laundry/washing, cleaning or ironing in her duties.

 

Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled; they are the ones that never give up, dispet the struggles~Sharon Jaynes

  1. I Saw My Mother As My Friend.

Some will argue that my mother should not have confided things in me at such a young age. But, looking back, I think this is one of the best things she has ever done. Not only did she helped me decide what I did not want my life to turn out like, but also, she helped me understand her better. My mother had a hard time showing love. I cannot recall her ever hugging or kissing me. But, from our conversations, I knew that she loved us. She just did not know how to express that love.

As I listened to my mother talked about her worries, I made mental notes that when I grew up I was going to help her. The only thing that helped keep me determined in my life was that I was never going to go through what my mother went through. I guess it is because of my mother confiding her troubles in me that has helped me develop compassion for others when they are facing difficulties.

Some folks argue that a mother is not supposed to be a child’s friend, but, it depends on the context  in which we look at things. My mother’s friendship did not include the adult things in her life. I was never allowed to get involve in adult conversation or things which did not concern children. My mother knew where to draw the line.

  1. She Was Very Protective Of All Her Children.

My mother never allowed anyone to take advantage of us. She made sure to tell us never to interfere with others. But, she expected us to stand up for our right. She rebuked us when we were wrong and she defended us when we were right.

 

  1. My Mother Was  Good With Handling Money

She took her time to save and bought us the things we needed.  Every Christmas, she bought a present for us. She never wanted us to feel deprived when other children were playing with their toys so she made sure that she bought us something. It did not matter the cost of what she bought, the thought counted the most!

 

  1. Our Education Was Important.

Despite the fact that my mother did not always have money, she always found a way to send us to school. She helped us with our homework, when we did not understand and would force us to study.

She made sure that our clothes were ironed and our hair was groomed. And, it did not matter how cold the water was, we had to bathe and brush our teeth.

When I consider all the things that my mother may not have done right,  those things paled in comparison to what she did right. She did the best she could based on her circumstances and today, I can proudly say that I Love You Mom. You are the reasons why I am what I am today.

Prostate Cancer, Risk Factors & Prevention

Prostate Cancer, Signs & Symptoms, Risk Factors & Prevention

Hello to my readers, especially my male readers. I did a video recently on prostate cancer and thought that instead of leaving it on You Tube where some people would not see it.

I chose to discuss this topic because I am seeing more and more men being diagnosed with cancer, especially in their 50s and 60s. This video gives you the basics so that you can decide if and when you need to seek medical attention. It also gives you a few things which you can do to decrease your chances of  developing cancer.

Diet & Life Style Changes

The video talks about eating healthy as a means of decreasing your chances of developing prostate cancer. Consider including vegetables and fruits in to your diet and decreasing foods which are high in sugar and unhealthy fats. Consider using more organic and fresh foods instead of eating processed foods which are less in  due to processing and may contain chemicals which are unhealthy for the body.

Take time to exercise as this helps in strengthening the body’s immune system, increasing blood and oxygen flow to the body.

Ensure that you get adequate amounts of vitamin D, which is necessary for a strong immune system.

The Digital/Manual Examination of the Prostate/Prostate Gland

As a nurse, I found that men were afraid of getting their prostate checked. Some have told me they do not like the idea of a finger being inserted in their rectum: they have read about it and does not feel comfortable getting it done.

If you are someone who is afraid of doing the digital check ( a finger being inserted in the rectum) I urge you to overcome that fear as it is a simple test and does not cause any pain. Your doctor will help you decide  if you need this test.

Educate Yourself About Prostate Cancer

Listen to the video and act.  Click this  link to read more about prostate cancer. All the best in life and health to you.

 

7 Things To Consider For Successful Online Group Experiences

7 Things To Consider For Successful Online Group Experiences

 

 

If you are just starting out in online learning, you may be thinking what I thought some years ago when I was in your position. I secretly hoped there would never come a time when I will have to do group assignments, because I thought being in a group was very challenging. Do not be discouraged; being in an online group has its challenges, but it can also be fulfilling if you and your team approach the group in a positive manner. In this article, I discuss 7 things to consider for successful online group experiences.

1. Do Not Be Afraid To Take The Leadership Role

As an online learner, you might find yourself in a group where no one wants to be the leader, because being the leader is automatically associated with having the majority of the workload. This latter thought was proven wrong when I entered my first online group assignment. For, as much as I was not the leader, I ended up taking over the majority of the work because the leader was happy to delegate.

If you are one of those persons who think that being the leader of a group means you will get the majority of the assignment workload to handle, I hope my experience has placed another twist on things. I hope that the next group assignment you are involved in you will not back down from being the leader just because of the workload. Whether or not you are the leader, as long as you are a person who takes the initiative, is serious about maintaining a high GPA, and is serious about learning what each assignment is intended to teach you, I assure you that taking the leadership role might be in your own best interest. For not only will you develop some courage as an aspiring leader, but also you will learn more about the assignment that a person who just contributes their share of the work and does nothing else.

2. Organize Online Group Meeting Times Ahead Of  Time

You might be scared of taking on the role of the leader; however, if you are a person who loves to meet deadlines and worries when there is lack of progress in the group, then you have another reason to be the leader. As the leader, you will have the opportunity to show your strong points in terms of organizing things. For example, one of the challenges of online learning is that almost everyone works full time, has a family, and other obligations.

There is also another challenge of living in different time zones. For these two reasons, it should be a priority to set the date and time for meetings so that everyone who can be there can have enough time in which to organize around their other commitments. At the same time, because of the time zones, it may not be possible for every member to be present: The group members should give consideration to these members. On the other hand; these members should not take their time zones difference as an excuse not to do their share of the assignment.

3. Set Goals For The Group Meeting /Discussion

When the meeting is set, members should begin sourcing resources for the assignment so that each member brings some useful information to the discussion. Each group member should become familiar with the criteria and instruction for the assignment. The goals for the meeting should be about what the group hopes to accomplish in terms of the number of questions on the assignment. This preparation will save time when the meeting day comes, as everyone would have already become familiar with the objectives of the assignment.

Goal setting prior to meeting times also saves the time that is often lost during the communication process during online meetings. While there are times when a group chat will occur without any glitches, there are other times when time is lost because the chat room malfunctions. In the event that this happens, the group should not suffer too badly if they had their goals sorted out prior to the meeting.

4. Be Punctual And Encourage Punctuality Among Members

This point ties in somewhat with the point above. Punctuality should be exercised whether or not it is online or traditionally classroom. Oftentimes group members have other things taking place, and if someone shows up late, this could upset the plans of another member who is on a tight schedule. Respect your time and expect others to respect your time.

If you are in an online learning group meeting and more than one member is present, do not cancel the meeting for that reason. As long as you had prepared prior to the meeting, you and anyone else present can go through the resources and start the meeting/objectives. Those who show up late will fill in and read the chat to get an idea as to what was going on.

5. Set A Date For Submission Of Information From Each Person

One of the things online learners should keep in mind is that successful online group experiences go hand in hand with the overall performance of the group. If one member fails to deliver, it affects the entire group’s performance. Failure for members to submit their portions of the work, within reasonable time, can result in conflict within the group.

In addition, imagine how you would feel nearing the due date for an assignment and having no idea if the group will be able to submit the assignment on time. Therefore, setting a date for everyone to submit their portion of the assignment will relay those fears and force everyone to commit to the deadline.

6. Assign The Final Organization Of The Paper To A Group Member With Great Organizational Skills

Whether or not you are the online group leader, it is each person’s responsibility to ensure that the person who gets to put the assignment together is able to do so. In addition, if that person fails to deliver, there should be another person willing to finish and change accordingly.

I can recall my experience in a group where one other person volunteered to put the assignment together. However, when the person submitted the assignment for the group to review I felt a few conflicting emotions. I looked at the assignment, looked at the objectives and criteria, and looked at number of pages in the document. The final document was many pages above the stipulated pages. The assignment was due for submission the following day and there was very little time in which to make the corrections. I submitted my recommendations and after a few hours and no one responded, I went ahead and edited the document.

7. Be Prepared To Deal With Conflicts And To Do So Professionally

I was not going to add this final point, but I realized not doing so would not complete these tips at all. I can recall an incident where one group member became upset and unkind in words to me, because I took the initiative and edited the final document that this group member submitted. The online group member created more pages in the document than was allowed for the assignment: Had we submitted the document as it was, we would have lost marks. Everyone saw that the changes were necessary; unfortunately, this group member could not see past her personal feelings.

The lesson I wish for you to take away from this scenario is that, within online groups, there will be conflicts even without you intending to cause such. Sometimes you will need to act regardless of how someone else feels. What you do or do not do may result in an unpleasant situation, but the choice will be yours to make. Whatever you do, always remember that you do not always have to respond in kind to someone who behaves unkind towards you. Maintain your professionalism at all times.

Final Word

I first published this article on elearningindustry.com. Do not let this article scare you. It is possible for you to have positive online group experiences despite the many challenges. Every group experience is different: From each of the experience that you have you will learn something new. We all have our differences, and once we come together for a common goal we must take certain things such as mentioned above into consideration so that everyone comes out better than they were in the beginning of the online group experience.

Helpful resource: Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Environment

5 Tips to Help You Cope & Find Peace In Difficult Times

5 Tips to Help You Cope & Find Peace in Difficult Times

 

How to Cope and Maintain Inner Peace in Difficult Times

 

Are you in a situation where you find it difficult to cope? Do you constantly encounter challenges that are beyond your control? Are you in a workplace where you are being bullied? Do you work in an environment where you are always on edge for fear of making a mistake? Are you in a relationship where things are always unstable?

Whatever your situation is I want you to know that you are not alone. Many of us go through similar experiences in life. After a while, we realize constant worrying and bickering back and forth does not do well for our emotional and even physical health. If the situation you find yourself in cannot be changed immediately, you need to find a way to find inner peace while all hell seems to be breaking loose around you. The following things are what I use to help me cope with difficult times.

 

Pray and Meditate

For most of my life, I have heard about prayer and meditation. While I took the time to pray, I never combined it with mediation until about a year ago. I was trying to create a more balanced life and wanted to pay more attention to my spiritual needs. Even after accomplishing my goals, I felt this inner emptiness, an emptiness which refused to go away. That is, until I found this beautiful You tube video which instructs us on how to have a relationship with god. Here is the link to the video.

This video changed the way I looked at my spiritual life forever. Meditation has become a daily habit of mine. Since I have begun this daily practice I have managed to maintain an inner calm and cope, regardless of what is happening outside of me. Prior to finding this video, I used some of the following tips I share with you.

Create Space

If it is possible, try to create some space between you and the situation which is causing you distress. If it is a family member who is living with you, you can try taking a nature walk, going to the beach, or spending time with a friend. Depending on the situation, this strategy may be difficult to achieve. For example, if your source of stress is in the work place, there is no way of really creating sufficient space; especially if you work in an open space which requires interaction with others on a frequent basis.

If, however, your source of stress is on social media, you can create space by blocking, un-following, or unfriending the individual (s) whose actions are interfering with your inner peace. If those strategies do not work, deactivating your account may be another option. From time to time I deactivate my account just to focus on other things more important such as spending time with my family or my writing.

Reach Out to Someone Outside of the Situation

One of the things I have found helpful when dealing with a distressful situation is to talk with a trusted friend or relative. While it is not good to discuss every issue with another person, especially if it is relationship problem, there comes a time when the burden gets too much for one to cope without outside help.  Find someone you trust and let them hear you out. Sometimes all we need is a shoulder to cry on, listening ear, and a rational mind to help us gain perspective.

Personally, I try keeping this strategy for more complex situations. There are somethings which we are capable of dealing with without involving others. Usually, we are able to tell when we need to reach out, the urge is often very difficult to ignore. If you are in a situation where another person is trying to convince you that you are crazy or seeing things. you definitely need to reach out in order to help you gain perspective. Situations like these require professional help. Whatever you do, please find someone you trust and unburden yourself so you can find get rid of the torment and find inner peace.

Stay Focused

I know you must be wondering what staying focused has to do with finding inner peace. A few years ago, I was in a situation where I was working in an environment which felt hostile to me. I was studying full-time in an online program, taking care of my then 4 year old and, working full time. Each of these responsibilities had its own share amount of stress. The easiest thing for me to have done at that time was give up one of the responsibility. Although I dreaded going in to work most days, I could not give up my job, because it was my only source of income and I had all of my family obligations.  I could not give up my daughter, so I did not even consider this as an option. I could have given up the online program I was doing. But, had I done so, I would have missed out on a great opportunity to gain the knowledge, experience and great people I met along the way.

Despite all the inner turmoil my situation created, I refused to succumb. Once I decided I was not giving up, I firmly stock to the task and stopped worrying about what I had no control over. After a while, I was so focused on what was important that I able to cope with most of the stress which I experienced at work.

 

Make a Plan of Exit

I cannot stress this enough… Anytime you find yourself in a situation that is continually stressful, and nothing seems to be improving, begin your plan to leave. Two examples of situations that require such a plan is a hostile work environment and a dead end relationship. If it is the former, save as much as you can; some financial experts say save at least six months of your pay in an emergency fund. If possible save more than six months. Take every opportunity to make upgrade your skills and knowledge and make yourself marketable just in case you need to find another job. Start your job search; this is especially critical if you have additional expenses such as tuition loans or a mortgage.

If it is a relationship which is going nowhere, your plan of exit may be different. If it is an abusive relationship, you may need to seek professional help to prevent the situation from escalating.

Whatever the situation, making a plan of to leave shows that you have not given up hope…that you have a future to look forward to; this creates a sense of peace…a feeling that everything will be alright.

In my own situations, I have used all of these strategies at one time or another. I found each strategy helpful depending on the situation I am facing. The key is to not let your problem overwhelm you to the point where stress leads you to physical or mental illness, or cause you to lose hope.

Please take the time to comment and share your stories or suggestions of what we can do to help us cope with stress and create inner peace.

 

The Art of Letting Go of Anger, Toxic People, and Toxic Feelings

 

 

 

Letting go of anything which causes you pain
Let go of anything which causes you pain

 

What is it that is killing you? Are you holding on to something, a situation, or someone that you know you need to let go of, but find it painful to do so? Sometimes, we find ourselves holding on to the very thing, which is killing us. Any thought of letting go brings us extreme fear and pain. If you are in any situation today of which you need to find relief, I am here to tell you that you have what it takes to let go. Below, I share with you, how to develop the art of letting go of anger, toxic people, and toxic feelings. I hope that in sharing my experiences I may inspire someone who is in a similar situation. Letting go is never easy, but so too is holding on to something that has the potential to destroy your life. Listen to Bishop Noel Jones in his sermon Too Full To Quit; this is packed with inspiration for anyone going through a difficult phase in their life.

Letting Go of  Anger: Turned Inward or Outward

Whether you are angry at someone else or yourself, anger is like a disease; the more you think of the situation which caused you to become angry is the more the feelings of anger consume you. Sometimes our anger is justified; however, if we keep dwelling on these feelings it consumes us to the point where we may lash out at others or become self-destructive.

I remember some years ago, I had helped someone who was in a difficult situation. However, the person did something which caused me to become distrustful. Eventually, an argument ensued; at first, I was angry at the person, however, as time went by, my angry feelings turned inward. I could not forgive myself. I kept saying to myself, what was I thinking when I decided to forsake my needs just to help this person only to have the person turned on me? This anger was so intense that I cursed myself on a regular basis. I also found every opportunity to talk to a friend about it. I was so angry at myself it took me more than a year to forgive myself. One day, I stopped and thought about the situation. I consoled myself and finally I decided to let go. I told myself it was not worth it. I could not have known things will play out the way they did. I did what I did from the goodness of my heart, and even though the other person betrayed me, it was not my fault. To help you gain more insight, in to dealing with anger, you can take a read of How to Deal With Crisis: A spiritual Perspective.

Regardless of your situation is, do not let anger consume you. Even if the situation is difficult or painful, find healthy ways of dealing with anger; reach out to a trusted friend, meditate, pray about it, and let it go. Try not to be too hard on yourself. We all make mistakes, and it is okay. What we need to do is take away the lesson we learned and see how we can avoid making a similar mistake.

Letting Go of  Toxic People

One of the most difficult things to do is to let go of toxic people. Are you in a situation where there are people in your life who do not add value but subtract from it? Being with the person (s) is like a game of cards. Picture a game of Pokeno (some of us call it Pokena in St. Vincent) in which you lose most of the times, with an occasional win. And so, you tell yourself that since you’ve won before and have come close to winning so many times, it is worth playing another game. You keep playing and hoping to win, but instead you get all expectant only to be disappointed when someone else calls “Pokeno.”

Toxic people play with your emotions; one minute they are very nice, the next minute they treat you bad. Most of your experience with them is negative. But, instead of letting go, you hold on to the thoughts of when things are or were really good.

In order to let go of toxic people, you must value yourself and know that you are worthy. Like the game of Pokeno, you must recognize that all you will ever get are appetizers. The toxic person will find ways to entice you, but they will never get to the main meal where you really get to delve down in to all that they have to offer. In other words, you will never receive the love and affection you so craved from them, because they will never allow you to get that close. Just when you think things are going fine, they will pull the rug from beneath your feet. The cycle will repeat itself, and you will be left out in the cold; hurt, battered, bruised, and a hole in your heart.

learn to let go of toxic people

The best way, I have found, to deal with people who are toxic is to cut them out of my life. I do not attempt to be their friends; to do so usually backfire. Toxic people know how to bring on the charm. It does not matter how strong you feel you are; they will keep coming until you give in. Do not try to entertain their antics, see their behavior for what it is and Let them go. It will be hard, but it is worth the pain to let them go now so you will not hurt later.

 

Letting Go of  Toxic Feelings

Have you ever been in love with someone and you craved being with them, but they found every excuse why they could not find time to be with you?I remember some time ago, I was dating this guy. Things had not gone intimate as yet, but we had feelings for each other, or so I thought at the time. However, it seemed like the person was always busy. At first, I tried to reach out and initiated communication, because I thought he was too busy to do so; I would send a text or a video occasionally and he would respond when he had the chance. After a while, I found this tiring. I told myself that even if I was busy, I would make time for the person I am dating. So, why couldn’t he do the same? I brought up the subject with him and he promised to do better. However, after a short while things fell back into the same pattern. I cannot tell you how hurt I was, but I was sane enough to realize that it was time to let go.

As much as we had discussed a future together, I had to let go of that dream.  Here are 5 Reasons to Walk Away From A Relationship. I told myself that dwelling on what good he did in the past was not going to help my cause. I forced myself to look at what was happening in the relationship at the current time; this helped me to make a decision. I decided that if he was too busy I was going to make myself just as busy too. So, instead of texting him, I found other things to do. When he texted, I responded politely. I allowed him to set the pace: If he never called or texted I did not reach out to him. After a week or two, things became easier for me. I began to concentrate more on my needs and less on what he was or was not doing. I began to forget that he existed, whereas before I thought about him all the time.

Eventually, he was the one complaining about how I was acting cold. I was not cold, I was just myself. What he did not realize at the time is that I was losing interest in him; he had doused the emotions I had for him, without even realizing it. Eventually, I ended things. I did not curse, I did not fight, I just let go. I just let my feelings go gradually until I was no longer attached to the outcome.

This experience has made me realize we have more power than we know. If we could just think about our present situation as is, without holding on to how good it was in the past, or how good it could be in the future, we will find it easier to see things as is and let go. Ladies, gentlemen, if you are in a situation where you are the only one fighting to keep things flowing, it is not going to work. If you are in a relationship with someone, or is seriously dating someone and they tell you they are too busy, it means that they are not interested in spending time with you. Ask yourself this, “When I am interested in another person, how do I behave?”

Granted, they may have valid reasons for being busy, however, if they genuinely care, they will find a way to make things work. From my own experience, I have found that people take you for granted when you are always around. There you are, sending cute messages, flowers, and other gifts (men or women) and the other person is not even taking the time to appreciate what you have done. When you are already out the door, is the time they usually realize what a great person you were. Take heart though, when ever something like this happens to you it does not mean that you are not worthy. It only means that they were blind and did not see what was right in front of their eyes…until it was too late…

 

Stress: The Workplace Hazard Very Few Talk About

 

Is stress an occupational Hazard?

 

Stress kills, even if there are no visible signs like a bodily injury
Stress is a workplace hazard that kills, even if there are no visible signs like a bodily injury

 What comes to mind when you hear the term occupational-hazard?

For many of us, when we think of occupational hazards,  broken bones, body pains, slips, and falls, needle sticks, among other injuries come to mind.  Today, I am here to discuss stress, one of the major occupational hazards that is often overlooked by many employees and employers.

I attended a conference recently and one of the topics presented was occupational hazards.  The speaker listed workplace stress as an occupational hazard. Although I have long considered stress as a serious problem in the work place, I have never looked at it as a hazard. Indeed, stress can be compared to that of an ill placed ladder, a sharp’s-box in an emergency room, or a man working on a building without protective gear. As the concept grew in my mind, I realized that this speaker knew what he was talking about when he called workplace stress an occupational hazard. Every employee is susceptible to occupational hazards.

 

After the conference, I decided to conduct a literature review to see what the findings were for stress as a hazard in the workplace. Sure enough, I found several articles, which listed workplace stress as one of the major occupational hazards. In one study, Occupational Health Hazards Among Healthcare Workers in Kampala, Uganda, the researchers found that for non-biological hazards stress accounted for the highest at 21.5 %, 10.5 % accounted for physical, psychological, sexual, and/ or verbal abuse, and musculoskeletal injuries 10.5% (Ndejjo, et al. 2015).

 

If you are in a working environment where you are experiencing high levels of work related stress, I urge you to seek help before the potential becomes a reality. While you might be tempted to ignore the issue, it might be within your own interests to consider what you are facing. How long have you been exposed to the stressful situation? What have you done regarding the issue? Is the specific workplace stress constant or is it intermittent? Do you have sleepless nights, headaches, chest pain, or anxiety attacks, because of the issue? Your answers to these questions will determine the hazard and the urgency with which you should seek help.

 

Occupations, such as those in healthcare, education, the legal system, and banking system should have measures in place to discuss the issue of occupational related stress. Stressful situations can affect an individual’s productivity and customer/client services. Employers should make it a priority to discuss any stressful issues faced by employees, thus reducing the potential for workers calling in sick because of stress. According to the House of Common, United Kingdom, report (2008), about 75% of workers who called in sick were due to musculoskeletal disorders and stress. Employees should have knowledge of the resources available within the organization to deal with stress management: the information should also be readily accessible. Unfortunately,  the issues which cause employees to become exposed to occupational hazards can also lead to a trickle down effect. Hence, Issues such as workplace conflict, inefficient services, poor performance, poor judgement, poor decision-making, and abuse of those who are on the lower end of the employment scale  is cause for immediate concern.

 

As we become aware of stress as an occupational hazard, we should take steps to prevent ourselves from succumbing to this hazard. Research findings, related to occupational hazards, caused me to question the number of institutions, which actually consider stress when addressing occupational hazards. How many of these institutions have plans in place to manage occupational stress? Are these plans just sitting around or are they reviewed, and applied to employees’ situations?  Smith, Mc Namara, & Wellens (2004) suggested that Rather than tackle the causes of occupational (demands, lack of control, lack of support, poor relationships, role conflicts, and change) separately, employers should look at the stress related issues as connected issues and work together with employees to develop stress management standards for their respective organizations. As part of these standards, employers will also be able to focus on how best they can address institutional issues such as long work hours, shortage of staff, increased work demands, and increased customer expectations. For further review on a common phenomenon with the work place take a read of the article Women Vs. Women: Reducing the Culture of Hostility in the Workplace.

Research on stress

 

The recommendation, by the House of Commons, caused me to reflex on the many times when I experienced severe stress in the workplace and but did not know where to turn. While I was aware of how to document other occupational hazards such as needle stick injury, I was not aware of any written policies or institutional standards for stress management. Because of my constant exposure to stressful elements within the workplace, I always felt at risk for stress related conditions including high blood pressure and heart attack. I remember feeling pain in my chest one time and thinking that I might have had a heart condition. Later on, as I reflected on my thoughts, I immediately laughed and said to myself, “Ophelia, you were being quite dramatic.” As ridiculous as it sounds, I honestly felt scared for a moment because I knew the amount of stress I was experiencing in the workplace, which ranged from the work demands of working long hours to breakdown in communication and interpersonal relationship issues.

 

At the end of it all, our human resource is our most important commodity. Every organization and institution should take measures to protect those who work within their systems. Stress is an occupational hazard and we must treat it as such. Just as there are manuals filled with other occupational hazards and their management, employers owe it to their employees to develop and integrate stress management as part of their occupational hazard management. No longer can we take work related stress as an individual issue. Resolving Workplace Conflict Goes Beyond Simply Leaving One’s Problems at Home.

Healthy working environments make for equally healthy workers and customers
Healthy working environments make for equally healthy workers and customers

We are living in an age where information and research findings are readily available to the public. Employers and employees can take the initiative to conduct literature review of the issues relating to stress in the work place, and use the findings to develop policies, which meet the demands of the stressful work environment. As seen in the research findings and report, the benefits of specific stress management policies far surpass the disadvantages. Ultimately, one of the major goals of employers should be to create an integrative occupational hazard management system for employees, which takes stress into serious consideration as an occupational hazard.

 

 

References

House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee. (2007-2008). The Role of the Health and Safety Commission and the Health and Safety Executive in regulating Workplace and Safety. Retrieved from https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmworpen/246/246i.pdf

Ndejjo, R., Musinguzi, G., Yu, X., Buregyeya, E., Musoke, D., Wang, J. (2015). Occupational Health Hazards among Healthcare Workers in Kampala, Uganda. Journal of Environmental and Public Health. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/913741

Smith, A., Mc Namara,  R., & Wellens, B. (2004). Combined effects of occupational health hazards. Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology. 1-193 (287). Retrieved from http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr287.pdf