Author Archives: kate

Undermined by People You Love?

Undermined by People You Love?

I love telling people that I work from home. I love telling them about the fact that I don’t have to take a long (and frustrating) commute to work and that I don’t have to be in corporate clothes all the time (except for conference calls, and even so, I don’t have to wear heels!) I tell them that I feel very supported and that I am given all the tools to excel at my job. I’m very comfortable telling people that I work from home now. But it was a different story a few years back when working from home or remote work wasn’t (as I like to call it) “the new normal”.

Back in the days when remote work was a new thing, a friend had told me to be very careful about explaining what I did for a living. She said, most people don’t take you seriously once they learn that you don’t work at a corporate office. They have this feeling that if you work from home, you’re hunched over a laptop set on the kitchen table. And that, somehow, is far less acceptable than being hunched over a computer inside an office.

I didn’t understand where this hesitancy came from. She told me her story. Like me, she works from home. Her sister was in between nannies and asked her to “look after their kid for a few hours because you work from home anyway”, implying that she had nothing important to do. They got into a squabble. And that’s how she came to give me that advice.

I felt bad for her. Maybe because I felt a kindred spirit, being both remote workers. Why was she being made to feel guilty about her career choice? Isn’t our job not as important as theirs?

What my friend was talking about is a thing called “social undermining”. You’ve probably experienced something similar to this. It may not be a work from home job. It could be that you’re trying to make healthier lifestyle choices by going vegetarian. It could be that you’re trying to cut back on expenses and so you decline suggestions to spend on an expensive group vacation and instead offer more frugal options. It could be that someone from work failed to include you in that email invite to discuss an integral project. Whatever it is, you’ve experienced being knocked down by a friend, or even a family member.

What is the best way to get over this? The best way is to be upfront without being combative. They might get riled up and tell you that you’re reading too much into their comment. That there is no sinister motive behind it and that you’re just overly sensitive. Be firm and hold your ground. You are not being sensitive. You are calling them out on undermining you and your capabilities. If you let this continue, they will think it is ok to carry on with this behavior. After all, you teach people how to treat you. Tell them how flippant remarks like that affect you. Let them know that it makes you feel dismissed and that you would rather have them support you instead (in whatever that endeavor is, career, lifestyle change, etc).

How about you? How do you deal with underminers? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments. Remember to stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

Reference;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_undermining

Sunday Night Blues

Sunday Night Blues

What do you usually do on a Sunday? Sunday is usually reserved as a family day. It’s when you take the kids out for ice cream or go to a place of worship as a family. Or it could just be a day to lounge around or have a long and lazy brunch with friends. Most of the time, Sundays are reserved for resting. In the story of creation, even God had to rest on the Sabbath.

A typical Sunday goes like this: you sleep in for a bit and start your day slow. Maybe you enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee while preparing brunch. You take your time chopping up the ingredients and are in no hurry waiting for the whole thing to cook. You prepare the table and call everyone down for a hearty meal. You and your family take your time eating and sharing stories over brunch and conversations go well into the afternoon.

But right around 5 PM, your mood starts to shift. There is a nagging feeling at the back of your mind as one by one you start to remember everything you have NOT accomplished over the weekend. Then you start to panic…why is the weekend just two days long? Have I been lazy? Did I forget anything? Why haven’t I checked off everything in my to do list yet? Why is there not enough time to relax?

But you can’t relax. By this time, you have started on a downward spiral of what we call “Sunday Night Blues”. Yes, it is a thing. Yes, you are not alone.

A global poll done by Monster Worldwide in 2015, reveals that 62% of global respondents have “really bad” Sunday night blues. This is the general feeling of depression that you feel during Sunday nights.

Do you sometimes feel anxious over the fact that only one night’s sleep stands between you and the beginning of another workweek? That’s called the Sunday night blues. Basically, it’s that feeling of longing that you get when you come back from an awesome vacation, only, this is a mini version that happens every Sunday night.

You really can’t change your mindset overnight…and if this becomes a habit, you’d have to look for ways to break this Sunday night habit of yours. So how do you alleviate Sunday night blues? The best way is to start preparing by Friday! Take a few minutes at the end of every Friday to assess your to-do lists and make sure you pencil in time to enjoy yourself. Make plans to do something fun (girls night out, perhaps?). Alternate this with weekends of doing something productive (house cleaning anyone?) If you can identify your triggers and pinpoint exactly what makes you dread the work week, like a long commute or a heavy workload, then you can plan for those accordingly. Make an action plan to relieve your anxiety over those specific stressors.

If you think about it, so far you have survived 100% of all the Mondays you have dreaded. You’re doing great!

If you have tips on how to combat those Sunday night blues, let us know in the comments. Remember to stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

Reference:

https://www.monster.com/about/a/red-white-and-mostly-blue-monster-data-shows-that-the-us-continues-to-suffer-the-most-from-sunday-night-blues

 

Grumpy to Happy

Grumpy to Happy

 

It’s hard to look at the bright side these days. The news is filled with world leaders who fumble the shots, countries in conflict, oceans filling up with rubbish, and a host of other problems that make it so hard to look forward to the future. Our social media feeds are filled with hate, trolls, and fake news and our streets are filled with heavy traffic and pollution. No one we are all getting to be so very grumpy.

Are we getting to be a generation of grumps? Is there an epidemic of negative thinking?

With all these things going on, it’s hard to see the glass as half full. BUT…we can actually train our brains to look on the bright side!

Positive thinking has endless benefits: reduced heart rate, reduced stress, lower blood pressure, boost in creativity, an overall better quality of life, etc. But if you’re a realist, and most adults are, you’re going to have to dig deep and hard to find the silver lining.

Here’s how you can cultivate a more positive state of mind:

Practice compassion

Do nice things for others. Little things like holding the elevator door open for those who are getting in loaded with grocery bags (always do this – don’t be that person who lets the door close!), helping the elderly, Volunteering at your local charity, asking your spouse if you can help them prepare dinner, helping a lost stranger with directions, or volunteering to be the designated driver can make a lot of difference. When we help others, even though we don’t know them, we feel good. It might be self-serving but if you get into the habit of showing kindness, it does wonders for your mental health as well. As the saying goes “Believe there is good in this world. Be the good.”

Go and celebrate small wins

Look for small victories in everyday life. And celebrate them however small they are. It could be that your commute to work went well with no train delays. It could be a short line at your favorite deli or fast food joint. It could be an amazing cup of coffee at the new coffee place. It could be a small token from one of your office mate who remembered to get you something from his trip to Paris. It could be that you finished your article well before the deadline. Celebrate those small wins. Better if you celebrate with ice cream. Yay!

Meditate

I wrote quite a few article about the benefits of meditation. In my article “Stress, Be Gone![1], I wrote about how you can reduce your stress levels through meditation. If you need help on how to get started on meditation and mindfulness, read my article, “A Mind Full of Light[2].

Be kind

This goes without saying, be kind to others. But most especially, be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself down with negative talk. You won’t tell a loved one that he or she won’t amount to anything/is fat/will fail that exam/won’t finish the report in time/won’t fit into that shirt, right? So why give yourself that kind of pep talk. Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes done in the past. Look for the lesson, take what you need, then move on!

Start with these tips and work towards being a bit more positive. Do you have any tips for us? Let us know in the comments. Stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

References:

1 http://thehelpbyastrids.com/stress-be-gone/

2 http://thehelpbyastrids.com/a-mind-full-of-light/

 

 

Colour and the Workplace

Colour and the Workplace

Colour affects our mood. This is why most fast-food restaurants are colored red or orange (to stimulate appetite) and most spas are done in a relaxing hue of whites and greens. Colour has been used to affect our moods and reactions and many companies know about this. In fact, websites themes and workplace paint colours are built around the concept of Chromology, also known as the Psychology of Colour.

In the early 1990’s a psychologist named Angela Wright has developed a theory eponymously named the Wright Theory [1] which shows that colour affects our behaviour. Blues affect our mind, Yellows affect our emotion, Greens affect our balance, and Reds affect our body.

So, here’s how you use that knowledge to your advantage:

Blues Clues

Blue is used to stimulate your mind. You’d often find that corporate offices and websites use more blues. This projects an air of stability, security, and confidence. Not only that, it is used to stimulate mental processes. Corporate offices, banks, security companies, and technology hubs often sport this colour on their office walls. So if you work in the financial industry or accounting industry, you’d do well to paint your home office a nice shade of blue. Make sure to put some accents in another colour family for balance – you don’t want to be too cold and calculating.

Yellow Submarine

Yellow is used to stimulate your spirits. It is used to spark creativity and make you more optimistic. It is such a happy colour that any iteration of yellow is bound to bring in a bit of sunshine. Be careful about putting too much though – there is a thing as over stimulation. So fellow creatives, let all splash our home offices with a nice, home friendly yellow tone to get those creative juices flowing.

Red Balloon

Red is used to stimulate the body. As I’ve mentioned earlier, fast food joints use that to their advantage as red (and oranges) are known to stimulate appetite. Think of Arby’s, KFC, Mcdonald’s, Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, and Burger King. I could go on, but you get the idea. Red does not necessarily make us hungry, it is known to stimulate activity and increase the heart rate. So if you work in a gym or kid’s activity area, a red theme is a sure shot way to increase activity.

Green Eggs

Green is used to stimulate balance. It is known to have a calming, reassuring effect. It also symbolizes growth and nature. If you need a soothing environment, then it would do you good to work in a workplace with green tones. Use it for when you’re running a financial consultancy. The green colours will neutralize the nervousness of your clients, which is common for anything involving money. If you’re personally prone to anxiety attacks, a green workspace would help you feel less anxious while working.

What colour is your workplace? How does it affect your work? Let us know in the comments! Stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

References:

1 http://www.colour-affects.co.uk/the-wright-theory

Do you have a work uniform?

Do you have a work uniform?

It’s Monday morning and I’m running late. My “Sunday Night Anxiety” has prevented me from getting enough sleep. So here I am, sleep deprived and staring at my closet for a whole 15 minutes, just deciding on what to wear to work. That is time that I do not have.

My day has just started and I’m already struggling. I have had zero coffee and have equally zero willpower. Why is making a decision on what to wear so hard?

Raise your hand if you’ve had an episode like this before. Is that everyone? Yeah, I thought so.

I know we all want to look like we put some thought and effort into how we look for work. Everyone wants to look professional and “put together” but if we’re spending an hour and fifteen minutes each week just to decide on what to wear, couldn’t we at least take a look at how to make our morning routines more efficient?

In 2015 an article written by Matilda Kahl [1], creative/Art Director at Saatchi & Saatchi in New York went viral and has been shared over 100,000 times. She writes about how she wore the same outfit to work everyday for three years.

She’s not alone in this. In fact, there is a list of people who ascribe to wearing a work uniform. This list includes very famous people like Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, Anna Wintour, and Angelina Jolie. Mark Zuckerberg has a closet full of grey shirts. Barack Obama only wears blue or grey suits with a blue-ish tie. As you know, Steve Jobs is famous for that iconic black turtleneck shirt. Anna Wintour wears Manolo Blahnik mules exclusively. Angelina Jolie’s head-to-toe black outfit has been the uniform of choice of the 90’s generation.

Work uniforms are common in a lot of industries like healthcare, aviation, food service, hospitality, etc. But for other industries where they have more freedom over what to wear to the office, more people are finding that a standard iteration of a work uniform makes their mornings easier.

It has something to do with decision fatigue [2]. Studies show that the more choices we make as the day progresses, the harder it is to make decisions. What does a tired brain do to cope? It makes shortcuts. When you’re making important decisions all day, you can’t afford to make short cuts. In a Vanity Fair article, Barack Obama says “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Sure, we’re not world leaders. But wouldn’t it be nice to save that 15 mins spent on deciding what to wear and actually have a relaxed journey to work instead of rushing. No one’s asking you to make decisions about the nuclear arms code or the state of the nation. However, eliminating one decision making task in the morning can help you streamline your morning routine and help you start your day off like you’ve got it together. Won’t that feel awesome?

Do you have a work uniform? What does that look like? Let us know in the comments! Stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

References:

1 http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a10441/why-i-wear-the-same-thing-to-work-everday/

2 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html