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5 ways to manage stress at work

It can happen to the best of us: you read an email and realize your boss isn’t happy with your work; you made a mistake that costs your company money; you get into an argument with a co-worker over something you know is right. It is enough to make you frustrated, stressed, anxious, and above all else, unhappy.

No matter the job, work can be stressful. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are five ways to manage your stress in the workplace:

Don’t respond to your email right away: Businesses are operating in a nearly completely digital world and there is an expectation that everyone should be by their computers or phones 24/7. Just because your phone notifications are buzzing, doesn’t mean you should respond. This is especially true if the email is negative. The problem with email is that the tone of the author is unknown, so people start to imagine possible meanings behind the words written. An email may read negative, but it may be a mere observation or an idea. Take a moment to distract yourself and then return to the email. You may find the message less negative this time and you can craft your response accordingly. If you are really concerned, call or meet the sender in person to discuss their request. That way you can judge the tone for yourself.

Schedule breaks: Everyone does it — works through lunch, stays an hour longer in the evening, or offers to do extra assignments. The “I don’t leave work until my work is done” mentality may be good for productivity, but it isn’t good for your mental health, especially if your goals are set really high. There will always be work to do, so take 15 minutes and go for a walk. Get some coffee, read the news, talk with a friend, or just enjoy the sunshine for a bit. That way, you can return to work refreshed and ready to start your next project.

Breath deeply: Sometimes, you won’t be in a scenario where you can take a walk or wait 15 minutes before reacting to a situation. If you feel your breath getting shorter and your head getting lighter, this could be a sign of stress and/or anxiety. Take a step back (figuratively) and take five deep breaths. If anyone interrupts you, just say you need a minute to gather your thoughts. Then, speak calmly and confidently. Keep your tone neutral if possible. You’ve got this!

Train your body and mind: Exercise, both physical and mental, can help calm the nerves and maintain focus. Doing 20 minutes of yoga or starting your day with a mantra of gratitude can help focus your mind on the tasks you have to do that day, while going for a run or a walk after work (or on your lunch break) can help burn off steam. The body responds to stress in different ways — headaches, stomach aches, and sore muscles are some examples. By keeping your blood moving and dedicating half an hour a day to physical activity, it can help prevent those type of side effects. Not to mention it will keep you in shape.

Try to be more creative: Sometimes it’s not the job, but the job environment that causes stress. Try to make it your own and be more creative with your work. Don’t be afraid to approach your boss with a new idea or project. Most of the time, this gumption will be well received, even if your idea isn’t. When you aren’t at work, do something fun. Simply crashing in front of your television won’t help clear your mind of the activities of the day. Why not try your hand at painting or gardening, read a book, or play a new sport? All of these activities will increase your energy, confidence, and ability to problem solve.

Above all else, remember to be confident in your abilities. It’s okay to make mistakes and to stand up for yourself. It’s also okay to take some time for yourself to ensure you are less stressed and are able to be productive during the hours you do work.

Do you have any tips for relieving stress at work? Let us know in the comments below.

Chronic back pain may be ruining your sex life

Chronic back pain can do more than cause aches and pains. Studies show it can reduce your mojo, plummeting the sex drive and killing the mood between the sheets.

Fourty-seven per cent of Canadians suffering from chronic back pain report their condition affects their sex lives, according to the GSK Global Pain Index commissioned by GSK Consumer Healthcare. Of the study participants, 53 per cent said they felt less attractive as a result of their pain.

Chronic back pain is defined as pain that persists for more than three to six months. Treatments include physiotherapy, exercise, pain medications, and acupuncture, among others. In Canada, 18.9 per cent of people over the age of 18 suffer from chronic pain. A study by the National Institute Health says that chronic pain increases with age and women have a higher prevalence of pain than men.

Most people suffering from chronic back pain rely on medicines to help alleviate their symptoms. Fourty-five per cent of people suffering with the pain condition will use medications as a primary source of aid, whereas only 16 per cent use physical therapy and nine per cent use alternative medicines.

The problem is there are many pain medications that have unfortunate side effects on users. The company that sponsored the GSK Global Pain Index study, Voltaren, is a producer of oral and topical pain medications for people suffering with chronic pain. Possible side effects of their oral pills, as indicated by the FDA, include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, exhaustion, and nausea and vomiting. Interestingly, the company sponsored a study that provides information on the unsettling effects of pain on people’s lives, but doesn’t include the side effects for their own medications.

Pain medications could also be a contributor to a lacking sex life. Personally, I know that if my back hurt and I had constipation, nausea, vomiting or exhaustion, I wouldn’t feel like getting busy in the bedroom. Luckily, there are alternatives that take away the need for pain medications, while still allowing people to feel sexy.

“A lot of chronic pain involves not recognizing the difference between damaging pain and residual neurophysiological pain,” said registered physiotherapist, Hannah Williams. “The brain is rewired to think that certain movements are damaging when they are no longer actually damaging.”

Physiotherapy, stretches, yoga, strength training, acupuncture, and massage are great options to try as a primary source of care before turning to pain medicine.

Physical exercise is essential to re-train the brain so that unnecessary chronic pain no longer bothers you. “Any exercise at all is beneficial. Limiting yourself only to certain types of exercises will continue the pain,” said Williams. A very good type of exercise happens to be sexual intercourse, which can increase the heart rate and allow people to work past their chronic pain in a pleasurable way.

“Going to a chronic pain physiotherapist will help people to understand the difference between good and bad pain,” said Williams. “Chronic pain can hurt people’s sex lives, but it doesn’t mean people can’t work around it.”

Maybe all you need is a good old fashion rumble in the sack to help get rid of that chronic back pain. We suggest you work on that immediately.

Yoga class suspended at University of Ottawa due to “cultural issues”

In September, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) suspended a free yoga class offered at the university’s Centre for Students with Disabilities, citing “cultural issues” as the reason.

The instructor who taught the course went back to the SFUO and asked for further explanation. She was told that the student government wanted to be mindful of cultures that have “experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy.” Essentially, the SFUO has suspended the class due to cultural appropriation, a concept where the use of elements from one culture (typically non-Western) by a different culture (typically Western) is viewed as a negative phenomenon.

The news about the suspended yoga class has gone global, with articles popping up in the Washington Post and the Daily Mail. New York Times technology reporter Farhad Manjoo retweeted a story about the incident from the Ottawa Sun and The Atlantic senior editor David Frum laughed at the decision on social media, sharing an article in the Yoga Journal that outlined European influence on modern yoga in India.

It’s true that the practice of yoga was influenced by the Sanskrit, India’s ancient religious texts, but it has since grown into its own entity. While it is true that some yoga practices include a spiritual undertone, most focus on the movements and the concept of self-acceptance.

As a former student at the University of Ottawa, the SFUO’s decision does not surprise me. The student politicians on campus were always, what I would call, Liberal radicals. They can get so obsessed with the idea of inclusivity and tolerance that they end up pushing away a large part of the student population. For example, the student newspaper I worked for was once accused of being racist for not covering a black history month event on campus. This accusation was made despite our explanation that the event itself was reported on every year and didn’t warrant a follow-up.

It’s also important to note that our Arts and Culture Editor, who was the person who made the editorial decision, was black.

As a student who actively took advantage of the free yoga classes offered by the university, I can say that I never felt like the instruction was religious or spiritual. None of the instructors claimed to be knowledgeable of that aspect of the craft. The goal of the session was to make peace with yourself and be mindful of your body. I would enter that room stressed about work or my studies, and I would leave feeling refreshed and calm.

Should we alway strive to be politically correct? Where is the line? Personally, I think that line is drawn when there is no intention of negative consequences. A class that helps students with disabilities stretch and relax, a class that doesn’t pretend to be affiliated with any political or religious belief, should not be the object of cultural appropriation.

Thankfully, the university itself agrees and has promised to continue offering yoga classes to students who want to participate in the practice. It’s just unfortunate there won’t be any classes directed at students with disabilities—and we can thank the student union for that.

 

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5 Types of Yoga You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Bikram, Anusara, and Vinyasha are all familiar practices for those who do yoga. However, the tree pose, whether it’s in a 20 degree or 45 degree studio, may become a little mundane the 45th time around. But did you know about the other types of yoga out there?  If you’re looking to spice up your sun salutations or challenge your overall yoga routine, try out some of these less conventional classes:

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1. Doga

There’s downward facing dog. And then there’s downward facing dog – with your dog. Your furry pal gets stressed too, you know! So the next time you’re on the mat, pick up your dog. Your biceps will thank you, and so will your he/she. The practice involves simple yoga poses with variations to include your partner in the action. We’re pretty sure you can skip the walk that day. Visit dogadog.com to find out more!

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2. Nude Yoga 

You’ve probably thought about doing this in your hot yoga classes. Lululemon’s sheer yoga pants are definitely not a problem at the Bold & Naked Yoga studio in New York. They live by the not ”following the norm but rather playing outside of the box, because that’s where the fun is.” The studio offers both male only and co-ed classes (sorry, ladies!). But don’t worry, because these completely nude Vinyasa yoga classes emphasize that the classes aren’t meant to be sexual in any way. We can’t guarantee it won’t be hot in there though…

3. Aerial Yoga 

One of the more popular forms of yoga that has recently hit the fitness scene, aerial yoga is no fad. Hanging from silk hammocks suspended from the ceiling (also known as anti-gravity yoga) takes your practice off the mat and instead floating above ground. There’s something oddly comforting hanging upside down in the air. You’ll feel like an Olympian, and eventually look like one too. If getting inverted and the fear of falling out of a hammock don’t bother you, you will love this class.

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4. Laughter Yoga 

If you haven’t heard of the above, you’ve heard of this. Especially popular in South Asia and amoung senior citizens, a laughter yoga session “strives to cultivate childlike playfulness.” Exercises include clapping while reciting a chant similar to laughing, speaking gibberish, deep breathing exercises, and/or playful pantomime exercises. You can finally have an excuse to practice your “milkshake laughter,” which is laughing while you pretend to mix and drink a milkshake. Because why not? Some classes even include laughter meditation, light physical exercises, and dancing. The idea of a laughter yoga class might make have you laughing already, but believe it or not – laughter can lower stress hormone levels. Haha!

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5. Stand Up Paddle Yoga

It’s a class that combines yoga and stand up paddle surfing. Popular among yogis on social media due to its scenic photography opportunities, paddle yoga allows you to really become one with nature by paddling out onto the water on a paddle board to do poses like the the bow pose, the downward-facing dog, and the camel pose. Core strength is key doing this type of yoga. You get more of a workout because the motion of the water makes you engage your core as you try to stay stable. And with summer here, a yoga session afloat a surfboard feels like a pretty ”narly” option.

Not so calm now, are we? Get zen in a way you’ve never gotten before with these yoga classes. Chances are, your friends and family will never look at the fitness regime as ‘boring’ again!

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