Getting Your Best Sleep on a Busy Schedule

A busy lifestyle can cut into your sleep time, leaving you feeling tired during the day. However, that doesn’t have to be case. There are a number of things you can do to improve the quality of sleep you enjoy, even if you do have to work it in around a hectic lifestyle.

Improve Sleep Quality

You can get a jump start on a good night’s sleep by doing some transitional things after work or before you go to bed. These things include:

  • Incorporate a short yoga session, soothing stretches, meditation or taking a walk after work. This helps you let go of the day’s stresses so you transition from work to private time and finally to bedtime.
  • Install light-blocking window coverings or wear an eye mask. This is especially helpful if you’re a shift worker who doesn’t get to sleep when it’s dark or if you live in an area where there’s a light source outside your window.
  • Set up an ambient noise machine or wear earplugs to block out noise if you live somewhere that’s not quiet when you need to rest. That way, neighbours, family members, traffic and pets aren’t keeping you awake with excess noise.

Enjoy a Good Nap

When you don’t get a full night’s sleep, your energy may crash during the day, but a nap can turn that drop in energy into a positive thing. A nap after lunch, ranging in length from 20 minutes to one hour, offers rejuvenating benefits. It also helps make up for reduced night-time sleep. Choose a comfortable spot where you won’t be interrupted during your nap. Use some of the techniques that improve night-time sleep quality, such as wearing a mask to block light and turning on soft music to block noise.

Sleep is more than a luxury, it’s a necessity, and sleeping well can be part of the difference between delivering an average performance at work and being a high achiever. When you enjoy quality sleep, whether in one long night-time session or by taking a nap after lunch, it increases your ability to function at peak performance levels.

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Five Amazing Workplace Strategies for Stress Management

Statistics Canada notes that more than 25 percent of Canadian workers have reported experiencing high to extreme stress daily. Work is the primary source of stress for 62 percent of workers, while time and finances are the main pressing matters for 12 percent of them. More than ever, companies are developing novel methods to help employees manage stress. These outstanding strategies are cultivating and empowering loyal, focused workers to be their best.

Help Fund Employee Vacations

Although companies often offer paid vacation time, many workers cannot afford to do much more than stay at home. At well-known human resources tool provider BambooHR, every employee receives money for vacation expenses once a year. The company wants to help employees enjoy enriching experiences and create memories that provide a reprieve from pressures.

Pay Employees to Give Back

Helping others is a powerful way to foster gratitude and gain fresh perspectives on issues that cause stress. Companies like pipeline operator NuStar Energy and Salesforce give workers at least seven full days of paid time annually to volunteer with a charity. Fortune observed that organizations who make this investment see reduced turnover.

Offer Counseling Services

Financial stress is epidemic, and the weight of it impacts employee productivity at virtually every level of many organizations. BambooHR hosts a “Financial Peace University” course on money management as well as financial advising. They also provide help with substance abuse, care for dependents and elders, and more.

Let the Dogs In

Workplace insights provider kununu reports that people who bring their pets to work have less stress and more job satisfaction. Ben and Jerry’s, Amazon, and Proctor and Gamble allow pets to accompany their owners on the job. This would not be feasible in certain scenarios like factories or construction sites; however, where open-door pet policies can work, employers can utilize this strategy with no major cost to the company.

Provide Great Spaces to Unwind

Allowing employees time to take a break is a given. If employees have access to stress-reducing environments, they are more likely to come back refreshed and ready to focus again. Some possible ideas include meditation rooms, yoga and wellness classes, onsite gyms and paths for walking and hiking.

5 Steps to Starting an Office Recycling Program

According to a recent study, Canadians produce about 31 million tonnes of garbage a year, and only about 30 per cent of that material is recycled.

Thankfully, you can take five simple steps to help the environment by starting an effective recycling program at the office.

  1. Mobilize a team of coworkers for the program. You can’t do it alone. Put together a team of coworkers from various departments to help you come up with an office recycling program and successfully execute it. Include the janitorial staff and make sure they are also invested in making the project work.
  2. Determine the type and amount of waste the program will manage. Consult your waste hauler to find out how you’re required to handle your recyclable items as this varies with municipalities. Carry out a waste audit to determine what portion of your waste is recyclable. Determine the flow of waste traffic and place bins in strategic locations throughout the office.
  3. Consider implementing a centralized recycling program. Here, office workers take the waste in the mini bins by their desks to a central location and sort it. This system fosters accountability in workers for the waste they produce and boosts diversion rates by decreasing stream contamination.
  4. Choose the most suitable bins. Go for bins that collect all stream of waste in a single container. Having separate bins for recyclable and non-recyclable waste discourages people from using the right bin because they will use the nearest one instead. Use bins that can adapt to changes in the type and volume of waste managed by your program. Use easily recognizable images to label your bins.
  5. Finally, implement the program. Educate workers in the office to make sure everyone is on board with the program. Use signs and posters as reminders and schedule meetings to discuss the results of the program and steps to improve it. These regular audits help the program grow increasingly effective.

Once you have an established program that’s woven into your company culture, you’ll find it easy to maintain in the long term.

Tips for Celebrating Earth Day

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. All over the world, people gather at a variety of activities to learn, celebrate and demonstrate support for environmental protection. Earth Day includes events in more than 193 countries and is the largest secular observance in the world. It’s estimated that more than a billion people each year celebrate Earth Day.

Earth Day in Canada

Although Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970, the first Canadian Earth Day was held on Thursday, September 11, 1980. Earth Day Canada founded in 1990, helps people across the country celebrate this special holiday. Earth Day Canada has created an award-winning employee engagement program called EcoConnexions, which is designed to encourage environmental and sustainability values and initiatives in the workplace.

EcoConnexions emphasizes three pillars of environmental responsibility: conserving energy, reducing waste and improving housekeeping. If you’re looking for fun and interesting ways to celebrate Earth Day in your workplace, plan educational workplace events and celebrations around these three pillars.

Conserving Energy

Help employees understand how they can conserve energy in their homes and the workplace with tips from an organization such as Save on Energy. Hold a free lunch seminar to discuss these ideas and improve team spirit at the same time.

Reducing Waste

To celebrate Earth Day this year, consider providing each employee with a reusable water bottle branded with the company name. It’s a thoughtful gift that also prevents waste and saves money because they will use fewer cups, straws and other one-use items.

Employees are more likely to recycle bottle, cans and paper when it’s convenient. If you haven’t already provided recycling bins in employee break areas and around printing stations, consider adding them and asking employees to use them considerately as part of your Earth Day celebration.

Improving Housekeeping

When discussing housekeeping in an environmental sense, you’re not just talking about washing up. Housekeeping is a concept that involves improving work efficiency, utilizing assets and making advances in safety. Even small changes can have a big impact.

Consider replacing light bulbs with more energy-efficient ones, asking employees to shut down their computers at the end of the day and changing company-wide cleaning products to more eco-friendly options. You could even provide incentives for co-worker carpooling or organize a workplace volunteering event with a group like TreeCanada.

4 Tips for Being Aware of Your Stress Level… and Reducing It

Being Aware of Your Stress

Stress is emotional and mental pain resulting from adverse circumstances. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. It’s normal. But it can get out of control and cause serious problems. It’s important to monitor your stress levels and watch out for signs such as headaches, acne, chronic pain, poor general health, fatigue, lower libido, digestive problems, poor appetite, depressive moods, rapid heartbeats and uncontrollable sweating.

If your stress becomes unmanageable, seek the services of professionals, such as licensed mental health counsellors, social workers, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. Also, there are steps you can take to reduce your stress. Let’s take a look at four important ones.

1. Breathing Exercises

Stress-relief breathing is one of the quickest and easiest ways of reducing your stress level in any situation. These breathing exercises reverse your physiological response to a stressful situation by relaxing your body and mind. They’re great for relieving chronic stress, promoting clear thinking and reducing overall stress.

Take a five-minute break and pay attention to your breathing. Close your eyes and sit up straight with a hand on your belly. Gently inhale via your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and proceed up to your head. Reverse the process as you breathe out through your mouth.

2. Exercising

Exercising reduces stress and promotes overall wellness. In addition to stress relief, regular workouts help you manage your weight and improve your longevity. Exercise is highly effective at reducing stress because:

  • It’s a physical outlet for frustrations and stress.
  • It distracts you from stressful thoughts.
  • It gives you a natural endorphin high.
  • It improves your mental wellness in the long term.

3. Adopting an Optimistic Perspective

Research shows that optimism reduces stress. When exposed to the same stressful situations, optimists tend to be less reactive than pessimists because optimists interpret challenges and threats as opportunities. Optimists are also more likely to believe that they have the power to change their situations.

4. Meditating Regularly

Meditation has a variety of benefits, one of them being stress reduction. Taking a few minutes to meditate can center you in the present, pushing away worries about the future and regrets about the past. Like optimism, meditation can shift your perspective of a stressful situation and help you identify opportunities rather than fixate on seemingly insurmountable difficulties.

4 Great Tips for Preparing Your Office for Spring

With spring just around the corner, it’s time to prepare your office for warmer temperatures, upcoming seasonal storms and spring fever. By preparing early, you can keep the office motivated, ensure the safety of your workers and keep work flowing as it should. Consider the following tips and tricks to prepare your office for spring.

Get Organized

Spring clean your office to reduce clutter. Clear off bookcases, throw away documents and files that are no longer needed, purchase organizers to keep office supplies neat and tidy and give everything a good wipe down.

Change Your Decor

Make your office feel more like spring by freshening up painted walls with light pastel colors. You can also bring the outdoors in by adding plants. Plants decorate a space, and a study by the University of Technology in Sydney found lower levels of stress in workers when plants were placed throughout the office. Plants also reduce carbon dioxide levels in the air, making it easier to breathe, and serve as a natural buffer to reduce noise in common areas.

Do a Building Walk-Through

Winter snow and ice can wreak havoc on everything from your parking lot to your building’s roof. Routine inspections can help avoid expensive, time-consuming repairs and help protect your inventory and assets from damage. Look for any obvious signs of water damage to the building’s exterior, including water rings on the walls and soft and sagging spots on decks and the floor. Water damage can cause changes in color and texture of surfaces, cracks in the foundation and odors.

Inspect basements and areas closest to the roof for mold or wear. Also hire a landscaper to remove any of foliage and leaves from the previous season that can cause mold, mildew and rotting wood.

Check All Systems

Schedule a maintenance appointment with your HVAC specialist and have him check the coolant on your system to make sure you are ready to switch from the heat to the air. Failure to have periodic checks can run your energy costs up and can cause component failure if you let your system run for long periods without being serviced.

Banish the cold-weather blues in your office by getting ready for the upcoming warmer weather. By giving your office a face-lift, you can increase productivity and help keep employees healthier and happier.

4 Ways to Cope With Daylight Savings Time

Daylight savings time began in Canada over 100 years ago. Its purpose was to save coal and energy for factories. Things have changed over the years, but the country still follows this age-old tradition of pushing the clocks ahead and turning them back. To help deal with losing an hour of sleep in the spring, here are a few things you can do.

Focus on Your Sleep

Plan for the time change by catching up on your sleep the weekend before. Go to bed at your usual time instead of staying up the extra hour, and get up at your normal time. You may lose an hour of productivity, but your sleep will be on track, which should make you feel more alert the following day. To do this, avoid caffeine several hours before bed and avoid sunlight and other bright lights late in the evening. You can also start a week before the time change and slowly shift your bedtime for 15 minutes each night. This gives your body time to adjust naturally when the clocks turn back.

Take a Walk

Take advantage of the extra hours of sunshine by going for a walk first thing in the morning. Not only can walking add years to your life, but it also helps wake you up if you are still groggy from adjusting to the time change.

Enjoy a Nap

Use your lunchtime at work to catch up on your sleep with a nap. Try to keep your nap to 30 minutes or less, which is just enough time to let you recharge without affecting your sleep at night. By sleeping on your break time, you also get the added benefits of quicker reaction times, boosted memory and increased productivity.

Try Earlier Mealtimes

When the clock moves ahead an hour, you may find you are hungry earlier or later in the day. Give your food ample time to digest before heading to bed. Digestion can interfere with sleep and make it harder to get up in the morning and stay alert during early morning meetings.

Make the adjustment to daylight savings time smoother by planning ahead and making small changes throughout the day. After a few weeks, your schedule should be back on track and you can once again focus on the task at hand.