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Danielle Richardson

Dispelling the Myths of Work-Life Balance

Realizing these can help you get unstuck from patterns that ineffectively use your time and energy.

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AS THE WORLD MOVES FASTER, more is demanded of us. There are more patients to examine, more emails needing a response, and more social engagements. Technology has extended the workday beyond its 9-5 confines and our jobs often bleed into family and personal commitments. Many burn the candle at both ends and feel exhausted and inadequate in one or more areas of life.

Enter “work-life balance” to solve our dilemma of being a well-rounded, high-performing human being. The phrase conjures idyllic images of a perfect professional who effortlessly “has it all.”  This and other myths surrounding work-life balance cause people to dismiss the idea and remain stuck in patterns that ineffectively use their time and energy. When life is out of balance you may notice you sleep less, eat worse, and are more susceptible to illness and burnout. Work-life balance is not a magic formula, but rather a consciousness of the relationship between all aspects of your life. Let’s dispel some of the popular myths.

Myth 1: Perfect Balance Exists. A big myth lies in thinking “work” and “life” should balance on a scale with the weight equally distributed between both sides. This falsehood creates stress because we are striving for an idea of perfection that doesn’t exist. Work and home demands are constantly changing so your definition of work-life balance cannot be static. It has to account for the natural oscillations in priorities and allow for evolution.

Myth 2: Balance Is A Working Mom Problem. Work-life balance conversations have a tendency to center around women juggling home and career responsibilites. However, this issue affects us all regardless of age, marital status or gender. Research led by Kristen Shockley of the University of Georgia showed little evidence of differences between the work-life conflicts of men and women. We all struggle with imbalance, so it’s important to seek ways to manage our energy and show up fully at work and home.

Myth 3: Later. I’m Too Busy Now. Work smarter, not harder. It’s tempting to fall into society’s definition of an “ideal worker” who prioritizes work above all. Hard work is necessary for advancement; being a workaholic is not. Create a personal definition of success beyond your career. I teach wellness workshops and retreats to professionals and you’d be surprised how few are in touch with their desires. Asking “What do I want?” is a powerful way to illuminate what’s important to you in order to design your life and appropriately invest your time. Traveling, family time, or learning a language can run in tandem with, not in opposition to, your career.

Balancing our lives in and out of work will remain difficult unless we decide to create more synergy.

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Dr. Danielle Richardson practices in Houston with Texas State Optical and runs a holistic wellness company, Fierce Clarity. She is a registered yoga teacher and hosts wellness retreats, yoga classes, and pop-up events for busy, professional women to help manage stress and avoid burnout. Follow her on Instagram at @fierceclarity

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Danielle Richardson

Business Travel is No Reason to Let Your Wellness Suffer

Here are 4 pro tips to keep you on track even when you’re away.

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IT’S THAT TIME of year when the optical industry flocks to New York City for four days of learning and fun at Vision Expo East. Each conference is an opportunity to grow as a professional and connect with like-minded peers … so we sleep less and spend more time networking or socializing over dinner and drinks.

Unfortunately, we often make this trade-off at the expense of our health and wellness. It’s not uncommon to find attendees feeling groggy, tired, and generally unwell by the final day. But it is possible to both have fun and feel your best, even while traveling for work. Here are some pro-tips to set yourself up for success during Vision Expo, or any conference you attend:

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Plan Your Meals

Food is fuel. If you don’t want to run on fumes all VEE, planning healthy meals is big. The Javits Center has a few healthy choices (last year there was even a vegan option!) but you may prefer to eat offsite. Don’t scramble when you’re famished, scout nearby eateries beforehand or consider ordering via Seamless to save time and effort. When all else fails, places like CVS and Starbucks have several healthy snack options like almonds, egg bites, and low sugar health bars that can help bridge the gap between meals.

Keep It Moving

Stress is a given when juggling a busy conference schedule. We hardly have a moment to rest between CE classes, exploring the show floor, and nightly networking events. Instead of napping during your downtime, consider squeezing in 20 minutes of movement. A busy schedule can put stress on our adrenal glands causing an increase in cortisol and adrenaline; 20 minutes of mild to moderate aerobic exercise can help to reduce the excess amounts of these hormones in the body and improve mood.

Take a lap around the show floor or wake up a bit earlier for a light workout at your hotel. If you’re looking for group fitness classes, the ClassPass app can aid in finding one that fits within your conference schedule.

Cut What You Can

There are plenty of complimentary drinks and dinners but the key is balance. Evaluate your schedule and identify receptions or events where you plan to indulge. From there, reverse engineer your day and opt out of extra drinks and desserts at your other events. Decreasing your volume of sweets, cocktails, and heavy snacks will help keep your energy high and leave room for the treats you really want. By consciously choosing when and when not to indulge, you’re able to keep yourself accountable without feeling restricted.

Bring Your Boost

Everyone has their unique special sauce to support optimal health— vitamins, supplements, or even your grandmother’s homemade tonic! When traveling, continuing your normal regimen is the best preventative care you can take. If you’re a person who loves a morning smoothie or protein shake, check your local health food store for a travel sized version to bring along. Additionally, unpredictable schedules, increased exposure to germs, and often a weakened immune system all mean you’re more likely to get sick when traveling. Don’t forget to pack your Vitamin C, your favorite tea, or any other necessity to keep yourself comfortable and healthy while on the go.

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Danielle Richardson

4 Ways to Get Back on Track When You’re Feeling Stuck

We all get out of alignment from time to time, but you don’t have to stay that way.

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WE ALL HAVE PERIODS in life that return us to the question of “What’s my purpose?” After dealing with the minutia of everyday life, it becomes easy to lose sight of what lights our inner fire. As our passion fades, so too can our connection to our larger purpose.

We have to remember that purpose is not a singular task, job, or goal. Our purpose is ever evolving and our path to discovery will be non-linear. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker will hold 11 jobs before the age of 45. We expect our careers to grow and transform and we should expect the same of our purpose.

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Purpose is something we have to continually refine and redefine. Just as your worldview today differs from your worldview at 18, so will your understanding and interpretation of living with purpose. Your purpose is larger than your career, but it’s important to infuse purpose into what you spend 40+ hours per week doing.

Below are four ways to realign with your purpose when you’re feeling stuck or lack passion.

Focus On The Positive

What are your strengths? What do you do well? What do you like about your job? What impact are you having? Asking these types of questions reframes your mindset and shifts your attention to the positive. You unlock the power of positive thinking by focusing on what is working. The more we focus on positive situations and outcomes, the more likely we are to experience them.

Find Your Why

Why are you doing the job you’re doing? Why are you involved in the organizations you’ve chosen? What motivates you? What values underwrite your life? As cliché as it sounds, the first step to rediscovering your purpose involves connecting with your “Why.” An honest assessment and inventory of your internal motivators will help you gain clarity. Armed with this motivation, a roadmap begins to take form.

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Create Meaning Today

You don’t have to quit your job and move to the Caribbean for a fresh start. You can infuse purpose into where you are currently. Ask yourself: “How can I be of service? How can I have a better attitude?” A daily check-in coupled with focused action can produce a shift in a short amount of time. Working on your purpose in the present is a surefire way to feel re-inspired.

Go Easy on Yourself

Rome wasn’t built in a day. As hard-driving high achievers, many of us also have an internal voice that correctly channeled, pushes us to excel. Conversely, the negative expression of that voice can manifest as a tough inner critic that is impossible to please. As you navigate changes and shift seasons in your life, be kind to yourself. A huge part of the work I do as a yoga teacher focuses on cultivating self-compassion. Allow yourself periods of transition as you redefine your purpose. Celebrate the peaks, but also relax while you’re on your journey.

It’s important to understand that we all get out of alignment from time to time, but you don’t have to stay there. Create time to reassess your purpose, take small intentional steps in the right direction, and cut yourself some slack!

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Danielle Richardson

Not a Morning Person? Here’s How to Boost Your Early Energy

Give one of the hacks below a try to increase both your energy and focus in the A.M.

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I LOVE COFFEE, SO SKIP this article if you’re expecting advice on giving up your beloved morning Starbucks. You can keep your coffee, but it’s time to discuss a common morning struggle — our lack of energy! Many of us enjoy the taste of coffee or tea, but we’re really using caffeine to solve the underlying issue of not having enough energy for the day.
Low energy can be caused by a lack of rest, systemic disease or chronic stress. To make matters worse, we often compound this with poor choices throughout the day that further deplete our reserves. If you suffer from a lack of energy, simple changes to your daily habits could have profound positive effects. Give one of the hacks below a try to increase both your energy and focus.

Lighten Up at Breakfast. Working in downtown Houston, I observed many busy professionals grabbing breakfasts that consist of pastries, bread, cheeses and other heavy foods. It’s difficult to have enough energy for the day when the first meal is not nutrient dense and difficult for the body to digest. An easy change is swapping heavy options for something lighter like eggs, a smoothie or fruit. Making healthier dietary choices is a quick and effective way to increase both energy and clarity.

Do Not Disturb. I’m a big proponent of unplugging, but I’m also a realist and understand the necessity of staying connected. Make it a morning habit to only briefly check your phone for any pressing matters, then turn off your notifications or place your device on its “Do Not Disturb” setting. Distractions in the form of emails, texts and social media updates decrease your productivity while draining your mental energy. A study at George Mason University by cognitive scientist Dr. Cyrus K. Foroughi and colleagues found even small distractions cause a significant decrease in overall production and quality of work. Changing your phone settings allows you to create boundaries around your time and prioritize important tasks for the day.

Move Your Body. Don’t overcomplicate it. Be active and add simple movement to your day like push-ups, dancing, a few yoga poses, or a short walk during your lunch. Movement, or exercise, gets you out of your brain and into your body while shifting stagnant physical energy. It circulates oxygen, improves your mood, and allows you to feel more present and focused. Not just reserved for the morning, short bursts of movement throughout the day can recharge your batteries and get you over the 2 p.m. slump without a second coffee.

Minimize Decisions With Routine. Last but not least, create a routine to decrease the number of decisions you make each morning. Wake up at the same time and find practices that help you clear your mind and start the day on a positive note. This does not have to be an elaborate 60-minute event. Your routine can be as short and simple as you’d like, but the key is to be consistent. Successful people take control of their mornings with routines to cultivate positive energy and allow a break from the decision-making process, which often depletes energy. Keep your energy high and bring your A game by setting notification boundaries to maintain your focus.

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