Does being a Perfectionist Cause you Stress?

 

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4 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

“That’s perfect Anita– well done.  Have a gold star!”  Remember those nostalgic days when you were in school and you were told to chase those straight A’s?  How quickly a perfectionist learns to live by the words ‘I’m so pleased, this term I was top of my class’ and to enjoy the thrill of impressing others – and themselves – at the same time.  A perfectionist would cry if they only managed a B+ or ended up only in second place.  Some children hated school, but the chances are that the perfectionist child loved it as his, or her, success was quantifiable by the results of exams, assignments and  teacher feedback —particularly when they made the grade.  The maxim of ‘work hard and succeed’ worked like a dream for them.

However, those gold stars can sometimes cause a lifetime of frustration and personal dissatisfaction.  In the adult world, success is measured differently and, not being structured in the same way as in school, there may well be times when you will miss the ‘good old school days’ where an A+ was all that to which you aspired.

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Stress Relief: Wear a smile every day…

According to the lyrics of a popular song, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you, and as I listen to the words being sung on a YouTube video clip, it really brings a smile to my face. However, it also goes on to say “cry and you cry alone!” And that, I’m afraid, is also a truism.

A smile can be a great energy booster both for the giver and the receiver, so why don’t we all smile more often? You may say that you don’t always feel like smiling or that you’re not in the mood, and that may well be the case but just think of the effect of your mood has on those with whom you meet, your spouse, your colleague or your child. Continue reading

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Thinking of Others Who May be Stressed

This is just that time of the year when we may be spending time with friends and family. But we should also give a thought to those who may be separated from their loved ones or who may have maybe lost someone close during the past year.

For those, this may be a painful reminder of the moments that were shared. When we lose someone, we do our best to get on with our lives and, in essence, we usually do. But then, there are times such as Christmas, that are poignant reminders of the gap that person has left in our lives. The times when you used to pick up the phone just to say ‘hello’. The friend that you would call as you left a business meeting that had gone well and you want to share that with them, or the mother or father who was always there for you, during both the good and the bad times.

When we lose someone dear to us, those times are often difficult to get through. Although our friends may be there immediately afterwards, they soon go back into their own lives once again. And we are eventually left alone with our memories.

Anniversaries
And, of course, when the first birthday comes, the wedding anniversary, the next Ramadan, Diwali or Christmas, the memories become more vivid as they come flooding back. Tears may not be as uncontrollable as in the early days, but nevertheless, they may still be there – yet more manageable. This being a natural part of the bereavement process.

However, if you can find someone with whom you can just talk to and share those moments, then you are fortunate but sometimes you need to go and seek them for yourself. Your friends and relatives cannot read your thoughts, so you need to tell them how you are feeling. We know that life goes on but there are also times when we need to pause and reflect on that which we have been fortunate to have achieved and those we have loved, and still love. And so this time of the year is a time for thinking not only of ourselves but also of others. Those who are, for whatever reason, maybe not included in our family celebration. It could be a next door neighbour who lives alone who you could invite in for a cup of coffee and a chat. The shopkeeper who lost his wife at the beginning of the year and wants to work over festive seasons to take his mind off of his loss – for him, a smile and a kind word could make all the difference to his day. The child who has experienced the trauma of parents divorcing during the year – this season will be different and sad for them as they come to terms with their family breakdown, and they may well need your help though these difficult times. For those children, their world will have broken and they cannot understand why that should have happened to them, or if they were responsible.

These are the children who need help and support. People need people. We all want to feel needed and loved. This time of the year should be one of inclusion and community and if you don’t belong to a community, then take it upon yourself to find out where you can give of your time where your support will be valued and where you can find new friends.

We have to take it upon ourselves to be proactive and even though we may not feel like it, that first step is the one that will open doors and lead to many others along the way.

Helping Each Other
We can all help each other if we want to and to empathise with others outside our own family is the one way to ensure that this festive season will be one of inclusion, caring and giving.
In my mind, that is what this time of year should be all about so that you, and everyone around you, can look forward to the next one with a positive attitude and mindset to go forward and make both your world and their world a happier and better place.

KEY POINTS
This season is also a time for reflection
People need people
Be an active part of the community

Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News.

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Stress Reduction: Beating the Holiday Blues

With the summer in Europe nearly over as we approach September,  it is time to think about getting ourselves back into our working routine of facing the early morning traffic jams and the school run.

Life takes on a different, more relaxed pace during the summer with the stress of having to watch the clock 24/7, being put on hold for a while.    However, when we now return to the office, we need to change gear and make the necessary adjustments to work mode.  Emails, work deadlines, meetings, and efficiency once again become the order of the day.

But the summer holiday can also be used as a time of reflection, both for yourself and for all those members of your team.  It could be the right time to make some really important changes in how you deal with work and family responsibilities – in other words, your work-life balance. Continue reading

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Stress Reduction: Summer Activity

When my children were small, I would always look forward to the summer holidays although my friends would often laugh at me.  How could I stand ‘the kids’ being at home all the time and have to entertain them, 24/7?  Fortunately, I had a spacious garden, in which they could play, and we would go to museums, parks, have play-dates with other children and sometimes go away for a week or two. However, during term time one of the biggest stressors to me was the continual looking at my watch to make sure I was on time to do the never-ending ‘school run’.  And so, when the summer arrived, it was a relief not to have to nag the children to do their homework, practice the piano, cello or violin, or rehearse their ‘times-tables’.  So for me, summer was bliss. Continue reading

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Reducing Stress Behind the Wheel…

If you have ever experienced ‘road-rage’, been stuck in a traffic-jam or distracted from driving by a demanding child in the back seat, then you will know that driving can be a stressful experience.

If you have ever been a car passenger with a driver who is lost, oblivious to speed restrictions, driving carelessly or talking into a cell phone, then you will know that being a passenger can be a stressful experience too.

So why is it that driving can be the source of so much stress?

SAFE Driving

The human body uses an automatic response mechanism to cope with danger.  Known as the ‘fight or flight’ or the stress response, this is a natural mental and body reaction that occurs when we feel threatened.

Unfortunately, driving provides many of these challenges – the sharp sound of a stone hitting the windscreen, the reduced vision by rain on a wet day, the cold sweat as we ‘hit the brake’ for an emergency stop.  All these provide opportunities for the stress response to be triggered.

So what can you do about it?

One way to reduce the occurrence of these stress reactions is to be a SAFE driver.  A SAFE driver is SURE, ACCEPTING, FOCUSED AND EGO-FREE.

Be SURE

As a SAFE driver, you will be sure of your vehicle, your journey and yourself.

Be SURE of your vehicle:  Most of the time, the vehicle you drive will be one with which you care familiar but inevitably, there will be time when you will need to drive a car that may not be your own, such as a hire car.  Time taken to familiarise yourself with a new vehicle is essential to help you keep your stress levels low.

Be SURE of your journey:  Know in advance the route to your destination and how long it will take. Be prepared in case of an accident on the road.  Always have water and a snack in the car and keep a first-aid kit for use in emergencies or in the case of breakdown.

Being SURE of Yourself

If you are sure of your vehicle and your journey plan, you will be more sure of yourself.  Check that you are:

Fully insured, not over-tired or taking medication that might cause drowsiness. Don’t drive if you are in an angry mood.

Be ACCEPTING

There are many ‘stressors’ that can cause frustration to drivers during a car journey e.g. road and weather conditions, other road users or accidents.

When you accept that there will be situations over which you have no control, you will find that driving will become less stressful.  Accepting becomes easier when you are skilled enough to use your experience to anticipate the reaction of other drivers.  If you can adjust your driving accordingly, you will be less stressed.

Be FOCUSED

For many people, a vehicle becomes an extension of their ‘personal space’ – a temporary home in which they can easily lose momentary concentration and make an error of judgement.  It is vital to stay alert and focused all the time and to avoid distractions and take regular breaks on a long journey.

Be EGO-FREE

A vehicle can make a statement about you and your lifestyle and this is harmless until you start to drive a car in such a manner as to deliberately enhance that image.  Horns are blasted and lights flashed as you try to overtake at speed – and behind such behaviour lies the ego that can make you into a dangerous driver.  Dangerous driving is a major stress for both you and others.  So next time you drive, leave your ego at home.

Putting SAFE into Practice

Although there are many situations on the road over which you will have no control, you do have full control over your own thoughts and responses.  Your responses are a direct result of your thoughts and your thoughts are your own.  You don’t have to become aggressive – you can choose an alternative response.  Be understanding of other driver’s mistakes and also acknowledge your own.  It will keep stress levels down and it will help you to be SAFE.

Because when you are SAFE – you are also stress-free!

Happy motoring!

Key Points

  • Driving can be stressful experience
  • Accept conditions over which you have no control
  • Leave your ego at home

[Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News]

Book Keynote Motivational Speaker, Entrepreneur, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference for charismatic, high-impact work related stress and effective communications presentations.

Stressed? See Carole live http://bit.ly/TUWbX and find out the latest ideas about workplace stress, stress management training. Get instant access to stress reduction products http://bit.ly/FjL5L and stress management training aimed to reduce stress and delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, Dubai, UAE and worldwide at www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

A Date for Your Diary

1st Global Woman Summit Conference, Washington DC, 8 – 11th October 2011.

It is anticipated that Michelle Obama will be opening this prestigious, 3-day educational programme that will unite and honour leading women in international fields. Meet and listen to world leaders, diplomats and experts plus your opportunity to network with eminent women from diverse occupations. Leave having gained greater insight and increased knowledge of women who regularly break the glass ceiling. Don’t miss this unique event. Book your place in our audience now! www.globalwomansummit.org

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The Key to Success: Plan for a Stress-free Retirement

As retirement becomes a new chapter in your life, it is important to approach that lifetime change in a positive way.  One issue that many people fail to consider when planning for their retirement, is the potential stress that can come from a fundamental lifestyle change coupled with an often new environment.

For many, the necessary change of role and identity will be a welcome departure from maybe 40 years of work, but for others, it is the beginning of the experience of financial worries plus the challenge of filling one’s day in a way that brings satisfaction, not boredom. Adjustments to lifestyle will be inevitable as both you and your immediate family learn to adjust to different roles than before.

The vision of not having to go to the office everyday but instead just a lazy day, can seem attractive initially but that soon palls and your brain will need a new challenge to prevent it atrophying!    The skill is to treat your new-found freedom as the start of another phase in your life – an exciting and challenging one in which you have greater control over what you do and where you go.

 The Key to Success

Retirement can bring with it an amazing new journey.  Getting down to writing that book you have always dreamed of, taking up singing lesions, upgrading your computer skills, opening up a new fun business can all form part of this new chapter and of course travelling to those far distant places you have always meant to explore.

There is so much to see and do and that can be part of the problem.  And in some ways that alone can contribute to stress, after finishing full-time work.

Change of Attitude and Mindset

During the years you were working, you had to conform to various rules and time-tables. But now you have no timetable other than your own and that is why you need to be self-motivated and disciplined.  It is all too easy to stay in bed late and watch TV, then wonder what indeed you have achieved during your day.

Moving Home

For many, moving home in order to downsize, becomes a priority.  The children are now in university or working themselves and the existing home is too large.  Wherever you decide to live, life will be different; friends from work may be lost, but new ones gained dependent on your new social activities.

Personal Relationships

There will inevitably be changes in your personal relationships.  No longer do you need to get to the office at 7.30 a.m. every morning – instead you can take an easy breakfast and talk to your husband, or wife. Of course, this in itself poses problems, for a wife who is not used to having her husband at home all day, it can be stressful for both, unless there is some domestic structure in place.  Probably, a schedule should be agreed as to domestic responsibilities, including shopping etc and also financial matters such as the payment of bills and other expenses.

Returning to Work

I see retirement as an exciting opportunity to live life to the full with extra leisure time for hobbies and holidays, and the opportunity to explore personal interests or adult education.  Quite often there is a wish to return to part-time working or you might consider doing some voluntary work and that certainly would ensure you maintain contact with a peer group and meet new friends.  It would also give you a new focus which is often difficult after one retires.

Keeping Healthy

This is your retirement after having worked hard all your life and this is time to really enjoy the rest of the journey.  There will be changes and adjustments along the way – but if you plan properly, look after your health, keep fit and keep interested in the world around you – it can be the most rewarding period of your life. If, however, you fail to do any of these, then retirement can become boring and stressful. And that is a recipe for depression, diabetes, hypertension and a short life expectancy. It’s all up to you. There are choices.

Key Points

  • Maintain a positive attitude and mindset
  • Be disciplined and build a new domestic structure
  • Create goals and objectives and be accountable for them
  • Meet new people and colleagues
  • Get a hobby that you really enjoy
  • Write that book as part of your legacy!
  • Have a lifestyle plan that is financially viable
  • Keep your mind active – mental agility keeps you young.

[Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News]

Book Keynote Motivational Speaker, Entrepreneur, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference for charismatic, high-impact work related stress and effective communications presentations.

Stressed?  See Carole live http://bit.ly/TUWbX  or check-out our latest ideas about workplace stress, stress management training, instant access to stress reduction products http://bit.ly/FjL5L  and stress management training aimed to reduce stress and delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, Dubai, UAE and worldwide at www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

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 A Date for Your Diary

1st Global Woman Summit Conference, Washington DC, 8 – 11th October 2011.

Michelle Obama will be opening this prestigious, 3-day educational programme that will unite and honour leading women in international fields.    Meet and listen to world leaders, diplomats and experts plus your opportunity to network with eminent women from diverse occupations.  Leave having gained greater insight and increased knowledge of women who regularly break the glass ceiling.  Don’t miss this unique event.  Book your place in our audience now!  www.globalwomansummit.org   

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Workplace Bullying – a conspiracy of silence?

I have been working in the stress management field for over 20 years and still it never ceases to amaze me that some of the issues I was dealing with then are still prevalent today.

In my role as an Expert Witness to the UK courts I am often required to give a professional opinion to the court as to whether an organisation had anti-bullying procedures in place, prior to an employee deciding to institute a compensation claim against them.  Too many times, employees would have made an official complaint to the HR department yet no action was ever taken.   Was it that HR were just uncaring and unsupportive?  Not necessarily so.  Too often it was because HR really didn’t really know what action to take. A lack of agreed policies and procedures left them uncertain whether they should support the employee’s claim about being bullied or just minimise the alleged behaviour by telling the complainant that there was little they could do. 

A recent survey

I read last week that the UK January Employment Index based on a survey of 2,600 people showed that 25% of the respondents have experienced workplace bullying with incidents ranging from colleagues taking credit for work that they didn’t do to public humiliation at the hands of a colleague, and it made me wonder what more could be done to tackle this conduct that is so often responsible for employees taking extended periods of sick leave and, often ultimately deciding to leave the company.

It is easy for anyone to identify the most obvious cases of intimidation, the times when you see a manager screaming at an employee or humiliating them in front of their team.  This is overt bullying behaviour but what about the bullying behaviour that goes on behind closed doors. The psychological bullying that can now take place on social networking sites is a more dangerous style of bullying as it is a much more difficult phenomenon to detect. Individuals can often be humiliated even by an anonymous posting on a website and social networking sites can facilitate remote intimidation that can cause serious psychological damage to the victim.

Counselling support

I have counselled many clients who would describe such intimidation as a ‘reign of terror’.  They became reluctant to go to work but had little option unless they decided to leave or report sick. In many cases, because of extreme stress, some eventually did leave the company which meant a serious financial loss both to them and to the organisation.

So what can an individual do?

First and foremost, they need to check if the organisation has a formal anti-bullying policy and procedure code and if it does then they should use the procedures laid down to make a complaint. Where procedures are not laid down then they need to speak to someone in authority in the company.  Raising the issue with HR is the recommended way forward.  However, as we saw above, the HR department may not always know what action to take.  But this is a risk that may have to be taken as there is strong evidence to show that bullying behaviour creates stress and ultimately health problems.  I have seen and dealt with many cases where individuals have experienced a nervous break-down as a direct result of workplace bullying.

What should the organisation do?

Make sure that your organisation has robust policies and procedures in place to combat workplace bullying and that your HR professionals and line managers are fully trained to recognise and deal effectively with such issues. An anti- bullying policy should state that the organisation will not tolerate unacceptable behaviour.

If people are in fear of going to work and watching the clock to get back to the safety of their home, then those people will be poor performers, poor sales people, poor producers and a bad advertisement for your firm. That competitive disadvantage will be reflected in your company’s image and your brand.

The learning is not to accept bullying behaviour in your department or workplace.

Key Learning Points

  1. Beware of bullying in the workplace and on social networks
  2. Intimidatory behaviour can cause psychological damage
  3. Unacceptable conduct results in competitive disadvantage

[Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News]

Book Keynote Motivational Speaker, Entrepreneur, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference for charismatic, high-impact workplace stress management presentations and organisational change strategies.

See Carole live http://bit.ly/TUWbX  or check-out our latest ideas about workplace stress, stress management training, instant access to stress reduction products http://bit.ly/FjL5L  and stress management training aimed to reduce stress and delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, Dubai, UAE and worldwide at www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

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Stress management can be good for your heart

This week, I was interested to read that scientists responsible for research conducted in Sweden, have said that they believe that “stress management programmes can help decrease the risk of recurrent heart attacks and other cardiovascular illnesses”.

As we know, the word ‘stress’ is often used incorrectly and out of context in order to describe our reaction to everyday problems.  In fact, stress is actually the physical and mental response we experience to prolonged pressure that develops over a period of time.

Most of us have the coping skills that enable us to manage excessive pressure for short periods. We may feel stressed-out temporarily, but like a bungee jumper, we can and do bounce back.  And this is what we all need to do as to manage the problems and challenges of our everyday lives.

Healthy Response

A healthy person can respond to pressure and enjoy the stimulus. However a person who has been under intense pressure over a long period is unlikely to have sufficient coping reserves to manage cumulative stress. The first signs that they are not coping will inevitably show up in their work performance, in their behaviour and, ultimately, also in their appearance and persona.    It is rather like a car trying to run on an empty tank.

Poor communication, unreliable time-keeping, unnecessary outbursts of anger, sleep problems, over or under- eating, high-blood pressure, anxiety, depression and low self- esteem are all signs that excessive stress may be damaging your health and, in particular, your heart.

When the body finally gives up trying to respond to prolonged pressure, the individual concerned can suffer ‘stress burnout’ which manifests as an almost complete collapse in confidence and an inability to take even minor decisions. It has been described as a ‘black hole’ and it can take years, if ever, for such an affected individual to return to a life of normality and to resume work.   

Most of us do not appreciate the dramatic effect that prolonged pressure can have on our life and the lives of our families. When we no longer have the ability or motivation to work, then it can be catastrophic for personal relationships.

That is why stress must not be left unchecked or unmanaged over a long period.

So what can you do about it?

There is no doubt in my mind that stress management awareness training can make us much more aware of the signs and symptoms of stress and provides basic coping strategies. However, when stress escalates out of control, then the individual affected will need professional counselling and/or coaching support to help them take back control of their lives.  In the UK, it is often a company’s HR department that makes contact with me to provide stress counselling for one of their employees, but in the Gulf region, this type of intervention has yet to become part of the corporate culture.

Of course, stress gives us timely warnings but we often just ignore the signs.  Instead, we may become dependent on alcohol or drugs in an attempt to blot out negative feelings and, because adrenaline can run high when stressed, we may take unnecessary or unusual risks both at work and at home.

We may experience migraine type headaches and problems with our digestive system, and mood swings and temper outbursts can indicate the damaging effects upon our health and outlook.

Over the years, I have counselled many managers in my consultancy room, suffering from mental exhaustion.  Did they see it coming, of course they did but they ignored the signs because they thought they could beat the system but of course, they couldn’t!   Such symptoms are a hard wake-up call of which we must take note, and implement remedial action.

Let us learn from those who unfortunately ended up in hospital because they ignored the signs.  They may take months or years to recover. And sadly, some never do!     Don’t become one of them!

 Have you experienced “Stress burnout” or known someone who has? 

Did you see the warning signs and what did you do about it?  Leave your comment in the column.

[Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News]

Book Keynote Motivational Speaker, Entrepreneur, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference for charismatic, high-impact workplace stress management presentations and organisational change strategies.

See Carole live http://bit.ly/TUWbX  Or check-out our latest ideas about workplace stress, instant acces to stress reduction products http://bit.ly/FjL5L  and stress management training aimed to reduce stress and delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, Dubai, UAE and worldwide at www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

So here are some tips to help you manage your personal stress?

  1. If you start to feel out of control, seek help immediately
  2. Ensure you maintain a proper  work / life balance
  3. Take plenty of exercise as it will reduce the effects of stress
  4. Eat a healthy diet and do not skip meals

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Managing the Royal Pressure at Work

It has been announced, in Britain, that the heir to the throne, Prince William, is to marry Kate Middleton, next year.  Marriage is a major decision for any of us to make but Kate will be joining the British royal family, and will become the wife of a future King of England. And that means that she will also be starting a new job and there will be enormous stresses to overcome, at least in the beginning.    

When she takes on her new position as the future Queen consort, there will be the expectations she has of herself together with the expectations that others have of her and that means a careful balancing act.

Already the media have been comparing her with Prince William’s late mother, Princess Diana, but she will have to make her own mark as an individual. That will be easier said than done as she will be expected to conform to British tradition and the expectation of the public.

Will she fit in with the rest of the team, which in this case is the Royal family?  The customs, traditions and royal protocol will be a learning process, and without doubt,  she will make some mistakes along the way. 

Adjustment

But the same goes for any of us when we take on a new job and have to make adjustments.  Kate will need to learn to communicate and negotiate her way within a new, royal environment upon which the spotlight is never switched off .

She will have to prove herself to be adaptable and flexible, as obviously, she was not brought up to be Queen the same way as William was brought up to be King.  However, she will bring with her a new perspective and new ideas that will assist in making the royal family one that is at ease both with itself and with the British public.  But she will have to watch out carefully for the conservative ‘old guard’ who may attempt to oppose any change and who guard their rights and privileges, jealously.

High-Profile Stress

And, of course, Kate’ s new, high profile role is one in which the whole world will be watching her actions, her body language, her every move and every word that she says, because the simple response of ‘I do’ at her wedding ceremony will ensure that she will never be a private person again, ever. She will become ‘public property’ and she will need to quickly learn how to manage the stress of high levels of security and the attention of the Paparazzi.

Having said that, she will have as her mentor her future Mother-in-Law, Queen Elizabeth II, who has been such a wonderful role model over the past half a century that she will be learning from a true expert.  I certainly wish her, and her Prince, the very best of luck, joy and happiness in the future.

What are you experiences of starting a new job?   Do leave us your comment in this column now.

Royal Stress Tips

  1. There are stresses for everyone both in marriage and in a new job.
  2. The future Queen consort will need to learn ‘the ropes’ quickly
  3. Kate Middleton will never be a private person again

[Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News]

Book Keynote Motivational Speaker, Entrepreneur, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference for charismatic, high-impact workplace stress management presentations and organisational change strategies.

See Carole live http://bit.ly/TUWbX  Or check-out our latest ideas about stress help, instant acces to stress reduction products http://bit.ly/FjL5L  and stress management training aimed to reduce stress and delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, Dubai, UAE and worldwide at www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk


 

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