Back to School – Stress Reduction Strategies

 Back to school season is in swing and some are franticly trying to get their children ready in the mornings or are rushing them to their team practices. Here are a few tips to help with the early morning or late afternoon stresses of getting your children where they need to be, while still getting to work on time or dinner on the table. Even if you don’t have children these tips will benefit you as well to help you get a better start to your days. Take a few minutes to relax and read these simple tips.

  • Begin your morning at night. Pick out clothes the night before.  It will save valuable time when you know exactly what you’re going to wear.  
  • Prepare backpacks, briefcases, snacks, and lunches the night before.  Place critical items near the door from where you will be leaving or in a central location.
  • Take care of you.  Give yourself a chunk of time each morning right when you get out of bed, to relax and do exactly what you want before tending to the needs of anyone else.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist in the morning.  Unless you have ample time, don’t try a new hair style or paint your nails if you know that’ll make you late
  • In the morning, think of something to look forward to that day.  Workdays can become monotonous.  If you’re experiencing “cabin fever” at work, concentrate on what you’ll do for lunch.  If you can, get out for a lunch break, catch up with an old friend, or take a walk down a new street.  Break away from the budget every now and then, and go get one of those fancy-super-duper six-dollar frappo-carmel-latte-mocha-chai drinks and enjoy every sip of it.  Do something “wildly indulgent” for ten dollars or less.
  • If you happen to be running late to work, don’t rush and panic. Just call your office and say you are in a traffic jam, or had an important business call or something.  The point is to drive safely to work.  

It is important to realize that what you do and how you react in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day, and habituating an effective morning routine can do wonders for your life.  A little effort to simplify your mornings will help you get off to a happy, healthy start each day! 

An Invitation!

We would like to invite you to come by the Northern California Facilities Expo on September 22nd and 23rd  to visit with Customized.   We can chat about Day Cleaning or about how effective cleaning with water (!) can really be.  We’ll be in booth #433 and will be registering our guests for a chance to win a home model of the ActiveIon product, the Ionater.  This link will take you to a short video featuring Bill Nye, the Science Guy to explain the concept of cleaning with ionized water.   http://www.activeion.com/videos.aspx

Here’s the link to the Expo site for more information regarding times, seminars,  speakers and location.   http://www.facilitiesexpos.com/fenc/index.po

See you at the Expo!

Tips for Taming Morning Madness

Back to school season is here and some are franticly trying their children ready in the mornings or are rushing them to their team practices. Here are a few tips to help with the early morning or late afternoon stresses of getting your children where they need to be, while still getting to work on time or dinner on the table. Even if you do not have children these tips will benefit you as well to help you get a better start to your days. Take a few minutes to relax and read these simple tips.

• Begin your morning at night. Pick out clothes the night before. It will save valuable time when you know exactly what you’re going to wear.

• Prepare backpacks, briefcases, snacks, and lunches the night before. Place critical items near the door from where you will be leaving or in a central location.

• Take care of you. Give yourself a chunk of time each morning right when you get out of bed, to relax and do exactly what you want before tending to the needs of anyone else.

• Don’t be a perfectionist in the morning. Unless you have ample time, don’t try a new hair style or paint your nails if you know that’ll make you late

• In the morning, think of something to look forward to that day. Workdays can become monotonous. If you’re experiencing “cabin fever” at work, concentrate on what you’ll do for lunch. If you can, get out for a lunch break, catch up with an old friend, or take a walk down a new street. Break away from the budget every now and then, and go get one of those fancy-super-duper six-dollar frappo-carmel-latte-mocha-chai drinks and enjoy every sip of it. Do something “wildly indulgent” for ten dollars or less.

• If you happen to be running late to work, don’t rush and panic. Just call your office and say you are in a traffic jam, or had an important business call or something. The point is to drive safely to work.

 It is important to realize that what you do and how you react in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day, and habituating an effective morning routine can do wonders for your life. A little effort to simplify your mornings will help you get off to a happy, healthy start each day.

What's On Your Nightstand? Where Do You Escape?

When I think of reading, it seems that summer is typically a time of fiction for me.  Maybe it’s just the vacation travel that sets it off, but, I find I’m ready for an escape into suspense and the world of spies.  Others tend to escape more easily into history, romantic twists and turns, or adventures in some future time.  I noticed when flying recently that Bourne Objective, a novel  written by  Eric Van Lustbader was a popular choice.

I finished with my spy novel, and needed something else.  I borrowed from my friend’s library and have returned to non-fiction:   Reading Lolita in Tehran by Aztar Nafisi.   Nafisi is currently a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. and provides a view into the revolution in Iran (1979-81) and life throughout the Iran-Iraq war until her departure in 1997.  When I mentioned reading this to co-workers they had seen the author interviewed and were familiar with the work.   As a true lover of words, this one has slowed me down, wanting to savor the discussions of literature that provide relief as her known life turns into a nightmare. 

Several years ago I heard  author Connie May Fowler describe a truly horrible childhood and her discovery of the library, her sanctuary, where she regularly escaped her pain through the characters and plots in the books she found there.

I’m very grateful that my reading and escapes are simply for pleasure, not to make a horrible life tolerable.  My life would be much less rich without books, fiction and non-fiction.  I try not to live life with regrets, but, have realized that I will likely not be able to read all of the books  I have interest in before I fall asleep with an open book on my chest for the last time.

What are you escaping into on these hot summer days and nights?

Maintaining Life's Balance

To circle back to the subject of maintaining life’s balance, I was reminded of the importance of this concept recently when a friend shared a dream about chasing the perfect image (photograph) and the joy that resulted, just from the chase!

The question I pose to us all is this:  “What am I chasing?” 

Image? 

Career Success? 

Relationship?  

Fitness?

Giving Back? 

Relevance?

Whatever the answer is, for any of us, I offer the following reflections:

The chase should bring joy.

The chase should not be a single-minded pursuit, but, a joyful component of a well balanced life.

Visiting the Past

After taking the month of July off from blogging due to lazy brain syndrome, ideas are whirling around Customized again.  For fun, however, I am visiting the past today……..this vacuum cleaner is circa 1910 and has bellows that power the suction…..so you guessed it, you ride it like a teeter totter to get the pneumatics going.  Maybe just the thing for use as a “quiet vac” in a day cleaning program?  And, you would have killer leg muscles to boot!    

Happy August!  Be back next week……

Sanitize or Disinfect?

As a follow-up to our latest blog entry, H1N1- The 2009 Pandemic: Where Are We Now?  I was surprised to pick up the paper and see that a very serious disease is spreading right here in California. On June 24, 2010, an article in the San Jose Mercury News entitled Epidemic Endangers Children, reported on an outbreak of the disease known as Whooping cough, also called Pertussis, which has killed five infants across California since the beginning of the year. There have been 35 pertussis cases reported this year – more than four times the number reported by this time in 2009. Based on these statistics,  officials said California could be facing its worst outbreak of the disease in 50 years. Like many diseases, infants are more susceptible due to underdeveloped immune and respiratory systems.

 What drew my attention to this article was that young infants are being affected and also that they are defenseless to the spread of this disease. This led me to questions:   What exactly is the difference between a bacteria and a virus?  How do you go about cleaning to remove  these harmful germs and prevent infectious diseases? 

The difference between Viruses and Bacteria are listed below and are guidelines delivered by the U.S Food and Drug Association at www.FDA.org

  • Viruses must have a living host to multiply whereas most bacteria can grow on non-living surfaces.
  • Viruses invade the host’s cells and turn the cell’s genetic material from its normal function to producing the virus itself.
  • Bacteria carry all the machinery needed to  grow and multiply, while Viruses carry mainly information – for example, DNA or RNA, packaged in a protein and/or membranous coat. Bacteria, on the other hand, harness the host cell’s machinery to reproduce. In a sense, Viruses are not truly “living,” but are essentially information (DNA or RNA) that float around until they encounter a suitable living host.
  • Examples of some viruses are smallpox, AIDS, HIV, and the flu.

Now you might be asking yourself…. How do I clean surfaces to rid myself of all these germs and harmful things….Is there a difference between sanitizing and disinfecting?

Disinfectants inhibit the growth of microorganisms like fungi (which you might know as mold, yeast, ringworm and many more), bacteria (such as nasal bacteria caused by sneezing, or throat bacteria caused by coughing), and viruses on non-living surfaces. Disinfectants can kill microorganisms and prevent or slow their return. A disinfectant is a chemical that completely destroys all organisms. These organisms are disease causing bacteria or pathogens.  From a legal standpoint, these disinfectants must reduce the level of pathogenic bacteria by 99.9% after a dwell time of between  5 and 10 minutes.

A sanitizer, in contrast, is a chemical that reduces the number of micro-organisms to a safe level. It does not need to eliminate 100% of organisms to be effective.  It can also be used on living surfaces, i.e. instant hand sanitizer products.

A couple of points in summary:  Cleaning and disinfecting of hard surfaces (especially touchpoints such as phones, computer mouse, doorknobs, etc.) is desirable.  Following the recommendation of the CDC to avoid the spread of disease by coughing into your sleeve rather than your hands which can spread germs on the way to wash them is another action we can all take to prevent the spread of disease.

It’s not just “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” anymore!  My advice is to keep your environment clean, eat a healthy diet, exercise and you will do your part to stay healthy and avoid the spread of disease that can be dangerous for our most vulnerable citizens.

 The information referred to can be found in these two sources:

Maher, Sean. “San Mateo County Officials Work to Stem Whooping Cough – San Jose Mercury News.” Home – San Jose Mercury News. 27 June 2010. Web. 29 June 2010. <http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_15391435?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com>.

 Messinger, Eric. “Epidemic Endangers Children.” San Jose Mercury News 24 June 2010, Valley Final Edition ed., 103 Section B sec.: 1+. Print.

H1N1 – The 2009 Pandemic: Where Are We Now?

As you may remember, the Spring of 2009 was the genesis of the outbreak of H1N1 (swine flu) which resulted in some pretty attention-getting statistics. Throughout the period from April, 2009 to April 10, 2010, the estimated number of hospitalizations is listed as 274,000 with deaths listed at 12,400 on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website. The site reports that these statistics are likely underreported due to many factors and the number of cases of swine flu in this time period is estimated at 43 – 89 million.  Normal reporting of cases and details on a weekly basis via the CDC’s FluView, happens from May through October.  The last report for the week ending May 28th has been archived but reported 3 confirmed pediatric deaths from H1N1 for that week. These statistics provide a compelling reason to take normal precautions to prevent the spread of germs, viruses and disease on a regular basis, not just when flu is in the news.

http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/update.htm

Customized is recognized as the Cleaning for Health company.  With the rapid surge of cases of H1N1 flu in 2009, we found ourselves on the front lines of the fight, partnered along with the clients we serve.  With an informed and aggressive program of cleaning and disinfection we were able to support our client companies in their efforts to maintain maximum productivity and reduce the number of cases and thus lost work days.   We rapidly geared up with information about what Customized as the cleaning contractor can do, and, provided reminders from the CDC about what we can all do to stop the spread of this (and other airborne) disease. 

While the role of custodial service worker can, at times, be looked upon as a laborious job, the H1N1 virus brought a renewed awareness of the value of this role in preventing illness and promoting healthy work environments when the job is done really well.  We salute these frontline workers in a relentless (everyday) battle for better health!

The Power of Pets

The common expression is widely known – a dog is man’s best friend, although around the world a variety of animals are celebrated as man’s best friend. In the United States almost every household has at least one common household pet. Many people consider the pets they own a part of their family. Pets provide many benefits to humans such as comfort and companionship. On a health note, they also can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, as well as feelings of loneliness. Pet owners suffer fewer minor health problems, such as painful joints, hay fever, insomnia, and anxiety.

Pets also increase the opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities and allow people to socialize with others who own pets as well. There have been numerous studies that show that having a pet reduces the stress levels of their owners and increases enjoyment in your overall life style. Various studies below are given in http://www.pet-hospital.info/pages/pets_forhealth.htm:
• Having a pet present reduces a pet owner’s stress more than the company of a close friend or even a spouse. Researchers asked 240 married couples, half of them pet owners, to perform two stress-inducing tasks—mental arithmetic problems and submerging a hand in ice water for two minutes. People with a pet present enjoyed much lower baseline heart rate and blood pressure levels than people without pets. They also made fewer errors during the math test.
• Pets help people survive heart attacks. One study shows that heart attack sufferers who own a dog have an eight times better chance of surviving one year after suffering a heart attack.
• Pets provide therapeutic touch. Tests show that within minutes of petting a dog, the human and dog experience a massive release of such beneficial hormones as prolactin, oxytocin, and phenylethylamine.
• Pets help combat allergies in children. One study found that living with two or more cats and dogs as toddlers made children less susceptible to other allergy-inducing substances by the time they turned seven.
• Couples who own pets have closer relationships, are more satisfied in marriage, respond better to stress than couples without pets, and have more frequent contact with each other and with others.

Not only do pets allow you to perform better math, they also offer family enjoyment, as 70% of families surveyed reported an increase in family happiness and fun after adopting a pet.

I have a small Maltese mixed with a poodle, Chanel, a four years old. In my own personal experience my dog always brings a smile to my face. She is very playful and energetic, and loves to go on afternoon runs at our favorite trail. I truly believe that pets do increase the amount of enjoyment and happiness in our lives, and I hope your pets bring that same happiness into your life.

No Vacation Nation

A 2007 report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research dubbed the U.S. the No-Vacation Nation. The report compared the U.S. to 15 other countries, and found that the U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not mandate paid vacation. 28 million Americans do not get paid vacation, and two-thirds of those who do, do not use all of it, or take their work with them. Job issues, career paths, mortgages, debt and thorny relationships are some of the leading causes of stress effecting people around the world today. Researchers and doctors have assessed stress-related illnesses for years and the majority of them have come to the same conclusions; vacations are an essential part of maintaining good mental health as well as good physical health. Everyone needs rest and a break from the everyday so that they can revive and be at their best.

Planning short vacations is one way to make sure that you get away from work and your daily routine to help you reduce your level of stress. We are fortunate that California has so many relaxing destinations from which to choose and easy on the pocket book too. Whether it’s a one-day drive on Highway 1, or camping in Yosemite, hiking at Big Sur, or people watching at the wharf, make time on a regular basis to play and enjoy it. It could literally save your life! Commit to change before change is forced upon you.