Archive for March, 2006

Posted on Mar 11th, 2006

All of us have stress. Nowadays our lives seem to be on a fast track going nowhere. Our jobs require us to learn new skills. As soon as we get comfortable with our new skills, we have to learn newer ones. Our families require more help than ever, expenses are rising and income is not keeping up with the rising costs. Our government on all levels is giving us two gifts, fear and despair. Our children are at risk because of terrorists for many different reasons. We hear lies everyday on the news. We are bombarded by stressful programs and commercials on television. We are connected by the umbilical cord of the cell phone to constant reminding of business we need to take care of and obligations that are not met.

According to Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary, Here is the definition of stress:

Etymology: Middle English stresse stress, short for destresse or distress. A physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation; a state resulting from a stress; especially : one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.

Two things to consider about stress are, stress may cause physical or mental tension that may be a factor in disease causation and stress may alter an “existent equilibrium.”

Flight or Fight

We have all heard of the “flight or fight” reaction to stress. When confronted with extreme danger we desire to run or to stand and fight. Our mouths become dry, and more blood pumps to the larger muscles of our body to accommodate using our legs to run, (flight) and our arms to protect ourselves from harm. (Fight)

In the beginning

Think about our forefathers and foremothers. Long ago, in the distant past we were hunter-gatherers.

I live in Northern Arizona and have visited ancient indigenous people’s homes and villages. Usually the women lived inside caves or cliff dwellings, and spent the day watching young children and grinding corn or other grains in order to create food.

The men walked through the forest or plains during the day, hunting for food. As the men moved through the forest or valleys below the communities they would pick berries off of trees or eat bark or grass or whatever they felt like eating.

Imagine that you are a primitive man living in this area at the time. You begin to walk away from your village. You feel calm and confident as you hunt and gather for the day.

As you are walking down the path you are relaxed and confident. You are experiencing an existent equilibrium. You are on a familiar path. You look at familiar trees and rocks along the way. The sun and the clouds are where they are supposed to be. The smell of the rocks and trees in the forest are very familiar. You feel the warm breeze across your skin and your hair blowing in the wind.

Everything is exactly as it should be.

Then a Saber Tooth Tiger dashes out of the woods and chases you across the plains.

How do you think you will feel the next time you walk down that same beautiful path leading you out of your village?

Will you feel the same equilibrium you felt before or will all of your senses be on alert?

Will the physical symptoms of stress replace the calm demeanor that previously occupied your mind and body?

When you leave your home to go to your job everyday, you have an existent equilibrium. The building is in the same place as you left it the night before. Your boss is the same man or woman you count on to be there when you arrive at the office tomorrow. Your income is the expected income you have received for quite some time, with very few surprises. You have the same co-workers you like and respect working around you. Your desk, telephone and computer are exactly the same as you have been accustomed to. The sights, smells, sounds and feelings about your job are your existent equilibrium.

Today will be a different day

Did you ever get laid off or fired from a job? Did a business you were working at for several months or several years, all of a sudden close down? Was your group eliminated within a large corporation and you were told you were expendable?

These scenarios happen to workers across the United States and across the world every day.

Now there is no building to commute to every day. Your familiar boss is no longer counted on to be at the place where you are going to spend the bulk of your day. Your income is not going to be what you counted on yesterday. Your co-workers are all gone. No desk, no telephone, no computer and no agenda to occupy your day. Your sights, smells sounds and feelings, your existent equilibrium have vanished.

Your body acts out on the resulting loss of equilibrium. Your body acts in the same flight or fight reaction as it would if your cave was being attacked by vicious animals.

Get out the Cheesecake

Back in the 1970s, there was a television show called Golden Girls. The show was about four senior citizen women and their relationships. Usually after a bad relationship was uncovered or some other stressful event was experienced by any one of the four women, one woman would exclaim, “I’ll get out the cheesecake.” Then, the other three women would gobble up cheesecake, usually late at night.

Cheesecake acted as a comfort food for stress. Although it appears innocent on the outside, cheesecake can add on lots of weight, especially eaten before going to bed at night.

It also reinforces the habit of eating to feed stress rather than eating to eliminate stress. If you feel stress and eat, you begin to reinforce stress in your body rather than sending it from your body.

What is so bad about stress? It gives me an edge on my job, right?

Many people think that stress gives them a competitive edge on the job. While they may experience some gain in production, stress will cause more physical problems that may result in disability that will take the productive worker out of the job for days, months or permanently.

When I was growing up, I used to hear the phrase, “work never killed anyone.” That phrase is not true today.

The following is a list of identifiable illnesses and conditions triggered by stress:

Premenstrual syndrome
High blood pressure
Sleep disorders
High cholesterol
Panic disorders

Do you suffer from any of these afflictions?

Many adults suffer from several. Stress is becoming out of control

Many people take drugs for the stress symptoms, like headaches or anxiety, but few people work on how to combat the basic causes of stress.

You will find as a byproduct of stress reduction, you will achieve many personal goals in your life that you felt unachievable Later in the instruction I will explain why that happens.


Stress involves two things. Stress may be a cause of disease and stress upsets our existent equilibrium. Pain, arthritis, and headaches can result from too much stress.

Wayne F. Perkins has over 30 years experience as a public speaker/trainer and a hypnotist. Let Wayne help you achieve the success you deserve. Call Wayne at: 602-647-4280 to arrange for a one-on-one consulting session over the phone. Wayne will speak at your business and help your teams reduce stress and achieve their goals,

Posted on Mar 11th, 2006

I have a confession to make, I don’t watch TV as much as I used to.

Want to know why?

You see, years ago I was probably just like you, I need to get my daily fix from the goggle box.

What do you suppose the media is reporting over the news nowadays?

It’s all doom and gloom. The media of today, in their fight for ratings and viewrship, has sad to say, at many times resorted to sensationalizing news.

Whose fault is it?

It is partly our fault.

You see, people like to be entertained, and normal or boring news just don’t make the cut.

Our penchant for interesting news has set the media in its current direction of trying to outdo each other to bring to us the most sensational and interesting news angle they can come up with.

As the saying goes ‘Garbage in, garbage out’. Being fed with all the negative images and sound bites does have an effect on our thinking.

While I do think that it’s good to know what’s going on in the world around us, focusing too much into it can be destructive. What we focus on too much, does tend to become reality for us.

Up till now, you must be thinking, where does the ‘frog’ fit in?

Let me explain - the Chinese has this saying, when describing someone who is not in touch with what’s happening around them, and has shut themselves into their own world, they are known as being a ‘frog in a well’.

Although I’m not advocating that you turn yourself into this frog, what I do mean is that we can be like the frog to a certain extent. You could limit yourself to the media’s exposure, cut down on your TV time.

Another thing is, if you happen to see something that is likely to affect you, you must learn to let go, as described about in my previous article ‘Stress Management - the Modern Day Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde’ (see my site address at the end of this article and go to Articles).

Learn to be a mentally strong person and you would not be that easily influenced by the negativity that is perpetuated by the media, be it words, images or events.

Dwelling on negativity is a waste of time and energy.

Remember, you are the sole author of your life, and you must learn to be independent of the views and opinions of others.

How do you do that?

One way is to learn to listen to yourself by practicing meditation.

Meditation has the effect of calming your mind, and clearing your thoughts. With practice, you will be a much assured and calm person who is not easily shaken and influenced by all that is happening around you.

To start you off, I will show you a simple yet powerful meditation exercise that helps to keep your mind ’still’ and would be excellent for stress management.

Find a comfortable position, e.g sitting on a chair or lying on bed.

Shut out distractions (close your eyes, off the lights, or close the door if there are noises).

Start your Abdominal breathing.

Initially, you will find thoughts floating around in your mind.

Do not try to suppress them - just ‘observe’.

What you are observing is your mind chatter, or your inner voice.

Learn to ’step back’ and assume the position of an observer, do not participate in the thoughts.

To help keep your mind still, concentrate on the point where your inhale ends and before your exhale. This point of total silence is the ‘Gap’.

Focus your mind on the ‘Gap’ and soon, your mind chatter will die off.

Enjoy the peacefulness and silence for as long as you desire. This could be anything from 5 minutes to 30 minutes.

I find it best to do this meditation before bedtime, as it has the effect of calming the mind and helping you unwind after a day of hurried activities. You will find that you are able to sleep better after that.

That’s it, practice this simple exercise regularly and you will be able to still your mind at will.

I’ll talk to you soon.

James Tan has dedicated his life to exploring the human mind’s potential in stress management areas after suffering a fatal auto accident, which has been the turning point of his life.

His website contains various tips and advices, including a newsletter ‘Taming the Monkey mind’ and a free 28 part ecourse of stress managing tips.

Posted on Mar 10th, 2006

Many children suffer from various forms of stress and in this article I give advice on how parents can help their child during these periods. Their stress can cause them to have nightmares and to lose their self-confidence. I hope you find this article interesting and beneficial.

Children who have nightmares

There are many reasons why children can start to have nightmares. I have two children, both of whom at various stages of their lives wake up crying and upset.

My young son started to have nightmares after watching the film Lord Of The Rings. He really enjoyed watching the film and wanted to watch it on a regular basis and would even re-inact the battles. The film itself is quite long and he would normally be watching it by himself as his mother and I would be busy doing other things.

I thought about why he may have started to have these type of dreams and believed it was due to this film. I then made a point of watching it with him and kept on reassuring him that the people have not actually died and that they were only acting. I even made a point of laughing at some of the more gruesome scenes and by making comments like, as if that would ever happen. This and by also only allowing him to watch the film once a week, helped to stop this period of nightmares.

Children can also develop nightmares after an illness. This can happen after having a period away from school. They may start to worry that they may have fallen behind with their work, or that they may not be able to get back into their crowd of friends. They may also fear that their best friend may have found a new best friend.

In this situation I would advise that when the child is better and before he returns to school that you re-introduce them to the work that they were studying before the illness. You can even ask the teacher to supply some of the work that the child has missed, to help them to catch up. I myself always phone up the parents of my childrens friends and invite their child round for a meal, and to play, the evening before my child is set to return to school.

Therefore when my children are ill, I always say to them not to worry about the work they may miss or about their friends as they know now how I operate etc.

Children who stress

My daughter at one point started to stress because she was not in any of the top groups in the different subjects she was taking at school. She felt like she was a failure and that we would not be proud of her. I advised her that we knew she was giving it her all at school and that as long as she continued to try her best that we would always be proud of her. After all not every child can be in these top sets.

I reminded her that she was in the netball and athletics teams and tried to make her see the positive way of thinking.

She now knows that even when she believes she is unable to perform a certain task that she should still have a go at it. When she makes an error there will always be somebody their to explain where she went wrong, which she can then learn from for the next time.

As parents it is important that we do not criticise our children too often. This can lead to them fearing failure and can lead to them not even attempting to try certain tasks.

Keep them motivated by making homework fun. Praise the child as often as possible, when they complete something well, this builds up their self-esteem. Instead of shouting at the child when they are naughty, try to talk to them as if they were an adult.

In conclusion I always try to treat my own children in a fair and relaxed manner. I want them to know that I am proud of them even if they do not achieve one hundred percent at school. If they have nightmares, I want to work out why this might be and to break whatever cycle is happening. I attempt to work out what each child is worrying about and then try to help them to find a solution.

Stephen Hill helps to promote a number of websites including:

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Posted on Mar 10th, 2006

Many people become skillful in communicating with others, but not so skillful with communicating with their own bodies. The body tries to communicate with you all the time, but you may not be aware and listening and responding to its signals in an appropriate way. As you stop listening and responding, it tries to speak louder to you, and you may feel ‘negative’ emotions with increasing intensity, until finally you do listen.

Negative signals are there to help and protect you. They are triggered by your body’s alarm system. To calm down the signals you need to communicate with your body. There is a well-known statistic that 55% of communication is via visual information or body language, 38% via the tone of the voice, and 7% via the actual words. 93% of communication is therefore the ‘way’ you do things. Something similar applies to communicating with your own body. You can influence yourself to some extent through words, but you can influence yourself much more through the way you use those words, through the way you take your actions, through imagination and feeling.

Think about how a song influences you. The music is usually much more memorable, and powerful on your feelings than the actual words. In the same way, you can influence your feelings through modifying the tonality and pace of your inner voice. In the same way, imagination and visualization are more effective than just using words. The autonomous nervous system controls involuntary actions like heartbeat. It is difficult to make the heartbeat go faster by asking it to do so, but just imagine a terrifying experience, and it immediately becomes faster. Therefore, rather than telling yourself to calm down, just imagine a relaxing environment surrounding you—say a beautiful ocean in front of you and the warmth of the sun on your body and you immediately feel more relaxed.

Dr Farsheed Farjady is the author of a website that deals with a wide range of topics relating to motivation, flow, power, relaxation, emotional management, and success.

Posted on Mar 9th, 2006

We’ve all got favourite ways of relaxing, but some are more effective than others and some aren’t really relaxing at all. Let’s be honest – flopping in front of the television can be just the job after a day spent running after children and speeding around the shops. But edge-of-the-seat game shows and horror films can leave your heart pounding like a woodpecker. And if you’ve spent an equally tiring day sitting at a desk, more sitting is just what you don’t need

For many women, a coffee or cigarette break is the only chance they get to stop working. But caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, not relaxers. The short break is actually to ‘unrelax’, to take chemicals on board that will help you stay alert a bit longer. However, they do the same when you’ve finished work, and are trying to wind down. They are addictive, so having one is a relief because it stops the craving.

But while sitting down to a familiar ritual can be relaxing in itself – the caffeine and nicotine whizzing round your bloodstream keep everything hyped up (and even tea contains some caffeine) – herbal teas, or the beverages sold in health food shops, are a better bet for relaxing.

Alcohol is famous for helping people relax – often more than they intended to. But though it can ease stress, unknot tense muscles and bring on sleep, the benefits are only temporary – you’ll breathe shallowly and wake up early. Beware, too, if you start finding that you can’t relax without it.

Not all drugs are equal, of course. A drink or a couple of coffees a day shouldn’t do any harm unless you’re pregnant or have been warned off them by you doctor. Some researchers even recommend a glass of wine a day to keep the heart healthy. Tobacco, on the other hand, offers no benefits of any kind. It’s harmful even in small amounts and – never mind dying young – causes more boring, painful, totally avoidable ill-health than anything else in the Western world. Relaxing with a cigarette is like trying to sleep on a bed of nails – it causes stressful reactions such as speeding your heart, so the body can’t relax deeply. It’s expensive too, saving the cost of a packet of cigarettes a day will pay for a genuinely relaxing weekly treat. If you’re worried about putting on weight, healthy eating and exercise will keep it off.

Overeating is another false friend when you’re under stress. Don’t feel guilty, just find more helpful ways of being kind to yourself when you need it.

Tranquillizers may seem the only answer when you’re desperate, but these addictive drugs only help for a short time, if at all. After that, they cause more damage than they could have ever have cured. If you’re at the end of your tether, ring the Samaritans – listed in your local phone book – or ask your doctor to refer you for counselling or to put you in touch with one of the self-help groups set up by fellow-sufferers for all kinds of problems. These can also give sympathetic, practical advice if you’re already hooked and need help coming off.

Standing Up To Stress

When something makes you feel stressed, there are three ways of reacting:

1. Changing things outside, by taking action to solve the problem

2. Change things inside, by accepting what’s happening and coming to terms with it.

3. Do neither, and worry helplessly.

Needless to say, the first course of action is best, whether it’s joining an environmental action group or refusing to clean up after everyone.

Some things can’t be changed so, option 2, you simply have to live with them – any energy you put into resenting them is wasted.

Often, though, you can compromise with a mixture of 1 and 2. Take money, for example – that prime source of worry. You can try to earn more or spend less. Cut up credit cards and find new pleasures that don’t cost anything, until the wheel of fortune turns back in you favour.

Contact anyone whom you owe money (especially is they own your home) and arrange to pay in manageable instalments.

Take whatever steps you can to protect yourself and your family, stay out of any more debt, look after your health, learn new skills that could earn extra cash.

And then stop worrying. Hand to do, yes, but not impossible. Meditation and breathing techniques are a big help here, creating a feeling of peace and calmness. And like any exercise, they get easier the more you practise.

Worry is worse than useless – its paralysing effects stop people doing anything constructive. It stops you enjoying what you’ve got. And it can cause a host of problems of its own, such as phobias and panic attacks.

Learning to relax clears the mind and frees up energy, making it easier to find solutions. The only answer is:

• Relax

• Think what to do

• Do it

• Get on with your life

Keep Worries In their Place

If you can’t stop fretting over a problem:

• Make an appointment with it. Every afternoon, say, from 2.15 to 2.30, settle down and worry about it. Give it your full attention and get as upset as you need to. No, honestly – try it. If you don’t feel comfortable sitting down to it, do it while you’re ironing. But only for fifteen minutes – set a timer and stop when it buzzes. When you catch yourself worrying at other times, stop at once – but promise yourself you’ve only got to wait till 2.15.

• Wash it away. Worry to your heart’s content while you’re washing up or cleaning floors – but only then – and throw your worries out with the dirty water.

• Write it down. The whole dreadful story, and all the awful things that could happen. Then burn it or tear it into tiny pieces. The same where you’re angry – write a steaming letter to the person who’s upset you, then make sure you destroy it. Just don’t send it!

Dr Laura Mastif Stress Reduction Expert - London UK

Posted on Mar 9th, 2006

Have you found yourself enjoying your coffee a little too much? Is the caffeine causing problems?

Here is the answer: "Half-Caff" - mix decaffeinated and regular coffee! This has provided a great answer to the age-old problem that the Germans describe as “too much too soon”.

You need the elevated alertness because of a busy schedule and the first cup of coffee does not seem to be working. So you have another and before you know it, you experience the effects of caffeine overload. The experts say: “Moderation is the key”. Your body can only process so much caffeine at one time, after that – it begins to protest. Symptoms include: the jitters, polyuria (extra trips to the bathroom), an overactive mind (do I really need to be obsessing over the font style in this letter), anxiety, impatience with others, etc.

Caffeine is much more effective and you are able to manage it much better when it is introduced to the body over a span of time. Do you remember your parents saying, “Give it a chance!” ? Well, like most things in life, it takes a little while for the full effect to hit you. Part of the problem goes back to the polyuria effect – dehydration.

Another little known secret to solve many aspects of this issue is to drink a glass of water! The water rehydrates your body, provides for better distribution of the caffeine, and actually reduces polyuria. Plus - good, clean, water is beneficial to your overall system. All this results in delaying that next cup of coffee until your body is more ready to make use of the benefits. Try it – you will be amazed!

Caffeine has many beneficial effects, but “Give it a chance!”.

** Moderation is the key
** "Half-Caff" is the way to go!
** Try the “glass of water trick”

Tom & Nancy are the Proprietors of Carolina Coffee and Tea Company and are part of a long line of merchants - going all the way back to the early 1900’s with N.H. Slaughter Fancy & Family Groceries. As connoisseurs of great coffee for over 30 years, they specialize in bringing you Fresh Roasted Goodness right to your home or office. Working directly with local roasters, they are your direct link to Great Tasting Coffee . You can visit their online store at They have the Good Stuff!

Posted on Mar 8th, 2006

Now – not everyone who suffers with panic attacks will develop the “fear” of having a panic attack.

For some, it’s their only fear, for others, they may have other “situational” panic attacks (a situational panic attack is when a person experiences a panic attack from being in a certain place, or placed in a certain situation, an example of this would be, if you experience a panic attack every time you enter the shopping centre, usually these type of panic attacks occur repeatedly when a person is put in this same situation over and over again). Or you can have a combination of both.

However, a fear of a panic attack is just one big vicious cycle. You sit worrying “am I going to have a panic attack?” – “I don’t want to experience a panic attack, it frightens me”. Now you’re in the cycle of each panic attack feeding off the next!

One method I used to help me overcome this thought was squeezing stress balls and putting my full concentration on only the ball I was squeezing (sounds kinky I know, but it’s NOT ok? So get your mind out of the gutter) ;-)

Here is how I used to create my own stress balls.

Grab two balloons and cut them in half, fill them with rice and place the two bigger round parts together. Make sure you have filled them as full as you can so it pulls tightly around the balloons. This should be perfect fist size.

Ta-da – You now have your own stress ball!

Note: Never self diagnose. Make sure you visit your local GP first. All material provided is for informational or educational purposes only. No content is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.

Join our free newsletter for more tips like this one at:

Posted on Mar 8th, 2006

Stress in our personal and professional lives is ever changing and constantly on the rise. Everyday we’re expected to do more and more with less and less - less resources, less energy and less time. In order to master the ability to manage stress, it’s important to first remove one of the biggest obstacles that stands between chaos and calm - SELF. Often we are one of the biggest contributors to the calamity and chaos we experience in our lives. Stress management is the recognition that life is all about the choices we make. Starting today, choose to take control and follow these simple tips to help you lead a stress-less lifestyle.

* Choose To Be Short on Complaints, Long on Praise

Far too often, we are quick as a whip to complain when we feel we have been wronged, yet we are not as quick to lavish praise. Complaining about every little thing is very stressful and draining. Instead of complaining, why not contribute. Starting today, make a point to praise those who have had a positive impact on your life – from the cashier who didn’t pack your bread on the bottom of the bag, to the mechanic who didn’t scare you into an unnecessary repair, to the neighbor who is willing to baby sit on ten minutes notice. Doing so will not only make you feel good, but will make a difference in a positive way and make someone else feel great.

* Choose To Love The Skin You’re In

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis, known for her acting talents and physical beauty, recently took a bold step many of us would shutter at the thought of – she posed for a magazine minus make-up in a crop top and shorts. She posed for all the world to see the “real” beauty she is – a confident women who doesn’t define herself by other people’s standards.

Chasing after beauty defined by others (media, family, friends, spouse, co-workers and others) is detrimental to your peace of mind. Be bold and love the skin you’re in right now – crooked nose, warts, corns, receding hairline, wrinkles, sags, bulges and all. Appreciate your natural beauty and love yourself just the way you are.

* Choose To Pass On Perfection

Think of how many things don’t get done because someone is waiting for the perfect time, place and circumstance. Working with perfection as your standard is both a mental and physical drain. Lose the need to get everything done “perfect.” Know that it’s far better to accomplish a task at 85% perfection than to procrastinate and wait for 100% perfection.

Remember that a stress-less life is all about choice – what are you going to choose today?

Joy Fisher-Sykes is a professional speaker, author, and success coach in the areas of leadership, motivation, stress management, customer service, and team building. You can e-mail her at, or call her at (757) 427-7032. Go to her web site,, and signup for her newsletter, OnPoint, and signup for the newsletter, OnPoint, and receive the free ebook, "Empowerment and Stress Secrets for the Busy Professional."

Posted on Mar 7th, 2006

From medicinal aids to mental exercises, there are lots of ways to gain stress relief. It’s very important that you pay attention to what your body is telling you, because it’s easy to get drawn into your job, home, or school activities and frustrations and not realize until afterwards that you’ve got a mega load of stress.

When you feel the stress building up in yourself one of the easiest ways to rid yourself of it is to stop and take a deep belly breath and exhale over the course of five seconds. This serves to halt whatever processes are making your mind overexcited and your body tense and gives you a chance to remember how relaxed is supposed to feel. Of course we don’t always notice in time to keep a lot of stress from building up.

Stress can cause all kinds of problems including fatigue, tension headaches, insomnia, and even ulcers and indigestion. Not to mention long term stressors can wear down your immune system and heart, which makes you sick, which gives you more stress and the cycle can be endless.

Fortunately, there are ways to relieve stress before or after you develop it. There are a range of herbal mixtures you can take to help relax your body and calm your mind. Try making up a hot tea with Chamomile, Lavender, and Catnip in it. These are herbs that you can grow in your garden with ease.

Taking vitamin supplements can support your body during times of stress. Vitamin A is good for the immune system, skin and eyes. A combination B vitamin pill with all of the B vitamins in it will be very effective against depression, fatigue and stress. It should include Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Pyridoxine, B12 and folic acid.

Mrs. Party… Gail Leino is the internet’s leading authority on selecting the best possible party supplies, using proper etiquette, and living a healthy life while also teaching organizational skills and fun facts. Here is a place for great deals on stress relief herbal products.

Posted on Mar 7th, 2006

Have you ever gotten all worked up about something, and said something (or did something) that you later regret?

Perhaps things would have been different if you had recognized your “stress reaction.”

Awareness may be the key to having less stress. That sounds simple, but it is true. Half of the battle in reducing stress may be increasing our awareness of how we react to people and situations.

What kind of stress do you experience on a daily basis? Almost anything in your environment can trigger stress. Consider the following stress triggers:

Your workplace. Do you have a disorganized boss, or a co-worker who you can’t get along with? Or perhaps your subordinates are unreliable, lazy or deceitful. If it isn’t the people at work, it’s the threat of downsizing, merger, take-over, acquisition, etc.

Your home. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, you may feel that your dreams and aspirations have fallen by the wayside. Your total focus has become cooking, cleaning, and caring for your children and spouse. There may be little or no time left for just you.

Relationships. It is stressful to have conflicts between you and your spouse, children, relatives or friends.

Poor nutrition. Do you eat fresh fruit and vegetables? Do you take vitamins? If not, your body is not getting the vital nutrients that it needs to survive and thrive. In other words, your body is suffering from nutritional stress. If you improve your eating habits, you will have more energy and feel better during the day.

Overeating. Eating too much or the wrong foods puts a strain on your heart. Paul Bragg once said, “You are what you eat, drink, breathe, think, say, and do." Many people over-fuel their body. They eat too much, and their lifespan is shortened because of it.

Water. Do you drink eight glasses of water every day? If you don’t drink enough water, your body will be physically stressed and susceptible to disease. Our body is made up of over 70% water. Water plays an important part in nearly every body function, from circulation to digestion to elimination.

Chemical substances. Do you smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs? Do you take prescription medicine or over-the-counter drugs? This can put physical stress on your liver, lungs and kidneys.

There are many other things in our lives that trigger stress. Awareness may be the first step in putting things into perspective. Awareness causes you to realize that you’ve got a challenge on your hands.

It may be impossible to eliminate stress, but you can respond to it in a healthy and constructive way. It is better not to respond with anger, lashing out or even “stuffing” your feelings. Don’t feel sorry for yourself either. Take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds and exhale slowly. Do this several times, if you need to gain composure.

When you’re calm and level headed, you’ll be ready to think clearly. You’ll also be able to respond appropriately. Ask yourself: “What am I going to do next? What actions will I take to change or resolve matters? What can I do differently? If something is not working, how can I adjust my approach?”

Whatever you decide to do, awareness (and taking action) will help you get on your way to less stress.

Nicky Vanvalkenburgh writes about practical coping strategies for empowered living. Check out her website at

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