Archive for April, 2006

Posted on Apr 15th, 2006

The constant pressure of anxiety is the feeling of not being in control of your environment. This removes the safety net of security because you believe that you are constantly in danger. The danger-feeling that you experience can be either physical danger or emotional danger, such as in the case of public humiliation or embarrassment.

5 Tips on Dealing With Chronic Stress

Exercise Regularly

Think of stress as pure energy inside your body that is building pressure inside of you with no where to go. Eventually, if you allow this energy to build up enough, it will explode out of you in the form of an emotional outburst. Physical activities such as walking, jogging, swimming, weight lifting, racquetball, dancing, biking, or sports serve as a outlet to vent that stored energy out of your body and lower that pressure within you, thus removing the potential for an explosion to happen. Exercise is by far the most effective method of relieving stress and a regular exercise routine should be incorporated into you’re weekly routine as, not only a fitness regime, but also a stress maintainance one as well.

Let go of Your Control

One of the keys to reducing your anxiety is simply by relinquishing control of your environment. Realize that you can’t control every situation and you can’t control the willpower of other people. Life is unpredictable. Life is dynamic and always changing. You can do your best to plan and anticipate on what will happen in the future, but never will you be able to control the outcome of it. The one thing you have control over in life is yourself and how you respond to life. There is no point in worrying about something that you have no control over so when you start to feel stressed about a situation simply take a step back and ask yourself, "Do I have control over this situation?" If you don’t have control over the situation then RELAX because its out of your hands. Always remember that the one thing that you have control over is yourself.

Stay Away From Self-Abusive Behavior

In our quest to self medicate ourselves from stress, we sometimes resort to using excessive alcohol, drugs(prescription or street drugs), reckless behavior, over or under eating, or social withdrawal. The intent of all of these is to make yourself artificially feel better, however these self-abusive behaviors are only addressing the symptoms of stress and not the stress itself. Think of these types of behaviors as using a credit card without having any income–you get to spend a little in the short term, but in the long-term you end up paying a far greater price. Stay away from self abusive behavior and channel your stress-energy into more productive, self-benefiting behaviors. Self-benefiting behaviors could be things such as having a massage, a hot bath, meditation, yoga, or what ever hobby or thing you enjoy.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Your body requires proper nutrition in order for it to be able to supply the muscles with energy and to make essential hormones necessary for your body to cope with stress. Therefore, it’s important that you consume plenty of: water (8 glasses daily), foods rich in zinc and magnesium, foods rich in vitamin A and folic acid, whole grain breads and cereals, fresh fruit and vegetables, and low-fat milk or soy milk. You want to avoid excessive amounts of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, salt, saturated fats, and skipping meals. Skipping meals throws off your blood sugar levels throughout the day, which lower your body’s ability to handle stress.

Avoid Stressful Situations

You’d be surprised how much stress you can eliminate from your daily routine through simple planning. Simply analyze your typical day and pick out those reoccurring situations that cause you stress on a day-to-day basis. Use creative planning to come up with better ways of either handling those situations or avoiding them altogether. By avoiding situations which are stressful to you, you can successfully reduce the amount of chronic stress that you suffer from.

Tristan Loo is the founder of Alternative Conflict Resolution Services, a management consultancy based out of San Diego County, California. Mr. Loo is a former police officer, conflict expert, professional mediator, negotiator, and author of Street Negotiation–How to Resolve Any Conflict Anytime. Mr. Loo gained his experience by actively engaging conflict out on the streets, honing his knowledge and understanding of conflict during hundreds of dangerous encounters with hostile and violent subjects.

For additional FREE articles and products, please visit our website at http://www.acrsonline.com

Posted on Apr 15th, 2006

After the day-in and day-out ritual of schedules and demands, life can sometimes take on a monotonous tone that leads to boredom, frustration or depression. A discovery program is the perfect cure.

Take a set of index cards and write things you’ve always wanted to do, but have not made time for. One single father’s list looked like this:

o Learn how to scuba dive.
o Take an overnight hike in the Cascades.
o Spend a day making a photo essay of my children and family.
o Writing a book on the local culture.
o Enjoy an afternoon movie—alone.

You get the idea. Take these cards and paper clip them into your planner using the extra time you created in your week to accomplish them.

A fun variation is to choose discoveries that fit into the two-hour time slots we devised in Step Two. Jot down ten or so, and then each week pick one at random to enjoy. The key is rediscovering all the newness offered by life, all the excitement and things awaiting our discovery — when we only choose to make the time to live. This is also a great activity to do with children. Sit around a table and brainstorm ideas for the index cards and then aim to do one activity every week or biweekly.

“De-cluttering your life will give you lots of extra time with your kids. Throw out (or give away) everything not used. Get rid of negative people and surround yourself with positive people.” Maria C. Kleinbubm Maspeth, New York

Take a moment to allot a few blocks of time for yourself, your needs and your goals. Consider taking a personal day at work, if possible, to get yourself on track, organized and rejuvenated. You deserve it.

Making time takes time. But this is one of the most valuable ways to spend time. Don’t let life slip away when you aren’t looking. Plan to live—to make the most of each day and your potential.

The Change Your Life Challenge http://www.changeyourlifechallenge.com Take control of your home, finances, relationships, clutter, time-managmenet and more with this 70 Day Program. Sign up for the free Challenge Weekly Newsletter and the motivational daily Good Morning.

Posted on Apr 14th, 2006

If you are like a lot of other competent and self sufficient people, you may think that no one else can do certain tasks or jobs better than you. This can be especially true for managers and team leaders in the work place as well as mothers at home. In such cases, you may feel that you know exactly what you want and how best to do it. There is a very common saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” While this attitude is great, the problem with this logic is that for a small list of tasks this might be manageable, but as the task list grows you will never ever be able to stay on top of things. You have two choices. You can continue on by working longer and harder but eventually the workload will become just too great resulting in feeling totally overwhelmed and stressed. Or alternatively you can learn to delegate tasks to others.

So why exactly don’t you like delegating? Here are some common reasons.

- There is no one else that can perform the task.

- There is a risk that the even though the task will be completed, mistakes will be made.

- There is no else that can complete the task quickly enough.

- There is a concern of shirking off of responsibilities.

- Delegating may require investing precious time in another individual.

These reasons may be valid but there are many benefits to delegating work. Firstly by delegating, you will not be overwhelmed with tasks which means the tasks you do choose to perform will be done well. Trying to take on too much can result in less than satisfactory outcomes. Secondly, by delegating, you have an opportunity to work on higher priority tasks which can actually strengthen your position in an organisation. Thirdly, by sharing the work around, you give others the chance to potentially learn new skills and take on more responsibility. This means as people grow underneath you, you will naturally be pushed higher up in the company. It also means that you will be seen as a good manager that gets good results from your team, making you a likely candidate for future promotion.

When delegating, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. If you are new to delegating, you can start small by farming out easy tasks. This will minimize the amount of time you need to spend with the individuals, reducing the learning curve and chance of mistakes. For larger tasks, pick the person who you think is capable and willing to learn. You will have to accept that the person may need some time to be trained and initially require close supervision. This is best viewed as an investment of your time that will eventually consume less and less of your time as the individual becomes more competent in the task – that is, short term pain for long term gain.

To ensure the task is completed successfully, set clear expectations and deadlines. While you will define the required outcome, ensure the individuals are given enough scope to work autonomously, promoting creativity in thinking and approach to the task. You will also need to be clear about the level of authority the individuals have in order to get the job done, that is stipulate whether other people can be hired as well as any budget limits. Most importantly you will need to define the key performance indicators (KPI) that will be used to measure the performance of the individuals and quality of the outcome.

Throughout the entire task, or project, keep following up with the individuals until the task has been completed. This will ensure that larger tasks do not go off the rails. If you maintain an open mind, you may just find there is indeed a better way of doing some things compared to how it had been done in the past. Finally let the individuals, YOUR TEAM, know when they have done good work. If certain things could have been done better, suggest an alternative in an encouraging manner. By building their self confidence, it is more likely they will complete the task more efficiently and to higher standard next time.

As you can, the art of delegation is an extremely important skill to have as you rise up in an organisation and even at home. It allows you to manage your ever increasing workload concentrating on the most important tasks at hand. Potentially it can significantly reduce the stress associated with your role at work or at home, while increasing the responsibility and level of enjoyment of those under you as they take on new tasks.

David Tomaselli is the creator of Stress Management and Self Improvement Techniques – The Wholistic Development Exchange. The aim of the Wholistic Development Exchange is to empower you to deal with stress, pressure and the day to day challenges that life brings by providing you the latest Tips, Techniques, Articles, News, E-Books, Products and other Resources related to Stress Management and Self Improvement. To download free E-Books go to our Free Stress Management E-Books section. To find out how to create an Extra Hour in your Day, have a read of our NEW seven part Time Creation Tips series.

Posted on Apr 14th, 2006

We are told that ‘stress is the #1 killer today’, so stress reduction ‘is the #1 life saver today’.

Stress surrounds us constantly, from pressures at work, your relationships at home, global economics, climate changes and many others.

It is not stress that kills, but your inability to cope with stress does. How you cope and adapt to stress can be the difference from leading a productive and happy life … to being unhealthy, tired and burnt out.

But what to do? < BR> There are countless stress reduction techniques out there. Which ones are good? Which ones are best for you?

You need to use stress reduction techniques that:

  • suit your needs
  • fit your lifestyle
  • create a total balance

Simple.

Again there are literally thousands of techniques, all developed by experts. All saying they are the best at reducing stress.

How do you sift through them to find the best for you?

You don’t.

Look at techniques in groups; work out which group you identify with. Then apply a technique you enjoy. If it helps great. If not try another, until you find either a single technique or a variety that help you reduce your stress.

So which groups are there?

Mind Techniques

  • Based on Meditation, these help to calm the mind which results in mental and physical stress reduction.
  • These techniques include listening to tapes or CD’s, using ancient Mudra (hand positions) to create a quiet mind, Western or Eastern Meditative techniques.
  • Use techniques you identify with … meditation teaches you to access levels of your mind where stress melts away. At these levels you can also use your mind to set goals, do affirmations, visualize and recharge your batteries.

Physical Exercise

  • Walking, swimming, cycling, sport, Tai Chi, Yoga and other exercise can and will reduce stress.
  • Exercise should be based on enjoyment, exercise you enjoy will create more benefits and quicker. More than so called ‘best’ exercise techniques that you don’t enjoy.

Natural Techniques

  • From remedies to Acupressure, there are many effective natural techniques to reduce stress and to improve your health.
  • Use techniques you identify with, as they will be best for you. Each of you is different … how stress affects you, how you cope and … which technique will reduce stress best.
  • There is Homeopathy, Bach Remedies, and Supplements you can take internally to drop stress levels. There is Acupressure, Acupuncture, Massage, Reiki, Reflexology and many other techniques that can relax and calm you … physically and mentally.
  • Using techniques that you can use at home are in my opinion best. You are able to reinforce the benefits you gain from seeing a practitioner. There are also many techniques you can use at home without consulting someone. Self-help techniques should be easy to do, quick in action and create benefits holistically … emotional, physical and general health.

Psychological Techniques

  • the West has given you many to choose from:
    • journaling stress
    • taking a break from your routines
    • learning to say no
    • time management
    • prioritizing tasks
    • and thousands more
  • These are great; all can create benefits of reduced stress, increases performance and productivity at work.
  • They can take time to do, and time to become a habit. They are better suited to preventing stress than removing stress.

These are the four main groups. Within each there are countless techniques you can try. It may take you weeks, months or longer to try them. Using them for the required time to see benefits, before you find them to help … or not.

So this can create even more stress in your life. So what to do?

I have been treating patients since 1991. For many health complaints, most of them are a result of some type of stress. The most effective ways I have used to get my patients to reduce stress and prevent it returning are as follows:

  • lie down often
    • watch TV, read a book, listen to music or just relax
    • Gravity tires you out … so laying down more keeps your energy high. Try it! Lie down for 5 minutes every hour if you can. If you can’t achieve this at work, then lie down more often at home. On the floor, on the bed, or furniture … don’t sleep, just relax and lie down.

  • look up more
    • When you look up at a 20 degree angle, you access the areas of your brain that release stress automatically.
    • Go for a 5-10 minute walk a few times a day and look up. Even walking around the office can help. Walking in fresh air is even better. Stress seems to melt away when you look up…
  • stop thinking
    • Spend 30 minutes each day not thinking. Very hard to do initially, so start with a just 2-3 minutes. Tell yourself that ‘I will have no thoughts in my head’.
    • Watch as you state this, your mind will become very active initially. Thoughts will crowd your head … don’t resist them. Just watch as the thoughts occur, let them complete and others occur.
    • Eventually your mind will slow and become quiet. It may take a time if you are very stressed, but it will happen. As you can do it for a few minutes, extend the time to 30 minutes. There are techniques you can use to help speed up the process of slowing your mind down … ancient Mudra (hand positions) are used to quiet the mind and awaken your potential to use your mind.
  • finally … be healthy
    • Healthy people are less stressed, more energized and happier.
    • Using self help techniques you can improve your health easily. Seeing a health practitioner at the same time will speed up the benefits and save time. Consult a practitioner that suits your needs:
      • Aches and pains – see a massage therapist, Chiropractor, Osteopath or Physiotherapist
      • Immune problems – Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Herbalist, Acupuncture or Acupressure
      • Emotional health – Reiki, Psychotherapy, Bach remedies, and many others
    • There are techniques to keep you healthy, get you healthy and to continually build your health. Self help techniques will aid any therapy no matter which needs you have.
    • Health is not the absence of symptoms; it is the absence of disease. Health is being high in energy, free of dysfunction in your body and mind. Like a fitness program it takes time … but there is no time like the present to start. Visit http://www.fast-stress-relief.com/tips-for-stress-relief.html for many self help techniques to improve your health.
  • Stress reduction is easy and simple. It is a process of combining simple and easy techniques that remove and prevent stress … and that improve your health.

    Dr Graeme Teague is a Chiropractor, Kinesiologist, Homeopath and Reiki Master. He has been in practice since 1991, treating people with physical and emotional health complaints. His focus has been to teach patients to help themselves with easy and simple techniques. Techniques that take only minutes to do, requiring no time away from work or home life. Techniques to prevent stress, maintain health, improve energy and increase longevity. His web site is part of this focus, if you would like to link to the site:

    - Home page http://www.fast-stress-relief.com

    - Mind Techniques http://www.fast-stress-relief.com/mind-control.html

    - Meditation Technique http://www.fast-stress-relief.com/meditation-technique.html

    Posted on Apr 13th, 2006

    With today’s hectic lifestyle in most Western countries, many people really do need to find ways to relax and unwind after, or even during, a day’s work. It is not just a question of self indulgence, but one of health and well being, and making the most of life. Home relaxation is therefore an important consideration, even with a hectic Western lifestyle.

    Different home relaxation techniques may be appropriate to different individuals. However, another factor that can influence how you relax at home is whether you work at home, or elsewhere.

    This home relaxation article is about those who leave home every day for their job, and then come home in the evening. For such people, who number the vast majority of European and American workers, their home relaxation has to take place in the evening, and the opportunity may only last a few hours before it is time to sleep.

    Home Relaxation After a Day’s Work

    Every one of us has a different daily routine, so any suggestions here are aimed at an "average" person with an "average" lifestyle. The following ideas and techniques are there for you to select from in order to unwind from the day’s stresses, and give you the chance of retiring to bed later feeling relaxed and ready for a sound sleep.

    1. Silence

    When people arrive home from work after a hard day, especially to an empty home, they are often tempted to switch on the television, radio or hi-fi system. What this does is immediately fill your surroundings with noise. That is not the best start for home relaxation; rather it creates a linking bridge from stress outside the home to stress within it.

    To emphasise the difference between the world outside and at home, tranquility and silence can make a big impression. This is especially so the first few minutes after you arrive home, when an immediate switch on of sound is like hitting the panic button. This is a time for home relaxation, so try to resist that temptation until a bit later.

    2. A Relaxing Bath or Shower

    With the silent mode still on, take a long relaxing bath, or better still a shower, to wash away the working day’s residue. Close your eyes for spells, as you prepare for some relaxation.

    3. Lie Down and Relax

    Once you have had your bath or shower, and dried, wrap yourself in a comfortable bath robe. Stretch out on the bed, on your back, and relax. Close your eyes ready to focus, but do not fall asleep. Enter a spell of deep breathing, and then think of somewhere you find relaxing, like a tropical beach, or floating at sea. Alternatively, focus on each part of your body, briefly, from a point above your body, as if you are hovering above yourself.

    There is no need to do this for too long, just enough to help complete your transition from the hectic working day, to the relaxing evening at home.

    4. Be Well Prepared Cooking

    Once you have had your transitionary home relaxation, you will no doubt have a few chores to do. One of those may be cooking your evening meal. By being well prepared, and ensuring that you know what you will cook and with what ingredients, which you will already have in stock, the cooking can be turned into an enjoyment rather than a chore.

    5. Do Not Use the Television as Background Noise

    There is nothing wrong with watching television; it can be relaxing. However, having the television on from the minute you get home to the moment you go to bed, or even after in some cases, does not contribute to home relaxation; quite the opposite in fact. It is far better to plan your evening, and switch on the television only for the duration of those programmes you really want to see. If there are no such programmes that evening, then leave the television unplugged.

    6. Make the Most of Music

    Music can be wonderfully therapeutic. There is no need to buy special relaxation music, though it may be worth trying one such CD just to see how you get on with it. If you get involved in music, it will transport you away from the day’s grind, whether it is ambient, classical or rock music. The classical and ambient music may be better for the spell before you go into a home relaxation or meditation session, but if rock music helps you unwind earlier, then why not enjoy it? Home relaxation is not about punishing yourself; quite the opposite in fact.

    7. Low Light and Candles

    Even if you are alone, candles can be very relaxing for the home, and it is a good idea to use them liberally for their calming and spiritual effect. Candles are not just about creating a romantic atmosphere, but an ideal atmosphere for home relaxation.

    Low lights from lamps are also effective in helping you relax, but not so influential as candles.

    8. Aromatherapy Oils

    Certain aromatherapy oils can have a relaxing effect, so their scent is an ideal participant in home relaxation. However, be sure to learn the right essential oils for relaxation. Such information is widely available online. Some aromatherapy oils are refreshing and will enliven rather than relax you.

    Better still, get advice from a professional aromatherapist, one who is fully trained on the medical effects of the different essential oils. If you book an aromatherapy massage at home one evening, you can ask about the different oils after the massage. However, be sure to tell the aromatherapist you want a relaxing massage, so they select an appropriate mix of oils.

    9. Guided Meditation

    In the latter part of the evening, when all the chores are out of the way, and you are organised for your next evening’s meal, try to make time for a full period of guided meditation. Between one hour and 90 minutes is ideal.

    If you have not used guided meditation before, there are plenty of tapes and CDs available online. Some people prefer to guide themselves. That is fine if you are able to do so. However, if you have not used meditation before, then the use of another voice to guide you is probably the best way to start.

    Home relaxation is really about an attitude of mind, and an acknowledgement that you have to take positive steps to truly relax. A little bit of planning, and self pampering, can go a long way to achieving a pleasing contrast to the day’s work and commuting routine.

    Much of the above is based on your being alone in your home. If you are sharing with a partner and/or children, then the same techniques still apply, but you will need to negotiate your space with others living in the home. That may not be as difficult as it sounds.

    This home relaxation article was written by Roy Thomsitt, owner and part author of the Routes To Self Improvement website, where you can also find audio articles, including this one.

    Posted on Apr 13th, 2006

    Choices abound. Sometimes choices confound us, while at other times, certain choices are obvious. Any way you approach the subject, choices present opportunities to either excel or hinder. As human beings, we were endowed by our Creator with the power of choice. It is one of the factors that differentiate people from animals. Some people make these choices or decisions more easily than others.

    Each day, we must decide how we will spend our precious 24 hours and deal with all that the world presents to us. We choose how we will be affected by both everyday occurrences and those that are much more extraordinary. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we choose to either react or respond. These are not the same, for one is negative and one is positive. Which we choose may have a significant impact on our life and possibly those close to us.

    Reacting to outside influences, usually beyond our control is generally a negative choice. Reacting implies that we have given charge of the situation to someone or something else. We surrender our input and any control in the matter. We are now at the mercy of the situation and are forced to be in reaction mode where we are constantly dodging bullets and expending great amounts of energy just to stay afloat. In reacting to a situation, we do not anticipate that which is to come because we are too busy handling the present. The future then surprises us and the whole mess begins again.

    Responding to a situation is a positive choice. It is the opposite of reacting. It is proactive and anticipates that which is yet to come. Responding is preceded by thought and often prayer. In responding, we take charge and have command over how the situation impacts us. We also have control over how it affects us internally. We decide upon the level of personal impact.

    Our lives, families, careers and other everyday activities and interests are operating at breakneck speeds and appear at times to be accelerating. One thing is for certain, the old days of sitting around on the front porch each evening listening to Mother Nature are gone for many of us. The pace of life in Mayberry, as healthy and tranquil as it would appear, is unfortunately a thing of the past. We live life on the fast track.

    A major news weekly magazine is currently featuring material devoted to stress and distress in our lives and their effects on our cardiovascular health. Although not totally surprising, this information is disturbing. How did we ever get to this point? Witness the number of television commercials and magazine advertisements for gastric distress, acid reflux, anxiety, depression, headaches and other ailments that are increasing in frequency. There are millions of prescriptions written each day for these medical conditions, most of which will find their roots in internalized stress and distress.

    People spend many hours of their lives worrying. Worry is a senseless, energy robbing activity that has engulfed many. No one has ever benefited from worry, yet countless people engage in it. Worry is the opposite of faith. Worry is negative while faith is positive. There is no mystery here. Many books have been written on the subject. The conclusions are the same: "Don’t Worry, Be Happy" and "Stop Worrying and Start Living" are among the many themes presented. Good advice indeed.

    Most areas of life present us with choices. We must choose either to respond or react to circumstances. We choose whether or not to worry. Learn to be aware that you have a choice in these matters. Learn that there are ways that you can deal with everything either positively or negatively. Learn that your choices may influence your very health, both physical and mental. Learn that there will be costs associated with poor choices, worrying and negativity in general. These may include social, monetary, peace of mind and time costs. Certainly, the total cost associated with negative choices is too high.

    Learn that positively responding to circumstances in life will reduce or eliminate worry and contribute to your overall good health and well being. Find joy in life. Be happy.

    Daniel Sitter is the author of the popular, award-winning e-book, Learning For Profit. Designed for busy people, his new book teaches simple, step-by-step accelerated learning skills, demonstrating exactly how to learn anything faster than ever before. Learning For Profit is currently available from the author’s web site http://www.learningforprofit.com/ and a variety of online software and book merchants. Mr. Sitter is a contributing writer for several online and traditional publications. His expertise includes sales, marketing, self-improvement and general business topics.

    Posted on Apr 12th, 2006

    Most of us know, almost instinctively, how too take care of others and we do it very well. We take of children, spouses, friends, and pets! Yet, when it comes to self-care, we don’t seem to care.

    It’s as if we say to ourselves "take care of others and they will take care of me." Well, how is that working for you?

    Other people cannot read your mind, no matter how much they love and care about you. Only you can take care of yourself!

    It is actually your number one job.

    The first step in taking care of yourself properly is:

    Eat Right!
    Eat all those good healthy things that you’re always telling others to eat. Get a medical check up and take supplements to boost and maintain your immune system. Say "No" to crash diets and lose weight by eating in moderation. Make the decision to stop smoking and stick to it!

    Exercise!
    Exercise has been proven to have an enormous overall positive impact on our quality of life. In addition to helping us protect against some conditions,such as hypertension and stroke,obesity and some cancers, exercise helps us relax and breathe in a way that most of don’t do at other times.

    The most important things to consider when planning your exercise routine, is to make sure it fits into your lifestyle and that you enjoy whatever program you choose.

    The "S" word!
    Stress is a killer, literally and figuratively. Extreme and prolonged stress eventually weakens the immune system which leaves our bodies vulnerable to disease and other illnesses. In a less dramatic form, stress takes the joy out of living and makes us behave like "killjoys". We don’t get along with others and they don’t enjoy being around us.

    When we allow ourselves to be overstressed, even the smallest disappointment becomes a big issue and gets blown out of proportion.

    One of the best ways, to handle stress is a "reality check" and an" attitude of gratitude". Realize that life and the world would go on, even if you died that minute.

    That thought usually sobers me up very quickly. In addition, I look for people and things in my life that I love and am grateful for. Do you have good health, a loving spouse, wonderful friends, a job you love?

    Say "thanks!"
    One of the blessings of examining your life with an attitude of gratitude is that you will want to be around to enjoy them for a long time.

    And that means taking care of yourself!

    Yvonne invites you to come share her skin care "secrets", for natural, effective skin care, that’s easy to buy, use and return (though you wont want to!). Visit her today at: http://www.freewebs.com/herbalhealthyskin

    Posted on Apr 12th, 2006

    Don’t worry.

    How many times have we heard that ludicrous and totally unhelpful statement? Clearly if we were able to not worry, then that’s exactly what we’d be doing – isn’t it? After all, worry is no fun, no fun at all, and we’d all much rather be having fun than worrying – wouldn’t we?

    I would like to introduce to you something that psychologists call a schema. Another word for a schema is a strategy – something that achieves something we want to achieve. Or more accurately something we believe achieves what we want to achieve and frequently mislead ourselves into continuing to believe despite evidence to the contrary – like not achieving what the strategy is supposed to achieve.

    Let’s go way back to childhood, where the first schemas develop. Schemas develop by virtue of intelligence and noticing what works. Babies cry. How long does it take a baby to develop a crying schema. I’m hungry, I cry, someone puts food in my mouth. Only at the developmental level of a baby it’s more like uncomfortable feeling that isn’t understood, cry when uncomfortable. And babies aren’t aware of separate people being separate individuals. The whole world is just an extension of the baby. It’s the parents that quickly train the child into those connections with the thing the parent does and that is to make the baby comfortable by noticing whether or not the problem is hunger, pain, soiling, or just wanting to be held. And so the battle starts of the baby learning strategies to get what it wants when it wants and the parent who attempts to socialise the child into eating at regular times, going to the toilet at regular times, sleeping at regular times and getting cuddles at regular times. Sometimes the child wins, sometimes the parent.

    So we learn very quickly the schema that crying makes us more comfortable. When was the last time you cried when you wanted something to eat? So it seems reasonable to assume that sometime between babyhood and now you either learned a new eating strategy or modified the old one. And you probably did this because Parent decided that it wasn’t in your best interests to grow up believing that the world would satisfy every one of your needs instantly. And they did this in your best interests because to allow you to grow up with that belief would turn you into a spoiled, selfish, self-centred child with no empathy for others.

    We developed other strategies by watching what other people did and emulating it.

    There’s something else quite different about young children and adults. Young children are very healthily present-moment oriented – this is why instant gratification makes sense to a child. They aren’t unduly concerned about tomorrow or next week, because what’s going on now is okay and the world is full of interesting things to explore and learn about and develop strategies to deal with. A child’s mind has enough going on right now to keep it fully occupied and entertained.

    Until we adults decide to screw that up for them.

    Santa will bring you that for Christmas if you’re good!

    What a wonderful way to teach a child to worry.

    In that simple sentence we teach the child that the future is important. We teach the child that they need to be concerned about whether or not some unknown, hairy old man (a bit like a God is to adults) will approve of them enough to bring them their heart’s desire. We teach them that they have to please someone that they don’t know and will never meet (except perhaps at a Grotto, but then we introduce the confusion of different Santas at different grottos) and have no way of knowing what pleases this person and what doesn’t except that displeasing Mum and/or Dad usually brings the suggestion that Santa won’t be pleased either.

    Birthdays are another way we teach children to focus on the future rather than the present. When you go to school. When you go to big school. When you go to college. When you go to University. When you get a job. When you grow up. When you earn lots of money you’ll be able to… When you have babies. When we go on holiday. And maybe even – when you die?

    We expose our youngsters to a barrage of future oriented thoughts and suggestions that slowly but surely switch the focus from Now to Then. But we never ever tell them that Now is the only time they will ever experience and that Then is always imagined.

    And this is how we learn to worry. We become so focused on what might or might not happen; we become so focused on whether we please or displease others; we become so focused on outcomes… that we forget to experience who and what we are. We forget to experience and enjoy right now.

    Now I have to admit that some people excel at worrying. And some people don’t. But most of us seem to have the capacity to do it. It’s just that we don’t all worry about the same things. Some people worry about getting in an aeroplane and others worry about money and whether or not they can pay the bills. Some people worry about going to the dentist and others worry about whether or not to get new curtains.

    What you worry about doesn’t matter and while it seems that if you had to choose a worry then where to go on holiday probably would win hands down over waiting for a cancer diagnosis – but if you are worried then you are worried and for you, in your world, with your life circumstances it’s a serious problem because it’s hanging around in your mind and stopping you from enjoying your life and being free and expressive in the way that young child was that we were thinking about earlier.

    Having experienced lifelong training in the art of worrying, and having perfected worrying schemas that suggest a worrying strategy is somehow dealing with a problem in a way that is much better than not dealing with it at all, it is insane to suggest to someone that they should stop worrying. Worry is like a virus. Once you’ve got it you get attacks of it all your life. It drops into dormancy for long, or not so long, periods of time, always ready to re-emerge at the slightest sign of Life not moving in just the perfect way you would like it to.

    The easiest solution to worrying is just not to do it.

    But to someone who has a deeply rooted worrying schema, this seems like an impossibility because the schema itself suggests that terrible will things will happen if you don’t worry. And you know this because if you ever find a moment when the worry isn’t present you soon start to worry about not worrying, because serious things are going on around you and you SHOULD be worrying (while at the same time feeling envious of those who seem immune from worry).

    If you’d like to break the habit, then you have to take the risk of not worrying for just five minutes and see what happens. If nothing bad happens and the problem is still there, and you are still there, then you may well survive not worrying for five minutes some other time. And so you teach yourself a new strategy. You see, if you decide not to worry for just five minutes, the schema doesn’t feel too threatened because It’s all about the future and It knows that five minutes is only a short time and that after five minutes It gets control back.

    For a specific concern you are worried about right now, get a pen and a piece of paper and write down in big letters at the top of the page
    "I am worried about…"
    or,
    "I am worried… …might happen".

    Then underneath write down all the consequences you fear.

    Let’s take an example "Fear of Flying".

    I am worried about going on holiday because I have to fly.

    The plane might crash
    I might die
    I might panic
    I might panic and look foolish
    I might feel embarrassed
    I might faint
    I might fight with the Flight Attendant to get out when she’s closing the door.
    I might throw up
    I might be too frightened to come home and be stuck
    The tyres might explode
    The wing might fall off
    The engine might catch fire
    We might get hijacked

    Then on another sheet of paper rewrite the whole lot only this time put them in order of importance with the biggest fear at the top of the list and smallest fear at the bottom. And then on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is total uncontrollable screaming panicking fear, and 1 is feeling calm and peaceful, give a score to each of the items.

    Then have a look for a theme.

    With Flying Phobia common themes are fear of death, claustrophobia, fear of embarrassment, inability to have any impact on your own destiny for the time you are locked in the cabin, or fear of being different.

    The theme is the real problem. That’s what you need to explore either on your own, using self-help books or tapes, or with a therapist whose approach you feel comfortable with.

    One other thing… If you are an habitual worrier, then you might consider what you would be doing with your mind should you have nothing to worry about. Consider learning meditation, self-hypnosis, or a new skill or hobby to occupy, or train, your mind so that you are the one in the driving seat and no longer a passenger being dragged along to all the Hells that your thoughts can create for you.

    Michael J. Hadfield MBSCH is a registered clinical hypnotherapist. You can experience his unique style on a popular range of hypnosis CD’s and tapes at http://www.hypnosisiseasy.com Here you can also obtain treatment for a variety of problems and explore his approach to health, healing, and hypnosis.

    Posted on Apr 11th, 2006

    Exposure Therapy often puts fear into the heart of any one who as a simple phobia or agoraphobia, but does it have to be terrible? Sure, you have to actually face what you fear, the apparent cause of all your discomfort, panic and anxiety, but isn’t that what you have always wanted? To be able to go out and face it like a “normal person”? More importantly, are you doing everything you can to make exposure as painless and easy as possible? Did you know it can even be fun?

    We all know fearless people who apparently shrug off bad news and thrive on stress. They seem to be as tough as crocodiles. We know that some of this apparent power is due to upbringing, some to genetics, some to brain chemistry, some to brain structure (as discussed on the Anxiety 2 Calm blog) and some to diet. But we also know that people can change themselves, spectacularly. No one is doomed to live in fear for ever. What has this got to do with exposure? Well, when you face whatever has been scaring you, AND YOU DO HAVE TO FACE IT!, you will be much more assured of success if you learn the skills of successful people. Instead of seeing life like you used to see it, see it like they see it.

    Visualization.

    Visualizaton has lone been used for relaxation. The bog standard technique has been to picture yourself somewhere you feel comfortable, preferably on a tropical beach where you can feel the sun kissing your skin. This is quite an effective form of relaxation, especially for those with insomnia, but it is not particularly useful when it comes to exposure therapy. Yes it lowers blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate and stress levels, but they all rise again when you are faced with the feared situation. The site of the airport terminal, an elevator, or a subway train can trigger the same old reaction.

    But still I’d say the visualization works. Not the fantasy sun-kissed beach type but a more realistic type. When you are starting exposure therapy forget trying to fool your mind into thinking it is lying on a tropical beach, it is not. Instead imagine the real thing you are tackling. Let’s take the example of an elevator. See yourself in an elevator being calm and relaxed, thinking about the normal things people think about in elevators: work, food, office politics, business, sex, family etc. Include the sequence of events including the build-up, imagine yourself leaving the house, walking the route to your office, entering the building, walking to the elevator, summoning it, waiting for the doors to open, stepping in, selecting your floor, watching the doors close and feeling the elevator rise, follow the visualization right up until you exit the elevator and continue with your day. Before you try this, read the essential tips for success bellow.

    1) It is very important to visualize through your own eyes, as if you were actually there doing it. Don’t see yourself, see from yourself. Look down and see your paunch or your toes, see your hands press the button, be inside yourself looking out, as if it were actually happening. If you see yourself doing it as if you were watching yourself in a movie, your mind will see someone else doing it, not you, and this won’t be as helpful.

    2) Use all of your senses including touch, smell, and sound. Really make the experienced vivid and real, this will help you relax more when you are actually there, as you start to re-attribute what you experience and connect it with a feeling of calmness. Imagine the ring of cell phones, background chatter, the smell in the elevator of perfume from other users, and the texture of the walls.

    3) If you find visualisation hard, don’t worry, it will come. The key is to keep trying to do it and really concentrating on feeling calm in those situations.

    4) Often people find it hard to visualize feeling calm and happy in a feared situation. This is quite common, quite normal, and nothing to worry about. The remedy to this is to break down the visualisation into parts and concentrate on the easier ones until you are calm and relaxed with them. This might take several days. In the elevator example you might first master visualizing looking at the elevator. Eventually you will be able to visualize the whole experience.

    5, when it feels right, go for it in real life! You will probably have found that you have taken the sting out of the experience!

    Anxiety 2 Calm looks at various techniques to overcome anxiety, panic attacks, phobia and stagnation. It includes sections on TFT/EFT, EMDR, and much more. All information is free and there is also a blog and a forum and many more interactive features. Feedback on experiences with medication and those expensive programmes and CD courses that are always advertised is useful to help others who are in a similar predicament to yourself or your loved one.

    Posted on Apr 11th, 2006

    It’s time for part two of the series to reduce environmental stress in your life. In Five Ways to Reduce Environmental Stress - Part One, I shared with you five ways you can immediately reduce stress by controlling your environment. Now I will share five additional ways for you to make a difference in your life, be more relaxed and productive, and reduce stress.

    The five ways are as follows:

    1. Make the Air Play Fair Control the air humidity in your environment to a level that’s comfortable for you. Too dry or very humid air can produce unpleasant environments. Air humidity can even produce various physical symptoms. Dehumidifiers can take control of the air quality to make rooms feel more livable. You can acquire these portable humidifiers from any department or discount store. Must sure you acquire one with a “quiet” button to reduce the noise when running. If needed, add a few plants to provide a bit of moisture.

    2. Lose the Clutter Rid yourself of all the clutter that surrounds you. Improve your time management skills so that you can prioritize what “stuff” is important and what isn’t important. If you are not immediately working on an item, move it out of line of sight. Not only will your environment become more visually pleasing and relaxing, but you’ll avoid the stress of constantly searching for important items among the excess.

    3. Get Rid of Static noise Everyday we are experiencing “static” noise. Phones ringing, computers dinging, radios playing, TVs with “talking heads” playing, coworkers interrupting, etc., are all examples of static noises. These noises create stressors that impede our abilities to think and ultimately create work and life solutions. They also can take their toll over time on our moods and energy. Do what you can to reduce background and unwanted noise. Turn off radios and TVs when not using them with purpose. Reduce or turn off all computer noises if they are not necessary. Use noise reduction materials such as partitions, curtains, etc., to quiet your environment. When you can, take a “silence is golden” break in a quiet room to recharge your emotional and mental batteries.

    4. Make Your Workspace Work for You Use good ergonomic techniques in your workplace to reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury, eye strain, back pain, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Pay particular attention to your stair, desk, and computer setup since most likely you will be using these items the most. The correct setup of these items will save you years of wrist, elbow, back, and eye pain and strain.

    5. Create an Empowerment Zone Create at work or at home a retreat for yourself to reenergize yourself both mentally and emotionally. Not having space for this zone is not an excuse. It can be a private room or your favorite chair or desk. Include items such as plants, books, relaxing music, and pictures to create an environment of peace. Use this area to think and visualize the positive things in your life. You might want to think of future situations in your life and how you will master them for your benefit. Use this area for carrying out important tasks whenever possible.

    Go apply these techniques today! Apply what works for you and reduce your environmental stress.

    Copyright © 2004 Ed Sykes. All rights reserved

    Ed 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 him at mailto:esykes@stressmanagementarticles.com, or call him at (757) 427-7032. Go to his web site, http://www.thesykesgrp.com, and signup for the newsletter, OnPoint, and receive the free ebook, "Empowerment and Stress Secrets for the Busy Professional."

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