Archive for April, 2006

Posted on Apr 10th, 2006

The politics of any work environment can be a challenge from time to time. Most of it is due to stress in the workplace. The higher the stress, the higher the incidence of stress related behaviours or illnesses.

We work in environments where expectations and rules change at an alarming rate. Technology has apparently brought progress, but at what price? A financial institution in major city requires their employees to take distance ed courses at night, after a long day at work. Some of these employees having been with the company for decades, are now in their late 50’s, but are expected to add to their days work and to their stress level. They are required to take three or four of these courses in the next four years. If they don’t, they could lose their jobs.

Have you looked for work recently? Even for the lowest paying job the interview process can be quite silly. At a well known coffee chain they do two or even three interviews with one person.

For some bizarre reason resume formats keep changing and there are people with four year degrees, hired by the Government teaching the most basic skill of resume writing. We have taken something that should be straight forward and we have made it complicated.

Another phenomenon is occurring. People are so geared to working alone at their computers, that we are losing the ability to communicate effectively with one another. We are not only working in our own head space, but in our own physical space as well. I believe the term is cocooning.

There is a new phrase out there these days. It is called “self care”. In former times, we didn’t have to think about this. It just happened naturally as we came home from work. We would visit with our family, maybe play some physical games with the kids, walk the family dog, take a short nap or read a book. It was called relaxation and it was assumed we could all do this. Now, with computers and televisions we are not without this isolating technology in many rooms of our homes. So, we not only cocoon at work, we come home and continue to do so for the evening as well.

We don’t laugh as much now as we did in the 1950’s. We used to laugh for 20 minutes each day and now we are lucky to squeeze in 6 minutes of daily joy. In our quest for success and at the expense of our happiness, we have foolishly changed attitudes and become extremely serious in all aspects of our lives. Simply put, we have forgotten how to play and have fun. Despite this, our minds and our bodies are wise beyond our comprehension and this fact is now being proven on a scientific level. If we choose to laugh more and be more joyful, our bodies response is immediate as blood vessels open up, blood pressure drops, pain lessens and we feel happier. Amazingly and quite wonderfully, we are still in control of how we choose to work and to play. Help yourself and make smart choices for your life. If you need some suggestions about self care activities, visit my webpage and click on the tab that says “Laughter Facts” – then scroll to the right.

Laugh, smile at everyone you come in contact with and inject some play into every day. It will make a huge difference in your quality of life and will help to alleviate the effects of stress. That’s a promise.

Carole Fawcett is a Canadian Stress Management expert and a Laughter Therapist. Her joyful energy is contagious and she is passionate about what she does. She is also teaches therapeutic hospital clowns and is a published free lance writer. See her website at http://www.afunnybusiness.ca

Posted on Apr 10th, 2006

Life is stressful enough without allowing the physical environment - air quality, lighting, noise, and other controllable factors - to intensify day-to-day stress. Especially in the Fall and Winter is where you experience less daylight and more mood swings.

The great thing about environmental stress is that in most cases we can control what is in our environment that is causing the stress. Take these five steps to eliminate environmental stressors that might cause stress and tension in your work and home life.

1. Increase your activities during natural light. Natural light elevates the mood and helps maintain a regular internal body "clock". Especially during the fall and winter we experience a substantial decrease in natural daylight. If you’re indoors, try working next to a window and allow as much sunlight as possible to enter your space. If you work in an office without windows try buying a natural sunlight lamp (http://www.wackyplanet.com/natsunlam.html). These lamps can help with Seasonal Affective Disorders as they provide a natural sunlight spectrum for health and well being. Prolonged exposure to artificial lighting in any setting can be an environmental stressor.

2. Ban tobacco smoke. Constant exposure to tobacco smoke and its toxins can be a persistent environmental stressor and lead to respiratory problems and other symptoms.

3. Evaluate your furniture arrangement. Arrange your furniture so that you don’t feel cramped. Remember you are more productive in a relaxed environment. Also, is your furniture arranged so that you inviting constant interruptions from visitors? If you can, move your furniture from the line of sight of potential visitors so that you can focus better, accomplish your goals, and decrease stress.

4. Frequently Change Your Ventilation or Air Filters. Your office or home is full of ingredients found in cleaning supplies, upholstery, carpeting, adhesives, and in chemicals. Devices such as copy machines, printers and computers all contribute to poor air quality. Combine that with working in an office building where you can’t open windows it makes the situation ten times worst for the occupants. In extreme cases, individuals may become physically ill from these pollutants, and even moderate doses can cause coughing, a scratchy, burning throat, and other symptoms.

If you are concerned about poor air quality in the office speak with the building maintenance crew and see how often they change the air filters. In most cases, if you explain in a friendly way why you are concerned they will make an extra effort to change at least the filter in your area. Also you can buy a personal air filtration kit at any appliance store to make your life easier. Open windows At home to allow air circulation. Also frequently change your home air filter.

5. "Bring the Green In." This is a term my wife, Joy Fisher- Sykes, uses to say that natural colors make us more relaxed. Color has effect on your mood and energy level. It is generally agreed that blue and green are very relaxing colors. On a personal basis these might not be the colors that relax you. You decide on the amount of color you’re comfortable with and the shades that most appeal to you. For example, bright yellow would tend to irritate me it may work just fine for others because of its brightness. Experiment with colors that will work to minimize stress for you.

Remember, these are all environmental factor that you can change to work for you. Just recognize what works for you and take the first steps to decrease stress.

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."

Posted on Apr 9th, 2006

We all know how bad stress is for us, with it being linked to the causes of many serious and life-threatening illnesses. Logic also tells us that it seriously affects our ability to feel happy – feeling stressed and feeling happy are mutually incompatible.

But quite apart from the momentary experience of feeling stressed v happy, ongoing stress actually depletes serotonin levels in the body – the happy hormone! And the depletion of serotonin leads to clinical depression. So, the effective management of our stress levels is absolutely essential to living happy and healthy lives.

In managing your stress levels, however, don’t limit your approach to “de-stressing” as and when you feel the need. Seek to reduce your stress levels. Lower your tolerance rather than learn to cope. Learn to identify when you’re becoming stressed at an early enough stage to nip it in the bud.

How do you develop this awareness? By consistently practicing de-stressing behaviours in your day to day life. Getting yourself to the point where it’s unusual to feel overwhelmed by your workload, where fear/dread/anxiety or other negative thoughts are uncommon for you, and generally feeling in control is where you want to be ALL THE TIME. And when this sense of wellness slips even slightly, stop and take stock. Identify what the cause is, and take immediate action to deal with that cause (as opposed to learning to cope with or tolerate it).

Eliminate stress by

• Exercising regularly
• Taking time out. For a coffee break, a day off, a long weekend, or a fortnight on a beach. The times when you feel you just can’t take a break are probably when you need it most.
• Prioritising your task list, and accepting that there will always be more things “to do”. They don’t all have to be done straight away. They don’t all have to be done at all.
• Saying “No”. Often.
• Not tolerating people or situations that drive you crazy and sap your energy.
• De-cluttering/getting organized. It’s amazing how sorting out your physical space not only helps you feel calm and relaxed, but also frees up mental energy.
• Getting support. An assistant, a cleaner, an exercise buddy, a network of “positive outlook” friends, a life coach ;-) Whatever support you need, put it in place.

Hilda Carroll is a life coach who specialises in helping people to be happy right now, and see achievement of their goals as a bonus rather than the source of their happiness. Visit her website at http://www.thehappinessbusiness.com.

Posted on Apr 9th, 2006

In order to eliminate or at least control stress, it is vital to know and understand the causes of stress. Of course, there are many causes of stress and they are as varied as the people who suffer from stress, but there are a few places to look first. And by learning about these causes of stress, you can figure out where stress is entering your life.

One of the most common, and most complained about, causes of stress is work. However, it is not only the day-to-day tasks and routine pressures of work that can lead to stress. In fact, the mere concern about keeping a job can be a source of stress. Unfortunately, the combined stress of both work itself and the possibility of losing it creates a sort of double-stress in which people feel they have to work even harder in order to keep their jobs, making the stress that much worse.

As well, for those who have not entered the working world yet, school can be a great source of stress. The constant pressure of schoolwork, friends, teachers, tests, quizzes, papers, and everything else can be enough to make anyone feel like they are in trapped in a vice. In addition, the deadlines are all immoveable, so students are constantly under time pressure. And, to make matters worse, there are often several deadlines overlapping each other, intensifying the demands on time. Then, once final exams arrive, there is a lot to re-learn and students need to spend so much time studying that they can barely sleep. Needless to say, losing sleep does not help people who are under stress. Thus, students need to manage stress just as much as people who work.

Another cause of stress is simple family life. Unfortunately, though we hope that our home lives can be sources of relief from daily stress, they can often be sources of stress all their own. For childen as well as parents and spouses, the home can often be its own source of pressure.

For parents, stress can often come from simply worrying about their children. After all, seeing a child grow up, make mistakes, go through school, go to college, play sports, and often learn things to hard way is enough to make a parent tear their hair out. Thus, despite the joy that children can bring, they can also be causes of stress and worry.

Unfortunately, parents can be causes of stress also. Though they often have their childrens’ best interests in mind, they can also put a lot of pressure onto their children, causing them to worry not only about school or life, but also how their parents will react when they hear about some new event, success, or error. It is as though there is no place to turn when things go wrong, creating extra stress. No, it is not easy being a parent, but it isn’t always easy being a child or a teenager either, since parents can often be causes of stress as much as sources of comfort from it.

On top of that, spouses can also be causes on stress. Let’s face it, husbands and wives often have expectations of their significant others and it is not always easy to live up to those expectations. As well, spouses often spend a lot of time avoiding certain arguments simply because they are trying to avoid stress. However, leaving tension in the air while not resolving it can be a cause of stress.

Money is also a major cause of stress, simply for the fact that there never seems to be enough of it. Thus, as the money keeps going out but it never seems to come in enough, stress just keeps mounting. Unfortunately, spouses, children and sometimes parents can often remind us of our shortfalls and they will often increase the stress. Of course, that is to say nothing of the continual reminders from the mortgage or rent, car payments, credit cards and other bills. And, furthermore, it is rather difficult to be philosophical about money stress since attempting to put things into perspective only recalls thoughts about the money that always seems to be missing. Thus, money stress just keeps piling up higher and higher and there never seems to be a way out.

Though this is only a partial list of all the possible causes of stress, these are some of the most common sources. However, no matter where the problem is arising, stress will not make them better. Rather, stress will only make it harder for people to think about their problems and try to solve them. Thus, in order to solve the problems that lead to stress, the best place to start is by managing the stress, then working to solve the problems with a clear and uncluttered mind.

Copyright 2005 Trevor Dumbleton

LowerYourStress.com: for everything to do with stress. Get a free ebook to help with your stress levels: http://www.loweryourstress.com/stress-book.html

Posted on Apr 8th, 2006

ROLFING works with the connective tissue. Connective tissue wraps the body entirely, much like a wet suit does a swimmer. It wraps each muscle and muscle fiber in a continuous network, even supplying the internal membranes that wrap our bones and support our internal organs.

We all hold tension and stress in our bodies. You may feel it in your head, neck, shoulders and back most often. The stress may come from physical trauma like an auto collision, a fall or maybe surgery. It may be generated by life situations such as divorce, moving, abuse or a death in the family.

So what is ROLFING? To say that ROLFING is a technique for physically aligning and standing the body upright in gravity in 10 sessions somehow misses the point. For me, ROLFING is Dorothy, aged 67, a polio victim at three and surgery at 12, free of back pain and able to walk up and down stairs in a normal manner for the first time in 30 years.

ROLFING is Joyce, a 35 year-old attorney who says, “my shoulder and neck pain are gone, and the greatest surprise is my new attitude and positive outlook on life.” ROLFING is an Olympic medalist in gymnastics who had lived with the pain of working out and performing with bones broken and muscles torn in childhood, saying, “my back is better, the pain is gone and I feel better.”

The body responds to stress by tightening and shortening. Most people can identify the muscular body tightening associated with momentary stress. We say we ‘hold ourselves together.’ What most of us miss is how the yearly accumulations of day by day tightening and tension are locked into the body and affect our overall health. A distortion in one part of the dynamic system affects the total system. A hurt back, knee or neck might cause us to favor that area. Since we live in the field of gravity and are constantly struggling to hold ourselves upright our initial favoring can become a chronic imbalance and a limited movement pattern.

Physical approaches to dealing with stress and imbalance in the body have been around for a while. ROLFING is one of the earliest and most profound of the manipulation techniques; it is the most structured and developed system of "deep tissue work". Rolfing’s premise is that the body’s organ of structure is the fascia; and that life is an ongoing encounter with gravity, the force that is always with us.

Dr. Ida Rolf (she called it Structural Integration, her followers called it ROLFING), said:

"One individual may experience his losing fight with gravity as a sharp pain in the back, another as the unflattering contour of his body, another as constant fatigue, and yet another as an unrelentingly threatening environment. Those over 40 may call it old age, yet all these signals may be pointing to a single problem so prominent in their own structure and the structure of others, that it has been ignored; they are off balance. They are all at war with gravity."

Rolfing is also my 72 year old Uncle — who at 72 was still teaching tennis and golf despite chronic pain in his neck, shoulder and heels — standing upright in the kitchen telling my wife he still thought ROLFING was strange, but somehow it worked, he was no longer in pain.

If you would like more information about rolfing, check out a place called Living Bodywork. There’s some great information about the whole rolfing process and even some FAQ’s.

If you would like a free consultation, or more information on Rolfing in general, click this link: Rolfing Massachusetts

Posted on Apr 8th, 2006

Recently I had the great pleasure of hearing one of my favorite bands, Groovelily, perform their original musical theater piece Striking 12 in New York City. Before the show, as the band was warming up, the lead singer/violinist Valerie told us a powerful story. Valerie had recently performed with her father at an event to celebrate his lifetime contribution as a cantor. After the performance, an older woman came up to Valerie and told her about how she had played violin as a child in Germany and how much playing the violin had meant to her. She went on to explain that when her family fled the country during the Nazi regime, she was not allowed to bring her beloved violin with her to America because her family feared it would mark them as Jews. So, she grew up, got married, and raised a family. While she encouraged her son to play the violin (and he grew up to be a musician), she never indulged or rekindled her passion to play the violin again. When the woman finished telling her story, she held Valerie’s hands tightly, looked her in the eyes, and emphatically said, “Keep on playing.”

Every time I hear this story I am deeply moved (yes, I love the band and have heard this fairly recent story multiple times already). I am moved because of my own ups and downs as an amateur musician who can think of a million excuses why I’m not good enough to be playing or how I shouldn’t be “wasting” time when there are so many other more important things to do. I am also moved because I am overwhelmed with the sheer amount of creation, beauty, joy, and passion that is missing in this world each day because so many people have abandoned their passions and joy for the much more “important” and “serious” business of life.

Take a moment right now and consider:

  • What activities did you love to take part in as a child, teenager, or young adult? Do you still partake in any of these or related activities?
  • What did you dream about most wanting to be when you grew up?
  • What are you doing when you feel the most joyful, passionate, or in the flow? When was the last time you spent time doing this?

If you’re like most people I know, you’re probably laughing because it has been so long since you’ve done any of these things that you don’t even remember or you’re muttering a number of excuses as to why you can’t be doing these things. Some of those excuses might sound like:

  • I don’t have time
  • There are more important things to do
  • It’s impossible to do now that I have a wife/husband/mate, career, kids, house, etc.
  • There’s no way I can ever have what I dreamed about, it was only a fantasy. After all, I’m middle aged, overweight, and out of shape and certainly not going to become an NBA, NFL, WNBA, Broadway star, or rock musician in this lifetime, so why bother at all.

Well, what if you could have and do what you most enjoy? What if you could get in touch with the essence of what you really wanted and then go and do THAT? For instance, perhaps what really appealed to you about becoming a rock musician was making music and sharing it with others. You could achieve that dream at any age. Pick up an old instrument you used to play and begin to take lessons again. Learn something new. Volunteer to share your music with kids, the elderly, or a church group. Another example could be that you loved the spirit of competition and physical challenge inherent in the dream of playing professional sports. Well, you can have that too! While you might not be the next Lance Armstrong or Serena Williams, there are many ways to get physically fit and be competitive in sports at any age. I’ve seen athletes in the Masters division of different sports play with more heart and competitive spirit in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, than many young professional athletes exhibit. I personally know people with demanding careers and families who regularly compete in triathlons and cycle, run, or walk untold numbers of miles each year for charity. If they can do it, so can you.

My point is – you deserve to have joy, passion, and play in your life. Yes, life can be serious at times and we all have responsibilities, but you owe it to yourself to really live a little and give yourself the gift of something just for you. You’d be amazed at how just a little bit of time spent regularly on something that feeds your soul will yield results ten times over in the other “more serious” parts of your life.

This month, go in search of your long lost violin. Dust off your guitar, tennis racket, paintbrushes, or writer’s pad. Give yourself permission to rekindle the passion, find the joy, and PLAY.

Posted on Apr 7th, 2006

We’ve all heard it said, “It’s not the situation, it’s how you deal with the situation that determines your stress.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Change your mind about something and you change your experience of it. Attitude is everything, after all, isn’t it?

Well, yes and no.

Psychologists have long held that individuals with an “internal locus of control”, who believe that they have a significant degree of self-determination in the course of their lives, fare better that those with an “external locus of control.” By contrast, an external locus of control is a belief that life is basically a random stream of events and that luck, the Fates and other people are really in charge of your future. It’s all a matter of how you interpret events. Sue lands a job that she loves and determines that this is her reward for years of hard study and a strong work ethic. John lands his dream job and believes he happened to be in the right place at the right time. Both are probably valid perspectives and neither interpretation will have much bearing on their psychological health since the situation in question is a happy one.

But what happens when life falls apart?

Let’s say that Sue gets into a car accident shortly after accepting the new job offer and within the week finds out that her husband has to undergo a biopsy for a suspicious tumor. Having a predisposition toward an internal locus of control is likely to result in Sue being proactive with these stressors. She is unlikely to generalize these events and judge her life in general as “falling apart.” Although she may be overwhelmed, she won’t be prone to catastrophizing. She will likely devote her time to making plans to meet the new demands, believing that she will find a way to get through these stressors and come out on top. She has an inherent belief in herself that will allow her to weather the storm.

John, on the other hand, faced with an accident and an ill spouse might be more inclined to feel helpless and overwhelmed, waiting for the “other shoe to drop”. He might go so far as to wonder whether these circumstances are signs that he has made wrong choices in other areas of his life and he may begin to question seemingly unrelated issues like his acceptance of the new job offer. He may second guess himself or take this string of events as evidence that he is not meant to get ahead in life. His inherent belief is that the world is a difficult place and you just have to do the best you can to survive it and that anyone who is too optimistic is ‘wearing rose-colored glasses’.

Whose outlook is correct?

Probably both. The world is as much a source of agony as it is a source of joy. The question is not whose truth is more valid, but who stands the best chance of thriving in whatever circumstances occur. Whether she is an optimistic woman by nature (born that way) or nurture (raised that way), Sue has the cards tipped in her favor where stress resilience is concerned.

But what if you don’t think like Sue? Or what if you do and life has simply thrown too many things your way to manage?

This is where the “just stay positive” advice starts to wear thin for most people. Everyone has a limit in what they can handle and we can’t just think ourselves out of one crisis after another without hitting a wall at some point.

It isn’t just how you think about things. It’s what you DO to cultivate a lifestyle that will help you maintain the mental focus you will need when fatigue and chaos come to visit you that will determine your optimal level of stress resilience and wellness over the long run.

Why should you think about adopting stress management practices as a lifestyle? Isn’t that just putting a bandage on the problem? Maybe I just want to avoid stress altogether!

Good luck! The fact is that you really don’t have control over what lands on your plate and when. No one knows this better than the generation now in middle age. With our well publicized extended life span, dealing with the needs of aging parents (many of whom may now be living in separate households due to divorce or may be geographically distant from their children) is a reality facing many. Add to this career pressures for many who are now in senior positions at work and the demands of launching a family of one’s own and the pressures increase. And, of course, there is the reality that the signs of one’s own aging are becoming more evident.

How do you cultivate a lifestyle that will help you manage the impact of all this on your life?

The key here is in the word “internal” as discussed above. Very often people in stressful situations employ a number of external tools to assist them. They may read self-help books, ask for advice, take various substances (good and bad) to help them regulate their sleep and mood to assist them in coping. They may engage in a number of escapist activities from television watching to computer games to shopping. The possibilities are endless.

And, while they are using all the aids for dealing with stress they can find, they are trying desperately to become more efficient. Multitasking becomes a way of life. Sleep gets cut. Convenience foods are the norm. Grace and humor give way to edgy drill sergeant barks. Conversations within the family are utilitarian, aimed at managing the logistics of the family’s life with little time for anything else.

What has been lacking, all too often, even in people who have a natural inclination toward an internal locus of control, is a true dedication to a centering practice of some type to keep them aware of and in touch with their own thoughts and feelings as they move through life. American culture does not promote this as a lifestyle, unfortunately (it would kill “impulse buying” in no time flat!). A strong inner life may promote a sense of peace and increased stress resilience, but, frankly, it will never drive the economy. As a result, you may not meet many examples of optimally stress resilient people in your life.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be one, yourself.

A regular centering practice is critical for maintaining optimal wellness. Whether you are drawn to practice yoga, meditation, deep breathing, walking, gardening or related practice is not important. All that matters is that it calms you down, clears your head and has a physical component to it.

This cannot be overstated. We are not talking about SURVIVING stress. We are talking about strategies to maintain optimal wellness despite the presence of stress in your life. This isn’t just about making it until you can get to your vacation, or to the weekend, or around that fictitious corner when things will get better. This is about being better now, even in the middle of chaotic life circumstances.

The key is to employ a practice that takes you out of your head and into your body and then gets you back to your head in a peaceful and proactive way.

Regular, deliberate centering practices that have a physical component to them will enable you to sensitize yourself to your own state of health and to proactively address your body’s needs. Under stress, many people forget things like eating. Meals get skipped. Sleep deteriorates. Short term, you might be able to get away with some neglect of your health but long term the consequences could be serious for your physical and your mental health. Mind focused practices like journalling, writing affirmations and reading personal development books are not enough!

Stress is a physical event. It may be in response to a mental event, like a hurtful comment by your spouse or an argument with a friend or co-worker or anxiety over money but the impact of stress, itself, is physical and must be attended to as such.

Stretching, deep breathing, physical exertion appropriate to your ability to give your body an outlet for the famous ‘flight or fight’ response will allow your body to calm down so that you can get to the work of cultivating a perspective that will allow you to manage the situations you face with wisdom and maturity.

Think of these practices like a parachute that save you when you feel like you are going to go right over the edge. The time to weave the parachute is not when you are about to jump! If you are like most adults who grew up without being introduced to these centering practices, don’t be surprised if it is difficult to integrate them into your life, particularly if you are already in the midst of stressful events.

Seek and follow a qualified mentor to assist you in developing an integrated approach to stress management. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t just “get your head in the game”. Your head may not be the problem. Stress is a mind-body phenomenon. Working with both areas in an integrated fashion with dedication to establishing life long wellness habits will yield recognizable benefits no matter what comes your way.

After all, what is the alternative?

Laura Young, M.A. is a life and business coach and owner of Wellspring Coaching. She is a contributing author to A Guide to Getting It:Purpose and Passion, Become Your Own Great and Powerful and A Guide to Getting It: Creative Intelligence, due out Spring 2006. Laura specializes in working with individuals facing midlife transitions (personal and career), self-employed individuals on business development strategies and high level leaders on communication and leadership skills. With doctoral training in counseling psychology, Laura has written extensively on such topics as stress management, motivation, finding one’s life purpose, achieving life balance, cultivating a healthy lifestyle and improving communication in personal and professional relationships. Please visit her blogs and website to tap in to her extensive resource base.

Posted on Apr 7th, 2006

What is stress?

Our body is subjected to constant changes in the environment that affect us both physically and emotionally influencing the way we feel, behave and react in various situations. This weathering that the body undergoes under varied pressures of life is stress. Although stress is the root cause of many common health disorders, it isn’t always harmful. Increase in stress upto a certain level boosts productivity. Stress can motivate an individual to win a race or perform well academically. This is positive stress which encourages the individual to improvise and achieve goals which he would not have accomplished otherwise. But when the level of stress overwhelms us and exceeds a certain limit, different biological responses are triggered resulting in increased heart rate, headache, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, muscle tension, rashes, ulcers and accelerated breathing which might lead to life threatening health disorders. Major trauma like death of a loved one, events like losing friendship, having a baby, credit card debts, high electric bill, relocation to a new town, academic failure, loss of a job, marriage, falling hair, rush-hour traffic, annoying boss or neighbor, parenting teens, chronic illness, heavy responsibilities, performing before a huge audience or a new relationship- all can produce stress which bring about negative effects on the body. So, no stress as well as too much stress, both are harmful. One must find the balance and utilize stress for his benefit and improvement.

Stress and the Exercise Connection

Researchers are working around the clock to gain command over stress or fight it more efficiently. Since it is detrimental to health, relationships and life as a whole, it is essential for every individual to take charge and manage stress. To beat stress and make life more relaxed and peaceful, there is no alternative to exercise.

Exercise is fun.

Identify what activities you enjoy the most and try to include them within your daily routine. Exercising builds up your physical reserves and helps you fight stress more efficiently. You should exercise at least four times each week for thirty minutes each session. Any time best suitable for you can be the time for exercise. Simple repetitive exercises like cycling, swimming, jogging, walking, hiking, racquet sports, dancing, skiing and aerobics are some of the best known stress busters. Doctors of patients of depression often recommend these exercises to free the mind of tension. You should rejoice in any kind of exercise activity otherwise it will feel like a chore and gradually you’ll abstain from it. Remember to warm up and cool down before and after you start your exercise program to avoid injury. Gentle stretching exercises are considered best for the warm ups and cool downs. Exercises help you sleep better and start a whole new day with new vigor and an enhanced feeling of self-esteem.

Shape up and build confidence.

Shed those excess fat, control weight, tone your muscles, increase flexibility, rejuvenate skin and radiate confidence through exercises. Ward off stress while exercising moderately at a comfortable pace and slowly speed up to improve stamina and efficiency. Burning calories fuel you up with new vigor to energize the body throughout the day. When you are full of confidence you trust yourself and accomplish those goals you thought were impossible to achieve.

Stay healthy.

Poor health is one of the leading causes of stress. Regular exercise improves blood circulation and promotes oxygen supply to the vital organs of the body thus strengthening the immune system, lungs and heart which in turn fight diseases more efficiently and the body becomes less vulnerable to various health conditions. Exercise boosts liver functions, digestive activities, metabolism, intestinal movements and kidney functions thus keeping constipation, diabetes and arthritis at bay. Exercise makes you feel better and live happier.

Change your focus.

A daily exercise regime keeps your mind off of the mundane routine and stressful thoughts and channels your energy for productive purposes. You mind stays alert and occupied with the potentials of the brighter side of life. Combat stress and enjoy the beauties of life.

Indulge in restful exercises.

Do whatever is good for you. Take positive steps to reduce stress. Laugh aloud with friends and family, go for an outing or just soak in the tub with some aromatic oils or rose petals. Determine the stress causing elements and be creative in finding solutions befitting your hectic schedule to not let them hamper your life. Sit by the fireplace and quietly watch the dancing flames, stroll on the beach and soak in the sun while enjoying the beauty of the sea, gently pet your favorite animal, lie in the backyard in a hammock, sit by the lake, watch the sun go down behind the pine trees, look at the star-studded night sky or simply play with your kids. Keep your mind engaged with matters other than business or family if they bring about stress in your life.

Try the deep relaxation/meditation techniques of Yoga.

The rewards of yoga are endless, both physically and mentally. Practiced for centuries, yoga, whose other word is meditation, massages the internal organs as well as energizes the soul. Essentially, regular exercise of yoga can magically treat stress and various health disorders. It stimulates the muscles in the various body parts in a non-strenuous manner and brings about flexibility in those areas which were never so much worked upon before thus lubricating the joints, ligaments and tendons comprehensively. Muscles are admirably toned by gentle stretching and massage which facilitates blood circulation in the entire body. This, on the other hand, detoxifies the body by quick elimination of wastes from even the farthest corners of the body thus keeping a myriad of infections and health disorders at bay. Active blood circulation also means efficient transport of nutrients which attributes to prompt healing of wounds, delayed ageing, a boost in stamina, improved digestion, dodging disability, enhanced breathing, rejuvenation of skin and radiation of confidence. You will discover a new vigor in life. Most importantly, the goal of yoga is to attune body with mind and soul.

Many yoga exercises are easy and have a magical effect on the students performing yoga. Regular practice of yoga will relieve you of physical pain and stress giving you a positive outlook towards life and enlightenment of soul. It is the exercise of the body as well as the mind. Thousands have been aroused by yoga’s magical touch and have benefited from it. In essence, the centuries old healing process of yoga will transform your life at the spiritual level.

Practice these moderate exercises.

Workplace is the main culprit source of stress in most cases. So, here are some workplace stress busting exercises that are very easy to follow routinely-

1. Deep breathing:

Inhale deeply. Fill in your lungs with as much air as possible, then exhale. A fresh dose of oxygen will recharge your batteries.

2. Neck roll:

Roll your neck clockwise and then anti-clockwise 10-15 times each way. This relieves tension around the neck and shoulder regions. The same can be achieved by looking left, as far back as possible and then looking right the same way. Repeat 10 times.

3. Rub:

Gently give yourself a neck and shoulder rub. Find yourself revived.

4. Bends:

Stand up with feet 1 foot apart. Lift your arms. Gently bend backwards and forwards, left and right, 5 times. This stretching exercise is great for the back muscles which get easily strained because of sitting at the same spot for hours.

5. Chest stretch:

Stand tall with feet 1 foot apart. Lift and stretch your arms straight and forward. Slowly inhale to the fullest while moving your arms to the sides. Keep arms at the same level. Hold for 5 seconds. Exhale and bring the arms back together to the front. Feel the relief.

6. Hand stretch:

Interlock fingers. Extent arms forward at shoulder height and palms facing out. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times. This stretches shoulders, hands, wrists and upper back and relieves tension around them.

7. Back stretch:

Stand tall with feet 1 foot apart and hands on the waist. Twist your upper body and turn back as much as possible. Hold for 5 seconds and come back to the starting position. Repeat with the other side. This is particularly good for stretching the middle back.

Any exercise is stress relieving. Actually when we exercise, the brain releases endorphins, that are natural painkillers which give a sense of being healthful thus enhancing the overall mood and of course, that will make you sleep better. So, start exercising and get rid of stress sooner than later.

Posted on Apr 6th, 2006

If stress is low then energy is high, if energy is high then stress is less likely to affect us.

So one of the most important, and easy, ways to reduce and eliminate stress is to stay energetic.

So how do we keep our energy high?

Physical fitness always springs to your mind when you talk about energy levels. Well it is one way to improve your energy stores. It isn’t the most efficient way though.

Physical fitness helps to keep energy high from an external source. Your ability to physically function is determined by this type of energy. So go for a walk, jog or run, play sport and keep active. Energy will increase and you will benefit from it.

One warning …

Play sport or do exercise that you enjoy. Why?

If you enjoy it, it will create more energy. Don’t get sucked into the ‘this is the best exercise for fitness’ jargon. The best exercise is the one you enjoy, not the one the person who wrote the book or article enjoyed. The exercise they mention is the one they enjoy and find most beneficial. You may not be the same person; hence a different exercise may or will be better.

So enjoy your exercise, you will do it more often that way and it will be better for you.

If you are low in energy, physical activity is usually going to be hard, arduous and not likely going to be a long term habit.

If you are low in energy then injuries are easier to occur, habits are harder to form and your motivation and enthusiasm for activity is low. So getting your energy up will help you become fit and active.

This is not the physical energy but internal energy. Internal energy is your ability to heal, your ability to resist disease, your ability to think clearly, be motivated and enthusiastic, your ability to live long and live happy.

How do you raise this energy?

Become healthy, not fit but healthy. Use techniques that are self-help related. Techniques that change your internal habits. Techniques that improve internal and external energy. This is the domain of natural therapies such as Acupressure, Reiki, Mudra and others.

They are able to be used on yourself, by you to help you gain the health and vitality you want. Is there other things you can do?

Do what you enjoy most.

If you do enjoyable activities, the internal energy will increase. What activities should you do?

All the books, magazines etc on why certain activities are best, won’t help. You are going to like a different activity. Because you are different, in your likes and dislikes.

So do any activity you enjoy, whether it is running, walking, swimming, cycling or whatever. Just make it a habit, enjoy it and watch your fitness levels improve as well. If you enjoy the activity then your energy levels will increase faster than if you did a less enjoyable activity.

Remember, fitness is not health. However, enjoying the activity you do while you become fitter, helps your health as well. The activities that raise your energy internally raise your health. They don’t have to be fitness related.

Remember the saying, ‘laughter is the best medicine’, it applies to activity also. The most enjoyable is the most beneficial.

So do activities that increase your energy … things that make you happier and brighter.

Such as …

Go fly a kite … looking up at the sky lifts your spirits and helps to release stress. Go and lie down on the grass on a sunny day, in a park, or at home, if you live in an apartment go to the roof and lie on your back. Watch the sky and the clouds floating by. Look at the shapes that they make. Let your thoughts drift away with the clouds.

Just play as many child-like games as possible. Get together with friends and play hide and seek, or chasing. Kick a ball around and have fun.

Go to funny movies, or see a comedy festival. Generally have more fun. Laughter is the best medicine, especially at an energy level. Have you ever seen someone high in energy being sad or unhappy.

Energy raises the spirits, drops the stress levels and improves your health. All by being happier and higher in energy.

So get out there and enjoy life, you only have one to enjoy so don’t waste it.

Fast Stress Relief
is dedicated to teaching you ways to remove stress; simply, easily and quickly. Using a combination of Eastern and Western techniques – stress can be removed, repelled and prevented … fast.

For all the Tips & Techniques to Reduce Stress and Boost Your Energy simply click here…

Dr Graeme Teague has been in private practice since 1991, teaching and treating many clients with emotional and general health conditions.

Through his many teaching seminars and extensive professional knowledge, he has now released two new e-books on the many simple and effective ways to be healthy and stress free.

His new web-site is dedicated to teaching you ways to improve your health with orthodox and natural techniques.

Just click here to visit Fast Stress Relief

Posted on Apr 6th, 2006

Stress is the ‘wear and tear’ our bodies experience as we adjust to our constantly changing environment.

These 10 tips below can be applied your life and all of your relationships as it pertains to school, work, family, your significant other and friends. My hope is that you find positive ways to help manage all stress that you are dealing with.

1 - Manage Your Time Effectively: Keep a To Do list or daily planner and make sure to include time for yourself and time for stress reduction activities.

2 - Take a Break: Schedule several short breaks throughout your day to help minimize your stress. Get up and stretch, read a book, go for a walk or simply call a friend.

3 - Minimize Interruptions: When focusing on something important, make sure to block off a period of time when you can work without being disturbed or distracted.

4 - Eat Healthy Foods: Try to avoid foods high in fat, sugar and sodium. Be sure to snack on something healthy and do not skip meals because this will lower your energy levels.

5 - Exercise: Regular physical activity is one of the best ways to deal with stress. It releases endorphins and gives you a natural high. Try walking, bike riding or simply exercising in the comfort of your own home.

6 - Think Positively: Instead of focusing on negative thoughts, focus on the positive things in your life and say to yourself at least one positive thought each day.

7 - Learn to Say NO: Don’t feel guilty when you have to tell others no. Taking on additional projects or work for others when you are busy will only cause you more stress.

8 - Put Stressful Situations in Perspective:: Will it matter a month from now? What about a year from now? Is it something that you can control? Ask yourself these questions when you are faced with a stressful situation.

9 - Get Enough Sleep: Studies show that most people need between 6-9 hours of sleep, but most people give up sleep when they are under stress to finish more work. Be sure to get the proper rest so that you can energize your mind, body and spirit.

10 - Find Someone to Talk to: Talking to your friends or family can help because it gives you a chance to express your feelings. However, problems in your social life or family life can be the hardest to talk about. If you feel like you can’t talk to your family or a friend, talk to someone outside the situation. This could be your priest, minister, a therapist, your family doctor or a coach.

Aurelia Williams is the mom of four busy children, a Personal Life Coach and the owner of Real Life Solutions, which is an informational site that also offers products, articles and a great newsletter. You can also hear Aurelia daily on the WAHM Talk Radio show, she is the Resident Life Coach.

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