Archive for May, 2006

Posted on May 21st, 2006

It dawned on me the other day that some of our stress may be as a result of other people’s bad manners. I keep hearing that as a society we have become less polite and that good manners are a thing of the past. I’d hate to think that has really happened but perhaps the hurry up of our lives has increased and maybe courtesy is falling by the wayside.

I was raised by an Irish Mother and an English Father. Good manners and being polite to others was high on the list of things to be learned and practiced in my home. Good manners indicated a thoughtfulness of others and the message was that if everyone behaved in this manner, the world would be a more civilized place overall. Kindness and consideration of others would abound and being amongst one another would be a pleasant experience. Not a bad theory if practiced by all.

Email is the one area, for those of us who indulge in this technology, where good manners can be scarce. As a businesswoman, I send and receive hundreds of emails over the course of a week. I am in love with the written word, so you can imagine my glee when email came along. “Now there will no excuse for people to not respond”, I foolishly thought to myself. "All they have to do is hit “reply” type a few words and then hit “send”. Well, it seems the same people who were loathe to put pen to paper, are equally as loathe to hit “reply” and “send”. I am not speaking of the joke senders and receivers, although it’s nice to let someone know you are receiving and sharing in their on line giggles. I’m primarily speaking of business related emails.

What happens with me is I will get an email from the corporate world asking if I would be available for a particular date for either a keynote address, a workshop or a laughter session. I reply asap, thanking them for their interest and suggest we talk on the phone. I give them phone numbers, times I’ll be available and hit “send”. It will sometimes take them 3 weeks to respond. The courteous thing to do of course, would be to reply immediately indicating a more detailed response could be expected later, should they not have the time to deal with it immediately.

After I’ve done a presentation, I send an email to the organizer, thanking them for hiring me, and then asking for feedback from either themselves or their participants. A quick acknowledgement of my request would be the polite thing to do. Those who know and value the importance of professional business etiquette respond quickly. But it doesn’t always happen. I have spoken with other business people who are experiencing the same no-response phenomenon. The absolute beauty of email is that you can be as concise as you wish as it takes mere seconds to respond.

Granted, this is when email is up and running smoothly. Recently my email server was out of commission for 5 – 7 days, so I had to resort to the old fashioned method of communicating by telephone. Now there’s another topic, voicemail and the stress it can cause.

Acknowledgement of others in a timely fashion is not only polite, but it really does help to diminish the stress in their day. Oh, thanks for your time!

Carole Fawcett is a Stress Management Consultant, having worked as a Crisis Intervention Counsellor for over 25 years, plus she is a Laughter Therapist and Freelance Writer. She lives in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada. Her web pages are: http://www.afunnybusiness.ca

Posted on May 21st, 2006

By definition, if you want to change your vulnerability to stress, you need to change something in your life. The Five Keys are strategies of major importance in achieving this, but all of them involve an investment of time.

Key 1: Resilience

Many people think of stress as being things beyond our control. It is true that many stressors (things that appear to cause stress) at our places of work involve loss or lack of control, but to think that stress itself is the same is to miss the point.

Have you ever noticed how some people see to go to pieces in a crisis, while others keep calm? On the other hand, in the absence of a crisis, the calm person may be intolerant of minor irritations, while the other is unruffled. Clearly, then, stress is dependant, not on the stressor, but on our internal reaction to it.

It might be thought that the differences in reactions can be explained by variations in personality, but that too is to miss the point. The fact is that our tolerance to minor or major stressors depends on a number of factors, not least of which is how we are feeling at the time.

For instance, I can remember that when I was very stressed at work, I reacted very badly to the note of a particular telephone call. I tore it up in frustration and threw it into a bin, instead of filing it away for future reference, as was my usual practice. What made the difference was the state of my mind.

Now this gives us a clue to what is necessary to conquer stress. The fact is that it is possible to control our states of mind, though many people fail to realise this. This ability is known variously as resilience or as tough mindedness. It is the ability to shrug off the most difficult issue with a smile; the ability to resist the temptation to react badly to stressors of all sorts. Luckily, it is possible to learn how to do this.

Unluckily, it cannot be taught in a short article. But I can suggest a way to start building resilience. It is to begin practising visualisation. The method is to find a quiet time and place and to shut your eyes for a moment. Then begin thinking of a time in your life when you felt completely relaxed. (Be aware that if you suffer from chronic stress, you will not be completely relaxed even when you are asleep. For this reason, you may have to go back in time to find an appropriate occasion.) Concentrate on recalling the details. What could you see? What could you hear? What did it feel like, both physically and emotionally? Re-live the moment; enjoy the warmth of the feelings. Do this for a couple of minutes, if possible.

There are many ways to use this visualisation, once you have done it for the first time. However, the simplest is to revisit it at least once and preferably twice a day. Try to recall it, also, whenever you begin to feel stressed. If possible, take some time out and practise the visualisation for a minute or two. When you emerge from your sanctuary or haven of peace, you will feel refreshed and better able to cope with whatever was stressing you.

Key 2: Exercise

Regular exercise is most effective in fighting stress because it does so at several different levels.

Stress is accompanied by loss of energy. In other words, the stressors lead to our consuming energy in our reaction to them. Paradoxically, shortage of energy can be stressful in itself. By becoming fit, we provide our bodies with reserves of energy, and this first reduces the risk of stress from shortage of energy and then protects us from reduction of energy to harmful levels when we feel stressed by an external source.

But there is more to this than purely building energy reserves. Frequent exercise leads to improved lung and heart function, and produces natural improvements in our ability to relax during recovery time from the exercise. These effects in combination give us better restorative sleep patterns.

In addition, our brains run on glucose and oxygen. Regular exercise, especially if it is vigorous, provides increased levels of fuel to the brain, by speeding the flow of blood in the brain even when resting, and enables more efficient and effective thinking – and less tiredness. The increased flow also removes toxic waste more quickly from the brain. It is easier to be positive when your brain is working well. Thus, it stimulates a rising of one’s mood and lifts feelings of depression. Indeed, exercise and fitness are the keys to confidence, self-image and self-esteem.

The positive mental state that is created is enhanced by the release of endorphins in our blood when we exercise. These chemicals give us feelings of happiness and well-being.

Clearly, therefore, exercise is a formidable weapon in the resilience-building armoury. It should not surprise us to learn, however, that it is also an excellent antidote to individual attacks of stress. If you are having a bad day, half an hour of vigorous exercise on the squash court or in the gym will stabilise your mental state and help to restore equilibrium to your emotions.

There are two more points that deserve comment. The first is that research shows that physically fit people have less extreme physiological responses when under perceived pressure than people who are unfit. This, of course, is the other side of the coin in saying that stress causes disease.

Secondly, regular exercise increases our capacity to work and our endurance of stress. We acquire the ability to tackle jobs without fade. This effect reduces the possibility of harmful reactions to workplace stress. Indeed, the probability of burnout or consequential ill health is greatly reduced.

Having proclaimed the advantages of exercise, allow me to sound some words of warning. Before undertaking any new programme of exercise, consult a doctor, especially if you are over 60, or have suffered from heart or respiratory problems, or high blood pressure, or are grossly overweight.

  • Aim to exercise daily if possible, but at least three times a week.
  • Always warm up with suitable stretching exercises for 5 to 7 minutes. Start slowly and build up the effort.
  • Aim to increase your heart beat when exercising to a level equal to (220 – Y) x 0.8, where Y = your age. Ideally, it should remain at this level for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Spend 5 to 7 minutes cooling down.
  • Then relax completely.

Key 3: Eat sensibly

What, how much and when we eat changes the chemistry in our digestive tract and in our nervous system. These chemical changes affect our mental and emotional state. Nothing could be closer to the results and the true cause (our attitude or reaction) of stress than this.

When we have insufficient glucose in our blood, in an attempt to make good the deficit, our bodies pump epinephrine into our systems to speed up the conversion of what little food is in our systems into glucose. This also speeds our heartbeat and makes us breathe less deeply. At the same time, our muscles tense. This, you will appreciate, is undesirable, for it replicates the signs and results of stress. No wonder we feel so bad when our blood sugar levels are low.

Having too much glucose is just as bad. To protect against damage to the heart from the thickening of blood, the pancreas produces insulin. This reduces the glucose levels by speeding up its conversion into glycogen and by changing the muscle cell walls so that they will absorb glucose more rapidly. The trouble is that the nerve cells are not adjusted in this way, so, while the muscles receive more energy, the brain and the rest of the central nervous system do not. When the glucose level drops, you feel tired, nervous and potentially depressed. Again, the effects of stress are produced by the quality of our food intake.

I need hardly point out the desirability of keeping our blood sugar (glucose) levels in balance.

Follow these recommendations to maximise the safeguarding against stress:

  • Eat a substantial breakfast.

Energy demands are high when you first get up in the morning. By eating breakfast, you ensure that sufficient glucose reaches your brain and body with a minimum of delay.

  • Graze during the day.
  • To ensure a continuous supply of glucose to the nervous system, eat small meals at regular intervals of about three hours. The traditional three square meals a day is not so good. They tend to be set too far apart to enable the glucose levels to be maintained consistently at optimum levels.

  • Reduce your sugar intake.
  • Ordinary sugar (sucrose) is glucose in relatively concentrated form. As soon as it enters the blood stream, it spikes the glucose levels. As we have seen above, you immediately feel your muscles energised, but this does not last more than a few minutes and your brain is starved in the meantime. Remember that many foods, such as soft drinks, chocolate, sweetened cereals, biscuits and cakes contain sugar. Cut back on these things, but do it gradually.

  • Eat foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates, especially at breakfast.
  • Sugar and the starch found in white bread and in bananas are simple carbohydrates. These cause the problem mentioned above. Complex carbohydrates, such as wholemeal bread, oats, vegetables, pulses (peas and beans) and fruits (not dates, raisins or bananas), take longer for the body to break down. They serve, therefore, to maintain consistent levels of blood sugar.

  • Reduce your intake of stimulants.
  • Cut back on consumption of tea, coffee and Coke drinks. These add to the feelings of stress if we are already stressed. Like sugar, they enhance our feelings of well-being for a short time and then leave us feeling worse than before. Smoking and alcohol are bad for stress too, having a similar effect.

  • Drink plenty.
  • On the other hand, drink plenty of water. Many people live in a permanent state of partial dehydration. This is bad for stress. A good way to set yourself up for each day is to take a glass of water to put by your bed each night and drink it all in the morning when you get up. But don’t stop there. Drink plenty more during the day.

    Key 4: Regular recovery time

    When you exercise vigorously, you need time to recover. All sports people know the importance of rest and recovery after physical expenditure of energy. The very same principle applies to mental and emotional expenditure. Stress of all kinds requires recovery time to offset it.

    However much work you have on, resist the temptation to work your lunch hour and to skip tea or coffee breaks. If you find it necessary to work at weekends (are you sure it’s really necessary?) take time off in the week to compensate. The fact is that we work much more efficiently when we have rested properly.

    Burnout is stress bankruptcy, brought about by lack of sufficiently regular recovery time. Genuine breaks, if they are frequent enough can make almost any stressor tolerable.

    Key 5: Meditation

    Research has shown time and again that people who meditate regularly, whether they do so as part of a religious ritual or without any connection with spirituality, maintain better mental health and resistance to stress than people who do not practice meditation.

    An excellent plan is to meditate daily at a fixed time. Ideally, one should aim to meditate for at least 20 minutes, but as little as five minutes is better than nothing.

    Meditation is simple. If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate.

    There are many ways to meditate, but here is a very easy way to do it, and this one is just like worrying, but without the worry. You know how, when you worry, you tend to keep saying or thinking the same thing to yourself over and over again? Well that is exactly what you do in this meditation.

    Practise it once or twice a day. Good times are before breakfast and before dinner.

    1. Sit quietly in a comfortable position. It is best to put your feet flat on the floor and have your hands resting on your lap, palms upwards.

    2. Shut your eyes.

    3. Relax your muscles progressively starting with your head and face and moving down to your feet, finally tensing the whole of your body and then relaxing everything at once.

    4. Ensure that you are breathing slowly and evenly.

    5. Begin saying the word, “one” to yourself silently every time you breathe out.

    6. Consciously exclude all thoughts. If an idea begins to intrude into your mind, chase if off gently and dismiss it. Concentrate on your breathing and on the word, “one”.

    7. Do this for up to 20 minutes. Time will seem to pass quickly once you are meditating properly so it is best to set an alarm to warn you when time is up.

    8. When the time is up, continue sitting, eyes closed, for a minute or two, allowing your thoughts to return in their own time. Then open your eyes and remain seated for another minute before rising.

    9. Although this article has copyright, you are more than welcome to put it in a newsletter or ezine, or to post in on a website, provided you include the resource box below and make no change to the text.

    Stuart E. Nelson (http://www.LifeCoaching4You.com) specialises in teaching business owners and their staff how to make more money yet have more time, and in helping people to find balance in their lives. He does this by concentrating on the elimination of stress, and the building of supportive environments. Let the author of “Potential for Harm” and the founder of “Success Story”, the FREE newsletter, help you to find better balance in your life, happiness and fulfilment and to grow the profitability of your business. Request your copy of “Success Story” today! Mail to subscribe@stressmanagementarticles.com

    Posted on May 20th, 2006

    Okay, lazy is an exaggeration. I’m a work-oholic when the need be, but I can also relax when appropriate. I’ve been employed in some capacity for the past forty- five years, a lifetime for some of us. During that lengthy stretch, I’ve realized a few things about the work ethic. It boils down to a single area: coping. No employer or business situation is perfect and therefore it is rarely an ideal environment. I was lucky enough to work for companies that treated me fairly well. For the instances where I felt I was having a hard time, I formulated a strategy that allowed me to survive. It revolved around working smarter. So, how does on work smarter?

    Lesson one: To begin with, I followed orders. On the surface that sounds easy enough, but I took it very seriously. When I was given a chore, I did so immediately and to the ‘T.’ I neither procrastinated nor whined about the project. I dove right in and got it over with. Why? Because there is more stress associated with thinking negatively or agonizing over a condition, than actually getting it out of the way. Think about any problem you have faced and how much better it felt after it was behind you. Tackle the issue and dispatch it quickly and efficiently.

    Lesson two: I got organized. When I had my own advertising agency, I learned to set up a filing system for each account so I could rapidly find what I needed, thus saving time and frustration. So now I do the same. When I got a new position, I created a simple system I could follow in order to organize my work life. I had files for memos, manuals, and whatever I needed. I even had my own ‘In’ and “Out’ box for new, or completed, chores. Once I established a working routine, it saved hours of searching and confusion. It also allowed my superiors easy access, and my co- workers, a solution for filling in when I went on vacation. In addition, I planned every day using a basic calendar, as best I could, to help accomplish everything needed for that day.

    Lesson three: I kept business and my personal life separate. I tried in earnest to leave my office problems at the office. I also attempted to bypass office gossip and not listen to negative gripes by co-workers. That way, I also avoided the accompanying stress. When I got home, I had a clear mind and could appreciate my leisure and family time.

    Lesson four: Quit your job and start a home-based business. Then hire people to do the bulk of your work. You will make more money, save on commuting, and have a far more stress-free life. That’s the ultimate lazy-man’s solution to working smarter. I did, I love it, and I know you can too.

    Jeffrey Hauser was a sales consultant for the Bell System Yellow Pages for nearly 25 years. He graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Advertising and has a Master’s Degree from Monmouth University. He had his own advertising agency in Scottsdale, Arizona and ran a consulting and design firm, ABC Advertising. He has authored 6 books and a novel, "Pursuit of the Phoenix," available at http://www.amazon.com. His latest book is, "Inside the Yellow Pages." Currently, he is the Marketing Director for http://www.thenurseschoice.com, a Health Information and Doctor Referral site.

    Posted on May 20th, 2006

    Is it time that alternative methods of combating stress should be given a higher priority by employers wanting to get the very best from their staff, whilst protecting their productivity and profits?

    We live in pressurised times, it’s not safe on the streets, our finances feel threatened, our time seems to be on a permanent fast-forward, and with recent events, the whole world seems to have been plunged into an insecure, knife-edge existence.

    When we eventually grind through the traffic to work, it doesn’t get a lot better, stress is on the increase, that’s official, but then you don’t need to be a social psychologist to work that one out. Ask yourself honestly, do you feel more or less relaxed at work now than you did five years ago?

    Undeniably, for many people, the levels of stress experienced today are far in excess of those from only a few years ago, this is largely due to advances in technology and communications. Industry has also seen increasing competitive pressures forcing up personal productivity requirements, and our average working hours to further increase.

    The UK’s Health and Safety Executive recently reported that over 13.4 million days were lost to stress in a single year, costing British industry 370 billion pounds, - a huge chunk of profit spent financing our love-affair with stress.

    The evidence behind the figures is everywhere if you look for it. Increased employee turnover, increased sickness absence, increased injury claims, managerial burn-out; this is going on in virtually every office, in every town and city nationally.

    So what can be done about this modern day phenomenon?

    Although by no means a total solution to workplace stress, many companies are finding the use of holistic therapies a cost-effective and powerful preventative measure to the accumulation of stress, and its many associated problems.

    Holistic therapies have been around for centuries, but have only recently been adopted by businesses as a viable part of their stress management strategy.

    In a workplace scenario, a large range of massages can be chosen, depending upon the specific nature of work being carried out and the logistics of how many staff are employed and the frequency of treatments required.

    Many companies ask about the real benefits of holistic therapies, but interestingly, very few who adopt this method of controlling stress, go back to being without it as the benefits become apparent, both in terms of staff motivation and decreases in sickness absence.

    The adoption of holistic therapies within the workplace demonstrates to staff that they are valued and that their best interests are at the heart of management. This is then repaid in increased productivity from energised staff, increased retention as staff value the treatments as an incentive, and a decrease in costs associated with covering staff sickness absences.

    It is becoming obvious to most businesses that they need to rethink their strategies on coping with stress, and new health and safety regulations are making stress management a legal requirement. Holistic therapies may be just the kind of natural solution that can break the cycle of stress, and in the process, save businesses and the health service millions of pounds.

    Philip Ashforth is a business coach and Director of Synergy Coaching Limited in the UK. See more about phil Ashforth and Synergy Coaching services at http://www.synergycoaching.co.uk

    Posted on May 19th, 2006

    Jack, 60 years old, is a client of mine. Jack had been in a very difficult, codependent marriage with Stella - a marriage where Jack completely gave himself up in his attempts to avoid Stella’s anger, threats and blame. Jack sought my help regarding extricating himself from this very unhappy relationship and was finally able to end the marriage. Subsequently, Jack sent me the following email:

    “Hi Margaret, I hope all is going well with you. I thought you might be interested in a health change I have noticed. In my last year of marriage to Stella I started having pressure in my chest when I started exercising. I went to several cardiologists. I felt the first one was an alarmist. He wanted to do an angiogram immediately and he wanted permission to do angioplasty at the same time if necessary. I told him that I would get back to him. I immediately went on a better exercise program and took additional supplements for my heart. Over a period of several months I visited three other cardiologists. A very well respected cardiologist had the great idea of doing another stress test on me. When he finished the stress test he said he did not see any reason to do anything different that what I was doing. The pressure I was feeling was still there at the start of exercise but it would go away as I continued to exercise.

    “On December 31, 2005 I made my last support payment to Stella. I have not felt any pressure in my chest since then at the start of exercising or any other time. I actually feel an upward shift in my energy level. I know that stress has a lot to do with health and with the last payment I must have released a lot of stress.

    “I am interested to hear your opinion about this. Stress can be so silent that I do not know if I am always aware of it.”

    I responded to Jack, telling him that recent research indicates that stress may be behind at least 90% of illness. Currently, Jack is in a loving relationship with Andrea, but even that relationship did not stop the stress until his last support payment to Stella. Yet Jack did not realize that the heart pain was related to his stress.

    Too often, when we have physical problems, we seek a purely physical answer. Yet if stress is the underlying cause of 90% of illness, it is very important to open to learning about the fact that we might be stressed and about what is causing the stress.

    If Jack had realized that his heart pain was stress-related, he might have been able to go inside and discover what was really causing the stress. On the surface, it appeared to be his fear of Stella’s anger and the fact that he still owed her money. But if Jack were to look deeper, he might discover some false beliefs that were actually causing the stress – beliefs such as:

    • I am responsible for Stella’s unhappy feelings.

    We cause our own feelings with our thoughts. Therefore, we cannot be responsible for another’s feelings.

    • It is not fair that I have to continue to pay Stella money.

    Jack made choices that led to this outcome. He is responsible for the choices he made.

    • It is my fault that things did not work out with Stella.

    Jack is responsible for his choices, but not for Stella’s choices. Thinking something is all our fault is a way of convincing ourselves that we have more control than we actually have over other’s choices.

    • I will not be able to make enough money to take care of myself.

    Jack does well financially, but often stresses over money.

    • As long as I owe Stella money, she will be able to control me.

    Jack frequently gives his power away to others due to his trying to control them through pleasing, and then fears being controlled by them.

    • I have to give myself up to Stella to control how she feels about me and treats me.

    Jack caused himself stress by trying to control something that he has no control over.

    There is a good possibility that if Jack had explored his beliefs and come into truth with himself, his stress would have decreased long ago. Much of Jack’s stress was being caused by trying to control something that he had no control over. All of us can learn from Jack’s experience. We all have the opportunity to continue to monitor our stress and continue to look at the false beliefs and resulting behavior that are the primary underlying causes of stress.

    Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?" and “Healing Your Aloneness.” She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Learn Inner Bonding now! Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com or email her at margaret@stressmanagementarticles.com. Phone sessions available.

    Posted on May 19th, 2006

    - You should have…
    - I didn’t know…
    - You could have told me…
    - Why didn’t you…
    - They could have…

    When things move along nicely, we rarely rush in and ask – “Who’s responsible for this?” Only when things are not quite right do we look for someone to blame. Many people seem to think that an ok explanation can excuse a poor result. Have you ever thought of how much time you use on explanations and justifying bad, or poor results with “she should..”, “They did it..”, They wouldn’t listen to me anyway” etc.?

    These kinds of answers put us immediately in a victim position; something outside our control is causing pain and stress on us. We feel powerless, and with time we lose the interest in what we’re doing. Adding to the accountability lapses is behaviour like the passive, almost in-visible yes/no nodding during meetings, gossiping at the coffee machine, venting with other colleagues behind closed doors… Just fill in the list.

    Whether you’re a team leader, CEO, or a secretary, YOU have the capacity to affect the culture for better and for worse, by YOUR capacity for full and complete accountability. When you start to take responsibility for the results in your life, you will be a full time player in the middle of the champion league.

    Following are 5 guaranteed shifts that immediately will move you into a feeling of empowerment, and bring clear space into any kind of struggle, conflict or dispute you may encounter:

    1. Feelings
    When you find yourself feeling angry, upset, sad, fearful… Ask yourself; “How can I choose ease and confidence instead?”

    2. Stress
    When you feel your buttons being pushed constantly… Ask yourself; “How do I keep making choices that keep this pattern going?”

    3. Lack of energy
    When you feel flat, no energy, no drive… Ask yourself; “What feelings and emotions have I ignored and not let myself feel?”

    4. Having bad results
    When you experience a stream of bad luck, poor and negative results… Ask yourself; “Do I have an unconscious intention for things to turn out like this?

    5. Seeking solitude because others irritate or upset you
    When you avoid certain people, being distant, or aloof… Ask yourself; “What agreements have I broken?” “What unspoken communications do I have?”

    To communicate your lapses with your team, boss, spouse, kids, or whoever it is you feel is the right person to address, simply describe what you are feeling and what your perception was of the things you did to add on to the situation. Then invite each person to ask the question “What did I do to produce this result?”

    It sounds so simple, but most people look for what the other person did or did not do in the first place. Share, communicate and make new agreements on how to handle this kind of situation in the future.

    Keep track of yourself catching your accountability lapses, and celebrate each time you’ve stepped up and acknowledged them. You’re on your way to becoming a Master!

    This is an excerpt from the course program “Eliminate Burnout and Ignite Your Career”. If you are looking for more strategies and techniques for stress management and career success, go to www.IgniteYourCareer.com and join the Tele seminar series “Eliminate Burnout and Ignite Your Career”.

    Liselotte Molander, Professional Certified Career Coach, and experienced Business Professional, founder and CEO of LKM Communications AB Group of Coaching and Training Companies, Executive Career Coach, facilitator and Public Speaker. Contact via the website http://www.FromBurnoutToBrilliance.com or call: +46-40-47 08 88 (CET time zone)

    © Copyright 2005 Liselotte Molander and LKM Communications AB. All rights reserved

    Posted on May 18th, 2006

    Life doesn’t always go as planned. Stuff happens, and things can soon build into the proverbial mountains from molehills if we let them. Here are some pointers for keeping buoyant in the face of adversity.

    1. Get Some Perspective When problems occur, be specific about them. Speak with someone you know can help you be calm and objective, or take a few minutes to write your thoughts in a journal; anything to get them outside your head for some objective review can really help.

    2. Put Negative Events in Quarantine Keep them separate and don’t let them spread. Negative events can be highly contagious! They have the ability to turn everything around them negative too, given half the chance. Don’t let them. Put them in isolation and make sure they stay there.

    Here’s an example: Sally had some friends over for dinner; she spent ages planning, shopping and cooking. The meal was great, and everyone was happy and impressed with her efforts, but when it came to serving dessert, she dropped it – all over the table – splat!

    Here’s where quarantining comes in very handy. The dessert incident could have ruined everything, but why should it? Everything else had been fine. Is it appropriate to let one incident get retrospective power over everything that had happened before?

    Sally was disappointed and upset for a moment, then she shrugged and said, "Grab a spoon!" and everyone ate the desert from the table right where it had landed. The mess got cleaned up and everyone had fun.

    3. Play with Time Will it matter in a week, a month, or a year? If not, let it go, why wait to feel better about it. If you can do it then, why not do it now?

    4. Don’t Let it Get Personal Whenever you can don’t let it be about you. If two drivers honk their horns at you on the way to work, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are a bad driver, and it certainly doesn’t have to be a bad omen for your day – unless you let it. Keep in mind all your smooth and honk free journeys and let them balance things out for you.

    The Dangers of Drama There’s a Chinese proverb that says: "You can’t prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair."

    When we allow the little things to mushroom and unfold into a drama, we are inviting unnecessary stress and emotional suffering – for ourselves, and for those around us.

    Keeping problems contained and in perspective saves us from getting stressed and helps us find solutions from a calm and clear point of view.

    Ananga Sivyer is a contributing editor and health consultant for LifeScape magazine and the author of the self-help workbook: The Art & Science of Emotional Freedom

    For more articles likes this or to sign up for her free "Energy Points" E-zine, visit her web-site at: http://www.ananga.net

    Posted on May 18th, 2006

    Working as an executive manager in International Trade and Marketing is not always exciting, energizing or fulfilling; it sometimes may be the highway to personal crisis and burnout. Here is the true story about Susan…

    Susan had a very busy life. As a Purchasing Manager in International Trade, she was always on the road. Though she loved her job, it kept her frantically busy, traveling around the world, climbing another rung in the career ladder every two years. She had 2 small children at home and a husband equally as busy. Increasing competition, clashes with her boss about the ideas she felt strongly about, pressure at home, and constraint in her marriage added to her growing feeling of fatigue and frustration.

    Susan felt she had too much to do and no time to do it. Almost in desperate need for a change she found another position in International Relations, hoping that with the change in jobs, everything would level out. At first she felt better, but soon Susan was overwhelmed and felt helpless again. Guilt, hopelessness, and despair filled her as well as self-blame for not managing the situation.

    Fear of losing “everything” fueled her effort, working only to avoid criticism and job loss. Her motivation was gone and she saw no way out of her situation. Fear of burnout and depression kept her going, but inside she felt totally empty and powerless.

    How did Susan’s life go so wrong? Here are the top 3 things she did to fail:

    1. Susan was working hard and got no acknowledgement at work. Money and materialism became the yardsticks she employed to measure her worth. Susan was missing something but couldn’t connect the dots. Her daily survival method became fighting or fleeing while completing her daily tasks.

    2. Susan experienced more and more stress in her life. She thought that lowering the stress would get her back on track. She started to schedule facials, body massages, and spa days into her already busy schedule. She felt angry and blamed herself for not being wiser, stronger or better. Ironically enough, by adding these relaxing activities, Susan increased her stress level even more.

    3. In almost desperation, Susan changed to a job with less traveling, hoping that the stress would even out. She worked fewer hours, hoping that this would give her more time to do errands, spend time with her children and care for her marriage. By working 80% of the time, there would be one full day off, she thought. However, the workload basically stayed the same and she often spent the morning hours of her “free” day working on reports etc., even though her salary was only 80% of her original pay. Susan felt she had nowhere to turn, and didn’t know how to build a support network around her. Instead of looking for alternative solutions, she drifted away into feeling even more powerless.

    Susan finally faced her situation, found a coach, and learned to accept where life had taken her. With simple tools and guidance, she started to move From Burn Out to Brilliance™.

    This is an excerpt for the course program “Eliminate Burnout Ignite Your Career”. If you are looking for more strategies and techniques for stress management and career success, go to www.EliminateBurnout.com

    Liselotte Molander, Professional Certified Career Coach, and experienced Business Professional, founder and CEO of LKM Communications AB Group of Coaching and Training Companies, Executive Career Coach, facilitator and Public Speaker. Contact via the website http://www.FromBurnoutToBrilliance.com or call: +46-40-47 08 88 (CET time zone)

    © Copyright 2005 Liselotte Molander and LKM Communications AB. All rights reserved

    Posted on May 17th, 2006

    According to a study conducted by the American Heart Association, the ability to laugh is a good indicator of heart health. Their study of 150 patients support the fact that laughter has the potential to improve heart health by as much as forty percent.

    There are so many funny things in the world, it’s amazing we ever frown. I made an effort yesterday to catalog all of the hilarious moments throughout my day. I gave up after an hour; there were just too many. I laugh easily, but it takes a lot to get a true belly laugh out of me.

    You know the kind. It starts with a chuckle, a deep noise in the back of my throat. Then it grows into bursts of sound from the mouth, punctuated by an occasional gasp for air. Finally, the entire body is shaking, yet all noise has ceased. Typically, when I reach this point, I have tears rolling down my face, I can barely breathe, and there’s no way I could speak if I tried!

    Yesterday I had one of those moments. A totally out of control laughing experience. As usual, it was a result of my own behavior. I was in my martial arts class, learning a new sparring combination. I’ve attended classes for the past year, so I’m no longer completely inept, but I still have my moments. This happened to be one of them.

    Picture a woman of small stature stepping up to a man who is at least a full foot taller. She takes a defensive stance, her feet solidly planted, fists raised in front of her head for protection. He gives the signal for her to start, she steps back, cocks her fist and fires off a roundhouse punch at his head. He moves to block, unnecessarily as it turns out. Her hand continues it’s forward trajectory, coming around as roundhouse punches are apt to do, until it connects with her jaw.

    Stunned, she rubs her face. That was not the intended target! She looks at her clenched fist for a moment in confusion, then looks up to see her partner shaking with laughter. Unable to resist, she joins him. It seems funnier by the moment and soon the laughter grows to a point of no return. Five minutes later, I had to excuse myself from the training hall to use the restroom and make some attempt to regain my dignity.

    Physical comedy has always brought me to tears. I love reading a passage in a novel, or watching a scene in a movie, depicting some action with unintended consequences. I fully enjoy laughing at these comedic scenes, largely because I can picture myself easily doing the same! Falling, tumbling, tripping, you name it, I’ve done it. If I could do it on cue, I would be famous.

    Laughter is a great stress reliever. After a good laughing session, muscles are relaxed and your mind is clear. Most of us spend a great amount of time being serious so we need the comic relief laughter provides. Life is full of funny, you don’t have to look hard to find it so open your eyes and laugh that stress away! Your heart will thank you for it.

    Sonia Fischer is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Creative Writing.

    Posted on May 17th, 2006

    Energy from emotional and physical stress has a tendency to spread into your immediate environment. It can take away the feeling of sanctuary you need in order to relax and unwind. The good news is that you can get rid of that accumulation of negative energy. You can create a haven that you will feel happy, secure, and productive in. The following suggestions should help.

    Let’s first define what your personal space is to you. It could be your entire home, apartment, bedroom, or even just the corner of your dorm room. For some, especially busy moms; the bathroom is the best space to retreat to for a few minutes of serenity. Whatever space you claim as your own, that’s the area we want to focus on.

    Now we need to get a grip on any unnecessary clutter. Those ever-growing piles of papers and miscellaneous things to do won’t get any smaller until you take some action. Make a date with yourself, even if it’s only for 15 minutes a day and go through each and every item. Would you REALLY miss it if you didn’t have it? If your answer comes short of a very definite YES, then pitch it, recycle it, or donate it. You’ll be amazed at how much lighter and free you’ll feel once this is done!

    When the de-cluttering process has been completed, get out your dust cloth and mop. Clean up all the spider webs and dust bunnies. Pay attention to windows too. Having a cleaner space will help you breathe easier and is a much healthier environment for body, mind, and soul. Please make sure you spend a little extra time in heavy traffic areas and the corners too.

    Now that everything is nice and tidy, ask yourself what you have in your space that you enjoy looking at. Maybe it’s a beautiful view outside your window, or pictures of your family. Being able to focus visually on your favorite things will help encourage Happy Thoughts. Try to have at least one small item for this.

    What about the lighting, is it harsh, or too dim? That is easy to adjust with either higher or lower watts of light bulbs. I’ve found 60 watt works the best for me, but you might want super bright 100 watt, or very dim 40 watt. It’s a matter of personal preference and is also very inexpensive to adjust to what you like the best. Nothing beats natural light through a window during the day, but you don’t have to have a window to get the same effect. There are even light bulbs that offer a natural lighting feel in a room, though they are a bit more expensive. Candlelight adds some elegance and is excellent at burning away stressful feelings in a room. It also helps with aromatherapy; we will talk about that more a little later.

    How does your space sound? Is there an accumulation of outside noises that distract you from being at peace? Sometimes running a fan or a white noise CD is the perfect block to outside noises. Try different types of music to enhance the ambience in your room. New age and classical music both have regenerative properties that work wonders on your mental state. I would suggest staying away from the television, especially during high stress times. Newscasts, soap operas, “real TV”, to name a few, will increase the levels of negativity in your environment. If you are set on the TV, try to pick the most positive programming you can find.

    Aromatherapy is a vital element in creating your peaceful space. The part of your brain that detects smells is closely linked with the limbic part of your brain, which is your emotional center. Smells can evoke memories, good ones and bad ones; they can leave you feeling happy, sad, and every emotion in between. Aromatherapy goes back as far as Hippocrates, the Greek father of medicine, who strongly recommended the use of aromatic essential oils for their relaxing properties. A few relaxing, stress-relieving scents include:

    · Cedarwood
    · Chamomile
    · Sage
    · Rosemary
    · Geranium
    · Jasmine
    · Lavender
    · Lemongrass
    · Orange
    · Rose
    · Rosewood
    · Sandalwood
    · Vanilla

    You can use candles, incense, air fresheners of every different sort from sprays to plug-ins, or potpourri. Try a variety of types and aromas to see what works best for your own moods.

    We have touched a little on how your room looks, sounds, and smells. These are important elements to consider in providing yourself with a mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy environment. You may want to think of the colors that are put in your room, the furnishings and how you arrange them. The temperature may need to be adjusted with fans or electric heaters. These ideas will set you on the way towards creating a peaceful sanctuary for yourself. What else can you think of to help yourself feel comfortable and relaxed? Get creative and have fun. Before you know it you’ll have your own piece of heaven on earth!

    Tracy Togliatti is a Holistic Practitioner specializing in Energy Psychology and Reiki. She offers a free service at http://www.happyher.com/advice/index.shtml

    « Prev - Next »