Archive for August, 2006

Posted on Aug 26th, 2006

Women at mid-life have one of the highest levels of stress found in our culture today. This is not surprising, given the multiple roles they carry, the expectations of our culture, and the speed of our lifestyle. Mid-life women are working in positions of responsibility on a scale never previously reached by women. At the same time, there is a 50 percent chance they are single, and another 50 percent chance that they are caring for children or parents (or both) in some capacity. More than four out of 10 adults in the United States between the ages of 45 and 55 – mostly women – are caring for a child as well as for an older adult, usually a parent. Of those caregivers, 64 percent are employed full- or part-time, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving.

What are we talking about when we talk about life balance? I was prompted to write this article when I realized that most women don’t need yet another set of instructions for “traditional” life balance. I am weary of life-balance articles that give women the message that there are "ten easy steps." We mid-lifers grew up with the feminist movement that gave us a model to “do it all” − make the bacon and fry it up in a pan. Many of us, including me, have found this does not work.

What are the real underlying issues of life balance that affect most women? What do we want, and what stands in our way? Are we given a cultural image of “life balance” that is a myth? Do we need to consider another model so we can feel a bit better about this whole concept?

Life balance, the basics. So what exactly is life balance? At the most basic level, for me and for many other mid-life women, it is about head space.

Within that head space, that inner process, a multitude of possibilities exists for me. For one, I can sort my priorities and not just go on autopilot. Recently I went through one of those times where I lost sight of my head space for too long. I found that my diet had gone south, and I was working each day without any personal agenda. In essence, I was getting nowhere.

Most significantly, if we don’t have head space, we lose the ability to really be alive. What could be more important?

Expendable time. This peace of mind requires that we have time. Although each of us has 24 hours deposited into our daily bank account, we all have very different auto drafts from our account. Two of my good friends are examples.

Consider, Christie, a full-time hospital scrub nurse, aged 45 and married mother of two children who are 12 and 14. Christie’s husband is in sales and travels Monday through Thursday. Christie’s mother, aged 71, lives nearby and is recovering from cancer. Christie helps her mother with doctor appointments and various other needs, shuttles her kids to sports and activities, and also keeps the home "running." Christie frequently goes into over-draft on her time and finds herself up before 5 am in order to get head space.

In contrast, is Lucy, aged 46, a rural support nurse who is married and has no children of her own, although she does have 20- and 22-year-old stepchildren. Lucy’s parents are in great health and live in a different part of the country. Lucy’s husband is semi-retired and has taken over many of the household chores. Although Lucy does travel on her job, she is able to come home and enjoy herself. She participates in triathlons and is learning to do stone carving.

It is clear that time is an asset that can have a great impact on our life balance. Understanding this concept can help mid-life women to quit beating themselves up, and instead to start to move forward and discover ways to find life balance.

Support. Support allows us to feel safe, and to have peace of mind. Women need support in the four quadrants of mind/body/spirit/emotions. How do we get this?

One of the biggest lessons of my own mid-life has been the understanding that the “mind-reading” my mother taught me doesn’t get me anything. In other words, slamming the door, sighing heavily, or crashing pots and pans does not get my needs met. I was taught, as many women were in my generation, that we are to do it all and never ask for help. This is nonsense.

We need to learn how to ask for help. Take out a piece of paper, and make four quadrants. Label them "mind,” "body," "spirit," and "emotions." List how and where you get support for each area. Where are the holes? Chances are you feel unbalanced where you have no support. Where do you need to ask for help?

Beyond the basics. Sue Shellenbarger, in her recent book Breaking Point, says that mid-life crisis for women is driven by an underlying need for creativity and life meaning. Once you are able to gain the head space needed to balance your life, and the support to do it, you have the capacity to create opportunities to do the things that you love. I find that many mid-life women don’t know what they love to do. They know that something is missing, but can’t put their finger on it. One way to find out is to ask yourself, if you had a day to do anything you loved, what would it be? If you have lived whole your life making the bacon and frying it up in a pan, you have not explored your playful side. Life is too serious.

Balance for mid-life women is not a myth if it can be defined and experienced in its smallest denominator, that of head space. For some woman, achieving head space is a monumental step and a true beginning. Beyond that basic, balance is individually driven. As women, our homeostatus, or equilibrium, meter is complex. We have years of expectations and beliefs that cover our sensing mechanism. We must take pains to ensure that life balance is not another achievement where we fall short. We are worth it!

Jennifer Wright, MS, OTR, is a Spirit of Adventure Coach for midlife women. She helps women sail thru the issues of midlife crisis, finding love and dating after 50, workplace issues of menopause, and creating a signature second half of life. Visit her at http://www.midlifeheroine.com, for free reports, ezine, and other suprizes!

Posted on Aug 26th, 2006

The moment I read the story I’m about to share with you, I knew it would make a good article. It has one of the best approaches to managing stress, change and, for that matter, life and its living that I have ever read. Give it a read, and then we’ll put some hands and feet on it to make it immediately useful.

A parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer’s well one day, and the farmer, hearing the mule braying, rushed over to see what had happened. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.

At first the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back … a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back, he could shake it off and step up.

So this he did, blow after blow.

Shake it off and step up … shake it off and step up … shake it off and step up,’ he repeated to encourage himself.

It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered, dirty and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of the well. What seemed like it would bury him actually blessed him, all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.

Can’t you just imagine how the average person would handle this situation today?

The first thought after falling in the well would be, "Who can I sue?" followed closely by, "This is just not fair!"

And who wouldn’t panic? You don’t have to have claustrophobia to feel extreme terror in this situation. It brings to mind the opening lines of one of my favorite jazz songs by sax man Wilton Felder:

"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you can inherit the wind."

Respond to what life throws at you with an attitude that allows you to make it work for you, no matter what.

Notice also that the mule came out beat up, dirty and worn out. If it had been a superhero action figure in the well, he or she would have come out of the well shiny clean, with every hair in place.

Have you noticed that real life is usually a whole lot messier?

One of the least-spoken but important lessons of life is that there are times when you can’t save your face and your rear end at the same time.

The really nice thing here for us is that there was nothing extraordinary about the mule in this story.

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is when you are scared silly and still decide to make the right choices at the right time.

I’ll close with a couple of action questions and a quote from the e-mail from which I found this story:

We all have wells in our lives. What are some of the wells in which you have found or now find yourself?

What would it take and how would it change your life to shrug it off and step up?

The adversities that come along to bury us usually have within them the potential to benefit and bless us.

Visit SecretsofGreatRelationships.com for tips and tools for creating and growing a great relationship. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 10 day e-program on how to enrich your relationship today, from relationship coach and expert Jeff Herring.

Posted on Aug 25th, 2006

Stress is one way our bodies respond to changes in the environment and is a normal part of daily life. Stress can be caused by a variety of factors including home and work environments, finances, illness, relationship problems, neglecting your health, and having unrealistic expectations for yourself and others. Even positive or happy experiences can increase our stress levels. Stress isn’t just bothersome; up to 90% of illnesses are stress related. It is important to pay attention to our own stress responses and reduce stressors whenever possible.

Stress shows up in our bodies in a variety of ways.

Common physical signs of stress:

  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Tension in your muscles
  • Migraine headaches
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Pain in your back, neck or shoulders
  • Feeling tired
  • Stomach problems, cramping, heartburn, etc.
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Hair loss
  • Emotional signs of stress:

  • Feeling anxious
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Increased irritability
  • Increased moodiness
  • Feeling out of control
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling angry
  • If you are feeling the effects of stress it is important to learn to manage your stress. Start by identifying the sources of your stress. Sometimes it is helpful to work with a friend or partner who might have a more objective view. When you have identified the events, situations, and people who make you feel stressed, then you can implement a variety of ways to reduce your stress.

    Here are some ideas for managing and reducing stress:

  • Reduce responsibilities
  • Learn to say “no”
  • Work toward having realistic expectations for yourself and others
  • Get regular exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Avoid fast foods
  • Try relaxation exercises or meditation
  • Organize your time: leave earlier so you don’t feel rushed, schedule some extra time between appointments so that you have some flexibility
  • Try getting to bed a little earlier and getting up a little earlier
  • Keep “to do” lists and update them regularly
  • Talk with your friends and family about your efforts to get your stress under control
  • Cut back or eliminate these stressors: caffeine, alcohol, tobacco
  • Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Take mini-breaks during the day: step outside, read from a favorite book, enjoy a cup of tea
  • When stressful situations arise, take a minute to visualize how you will handle the situation
  • Pay attention to your self-talk – be sure you are saying encouraging things to yourself rather than putting yourself down
  • If your stress feels overwhelming, talk to your doctor or therapist for support
  • This list is just the beginning. As you pay attention to your stress levels and responses, you will discover many more ways to handle the stresses that come your way. The idea is not to feel trapped and helpless in the face of stress, but to become more flexible in handling life’s demands.

    © 2006 Cynthia McKenna LPC, NCC - All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

    Cynthia McKenna LPC, NCC is a therapist and life-coach who helps people transform their lives. Her goal is to help people have more joy and peace in daily living. Cynthia works with individuals, couples, and groups in the Texas Hill Country. She also works with clients online and by phone. For more information or to make an appointment, visit Cynthia McKenna’s website http://cynthiamckennacounseling.com/

    Posted on Aug 25th, 2006

    Picture the following scene:

    It’s Sunday evening, the weekend is winding down and you’re beginning to think about the work week ahead. What are your feelings?

    Do you find yourself excited and challenged, looking forward to another week of doing something you love? The most fortunate among us get to feel that way on a regular basis.

    Or are you instead feeling something else, perhaps anxiety or even dread? That’s a special kind of anxiety and stress I call "Sunday Night Syndrome."

    All of us experience some form of SNS from time to time. What’s important is how often and how severe it is.

    Mild Sunday Night Syndrome

    In most people, the anxiety usually begins Sunday evening, but it passes quickly and is gone by the time you arrive at work. This feeling is probably the result of working continuously for five days a week and having only two days off during which to recover.

    What to do:

    Relax and remember: The feeling will pass.

    Rent a movie, play a game, enjoy being with family and friends.

    Moderate Sunday Night Syndrome

    The next stage of SNS is characterized by increasing anxiety as the work week approaches. The anxiety begins earlier in the day and doesn’t pass as easily as mild SNS.

    You begin to stay up later and later on Sunday night, in the hope of keeping Monday morning from arriving. As a result, you feel tired and sluggish on Monday, which leaves you ill-equipped to deal with your feelings and your work.

    Other symptoms include increased irritability and inattentiveness around family and friends, as well as deteriorating work performance. Colleagues and supervisors may begin to notice changes at this point.

    What to do:

    In addition to the above suggestions, make sure you get to bed early enough to be rested the next day.

    Identify things about your job that you can feel good about, or even look forward to.

    As crazy as it sounds, some people have found that going into the office or doing some work at home seems to help.

    If going into the office is not possible, being as prepared as possible can help.

    Severe Sunday Night Syndrome

    The third level of SNS doesn’t wait until Sunday to arrive. It begins Saturday or even Friday after work.

    By the time Sunday evening rolls around, folks with severe SNS are experiencing strong anxiety and dread.

    Some people become physically ill at the prospect of another work week. Depression is common at this point, as well as drinking too much alcohol.

    What to do:

    What underlies your emotions and reactions? If you don’t examine this issue, the feelings might just grow stronger.

    It could be time to consider a change, either in the details of your job or perhaps an entire change of job or career.

    Consult a career counselor to look at your options.

    Make sure you are doing something, from talking about it to physical exercise, in order to relieve the stress.

    You might want to seek counseling to help you manage the stress, emotions and decisions involved.

    Remember: If it’s hurting you, it’s not likely to be helping anyone else.

    What’s more, there are three books I’ve recommended before that you might find useful:

    "Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work" by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

    "Heart at Work" by Jack Canfield and Jacqueline Miller

    "Care Packages for the Workplace" by Barbara Glanz

    All of us experience some form of Sunday Night Syndrome from time to time. It’s how we respond that makes the difference.

    Visit SecretsofGreatRelationships.com for tips and tools for creating and growing a great relationship. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 10 day e-program on how to enrich your relationship today, from relationship coach and expert Jeff Herring.

    Posted on Aug 24th, 2006

    There have been volumes written about stress, its causes and its solutions. The fact that there has been so much written suggests that this is some complex issue that requires much attention and study to resolve. In fact that is anything but the case.

    There is a very simple explanation for why anyone experiences stress and an equally straight forward solution. I will first use a metaphor to illustrate this.

    Imagine driving down the highway with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake. How much stress is your vehicle experiencing in this situation? Well I think the answer is obvious.

    Now we will equate the heart of a person, which is the core of a human being’s self, and where his/her passions, desires and core values live, so to speak as the foot that is on the gas.

    We similarly equate all of the beliefs that have been acquired through learning or conditioning in the person’s mind as the foot on the brake.

    You may wish to ponder why I chose these in this manner.

    So now I will get to the point. How often is your mind in alignment with your heart? Well if you are some one who experiences a lot of stress then that alignment is quite rare if non existent.

    Isn’t it interesting that two aspects of an individual that should supposedly be working in the best interests of that person can be so antithetical to each other?

    Have you ever experienced them to be in alignment? If so recall that moment for a moment and remember how you felt. You’ll likely notice that you were feeling happy, relaxed, joyful, contented, at peace, care free, lighter and healthier to name a few.

    So which should lead and which should follow, the mind or the heart? Well why not try an experiment and see if you can determine this for your self? If you have the courage I think you will figure it out and then all your stress problems will be solved.

    Dr. Nick Arrizza is trained in Chemical Engineering, Business Management & Leadership, Medicine and Psychiatry. He is an Energy Psychiatrist, Healer, Key Note Speaker,Editor of a New Ezine Called "Spirituality And Science" (which is requesting high quality article submissions) Author of "Esteem for the Self: A Manual for Personal Transformation" (available in ebook format on his web site), Stress Management Coach, Peak Performance Coach & Energy Medicine Researcher, Specializes in Life and Executive Performance Coaching, is the Developer of a powerful new tool called the Mind Resonance Process(TM) that helps build physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being by helping to permanently release negative beliefs, emotions, perceptions and memories. He holds live workshops, international telephone coaching sessions and international teleconference workshops on Physical. Emotional, Mental and Spiritual Well Being.

    Business URL #1: http://www.telecoaching4u.com

    Personal URL: http://www.telecoaching4u.com/Spirituality_And_Science.htm

    Posted on Aug 24th, 2006

    Health Impacts of Stress

    Stress is a funny concept, try to define it - go on… I bet if all of you sent me your personal definition of what you perceive as stress, it would fill pages and you would all find that different things stress each of you differently.

    For example, some of you might find driving stressful, some of you enjoy driving. However, this does not mean that driving is not stressful, at least for some of you. So what is Stress?

    Stress is any situation or circumstance, which if ongoing over an extended period of time will cause your body’s physiology to change.

    Basically there are two forms of stress "good stress" and "bad stress" - an example of good stress is sensible exercise, which is a stress on you body’s physiology which will improve your overall health.

    Bad stress on the other hand is an activity that will do the reverse - for example: worrying about money, or rather the lack of it… That can keep you awake at night, create anger, resentment and usually negatively impacts your relationships with your family and friends. It can also be working a job you hate, but for reasons, known only to yourself, you can not leave the job and feel you have to put up with it.

    As a student of traditional Chinese medicine, during my course on Differential diagnosis, stress was listed as a cause for just about every disease known to man; and this right across the spectrum of medicine (orthodox and traditional forms). Think about this for a second - stress has the potential to cause, or contribute to causing almost every disease known to medical science…. That’s amazing!

    There are lots of books and other information on how to help recognize and manage stress in your life, and I won’t go into a lengthy how to manage and recognize stress session here.

    This article focuses on how stress will show up and affect your skin - especially your facial skin.

    Someone once said that your parents are responsible for how you look until your 30 - after that it’s your responsibility… So are you smiling or frowning more often during the day…? Both produce different lines on your face - don’t believe me - look in the mirror and smile, then frown - see. Which do you like better ?

    Frowning causes your neck and facial muscles to tense up and this in turn reduces blood flow to the skin, which is in part responsible for causing facial lines and wrinkles prematurely.

    Did you know that smiling requires a lot less effort and energy than frowning? And that it’s better for you? Did you know that smiling can actually make you feel happier?

    Scientists and psychologists have found that the muscles around our mouth and jaw that allow you to smile actually stimulate a specific part of our brain which is linked to our emotions. When these brain cells are stimulated, they make us feel happy. So, even if you feel sad, irritated, angry or frustrated, just by smiling, it will make you feel better. Aside from this physical benefit of smiling, a smile to others often makes them feel happier.

    Picture this. If someone greets you every morning with a sullen and sulky face, it does not help you to feel any better, in fact, it will also dampen your mood. If you are met, however, with a cheerful smile and a friendly greeting, you easily catch the happy mood and you start the day with enthusiasm. This simple yet very effective technique of bonding and motivating others is an underestimated and undressed skill.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could train ourselves to smile instead of frown? To have a ‘permanent smile’ on our faces? We’d end up with happy lines on our faces and lots of other faces smiling back at us - good idea?

    Here’s a very simple way that you can start changing the lines on your face and reduce the effect of stress on you body without buying anything, reading any books or spend any money.

    One way you can have this ‘training’ start right now is by asking someone you live with or a trusted friend to make an agreement with you - each of you agrees that when the other one is seen to be frowning, they get charged a frowning fee - say $0.50 and this is put into a jar. At the end of a month, you both get to go out and do something which will bring you joy or make you happy. That’s got to be worth trying, No?

    Danny Siegenthaler is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and together with his wife Susan, a medical herbalist and Aromatherapist, they have created Natural Skin Care Products by Wildcrafted Herbal Products to share their 40 years of combined expertise with you.

    Join our Natural Skin Care Newsletter – it’s fun, free and Informative and you receive a free eBook on natural skin care.

    © Copyright: Wildcrafted Herbal Products, 2005

    Posted on Aug 23rd, 2006

    It is estimated that 500,000 people in the UK are suffering illness that has been caused by stress in the workplace, with a further 5 million people reporting themselves as being very or extremely stressed whilst at work. Stress at work also affects people’s life outside work too, with 55% of full time workers saying that they took their stress home with them at the end of the day.

    Mind, a mental health organisation, found that stress costs 10% of the UK’s Gross National Product, but over 90% of companies do not have any strategies in place to deal with it. 12.8 million days a year are recorded as being lost to stress, but it is thought that up to 50 million days are lost in which stress plays a part.

    What is stress?
    Stress is a reaction that comes from a survival mechanism from our history, when it fuelled our “fight or flight” response. Nowadays, a certain level of stress can be healthy and can build motivation at work, but when this becomes seen as an impossible burden rather than an achievable challenge, this turns into negative stress.

    Negative stress is defined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as being “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them.”

    What are the symptoms of stress?
    There are many symptoms of stress, and people who are stressed may display one, several or many of them. What starts off as a mental symptom of stress may build into a physical condition, and some physical illnesses may be worsened by stress.

    - Physical symptoms include problems with sleep, tension headaches and migraines, heart disease, fatigue and high blood pressure.

    - Mental symptoms include anxiety, depression, irritability, memory problems, and a feeling of being out of control.

    - Relational symptoms include increased arguments with colleagues and family, road rage, lack of interest in social activities, and overreactions.

    What can an employer do to reduce stress?

    Recognising the causes and effects of stress on employees is an important place to start for a company trying to reduce levels of stress. There is a range of ways in which an employer can go about reducing stress, and some may be more appropriate to certain jobs than others. Here are some of the ways in which companies have helped reduce the effects of stress:

    - Introducing flexible working, either by allowing employees to work from home or starting a flexi-time scheme

    - Promoting lunchtime exercise or relaxation classes

    - Encouraging stressed workers to see counsellors

    - Provide interpersonal skills training

    - Setting clear roles for employees and ensuring they understand them

    - Making sure that employees are in the most appropriate roles

    - Encouraging employees to take their full lunch break and not to work late

    What to do if you are stressed at work
    If you are stressed at work, the best things to do are voice your concerns to your manager, and try to work out what is causing you to be stressed and find some strategies to reduce your level of stress.

    If your employer will not help, the option of making an accident at work claim may well be open to you, and this will allow you to claim financial compensation for the pain and suffering which you have experienced, as well as any other losses that your stress has caused you. Making an accident at work claim could help improve working conditions for your colleagues, as well as providing you with recompense for the effects that stress had had on you.

    Editorial notes: YouClaim helps people all over the UK get compensation for workplace stress and accidents at work. YouClaim’s service is completely cost-free for customers and no deductions are made from compensation awards. For more information, go to http://www.youclaim.co.uk or call 0800 10 757 95.

    Author notes: Alexandra Gubbins of http://www.youclaim.co.uk.

    Posted on Aug 23rd, 2006

    Q. So many times in my life, I seem to hold myself back from what I want to do. I make great plans and have great intentions, but then end up holding myself back in some way. Do you have any suggestions for changing this?

    A. When you were a kid, did you ever do something wrong and get put on restrictions? You know, no TV, stay in your room, can’t play with friends, for what seemed like an eternity?

    What would it be like if we were still on the same restrictions from when we were kids?

    It would seem kind of silly, would it not?

    And yet we tend to keep ourselves "on restriction" in so many areas of our lives.

    These restrictions tend to fall into certain categories. See if any of these fit for you.

    1) I can’t:

    Ask for what I want.

    Be successful.

    Get the right job.

    Stand up for myself.

    2) I shouldn’t:

    Go for what I want.

    Act selfish.

    Say no.

    Think for myself.

    3) I’m only:

    Good at one thing.

    A young person.

    An old person.

    4) I don’t have:

    The right genes.

    The right connections.

    5) I have:

    Too much against me.

    A bad attitude.

    6) They said:

    I couldn’t do it.

    I wouldn’t make it.

    7) I’m too:

    Young, old, fat, thin.

    If you recognized yourself in any of these restrictions, don’t despair. Look at it this way. When we were kids, parents could put us on restrictions and take us off. But now we are adults. We can take ourselves off restrictions.

    How? There are three steps.

    1. Question the restriction. Here are some questions to ask:

    Does this make sense?

    Does this fit in my life?

    Does it help me meet my goals?

    Does it help me to feel and act the way I want?

    If you can’t get a yes to any of these questions, it’s time to discard the restriction as no longer useful in your life.

    2. Make fun of the restriction.

    Have you ever gently teased yourself about something in your life? I don’t mean in a negative or mean sense. You need to be able to laugh at your own self-imposed limitations.

    3. Replace it with an ability.

    Here’s a general rule about changing restrictions: Never remove a restriction without replacing it with a belief that strengthens you.

    Take, for example, one of the statements above: "I can’t ask for what I want." After you have questioned and laughed at the restriction, simply replace it with "I can ask for anything I want, I just need to learn how."

    See the difference?

    Visit SecretsofGreatRelationships.com for tips and tools for creating and growing a great relationship. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 10 day e-program on how to enrich your relationship today, from relationship coach and expert Jeff Herring.

    Posted on Aug 22nd, 2006

    Stress bombards us every day from all directions. Maybe it’s sitting in the midst of highway gridlock when you are already late for an important appointment. Or how about the bill you forgot to pay? It could be a phone call from the school complaining about your child’s behavior.

    These are just the annoying little stress triggers that we handle every day. What about the larger issues? Retirement, moving, divorce or, heaven forbid, the death of a loved one or friend can come out of the blue and here comes the stress, launching you into treading murky waters one more time.

    The impression is that the feelings of stress come from outside sources when, in reality, it happens inside of us.

    Stress put you at risk for heart attack, stroke, insomnia, backache, headache, irritable bowel syndrome, sports injuries and infertility.

    Stress can trigger serious illness like Graves’ and fibromyalgia. Stress even makes us more susceptible to the common cold.

    With your health at stake, you owe it to yourself to take the time to use the stress-reducing techniques on a daily basis.

    Here are 12 keys to stress reduction to help you open the door to a more relaxing life. Choose those best suited for you.

    Breathe deeply. Relax your muscles, expanding your stomach and chest. Exhale slowly. Repeat several times.

    Follow your breath as it flows in and out. Do not try to control it. This is a good way to relax in the midst of any activity. This technique allows you to find a breathing pattern that is natural and relaxing to you.

    Exercise regularly. Aerobic exercise, such as walking and swimming, produces brain chemicals that uplift your mood and mental well being.

    Exercise also improves sleep and gives you time to think and focus on other things. Beware of compulsive exercise, however.

    Eat healthy foods. You should never skip meals. Take time out for lunch no matter how busy you are.

    Don’t let others get you down. Choose positive friends who are not worriers. Friends who constantly put you down or talk gloomily about life will increase your anxiety.

    Be optimistic. Count your blessings, especially when everything seems to go wrong. Believe that most people are doing the best that they can.

    Plan your time wisely. And realistically. For example, don’t schedule back-to-back meetings with tight travel time. Remember to leave room for unanticipated events - both negative and positive. Be flexible about rearranging your agenda.

    Prevent problems before they occur.This takes some planning. If you are flying to another city for an important meeting, carry your presentation materials and dress suit on board the plane. Baggage does get lost.

    Retreat to recharge your spirit. Schedule private time every day. You deserve it. Unplug the telephone and enjoy a quiet evening alone or with your family, or even 15 uninterrupted minutes in the shower or bathtub.

    You may want to spend a few minutes writing your feelings out in a journal. It can help you find a new perspective and relieve hidden conflicts.

    Savor life’s little delights. Give yourself some physical pleasure to help your stress slip away.

    Example: Give yourself permission to enjoy a movie, watch a sports event, listen to music or read a book.

    Use visualization and affirmation techniques. You can inoculate yourself against a situation you fear by going over the event in your mind. Imagine the scene in vivid detail and picture the best possible outcome.

    You can also shrink an imagined fear down to size by picturing the worst possible results. Imagine describing this worst case to your best friend the next day and the sympathy you receive.

    Get enough sleep. Determine how much sleep you require for optimum performance. Sleep deprivation aggravates the body’s responses to stress.

    Consider setting an alarm clock to remind yourself that it is time to go to bed.

    Strive for your dreams. Plan ahead to meet your most cherished goals in life.

    Knowing that you are striving toward your dreams relieves frustrations that mount when you feel stuck in a rut of endless responsibilities that seem to lead nowhere.

    ————————————————————

    Wan Ibrahim is the Publisher of "Healthy 4Life eZine" - Bringing You the Top Quality and Fresh Material to Help You Get the Best Healthiest Body Possible! To Subscribe, send blank email to: healthy_4life@stressmanagementarticles.com

    Posted on Aug 22nd, 2006

    Do you get frustrated with your spouse, your kids, your parents? Maybe you can’t stand your boss, or your co-workers drive you up the wall. I’ll bet you think that if all these pesky people would just quit bothering you that you’d be really happy, right? Well guess what, you’d just find something else to drive you crazy because you like how it feels.

    You THINK you don’t want to feel upset or frustrated, but really, it is your THOUGHTS that are causing you pain, not the feelings. Try this. The next time you find yourself upset about something, STOP THINKING. Just stop the head for a minute and feel what is going on inside your body. Feel your heart rate, notice your breathing, pay attention where your body feels tight. STOP THINKING! Maybe you’ll notice that your heart is racing, your breath is shallow, and your stomach is clenched.

    Now think of a time when you had these same physical sensations but you were in a “happy place.” Perhaps you were having an amorous evening with your significant other, or you were at a sporting event and cheering on your winning team, or you were anxiously awaiting the surprise guest of honor at a party. You experience that same exhilarating feeling in both Joy and Conflict.

    If you want to have fewer conflicts in your life, you can start by admitting that you like that stimulating feeling you get when you’re frustrated. Try this the next time you’re sitting there, stewing in your own juices because “someone” ticked you off:

    1. STOP THINKING … Put all of your excuses, arguments, and validations on hold.

    2. FEEL THE FEELING … What are your physical sensations?

    3. REMEMBER … When have you enjoyed this same physical feeling in the past?

    4. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY … You wanted to feel exhilaration and you got it. Now own it.

    Once you take responsibility, you’ll see that it’s pointless to blame others when you get upset, frustrated, and angry. The truth is, you’re really getting a kick out of it. After you’ve followed this sequence a few times, you’ll discover a knee-jerk reaction to conflict that will remind you that you got frustrated just so you could feel the excitement.

    5. LAUGH … Don’t take yourself so seriously. It’s actually kinda funny.

    If frustration and conflict work for you, then by all means, don’t try this. Just keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten. I promise, this will only work if you practice it. Once you’ve tried this suggestion a few times, you’ll discover that your THINKING is causing your conflicts and you’ll realize just how silly that is.

    “There is nothing either bad or good, but thinking makes it so.” –William Shakespeare

    ©Dawn Breeze-George. Reprint rights granted with article and resource box intact.

    Support your Health and Energy level while you are evolving into a Joyful person with Original Noni Juice from Tahiti: http://www.nonijuice.bravehost.com Register here to win a FREE trip to Tahiti!

    Dawn Breeze-George is a Licensed Massage Therapist, Reiki Master and Holistic Practitioner. Dawn has been practicing Holistic healing for more than 18 years, and is committed to healing the body, mind, and spirit. See my story at: http://www.nonijuice.bravehost.com/dawn.html

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