Archive for August, 2006

Posted on Aug 21st, 2006

Those magazine articles telling us how to cut stress by taking more exercise, dancing our cares away and enjoying a long massage are all very well, but what about those times during the day when we need a remedy immediately? You’re in the office. The phone is ringing. Deadlines are looming. If one more person appears with yet another request, you may just reach boiling point.

We often think that because we’re in an office, we should ignore our senses when the best thing we can do is stimulate them. With this in mind, here a few quick fixes you can try for instant stress relief….

1. Step Outside. Not always possible, I know, but a quick breath of fresh air, or even opening a window is often just the boost we need.

2. Stop. Breathe. Smile. Take ten deep breaths in and out, and then smile. The very action of smiling has been shown to stimulate the brain into feeling more positive. If you feel silly grinning to yourself, keep a picture on your desk that will make you smile.

3. One Thing at a Time. It all needs to be done but constant interruptions confuse projects and increase stress. If you’re on the phone, close your email. If you’re finishing that report, let voicemail take over the phone. Focus on one thing and then deal with the next. By the time you return that call, the problem may have solved itself.

4. Herbal Relief. Most of us don’t have an oil diffuser in our office but that doesn’t mean we can’t benefit from essential oils. Put a few drops of Lavender, Orange and Clary Sage essential oils on a face cloth or handkerchief and keep in your drawer or purse. When you need a quick stress relief, sniff it for a minute or so.

5. Rip it up. Quickly write down everything that is bugging you right now on a piece of paper. Scrunch it up then rip it into shreds and flush it down the toilet. It may sound hokey but it can work as a great alternative to those little stress dolls.

6. Tea Time. Stop everything and sip a cup of herbal tea or coffee. Don’t worry about whether it’s decaf if going without your caffeine fix is going to make you more cranky. The world isn’t going to end in the 5 minutes it takes you to calmly sip your beverage of choice, and it can help to calm you down.

7. Music. Something you sing along to is just going to provide distractions but a soothing instrumental piece can help you relax and stay focused. An attorney friend if mine wouldn’t be without her movie soundtracks as she prepares for a deposition.

8. Let It All Out. Just need to scream or punch something? Go ahead and do it. Close the door, or escape to a bathroom cubicle, punch a cushion, stomp on the floor, shout… sometimes you just have to get it out. Then take a deep breath and carry on with what needs to be done. A few words of advice though — use discretion, and do not vent by shouting at someone else or you’ll both end up feeling worse.

© Copyright 01/20/06

Fiona Young-Brown is a Life Coach, specializing in helping executive women lessen stress and reprioritize their lives. Find out more at http://www.fionayoungbrown.com/

Posted on Aug 21st, 2006

Do you ever feel stressed? Is stress a regular component of your lifestyle? What exactly is stress? What causes it and what can you do to manage and reduce it?

What you experience as stress is the result of your reaction to the events, circumstances, and people you encounter. The more you feel frustrated, a victim, helpless, a target, or picked on, the more you feel stressed.

You are surrounded by potential sources of stress. Your job, family, friends, schedule, traffic, and finances are among the many possible origins of stress you encounter on a daily basis.

The key to managing stress is monitoring and controlling the way you react. Stress affects you mentally and physically. Mental manifestations include irritability, sleeplessness, a lack of focus, emotional swings, a feeling of helplessness, and a short temper. Physical symptoms include elevated blood pressure, ulcers, headaches, weight gain, and aches and pains.

Don’t underestimate the destructive effects of stress on you. The consequences of stress can be debilitating. Left unchecked, stress can cut years from your life span and severely undermine your quality of life.

Our innate fight or flight response is responsible for the physiological symptoms. Our bodies are designed to run from or combat any perceived source of stress. Modern society, however, prohibits us from doing either. Stress therefore finds an outlet by affecting us mentally and physically.

If you attempt to manage stress by trying to control your environment, you will only succeed in exacerbating your stress level. You can’t change people or circumstances but you do have control over yourself. The only effective strategy for managing and reducing stress is learning how to manage your reaction to your environment.

Unless and until you change the way you react to stress, you will keep experiencing the same symptoms. You can’t run away because wherever you go there are stress inducing situations. Only by changing your internal stress handling mechanism will you free yourself from the clutches of stress.

One effective method for managing your stress is constructing a written stress management handbook. The first step is to identify and write down everything that causes you stress. Next detail how you react to each of the sources of stress. The handbook is your own private document so be honest about what you react to and how you respond. Different people have varying reactions to the same circumstances. You are only concerned with your own behavior.

For each of your reactions, describe an ideal response that would minimize anxiety. For example, if obnoxious people stress you, your ideal reaction might be to ignore them without getting upset.

Identifying the causes and effects of stress in writing enables you to formulate a stress management strategy. The following are some effective techniques for reducing your stress.

Take responsibility for your life. Don’t blame others. You are the only one who has the power to change things. Make sure that you effectively communicate your feelings and desires. Don’t assume that others know how you feel or what you think. Don’t take personally the actions of others. If someone treats you poorly, it’s because they have a problem.

You don’t want to allow frustrations and anger to build up internally. Doing so substantially increases stress levels. You need to restructure how you interpret and react to sources of stress.

With practice you can train yourself to successfully manage and reduce your stress level. Doing so will improve your health and enrich your life.

Copyright 2005 Bryan Golden

Bryan Golden is a self-development and motivational expert, author, and adjunct professor. He is the author of "Dare to Live Without Limits," and writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column. For more information please visit: http://www.daretolivewithoutlimits.com or http://www.bryangolden.com

Posted on Aug 20th, 2006

How do you react when your plans fall through? Do you roll with the punches? Or does anxiety keep you from enjoying life? To a great extent, our personality determines how we deal with stress in our lives, but here are 5 things to help keep your stress under control:

1. Sleep more. It’s very common in our society to exist on less than 6 hours of sleep a night. But experts keep telling us we need at least 8 hours. Not just to rest our bodies, but to rejuvenate our minds. “Tired” and “cranky” seem to go hand in hand. Don’t use your bedroom to watch the news or finish up some work from the office. Make that room your haven, a place to relax and escape the day. Have a hot cup of tea, take a warm bath, or read a paperback to help you unwind.

2. Have faith. Saying a short prayer in times of stress can give you a sense of calm, especially when the situation is one you really have no control over. Studies have shown that people who trust in a higher power have lower blood pressure. Being able to forgive people also can affect your blood pressure. Holding a grudge is not good for your health!

3. Turn it off. The convenience that cell phones have added to our lives can actually be a double-edged sword. We depend on them so much it seems we can’t live without them. This increased accessibility means not only can our loved ones reach us at any time, but so can work. If your employer legitimately needs to have your cell phone number, make sure you set clear limits on when you can and cannot be reached. Your time off is yours.

4. Take a holiday. It doesn’t have to be a fancy vacation resort. A day at the beach, or an afternoon at the park will do. Just anywhere you can be and not think about the bills, work, or whatever tensions you may have. It’s important to take time for yourself, so do it! You’ll feel better with a fresh outlook.

5. Treat yourself. Sign up for a yoga class at your local gym or community center. The costs are nominal, and you’ll feel more relaxed after even just one session. A monthly massage or a spa treatment is also a great way to recharge. You’ll walk out feeling like a million dollar bowl of jelly.

Stress is unavoidable. But what we do about it is up to us. Experiment with these suggestions and see what works for you!

Are you ready to have it all – love, happiness and financial security? Then you’re ready for personal life and success coaching by Diane Baskind of New Perspectives. Sign up for free tips designed to help you get everything you want out of life at http://www.newperspectivesinc.net.

Posted on Aug 20th, 2006

Adversity is an unavoidable part of life. Death of a loved one, breakup of a relationship, malicious action by another, job loss, natural disaster, or any other undesirable event are all circumstances people encounter. Events happen that are beyond our control.

Successfully overcoming adversity is essential for a healthy life. Overcoming adversity builds mental strength, character and endurance. You develop in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

When undesirable incidents occur, you want to avoid the pitfall of the past and becoming mired in the would of, could of, or should of trap. It’s done and over. Adversity is overcome by moving forward.

Nothing you can do, say, think or feel will ever change the past. Wallowing in feelings of guilt, regret or despair will diminish the present and compromise the future. Although it’s difficult to accept unpleasant events, you have no choice, they have already occurred. The goal is to adjust your outlook to enable you to function and move ahead.

Adverse reactions are not unusual when faced with adversity. Feelings of denial, sickness, giving up, retribution, being overwhelmed, inactivity, anger, guilt, and "why me" are not uncommon. These reactions are counter-productive causing you to feel worse. Anger or bitterness poisons you and impedes your recovery.

You have control over your reaction to adversity. You have been conditioned by how others respond to unpleasant circumstances. However, most people aren’t a good role model for effectively dealing with adversity.

Adverse situations can be divided into three categories; events you have no control or influence over, situations resulting from decisions you made, and circumstances caused by someone else’s actions. Effort spent on lamenting the past drains you of energy needed to handle the present and plan for the future. Your energy is best spent ensuring that you will be OK.

After experiencing a loss, a period of grieving is normal but should not become a way of life. Everything in life is temporary. What varies is the timing. As much as you may miss someone, there are people who depend on and need you. Focusing on the needs of others is an effective and positive way to move forward.

Perhaps you are unhappy with the results from your decisions. Everyone makes bad calls. There are no “do-overs” — life goes on. How do you get back on track? Learn from your experiences and keep going. Inaction will cause you to feel worse.

Channeling your energy into positive action is one of the best cures for being disheartened. For example, if you’ve lost a job, immediately begin the process of getting another one. No matter how bad unemployment is, the odds are always weighted heavily in your favor. Even if the unemployment rate was an astronomical 15% you have an 85% chance of finding a job.

If a relationship has ended without any chance of reconciliation, take comfort in the fact that there are numerous people in the same boat. Get out, circulate, and meet people.

If you’ve made a bad decision and are unhappy with your circumstances, resolve to change direction. Effecting a correction can be difficult, but persisting in an unhappy state is torture.

Everyone encounters adversity. No one is ever singled out. No one knows why some things happen, they just do. Some decide to regain their footing, catch their breath and keep walking forward. Others choose to give up.

Each time you overcome adversity you get stronger and wiser and can teach others by example how to do it also.

copyright 2005 Bryan Golden

Bryan Golden is a self-development and motivational expert, author, and adjunct professor. He is the author of "Dare to Live Without Limits," and writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column. For more information please visit: http://www.daretolivewithoutlimits.com or http://www.bryangolden.com

Posted on Aug 19th, 2006

45 year old John terrorized his family when they were his passengers. He would yell at them if they complained about his driving.

He would ignore them when they showed signs of discomfort and even seemed to enjoy scaring his passengers with his maneuvers such as tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, passing other cars dangerously, and pulling too far into crosswalks so pedestrians are unable to safely cross the street. John would show aggression in other ways too — like insisting on choosing the radio station, controlling the volume of the radio, and controlling the temperature, the fan setting and where the vents are aimed while driving. He refused to stop for restroom breaks on long trips.

John was anything but “passengerfriendly” yet he did not see himself as the problem. Statistics show that while 70% of drivers complain about the aggressiveness of others, only 30% admit to their own aggressiveness. John saw other drivers as “stupid, ” his family/passengers as “whiney,” and the roadway as his personal terrain. Unfortunately, we all pay the price for this kind of distorted thinking.

High Cost of Aggressive Driving

According to recent statistics, aggressive driving is at the core of numerous fatalities, injuries and dollar costs associated with accidents. More specifically, it is linked to:

Fatalities (425,000 per decade)
Injuries (35 million per decade)
Dollars (250 billion per year)

The cost to the emotional well-being of family members is also very high. Often, family members develop a fear of driving with the aggressive driver. While they may not talk about it, passengers may lose esteem, respect and affection toward the driver.

Younger passengers may also be affected later in life by being exposed to this kind of driving behavior. By watching and then modeling their aggressivedriver parent, the child may develop similar attitudes and driving behaviors when he or she becomes a driver.

Driving Under The Influence

At its root, aggressive driving is caused by poor ability to handle angry feelings. The aggressive driver is, in effect, driving under the influence of impaired emotions. Studies list many reasons why driving arouses anger in aggressive drivers.

Some of the most common are:

- Territoriality. The car is a symbol associated with individual freedom and self-esteem. Our car is our castle and the space around it is our territory. When other drivers invade our space the aggressive driver responds with hostility to protect his “castle.”

- Restriction. In congested traffic, you are prevented from going forward. This can lead to frustration, anxiety and an intense desire to escape the restriction.

- Multitasking. We become irritated at others when we see them driving poorly while talking on the cell phone, eating, or performing personal grooming.

- Poor life planning. We don’t allow enough time to get to our destination on a consistent basis so we “press” to make up for the lost time and then become stressed and angry at other drivers who we see as frustrating our mad dash.

What can you do as a passenger?

While aggressive driving behavior ultimately must be changed by the driver himself, the following are some survival tips that may help until that occurs:

1. Refuse to passenger with such a person until he or she changes.

2. Share with driver how you feel when they drive aggressively. For example: I feel anxious about how fast we’re going (instead of “you are driving too fast”); I’m upset about the way you swore at that driver and I am fearful how it will affect our children who heard you; I feel afraid when you approach pedestrians too fast; I feel bullied by you when you won’t stop for a bathroom break.

3. Encourage person to look at their “driving philosophy” and to develop more empathy regarding how others (like the family) are being negatively impacted by his or her poor driving behavior. That is, help him see himself through the eyes of his family.

This honest feedback from loved ones can be a powerful tool to encourage the aggressive driver to become a better citizen of the roadways.

2006 © Dr. Tony Fiore All rights reserved.

Dr Tony Fiore is a licensed psychologist, marital therapist and certified anger management trainer. He is a Fellow of the American Stress Institute and a Diplomate of National Anger Management Association. He has received advanced training in marital therapy at the Gottman Institute in Seattle,Washington. In addition to his active clinical practice, Dr Tony regularly conducts anger management classes in Southern California, consults and provides trainings to companies for anger and stress management, and trains anger management facilitators. He also publishes a monthly newsletter "Taming The Anger Bee." With Ari Novick, M. A. he has recently published a new workbook/manual: "Anger Management For The Twenty-First Century - The Eight Tools of Anger Control."

Posted on Aug 19th, 2006

"One day I’m a mother, One day I’m a lover, What am I supposed to do? Workin’ for a livin’ All because I’m driven … Why do I have to wear So many things on my head?"

These lyrics from the Amy Grant song “Hats'’ seem to capture the cry of many overworked, overwhelmed and stressed-out people.

In the song, the word “hats'’ simply refers to all the different roles we must play in our everyday lives.

There is the hat of employee, parent, spouse, son or daughter, etc., etc. It might be easier if these hats could be worn one at a time; we could complete one role and move on to another. Unfortunately for most of us, we tend to wear all of our different hats in the same day, often at the same time.

TMH - a unique kind of stress

The responsibility and pressure of too many roles is a unique kind of stress. I call it Too Many Hats Syndrome. TMH syndrome can be likened to the sideshow at the circus in which a guy has several plates spinning on sticks, all at once. He has to run around constantly to make sure he keeps all of them spinning.

What are some of the characteristics of a person suffering from TMH syndrome?

She’s always doing something, rushing, rushing, rushing.

She never has enough time.

She’s not able to have fun and/or relax.

She has trouble falling asleep.

She wakes up during the night and is unable to go back to sleep.

She has a feeling of always being “on.'’

She thinks she’s the only person who has so much to do.

She has the sense that if she stops and rests, everything will fall apart.

She works in bed until she turns off the lights.

She feels exhausted all the time.

She has fantasies of running away from it all.

Misinformation about stress

One of the most misleading ideas about coping with stress is that somehow we can eliminate it from our lives. If you are alive, you are experiencing some level of stress. In fact, it’s a sign that you are alive.

The main solution is in how we respond to and therefore cope with stress. Dr. James Loehr, in his book “Toughness Training for Life'’ has this to say: “Stress management systems usually aim at reducing stress, an unrealistic goal for most of us.'’ Instead, Loehr focuses on how to be “emotionally strong enough to thrive on the stress.'’

Unless we win the lottery or become independently wealthy in some other way, most of us will simply have to learn how to cope with our own version of “Too Many Hats.'’

Here are some suggestions for thriving on stress instead of just surviving:

Organize, organize, organize your time. If you are saying you don’t have enough time to organize, you’re proving my point.

Pay attention to how you talk to yourself about your stress. Negative self-talk such as, “How will I ever get all this done?'’ and “This is just not fair!'’ turns stress into pressure.

Positive self-talk allows us to thrive on the stress in our lives. Reframe the stress from “all I have to do'’ to “all I get to do'’ or “all I am able to do.'’

Learn to say no when your dance card is already full. Keep handy a 3×5 card with the word “NO'’ written on it in big letters.

Delegate. Another sign of TMH syndrome is the mistaken belief that we are only ones who can do a task properly. If it can be done by someone else, allow them the privilege of helping.

Remind yourself that you usually do get everything done. This can calm you and put things in perspective.

To get a different perspective on the situation, consider how a favorite character from a recent movie or TV show would handle the situation.

Take a mini-vacation. Whether a three-day getaway or a five-minute break, getting away refreshes us.

Remember this word: balance. Make sure to leave room for the hat called fun and relaxation.

Stress is an inevitable part of our daily lives. To be able to thrive on our stress, it’s important to have fun and to enjoy keeping all those plates spinning.

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 18th, 2006

Recently, in my private practice, I’ve noticed an interesting trend occurring—couples are driving each other crazy with constant cell phone communication throughout the day. A recent study released in the Journal of Marriage and Family confirms what I’ve been seeing. Researchers found that an increase in the use of cell phones was directly linked to a decrease in family satisfaction and increased stress.

Back in the good old days of the 1990’s, eons ago in terms of technological advancement, significant others went off to work and contact between partners was limited. I remember my wife telling me not to call her at work, as the receptionist was told to notify the boss when an employee received personal telephone calls. Looking back, this was a nice boundary between work and home. Today, we find that this boundary has been obliterated. Here are a few ideas to consider in order to rebuild this boundary and decrease stress in your life.

1)Think before you press send. Ask yourself why you are calling your partner. Can it wait until that evening, or is it a pressing issue? While it may be a convenient time for you to call, your partner may be buried in work. The phone rings, a quick check is made to see who is calling, and you hear the “What?” of frustration as your greeting (while caller ID is a very cool thing, it has led to the decay of the polite “hello” of the past when answering a call). Avoid creating hurt feelings and increasing the level of stress in your relationship by denying your impulse to call your partner all day long.

2)Get to the point. Have you experienced this? Your cell rings. You see that it is your partner. You answer with “hello.” You get a response of “hi” and then there is long silence. So now you say, “What’s up?” “Nothing.” Now, there is nothing taxing with this if the two of you are kicking back and, as Steve Martin would say, “Have your feet up on a burning log,” But, if you’re stressed at work trying to meet a deadline or make some headway on the overabundance of debris that you once called your desk, this can be really annoying. Thus, make your point, “Hi, don’t forget that you need to . . .” Say goodbye and let your spouse focus on their work.

3)Get off the Information Super Highway. It’s easy for one to feel that they have been run over while standing in the middle of the information super highway. While the advances in technology have led to quick access of a lot of cool things, there is such a thing as information overload. Directly tied to this concept is the little discussed fact that too much communication can be a bad thing. Often in my work, I spend a lot of time working with couples to improve their communication. Sometimes this means helping one or both of them to learn how to say more with less. Spend less time connecting with your spouse during working hours. Wait until you can be face to face to share your thoughts. As I write this, I am reminded of a Seinfeld episode where Kramer is telling Jerry that he shouldn’t get married because it’s like a prison. He tells Jerry that at the end of the day, you come home and ask, “How was your day?” “Fine.” “How was your day?” “Fine.” Of course, Michael Richards is augmenting this with his classic body gyrations and poignant verbiage. Spending all day on the Information Super Highway leaves little to talk about when you actually have the time and the proximity to have meaningful and intimate communication. Resist the impulse to call and save your communiqué for non-work hours.

4)Don’t take your stress out on your spouse. Remember the, “What!” greeting? Take a breath before answering the call. Your partner is not trying to add stress to your life (if he or she is trying to do this, you need to reevaluate your relationship!). Answer the phone pleasantly and let him or her know that you’re very busy. Politely ask your partner what you can do for them. Or, let your voice mail pick up. If your partner has a hard time breaking the habit of calling all day long, let them know that you’re trying to spend less time talking to her/him on the cell phone and more time talking to her/him in person.

By implementing these concepts into your daily life, you’ll find that you’ll be less stressed and, contrary to Kramer’s pontification, happy to answer your partner’s questions about your day.

Rod Louden is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Woodland Hills, California and the author of Monster Relationships: Taming the Beasts that are Killing Your Relationships. To sign up for Rod’s free monthly relationship advice newsletter, please visit http://www.monsterrelationships.com

Posted on Aug 18th, 2006

Do you often overreact to situations? Are you a constant worrier? Do you look at the glass as always half empty?

One of the greatest stress management tools you can possess is the ability to put everything into perspective. How you perceive your life has a profound effect on how you deal with stress and your level of happiness.

For an event to be a stressor, we first need to perceive it as such. What if we were to take note of the little daily demands that we find stressful and experiment with changing our perception of these demands?

Look at your commute to work in heavy traffic as an opportunity to listen to your favorite music or motivational CD. How about using your supper preparation as a time to spend with the kids? Get them involved in some way. Stress is in the eye of the beholder. What may be one person’s stressor could be another’s saviour.

This week also experiment with the role your thoughts have in how calm or chaotic your day is. Notice how negative thoughts can spiral into a stressful day and when the majority of your thoughts are positive, your daily routine tends to run much smoother.

We often are doing the same daily tasks but some days they seem more overwhelming than others. Why - because of how we perceive them. Certain days preparing supper can be an

enjoyable task while other times it is one more job added to my TO DO list. It totally depends on my thinking.

One simple way to reduce the stress and create more balance in your life – change your thinking. Recognize when negativity takes over your day and stop it ASAP. When we start thinking our life is overwhelming, it will become just that.

Start living in the moment and remind yourself how precious life is. Practice becoming more flexible as life always involves a series of changes. Embrace then instead of resisting them. We only go around this way once!!!

About the author

Peggy Porter is a nurse, Wellness Coach, and author of YumME MumME Makeover-How to Balance Womanhood and Motherhood by Nurturing the Me in MumMe. If you are a Mom and want to start creating a healthier balance in your life, go to http://www.seekingbalance.ca and register for Peggy’s free monthly teleclass and Ecourse! For more info you can also email peggy@stressmanagementarticles.com or call 506-832-0117.

Posted on Aug 17th, 2006

Have you ever had one of “those” days, weeks, months or years? Who hasn’t? You wake up, set your feet firmly on the floor, step onto the roller coaster of life and strap yourself in for another day. The ride is constantly changing. Whether it gently slopes or takes you careening around curves at 120mph and within an inch of your life, that’s all a part of the human experience. When you get off the ride each night, you may be happy, scared, nauseous, wind blown or on your way to the chiropractor. Whatever happens on that ride each day, if you make it in one piece, good for you, you’re a winner!

But did you have the experience you wanted to have at every twist, turn and drop of the ride? Sometimes we enjoy each aspect of the ride and sometimes we don’t. At times the ride is easy and yet, at other times the same ride can be difficult and exhausting. Why is that? The answer may be found in a personal change of view. Maybe its as simple as moving to another seat on the ride? We have gotten used to sitting in one place, but, if we take a risk and move around, we can alter our lives in a profound way. Why? If we shift our seat, we shift our view. A new view will change the ride for us and alter our experience of life.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument, that we will all disembark the ride safely each day. It may seem like a large assumption, but in reality, most of us do make it back to the safety of our bunny slippers and flannel jammies. Have you ever looked around at the other people on the ride with you? Have you noticed that some of them have their eyes clenched and breathe held? Other people on the ride seem downright serene. A few are trying to figure out the physics of the ride. Others are laughing and talking. Some are screaming with excitement! And then there are the riders waving their hands in the air as they plummet to earth. Where do you think you fit in? Are you a hand waver, a laugher or an eye clincher?

Of course, our circumstances change daily and our reactions are influenced by those circumstances. Birth, death, falling in love and losing hope are just some of the circumstances in life that people experience and react to. Could it be that our reaction to those circumstances is also defined by our viewpoint? Let me be clear, if you experience trauma, I am not saying that your reaction of sadness, guilt, anger or fear is the result of choosing the wrong seat on the coaster. But have you ever been in the presence of someone who is going through a tragedy with a hopeful heart? There may be tears, but through those tears, these people continue to see joy in each new day. They find the “silver lining” in grief. These are people who are masters at changing their view.

There was a time in my life that I would ride the coaster with my own eyes clenched, breath held and knuckles a pearly white. It took me some time to identify positive steps I could take to change my riding technique. My goal was not to become a hand waver. That would be too big a leap for me. But, I wanted to be a calm and happy passenger, laughing and enjoying the ride. And, I didn’t want to have to work too hard to make this shift happen. Here’s the game I came up with, maybe it will work for you too!

1. Make a list of views (seats on the roller coaster) that are empowering for you. For example, one of my empowering views is “trust.” When I am in the trust seat, no matter what I see or hear, I know that I will exit the ride that day in a better place. My list also includes; love, prosperity, action, intelligence, health, well-being and fun.

2. Make a list of disempowering views. My list includes; not enough (money, time, love), loneliness, anxiety and fear.

3. Take some time to do this exercise. It will take about 5 to 10 minutes.

a. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take a breath.

b. Feel your body in the chair. Feel your hands, head, arms and legs. Feel your feet on the floor.

c. Acknowledge sounds you hear and the thoughts that are in your mind.

d. Once you are fully aware of your immediate environment, expand the picture. Become aware of the room in which you are sitting and the building that you are in. Stretch that awareness to include your street and neighborhood.

e. Expand your awareness further to include your state, province, country and world. Become aware of your place in this world and the other people who share it with you.

f. When you have fully experienced your connection to the world, bring your attention back to your body.

g. Picture yourself on the roller coaster. Which seat are you sitting in? Is it on your empowering or disempowering list? Look around you. Take in the other people on the ride. They are smiling at you. They are not in a hurry. They are waiting until you find the seat that is perfect for you right now. Take your time and choose the seat that fits you in this moment.

Once you have your list of empowering seats, keep it with you. You may need to switch seats at a moments notice. The more you do, the better you will get at it. Who knows, we all may be hand wavers one day! Don’t forget to buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Jamee Tenzer, Founder of Life Works Coaching, is a professional career and life-balance coach specializing in working with women to create action and success in all areas of work, family and personal development. The foundation of Ms. Tenzer’s coaching practice is based on the principle that anything is possible through taking action. Ms. Tenzer operates from this perspective as she works with clients to take action towards the goals that inspire them. Her practical sensibility, professional background, and ability to motivate clients as they face obstacles, proves to be a powerful combination. Prior to becoming a coach, Ms. Tenzer enjoyed a successful career as a talent executive and producer in the entertainment industry.

For more information, or to set up a complimentary session, please visit http://www.lifeworks4ucoaching.com

Posted on Aug 17th, 2006

A while back, I was in a minor fender-bender accident, and as the police officer filled out the report, I gave him my business card with my name and phone number. When he saw "stress management" listed he said, "We’ve got to talk!" That’s most people’s reaction when they find out what I do.

Many people say they feel stressed, and most people would probably agree that being a police officer is stressful, but it’s amazing how much stress we all have in our everyday lives. It can be a result of driving in rush hour, learning new software, or grocery shopping after a long hard day at work. Of course there’s stress in more serious situations too, such as illness or losing a job, but it can also result from positive events such as marriage, a promotion, or even winning money.

Stress is anything that makes you change, adjust or adapt. And it’s cumulative. For example, if you have a tense or difficult discussion with a spouse or co-worker, and later spill coffee on your computer, the stress of spilling the coffee doesn’t replace the stress of the discussion. It just adds another layer to your stress level that day. Physical and mental damage can result from too much stress, so it’s important to learn and to use good coping skills to relax and relieve the pressure. Here are just a few:

A. Allow time every day for relaxation.

Your success at managing stress depends on you not only learning, but practicing relaxation techniques. Regular practice is what makes it effective, so set aside time for regular, daily deep relaxation, even if it’s only five or ten minutes. And simply relaxing in front of the television or taking a warm bath doesn’t count! You can achieve a deeply relaxed state by learning one of the many effective techniques such as breathing, guided imagery, meditation, etc. Choose one that feels right for you.

Deep relaxation produces desirable physiological and biochemical responses that are exactly the opposite of those seen during stress. According to stress expert Dr. Edmund Jacobson: "An anxious mind cannot exist in a relaxed body".

Regular deep relaxation has many healthy benefits. It can decrease anxiety, increase concentration, help you sleep better and generally make you feel better. When you consistently practice some form of deep relaxation, it has a cumulative effect. You become more aware of the difference between feeling stressed and feeling relaxed, so when tension builds, you’re more likely to notice it sooner and do something about it.

B. Breathe.

Breathing techniques are a foundation of stress reduction training. When we’re stressed we tend to take shorter, shallow breaths. We may even hold our breath. This decreases the flow of oxygen to the body, making it harder to cope with stress. When you breathe properly, i.e., when you breath into your abdomen, not just your chest, you take in more oxygen, promote calmness, and can reduce tension and stress quickly. The next time you feel tension building, stop what you’re doing and take a few long, slow, deep abdominal breaths. Focus only on your breathing, and let a sense of calm wash over you.

You can also practice abdominal breathing on a regular basis, which works on keeping your stress level low. When clients tell me they don’t have time to practice, I write them a "prescription" that states: "Take 3 deep breaths every hour". At some time during our day, we all find ourselves waiting in a line, at a red light, "on hold", or waiting for our computer to do something. These are perfect occasions to practice deep breathing. The more you shift your breathing to your abdomen the more relaxed you will feel on an ongoing basis.

C. Change your thoughts.

It’s our perception of an event that’s stressful, not the event itself, and what we think affects our body. There’s a cause and effect relationship between what we think and how our body reacts. If your thoughts are tense or anxious your body responds with a stress response, a series of unhealthy changes; increased muscle tension, increased blood pressure, and increased heart rate, to name a few.

For example, if you’re stressed about giving an upcoming talk, you may be thinking, "What if I look foolish; I’m afraid; I hate this…" or other scary thoughts that trigger the stress response. To counteract those thoughts and the negative reaction they set off, change your thoughts. Refute and challenge those thoughts by telling yourself: "I’m fine; I’m prepared; people want me to succeed…" or other positive, self-supportive, confidence-building statements. You will feel better and your body will respond positively

When you’re feeling stressed and frazzled you can also simply close your eyes and take a mental vacation. Imagine a tranquil, relaxing scene. It could be a favorite vacation spot, somewhere that reminds you of serenity, or any place real or imagined that’s peaceful and relaxing to you. This works especially well if you have previously learned to "visit" this place while deeply relaxed. The more familiar you are in your mind with your special relaxing place, the easier it is to relax quickly.

By learning and practicing a few easy skills, you can reduce stress and make positive changes in your life.

Tedde Abbott is a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Avon. She helps private and corporate clients with stress, weight, smoking, and personal issues. She can be contacted through Healthy Life Centers at (888) 865-1870 and http://www.iwanttoquitsmoking.com

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