'General Articles' Category Archive

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 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

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

Posted on Aug 15th, 2006

It’s a fact; the average person does not know how to manage or reduce their stress in the bedroom. The place where everyone spends an average of 33% of their life, there are two major things that can be done that will help you manage the stress in your life. These two things include Preparations for Bed and The Bed you Sleep On. Stress levels can be reduced significantly by following the basic guidelines listed below.

Preparations for bed can be translated into routine. Used as an adjective, routine is an event that occurs at fixed times or at predictable intervals. If your get a good solid sleep with an average length of R.E.M sleep at night, when you wake in the morning, you feel revived and alert for your tasks ahead of you. In order to achieve this every night, there needs to be a routine.

Bed time routines should start about 2 hours before you go to bed. The bed routine should include a wind down period where you do nothing but relax to get your mind off of all the stressed items in your day. Some options for your wind down period could include some light chores around the house, reading a book, watching a comedy on TV, or taking a bath.

After your wind down period, you should move into the other activities for getting ready for bed. These include last minute things like locking the house, getting into your bedroom attire, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and whatever else you do before bed. Getting at least 6 hours of sleep is also essential.

The bed you sleep on is a very large part of getting the stress reduction that you require to ensure a good nights rest. It does not matter if your bed is new or old, if the bed is not comfortable through the night, it should be replaced or adjusted. Causes of an uncomfortable bed may lead to back problems. It is important to consider if the bed is too hard, this could force your spine to bend in ways that is intended, leaving you with a headache or stress in the morning. A ‘pillow topper’ is an easy solution to soften it up. Of course the flip side to being too hard is being too soft, this can also be a problem because then your spine will go limp to the mattress or ‘waterbed’, therefore not providing any support.

Developing a routine which works best for you to help stress reduction may be the hardest part but once you have it, then rest assured you will wake up feeling stress relieved.

Ryan Neumann has online information and buyers guide websites that help consumers make wiser choices when shoping online. This particular website can be visited at http://www.beds-tempurpedic-foam-mattresses.com/tempurpedic.html.

Posted on Aug 14th, 2006

Know someone who is stressed out? Make them an anti-stress bag. It will bring a smile to their face and be a reminder that things are not as bad as they may seem!

They are easy to make! Use small baggies to put the following items in:

- clothespin
- marble
- penny
- paperclip
- eraser
- elastic
- heart (can be cut out from paper)
- quote card (can be handwritten.) We use the following quote on our cards: "When you find yourself stressed, ask yourself one question: Will this matter in 5 years from now? If yes, then do something about the situation. If no, then let it go. Catherine Pulsifer" They are many quotes about stress, you do not neccessarily have to use this one.

Once you have all the items in the bag seal the bag and attach a card with the following note on it:

Clothespin - to remind you to hang it up. Keep a balance between your work and your play.

Marble - to remind you that the world rolls on; don’t live in the past, move on.

Penny - so that you will never be broke.

Paperclip - to help you keep things together.

Eraser - to rub out those mistakes which we all make.

Quote Card - to read on days when you feel overwhelmed.

Elastic - to remind you of your capabilities; don’t get stuck in a rut; stretch yourself!

Heart - to remind you that someone cares about YOU!!!

A simple but effective bag, easy to make, and inexpensive!! They make great stocking stuffers at Christmas. They also sell well at craft shows!

For more inspiration visit Inspirational Quotes 4 U http://www.inspirationalquotes4u.com/ where you will find inspirational quotes to inspire and motive you. Sorted by subject and by author. Plus a quote for each day of your week.

Posted on Aug 12th, 2006

It has long been suggested that “music soothes the savage beast.” But is this true? And if it is, does this have any implication where humans are concerned? The answer, apparently, is yes. To illustrate this, researchers point to the different physiological changes that take place within the human body in response to different sounds and noises. A loud noise that shatters the silence sets the human heart racing and stimulates a rush of adrenaline that prepares you for flight. In contrast a soft, soothing sound helps us to relax.

Music therapy has, in fact, been around for thousands of years. Nearly four thousand years ago the Hebrew Scriptures recorded that the boy who would later become King David was hired by his predecessor to play the harp to calm King Saul when he would go into a rage. Likewise, the use of music therapy is found in the writings of ancient civilizations such as Egypt, China, India, Greece and Rome.

More recently, scientists have been studying the effects of music therapy and have documented changes in respiratory rates, blood pressure, and pulse in response to musical stimuli. Likewise, researchers in the realm of music therapy have found that the use of music therapy can be effective in areas as diverse as IQ and recovery rates, pain management and weight loss.

Some object that this sounds too good to be true. How can music therapy change something like pain management? Researchers tell us that the reason music therapy works is based on how we hear. Sound is little more than vibrations in the air that are picked up by the inner ear and transferred to the brain which is a key component in your nervous system and controls the functions of the body and the brain responds to the stimuli that it is given.

In light of this, music therapy can and often is used in a wide variety of applications. One common application for music therapy is in working with autistic individuals because research has found that music can help autistic children to express themselves. Likewise, music therapy has been found to help individuals with physical disabilities to develop better motor skills.

With music therapy, individuals with high levels of anxiety can be helped to express suppressed emotions thereby discharging anger, or enabling the individual to express the joy they would not otherwise be able to express. Likewise, research has found that music therapy can help lower the anxiety levels of hospital patients who find themselves facing frightening prospects and in an unfamiliar environment. Furthermore, music therapy has been found to help medical professionals with pain management such that they have been able to reduce pain medication by as much as one half by helping to stimulate the production of the body’s own pain killers, called endorphins.

Music therapy can come is a wide variety of forms. In some cases it’s as simple as having the individual listen to particular music. In other cases music therapy requires a more interactive approach, having the individual respond to the music either in dance or using some other form of expression. But in its many forms, music therapy has often been found to be beneficial.

Duane Shinn is the author of over 500 music courses for adults. His book-CD-DVD course titled "How To Add Runs & Fills To Your Piano Playing!" is used by pianists around the world. He is the author of the popular free 101-week online e-mail newsletter titled "Amazing Secrets Of Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Chord Progressions" with over 61,200 current subscribers.

Posted on Aug 6th, 2006

Did you know that more than half of our adult population has an anger problem? Have you experienced them? They act all flustered and pitch a fit. Can you believe it that some of them actually throw things when they get mad? And not only that, they cuss up a storm, rant and rave, and carry on like they are a child.

We all have probably experienced people like this on occasion. But what about the people who do this on a regular basis? How do we manage them? How can we confront them in the office space? What if this person is our boss or our partner? We know that they need anger management or counseling, but babies don’t have the ability to see that about themselves. Perhaps passing them this article will help you along!

Okay you people who have an anger issue.. listen up!!! You can’t physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys you; laws, social norms and common sense place limits on how far our anger can take all of us us.

According to my research, “People use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their angry feelings. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing and calming. Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive - not aggressive - manner is the healthiest way to express anger. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others. Anger can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your anger, stop thinking about it and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behaviour. The danger in this type of response is that if the anger isn’t allowed an outward expression, it can turn inward - on yourself. This may cause hypertension (high blood pressure) or depression.

Unexpressed anger can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behaviour (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticising everything and making cynical comments haven’t learned how to constructively express their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren’t likely to have many successful relationships.

Finally, you can calm yourself down inside. This means not just controlling your outward behaviour but also controlling your internal responses, taking steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down and let the feelings subside.” (resource – internet) If you are a person who is working with a BABY, perhaps you’ll start by having a short conversation just explaining that sometimes he/she is somewhat difficult to talk with because they get so frustrated and act out. Sometimes just calmly stating a fact can be less intimidating than a formal “lets talk about something” kind of meeting.

One client recently was asked by his partner why one of the associates didn’t call her directly. He explained to her that she had a tendency to go overboard with stress and neither had the time to deal with her drama at the moment so she was bypassed in the decision making moment. Because the conversation took on a sort of apologetic tone, yet, was also explaining the situation, the partner seemed to GET it, that her outbursts had caused more stress on others and not just herself. For the next week, my client has noticed that his partner hasn’t stressed openly and has seemed to get a hold on her anger.

Since my client is on a friendly basis with his partner, I’ve given him some exercises to help his partner get to the root of her anger. While I’m not a therapist, and neither is my client, there are a few exercises that aren’t so intimidating to a person who is willing to explore the original source of their anger.

When the person is obviously upset, ask them to calm down and sit down and agree to talk about it. You can say, “You’re obviously upset. Let’s sit down and discuss what our options are, and just tell me everything”. Don’t argue. Don’t talk back. Don’t disagree. Just listen. Take notes if you can and just listen intently with your eyes. Try to understand. This is what the person needs, to be understood.

When they are through, ask questions. Ask specific questions to get clarity on the situation. Let them talk until they are through. Take a minute before you answer. Think about what you are going to say. Start by acknowledging their feelings such as, “I understand why you are so upset. I’m sorry that you are upset. Let me see if I understand how you feel.” Now, read back what you wrote down so they know you understand. Now, go through your side of the story. (Hopefully without interruptions). Don’t yell or be confrontational. Just explain the other side of the story.

Be careful to pause between listening and talking. Pausing is a great indicator of being thoughtful about what you are listening to and saying. It is a great communication tool!

Regardless of the outcome, you’ve now coached your partner through being able to explain their side of the story without completely exploding. Practice makes perfect. Tell them that they did a good job. Endorse good behavior and encourage them.

Working with a baby is a hardship on many. If you have the guts or the power to tell the person to go get THERAPY, then do it. If that isn’t a possibility, then learning to coach them through dealing with their own emotions may be a logical next step. It’s going to take some energy on your part, but it might save your work environment in the long run.

Having difficult conversations are somewhat stressful, so having a coach to help you through it might be a good next step for you. We can work together to help your partner mature into a thriving adult who expresses his/her feelings in a healthy way. I don’t know about you, but I think it sounds fun! So don’t cry about it! Just give me a call!

To learn more about Mary go to: http://www.marygardner.com/

Mary Gardner is an Executive Communications Consultant and Coach. She works with, coaches and trains individuals, sales teams, executives, and celebrities. She enjoys seeing the best come out in people and has fun in the process. Mary is married to Sway and is mommy to Jeremy 5 and lives in Orlando, FL.

Posted on Aug 5th, 2006

It’s summertime and chances are you can remember a summer vacation when life moved at a slower pace. It felt so good to just enjoy the days and nights. No pressure from school schedules, work schedules, volunteering and more.

Vacations serve an important purpose – time to recharge our batteries and more. I see many clients living from vacation to vacation, weekend to weekend or day to day leap-frogging between time off. If you’re always looking ahead to what time off is next for you, you may want to learn how to lily-pad!

Lily-padding is the art of enjoying where you are in the moment. Not just a resting place and not just the place between vacations, it’s your life every day. And you get to choose how best to use it. If you’re a seasoned leap-frogger, lily-padding may seem like sitting on your own hands. With practice you can learn to enjoy exactly where you are and what’s available to you in the moment and everyone gets the best of you.

I can hear the objections already! So just stay curious about lily-padding. Here are 3 strategies to get you started:

1. Start with the belief that things can change.

Before the Berlin Wall came down how many people could even imagine it not existing? How many accepted that it would be there forever? What’s your Berlin Wall? Try this –‘ I’ll see it when I believe it’. An important twist on ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’. The first version invites you to see things differently, to envision your life as you want to see it. It encourages you to take action. The second invites you to wait and see what will happen. Life on the lily-pad isn’t about doing nothing.

2. Out with the old to make room for the new things to come into your life. Pay attention to what in your life you just tolerate. Make a list. What are you saying yes to that doesn’t feed your soul. What would you like to have instead?

3. Practice being in the moment – try some meditation.

Previously associated with hippies and yogis, meditation is mainstream and there’s good reason for it. Just as daily exercise strengthens and trains your body, daily meditation trains and strengthens your mind. And the benefits go well beyond the minutes you spend in your daily practice. Over time, meditation ‘exercise’ builds your capacity to detach from the emotional reactions that cloud our thinking. With practice you can deal with stressful situations with very natural composure. A recent study by Richard Davidson , at the University of Wisconsin, identified that regular meditation is not only good for your mind, but great for your health too. His research found that regular meditation supports a healthier immune system, reduces anxiety and increases positive emotions.

There are a myriad of teachers, books and online resources to get you started. My introduction was to a simple breathing meditation. Get comfortable then concentrate on the breath going in and out of the tip of your nose as you breathe regularly. Initially I couldn’t sit for more than a few minutes, peaking at the clock to see if I was ‘done’ yet. Every time your mind strays from the breath, you notice this and gently pull your attention back to the breath. Eventually, you’ll spend less time thinking and more time being. Like any sport training it all seems so stilted at first until you hit that perfect drive, ski the flawless run or swim 800 metres with ease. Keep at it and eventually it’s second nature. You may want to try a few different techniques before adopting your own daily practice. The thing is just to start somewhere.

The world needs more lily-padders. What will you do to get started?

Need support to get started? Visit http://www.avirtualretreat.com/inspirations for a free guided meditation. Debbie Kemp and Cynthia Wright offer resources and support to help you move from stress-full to stress-free.

Posted on Aug 4th, 2006

Preparing for sleep the night before is the place to start. Quality sleep vs quantity is vital. A busy mind leading to broken sleep does not allow for a fresh mind on waking. Try some of these simple steps to help you sleep well and then wake well.

1. Use essential oils like Vetiver or Sandalwood in a vaporiser at bedtime to help you switch off and ground yourself so that you can enjoy quality sleep. Try vaporising my own “Sanity Saver” blend contain Vetiver, Geranium, Australian Sandalwood, Patchouli and Ylang Ylang. This simple and earthy blend stops your mind racing so that you can focus on one thing at once like sleeping. It helps to restore some peace and balance to your life during the busiest of times.

2. Reduce intake of alcohol the night before.

3. Sleeping in a cool and dark room, allows you to enjoy a more restful sleep.

4. Not too many heavy refined foods at night as they can lead to sluggish feelings in the morning.

5. Before you go to bed, write a quick note on any thoughts that are in your brain, getting them out allows you to release them until the next day.

6. The most common time for heart attacks is Monday morning, get the works stresses out of your mind before you go to sleep and keep the pressures off your body.

7. If you wake and you are sluggish, start with a cold shower or a brisk walk around the block, they both bring energy quickly to a tired soul.

8. Roll over and enjoy a moment with your partner, don’t just race off to get into the work day, even if you are busy and have to go take a moment to be with them and make your heart smile.

9. Vaporise citrus or leaf essential oils like Orange, Lemongrass, May Chang or Grapefruit to enliven you and give you the maybe needed kick up the bum start to the day. These essential oils will help lift you physically and emotionally. Re-gain the feeling that you are really living and not just existing. Try vaporising my favourite morning blend I call it “Play More” and it contains Sweet Orange, Grapefruit, May Chang and Ginger essential oils.

Life Balancing expert Jennifer Jefferies is one of Australia’s best-known authors and speakers. Jennifer’s simple, practical and proven 7 Steps to Sanity can help bring balance to anyone who wants to have it all without sacrificing their health, sanity or sense of humour along the way. Jennifer is a qualified health practitioner, who speaks to corporations throughout Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia, sharing practical real-life strategies that help people to improve their health, wellbeing and productivity by finding balance in their lives.

Jennifer has also written numerous books and e-books and life balancing products. You can contact Jennifer at:

Jennifer Jefferies International Pty Ltd
Po Box 4298,
Elanora, QLD 4221 Australia
Phone: +61 7 55986035
http://www.jenniferjefferies.com

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