'Relaxation and Peace' Category Archive

Posted on Apr 13th, 2006

Choices abound. Sometimes choices confound us, while at other times, certain choices are obvious. Any way you approach the subject, choices present opportunities to either excel or hinder. As human beings, we were endowed by our Creator with the power of choice. It is one of the factors that differentiate people from animals. Some people make these choices or decisions more easily than others.

Each day, we must decide how we will spend our precious 24 hours and deal with all that the world presents to us. We choose how we will be affected by both everyday occurrences and those that are much more extraordinary. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we choose to either react or respond. These are not the same, for one is negative and one is positive. Which we choose may have a significant impact on our life and possibly those close to us.

Reacting to outside influences, usually beyond our control is generally a negative choice. Reacting implies that we have given charge of the situation to someone or something else. We surrender our input and any control in the matter. We are now at the mercy of the situation and are forced to be in reaction mode where we are constantly dodging bullets and expending great amounts of energy just to stay afloat. In reacting to a situation, we do not anticipate that which is to come because we are too busy handling the present. The future then surprises us and the whole mess begins again.

Responding to a situation is a positive choice. It is the opposite of reacting. It is proactive and anticipates that which is yet to come. Responding is preceded by thought and often prayer. In responding, we take charge and have command over how the situation impacts us. We also have control over how it affects us internally. We decide upon the level of personal impact.

Our lives, families, careers and other everyday activities and interests are operating at breakneck speeds and appear at times to be accelerating. One thing is for certain, the old days of sitting around on the front porch each evening listening to Mother Nature are gone for many of us. The pace of life in Mayberry, as healthy and tranquil as it would appear, is unfortunately a thing of the past. We live life on the fast track.

A major news weekly magazine is currently featuring material devoted to stress and distress in our lives and their effects on our cardiovascular health. Although not totally surprising, this information is disturbing. How did we ever get to this point? Witness the number of television commercials and magazine advertisements for gastric distress, acid reflux, anxiety, depression, headaches and other ailments that are increasing in frequency. There are millions of prescriptions written each day for these medical conditions, most of which will find their roots in internalized stress and distress.

People spend many hours of their lives worrying. Worry is a senseless, energy robbing activity that has engulfed many. No one has ever benefited from worry, yet countless people engage in it. Worry is the opposite of faith. Worry is negative while faith is positive. There is no mystery here. Many books have been written on the subject. The conclusions are the same: "Don’t Worry, Be Happy" and "Stop Worrying and Start Living" are among the many themes presented. Good advice indeed.

Most areas of life present us with choices. We must choose either to respond or react to circumstances. We choose whether or not to worry. Learn to be aware that you have a choice in these matters. Learn that there are ways that you can deal with everything either positively or negatively. Learn that your choices may influence your very health, both physical and mental. Learn that there will be costs associated with poor choices, worrying and negativity in general. These may include social, monetary, peace of mind and time costs. Certainly, the total cost associated with negative choices is too high.

Learn that positively responding to circumstances in life will reduce or eliminate worry and contribute to your overall good health and well being. Find joy in life. Be happy.

Daniel Sitter is the author of the popular, award-winning e-book, Learning For Profit. Designed for busy people, his new book teaches simple, step-by-step accelerated learning skills, demonstrating exactly how to learn anything faster than ever before. Learning For Profit is currently available from the author’s web site http://www.learningforprofit.com/ and a variety of online software and book merchants. Mr. Sitter is a contributing writer for several online and traditional publications. His expertise includes sales, marketing, self-improvement and general business topics.

Posted on Mar 24th, 2006

In the first of two articles on home relaxation, I covered the majority of working people, those who go out to work. This second article looks at those who work at home, and how they can establish a work routine that incorporates periods of relaxation.

For those who have a daily grind of commuting to their job, sometimes long distances and for an hour, two hours or even more, the thought of working at home may seem like a dream. They probably assume that those of us who work at home do not have any problem at all with home relaxation; after all, working at home is like a permanent holiday, isn’t it?

In reality, though, having the optimum amount of relaxation mixed in with your working day is only easy in theory. One of the problems of working at home is that work can so easily take over. While it is true that you can decide to relax whenever you want, it is also true that you can decide to work whenever you want. If you are trying to get a new home business established, or to increase its success, a determined person can lapse into an “all work no play” mode very easily. I know that I have been guilty of that.

At the other extreme, those who are working at home for the first time, may be tempted to relax all day long, watch television, go to the local pub or whatever it is they like to do, and never actually settle down to any work. Their success prospects diminish due to this lack of focus, and they can end up having to get a job again.

How, then, can you find a happy medium, in which work and relaxation are nicely balanced, in a way that makes you happy and helps to keep you healthy? Below are a few tips to help you in your work-relaxation routine on a working day.

Try To Exercise Before Starting Work

Exercise may not sound much like relaxation, but even light exercise before you even think of starting work will help to get you into a good frame of mind, and more in control of your day’s activities. If you work at a desk or computer all day, then this is even more important than if you are actively out a lot and meeting customers and so on.

It is good to mix in a bit of exercise at intervals throughout the day too. Just a few minutes here and there can make a big difference. For example, if I am boiling water for a green tea break, I sometimes have a short session with some light dumbbells while the water is boiling, thereby making positive use of that time. I find that makes the tea break all the more relaxing, following immediately from the exercise.

Work With Music If You Can

Music can have a soothing effect if you are working, so if you are able to work with music playing that you find relaxing, there is no reason why you should not do so. However, you do need to choose carefully, as some music may actually distract you from your work rather than provide a relaxing ambience in which to work effectively.

Get Outside as Much as Possible

If you are working at home at a desk or computer all day, then it is important to get regular breaks from that immediate environment. A few minutes of fresh air is an added benefit. Whether that is possible will depend on the weather, of course, so a covered terrace is a great boon if the weather is warm enough but rainy.

I take all of my breaks outside, even a short tea break. That is something I can do all year, living in a tropical climate, but wherever you are, the principle is the same. Getting away from your immediate working environment regularly through the day is important to keep you relaxed.

Take a Full Lunch Break

If you work at home, especially if you have your own business, then your daily routine is for you to decide about. A proper lunch break, again away from the working environment, is an essential element of that routine. Eat well but not heavily, and if possible take a walk somewhere pleasant, peaceful and attractive. When I still lived in England, my lunch break included a walk by the sea unless it was raining or (very rarely) just too hot. The midday sun is too much in the tropics for that, but I still ensure I have a lunch break of about an hour.

Lunch Time Meditation or Power Sleep

The lunch break gives you a good opportunity for some real relaxation. Sleep is probably not a good idea, as you can sleep too long, wake up feeling awful at 3 or 4 o’clock, and lose vital working time.

However, your eyes and brain probably need a rest, so meditation is perfect for lunch time. I now practice what I call a power sleep. I stretch out on the bed, on my back, and close my eyes, and ease my way into a meditative state. I do not actually sleep; it takes a little bit of practice, but you can easily stop yourself sleeping. I put no time limit on the meditation, either minimum or maximum, as I know that my body will tell me when to open my eyes and get off the bed.

Whether it is ten minutes or half an hour later, when I get off the bed I am feeling reinvigorated, my eyes rested, and totally relaxed. That’s why I refer to it as a power sleep, as I always feel I have had a power infusion while my eyes were closed. I have found that as long as I am determined not to fall asleep, then I will not. I have also found that I feel as good on a few minute meditation as I do on thirty minutes.

The above ideas are just those I use in practice. Everyone is different, so you may have other alternative methods you can try. The important thing is, though, that you do consciously set aside time for relaxation, and use it to the full.

This Home Relaxation article was written by Roy Thomsitt, owner and part author of the Routes To Self Improvement web site, where you can also find audio articles, including this one, and articles on meditation.

Posted on Mar 12th, 2006

I learn Aikido – a Japanese martial art. I didn’t start training so that I could fight anybody, because I have no need or desire to fight. I started training because of the connection between body and mind.

Soon after I started training in Aikido I discovered a fascinating truth: Aikido is life. What happens in the dojo (that’s what the training area is called), also happens in life. That is what I would like to share with you in this article.

During an Aikido lesson, the sensei (teacher) demonstrates an exercise or technique with one of the students. After this demonstration, all the students pair-up and practice the technique they just saw.

By practicing Aikido I learn how to accept, to connect with others, to follow. I learn harmony and intimacy. I learn many other important concepts, but one of them is the most relevant when discussing the connection between Aikido and stress: I learn to look for the place or the way which allows me to perform the exercise easily and effortlessly.

Most of us, both in Aikido and in life, tend to use force instead of looking for the easy way to do whatever it is we’re doing. We tend to walk into walls instead of finding a way around them.

In both Aikido and life, once I remind myself that there is always a way AROUND difficulties, and once I look for that way, I find that I can move forward easily and effortlessly.

Effort and difficulty are the building blocks of stress. Effort and difficulty consist of walking head-first into a wall, of resisting things, of fighting. Looking for that place or way where there is no resistance, no wall, is what enables you to move forward smoothly and effortlessly.

No difficulty, no stress. Life is good.

Now you may be thinking: “Oh, that’s quite easy to say, but other people are more than me – they have more money, more power, a better education. They are stronger.”

Let’s go back to Aikido to see what can be done. In Aikido practice, ironically it’s those who are stronger who have the hardest time learning. Why? Because they rely upon their physical strength.

Those who are smaller, like me – a woman, 5 feet 4 inches tall – cannot rely upon their physical strength to perform an exercise. When they try, they soon discover that it just doesn’t work. My partner will almost always be bigger and stronger than me.

I learned fast enough that in order to succeed, I must find a way to do the exercise without force. I realized that I have to use softness. The softer, less stiff I am in Aikido, the easier it becomes for me.

It works the same way in life.

All you have to do is choose to be more accepting, softer, to let harmony in. Look for the way that doesn’t involve conflict. There is always such a way.

Once you’ve realized that, a huge amount of stress leaves your life, and joy enters in its stead.

Copyright 2006 Dvora Ifat and Shunit Ben-Tzvi

Dvora Ifat and Shunit Ben-Tzvi are co-authors of "No Stress! How to Save Tons of Money on Shrinks and Doctors - Just by Reducing Stress!", a web authority on stress management and relief. http://www.nostressebook.com

Posted on Mar 5th, 2006

We’ve unwittingly scheduled our time so that it’s difficult to get off the roller coaster long enough to take stock of our lives and see that we are doing too much – we have too much on our plate.

We are making sure we take that thirty minutes per day for ourselves, praying or doing meditation, eating as well as we think we can, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, playing sports and numerous other things we’ve read about that might reduce stress. We’ve used time management skills in order to accomplish more. Tomorrow we wake up and repeat the entire process again. It’s no longer unusual – it’s accepted and expected.

We live in a society that values activity. A friend calls on the phone and asks what we’re doing. We answer, “Keeping busy.” We’re so busy being active that we haven’t taken the time to consider alternatives to the methods we’re presently using to manage stress.

There might be a better way to manage if we could slow down long enough to recognize it, analyze it and plan for it. Our emphasis has shifted from prevention to relief.

I’m going to introduce some new concepts to you regarding prevention. I want to shift your thinking from stress relief to stress management. We are going to have stressors in life. Life happens. It’s unrealistic to expect otherwise but there are steps we can take to make it manageable and realistic.

In addition to the relief measures we use in our day to day life, we are going to shift our way of thinking to bring lasting change. I’ll admit it’s easier to concentrate on short term, immediate gratification with measures such as relaxation and meditation but unless we evaluate the root causes of our stress, we will continue to suffer. We can continue to go with the flow or we can choose to be proactive.

We are now familiar with the havoc that having chronic stress in our lives does to our bodies. It’s time to turn off that switch and feel our heart rates come back to normal.

I’m going to ask you to complete a different kind of stress assessment. Give it some thought and take the week to work on it. Be aware of how you react to situations, be perceptive. How you think you react may be entirely different than how you actually do.

Stress Assessment

  • Do you find yourself easily irritated?
  • Do you fail to see the humor in situations others find funny?
  • Do you feel you have the time to complete your to do list?
  • Are you in a supervisory position at work or a parent of under age children?
  • Do you find it irritating when others have an opposing view?
  • Would you prefer to finish tasks yourself instead of asking for help?
  • Are you currently unemployed or underemployed?
  • Do you have a spiritual life?
  • Do you frequently find yourself using the terms: “Awful” or
  • Catastrophe?”
  • How often do you think to yourself, “I can’t do this.” Or, "I can’t stand this.”
  • Are you going through a divorce, break up of a long term
  • relationship or grieving the loss of a loved one?
  • Have you recently relocated or are you planning to?
  • Do you find yourself waiting until the last minute for
  • deadlines?
  • Do you take care of yourself, ie: diet, exercise, grooming?
  • Do you have supportive relationships with family and friends?
  • Do you have difficulty saying “No” to people?
  • Do you have teenage children?
  • Are your surroundings organized, clean and comfortable?
  • Do you follow a budget or have a plan to pay expenses?
  • Are you satisfied with your relationship with your significant other?
  • Do you frequently feel your boss asks too much of you?
  • Do you have insomnia?
  • Do you eat too much or too little?
  • Do you frequently find yourself pacing or wringing your hands?
  • Do you or someone close to you have legal matters pending?
  • Do you or someone close to you have health issues?
  • Print this page out and use the assessment to determine the stressors present in your life. The greater number, the more you need increased strategies for management.

    Watch for additional articles that suggest the methods we encourage for lasting management.

    Cathy Gariety is a Registered Nurse and CEO of Gariety Group Consulting - a firm specializing in stress management providing services to individuals, corporate and healthcare facilities. She is also Editor of their Stress Buster newsletter. Email stresscoach@stressmanagementarticles.com for a complimentary Mini Stress Management E-Course delivered to your email address once per week for four weeks.

    Posted on Mar 4th, 2006

    Stress can be defined as a response of the body to demands placed on it and can be either positive or negative.

    Some stress is necessary for optimal functioning. It’s what enables us to give interesting presentations, makes sporting events fun to watch, serves as a protection in dangerous situations, and motivation and energy in challenging ones. People perceive demands differently and what can be motivating for one may be distressing to another.

    When the body faces a stressful event, your central nervous system gets ready for action. Certain areas of your brain activate hormones which in turn activate adrenalin. All of this happens within a matter of seconds – you know it’s kicked in when you feel your heart beating faster and your face flush. In the meantime, seventeen other hormones are being released, sending the body into a hyperactive state.

    Sugars stored in the liver are released providing quick energy. Your red blood cells release more oxygen, your stomach goes into hibernation allowing more blood to reach your brain and muscles in preparation for flight. Your intestines are affected – either constricting or – yikes, relaxing! If allowed, your body will finally relax after the threat passes.

    The problems lie when we are in a chronic state of arousal whether through repeated acute episodes of stress or prolonged chronic states such as through poverty, unemployment, grief and other long term situations.

    In episodic acute and chronic stress, your body hasn’t had a chance to turn off the switch and recent research has confirmed negative health effects ranging from cardiac damage, increased susceptibility to viruses, increased headaches, insomnia, GERD, skin problems, stroke and other health issues.

    How Do You Respond to Stress?

    When experiencing stress, you may be affected totally, not only in your body but also in your emotional reactions, your personal thoughts, and your relations with others.

    The following list of stress symptoms contains the most typical reactions to stress. It can also help you begin focusing on ways to manage stress.

    Physical

    Headaches, Fatigue, Insomnia, Weight change, Colds, Digestive upsets, Accident prone, Teeth grinding, Restlessness, Alcohol, drug, or tobacco use, Shoulders tighten up or ache, Pounding heart rate.

    Mental

    Forgetfulness, Dull senses, Poor concentration, Low productivity, Negative attitude, Confusion, Lethargy, No new ideas, Boredom.

    Emotional

    Anxiety, The "blues", Mood swings, Bad temper, Crying spells, Irritability, Depression, Nervous laugh, Worrying, Easily discouraged.

    Social

    Isolation, Resentment, Loneliness, Lashing out, Clamming up, Lowered sex drive, Nagging, Fewer contacts with friends.

    Look over the symptoms you’ve experienced and circle those that occur frequently or regularly.

    Study your list. Which symptoms cause you the most concern? Are you aware when they are happening to you? Can you stop them from happening? Do you see a pattern in your symptoms? Are they mostly physical? Do they usually involve other people? This might give you a clue in directing your stress management program.

    Copyright 2005 - Gariety Group Consulting

    Cathy Gariety is a Registered Nurse and CEO of Gariety Group Consulting - a firm specializing in stress management providing services to individuals, corporate and healthcare facilities. She is also Editor of their Stress Buster newsletter. Email stresscoach@stressmanagementarticles.com for a complimentary Mini Stress Management E-Course delivered to your email address once per week for four weeks.

    Posted on Mar 3rd, 2006

    Do you feel that you are constantly under stress? Are you looking into ways of how you can reduce your stress levels? If you have answered yes to both of these questions, you are not alone. The world is seemingly becoming faster, more demanding and more pressurised. In this article I write about how meditation can help you to relax and become a happier person.

    Stress affects people in different ways. I personally feel very tired and lethargic during these periods and start to worry about things, like a future event. This can easily lead me into a period of depression, which in the past I have found it very difficult to come out of.

    Other people suffer from panic attack attacks, become very shaky and nervous, feel sick in the stomach, become sad and can begin to think in a very negative way.

    Most of the conditions I have described above are actually a mental and not so much of a physical problem. This is why I believe meditation to be an excellent form of stress relief or stress management.

    Meditation helps us to control our emotions, to think in a more relaxed and positive way and certainly helps us to think more clearly.

    Positive effects of meditation:

    It reduces your heart rate

    It relaxes your breathing and can even make it slower

    It can lower blood pressure

    It can increase your self-esteem by making you think in a more positive way

    Helps you to think in a more logical and clear way

    Helps you to reduce stress

    Types of meditation:

    Walking meditation

    Mandala meditation

    Yoga meditation

    Sitting meditation

    Prayer meditation

    Visualisation meditation

    I personally prefer the sitting meditation. I try to make time around three of four times a day when I will sit down to meditate. Originally I had a lack of belief about what I was doing and about if it would work. I found it difficult at this stage to get myself into the zone. With practice and realising that I needed this to work for me, I managed to get enough concentration and focus to see the full benefits.

    A lot of the people in my circle of friends think that I am a bit mad. They can not believe that I actually just sit there and think. Meditation has had such a positive effect on my life and continues to do so, therefore my friends can mock as much as they like. I actually believe that some of them should try it themselves but they always laugh at the suggestion.

    This is something I now do on a daily basis and it works. Give it a go with belief and I am sure it will benefit you to.

    Stephen Hill helps to promote a number of websites including:

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    Posted on Mar 3rd, 2006

    Is it possible to live a balanced life?

    Living a balanced life may conjure up images of balanced scales, being a “superhuman”, feeling even-keeled and in control. We perceive it to mean symmetrical, composed, stable and poised. The collective belief is that if you equally attend to all facets of your life, and if you maintain your composure while doing so, you will find the nirvana of balance within your life. This is a great myth, yet a perceived road map to many for finding balance.

    FYI - Your life is not meant to be one static pie chart you control!

    When you learned to ride a bike, roller skate or turn a cartwheel, everyone probably remembers the more you fought your body’s natural sense of balance or had thoughts of falling, your struggle to succeed was harder. In fact, you discovered when you worried less, trusted in the uncertainty more and enjoyed moving through space, your balance became effortless. Balance within in your life works very much the same way.

    The process of balance involves an ever-evolving dynamic. This fluid ingredient of life, known as balance, becomes increasingly present when it builds up a momentum and is allowed to have its own ebb and flow without your control! Living a balanced life is found in being perfectly imbalanced and stepping outside of yourself many times. If this sounds like a contradiction, it really is not. In order to experience balance within your life, you must, ultimately, alter your definition of balance. Not unlike how nature recovers the pertinent balance of minerals in her soil through what many view as destructive forest fires, you need to understand that balance can come from being thrown off balance, no matter how distressing things appears. You come to know your own sense of balance by living the breadth and depth of life and by not avoiding it.

    Here are suggestions for reframing and reclaiming a sense of balance with your life:

    Prioritize – Organize and focus on what really matters. This means establishing priorities for what you need to do and want to do daily. All in that order. There are daily events that must be attended to, such as going to work, shopping for groceries and feeding the family. Then there are the events that you want to do, such as pursuing your hobby, answering emails and taking that relaxing bath. It is a myth that you must spend the exact amount of time on every item in your life’s pie chart. In fact, attempting to do everything equally can establish patterns of mediocrity instead of opening you to extraordinary feats and accomplishments when you focus. Your balance is found in attending to the parts of your life, but not always focusing in equal increments. So go ahead and put time into exploring your creative whim.

    Simplify – Learn to not over commit. You can say no to extra activities and say yes to your priorities. Sometimes you may want to be extra-involved in certain activities and at other times, you may need to shy away from these same commitments. This is natural and not flaky. It is only flaky when you first commit and then drop out. Avoid this by simplifying and saying yes to what matters and is important. Balance arrives when you are fully present within your commitments and give yourself permission to choose.

    Emotions – Experience the breadth and depth of your emotions. When you avoid your deeper, tougher emotions, which could be anger for some and love for others, you cause an unhealthy internal imbalance. You grow your psychological balance through expressing and understanding the nature of your moods and feelings, not by remaining placid. You get to learn about your inner strengths and human nature when you own and accept who you are regardless if you feel fearful or happy. Quit judging your emotions. Emotion is a channel of energy that allows you to learn about your world. It is true that the levels of great joy one feels in life are proportionate to the depths of hardship ones also experiences. Understand that emotion is energy in motion and energy must continually flow to be balanced. Experience, express, but do not hold on.

    Flexibility – Understand that balance is an ever-evolving dynamic. It involves movement and the inevitability of change. New events occurring within your life, such as a move, divorce or new job, can leave you feeling anxious, stressed-out and overwhelmed. These feelings worsen when you resist the change these events bring into your life in the present. By clinging to what was, you loose focus and are further removed from your internal locus of balance. Instead, experience your emotions, listen to them and implement their teachings. Balance is found in being flexible to what and where life leads you in the present moment and by not clinging to or controlling it. Often, balance arrives by being thrown off balance!

    Is it possible to live a balanced life? Yes you can, when you understand that balance is not a static state where you will arrive some day. Instead, balance is found in the process of making the daily choices that keep you focused on what is important within your life. It teaches you to learn about balance by knowing what it feels like to be imbalanced. It is through the path of imbalance that you come to know the fine art of finding balance within your life. It is this path that becomes an opportunity to rediscover your life in a seemingly balanced, yet perfectly imbalanced way.

    ———————————————————————————
    Have a well-being question you would like to have answered? You can write Karen at wellbeing@stressmanagementarticles.com for answers. For more information about Gifts of the Goddess – All-Natural Body & Skin Care, visit: www.giftsofthegoddess.com

    Copyright (c) 2005 Karen A. Dahlman. All rights reserved.

    Karen A. Dahlman, art therapist, licensed counselor and entrepreneurial business owner aspires to teach others to lead a creative life. She is founder and CEO of Creative Visions Consulting, Inc., a fortune 500 telecommunications-consulting firm. Her latest business endeavor is Gifts of the Goddess – All-Natural Body & Skin Care, which is close to her heart as it developed from her work as a therapist, inspiring women to evoke their inner goddess through self-empowerment. For more information about self-care through body-care, visit Gifts of the Goddess – All-Natural Body & Skin Care: http://www.giftsofthegoddess.com

    Posted on Mar 2nd, 2006

    “Remember, don’t sweat the small stuff” is what my friend told me at coffee the other day. We were talking about this column and it’s become a bit of a joke when I say “well, I guess I’ll make a list of all the things that stress me for the column this month.” So I shared with her a few of the things that sometimes stress me and that was her response. She’s a dear friend and I know I can always count on her to be honest with me. She has a calendar that reminds her daily not to sweat the small stuff. One of the recent days read ‘Would you rather be right or happy?’ Well, that’s easy – I’d rather be right!! Just kidding! (tee-hee) Of course I’d rather be happy. It’s what our consumer driven society tries to convince us that we’ll achieve if we’d only buy certain products. You know, I’m sure if I asked a lot of people how they would define happiness, I’d get different answers from everyone. Sadly, some of us have made happiness dependant upon something else. You hear people saying, “Well, I’ll be happy when I have $5,000.00 in the bank; when I get a better job; when I meet the right person; when I lose 20 lbs; and the list goes on. They are giving up their power to create happiness in their own life right now because they’ve made it dependant upon something that is future based.

    The book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff” by Dr. Richard Carlson is one of my all time favourites. This little book is profound in its simplicity and if you haven’t already done so, I’d recommend getting your own copy. The chapters are short and easy to read and it makes so much sense. It’s a great reminder of what is important in life. Some of my favourite chapters are: Chapter 4 – Be aware of the snowball effects of your thinking; Chapter 10 – Learn to Live in the present moment; Chapter 17 – Surrender to the fact that life isn’t fair. If you are experiencing challenges in your life, you’ll be sure to find something in this book that will be enlightening. I wish I could succinctly tell you about all of them in this column.

    Life can be challenging. There are those of us who choose to make a big fuss about small things – bit of lint on a counter; a few undone dishes in the sink – the perfectionists among us who feel obliged to focus on insignificant issues. But it’s the rare soul who goes through life problem free. Most of us have experienced some crisis in our lives, and it’s our response to these challenges that can create an opportunity to become a better person. The people who find the strength to move forward have learned that joyfulness comes from within and from being focused on today. We can choose to go through each day and see all the negatives or we can do as Dr. Carlson suggests in his book, and stop focusing on the insignificant things in life. Your happiness lies within and you can experience it now. It’s your choice.

    Carole Fawcett is a Stress Management Consultant and Laughter Therapist.
    http://www.afunnybusiness.ca

    http://www.afunnybusiness.ca

    Posted on Mar 1st, 2006

    “To feel or express great care or anxiety” is how the dictionary defines worry. We all worry about something it seems and it is rare for someone to say they have no worries at all. We worry about money, health, friends, family, exams, relationships, vehicles, weather, body size, what we eat, safety issues and the list goes on and on. There are those who worry incessantly about everything and this raises the stress level and steals the joy from their life. It has been said that worry is akin to the back and forth motion of a rocking chair. You experience movement, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Worry never makes anything better. As a matter of fact, worrying can exacerbate a problem to the point that it takes over your mind. Many years ago I gave my wonderful Mom a card about worry. I wish I knew who wrote this, as it is very sage advice, but it was signed anonymous.

    “There are two days in every week about which we should not worry. One is yesterday with its mistakes and cares, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. The other day is tomorrow, with its possible adversities and blunders. Until its sun rises we have no stake in tomorrow for it is yet unborn. That leaves only one day. Today. Anyone can fight the battle of just one day. It is only when we add the burden of those two awful eternities, Yesterday and Tomorrow; that contentment will escape us.”

    Are you a worrier? Worry is just another form of stress. Are you stealing the joy from your day by worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet? Think back to other things you worried about and you’ll realize that 99% of them didn’t happen. You unknowingly allowed worries to take over your mind and take away potential happiness. Worry increased your stress level for that day, or even weeks and months, depending on what it was you were worried about. I love the idea that we have control over who or what we rent the space in our heads to. Worry can and does also interfere with sleep, which can then go on to negatively impact our overall health. So it is very important to learn how to deal with it.

    There are things you can do. You can keep a worry log. Observe what it is you are worried about. Note the time of day you tend to worry about it. Ask yourself these questions. Does anything trigger the worry? How worried are you? Rate it from 1 – 5; with 1 being not very worried and 5 being extremely worried. Then ask yourself if this is something you can change? If it is, then try to problem solve. Ask your family and friends to help you brainstorm solutions. If it is something you can’t change, then consciously let it go. If your brain continues to want to worry about it, simply say the word “stop” out loud every time you tune in to it. Using your Worry Log, you can train yourself to become more aware of when you are worrying and stop it in its tracks. Worry is a habit – and like any habit it can be corrected. So, you have to become a “smarter worrier” – and eliminate 90% of your worry. It is unrealistic to say that we can eliminate worry completely. I don’t think that is humanly possible. In order to help yourself eliminate some of the daily stressors in your life, try to focus on today only. Do not dwell on the past and try not to jump ahead to the future. The only reality is today. Make sure you enjoy every minute of it. Remember what the song says, “Don’t worry, be happy”.

    Carole Fawcett
    http://www.afunnybusiness.ca

    Posted on Feb 25th, 2006

    There’s no such thing as a stress-free life. We face challenges every day, and our bodies are designed to react automatically, equipping us to achieve more than we thought possible. But we were also designed to deal with stressful events quickly and then recuperate during a period of rest before facing the next threat. Many of the things that cause us stress today are not easily handled by fighting or fleeing. As a result, our bodies are trapped in a constant state of alert, and it’s killing us.

    Stress management tips can be found everywhere, but which ones really do the trick? After compiling and comparing the favorite techniques of experts from around the world, a tally of the votes revealed the list that appears below: ten proven techniques guaranteed to stop stress.

    10. Improve your diet.

    Eat more fruits and vegetables. By increasing your antioxidant intake, you’ll also be fueling your immune system. Choose high-fiber carbohydrates like whole grains or sweet potatoes. The slower acting carbohydrates will help you relax without the sugar "crash." Cut down on caffeine and drink more water.

    9. Get enough rest.

    Our bodies are designed to repair, recharge, and refresh while we sleep. Without enough sleep, our bodies can’t keep up with the daily damage of stress. In fact, researchers have discovered that the amount of sleep we get predicts how long we’ll live.

    8. Put events in perspective.

    When you are being stressed by some event or situation, consider its true importance. Is it really a matter of life or death? How important will it be a month from now? Or even tomorrow?

    7. Think positively.

    Think in terms of solutions, not problems. Evaluate each day by reviewing progress and accomplishments instead of difficulties and setbacks. It probably wasn’t really the worst day of your life.

    6. Take a time out.

    When you’ve been doing battle for a few hours, it’s OK to call time out. Step away from whatever is getting to you. Give yourself a few minutes to take a deep breath, say a prayer, listen to music, or do nothing at all. The few minutes of work you give up will be more than compensated by the fresh perspective you get from your change of focus.

    5. Exercise.

    Exercise prepares us for the battle with stress. It helps us look and feel better, increases our energy levels, and improves our general mood. Exercise enhances our self-esteem and confidence, and helps us think more clearly. A health club or home gym is not required. Just do something that’s fun and gets you moving.

    4. Simplify your life.

    Not everything in our life needs to be in our life. We all accumulate excess baggage. Simplify by clearing out the physical clutter. Give things you no longer need to people who could use them. Evaluate your everyday tasks and commitments, and delegate what you can. Keeping your life simple may mean saying no to some things so you can concentrate on what’s valuable.

    3. Do the stuff you hate first.

    Try to tackle your most difficult or stressful tasks early in the day. We are most resilient to stress after a good night’s sleep. Hitting these tasks early puts the source of our stress behind us. Don’t procrastinate and let tasks accumulate. Learn how to break big projects up into manageable bits and get started.

    2. Do something that you love.

    Find something you love doing, something just for you, and do more of it. At least once a week spend some uninterrupted time doing something that makes you happy. Hike in the forest. Write a poem. Take up a hobby. Time spent doing something you love will refuel your sense of enjoyment and refresh your peace of mind.

    1. And finally, the number one stress management technique: Laugh.

    There’s no other way to say it: laughter really is the best medicine. Studies have confirmed that laughter actually changes our brain chemistry. It reduces the levels of at least four stress hormones. A good belly laugh produces the same cleansing effect as deep breathing exercises. Laughter strengthens our immune system and alters our perception of pain. Develop your sense of humor. Look for the humorous side of every situation. Think of ways to inject more humor into your day. Laugh!

    There are numerous ways to manage stress, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You need to discover what works best for you. These top ten techniques are a good place to start your quest for a happier, healthier and longer life.

    Art Turner is a writer, musician, and creator of Relaxation Emporium, where you can learn more about stress, stress management, and relaxation techniques. Visit http://www.relaxationemporium.com

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