Stress Relief, Panic Attacks, Relaxation Techniques, & Stress Management http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com Learn how to manage your stress through proper relaxation techniques & prevention methods. Thu, 30 Nov 2006 00:00:00 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.0.4 en How Can We Cope With Stress? http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/30/general-articles/how-can-we-cope-with-stress/ http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/30/general-articles/how-can-we-cope-with-stress/#comments Thu, 30 Nov 2006 00:00:00 +0000 info General Articles http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/30/general-articles/how-can-we-cope-with-stress/ Stress is a huge problem today and can result in serious illnesses if not managed properly. How can you cope with stress?

One of the most important steps to take when trying to deal with stress is identifying the cause of your stress. Stress exists when certain problems, wether physical or psychological, keep the body on alert all the time. Often times just identifying the source of the stress can make the stress disappear.

The rest of the article will focus on how to cope with stresses that you may face in life.

Adapt To It

Many people try earnestly to get away from what produces the stresses in life. They may end up moving away to try to escape the stressing conditions, such as working in a busy, noisy city.

While that may help to reduce your stress levels, it is not always the most effective or needed thing to do. For example if you get really stressed sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, leaving a little earlier or later might help to reduce the stress of being stuck in traffic. By adapting to the this it will help you gain confidence that you are in control of your life, which is an important thing to help cope with stress.

Raising children can often be very stressful for parents, especially when the children are out of control. What may be needed to decrease the stress from this source is to establish firm and consistent guidelines for the children to live by. After adapting guidelines for children many parents often feel a huge sigh of relief.

What if noise is causing you too much stress in your life? If you are at your house you could close a door to reduce the noise coming from the other rooms in the house. If the source is external, perhaps closing the window and drapes will help to dampen the noise. Ear plugs can also be an effective form to drown out the noise. Make sure your surroundings are pleasant by making sure the area you are in is neat and clean, this often helps in relieving stress as well.

While this may help to reduce the stress you are facing it will not likely eliminate the stress all together. But even if it helps just a tad, you will be better off.

Talk It Out

Bottling up your stress inside is not healthy for you. Think of how much more relieved you will feel if you get it off your chest by confiding in a friend who you love and trust. Your friend may be able to give you helpful advise. It is only natural for us to reflect our problems inward, but you wont be any less of a person if you discuss your troubles with a trusted friend. You may be able to benefit from the practical suggestions of a friend as well as bring yourself emotional relief.

Exercise Regularly

Regular physical exercise can be beneficial to help you burn all the extra sugars and fat in the bloodstream caused by stress. This will help counteract the effects of stress and help to restore your body to a balances state.

If you don’t particularly like exercising try finding something you are interested, perhaps a sport. If you don’t like sports exercise anyway! If you do this you will feel better, especially if you make it a daily routine.

Rather than taking the car to do your errands, if the place is close enough try taking a brisk walk. This might help you to "burn off stress."

Finding Balance

It is proper to find balance between work and recreation. While both have their place, too much of one or the other can cause stress in your life, so therefore it is very important to find a balance between these too.

Many of us hate it, especially getting up in the morning. But work is not an evil plague out to get us. It is beneficial to be active and productive, and it helps that the fact earning a living allows us to place.

When you are working be sure to regularly take a few moments to relieve the stress of work. Perhaps getting up and stretching or walking around the office, if permitted, can help relieve the tense feelings in your muscles, which will reduce the buildup of stress.

Make sure that your life is not dominated by work. Many people do this and are very stressed out because of the place their job has taken in their life. Make sure you make time for relaxation as well. Perhaps you have a hobby that you enjoy that will divert your thinking away from your stresses.

Sleep Is Vital

Many people today stay up really late, perhaps enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend, or watching late night TV that they say helps them to unwind. But whatever claimed relaxation they are getting from that outweighs the deep sleep that they need to really help unwind. Sleep deficiency is a stress on the body and mind and makes stresses in life even more difficult to cope with.

Sleep allows your body to repair itself. So if you are a stress victim try getting more sleep, and try going to sleep at the same time and form a habit out of it.

Changing Your Viewpoint

Often time our mental attitude is enough to make us stressed out. How do you view life and the problems that you are facing? If you are always so negative about things, it is only natural to assume that you will feel negative.

Learn to evaluate the your life’s priorities. Perhaps you have a new social gathering to go to, or are having a baby. Whatever it may be take the time out to think about how you are going to cope with the stresses involved, and how important they really are to your life. An evaluation such as this will help you realize your priorities and the limitations you should live by which in turn will help you be a much happier person.

Will It End?

Stress today is unavoidable no matter how we live or how happy we are. There are just so many things that can cause stress. So you much learn to accept it, and cope with it when it does arise.

For further information and articles on depression and other mental health disorders please visit HelpingDepression.com

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FEAR: How to Defeat the Monster http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/30/general-articles/fear-how-to-defeat-the-monster/ http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/30/general-articles/fear-how-to-defeat-the-monster/#comments Thu, 30 Nov 2006 00:00:00 +0000 info General Articles http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/30/general-articles/fear-how-to-defeat-the-monster/ What is the greatest fear of man? Is it death? Pain? Poverty? Physical ailments? Loneliness? Surveys tell us that the number one fear among modern people is public speaking, of all things!

What is fear? We all know what it feels like, but what exactly is it? The dictionary defines fear as “A painful emotion or passion excited by the expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger; apprehension; anxiety; solicitude; alarm; dread; to be anxious or solicitous for.” That sounds rather ominous, and it is. Now, what are we going to do about it?

Fear, however, can also be a positive emotion. Fear can also induce an adrenalin rush enabling us to rise to the demands of a particular situation. It could be the “extra” you need to run from the mugger, to sing in front of the crowd, to burst through the defensive line of the opposing team, to ask your boss for a raise and so on.

Fear manifests itself physically, often as a knot in the bottom of our stomach, as that tension headache in the lower region on the back of our skull, as subtle to massive perspiration levels across our bodies or dozens of other physical sensations. Is fear real? Sometimes, it is a result of very real and threatening circumstances, while at other times it is simply the resulting emotions caused by our apprehension and negative expectations concerning a certain activity, event or outcome. They feel the same however. Our bodies react in the same manner whether the fear is real or imagined.

Consider the acronym False Evidence Appearing Real. The letters spell fear, but what is the message? The obvious message is that whether or not the situation is real or imagined, our mind sees it as the same occurrence and our physical reaction is identical. Knowing this, we can now go to work.

Many years ago, Mark Twain said “Do the thing that you fear and the death of fear is certain.” He was as exactly right then as he is for today, as truth never changes. I have found through personal experience that if you are fearful about a certain event or situation, there are steps that you can take to make it more logical and less emotional. In other words, identify the false evidence that is appearing real and you are on your way to reducing that situations’ negative hold on you. Removing or reducing the negative emotion by identifying the false evidence will enable you to have the courage to do the thing that you fear.

For example, assume that you were called upon by your boss to do a three-month research project and present your findings and representations to the board. After you “outwardly and confidently” accept the assignment, your first gut reaction may likely be sheer panic! Right now, you are probably paralyzed with fear and shaken to the core. Where do you go from here? How on earth can you muster the fortitude to proceed?

Let’s break down this project and look at it rationally. These same steps can be used with little modification to address a wide variety of circumstances. For the purposes of this paper, let’s assume that you are quite capable of accumulating the data and extrapolating the results into a written report format and you now have concluded that portion of your assignment. What next?

1. Relax. Take a deep breath, hold for a 4 second count and exhale slowly. Repeat 4 times.

2. Close your eyes. Know that God gave you ample ability to do this. Be thankful.

3. On a blank sheet of paper, draw a line down the center so that you now have two columns.

4. Label column one as Positives and column two as Negatives.

5. Identify your negative emotions and write each one in the Negatives column. Write in detail as necessary. Clearly identify each feeling that you have relative to the assignment.

6. In the Positives column, write your strengths. Include your positive emotions. Examples: Do you have a pleasant voice? Is your work often complimented? Do people like you?

7. What are the likely outcomes from the assignment? Will you be promoted when you deliver your presentation? Will you receive a 20% salary increase? Will you literally die a horrid death if you deliver a poor presentation? Will they “boo” and heckle you in the boardroom? Be realistic. Examine the facts. What is the evidence supporting each possible outcome?

8. Identify the False Evidence Appearing Real. Does it look as threatening to you now in light of your recent analysis?

9. Study your audience. What do you know about each board member? Remember, they are also human beings just like you. They probably value their health and families too, just like you do. What types of presentations are they used to. What do they favor? Each board member’s personal assistant can most likely answer these questions for you.

10. Plan your presentation. Make an outline using your expected time allotment. Determine which presentation tools, if any, that you will utilize. Do you need a drawing pad, a projector, a laptop or any other aid? Plan for all contingencies.

11. Rehearse your presentation several times until you are comfortable with it. Remember to do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain. Rehearse again.

12. Remember, especially just before your actual presentation, that you and only you are now the expert on this particular subject within the confines of the boardroom. Be confident.

Remember what that famous 1960’s-70’s philosopher, “Broadway” Joe Namath, had to say in one of his commercials; “Look sharp, feel sharp… Be sharp.” Broadway Joe understood how to advance in the face or fear or adversity. He must have read Mark Twain.

These principles, altered slightly to fit any given situation, will always take the sting out of fear. “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.” That is absolute truth that does not change with the passage of time.

Daniel Sitter is the author of the breakthrough e-book, Learning For Profit, the revolutionary “how-to” book providing simple, step-by-step instructions to teach people exactly how to learn new skills faster than ever before. It is what the author calls a “skinny book”, a new generation of e-book designed for busy people. Containing no “filler or fluff”, it gets right to the point with no wasted time. It can be read easily and quickly on a computer, a PDA or printed for later reference.

Visit http://www.learningforprofit.com/ or contact the author directly. This e-book is currently available from C|net’s download.com, the authors’ web site and a variety of online book merchants. Mr. Sitter is also a contributing writer for many online and traditional publications.

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When Your Anxieties And Stresses Become Difficult To Handle http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/29/general-articles/when-your-anxieties-and-stresses-become-difficult-to-handle/ http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/29/general-articles/when-your-anxieties-and-stresses-become-difficult-to-handle/#comments Wed, 29 Nov 2006 00:00:00 +0000 info General Articles http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/29/general-articles/when-your-anxieties-and-stresses-become-difficult-to-handle/ Your fears, anxieties, and other problems have the best of you and you don’t know where to turn for help. At some point you feel totally helpless as you struggle each day. What do you do? Here are a few suggestions on how to get out of this situation.

Always remember to get all of the facts of the given situation. Gathering the facts can prevent us from relying on exaggerated and fearful assumptions. By focusing on the facts, a person can rely on what is reality and what is not.

Learn how to manage your fearful thoughts that may be difficult to manage. When experiencing a negative thought, read some positive statements and affirmations that help lift your spirits and make you feel better. Remember that your fearful thoughts may be exaggerated so balance these thoughts with realistic thinking and common sense.

Take your problems to God. God is stronger than your stresses and anxieties. When the going gets tough, talk to God about your problems as if you were talking to a friend. Be persistent and be open in the avenues that God may provide to you in solving your problem. It is not always easy, however God is in control and he will help you if you ask him.

Don’t tackle all of your fears at once. Manage them one at a time. Try to learn what is the real source of your fears and anxieties. Knowing what the source of your problem is can go a long way in finding the solution. Think about it and try to figure out what is the source of your fears and anxieties. If you do not know, then ask a professional.

Managing your fears and anxieties will take some hard work. Trying to avoid you problems will do nothing in getting rid of your fears and anxieties. Remember that all you can do is to do your best each day, hope for the best, and take things in stride. Patience, persistence, education, and being committed in trying to solve your problem will go along way in fixing your problems.

Stan Popovich is the author of "A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear" an easy to read book that presents a overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to: http://www.managingfear.com

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Ten Easy Relaxation Techniques http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/29/tips-and-techniques/ten-easy-relaxation-techniques/ http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/29/tips-and-techniques/ten-easy-relaxation-techniques/#comments Wed, 29 Nov 2006 00:00:00 +0000 info Tips and Techniques http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/29/tips-and-techniques/ten-easy-relaxation-techniques/ Stress is more than just unpleasant. It’s dangerous. Try these relaxation techniques today, and use them whenever you feel that tension coming on.

1. Leave the room. This really helps if the things stressing you out are in the room or related to it. Just get out for a little while.

2. Take five deep breaths through your nose. Close your eyes and pay attention only to your breathing while doing this. This is like a mini-meditation.

3. Take a hot shower. The hot water relaxes your muscles, and the break from more stressful activities helps too.

4. Drink chamomile tea. It seems to have a calming effect on the nerves.

5. Stop and watch your mind. Often if you can spot the stressors lurking just below the surface (hunger, worry, a phone call you need to make), you can resolve them and feel more relaxed.

6. Laugh. You know from experience that this helps you relax, right? Find the guy that knows all the best jokes, or just find something funny in front of you.

7. Listen to relaxing music. Keep your favorite relaxation CD at the office, or wherever you’ll need it most.

8. Take a walk. This is one of the best relaxation techniques if you have at least ten minutes to spare. Find a pretty place to walk while you’re at it.

9. Get a hug. As long as it’s from somebody you don’t mind hugging you, this really can be relaxing.

10. Break your routine. Talk to that guy sleeping on the bench, or eat lunch on the roof. Anything that breaks you out of your habitual patterns can relieve stress.

Why Easy Relaxation Techniques?

You can change yourself over time, so you’re naturally more relaxed. But if the thought of the work involved just stresses you more, you might have to take it slow. In the meantime, the relaxation techniques above really aren’t difficult, so why not try one or two today?

Steve Gillman writes on many self help topics including boosting brainpower, losing weight, meditation, habits of mind, creative problem solving, learning gratitude, generating luck and anything related to self improvement. You’ll find more at http://www.SelfImprovementNow.com

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Stress and Health: 8 of the Worst Causes of Stress http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/28/stess-effects/stress-and-health-8-of-the-worst-causes-of-stress/ http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/28/stess-effects/stress-and-health-8-of-the-worst-causes-of-stress/#comments Tue, 28 Nov 2006 00:00:00 +0000 info Stess Effects http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/28/stess-effects/stress-and-health-8-of-the-worst-causes-of-stress/ What are the situations and circumstances most likely to cause stress in your life? Are you at risk from any of these? Here are the most common causes,

Work

According to a recent survey, 40% of workers described their jobs as very stressful. Because we all spend so much time at work, job-related stress can be very harmful.

You need to identify the circumstances at work that cause you the most stress and take action. You may say that’s obvious, but many people make like an ‘ostrich’, trying hard to ignore the problem, because they don’t want to face up to the consequences.

Action could mean talking to your boss or personnel manager to arrange a job transfer or change or responsibilities, or it could mean changing jobs or even careers.

Relationships

Often you don’t choose your family and many of your relationships, and you don’t always get on with everybody. Anger and emotions are often ‘stored-up’ until they explode.

Emotional stress can be relieved greatly by talking, either to a support group of friends or professional counsellors.

Pregnancy and sex

Pregnancy and sex is an emotive subject that can also cause much stress. Pregnant mothers worry about their unborn babies and spouses worry about many issues from performance in bed to infidelity and infertility.

If you suffer from these causes you will benefit by sweeping aside taboos and fears, talking openly about your problems to partner or spouse.

Yoga or other forms of bodywork, such as massage can be very effective here, especially for mothers-to-be.

Study and learning

Study and learning can cause much distress, weather it’s professional exams and qualifications or college studies. Often the problem is time-management. There just are not enough hours in the day.

Being a student can be a difficult period for many of us but there is much you can do to counteract the stressful effects of studying and exams.

Plan ahead, especially when there is an exam at the end. Allow more time than you think you need. Create a quiet space for studying where you are not disturbed. Schedule your study time and don’t allow it to be hijacked.

Health problems

Health problems can cause considerable stress and vice versa. A vicious cycle can be created. Which comes first? Or, more importantly what can you do to break the cycle?

So what illnesses and health problems are linked to stress?

Stress can affect heart disease and strokes, immune disorders, gastrointestinal problems, eating disorders and diabetes. It can cause tension, pain and insomnia, headaches, migraines and sexual dysfunction. It can also impair memory and concentration.

This is just a short selection!

Traumatic events

Serious accidents or traumatic events can be a source of stress, not just at the time of the event, but for many years after.

Traumatic events often causes ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’, which is usually treated by professionals. However, many less traumatic events can be helped enormously with simple stress relievers and stress management techniques.

Children and teenagers

Children and teenagers can be a source of much stress. And as parents it can be a double bind. Their stress is causing your distress or it could be that you have difficult or unruly teenagers making your life much harder.

In particular, teenagers are often stressed by growing pains and learning to live in an adult world. As adults, problems that you take in your stride, can be a source of great anguish to them.

Talking to them, in a non-confrontational way, to discover the source of the problem can work. Babies don’t come with manuals and we have to learn how to be good parents by experience. But there are many guides to being a good parent available on the Internet and bookstores.

Unhealthy lifestyle

Unhealthy lifestyles are the modern stressors. Drinking, smoking, drugs junk food and vegetating in front of the TV, all contribute to stress much more than you may realise.

Our bodies and minds are like machines. They need to be used to regularly in order to function in peak condition. We need to feed them with the correct nutrients, exercise them properly and not abuse them.

Understanding what causes you stress will help you greatly to take back control of your life. Start learning about stress and seek out solutions that strike a chord with you.

And it doesn’t have to be medications or pills. There are many effective techniques and strategies that are completely natural and kind to you and your health.

Selecting the best combination of techniques, to either reduce or eliminate your stress problem, is really a personal choice.

Whatever you do, start your search today.

The stress doctor provides advice, tips, tools and techniques for beating your stress problems. You can get a free short report "18 health problems linked to stress you should know about" or get daily "Stress Buster Tips" at

http://www.howtobeatstress.com

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Manage Stress and Fear: Visit The Secret Garden! http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/28/stress-management/manage-stress-and-fear-visit-the-secret-garden/ http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/28/stress-management/manage-stress-and-fear-visit-the-secret-garden/#comments Tue, 28 Nov 2006 00:00:00 +0000 info Stress Management http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/28/stress-management/manage-stress-and-fear-visit-the-secret-garden/ Recently I completed some new workshop engagements in addition to my coaching and week-long programs. I am very grateful for the opportunity to stretch and learn but am also acutely aware of the stress I am feeling taking on this new work.

Indeed, I am feeling more stress than I care to admit to. Too often I find myself driven by feelings of “I don’t know enough, not prepared enough, don’t have enough time, don’t have the right answers to their problems…” Translation? “I am not enough; I feel inadequate, anxious, afraid; I won’t be able to do it right.” (Although, a part of me knows with certainty I’ll do just fine!)

It is interesting how we suffer the same feelings when we’re not working… "not feeling good enough, feeling a lack of the skills, knowledge, experience, answers needed to career change." Unemployed or working; money or lack thereof; a relationship or not; we must somehow come to peace with this old ghost that so regularly haunts most of us. Louise Haye, author and internationally acclaimed healer proclaims, “I am not good enough, I am not worthy” is at the core of all humanity.

Rather than continually buy into the idea that the right job, education, experience, skills, relationship, income will make us feel OK; instead, it is helpful to acknowledge the feelings under these thoughts. If we can feel and acknowledge our fear, inadequacy, unworthiness, we can begin to see all the different ways we want to run from it; all the different things we grasp at to make us feel better.

Grasping at externals to allay our fears only drives us further and faster from our truth. Herein, are a few strategies that have helped me manage my stress and inadequacies lately.

Visit the Secret Garden

I discovered life-giving cues within “The Secret Garden.” Yes, the one you read as a child by “Frances Hodgson Burnett.” Recently I reread this delightful book and highly recommend it to you. You won’t be disappointed.

Each night, I happily informed my family I was going to bed early, and slipped into to my “Secret Garden.” Pressures, anxieties, fears of the day (and future) disappeared as I pushed aside the long, sweeping ivy covering the secret door and entered that hidden haven of peace, sweet fragrance and green growing things.

Children, who had been crippled physically, mentally and emotionally by a lack of love, constant negativity, and having everything their own way, slowly but surely became healed within the secret garden. The fresh air; working in the dirt; having a place of safety and beauty; learning to love all living things; and wonderful positive camaraderie caused the children to bloom as surely as the crocuses in springtime.

Couldn’t we all do with our own “Secret Garden?” Finding, tending, minding, our own “Secret Garden” can give us solace and healing too. As they say in the “Secret Garden,” “Where we tend roses; thistles cannot grow.”

Even if we do not own a piece of dirt we can all create our own Secret Garden. How do we find the hidden key and secret door? We find the “buried” key to our garden by returning to our breath. One breath at a time we find our way into that haven of peace and safety within each of us.

Stay On YOur Knees

Each breath brings us back into the present moment. Being Wholly Present is being in the Holy Presence. We can take this even further by literally getting down on our knees to pray in yet, more earnestness.

I’ve been praying on my knees for "grace and ease" in my life and work lately. It seems to me my earnest prayers are always answered (though perhaps not how I imagined). My anxious burdens are lifted (at least for a time!) No doubt we would be best off just staying on our knees! I am not calling for religious converts here but rather suggesting simple, life-giving practices.

Bach Please

Another wonderful technique that continues to help me alleviate stress and fear is to listen to Bach. Or Mozart. Or Vivaldi. Try any classical music that suits you.

This timeless music shifts us into a different part of our brain and can ease us emotionally as well. Put on your favorite classical music and really bring all of your awareness to listening to the notes, instruments, melodies. See if you don’t feel refreshed, lighter, more at peace.

Oh yes, and remember to trust and breathe!

Teresa Proudlove has been inspiring, supporting, and guiding over 3000 people upon their career and life work path for over fourteen years - with compassion and heart. Teresa’s workshops and writing, offer a deeper understanding and respect for ourselves, for others, and for our lifework path. This entrepreneurial woman also owned and successfully operated two women’s retail boutiques for ten years. For over twelve years, Teresa was a well-read newspaper columnist. Visit Teresa at http://www.yourlifework.com; listen to your inner guidance and navigate through life and work with more meaning, acceptance and peace.

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Assertiveness Skills - The Art of Saying No http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/27/stress-prevention/assertiveness-skills-the-art-of-saying-no/ http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/27/stress-prevention/assertiveness-skills-the-art-of-saying-no/#comments Mon, 27 Nov 2006 00:00:00 +0000 info Stress Prevention http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/27/stress-prevention/assertiveness-skills-the-art-of-saying-no/ What exactly is The Art of Saying No?

A lot of people just don’t like the idea of having to tell people they can’t do something. Or they feel obligated when a colleague asks a favour; or feel pressurised when someone senior to them needs something done.

There are even some work places where saying no is definitely frowned upon; and in, say, the police force, could be a sackable or disciplinary offence.

After having worked for some time with people where saying no either feels impossible or just isn’t allowed, we created a body of work to address it. In some cases it is indeed, how to say no without ever saying the word.

Of course, there are times when saying the ‘n’ word is a necessity. But in our experience, there is so much anxiety around the possible consequences of using it, that people don’t say anything at all, or agree to things they’d rather not, or get landed with work that isn’t theirs and so on.

That can’t be good for anyone, but especially the person who finds themselves staying late at the end of the day to get their own work done after they’ve finished everyone else’s; or who swallows their resentment when they are ‘volunteered’ for something they don’t want to do; or who quakes at the idea of having to be a bit tougher with a supplier or even someone they manage.

This is one issue we have felt so passionately about that we even wrote a book that deals with it: The Nice Factor Book (Are you too Nice for your own good?)

This document is going to focus on one aspect of that book, which is about how to say no in a way that’s manageable, deals with the difficult feelings and actually might be some fun. For a more in-depth look, do have a peek at the book.

It’s Not Assertiveness

Impact Factory has been running programmes on The Art of Saying No for nearly seven years and we are often asked what the difference is between our work and assertiveness training. The reason we’ve been asked this is that assertiveness training has been around for some time, and people wonder if this art of saying no business isn’t just more of the same.

Well, no it isn’t, and here’s why.

We believe the very term ‘assertiveness’ is limiting. For instance, people say you should be assertive rather than aggressive, as if assertiveness is the only way to deal with a difficult situation. It isn’t. If you are being attacked or abused, then aggressively fighting back may well be an appropriate thing to do. The key word here is appropriate.

So yes, aggressiveness may be appropriate, assertiveness may be appropriate, but there’s a greater range of choice of behaviour than those two types that could be equally appropriate.

Before we discuss them, though, we want to talk about some of the things that happen to people when what they think and feel is different from what they do.

Many ‘unassertive’ people recognise that their pattern of behaviour is to be nice or compliant for far longer than they really want to until they reach the point of no longer being able to hold it in; then they explode nastily and inappropriately all over whoever happens to be around.

There are three ways this ‘explosion’ can happen. The first is that the rage happens inside the head and remains unexpressed. The second is that it is inappropriately expressed, and someone not involved, like a work colleague or secretary or even a bus conductor, becomes the recipient. The third is properly directed at the ‘offending party’ but is out of all proportion to the probably small, but nonetheless final-straw-event that unleashes it.

Not Nice Not Nasty

This leaves people with the impression that there are only two states or behaviours they can do: Nice or Nasty. When, in fact, they have forgotten a whole range of behaviour that lies between Nice and Nasty that can be termed Not-Nice (or even Not-Nasty).

What we’ve seen with assertiveness, is that it is often seen as a single form of behaviour: just say no, stand your ground, be a broken record - all quite difficult if you are truly unassertive, or in our jargon - simply too nice for your own good. The concept of asserting yourself, (getting your voice heard, being understood, being taken into account, getting your own way) needs to be broadened to include all forms of behaviour. It can include humour, submission, irresponsibility, manipulation, playfulness, aggressiveness, etc.

The key point here is that the behaviour - nice, not-nice, nasty - is chosen. We emphasise the word key, because until people are able to choose behaviour that’s free from the limiting effects of their fear of possible consequences, they will not be able to act no matter how well they are taught to be assertive. They will still feel overwhelmed in difficult situations.

Managing Feelings

It needs to be acknowledged that the strong feelings associated with changing behaviour are real and valid. Once people do that, then these (usually difficult) feelings can be looked upon as a good thing, a sign that something new is happening. At this point people can start to ‘choose’ to have these feelings rather than having to endure them or trying to pretend they are not happening.

The idea of choice is very important. If people feel they have real choice about how they behave, they start to realise that it can be OK to put up with something they don’t like. They can choose it because they want to; it is to their advantage. They then avoid the disempowering tyranny of always having to assert themselves. (Which is almost as bad as feeling you always have to be compliant or nice.)

Many people think that in order to be assertive, you need to ignore what you are feeling and just ’stand your ground’. In fact, you ignore those feelings at your peril.

Often the magnitude of peoples’ feelings is way out of proportion to what the situation warrants. They may well reflect a previous difficult event more accurately. But because that previous difficulty was so difficult, it feels as though every similar situation will be the same.

It is only by beginning to experience and understand how crippling these feelings can be that people can start to do anything about changing their behaviour. Many people know what they could say; they know what they could do. Most ‘unassertive’ people have conversations in their heads about how to resolve a conflict they’re in; but still, their mouths say ‘yes’, while their heads say ‘no’. Knowing what to do or say is not the issue here.

Therefore, in looking at practising ‘the art of saying no’, it is wise to broaden the brief to so that it isn’t about becoming more assertive; rather it’s about changing your behaviour to fit the circumstances.

While in many circumstances assertiveness can be a straight jacket of it’s own (often creating resistance and resentment), the full lexicon of behaviour can be freeing, because there is choice in the matter. Using charm, humour, telling the truth or even deliberate manipulation, may well get you what you want without having to attempt behaviour that may go against your personality.

If you add a dash of fun or mischief, The Art of Saying No becomes a doable prospect, rather than another difficult mountain to climb.

Saying No

Here are some pointers of what could make it easier to say ‘no’.

If you’re saying something serious, notice whether you smile or not. Smiling gives a mixed message and weakens the impact of what you’re saying.

If someone comes over to your desk and you want to appear more in charge, stand up. This also works when you’re on the phone. Standing puts you on even eye level and creates a psychological advantage.

If someone sits down and starts talking to you about what they want, avoid encouraging body language, such as nods and ahas. Keep your body language as still as possible.

Avoid asking questions that would indicate you’re interested (such as, ‘When do you need it by?’ or ‘Does it really have to be done by this afternoon?’ etc.)

It’s all right to interrupt! A favourite technique of ours is to say something along the lines of, ‘I’m really sorry; I’m going to interrupt you.’ Then use whatever tool fits the situation. If you let someone have their whole say without interrupting, they could get the impression you’re interested and willing. All the while they get no message to the contrary, they will think you’re on board with their plan (to get you to do whatever…)

Pre-empt. As soon as you see someone bearing down on you (and your heart sinks because you know they’re going to ask for something), let them know you know: ‘Hi there! I know what you want. You’re going to ask me to finish the Henderson report. Wish I could help you out, but I just can’t.’

Pre-empt two. Meetings are a great place to get landed with work you don’t want. You can see it coming. So to avoid the inevitable, pre-empt, ‘I need to let everyone know right at the top, that I can’t fit anything else into my schedule for the next two weeks (or whatever).’

Any of these little tips can help you feel more confident and will support your new behaviour. For that’s what this is: If you’re someone whom others know they can take advantage (they may not even be doing it on purpose, you’re just an easy mark!) you need to indicate by what you do that things have changed.

Here’s an Analogy we use in The Nice Factor Book:

Let’s say you’re a burglar. There’s a row of identical houses and you’re thinking of having a go at five of them. The first house has a Yale lock on the front door. The second house has a Yale and a Chubb lock on the front door. The third house has a Yale and a Chubb lock on the front door and bars on the window. The fourth house has a Yale and a Chubb lock on the front door, bars on the window and burglar alarm. The fifth house has a Yale and a Chubb lock on the front door, bars on the window, a burglar alarm and a Rottweiler.

Which would you burgle?

When you make it easy for other people, they will naturally keep coming back. By learning more effective ways of saying ‘no’ you make it harder for others to expect you to do what they want without taking into account what’s going on for you. You become more burglar-proof.

Changing Others by Changing Yourself

A lot of us wish that the person we are in conflict with, or feel intimidated by, would change. Then everything would be all right. We’ve all heard this from a colleague, friend, partner and even said it ourselves: ‘If only he’d listen to me, then I wouldn’t be so frightened.’ ‘If only she’d stop complaining about my work, I’d be much happier.’

‘If only’ puts the onus on the other person to change how and who they are and makes them responsible for how we feel. By using some of the tools outlined above, people can get a sense of being in charge of situations, rather than being victims to what other people want.

It does seem to be part of human nature to blame others when things go wrong in our lives, or when we’re feeling hard done by. If you take away the ‘if only’ excuse you also take away the need to blame and make the other person wrong. It’s also rather wonderful to think that rather than waiting for someone else to change to make things all right, we all have the ability to take charge of most situations and make them all right for ourselves.

What also makes it easier is that we all just have to get better at ‘the art of saying no’; none of us has to change our whole personalities to create a more satisfying outcome!

Robin and Jo Ellen run Impact Factory a company that provides Assertiveness Training

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Worry: Do We Have A Choice? http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/27/finding-relief/worry-do-we-have-a-choice/ http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/27/finding-relief/worry-do-we-have-a-choice/#comments Mon, 27 Nov 2006 00:00:00 +0000 info Finding Relief http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/27/finding-relief/worry-do-we-have-a-choice/ As Montaigne said, “he who fears he will suffer, already suffers because of his fears.” We pay a huge cost for worrying, physically, mentally and emotionally; yet research shows that it affects most of us in some way. So what is it? From its original meaning of ‘to strangle’, worry has evolved over the centuries to our modern definition ‘mental distress or agitation, resulting from concern, usually from something impending or anticipated’. It is constantly dwelling on and evaluating possible consequences and outcomes of past or future bad events.

Is it a good thing to do? The rule of thumb should be that if worrying isn’t getting us anywhere, we are worrying too much. There are many negative effects worrying can have on us. If we worry all the time, our life is doubt. Worry destroys our peace of mind as unpleasant thoughts and images constantly intrude, affecting our ability to concentrate and think clearly. It leads to uncertainty and indecision, leaving us feeling paralysed and unable to act. Worried thoughts create tension in the body. They affect our ability to sleep. Physical problems associated with worry include headaches, digestive troubles, high blood pressure, sickness and asthma. Extreme worry can lead to panic attacks. It diminishes the effectiveness of our immune system, and makes us look older too!

So why do we do it? Our minds are extraordinary instruments, able to take advantage of everything we have learned through experience as well as imagine what may potentially happen in the future to help us figure out what to do. Worry has been described as imagination gone awry. Because worry is a type of mental stimulation, it can become a habit and addiction. Once we understand that worry is a habitual response, we can change it.

The first step to breaking the worry pattern, therefore, is awareness. Noticing the effect worry has on our bodies helps us recognise the triggers and identify our fears. It is then possible to actively challenge those worrying thoughts and change our mindset. However much we may wish to, we will never be able to control everything. So ask yourself whether you can do anything about whatever it is causing you worry. If you can, then do it; if you can’t then accept that worrying isn’t going to help in any way. Taking any sort of positive action is a better use of our energy, and just physically doing something can distract us from our worry. Taking even a small step towards solving a problem can make us realise it isn’t so big after all and help break that cycle of indecision, so helping us feel more in control.

Keep worry in perspective and give yourself permission to have fun. Laughter increases our immune cells and releases the endorphins in our brain, so let’s use our imaginations in a more positively creative way. There is no certainty in life as we cannot predict the future. Therefore worry will always be with us. But wasting time and energy on worry means we are only living half a life. Therefore let’s CHOOSE to worry less and live more.

© Frances Hall

After many years working in film and music, Frances changed career direction completely to find what for her is a more fulfilling way to live. Now an accredited life coach, massage therapist and writer, she is doing what she’d rather be doing - helping people get the most out of their lives. Her intention is to “Liberate Inspire Focus Empower”. Check out http://www.lifematters.gb.com

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The Ultimate Stress Management Strategy from the Dog http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/26/stress-prevention/the-ultimate-stress-management-strategy-from-the-dog/ http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/26/stress-prevention/the-ultimate-stress-management-strategy-from-the-dog/#comments Sun, 26 Nov 2006 00:00:00 +0000 info Stress Prevention http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/26/stress-prevention/the-ultimate-stress-management-strategy-from-the-dog/ This is probably the busiest and most stressful time of the year. There’s so much that needs to get done on top of the stuff you already have to do. And work? Well, there are just as many demands there as ever.

So, I thought I would introduce you to a very good friend of mine who has taught me a great deal about how to deal with stress. His name is Cecil, and he is my 3 year old golden retriever. I’ll bet you’re asking yourself what a dog could possibly know about the challenges of balancing work and life. As a matter of fact, I think he is probably a leading expert in this area.

You see, Cecil is no ordinary dog. He is my seeing eye dog, which means he has a high-stress and incredibly demanding job. Navigating buses, escalators, elevators, busy intersections, and a multitude of sidewalk obstacles while ensuring my safety at all times are part of Cecil’s daily duties.

On the flip side though, Cecil knows how to let off steam and play. As a matter of fact, unlike most humans who experience workplace stress, Cecil incorporates play into every single day. And, he is very insistent about having his play time.

When Cecil came to live with me over a year ago, I was given a string of bells to hang by the door so Cecil could indicate when he needed to go outside for "business duties". Little did I know then that he would also use this bell to "demand" play time. But, that is exactly what this bell has become. He rarely uses it for anything other than to indicate he wants to go out to play. And, he will keep ringing the bell until he gets his way! How many people do you know that are that insistent about having play time after a hard day at work? Are you?

What usually happens when you get stressed is you forget to do the very things that can help you alleviate that stress. Why? Because to do those things takes time away from all the things that absolutely MUST get done; time you simply don’t have.

The truth is that if you take a little time to play when you are most stressed, you will find that you have more energy to handle the things that need your attention. This means that taking time out to play has made you more able to handle work and life demands, and not actually cost you a thing!

So, take a little time out each day and play. It doesn’t have to be something elaborate. Just have a little fun and hang a string of bells by your door so you won’t forget!

If you are struggling with stress, burnout, and boredom in your career, vist http://www.pathfindersolutions.ca to learn how you can create the stress-free, happy, fulfilling, balanced career and life you desire. Be sure to subscribe to Pathfinder KEYS the inspirational how-to guide to create happiness in your career and life.

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Unmanaged Stress Kills and Ruins Lives! Sit a Bit http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/26/finding-relief/unmanaged-stress-kills-and-ruins-lives-sit-a-bit/ http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/26/finding-relief/unmanaged-stress-kills-and-ruins-lives-sit-a-bit/#comments Sun, 26 Nov 2006 00:00:00 +0000 info Finding Relief http://www.stressmanagementarticles.com/2006/11/26/finding-relief/unmanaged-stress-kills-and-ruins-lives-sit-a-bit/ When I pay attention, I clearly see the arresting ways God works in my life. Often people I meet in my programs (or elsewhere) give me such profound, relevant messages I know the hand of God is at work and it is to my peril to ignore such directives. Two such recent encounters helped release me from the bondage of undue stress.

In a recent workshop I facilitated I spoke with one woman at the day’s end who looked sorely overwhelmed. As we spoke she began listing all she had to do today; all she had accomplished yesterday; and the endless list still needing to be done.

As I gently queried this bright, enthused woman she began to see she was doing too much. What really had to be done today? After a very full, all-day workshop could she just go home and give herself some down time and trust she’d accomplish what really needed to be done in good time? My parting words to her that night were “Easy does it.”

As she left, I saw the gift she had given me. Hadn’t I just been feeling overwhelmed with new work I had taken on, plus a host of other life decisions all seeming to demand my attention NOW?

What Really Needs to be Done Today?

Like this woman, I too was doing more in one day than necessary plus, worrying about all the future tasks to be done. As Jesus admonished us in the Beatitudes “Do not borrow trouble from tomorrow…”

If you are feeling pressured, overwhelmed and stressed – it is time to stop and ask, “What really needs to be done today?” Also, “How much energy am I wasting worrying about the future?” We need to allow what we have done to be enough and to trust we have the time we need.

Unmanaged Stress Kills

Another client not long ago drove home the importance of managing stress in our lives. I approached this person one day after the program as he seemed withdrawn and resistant.

Sadly, this remarkably gifted man had lost all confidence in his talents to pursue a possible dream in design (although others remarked on the genius he’d applied to his own home). Near tears, he also revealed how he had nearly died from a chronic debilitating disease caused by extreme stress.

With chilling clarity, this man’s demise and hopelessness showed me the dangers of eroding oneself with excessive worry, stress and self-doubt (which as humans we all slip into from time to time.) Loudly, this message spoke to me of the importance of managing stress, giving ourselves much needed breaks, trusting in the timing of things, and being on our own side.

Pressuring ourselves to do more or worrying about what must be done does not alleviate the underlying feelings of inadequacy and fear. Rather than pushing ourselves to do more or allowing negative self-talk to erode us can we instead sit a bit with ourselves?

Sit a Bit

This can be a challenge because often it is exactly these scary feelings and thoughts we are trying to escape! Try sitting and breathing and accepting this wholly human condition. Let us give our precious selves some kindness and compassion when these driven, crazy-making moments arise.

Breathing… Letting go… Trusting in a perfect timing…

As we sit with ourselves we need to do so without expectations. We don’t have to get it right or achieve some special state. We simply practice kindness toward ourselves and acknowledge our uncomfortable or painful feelings.

Herein, old habits begin to dissolve of their own accord. Also, from this place we can more clearly make decision about what our true priorities are and put first things first.

In an interview with Mahatma Ghandi; Ghandi said he meditated two hours each day. The interviewer asked, “What do you do when you are too busy to meditate?” Gandhi replied, “Mediate four hours a day.” Clearly, taking the time to sit with ourselves is a priority especially when we are far too busy or stressed to do so!

Teresa Proudlove has been inspiring, supporting, and guiding over 3000 people upon their career and life work path for over fourteen years - with compassion and heart. Teresa’s workshops and writing, offer a deeper understanding and respect for ourselves, for others, and for our lifework path. This entrepreneurial woman also owned and successfully operated two women’s retail boutiques for ten years. For over twelve years, Teresa was a well-read newspaper columnist. Visit Teresa at http://www.yourlifework.com; listen to your inner guidance and navigate through life and work with more meaning, acceptance and peace.

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