Posted on Oct 4th, 2006

Better concentration and stress management through breathing exercise develops communications link between mind and body. It helps aid concentration and visualization skills by focusing attention on the energy interplay involved in breathing. It may also help develop concentration, according to Eastern theory, by charging up bio-energies through increased oxygen intake and increased prana. This classic exercise, known as “polarization,” is also said to be a boon for worriers.

Maximum learning practitioners maintain it can help break up the “worry circle” and relieve anxieties by increasing nerve-energy supply. You can sense whether or not you’re getting somewhere with this concentration exercise after you’ve practiced it awhile. You will notice whether or not you feel a kind of tingling energy current running through the body with each in and out breath.

All exercises for the mind must always be done gently. Find a secluded spot where you will not be disturbed. Take a slow, even, deep breath through the nose. Visualize warm, golden yellow sun energy being drawn through the top of your head. As you slowly, and evenly, breathe out, visualize cool, blue moon energy being drawn up through your body. Try to imagine these polarized energies sweeping through the body like an electric current. You concentration ability is considered to be intensified when you feel a definite sensation of being “charged up”. With an energy current running through your body with each in and out breath.

To know more, log on to http://www.maximumachievementlearning.com/ or write to us at stan@stressmanagementarticles.com

Stan, Professional Engineer who has been learning, practicing and teaching the right maximum learning techniques for high achievers to maximize their learning capabilities for improvement of their mind and memory enhancement for the last 20 years.

Posted on Oct 4th, 2006

Are You Too Stressed?

Is your stomach all tied up in knots? Do you have trouble concentrating or remembering things? Do you have trouble falling asleep, or do you sleep too much? You can handle a certain amount of stress, but when you get overloaded with stress, it lowers your ability to function. That is when you need stress relief – and you need it fast. These 12 stress busters will show you how you can reduce stress, and some of them work in an instant.

Stress actually takes the joy out of life. It saps your energy. In its extreme, stress can immobilize you. Stress also aggravates physical illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart disease, ulcers, back pain, and many others.

If you are stressed at home, it also affects your work. If you are stressed at work, it affects your relationships with your family. You aren’t much fun to be with when you’re all stressed out. Instead, you can be grumpy, irritable, angry, impatient, distracted, jumpy, and impulsive. This in turn makes other people tense and uncomfortable.

Stress is caused by the anxiety that comes from fear, and many of these fears are caused by your unrealistic expectations. To alleviate the stress you need to determine whether your expectations are creating peace of mind or causing anxiety.

For example, if you expect life to be without problems, expect that relatives will get along just because they’re related, or expect that your work will always be perfect, you’re being unrealistic, and you’re creating your own stress. Try having only one expectation - be yourself, do the best you know how, and accept your limitations.

If you are still experiencing stress after you have evaluated and changed your expectations, try these stress busters.

A Dozen Stress Busters:

1. Look for humor in the situation. You can pretend you are making a TV sitcom. You can imagine difficult people as very small, wearing diapers, or clothing from a different era. In your imagination you can make them very skinny or short and fat.

2. Create a safe haven in your mind by thinking of a place in your life where you were happiest. Take a couple of minutes to visualize yourself in that happy place. When you are ready to return to reality you will have calmed down, and you will be able to think more rationally.

3. Choose a cassette tape of music that has a calming effect on you. Keep it with you so you can use it at a moment’s notice.

4. Start your day on a positive. Listen to motivational audio tapes every morning. Then, several times a day take a few minutes to read inspirational books, poems, and quotes.

5. Call a friend. Sometimes just getting things off your chest can relieve your anxiety. It is also helpful to join a support group for people with similar problems.

6. Focus on your major goal and do something to move it forward. You will feel a sense of accomplishment, and your stressful situation will occupy a smaller place in your life.

7. Do something that is fun. Having fun is how we recharge our battery. If stress has drained our energy, it is important to schedule activities that are fun for you so that you can recharge.

8. Spend time with nature. Take a walk in the park. Look at the trees swaying in the breeze. Watch the squirrels chase each other from tree to tree. Nature has its own way of putting things into perspective. Just by realizing that there is an innate intelligence in all living things can help you to let go and let nature do its part. If you are a religious person, turning to God can help you be at peace with any situation.

9. Change what you can control in the situation and accept the rest. For example, your stress may involve other people. You may have tried to talk about a stressful situation with the other people involved, but nothing has changed. One thing you can control is how you respond to what others are doing. Study your situation and change one aspect of your own response to a more peaceful response.

10. Susan Jeffers, in her book, "Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway," says that you should ask yourself. “What is the worst thing that can happen, and could you handle it?” Just knowing that you can handle the worst possibility will lower your stress.

11. Create a peaceful corner at home where you can have quiet time. Decorate it with your favorite pictures, stuff that make you feel good, and fresh flowers.

12. Do something physical. Either do some exercise, play a sport, or clean out your closets, weed your garden, rake the leaves, wash the windows, etc. When you do anything physical it reduces stress.

If none of the above works, get help from a professional who can give you expert guidance.

In short, stress is created in your mind by your own fears. A more peaceful mind will lead to a more peaceful perception of your situation, and the result will be lower stress. Just by changing the way you think, you can lower your stress even if nothing else changes.

If you look at every stressful situation and ask yourself, “What can I do that will create peace of mind instead of stress?” you will start replacing the stress in your life with serenity and happiness.

Are you Happy at work? The author of this article, Harriet Meyerson, founder of The Confidence Center, has a special gift for you.

Take the F.r.e.e. Employee Morale assessment, and learn how you can help your company raise Employee Morale in 7 key areas. Also, sign up for the - Employee Morale and Confidence Tips - newsletter. Both are F.r.e.e on her web at http://www.ConfidenceCenter.com

At The Confidence Center we work with companies who want to raise employee morale and confidence – on a shoestring budget. We offer seminars, telephone seminars, books, eBooks and many more resources.

* Editors, you have permission to reprint this article in its entirety (including this sentence) in your newsletter, or post this article on your web with a live link please. Copyright Harriet Meyerson.

Posted on Oct 3rd, 2006

Research has shown that stress can be good. However many people try to eliminate stress from their lives. That’s fine to an extent. Just don’t focus all your energy on achieving what people call a stress free life, absolutely no stress, no deadlines and especially no work.

When there is no stress in our lives, we become lifeless. We wander aimlessly. Beware, because this is worse than death - it is living death. We must always have a goal or a deadline. This is the only way to move forwards.

I use to play a lot of computer games when I was 11. I would look forward to Friday nights, because I could play all night until about 3am, sometimes longer. The next morning, after a very short sleep, I would be in an unproductive state. I would accomplish no homework, no housework, or any work. I might have had a few naps here and then but I lived a ‘half-life’ for the day. This would continue for the whole weekend, and on Monday I would feel tired and stressed out. Looking back I feel regret. Such unproductivity, even to the extent of damaging my health and vitality.

Embrace stress because stress helps us expand our comfort zone, making us achieve the seemingly impossible. Stress can make or break us. Many have let stress overcome them, and now they are drug addicts, alcoholics and mad men. Don’t let that happen. Make sure YOU overcome stress. If so, stress will become your saviour.

Cheers

Kit

This is an excerpt from Kit’s blog, ‘Only One Life To Live’. To read more on how to live your life to the max, go to his blog at:

http://onlyonelifetolive.blogspot.com/

Posted on Oct 3rd, 2006

We all have it; we live with it daily: stress. As America’s #1 health problem, surveys, reports and studies have been done concerning this epidemic. Meditation, massages and reading are some of the many ways for you to alleviate stress levels. Doctors hand out pills; insurance rates go up; you pay to learn meditation, to talk to a therapist or for a massage therapist to give you a massage. Day after day, week after week . . . this is a never-ending cycle. The fact is you need to, and can, control your stress simply and cost effectively.

Rest is what we do to let stress subside. Doing fun things that we enjoy in our leisure time compensates us for the unpleasant stress we experience at work, bringing some balance back into life. This is particularly important if we routinely experience unpleasant levels of stress. (Permission from, Mind Tools material is published by Mind Tools Ltd of Signal House, Station Road, Burgess Hill, West Sussex, RH15 8DY, United Kingdom)

So lets get this straight, you have stress. You want to get rid of stress. To rid yourself of stress you must rest! OK that is simple enough. Now how does this relate to you and outdoor furniture? Remember when you were much younger, before life’s stressors attached themselves to you? Riding a bike, going fishing, swimming, playing with friends? Having a seat next to Grandpa and Grandma, listening to their stories? How relaxed they looked, how fascinating the experience was?

I have fond memories of summers gone by of my Grandparent’s property on a small little lake in northern Michigan, all it had was a boat house, a dock, a fire pit, and of course the picnic table, and a few lounge chairs. The chairs weren’t fancy, really quite simple, the old style fold up chairs, and then there was Grandma’s favorite outdoor patio wood chair. I didn’t know the name of the style then, but I knew it was hers, if she was around no one sat in it, except her. That chair now belongs to my Uncle Richard, I know he has had to work on it, some regluing, some added screws, a new varnish job. But it does bring back those old memories still to this day. I go visit my uncle, to relieve stress, to visit those good old days and memories of simpler times. We all would love to go back in time. I know you do, or want to, don’t you…

Whether it is a chair, a swing, lounger or any kind of outdoor furniture, they do allow you to relax, to enjoy life, to feel good again. Read a book, sit and bask in the warmth of the sun, a cool drink at your side, the sound of the wind, hearing natures sounds or just a good old fashioned nap will do what you need, rest and relieve yourself of stress. Now that you are feeling a little better, time for a new wake up call!

Here is a typical situation, each fall you have to put the furniture away into storage for the bad weather of winter. If you live in an area that doesn’t have snow, you don’t have to but you do cover it for all the rain and cold. Every spring you pull it out again, clean it, maybe paint or varnish it, reweb the webbing, tighten the screws, fix it up for the summer again. Every 2-10 years you have to replace it, because of age. Plastic furniture gets brittle, metal gets rusty, oak and cedar does rot out eventually, aluminum gets wore out, bent or worse…breaks. This adds stress to your life, even if it is just for a short time. True, summer time does allow most of that stress to disappear. Now then the cost of replacement, repairs, your time getting it ready, and the extra space used for storage does add up! For example a good cedar adirondack chair costs close to $300 and lasts for about 4 years, if you don’t do anything at all except use it, about $77 dollars a year plus upkeep, varnish, your time, etc. A good oak chair will cost a little more, around $350 and lasts about 6 years. Let us say we treat it just the same as the cedar chair, now you have about $60 a year plus varnish, paint, upkeep and so on. Hmmm sounds a bit costly to me. Still sounds like stress to me.

OK time to really get rid of stress, outdoor furniture made from teak wood, yep that really expensive stuff. That same style chair, the adirondack, in teak it costs around $660! Wow that is expensive! Oh my I’m having a heart attack…oh nope just a bad attempt at humor. Seriously, yes teak is expensive, but here is something for you to think about, ready? Teak lasts 75 years, leave it outside, don’t even cover it, don’t varnish it, don’t do anything but clean it now and then, and enjoy! This means more room in that storage shed for other stuff, you don’t have to pack it away, or pull it out any more! Just wash it down now and then. Less stress…hmmm…virtually no work, more time to relax, to enjoy life….OK wait a minute you might be asking about now, hey he told me about how much that other stuff cost me a year and he hasn’t said a thing about this teak stuff and how expensive it is…OK, OK one adirondack chair made from teak, less then $9.00 a year and no work!

Less stress means you can live longer, less heart problems, less to worry about diabetes, less headaches, less muscle aches. See, any outdoor furniture that you use will allow you to release stress, that is a given. Teak outdoor furniture will relieve more stress, easier for you.

Is this a blatant article about my products? Yes it is, but I want you to think about releasing some of that stress you are feeling. Read, walk, relax, take up a hobby, stop and smell some roses, no rushing around, no pushing yourself to the limit. Just sit down, relax and enjoy your life!

I want to personally thank you for reading this. Hopefully you will get a bit of a laugh and something new to think about.

Sincerely,
Bruce Gokey
Co-Owner of VanBar’s Outdoor Patio Furniture

VanBar, All Rights Reserved. VanBar grants unlimited license to reproduce this article, unaltered, on websites and e-zines, with the condition that all links and this notice are preserved.

Posted on Oct 2nd, 2006

Depending on your line of work, you may be called upon to give a stress management presentation or organize a workshop. Usually, the person who gives a stress management workshop is a public speaker, physician, counselor, or Yoga teacher.

Who should be the speaker in a stress management seminar or workshop? You are looking for someone who is outgoing, knowledgeable, full of positive energy, works well with the public, and can communicate clearly. This same person should be able to give solutions to stress reduction “off the top of his or her head.”

Depending upon your familiarity with stress management, time for preparation, and how comfortable you are with giving a presentation, you may be the best qualified person for the task. Public speaking challenges are many, but all are manageable. Each component of a presentation can be prepared and refined, until you have a “masterpiece.” When you have given a few stress management presentations, you can refine any components that are “weak.” You will know what parts of a presentation are weak by the reactions of your audience.

Research and identify with the line of work. As an example: Health care workers, customer service, and manufacturers, each experience stress, but their jobs create unique stress situations. With this in mind, make yourself familiar with the every day stress situations that go with the particular jobs in your audience.

Preparation and research are part of every presentation, but after your first presentation on stress management, you will have a template to build on, improve, and constantly revise. You should speak in terms that will be familiar to your specific audience. For example: As collective groups, health care workers, teachers, and customer service representatives, have their own interests and jargon.

You will want to provoke interest, understanding, and participation. At the same time, you want your specific audience to respond favorably. You must also anticipate reaction to your presentation. Therefore, make sure that your points are reasonable and have credible resources; you will receive a favorable reaction from your target audience.

Your speaking voice can be worked for projection, clarity, and pitch. Many people are unhappy to hear the sound of their speaking voice played back through a recording device, but most of us can work our unique voice to get the most out of it. By using a mirror, audio recorder, digital recorder, or video recorder, you can get the most out of your voice.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Paul Jerard is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in North Providence, RI. He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. He is a master instructor of martial arts, with multiple Black Belts, four martial arts teaching credentials, and was recently inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He teaches Yoga, martial arts, and fitness to children, adults, and seniors in the greater Providence area. Recently he wrote: Is Running a Yoga Business Right for You? For Yoga students, who may be considering a new career as a Yoga teacher. http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/index.html

Posted on Oct 2nd, 2006

Governements and businesses have regularly highlighted the costs of stress to them in monetary terms. The real cost is the affect on the lives of the people who suffer from it.

It’s impact

An individual’s life can be enormously affected by stress expecially when it’s excessive and prolonged. Not only their health but their working life, friends and family. The strain can be felt by many.

Unfortunately the sufferer is often not aware of the problem, going through their daily lives in a constant state of anxiety. The very nature of the problem, being the ability to cope, leads many to deny it’s there. Working mothers particularly feel this and often suffer in silence.

Stress masterclass

As humans we all need to experience stress. It provides extra alertness to deal with either, situations that require physical exertion and those that need special attention. The body can cope if we allow it to, but that can be difficult in today’s world. Stressful events can seem to happen repeatedly and without warning causing stress levels to build and build.

If this continues over weeks or months with no respite, some symptons begin to emerge. The ability to think clearly or logically becomes impaired. There is a struggle to cope with daily activities that were once easy. Further still, sleep is affected making the situation even worse. At this stage the problem must be addressed, for the benefit of the sufferer and those around them.

Coping strategies

There are steps you can take if stress is taking hold. One of them is exercise. When exercising you are using up the stress causing chemicals by doing exactly what they were designed for.

Another strategy is to form a different outlook on the events that occur during the day. Try to manage your time differently and accept you can’t do everything. Remember that some things are totally out of your control. Learn to say "no", you can’t do everything for everyone. But most of all, ask for help.

Stress as an issue today

These days, stress is becoming more recognised for the real problem it is, people are more willing to accept it. Doctors are aware of it, they know the symptoms and have proven solutions.

Stress in the future though, does not look good, our bodies continue to evolve far slower than our knowledge. Today’s lifestyle is more competitive and sedentary than its ever been and this shows no sign of slowing. Our only hope is for our more evolved knowledge to someday bring more evolved treatments.

By Simon Gould author of http://www.fitnessbegin.com/ - Fitness, health and weight loss… Explained!

Posted on Oct 1st, 2006

What is relaxation?

In common terminology, relaxation means that we leave ourselves free of tension. Relaxing mind may mean that the mind is not under stress or active. In today’s lifestyle, this looks difficult. Isn’t it? Now a days, most of us believe in being under stress during most of the week and relax only on the weekends. This is considered the common way of life. Is this the right way of living? Is living a relaxed life all the time not our right? Let us reclaim it.

Bad stress -

If you ask anyone that why is he/she under stress most of the week, what answer do you expect to get? I have so much work to do, deadlines to meet, tasks to be completed, prepare for the new launch etc. Don’t you think that something like this will be the response?

Let us discuss why most of us are stressed all the time. At some time in our life, while we are chasing the dreams we lose our habit of sitting back and reflecting. We begin giving auto responses. If we are held up in a traffic jam, our response is - either to worry about the work ahead, or blame the system or some such negative thought. Not many of us think - All right. If the traffic is not moving, let me relax, listen to some good music, or go back to some childhood memories, remember good friends, let me make the best use of the time to relax and enjoy life. Not many of us respond in this way. We respond in stressed way whenever we come across any similar situation. This habit is taking a big toll on our quality of life.

Stress - A way of life.

We have taken stress as a way of life. Very few of us think about why they are trying to work at such a hectic pace and if ultimately, we are going to leave this world with a lot of incomplete work, why not at least work in a relaxed way? What is the use of working so much , if we kill all the joy. In search of a better tomorrow, we kill the present. Isn’t it?

Stressed work environment, stressed family life, no time to just walk around doing nothing but watch the nature…Why? It is as if we want to achieve most in the shortest possible time and therefore have no time to relax Working non-stop all the week is a way of life for a large majority. The increase in cardiac attacks, depression etc, are all the results of this stressed lifestyle. When we get stressed, we look around for the latest stress busters, latest therapies, etc. to counter the stress.

And then by the time the week ends, we again go out somewhere to relax. Sometimes holidays also tire, don’t they?

Why not lead a relaxed life all through the week?
Why not work in a relaxed frame of mind? Why get stressed? Reflection about our own life is very essential if we want to reclaim our right to live peacefully. Will it help, if we bring some beautiful scenes of nature on our computers? Will it help, if we find time to watch a butterfly flying on our screens?

The beauty of a colorful flower. Can it make us little relaxed? If your answer is yes, download few of these screensavers and find time to watch them whenever you find time while working. Look at them, wonder about the beauty of nature, think of their perfection and just relax.

Mohatta writes about different aspect of life. Love, inspiration, pains, humanity, truth etc. He is currently dedicated content writer for http://www.screene.com network.One of the websites for which he writes text for the eCards, Wallpapers and Screensavers is http://www.inspirationaldesktops.com

Posted on Oct 1st, 2006

We’ve all experienced it - computerized technology that doesn’t function properly. PCs that crash on Monday morning, copiers that melt transparencies, printers that smear ink on Board reports, phones that crackle during crisis calls, Internet viruses that destroy everything but non-essential data, faxes that send documents to the wrong long distance number, and so forth. The list is nearly endless.

Many strategies exist to help you deal with difficult or even “impossible” work situations, including those in which technology seems to have gone awry. Here I present some of the basic principles of psychological self-defense - in particular, mental reframing - to arm you with cognitive tools necessary to live a peaceful coexistence with computerized gadgetry.

Central to the psychological self-help methods presented in this report is the philosophy of First Century C.E. Greek philosopher, Epictetus. According to the ancient Roman and Greek Stoics, it’s not the world that causes you problems; instead, it’s how you look at the world. Even William Shakespeare in Hamlet wrote, “For there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” In other words, life’s difficulties aren’t caused by various “externals” - like bosses, spouses, and malfunctioning “thingamajigs” - but rather by how you evaluate these.

Let’s review how thinking affects life. According to cognitive-behavioral theory (which is an area of psychology concerned with why people think and act the way they do), beliefs, life events, and reactions all interact and affect one another. Of special note is the direct influence that beliefs (thoughts, evaluations, assessments) have on emotions and behaviors. From the perspective of this “Event-Belief-Reaction” model, it’s your interpretations of situations and people that cause you to feel and act the way you do - not the situations or people themselves. For example, the woman who continually believes and tells herself she can’t figure out PCs, soon gets upset about it, berates herself, and then feels like a failure. The more she engages in negative thinking, the more she believes and tells herself she just can’t do it, gets depressed about it, and so on - all of this reinforcing and perpetuating a vicious cycle of frustration, self-pity, and self-defeat.

Also important to keep in mind here is that most of our daily hassles and disappointments come from demanding rather than preferring modes of thinking. People who feel angry, anxious, nervous, irritated, or guilty don’t just desire or prefer something, they usually require, demand, and dictate that they get what they want. As an example, a man might demand that his office computer work perfectly all the time, so he becomes hostile when it doesn’t. Or he might dictate that everything at work be easy and trouble-free, and browbeat himself when the job gets rough.

Indeed, most of the time when people are upset, they’re telling themselves that something is awful or terrible rather than simply inconvenient. Psychologists refer to this process as awfulizing or catastrophizing. Put another way, the catastrophizer might decide he’s a failure because he’s imperfect. Or she might conclude that work is a disaster when electronic gizmos don’t function the way she wants.

Whenever a person believes something in life is disastrous or horrible instead of simply unpleasant or unfortunate, he or she has probably drawn a number of false conclusions, such as:

· The situation, which is totally bad, makes me utterly miserable.
· The condition shouldn’t exist because I don’t like it.
· I can’t tolerate the predicament for one minute longer.
· I have to find a perfect solution to and fix the situation, or else I’m a defective person and a technological washout.

Yes, people engage in many types of nonsensical thinking. Such distorted beliefs are often termed crazy-makers, nonsensical notions, irrational beliefs, cognitive distortions, negative automatic thoughts, negative self-talk, and so forth - depending on the author. Here are some of my favorite categories of crazy-makers collected from the writings of various psychological experts:

1. All-or-nothing thinking: Seeing all of life in “black-or-white” terms.

2. Accusing: Blaming others without the necessary evidence.

3. Emotional reasoning: Assuming one’s emotional state reflects the way things really are.

4. Personalizing: Blaming oneself for some negative event.

5. I-Can’t-Take-It-Another-Minute-itis (very low frustration tolerance): Easily becoming frustrated when wants aren’t met.

6. Damnation (negativizing): Being excessively critical of self, others, and the world.

7. Perfectionism: Requiring that everyone and everything in the universe be flawless and without blemish.

8. Mental filtering: Focusing on specific details at the expense of other important details within a situation.

9. Mind reading (fortune telling): Presuming to know what others think, feel, or plan to do.

10. Overgeneralizing: Using words like never and always; applying the characteristics of one member to an entire group.

11. Minimizing (downplaying the positive): De-emphasizing one’s positive characteristics and accomplishments.

12. Magnifying (upplaying the negative; catastrophizing): Overstating the negative aspects of a situation.

13. Jumping to conclusions: Drawing conclusions about people and events without the necessary evidence.

Nonsensical thinking can also take the form of numerous cognitive blocks that interfere with healthy and rational living. Cognitive blocks often begin with words like, “What if…?” “Oh no…!” “I can’t…!” or “How awful…!” Here are a few possible cognitive blocks of frustrated techno-phobes:

· I can’t ever make a typing mistake! What would my boss (or employees, coworkers) think?

· Drat… the network is down again. It just can’t be my fault!

· Oh no, what if the copier breaks down again when I’m on a deadline? That would be dreadful!

Having identified some of the primary causes of emotional distress, let’s now turn our attention to the means of changing, or reframing, life’s problems by modifying our thoughts.

First, to overcome your nonsensical thinking, you accept the fact that you’re a fallible human being. By embracing your humanity, you lay the foundation for overcoming your useless pessimism.

Second, you quit demanding and complaining about not getting what you want. You let go of the shoulds, oughts, musts, and needs. Only then can you adopt the more realistic perspective of preferring and accepting.

Third, you take away the horribleness and terribleness from the things in life that bother you, and acknowledge that nothing is, in fact, more than unfortunate or inconvenient.

Finally, you admit that problems, conflicts, and upsets are really opportunities for personal growth, not defeat! In other words, you decide that you can tolerate virtually anything—once you take control of your thinking.

This entire process of challenging and eliminating irrationalities is referred to as cognitive reframing, which involves two essential steps. The first step is identifying your crazy-makers, and the second is disputing and challenging your beliefs, after which you replace them with new, rational beliefs. Disputes often look like this:

· Where’s the rule that says…?
· What proof do I have that…?
· Who says…?
· Who cares if…?
· What’s the probability that…?
· What’s the worst thing that would happen if…?
· Why do I need to…?
· So what if…?

The modern world has certainly provided us with many devices to help make our lives easier - at least in theory. But with all benefits come costs. And if you’ve ever stared at a “tilting” photocopier when you absolutely, positively, and without a doubt need to make an immediate copy, then you know what I mean.

So let’s examine some crazy-makers and disputes for a typical person who lets himself get really annoyed, for example, when he can’t make his email program work. Try these beliefs on for size:

· My email mustn’t do anything to frustrate me, because that will be disastrous, and I will hate work and life in general.

· I must be free to do whatever I want easily whenever and wherever I wish; otherwise, life is unbearable and I can’t be happy at all.

· It’s horrible if people think I’m dumb or disapprove when I can’t figure my email program out. If they dislike me, then their disapproval is intolerable. And it’s always catastrophic if people think less of me.

· My self-esteem is completely tied up in my technology. If it doesn’t work flawlessly, then I’m automatically inadequate and worthless.

And now for some sample disputes and sensible answers:

· Where’s the law that says I mustn’t ever be frustrated?

· It’s inconvenient if I can’t get what I want, or if people treat me badly, but it certainly isn’t terrible. I can stand it, just as I’ve done many times in the past. No matter how poorly my email functions or other people act, I can still keep my cool and accept myself the way I am.

· Sometimes life stinks! But that’s no reason for me to get upset about it. Tomorrow always brings a new day.

· Who says people have to like me, accept me, or praise me? What counts is the fact I feel comfortable with myself and my abilities.

· I’m a fallible human being who makes mistakes. My self-worth isn’t dependent on others’ opinions of me or on my mastery of anything. And it doesn’t matter if people think there’s something wrong with me. It might be nice, but I don’t need their approval!

See how it works? Let’s try a few more reframes. To get rid of those nonsensical ideas involving your having to like and get along with your fax machine, or the terribleness of losing your self-respect if you can’t program your television’s remote control:

1. First, you identify your crazy-makers, such as:

· I must enjoy working with gadgets.

· I must keep up with, purchase, and master the latest version of everything—computer processors, software, wireless contraptions, universal remotes, etc.

· I must always be 100% in control of the technology in my life.

2. Next, you consider how demanding musts inevitably lead to catastrophizing:

· If I don’t like gadgets, it’d be horrible.

· If I don’t keep up with, purchase, and master the latest version of everything, I’ll look stupid in front of my boss (coworkers, employees).

· If I don’t always control the technology in my life, then I’m a failure and an awful person.

… and how demanding leads to the experience of low frustration tolerance:

· If life is horrible and I’m a failure and a goof as a person, then I won’t be able to stand it.

3. Third, you come up with disputes that challenge your nonsensical thinking:

· So what if I don’t like gadgets? What’s so horrible about that?

· Why do I always need to master everything? If for some reason I don’t, why does that mean I’ll look stupid?

· Where’s the rule that says if I don’t control the technology in my life then I’m a failure and a goof?

4. And finally you devise some sensible answers to your disputes:

· It’s inconvenient if I don’t like or get along with my gadgets, but it isn’t horrible.

· It may be uncomfortable when I don’t always own and master everything I want, but that doesn’t mean I’ll look stupid.

· It’s unfortunate if I can’t control my technology, but there isn’t any rule that says I’m a failure because of this.

From these sample crazy-makers and sensible answers, we see that seemingly devastating scenarios aren’t necessarily so when facts are separated from irrational fears and assumptions.

Of course, psychological self-defense techniques like the ones just described are only techniques. To find true and lasting happiness with computerized technology, you’ll want to work at changing your irrational thinking patterns into rational ones. This means you’ll also want to practice, practice, practice! Why? Because when you practice a new activity, you effectively train it into your nervous system. I’m sure you’ve learned to type on a keyboard or play a musical instrument. When you first begin to learn a new skill, it all seems very awkward. Your hands don’t want to do what your head tells them to do. Every motion requires considerable conscious thought and effort to execute, and you can quickly become discouraged. However, after many, many hours of practice, the new skill becomes more automatic, so that you no longer need to concentrate so intensely.

The same is true of learning and mastering the cognitive techniques described above. Once you’ve practiced and trained your nervous system for psychological self-defense, you won’t have to think about the techniques in order to use them. They’ll become an instinctive reflex, available whenever you need them.

In the final analysis, what probably bothers people the most about technology at work is the frustration that typically accompanies its breaking down. And the best means of dealing with this frustration? Don’t let the technology psych you out! Instead, try accepting computers and other electronic wizardry for what they are - fallible mechanisms - and then go about your work and life with a realistic and relaxed attitude about it all.

George D. Zgourides, M.D., Psy.D and his wife Christie are the authors of several books dealing with various health-related, psychological, and self-help topics.

Posted on Sep 30th, 2006

As one year slides into the past, another whole new chance to create a better life dawns.

Was your holiday period all about buying party food, dressing up and before that maybe cleaning the house for good luck and to impress the guests? Many people have very definite rituals and routines that will help them see out the dust and grime of the old year. They make their homes beautiful and welcoming to allow new energies in.

Normally, in the work I do, I deal with ‘internal’ solutions to help people move from stress to bliss, but there is something to the whole concept of energy in the home that really appeals to me and now that a new day and year has dawned, it’s the perfect time to have a look at how your home reflects who you are and who you want to be.

We tend to be so connected to our homes that we don’t notice what they ‘say’ about us. So, try this as a Stress Management Technique… Go out of your home (even if it’s only a single room), take a few slow, steady breaths and play a little game of ‘pretend’. Imagine you’re coming in to your space for the very first time and it can talk.

No, I haven’t gone completely crazy – I don’t mean literally talk. If you walked into your apartment, room or house with an open mind and heart, what would you see, feel and hear? Do it now – walk out and then back into your space, looking around. What does it tell you of ‘you’?

What do you ‘see’? This is not a matter of personal taste - clutter really does increase stress, as does an environment full of useless, unused, broken and even dirty things. Letting go of what you no longer need means making space for something new. Having a clear, harmonious space doesn’t just mean less searching and dodging, it also means creating inner peace and a free flow of energy.

Look at the colours in your home and the images on your walls. Even if you don’t believe that they exude energy, you will agree that certain images have very specific affects on the subconscious mind. For instance, where the intention is to create a soothing, conflict free environment, it wouldn’t be helpful to put up pictures of battle scenes. This example may seem very obvious, yet we often overlook the more subtle images and what they convey. When you look at the colours and pictures in your home, do they represent who you want to be and how you want to live?

What do you hear? You can’t always control what goes on around your personal space – your neighbours, the road outside or your fellow lodgers – but you can decrease stress through silence in your home. Is the television or radio constantly on? If you don’t have some external silence, then how can you achieve inner peace? Many people feel lonely when they turn off the background noise. Becoming comfortable with yourself in silence is a very important part of achieving inner peace. Occasionally, you could of course compromise and play some soothing, gentle music in the background. Or, if you feel down, get yourself some CD’s of your favourite happy music and sing along. Let your home sound like a happy place; with a balance of serene silence and a bouncy tune.

What do you smell? Stale air laden with dust… food smells from days gone by? Or is it fresh, inviting and uplifting? Even if you live close to a road, find a suitable time to air your home for a few minutes every day. Open all the windows just for a little while and put your intention on letting out what you no longer need and letting in a fresh day that brings you new opportunities. Another very simple stress management technique is to burn some incense or essential oil in a lamp. But please, do yourself a favour and buy ‘the real thing’ – pure essential oils and natural incense. Otherwise you’ll just pollute your space with more chemicals and will probably get a head ache.

What do you feel? I mean feeling as in ‘touching’. Are there things in your room that you love to touch - a silk cushion maybe; the leaves of a healthy plant? What about a beautiful crystal or a piece of wood that holds a special memory? Stimulate your senses and soothe your mind by surrounding yourself with a few objects that really bring back good memories or motivate and uplift you.

Then, there is the other kind of ‘feeling’, which is a most effective stress management technique – how many objects are there in your space that make you feel really good? How many are there that bring back unpleasant memories? And what does it ‘feel’ like to walk into your home. Notice what you feel in your body and then make the changes you need to. The subtle sense of ‘feeling within’ can often tell us so much more than the pre-conceived ideas on taste and style we often follow automatically.

And now, with all your senses stimulated and hopefully a few ideas on how to create a harmonious, energising home that is the perfect place for starting a brand new year from, I wish you a successful, energising and happy New Year.

Annett Tate helps people achieve ultimate wellness and health. She teaches Emotional Freedom in her EFT seminars and shares her thoughts, inspiration and advice at Stress2Bliss.com

Posted on Sep 30th, 2006

Probably the least appreciated form of stress is college stress. This is mostly due to the fact that adults simply see a lot of college students sitting on their rear ends playing video games and drinking, instead of seeing students who are under pressure to succeed all the time. In addition to classes, homework, research, reading, paper writing and problem solving, there are now the problems of how the heck to pay for college and whether there will be any jobs waiting after graduation. Thus, with all these forms of college stress weighing students down, it is no wonder that things tend to get ugly when they “blow off steam”.

Of course, there are better ways to deal with stress than to drink an entire case of beer in one day. In fact, abusing your body with any number of chemicals does not really help that much, aside from the fact that people generally relax when they do such things. However, they are usually relaxed before partaking of the latest work of ancient and modern chemistry, so the substances themselves really do not make much of a difference.

Unfortunately, college stress is often the first encounter that some students have with persistent stress, and it is hard for them to deal with it. However, it is also the first time that many of them have had experience with almost complete freedom, so college has a double threat. Complete freedom means the ability to simply ignore the cause of stress, which is usually the classes they need to stay in college. Thus, the problem of freshmen retention in many universities.

Unfortunately, most students don’t even attempt to find help for their stress problems. In fact, the most common effort to help students through their stress is to tell them to either just get their work done or to get used to it. Of course, this advice usually comes from their friends and, though there is a certain set that could use this advice, many other students are struggling to keep up simply because they are unable to cope with their stress. Thus, by relieving their own minds of their concerns, they could help their grades and help keep themselves in school.

The best place to start looking for relief from college stress is by talking to an advisor. They are more than happy to help students because they want to help them and, for the most part, nobody ever visits them. Thus, they are very eager to help, but very lonely, so they will be more than happy to give a hand to anyone who needs it. If you are a student under stress, they can help you deal with the classroom concerns and direct you to people who can help alleviate your stress concerns. It doesn’t matter how personal the problems might be, advisors are very private, very discreet, and they are more than happy to provide you with assistance.

For those who need more regular relief from college stress, there are other options to the usual cure of barley and hops. In fact, colleges are a wealth of opportunities to learn new stress-reduction methods. For instance, there are yoga clubs, meditation classes, and even courses in tai chi that can help you learn how to cope with stress and ease its effects on you. As well, many colleges will provide stress-relief seminars every so often, simply to help their students keep their stress at bay. By all means, look for these seminars and make use of them.

Another way to keep college stress at bay is to simply budget your time properly. Yes, that means that you should actually perform that time-honored and often-overlooked stress reduction method known as “getting work done early”. This not only means getting your homework polished off and done before the day it is due, you should also attempt to start long-term projects more than one day before they are due. By spreading out projects, you can actually relieve a lot of stress. This is because you will actually be giving yourself less work to do later and you will not have to freak out at the last minute because the work is not done. Yes, I know you’ve heard this all before, but if you want to avoid college stress, you need to actually do it for a change.

College stress is a major problem for university students, but it is mostly ignored by the students who are actually under stress. In fact, they usually just try to press through their stress without considering that it does not need to keep them under its thumb. However, that does not need to be the case. Students can help themselves by simply recognizing their own college stress and making a few efforts to alleviate it.

Copyright 2005 Trevor Dumbleton

LowerYourStress.com is a categorized resource directory for everything to do with stress. Get a free ebook to help with your stress levels: http://www.loweryourstress.com/stress-book.html

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