Posted on Oct 19th, 2006

Possibly the most misunderstood part of stress management is your role in it.

Those who respond to life with negativity or anxiety as most likely to deal with the physical affects of anger, guilt, nervousness, frustration and fear.

These emotions can cause hypertension and high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Other complications include ulcers, arthritis, asthma, high cholesterol and kidney disease.

People who tend to focus on themselves as the controller of their fate - in fact ’self-motivated’ - are more likely to feel a sense of control when stressors affect them. Instead of blaming something or someone else they have the motivation to deal with a problem and look for a reasonable solution.

This may have to do with how you organize the images in your brain. Basically your brain records all your senses all the time. Since your vision is important imagery is a very important part of how your brain thinks.

So the brain thinks in images. Our memories are collections of images. The interesting thing is, we actually have the power to control or change those images. By changing our images we can change/control our states.

Think of a time when you felt some stress. Make this memory as vivid as you can. If you can imagine a time when you were stressed and feel those feelings now. You are ‘hallucinating’ as that situation exists in the past, not now. You have to recreate or ‘hallucinate’ the conditions to feel stressed.

Hallucination is normal. We do it all the time. When you think of that situation with an ex that happened 5 years ago and get angry or recall or memory that makes you all mushy. You are vividly recreating an event that has ceased to exist. In other words you are hallucinating in a controlled manner.

Ask yourself, “How can I use this knowledge about hallucination for stress management?

Think of a time when you felt challenged but confident that you will succeed. Pick even a small event and hallucinate in vividly. Feel the feelings you felt then, now.

Here’s the fun part. Go back to the time you felt stressed and notice what details your mind is focused on. Particularly what you saw, heard, felt etc. in detail. Do the same for the time you felt good and notice how these hallucinations are different from each other.

Maybe in the stress hallucination you feel pressure around you(with the world closing in) while when feeling confident you don’t. Maybe you say negative thoughts to yourself while in stress and when not, you think of nice things.

Pay careful attention to these next words.

If you take the components of the stressful hallucination (size, feelings sounds etc.) and switch it with the more positive one you will feel better automatically.

This has to do with how your brain organizes your thoughts. Happy thoughts are kept in one area and sad thoughts in another. If you use the happy thoughts way of perceiving things, then that’s how you will feel.

It can take you up to 5 minutes to get the feel for the process. Once you know how to change your stressful hallucinations to positive ones you can do it anytime anywhere.

The ability to choose our thoughts, to think what we want, is what gives us the power to determine our attitude and perspective when approaching a problem. If we allow stress, anger and frustration to consume us, it can be like a runaway train gathering steam and threatening to derail. All you got to do is stop fueling the fire and the train will slow down.

Abbas Abedi— Discover Insider Secrets of Instant Stress Relief. Learn How Easy It Can Be To Relax Immediately, Evaporating Your Stress Away…While Picking Up Effective Stress Management Skills for Life! Visit: http://www.instantstressmanagement.com

Posted on Oct 19th, 2006

We function at our best when we are free from stress, relaxed, confident and focused. Feeling the adrenalin flow and achieving a deadline by the skin of our teeth may be exhilarating in the short term but as a way of life can be detrimental to both health and happiness. Stress has a habit of creeping up on us very slowly. At first it may just show itself in low-level irritation and then possibly some sleepless nights and eventually a feeling of being out of control, time off work and, if unchecked, some form of serious illness.

Working effectively involves –

· Staying focused, relaxed and confident.

· Knowing that we don’t always have to be right and perfect.

· Accepting other people’s ideas and contributions.

· Creating time for personal development and relaxation activities.

· Prioritising.

· Staying fit and healthy.

· Having fun!

Take the quick test below to assess your current stress levels:

How stressed are you?

Tick the questions you answer yes to.

Do you ……

- Lack concentration?

- Become easily distracted?

- Have frequent lapses of memory?

- Take longer to do things than you used to?

- Make more mistakes than you used to?

- Appear to lack the ability to plan?

- Frequently become confused?

- Succumb to frequent emotional outbursts?

- Fall ill more frequently than you used to?

- Feel depressed and helpless?

- Have low self-esteem?

- Have difficulty speaking?

- Lack enthusiasm?

- Have low energy levels?

- Have disrupted sleep patterns?

- Have bizarre behaviour patterns?

- Suffer from frequent headaches

- Spend time being busy but getting very little done

If you answered yes to more than 4 of the above, chances are you are suffering from some degree of stress, often the ignition point for more serious disorders.

Ongoing stress can lead to long term conditions such as cardiovascular disorders, kidney damage, hyperglycaemia, exhaustion, weight loss, physical collapse, raised blood cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, stomach trouble, loss of body heat, blackouts, upset heart rhythm, allergic reactions and strokes. It is therefore important that we take steps to alleviate stress before it takes a more serious hold.

A comprehensive resource can be found on our website: http://www.quadrant1.co.uk/search_results.php?searchterm=stress&action=Search

Quadrant 1 International help individuals excel at their work and with their personal ambitions.

We are business people with many years experience in senior management and entrepreneurial positions. We have trained, coached and developed hundreds of managers and directors to greater success. We are authors of several international best selling books on personal development, and often present at major events around the world.

Sign-up for our free newsletters at http://www.quadrant1.co.uk/join.php

Posted on Oct 18th, 2006

When Christopher Columbus arrived in the new world and landed on his rowboat…the natives could not see his ship out at sea!

Their familiarity with their environment and the ocean in particular was such that they couldn’t perceive the ship (something they had never even imagined before). An elder medicine man that had the flexibility of perception had to describe the ship to his fellow tribesmen before they could see it.

This same familiarity applies to how we perceive our breathing.

To the ancient Indian system of Yoga, breathing is considered to be so important that before any task a yogi first prepares his/her breathing. Proper breath control is considered the key to healthy living. In fact, learning to do proper diaphragmatic breathing has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety permanently.

Our breathing is something that we have become so familiar with that we are almost completely unaware of its effects. Consider this, our breath bridges our conscious and unconscious i.e. unconsciously we are always breathing and at any time we can consciously focus on our breathing.

This is important to remember because all our emotional states are reflected in our breathing. If we are stressed our breathing tends to be shallow and focused in our upper lungs. In fact jerky breathing itself will actually increase anxiety and stress. While when we are relaxed we tend to breathe fully into our belly. Knowing this you can observe yourself and know when its time to consciously take control of your breathing to control your stress.

Practicing belly breathing (diaphragmatic breathing) can be extremely beneficial and can be done anytime. Just follow this simple method…

Sit or stand with your back straight, put your hand on your belly and breath in a slow and deep pattern. Don’t try to overfill the lungs or empty them - just breath softly but fully - expanding your belly on the inhale and contracting on the exhale. Keep your attention focused on your breathing. You will find that your mind will tend to drift. That is normal. Simply return your attention to your breath when you notice you got distracted. Allow the relaxation from this breathing pattern to spread through your body and just enjoy yourself.

This next one may come as a surprise to you…stress can cause the blood to drain from your forehead! This seriously diminishes your thinking ability.

This is a natural biological response to remove blood from your brain to your body so you can fight or run (the famous fight or flee mechanism). This is perfectly fine for when we roamed the plains but in modern day living we don’t need to fight at work or run away from it. We have to learn to not only cope but to excel.

Fortunately there are two points on your forehead, that in the ancient Chinese system of Acupuncture are called the ‘neuro-vasculars’. If you hold these points lightly, with a little deep breathing, they will bring the blood back into your brain!

These points are located about one inch above the center of your eyebrows. To make sure you got it, put the palm of your right hand on your right sight of your forehead so that the ‘ball’ of your forehead is in the center of your palm. Same for the left side. Breathe deeply while holding lightly.

The 2-minute stress relief technique is simple.

When you feel stressed, angry, nervous, under pressure etc. Sit down with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Hold your neuro-vascular points while doing diaphragmatic breathing. In 2 minutes, you will feel more relaxed and clear headed.

Abbas Abedi— Discover Insider Secrets of Instant Stress Relief. Learn How Easy It Can Be To Relax Immediately, Evaporating Your Stress Away…While Picking Up Effective Stress Management Skills for Life! Visit: http://www.InstantStressManagement.com

Posted on Oct 18th, 2006

Conceptualizing stress: Stress often has a negative connotation. Failure, illnesses, distress are often marked as stress. Stress can also be a result of factors like job promotion, transfers, first love and the like.

Ivancevich and Matteson (1980) defined stress as an adaptive response mediated by individual characteristics or psychological process that is a consequence of any internal action, situation or event that places special physical or psychological demands upon the person. Hans Selye’s (1974) pioneering work shed light on stress, and introduced the concept of stress into scientific circle. As seen above different psychologists have given different definitions to stress. Bourne and Ekstrand (1982) define stress as “any state during which the body tends to mobilize its resources and during which it utilizes more energy that originally would produce.” According to Shanmugham (1981) stress is any condition that strains the coping capacities of the person.

Stress can also lead to physical disorders because the internal body system changes in order to cope with stress. Some physical disorders have short term effect such as an upset of stomach and others have longer term effects such as stomach ulcer. Stress over a prolonged time also leads to degenerative disease of hear, kidneys, blood vessels and others parts of the body. Researches have revealed certain personality variables which make the individual to be more vulnerable to stress. Certain occupations were also found offering more stress. Lachman (1983) has cited examples of experiencing higher work stress by nurses in intensive care units as compared to those on general duty. Dharmangadan (1988) reported that policeman score significantly higher on stress than other occupational groups. Irrespective of the wide research attacks and theoretical contemplation, the field of stress lacks an integrative frame work which can explain the majority of research results in a logical and theoretical manner (Cooper, 1983).

Several studies have attempted to identify and explore different areas and dimensions of stress. (Pestonjee, 1992, Balagangadharan and Bhagavathy, 1997). Most widely used instruments to assess stress include schedule of Recent Experiences (Holmes and Rahe, 1967) Personal Stress Assessment Inventory (Kindler, 1981) and Life Experience Survey (Sarason et al.1979).Different methodological issues in stress assessment are discussed in Rabkin and Struening (1986). Sarason et al. (1978) has concluded that a measure of life stress should possess three characteristics, a) It should include a list of events experienced by the population being investigated. b) It should allow rating by respondent themselves. c) It should allow for individualized rating of the personal impact of the events experienced.

Based on the writing of James (1982), Sutherland and Cooper (1990) and Pohorecky (1991) the investigator identified 8 areas of stress measures the global stress of the individual subject.

1. Stress as a predisposition: The concept of viewing stress as a predisposition evolved over many years in response to experimental findings, clinical observation, theory formulation and prospective validation. Friedman and Roseman (1974) Observed a pattern of behavior particularly in young coronary patients, which later came to be known as Type A Behavior. Type A people are those who are engaged in a relatively chronic struggle to obtain more and more in shorter time.

2. Source of stress in family: House can be a potential source of stress. Both regular and unexpected situations demand adaptive and coping style of the individual. Interpersonal relationships, marriage, communication barriers, unexpected incidents like shifting of the residence, illness or bereavement of a family member add stress to persons.

3. Source stress in occupation: Occupation is another potential source of stress. Regular situations like taking up a risky job, which is against the interest. Working for low wages. Insecurity of job, lack of appraisal from the employer, receiving contradictory directions from higher authorities are stressful to any individual. Along with these, loss of employment, delayed payments and strained interpersonal relations among the colleagues also cause stress.

4. Subjective assessment of situations: Individual’s subjective assessment about a situation is important in labeling a situation as stressful. A situation which is highly stressful for a person, for example a transfer in job, may be viewed as an opportunity to meet new people and see new places by another.

5. Somatic outcomes of stress: Somatic outcomes like migraine headache, angina, loss of appetite, constipation, respiratory problems, excessive sweating are often regarded as indices of stress.

6. Psychological outcomes: Psychological outcomes like insomnia, nightmares, irritability, and hopelessness, anger towards criticism, anxiety,

tiredness, excessive smoking and substances abuse can be counted as to reflect stress. 7. Specific patterns of responding to stress: Individual’s patterns of response to stress are an indicator of his personality. Some persons show hatred and irritability in stressful situations whereas same others become desperate and confessing.

8. Engagement in tension reduction activities: In day to day life, people come across a number of situations which arouse stress. Deliberate or unconscious desire to get out of stress is obvious in the in creased rate of interest shown in sports and games, joining clubs, rearing of pets, watching movies etc.

SELECTION OF ITEMS

On the basis of related literature and detailed discussion with experts in the field, it was planned to construct an inventory to measure stress on a five point scale. 15 to 20 items were constructed on each area of stress evolved in the discussions. Maximum care was taken to see that each item corresponds to the specific area under which it was constructed and they do not overlap each other.

The listed items were constructed in the form of statements. Each statement was related to situation creating or resulting in subjective experience of stress. Altogether 140 statements were constructed and the following precautions were taken while constructing the test items.

1. Each item was constructed in simple Malayalam so that it could be easily understood.

2. Careful attention was taken to make the items free from the factor of social desirability.

3. Sufficient care was paid to see that each item was closely related to stress.

4. In order to control the acquiescence set of subjects, items were constructed in both positive and negative forms.

Tryout

The test items were randomly arranged and were applied to an unselected group of 50 school teachers. No time limit was given to the subjects and they were asked to read carefully each of the items and express their own opinion in terms of any of the five alternatives, ‘fully agree’ ‘agree’, ‘undecided’, ‘disagree’ ‘fully disagree’ as the case may be. They were also asked to mention, if the statements were either vague or different in respect of their meanings. The test items were again checked on the basis of the responses obtained in the tryout. Statement which belonged to any of the following categories was dropped.

1. Statements which were responded to either favorably or unfavorably almost invariably.

2. Statements which elicited a high proposition of ‘undecided’ responses.

3. Statements which were considered difficult or vague.

Thus, out of the 140 items, 28 items were rejected totally. The remaining 112 statements were given to teachers of Psychology to judge the clarity and face validity of each item. In the light of their judgment 11 more items were dropped and the rest 101 items were retained for final tryout and item analysis. Item analysis.

ITEM ANALYSIS

The item analysis of 101 items on the response of a sample of 300 college students was made on a Liker type 5 point scale ranging from ‘fully agree’ through ‘undecided’ to ‘fully disagree’. Response score of each individual was summed across 101 items. (After converting negative item score to positive). 75 high scoring and 75 low scoring subjects were screened out. These two extreme groups were used to check the discriminative indices of each of the adopting the criterion of internal consistency suggested by Likert (1932). t-value was calculated to compare the mean scores of two extreme groups on each item. All the t values are given in appendices. Those items whose t values were significant at 0.01 level were retained in the inventory. Thus 66 items were selected for the final form.

RELIABILITY

In order to ascertain the reliability of the inventory, internal consistency as determined by split half method was calculated on the basis of responses given by a sample of 50 college students. The product moment co-efficient of internal consistency as corrected by Spearman- Brown formula was found to be 0.74. To test the temporal consistency, the inventory was administered to the same of 50 college students after 4 weeks. Test-retest coefficient of correlation was found to be 0.79 and temporal consistency to be 0.88.

VALIDITY

To ascertain whether HSI was a valid tool, the content validity was determined. The items were given to five teachers in Psychology (as mentioned earlier) who had sufficient orientation and experience in this area. They read every item and judged carefully the degree of stress expressed by each. For this purpose the judges were given a table in which they were required to place every item under one of the following 5 categories, fully agree/agree/undecided/disagree/fully disagree. Judges were also requested to mention such items which were either not well worded or difficult to understand. On the basis of their opinion only 101 items were subjected to item analysis and out of them 66 items which full filled the criteria were finally included in the inventory.

Dr. Hari S.Chandran, M.Phil (Psy), Ph.D, PGDPC is working as Cons. Psychologist ,Department of Deaddiction&Mental Health,St.Gregorios Mission Hospital, Parumala. Kerala, dr_hari@sancharnet

REFERENCES

Balagangadaran, A and Bhagavathy, K.A, A study of personality and perceived risk factors in CHD, Paper presented in Seminar on stress and stress management, Dept.of Psychology, University of Kerala, 1997 Bourne, E.L and Ekstrand, G. Psychology, London: CBS College Pub., 1982

Cooper, CL, Stress Research, issues for Eighties. New York: John Wiley, 1983

Dharmangadan B., Stress at work-A comparison of five occupations, Psychological studies, 1988, 162-69.

Holmes.TH and Rahe, The Social readjustment scale, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 1967 (11) 211-218

Ivancevich J.M and Matterson, Stress at work. Scot. Foresman, 1980. James, CN, Introduction to medical Psychology New York; Free press, 1982.

Kindler, H.A, Personal Stress Assessment inventory, New York : Center for management effectiveness, 1981

Lachman.V.D, Stress Management-A Manual for Nurses, New York: Grune and Stratton Inc, 1983.

Likert.R ,Technique for measurement of attitude scales, Archieves of Psychology, New York, 1932.

Pehoreeky.L.A, Stress and alcohol interaction, An update Human Research, Journal of Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research 1991 (3) 438-59.

Pestonjee D.M, Stress and coping: The Indian experience, New Delhi, Sagar pub.1992

Rabkin J.G and Struening.E.L. Life events, Stress and illness, Science 1986, 1013-020

Sarason I.G, Assessing the impact of life Changes in stress and anxiety (Ed)

Sarason, IG. London: Hemisphere Pub.Co.1979

Selye H.A, The stress without Distress, Philadelphia: Lippincot, 1974. Shanmugham, T.E, Abnormal Psychology, New Delhi: TMH Pub. Co.1981

Sutherland.V.J and Cooper.C.L, understanding stress: A Psychological perspective for Health professionals, London: Chapman and Hall 1990.

Dr. Hari S. Chandran

Posted on Oct 17th, 2006

Your world may likely be overfilled with daily stresses.

Say again!

They can burn like mad and leave you sizzled instead of the steak (or veggies :) .

But all you want is to enjoy the steak (or veggies :) at the end of the day and some relaxation, correct?

Let’s have a look at a list of 10 + wacky tips on how to keep yourself at a safer distance from the stress grill and eat your feast with joy as well!

1. Get up earlier – GET UP! If you skimp on respecting the time first thing in the morning, it will push you around all day long. Remember, time is the only commodity we can’t replenish no matter how hard, how long or how diligently we work … or play. Or, how often we mention how stressful it is to have so little of it.

2. If you eat your first meal at work around noon, have you ever wondered why people start liking you more … after you had lunch? Low blood sugar can bring about anxiety-like feelings. If you can’t eat a full breakfast in the morning – snack during the day. Protein – Complex Carbs – Fats are your friends. Just like blueberries, right ;) ? A balanced fuel up is the key for any day!

3. Even though men and women are apparently from two different planets, the UNI-verse is ultimately a superior way to loving co-existence.

4. If you are a male, fetch a beer for her as a speechless alternative (or wine :) . So little said with so much to gain.

5. If you are a female, trust there is no way that 100% of the male species have the same name or wouldn’t fit the puzzle with love that you want to attract. The BIG secret is – he is still out there instead of … with you!

6. The mega important happens (if lucky enough) only in an Emergency Room or Operating Room. Everything else is that much … mega … less important. If you’ve ever had this type of anxious experience, you know exactly what I mean.

7. Keep your word! It’s unexpected, and it will pleasantly floor them! There goes your stress punch for the day – if you must! :)

8. If nothing makes sense for you any more, establish a micro-sanctuary in everything you do, everywhere you go, and in every thought you have. Simplify anything you can in your life right now . Gradually, it will simply start making sense again.

9. If you have “beef” with someone, assess your anger carefully. Becoming a "vegetarian" on the issue may save you much needed energy. The “T-Boner” ain’t worth the flame.

10. You can, at times, heal better with “brutal honesty” then you can ever do with a “sincere apology”.

11. Tough love, not spoon-fed helplessness, tastes better at the end. It’s superior on calorie count, too ;) !

12. Expect your dreams to hit the fan instead! Choose to join the brand new fan club today!

"What if what we’ve learned over time has a lot more anxiety, stress and ridiculousness than what we yet need to learn?"

Lu Smith co-authored (with Di) a unique book. Discover over 367 Master Techniques to outsmart stress effects on health. Receive a Free 7-part e-Course

Posted on Oct 17th, 2006

When September rolls around, does it generally hit you like a ton of bricks? Do you feel as if that invisible being in charge of your life has suddenly ratcheted up the speed on your treadmill? WAY up?

This year, take on September with some new tools and expectations. See if you can stand up to it more strongly than you have in the past.

After Labor Day, it’s as if summer’s message, "Enjoy life," is replaced with a shrill "Get back to work! Do you know how much there is to do??" And many of us are so shocked by the change in the message and the cool weather, that we give it all up, rushing back to our old habits of working too hard and playing too little.

But taming September is possible. Here are some practical ways you can do it.

  1. Tie Your Hand to Your Hip

    Which hand? The one you raise when you volunteer for more responsibilities. September is not the time to take on anything extra. Just shifting gears into fall is hard enough. You’re already dealing with its inherent tripling of the pace of life around you and the resumption of heavier schedules and obligations after summer’s lighter load.

    Restrain yourself from chairing a committee, hosting 25 extended family members for dinner, or taking on yet another new project at work, especially if it keeps you at the office longer hours. Underline this suggestion twice if you or other members of your household are going back to school. And if you’re job-hunting . . . tie both hands to your hips.

    Use strong rope when you tie your hand, because your hand will repeatedly and vigorously attempt its habitual "Yes." Remember you can always take on more in October, not to mention the entire rest of your life.

  2. Streamline Your Operation

    As you re-enter the faster-paced portion of the year, you will initially see things with an outsider’s perspective. Leverage this to your advantage. For a brief moment, you’ll have the consultant’s fresh and objective point of view. In particular, look for ways to streamline your operation both on the home front and at work.

    Here are some examples:

    • If you regularly drive your children places throughout the week, see if you can consolidate driving and trade off with other parents.
    • Identify the repetitive low-level tasks that you do every week, and consider delegating them. Don’t be stopped by financial considerations or failure of the imagination or money – there ARE ways to have other people do some of these tasks.
    • Where are you spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere? Stop spinning. Get some help.
    • Identify where technology could help you get things done more efficiently. Make the effort, take the time to learn and implement the new technology.

    Do not postpone harvesting and implementing your “consultant” ideas. Once you’re entrenched in last year’s MO again, you’ll no longer have the perspective necessary to make the change.

  3. Keep Some Summer in Your Fall

    Imagine that you’ve been kidnapped into servitude, unjustly whisked away from your happy life. When your taskmasters aren’t looking, take a break! Schedule a date for time for YOU. Get a massage. See a friend. Go for a bike ride. Walk along a body of water. Fuel yourself with what truly nourishes you. You must not get worn down! You owe it to yourself and all the people who depend on you. Now more than ever is when you need it, even though it may not look that way.

    Know, of course, that you have the strength and character to do what needs to be done, to rise to the challenge of yet another September. But take extra good, loving care of yourself. Make sure you don’t become your own relentless taskmaster.

  4. Spread Calm

    You can do this with very little personal risk, cost, or effort. This is how it works. Assume that EVERYONE around you is overly stretched in September. Whether they acknowledge it or not, trust me, they are Septembered Out. Your highly essential task here is to a) know this and b) gauge your time and expectations so you can cut people a little extra slack this month. They will love you for it, and your life will run more smoothly. If you have followed the tips above, you will have the personal reserve to give others in your life the unexpected gift of extra slack.

    For example, your son will NOT be organized enough to buy all his school supplies in one trip, no matter how directly you request it. He will need to go back a second time. After all, he’s only 8 (or 14). Pace yourself for it, so when he realizes what he forgot and asks you to take him again, you can be cool and calm and just do it. You don’t have to get irritated. You might even take him out for a slice of pizza afterwards and ask him how his September is going. He will be shocked and pleased, even if he turns you down.

Try out these techniques and see how it goes. Be bold in using your whip and your chair. You’ll avoid some of the stress and overwork you’ve experienced in the past, leaving you more available to enjoy September’s own freshness, energy, and beauty.

And by the way, who IS in charge of your life?

Copyright 2005. Sharon Teitelbaum. All rights reserved.

Sharon Teitelbaum, http://www.stcoach.com, a Work-Life and Career Coach, works with high achieving women with young children, people at mid-career, and professionals seeking greater career satisfaction and work-life balance. She coaches by phone and in person in Boston. Her newsletter, Strategies For Change, offers practical tips for work-life success.

Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: Restoring Work-Life Balance, Sharon’s first book, was published in 2005.

A motivational speaker, Sharon also also delivers keynotes & workshops on work-life issues. Clients include Children’s Hospital Boston, SunLife Financial, Arnold Worldwide, and many parent and alumni groups. She’s been featured in national publications including The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and Working Mother Magazine.

If you’re considering hiring a coach to help you with challenges like these, contact me for an initial consultation at no charge.

Married for 30 years, she is the mother of two amazing young women.

Posted on Oct 16th, 2006

Stress. It has been described as America’s #1 health problem. Hard to imagine something that you can’t see, can’t feel and can’t even measure on any kind of scale as being so dangerous. In this article and the series that follows we’re going to cover the causes of stress, how to identify if you are under stress, what it does to the human body and treatments. In spite of the fact that this is the invisible killer, we know a lot about stress and how to keep it under control.

To start with, you can hardly pick up a newspaper, listen to the radio, watch TV or for that matter go out in the street without hearing about stress. It seems that there should be such a big to do about something that has been around since the beginning of time. Is stress more prevalent today? Is it more dangerous? Or is it simply that modern science has finally figured out that stress can kill you? Well, according to modern science, the answer is a big YES.

Unfortunately, stress is a part of life and something that can’t be avoided. To list the number of things that cause stress would take a book the size of a dictionary, but for this article we’ll list the most common causes of stress.

Probably the most common and severe form of stress is our jobs. Let’s face it, in order to live in this world we need to have money to at least buy the absolute necessities, like food and shelter. The only way to get that money is to go out and earn it, and that means getting a job. In the perfect world we would get a job doing something that we absolutely loved to do. But this isn’t a perfect world and many times we have to settle for a job simply because it’s available. That alone causes stress, doing something we really don’t want to do. Add to that a boss who maybe isn’t the nicest person in the world, bad working conditions and the realization that if you lose this job or quit you will be out on the street and hungry. If that isn’t enough to cause the kind of stress that can kill you then nothing is.

Then there is the stress of taking care of your home. Maybe you have several kids. Maybe they’re reaching college age and you’re wondering how you’re going to afford to get them into college. In the meantime you still have to clean the house, do the laundry, do the food shopping, pay the bills and if you’re really unlucky, have to balance that with a job because your spouse doesn’t make enough money to support the whole family.

Then there is the stress of everyday life. Dealing with rude people at the supermarket, motor vehicles, neighbors who play music too loud at night and don’t let you sleep, and the list goes on and on.

So how exactly to we identify when we under stress, at least enough considerable stress to do us harm? We’ll be answering that question in our next article.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Stress

Posted on Oct 16th, 2006

Deadlines at work, demanding bosses, bills to be paid at home, kids demanding for time and attention, changes in the environment, etc. AAARRRRGH. These are the realities of everyday living that people in an industrialized world have to constantly contend with, if these factors are not handled properly this will lead to stress.

Stress is the wear and tear the body experiences as people adjust to the ever-changing environment. It is relative to every individual. What may be considered as stressful to one person may not be true to another. Since stress factors are part of daily life, the goal is not to eliminate stress but to find the optimal level where the stress factors motivate the individual in continuing his/her life and not be overwhelmed. This is called stress management.

Life without these stress factors may lead to boredom, dejection and depression. On the other hand, excess of which may make one feel tied up in knots. So, how do we know that we are attaining the optimal stress level?

A clear indication that stress management has not been practiced or the optimal stress level has not been attained is the presence of related illness. Most sickness is due to unrelieved stress such as hypertension, dizziness, hyperacidity, etc. This indicates that stress must be reduced in daily living.

So, how does one really manage stress? Two things may be done. It may be done by either changing the source of stress or changing one’s reactions to it. As the cliché goes, it’s either we shape out or we shape up. In doing the former, it’s like totally quitting the status quo. It’s like giving up totally so that the stress factor that is present in life is totally eliminated. Some see this as chickening out or being yellow. However, this is also relative for the individual because if the stress factor already affects every aspect of the life of the individual, getting out of the situation completely may be the best option. This may also be considered a brave move. The second option takes a lot of courage and maturity. Being able to identify and practice appropriate reactions to stressful situations takes a lot of courage and wisdom. However, with determination and persistence, this can be achieved.

The best way to manage stress is to first become aware of the stressors and to observe individual’s emotion and physical reactions to them. Most often, people ignore the stress factors and just wish that they would go away. The stressor may be a person, a situation or an event. The individual must recognize that a stress factor is affecting his/her life and emotionally and physically he/she is reacting to it.

After which the next thing to do is to recognize what can be changed. The change may occur by avoiding or eliminating the stress factor completely as stated earlier or by reducing its intensity. This is done by managing the stress over a period of time instead of on a daily or weekly basis. If possible, it is best to try also to shorten exposure to stress. This may be done by taking a break, a sabbatical or a leave whatever possible so long as the individual avoids the physical premise where the stress is present. Another way is to devote time and energy to effect change by practicing goal setting and time management techniques.

The next stress management technique is by reducing the intensity of emotional reaction to stress. Simply said, to avoid worrying too much. The worriers most likely chicken out. Sometimes perception of the stress factor is exaggerated. It’s like making a mountain out of a mole. It is best to work at adopting moderate views. Positive thinkers achieve more than the negative thinkers.

By not worrying too much, the individual saves his body from possible physical illnesses. He is protecting his health to deteriorate due to lack of sleep and inappropriate food intake.

It is best to build physical reserves to be able to manage stress. The usual exercise is needed for cardiovascular fitness at least done three to four times a week. Live a healthy lifestyle because this will be the best armor in fighting the daily struggle of life.

Lastly, maintain your emotional reserves. The support from family and friends are still basic necessities in life.

Do not work out for a stress free life, work out to achieve and live a well stress managed life.

Jeff Dedrick

Are you a Mom who want’s to lose weight, have less stress, and look and feel better than you have in years?

Go to http://www.EMomsFitness.com for free tips and bonuses.

Posted on Oct 15th, 2006

In this article we’re going to try to answer the question of how you can tell if you’re under considerable stress.

Actually, recognizing that you’re under stress is very close to diagnosing the effects of stress on your body.

Fortunately, stress identification is pretty easy. Several red flags go up physically that are indications that your body is trying to tell you something.

Stress begins with the effects that it has on you emotionally and mentally. People who are under stress usually show early symptoms of anxiety. At first they may think they are just nervous about something and ignore it as being a one time or occasional thing, but then the anxiety becomes more frequent. They then become very irritable, maybe even short tempered. Gradually this anxiety leads, in many cases, to depression. Eventually the person under stress can’t even cope with everyday activities like going to work. Of course these symptoms can also be signs of other problems which is why a person needs to go to a medical professional for a checkup and tests to determine if they are simply suffering from stress or if there is something more serious going on.

From these beginnings stress then balloons into headaches, sometimes very severe migraines. If they go to a doctor for a regular exam where their blood pressure is taken they may more than likely find that their blood pressure is elevated. Again, there could be other factors here such as a family history of high blood pressure.

If this stress is allowed to continue untreated the next signs are chest pains and trouble breathing. The reason is because stress can eventually lead to heart disease. The reason for this is that stress causes irregular heart rhythms which lead to angina, and possible heart attacks or even stroke. The reason strokes are likely is because of the elevated blood pressure in persons with stress.

Other symptoms of stress are a sudden onset of gastrointestinal problems. The reason for this is because the brain and intestine share a very strong connection. They are both regulated by many of the same hormones in the body. If a normally healthy person has a sudden change in bowel habits there is a very good chance that this is caused by stress.

Also, most people under stress will begin to eat more. This is more psychological than anything else simply because, when we are under stress, or for that matter not happy with something going on in our lives, we will often turn to food because it makes us feel better. A normally skinny person who suddenly puts on a lot of weight is more likely than not eating more because they are under some kind of stress.

Stress will also lead to sexual problems, especially in men. Stress is probably one of the most common causes of non structural impotence in men, meaning men who don’t actually have anything wrong with them.

In our next article we are going to go over what can be done to help alleviate stress from a person’s life and if need be, treat it with medication.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Stress

Posted on Oct 15th, 2006

"We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing." -unknown

Spontaneous Play

The phone company has been working in our neighborhood installing new cables. Two weeks ago, during part of an early morning installation, they hit a major power line and cut power and phone service to 600 homes. The repair crew estimated that it would take two days to restore the power and phone service. I was in the middle of several large business projects. Since I office at home, my first thought when this happened was, “what can I do without access to my computer and emails?" I caught myself before I went too far down this path and shifted my focus to "what was the opportunity in this situation?"

Often what we label as problems are really opportunities. In the Chinese language the same character is used for both a crisis or problem and an opportunity. Another way of looking at this is different sides of the same coin. So when I "flipped" to the other side of the coin, I immediately saw this situation as an opportunity to play! It reminded me of the "snow days" we used to have in school; when we had an excuse not to go to school and instead we could play in the snow.

I really needed a break from the projects and with this spontaneous gift; I decided to fully enjoy myself. Instead of worrying about all the things I “should” be doing, I decided to listen to my heart. I took a long walk and then sat outside and finished a novel. I met a friend for a leisurely lunch and browsed stores that I had been wanting to explore. I purchased spontaneous gifts to surprise loved ones. By early evening the power was restored but not before I had experienced a wonderful, energizing day!

I learned two things from this day. The first was to quickly shift to see the opportunity in an apparent problem. The second was the benefit of spontaneous play. After the much needed break, I returned more creative and revitalized for my projects.

Where do you need a break in your life right now? Are there some opportunities disguised as problems? Look at something you are labeling as a problem right now. If you ‘flipped the coin’, what is the opportunity in the situation? Watch for the signs that your need a break: frustration, short-tempered, low energy, no motivation. What would happen to your outlook, creativity and energy if you had a day or hour to follow your heart? Think of something fun you would love to do if you had an unexpected break and then create one!

Vicki Miller Copyright July 2005

As a Life Transition Coach I work with clients to identify what’s most important to them and prioritize around these values. I help my clients identify and remove obstacles in the way and bring clarity and focus to their dreams. What is your dream? Are you undergoing a major transition and not clear where to turn? Call (972-306-4489) or email me, (coach.v.miller@stressmanagementarticles.com), to set up a complimentary, no obligation 30 minute coaching session. Download my FREE e-Book, 12 Fun Ways to Change Your Life, or sign up for my FREE monthly newsletter at http://www.thrivingthroughchange.com

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