Lose Weight with These Fat Burning Foods

June 23, 2010 by  
Filed under OBESITY

Many Americans are waging a personal war against obesity which continues as a leading threat to the overall health and well being of millions. Obesity contributes to a twofold increase in the risk of heart attack, diabetes and certain cancers by increasing inflammation in the body.

Due largely to an exceedingly high sugar and refined carbohydrate diet, many people store fat in the belly. This is known as visceral fat which releases chemical messengers throughout the body when in excess. In an attempt to gain control, the body fights back by mounting an inflammatory response, increasing disease risk as a consequence.

The best way to lose weight is through a calorie-reduced, healthful diet, stress management and adequate physical activity. Fortunately there are a number of foods which help by increasing metabolism and stimulating the release of stored fat. These are essential ingredients for weight loss by targeting belly fat.

Eat Green to Lose Weight Naturally

Eat Leafy Green Vegetables and Drop Weight Fast

Eat Leafy Green Vegetables and Drop Weight Fast

The most important category of food for those looking to drop weight quickly is raw, dark green and leafy vegetables. They are extremely low in calories and fill you up quickly. The best part is that they release sugar into the bloodstream very slowly, so excess glucose does not convert to triglycerides and on to fat storage. The core of any weight loss diet should include large helpings of vegetables such as spinach, spring mix, cucumbers, onions, broccoli and cauliflower. Limit tomatoes and fruits as they are high in sugar and can impede the fat release process.

Choose Lean Meats and Unprocessed Fats

Choose Lean Meats and Unprocessed Fats to Boost Metabolism

Choose Lean Meats and Unprocessed Fats to Boost Metabolism

Lean meat protein sources such as turkey and chicken require additional energy to be metabolized by the body. When eaten in moderation, they will trigger the full signal meaning you stop eating sooner. For best weight loss results, limit calories from meat sources to no more than 10% of the daily total. Many people consume excessive amounts of protein which can lead to digestive problems and metabolic disorders in later life.

Raw, unprocessed fats are necessary for proper absorption of nutrients and actually can aid in the weight loss process. Fats from avocado, coconut, walnut and extra virgin olive oil slow the digestive process, as well as the rapid release of sugar from carbohydrates. You’ll naturally stop eating sooner and receive maximum benefit from the vitamins and minerals in your food. As fats are high in calories, be careful to keep total calories to less than 15%, and achieve the maximum weight loss boost.

Go Nuts to Lose Weight

Nuts are Nature's 'Perfect Food' Source

Nuts are Nature's 'Perfect Food' Source

Nuts are typically viewed as high in calories and fat, but should be considered as nature’s perfect food source. They provide a perfect balance of complete protein and monounsaturated fats while being very low in carbohydrates. Nuts eaten in moderation (about a handful a day) have been shown to boost metabolism and decrease fat mediated markers in the body. By replacing unhealthy processed fats with those from nuts, studies show that blood lipids are improved and heart healthy markers for systemic inflammation are brought in check.

Poor food choices are the main reason so many people are overweight and obese. Making the correct food selections and combined with a regular exercise program, many people can achieve permanent weight loss. This requires a stringent change to diet and lifestyle. Eat unlimited quantities of raw vegetables and limit certain fruits and all sweets and refined carbohydrates. Incorporate lean protein and unprocessed fats and nuts to create a well balanced and healthy diet which will lead to natural and sustainable weight loss for life.

About the author:

John Phillip is a Health, Diet and Nutrition Researcher and Author of the popular Optimal Health Resource Blog who regularly reports on the alternative cutting edge use of supplements and lifestyle modifications to enhance and improve the length and quality of life. Health problems can be avoided and overcome with a sensible approach to monitoring key health factors such as weight, blood glucose, blood pressure and body temperature. His mission is to discuss the relevant findings on nutritional factors as they become available, and how you can incorporate this latest information to better your lifestyle. Read John’s latest healthy articles, updated regularly at his Optimal Health Resource Blog.

Health Benefits of Exercise

May 11, 2010 by  

Exercise is necessary to remain healthy, as it ties together a lifestyle of proper diet, stress management and social interaction. Our need for regular exercise is encoded into our genes, as our earliest ancestors required short bursts of energy to hunt for food or evade predators.

At the most basic level, our metabolic function and ability to fight off disease is dependent on the food we eat and the amount and type of exercise we provide for our well being. Exercise provides the added benefits of improving mood, boosting energy levels and providing for better sleep. Regular exercise is part of the formula necessary to remain healthy.

Exercise Regularly To Improve Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Exercise Lowers Risk of Many Diseases

Exercise Lowers Risk of Many Diseases

Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrate that regular exercise reduces the risk of developing major illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Exercise has a powerful effect on cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, and is viewed as a significant means to lower the risk associated with elevated levels. 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week can reduce triglyceride levels by as much as 40%.

Research is also showing that in addition to traditional aerobic exercise, strength training can have a major impact on cholesterol levels. Short burst resistance training which quickly raises the heart rate and works the major muscle groups can lower total cholesterol and raise the important healthy HDL cholesterol level. Since HDL removes excess cholesterol from the blood, heart disease risk is effectively lowered. Further, this type of exercise helps to regulate blood sugar by helping the body efficiently process glucose into the cells and muscles to be used for energy, thus helping to prevent diabetes.

Exercise is Good for the Heart

Exercise Lowers Blood Pressure

Exercise Lowers Blood Pressure

Regular physical activity which lasts for at least 30 minutes should be on your schedule for most days of the week. People who follow this lifestyle have reduced blood pressure and a healthier weight. Combined with the blood lipid lowering effects, exercise is essential to heart health.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, and a regular fitness program can be the key to reversing that statistic.

Exercise strengthens the heart muscle and allows the veins and arteries to regain a natural elasticity, resulting in lowered blood pressure. Since the heart does not have to beat as hard or as frequently, the small cracks which begin to form on the inner lining of the arteries from excessive pressure can begin to heal. Combine regular physical activity with a healthy diet of leafy green vegetables, seeds, nuts, lean proteins and monounsaturated fats, and the result will be a reversal in coronary plaque and heart attack risk.

Exercise is Good for the Brain

Exercise Improves Mood

Exercise Improves Mood

The brain also benefits from a solid exercise program, as the neuronal connections are strengthened through physical activity. Concentration, attention and mood are enhanced with exercise and reaction times are snappier in those people with the highest performance levels. Studies show that new brain cells are developed at a higher rate allowing for improved learning and comprehension with exercise. Additionally, blood flow and oxygen to the brain is improved, resulting in improved memory and lowered risk of stroke.

Regular exercise provides many benefits to our health. The risk of chronic illness from heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer is reduced, along with a lowered incidence of depression and improved mood. A good fitness regime can be started at any point, and should always be combined with a healthy diet for maximum benefit. The end result will be a happier and healthier disease-free life.

About the author:

John Phillip is a Health, Diet and Nutrition Researcher and Author of the popular Optimal Health Resource Blog who regularly reports on the alternative cutting edge use of supplements and lifestyle modifications to enhance and improve the length and quality of life. Health problems can be avoided and overcome with a sensible approach to monitoring key health factors such as weight, blood glucose, blood pressure and body temperature. His mission is to discuss the relevant findings on nutritional factors as they become available, and how you can incorporate this latest information to better your lifestyle. Read John’s latest healthy articles, updated regularly at his Optimal Health Resource Blog.

Cheering on two friends fighting cancer

February 8, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

Two of my friends are battling cancer.

One of them is a friend of many, many years. We went through a lot of ups and downs together. Though we live hundreds of kilometers apart now, we’re always there for each other. We were at each other’s weddings. We got involved in several car accidents together. She took me to the hospital when I had an acute appendicitis – with her knee in a cast. This isn’t the first time that she’s battling cancer. She had brain tumor 3 years ago but managed to fight it with surgery and chemotherapy. She was disease-free for 2 years, got married and got on with her life. Now the monster is back. But my friend is a fighter and she’s hanging on there. She’s strong, she’s brave, she’s seen the monster before and she knows what to expect.

The second friend is somebody whom I met recently but a friend nonetheless. We have a lot in common. We are both moms and we originally come from the same country and now both live in Europe as expats. I talked to her on the phone just shortly before the Christmas school break. She was having back pains and receiving injections for back pains. “Let’s meet up as soon as I’m mobile again and that should be next week.

Unfortunately, I got too busy with the holidays, family and work to follow up on her. And the next time I heard from her was in mid-January. “Pray for me”, she wrote in an email, “today I’m having my first chemotherapy.” Was I shocked! It turned out I didn’t receive a previous email about the countless of tests and biopsies that she had underwent before and after Christmas and the diagnosis delivered just after New Year. My friend has lung cancer that has metastasized to the bone in her pelvis and spine and that caused the back pain. She never smoked, barely touched alcohol, of normal weight, and exercised regularly. Like my first friend, she too, is hanging on there although this being her first time to face the monster makes it so tough. Yet, she managed to send an email the other day that captured the spirit of a real cancer fighter. Here’s what she has written:

Subject: Stress Management (for cancer patients who wants to live life to the full)

Since moving to Switzerland, my stress level has never been this high. My medical team from family doctor to allergologist/immunologist, neurologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, oncologist, Chinese herbs doctor, nutritionist, etc. advised that I should learn to take life easy so as to live a life with less or no stress. That I should slowly start eliminating situations, things and people that stress me with proper planning and management.

Below are some Stress Management guidelines they think i should try in order to rid my inner terrain of these invading unwelcoming cancerous cells.

They also advised that I can pass these guidelines to others who want a stress-free life…enjoy your day. love you, guys.

Stress Management Technique

Just in case you are having a rough day, here is a stress management technique that actually works — and doesn’t rely on habit-forming drugs.

Ready to give it a try? Just follow these simple steps:

  • Take a deep breath.
  • Picture yourself near a stream.
  • Hear the birds softly chirping in the cool mountain air.
  • Recall that no one knows your secret place.
  • You are in total seclusion from the hectic place called the world.
  • The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall in the distance fills the air with a cascade of serenity.
  • The water is so crystal clear.
  • You can easily make out the face of the person you are holding underwater.

LOL! I hope this makes your day today. Now I am smiling as I go to this clinic at 8 am for a series of tests…

Now that’s what I call a real fighter.

For these two friends, all the best to both of you. Beat that monster cancer!

The Diabetes/Stress Connection

June 11, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

stress.jpgIf you are having a hard time figuring out why your blood glucose levels are high and you feel you have every other area of your diabetes lifestyle under control, consider the stressors in your life.

Stress releases hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) that will increase your blood glucose levels. While this is good on a temporary basis to provide energy to deal with a threatening fight or flight situation, chronic stress keeps your glucose levels elevated which can create insulin resistance and high glucose levels.

There are however those rare individuals out there whose response to stress is a severe DROP in blood sugar.

Dealing with life is stressful. Dealing with life and diabetes is a double whammy.

How do you respond to stress?

  • Do you self medicate with food?
  • Road rage?
  • Smoking?
  • Alcohol?
  • Do you exercise more?
  • Clean the house when you are upset?
  • Do you get depressed when you are stressed?
  • Are tears your way of responding to stress?

Were your coping strategies on the list? Are they productive long term strategies? Do you consider action/response of your body when you utilize those coping mechanisms?
Like anything else, the more you feel in control the better you feel.

The basic way to manage stress is with balance: a balance of sleep, exercise and relaxation.

The experts at the Mayo Clinic say to TAKE STRESS SERIOUSLY! “If you’re stressed, it’s easy to abandon your usual diabetes care routine. The hormones your body may produce in response to prolonged stress may prevent insulin from working properly, which only makes matters worse. To take control, set limits. Prioritize your tasks. Learn relaxation techniques. Get plenty of sleep.”

Specific therapeutic tools to manage stress and get back control:

  • Biofeedback. Biofeedback is one measurable tool. Biofeedback is a methodology which utilizes techniques to assist patients to control body function such as blood pressure and heart beat and muscle tension by responding to their own body reactions. The Continuum Center for Health and Healing describes biofeedback or self-regulation, this way: “…the ability to observe oneself and acquire the skills needed to make changes in one’s physiology, behavior, or even lifestyle in order to promote well-being and health.”
  • Relaxation Techniques: these include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery and yoga.
  • Journaling: Journaling not only allows you to get your issues out but allows you a way to work through your problems and stressors.
  • Support Groups: Consider online support groups and communities where you can openly discuss issues that are unique to diabetics.

Read more

Stress and Parents, Teenage Dilemmas

September 12, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

Contemporary society presents many circumstances that can encourage stress for teens. One of the chief potential stressors is often found right at home: parents.

That’s not to say parents cause teen stress. Even teens are self-responsible individuals, within the realm of actions open to them. And that’s the key to some of the sources of teen stress. They are sometimes given too much freedom, in other areas too little.

Setting a developing person adrift among the variety of choices available in modern, complex society is a near guarantee for stress. That reaction is fundamentally the result of a perceived, unresolvable conflict between “I must” and “I can’t”. In many cases, it is indeed true that the teen can’t.

No one could reasonably expect a fourteen year-old to know how to negotiate the maze of challenges the modern world offers without good guidance. Few are equipped by parents or nature to do so at that age. One isn’t born knowing how, for example, to earn money, raise babies and deal with adult life – and that knowledge is rarely attained by age fourteen.

But it’s also true that teens are not children. They are very self-aware, have complex systems of values and have some knowledge of the world. They have the ability to begin to exercise their powers independently. When that independence is stifled, opportunities to test guesses and solve problems is stunted.

The results of both these false alternatives – independence in the sense of being totally abandoned to one’s own devices, and lack of independence in not being allowed to make choices and deal with the consequences – will inevitably result in stress.

The former leaves the teen in the position of having to solve problems they simply aren’t ready to solve. The latter makes it extremely difficult for them to gain or expand their ability to solve them.

Teens will often implicitly recognize this when they complain to parents ‘You never let me have my way’, or, “I’m old enough to make my own decisions”. Some parents react dogmatically by declaring that they will make those decisions, others err on the other side by simply throwing off all restraint and allowing the teen to ‘sink or swim’.

Knowing when to do one, when to do the other is every parent’s challenge. But the teen can help themselves and the parents out of this dilemma – and in the process save themselves much needless stress.

Just as they are not children, teens are not adults. But they can improve their situation by demonstrating the first and emulating the second. Paradoxically, voluntarily reaching for responsibility is one very effective way to minimize stress before it builds.

Though responsibility can lead to stress – if met with resentment or fear rather than confidence and persistence – it can also help build those skills needed to head off stress before it grows. When the responsibilities are those the teen is actually, with effort, able to handle the result is confidence building.

The surest way to decrease the stress that comes from fear of failure or of dealing with stubborn parents is to successfully tackle the challenges of school, home responsibilities and other hurdles. Sometimes that will require starting over after initial failure. Teens will learn practical knowledge from undertaking the challenge and build psychological strength from making the attempt.

Stress and Diet

September 6, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

Regular exercise is one great way to deal with the symptoms of stress. Combining a proper diet with that makes for a terrific, positive addition.

Nutrition studies are always difficult to interpret and any conclusions drawn should often be tentative. Later ones often appear to contradict earlier ones. But overall the research suggests what is consistent with ‘common sense’: a balanced diet, with adequate amounts of fruit and vegetables, and some proteins is an aid to reducing stress.

Supplements can be helpful if your diet doesn’t contain a large enough amount of chemicals that help reduce stress. Serotonin, for example, is a brain chemical that helps induce calm. A diet that already contains it, or that contains compounds that help the brain produce it, assists the body in combating stress.

But since the effects are slightly delayed (it takes about 30 minutes for serotonin’s effect to kick in) and lasts for several hours (about three hours), timing is also important.

Serotonin levels are often naturally higher in the morning, but decrease in the late afternoon. You can help your body by tailoring your diet accordingly. A late afternoon snack is a good idea. Baked, rather than fried, potato chips help stimulate serotonin production. Pretzels, too, are low in fat but healthy.

Stress is related to diet in other ways. It doesn’t merely reduce helpful neuro-transmitters but encourages counter-productive habits, as well. Some people take to eating excessive amounts, particularly of high fat foods, in order to compensate for the symptoms of stress. Some studies suggest, however, that high fat foods tend to slow down or inhibit serotonin levels.

Moderation in intake is wise for other reasons, too. Just as inadequate exercise leads to poor fitness, excessive caloric intake amplifies the damage. As you become flabby and overweight, body image can suffer, leading to a downward spiral in self-image. The result is increased stress and often depression.

Breaking that vicious cycle requires effort, but it carries double rewards. As you become more fit, you reduce the physical effects of stress-induced biochemicals. You also improve your body, helping create a body image that elevates your mood. That kind of investment in your well-being is well worth the effort required to break the cycle.

Eating at regular times is helpful. When people are stressed, they’ll often skip meals because of the depressive effect stress has on appetite. Often, too, stress is work related and less time is available for meals at scheduled times. That behavior has a compounding effect. Here again, you need to break the cycle by making a commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

During meals, focus on positive things in your life and environment. Make a conscious decision to set aside whatever internal or external factors are contributing to stress. Give yourself a parole from ‘stress jail’ and the freedom to enjoy a healthy meal.

Stress and Alcohol

August 26, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

‘She drove me to drink’ used to be a popular phrase. Its essential meaning is that stress induces people to consume alcohol. While it’s true that stress can be an incentive to drink, it’s equally true that heavy alcohol consumption causes stress.

Moderate alcohol intake, to be sure, can have beneficial effects. Research suggests that small amounts can even improve mental functioning and increase performance in problem solving while stressed. But, there are also studies that demonstrate that large quantities, particularly when consumed for long periods, actually worsens stress.

Large alcohol consumption stimulates the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands. One result is an increase in the amount of cortisol produced within the body. Another is an increase in adrenaline. Both those, while they don’t alone cause stress, play a large role in the symptoms.

Extreme stress makes it more difficult to concentrate. One of the obvious effects of high alcohol intake is to produce that exact effect. Thus, heavy drinkers get a double whammy just at the moment they need mental clarity most.

Other studies suggest that chronic drinkers have symptoms similar to those seen in children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Children of those drinkers, this research concludes, have a higher incidence of actual ADHD.

So, it may also be true that as much as the stress of parenting may lead to drinking, adult drinking may encourage the circumstances that incent the parent to drink. It may be a factor in producing children’s symptoms that lead to adult stress.

Exercise is known to help relieve the symptoms of stress. Unfortunately, one of the additional results of excessive alcohol consumption is decreased exercise. Few inebriated people want to go a few rounds on the weight machine.

Similarly, high alcohol intake suppresses appetite. Thus, at the same time alcoholic drinks pour in the calories, they decrease the incentive to maintain a healthy diet. Once again the drinker experiences a doubly negative reinforcing effect.

Those who drink excessively to escape stress motivated by money concerns find it more difficult to cope with the problem that caused the stress in the first place. Even simple tasks like balancing a checkbook are clearly more difficult when drunk. But beyond such minor details, the cognitive functions needed to develop long term strategies are impaired. Drinkers literally can’t think their way out of the problems causing the stress.

In all these cases there is a vicious cycle established. Stress encourages heavy drinking, which makes it more difficult to deal with the internal and external factors that led to stress in the first place. Though the specific numbers will vary from person to person, when the average individual drinks more than the equivalent of two or three shots of whiskey per day, the results are inevitably bad.

The key to breaking this vicious cycle is to seek alternative methods for dealing with stress. Both the symptoms and the underlying motivators are subject to change in almost all cases. Proper exercise and diet is a good beginning. A realistic attitude about life’s inherent challenges can go a long way, as well. But, as with any psychological problem, admitting it exists is the first necessary step.

How NOT To Deal With Stress

August 25, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

There are several techniques for dealing with the physical and emotional causes and consequences of stress. Short-term symptom relief and long-term cures for chronic stress are possible. But there are many common strategies employed that are counter-productive. There are a million ways to go wrong. Here are some of the more typical errors.

In an attempt to alleviate the tension and worry that accompany stress, some individuals will unwittingly engage in self-destructive behavior.

The stress that can lead to being short-tempered can urge someone to lash out angrily at a trusted friend or loved one. It can incline some to excessive alcohol drinking or coffee drinking with the result of high caffeine intake, leading to more stress symptoms. It can lead to aggressive or violent behavior.

One of the most common results of stress is insomnia. When something is troubling you, and you are physically uncomfortable, it’s difficult to relax enough to sleep. When you do manage to fall asleep, it’s often interrupted during the night, or not the type of deep sleep that is genuinely restful.

Taking a sleeping medication may be helpful in some situations, but long term dependence on any kind of drug to deal with life’s problems is self-defeating. Instead, learn and use some simple meditation techniques to focus the mind and induce a relaxing state.

A heightened focus on problem solving is natural for some types of individuals. But obsessing, even in the face of serious issues, is counter-productive. Try to see the problem as you would if it were being experienced by a friend. You would be concerned, of course. We’re often much better at maintaining objectivity when the problem belongs to someone else.

Some people try to cope with stress by doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Throwing oneself into projects at work is one way of shifting focus away from problems at home. But avoidance can only be partially successful, and only temporarily at that.

Some problems do go away on their own and ignoring them can be a viable strategy. But circumstances combined with evaluations that lead to chronic stress do not disappear simply because we’re not thinking about them. A temporary break to gain perspective and get the emotions under control is healthy. Hiding one’s head in the sand is not.

Fundamentally, all these incorrect and unhelpful methods have a common root. Reality doesn’t go away when some aspects of it are inconvenient or unpleasant. Life is filled with obstacles placed in the way of achieving values. The existence of those hurdles and the need to overcome them – when combined with doubts about our ability to do so – leads to stress.

Curing Stress – Techniques

August 24, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

No doubt it’s impractical to try to ‘cure’ stress in the sense of eliminating all occurrences. But there are several practical short-term and effective long-term strategies for minimizing it and its effects.

Most individuals under stress will let it build, ignoring it for too long. They cite the need to get a work project completed, or view their situation as unchangeable. “That’s life,” many will say. But no form of ill-effect is inevitable, nor is it necessary or wise to passively accept one.

The first step is always to increase awareness in two directions – outward and inward. Be conscious of your internal state and evaluate it as realistically as possible. Be objective about external circumstances. When you recognize a circumstance as legitimately worrisome, reacting with concern and a degree of stress is normal and healthy. Unreasonable fear and obsession are not.

Then, take a moment to breath – literally. One of the most common reactions to stress is tension, usually muscle tension. The neck muscles will stiffen and breathing will often be more shallow. Focus on this, check for it and, if present, consciously loosen up neck muscles with a gentle side to side motion of your head. Take a deep breath or two.

There’s no need to overdo the exercise. You’re not practicing yoga and you don’t want to hyperventilate. Slowly move the head and shoulders and relax the chest muscles. A slow deep breath or two is often enough to break the tension.

But those suggestions are effective primarily for acute stress – the type that is produced by an isolated event and lasts a short time. For chronic stress – that which results from ongoing circumstances and evaluations and persists – additional techniques are needed.

Something as simple and old-fashioned as a walk in the park can be helpful. It’s not simply an old wives tale that fresh air and sunshine can be relaxing. It’s also true that moderate exercise helps relieve many of the accompanying physical symptoms of stress.

Playing music of certain types is helpful. Seeing a comedy on TV or at the movies is beneficial. Laughter is a great mood lifter. A creative activity can be helpful, especially if there is some accompanying physical activity. It could be as simple as making a birdhouse or as advanced as painting or sculpture.

A talk with a sympathetic friend could be useful, but it’s a good idea not to spend too much time talking about the circumstances causing stress or the stress itself. A good airing is beneficial, but too many times it’s an excuse to obsess over the problem. Some people are too much inclined to seek out only those who will reinforce negative evaluations.

Just keep in mind that these are all techniques to help relieve symptoms, they don’t address the underlying causes. As such, they are only one (albeit important) component in curing stress. For that, more in-depth action is needed.

Curing Stress – Pruning the Roots

August 23, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

There are several techniques for coping with stress. A relaxing walk, a distracting creative effort, a good workout and others can help relieve symptoms. But coping is not curing. To deal effectively with chronic stress – the type that is severe and long-lived – it’s necessary to examine its twin roots.

Stress is the result of both external and internal factors – what happens combined with how you evaluate its seriousness and your ability to cope. A lost job, a dissolved marriage, a serious illness or any of hundreds of other circumstances can prompt stress. But for those to result in stress, especially long-term, an individual has to evaluate them and him or herself in a certain way.

A person who feels confident in his or her ability to quickly overcome hurdles (and at a modest ‘cost’) is much less likely to feel stress for long. A person who identifies situations realistically, and who believes they have the capacity to deal with life’s inherent difficulties may feel challenged. But that is normal life and a healthy reaction, it is not stress.

Chronic stress is harmful and very few harmful conditions are ‘natural’ in the sense that they are inevitable, nor are necessarily devastating, or can not be overcome. If life were predominantly disasters we couldn’t cope with, insurance companies wouldn’t make the fortunes they do.

So, to deal with chronic stress well it’s necessary to have an objective view of the actual damage external circumstances entail. Many situations in life result in a loss of values, a loss (temporarily) outside our control. But companies that experience business reverses do recover, injuries heal, relationships mend or form between new partners, new friends are found.

Even losses that are permanent – an amputated leg, the death of a loved one, a bankrupt business – are not equivalent to the loss of life or hope. Individuals can, and do, compensate. Time alone doesn’t heal all wounds, but thought and effort can go a long way toward doing so.

When an individual focuses on what is valuable and possible, acute stress is minimized. When thought and effort combine with a realistic attitude toward the inherent hurdles in life, chronic stress is all but impossible.

It isn’t advisable to have a Pollyanna attitude that ‘everything is always ok, no matter what’. Bad things do happen and realism requires seeing that. But that same realism can be the basis for seeing things in perspective. Things may be, in fact, as bad as they seem. But, they rarely have to stay that way.

Acknowledging what is real and recognizing that it’s possible to create or acquire new values to replace a loss are key to avoiding long term stress. Long term stress, which often accompanies or leads to depression, tends to be self-reinforcing. You feel bad, so things look bad. Things look bad, so you feel worse.

Objectivity and re-committing oneself to the achievement of values is essential for breaking the cycle. But recognize that gaining those values is an achievement, one requiring thought and action. Rarely do they simply arrive in some equivalent of a winning lottery ticket.

Conquering Stress

August 22, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

Many writers will offer suggestions about how to manage stress. But wouldn’t it be preferable to conquer it altogether? Here are a dozen things to try to do just that.

Yoga, Tai-Chi and similar disciplines from Asia have been effective for centuries in helping to relieve stress. The physical techniques limber up the muscles and help focus the mind into relaxing thoughts.

Meditation has also been practiced, in Asia and elsewhere, for centuries. It’s easy to learn and has multiple benefits. Taking as little as a few minutes per day (though 15-20 is preferable) can go a long way toward relieving stress symptoms. The focus on any one thing helps move the mind away from the stressor. There is also evidence that, practiced properly, it can have numerous beneficial physical effects as well.

Deep breathing exercises can be a terrific first step toward getting stress symptoms under control. And lessening the symptoms is often a good first step toward curing the longer term problem. Try this: lie face down on the floor on a large towel, elbows bent with your hands flat on the floor. The backs of your hands should be under your chest. Now breath deeply, three or four times.

Dietary supplements can be helpful. The difficulty is that there are so many, and so many that are useless, that recommending specific ones is prone to error. Anything which helps elevate serotonin levels is likely to help. Beware those that promise miracle cures.

Some mild drugs, such as a sleeping aid can be useful on occasion. The risk is becoming dependent on them, not in the narcotic sense but simply as a crutch to avoid dealing with the underlying problem. But as part of a well-rounded program of stress relief they can be very beneficial. A proper sleep is essential to lowering stress.

Several newly popular (and some traditional) techniques have proved helpful for many. Aromatherapy, often combined with ‘mood music’ does actually work in a lot of cases. There’s little scientific evidence that aromatherapy has any sort of deep significance, but memories are often associated with certain smells. It can certainly do no harm.

The old phrase from Congreve: ‘Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast’ still has a place in contemporary society. While the effect shouldn’t be exaggerated, it’s nonetheless true that the right kind of music can help shift mood. Both because of its memory associations with pleasant events and for reasons not well understood, music can alter feelings.

Often a good massage, particularly in conjunction with relaxing music, can be an adjunct to a larger program of stress relief. One of the most common effects of stress is severe muscle tension, particularly in the neck, shoulders and calves. Massage helps solve this physically and it has psychological overtones of doing something good for oneself that contribute to the effect.

In extreme cases, psychotherapy may be called for. The variety of schools and techniques employed make recommending a therapist harder than choosing a good dietary supplement. Trusted friends can often be a good source to turn to in this arena.

Work Life Balance: 9 Quick Tips for Managing Overwhelm

May 13, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

By Molly Gordon

If you feel that your work life balance is teetering on the edge; isn’t it time to make changes before the problems overwhelm you?

Here are my secrets for dealing with overwhelm.

1. Everything is perfect, and there is room for improvement and regaining work life balance. It takes time and energy to resist reality. The foundation managing overwhelm is to accept what is and take it from there.

2. Putter. Puttering orients you in time and space of your life while making mental room for you to notice what really wants to be top priority. Tip: Set a time limit on puttering if you are worried that you will lose the entire working day to it.

3. Take the attitude that you will, of course, do what is most important, even if you do not yet know what it is or how you will do it. Be curious about what you don’t know how to do rather than worrying about it.

4. Clean house. When your insides are churning with anxiety over multiple commitments, create order outside. Tip: This seems to work best if you clean with a light heart, though I have worked through some pretty gnarly problems while fiercely scrubbing the kitchen floor!

5. Use every means available. Make plans and act spontaneously. Make lists and do what needs to be done whether or not it is on the list. Managing overwhelm means mingling both direct and indirect ways of moving forward.

6. Be real. However linear or spontaneous, ground your choices in your real life and work experience. It doesn’t make sense to simply ignore a deadline or to pretend that a complex piece of work can be done in 10 minutes.

7. Revise your commitments. Promises are not made to be broken, but some are made to be revised. Act promptly to revise commitments that you cannot or will not keep.

8. First things first. Take time for exercise, prayer, meditation, and simply “defragging” no matter how busy you are. Doing these things first each day enlivens you and gives you the resilience and resourcefulness to do your best.

9. Breathe. First, last, and always, let a rising bubble of anxiety be your reminder to breathe.

Whether or not you own your own business, life is often overwhelmingly rich. I wish you joy in the dance as you move with order and disorder, discipline and insight, gracefully maintaining work life balance.

Molly Gordon, MCC, is a leading figure in business coaching and personal growth coaching, writer, and a frequent presenter at live and virtual events worldwide. Join 12,000 readers of her Authentic Promotion® ezine, a comprehensive small business marketing resource helping you grow your strong business while you feed your soul, and receive a free 31-page guide on effective self promotion.

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Stress Management – Top Four Relaxation Techniques

May 12, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

By Andrew Chin

Stress management does mean putting work down and stopping for a while. Managing stress entails clearing your head and freeing it of unhealthy distractions, in order to jump back on track. Some stress relief programs emphasize the value of relaxation. That is, learning to savour ones’ time alone and use it to restore the mind and the body.

Some stress relief techniques to deal with stress include meditation, progressive relaxation, autogenic training, and biofeedback. Several other techniques exist, but, for this articles’ purpose, we will tackle only the cited four briefly. There are several ways on how to deal with stress. Relaxation is one technique which generally refers to the calming of the mind, the body and the sense, to help a you regain your “center”, even in the middle of a highly stressful activity.

Before we begin with any of the four techniques, we must first acknowledge that they are merely part of a bigger and much more comprehensive stress management program and that each will work to its best extent when combined with other techniques. Two very important points should be considered before taking on any stress management relaxation technique.

First, since a relaxation technique results in physiological changes, anybody under medication that affects any physiological parameter might be exploiting that parameter too hard, and

Secondly, that people with medical conditions, like hypertension, heart problems, etc. should first seek medical permission, to be on the safe side.

Once you have gotten these out of the way, you may want to try out each stress management technique first before you determine which one to use regularly. While there is no scientific and medical way to accurately decide which one will work best for you, you will be able to determine which is a most comfortable fit.

Here are the Top Four Stress Management Techniques:

Stress management technique 1: Meditation

Meditation is a mental exercise aimed at getting control over your attention, in order for you to choose what to focus on, instead of being subject to the unpredictable turn of environmental events. This is best done in a silent place and involves set breathing methods.

Stress management technique 2: Progressive Relaxation

This technique stimulates nerve-muscle relaxation. It requires the contraction and release of a muscle group, then slowly moving to other parts of the body. Progressive relaxation is usually used to treat migraines, tension headaches, and other illness.

Stress management technique 3: Autogenic Training

This technique utilizes a series of exercises aimed at bringing body warmth and heaviness in the body and the limbs. It can be done lying down or in a sitting down. Relaxing images are also used to nurture mind relaxation.

Stress management technique 4: Biofeedback

Biofeedback and stress test uses certain machines and instruments to observe body movements and occurrences, which will then be used to study ways to control them. It is often used in combination with another relaxation technique.

Practice your chosen stress relief technique as recommended, with the right environment, attitude, time and frequency. Keep a consistent routine and you will be harvesting their benefits in no time. Just always keep in mind that the above four stress management techniques are simply instruments to a greater and more comprehensive method. You may choose to do them individually or adopt a combination of two or four. However which way you decide, make sure that it is done at comfortable pace. Otherwise, you will be creating more stress than what you get rid of.

Andrew Chin is a recognized authority on the subject of Stress.

His web site on Stress Management provides a wealth of information on How to Deal with Stress. All rights reserved. Articles may be reprinted as long as the content and links remains unchanged.

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Coping with Stress, Murders, Media and Our Denial

April 20, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

By L. John Mason

It is unfortunate. The news media is full of stories that indicate that stress levels are higher than ever before and denial is still the “preferred” coping strategy. Today, as I write this article, the radio, TV, newspapers, and internet are screaming about a South Korean college student who killed 32 fellow students and teachers at Virginia Tech in Virginia. The pundits are raging that stress is at higher levels than ever before “especially for college students.” The rumors discuss the lack of mental health support and the sales of guns to “unstable” people including this college student.

Everyone in our society is impacted by increased stress, not just college students. Our society is not alone. Many societies and cultures around our planet are feeling the pressure of increased pressures and stress. It is common to read stories about people “going postal,” “road raging,” “freaking out,” “rage-a-holics,” “being uptight,” and “losing it.” We are more fragile than ever before. We have less support and have higher expectations. There is more substance abuse practiced by people who are trying to “cope.” There is more “high test” caffeine feeding busy schedules and more commercials regarding sleeping problems.

There is, in fact, an increasing lack of common sense and we are seeing the dramatic effects in the news media.

Average Americans are not the only ones who seem to be victims. Our young men and women are returning from their military tours of duty with more post-traumatic stress dysfunction. Poor understanding and lack of support plague our returning heroes. Our future will be filled with the stories regarding these service people and how they process their experience from their time in uniform.

Our emergency responders, fire personnel, police, and emergency medical responders, are also suffering from PTSD and are becoming a huge concern for police and fire departments. Our society will be taxed to cope with these issues.

Stress can not be avoided. Traumas will continue to make the headlines. The way that we respond and the support that we must be prepared to offer become the parts of these challenges that we can control. We can do something! We do not have to suffer as “victims!” Commitment to prevention will be needed to prepare our children for the increasing stressful world they must live. Parents need to manage their stress and be the role-models that will prepare themselves and their children for the future. “Sticking our heads in the sand” is not the best way to cope with this epidemic of stress. Denial will only work for so long!

Awareness is half the battle. Support and teaching people how to be effective in dealing with stress is the second half of the fight. I know from personal and professional experience that taking time to practice regular stress management will actually save time and energy, in the long run. Practicing preventive stress management will also improve the quality of life and enhance performance.

We will never see the headlines devoid of stories generated by poorly managed emotional stress, but we can hope to improve this situation and have much better support and coping strategies in place. This is especially necessary for the support of our service men and women, our police personnel, and our fire fighters. Better support for our children, our parents, and our seniors would also offer good results. In fact, all of us who must interact with our increasingly stressful society could benefit. So let’s pull our heads out of the sand and confront this situation.

Please go out of your way to take good care of yourself!

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Success & Executive Coaching and Training.

Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website at Stress, Stress Management, Coaching, and Training for articles, free ezine signup, and learn about the new telecourses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.

If you are looking to promote your training or coaching career, please investigate the Professional Stress Management Training and Certification Program for a secondary source of income or as career path.

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How To Turn A Crisis into A Challenge

April 13, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

By Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D.

When a crisis hits – the end of a marriage, the loss of a job, or the death of a loved one – it throws you into a complete tailspin. Suddenly your world is no longer safe and secure. What can you do to pick up the pieces and take the first steps toward living a full life again?

Lisa was divorced when her son was still in grade school. Soon after, she lost her job in the wake of massive lay offs. Finding herself at a crossroads, she decided to take a chance and follow the passion that she had dreamed about for years – to write a book. “Going forward, I feel empowered and alive. After years of working in the support of others, I am now the artist. It is a truly wondrous experience as I move into the next phase of my life.”

You too can respond to a dramatic change by tapping into more optimistic thoughts and seeing the situation as a challenge. Create an opportunity to focus your energies and pursue your own dream. Change the negatives to positives as you choose your path. You may find that it is hard to get started and even more difficult to keep the forward momentum going. If you are finding yourself stalled and begin questioning your abilities to cope, implement these five important steps as you begin your journey.

1. Look back over your life and review how you have dealt with other major changes. What have you learned from your life experiences? As philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Recall what worked and employ the most effective coping strategies once again. Discard what didn’t.

2. Assess your strengths and how you have used them in particular situations before. Has your curiosity or love of learning encouraged you to gather information from the Internet, books or seminars in order to facilitate your decision making? Whereas some strengths may come naturally to you, others may have to be developed through hard work. Evaluate how you can build on your assets now.

3. Consider what will help you let go of negative thoughts and preconceived notions of failure. Are you holding on to unrealistic expectations, an unfounded criterion of perfection, an intolerance of anything less than total success? Allow your ideas to run wild as you open yourself up to new attitudes. Use your power to turn your beliefs, step by step, into positive “what ifs.”

4. Brainstorm with a friend to clarify what kinds of resources you can pursue to help you through this process. Support can come from many directions –personal relationships, coaches or therapists; or from financial assistance, outside validation and endorsement. Use whatever support is available to aid and encourage you.

5. Let your creativity flourish so that you see yourself from a new perspective. Here, the initial goal is to uncover the courage to begin the process. Once you start, your experience will give you the incentive to continue. Lisa found that “I need much less than I thought to live comfortably. It’s amazing how much more we spent before – and we had so little to show for it. I’m now feeling full in a different way. I know what I want and I will work to get it.”

When prospects seem bleak, these tips can stimulate you toward achieving your goals. Trust yourself and your own wisdom as you begin to integrate your changes and create a new and positive direction. You will find the inspiration that you need to make this the best time of life.

© Her Mentor Center, 2007

Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. & Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. are founders of www.HermentorCenter.com, a website dedicated to the Sandwich Generation, and blog at www.NourishingRelationships.Blogspot.com. They are authors of a forthcoming book about Boomer women and their family relationships and they publish a free newsletter, through their website. As psychotherapists, they have a combined 40 years of private practice experience.

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Stress Management Principles

April 7, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

By Tayo Korede

We live in a very busy world, characterized by incessant problems and activities which place a great demand on our time and energy. The demand and desire for perfectionalism in career, the pressure of measuring up in a competitive world and being the best at home could constitute an appreciable force, which if not properly managed could lead to stress. Stress is a resisting force set up in a body as a result of an externally applied force. It is the “wear and tear” our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment. Stress is also a state or physical or psychological stimulus that can produce mental tension or psychological reactions that may lead to illness. In medical parlance “stress” is defined as a perturbation of the body’s homeostasis. Our goal is not to eliminate stress but to learn how to manage it and how to use it to help us.

At one point or the other, everybody suffers from stress. We experience stress as we adjust our lives, as we tend to adapt to different circumstances, stress will help or hinder us depending on how we react to it. It is important that you recognize that you are responsible for your own stress levels. They are often a product of how you think and your perception to changes around you. The thinking pattern of a person helps him accept or avoid a stress situation. If one shows disposition towards anxiety, worry, restlessness, anger, and tension as stress responses, it can lead him to chronic emotional turbulence.

Stress has physical and emotional effects on us and can create positive and negative feelings. Extreme stress conditions, psychologists say, are detrimental to human health but moderate doses are necessary in our lives. As a positive influence, stress can compel us to action, and adds anticipation and excitement to life. There are innumerable instances of athletes rising to the challenge of stress and achieving the unachievable, scientists stressing themselves out over a point to bring into light the most unthinkable secrets of the phenomenal world, or a composer, producing the most lilting of tunes. Psychologists support the opinion that some stress situation can actually boost our inner potential and can creatively help us. However, too much stress impairs performance and has negative effect has on the body. It sends negative signals of ineffectiveness to the brain, and makes one lose control mentally and emotionally. Since it is not possible to live without any stress, building a solid stress absorber within our bodies’ mechanisms to accommodate stress and discharge it when necessary is a sign of maturity.

Causes of Stress
Ten prominent factors responsible for stress are:
1. physical and mental health problems
2. pressure at workplaces
3. meeting deadlines
4. excessive traffic or long queues
5. death of loved ones
6. divorce
7. conflicts or argument with spouse or in-laws
8. relationship demands
9. failure at work
10. unemployment

Symptoms of Stress
These are signs and indications that reveal the stress level of an individual. They can be psychological, physical, emotional or mental, depending on the cause.

Physical symptoms: the following physical problems may result from or be exacerbated by stress.
1. sleep disturbance
2. back, shoulder or neck pain
3. constipation and diarrhea
4. fatigue
5. high blood pressure
6. tension or migraine headache
7. eating disorder, resulting in weight loss or gain
8. asthma or shortness of breadth
9. irregular heartbeats and palpitations
10. skin problems e.g. hives, eczema, tics, psoriasis, and itching

Emotional symptoms; emotional stress include:
1. lack of concentration
2. memory problems
3. phobias
4. inability to think clearly
5. over-reactions
6. depression and moodiness
7. nervousness and anxiety
8. irritability and frustration
9. feeling out of control
10. inferiority complex

Relational Symptoms: the antisocial bahaviour displayed in stressful situations can cause the rapid deterioration of relationships. They include:
1. increase arguments
2. isolation from social activities
3. frequent job changes
4. domestic or workplaces violence
5. conflict with co-workers
6. road rage
7. over-reactions

Seven Successful Stress Management Techniques
1. Meditation: meditation helps the mind to concentrate. Empty your mind of all thoughts. Let your mind be at peace, then you can deal with whatever life brings you.
2. Exercise: exercise helps in keeping the mind in a tension free state and wards off depression
3. Massage: massaging offers deep relaxation and soothes the body, improving the physiological processes such as circulation, especially when done by your spouse or someone you love. By tensing and relaxing the entire muscle group in your body, you can relieve tension and feel much more relaxed.
4. Music and Relaxation: take a vacation to the beach, garden, waterfall or where you can observe nature in a cool and serene atmosphere and listen to soft and solemn music under a relaxed mood and see stress diffusing out of your body.
5. Planning: prior and adequate planning of our day to day activities and our lives in general can ease our lives of confusion and enhance optimum performance in dealing with stress.
6. Enough Sleep: be as consistent with your sleep schedule as possible
7. Positive Thinking: conquer negative thoughts by thinking positively. Enrich your mind with the words of God; casting all your cares upon Him for He careth for you

Tayo Korede is the president of Gifted Hands Foundation, an organisation that reaches out to a world of young people, setting them on the path of destiny and re-inventing a formidable generation for future challenges. He is a respected author and culumnist in several magazines like Light house and Living water. He is also foremost speaker in schools, churches and other youth gatherings, where he impacts lives with uncommon leadership style. Contact me through my email @: successghf@yahoo.com. Come and let’s succeed together.

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Manage Your Stress – 6 Quick Pick-Me-Ups For Frazzled Moms

April 6, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

By Hope Wilbanks

I braced myself as Elijah screamed for the fifth time that day. It was an ear-piercing, I’m-mad-at-you scream; a fit that persisted for over an hour. (Why didn’t someone warn me that the Terrible Two’s for boys is much worse than girls?)

My heart pounded in my ears. My breathing quickened and my palms became sweaty. I thought I might faint. Oh great, an anxiety attack in the making.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders affect around 19 million American adults, affecting larger numbers of women than men. As moms, we are the nurturers, the life-givers to our children and family. So what happens when we can’t find an ounce of life within us left to give?

It is imperative that we take time for ourselves daily. Once a month, or twice a year simply isn’t enough. In order for us to be better moms, we have to give back to ourselves-refill ourselves. Here are six simple ways for moms to restore and replenish energy:


According to Dr. Denise Lamothe, author of The Taming of the Chew, protein is essential. Lots of fruits and veggies (organic, if possible) should be included in a mom’s daily diet. Instead of falling into the trap of this diet-minded society, moms should focus on themselves and making their health top priority. Avoid foods like sugar, white flour products, and caffeine. Dr. Lamothe suggests drinking plenty of clear water, as dehydration and thirst often mask themselves as emotional hunger.


Loneliness plays a key role in emotional eating more often than not. “Eating well, getting ample rest, and taking time alone and time to be with friends is vital,” says Dr. Lamothe. “To avoid emotional eating, a mom needs to learn other ways to deal with her emotions — to soothe herself without turning to chocolates and cookies or pasta.”

Identify the source of your feelings. Why do you feel sad? What makes you feel lonely? When are you most likely to overeat or binge on junk food? Asking yourself questions like this will help you recognize your weak spots.


“Women should laugh as often as possible to release the healing hormones endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers,” says Dr. Kathleen Hall, founder of The Stress Institute. “Laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones and boosts our immune function.”

So how do we work that self-healing laughter into our day? Rent a funny movie, or if you don’t have time to watch a movie, set aside time in the evening for your favorite thirty-minute sitcom after the kids are in bed. Buy a funny card to send to a friend, read a joke, make a silly face at yourself in the mirror.


(S=Serenity, E=Exercise, L=Love, F=Food)

“Research tells us these four roots are the foundation of self care and health and moms and women must set a goal to do each of these if for only a few minutes each day,” says Dr. Hall.

Serenity: Center yourself a few minutes during the day. Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. As you are “quieting” yourself, speak positive affirmations to yourself (I am loving; I am at peace with myself and the world; I accept myself).

Exercise: Park closer to the end of the parking lot at the grocery story and walk those few extra steps to boost your heart rate. Join a thirty-minute workout group or purchase home exercise videos. Invite friends to join you in a three-day per week exercise routine.

Love: “Research tells us that isolation kills and community heals,” says Dr. Hall. Surround yourself with loving friends and family. Thwart stress by avoiding people who thrive on drama. Other ways to practice self-love: buy yourself a bouquet of flowers, treat yourself to a cappuccino, let Daddy baby-sit while you enjoy a Pamper Me day at the spa with your girlfriends.

Food: Dr. Hall says, “Research tells us that B6 produces serotonin and helps depression. Omega 3’s help depression and reduce the risk of heart disease.” Ask your doctor what foods and/or vitamins you should take to enhance your new, healthy lifestyle.


According to Dr. Hall, listening to music increases serotonin and if you sing along you get an immune boost of 240%. Tune in to your favorite radio station and belt out those favorite tunes while you do housework. Purchase an inexpensive CD player and a few favorite CDs to listen to while you exercise. Treat yourself to tickets to an upcoming concert.


Bring out the artist inside you. Finger paint with your children (which they, of course, will love!), visit a nature park or zoo and bring your camera to take pictures, color in a coloring book, put a puzzle together, create a mini rock garden in your front yard, join a scrapbook class, learn to knit, take a cake-decorating class.

Essayist Hope Wilbanks is Editor-in-Chief and publisher of Cup of Hope, an inspirational magazine for the Christian community. Visit Cup of Hope online at www.cupofhopemag.com to subscribe.

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This Is Your Life (What’s The Rush?)

April 6, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

By Renita Kalhorn

One of my clients has set some ambitious business development goals for himself. Recently, his elderly parents were in a serious car accident and he has been devoting his weekends to visiting them in the hospital and taking care of the details of their daily lives. On our weekly call, he said “the weekend was a wash” and he hadn’t been able to get as much done as he wanted.

His expression made me wonder: If the weekend was “a wash” did that mean it just didn’t count? When things aren’t going as anticipated, it’s still your life, isn’t it – or is it just a detour until you’re able to get back on track?

Many of us have preconceived notions of how the events of our lives should unfold — relationships, work promotions, the morning commute – and it can be maddening when they don’t follow the master plan or take longer than expected. But who’s to say that, in each particular instance, your life is not unfolding just as it’s meant to? Whether traffic is gridlocked, you’re sidelined by illness or your new career is off to a halting start, are you savoring the way things are or just biding your time until things get back to “normal”?

Okay, “savoring” may be a bit of a stretch when the doctor is running two hours late and you’re in the waiting room with a restless toddler. But here are a few questions that may help you take the unexpected in stride:

• Can I do anything to change the situation? If so, then do it. If not – if you’re on the train and it’s not moving – why not recognize that you’re doing the best you can and relax…unless you enjoy feeling anxious and stressed? So much of our suffering comes less from the actual pain of an experience than from feeling resistance to the way things are.

As success coach John Kanary says, “I was asking myself why I was having these obstacles in my life. Then I suddenly became aware that these obstacles were my life, and I began to enjoy them.”

• What’s the rush? Likewise, much of our stress comes from worrying about how much we have to do and whether we’ll get it done rather than the difficulty of any one task. Sometimes I’ll find myself racing breathlessly through my to-do list, feeling anxious as I’m folding laundry! But frantic rushing and thinking about how much I have to do means I’m never really in the moment, enjoying what I’m actually doing. More to the point, it doesn’t help me finish any faster.

And, in some cases, maybe it shouldn’t matter exactly when you finish. My sister has a three-year-old son with whom – as with all toddlers – everything takes longer, and she finds herself feeling frazzled because she isn’t able to get through her errands efficiently. On the other hand, she knows that this time in her son’s life will only come around once. If you’re in a similar situation, why not ask yourself, ‘What’s the rush?’, scale back your to-do list and enjoy?

• What if it were a game? When playing a game – whether basketball, poker or Pictionary – we expect there to be challenges for us to overcome with strategy, skill and/or knowledge. So why are we taken aback when unexpected hurdles arise in “real life”? If you’re sidetracked by the delayed flight, malfunctioning computer, stomach flu or [fill in the blank], why not put on your game face, re-assess your strategy and make the best of a situation gone awry?

No less a game-player than Donald Trump said, “Winners see problems as just another way to prove themselves.”

At the end of the day, everything that happens in your life is your life. Whether you enjoy it all or not lies in your perception.

Renita T. Kalhorn is a personal performance coach who specializes in helping entrepreneurs and executives find their personal “tipping point.” Subscribe to In The Flow, her FREE monthly newsletter and receive a complimentary Special Report, Get Your Flow On! 21 Simple Techniques to Banish Tedium, Reduce Stress and Inspire Action at www.intheflowcoaching.com

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Stress: Daily Self-Care Habits to Manage Stress

January 31, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

By Linda Dessau

Today we have more stress in our lives than ever before – good stress, bad stress, red stress, blue stress (my little ode to Dr. Seuss). No matter what kind of stress it is, a real crisis or an imagined one, stress is incredibly harmful to our body, mind and soul.

Here are my favourite self-care habits for dealing with stress:

1. Get in the habit of noticing.

Take an inventory of all the things that just don’t feel right in your life or that you know are causing you stress. For example, when you approach certain people, places or situations do you feel more stress and tension? Once you have your list in place, look at what you can change yourself, and do it. You can also use this list to predict stressful situations before they occur.

2. Get in the habit of asking for help.

For what you can’t change yourself, you need a team. Build a team of experts to handle your list. A coach, at the top of the list, will help with the big picture and will keep you honest about your efforts. Other team members might be a family doctor who listens to you, a financial planner, a massage therapist and an exercise partner.

3. Get in the habit of bouncing back.

Think of Plan A as your basic self-care plan while stress is under control. Now imagine something happens and you are under stress. Instead of abandoning all self-care because you can’t do it all, have a Plan B ready beforehand.

4. Get in the habit of relaxing.

If you practice relaxation techniques (breathing, meditation, imagery, music) every day, then when stressful situations come up you’ll have the tools at your fingertips.

5. Get in the habit of gratitude.

Our attitude comes from our emotions and our emotions come from our thoughts. Thinking about what we’re grateful for and what we’re good at can keep things positive. It’s not about shying away from what’s challenging you – it’s about approaching life from a place of strength and not as a victim.

6. Get in the habit of creating.

Experiment with a new recipe in the kitchen, write a poem, bang a drum, do a craft, take a dance class or do something else that feels creative to you.

7. Get in the habit of putting your stuff away.

Physical clutter can really impact on mental, emotional and physical health. Get rid of things that don’t make you happy when you look at them. Organize your stuff. Find a place for everything and keep it there.

8. Get in the habit of breathing.

This is the simplest and quickest way to relax yourself in a stressful situation. The minute you focus on your breathing it automatically gets slower and deeper.

9. Get in the habit of daydreaming.

Take yourself away on an imaginary holiday. Just close your eyes and go! Picture somewhere you’ve been or somewhere you’ve dreamed of.

10. Get in the habit of giggling.

Laugh out loud every day.

Don’t let your stress get the better of you! Which one of these strategies can you apply this week to manage your stress?

Copyright 2005, Genuine Coaching Services. All rights reserved.

Linda Dessau, MTA, CPCC, is a self-care expert, accredited music therapist and certified life coach. Learn more about using singing for stress management, personal growth and spiritual development at www.singoutyourstress.com, where you can download the FREE report, “Top 10 Ways to Sing Out Your Stress”.

Stress Management and Creating Balance

January 17, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

By Gwen Stewart

The World Health Organization calls stress “the health epidemic of the 21st century.” Stress resulting in illness is the causative factor underlying more than 70% of all visits to the family doctor, medical doctors suggest. What is stress? We all talk about it but what does ‘stress’ mean and how does it affect our bodies?

Dr. Hans Selye, who first noted and described the concept of stress, defines stress as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it.” Stress is neither good nor bad. The effect of the stress is not determined by the stress itself, rather it is determined by how we handle the stress.

Effects of Stress

1. “Emergency Response” The emergency response mechanism activates with a physiological change when people believe they are in physical or mortal danger. Pupils dilate, blood pressure increases, and the production of stress hormones increase. The body prepares within seconds to respond, which is known as the ‘fight or flight’ syndrome. The adrenal glands pour out adrenaline and the production of other hormones is increased by the quickly reacting pituitary-adrenal-cortical system of the brain.

This is a healthy, adaptive response to immediate danger but if continually activated, this emergency response may cause a constantly higher-than-normal level of hormone production that can eventually cause physical wear-and-tear on the body. Health problems related to this constant high level of response include hypertension, headaches, ulcers, heart disease, and increased vulnerability to diabetes and colitis.

2. “General Adaptation Syndrome” In studies, Selye came to believe that diseases of adaptation such as hypertension could be produced by abnormal or excessive reaction to stress. The body would increase its supply of hormones in order to be ready for action to stress. Over a prolonged period of time, excessive stress leads to distress and the accompanying physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health problems.

Contributing factors to distress include a) your attitude to life and b) your mood (optimistic or pessimistic). Both help to create the atmosphere that assists your defence system in repairing small wounds, bruises, and infections. This is also the system that tries to destroy strange cells such as those of cancer, including leukaemia.

In mastering stress, you have to figure out what you are doing that contributes to your problem/challenge and change it. The four categories of change include: change your behaviour, change your thinking, change your lifestyle choices, and/or change the situations you are in. Symptoms of overstress include fatigue, aches and pains, anxiety, problems sleeping, depression, and lack of joy in your life

Practical Steps to Stress Management and Creating Balance

1. Make your life regular like ‘clock work.’ Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.

2. Give yourself a break today.

3. Say ‘No’ more often when other people want your time. This includes social engagements, the family dinner on Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.

4. Postpone making any changes in your living environment if you have been coping with undue stress. Change of any kind is stressful and limiting it until later is a good strategy if you are under a lot of pressure.

5. Reduce the number of hours you spend at work or school. If you are a work-a-holic or school-a-holic you need to reduce the energy drain on your body. TAKE SOME TIME OFF.

6. Nutritional eating habits and eating small meals helps to keep your blood sugar stabilised. Many people reach for something high in sugar content when feeling stressed which compounds the problem. Eat more vegetables.

7. Rest your mind, as mind activities alleviate stress. These mind activities include reading, working on a craft, listening to music, playing a musical instrument, meditation, self-relaxation, dancing, and biofeedback.

8. Have a worry time if you must worry. When you find yourself worrying over a problem, set aside a time (I suggest to my students 7:30pm on Tuesday night) and then put off worrying until that time. Chances are you will not even remember what you were stressing yourself about.

9. Book time for yourself. In your daily or weekly schedule book time first for yourself and then the other activities you are involved in. Don’t let anything, except an emergency, usurp your commitment to yourself.

10. Have a massage or another form of self-care activity.

Gwen Nyhus Stewart, B.S.W., M.G., H.T., is an educator, freelance writer, garden consultant, and author of the book The Healing Garden: A Place Of Peace – Gardening For The Soil, Gardening For The Soul. She owns the website Gwen’s Healing Garden where you will find lots of free information about gardening for the soil and gardening for the soul. To find out more about the book and subscribe to her free Newsletter visit www.gwenshealinggarden.ca

Gwen Nyhus Stewart © 2004 – 2005. All rights reserved

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Gwen_Stewart

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.