2010 Stress Management Tips
November – December
Self Care for the Holidays –
I’m going to take one month off over the holidays and so I’m giving you this special tip which, if practiced, will help you get through the next two months and the holidays being celebrated in a much more relaxed manner.
Most people have flown in an airplane and have heard these words: “In the event of cabin pressure loss, oxygen masks will drop down from the overhead compartments. Pull down on the mask, and put the oxygen mask on yourself first before attempting to assist other people.”
Follow this rule in the rest of your life’s actions too. If you are sick, tired, sad, upset, lonely, or anxious, how much help can you be to those around you who you want to help? It may seem selfish to think this way, but thinking any other way will limit what you can do for others. When you are healthy, alert, happy, calm, caring and in control of your own life, imagine how much help you can then be to others.
When you are feeling down, down is what you will give to others. When you are feeling up, up is what you will give to others. Which do you think the people around you want you to share with them? Share up and take care of yourself over the next couple of months and don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Keep things simple, ask others for help with holiday celebrations and take a time out when you need one to do something just for yourself.
Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and a Very Happy New Year.
Ask for Help
All too many times we think we have to do everything ourselves. We put so much pressure on ourselves that we become overburdened and overwhelmed. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of trust in others. Almost everyone is willing to lend a hand to help out their friends and neighbors. Maybe you need someone to watch your young child for a couple of hours so you can make it to your doctor’s appointment, do some shopping or even take time to see a movie by yourself. Maybe you have something that is troubling you and need someone to listen to your concerns. Or maybe you’re having a family gathering and need some help with cleaning the house and preparing some food for the event. There is no shame or embarrassment with asking family, friends or neighbors to help out by pitching in with a few hours of their time.
Big problems often are derived from not taking care of the small problems. So before your problems become too big to handle, deal with them when they are small. Help is available, but you have to take the first step. Don’t wait. Take action and use the people around you when you need a little extra help.
Communicate - Communicate - Communicate
The lack of information can cause stress to those who want to know what is going on. Are you giving others the information they need to make decisions? There is a time for discretion, but there is also a time to share what you know with those who are close to the situation. It might be sharing information with your reports at work or members of a committee or team. It might also be sharing information with friends or family members. Give people the information they need to know so that they can make the right choices weather it is on the job or in their personal lives.
And remember…too much information can be confusing, so be specific!
20 Minutes a Day –
Can you spare 20 minutes a day for something that is really important? Something which will improve your entire well-being? Something that will make the other 1420 minutes more productive and less stressful? Are these benefits worth 20 minutes a day to you? If so, then take 20 minutes a day and use them just for you. Work them into your schedule. Book them on your daily calendar if you have to, but take that time for yourself and yourself only. In this case it is OK to be selfish because by taking this time each day, you will be better able to take care of all of your other obligations for the day.
I remember my dad taking a 20 minute nap each day and it rejuvenated him. Maybe a nap isn’t what you need. Maybe it is just 20 minutes of quiet time, listening to your favorite music, reading a special book, praying, meditating, going for a walk in the fresh air, or anything else that will help to clear your mind of the daily clutter and allows you to rejuvenate. Pick out two or three things you can do during this time and mix them up during the week. If it is raining and you can’t go for that walk you planned, use your 2nd option.
Aren’t you important enough to spend 20 minutes a day on yourself? You bet you are!
Seek first to understand –
There are many times that we get upset with other people because our needs are not being met. For example when a service staff is taking too long to deliver the food, the person in front of you is driving much too slowly and backing up traffic, someone is not returning your phone call, email or text message about something that is important to you and the list goes on. In situations like these we often tend to get stressed because we can see these people doing or not doing something that directly affect us. Many times there is a simple and logical reason for what is happening. It’s just that we don’t see it. The slow delivery of food could be caused by problems with the ovens in the kitchen or that the food you have requested takes longer to prepare. The slow driver could be experiencing car problems and does not want to risk going faster, or maybe the driver is going 55 in a 55 MPH zone they think that driving the speed limit is fast enough.
The person not returning your communications could be experiencing problems with their phone or internet connection, or they or the others are just so overwhelmed with things going on in their lives that they just aren’t able to do any more than what they are presently doing. All of us at one time or another have done or not done something that upsets another person without knowing we are doing it. Give the person the benefit of the doubt, and in time you’ll probably find out that they had a perfectly good reason for doing or not doing. Seek to understand their side of the situation, and in most cases you’ll get less upset and stressed.
A Friend can be one of your best resources for managing your stress.
Our lives today are filled with all sorts of communication devices to help us work, shop, stay in touch with others, find direction and more. Some people use these devices extensively and in place of face to face communications. The numbers of friends people have, and I mean real friends, has diminished over the past decade. Much of this is due to the use of devices over face to face interaction. With fewer friends, we have fewer resources to go to when we need help or to just have someone to talk to.
These new devices are wonderful and can help to save time, share information, learn things, keep in touch and much more, but they do not and can not replace sharing time together with a friend. So next time you want to buy something, go to a store.
You might just run into someone who will become a new friend. The next time you are texting someone, text them to meet you for coffee so you can talk. Take every opportunity to share time together with people so you can shake their hand or give them a friendly hug. Both can lower your stress level and brighten your day. Remember…a hug is the closest things between friends.
May 2010 - "May’s 31 Day Stress Management Relief Program"
Here are 31 simple and fast working stress management relief recommendations to try during the month of May. If you miss some, don’t stress. Do the ones you can and see how much it helps. Transfer some or make up your own stress relievers and put some into each month of the year.
May 1 - Listen to music you enjoy
May 2 - Phone a Friend
May 3 - Break a Sweat
May 4 - Brighten up a room
May 5 - Pamper yourself
May 6 - Dine by candle light
May 7 - Snuggle
May 8 - Keep a journal – keep it brief
May 9 - Get on the floor and play with a child
May 10 - Anticipate something awesome
May 11 - Exhibit your exhilarating moments (put up pictures)
May 12 - Give someone a warm fuzzy
May 13 - Take a hike
May 14 - Go for a swim
May 15 - Go to the petting zoo or spend time with your own pet
May 16 - Read the Sunday Funnies first
May 17 - Watch a sunrise/sunset
May 18 - Watch a TV, play or movie comedy
May 19 - Go star gazing
May 20 - Think about someone you like
May 21 - Go to your happy place
May 22 - Pray or meditate
May 23 - Volunteer somewhere
May 24 - Give yourself a foot massage
May 25 - Plant some spring flowers
May 26 - Do some deep breathing
May 27 - Send me an email (email@example.com) and tell me how this helped
May 28 - Sit down and watch a waterfall
May 29 - Share time with people around a campfire
May 30 - Start reading an inspirational book
May 31 - Reflect on the things you accomplished this month
April 2010 - "Crying, for men"
Crying – Men, this is for you. Typically, women do not have issues or trouble with crying. Men on the other hand seem to have this problem when in public and even privately. It could have something to do with the image of boys/men versus girls/women. The male may have been taught at an early age to be tough and strong, and in some cases, even told that only girls cry or show their emotions. Whereas females are allowed and even expected to cry and show their emotions. All I can say here is “lucky females”, at least on this issue.
Crying is a natural way of releasing emotions that have built up inside. These can be happy, sad, caring, loneliness, fear, and even, “I don’t know why I’m crying” emotions that cause us to tear up. There is nothing about crying that says you are weak. I don’t remember crying until I was 38 years old when things came tumbling down around me and all of the emotions that I had been holding inside me were finally released. What a great feeling it was afterwards. It felt like a ton of weight was taken off my shoulders. All the hurts I had inside now had a way of getting out in a natural and safe way.
When under pressures caused by emotions, men will often take out their emotions verbally or even more dangerous, they take them out physically. Neither is a natural way to release our emotions. The sooner men allow themselves to let it out with tears, the sooner they will realize how good this can feel. Their lives, as well as the lives around them, will improve. And for you parents out there, don’t shun your child if she or he sheds some tears. This is a time to show compassion, love and to let them know you are there to support them. The same support needs to be shown to men who are men enough to allow their emotions to come out in this safe and natural way.
March 2010 - "Visualize"
Grandma Gilmore got it right when she told her grandson to “go to your happy place”. Maybe you didn’t see the movie Happy Gilmore, but in it, any time the lead character, Happy Gilmore, was having a bad day, he would remember what his grandmother told him as a child. She would say, “Go to your happy place”. Happy would then visualize his fond memories that made him happy and he would relax.
Visualization helps us because when we are thinking about something that makes us feel good; our brain tells the rest of the body it can relax because all is well. The rest of the body listens to what the brain tells it to do. A natural feel good chemical called endorphin is released into the body to make us relaxed and happy.
I tell people who attend my programs, about my happy place. I think about holding my grandsons in my arms when they were infants. It’s so satisfying because they had total trust in me. It would be quiet and I would watch as they slept so peacefully. What’s your happy place? It might be a sunrise or sunset casting bright colors out over a lake; standing atop a mountain looking down the snow covered slopes or simply sitting on your front porch holding hands with a person you care about. Whatever your happy place is, go to it in difficult times and let your mind relax your body. Life will seem a lot brighter once you do this.
To get to that happy place, you can start with some slow, deep breathing. Five or six reps should start you on your way to relaxing, and then close your eyes and go to that special place.
February 2010 - "Forgiveness"
One of the most difficult acts we humans can do is to forgive another person who has, in some way, hurt us. However, learning to do this will result in the most satisfying act that will help us on our way to a healthier and happier life. Some hurts run very deep within us. Physical, mental or emotional abuses experienced as a child or while in a relationship may have been a hindrance for years and seems to be an insurmountable pain to overcome. Those who have these hurts because of activities of war may feel the same way. Once you realize it is you carrying the hurt and you are destroying yourself from the inside, the healing process can begin. In his book Forgiveness is a Choice, Robert Enright writes: “forgiveness does not remove all the pain, but that after forgiveness, the remaining pain is bearable. Forgiveness is a process and saying I forgive you usually is not enough. Forgiveness does not lessen what happened; it alters how we view the person or act in spite of what happened.”
If you are asking yourself why you should forgive, maybe one of these might get you started with the forgiveness process.
You may remember back in 2002, Elisabeth Smart, who was then 14 years old, was abducted at knife point and held captive for 9 months. For those 9 months, she was emotionally and sexually abused on a daily basis. At 21, Elisabeth is now speaking at women conferences about her experience. During one of these conferences, Elisabeth said, “We all have our trials and we all experience hard times, but I don’t think we should ever let it disable us from what we want to do. My family and faith got me through it.”
No one can change the past, but you can take control of your future. I highly recommend this book by Robert Enright as a starting point to understanding your pain. In a survey taken in 1991, 83% of the 900 plus respondents claimed that they needed God’s help to forgive. This is something that you can not do by yourself. Once you decide that you want to stop hurting, seek out the help you need to work through the forgiveness process.
January 2010 - "Resolutions"
Now that the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are over, maybe we should take some time to reflect on where we want our lives to be headed. Many will make New Year resolutions and most will brake them soon after. So instead of promising to lose weight, stop smoking or get more exercise, maybe we can look at a different type of resolution. Why not make 2010 the year of giving. Not of material gifts, but of ourselves to others. Look at increasing the time spent with loved ones by planning one activity a month to do something special together. There are all sorts of free or low cost activities people can do to spend quality time together. Activities such as a trip to the zoo; a picnic at the park; taking in a family movie at the local theater or playing board games around the kitchen table. Another activity for the family or even for an individual is to give time to someone else. There are many volunteer activities we can participate in and let others know we care about them. Check out your local churches or newspapers. Both are great resources for finding out who needs help in your community. The good feelings of giving the gift of time to family, friends or to those in need will not only lower our stress levels, but also help to bring our families, friends and community closer together. Add just one day a month of sharing and see the difference it makes. And this will be a resolution you will enjoy keeping.
Happy 2010 – Dan