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Dan Randall, Managing Life's Stress, River Falls, WI
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2011 Stress Management Tips

December 2011

Walk Across the Room

I traveled for years for a fortune 100 company and during that time, spent many hours on airplanes, in airports, restaurants and bars. Most of the time, I would just sit and ignore all the people around me. That is until one Sunday when our pastor said “you have to walk across the room”. What he was telling us was that we should be reaching out and actually communicating with others who are around us weather we know them or not. He indicated that you just never know if you might be able to help the other person or they may be able to help you.

Since that Sunday, I do reach out and introduce myself to others around me or somehow start up a conversation. It has been amazing what that one small act of contact with others has achieved. Most importantly, it has made my life much more interesting because I have met some very wonderful and interesting people. Many of those I run into are former military and I always say thank you to them when I find out that they served. In one case, the soldier was a Korean War Vet and when I said thank you, he started to cry. He said that was the first time anyone had thanked him for serving.

Another time I met a Marine who had, as I did, served in Vietnam and he confided in me that he had not gotten rid of the demons and was still carrying them around some 30 years later. We had a good talk and we cried. Lately, I’ve been running into people who have lost their jobs and in some cases their homes. They tell me that it is just good to have someone to talk about it with.

So next time you look across the room and see someone sitting there alone, get up and walk over. All you need to do is to say Hi, how you doing today? Either something will happen or it won’t. Take the risk. It may be the person that you need.

November 2011

I am Going to Love You Through It

Martina McBride says in her new song, “I’m gonna love you through it”. It’s a beautiful song with a wonderful message. We all go though times when we really need someone to be there for us.

I know what it is like to come back from a war and not have people who are there to understand and support you. They are afraid to face the traumatic situation with you. This is true for others who are or have gone through some traumatic and life altering situation. But, it is so good to see our troops coming home today with people stepping up and being there for them. Don’t get me wrong. I had family who loved me and supported me, but they didn’t know how to love me through it. That is, until 1986 (read my book).

We don’t need people to tell us what we should be doing and we don’t need them to say I told you so. We only need them to be there for us. One of the stress management tips I give is to find and then use your resources. What better resource could we possibly have than someone who would tell us that no matter what is happening in our lives that they will continue to love us through it? There are two winners in this scenario: the one who is being supported and the one supporting you. God Bless both.

October 2011

Are you DROWNING?

Are you in a situation right now that makes you feel like you are drowning? Do you feel so overwhelmed, overburdened, at the end of your rope? Don’t give up, don’t ever give up. There is nothing that you are going through that others haven’t gone through too. There is nothing so terrible that you can’t get help for and turn things around. There is nothing that you have done that can’t be forgiven. So don’t believe for even one moment that your life is over. It isn’t!

There is someplace out there to go and someone out there to talk to who can and will help you get through anything that you are going through right now. Maybe you have tried to find someplace or someone to help you and think you have come to a dead-end. If so, then turn around and look back because you have probably missed your connection to that one someone or one group who is there to help. So go back and start over with your search for the support you need to make it through the day or until tomorrow and then keep going until you get your head above water and can breathe again.

God can help as He is always there for us. But sometimes it is your next door neighbor, your brother or sister, a group at church or local professional organization who God is putting in front of you that will provide the help and support for you to make it. The very first thing you must do before your next door neighbor, your brother or sister, your church or local professional organization can help you is to ask for help. Just speak up and tell someone, I need help. And do it now.

September 2011

Write it down first and wait –

I’ve found it very interesting what a difference 24 hours makes in my thinking about what I should say to people who have said or done something offensive to me. Have you ever shot off a letter, email or text message to someone minutes after they said or did something offensive to you? Did it come back to bite you later because your response was spiteful, angered or just too over the top?

I recently had this type of situation with a family member. I was pretty upset but instead of shooting off an email like I normally do, I wrote a letter to the person telling them exactly how I felt. Then…I waited until the next day and read what I had written. Wow! What I wrote was not the type of person I want to be. It was very defensive and spiteful and not really the message I wanted to convey.

This can happen in phone conversations and face to face meetings too. I could see where what I had written could have caused serious problems with this family member and I was thankful that I waited 24 hours before expressing my views. I rewrote my response and sent it out. It was much lower key, non-offensive but still got my point across. So save yourself from creating family or friend conflicts and stressful situations by waiting 24 hours before responding to conflict situations.

August 2011

Beat the heat.

July has been one of the hottest months if not the hottest month for most places around the US. August is starting off that same way. So what can we do to stay healthy, less stressed and not get overwhelmed by the heat. Just because it is hot does not mean you should stop your exercise routine but you may have to modify it. Get out and exercise early in the morning or later in the evening when it is cooler. If you jog, maybe you should bring it down a notch and do a walk/job instead. If you are a cyclist, drop down on the MPH or take shorter rides. Most importantly is to stay hydrated with non-caffeine and non-alcoholic beverages. Drink lots of water and try beverages like PowerAde Zero which has electrolytes in the drink to help replenish what you are losing in the heat.

There are plenty of indoor activities that you can take small children which have air-conditioning. Getting sun is fun, but move into the shade to cool down occasionally. While your cooling in the shade, try reading a book or listening to relaxing music. So be careful out there and enjoy August.

July 2011

Giving Thanks

I’ve noticed how much more I enjoy and feel better about my life the more I give thanks for the things I have. Like most of us who have age creeping up on us, the little aches and pains seem to come on more often and stay longer and that can take its toll on you. I was getting frustrated with the long winter we have been experiencing here in Wisconsin this year and getting anxious for some sunshine and dryness to come. I see things I want or wish I could afford, but can’t.

Then I look outside my own little world and am reminded what other people have to deal with. People are experiencing life threatening diseases; unemployment, loss of their homes or both. The hurricanes and tornadoes are destroying the place where they live and sometimes taking loved ones from them. These are just a few of the things others have had to endure that I have not.

So now I look at those little aches and pains and feel blessed because that’s all they are. I look at the long winter and am thankful that severe weather hasn’t hit here. I see and I’m thankful for that too. And I see family and friends around me who I appreciate so much. So the next time you are feeling a little down and wishing things could be better, look at the things you do have and be grateful for those. That’s what I’ve been doing and it makes a huge difference in my day and my life.

June 2011

Saying No, Part 2

I must confess that I am taking this tip from one that I gave back in 2008. I modified it a bit and I find that I am using one of these tips on a number of occasions. Being retired, I find that there are people who think I have nothing to do, so they come and ask for help. I’m getting pretty good at saying no by using one of these alternatives.

  1. Not now – This softens the blow and keeps the door open for another time.
  2. I have another commitment – No other excuse required: you honor your commitments.
  3. I have a personal policy about ___________ (fill in the blank). By saying this, you put focus on a prior commitment to yourself without opening the door for an argument (useful, say when someone wants you to commit to working on Saturdays when that is your family day or give to a charity when you have a different one in mind).
  4. I don’t want to take on what I can’t fully commit to doing well. This is a yes to a higher standard.

Many people find it difficult and some even impossible to say no when asked to work on a committee, help with collecting for a charity, running an errand for a friend, spending time listening to someone when you have your own things to get done. Try to use one of these alternatives next time you find yourself in a similar situation. It is great when you can be there to help others, but not when it is risking your own well-being.

May 2011

Get your Vitamin D.

We are hearing more each day about the benefits of Vitamin D for adults and children alike. Vitamin D promotes joint and bone health. It reduces the risks of getting osteoporosis and arthritis. It can also prevent certain types of cancer. The best source of Vitamin D is the sun. Getting 20 minutes of sunshine each day will provide you with what you need to help your immune system and to give you a better disposition. Vitamin D is nature’s happy vitamin. It is important that when you are getting your sunshine time that you do so without lotion. Using lotion will block the ability of the body to produce the D. After you get your 20 minutes of sunshine without lotion, be sure to put lotion on if you stay in the sunshine for a longer period of time. If you can not get sunshine each day then add this vitamin by drinking milk, taking a vitamin D tablet or by eating foods which contain this important nutrient. If you do get lots of sunshine and take vitamin D supplements or eat foods rich in vitamin D you may be getting too much. Because the body cannot excrete it, prolonged high intake can cause a toxic reaction including fatigue, nausea, and abnormal calcium accumulation.

Talk to your doctor to see if you need more or less of this nutrient. Live long and happier with Vitamin D.

April 2011

Plan B – Over the past few months, I have spoken with so many people who have been out of work for over a year, going to be out of work very soon or are so overwhelmed at work and concerned for their future employment that I thought it might be a good time to talk about a Plan B. Many of the people who have been out of work for some time went into unemployment with no Plan B and those who are facing pending unemployment have no Plan B. So for everyone out there who is unemployed or concerned about being unemployed, it is time to make a Plan B.

There are many other reasons to have a Plan B. What if my pension plan dries up? What if I get sick and can’t earn a wage or care for my family? What if my car breaks down, how do I get to work? What if? What if….?

To develop a Plan B, you have to ask yourself some very basic questions. These include questions like:

One important aspect of developing a Plan B is to include your family so that they understand the situation and what challenges may lie ahead and then allow them to have input to the plan. You might be surprised what other ideas may come up. No one can predict, although many will try, what our individual future will bring. So we must be prepared with options in case our road of life has a bunch of potholes, turn-about, or even a dead end. Remember that even with a dead end road, you can turn around and head in another direction. Start planning today.

March 2011

Planning it or Winging it? Each person has their own way of making the most of their day. Planners like to have a plan for the day so they know exactly what to expect as the day progresses. That is how I am. Even in retirement I plan my days, because I believe that is the way for me to accomplish as much as possible. When my wife says that she is going shopping today, I want to know when she is leaving and returning. It really doesn’t matter since I’m not going with her and going shopping doesn’t effect what I am doing today. So why do I want to know? Planners are usually very structured and organized and we want others to be that way too.

Then you have the Wingers. These people wake up and as the day progresses; they do things even without having a plan. I can’t imagine this. How do they know what to do and when to do it if they don’t have a plan? Wingers make decisions on doing things as the day moves forward and things come up. I’m sure they must know what needs to be done that day, but they just don’t schedule things into their day.

There is something to be said about being a Winger. However as a Planner, I just don’t know what that might be. We Planners have to learn to let go and not get too wrapped up in what Wingers are doing or it could drive us nuts. Accept the fact that Wingers will never become Planners and we are not going to change them. And for you Wingers, note that Planners will stay Planners and it is very difficult to move us out of our comfort zone. Although, it has been known to happen.

February 2011

Touch Base With Someone

Over the past couple of months, there have been celebrations of family and friends gathering together to share in the joy of the season. But…soon after the New Year, each of us started to get back into our normal routines. Returning to work, going back to school, and focusing on the things in our own lives are things that matter. This is important for us to do.

There are those individuals that have “normal routines” that aren’t that normal. For instance, those who have lost a loved one in the past year, those who have lost a job or home, those who have not had a job or a home for a long time. There are also those who are now alone again in Hospice, senior or assisted care centers, hospitals, group homes and shelters and even those who may be in their own homes but still have no one for them with whom to share their lives. The celebration and time to share with others is over, and there are many who are getting back to their normal routines of being alone again until the next season of sharing and caring. These people may be parents, relatives, friends, neighbors or others in your own community.

Yes, it is important for us to get back to our routines of work, school or other things in our lives in which we need to focus. This doesn’t mean that we have to forget or not take the time to touch base with those who are alone. A simple phone call or sending a letter or card can mean so much to the person who is alone or going through a difficult time in their life. Don’t immerse yourself so much in your old routine that you don’t take the time to look up and remember others. Not only will you make that person’s life happier, but you will do the same to your own life.

Safety message – Don’t text and drive! Thank you.

January 2011

What's Pulling at You?

Happy New Year 2011! Everyone seems to make a New Year’s resolution and then within the first 30 days of the year, slips up and sets it aside thinking they will get back to it later. It doesn’t happen. This year let’s try something different. Let’s find out what is causing us to be so frazzled, overwhelmed, overburdened, and just plain unable to cope with everyday life. Then, let’s see if we can do something to change that. Here is what I am suggesting. It’s a simple way to see what is happening in your life right now, and it will only take a few minutes of your precious time.

I’m going to help you through this by providing you with a sample list of things which seem to pull at us every day. Each is taking us in a different direction than where we want to be heading and this adds to our frustrations, anxiety and lack of control over our lives. So please get a piece of 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of paper and a pencil. In the center of the paper, draw a 1 inch circle and put your name inside the circle. Now, looking at the list below, start making spokes going from your inner circle with you name outward towards the top, bottom or either side of the paper. At the distant end of the line, write down the information you are finding from the list that is affecting you every day. These could be things that affect you on a physical, mental or emotional level. Ready? Here we go.

Work

Spouse

Children's Schoolwork

Children's Sports

Kid's Other Activities

Spending Time with Kids

Parents

In-Laws

Siblings

Friends

Financial Concerns

Mortgage Payments

Credit Card Payments

Living Expenses

Home Repairs

Food Cost

Clothing Cost

Child Care Costs

Car Problems/Cost

School Loans

Spiritual Concerns

Heath Issues/Concerns

Finding Time for Self

Realtionship Issues

Volunteer Activitiy

Medical Expeneses

Education Activity

Weight Issues

Peer Pressures

Now Add Others...

All of these and more are pulling at you every day. They take your time and energy leaving you tired, overwhelmed and wondering how you can keep going on. But you can. The first step is to acknowledge that you are being pulled in every direction and to determine what or who it is that is pulling at you. Start filling in your chart from the list above and add any that apply specifically to you that is not on this list. For many, work, relationship issues, health issues and financial concerns will head your list. Now, looking at only one issue at a time, try to determine if there is a specific action you can take to improve that situation so it doesn’t pull at you so hard. Work at this throughout the month and see if you can take control of your life.

Another way of measuring your life is to determine where you are spending your time each week. You might want to make a pie chart showing the percentage of time you spend in each aspect of your life. Remember that there are 168 hours in a week. So set aside 49 of those hours for sleep (7 hours X 7 days). Now figure out the rest of your week. Determining where you are spending all of your time is a starting point to changing your life so that you have more control and start utilizing your 168 hours to your advantage. Work on getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night so that you can be more effective the other 119 hours. Looking at each segment of your pie chart, determine what you can do to make your week and your life more balanced. Good luck!

Tips from 2013

Tips from 2012

Tips from 2010

Tips from 2009

Tips from 2008

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