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Stress Management for Living, Teaching, & Parenting

Effectiveness

Beware of the Herd Mentality

Image of a herd of sheep walking down a country road.

We’ve all succumbed to herd mentality at one time or another. Whether it’s watching the latest blockbuster hit even though that genre rarely interests you, buying the newest phone even though your current one woks fine, or even voting a certain way because polls put a certain candidate in the lead anyway, herd mentality can be seen every day.

In short, herd mentality describes the process of people behaving or acting like those around them—often ignoring their own feelings in the process. Think of it like sheep blindly following the flock no matter where they go just because that’s what the herd is doing.

While herd mentality can protect us in some cases, such as fleeing a burning building, other … >>>

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A Time Management Strategy to Reduce Stress

Image of a person holding a clock in each hand. There is a checklist of tasks behind each clock.

When it comes to time management, knowing the difference between what is urgent versus what is important is essential. Why? Because there is a marked difference between what is urgent and what is important. If you focus on the wrong one, or if you are continually diverting your attention between the two, chances are that your stress level will rise.

Think of it this way: An urgent task may not be very important in the long run; however, an urgent task may demand immediate attention. In contrast to something urgent, an important task is something that moves you toward your goal. Where do you think you should focus your attention for optimal time management and lower stress?

Before you answer … >>>

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Student Awards and Rewards: What Works and What Doesn’t

Image of a gold trophy.

I often say that doling out student awards and rewards is counterproductive. However, I must also say that I don’t condemn ALL student awards and rewards. Allow me to explain.

As a former instructional coordinator, I have come to the conclusion that awards ceremonies are counterproductive for LEARNING—especially when so many young people never find themselves in the winner’s circle and would therefore prefer to drop out rather than compete.

When it comes to learning, collaboration is much more effective. When people collaborate, they do not compete.

However, as a former high school athletic coordinator, I do believe in award ceremonies for athletics and other competitive activities such as spelling bees, high school band competitions, and academic decathlons THAT ARE … >>>

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What Influence Are You Spreading?

Image of a mother working on a computer and her daughter imitating her.

You are influencing others every day, whether you realize it or not. Some of the most important people you influence are children. Your children and students see and hear everything you do, and it shapes their outlook on the world. What influence are you spreading to the youth of today?

Consider this true story:

Charles Adams was the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain during the Lincoln Administration. He always kept a journal and taught his son, Brooks, to keep a daily journal as well.

When Brooks Adams was eight years old, he wrote in his diary: “Went fishing with my father, the most glorious day of my life.” During the next 40 years, Brooks referred to that day in his … >>>

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Feeling Stressed? Change Your Perception

Image of a dark gray background with a door in the middle. The door is opening to a peaceful sunny day to illustrate a change in perception.

How many times have you blamed an event or person for your negative reaction? If you’re like most people, it has happened often. Everything from traffic jams, to comments made by others, to sudden changes of plans can make people upset. But what if I told you that these events, no matter how bad you think they are, are not the cause of your stress?

Epictetus (A.D. 55-135) wrote: “It is not the event itself that is the problem; it is the perception of that event.” In other words, the things that happen to us aren’t problems; rather, it is our reaction to the events that determine whether we feel stress or not. This bit of information has made one … >>>

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How to Relax During Stressful Situations

Image of a brain wearing sunglasses sitting in a beach chair on a beach relaxing

Trying to relax during a stressful situation can be a challenge. After all, it’s hard to relax when your mind is racing and when events are stressing you out. If you find taking a break to relax difficult when the pressure is on, consider the following approach.

During the last days of World War II, someone commented to President Harry Truman that he appeared to bear up under the stress and strain of the presidency better than any previous president, that the job did not appear to have aged him or sap his vitality, and that this was remarkable—especially in view of the many problems which he faced as a wartime president.

His response was, “I have a foxhole in … >>>

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Ask Questions to Take Control

Ask questions

If you want to have more control in situations and conversations, try asking more questions. One of the key ideas I suggest people write down during my seminars is this: “The person who asks the question controls the conversation or the situation.”

Let me demonstrate how this works. You walk into a store and the salesperson asks, “How are you today?” Isn’t there a natural tendency to answer?

Here is another situation. A friend with whom you are talking suddenly asks you a question. Do you stop and answer the question or do you continue with your monologue? Chances are you stop and answer the friend’s question.

If you want to discipline a student or child, control the situation by … >>>

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Celebrate the Differences

Cracked Pot

I’ve long asserted that we should celebrate the differences in people rather than pose them in a negative light. Unfortunately, many people see their differences as flaws, and they view their diversity in a negative way. But in reality, our differences are not flaws; rather, they are what make us unique. They key is to focus on the positive aspects of our diversity.

This topic reminds me of the story about the cracked water pot. A water-bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole that he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.… >>>

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How to Recognize Coercion

coercion

Coercion isn’t always recognizable. In fact, we all engage is subtle and not-so-subtle forms of coercion every day. Can you recognize coercion in your day-to-day activities?

Here is a simple example.

My wife was viewing the first ten minutes of a movie on TV and was so enthralled with it that she pressed the “record” button and then stopped viewing the program. She announced that she looked forward to sharing the movie with me and told me that she was saving it until such time as we could watch it together.

When that time came around, her enthusiasm pitched even higher. However, as she turned on the recording and the synopsis of the movie was shown, I found that I … >>>

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Reflect on Your Actions

reflect on your actions

Being able to reflect on your actions is key to reducing stress and prompting positive change in your life. The lack of reflection in your life can be likened to chewing—but not swallowing. The food is tasted, but unless digested, there is no nutritional value. That’s because no one really learns from an actual experience. It is the reflection about the experience that generates learning.

The human brain is a meaning-seeking organism, and because much of what we are exposed to happens so fast, we need time to process, to internalize its meaning. In addition, the brain continues to process information long after we are aware of it. This is the reason why many of our ideas seem to “pop … >>>

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Winner of the Week – May 21, 2017

winner of the week

It’s time to announce the winner of the week! Each week I choose one winner to receive a free copy of the winner’s choice from one of my electronic publications listed here.

The winner is chosen for the best story or experience from one (not each) of the following topics:

  • Live Without Stress,
  • Parenting Without Stress,
  • Discipline Without Stress, or
  • Using authority without coercion (Not using bribes to control, telling, threats, or imposed punishments) to achieve a goal

Here is this week’s winning story:

It was a beautiful afternoon and instead of playing inside with my kindergarteners, I took them outside on the playground. My students ran wildly out the door and began to swing, slide, jump, and laugh. … >>>

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W. Edwards Deming’s Improving Quality Approach

W. Edwards Deming was the American who showed first the Japanese and then the world how to improve quality while simultaneously reducing manufacturing costs. The Deming Prize is the oldest and most widely recognized quality award in the world given to both individuals and organizations.

The underlying principle of the Deming approach is continuous self-inspection and self-improvement. In traditional approaches, quality control is a specialized task placed at the end of the manufacturing process. If the product failed to pass inspection, the cost of producing the product was wasted.

Deming showed how to build quality into the manufacturing process by empowering workers through collaboration.

The result was zero defects and improved the quality at less cost.

Deming believed that, in >>>

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Language and Thought Shape Your Reality

Language and Thoughts

Did you know that language and thought shape your reality? In other words, change your words and you can change your life. Sound too simple to be true? It’s not. Studies have shown that changing how you talk changes how you think, and what you think becomes your reality.

The power and importance of language and thought and how it shapes your reality was reinforced to me years ago when I read George Orwell’s book 1984, which was written in 1949 at the beginning of the cold war. The book is about how the world of the future could be with Big Brother watching you.

In this classic book, George Orwell demonstrated the power of words, using the example … >>>

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Are You Yearning for an Easy Life?

easy life

Have you ever wished for an easy life? One where you have no stress and no struggles? One where everything just seems to go your way? Of course! We all have. But an easy life isn’t as great as it may seem.

Chances are you’ve seen people’s lives unfold on social media. And at times their lives may seem easier, better, or more charmed than yours. But realize that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. So, if you want a better life, don’t expect it to just happen. You must tend to it.

What are the secrets to … >>>

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The Mind Body Connection

mind body connection

Science repeatedly tells us that the mind body connection is real. Yet we often do things in our everyday life and routines that don’t exemplify this connection. As a result, we experience undo stress and life feels hard.

To better understand how this works, try this little exercise.

While sitting, let you shoulders slump and look down. How do you feel? If you’re like most people, you probably feel a little weak and lacking in energy.

Now pull your shoulders up and put your chest out. How do you feel now? Did you demeanor change for the positive? That’s the mind body connection at work! The next time you feel bad, change your posture and notice the effect it has … >>>

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What Motivates People

what motivates peopleHave you ever wondered what motivates people? While motivation is complex, I’ve long asserted that people are motivated to do good when they feel good. In other words, your mindset affects your motivation and performance tremendously.

Like teachers and parents, sports coaches are in the motivation business. Have you ever heard of Dean Cromwell? He was the track coach of the University of Southern California from 1912 until his retirement in 1949. No other coach in collegiate track has ever approached his records. His teams won 21 national championships, had 13 world record holders, and at least one of his protégés won an Olympic gold medal during his 39-year coaching career.

Cromwell was a master at motivation. He knew how … >>>

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The Power of Positive Thinking

power of positive thinkingThe power of positive thinking has been studied for a long time. One key thing that’s been found is that a positive attitude is linked to better health. According to Dr. Martin Seligman, director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, “Optimism and pessimism affect health almost as clearly as do physical factors.”

That’s because optimists generally have positive future expectations. Because they expect good things to happen, they tend to work toward those things. This is what the power of positive thinking is all about.

In contrast to optimists, “A pessimist habitually views setbacks as permanent, unchangeable, and pervasive,” says Dr. Seligman. Pessimists often feel helpless when things go wrong and tend to believe that bad … >>>

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Self-Control in Children

self-controlWhen it comes to children doing well in school and life, the importance of self-control can’t be ignored. In fact, there is growing research on “self-regulation”—people’s ability to stop, think, make a plan, and control their impulses.

These are the same skills needed to do well in school and in life.

Researchers have become keenly interested in psychologist Walter Mischel’s famous “marshmallow study” from the 1960s in which a researcher would place a marshmallow in front of a hungry 4-year-old and tell the child that they could eat the marshmallow right then—or have two if they waited until the researcher returned. About a third of the children could distract themselves, exhibit self-control, and wait.

Followed for years, these disciplined kids … >>>

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Dr. Marvin (Marv) Marshall
Phone: 714.220.1882
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