It seems amazing that this most tumultuous and disruptive year is finally coming to a close. As we all reflect on 2020 and the lessons it has taught us, it’s important to keep both balance and perspective as we focus on moving forward.
Personally, this past year I have tried to keep my responsibilities in line, despite the many challenges this year brought the world. The five foundational categories I have focused on are:
Family – immediate and far-reaching
Finance – and contributory fulfillment
Fitness – physical and psychological
Faith – religious, and optimism in resolving failings
Friends – to feed and find anew
Of course, I’ve had to adapt and find new ways to keep my priorities in order. … >>>
One of the easiest ways to solve problems is to ask questions. Unfortunately, many people get so mired in the problem that they end up blaming others or trying to control the situation instead. This typically leads to more stress.
Think about your own life for a moment. How often do you blame others for your own negative experiences or challenges? How often do you try to use authority or force to solve problems? We all do it from time to time. While in some cases these tactics may appear to work (at least temporarily), more often than not you have the ability to positively influence the situation by simply asking questions.
Notice I said “influence” the situation, not “change” … >>>
During times of stress, it’s natural to focus on controlling people—what they do and how they act. After all, stress makes you feel like you’ve lost control, so it’s human nature to try to regain that sense of control in some way. Many people accomplish this by controlling others, including their partners, children, and co-workers. But did you know that the more you focus on controlling people, the more stress you’ll ultimately experience?
How do you know if you’re being too controlling? If you experience much stress when interacting with others, chances are that you are aiming to control them. The fact is that people being controlled have low motivation to carry out decisions IMPOSED upon them. As scores of … >>>
During times of increased stress, a little kindness goes a long way. It’s during these times that we often see people talking about doing “random acts of kindness” as a way to show strangers you care.
Random acts of kindness are certainly a great idea. Buying a cup of coffee for a stranger … leaving a tip greater than the total tab for a server … giving up your seat on the bus for another … these are all kind gestures that brighten people’s day and make their world a little better.
However, when it comes to your long-term relationships, such as your life partner, immediate family, friends, co-workers, and even neighbors, you need to focus on regular acts of … >>>
Between politics, a pandemic, and the responsibilities of everyday life, most people are looking for ways to reduce stress. They are feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, and as if they are on an emotional roller coaster. Rather than turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drinking, smoking, or overeating junk food, you can reduce stress by making some simple lifestyle changes.
Below is a list of 10 ways to start lessening the stress you feel. Before you read the list, realize that the goal is NOT to do all 10 things at once starting tomorrow. That would be unrealistic and would stress anyone out, myself included. Instead, pick one thing you could start weaving into your life right away. Once that … >>>
When it comes to making the best out of any situation, sometimes all you have to do is change your perspective. The fact is that how you view things—whether an event, a situation, or a person—has a direct effect on the stress you feel … or don’t feel. Your perspective can make something seem positive or negative.
Perspective influences every aspect of life. For example, up close, the earth looks flat; from outer space, it’s round. A student may dislike a demanding teacher; the following year the student praises the teacher for being so thorough. A customer may seem difficult and rude; the next day you realize the customer revealed a huge problem and by fixing it you save your … >>>
Positive self-talk is vital for stress reduction. In fact, I often say that it’s important to master your mind if you want to reduce stress. But what exactly does that mean? In short, it’s about using positive self-talk to focus your expectations. Do you expect success? Or do you expect failure? While most people claim to expect success, the reality is that their self-talk is setting them up for failure, which in turn leads to stress.
When you expect failure, you communicate your expectations to your subconscious mind. Your brain accepts the notion and prompts your mindset as if you will fail. You actually program yourself in a negative way to do the things that will lead to failure. This … >>>
People ask me a lot of questions about stress. Following are the top 10 questions about stress that I get asked the most. I’ve purposely kept the answers short. In future posts I’ll elaborate on some of the answers. You can also find many answers in my book, Live Without Stress. As always, if you have any specific questions about stress, please ask me!
1. What impact does stress have on our life?
Stress can shorten lives and have debilitating effects on health—both physical and mental.
2. What are some specific things we can do to reduce stress?
Master our mind when making decisions (in contrast to acting on feelings).
One of the hardest things about living during a pandemic and times of social distancing is the lack of human connection. The fact is that human brains are wired to connect. We need other people to fully enjoy life. And that sense of human connection definitely lowers stress.
Even introverts need human connection. If you’re doubting how “wired” we are to each other, consider this: Both laughter and bad moods are contagious. Yawn in front of someone and watch what happens. This occurs because of what neuroscientists call “mirror neurons.”
When we realize that even trivial interactions can affect a person’s physiology, we have to take it more seriously. For example, scientists can now show by brain imaging and other … >>>
No one can escape the aging process. But aging does not need to be stressful! The key is to move every day and stay as strong for as long as you can. Remember, the human body is designed for movement, and muscles are not meant to be inactive. Aging is no excuse to stop moving!
Just like any other muscle, your heart functions best when challenged. Walk, swim, jog, use a treadmill, stair climbing machine, or some other weight-bearing movement in order to include moderate cardiovascular conditioning in your daily program. Aerobic exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, lowers blood pressure, and keeps the arteries more flexible. In addition, aerobic exercise is one of the best approaches for handling stress. … >>>
Your ability to truly listen to others is critical for building relationships and reducing stress. The reason is simple: The better you’re able to listen, the more the other person knows you care. When that sense of caring is present in a relationship, you and the other person experience less stress when you interact.
Unfortunately, few people know how to really listen. Have you ever talked to someone and noticed that they were not listening to you? How did it prompt you to feel? Disrespected? Unimportant? Angry? These are normal reactions. This is why listening is so important.
The key to listening is to be attentive. Don’t let your mind drift while the other person is talking. If your attention … >>>
You’ve undoubtedly heard the old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Turns out, it’s true – well sort of. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being that reduces the negative effects of stress. In other words, laughter makes you feel good.
Additionally, the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. As such, laughter helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook in difficult situations, disappointments, and loss. And this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.
Here are a few suggestions to add humor and laughter to your life:
When the body and mind are stressed, sleep can seem elusive. It’s all too easy to allow the stressors of the day to disrupt your sleep pattern. Either you can’t fall asleep or can’t stay asleep because your mind is racing, reliving the events of the day and struggling to find solutions to your problems.
Unfortunately, not getting enough sound sleep affects mood and has long-term health consequences. Chronic disruption of sleep patterns is strongly linked to cardiovascular disease and a number of other health issues including an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes; weakened immunity and an increased tendency to get sick; weakened cognitive function including memory, alertness, and decision-making; increased impulsiveness, risk-taking, and addictive behavior; eating more; … >>>
During times of stress, getting enough exercise is of utmost importance. Research shows that staying fit through exercise can actually reduce the production of stress hormones. Think of exercise as the ultimate stress reducer.
While physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress, you don’t have to be an athlete or spend hours in a gym to experience the benefits. Just about any form of physical activity can help relieve stress and burn away anger, tension, and frustration. Not only does exercise releases endorphins that boost your mood and make you feel good, but it can also serve as a valuable time-out from your daily cares.
The world today is more stressful than ever, and many people are searching for ways to reduce stress. Fortunately, one of the best stress-reducing techniques is something you can easily do on your own, and it requires no special tools. It’s a simple as engaging in deep breathing.
In fact, research is mounting that a powerful technique for stress relief is deep breathing. Just as the name implies, it’s about breathing slowly and deeply, as this reduces anxiety, controls blood pressure, improves heart rate, makes arteries more flexible, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system that reduces the body’s fight-flight-freeze response to danger and stress.
Breathing is ordinarily an involuntary act, but it is the only function through which you can … >>>
When you’re living in times of uncertainty and stress, it’s important to embrace kindness. This means being kind both to others and to yourself. It’s normal that when under stress, people have “short fuses.” Little things can quickly spiral out of control as negativity prevails. The good news is that you can help lessen the effects of the current situation’s turmoil in one simple way: Embrace Kindness.
As a youth I developed this attitude of kindness that I still use to this day. I make it a habit to choose to be kind to not only others, but also to myself. I learned at an early age that I was not perfect, that I made mistakes, and that sometimes I … >>>
The conversations you have with yourself form your perceptions and can help control your stress. In fact, we can make a good case that your self-talk creates your reality and your level of stress. Stress is related to perceiving the world as manageable or unmanageable, and this is directly related to your mindset.
Mindsets are perceptions, attitudes, dispositions, intentions, and inclinations that emanate from our experiences and filter our thoughts that form the lenses through which we see the world and our lives.
Perceptions are as important as reality. In fact, perceptions can be your reality. To reduce and control your stress it is critical to understand that so often it is not the event but the perception of the … >>>
We know that when we suffer from continual stress, choices seem limited. As a result, our effectiveness decreases. Behavioral scientists have a name for this psychological reaction: learned helplessness.
Scientists have studied this phenomenon in laboratory rodents. The nervous system of mice bears striking similarities to that of humans. Here is how one experiment works. If you provide mice with an escape route, they typically learn very quickly how to avoid a mild electrical shock that occurs a few seconds after they hear a tone. But if the escape route is blocked whenever the tone is sounded, and new shocks occur, the mice will eventually stop trying to run away. Later, even after the escape route is available, the animals … >>>
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