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Archive for April, 2011

How Can We Eliminate or Minimize the Stress in Our Lives?

April 27th, 2011 2 comments

Stress is in every one’s life.  It goes beyond race, creed or color.  It is a universal phenomena.  Although stress is universal, how each one of us deals with it can be different.

Our stress levels are similar to pain levels.  Some people can withstand a tremendous amount of pain and not be phased by it.  Others, have low pain thresholds and small amounts of pain bother them greatly.

Some people can run multi million dollar companies and their stress level barely raises above the “calm” line on their stress meter.  While another can red line their meters giving a presentation to their peers.  What one person finds exhilarating, another would find to be a nightmare!

Another area of difference is what triggers our stress levels to climb. Not only are our triggers different, but how we handle our stress can go from one end of the spectrum to the other.  Some find stress devastating to their health.  They suffer from stress related diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, headaches, depression and many others.  It can, literally, shave years off our lives.

There are some people who seem to let stress roll off of them like a fried egg on a Teflon skillet.  They seem to use stress to energize themselves and create masterpieces of passion in their lives.  What makes everyone so different?

Here are the most common stresses in people’s lives:

1.  Concern over world events
2.  Growing old
3.  Becoming terminally ill
4.  Chronic pain
5.  Fear of death
6.  Reliving painful experiences
7.  Loss of senses; vision, hearing, taste, etc.
8.  Concern for others; family and friends
9.  Career concerns and  job related events; promotions, presentations, interaction with co-workers, etc.
10. Loss; Death of a loved one, a job, a house, a pet, etc.
11. Finances and debt
12. Relationships
13. Loneliness

The list could go on and on.  You may relate to some of these stress triggers, or you may say “nay, I wouldn’t stress out about that!”  For those of you who can relate, how do we build up our stress tolerance levels?

Stress tolerance has a direct relationship with perception.  If we don’t perceive something as stressful, even if someone else sees it that way, we won’t react to it.  When the stress chemicals from our bodies kick in, we could see it as a warning sign, or we could look at it as a challenge to conquer.

Let’s look at some of the steps we could use to reduce our stress:

KNOW WHAT STRESSES YOU OUT

Make a list.  The first step in getting a fix on your stress is to know what it is that triggers it.  Take a close look at your daily activities.  Give each one of them a rating from low, “I can handle this all day long” stress to the red line, “My palms are sweaty, I can’t sleep at night” stresses.

ELIMINATE OR MINIMIZE IT

Look carefully at your list.  How many on your list could be gotten rid of?  How many on your list could you fix by just saying “no”?  It could be a volunteer project which stresses you out to try and fit it into your all ready busy schedule.

How many of your stresses are worries?  Can you change what you are worrying about.  When I find myself worrying, I ask myself, “can I change this?”  If the answer is “no”, than I make a decision to let it go.  As the quote goes, “Let go and let God”  The enemy of stress is meditation, or any relaxation, letting it go technique which works for you.

Looking at the list, are there any of these that you could lower your stress level by changing your perception of it?  For instances, instead of viewing the presentation you are going to give your work peers as stressful, view it as a great step in mastering another skill which will serve you in your career and look good on a resume.

DON’T PROCRASTINATE, PLAN AHEAD

A lot of stress is directly related to being unprepared.  Procrastination is a huge factor in high stress levels.  If we take time to prepare our presentation for our co-workers, the stress will decrease.  If we plan ahead for our party and start cleaning, preparing the food, and all the other things which can be done days before.

DEVELOPING A NETWORK OF LOVED ONES AND FRIENDS

Some stress can be relieve by developing a network of people who love you no matter what happens.  It is a fact, people with a strong network of family and friends have fewer stress related illnesses.  When we spend time with those we love, we can laugh, exchange ideas, and gain perspective.

DON’T PUT ALL YOUR STRESSORS INTO ONE TIME SLOT

Spread the stresses around.  Some people put every activity or thing which stresses them out into the same time slot.  It’s not a wise idea to have a presentation to get ready for in the same time slot as making and selling baked goods at the school function.

It wouldn’t be wise to moving out of your home by a certain date and on the road for your job at the same time.  Huge stress!

We can’t remove all stress from our lives, but if we can come to understand about what stress us out. Take the steps to eliminate it or minimize it.  We can stop procrastination and plan ahead being careful not to put all our stressful things into one time slot.

My all time favorite is, we must not forget to enjoy our network of loved ones and friends.  Enjoy a glass of wine.  Laugh and unwind!  It’s good for our bodies and our souls!

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Parents – What are We Teaching Our Children About Trust and Relationships?

April 11th, 2011 No comments

Our lives revolve around the fulfilling relationships we create. We’ve all heard the quote, “no man is an island”. I believe this means we can’t happily exist all alone  in the world, without a connection to others.

Building a connection to others is easy for some and incredibly difficult for others. What makes it so easy for one and not for another?

Our ability to trust others, and have them trust us, is started in our early childhood. Yes, parents, it is up to us to help our young ones develop into trusting people who can have healthy relationships with others.

What can we do as parents to nurture trust? Here are a few things to consider.

ALWAYS BE HONEST

This can be a difficult one because we perceive our children as being too young or naive to understand the truth. We develop little white lies to protect them, or insulate them, from things we have done in the past which we are ashamed of.

It is difficult to answer the question “Is there a Santa Claus?”. It is an admiral trait to want to keep our children innocent and pure. How about the question about pot, or sex before marriage, or any other issue we might not feel comfortable discussing, or don’t know how to honestly discuss with our children? White lies can be a very thin line to walk. The white lies stretches over a pit of mistrust which even many well meaning parents have fallen into.

Parents, often, reward dishonest behavior. Do we give less punishment if they tell us what we want to hear? Or, is the punishment more when we discover a lie?

ALWAYS BE LOYAL

Whether we want to accept it or not, our children learn loyalty from us. Loyalty is an important trait in a leader, a team, a parent, or anyone who wants to have a rewarding relationship with others.

Many people don’t seem to value loyalty anymore. In many social circles it is quite passe. No matter how loyalty is viewed in this day and age, it remains an important factor for trust.

Many parents talk about their children behind their backs. They enjoy telling “naughty” stories about what junior did. We’ve all had a good laugh at a cute naughty story. I know people who talk badly about their children as if they were the worst children in the world, loud enough for them to hear. I always wince when I hear a parent talking badly about their children. Actually, it is a tactic insecure parents use to get the attention of others.

What it teaches our children is, no one is worthy of loyalty. These children grow up to speak badly of their spouses, their children, their bosses, their jobs, and any other relationships.

There is a concept in military circles. When in battle, two soldiers will place themselves back to back in their foxhole to protect each other and thus themselves from an enemy. It takes trust and loyalty to do this. Are we the kind of parents our children would want in their foxhole?

ALWAYS HAVE INTEGRITY

Many people haven’t learned to have integrity. I have witness married couples who don’t trust each other, because one or both lack integrity. What does that mean?

Any time a person with integrity says they are going to do something, they do it!  They are true to their word. Their word is their bond. When a couple says one thing and does another or doesn’t do as they say they will, the lack of integrity breaks down the relationship  little by little.  It can kill any relationship, including the one with our children.

For instances, parents can say a certain consequence is going to happen if the child acts a certain way. The child will test them. If this consequence doesn’t come about, what have we taught our children about integrity?

I have seen parents who yell and scream and threaten to give the child a “lickin'”, but they are empty words. They threaten, but they aren’t willing to follow through with action.  The parent doesn’t realize they are compromising their integrity, which leads to more screaming and yelling and threats. A vicious cycle spins out of control.

Children also watch our relationships with each other. They watch how their parents treat each other. They watch us when we aren’t honest, take something that isn’t ours, make a promise or commitment and not follow through.

ALWAYS HAVE A SENSE OF COMMUNITY

When we have a sense of community, we do what is right for everyone instead of only taking care of #1. People without a sense of community will lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want…to heck with everyone else.

A parent who teaches a sense of community sees the world as a loving place in which to serve. They take care of the sick, the elderly, our planet, those less fortunate than them, and they take care of their children.

ALWAYS KEEP CONFIDENCES

This can make or break a parent/child relationship. If we parents tell everything we know, how can our children trust us with any confidences?

Our children, when they trust us, will tell us things from their heart. They don’t want these things told to others. When we can’t control ourselves, and we tell those confidences, we erode their trust.

Trust is built one day, and one interaction, at a time. It can take a lifetime to build trust, but one poor decision to destroy it. Think of our relationships with someone as an empty box. Every time we act in a way which builds trust we put a credit in the box. These credits build up over time. Any action which takes away our trust takes credits out of the box. A major bad decision, which steals the trust from this relationship, is like lighting a fire in the box. All the good things we have done can go up in a puff of smoke. The way to keep those credits in the box is to make good decisions.

Some might say they haven’t learned these things as children. Is there no hope for them to build strong trusting relationships? I’ll answer with a quote from Louis L’Amour, “A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner, so if one’s life is cold and bare he can blame none but himself.”

If this article has been helpful to you feel free to pass it on!

To read an article from Jon Gordon about building trust, click here!

 

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How to Defeat the Siren Call of Procrastination

April 7th, 2011 No comments

We have all fallen victim to the procrastination bug.  I call it a bug, because like the flu it can make us sick and tired.  Sick and tired of not excelling, not making enough money, not having our projects done on time, and stress.

People procrastinate in different degrees.  From a once in a while thing, to complete break down of results.  Why do people procrastinate?

One reason may be, they don’t see a value or adverse consequences in having something done in the time frame it needs to be completed.  For instance, If a teacher gives the student a credit for a paper even if it’s a day late, is there an urgency to get it done on time?

Many times, procrastination stems from not being able to see or visualize the end result.  If we can’t see the end result and how good it will be, or feel, when it is completed, where is the motivation to do it?

Another reason for putting things off  is not being invested in the outcome.  When it’s something we really don’t care about and haven’t invested any part of ourselves in the outcome, do we feel compelled to follow through?

Habitual procrastination can be a lack of self discipline or laziness.  Or, a lack of motivation to start or complete the project or task.  I know people who put off things they say they really, really want to do.  They can’t force themselves to make the time to do it.  A hundred other things seem to have a siren type hypnotic call; the unwashed dishes, laundry to fold, checking email one more time.  We follow the call and end up doing nothing about what should matter most.

Procrastination becomes a form of self sabotage.  When someone is overcome too many times by the call of procrastination, they realize it has resulted in a life of unfinished projects and mediocrity.  Then, out pops the cat o’ nine tails and the self flogging begins.  This results in a downward spiral of disastrous consequences.

Here are three things I have found which help me recover from the sickness of procrastination:

WRITE IT DOWN

I write down on paper what needs to be accomplished.  This is a way to clearly and concretely picture my project goals and tasks.  When I write down my list of things I want to accomplish, I become more invested in the outcome.

PRIORITIZE IT

After I write it down, I prioritize it.  There are, often, many things needing to be done.  If I write it down I can prioritize  the important tasks.  It helps create the steps needed to accomplish the task.  Prioritizing helps to weed out the less important tasks and focus on what needs to be done.

DO SOMETHING!

The most important step is to do something! Take action!  Anything to create a forward motion.  The hardest step in getting anything done is starting.  I know when I start a writing project, I pull up my notepad and stare at the white virginal screen.  I will stare indefinitely at it with nothing appearing on the screen, unless I move forward by typing something….anything…to get me started.  By starting, I gain focus and a sense of forward momentum.  If it’s not how I want it to read, I can always go back and fix it, but there won’t be anything to fix if I don’t get started.

Next time, when confronted by the bug of procrastination instead of fallen ill to its siren song, try writing it down, prioritizing it, and start doing something.  You may find the path cleared for excellence and less stress.  Try it, you’ll like it!

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