Wednesday, April 29, 2015
I don't worry much. When an issue arises that cause me distress, my mind instantly begins searching for possible solutions. I wasn't always like this - it took years of awareness and effort but it has certainly paid off. Take this past week, for example. I use a service to heavily promote both my radio show and my books. I've been affectionately referred to as a "marketing machine" by some who know me on social media. When one of my social media sites changed their format, what used to take me twenty minutes to accomplish took two and a half hours. I immediately began concocting an alternative way of reaching my contacts each week with information regarding my upcoming radio show. Now, another social media site has implemented a major change that will severely cripple my marketing efforts. Already, my mind is seeking ways of maneuvering around this latest road block. In order to keep my stress levels at a minimum, I've had to make a concerted effort to apply my own advice. Here are some tips to dramatically reduce and/or eliminate stress in your life:
1. Take slow deep deliberate breaths. When we become anxious, we tend to deprive our brains of vital oxygen rich blood by shallow breathing. Oxygen has a very calming effect on the brain. Breathe in slowing and deeply, holding for a moment before slowly exhaling.
2. Sip water. The human body is comprised of 50-75% water. Being dehydrated increases the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Organs, of which the brain is one, work at optimum capacity when properly hydrated. Sipping water throughout the day, and especially at the onset of stress, will help keep us calm.
3. Meditation: an ancient Eastern practice, something as simple as sitting quietly, eyes closed, breathing rhythmically to the beating of the heart, and clearing one's mind produces a sense of euphoria and well-being.
4. Human touch reduces the production of cortisol, releases the feel-good hormones, endorphins, reduces physical and emotional pain, conveys concern, comfort, affection, love, and oneness. From a simple handshake to a huge bear hug, human touch is vital to our survival.
5. Prayer - our conversations with God. Much like a child who holds mom's hand in the dark, being connected to a Higher Being alleviates fear, anxiety, loneliness, and insecurity. Realizing we are not alone but rather are being guided by an Omnipotent Source of unconditional love is incredibly comforting and offers a sense of belonging as well.
6. Biofilia is a fancy word for a "love of living things". By reconnecting with nature, being outdoors in the fresh air and sunlight, we experience the wonder of God's creations. Whether plant or animal life, inert or ever-changing, we are an integral part of our surrounds and through conscious integration we experience a sense of wholeness.
7. Aerobic exercise, the practice of rhythmic physical exertion, releases those feel-good endorphins and increases the flow of oxygen rich blood to the brain, elevating one's energy levels and alleviating negativity.
8. An Attitude of Gratitude and Sense of Appreciation: in both cases, one focuses on the positive rather than negative. Finding the blessings present to us every day and truly appreciating not only what we have but also what has been lost or taken away allows us to maintain a positive mindset and distracts the mind from being consumed by the negative.
9. Love: not love of a human variety but love of a spiritual nature alleviates stress. That is to say, when we choose to love fully and unconditionally, without stipulation or restriction, then we never experience disappointment or anger. We reside in a permanent state of acceptance, peace, and joy.
10. Forgiving: letting go of the anger, bitterness, and resentment associated with a past experience or individual frees us to fully live in the present moment and extract the most from each experience. Refraining from labeling and judging one another enables us to develop a more compassionate and gentle approach to those whom we encounter.
11. Less is more: own less, do less, be more. A common misconception is that we own our stuff. Actually we are owned by our possessions. It takes time, money, and effort to purchase items and the same to care for, repair, or replace them. They drain us of precious time and resources which could be much better applied to becoming more evolved beings.
12. Deflate the Balloon (SSSSS): See things differently (change your perception); Slow down (what's the rush?), Simplify (scale back on everything), Socialize (make time for good friends), be Silly (have some fun!)
Like all emotions, stress in self-imposed. It has little to do with who we are with, what's occurring, or where we are. Rather it is determined by our internal dialogue, that little voice in our heads, that instills worry and discomfort, then repeats it ad nauseam until we find ourselves in a frenzy of anxiety. Take a moment, quiet your mind, re examine the situation, and put your faith in God that all is exactly as it is meant to be. And if all else fails, remember that stressed spelled backwards is desserts. That's no coincidence. Bon appetite! lol!
Listen to past shows on iHeart Radio @ http://www.iheart.com/talk/show/53-Anger-911-Radio/
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015
I'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who never experiences stress. Most of us become frustrated when things don't go the way we planned or when others don't comply with how we want them to be or behave. A sense of losing control triggers feelings of uncertainty within us. Mild anxiety, or sometimes full blown fear, propels us to seek to regain power over the situation or individual. Yet authentic power is never about exerting authority over others but rather demonstrates our ability to remain unaffected adversely by our external environment. The true causes of stress lie not in what is occurring around us but rather by what is taking place within us. All emotions, of which stress is one, originate internally. Consider the two internal origins of stress:
Perception: how we choose to see things, events or people defines our reality. Our perception is not determined by the actuality of our experience but rather by the thoughts we form about them. Reality: I've told my children a thousand times to keep their rooms clean yet every time I check on them they are a disaster. Perception: They do this just to drive me crazy!
Truth: most children are not concerned with the order of their rooms. Messy is their normal. A simple shift in our perception can instantly alleviate stress. They're just being kids. They'll learn eventually, I hope. And if not, it's really not that important.
Expectations: Is it realistic to expect that my husband have the same interest in music as I do? Is it fair to think that adults of a certain age should know how to treat one another respectfully? Is it reasonable to think I can work a full-time job, raise my children, and care for my elderly parents on my own, and do it all really well?
We demand a lot of ourselves and live in an age where multitasking and workaholism (that's not a real word but you know what I mean) are considered virtues. When we fall short of those ideals we label ourselves as failures. Likewise, we place an excessive amount of pressure on others to conform to what we believe is right and/or acceptable. We impose our beliefs, lifestyles, interests, work ethics, etc. on our families, friends, coworkers, and others and when they do not comply we become frustrated and angry.
While it is useful to have expectations in life, we must be careful to make certain that they are in alignment with reality and are fair and just to all concerned. If they are extraordinarily high or unreasonable, we are inviting stress into our minds and bodies.
Solutions: Stress is not directly linked to the pressures others impose on us but rather the burdens we place on ourselves. Carefully re examine your perceptions of yourself, others, God, the situations you are experiencing, and the world in general. Ask yourself: am I fair in the way I view and label the above? Is my judgment of each negatively influenced by false beliefs, past experiences or invalid information? If necessary, make the proper adjustments.
Consider the following in regard to expectations: is it realistic to expect that others comply with your demands or conform to your way of living? Do you have a right to dictate to others what to think, feel, believe, or how they should act? Is it reasonable to expect that what you are seeking in an given situation would manifest in the time frame you've allotted, in the exact manner in which you desire considering all those involved and considering all other relevant factors?
If you want less stress in your life, it is not always necessary to change your circumstances (although that may certainly be a viable option). Sometimes, a simple shift in perception (how we view things) or an adjustment in our expectations (being more realistic and fair-minded) can make all the difference in the world. Remember, if you can't change the world, change how you view it and how you interact with it. You will be much more relaxed and peaceful, able to more fully enjoy life in all its wonder and glory. And isn't that a worthy goal?
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Today is "tax day". For millions of American tax payers it is probably their least favorite time of the year, propelling them into a state of duress and anxiety. For a business owner such as myself the task of gathering all of my receipts and itemizing my expenses is time consuming and definitely not on my list of top ten favorite any things. A highly qualified CPA makes the process of filing much easier for me... that is, until we hit a snag between banking protocol and IRS regulations concerning IRA rollovers which seem to contradict one another. Feeling helpless against a powerful government agency that has the authority to make life a living hell is, to say the least, a bit unnerving. However, the worst case scenario is not going to land me in jail or deplete my retirement savings.
A recent poll shared by WPLJ Radio posed this question to women across America: "What is your biggest problem?" A whopping 35% responded: "men". Since dealing with problems are stressful, is it safe to deduce that stress is caused by men? (Only kidding, guys! I'm actually on your side. Don't listen to these women - you are not, I repeat not, the problem nor are you responsible for their stress.) Stress is actually less complicated than one may believe. Like anger, it is only a symptom of a deeper issue. And like anger, there can be thousands of triggers but only two root causes. Stress, a state of being characterized by feelings of physical, emotional, or mental tension, is actually rooted in fear and frustration. Let's take a look at each one:
Fear: feelings of worry, anxiety, concern, and apprehension all contribute to feeling stressed out. We worry about finding a good job, moving to another city, losing our spouse or being alone. Each time we anticipate a negative circumstance we generate feelings of uncertainty. And fear of the unknown is one of life's greatest causes of distress. Do you struggle with What If Syndrome? What if I get lost? What if my husband gets cancer? What if the plane crashes and I die? What if my child doesn't get into the college of his choice? Or what if he does and I can't afford the tuition? We project the worst possible outcome and proceed to worry over things that may never manifest.
Fear is a lack of trust in a situation, another person, ourselves or God: in a situation - we feel unsafe, such as sky diving for the first time. This is a dangerous hobby. I could be seriously injured; with other people - a person is perceived as a threat to my security and well-being. A jealous co worker has the potential to get me fired; in ourselves - we lack confidence in our abilities to handle whatever situations life presents to us. I could never survive the loss of a child; and most importantly a lack of trust in God - if He really is a loving God, why do bad things keep happening to me? I pray for healing every day and still I suffer with chronic back pain.
The way to overcome fear is two-fold. On a practical level: by building our self-confidence, in part, by reminding ourselves of everything we have faced, survived, and overcome thus far in life. On a spiritual level: through our faith in God, knowing that He never promised us that life would be easy or fair, only that He would never abandon us, that whatever we truly needed (not wanted) would be provided for us, and that if we followed His directive we would reap abundant blessings. Just look around you. It's all ready there.
Frustration: feelings of anxiety derived from the need to control a situation or individual. When people don't behave in a manner I deem appropriate, when they won't comply with my wishes or demands, or when a situation does not proceed as I anticipated, I feel helpless and powerless. Being out of control causes anxiety within me as I realize something or someone else is determining the outcome of this situation and/or possibly my life. I do not trust anyone enough to give them power and authority over me. I do not have confidence that they have my best interest at heart.
When I realize that control is an illusion (I have zero control over situations and/or others) and recognize that whatever enters my life is ultimately there for my higher good*, then I do not need to have the final say in how life reveals itself to me. I can relax and be more at ease, knowing that I have full dominion over how I maximize every experience I participate in. I choose how I think, feel, react to, and utilize each and every occurrence. I can transform any perceived negative into a positive simply by my internal choices and how I express them.
People and events that contradict my ideals will always be a part of my life. By addressing the underlying causes of stress and living a faith-based life coupled with the wisdom to fully embrace every situation I experience, I can approach each day with greater peace and composure thereby significantly reducing the amount of stress that enters my life. And a peace-filled lifestyle supports a joy-filled existence.
* "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11
"We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28
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Wednesday, April 8, 2015
People often believe that they are slaves to their emotions: "I hate feeling like this but I can't help it." Some are ashamed of their emotions and try to hide them; still others find some to be offensive, frightening or sinful. But the truth is that all feelings have purpose and value. They are essential messengers that provide us the opportunity to learn a lot about ourselves depending upon which ones enter our hearts. Let's take a look at ten of the most frequently experienced feelings and what they may possibly reveal about us:
1. Stress: high expectations, trying to do too much, and a lack of balance in our lives can lead to dangerous levels of frustration and anxiety.
Revelation: we may be overly concerned with what others think about us (our need to please) and/or measure our self-worth by how much we accomplish. A lack of balance between work and play may also indicate a lack of self-love since there is a disregard for one's overall well-being.
2. Happiness: a lighthearted approach to life that enables one to put things into proper perspective; one who sees the best in others and in situations and doesn't take things too seriously.
Revelation: we learn what pleases us, brings us joy, and delights our senses. This is telling of an optimistic mindset and attitude.
3. Grief or Sadness: intense emotional suffering caused by loss, misfortune or disaster.
Revelation: unveils what really matters to us. The depth of our grief often correlates with the degree of importance the person, possession, or experience has.
4. Embarrassment: feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable in a situation or with a particular person; concern with how others see us.
Revelation: embarrassment reveals more about how we feel about ourselves than how others perceive us. Lack of self-love and acceptance means we need to address our issues of self-esteem and value; choose to judge one's self less and be more at ease with who you are.
5. Guilt and Shame: closely interconnected, guilt is a sense of culpability for a real or imagined offense we've committed (an act or behavior). It reminds us of what our values are, what we believe to be right and wrong. Shame involves feelings of guilt, humiliation or disgrace stemming from feelings of self-loathing, incompetency, or a flawed sense of self.
Revelation: while some believe guilt to be counter-productive, it actually monitors our actions and keeps us on a righteous path. By separating our behavior (actions) from our intrinsic self (worth) we can eliminate shame, thus fully loving ourselves (after all, we are children of God) while working on improving our behaviors.
6. Regret and Remorse: an attitude connected to guilt and shame, deeply rooted in feelings of repentance and sorrow, one tends to view certain choices or missed opportunities as mistakes, rather than vital stepping stones lining life's path.
Revelation: negativity, self-pity, and a defeatist attitude can trap us in an angry cycle of regret and remorse and prevent us from fully reaching our Divine potential. By reframing each experience as a necessary part of our spiritual journey we can embrace each and every individual, experience, loss, and hardship as the blessing they truly are.
7. Hurt: feelings of deep emotional pain brought about by the perception that others are deliberately disrespecting or devaluing us.
Revelation: When we take personal offense to what others are saying or doing, when we feel targeted by their hurtful actions or words, there is a clear indication that our self-worth is dependent upon what others think or feel about us or by how they treat us. By recognizing our own value and understanding that their behavior merely expresses their deep unresolved issues, we can remain unaffected by their behavior and thus avoid being hurt.
8. Gratitude: the ability to appreciate everything; to find goodness, value, and beauty in others, in things, events, and even losses.
Revelation: one who lives in gratitude requires very little in order to feel blessed; they possess a joyful spirit, an open heart, a positive attitude; they are lovers of life, and desire to be joyful. Gratitude is actually the precursor to joy.
9. Love: feelings of concern for the well-being of others; feelings of tenderness, warmth, a oneness with others; kindness of the heart; a reverence for all life; the ability to see God in all of His creations.
Revelation: those who love have a belief that values all life; they recognizes their connectedness and oneness with their Source of Divine Love and have a strong desire to reflect God's presence in the world.
10. Inner Peace: the ability to accept what is or what must be for a higher good; resisting the temptation to force something or someone to conform to one's personal dictates; to release the need to control or change.
Revelation: truly an expression of self-love as well as a reverence for all others; the willingness to fully embrace everything and everyone as is; the refusal to judge or manipulate but rather allow and appreciate; one who epitomizes ease and grace of living.
It is imperative to embrace every emotion that stirs our hearts for they are messengers of the inner self. Honor them; spend time with them; decipher their meaning and revelation. Once acknowledged, gently release those that have fulfilled their purpose and replace them with those of a kinder nature which will better serve you in the present moment.
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