Archive for the ‘Stress Management’ Category

The Power of Music

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Music is very powerful.  The benefits of listening to music include:

  1. Improved physical health, including pain relief and better sleep.
  2. Enhanced intelligence and learning.
  3. Improved physical performance.
  4. Improved productivity.
  5. Improved memory.
  6. Improved concentration and attention.
  7. Reduction of stress.
  8. Improved mood.

Inspiring music and lyrics can motivate us to reach our personal and professional goals.  Music can also:

  1. Help ease the way through life’s transitions. 
  2. Comfort us in our grief.
  3. Encourage us in the tough times.
  4. Inspire us to have a deeper spiritual connection.
  5. Bring back wonderful memories.
  6. Help us to feel lighter and more joyful.
  7. Help us to lose ourselves in the moment.
  8. Help us to feel connected to others.

So whether you dust off your old albums or listen to music online, start listening to your favorite tunes to help you get through your day.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along by Louis Armstrong
  2. Are You Havin’ Any Fun? by Tony Bennett and Elvis Costello
  3. A Beautiful Morning by the Rascals
  4. Three Little Birds by Bob Marley
  5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin

Overcoming Procrastination

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

If you’re interested in answering the question “How do I overcome my procrastination?”, here are some questions to ask yourself first.

  1. In what areas of my life do I procrastinate (work, home, school, personal, other)?
  2. What tasks do I tend to put off (paperwork, doing taxes, making phone calls, making decisions, other)?
  3. Why do I procrastinate (difficulty in focusing, feeling overwhelmed, avoiding an unpleasant task, other)?
  4. Are there particular times when I procrastinate (starting or finishing a project, certain times of the year, other)?
  5. What activities do I distract myself with when I’m procrastinating (checking e-mail, watching TV, other)?
  6. Are there any solutions that have worked for me in overcoming procrastination?

Although there are lots of sources for tips for overcoming procrastination, I don’t believe in a one size fits all approach.  Asking yourself these questions and answering them will give you a good place to start.  Then be creative.  For example, I’ve often heard that to overcome procrastination, one should tackle a difficult project first.  The opposite works for me.  I like to start with something easy to accomplish.  I don’t resist an easy project and once I’m in the flow of work, it’s easier to move on to a more challenging project.

Nobody knows you better than you know yourself, so try some new ways of overcoming your procrastination and see what works for you.

Beat the Winter Blahs

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

This has been a long, cold winter for much of the country.  For those people who live where they are getting lots of cold weather, snow, and ice,  I know many people are getting “cabin fever”.  It’s really hard to be focused on your goals, especially those of weight loss and healthier living when you’re just trying to get through another day.  I thought this was a good time to review some suggestions that might just help you get through this winter with your resolutions still intact.

Identify and Avoid Triggers. What triggers your old patterns?  Look at these common triggers and see which ones you have.  Try some of the suggestions and see if they help.

1. Sensory triggers can be anything you see, smell, taste, hear, and touch. Have you always resorted to eating lots of sweets to boost your energy level and mood?  Seeing food ads on TV or going to Super Bowl parties with lots of high fat foods and sugary drinks are just some of the sensory triggers that are happening at this time of year.  Eating smaller meals and a combination of healthy protein/complex carbohydrates/fat before you head to a party really does help control those triggers.

2. Emotional triggers relate to your emotional state. When the days are short and the sky is cloudy, many people have a severe dip in serotonin.  A lack of this neurotransmitter is related to a variety of symptoms; including moodiness, sleep problems, carbohydrate cravings, memory, etc.  To help with these symptoms, get outside for a little while on days when the sun is out, exercise a little every day, (as listed above) eat smaller meals and a combination of healthy protein/carbohydrates/fat, listen to music that makes you happy, make yourself get out of the house and socialize, and so on.  Have a fun “Beat the Winter Blahs” party.  Turn up the thermostat, make your guests wear summer clothing, fix some summer foods like grilled chicken and fruit plates, and for one night forget what time of year it is.

3. Other triggers, such as being tired, can derail your healthy goals. You may be a night owl and be dragging when morning comes.  Try to get to bed at the same time every night.  Attach a light switch timer to your bedside lamp and set it just as you would your alarm.  If you don’t want to awaken to a bright light, you can use a 3 way bulb and set it at a low setting.  For those willing to spend a little money, try a dusk/dawn simulator.  This is intended to awaken you gradually just as the rising sun would.  If you’re interested in light therapy, you should talk with your doctor about the use of a light box, especially if you have severe depression, bipolar disorder, and so on.  Light therapy is a medically approved treatment for some forms of depression, but it isn’t appropriate for everyone.  I checked out the Sunbox Company’s website and they are having a wintertime blues special, so it’s a good time if you’re looking to buy a lightbox.  Besides cutting back on sugar, consider cutting back on caffeine as well.   Frequent use of caffeine can lead to tolerance of it’s many effects.  At high doses, caffeine can cause nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, and other symptoms.

Don’t forget that the famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, didn’t see his shadow on Groundhog Day, so that’s supposed to mean an early spring.  In the meantime, go watch “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray.  It’s a funny movie and that should lift your spirits a little.

Stress of the Season

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Tis the season to be stressed,  fa la la la la, la la la la!  

Even if you love the holiday season, it can be tough to get through.  Once Halloween arrives, Thanksgiving isn’t far behind.  That leaves about 4 weeks until Christmas.  All of this hits right when the daylight hours are the shortest of the whole year.  Then you can throw in snow and freezing temperatures for a good portion of the country.  Next take a look at your “to do” list.  Is it overwhelming?  Are you traveling or having company come to your house?  What about work?  Have you lost your job or are you one of the “lucky” ones with a job, but have double your workload?  Do you have health problems?  Are you feeling stressed yet?

Here are a few basic tips: 

  1. Take deep breaths.  When you find yourself getting out of sorts, take 2-3 slow, deep breaths.  This is a quick, simple way to get your stress level down.  An easy way to do this is to close your eyes, take a slow, deep breath in through your nose (your abdomen should expand, not your chest), hold the breath for several seconds, and release the breath out slowly through your mouth. 
  2. Get enough sleep.  It’s easy to stay up late doing everything you didn’t get done during the day, but it’ll just slow you down the next day.  Do this for several days and you’ll be tired and irritable.  Do this long term and you’re at risk for a variety of health problems.
  3. Get some sunshine every day whenever possible.  If you’re really affected by the lack of sunshine, consider looking into buying a light box.  Light therapy can be an effective treatment for seasonal depression and other conditions.  Do some research and talk to your doctor about this option.
  4. Get some exercise.  Walking 30 minutes every day has been proven to relieve stress, improve mood, reduce pain, and provide other benefits.  If you’re just starting an exercise program, check with your doctor first.   People often do too much and then quit because of pain and stiffness.  So start with 5-10 minutes and build up your exercise time and intensity. 
  5. Know your limits.   There are going to be years that have various challenges.  Some people have lost a loved one this year and it’s the first holiday without them.  Others have health issues, financial difficulties, or are going through any number of life transitions.  Take a look at what you are willing and able to do this holiday season and then set some limits.