Archive | April, 2013

Handling Stress — Part III of III

14 Apr

With the following tips come also some more reflective thoughts about the nature of the stressors (internal and external) which we experience and the subsequent stress that affects our wellbeing. We at Beyond the Horizons Consulting, LLC hope that these ideas can spur you on to change some of your old habits!

  1. Schedule a massage: Our bodies and psyches under stress are like taut rubber bands. The more one stretches such a band — and the longer time period one holds it taut — the more likely it is to snap. Massage, like rest, reduces tension in our voluntary muscles as well as in the involuntary ones, in our blood vessels, heart, and gastrointestinal tract.  The less tension we experience, the better we can deal with a variety of stressors that normally occur over the course of a week, month, or year. Prepare for stress and reduce it by getting a massage!
  2. Forgive the past: We cannot change the past. We do need to experience all the feelings that we suppressed or repressed with regard to past events in our lives. That is why the process of forgiveness may not be rushed. Yet it is also true that today is the first day of the rest of our lives! Many times we have not received the love and approval that we have so desired in our families of origin — much less in our current family constellation. Nonetheless, are you willing to be willing to forgive the past, and to let go of — release — the pain and resentment you may be holding? If so, you will begin to feel lighter and less stressed than you currently do!
  3. Slow down! This sounds easy; however, successful individuals usually don’t lower their pace unless they are aware that they need to. Slowing down may require getting away, blocking off hours on your calendar for relaxation or play, or shutting off your cell phone or answering machine to enjoy a relaxing dinner or evening with the family. When we have a heart attack, slipped disk, or car accident, we are forced to slow down to let our bodies recuperate. Make a decision to slow down before your body does it for you!
  4. Reduce noise and people pollution. Do you feel enveloped by clap-trap and other ulwelcome sounds or people? Get away! Find quietude and solitude. With flex time, many companies will allow you to drive in and leave at less stressful hours — or they may even allow you to work from home. We all need a haven — a safe place. However WE must create it, and it must meet our unique specifications.

Jean Eva at Beyond the Horizons will follow up with more thoughts about and suggestions for dealing with stress in her next post. Please comment and let me know what issues you would like to see addressed in this blog!!!


Handling Stress: Part II of III

11 Apr

Our last post ended with the suggestion to be more assertive in your life — to ask for what you really want! This evening we are adding some other techniques to help you deal with your current stressors, no matter what they may be.

1. Share your burden with a supportive other. Accumulated stress eats away at us like an abscess at a bone. We must express how we feel, even if nothing can be done about the situation. However, it is important to choose our confidants wisely. Studies done after the tragic Coconut Grove nightclub fire in Boston in the early 1940s showed that those who did not openly grieve after they lost someone in that horrific event went on to develop PHYSICAL or PSYCHOLOGICAL SYMPTOMS MONTHS OR EVEN YEARS LATER!

2. Organize. Disorganization begets chaos and stress. Organization introduces an element of predictability. Predictability leads to control. When things are out of control, we are stressed. Stress is reduced when we can control WHAT IS OURS TO CONTROL.

3. Exercise. Exercise strengthens our cardiovascular system, our lungs, and our muscles. While exercise cannot always reverse damage already done, it can keep us in the best possible condition to reduce stress. There is also evidence that regular exercise slows the aging process.

4. Recognize the early signs of stress illness and get treatment. The ravages of stress, if recognized early, can be prevented or reversed. Are we drinking more than we usually do? Smoking more? Sleeping less? Crying more? Recognizing depression early allows treatment to restore mood and prevent drastic self-destructive actions. Weight gain and decreased sleep go hand in hand. Increased use of alcohol and drugs have severe consequences. To avoid the consequences, wwe must monitor ourselves, initiate self-care procedures, and ALLOW OTHERS TO CARE FOR US. Sometimes hypothyroidism masks as depression, yet the treatment for each is different. Thus a trusted doctor might be the first line of defense when we lack a good self-care plan.

Handling Stress — Part I of III

9 Apr

Although we have more technical devices to help us in our work and with our tasks at home, this second decade of the 21st century probably brings along with it more stress than ever. In addition to dealing with our snail mail, telephone calls, and bills, there is still e-mail to be read and answered, instant messaging, and technical instructions for just about everything we buy! It is also most important to read the labels on all the food (and other) products we buy to ensure that we are applying the principles of healthy nutrition.

In addition, families are often spread out across the entire country or even abroad. Just keeping in touch, not to mention providing some needed support from time to time, can be major obstacles. THEN THERE ARE RELATIONSHIPS! Both at home and at work, relationships can be fraught with miscommunication, including overt or covert anger, passive-aggression, resentment, hurt, etc. If these feelings are allowed to “simmer,” they too can produce unendurable stress.

In this article, I am going to suggest some helpful ways which YOU may be able to utilize to reduce your stress level. Remember, STRESS IS YOUR SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE. The stressors may be internal thoughts or runaway emotions you are experiencing; the stressors may also be external events to which you are responding in an unhelpful way. So, here goes with the first few thoughts I have on how better to manager your stressors:

1. Choose options that are realistic. Some things are to be understood and changed. Others are to be understood and accepted. This is a paraphrasing of the Serenity Prayer of Reinhold Niebhur: “Lord, grant me the courage to change what I can; the serenity to accept what I cannot; and the wisdom to know the difference.

2. Maintain a sense of humor. “Life is far too important to take serioiusly,” said the wise playwright Oscar Wilde. Or, alternatively put, the reason that angels fly is that they take themselves so lightly! There is a whole series of books based on the first one, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” A hundred years from now, few of us will be personally remembered, yet we can experience daily satisfaction in our lives by maintaining perspective and a sense of humor — especially about ourselves and our own foibles.

3. Reduce the burden of stress by stress inoculation. A major stressor may be reduced by breaking it down into tasks which can be mastered over time. For example, many persons dislike the holidays (or the upcoming spring season of graduations and weddings) because of the complicated details in preparing for such events. If you start now — in April — to plan for a June graduation and keep the plans within budgetary limits, you may be able to pull off a great event. Remember, though, that caterers and event locations are limited!

4. Be assertive. The great rabbi Hillel taught his students, “If I am not for myself, who is for me? If I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” Stress increases when we look to others to make things happen, or simply sit back and wait. This makes us victims of circumstances. BE PROACTIVE RATHER THAN SIMPLY REACTIVE! Taking control and acting on an issue reduces stress by working off the energy accompanying stress and by enchancing self-esteem.

I sincerely hope that these hints for dealing with stress make sense to you and that you will try to utilize them in the upcoming weeks. I will be continuing this theme in my next post. Meanwhile, if you would like a more personalized approach, please feel free to call us at Beyond the Horizons at 505-466-4990. Enjoy the present moment, and thanks for reading!