How to Get Motivated to Exercise and Overcome Depression.

When someone is mildly depressed, the first remedy that comes to mind: Exercise. In just a few minutes exercise burns off stress hormones and raises endorphin levels (the happiness hormone); now that’s a quick fix. This makes the depressed person feel better, more uplifted and therefore able to re-interpret the sources of stress in a more positive light. However, people who are depressed experience fatigue, low energy levels, irritability, poor sleep and the lack of interest in getting dressed and looking presentable. Ironically, the depressed person who needs to exercise most is not likely to exercise. The situation becomes self-perpetuating.

Depression is associated with dark words. “I’m not good enough,” “What’s the use of trying,” “I’m boring,” “I just have no luck,” “I’ll never find love because I’m not good looking enough.” A depressed person repeats this negative self-talk so many times until it becomes automatic, constantly replaying the same sad lyrics in her mind and believing every word.

The question is: How do you break this cycle and get a depressed person to exercise? This problem reminds me of the fairy tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. One of the dwarfs, Grumpy, is unhappy and proclaims, “I don’t want to be happy; I want to be sad!” Clinging to a sad state gives a person something he or she is seeking: attention and concern. “Take care of me. I’m a victim.” Exercise physically and mentally empowers the self, awakening the potential to grow and move on. I have observed women who felt stuck in their jobs and marriages, and began a strength training program. After about a year they were able to leave both situations to find greater fulfillment. As they put on more muscle, coordinated their movements to flow and improved their balance, they transferred these skills to their emotional lives. They blossomed with a new-found creative force and most importantly, self-confidence. They continued to exercise regularly which gave them the natural “high” to look down at their relatively smaller problems and see the total picture – then the solution. Unlike being hooked on cocaine or other drugs which deaden the senses, a person practicing a daily regimen of exercise awakens the senses to greater pleasure in life. Here are some suggestions to begin exercising when you are depressed and feel that you don’t have the energy to do it:

  • You have to become aware of your feelings, specifically what is making you sad and why you are sad?
  • Being sad has to feel so uncomfortable to you, that you want to change it and will make every effort to pull yourself out of it. If you are not motivated to release your sadness, you won’t. You have to want to let go.
  • Making small changes helps you to keep them. As the saying goes, small changes, giant gains. Look at all the big New Year’s Resolutions we don’t keep. Instead we should call them New Year’s Evolutions. Compliment yourself frequently for keeping up the good work.
  • Work out with a friend. Sometimes we need an angel to take us by the hand and lead us to the promised land of health and fitness. Working out with a buddy becomes a social and positive experience. Often we are depressed because we feel lonely. Exercising with a friend provides a healthy bond. If you don’t have a friend to exercise with, go to the gym. You will meet people in classes and make friends; many people form close ties when they sweat together.
  • Sign up for exercise classes in a gym or community center. For example, aerobics, spinning, interval training, body-sculpting, yoga, pilates and belly dancing. Just signing up for a class, like scheduling an appointment with a doctor, makes you feel better! Also, a class is more effective than a tread mill or stationary bicycle, as you need to tap into group energy. The pulsating music works to excite and keep you moving. Lift all the blinds in the house and let the light shine in to help brighten you up. Because we are all different and require different triggers, if the exercise class suggestions do not work for you, then put on your sneakers and walk out the door. The sunlight will energize you. A brisk walk will de-stress and cheer you up. Aim for a twenty minute walk and each time try to pick up the pace. To make it exciting walk briskly for five minutes. Then slow down and walk at a relaxed pace for two minutes. Again, pick up the pace for five minutes, and stroll for two minutes. Continue the cycle. Varying the intervals kicks up the body and your mood, keeping you interested, alert and involved in the switches. When this becomes habitual, pump your arms and sprint for a minute as an interval. Before you know it, you might be jogging and developing a runner’s high!
  • Buy a new pair of sneakers, fitness clothes, or a workout audio/video. This can help you to get into the exercise groove. Remember how you felt anxious before the first day of school? Your mother bought you some new clothes along with a new book bag, pencil case, lunch box- well you get the idea.
  • Stick up motivating quotes all over your home, especially on the refrigerator. Play motivating music, perhaps the theme song from Rocky.

We all have five basic instincts for happiness. You can count them on your fingers: The thumb is the instinct for survival. The second finger is choice – what I choose or choose not to do. The third finger is empowerment to feel that we have something to contribute. The fourth finger is social as we need to connect with friends. The fifth finger is fun and we all would love to release our inner child and cut loose. Exercise strengthens our entire hand so that we are healthier, able to express ourselves, feel more powerful, able to meet and greet people and relaxed enough in our individual whims.

The Principle of Chaos and Reorganization.

In my opinion, all so-called dysfunctional feelings and behaviors — all those things that cause us emotional and mental suffering and cause us to seek therapy, personal growth programs, self-help approaches, and so on — are really coping mechanisms we use in an attempt to deal with the stress of being pushed past our personal threshold for what we can handle coming at us from the world. When our threshold is too low for our environment, stress and chaos happen, and we exhibit these various ways of suffering.

These coping mechanisms are an attempt to keep our internal map of reality (which is really what is being stressed when one’s personal threshold is exceeded) from falling apart. What we fail to recognize as we try to defend this map is that after falling apart, a new and better map will take its place.

This natural process, the identification of which led to a Nobel Prize for scientist Ilya Prigogine, involves this map (our concept of who we are and what our relationship is to the rest of the universe) going into temporary chaos in response to too much input, finally falling apart (when the chaos becomes so much the old map cannot hold itself together), and then instantly and simultaneously reforming itself at a higher level that CAN handle the environmental input that previously was too much for it.

Unless the system completely ceases to exist (the odds of which are one chance out of an infinite number of situations), this reorganization always results in a new system/map that can handle what the old system/map could not handle. The only reason we try to protect the old system and keep it from falling apart (and then reorganizing at a higher level) is that we think that map is who we are, rather than just a handy conceptual tool we use to help us through life. We get so used to using our concept of reality when making decisions about what to do, how to feel, how to act, and so on, that we forget it’s just a tool and that who we really are is much more.

Because we think we are this map, we think WE are falling apart when the map begins to fall apart, and we then try to protect it, even though the deficiencies of this map are the real problem in the first place, and a new a better one will instantly allow everything to work better. 8 Easy Steps To Creating A Money-On-Demand Machine.

So what is the practical application of this model of how things change and why people create dysfunctional feelings and behaviors and other kinds of resistance? How does this work in real life?

I’m glad you asked. First of all, you have to acknowledge to yourself that chaos precedes change. Whenever there is chaos (or stress) in your life (I don’t mean usually or occasionally, I mean WHENEVER) it means your current map is not able to handle the environment you’re in, is not quite able to handle the journey you’re on at the moment. At this point you might remind yourself that:

  1. a new map would be nice right now, and would, in fact, solve the problems the old map can’t handle,
  2. chaos is a sign I’m getting ready to create a new map, and if I get out of the way it’s creation will happen easier and faster.

It is helpful, therefore, to recognize when you are in the initial chaos state, and to remind yourself that this is the prelude to positive change — if you know how to get out of the way and let it happen. Many (most?) people cannot recognize when they are in chaos. Why? Several reasons. Many people instantly self-medicate whenever they begin to feel stressed. They reach for a drink, a joint, a cigarette, food, a sexual partner, or some kind of adrenaline rush — anything to mask what they are feeling. They do this unconsciously and automatically. They do not realize that the chaos they feel is a growth opportunity and that by not taking advantage of it they are condemning themselves to repeat the stress and chaos over and over, since every time life pushes at their current map, it will always be stressful. A new and more highly evolved map, however, could handle what the current map cannot.

Second, most people do not take responsibility for the chaos or stress they feel. They project it onto something outside of themselves. They find something to blame. “I’m stressed because of him.” “I’m stressed because I lost my job.” “I’m stressed because of the terrorist attacks.” “I’m stressed because of my kids/parents/partner/finances/health/whatever.” The real reason you are stressed, however, isn’t any of these. The one and only reason you are stressed or in chaos is that your threshold for what you can handle is too low for the environment you’re currently in. And the one and only real solution is to raise that threshold higher. Not taking responsibility and instead blaming something outside of yourself is yet another way of going unconscious and of avoiding being an active participant in creating personal evolution.

So first, you have to notice that there is chaos. “Here I am, in chaos.” Then, you have to acknowledge why it is happening. “My threshold for what I can handle is too low.” Then you have to remind yourself that since chaos is the first step in reorganizing your map of reality at a higher level — one that will work much better than the old one and handle much more — this is actually a big opportunity. “Hallelujah! I am about to evolve, and once I make the leap to the next level, I’ll be able to handle more, and a lot of things that cause me to suffer now will fall away!” Then, you have to let it be okay that you are going through the interim period of chaos, and just watch what happens (more about that in a future article). Resisting will at best make the process painful, and at worst will keep the reorganization from happening at all.

Few people in the world really understand how change works, which is why most people fight it. And, because they often “win” this battle over the change trying to happen, they lose the war. By fighting off change, you get to be pushed past the same old low threshold over and over until you finally allow it to reorganize itself at a higher level. All About Auctions And Its Types.

But you DO understand how change works, which will save you untold suffering, if you will only take advantage of your knowledge. Change is a natural process. You don’t need to know “how” to do it. The entire universe has been evolving for God only knows how long by this very mechanism. All you have to do is get out of the way. Here are the steps once more:

  • Notice and acknowledge that you are in chaos or stress.
  • Realize it is happening not because of something outside of you (yes, there is a stimulus, but it is not the CAUSE) but because your threshold for what you can handle is too low to handle your current environment.
  • Remind yourself that this is a good thing, and means you are about to evolve to the next level, where many current problems will disappear.
  • Let it be okay that this is happening.
  • Watch with curiosity and don’t resist.

Isn’t life simple?

Well, it is if you follow the above. Or, you can avoid being in any situations where you get pushed past your threshold (good luck). You can stay home, isolate yourself, do your best to not participate in life, don’t take in any new information, etc. Or, you can develop all kinds of ways to blow off steam when the pressure builds. You can be angry a lot, worry a lot, compulsively talk, or exercise, or eat, or have sex (or whatever you like to do). Of course, you’ll continue to have the same threshold in that case, with the same limitations. You already know what that’s like.

This principle of one of those deceptively simple things in life. At first it seems difficult, but once you master it you can’t figure out why you ever did it any other way.

One of the great things about the Centerpointe program (you knew I’d bring this in eventually, didn’t you?) is that not only does it push your threshold for what you can handle higher and higher (and higher), but it also gives you the clarity to be able to go through the five steps I’ve outlined above. As people progress in the program, this process gets easier and easier.

If your life is anything like mine, you have one opportunity after another to master this principle, so decide right now you will master it. After all, you’ll keep getting opportunities, one after another, until you do.

Finally, if you’re not in the program yet, what are you waiting for? How long do you want to wait to get started in making your life easier and your suffering smaller?

Honesty Is a Great Stress Reliever.

Honesty is the best policy; Confession is good for the soul; the truth will set you free – these homespun proverbs compress profound truths about how to lead happier and healthier lives. The implications are that if we become our authentic selves, express ourselves truly and freely, then we will feel more joyous and let other people into our lives. Currently, many people are engaged in massive cover-ups: who they are, what they want and what they contribute; cosmetic surgery is an example. Its popularity in TV shows like Extreme Makeover and The Swan indicate that a taut mask is preferable to laugh lines, and rivulets of expression. The rippling effect is that many are hiding who they are on the inside by accommodating, trying to fulfill other people’s expectations, obeying other people’s rules and pretending to be…No wonder that most of my workshop participants feel mildly depressed and negative. Conformity and suppression are energy drains.

The other day during the course of my reading I came across a phrase used by Alcoholics Anonymous in the 12 Step Program – fake it until you make it: A seeming contradiction to truthful living, yet ironically, wonderful advice about how to become more authentic. By speaking, dressing, eating, exercising and acting the role of who we wish to become, we will transform ourselves to fulfill that role. By taking an honest inventory of our limitations and capabilities we can develop our capabilities to do better and be better. Our failures need to be truthfully acknowledged because they serve as practice for success. Recognizing that each one of us is a unique work of art in progress provides the necessary confidence to explore, evaluate, grow and change. When we feel comfortable with ourselves, what we say and do without second guessing whether we said the right thing or did a good job, then we have come to an honest acceptance of who we are and the world we live in. That’s a great stress relief! Here are some suggestions to be more honest:

  • Begin to express your true opinions on small matters such as the food you eat, the clothes you like and the books you enjoy. Gradually you will express your opinions on larger issues.
  • If you make a mistake, don’t blame others. Assume responsibility and try to remedy it.
  • Keep on asking questions which will lead to a quest for more honest answers.
  • When you are about to reach a decision, what are the signals your body emits? If you don’t feel good, ask yourself what part of your body is involved and why? Trust your gut reaction.
  • Whatever you resist will persist. Face your “angels and demons” and make peace with them. You are the control center and have the power of perception. “The mind can make a heaven out of hell or a hell out of heaven.”
  • Stop apologizing for who you are and who your children are. For example, if you have a hyperactive, autistic, or retarded child, stop apologizing for him or her.
  • If you sense that a family member or friend is having a problem, speak up and offer a suggestion or emotional support.
  • Whatever you do, let the true you emerge in your work or play. For this to happen you need a good self-concept- be able to answer this question: what is it that you bring to life’s table- what is your specific contribution? If you don’t know, get started on having an open and honest conversation with yourself!

Gardens for Stress Relief.

It seems like we are always living on high stress alert whether triggered by environmental or self-induced pressures. By now we have read enough articles to know that stress is the root of all evil. It saps the joy right out of our lives. However, we possess the ability to restore our natural bio-rhythms. Gardening or strolling in a garden is a great natural stress reliever. While stress plays havoc physiologically, even depleting our bones, research shows that gardeners do not suffer from osteoporosis because of weight bearing activities like digging, raking, squatting to plant shrubs, lifting bags of soil, or pushing a lawnmower. Because gardening is a beloved hobby, gardeners lose track of time and therefore do not age while immersed in their passion! In addition, gardening lowers blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. We spend our lives wishing to return to the Garden of Eden in the afterlife; yet the Garden of Eden is here on earth… Here are seven tips for detoxifying in the garden.

  • A visit to a garden, your own, your friend’s or a formal botanical park, will infuse your spirit and your body with serenity. A garden is a place where great changes occur. Plant life does not seem to move in a garden, but there is constant movement and renewal. Similarly, we can make small changes, one step at a time. We can do so without the pressure of time, at a slower, more natural pace.
  • Plant life knows how to let go of the past. A plant dies in the winter and regenerates in the spring with no past consciousness—just a fresh new life growing towards the sun. If we learn to let go of resentment, anger and negativity, we make room for abundance in our lives. Like a tree, we grow towards the light.
  • A garden provides a wonderful setting for meditation. Hard work and dreams combine to teach us to bring out the best in ourselves. The universe’s handwriting is found in every garden: it is up to us to read the messages. Meditation helps us to get in touch with the still point within. When we meditate, we watch our worries float by without judgment. We become receptive to inspiration as nature permeates our senses.
  • Everything growing in the earth began at the seed level. We heal from the seed level as well – from the inside out. If our thinking and spirit are balanced and positive, we stay healthy or heal quickly. In order to heal dis-ease, we need to approach it from underground, the internal spiritual and emotional causes for stress-induced illnesses.
  • Gardening complements a comprehensive fitness program. Exercise sheds harmful stress hormones, raises endorphins and helps us think more clearly. Walking, stretching, finger dexterity, balance, strength, isometric positions and core stability are experienced in gardening. In other words, contraction, expansion, elongation and rest, all necessary building blocks for a sound mind in a sound body, parallel the components of plant life.
  • Simplify your existence and clean out the clutter. Zen philosophy teaches that all of nature is housed in a flower. When you appreciate a flower with your five senses, being fully present in your awareness – not worrying about children, parents or co-workers, then you are fully in the moment and stress-free. Appreciating the little things in life provide the key to happiness.
  • Adjust your bio-rhythms to nature to release stress. Technology has enabled us to work all hours of the night in unnatural light. However, if we let nature be our guide, the way gardeners do, we would honor the darkness and rest. In fall and winter, the days are shorter, so we wind down at night and get more sleep. The trees lose their leaves, telling us to simplify and organize. In winter we contract and take stock of ourselves. In spring there is a different vibrational energy as we spring into action, teeming with activity, enjoying increased daylight. Summer makes us hot and lazy and we wind down to take those long weekends away from work. When we visit a garden during the four seasons, we appreciate the changes and absorb the corresponding mindsets. Remember human nature got its start in a garden.

Controlling Stress Before It Controls You.

Screaming kids, spousal misunderstandings, blaring alarm clocks, approaching deadlines, unexpected interruptions, creativity blocks, endless emails or phone messages to return, bad news, bills to be paid, traffic jams, health problems, computer crashes, household chores, impending taxes, demanding bosses . . . stress, stress and more stress. But did you ever stop to think about what leads to stress?

The path to stress is easy to see by observing the natural characteristics of human beings as they select, process and respond to experiences. If we could slow down our thought-reaction process, we could see the individual characteristics of humanness as they play out. For example, here’s an example to illustrate how stress happens and how it affects you:

  1. The Basics About Stem Cells.

This illustration can be applied to any situation you experience – getting cut off in traffic, having your work critiqued, being assigned more work than you think you can handle, having a disagreement, etc. Your emotional and physical response and your personal effectiveness depend on the meaning you give to the experience.

So before you get all stress-out over the situation, take a moment to stop and think about whether your interpretation of the situation is accurate. A great question to check your interpretation is, “How can I know for sure?”

The question applied to the above scenario would be, “How can I know for sure that he has been in an accident?” The obvious answer is, you can’t know for sure. So why let yourself get stressed-out over an imaginary fear? Afterall, it’s your thoughts that lead to stress, and you can control those.

Stress Fractures in Female Athletes.

Stress fractures have two primary causes. They result from excessive bone strain resulting in microdamage to the bone coupled with an inability to keep up with appropriate repair of the bone, or a depressed response to normal strain at the cellular and molecular levels where bone remodeling occurs. The former occurs most often in otherwise healthy female athletes and military recruits, while the latter is likely to occur with other physical problems, such as osteoporosis.

There were 2.4 million high school girls competing in sports in 1997, an 800% increase over 1971. And stress fractures occur more often in female athletes than male athletes. The risk of stress fractures in female recruits in the US military is up to 10 times higher than men undergoing the same training program.

There are many contributing factors to the greater frequency of stress fractures in women. Male athletes may have greater muscle mass, which absorbs shock better. In a study of female athletes, decreased calf girth was a predictor of stress fractures of the tibia. The larger width of male bones may also absorb shock better.

Bone mass and bone mineral density can vary widely in females due to several factors, including hormonal influences and menstrual irregularities. Low calcium intake and eating disorders may contribute to the development of stress fractures. Conversely, oral contraceptive pills appear to help prevent stress fractures in female athletes.

For both men and women, a rigid, high-arched foot absorbs less stress and transmits greater force to the leg bones, which may increase stress fracture risk. And studies of female athletes have shown that having one leg slightly longer than the other can increase the risk of stress fractures.

Other risk factors for stress fractures, in general, include training regimen, footwear and training surface. For example, higher weekly running mileage has been shown to correlate with increased incidence of stress fractures. In another study, ballet dancers who trained more than five hours a day had a significantly higher risk of stress fractures than those who trained less than five hours per day. A sudden change in frequency, duration or intensity of training also affects the risk of stress fractures.

In addition, research has shown that training in athletic shoes older than six months increased the risk for stress fractures. Shoe age, rather than shoe cost, was a better indicator of shock absorbing ability. In theory, training on uneven surfaces, or hard surfaces like cement, could also increase stress fracture risk.

Female Athlete Triad

Stress fractures may be the first sign of a more serious underlying condition, such as the “female athlete triad.” This is an inter-related problem consisting of amenorrhea (no menstruation), disordered eating and osteoporosis, a potentially lethal combination. Female athletes, particularly those participating in individual sports, may feel significant pressure to excel where leanness and a low body weight are seen as advantageous.
Abnormal eating patterns include food restriction or fasting, bingeing and purging, or the use of laxatives and diet pills. In combination with decreased body weight and excessive training, this can lead to menstrual disturbance, and in turn, low estrogen levels. Women with disordered eating, estrogen deficiency and menstrual dysfunction are predisposed to osteoporosis. Female athlete triad sufferers are at a significant risk for stress fractures. What Would Reagan Do?

Several studies have shown that stress fractures occur more commonly in women who have stopped menstruating or have irregular periods than those who have a regular menstrual cycle. Athletes with menstrual disturbances have lower estrogen levels and this may lead to lower bone mineral densities. Estrogen deprivation may affect the bone’s ability to adapt to stress.

There is some evidence that beginning to menstruate at a later age may be a factor in stress fractures. Another issue for young female athletes is abnormally low levels of estrogen and poor nutrition during adolescence. This can lead to lower bone mass, which may be irreversible after a certain age.

Diagnosis and Treatment


A very specific and accurate diagnosis is the key to proper treatment. Pain from a stress fracture of the neck of the femur (thigh bone), for example, may cause pain in the groin, hip, front of the thigh or the knee. Often standard X-rays do not disclose stress fractures. A bone scan, CT (computerized tomography) scan or magnetic resonance imaging may be more effective, depending on the site of the suspected fracture. The pelvis, sacrum (in the lower back), and the femur are areas where females tend to have a higher occurrence of stress fractures. The patella (knee cap), tibia (shin bone), and bones on the outside of the foot are other common areas of stress fractures, the tibia being the most common of all.
The type of stress fracture and its location generally determine treatment. In most cases, rest is the cure for stress fractures. Non-weight-bearing exercise, such as swimming, may be prescribed so that the athlete can maintain aerobic fitness. However, some stress fractures require surgery to fix the bone in place so that it can heal properly.

For more information, see “Stress Injury to the Bone Among Women Athletes” in the November 2000 issue of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America.

Five Stress Relief Tips.

Stress Relief Tip #1: Do one thing at a time.

Do it mindfully. Do it well. Enjoy the satisfaction. Then go on to the next thing. Multitasking might work for computers, but humans have yet to get the hang of it. It leads to careless mistakes, shoddy work and unreliable performance. Worst of all, having to do things over. This is no way to live. Give what you’re doing your undivided attention. Take the time to get it right. And enjoy the experience.

There are 299 more simple stress relief strategies and techniques in Why make yourself crazy?

Stress Relief Tip #2: Cut down on competitive stress.

It is Day 2 of our stress-relief strategies. G. Gaynor McTigue, author of the best-selling “Why Make Yourself Crazy?”, is with us all week, and he offers another of his top 5 stress relief tips.

Today, we compete for everything: the space around us, to be first to own a new product, to get our kids signed up for programs, to get our viewpoints across, to be faster, smarter, richer, sexier. Our days are filled with stressful competitions. And most are absolutely unnecessary. Because they’re driven by insecurity, fear of being left behind, an ingrained need to always have more or better than the next guy. Try to get above all that. If you want to compete, vie to be the one who stays calm and in control, who isn’t easily sucked in by material things, who avoids being caught up in the daily grab-bag that robs people of health and peace of mind. Compete for that and see how pointless all those other competitions become. And how misguided those who partake in them begin to appear.

There are 299 more simple stress relief strategies and techniques in Why make yourself crazy?

Stress Relief Tip #3: Throw something out every day.

We are at the mid-point of stress-relief week. G. Gaynor McTigue, author of the best-selling “Why Make Yourself Crazy?”, offers another favorite stress-relief strategy:

You’ve got too much stuff in your house. Office. Garage. Attic. Useless clutter that’s weighing you down, getting in the way, obscuring the things you really need. Be realistic. If you’re not going to use it, lose it. And you don’t have to make a humongous project out of it. Every day, find one thing you don’t need and toss it. Or give it away. Over time, the clutter will begin to vanish and space and order will magically appear in your home…and your life.

There are 299 more simple stress relief strategies and techniques in Why make yourself crazy?

Stress Relief Tip #4: Eliminate meaningless deadlines.

This is stress-relief week at http://www.TheHappyGuy.com. G. Gaynor McTigue, author of the best-selling “Why Make Yourself Crazy?”, offers this stress-relief strategy:

Our life is full of them. Arbitrary and unrealistic time constraints imposed by ourselves and others that serve only to make us more pressured, anxious, stressed out. For no worthwhile reason. Avoid the trap of assigning time frames to everything you do, especially if you have little idea how long it will take. Instead, make your goal one of completing a project in a careful, profession- al, satisfying manner. In other words, as long as it takes to do it right. Save your nerves, and your energy, for the few real deadlines we face…like April 15th.

There are 299 more simple stress relief strategies and techniques in Why make yourself crazy?

Stress Relief Tip #5: Get more out of life by doing less.

All week we have been featuring stress-reduction strategies from G. Gaynor McTigue, author of the best-selling “Why Make Yourself Crazy?” We thank him for being with us as we learn from the final of his top 5 stress-relief strategies:

What a concept! Is your life fulfilling? Or is it merely crammed? Know the difference and you’ll realize it’s not the quantity of activities you engage in (or possessions you collect) that ultimately determine your happiness. One naturally unfolding, enriching experience can easily surpasses many rushed and distracted ones. But you may be so chronically overscheduled, you never give yourself a chance to enjoy anything to the fullest. Experiment. Choose an occasion and give it your complete, mindful and unhurried attention. Then imagine an entire life of such enrichment. It’s absolutely attainable.

There are 299 more simple stress relief strategies and techniques in Why make yourself crazy?

Tips for Beating Stress.

Life is filled with pressures. Some are gentle nudges that throw us temporarily off balance, others feel like hard marble bookends, steely vises, or giant grinding compactors. Pressures– especially those “have to’s”–create stress. Learning to manage stress can make a strong positive contribution to success and personal well-being. Stress isn’t necessarily the enemy. Moderate amounts can enhance performance, producing exhilaration and a sense of well being, like the endorphin high experienced after aerobic exercise. Good stress contributes to attaining goals and fulfilling commitments. Bad stress is created by negative emotions, unmanageable (or unmanaged) events, environmental pollutants of various kinds–even good stress in excessive amounts. Continually placing mind and body under stress can eventually lead to lapses in judgment, reduced creativity, emotional burnout, and a host of degenerative diseases. One way to help yourself manage stress is to make a list of the stressors in your life, then examine each one by asking yourself:

  • What’s so bad about this–why is it stressful?
  • How do I usually respond when this happens?
  • How do situations like this usually get resolved?
  • Can I reduce the impact of this stressor through better self- management? …by improving a relationship? …with an attitude adjustment? …by changing a health practice or taking a stress break.

Self-management
To a point, the stress of being active and involved is exhilarating–it’s good stress. Only you know when you’ve slipped over the edge into distress–the hazardous zone. When the amber lights start flashing, good personal management offers one of the quickest paths to stress reduction.

  • Set goals. Decide what’s important and pursue it; decide what’s not important and demote its priority ranking. Learn to say no.
  • Get organized. Keep a detailed calendar to remind you of even the smallest tasks.
  • Be creative. Find new and better ways to do routine tasks. Challenge yourself to shave a few seconds off a job each time you do it.
  • Keep your life in balance. Develop interests and supports outside your primary work environment. Join a support group and pursue a hobby.

Relationship Skills
Humans beings need other humans beings the way a computer needs a power source. Women need contact with other women–and men. Relationships energize us, and energy in turn relieves stress.

  • Expand your people base. Invite someone you like but don’t know well to have lunch with you.
  • Choose a “secret pal” — and begin a playful correspondence.
  • Write thank-you notes to individuals who assist or collaborate with you.
  • Always address people by name. If you think you’ll have trouble remembering someone’s name, ask the person to write it down for you.
  • Listen. Listening is a priceless skill and a rare gift to offer others. It also reduces stress by ensuring that your busy brain captures messages and instructions the first time.

Attitude Skills
Feelings of anger, frustration, resentment, jealousy, and boredom have an emotional and physical price tag. Do you really want to pay it? When you find yourself nourishing negative emotions — brooding, worrying, plotting — remember that by changing your thoughts, you can also change your feelings.

  • Take “play breaks.” Keep a box of “toys” in your work area. Occasionally take a few minutes to juggle, work a puzzle, or throw a few baskets into one of those miniature nets.
  • When you’re working on a tough project, cheer yourself up with flowers.
  • Keep a book of poems nearby. Occasionally, take a break and read one–silently or aloud to family or colleagues.
  • Keep a bulletin board of cartoons, whimsical items from the media, and inspirational messages.
  • Infuse a little life into routine tasks. Practice line-dance steps while you’re walking the dog. Include a cartoon in your next letter or report. Walk around the block while you’re waiting for copies to be printed.

Health and Vitality Skills
Sometimes you can’t make stress go away, but you can combat the effects of stress so they don’t drag you down and make you sick. You wouldn’t board a plane that you knew had worn tires or a faulty landing gear so don’t try to handle long-term stress with your body overfed, undernourished, or out of shape.

  • Enroll in an exercise class–one filled, not with grimly determined hard-bodies, but with folks having fun.
  • Get outdoors and take a walk. Make a game of noticing little things you’ve never seen before.
  • Use a balanced nutritional supplement program. Antioxidants are a must for combating stress.
  • Reduce air pollution by running an air purifier at home or work. You might also try using an aroma-therapy diffuser with different combinations of oils.
  • Take frequent 5-minute breaks to stretch, do self-massage, meditate, or just clear your head.

Latest Stress Control Suggestions

Stress is a major menace of our times. Findings indicate that 70-90 percent of the population today is suffering from some kind of stress (in the workplace and elsewhere). Isn’t this really alarming?

To combat this growing menace competent physicians expert in the field of stress control and management have suggested several measures. Some of the latest suggestions offered by them are:

  • Find time to relax and drink a cup of tea two to three times a day. Pure teas have a very soothing and relaxing effect on the whole system and have been proved by researchers to be one of the best stress busters. Herbal teas i.e. teas prepared from various herbs acclaimed for their medicinal and curative properties over the ages are a wonderful option. However, it is suggested that teas should not be mixed with milk and/or refined sugar for giving the best results.
  • Rudraksha- a bead obtained from an Indian tree has been found to be very effective in stress management. This is actually a fruit that is believed to possess miraculous powers. It finds usage in spiritual and occult practices. It is the proven curative effect of the fruit on several physiological and psychological diseases that it is being brought into use in stress management. Wearers of these beads tied in a string or chain have testified to its remarkable stress reducing properties.
  • Good planning and setting up of realistic and achievable targets is a key stress control measure. You need to identify your priorities and goals and pursue only those and organize your time accordingly. This will keep stress and tension at bay.
  • Eating sensibly helps ease out tension and reduce stress too. Make sure you avoid caffeine. You must resolve never to try coping with high levels of stress by using alcohol or drugs. These will do more harm than good.
  • Set aside a period for complete relaxation in your daily schedule. Just a 25-20 minutes time spent each day in an undisturbed atmosphere and taking of 40 deep and slow diaphragmatic breaths will considerably help out in managing stress. Practicing some aerobic exercises like jogging, swimming or simply walking will further help in providing freedom from stress.

Though researchers are finding out new stress control measures such as these yet we must understand that the root cause of the problem lies in the busy modern way of life that we follow. This way of life as characterized by hectic activity, tight deadlines and packed schedules is very much taxing on our system thereby affecting both our physical and mental health in more ways than one. Now, since we cannot change our lifestyle altogether we need advocate at least some of the advanced stress busting measures as suggested above.