Archive for the ‘Stress Relief’ category

5 Tips for Keeping Your Holiday Spirits Bright

December 11th, 2012

We tend to react to familiar situation in familiar ways.  That’s clearly true any time we find ourselves back in a familiar situation – like celebrating a holiday with our family of origin or our in-laws.

Without thinking, old ingrained patterns of behavior kick in.  When the pattern is constructive, the gathering tends to feel like the blessing and celebration of life it’s intended to be.  But, when there is stress and strain in relationships, what could be a joyful time is marred by negativity.

So, if you’re thinking about how you can avoid family dysfunction this holiday season, look no further.  Here are 5 tips for that will help you keep your holiday spirits bright.

1) Make conscious choices about how you react.  If your experience of holiday gatherings is less than peaceful and enjoyable, this year instead of interacting and responding like you usually do to the stressors, make a conscious choice to do all you can to make the gathering you’re part of a positive experience – for yourself and everyone else.

At every turn, when old, familiar negative thoughts and reactions well up, ready to burst forth, before you respond, take a deep breath and remember your decision – your conscious choice – to do all you can to add peace and enjoyment to the gathering.

 2) Set boundaries and share them.  Setting boundaries is not easy.   Your decision impacts others in the family or social group.  It’s helpful to tell them, in advance, that cousin Robin will not be with us this year.  Or what the new house rules are:  a no shoes policy, no smoking in the house or no gifts.  Giving your guests early notice about changes to traditions provides them an opportunity to get used to the idea or to decide they’d rather not join you this year.

When you set boundaries, the dynamics of the relationships may also change.  Be ready to hear and accept other’s reactions.  You don’t have to argue the point, agree, disagree or feel pressured to alter your decision.  Simply acknowledge that you hear and understand how they feel.   Then, be patient as everyone, including you, adjusts to the changes.

3) Remove yourself from caustic situations. If you experience the behavior of another as unkind, abusive or disrespectful, don’t hesitate to remove yourself from the environment.

Go to another room.  Take a walk.  Sit in your car.  Drive around the block.  If need be, excuse yourself from attending the gathering and find another time to connect with everyone.

 4) Wait 2 minutes before responding to anything that infuriates you.  This is a good practice in any situation.  Reflex responses are often defensive and tend to escalate tensions, anxiety or anger.  Take a few deep breaths.  Go get a drink of water. Stand outside.  Do something to clear your mind and allow your breathing to return to normal . . . a sign that you – the grown up, rational you – is back in control.

When you rejoin the setting, since the moment of tension has probably passed, no comment may be necessary.  But, if you feel compelled to say something, remember the conscious choice you made to do all you can to add peace and enjoyment to the gathering.  Respond with that in mind.

5) Use their actions as lessons on how NOT to be.  Family and loved ones offer us a great opportunity to learn about ourselves and the limits we place on our willingness and capacity to demonstrate compassion and love.

Accept your family and friends as they are.  Many holiday fights and frustrations come about because we want our loved ones to be different than they are.  We CANNOT control how others behave so don’t even try.

Remember, at the heart of every individual and family is a real need for love and acceptance.  This holiday season, and every day, consciously decide to bring love, peace, compassion, acceptance and enjoyment to life – yours and everyone around you.

Happy Holiday!

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Boost Trust in Your Relationships

October 16th, 2012

Are your relationships resting on a strong foundation of trust?  If so, you may be among the 49% of people in the US who say they have a high level of trust in others.

But, here’s the rub:  if 49% trust others that means 51% aren’t so trusting.  What’s that about?  While I can’t account for the whole story, I believe I have a useful perspective on part of it because trust is at the heart of what makes relationships work.

When trust is present in a relationship there is a sense of ease, reliability and predictability.  The presence of trust helps us to relax and feel safe.  We need trust in our relationships – at home, in the workplace, in our communities.  Trust is its own social capital and it’s value – priceless.

You may be in an important relationship where you want to strengthen trust.  It’s not bad, but it certainly could be better.  Or, perhaps you’re forming new relationships – in your love life, in a new or extended family, on in your professional life.  Or you may be facing the uphill challenge of needing to repair trust and credibility in a damaged or broken relationship.

When clients talk with me about their challenges with building or repairing trust, and ask how to proceed, my recommendation is often the same.  It’s a straightforward, simple suggestion:  going forward, keep your word.  Say what you mean.  Promise only what you intend to deliver.

Even when you’re uncomfortable saying “No,” don’t agree to anything you know you’re not going to do because you don’t want to, don’t have the authority to execute, or because of some other constraint you won’t or can’t follow-through.

Broken agreements are at the heart of most damaged and dysfunctional relationships, both in the workplace and at home.  If you’re not going to keep a commitment you made, tell the affected person or parties, as soon as possible.  Offer a sincere apology for not following through on what you said.

Keeping your word is an act of honor and accountability.  It makes you stand out as trust-worthy when people know they can count on you to keep the promises you make, and when you can’t, they know you’ll give them the respect of informing them directly and early.

Boost the trust level in your relationships.  The trust you earn by keeping your word will open doors and keep them open.

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You’re Busy, Busy, Busy! But How Productive Are You?

October 2nd, 2012

Are you among the many people for whom working long hours, multitasking and pressing to meet deadlines have become a way of life?

In the short-term, these are practical solutions.  But, research tells us that this pattern, over the long-term, increases stress levels and results in lower levels of productivity.  Eventually, even though you’re plenty busy, you begin to accomplish less.

To accomplish more, you have to find ways to leverage your time and resources more effectively.  Here are 3 quick and simple strategies that can help you accomplish more, with less stress.

Organize your work life – email, files, drawers and desktop.  Doing so will enable you to more readily find what it is you need, saving valuable minutes, as well as the cost – time and dollars of unnecessary redos and purchases.  Just as physical mail and papers can be placed in project folders, so can email.  That puts their access at the ready.

Tackle your most challenging tasks when you’re at your best.  For example, if you’re a morning person, take on important projects that require thought during those hours.

Activity logs can provide important insight into how you spend your time.  For one week, jot down how you use your time.  Each time you begin a new activity, make a note of what it is and how much time it required.  This will help you get a handle on whether you’re spending your time on high-value, high priority tasks or wasting more time than needed on low-priority meetings, interruptions or other distractions.

Good time management requires self-awareness and self-management.  The payback in productivity will be well worth the effort.

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100% Full Proof Guaranteed Way to Instantly Reduce Stress

July 31st, 2012

Guest Blog by Kyle Ruffin

One day, I found myself, as I often do, staring with anger at a woman in the supermarket who was wearing an outfit that was absolutely inappropriate for her.  Not only was it too tight, it was clearly designed for a girl half her age.   I stared and stared, while my mind devised insults that would put this woman in her place once and for all.  If I could just say the right words to her, she’d thank me, run home and set this outfit, and no doubt other hideous attire in her closet, on fire.  But of course, that was the least likely outcome.  So why was I investing so much emotion in this complete stranger?

How many times a day do you find yourself in this state of mind?  Working yourself up over a total stranger or a situation that you either can’t control or doesn’t concern you?  When you do, your blood pressure goes up.  Your chest tightens.  Your heart starts racing.  The tension in your face and around your eyes intensifies.  Your forehead pinches so much that your eyebrows feel like they might touch.  We ALL do it.  Waste valuable time and expend angry emotion that benefits no one – especially not ourselves.

We live in a society where passing judgment is truly our favorite pastime.  My guess is that’s what makes Reality TV so popular.  We can sit on the couch and legitimately judge the ridiculous actions of someone who will have no impact on our lives what so ever.  Why do we even care if the Bachelorette sleezes her way through the latest batch of men?  Or another has-been TV star has fallen from grace into the clutches of dysfunction.

We’ve been judging others for so long and we do it so often that it’s a reflex.  Experts (and I’m no expert) would probably say it’s a hold-over from the human evolutionary period when we needed to make snap judgments about whether the approaching thing was going to eat us.  In most cases today, it serves no purpose.  Admittedly, there are situations where it’s good to size someone up before they can do us harm.  When it comes to superficial judging, we’re better off without it.

I’ve consciously decided to turn the tide by taking control of my mind and emotions in this area.  In the same way people use Mindfulness techniques to reduce stress, I’m using these techniques to stop judging others.  Since judging is such an involuntary reaction, it’s very hard to head it off at the pass, but as soon as I realize what I’m doing, I just stop.  Instantly, I feel the tension melt away.  My shoulders lower.  My chest unclenches. My disposition lightens and I sometimes even find myself smiling ever so slightly – finding humor in the ridiculousness of self-righteous stance.

Kyle Ruffin

Kyle Ruffin

Give it a shot.  I guarantee you’ll feel the difference.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to pull out the judgment card.  So, if that heart-racing, brow-squinching feeling is something you crave, just wait a few minutes.  Real danger is bound to present itself.

 

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Meditation 101: You’re Too Busy NOT to Try It!

June 19th, 2012

Guest Blog By Kyle Ruffin

If like me, you read the book and/or saw the movie “Eat. Pray. Love.” –  you may have gotten the impression that meditation is a lot of work!   References made to the daily reciting of the ancient yogic text “Bhagavad Gita” made it seem like school work memorization.  It looked very nice and clearly beneficial for Elizabeth Gilbert, but not for me!  Just another to-do list item that I can live without.  Thank you very much!

Then I took a Mindful Stress Reduction class, and meditation was at its core.  There were no mantra’s or memorization.  There was no ancient language.  I learned that at its most basic, meditation is about doing nothing.  It’s about stopping our racing mind long enough for it to clear and function more efficiently.  I can do that.  I can do “nothing.”  Or can I?

The facilitator (shout out to Hope Honeyman) introduced us to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s breath and body scan meditations which – as you might imagine – are all about focusing on the breath and the sensation of being in your body.  The biggest challenge was keeping our minds from going back to our insane to-do lists, our questions about “what if,” and our “Monkey Mind” that constantly chatters away in our heads.  The only learning required was learning how to silence the chatter by focusing, refocusing and focusing again on breath and the task of “being” NOT “doing.”  Each time I pushed my “to do list” out of my head, I could feel the tension melt away with it.  It felt like my brain thawing after a long freeze.

We did outdoor walking meditations – taking slow deliberate steps, feeling the ground beneath our feet and scanning our bodies from head to toe, becoming aware of how each body part felt at that moment.  We did an eating meditation.  Too often we gobble down our food, never taking the time to enjoy the flavors and sensations of the things we crave.  There’s all kinds of evidence that says people who practice mindful eating eat less because they enjoy their food more.

Just closing your eyes and listening to everything within earshot is a great mediation – shutting out everything else is a way to train your mind to focus.

My favorite was Kabat-Zinn’s body scan meditation, which always left me feeling centered, calm and able to complete full sentences in a single bound.  That’s my demon, my mind races so much that I forget my point before I get to the end of my sentence.  We live in a “what’s next” society, rushing ahead in our minds and rarely, if ever, enjoying where we are right now – even when we’re doing something we love.  We wonder why we don’t enjoy life as much — why we need more and more stimulation and stuff to make us happy.  I’m here to tell you there is a cure.  It’s free, non-invasive and requires no prescription.

At the end of the 8-week program, the women along for this great journey raved about how much better life was after incorporating meditation and awareness to their every day existence.  Blood pressure was lower.  Reactions were calmer.  Attitudes were more positive and coping skills were more integrated.

Wanna try it out?  Here’s a little dose. After reading this, get into a comfortable supported position.  Close your eyes.  Relax your face and shoulders.  Then focus on nothing else but the coolness of your breath entering your nostrils and the warmth of your breath as it exits.  Take 20 long breaths.  When your mind starts racing, shut it down. It’s okay — the to-do list will be there when you’re done.  But more importantly, you’ll have restored and refreshed your mind in ways that will put that to-do list in perspective and make tackling it much easier.  I guarantee it!

IF YOU WANT MORE…

Search online for “free guided meditations,” or check out Jon Kabat Zinn’s Guided Mindfulness Meditation – which offers 4 meditations that are great for beginners.

If you’re in the South Jersey area and want to learn more about Mindful Stress Reduction classes, contact Hope Honeyman, LCSW.

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GUEST BLOG: Remember How Good It Felt to Swing?

May 15th, 2012

By Guest Blogger Kyle Ruffin

It felt like you were flying.  There was something about the simple movement of swinging back and forth, somewhat out of control, that brought about amazing joy when you were a kid.  So much so that writing about it is bringing back a little of that sensation.

One day recently, while going about my humdrum routine of tasks and obligations, I walked by a watercolor painting of kids crowded onto one of those 4-person swings.  They had so much joy painted on their faces.  I thought, wow, I remember feeling that way.  A bunch of friends, or maybe even strange kids I didn’t really know, not caring that we were touching and sharing germs as we enjoyed in the simple act of swinging.  It was before all our phobias had kicked in.  Before Dr. Oz showed us how many germs are on the average kid’s toy.  Or before we became obsessed with engaging only in things that would grow our bank accounts.  Before we became afraid of embarrassing ourselves or looking silly.  Before we started experiencing life vicariously through our kids.  It’s just not the same thing.

All the while, we wonder “Where’d the joy go?  Why don’t I get the same excitement out of simple things in life?”   The kids are having all the fun and we’re feeling empty.   I find my excitement these days is pretty limited to sharing a bottle of wine, a meal and good conversation with my friends and family.  I do love that, but it’s time to diversify the things from which I derive pleasure.  All my physical activity is focused on getting or staying fit – not the joy of movement for it’s own sake.

There’s a lot to be gained by engaging the body in fun stuff.  It’s actually good for our precious mind.  It shakes loose all those cobwebs and gets the blood flowing to parts that haven’t seen blood in a while.   It’s hard not to be present and fully in the moment when you’re throwing your body around.  Not to mention how good those endorphins feel.

I applaud you if you’re one of those people Electric Sliding or Chicken Dancing on the wedding reception dance floor?  Or if you ski — wind in your face, moving at a speed that’s just out of control enough to feel exhilarating but not dangerous.   Okay…maybe a little dangerous.   Time for me to join you!

I’m heading down to the playground to see if that swing set my association dues paid for will hold my weight.  If not, I’ll track down a hoola-hoop to throw my body into.   Some simple fun.  I consider it my reward for all the time I’ve focused on my bank account.

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“Intelligence is Overrated…”

May 1st, 2012

Forbes Magazine Gives The Real Secret to Success

Emotional Intelligence has become a pretty-well accepted interpersonal quality in the business community.  But it goes even further.  Your MQ (Moral Intelligence) and your BQ (Body Intelligence) are also important ingredients for a successful career.

This week, I’m speaking about this very topic at a conference for CEOs in Vancouver.  Interest in the importance of emotional and social intelligence is increasing tremendously.  As more and more people from all walks of life look for ways to distinguish themselves, the Forbes article “Intelligence is Overrated: What You Really Need To Succeed” by Keld Jensen provides practical steps to expand one’s range of capability and competence.

Leaders recognize the need to connect with their workforce, peers and those senior to them at a deeper level – in a way that captures minds and hearts.  Social intelligence enables that connection.

I urge you to read this article and consider the ways you can strengthen your skills in these areas that are, and have always been, critical to sustained success.

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How to Connect With You Inner Wisdom

April 24th, 2012

In this month’s O Magazine, Oprah asked a number of readers, “What do you appreciate most about getting older?”  While I enjoyed each woman’s response, Azadeh Reza Mercado said, “Finding, hearing and listening to my inner voice.”

Her response reminded me of last week’s blog about hearing your true voice, not the myriad of voices in your head – your mother’s, your 1st grade teacher’s, your older sister’s, the minister or rabbi’s, your girlfriends’, or the thing you read most recently – but the truth that comes from the deepest part of who you really are.  Like Ms. Mercado, I am thankful for the ever-present voice within that communicates with me.

In a recent conversation with a client, I said, “I treasure the clarity and peace I receive from hearing from the wise one within me.”

She then asked, “How do you know it’s your inner voice and not just some other voice in your head?”  Her question made me think.

I told her that the voice of my inner self – my guide and counselor, my higher self – always leaves me feeling calm, clear and certain.

Truly, for me, it’s that simple.  When I connect with my inner guide, I shift from unrest to feeling at ease.  I morph from confusion about what I feel, think or need to do or say into clear confident being.  All the tension in my shoulders disappears.  The dull ache in my head evaporates.  The tightness and churn in my gut settles down.  I breathe a full, deep, unrestricted breath.  In this way, my body is a good barometer.  It recognizes and accepts the powerful truth and wisdom of my higher self.

Maybe you’ve experienced this after turning down an invitation to something that you just didn’t want to attend, or you found a creative solution to a nagging problem.  Or maybe the calm came after you stood your ground where you’d normally give in.  The result – you got just what you wanted, what you needed.

The wise one within you is continually trying to connect with you, to serve you.  She wants to ease your burdens, answer your questions, guide you through tough decisions and help you find the easiest path to your next destination.

Like Azadeh Reza Mercado do you value and trust what you hear from within?  If you don’t have a solid relationship with your inner self, if you aren’t sure you’d know her if she came to your front door or if you’ve never considered this question, there are easy steps you can take to test the waters.

The first critical step is acknowledging that you want to.  Then, once a day, or once a week, take the time to interact and engage.  Ask questions to which you’d like answers.  Start with a simple question like, “How should I approach my co-worker/friend/mother-in-law about an issue I’m having.”  Then, look and listen for a response.  The answer may come through a book, another person, a dream, a sudden knowing, etc.  Or say to your higher self, “I’m here to listen.  Speak to me.”

Then, sit and wait patiently.  Words, images, feelings, ideas, thoughts will come into your awareness.  The more you listen for and accept the messages that come to you, the easier it is to hear her whispers.

Listening and hearing takes practice.  In order to trust what you hear and receive, a leap of faith may be required, particularly early on.  You may find that you have to decide to suspend disbelief and, through an act of faith, accept that what you’re hearing is credible and trustworthy.

Ask, listen and trust what you receive. Consciously choose to connect with your inner voice, your internal and eternal wisdom.

 

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Guest Blog: Five Tips to Manage Overwhelm

February 29th, 2012

Linda Siniscal

By Linda Siniscal

Does it seem like you need to accomplish more in less time than ever before?  Just about every small business owner I know is overwhelmed with everything they need to do.  Many factors are contributing to this feeling:  new technologies, increased government regulation, a need to market harder, and less access to capital are just a few examples.

Is there truly a way to find an extra hour each day?  Yes, there is, and here are five tips you can put in place to reduce the feeling of overwhelm, free up time, and feel more in control of your business.

1.    Get stuff done off prime time. 

Most people drive to work between 7 and 9 and come home between 4 and 6.  Save yourself 15-30 minutes per day or more by coming in before or after the rush.

Apply this same idea to your weekly errands or times when you need to stand in line.  Go to a restaurant a little early (or late) to avoid the busiest times.   Go to the grocery store during the week instead of on Saturday.

Doing this for 10-12 errands per week will save an hour a week or more.  Combine that with the time you’ll save in rush hour, and you could save as much as three hours a week using this idea.  Even if you can apply this idea to only one or two days a week, you’ll still be ahead of the game.

2.    Delegate clerical or personal tasks.

Make a list of all the tasks you are doing that a minimum wage earner could do, and hire a college student for a few hours a week.  You’ll benefit from systematizing the tasks you delegate – they will get done more efficiently – and you will have freed up a few hours a week once your worker is trained.

3.    Practice Power Hour.

Carve out one hour a day to complete the most profitable task for your business.  This might be making sales calls, meeting with a power partner, or designing a new service or product to offer clients.  It’s best if it’s the first hour in your day.  In any case, the time should be sacred, with no checking email, no answering the phone, and no texting.

Your business will really accelerate when you make Power Hour a regular practice.

4.    Check email and social media less often.

Turn off automatic send and receive in your Outlook or email application.  Instead, close (yes, close!) your email application for most of the day.  Check it only at 8am, noon, and 4pm. When you can break the addictive cycle, you will have fewer interruptions, be able to focus, and do higher quality work.

Likewise, if you need to spend time on social media, set a timer before you start.  When the bell rings, that’s it! Get back to work.

5.    Nail your time wasters. 

The only real way to determine where your primary time drains are is to track your time, minute by minute for a couple of days.  When you review the log, you’ll be able to see what’s going on and what you can do to prevent time from slipping through your fingers.

When you can use your time wisely, you’ll not only get more done, you’ll get the things done that matter to you.

Linda Siniscal, Certified Bookkeeper and owner of Third Hand Bookkeeping Services offers virtual bookkeeping services to small businesses since 1994. Subscribe to our bi-monthly eNewsletter VirtualConnections™, providing tips and resources to make your work life easier. You can subscribe by visiting www.yourextrahand.com.

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How to Journal Your Truth and Inspire Others

January 17th, 2012

Since LIES That Limit hit the market, many of you have asked, “What other products do you have available?”

Well, we heard you.  Today, I’m happy to announce that in addition to the executive coaching, keynote addresses and customized workshops that comprise the core Spirit of Purpose®  offerings, we now have two new products:

“Journal Your Truth” and Transform Your Life

Journaling will help you to get to know your deeper Self better, solve your toughest problems, strengthen your intuition and creativity, and document your story.  Journaling is a great way to clear your mind, reduce stress, sort through the issues and conflicts in your life, and develop a solid plan of action for moving forward.

The Journal Your Truth notebook will help you align your head and your heart.  When your thoughts, feelings, energy and intentions are aligned, you become a powerhouse.  Consciously aligning energy and intentions makes the “Law of Attraction” work for you.  Journaling clears away the energetic drag of doubt, fear, worry, anxiety and negativity.

If you’ve read LIES That Limit, you know that at the end of each chapter there is a section called, “Journal Your Truth.”  It contains questions designed to help you apply the content of the chapter to your life.  This journal is the perfect place to document your Self-exploration and its a safe place to bare your soul and bear witness to YOUR truth.   Sometimes, you even hide the truth from yourself.

Use this tool as little as 10 minutes a day to practice the art of intentional reflection, and you’ll find yourself making better, more empowered decisions.  Intentional reflection enables conscious choice and conscious choice will transform your life.

Inspire Your Circle of Friends and Family With Spirit of Purpose® Notecards

The next tine you reach for a notecard to send someone – celebrating an accomplishment, acknowledging a milestone, emboldening their courage, helping them get back on track, supporting their decision – send a Spirit of Purpose® notecard. Each package contains 10 beautifully designed notecards with one of 5 life-affirming messages from the book LIES That Limit.  Inside each card is beautiful white space waiting for the special, personal message you want to share.

Special Limited Time Offer:  Book Club Bundle

For a limited time, we’re offering a FREE journal or set of notecards with any purchase of 10 or more copies of LIES That Limit: Uncover The Truth Of Who You Really Are.  Put LIES That Limit on your 2012 Book Club list.  It will stimulate life-changing discussion, and give you and your entire group real, simple and  attainable tools to Live Better Now.

LIES That Limit also makes a great gift for family, friends and co-workers who are in transition, or who need to examine the things that are standing in the way of a happy, fulfilling and exhilarating life.

Welcome to a new year of positive change in your life and the lives of the people you care so much about!  

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