Stress Management

Can You Tell When You’re Stressed?

Every week is busy, and every week we get better and better at persevering and working through that busyness. Sometimes we brush off warnings from the body that we need to slow down as relax. We keep working through the warnings until we get sick. Don’t get me wrong, a little stress is needed to keep us motivated. Problems happen when we don’t relax regularly from stress.

It doesn’t have to be like this. When we become self-aware and can identify when stress is negatively affecting us, we can take the necessary steps to counteract it. The following is a short list of stress symptoms – how many can you identify with?

Aches and pains
Forgetfulness
Poor concentration
Irritability
Poor sleeping patterns
Fatigue
Eating more or less
Wanting to isolate yourself from others
Hair loss
Stomach pain or upset stomach
Depression
Anxiety
Worrying
Feeling overwhelmed
Diarrhoea or constipation
Nausea of dizziness
Elevated blood pressure
Low energy
Cold hands and feet
Excess sweating
Clenched jaw
Aggravation of skin problems and other health problems
Irritable bowel syndrome
Loss of motivation, commitment and confidence
Changes in attendance such as arriving late or taking more time off.

When you identify your usual stress symptoms, you can take steps to counteract stress when those symptoms show. For example, if you feel aches and pains, you can exercise, meditate or get a massage. With depression or anxiety, you may need to talk to a counsellor, exercise, meditate or get a massage. Many of the symptoms of stress can be counteracted by relaxation through journaling, exercising, meditating, massage or Reiki.

My challenge for you today is to watch yourself over the coming weeks and identify the tell-tale signs that you’re getting stressed, and take steps to nip it in the bud.

As always, I’m here to help you, encourage you and support you. If you have any questions, or need any help on our journey together, just contact me through my website, Linkedin or email.

Love and light,

Tracy xxx

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Stress Management

Manage Stress By Trusting Yourself

Do you trust yourself to handle stressful situations? I found that life became less stressful when I trusted myself. I learned to trust myself when I learned that I could handle any situation that came my way.

One affirmation that Susan Jeffers teaches in her book “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” is “I can handle it!” Whatever comes my way, “I can handle it!” First of all, it took a lot of practice to know I can handle whatever comes my way. Secondly, I reflected and reviewed my life and found faith in my past that I can handle difficult situations. This review of my life gave me confidence.

It took a few years to change the way I thought about difficult situations to “I can handle it!” I was worried and scared about the unknown for so long that changing that negative thinking to positive took time. Now I have a knowingness that I can handle whatever life throws at me. There are still times when something really unexpected happens, but I have the ability now to really manage it.

So how did I learn to trust myself? Affirmations, journaling and distractions.

Affirmations, like “I can handle it” are positive thinking statements that may not be true yet but I want them to be true. Affirmations help me stay focused on the positive situations that I want to attract into my life. But their just part of the story.

Journaling is another part of the story. Any time I feel worried or fearful, I write. I take a pen and paper and I talk to the paper about what’s going on. I just get all my thoughts on paper and I remind myself that I can handle it and I just need to be patient and persistent. It takes time for a solution to show itself.

Then, I distract myself to allow my subconscious to work on a solution. I go for a walk, or read a book and just let the problem go for a while to give myself a break.

I see each stressful event as an opportunity for learning – learning how to trust myself, learning how to manage stress and learning how to identify stress.

I trust myself to manage stress using affirmations, journaling, distractions. I trust myself to manage stress using other tools I’ve learned.

Do you trust yourself to manage stress? What tools do you have to manage stress?

As always, I’m here to help you, encourage you and support you. If you have any questions, or need any help on our journey together, just contact me through my website, Linkedin or email.

Love and light,

Tracy xxx

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Stress Management

The Power Of Touch For Stress Relief

Hugs. A sympathetic touch. Shaking hands. A pat on the back. Massage. These are all incredibly important actions for physical, mental and emotional health, and as a massage therapist, I know the importance of touch. But as I researched this blog, I came to a new appreciation of the power of touch.

Students who received a supportive touch on the back or arm from a teacher were nearly twice as likely to volunteer in class as those who did not. A sympathetic touch from a doctor leaves people with the impression that the visit lasted twice as long, compared with estimates from people who were untouched. A massage from a loved one can not only ease pain but also soothe depression and strengthen a relationship. (1)

The reason why touch has such an impact on our health and our relationships is down to the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is often called the “trust hormone” or the “love hormone. It plays a key role in starting and maintaining relationships, healing, pain relief and stress relief.

When we’re stressed, a hug or a sympathetic touch activates the body’s production of oxytocin. This is turn alleviates stress and frees our mind to focus on the solution. The body seems to interpret touch as “I’ll share the load”.

The body also increases production of oxytocin during stressful periods or social isolation. For example, a single person feeling stressed can feel driven to reach out to others for a hug or touch. (2) Human beings are not designed for isolation. We’re designed for connectedness.

Reading about oxytocin, got me thinking about last November. Hindsight is an interesting teacher. Last November was an exceptionally stressful month for me. I was adjusting to two new roles, money was very tight and grief around the miscarriage was raising its head again. I remember feeling an incontrollable urge for touch. At the time, I lived by myself, so I was dealing with lots of stress and then coming home to an empty house.

But at the end of November, I got a puppy. By simply petting the dog and letting him curl up beside me on the couch, my stress was relieved. Oxytocin did its job as I reached out to someone, well, something, and when I pet the dog, oxytocin is released, helping me to relax. During the first weekend that I had the dog, I remember feeling very spaced because the need for touch was satisfied.

Now I’m going to set you a challenge . . . how can you manage stress, or help other manage stress, through positive touch?

I’m here to help you, encourage you and support you. If you have any questions, or need any help on our journey together, just contact me through my website, Facebook, Linkedin or email.

Love and light,

Tracy xxx

(1) Evidence that little touches do mean so much, Benedict Carty, The New York Times, 22 February 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/health/23mind.html?_r=0

The two faces of oxytocin, Tori DeAngeles, American Psychological Association, February 2008, http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb08/oxytocin.aspx

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Stress Management

Pray To De-Stress

While science cannot prove the existence of God, scientific research is showing that spiritual practices, including meditation, gratitude and prayer have many physical, mental and emotional benefits for us. Today I’m going to talk about the benefits of prayer.

Dr. Herbert Benson is a professor, author, cardiologist, and founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute. In the 1970’s, Dr. Benson undertook research on the effects of meditation. He discovered that activating the parasympathetic nervous system activated a Relaxation Response in the body.

The relaxation response counteracts the body’s fight or flight, or stress response. The stress response causes the stress hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine, to secrete into the bloodstream. This incites or exacerbates a number of conditions. They include hypertension, headaches, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic low back pain, as well as heart disease, stroke and cancer. These hormones prepare the body for fight or flight in stressful situations.

The fight or flight response is an ancient response humans have when faced with stressful physical situations – hunting, war, and other survival situations. In these situations, we burn off the effects of the stress hormones through fighting or fleeing.

Most problems in the 21st century are psychological such as bills coming through the door, overwork, unemployment or relationship worries. There’s no bear’s to fight or flee from. So we consciously have to activate the relaxation response.

Dr. Benson’s research showed that the relaxation response can be activated through visualisation, progressive muscle relaxation, energy healing, acupuncture, massage, breathing techniques, prayer, meditation, tai chi, qi gong, and yoga. True relaxation can also be achieved by removing yourself from everyday thought and by choosing a word, sound, phrase, prayer, or by focusing on your breathing.

For those who are open to practicing spirituality, prayer is a practice that can help you relax and feel better. Prayer can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. Those who practice regularly experience less fatigue and less muscle tension. Prayer helps people sleep and breath better. Prayer can help reduce the level of chemicals in your blood associated with anxiety. Prayer can also greatly improve the function of the immune system.

Ideas to begin a prayer practice:

1. Use a regular car journey to express gratitude for everything you see, feel, and hear on the familiar journey, such as the car, the fuel in the car, the road, the shops and buildings.

2. Find a familiar prayer you are comfortable with from the religious heritage you were brought in and repeat it daily.

3. Do what feels right – use prayers, affirmations or mantras, take a walk in nature. There’s no right or wrong way to pray so trust your instincts and do what feels right and comfortable.

4. Try prayers outside your traditional faith.

5. Visit http://www.beliefnet.com and explore their section on prayer.

Try praying today. You don’t need to do this alone, I’m here to help you, encourage you and support you. If you have any questions, or need any help on our journey together, just contact me through my website, Facebook, Linkedin or email.

Love and light, Tracy xxx

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Stress Management

Increase Your Positivity With A Gratitude List!

Today, I’m going to continue the listing theme from my last blog post and talk about a Gratitude List.

A Gratitude List is basically a list of all the things you feel grateful for at the moment you’re writing the list. Practicing writing a Gratitude List daily or weekly, helps you feel and think more positively about your life. By writing a list, you’re training your mind to recognise the things your grateful for.

Here’s a 3-step guide to a Gratitude List:

Step 1: Write down 100 things you are grateful for.

Step 2: don’t thing about what you’re writing, just do it.

Step 3: Write down whatever pops into head that you are grateful for.

It can be very difficult to think of something to write. Be patient with yourself, you’re learning a new skill. You’re learning how to develop an attitude of gratitude and think positively. Here are questions to help you with your list:

1. Who do I appreciate?

2. How am I fortunate?

3. What material possessions am I thankful for?

4. What utilities for my home am I thankful for?

5. What abilities do I have that I’m grateful for?

6. What strengths do I have that I’m grateful for?

7. What part of my body do I like and appreciate the most?

8. What am I thankful for about home?

9. What am I thankful for about my city / town / area?

10. What experiences have I had that I am grateful for?

11. What happened today that I am grateful for?

12. What happened yesterday that I am grateful for?

13. What happened in the last month that I am grateful for?

14. What happened in the last year that I am grateful for?

15. What opportunities do I have that I am thankful for?

16. What have others in my life done that I am thankful for?

17. What have others done that I am benefiting from in my life (even if I don’t know who those people are)? E.g. the people who help bring electricity to your home, or water to your tap, or fuel for your car.

18. What relationships am I thankful for?

19. What am I taking for granted that, if I stop to think about it, I am grateful for?

20. What is there about the challenges/difficulties I have experienced (or am currently experiencing) that I can be thankful for? (e.g., What have I learned? How have I grown?)

21. What is different today than it was a year ago that I’m thankful for?

22. What insights have I gained that I am grateful for?

You don’t need to do this alone, I’m here to help you, encourage you and support you. If you have any questions, or need any help on our journey together, just contact me through my website, Facebook, Linkedin or email.

Enjoy your Gratitude List!!

Love and light, Tracy xxx

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Stress Management

Tis The Season of Goal-Setting

This the season of goals, and today I’m going to help you get those goals out of your head and onto paper!

We’re going to do this using a goals list. Listing is a very easy journaling technique. All you do is take a pen and paper and write, or open up a word processing document, and type.

Start by writing down every single thing that you would like to achieve. Ever. Write them all down in list form and get them out of you head. Maybe you’d like to travel, or become financially secure? Would you like to start your own business, or find a job? Would you like to make more friends, or meet your soulmate? Whatever you’d like to achieve, write it down. Even if it seems crazy, unrealistic and unachievable, write it down!!

By writing a list, you’re getting all your hopes and dreams on paper. You may even write things down on the list that you never consciously realised you wanted to do!

When you’ve done this, read back over your list. How long is it? Did you enjoy writing it?

If your list is longer than 10 items, read through the list and pick out the 10 things you’d really like to achieve.

Now pick out the 5 things you’d really like to achieve.

Now pick the one thing you’d like to achieve in 2014.

What one step can you take today to achieve your goal? Write your answer down.

What one step can you take tomorrow to achieve your goal? Write your answer down.

Ask yourself these questions every day and start working towards your goal.

Do it easy. Take one goal at a time, one step at a time.

When you’ve achieved your goal, go back to the list of 5 things you’d really like to achieve. Choose another goal to work on and work on that.

So this evening, take 30 minutes, and make a list of your goals. Then, pick one goal to work on and each day take one step towards achieving your goal!

You don’t need to do this alone, I’m here to help you, encourage you and support you. If you have any questions, or need any help on our journey together, just contact me through my website, Facebook, Linkedin or email.

Happy Listing!!

Love and light, Tracy xxx

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Stress Management

New Year, New Start

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2014!! This is my first blog post of 2014 and I’m very excited! I love the New Year! It’s a great time to positively for a good future.

Today I want to talk to you about the power of affirmations. Every day on my Facebook page, I’ll be posting about three affirmations a day to help you think more positively. I strongly believe in the power of affirmations as positive thinking statements that help me create the life I want.

Susan Jeffers, in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, says “An affirmation is self-talk in its highest form. An affirmation is a positive statement that something is already happening. It’s not happening tomorrow or in the future, but right now.”

Here’s another definition of an affirmation that I found on a website years ago: AN AFFIRMATION IS A STRONG POSITIVE STATEMENT THAT YOU DO NOT BELIEVE, BUT WANT TO. I love this definition, a strong positive statement that you do not believe, but want to.

When we practice using affirmations, we are trying to change a bad habit. That bad habit is negative thinking. When we first start practicing affirmations, we can feel resistance to these positive thoughts. We can feel like we’re lying to ourselves. That’s because we’ve practiced worrying, stress, and negative thinking for so long, it’s challenging to use positive language.

It takes practice to use affirmations. By being persistent and patient, you’ll find that over time, it becomes easier to use them, to believe them and to feel comfortable using them. You’ll also find that by thinking positively, you become a happier person and you’re life will change for the better.

You don’t need to do this alone, I’m here to help you, encourage you and support you. If you have any questions, or need any help on our journey together, just contact me through my website, Facebook, Linkedin or email.

Love and Light, Tracy x

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