Stress and How You Can Deal With it
Living in Humboldt is no guarantee of a stress-free life. We can suffer as much or more than someone living in the “Big City”. Did I mention long Humboldt winters full of rain?
Many of us get stuck in dysfunctional and stressful patterns of acting and being. Much of it is dictated by the fact that we simply give up and let go. We give into our moods, tiredness, burnout, and stress. We get snarky and we stop caring about how we are impacting on those around us. We sometimes just quit.
Our being stuck in poor ways of response can take many forms such as poor time management, burnout, light or severe depression, poor sleep, poor health habits, ‘stinking thinking’, and general malaise.
There is too much at stake to allow ourselves to get sidetracked from healthy living, thinking, and well-being to get stuck in a depressive rut, or become disqualified from life. Healthy living has to do with healthy goal setting, actions, and strategic planning.
Got (healthy) Goals?
We need to know where we want to go, who we want to be, and what we want to do before we know if we’re on the right track or not. We need to be fit. To exercise, receive proper nutrition and allow for quality rest so we can adequately deal with the stuff of life. If our minds and bodies are not in reasonably good shape, how can we possibly enjoy healthy thinking or even healthy relationships?
We are trained to do too much for too little and for way too long. The result is illness; physical, spiritual, and relational. To get past this we need to learn how to let small stuff go and surrender things that we cannot control so we can begin to focus on getting unstuck in our personal lives. We need to control what we can.
Living and Thinking Healthy
Everybody wants health and well-being, but few of us are willing to pay the price for it. Managing stress, anger, depression, anxiety and everyday life is a pretty steep task. Healthy living has to do with the whole self: Spirit, Body, Mind, and Soul. If any of these are out of whack, so are we.
Other people are likely riding on your success and well-being. Why is it that it’s considered selfish to take care of yourself first in order to take care of those around you? What good are you to those you love if you have a stroke, heart disease, cancer, or mental illness? You cannot fail to plan in the long term and see the whole picture. You must take care of yourself.
Plan Your Work And Work Your Plan.
Regular physical activity substantially reduces the risk of dying of coronary heart disease, the nation’s leading cause of death. Physical activity also decreases the risk of colon cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It helps control weight, contributes to healthy bones, muscles, and joints, and reduces falls among the elderly. Hey, even sex is better!
Fitness: Focus On the Big Three
Cardio—Conditions your heart, lungs, and muscles to work stronger and longer. Cardio work outs build endurance and burn off calories.
Strength training—Builds muscles and increases endurance. With leaner muscles, your body turns up the heat and burns fat much faster. Not only that, but when you’re stronger, you simply last longer and you get more out of your exercise sessions, thus burning even more calories.
Stretching—It helps you to do your cardio and strength training safely and without pain. Loose muscles perform at a higher level and reduce the potential for injury.
Physical Exercise In Mental Health Stress Relief
A variety of studies over the last decade are focused on the effects of exercise on the mind. These result show that exercise helps to reduce depression and anxiety. It also can increase short-term memory and improve intellectual function. This means that including breaks during your day could lead to enhanced productivity, greater time efficiency, and increased ability to handle stress; “Sharpen your saw.” These feel-good hormones help stimulate our bodies and give us a natural high; runners have reported this for years.
The following are some tips about starting and maintaining your own exercise program:
Start with walking. Walking is free and easy. In addition to the mental health benefits, walking is a weight bearing exercise and it strengthens bone and burns fat. Running does the same. You must walk before you run… really.
Look for a nearby fitness center or community pool and join it. Make a three time a week workout part of your personal schedule. Replace your Monday, Wednesday and Friday lunch with a one-hour workout. The point is scheduling it and then do it..
Just do something – Even if it’s for 10 minutes. Use the “10 Minute Rule” to get started: do 10 minutes of exercise, take a 10 minute break, and then do 10 more minutes of exercise.
You can do this. You gotta wanna and then just begin the habit of exercise. Build it into your life. You will be glad you did—so will your world.
I don’t keep track of stats anymore so
I don’t know which posts you guys liked best.
It was interesting to see the results.
Here are the Top 20 posts as chosen by all of you:
- you’re already perfect
- the lost art of solitude
- The Case Against Christmas Presents
- Simplify, and Savor Life
- the best goal is no goal
- Why I don’t care about success
- the zen of doing
- the elements of living lightly
- Life’s missing white space
- The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People
- A simplified morning routine
- a brief guide to life
- Kill Your To-Do List
- How Not to Hurry
- kindfully + mindfully
- achieving, without goals
- How to Be a Positive Person, in Under 300 Words
- The Little Book of Procrastination Remedies
- the tao of productivity
- Get Inspired
A few other posts I’d recommend:
- the barefoot philosophy
- the insidious perfidiousness of doubts, overcome
- lessons from a car-free life
- The Little Guide to Inspiration
For more best of Zen Habits:
- Best of Zen Habits in 2007.
- The Essential Zen Habits of 2008.
- The Essential Zen Habits of 2009.
- The Beginner’s Guide to Zen Habits – A Guided Tour
Read more about focus and getting great things done
in Leo’s book, focus.
If I had a nickel for every concert I have been to….I’d be a rich man”…..so goes the adage…
In my case I would have a few bucks!!…maybe a lot of money actually.
I am not sure if my Rock Concert List below is a badge of fame or shame in that it cost me in money, brain cells and hearing!
I am sure at 50 years, my hearing has suffered at the hands of Foghat and Black Sabbath and more.
This I am confident: these guys were the best of all time in an era of Rock and Roll Renaissance.
My experience with music is that simple worship songs on an acoustic guitar are more profoundly moving to me than a
multi-million dollar music extravaganza.
Time with music in worship of the Living God is definitively more heart-changing than a lead guitar solo by Jimmy Page or Jimmy Hendrix.
Well, here is the list and you may have one as well. Here is to guys who are just humans who still need God, love ,and people and are not the heroes to whom we wrongly attribute stardom and idol status…..Just another human on the Bus of Life. Many have perished in a life of questionable meaning and legacy. What will your legacy look like? Just asking…
Some of the Shows and Bands I have enjoyed as a young man mostly in San
Diego in the 1970′s—-
- Rod Stewart
- Leon Russell
- Black Sabbath
- Keith Green
- Lynard Skynard (Pretty sure)
- Emerson, Lake and Palmer
- Led Zepplin
- Jethro Tull
- Bachman Turner Overdrive
- Ted Nugent
- Peter Frampton
- Moody Blues
- Neil Young
- Alice Cooper
- Steve Miller Band
- Steely Dan
- Elton John
- Bruce Cockburn
- Eddie Money
- Edgar Winter
- Earth Wind and Fire
- The Grateful Dead
- Merky and the Martians
- T Rex
- Many more…..the best were forgotten in the Fog of….the moment.
Some of the bands I missed…..would have loved to seen:
- The Who
- The Stones
- The Beatles
- Pink Floyd (gave my tix away!)
- Many others….
All my heroes have changed and some are still alive.
Funny how we define meaningful lives and legacy.
Weird how we value what is art by artists of nebulous character.
Who are your heroes and what do they stand for? Better–what are you standing for?
Do we compromise ourselves in some way by enjoying art of those who may be real life monsters?
As we’re about to feast this week of Thanksgiving, let me make a radical suggestion. Go on a complaining fast. Don’t utter a single negative comment for an entire week. It may be one of the hardest things you will ever do, but it will also be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.
Of course, you may be wondering HOW you can stop the complaining habit, or you may be wondering what you can do INSTEAD of complaining. Try these five techniques.
1. Practice an attitude of gratitude.
You’ve probably heard the old song that says, “Count your blessings, one by one.” Turns out that advice was not only theologically correct but scientifically correct as well. Research shows that when you count three blessings a day, you get a measurable boost in your energy, your spirit, and your overall happiness. It’s physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time.
So if you’re practicing an attitude of gratitude, you can’t be negative. You will also energize and engage your coworkers by letting them know you are grateful for them and their work.
2. Appreciate yourself.
Instead of being your own worst enemy, try being your own best friend. Instead of putting yourself down for all your shortcomings and mistakes, pump yourself up for the good that lies within you.
This may not be easy. After all, as a child, you were probably cautioned about “tooting your own horn” or being conceited. Again, not bad advice, but taken to the extreme, you fail to give yourself credit when credit is due or beat yourself up for the smallest of mistakes. And that shuts down your heart, contracts your energy, decreases your happiness, and feeds your complaining habit.
One way to start appreciating yourself is to stand in front of a mirror and talk to yourself at least once a day every day. Tell yourself, “You’re kind … You’re patient … You’re compassionate … You’re a hard worker” or whatever you appreciate about yourself.
You may feel uncomfortable, silly, and stupid. In fact, the more uncomfortable you feel, the more you need to work on appreciating yourself. But over a period of time, it will become easier to list reasons for liking and loving yourself.
And it’s a mighty healthy thing to do. Even the Bible taught 2000 years ago that “You should love your neighbor as YOURSELF.”
More recently, the psychiatrist Dr. Nathaniel Branden re-affirmed that teaching when he asked, “How do we keep our inner fire alive? It takes an ability to appreciate the positives in our life … Every day, it’s important to ask and answer this question: ‘What’s good in my life?’”
Branden is right. But he also alluded to the next thing you’ve got to do to break the complaining habit. You’ve got to…
3. Be action oriented.
The happiest, most successful, most esteemed, and most respected people are action oriented. They simply don’t waste their time complaining. Instead of wasting one precious moment complaining about what is not working, these people invest their time learning and doing … and then learning and doing some more. They get in the habit of getting good ideas and acting on those ideas.
Somehow or other, non-complaining people have learned what President Franklin Roosevelt learned. As he said, “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”
When I quoted Dr. Branden above, I only gave you half his quote. His entire quote went like this: “How do we keep our inner fire alive? Two things, at minimum, are needed: an ability to appreciate the positives in our life … and a commitment to action. Every day, it’s important to ask and answer these questions: ‘What’s good in my life?’ and ‘What needs to be done?’”
So ask yourself what needs to be done and do it. Develop a sense of urgency. After all, time is one of the most valuable commodities you’ll ever have, and when you get right down to it, every business seminar has something to do with using your time more effectively and more efficiently. The better you use your time, the more action oriented you are, the less complaining you will do.
And that will never be more true than those times you…
4. Serve others.
Bill Lee is one of my role models when it comes to this point. Bill says, “Based on my experience … the best and least expensive cure for depression is to be proactive about doing something for someone who is worse off than you are.” And Bill knows what he’s talking about.
But let me tell who Bill Lee is. He’s one of eight members of an elite group known as “Master Speakers International,” eight professional speakers who are tops in their field and a household name to millions. I’ve had the privilege of being one of those eight members for the last twelve years, and those seven other people have blessed my life and my career in ways I never could have imagined.
Bill taught me that one of the best ways to stop complaining is to start serving others. Eleven years ago, Bill was introduced to mission work at an orphanage in Mexico. Since then, in addition to his full-time speaking and consulting business, Bill has made 50 trips to Mexico to work with the orphaned and abandoned children of Casa Hogar La Familia … all at his own expense.
As Bill puts it, “I can’t possibly say enough about the personal benefits of giving service to others. I have learned so much about happiness from a group of 30 children who have no material things whatsoever.” No toys. No electronics. No brand-name clothing. In fact, each child has a cubby hole in their dorm room that is 15 inches wide and 36 inches high that contains 100% of everything they own.
“And I tell you this,” Bill continues, “these same children are enormously happy. They almost never fight … cry … or complain. I never return from a mission trip that I am not amazed … compared to other nations in the world … how rich we are in this country … and how much time we spend complaining that we don’t have even MORE.”
Because most of these children have been abandoned by their parents … virtually all of them have good reasons to be bitter and selfish. Yet they’re not. They are amazingly generous in their service to others.
Take Arturo, for example. Bill has seen him grow from age 5 to his present age of 16. Arturo is the second oldest of four children … all of whom have lived at La Familia virtually all of their lives. And like the other children, Arturo has no personal possessions.
During one of the mission trips Bill led to La Familia, one of his team mates gave Arturo a straw hat he had purchased to wear while in Mexico. On the last day of our mission trip, they bought a large cake and had a big birthday party for all of the children who were celebrating birthdays during that particular month. One of the birthday boys was named Cesar.
During the celebration, Arturo came running over to the man who had given him the hat and was rattling off a mile a minute in Spanish. The man didn’t speak any Spanish, so he asked Bill what Arturo was saying. Bill told him that Arturo wanted permission to give his hat to Cesar as a birthday present.
You have to understand … Arturo loved that hat. He wore it every minute of the day. He even slept in the hat. After all, that straw hat represented 100% of everything Arturo owned in this world, yet he wanted to give it to Cesar as a gift.
As Bill finished his commentary, he said, “Living a life that includes being of service to others … is always more beneficial to the giver … than it is to the recipient.” You learn to practice an attitude of gratitude when you’re serving others and you just naturally stop the complaining habit.
5. Change things for the better.
As writer Maya Angelou advises, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” She couldn’t be more right.
Jill Blashack Strahan, the President of Tastefully Simple, and Kay Watson, one of her consultants, call it “Divine Discontent.” Effective, productive, successful people focus on “kaizen” or continuous improvement instead of complaining.
As Jill says, “Divine Discontent. What an absolutely awesome phrase. I love being with people who have Divine Discontent, people who are always looking for ways to improve and are never quite satisfied because they know they can always be better.”
Of course, some people might say, “Whew! That sounds like too much work … always trying to improve things. Why can’t you just accept the fact that life can be a real bummer? And what’s so wrong with blowing off a little steam once in a while and do some griping when griping is justified?”
Well, Jill knows there are some tough things in life that can’t be changed. She says, “Accepting the things we can’t change is the key to peace and contentment. Sometimes we have to be willing to lie down in the water and let the current take us where it flows.”
HOWEVER, “When we look for ways to make things better, it’s like pushing against something to build a muscle. That creates positive results. Divine Discontent is knowing that there are so many things you can change … for the better.” And doing them. Then, Jill concludes, “Life becomes one big candy store!”
This may be Thanksgiving week with an official “Thanksgiving” day. That’s nice. But what really counts is making your life a “Thanksgiving” life that is free of complaints. And you can start by implementing these 5 strategies today.
Find someone to serve this week that is worse off than you are!
I got a speeding ticket for going 54 in a 35 zone right in my Hometown one Monday last July.
Bail….$331.00 american dollars.
I paid the fine and went to traffic court to explain why…
I was surprized by what I found–
- The Judge
- My accusor
- The Law
- My Guilt
- Other guilty people
- and then…Mercy
Long Story Short…I got forgiven the ticket and my money back because they lacked a document.
My “Aha” moments…
Law and authority is real and can really change your life–ask they guy who lost his licence.
Mercy, grace, and forgiveness is cool and we/I need to play it forward–give mercy to those around me-by the handfuls.
I think I will slow down as well…
Top 1o Reasons for me to give thanks on Thanksgiving:
- God-The Relationship vs. the Religion
- My wife Joni–Best Friend and lover
- My 9 kids and their significant others
- Our extended Family-Yes, even the In-Laws!
- Church Family-Locally and all over the Earth
- Our Humboldt Community-Business and Networks
- My Job–Nice to have these days…
- Having Vision/Mission/Passion-Desire and Focus and positive ambitions.
- Health, Well-being, Joyfulness–The usual
- You–Known or never met-You are loved…
The fifth and most important “tool” is a genuine relationship with God, both as an individual and as a family.
Writing about our relationship with God is extremely difficult. So let’s start with what it is not.
It is not:
- About attending church
- About giving money
- About being” good “
- About being religious
- About being condemning, condescending, or arrogant about one’s faith
- About religious activity, service, or lifestyle
What it is about could take up several pages .
But we’ll start with the following:
- Knowing and understanding God’s Word–the Bible and reading and meditating on it regularly.
- Understanding and having a genuine salvation/saving relationship with God by faith in Christ.
- Being a person who prays on a regular basis, who has two-way conversations with God.
- Being a person who’s quick to repent, be humble, and truly make things right, admitting it when you are wrong.
- Being a person who’s willing to serve others, even at your own expense.
- Living an obedient life, not out of obligation, but out of thankfulness and deep gratitude for all God has done for you.
- Allowing God’s full expression in your thoughts, deeds, words, motivation, attitude, resources, and so much more.
- Being a person who puts her walk with God as the number one priority in life, through prayer, Bible study, praise, worship, sharing my faith, serving my church and community and all fellow humans.
- Obeying God in the small stuff, being sensitive to details and doing the right thing even when no one is looking….even when it hurts.
- Relaxing, taking deep breaths, simply appreciating the life and the love God has given you, realizing you cannot add to this love. You can only respond to it by living in the moment, and being the obedient son/daughter He’s asked that you to be.
- Utilizing the gifts and the resources He’s given you in the way that He leads you.
- Having a heart attitude and disposition that seeks to glorify God in every aspect of life.
Be present now—
Where are you right now? Are you here, in your chair, reading this? Or is your mind racing elsewhere – to your unread e-mail, or what to make for dinner? Are you still flashing back to your tuning comment your boss made hours ago, continuing conversations with people who are not even in the room?
Don’t laugh, but time travel is a real – we spent a lot of time in the past and the future. All day, we plan, fantasize, remember and regret, and missed the here and now. There’s a toll for all the psychic torturing – lack of focus, lost energy and hidden stress.
Do some simple techniques to learn to be in the present. When you savor the moment –
1. You probably find your enjoying life more
2. You’ll be less stressed and more productive
3. You’ll enjoy food more even as you eat less
4. The likely some more open and generous
5. He’ll appreciate the people around you more
6. You become a better listener and Observer
7. You’ll find a better communication and connection in your relationships
Who could argue with all that?
Learning to be present, or mindful is a lifelong pursuit. Meditation is all important to that can lead to the skill. There are things that you can do today to help. Many of the techniques involve breathing – focus on it, it’s almost guaranteed to bring you back to the moment requires no special tools or training, so it’s a perfect way to begin.
Try to adopt is one of these ideas, even once a day – whichever one seems easiest. Once you experience being in the present, you can find you want to try other techniques to extend the feeling. Here are a few examples –
1. When the phone rings, don’t jump up to answer it – take a good deep breath before you say hello.
2. Program your computer a watch to beep once an hour. — When you hear the beat, stop and take five deep breaths.
3. Before getting out of bed, take five minutes to do a mental scan of your body-. How does everything feel?
4. Before rising in the morning, utilize your Tabernacle choir–. Remember all the positives of your life. Remember, rehearse, and review all the good things and grace that has been given you.
5. Practice doing just one thing at a time—stop multitasking, it will poison your soul and mind…if you’re eating don’t watch TV or read. If you’re walking… don’t talk to focus on your single activity.
6. As you eat, take small bites into each one 30 times—you will discover you enjoy your food more, and it’s healthier to.
7. Stop look and listen—really smell the flowers, listen to people, focus your attention, and be in the process of the moment. You will be more peaceful, focused, loving, present, and engaged as well as engaging!
Once you start developing the ability to be present at certain times of the day, defined in a valuable skill to call on to defuse stress at any time. As with learning a support or musical instrument, the more you practice, the more adept and you’ll be calm. Before you know it, you’ll be nowhere else but here… are you here right now?
The bucket list—
What one thing would you rather be doing right now?
Anything in the world? …
If you could go there and do it right now, what would that one thing be?
Talk of the bucket list has to do with the need for fun, risk, pleasure, midlife crisis and to do what right now is not doable… the concept of the bucket list assumes plenty of resources and time and money and the ability to execute them and implement one’s bucket list.
Not so fast…. Most of us don’t have the time or money or resources to go around the globe and to see the Kilimanjaro in Africa or to go check out the Pyramids of Egypt. Most of us are lucky to get a vacation once a year and perhaps go camping or stay at a Holiday Inn.
Hawaii might be a possibility for some of us, a very few, but for most of us were a bit stuck.
This being stuck is far more than just a lack of resources— it’s a lack of imagination and thinking out of the box. When you really take the time to think about what is possible and doable within your resources and means some really cool example start to emerge…. I call this the mini bucket list.
There are several Mini Bucket List things that we can get done on a local or regional basis. We still have the physical ability to set do some. The idea of something fun and risky and pleasurable before we die is a good idea. The physical decay of our bodies preclude us from doing many of the things that we’d really like to do that are very real radical…. But it still leaves us with many things that become extremely doable.
Here are some of the aspects of a many bucket list….
5. Risk/perceived risk
7. Local or regional
8. Ability to execute and implement
9. Legal moral and ethical
If you take the time and sit and think you can come up with at least 10 things you like to do before you pass, which are local and affordable and doable. Some of these might include:
1. Lunch or dinner out at the best place in town
2. A golf weekend, the best place available
3. Afternoon movies
4. Hike & picnic
5. River rafting
6. Two hour massage
7. Full Spa makeover
9. Fly to Vegas on a deal
10. Rent a cabin in the woods…. Much, much more.
The idea becomes obvious and the execution becomes painfully necessary for those of us who’ve created and lived in routines for years. The Mini Bucket List becomes therapeutic, in that it gives you some empowerment still have a little fun and a conservative and realistic way and still break the bonds of routine and rut. This becomes therapeutic in that it is risk-taking, and yet the perceived versus actual risk is actually pretty safe.
It fills the need for fun, risk and enjoyment.
Write your list.
Book the trip.
Surprise your spouse.
And get out of here!
Really, Get out of here!
Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.