Do Not Get Sucked In – Live in Love!

How can we live in Love? We are all going through major change and feeling the anxiety that goes along with major transition. The media is pushing the hysteria along because that is how they keep viewers viewing their product. We are caught in a polarized cultural without positive role models in our “leaders.” We must circle the wagons and look within for the Guidance that can show us the “way.”

With the anger and the fear charging at us we still have choices to make. We can watch less TV and avoid the “screamers.” We can choose to be most fully present, not stuck in the past dramas or fearing the unknowns of the future. We can choose to listen more and argue less. We can choose to respond in Love and not Fear. We may disagree with our desperately polarized neighbors or fellow workers but they can still honor the beauty which dwells within their souls. We can choose to not judge or hate though this is easier said than done… We can choose to meditate or walk in a natural setting. We can choose to remember to breathe slowly, feeling cool air as we inhale and warm air as we exhale. We can choose to avoid unnecessary craziness, caffeine, alcohol or drugs rather spending time with people we love and care about.

This is not sticking our heads in the sand. We still need to act in a vigilant effort to do the “right thing” by our world. We still need to vote. We still need to show up and help people who can benefit from a bit of love and support. We can still act in civility even when others may raise their voice in a desperate act to be heard. We can attempt to understand why the annoying insensitive person in front of you is so annoying and insensitive. Why was their childhood and life so difficult??? We can still express our feelings and tell people what has been triggered by the weird hostile behaviors we experience.

Choose Love! Do not let the darkness of fear and anxiety have so much power. Remember we are here to learn lessons from our challenges and this time in history is especially good for creating emotional and spiritual challenges. What would Jesus or Buddha do…??? They would be detached from the “crazy” and radiate love, kindness, and understanding. (Yes, even to the hypocrites who pretend to know Jesus or Buddha!)

You are a Beacon of Light and Love! You are the Role Model for your children, friends, and even the “crazies” who you bump into. You can not control the way they will respond BUT you can control the way YOU respond! You can respond with Love and a bit of Understanding. You are a Blessing! Your Heart and Soul will shine brightly in the darkness and be the guiding force for others to observe and then follow.

You do not need to do this alone. You can connect with other pilgrims who are making their way to consciousness and toward remembering their Divine Spirits. If you want a community that is not religious but supports your spiritual growth, consider Masters of the Journey. No matter what, find some love for ALL the struggling souls you meet along your path.

Living Outside the Box!

Are you happy with the way your life is playing out? Have you found your purpose in this life and are you engaging in working your purpose everyday? Are you questioning whether you have found yourself living a life which could be different and perhaps more rewarding? Are you in a box with your job, your finances, your relationships, and possibly with your life’s purpose?

To be honest, most of us would have to agree that life sometimes, or maybe more often than sometimes, feels like it is going sideways. Just to complicate this discussion, consider this statement, some people define “Crazy” as repeating the same thing (Behavior) over and over again and expecting different results. (Occasionally, you may use a repeated behavior and get a different response because the environment or people involved will allow for a slightly different reaction.) Remember, if you do not like the response you get to a certain behavior then you need to take responsibility and try something different to get a more satisfying response. YOU have a choice! And, it starts by knowing that YOU are responsible and then, to break patterns where you are blaming other people or institutions for the less than desirable reaction. Yes, try an entirely new approach.

Why are you resisting change and a new approach? We do not try new behaviors because we are AFRAID. Yes, we have FEAR of new approaches because we lack confidence and do not know how these will turn out. We prefer to have reliable failure, which is comfortable and which we are familiar with, rather than move toward a more positive, yet unknown, outcome. We even have surrounded ourselves with family and friends who like us the way we are and would have difficulty supporting us if we were more successful and confident. They like the “Old” and familiar person you have been trapped within. Maybe, it is time to find new friends who love and support you on your path to becoming ever more successful and joyful.

At the end of your life, are you going to feel good about what you have accomplished and the people you have assisted? Will you weigh your legacy by how much money or how many “toys,” you have? Can you ask yourself, and honestly answer, that you have lived a full life filled with the service which has helped move consciousness forward?

It is time to take the small steps to find a better more adventurous and rewarding life. It may even be time to take the big steps toward your new life of personal responsibility and positive change. Personally, I have learned more from my failed attempts at changing my life and from confronting the challenges of trying new behaviors that lead me down an unhappy path. Take a risk. Get positive support. Break out of the confined box that has been a comfortable but unhappy experience. You will never know until you try, how good it feels to make that stretch in your life. Enjoy the adventure! No one else can do this for you, so do not wait.

The Masters of the Journey community may help to provide some support if your quest includes spiritual development (in a non-religious way.)

Meditation: The First Step to Higher Consciousness

Meditation practice regularly helps you to be more calm and present. When you release your thoughts in meditation, your body relaxes and energy is freed for you to use in other activities or to rest and heal yourself. Letting go of thoughts, fear, anxieties, and distractions allow an emotional environment where fewer mistakes are made and you save time. When you are calmed by meditation, you are less likely to be “Triggered” and you can be more available for positive decision making and better choices.

This is nothing new. Yes, it does take time and practice to learn to meditate but it saves you time and energy in the long run. I have found that people require less sleep and can focus better during their work day. Meditation also allows connection with the divine source of wisdom and unconditional love. You may not know this and even may want to argue about this, but if you quiet yourself and become more fully “present” you will find these benefits.

Or, you can continue to be caught in your emotional drama and allow fear & anger to run your life. This is perfect also. Being open and positive will help you to find more joy and contentment in the challenges of life.

Blessings to you on your path. Just remember to breathe slowly and feel the warm breath that you exhale assist you in letting go of unwanted tension and troubling emotions.

More information at:
Stress Education Center and
Masters of the Journey

Books on Meditations include:
Curt Remington’s Simple Meditation at http://curtremington.com
and
Paula Forget’s, “Guided to a Higher Realm at http://paulaforget.com/inspired/

Dying to Know

Have you ever considered what it was like to be dead? We will all end our living by dying and then the mystery of what comes next becomes an activity that we will participate in. Some people consider that at death, we stop completely and there is nothing to look forward to. Some people believe that we travel to the “Pearly Gates,” get a few moments to reflect on our lives, and then head off to the “After Life” in Heaven or…. Some believe in “Re-incarnation” where we agree to return to Earth (or somewhere) in a new body for another “learning” in being human. Whatever your belief, the thought about what happens at the time of death has probably come up for you.

There have been many books written by people who have experienced a Near Death Experience (NDE), or who have worked with people who have moved through the ultimate transition, or who have researched the subject by reading (or conducting) interviews with people who have had NDE’s. In the 1970’s, Raymond Moody was one of the first people to come out with a book on research conducted with interviewing people who had NDE’s. I like Ken Ring who authored a series of books on this topic after even more interviews than Moody. Survivors like Eben Alexander wrote a wonderful book, Proof of Heaven, which is a well written account (by this Neurosurgeon scientist) of his own NDE where he was “clinically dead” for 7 days. There are many books, stories, movies, and other accounts through the history of man, even back to the ancient Greeks. But what can be learned from this research???

Many, maybe most, of the survivors of NDE’s come back to life with similar stories but, more notably, these people return with a different perspective on LIVING. Many report that the “after-life” or “heaven” is not a scary place. In fact, many resisted returning to their bodies and their lives because it felt so peaceful and accepting. Survivors report the feeling of unconditional love and support, full acceptance, freedom from the limitations of the body and space and time. Many report access to divine consciousness and wisdom not known in their human form. Most importantly, many return with the fear and anxiety commonly found in living, reduced because they do not fear dying. They report a different appreciation of “living in the light” and in a state of “Grace” over the way they may have chosen to live before. These stories are compelling. Whether you believe these reports or not, you can benefit from attempting to gain the “Feeling of this Grace” as you experience these stories.

Whether you get these stories first hand by speaking with someone who has had a NDE or read the accounts in the many books on this topic, it is important to try to remember your own Divine Spiritual experience and possibly bring the knowing of the State of Grace back with you to offer you perspective as you live out your remaining days.

My parents were role models with two very different approaches. My mother lived without fear of death and dying. She had adventures in life because she was not afraid to live… most fully. My father got fearful the older he got. He disliked change or traveling or eating new foods because he feared the adventures in life. I chose to be more like my mother and love the adventures, and accept the challenges that these might bring. You have a choice in how you want to live your life. You will have to come to grips with the experience of your last transition and, for many people, some consideration regarding dying adds interesting dimensions to how you live…

Our community of consciousness seekers, Masters of the Journey, offers connection to a community where topics like these are shared and resources offered to you. You may want to consider coming in person or engaging in one of our video conferences on a topic you may know about, and can offer your wisdom, or one where you can come and experience the wisdom and experiences from other people like you. This is NOT a religion but it is a way to connect to a supportive community.

Why we are more Overwhelmed Now! Stress

Why we are more stressed now. Do not be a victim to advances in technology.

Written by L. John Mason, Ph.D., Author of the Bestseller; Guide to Stress Reduction

Overwhelmed???

Why we are more stressed now than ever before!

Quality of life has suffered. Health has been affected. The rate of change has accelerated. Productivity can be jeopardized. We are “running” faster than ever and do not feel like we can ever catch up! Personal and professional support is draining away.

We are “stuck” with a “primitive” response mechanism which may never evolve fast enough to keep pace with technology. This ancient survival mechanism is built into our genetic code and has its origin billions of years ago. We still need this response on occasion, but day to day, it may be a major thorn in our side. It has been known since the 1930’s as Walter Cannon described it, the “Flight/Fight” response. This automatic reaction to fight or to flee to save our life is stilled needed, however, the normal daily reactions to less than life threatening situations, can trigger a part of this reaction in a habitual way which is slightly different for each of us.

The problem arises when we ignore the response until our systems have to over-react to get our attention. A major display by this mechanism can look like: tension headaches, tight neck and shoulders, sleeping problems, back pain, high blood pressure, irregular heart rate, stroke, heart disease, asthma attacks, panic/anxiety attacks, stomach problems, sexual dysfunction, certain skin irritations, hyper sensitivity, learning problems, memory problems, communication problems, poor decision making, emotional swings, resistance to change, lower productivity, and increased likelihood of worker’s compensation claims due to stress or on the job accidents and injury. Any of these symptoms can affect an individual employee, a team, a department, or the whole company’s bottom line. 70-90% of visits to medical doctor’s offices are for symptoms that are either caused or made worse as a reaction to this primitive stress response.

Symptoms of stress cost companies Billions of dollars annually in lost time, reduced productivity, worker’s compensation claims, replacement of key personnel, even lawsuits, and internal sabotage from overwhelmed employees. Prevention not only can enhance quality of life, it will also raise productivity, reduce sabotage, and assist retention strategies.

To make a point that we are more stressed today than ever before, consider the ever increasing rate of change based on new information. The “Information Age” was coined in the 1980’s. It has created a revolution of new information technologies. To see this point more clearly, think back to common societal changes since the mid to late 1980’s. Did you have cable TV in 1985? How many channels did you get from your cable provider? How many channels of TV do you have today, with cable or satellite dish? Probably 15+ channels in 1985 to now as many as 500 choices. In the mid-1980’s did you have a fax machine? A “pager”? A personal computer? E-mail? A Cellular telephone? You have probably experienced all of these since then. If you still do not have a “Cell phone,” you are not immune from the increased numbers of them… Just go to a movie, a restaurant, church, a meeting…. everywhere you go people are using the new technologies and probably stressing you out. A big one to consider that did not exist in the 1980’s is related to “cell phone” use while driving. Do you call when driving? Do other people behave unsafely when they are distracted by calls while driving?

Do you remember the early 1990’s? You could get new computer with software and not have to upgrade for 2-3 years. Now, if you get a new computer, it is outdated before you get it home and out of the box. Software upgrades seem to happen by the minute… Have you noticed that there are more coffee and espresso stands in the last 10 years? Is this how people cope with the increase in the pace of change and new information? Are there more cases of people going “postal” or “car rage”, or “air rage,” or whatever new anxiety we experience.

A final question, since 1985 has your genetic code “upgraded” to keep up with the pace of the Information Age? It takes thousands of years to biologically evolve! Psychologically and emotionally we must learn coping strategies to ensure our healthy survival. That is why now, more than ever before in human history, we must invest time and resources in preventing the adverse effects of our own stress response. Though it does take time and energy, prevention is worth the price. We can actually save time and get more done, by eliminating the internal distractions of stress. Also, we need to mentor, as positive role models, our children in these coping strategies that they will require to survive the ever-increasing presence of stress in our society.

There are models of companies using various prevention strategies and finding a return on investment. I know of one study with the company Coors Brewing Company of Golden, Colorado where human resources reported a $5 return on every $1 invested in health and wellness programs. The positive return was based on reduced sick time, fewer accidents, increased morale and productivity. The more subtle cost savings due to prevention of sabotage (and resistance to change) from overwhelmed, disgruntled employees is very difficult to measure, but still a significant factor in many organizations. Often, improved communication, allowing for input from all levels of the workforce, can be a valuable stress management and prevention strategy that leadership is learning.

In house trainers, coaching and mentoring can create a tailored program that will best fit your organization. Outside consultants, coaches, and trainers can assist your organization to build the most effective programs, if your in house staff does not have the necessary training or experience. Consider the cost benefits of reduced: sabotage, health claims, accidents, sick time, turnover, and loss of productivity due lack of focus. Proactive retention strategies, which have used employee surveys, include stress management as a highly requested benefit (always in the top three requested programs.)

If you feel that you might benefit from an individualized stress management program to minimize your overwhelm and stress, consider the Stress Education Center’s audios which include a basic stress management series or specific stress management programs for: sleeping, pain management, anxiety control, and even pre-natal stress management. Check these out at www.dstress.com or http://dstress.com/products/specific-health-topics/.

Death and Dying: Fear and Anxiety

Can you live fully if you fear death? Can you be fully present in life if you are distracted by dying? Does there come a time in your life when you can let go of your anxiety and celebrate your life?

These are not easy questions and yet they are surprisingly common. After your birth, the only certainty is that at some point you will die. No big deal, ’cause we all gotta do this, BUT, it is a big deal! In a metaphysical frame of reference, the fear and anxiety may come from the part of YOU that does NOT move on. Let’s back up! Many of us remember that our soul/spirit is neither created nor destroyed, it just changes form. As a spirit, we have lessons or challenges to encounter and we get into our life in a certain “Meat-suit” (body) so we can experience the lessons which we need to “move on.” Our “meat-suit” comes complete with a brain, emotions, “ego,” physical attributes, AND mortality. This body does not get to move on into the divine, it simply goes back into the Earth’s elements and is recycled.

The lack of our brain’s ability to understand death and our “ego’s” mortality, make for the fear and anxiety which many of us consider and shudder to deal with. Real scary fears surface and cause major distractions in life. My father was afraid of change and very fearful of dying. He did not know to trust the experience of “letting go” anywhere in his life. As he got older, his anxiety increased and he seemed to turn to his religion for comfort and found little peace of mind. He was scared! On the other hand, my mother’s life was filled with intuition and trust. She loved change and travel and adventure. Late in her life, she was somewhat impatient regarding letting go of the limitations of her body so she could “move on.” Two different role models for me. I chose to be a bit more like mom in these regards.

Some people are blessed with experiences which offer insight into death and dying like a “near death experience” (NDE) which allows them to visit the dying process but return for more living. There are many accounts written in books and articles which describe these documented experiences. In the accounts which I have read, death seems comfortable and not scary to the soul. Upon returning, the individual who experienced the NDE seems to live with less burdens regarding anxiety of dying. In many cases, there is a greater appreciation of life and greater enjoyment in experiencing living. Consider reading some of these accounts for yourself. I recommend, Ken Ring, Ph.D. as an author and researcher on NDE’s, but there are many popular books on this topic and first hand accounts of near death experience. If you read these and find them familiar, you may relieve some fear of death.

Spiritual development and learning to be more “present” can also offer you the insight that will give you comfort. I am currently participating in study groups reading the “Course in Miracles” and “The Way of Mastery” which challenge me to consider a way to find the “Divine Spirit” in my day to day living. Many meditation practices are also helpful and create positive insights which allow you develop your intuition and connection with your soul/spirit. There is great value in finding a loving supportive community where you can share the anxieties which may arise and the questions which surface. My only warning is to find a community where you are accepted for who you are and does not want you to conform in ways that restrict your spirit’s need for expansion and ACCEPTANCE. We are all in this together and we benefit from supporting others without the “judgements” that can separate us.

Blessing to you on your path. Find a way of supporting other pilgrims and reach around to lend a hand.

If you require resources for finding community or are looking to checkout other consciousness development processes, consider the new and evolving community called Masters of the Journey. We are building a website and have a Facebook presence to assist people who are searching… Please take good care of yourself.

If appropriate, please share this blog. Thank you.

Panic and Anxiety Control Program

Symptoms of panic and anxiety can be confused with life threatening physical disorders! Please consult your physician to determine the source of your symptoms.

Behavioral techniques for controlling panic and anxiety. Help get back in control of your life.
This is an update of specific things you can do to control the symptoms of panic and anxiety attacks. These devastating occurrences can negatively affect your day to day quality of life. But this is not news for anyone suffering from this terrible disorder. Millions of people live in fear of these “attacks.” Major transitions, trauma, and stress can lead to feelings of little or no control over one’s life! This can affect people in major ways.

A scary symptom which can develop is called Panic (or Panic Attack.”) A panic episode can come on suddenly or can awaken you from your sleep with a nasty feeling of apprehension. Some people believe that they are having a heart attack because often there is chest pain, a shortness of breath, neck or arm pain, major stomach upset, an adrenaline rush, lightheadedness, dizziness, and other unpleasant feelings of fear and apprehension. These feelings can be triggered by specific events such as: driving (getting stuck in traffic), shopping, waiting in lines at stores, banks, post offices, etc, feeling trapped in church/movies/classes, traveling distances from home (especially flying, etc.), making a presentation in front of a group of people (drawing attention toward yourself), doing new or unfamiliar activities, meeting new people, basically, doing anything new or seemingly stressful where you may fear “LOSING CONTROL.” Loss of control is the main feature that makes this so frightening for the people who suffer from panic and anxiety. We may not know a panic sufferer by looking at him or her because they can maintain such good control that unless we were to look very carefully we might not notice the nervousness below the surface.

Heart problems, chest pain, and respiratory difficulties (hyperventilation and dizziness are common symptoms of panic/anxiety attacks) should be carefully examined by your physician! If no heart related problem exists, but you are still in great fear of these occurrences of panic then the following behavioral program, with practice, will greatly aid you in preventing or at least minimizing the episodes of panic. Also, remember that exciting/positive actions or events can raise your heart rate. This excitement is not bad or life threatening, but you fear of the physical symptoms of excitement can really hamper your enjoyment of life!

The keys to controlling panic and anxiety are:

• Breathe slowly/diaphragmatically
• Remain in the present… in your body, in a positive way
• Positive self-talk… not negative ruminations
• Avoid caffeine and stimulants
• Regular aerobic exercise
• Regular deep relaxation with Biofeedback Temperature monitoring
• Use relaxation tapes/CD’s regularly!
• Learn to warm your hands and feet
• Get support in confronting and then desensitizing yourself to fears/phobias
• Taper your anti-anxiety medication after you have mastered the relaxation-biofeedback

1. Learn to breathe diaphragmatically
Place a hand over your upper abdomen
Push it OUT as you inhale
Let in move IN as you exhale
Let your chest, shoulder, neck, and back relax as you breathe.
Only on a very deep breath should these parts move in the breath.
This may be the most important Panic Control Technique you can learn!

2. Use any of the Stress Management Audio’s, especially, #205 Stress Management for Controlling Panic and Anxiety, 1-3 times per day for 8-12 weeks. Check the “Products” page at the Stress Education Center’s website.
After achieving a level of controlled deep relaxation, repeat suggestions of “control,” especially control of slow, regular breathing and slow regular heart rate. Suggestions of “letting go” to help achieve hand and foot warming, along with any visualizations that can encourage this increase of peripheral blood flow, would be very useful, as well.

Try to find: StressDots or some sort of temperature training biofeedback device on your hands to learn how to warm your hands with relaxation. When you can consistently get above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (93-95 degrees is ideal) then you can begin to master warming your feet to 90 degrees.
When you can “let go” by relaxing and warming your hands and feet, you will be able to control if not prevent your panic episodes. Then you must develop the confidence in your control so the fear of panic will not control your life.

3. Regular exercise will help you to work off the effects of life’s stresses
3-5 times per week of regular exercise that can elevate your heart rate for 15-45 minutes would be best. Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program if you have been inactive for a long while. Even though elevating your heart rate can be a little scary, the release of tensions and the strengthening of your cardiovascular system will have great benefits.

4. Eat regular meals.
Low fat and complex carbohydrates are better than fast foods with lots of sugar. AVOID CAFFEINE and other stimulants. Caffeine is found in coffee, black teas, cola drinks, chocolate, some over-the-counter pain medications, and other foods/drugs. Read labels. Eating as closely as you can to natural foods (lots of: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.) will benefit any one.

5. Practice positive self-talk.
Do not let your fears escalate into you losing control of your body and your mind. By breathing slowly and staying in your body, in present time, you avoid falling into the negative pattern of fear and panic.

6. Get support from your friends, doctor, and a therapist if necessary.
Check your area for panic/anxiety support or treatment groups! Regular use of anti-anxiety medications may be better than just taking your prescription only after the panic has begun. Reduce your medication in a supervised way after you have mastered the relaxation/biofeedback control techniques.

Remember you can get back in control of your body and your life! You must make this a priority so you can avoid being a victim to this set of scary symptoms.

Panic/anxiety is not always your enemy. This reaction is designed to protect you and may teach you something about the stresses and transitions you are going through. Denial of these challenges only creates a more stubborn set of symptoms that can be more debilitating.

Other Good books that can help you:David Barlow, Ph.D. and Jerome Cerny, Psychological Treatment of Panic, Guilford Press, New York. 1988.

Susan Lark, MD, Anxiety & Stress: A Self-Help Program, Westchester Publishing Company, Los Altos, CA. 1993.

For more information regarding the Stress Education Center Panic/Anxiety Control Program visit the website at www.dstress.com or call 360-593-3833.

Fanning the Flames of “Media Created” Anxiety

A Break From Unnecessary Drama

Do you ever feel caught up in the “Media” frenzy when disasters strike? Do stories regarding dramatic weather, or planes landing in the Hudson River, or banking scandals, or babies born by “in vitro fertilization,” or even celebrities faux pas ever seem blown out of proportion by “Hype?” We news consumers are often bombarded by the media as they attempt to gain, and then hold, our attention…

Tips for gaining control of your life…
The news media is more than a source for information and current events. It has become a “roller coaster ride” of drama and self-aggrandizement. We consumers of these presentations are swept up and our visceral anxiety responses are fanned into a frenzy. But why are swept up in this media blitz of emotion?

Since the dawning of the “Information Age” in the 1970’s, we have been steadily drawn into an escalating 24/7 need for worldwide news and the media has provided us with anxiety producing excitement from every corner of the world. Technology allows this instant communication and seems to encourage our “need to know” mentality. We “need to know” because we have a very primitive survival mechanism that stimulates our external focus on any threats, even perceived threats that may exist thousands of miles away, so our unconscious minds can protect us by preparing to fight or to flee from “danger.” When the Flight/Fight Response is triggered, our reactive, survival mechanisms take priority. We can react with “knee jerk” habitual patterns that are unique to our learned responses, but are born from the survival reaction. One major reaction that occurs for many people under threat is a reduced ability to creatively problem solve and communicate effectively. We react and often do not really think things through. When this occurs, mistakes can be made. Accidents can happen. People or projects can get hurt. Relationships can be harmed. Our world can suffer by becoming a victim to poor rational thought in cases of fear or media driven anxiety. It is an extra “heaping, helping” of annoying distractions that take us away from self-care, focus on priorities, and creative pursuits that promote productivity and well-being.

Just before 9/11/2001 our news media changed. Do you remember? About 3 months prior to the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania, the television news media upgraded their reporting to include, not just a “talking head” (reporter) giving us the “news” but also text messages flying by on the bottom of the screen, and often a graphic on the left of the “talking head.” Now we have to deal with 3 sources of information simultaneously. This multi-tasking creates added frenetic anxiety in coping with this increased input. Have humans evolved to keep pace with this new use of technology? When we are threatened, we have a response that NEEDS to know what is going on around us so that we can take action and survive any threat. We are often overwhelmed. We have learned to cope by becoming unconscious regarding this media craziness. The media fights to keep our attention. The media has evolved their approach to sensationalize their coverage, to yell at us even louder, with more graphic events that “demand” our attention. Even the weather news whips us with “STORM” coverage that makes weather events major news, even when it occurs hundreds of miles away!

To combat this media blitz on our senses we must do three things. First, we must become aware that we can become victims to sensationalism that may not necessarily be an immediate threat, and filter the news so that we can respond more appropriately. Secondly, as my friend Rodger Ruge suggests, we should consider a media “Fast,” where we reduce and limit the amount of media news that we subject ourselves to. For many of us, turning off the news, especially before bedtime, would be a very good option. The third necessary step is to practice self-care and strengthen our emotional foundations by eating better, avoiding caffeine, getting regular exercise, and practicing daily relaxation.

Awareness of the media frenzy can help protect us and our children from the “overwhelm.” Since the mid 1980’s, we have been deluged by new technologies that force us to react to news and information that is swirling around us. We have experienced: pagers, fax machines, cable TV with 500 channels, Cell phones, text messaging, e-mail, internet information, changes in media coverage of world “disasters,” “robo-calls” at dinner time, and huge expectations that we are plugged in 24/7 and can respond instantaneously even when we are driving our cars…. This is crazy making! Some people can handle this gracefully, in fact, some people can thrive in this environment. But most of us are just victims to our technology and can benefit from setting some limits on the ways that we use, and react to, our technologies… We need to evolve and to create survival strategies that meet our unique, individual requirements.

Please be smart and figure out how to “not become a VICTIM” to the media and our newest technologies!

When we see natural disasters on the TV, we think that we filter the visceral effects on our survival systems, but our unconscious often reacts to the possible threats that are perceive through our visual and auditory senses. When we witness “coverage” of war zones, murders, attacks, rapes, fires, or vehicular accidents, we may believe that this does not affect us at a “conscious level,” but we are still triggering the flight/fight response in some systems at an unconscious level. Have you ever noticed your heart race or your gut tighten when confronted by news or movies? Does your neck, jaw, or back react to accidents or disasters that you witness in person or on TV? Do thoughts of “media images” ever pop into your conscious mind as you try to sleep? We are bombarded by negative media attacks almost everyday.

Do media pundits ever whip you up with their “news coverage” or editorials so that anger or fear seem to rise to the surface of you or your loved ones? This can be emotionally and physically hard on our systems…. Be aware and do not get caught up in the media circus, if at all possible.

Final note. Many people are studying and applying the principles of the “Law of Attraction” believing that goal setting and positive attitudes toward achieving these goals is essential to success. World class competitive athletes have been using these “Sports Psychology” techniques in their training regimen for decades to achieve advantages in mental preparation in their events. When we get caught in the sensationalized, negative reporting by the various media we are sapped of our positive thoughts and energy. We lose our focus on attracting success and positive outcomes. In fact, we can be overwhelmed by negativity. This can strip you of your ability to problem solve in positive and creative ways. Negative thoughts can attract negative outcomes, mistakes, and ill health. Avoiding negativity (and negative thoughts) can be a path to better health and lead to positive outcomes. “Dwell in the Light” (Choose “Joy”) and when you feel overwhelmed, consider turning off the negative newscasts and immerse yourself in a book or audio program, or a video that will inspire you with positive; thoughts, actions, and emotions.

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the country’s leading stress management expert and the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Success & Executive Coaching and Training.

Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website www.dstress.com. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.

Holiday Survival

Happy Holidays… They are headed our way, ready or not!

I know that for many people this is easier said than done… It is the season for high expectations of happiness, joyful family gatherings, and limitless supplies of good food and cheerful gifts. Most of the time, expectations seem to mess things up! This time of year can make people irritable if not crazy because we expect so much of ourselves and the people around us. Sadness, depression, and anxiety begin to peak at this time of year for many people. Many people are struggling with financial challenges, even homelessness and these people can feel left out of Happiness in the Holidays. Illness and losses of family or friends, even from the past, can make this season difficult traumatic to celebrate. The short days and Winter weather for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere also can take an emotional toll on the Holidaze. There may be changes of schedule, travel, or dietary changes that can make positive, joy filled celebrations a bit difficult at this season of the year.

Consider the Holiday Survival Tips from the article below. This can be found in a more printable form at the Stress Education Center’s website, www.dstress.com, on the “Articles” page.

Please take good care of yourself and have some sympathetic understanding of people you may meet who may be struggling during the Holiday Season.

Holiday Survival tips
10 basic strategies to more gracefully survive holiday stress. Written by L. John Mason, Ph.D., Author of the Bestseller; Guide to Stress Reduction.
Are expectations of happiness in the holidays making you sad? Do you want to be happier and healthier this holiday season? Would you like to enhance your holiday stress management skills?

This holiday season will be stress filled. World economic swings and terrorism have created conditions that have changed our holiday celebrations. Attitudes towards travel, being with family, celebration in the face of fear and sadness, will make this year’s holiday season different than in years past. Adjustments will help to create new ways of participating in the holiday events. These can be both positive and negative. Consider new traditions in self-care. Search for community support that will open your heart to the joys that are possible in this season. Remember the things that are the most stressful are the things that you care the most about, but have the least control over. World events, the economy, the way people respond, and our families (and children) are major stressors that we wish we could control, but often cannot.

1. Schedule Time for Self-Care! Regular exercise and time for stress management are a must. Find what techniques work best for you, and use these tools. This is non-negotiable time devoted for your health and well being.

2. Eat Well Moderation is the key. Do not use alcohol or drugs for stress management. Do not “over” celebrate. Avoid fast foods.

3. Avoid Caffeine Minimize the impact of caffeine on your life.

4. Plan the Holiday… Set some limits. Do not over spend your financial and emotional resources.

5. Control Your Expectations of: Happiness, Joy, Sadness, and Loneliness

6. Be Nice to Others Give compliments and smile. Around negative, anxious, or rude people, take a breath and remember that you do not need to get pulled into other people’s holiday misery or their craziness.

7. Reach Out for Support Talk with “stable” friends or family, or clergy, or mental health counselors.

8. Humor Helps… Have Fun Laugh daily, if possible.

9. Stay in the Present! Mentally and emotionally, do not be consumed by things that happened in the past or fear events in the future. Enjoy the people you are with and make the very best of the situation that you are in.

10. Find the True Spirit of the Holidays Share “the Spirit” of this holiday with those people who you love or care about. Give love and support to the people of the world. Volunteer or go out of your way to be thoughtful and kind. A smile or a hug can go a long way. Sometimes it is just listening… Show others that they have value and that you are aware of their special qualities.
Even learn to let others give to you!

Women and Stress In the Modern World

Need for Stress Management for Women

I believe that everyone is experiencing higher levels of stress in the “Information Age.” The pace of change has accelerated to the point where we are forced to confront more changes and faster paced changes in this day and age, than at any time in the past. Just the pace of development of new information has many of us just spinning to keep up. I remember getting my first new personal business computer in 1989. The hardware and software, though getting old, were still plenty functional for 3 years. I bought a new computer two months ago and I have had to “upgrade the software several times since then and the hardware was “old” when I was taking the machine out of the box.

Since the 1960’s, the pace has increased and roles have changed. There are more women in the work force (with jobs outside of the home/farm.) In fact, in many parts of the country/world, most families require more than one person in the work force just to meet the daily expenses of living. In the early part of this working revolution, there was an assumption by many companies that men should receive more money (higher pay for the same job) because they were the “bread winners” for the family. This has not changed in many parts of this world. There were also many limitations imposed for women in the level of their career developments. Though these attitudes are changing (in many parts of the world), there are still areas that have not been completely addressed. For example, how many working women come home from work with the old expectations that they are responsible for the “homemaking” duties like: dinner preparation, cleaning, shopping, and childcare. Men are gradually, though often grudgingly, taking on their share of many of these tasks (except where the cultural or religious beliefs discourage this evolution.)

Women have special stress management requirements and considerations. Women are often taught (most unconsciously by their families or communities) to not complain about the two careers that they assume, working outside the home and also as the center of home activities. Women need to take care of themselves better, more so now than ever before. They must be better role models to their peers and children in the skills that are needed for self-preservation and improved quality of their lives.

Today, women need to get regular exercise, eat better, and take time for relaxation. Everyone needs to make time for self-care that can also include continuing education, spiritual development, positive relationships, and financial and career planning. The challenge is to find the time and the “support” necessary to make this happen. I know that without this self-care, you are left with a “burned-out,” unhappy, and unhealthy person who the family and the greater world will find, in the long-run will not be able to make the positive contributions that would be ideal. We need to support each other more now ever before. We need to encourage greater health and happiness for all women.

Some men believe that playing aggressive games like football or racquetball are relaxing, and most of the time they are wrong, but women also have their misconceptions about what is relaxing. Women tend to get together with friends or family for meals out, shopping, even “pampering.” Sometimes these activities are not so ideal or even relaxing. Every woman is an individual with her own requirements and needs. Spending money, shopping in crowds, binging on foods (desserts,) even breathing fumes from getting your nails done are not always the most healthy choices. If you do not know what is really “right” for you (and your body) then consider getting some lifestyle coaching and test the options until you “know” what is best for you and what really works. The investment in time and money will save you time and energy in the long run and definitely improve your quality of life. Also, remember that close relationships are important and can be important for stress management. However, healthy relationships start with “healthy” partners/friends and “needy”/demanding friends are not always helpful for personal stress management. (Make good choices where you spend your time and energy…)

Along the way, do not forget to take good care of yourself! Be present and enjoy everyday. Enjoy time with your family and good friends. Find time for gratitude!
Good Health!

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Executive Coaching and Training through the Stress Education Center at www.dstress.com.