Getting Out Your Own Way: Find Success

World class athletes are using sports psychology to improve their performance. The stress of high level competitions can create situations where an equally matched opponent may win an event because the stress may block the best performance by his closest competition. A small amount of muscle tension may reduce the speed of a track sprinter by 1 hundredth of a second and make this person come in second. 70% of the training time of these high level athletes is spent in the mental preparation of preparing for the stress of competition. The combination of controlling the impact of stress and practicing positive mental visualization has been proven to enhance performance for athletes, musicians, and people in business.

In my Executive Coaching practice, I am often asked to use tools from sports psychology to help develop the skills that lead to success. For example, I was working with an Executive Vice President of a large financial organization and he found that the tools help him to relax and focus better so he could could get his 8 hours of work done in 6.5 hours so he could accomplish more in less time. He found his productivity went way up. Then he found that his ability to communicate, and to delegate, was enhanced. This lead him to be acknowledged as a better leader for his division. Profits were up. Mistakes/accidents were down. His people’s morale was elevated. All of these good results and success were attributed, in his view, by the coaching and use of sports psychology. It required about 20 minutes a day of his time and it saved him time, energy, and increased profits.

This is not a secret but it does require motivation. It is not difficult, but it does require a new way of thinking and behaving. Business leaders are using these techniques more now than ever before and showing the cost benefits, not only for themselves, but for their organizations.

The secret is learning how to “Get Out of Your Own Way.” There are articles related to this at the Stress Education Center’s website at www.dstress.com (on the “articles” page and within earlier postings of this blog.) You can also go to the website for more information on Executive Coaching and Organization Development.

Keys to Developing Self-confidence

Self-confidence is related to feelings of self-worth and self-regard. It suggests that a person has confidence in their abilities and how they present themselves to the world and that these abilities are born out of oneself. People who project self-confidence often find it easier to attract success and to gain support for their endeavors. If you have it, you use it. If you do not have “it,” you may desire it.

The keys to developing self-confidence can come from the inside through self-awareness and self-acceptance or you can learn to project it outwardly and do so until it soaks in to your emotional fiber.

One of the accepted self-confidence practices is the “fake it until you make it” behavior. This behavioral technique asks that you project yourself as a self-confident person would and as your external self demonstrates this attitude, your internal self will begin to adopt this external portrayal. To do this, consider dressing well and enhance your appearance as best you can. Many people require coaching advice on how to do this because it does not always come naturally, and can be done incorrectly. This does not have to be financially expensive but does require some coordinated efforts. Project yourself as confident by having good posture, standing up as straight and as tall as you can. Smile warmly and easily. Give sincere compliments and look for the “GOOD” in other people to build them up and do not dwell in the negative. Avoid gossip and negativity. Walk faster and with intention. Make eye contact. Speak up, do not mumble. You do not have to speak fast or talk just for the sake of talking. (Unnecessary talking can sound desperate.) Learn to really listen and respectfully reflect back the understanding, or lack of understanding, that you may have of your communication partner. (Let them finish. Be patient.) Use a firm handshake when you greet people. Demonstrate your positive excitement about learning new things and about life in general. Look for what is good and do not dwell, too much, on what is missing.

Internal self-confidence takes more effort and time. Your motivation to be self-confident will be tested. But a deep core of self-confidence can last a lifetime. To accomplish the ability to dwell in internal self-confidence begins with a demonstration of self-love and self-care. To do this you must put time and effort into taking good care of yourself. You will benefit from regular exercise and stress management. In fact, it is difficult to hold on to your self-confidence without regular demonstrations of self-care. Deep relaxation can also lead to a type of self-control that allows you to control your fears, anxiety, anger, and sadness. You can minimize the fears and maximize your solid emotional foundation through regular stress management practices. Even when you become self-aware of a possible weakness or flaw in yourself, you will better able accept these as lessons rather than be a victim to any of your imperfections. We ALL HAVE IMPERFECTIONS and we must learn and adapt new ways of “being” to help us move past any of these discovered flaws. This is sometimes easier said than done and counseling or coaching may help expedite your process of moving through the insight of any imperfections. “We are perfect because of our imperfections.”

Focus on your strengths, your gifts, your creativity, and your positive contributions. By dwelling on these, you allow the positive light of self-confidence to begin to burn more brightly from your inside, out. And, though difficult, learn to accept and appreciate any sincere compliments that come your way. Build, brick by brick, the feelings of self-worth and self-regard that come from demonstrations of your positive contributions to your family, friends, work, and to the world. Give gifts of yourself freely and without expectations but maintain healthy boundaries (do not emotionally bankrupt yourself.) Find “positive” people to support you. Negative or desperately needy people will drain you if you do set limits, and honor these limits.

Finally, demonstrate gratitude. Self-confident who are healthy will understand that this is a blessing and will find ways to show how grateful they are for feeling their self-confidence.

For coaching support, consider the Stress Education Center at www.dstress.com and please take GOOD care of yourself.

Building the Team: Creating a Positive Environment at Work

We spend a lot of our time engaged in work. For many of us, our work includes regular, perhaps daily, interactions with co-workers. Relationships form with the people who we work with and who we see many days of the week. These relationships can make the work environment positive and productive or, to the contrary, negative and even destructive. Good managers encourage good relationships at work, in most situations. The supportive relationships can assist the work of the organization to move forward. As people get to “know” one another, deeper understanding and tolerance can grow which can lead to better professional relationships and enhanced productivity. Building a team in your work group or, within your immediate organization, allows people to connect in positive supportive ways. This is especially true in businesses which require communication amongst personnel to accomplish the end product or service. Technology companies, healthcare providers, most financial organizations, education, and most governmental organizations can benefit from the enhanced communication which good team building helps to create.

Team building is not a waste of time, because when it is done correctly, it saves time, increases productivity, reduces accidents and mistakes, and encourages good problem solving to overcome obstacles and time pressures. There is almost no downside to team building. It does require time to get started and to help maintain but the positive attitudes in the workforce will offer a positive return on investment. Good or great managers rely on the benefits of their efforts to build productive teams. Creating “buy-in” and the emotional connection of the key personnel will increase loyalty and productivity while reducing sabotage and increase retention. Team building can be a key ingredient for many of the most important “players.”

Consider that not all team building activities work as expected. Sometimes it can go sideways, or worse. Some planning is required and the tailoring of a team building program can have greater positive results. A good manager might want to get some assistance in developing and executing a great team building activity. Please do some research to determine the best program for you and your organization. Getting input from your team will enhance “buy-in” even before the event, so consider interactions with participants as you develop your program.

For additional coaching regarding your team building requirements or for program development consider contacting the Stress Education Center at www.dstress.com for input and support.

9 Benefits of Executive Coaching

Why executive coaching? Because study after study shows that coaching works! Executive Coaching is an effective tool for organizations and their key people in making changes in both the direction and impact of their work. It is a cost effective way to assist your key personnel to develop their skills in leadership, communication, strategic planning & implementation, focus and accountability.

The focus of the coaching relationship is on the client, on what the client wants to have happen, and on what will help them to achieve it. There is no other relationship that consistently offers this extraordinary level of support and encouragement. The coaching relationship is often described as “having your own personal navigator for the journey: someone who will help you find your way and stay on course”. Many business and professional people describe having a coach as their own “secret weapon”, someone who keeps them focused and on track toward their goals when the tendency otherwise might be to lose energy or become distracted.

How Can Executive Coaching Help You?
1. Gain clarity about and maximize your strengths.
2. Gain ongoing encouragement and accountability toward reaching your goals.
3. Reach higher levels of performance and results.
4. Become the leader you have always wanted to be.
5. Identify and align your life and work with your values.
6. Set and achieve individualized personal and professional goals.
7. Thwart your “inner critic” and other stumbling blocks which have previously sabotaged your success.
8. Develop and sustain balance between work and personal life.
9. Apply concepts from international research on positive psychology to learn how to become happier and derive more satisfaction from your life.

Excellent Areas for Executive Coaching Include:
• Maximizing performance and results at work
• Developing, and fully utilizing a strong, highly engaged staff
• Successfully modeling and managing the challenge of change
• Starting a new area of business or expanding your current business in new and innovative ways
• Becoming more organized and in control of your time and space
• Preparing for or successfully navigating a career transition
• Developing new energy and stamina by becoming healthier, losing weight and changing your lifestyle for good
• Creating more joy, and revitalizing the passion in work

Executive and Corporate Coaching is for Increasing Productivity:
• Human Resources Departments interested in hiring external coaches
• CEO’s, executives, managers and other professionals who would like a coach
• Companies looking to launch a coaching initiative
• Initiatives to prevent and/or cure burnout
• Companies wanting the support of a coach in any of the following: Strategic planning, process re-engineering; creating a compelling vision; launching and developing teams; or 360-degree reviews.

Also, this is great support for business owners and entrepreneurs who have goals and long ranged plans.

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Success & Executive Coaching and Training (using Sports Psychology.) Contact Dr. Mason to discuss your specific requirements and to receive a tailored proposal for you or your organization.

Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website at www.dstress.com for articles on Executive Stress and Performance, free blog signup, and learn about the new telecourses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833. www.dstress.com

Executive Stress

Executive Stress – Why We Are More Stressed Now Than Ever Before

On his one hour commute into work, Robert, the executive vice-president for a large international bank, noticed that his stomach seemed tied up in knots. His doctor had referred him for some executive coaching to assist him in reducing symptoms of job stress. Robert was being treated for stress related high blood pressure and now he was having tests for a possible stomach ulcer. It was not uncommon for tension headaches and neck aches to develop near the end of his work day and prevent him from sleeping well at night. Sometimes he would awaken at his normal time and feel completely un-rested as he pulled himself out of bed to prepare for his day. Even on his weekends, Robert would be distracted by his fatigue, loss of concentration, and an irritated stomach.

As he began his stress management coaching, Robert had a difficult time finding the time required to practice his stress management exercises. These were provided for him on audio CD’s that he could listen to while undistracted for 20 minutes. Robert was struggling with finding 20 minutes in his heavily scheduled day. After several weeks, Robert was convinced, by his coach, that this expenditure of time would not only allow him to feel better, it would probably save him time. He began to practice these relaxation strategies and to his amazement, Robert found that the program really worked. He listened to the CD’s while being driven to work. At work, he discovered that he was better able to concentrate and to communicate with his co-workers. This allowed him to get his work completed in less time. He saved one and half hours on most days. Robert invested the “extra” time in some projects that he enjoyed but had not found the time to accomplish. This gave him greater satisfaction and a sense of control that he had not remembered feeling for a long time. In several more weeks, Robert reported fewer headaches, better sleep, and reduced stomach problems. Eventually, his blood pressure began to respond and was reduced to normal ranges with less medication. Robert was convinced that stress management improved the quality of his life and allowed him to be more productive.

Why do Executives suffer from the effects of stress?
What are the possible symptoms of stress?

We are all born with a primitive survival mechanism called the “Flight/Fight Response.” This ancient survival responses has been inherited from billions of years of evolution. 5,000 years ago, if a man was confronted by a threat, he could either run away or stand his ground and physically fight against his attacker. His body would automatically prepare for the action required to survive. His heart beat would increase, his blood pressure would go up, his breathing would become more rapid, muscles would tense to prepare for the fight or to flee, his hands would get cool and clammy, digestion and libido would be reduced, and the primitive brain would take over reducing his ability to think clearly, instead making him more reactive to his fear or anger. These “hard-wired” responses that are triggered when we are threatened. The threats today are usually not as life threatening as 5,000 years ago but our sub-conscious perceptions believe that an upset client or a poor contract negotiation are as serious as a life and death confrontation. We only have one way to respond to the stress of change. Even if the change is a positive experience our body responds in part, if not all, the “Flight/Fight Response.”

The pace of change has increased and adapting to change triggers the stress response. Even positive changes can be stressful. To prove a point about how positive change and stress can be dramatically bad for your health, I want to tell one brief story. When I was growing up, I read a newspaper account of a man who suffered from good fortune! The story read that a man had won a large sweepstakes award. He had won a fortune…. $100,000, which back in those days was a lot of money! He was so overjoyed with his good luck that he celebrated in an unfortunate way… he died of a heart attack! How many people do you know who get a new job or relationship, and wind up paying the price of this positive stress?

Now, more than ever before in history, people are overwhelmed by the stresses of life. The pace of change due to new technologies and the new information that technology generates has created overloads that we are not able to handle in appropriate ways. In the past ten years, people are developing symptoms of these new technologies. Eye strain, back strain, wrist/hand strain, neck problems, even increased body weight, and substance abuse increases can be linked to long hours in the modern work world of computers and technology.

Who in this modern world can say that our primitive response to stress, from millions of years of adaptation and survival, has been able to keep up with the accelerated pace of change during the past few decades? Have you evolved a new survival mechanism to counter the old Flight/Fight Response? Normally, evolution of these systems takes nature thousands of generations to develop. In today’s world, more people are overwhelmed by the accelerated pace of change than ever before in human history! There are always a few “genetic immunes” who make the rest of us look like “slackers” but, trust me, more of us suffer from the pace of change than there are those who seem to thrive in this 24/7 world…)

If we can not change the pace of the world around us, or the people we do business with, or the behaviors of the people we live with, or the global changes that affect us, then we can at least become aware of these stressors and avoid becoming a victim to these changes! We do have control over the way we respond to these changes.

Awareness is half the battle! Know how you respond to stress in your own unique way! Know what in your life is causing this transitional stress. Then, you must develop daily habits that effectively control the negative physical and emotional responses to stress. You can GET BACK in CONTROL! You can prevent, or at least minimize, symptoms of stress such as: headaches, backaches, neck aches, high blood pressure, panic, anxiety, many stomach problems, sexual dysfunction, possibly reduce auto-immune problems like allergies or some forms of arthritis, sleeping problems, bruxism, TMJ, and other stress related symptoms. The emotional symptoms such as: loss of concentration, withdrawal (depression), anxiety, being accident prone, memory loss, poor motivation, poor communication, poor performance, and some learning disabilities can be linked to stress and reduced, if not eliminated, by awareness and lifestyle changes. Key executive personnel can be given executive coaching and this can prevent them from becoming liabilities due to inefficiency or poor productivity. You will want to protect your valuable employees and avoid having to replace and then retrain key personnel who may be impaired or lost due to stress related symptoms. One higher level executive let his response to stress take the form of anger and had lawsuits threatened and the alienation of his team to deal with (and the liability that faced the company.)

Executive stress management programs are tailored to the specific requirements of the executive and their specific symptoms. Programs can include a combination of strategies such as: regular relaxation practices, increased physical exercise, and changes to the diet. These are the three components of a lifestyle designed to encourage health and symptom prevention. Though they require time and energy, they tend to give back health, well being, and effectiveness.

Stress management and regular relaxation can be performed in different ways. These can be selected and developed for individual preference and to fit different styles. Some executives enjoy stress management techniques that were created from Western European tradition such as Autogenic Training phrases. Other executives may respond better to styles of meditation drawn from “Eastern” traditions such as yoga. Regardless of the historical origins of the relaxation strategies they all will benefit the practitioners in similar ways. They all reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure, slow and deepen breathing, relax muscles, send warmth into the hands and feet, and increase the ability to concentrate, solve problems and enhance communication. The best results come with practice. It takes 8-12 weeks of regular daily practice for most people to get the maximum benefits. For myself, I found that after 12 weeks of regular practice with Autogenic Training (20 minutes per day) that I required one and half hours less sleep at night. I was better rested and could focus on tasks better, allowing me to get more accomplished in the same amount of time at work! This is not uncommon.

Regular physical activity not only helps with the health of the heart and can burn calories for weight loss but it also can assist you in by releasing stored muscle tensions. This muscle tension can cause many problems from fatigue, loss of focus, poor sleep, to muscles spasms that create headaches, and neck and back aches. By working these muscles, they can relax better after the exercise period. Many mental health professional also know that regular exercise can help to minimize or prevent depression.

Diet and nutrition can effect your health and well being. There are many different philosophies on eating for the best health. In busy times, business people need to eat well to maintain their highest levels of performance. Eating as close to “natural” is recommended. Fast foods and highly processed convenience foods are not the best for long-term health and well being. Food additives (colors and preservatives) can cause bad reactions. American eat too quickly and this unfortunate habit is spreading worldwide. Drinking alcoholic beverages for relaxation can easily move to excess and can then stress certain systems in the body. One glass of wine is probably better than no stress management, but becoming dependent on drinking wine, beer, or distilled spirits is not a good strategy for stress management.

Regarding diet and nutrition, executives who find themselves suffering from the symptoms of stress should consider reducing, if not eliminating, caffeine from their diets. Caffeine acts as a stimulant and can increase symptoms of stress. Caffeine can negatively impact your sleeping patterns and reduce your productivity on future days. With the increase of coffee and expresso shops in the past 15 years, we have noticed an increase in symptoms of stress. Caffeine is found in coffees, black teas, chocolate, sodas (most colas and some caffeine enhanced beverages), and some other products. (Please read the packaging labels.) This can be a very difficult habit to change. If you want to eliminate caffeine, and you are a heavy user, please slowly reduce your consumption by gradually replacing your caffeinated products with non-caffeinated products. I have worked with people who have eliminated their headaches, muscle pains, sleeping problems, stomach dis-stress, and even high blood pressure problems by minimizing their use of caffeine.

Though stress from the pace of change is unavoidable, you can avoid becoming a victim. By taking the time necessary for these preventive activities, you will save time and enhance your performance.

Since 1978, the Stress Education Center has provided consulting and training services for individuals and organizations. The books, tapes, training seminars, online courses, and executive coaching have assisted thousands of motivated business people to improve their performance and enhance the quality of their lives.

For additional information on retention or copies of the executive summaries on Hiring Winners or Keys to Retention based on information gathered from executive interviews, contact L. John Mason, Ph.D. at the Stress Education Center – Dstress.com (360) 593-3833 or mason@dstress.com

As an Executive Coach, consultant, and trainer, John works with executive management teams to leverage their strengths and create superior performance.

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.

Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website at Stress, Stress Management, Coaching, and Training for articles, free blog signup, and learn about the new telecourses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.

Toxic Managers an Executive Briefing

Have you ever had a boss or manager who seemed to destroy the spirit of your organization? For whatever reason, their management or leadership style is noxious enough to make their personnel go from productive caring people to people who wish to sabotage the organization. Sometimes these managers are placed in their positions by executives who wish to “shake things up” in a certain department and this can turn out to backfire on them.

When toxic managers work their destructive “magic” on an organization, good, experience people leave. In the short term this may look good because it can reduce expenses, but if you lose good people, and the people who are left are passive aggressive, or more directly focused sabotage, then the organization turns unproductive and ultimately unprofitable. This destruction can be blamed on the “line” staff as an excuse, saying that “THEY” did not cope with change. But the real responsibility lies with the executive who placed the toxic manager in their new position. These executives are rarely held responsible for their bad decisions.

This is not an innocent mistake! It is a calculated escalation of bad judgment, laziness, and fear driven thinking that the incompetent executive rains down upon the department, and the organization. If they did their jobs correctly, they would have had better leaders/managers in position giving the proper training or support in the first place. So the executive is the real saboteur and yet can often sidestep the mess that they have created.

Executives need to be held accountable. They need effective coaching, mentorship, leadership, and support. You know this sounds like advice that politicians, business, government, healthcare, military, and education leadership could all benefit from practicing. Sometimes, poor leadership does not know when to ask for coaching or support. Sometimes their egos just get in the way. Whatever their excuse for bad leadership, they are responsible for the reduced productivity and poor performance of their organization.

Know your people. Do not let toxic managers subvert your organization’s work and productivity. Take responsibility and do the difficult work of finding the “right” people to manage and then let them take credit for their good work. (You can not know your people if you do not know yourself!)

Being a great manager or leader does not usually come without support, coaching, and mentoring. If you or your organization can benefit from executive coaching consider contacting the Stress Education Center at www.dstress.com for an interview that can lead to a proposal that can lead to your success.

Happy Valentines Day! Hold the Expectations

It is that time of year, again… The celebration of romance or the horror of the lack of romance. The sale of flowers, cards, candy, jewelry, balloons, dinners out, even fancy underwear will all be way up, but will anybody truly find any happiness? I like romance, but the pressure to be romantic and the expense of romantic expectations make me crazy… Yes, the “Stress Guy” gets stressed out by EXPECTATIONS… I am a victim of my own mind… But, so are the people who are fine, satisfied and happy without a significant relationship who somehow can feel lonely on this weird, and manufactured, holiday.

The part I enjoy is going out early on Valentines Day to the well supplied supermarkets. Usually, there are several “stations” set up for the desperate, last minute male Valentines buyers to race through in their anxiety, fear, and clueless-ness. Yup, tables of flowers and cards and candy and jewelry and balloons, etc… Then, I stand in line with desperate men and remind them that they have forgotten one or more of the items, and then watch them leap out of line to obtain the forgotten expectation.

Does anybody really feel loved when they receive a pile of Valentine expectations??? Romance is NOT dead, we just do not have enough time or money these days… The handmade gift or card or dinner seem more thoughtful and loving to me, but what do I know… I have been told by higher authorities on romance (like my sister) that one red rose is more romantic than a mega-buttload of red roses. (Mega-buttload means a lot of…)

Sincere acknowledgement should be enough, and often is, unless the nightmare of run-away expectations somehow take over. Please be gentle, and appreciate the thought, even if it is simple, pure, and innocent.

And, by the way, to the memory of my loving wife, I treasured our time together. As always, please be my Valentine….

How Much Sleep Do YOU Need?

I am L. John Mason, Ph.D. and I founded the Stress Education Center (www.dstress.com) in 1978. Like you, I have required sleep every day of my life. But the question arises, how much sleep do you require to be happy, healthy, and most productive. This is more complicated than you might image. Even the “Sleep experts” have difficulty agreeing because this is such a complicated question. There is a great deal of good information about sleep and how much you may require at the “Sleep Foundation’s” website at http://www.sleepfoundation.org/

Since everyone has different lifestyles, health backgrounds, ages, and living environments the understanding regarding your specific requirements for sleep gets difficult. Experts do agree that babies and young children require more sleep that most adults. The chart below comes from National Sleep Foundation.

Age: Sleep Needs:
Newborns (0-2 Months) 12-18 hours/day of sleep
Infants (3-11 Months) 14-15 hours
Toddlers (1-3 Years) 12-14 hours
Preschool (3-5 Years) 11-13 hours
School Age (5-10 Years) 10-11 hours
Teens (10-17 Years) 8.5-9.25 hours
Adults 7-9 hours

As you can see, this may not fit for many of us who get less than 7 hours of sleep due to choice or lifestyle. There is also research that suggests that too much sleep can have negative impacts for many people as well. The “quality” of your sleep will also be a factor in the duration that you require for sleep. The quality of sleep will be discussed in another blog as well as tips for getting the best sleep.

In a recent article at http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/04/27/30-percent-us-workers-dont-get-enough-sleep/ researchers reported that 30% of workers are not getting enough sleep and it affects their work.

We need to understand our own body’s requirements for sleep to determine the best length for our best health. If you wake tired, you can assume that you are not getting enough “quality” sleep. Reduced sleep can lead to low energy, poor concentration and reduced productivity, possible depression, weight gain, and a variety of more serious health challenges, including heart disease. Too much sleep can lead to accidents, illnesses, and even death as reported by sleep researchers. The “right” amount of sleep will vary for you and is affected by what your environment and life changes can do to your physical and emotional health & well-being. Changing work schedules (or activities like classes) can be factors that need to be considered in your need for sleep and need to be taken into account as you determine how much sleep you require. Also, talk to your doctor about how medications, diet, and especially caffeine can be affecting you and your requirements for sleep.

Stress management can offer better sleep, better focus, and control of the anxiety that can be negative on your quality of life. Consider the information offered by the Stress Education Center at www.dstress.com including the audio download for stress control to improve your sleep.

Keys to Connecting with Spirit

Spiritual Development and Higher Consciousness

People discuss health and wellness in terms of a balance in “Mind-Body-Spirit.” But when we try to pursue “connecting” with our spirit, we can be frustrated because there are so distractions and obstacles in our way to higher consciousness. After 30 years of private practice, I have stumbled upon an important truth about “connecting with spirit.” In very simple terms, if you “quiet your mind,” relax the “distractions” of your body, and find your way into shedding memories from the past or anxieties about the future, you will have set the stage for a better connection with your spirit. One additional ingredient is an “openness” to feel and to explore your spirit.
I am not speaking about religion or any religious training. I am speaking in terms of your own personnel spiritual evolution and experiencing the source of “Universal Consciousness.” (Universal Consciousness, or possibly “Cosmic Consciousness,” will be defined and discussed in a future article.

If you have a passionate desire to connect with your spirit then read on.

Many clients have been referred to my private practice by health professionals who wish these clients to reduce, or eliminate, certain stress related challenges. Symptoms that are created, or made worse, by stress such as: insomnia, high blood pressure, headaches, backaches, poor circulation, GI disorders, irregular or rapid heart rates, panic/anxiety, and some respiratory challenges have all been referred. Of these referrals, 70-80% of the time within 4-6 weeks of our stress management process, I begin to hear about “unexpected positive results.” As the clients begin to practice our stress management techniques, on a daily basis, they begin to grow more skillful at quieting their minds and relaxing their bodies. Often before their symptoms begin to lessen, I hear things that consistently sound like this: “I am sleeping better and remembering my dreams,” or “My dreaming patterns have changed,” or “Things that used to bother me, do not seem to bother any more (or as much.)” My clients report having better attitudes or the ability to connect in positive ways with the people around them. They are less irritated. They have better energy. They make fewer stress related mistakes and this saves them time. They report have a better “balance” and a more positive mental attitude. This opens the door for their connection with “spirit” and the development of their higher consciousness.

Most of the stress management strategies that I teach get people to the same, or a very similar, place. With practice, when these clients find the “right,” stress management strategy and begin to practice it on a regular basis, they report saving time, energy, and feeling better. I believe that this process leads directly to connecting with spirit and changes the way these people experience their lives.

The Stress Education Center’s website has archived blogs & articles that teach these techniques and they are all written out in the best selling, “Guide to Stress Reduction” which you can find in your library or at Amazon.com…. www.dstress.com

If you want coaching or assistance with this process, contact us for coaching or for our 5 session online stress management course (available through the website.)

Please take good care of yourself. Expand your mind and connect with your spirit, it feels great!

Change Happens: Change & Transition Management

Life change is unavoidable. The pace of change has increased to a record rate with the latest innovations and information technologies. Our body’s primitive response mechanism has not been able to keep pace and we are living with “overwhelm” as a daily companion. We do not have time to adapt at a genetic level, so we must learn to use behavioral adaptations to survive and thrive.

Each of us is a unique person with our unique habitual response to stress. Some of us respond to stress with anger, frustration, rage, or fear. Some of us get “uptight” and hold tension in our jaws, necks, shoulders, backs, or legs. Some of us want to run away as a response. Sometimes we tighten our stomachs, hold our breath, feel our heart racing, our blood pressure may rise, or our hands and feet may get cold. Sometimes we withdraw as if we could hide from the dangers of newness of our transitions.

When we do not have any “control” over the transition and it is an “important” issue, then our stress levels increase. Our body responds, in the only way that it can, as if we were in a life or death situation. We must learn that in life’s interactions, the only thing that we can control is our response to the event. If this situation is important to us, it is best if we can have some input in the change process. We must understand our role and importance of our contribution to the larger picture. And finally, we must be meticulous with our self-care.

If stress comes from an unclear picture of what the transition entails and what our role in this transition will be, then we can respond with fear and resistance which can hurt the project and often our credibility. Communication with higher ups, peers, and the personnel we must manage is critical. Make sure everyone really understands their value, their role, and their contribution to the success of the project. Honesty is essential. Open conversations about the fears of the new or the grieving of the things that have had to change to make way for the new policy or procedure. Dealing with these issues will enroll the participants more successfully.

In a perfect world, there would be time to honor all of these necessary steps for positive transitions, but often the reality is less complete. We must develop strong, uncompromising habits for personal survival and self-care. This might include non-negotiable time for exercise and stress management practice. It would include patterns during stressful transitions where there is enough time for sleep/rest and proper nutrition. Simplify your expectations and distractions. It may not be the best time to take on new projects that would add to the stress like: remodeling the house, moving, new relationships, or large family or social commitments. In other words, use your best common sense and do not over do non-essential activities.

Consider using the following checklist of eight tools for managing major transitions more gracefully.
Tips for Surviving Change

1. Self-Care Daily! See and Use the suggestions from the Ten Timely Tips article (at “articles page” of www.dstress.com.) Self-care is the single most important ingredient to maintaining balance as you go through transitions and change. Proper diet, exercise, and regular relaxations will allow you to be more productive with a higher quality of life!

2. Communicate. Keep yourself from falling into the pitfalls of life by giving and getting feedback about every major concern (change/transition) you are dealing with. Remember, listening is the most important part of communicating. Ask for clarification, so you can make good decisions.

3. Planning… Be Prepared. A productive journey through life’s transitions can not occur gracefully without a plan. Long range goals can keep short-term setbacks from defeating you in major ways. Focus on your long term goals regularly to keep you focused and moving ahead. Plan in every area of life: Finance, self-care, education, relationship, emotional growth, creativity/aesthetic, and spiritual development.

4. Develop Positive Support Mechanisms. If you want to survive, in good health, you need to have proper feedback and support. The “Family” is not always the best place. Friends and professional counselors can sometimes be the best venue for honesty and appropriate support.

5. Develop Positive Rewards. Small and large rewards along your way help make motivation easier, especially with large, long-term goals. A real heartfelt pat on your own back with achieving a reward makes the difficulties easier to bear.

6. Use and Develop Your Humor! Positive Attitudes Really Help! Difficulties, when viewed as opportunities for growth and proving your abilities, are less harmful. But do not bury your anger, fear or sadness.

7. Deal with the Dilemma of Diversity! Every change throws you into a position of dealing with new people, teams, attitudes, emotional “stretches” and more new obstacles. Learning acceptance (through self-care) can help you to make the necessary adjustments and get along faster toward productivity and higher performance. There will always be a contrary attitude around, accept that other opinions exist and you are entitled to your own.

8. Maintain Balance in Your Life! Prioritize, acknowledge, celebrate, and follow through on every area of life, including your emotional and spiritual needs.

© L. John Mason, Ph.D. Stress Education Center and Dstress.com

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.

Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website at http://www.dstress.com for articles, free blog, and learn about the new courses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.