The Secret to Finding Balance in Life

There are major areas in your life that when left unattended can lead to a lack of balance and prevent you from full life satisfaction. You can be a victim to a lack of awareness regarding these areas and suffer from physical or emotional symptoms including anxiety, depression, headaches, pain, abdominal complaints, and reduce productivity (due to unconscious distractions.) With awareness and action you can use your new balance to be more productive, prosperous and healthy.

Find the 8 essential areas of your life and learn to honor the ones that you do not make time for in your life. This will help to re-prioritize your life and give you greater balance as you pursue your long term goals and aspirations. The 8 essential life areas include: career, finance, family, friends/relationships, education/life long learning, health, creativity/aesthetic, and honoring the spirit. If you do not have a plan for honoring each of these 8 areas then you may not have balance and may have to fight to sustain emotional and physical health and well-being.

The first two areas are obvious and many people spend time and energy working to fulfill these areas. Career relates to your work and the satisfaction that you may achieve through being productive. Many people need to address their work/career if they find themselves under-satisfied by the job that they are employed to do. Training and mentoring can lead to more appropriate career paths. Finance includes current and future plans for financial stability and security. Long term planning is required and impulse control is necessary to help maintain your long-term planning until you achieve your financial goals. There is a great deal of support regarding these two areas and so society tends to focus on these areas but these do always provide life balance or satisfaction by themselves.

“Family” is an area that relates to the closest relationships that we have. The importance of having close ties to your family can vary a lot. Some people require large amounts of contact with parents, siblings, and children. If this were true for you, you have to make time to maintain these relationships. Some people are not as connected or attached to these close family relationships and so they may require less time and attention to maintain their balance. Career and other life distractions can move this area to a seemingly lower priority but this can be a huge mistake and in some cultures, family, is the highest priority. This support is very important and should not be shuffled to lower priorities. If you neglect this area, you may suffer emotionally and physically. Remember that “quality” of time with family is more important than quantity. Do not miss your opportunities for good, close connections even if your schedule is an issue.

“Friends/Relationships” like family are important, but individual needs vary. Time with chosen, “healthy” friends is important. This support both giving and receiving is critical for most humans. These are relationships that can be as intimate as husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, or intense coupling that seems born into our genetic code. When your life is tested by change or tragedy, close, healthy friends and relationships can be critical. Time in your life may need to be allocated to find, build, and maintain these relationships. We all have different levels of needs. Remember that the quality of these contacts is more important than quantity, though people with need for drama in their lives may want to argue about the need to quantity of time for relationships.

“Life-long learning” is the pursuit of knowledge or wisdom that allows you to move forward in your life. Sometimes it is specific to career development but it can also relate to information that can allow for better decision making or following a passion in your life. To not expand your knowledge can lead to a weakening of memory. Studies have proven that an active mind is less likely to suffer of the early onset challenges like dementia. Life is more interesting when you challenge yourself to expand consciousness and information.

“Health” is a “no-brainer” when it comes to balance and life satisfaction. Investing time and energy in keeping fit and eating “right” is an individual but necessary requirement for the most productive life. Bad habits can, and should, be changed, either reduced or eliminated. Substance abuse is a very temporary distraction from pain or anxiety (fear-anger) and does not offer long-term solutions but can lead to long-term impairments. Challenges can “run” in families but this is no excuse for caving in as a victim to poor health. Time spent on health and wellness actually saves you time and money, in the long run. Companies who tract wellness programs often find a cost benefit of $5, or more, for every $1 spent on wellness. This is true for the quality of your life and even your levels of productivity. DO NOT USE “no time” as an excuse. You will save time by practicing stress management, getting regular exercise, and eating better.

“Creativity and Aesthetic” pursuits are not simply producing arts and crafts. Not everyone has talent for this type of creative endeavor. Everyone does have an appreciation for some form of art or natural beauty and we must invest resources in finding the activities that touch your aesthetic needs. Maybe a hike or trip to a museum will meet your requirements and give you balance. Planning a once a month visit to experience a beautiful natural environment or man-made work of art, or going to a performance, or listening to uplifting music can all qualify for creating satisfaction in this area. Being distracted by TV, video games, or movies may not be enough… Exploring your requirements for quality aesthetic exposure is important and is often ignored, with poor long-term results in life satisfaction.

Finally, “Honoring the Spirit” is an area that requires attention. There may be an over-lap with attending to aesthetic or creative pursuits because pursuing the spiritual requirements may have more to do with feeling good in your heart than chasing a philosophy. So religion or religious pursuits do not always involve the true celebration of spirit. Religion can be cerebral or political in ways that may feed the mind but not always the soul/spirit. Do not take this area lightly. When you do not know how to nourish your true spirit you run the risk of having fears and anxieties about important transitions like death/dying, parenting, or aging that when left unresolved can lead to serious emotional imbalance. Everyone has different requirements for honoring or celebrating spirit. Do not fall into the trap of taking on someone else’s belief. FIND YOUR OWN PATH.

If you are unclear how to pursue engaging in any of these areas in your own life, consider finding a mentor or life coach who you can trust to assist you at examining the specific needs you may have in your unique situation and life. If you need assistance, consider the Stress Education Center for this life coaching (www.dstress.com.) But remember, honor your own needs and find a way to incorporate these areas into your life. Life satisfaction may be the biggest and best reward. Take good care of yourself.

10 Tips for Stress Management

These tips are at the core of my 1 day stress management program. Contact me if you have any questions regarding stress reduction coaching through the Stress Education Center’s website at www.dstress.com

Tip #1 Take 40 Deep Slow Diaphragmatic Breaths Each Day (Spread evenly throughout your day not all at once at the end of the day or you might hyperventilate. Try for one every 20 minutes.) You can benefit from associating the deep breaths with some common work occurrence such as the telephone ringing or clock watching. Try this! Though very simple to do, it is a very powerful stress management strategy.

Tip #2 Use Regular Relaxation Periods for Work Breaks. Try fifteen to twenty minute periods of (hopefully) undisturbed time away from phone and/or family. Commit to using this for four to six weeks to begin to see the benefits. If you would like some guidance in developing your stress management skills consider finding an appropriate audio program that is targeted for your specific interest. You will be surprised to find that this will save you time and energy. You will get more done in less time if you are not distracted by internalized stress. Autogenic Training Phrases, Progressive Relaxations, Meditations, or Visualization/Imagery relaxations are recommended. Find the one that works best for you.

Tip #3 Get Regular Exercise. Aerobic activities such as walking, jogging, swimming, biking, etc. for 20 minutes 3 times per week is minimum. Recommended is 30 minutes or more, 4-6 times per week. But do not hurt yourself!

Tip #4 Eat Sensibly. Avoid Caffeine. Do Not Cope With Stress by Using Alcohol or Drugs. If you are stressed out, caffeine is like throwing gasoline on a fire to put it out! The secret is moderation and common-sense.

Tip #5 Get Focused on New Directions and Regular Planning. Give yourself positive options if you feel trapped. Plan for growth in all aspects of your life; not just work and finance (family/relationships, spiritual interests, creativity, vacations, hobbies, etc).

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

Tip #7 Protect Yourself From Negative Co-Workers and Relationships! Do not get caught up in other people negative thinking or let them rip off your peace of mind and positive energy. Take good care of yourself!!

Tip #8 Get Back In Control! If you cannot control all the people and situations that happen around you…. at least you can control the way you respond! Being “out of control” is one of the main sensations that indicate that the stress in your life is a problem.

Tip #9 Give Sincere Compliments Freely and Smile! Be positive and let it shine on all that surround you. It will come back many times more.

Tip #10 Learn to Really Listen! It is the best communication technique that you can develop!

More coaching and tips are available at www.dstress.com

Coping with Grief and Loss – a Process

We all suffer from loss in our lives. Sometimes the loss relates to transitions through life that are normal and expected states of growth and development such as moving from childhood, through the teenage years, and then into the adult responsibilities that confront most people. Though this is a difficult transition, we must all face this if we live past our 18th birthday. There are more serious or traumatic losses that many of us encounter such as the death of close family member or friend, the loss of health due to accident or illness, the loss of an important relationship, or possibly the loss experienced with a career change or loss of a job. These are difficult times and hard lessons to experience in the course of life. These losses, though potentially painful, can be times of learning and personal growth. Many of these transitions can be less distracting and with a greater potential for learning if you have a positive support network. Here is the dilemma. Most people do not have a network of healthy, positive supporters to allow for movement through difficult transitions with grace and healing perspectives.

We can learn from our painful transitions and losses. We can wade through these changes more gracefully, and possibly with less discomfort, if we have the best team of support surrounding us. Some people look for professional counselors or coaches, or perhaps clergy to help with difficult transitions. Some of us have personal mentors who can be trusted and who have the necessary communication skills to assist in times of need. Some of us have healthy relationships, friends or family who can help without too much of their own “baggage.” Many people do not have enough access to the positive supporters who can help us through the grief that life throws at us.

There are many books and potential sources of information which help us to understand the process of dealing with loss and grief but for most people reading about the grief process is not enough. We need to be supported by a personalized experience that we can gather around us as we muddle our way through our emotional and spiritual pains of loss. We need to be “touched” by the proper support in many ways. We need to be allowed our grief and yet “called on it” when we have gone past the limit and start the “wallowing process.” We need to find the exact, personalized process to assist in managing the stress, anxiety, pain, confusion, and the “emptiness” of replacing the part of ourselves which has been lost with the more experienced and empowered person who has survived a major change/loss/growth…

Each of us need to find the best way to learn our lesson and then to move on into our new, restructured life. We need to learn the best way to take care of ourselves, benefit from the lessons, and then discover the most appropriate directions to move our new life. To do this, we need to find people we can trust and invest the resources into the process of self-care and self-development so we can move down the path that leads to our goals. This is easier said than done, but if you realize that you would survive this transition more easily and possibly more quickly with positive assistance then you must do the work and find the correct support you require.

In the future, we will be expanding and releasing information regarding a new program which can assist most people in developing an individualized transition plan. We are beginning to build a process for creating a positive support network which will enable participants to discover their strengths, accept their weakness or flaws, and to free up energy to invest for moving toward positive goals and enhanced lifestyles. The working title for this process is “Finding Your Tone.”

Please comment or send questions to the Stress Education Center at wellness@dstress.com or visit the website at www.dstress.com.

Having Emotional Balance at Work

In many companies, the work culture includes many difficult requirements. Long hours, intense competition, conflicts, changing priorities and trying changes which create the need to adapt. If you do not have “Emotional Balance” you run the risk of burning out or getting into other physical or emotional difficulties. “Being Centered” or balanced are concepts that are easier said than done. Most of us do not even know what emotional balance is, what it feels like, or realize that it is an ever changing situation that we have to continuously pay attention to and change with. The pulls from “internal” company needs and “external” (outside work) expectations can feel insurmountable. Each of us are different and the way we respond to the various sources of pressures will also be unique. To beat being a victim to these pressures we must:

1. Understand specifically how you respond in your own individual and unique habitual way. By knowing this you can find the systems that hold this habitual response and learn to minimize, if not eliminate, the negative manisfestations of the pressure.

2. Learn what Balance feels like so you can determine if you are off-balance. It is difficult to learn to relax into a “balance state” but it is worth it for most people because it feels good and saves so much time and energy.

3. Find the 8 essential areas of your life and learn to honor the ones that you do not make time for in your life. This will help to re-prioritize your life and give you greater balance as you pursue your long term goals and aspirations. The 8 essential life areas include: career, finance, family, friends/relationships, education/life long learning, health, creativity/aesthetic, and honoring the spirit. If you do not have a plan for honoring each of these 8 areas then you may not have balance and may have to fight to sustain emotional and physical health and well-being.

4. Finally, you must take (or make) time for yourself. Often, by taking time to regain balance you find that you SAVE TIME and ENERGY. Many people forget this principle until a major negative manifestation takes place. The body will get your attention in rude ways if you do not honor your commitment to self-care and maintaining balance. No time, is the excuse most often heard and people hide behind this idea.

Finding your balance and re-prioritizing your life goals is not an easy task and often can not be done effectively without external counsel, coaching, or mentoring. It is worth your investment of time, energy, and resources if you want to be most productive and have the best quality of life. If for no other reason, you may want to be a positive role model for the important people around you.

There are many principles taken from Sports Psychology that can help executive leaders to find their balance and to get the pressures and competitive forces to have minimal impact on their performance. These same principles help “world class” athletes move ahead of their competition. Just attend to the upcoming Olympics competition to find that more than 60% of the athletes training involves the “mental side” which helps to create balance for the winners. The mental side of training trims away the unnecessary distracts that rob the athlete of energy or the flexibility needed to win.

Emotional Balance reduces distractions that can lead to team turn-over, increased replacement costs, health cost containment, better communication and leadership, increased productivity and enhanced performance, and increased bottom-line in sales, services, and productivity.

If you find that you would benefit from coaching support, considering contacting the Stress Education Center at www.dstress.com or call 360-593-3833

Stress Management Techniques a list

Stress Management Techniques a list

The book, Guide to Stress Reduction, is a cook book with recipes for relaxation and stress management. Find the formula that works best for you and read the step by step guided strategies for deep relaxation. The following is a list of some of the most effective stress management strategies from this book.

 

  1. Breathing Techniques: Diaphragmatic Breathing, 1-8, 1-4 1-4 1-8, Alternate Nostril Breathing
  2. Autogenic Training Phrases
  3. Active Progressive Relaxation
  4. Passive Progressive Relaxation
  5. 10-1 Countdown
  6. Visualization for Deep Relaxation
  7. Indirect Suggestions
  8. Biofeedback: temperature training, EMG, GSR/EDR, EEG, Cardio feedback
  9. Meditation for Relaxation: Yogic meditation, Kundalini, transcendental, Zen Meditation
  10. Hypnosis
  11. Goal Setting and Planning for Stress Management
  12. Communication for Stress Management
  13. Physical Exercise and Movement for Stress Management

 

There are also specific stress management protocols for working to lessen or eliminate certain stress related physical and emotional symptoms like:

 

  1. Chronic Pain Management
  2. Contolling High Blood Pressure
  3. Tension Headaches
  4. Migraine Headaches
  5. Gastro-Intestinal Disorders
  6. Poor Circulation – Raynaud’s
  7. Panic/Anxiety Control with Desensitization and PTSD
  8. Sleep Disorders – Insomnia
  9. Coaching to Increase Productivity from Sports Psychology

 

Through the Stress Education Center you can get coaching or training for you or your organization. You can also get the Stress Management On-line Course (Five sessions with handouts, biofeedback, and recorded stress management techniques.) Articles and this blog are available through the website. Consider whether this will benefit you and get more information at www.dstress.com.