Stress Management Tools

Stress and Sleep: Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep is far more valuable to our health than we realize. However, getting a good night’s sleep under stress is a challenge experienced by many people. Tossing and turning in bed coupled by racing thoughts can be both frustrating and exhausting. A good night’s sleep greatest enemy is loads of negative stress that activates the “fight or flight” part of the nervous system. This is due to the release of adrenaline and other chemicals in the body that allow us normally to move and make decisive actions. This certainly is counteractive to relaxation necessary for sleep.

Getting enough sleep may also contribute to weight loss. Another recent study indicates that sleeping well along with reducing stress may help you lose weight more effectively.

Proper rest allows our bodies to rest and prepare for the day ahead. Are you ready to get a good night’s sleep? Here are some tips to help to sleep well:

Count Sheep, Not Bills to Pay. Stop doing activities that cause high stress early in the evening. If, for example you are experiencing stress around money, you should avoid paying bills before bedtime. Set a time aside early in the morning or early on a day off to complete paying bills. Automate your bill paying as much as possible. A tip that I practice is downloading banking transactions and entering data after breakfast. It doesn’t take long to complete bill paying if you make this a daily routine.

Stay on a Sleep Schedule. Getting to sleep around the same time each night helps your body regulate a sleep pattern.  A sleep schedule helps set your internal clock. While you generally might not have control when you get up, you can crawl into be a little earlier.

Turn off Electronics before Bedtime. Electronics, such as a computer or television can cause too much stimulation just before bedtime. DVR your favorite show and get some good shut eye.

Create a Bedtime Routine.  Make the bedroom a place to relax and sleep as much as possible.  Begin to wind down before bedtime. Drink your favorite sleepy time tea and settle into a good book. Soak in the tub with some relaxing essential oils, such as lavender or sandalwood. Add relaxation techniques or meditation before bed.

Avoid Stimulants Around Bedtime. Eliminate your favorite caffeinated beverages 4-6 hours before bedtime. Try to exercise earlier in the day as aerobic activity can rev up your body too much for sleep.

How to Design a Relaxing Space in Your Home

Several years back, I had a house in the country outside of Knoxville. It was my safe haven from a stressful world. I carefully designed each room to whisper comfort. Once I walked through the door, I shut off the noise and stress from the day. I created a stress relief getaway over a period of time; a peaceful sanctuary to call my own.

We are exposed to so many environmental stressors every day. Honking horns, screaming people, ringing phones and beeping fax machines are just a few sounds that grind our gears daily. Designing a relaxing space in your home can be relatively easy and inexpensive. Here are some tips to create a tranquil space to escape every day stress.

Color– Color has a powerful effect over our moods. Calming, soothing colors include blue-based tones. Green, however, helps to balance your mood. The color yellow is reported to create anxiety. Bright colors, such as red or orange tend to energize your mood. Go to a home building store and look at paint chips.  You will feel relaxed when you find the colors that soothe you the most.

Light-Use natural light as much as possible in your home. Reduce the glare of bright, fluorescent lights and note if you have reduced eye tension. Do keep your bedroom as dark as possible for the best sleep. I adore black out curtains to block the light in my room.

Sound- Music can be a potent stress reliever. Choose music that leaves you feeling balanced and relaxed. Some find Bach relaxing while others adore new age music. Avoid music that gets your juices jangling. Save that clip for the gym.

Scents-Certain essential oils can be helpful in relaxation. Use a diffuser  in your home to disperse the essential oil scent for a calm, relaxing environment. My favorite is lavender.

Atmosphere- Try candlelight to create a relaxing environment in your home.  This is a quick, inexpensive way to design a stress-free spot. You can even find water features for under $25 at your local home decoration store. I actually took a free local feng shui class to learn a different approach for stress-free design. Finally, combine all of the above elements for your design a relaxing space in your home. over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives.Lisa specializes stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.

Stress and Procrastination

Win an IPod Shuffle!

You can enter to win an IPod Shuffle by answering these two questions:


1. What is your biggest struggle with finishing a task or project?

2. What would your life look like if procrastination was removed from your life?


Enter you answers in the Facebook comment section below by September 8th, 2011 at 9 pm ET to win!

(Contest winner will be randomly selected from the entries. Winner will be notified by 9/9/2011 by 3 pm. Good Luck and thank you!) over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives.Lisa specializes stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.

Goal Writing: Revise, Rethink and Rejuvenate Your Desired Target

New Years is  the traditional time to set goals. Setting goals is crucial so we have a path to get from point A to point B. Rechecking where you are on the path is an equally important process. Maybe your original ambitions were too challenging or your dream is  no longer meaningful to you. Here's a simple process you can use weekly, monthly or quarterly to keep you on target for goal achievement:

1. Revisit-Revisit goals you have made this year. Maybe they are targets that you made several months ago but haven't checked on lately for progress. Pick just one goal and revisit it. Ask yourself, "Where am I in accomplishing my dream?" "What steps can I take toward achieving this goal?" The most important thing to remember is not to judge, belittle or compare yourself to others when revisiting goals. It's just a place you are on a particular path.

2. Rethink– Rethink your goal. Is it something you still want to achieve? Does the goal need revised? Maybe going to the gym twice a day was an unrealistic goal. What will truly be a good starting point to achieve this goal? Rewrite the goal so it is achievable. Make sure your target challenges you in the process so you can remain motivated.

3.Rejuvenate– Now that you have crafted your new goal, jump start your desire  in a fresh and exciting way. Find someone who may have the same goal. Get support from someone who cheers you on and challenges you in a positive way. Maybe it's choosing to work on your tasks at a different time of day. Mix it up and see what a difference a new approach can make in achieving your desired target.

Freedom from High Stress Levels: The Top Three Mistakes People Make When They Are Under High Stress

Independence Day is just around the corner. Oftentimes we equate the Fourth of July with vacations, picnics, fireworks and time with friends and family. This can also be a time to stop and reflect what freedom truly means to you, even freedom from the bondage of high stress levels. The effects of chronic pressure are insidious, and can distort how we see life’s situations.

As you write your own declaration of independence from the effects of chronic stress, consider these three mistakes people make under high pressure and solutions to shift your thinking.

Mistake #1. You Become Your Own Worst Enemy. Sometimes you don’t have to look very far for criticism on how you’re handing problems. Nitpicking thoughts can cloud your mind, such as”I should have done it differently,” “I feel worthless.” Self-criticism can help keep us stuck in chronic stress mode.
Solution: Ask yourself how you would treat your best friend experiencing stress-filled times. Then treat yourself as if you were your own best friend.
Mistake #2. You make decisions based on fear, not from reality. Fear is a very powerful emotion during stressful periods. And while fear may be a helpful emotion when dealing with a life-saving situation, it can block rational thought in making the best decisions during a rough patch. Personal survival becomes the focus instead of making decisions from a clear, rational mind.
Solution: Find strategies to move fear out of your mind and into reality. Connect with a trustworthy source to talk about what you are most fearful of. Write down your fears on paper. This will help discern what is fear-based and what is reality-based.
Mistake #3. You wish your life away. Some common thought patterns include “I wish it were Friday,” or “I wish (fill in the blank) wasn’t happening to me.” We all have wished at some time to be anywhere but work or in the midst of a difficult situation. However, this thought process can be an escape pattern instead of coping with a stressful or unhappy situation at hand.
Solution: Write down ten things you are grateful for. Your gratitude list is what you tangibly have that means the most to you in the moment. Act as if you love what you’re doing. Stop being a victim to your circumstances. Remember, for every bit of bad you see in your life there is an equal amount of good.

Avoiding these three common pitfalls can send you well on your way to reducing high stress levels.


Learning to Say No: The Art of Keeping Space on Your Plate

Plate“Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.” –John C. Maxwell

“Just say no” has been a frequently used   phrase over the last couple of decades.  The slogan was widely used in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, to discourage young folks in engaging in drugs or other unhealthy activities.  Today, the art of learning to say “no” is a vital skill in stress management. Do you find yourself saying yes to people’s requests, even though you are already crunched for time or resources? This article will explore two common reasons for over commitment, as well as healthy ways to just say no.


Over Commitment Reason #1:  I’ll feel guilty if I say no. This is one of the most common reasons for over obligation. Prepare yourself for the next potential project commitment by examining two areas of your life: priorities and intent.  First, be clear about your priorities-the everyday activities are important in your life. For example, your priority may be spending time with your children in the evening. You may be less apt to commit to a long-term project that will consume several evenings per week.  Also, be clear about the motivation or intent behind making the commitment. Be sure the decision is something you clearly want to do.  If your goals match the opportunity then the decision will be apparent.

Just Say No Tip: A great response is “My schedule is full right now but thank you.”  Most people will accept this response; however, there are those who will push your limits. Simply repeat the same response, as many times as needed. This requires a little staying power on your part but remember that you are honoring your, time, health and other previous obligations with your decision to say “no.”

Over Commitment Reason #2 I’ll feel selfish if I say no. Open your calendar and look at the last week or two of your schedule. Count how many times you nurtured your needs versus the needs of others. Can you truly say you are a selfish person with your time? This is where looking at your responsibilities realistically can give perspective when feeling selfish saying no.

Just Say No Tip: Would saying yes prevent you or someone else from a new experience?  For instance, if you have served on a fundraising committee at the same capacity for five years, maybe stepping back to allow someone else to serve is a healthy option. A huge opportunity for growth can happen for you and the new committee chairperson. What would you do with your new found free time when your plate is half full?

The art of saying “no” takes practice. There may continue to be circumstances where you over obligate yourself. Be kind to yourself. Checking your intent, priorities and schedule will help you make the best decision. over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives.Lisa specializes stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.

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