Stress Management Tools

Stress Relief Techniques: Myth Busting Meditation

Soothing sore muscles with massage or using progressive relaxation techniques can calm your body. But what about quieting the mind? Stress brings about annoying mind chatter. Meditation can calm the mind or at least slow down racing, stressful thoughts.

Let’s take the mystery out of meditation. For me, meditation is about being still, allowing my thoughts to come and go without passing judgment upon them. It’s a mini-vacation I can take for my mind. Meditation is also spending a just a few minutes in silence, away from the hustle and bustle of the busy world. There are also studies indicating meditation boosts brain health,There are three main myths that surround meditation

Myth Number 1: “I have to sit for a long period of time when I meditate.” Begin your practice slowly, starting with meditating for one to two minutes. Allow your mind to be free, letting your thoughts pass through as air in and out of your body.  If a thought enters you mind, return to focusing on your breath. I use a technique that I concentrate on the air passing in and out of my nostrils. Gradually build time meditating each day. I use my phone timer during meditation. There are also podcasts that you can download for timed meditations.

Myth Number 2: “I have to sit cross-legged to meditate.” You don’t have to sit in a contorted position to meditate. The key is to be comfortable, especially when first learning to meditate. Begin by sitting in a chair to meditate. A lying down position might seduce you into sleeping instead of meditating.

Myth Number 3: “Meditation just doesn’t work for me.” Be gentle with yourself when first developing your meditation skills. Meditation does take practice. Humans love to judge and grade their progress in tasks. Meditation is not one of those activities. In fact, the less attached we become to our mind chatter the sooner our minds get to have a mini-vacation.

Meditation can be a simple way to give peace and freedom to your mind. With just a little practice you can incorporate meditation into your day regularly.



Procrastination: The Poison of Putting Things Off

“Procrastination is, hands down, our favorite form of self-sabotage.”-Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

I was always the student in school to finish things at the last minute. I convinced myself it was because I could produce better work under pressure. I called myself, “Last Minute Lisa”, as putting off the inevitable became a habit. I learned to love the rush of adrenaline to finish a project or study for an exam. As I moved out into the real world, procrastination no longer served me. It stopped being a fun friend. Putting things off became a monster, affecting my work, home and finances. It allowed me to hide from problems. You see, procrastination’s best friend is denial. Denial helps to hide the thing you are putting off.

Many people procrastinate to a greater or lesser degree. It becomes an issue when putting off completing tasks causes problems in your life. One procrastination trap is “I don’t know where to start.” Our minds want to think, and think and think. We love to analyze why we haven’t done something. I had a client say once “if I only knew where it came from, I could fix it.” While some subjects need to be approached gently, other reasons can be our subconscious throwing a curve ball, preventing taking a step toward what you are putting off.

Procrastination is a slick liar. Procrastination tells you to do all the little things that have the least meaning. Distractions seem to pop up all around you, making it difficult to actually getting what you want accomplished. Another lie procrastinators tell themselves is that they work better under pressure. It’s one I believed to be true.

So what are steps to dealing with procrastination?

Be aware that you are procrastinating. You might be procrastinating if…
•    You sit down to conquer a project only to decide you need another cup of coffee.
•    You have an item on your to do list you have rewritten more than 3 times.
•    You are looking for just the right time to get something finished.
•    You repeatedly check various technology items, such as your cell phone or email while working on an important task.

Nip procrastination in the bud by identifying it and stop the behavior. Get right back on task. Take a designated break when you need to rest.

Start something now. Just do one thing and one thing only. Notice your anxiety level before and after starting the task. For example, say you’ve been putting off starting a project you’ve been assigned at work. Other tasks might pop in your head as you work, Write them down. Then look at your list when you are finished. If you had acted on the list, you wouldn’t have finished the original task.

Ask for support. Sometimes people just have difficulty getting things started. Working with a friend, coach or counselor can help you step into the fear of getting what you want finished. Remember, procrastination is a learned behavior.

Celebrate. Celebrate after finishing something you have put off. Celebrating marks a pause to honor the fact that you took action. Anything worth achieving takes perseverance. It may not contain the thrill of immediate gratification. Go pick one thing you have been putting off. Just do it and celebrate.

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.

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