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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Stress Overload?

Some researchers suggest that between 75-90% of all primary care physician visits are related to STRESS- RELATED complaints! We will investigate some of the signs and symptoms of stress overload, as well as some suggestions for stress management.

First of all… tell us a little bit about stress and stress overload. (Stress is nothing more than an internal or external "load" on our human system. But, the way we react to that load is what determines if the stress or stress reaction is positive or negative. Stress overload occurs when a person does not adequately deal with the dis-stress and they experience some form of symptoms that affect their daily life in a negative way.)

What are some of the symptoms of stress overload?
(There are symptoms, which affect us physically, mentally, or emotionally. Symptoms include lack of concentration, forgetfulness, low self-esteem, elevated heart rate, headaches, backaches, insomnia, depression, anxiety).

Is stress-overload more prevalent to one sex or the other?
(Many researchers believe that women are more prone to stress-overload due to the fact that they take on too much and don't speak out and say 'no' of set limits. Additionally, many women don't ask for help or have to skills to let go of stressors.

What are some ways of coping with stress overload?
1. Talk and share! Learn to ask for help, delegate or negotiate tasks at home and at work.
2. Plan regular leisure-time. Plan down time to go out with friends, enjoy a movie, a hobby, or just kick back and watch television or a warm bath.
3. Say no. Give yourself permission to be assertive with those around you and set boundaries. If you have trouble saying 'no' try saying, 'I’ll think about it' so you have time to consider if you really want to do something or not.
4. Set realistic goals for each day. Try not to over-commit and know your limitations.
5. Change your mind. Remember you do have the ability to change your thinking and put a positive spin on many negative stressors.
6. Watch out for multitasking—it can become over-tasking! Slow down, and do one thing at a time.
7. Learn relaxation techniques. Try deep breathing, stretching, or yoga.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Inspirational Tip

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

~Albert Einstein

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Can a Vacation Effect Your Mental Health?

American employees are working longer and taking fewer days of vacation, especially compared to our European counterparts. Recent statistics from Expedia Inc. state American's will take 10% less vacation time this year, compared to last year.

How do American's vacation hours compare to European workers?
• In 2003 American's had 16 days of vacation, but in 2007 it is now 14 days
• Brits get 24 days of vacation
• French had 37 days of vacation in 2003, and now it is down to 36
• In 2003 Germans had 35 days of vacation, in 2007 it is 26
• Italians get 42 days of vacation a year
***only 14% of Americans plan to take a two-week vacation, down from 16% in 2006

What are the possible effects of not taking vacations?
• Vacation starvation, as it is called, can lead to workers who are
disgruntled, stress related illnesses such as stomach problems, back aches,
• Other problems include family tension, and an increase in addictions.

What are some of the reasons for American's taking less vacation time?
1. Overwork ethic- Americans define themselves by their job and our 24/7
technology keeps us tied to our jobs.
2. Guilt and fear-American's tend to fear guilty about leaving their jobs,
especially when times are tough in the economy. Other's fear they might lose
their job if they take time off, or perhaps lose a promotion.
3. Cost of travel is noted by many workers who are deciding to opt for shorter,
closer to home getaways.
4. Dual income couples have trouble coordinating long stretches of time away
from the office
5. Statistics show that 23% of small business owners have not planned a vacation
that lasts over a week in more than 4 yrs.

What are some means of coping with vacation starvation?
1. Take frequent, but shorter vacations ( 4 day weekends)
2. Trade vacation time for pay decreases (29% of American's say they'd trade a
pay raise for more vacation time)
3. Use your weekends as time for yourself and family vs. spending the weekend
working on things from the office.
4. Learn some stress management techniques from a mental health professional.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Preparing for a new job?

Most people would agree that going to a job interview can be one of the most intimidating and anxiety ridden events in their life. Tonight we will look at some tips for those of you who might be preparing for a job change and tips for attaining that new position.

Career coaches talk about the importance of “preparing” for an interview. What does that mean?
1. Experts suggest that you spend 3 hours preparing for an interview
2. Draft answers to the most common interview questions and practice answering
them aloud
3. Read up on the company and their mission
4. Make a dry run drive to the interview site so you know exactly how long it
takes, the just where the company is located.

What are some of the typical questions asked by interviewers?

1. Why should we hire you? (sell your qualifications and what you bring to the
2. Why do you want to work here? (here’s where you talk about what you know
about the company and how you can fit in)
3. What is your greatest weakness (talk about a weakness and how you have worked
to improve that weakness to make it more of a strength)
4. What accomplishment are you most proud of ? (try to find something that
relates to the job position or something that demonstrates you can meet the
company’s needs)

What are the most common mistakes a candidate makes?
1. Answering questions with one-word answers or sounding like they are reading
from a script.
2. Being unprepared and not knowing about the company
3. Attending the interview improperly groomed
4. Being dishonest about your achievements or expertise

~Remember there are trained career counselors who can help you prepare for job interviews… but the most important element is to show your passion to work hard and be dedicated to giving all you have to a company.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Importance of Laughter

It has been said “By the time a child reaches nursery school, he or she will laugh 300 times a day. Adults laugh an average of 17 times a day.” (Discovery Health). Tonight we will look at the importance of humor and laughter and how it affects our physical and mental health.

What are the benefits of laughter?
• Reduces stress. Laughter stimulates both sides of our brain and eases muscle
• Lowers our blood pressure
• Elevates our mood (and gives our body a good workout)
• Boosts our immune system (releases antibodies)
• Improves our brain functioning
• Helps us connect with others
• Fosters relaxation

Why do we need humor and laughter?
• Replaces negative emotions with pleasurable feelings
• It changes behavior. We talk more, make more eye contact, touch more
• It increases our energy level
• It makes us feel good and heals our pain
• It is a safe way to introduce ourselves to others (connect)

How can you expand your sense of humor?

• Look for everyday humor. Look for absurd, silly or funny things that happen
around you
• Watch children. Observe how they delight in light things
• Increase your exposure to humor (comedies, joke books, listen to joke tapes,
joke a day online)
• Hang around with funny friends
• If you hear a joke you like write it down (make sure you tell someone else
and brighten their day).


"When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace." 

~The Dalai Lama ~

Thursday, June 7, 2007

A Good Night's Sleep is Essential for Managing Your Stress

Sleep is essential just as essential as food, air and water. But, some people have difficulty attaining the sleep they need. Statistics indicate that one in three adults have difficulty with sleep or insomnia in their lifetime. Tonight we will focus on some information to help you get a good night’s sleep.

What typically keeps us from sleeping?
• Body noise. Side effects of medications, stimulants, caffeine, alcohol
• Mind noise. Anxiety or repressed emotions from the day
• Bed noise. Environmental noise from outside, feeling hot, uncomfortable.

What are the five basic strategies for preventing insomnia?
1. Never oversleep. Get up at the same time every day even after you have lost
sleep. Sleeping late just resets your body clock to a different cycle.
2. Set your body clock. Light helps restart your body clock to its daytime
phase. When you get up get some sunlight or turn on all the lights in your
room. Make sure you walk around to get oxygen to your brain.
3. Exercise. Keep active during the day—especially after a bad night’s sleep.
When you sleep less you should be more active the next day. Try strenuous
exercise in late afternoon.
4. Don’t nap. When you feel sleepy go take a walk or do errands.
5. Set a bedtime schedule. Try to go to bed at the same time each night. If
you have lost sleep the night before, go to bed a little later not earlier
and then move it back to its original time.

Are there any other tips for non-sleepers?
• Take a warm bath and never a shower before bed
• Dim the lights an hour before bedtime to stimulate dusk.
• Try to stretch and relax—read a boring book or watch a boring show.
• Make sure you don’t eat right before you sleep—try to eat 4 hours before you
go to sleep
• Try warm milk at bedtime, which stimulates the serotonin in your body. Try a
piece of whole-wheat bread or other carbohydrates.
• Avoid coffee, colas, tea, chocolate and fermented cheese cheddar cheese,
avocados and red wines
• Don’t watch anything disturbing before bed—horror movies, shooting/dramas or
anything that will keep your mind going overtime.

Lastly do you have some suggestions for enhancing sleep environments?
• Keep the room at around 60 degrees and pile on another blanket
• Keep humidity in the room
• Try to have white noise or a fan running or music to block out disruptive
• Keep the room as dark as possible. Light suggests it is time to wake up.