How Does the Stress Intelligence™ App Training Work?

How Does the Stress Intelligence™ App Training Work?

As an individual learner or corporate researcher, I would direct you to the programs page of our website. This is where you can become familiar with our different Stress Intelligence™ programs and how they are taught; including the app programs.

If you look at our app catalog page, you will can take a deeper dive into the three, app-based, programs that we offer. Once you investigate, and then choose, the best one for you or your team, you can book it, enroll in it, and begin. Once registered for the course you can download the mobile app from either the Google or Apple play stores.

If you are considering our training, for your organization or team, we will work with you to streamline the process and we will enroll the group in the program. We will work with you to plan the program launch, set appropriate expectations, and work with you to get everyone enrolled.

Given an agreed to completion date, and generally speaking, each student will proceed at their own pace so they will have completed the program by that date.

Irrespective of the completion date, and whether enrolled individually, or as a group, each individual’s subscription is good for 1 year and each can use the program resources for that time.

Managing Your Reactions to Stress!

Managing Your Reactions to Stress!

Are you able to manage your reaction to stress-or do you get debilitated to one degree or another?

If you periodically have difficulty managing your stress, you’re not alone!  You may think that it is your fault–bit it isn’t!

Who trained you in proper stress management? Most answer that questions with a resounding- no one!

Why would we think that we can handle this complicated subject alone? Why?

We were taught, or shown, how to handle lots of things; eating, drinking from a straw, cooking a pop-tart, walking, toilet training, rules of games, manners, school projects, reading, writing, building a fire, and more!  But nobody taught us how to manage stress-because they didn’t know either!

What if a resourceful group of professionals figured out an innovative, and successful, way to teach you how to manage stress? Man, how fast would you sign up to take that training? Would you find value in being a happier and more productive human?

In this technological world, even a comprehensive stress management program can be streamlined for ease of access and use. Such a program, Stress Intelligence™ training is just an app away.

Don’t get me wrong, anything this powerful is knowledge-based learning and, if you put in the effort to gain the knowledge, you will reap lifelong benefits!

Ritemind Stress Less Workshops is here to offer stress management training that is accessible to everyone. Yes, there is a better life for the taking.

Why not just go ahead and take it!

How do you know if its burnout?

It is becoming more and more evident that stress has become so commonplace and expected, that it can sneak up on you, and cause burnout; before you even realize it.

First off, I would like to say that we understand and have great empathy for your experience with stress. We are here to teach you how to manage your stress and take it to a new, lifelong level.

“Burnout” has three distinct, and predictable signs that you may be experiencing, or seeing the same conditions in others.

Physical or Emotional Exhaustion
Can you describe your current state as having a lack of energy, being lethargic, sleepy or simply having dread for the day or even the week ahead? Work that has been interesting and challenging now looms and you dread it. You seem to have no internal resources to call upon and you cannot rally enough energy to conquer the day. It is certainly possible that you will feel physical pain that simply won’t go away.

Feeling as if you are ineffective
If you reflect on your status, you may realize that your thinking simply spins like a top or that your efforts are “not good enough”. You would love to be able to “do more, and be more” but cannot!

The longer you stay in this repetitive loop, the deeper you will fall into burnout! Your previous ability to stay energized and focus loses steam and you are no longer able to “shake off” the low intermittent points that we all experience. The situation slowly shifts to chronic instead of periodic. If you have noticed you are just not yourself at work or at home, there are real actions you can take to break out of this mode. Taking the time to learn how to effectively manage your stress is the most important action you can take. And it is here that we can be of the most help to you.

Detachment
In an effort to preserve your energy, is burnout causing you to be detached from others, unable to finish, or even start a task, or to even numb you from feeling joy or pain?

Pain, emotional or physical, doesn’t always love company…Do you seem like you have been bit by the pessimist bug and are staying away from things you love to do? Is the glass totally empty and you do not have the strength, or will, to fill it back up?

When you are in this state, you may be experiencing the dance of “The Critic” and “The Perfectionist” (sessions 3 and 4) both of which cause a repeating loop of seemingly unsolvable thoughts and keep you in burnout. One client called it Groundhog Day!

Hope springs eternal…
Are you recognizing the signs of struggling to keep it together; and don’t want it to morph into burnout? All is not lost! Relax, take a deep breath and consider enrolling in our Stress Intelligence program for learning stress management skills for the long haul. We’re here for you!

Ready or Not; Here Comes Change

Ready or Not; Here Comes Change

Can we become more adaptable?

Companies demand it. Psychology says “Embrace it!” Life forces it.

But, do we really want change? Some people do, some don’t. And, there is a significant difference between change we choose vs. change forced upon us; the big C word—Control. Even positive change involves a loss of the familiar and comfortable and a move into the “unknown”. Part of our brains resists change, even more so when we haven’t chosen it and especially when it causes turmoil.

Is it possible to learn how to be more adaptable and resilient? Research tells us we can.  One way is to take advantage of brain plasticity. Scientists used to think the brain lost its plasticity, or ability to create new neural pathways by about age 5. Science now proves the brain remains “plastic” throughout the lifespan, meaning you can teach an old dog new tricks.

There are 2 simple behaviors, which can enhance adaptability and therefore our ability to be more resilient in the face of change, chosen or not:

  1. Dr. Daniel Amen suggests spending 15 minutes each day learning something new which presents a challenge or pushes us outside our Comfort Zone. Such activities as dancing, playing a musical instrument, learning a difficult subject or language, all create new neural networks. It is just as important to exercise your brain as to do a workout for strength, flexibility and endurance of your body.
  1. “Do one scary thing each day.”  Eleanor Roosevelt promoted this idea as a way of becoming more engaged in living life to its fullest. Doing activities that make us a little anxious or put us in the Stretch Zone, heighten our senses, create new neural pathways and increase memory. You are bound to remember the first time you got up on water skis, but less likely to remember the tenth time. Your one scary thing may not be water skiing, but offering to give a presentation or talking to people you don’t know.                                                  

You may even be able to combine numbers 1 and 2. And, the good news is, the more you practice a behavior, the easier it becomes. So, the more you practice creating new neural pathways and resiliency, the more adaptable you will become. It is a skill that can be learned like any other skill. People get better at a sport or their jobs the more often they “practice”. The payoff is decreased stress, increased memory, increased coping abilities, increased creativity, increased ability to solve problems, increased efficiency and quicker recovery time when change comes, welcome or not.

Beth A. Planzer, LPCC, BCC
Certified Stress Less Workshops Coach & Trainer
Beth Planzer, LLC

Take Your Head Trash To the Curb!

Take Your Head Trash To the Curb!

Garbage Eve

Every Wednesday night at about 9pm, I remind my sweetie to take the trash out. It goes something like this…

Me: It’s garbage eve.

Sweetie: Oh, yeah, I gotta take the trash out, ugggggh.

Home Trash

All week, we gather containers of unwanted debris we call trash, we use the good stuff like the banana not the peel, or the milk not the carton, all of the remaining is unnecessary fodder. Unless we want to be featured on the TV show hoarders we must remove all of this collected debris, take it to the curb for removal so we can keep our lives running smoothly.

Head Trash

When it comes to our daily thinking we need to have a similar system. There is a thing called head trash that gets in our way of keeping things clean and clear for living our lives fully. Head trash can be described as thoughts that are not useful to fully living, like that banana peel or the empty milk carton needs to get kicked to the curb once a week. If we hoard those head trash thoughts we end up with a smelly mess that won’t stop stinking.

What if you were to have a head-trash garbage eve? A regular ritual of bagging it up and taking it to the curb.

How to get rid of your head trash is only one of the tools we use at Stress Less Workshops to teach people just like you how to manage their stress. I invite you to try our programs and see what stress management can do for you. – Katie Hoffman

Do I Have Anxiety?

Do I Have Anxiety?

Stress and anxiety

We usually address the process of stress here at Stress Less Workshops, but what about its cousin, anxiety? What is the difference between stress and anxiety, and how would you handle them differently—or would you? To answer this, first we need to understand the nature of anxiety. In this article, we’ll get a deeper understanding of anxiety, how to recognize it, and what you can do about it. Disclaimer: none of the information presented here is intended as professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This information does not substitute for the advice of a qualified, licensed medical or mental health professional.  

Types of anxiety

Anxiety falls into three major groups. See if you can recognize any of these:

Panic is known by an intense sensation of fear, or even the fear of having (yet another) a panic attack—often without any clear or reasonable cause. You will recognize it by experiencing heightened physical arousal, perhaps including rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, dizziness, nausea, and so forth.

Generalized anxiety is defined as a six month or longer period of excessive worrying over normal things. If you’ve experienced this, you may have found your daily life robbed of pleasure, your attention impaired, or your overall mental state fraught with a sense of dread.

Social anxiety (aka “social phobia”) is marked by an avoidance of places and activities where others are present. You may even feel so anxious that you start to shake, blush, or break out into a sweat—not fun at all!

Symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety frequently presents telltale physical, mental, and behavioral symptoms. Do any of these seem familiar?

Anxious Body: The sensations you may experience in your body include negative feelings like fright or panic, flushing, sweating, and the red embarrassed face of social anxiety. Or, you may feel a more general buzzing tension like those people who seem a little too “wired” and worried. These symptoms can be better understood and managed with breathing techniques, mindfulness practices, and thought labeling (techniques we teach early on in the Stress Less Workshops Core Curriculum).

Anxious Mind: Mental symptoms are experienced as over-activity in the brain, which can create mental tension, worry, and mental anguish. With the right tools, you can keep anxiety from overrunning your life. For example, mind-mapping is a great tool for befriending the thoughts that disturb your mind-body connection.

Anxious Behavior: In order to avoid the feeling of anxiety, some people will avoid social situations that have previously caused panic, worry, or social anxiousness. This avoidance has the side effect of resulting in isolation, thereby increasing the social anxiety further.  

Mismanaged anxiety

Mismanaged anxiety can easily result in an overactive mind and body. But by recognizing the physical sensations, mental patterns, and behaviors that accompany anxiety, you can better tolerate and even ride with the experience. With the right skills—and practice—you can have peace with the entire cycle of these uncomfortable experiences. You can learn how to calm your mind and body more easily. At Stress Less Workshops, we do this by “Using Your Brain to Change Your Brain.”

Stress vs. anxiety

At Stress Less Workshops, we view stress as having a traceable cause, such as a job loss, looming deadline, newborn child, etc. These outside stressors can be clearly recognized and therefore prioritized and handled one at a time. Anxiety, on the other hand carries a more generalized sense of tension in the mind and body—often without a clear or reasonable cause. This tension can prevent a person from being fully present in their life. On top of that, those who experience anxiety often develop the added worry (anxiety!) about having yet another anxiety attack—again, often without a clear indication as to how to resolve it. If left unchecked, they may find themselves constantly on high alert in anticipation of a visit from the anxiety monster, ultimately feeling helpless about their stressful condition. The key is to break the cycle that perpetuates the stress response in your body and mind.

Anxiety management

Emotional thoughts start in the brain. The body is notified of these thoughts and the mind goes into gear to solve the stress or “problem” presented. Managing stress and anxiety starts with a new thought process. You brain is a powerful and highly adaptable organ, and at Stress Less Workshops we take advantage of the most cutting edge research available to teach you how to change your brain—to actually change the neural pathways you use to think and respond. Pretty cool, huh? In just 4 weeks, the Stress Less Workshops core curriculum can help you change your relationship with stress and anxiety. Check out this email I received from a Stress Less Workshops participant:

I had a deadline to meet with a client project and I always depend on my assistant to help me get to the finish line on time. We traditionally run behind and stay late many nights and push thru to meet the deadlines. This particular project had many surprises and my trustworthy assistant had to go take care of a sick child at the 9th hour. Before the Stress Less Workshops program I would have had a fit, told her to bring her child to work or insist that she get a babysitter to take over. I needed her THERE! Thanks to the skills I learned from Stress Less Workshops, I found myself having a different experience. When presented with the news, I found myself automatically taking a deep breath and calming my body (and therefore my mind). With this breathing break that I learned about, I had the presence of mind to think of another solution to my impending deadline. The answer was clear, my assistant was going home to take care of her family and I asked her who on the staff she would recommend to help us finish the project. She came up with a perfect team member—one who I didn’t even know could do the work I needed. In the end, I had a happy assistant, a new team member to help bring projects to deadlines with more room to spare, and a happy client. Oh, by the way I got home at a decent hour to be with my own family and got a good night sleep, helping me give a relaxed professional presentation. Yes, I did get the account!

How many situations like that do you experience in your everyday personal and professional life? How would it change your life if you could handle these stressful situations with such grace and calm? As we saw in the story above, there is something calming and confidence building in Stress Less Workshops. The Stress Less Workshops program is a private, focused, and elegant solution to diffusing the distractions and worries in your mind. Want a change in your life? Use your brain to change your brain. Enroll in one of our virtual or on-site programs today.

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”

–Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

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Stress Is Your Choice – Learn How To Manage Stress in a Healthy Way

Stress Is Your Choice – Learn How To Manage Stress in a Healthy Way

I’m a Stress Management Teacher

I bet you never get stressed! That’s the response I usually get a lot when I tell people that I teach stress management strategies to individuals and organizations. But, guess what; I do get stressed and you will to, and for the remainder of our days. The difference in how I experience my stress today, as opposed to 10 years ago, is night and day. Let me briefly explain the difference.

Stress Is Your Choice

What I understand today about stress is that it simply does not matter what the stressors are; barking dog, late bills, infertility, or job loss. What does matter, is how we as humans process the experiences we have. If you are like me before I learned this “stuff”, we shrug off this fanciful concept that we “choose” to be stressed out. It really is kind of hard to see how we can get hijacked by stress and that being stressed, or not, can actually be our choice! Today, gratefully, I do know better.

Learn How to Manage Your Stress in a Healthy Way

The ability to manage stress, comes first from understanding the mechanics of how our mind-body connection acts to create stress due to stressors or “triggers”. Once we learn how this neuro-scientific process works, we can use some really great tools to navigate our reactions. Thus, preserving our sense of self, and limiting the damage to ourselves and to those who are in our lives. Still sound fanciful? Managing stress is easy; I do it every day and all day. AND I do experience stress in a much healthier way.

“You can’t stop the waves from coming but can learn to surf”. –Jon-Kabat Zinn

Stress Less Workshops Teach Life Skills That Can be Used to Reduce Stress

The purpose of Stress Less Workshops is to teach a set of Life Skills that can be used to reduce stress and build confidence in individuals, groups, and organizations!  We are dedicated to providing the community with training, in Life Skills, that, when used appropriately, will allow people to better manage their lives. The format used in teaching Stress Less Workshops, called “Experiential Learning” (Kolb), was designed for fast learning and high retention! “Experiential Learning” (Kolb) is the secret to the success of Stress Less Workshops because it results in both a rapid learning pace and a high retention rate. The Stress Less Workshops program is delivered through once a week, one hour at a time, sessions with Katie Hoffman.  The program lasts for four weeks with time to reflect upon, internalize, and sustain the knowledge learned.

Read More About How Stress Less Workshops Can Help You

Stress Management is a Balancing Act

Stress Management is a Balancing Act

We All Have Stress Sometimes

For some people, it happens before having to speak in public. For other people, it might be before a first date. What causes stress for you may not be stressful for someone else. Sometimes stress is helpful – it can encourage you to meet a deadline or get things done. But long-term stress can increase the risk of diseases like depression, heart disease and a variety of other problems. There are very few among us who have never experienced stress. Whether it’s a pending work deadline or an overwhelming physical threat, our body’s response to stress can be both helpful and harmful.

Flight or Fight

Our stress response gives us the strength and speed to ward off or flee from impending danger. But when it continues, stress can put us at risk for obesity, heart disease, cancer, and a variety of other illnesses. A threat to your life or safety causes your body to undergo immediate physical changes. A chemical signal deep inside your brain speeds stress hormones through the bloodstream, preparing your body to be alert and prepared to escape danger. This is known as the “Flight or Fight” response. You have faster reaction times, your concentration becomes more focused, and your agility and strength increase. When the stressful situation ends, hormonal signals switch off the stress response and the body returns to normal.

Stress and the Modern Person

With today’s fast paced lifestyle, stress often doesn’t let up. Many of us now constantly experience anxiety and worry about work, relationships, money, the economy, college expenses, and job security-among others. As a result, the stress hormones produced by our body in anticipation of physical harm or threat continue to wash through the system in high levels, never leaving the blood and tissues. The stress response that gave our ancestors the speed and endurance to escape life-threatening dangers runs constantly in many modern people and never shuts down.

Stress Management Techniques

Mindfulness techniques, meditation, and relaxation are just some of the ways we can beat stress. We cannot avoid stress in life, the trick is to give ourselves tools to manage it so it doesn’t control our lives and harm our health and well being. Stress Less Workshops gives you a full set of the tools you need to overcome stress in your life.

How to Manage School Stress

How to Manage School Stress

As students we hate be be stressed to the point of it being a factor in our academic success. As parents of students, we hate to see our children suffer in any form. As for the near-adult student, learning Life Skills to manage life’s stressors, is of the utmost importance and Stress Less Workshops can help! See how Stress Less Workshops helped a college student name Robert…

Stressed With the Demands of College

I met young Ivy League college Sophomore named Robert, by an introduction from his parents. Robert was always a bit of an anxious student and the demands of college life was proving to be too much for him to handle well. With a lot of effort on his part, he was a 4.0 student although the demands and academic competition that were part of daily life at school kept him up at night worrying, straining his friendships by studying excessively and cutting back on healthy things like eating well, participating in sports and running. He was becoming a desk student with no sleep and a mounting stressful existence he could not seem to shake.

Introducing Stress Less Workshops

I met with Robert and talked about his student life and set him up for one-on-one coaching. In the first 6 weeks of training Robert worked hard on his Stress Less Workshops training, he had developed new skills that helped him put his life in perspective. Robert particularly liked the mindfulness practices and mind-mapping tools.

Academic Success

2 years later he is taking the competitive academic world by storm, he knows his limits, has a solid Stress Less Workshops practice and has a promising career in the financial field.

The Process

Discovery – The first step to working with college students to reduce their stress for upcoming semesters is to figure out their stress tolerances. Discovering what a student’s triggers are, look at their stress vulnerability factors, and going over their stress response tendencies. Stress Management Plan –  After the Student and I know their “stress story,” we can work to devise a stress management plan to his liking. A lot of the time, the first step to managing academic stress is to fully understand where it comes from, get acquainted with its source, and behavior, then establish a doable plan that he will buy into.

This new way of relating to the same old situations and conversations along with mind mapping, breathing techniques, and thought labeling are what is taught in Stress Less Workshops. Stress Less Workshops teach life skills that are designed to change your life!

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds”

– Albert Einstein

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What Does Burnout Look Like?

What Does Burnout Look Like?

People Keep Telling Me I am Stressed, but I Don’t See It

One of my clients told me recently: “People keep telling me I am stressed out, I don’t see it”.

Let’s look at personal stress by using the analogy of an overworked computer. When my computer tries to download a massive file, needs to be backed-up, or has too many pictures of my adorable grandchildren stored, the optimal functioning of the machine is seriously compromised. 

Don’t Overload Your Command Center

That box on top of your body, containing your command center of thought and emotion, also slows down once it’s overloaded. Like that stalling computer screen, the mind also experiences “system errors”. However, with expert guidance, care, and attention, these system errors can be repaired. With neglect and added demands, this human “system error” can deteriorate into burnout.

What Happens When Your Mind Goes Into Burnout?

Concentration, response time, access to skills and memories are all compromised. Those feeling that you have placed in the “I will get to it later” basket come randomly flooding to the surface! Your mind literally begins to brownout. You know the feeling! Maybe you are more stressed than you realize. While you try daily to access your power supply, your brain and body show you signs of draining that very limited power source.

Comparing your stress to a lackluster power grid, do any of these signs apply to you?

  • New or constant physical aches and pains
  • Fading out during normal conversations
  • Restless sleep due to stressful dreams
  • Loss of interest in things that you loved to do
  • Loss of emotion, or even a surprise surge of emotion
  • Skipping meals or eating more than necessary
  • Staring numbly into space or computer screen, unaware of your state of mind
  • Waking up exhausted after a full night sleep
  • Driving and not remembering where you have been or where you are going
  • Quick to judge, react rashly or being crabby

If you see yourself in 5 or more of the above symptoms, you just might be headed for burnout. Your mind and body are screaming for relief.

“Perfectionism is Self-Abuse of the Highest Order”

– Anne Wilson Shaef

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Anger Management – How to Have a Choice

Anger Management – How to Have a Choice

Are You an Angry Person?

To some people, keeping anger in check may seem to be an impossible task, especially in “the moment”. The perceived violation of your basic boundaries may trigger your anger response, and may seem enough to warrant bringing out “The Big Guns” to make your point. Aggressively!

Recognizing the Moment Right Before You Get Angry

Once the dust settles, and if you can think back to the moment right BEFORE you flip into anger mode, you can learn to recognize that feeling or sensation rising up within you. That, rising up point, is when you can take a moment, take a few breaths, and know that you can make a better choice next time. Anger in itself is not bad; it’s what you do with it or how you choose to express it that counts.

Your Behavior is Your Choice

Your reaction to anger, and behavior that follows that reaction, is a choice; your choice. It may even be an ingrained habit. Back to that moment I mentioned earlier; taking a breath. Your habit may be to “let ‘er rip” as soon as your anger is triggered. You may have found that you feel most powerful by pulling the anger card whenever you are in a threatened state. In reality, that instant anger chips away at your self-esteem every time it happens; not to mention what happens to recipient of that wielded anger.

Have you ever seen anger listed as a leadership trait? A trait to that is to be admired or developed? Nah, probably not.

Anger Management through Stress Management

Empowering you to stop that knee-jerk reaction to life is what Stress Less Workshops is all about. We help you get to the thoughts behind your reactions and enable you to make an appropriate choice about your behavior. Simple? NO! Can you accomplish it? YES! Will it be effective? YES! Try our program today to help you manage your anger.

Bad Habits Cause Stress! Do You Have Any Habits You Should Be Breaking?

Bad Habits Cause Stress! Do You Have Any Habits You Should Be Breaking?

Bad Habits Affect Your Life

Bad habits can be irritating to us or others, but they can also be stressful. Many bad habits can interfere with physical health, emotional well being and mental alertness. To be at your best, to combat the stressors that are with you daily, you must get a grip on your bad habits; they are the stressors that just aren’t necessary!

Direct Bad Habits

You know things like… smoking, overeating, one too many glasses of wine at happy hour. When we put strain on our mind and body directly by these habits your stress level will increase.

Indirect Bad Habits

Hating yourself for smoking those cancer sticks, having that hangover, or thinking about what you may have said at that late happy hour, can add to your frustration and low self-esteem in your life the next day or beyond. Indirectly, your bad habit is causing your mind and body stress.

Combination of Bad Habits

A bad habit is a habit that makes you less healthy or less happy. Let’s take smoking. The act of smoking, the ill physical feeling you get from smoking including the rush, the inability to quit (again) and the regret of starting another day with a new pack is stressful. In truth, the habit controls you and that lowers your self esteem, and being in that endless situation, causes stress.

What bad habits are you aware of that could go?

If you think you don’t have any, ask a friend to remind you of them! There are many ways to take on habit breaking; smoke cessation clinics, wellness coaches, 12-step groups, really any support you can find. Managing your stress first can clear your mind to tackle the habits you would like to break

You can do it!

How to Prepare Yourself for Potentially Stressful Situations

How to Prepare Yourself for Potentially Stressful Situations

How Are You Doing?

Are you anxious about the review you will be giving to that not so stellar worker? How fast is your concern meter running about that teenager enjoying the end of the school year a bit too much? Are you and your family having difficulty even starting to discuss your aging parents’ future? Life can get pretty messy and/or hard sometimes. On the flip side of that, we have the beautiful gift of showing up every single day; no matter that it is easy or hard. Today is your lucky day! Today I will give you a trick; learned long ago, that may help you live through those thoughts and concerns.

Before Each Potentially Stressful Situation; Create an “Open and Empty” Mind State

If left alone, our powerful mind will do as it pleases; especially if it is totally unmanaged by its owner; which is, of course, you. The trick is learning to harness the energy of your thoughts and this is a powerful skill that comes only through practice. Before the event, practice having an “Open and Empty” mind state, as this is a great place to be; when you  learn to step into it.

Don’t Allow Yourself Any Expectations

The mental review, prior to that meeting with a co-worker, the teenager out celebrating, and the care of aging parents is simply a bunch of thoughts and situations about the future. The mind has a great capacity for “creative writing” about future situations, but only if you allow it this indulgence. As best you can, be “Open and Empty” to the various possibilities of the upcoming conversation; without prejudgment, or having expectations as to the outcome of the meeting.

Before your co-worker review, before you have the “responsibility” talk with your teen and before you have another family meeting, remind yourself to become “Open and Empty” to the possibilities of the meeting itself and the outcome. That means no internal dialog as to “when he says this, I’m going to say that” or the famous “Last time she said this, so I will be prepared to come back with this clever statement.” I liken this pre-conversation mind-talk to becoming “Battle ready.”

Better to put down your prepared weapons, and lead with your heart and a clear mind. The end result, of being “Open and Empty,” will surprise you.

How to achieve this “open and empty” state is just one of the tools we teach at Stress Less Workshops, programs designed to reduce stress and give you tools to live your life.

Quit Saying You’re Too Busy!

Quit Saying You’re Too Busy!

Busy Isn’t Respectable Anymore

Ty Ward recently published this fantastic article: Busy Isn’t Respectable Anymore.

From the article…

“We decided to never use the phrase BUSY as an answer for an entire year and to see if there were any changes in attitude and/or behavior. Ours. Theirs. We noticed alright. Instantly. We were forced to describe our own situations with more clarity, and without our best friend ‘busy’ to blame, we engaged with people more authentically. As we did, we noticed the general depth of conversations increase as we and those we were sharing with, were invited to communicate differently about our actual states of being.”

Saying You Are Too Busy:

  • As it turns out, always being busy isn’t a virtue, nor is it something to respect anymore.
  • It can actually be a sign of an inability to manage our lives well
  • It can be indicative of a lack of confidence and self-worth.
  • Busyness actually restricts professional performance and limits mental capacity.
  • Busy often keeps us from the finer things in life.
  • Busy, it would seem, is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ending the Cycle

It seems clear that it is our attitude about being busy that determines the effect it has on our lives. If this is the case, we can choose to not fall into the trap of “busy”.

I challenge you to try removing “busy” as an excuse in your life, and see how it changes your relationships!

Do I Have Chronic Stress?

Do I Have Chronic Stress?

Physical Signs of Chronic Stress

  • Joint pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Obesity
  • Digestive problems
  • Excess belly fat

Emotional Signs of Chronic Stress

  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Feeling loss of control
  • Irritability
  • Craving carbohydrates
  • Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep

Signs & Situations for Chronic Stress

  • Emotional over-eating
  • Illness after finals or completing a stressful project
  • Get sick when you go on vacation
  • Mental preoccupation with a stressful event

Does This Sound Familiar?

If you are experiencing a large number of these signs, you may be suffering from chronic stress.

Chronic stress can have very dangerous effects on your health and wellness. Stress Less Workshops are designed to give you tools to deal with your stress. Try our proven stress solution trusted by corporations and individuals alike.

Stress, Creativity & Business Success

Stress, Creativity & Business Success

In reality, the mind does its best work while thinking or focusing on one thing at a time. At one time in my life, I prided myself on the multitasking I could perform. Burnout ensued and I came to understand the saying “Jack of all trades and master of none”.

Focusing is Proven to Increase Productivity

The leadership of most successful companies know that helping their teams to focus will be their best role in helping their teams to solve urgent creative problems. These leadership teams make sure to protect their teams from other agendas and don’t allow their teams to be bogged down in the day-to-day minutia that can distract them from their main mission.

When the team feels they are on a mission and have the support of their leadership, great things happen and problems get solved! Have managers check in with their teams to ask them what they need or what they can get them to help them towards their mission to solve a major problem is all it takes sometimes get teams to work at their very best. 

See below what Teresa Amabile, Professor of Business Administration in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business, says about how individual and collective focus plays a key role in creative problem solving.

Causes of Chronic Stress

What is Chronic Stress?

Chronic stress is very much what it sounds like – a prolonged experience of feeling “stressed out”. It can happen through having a life that constantly feels stressful, or even a single event that we cannot seem to let go of. Chronic stress is the result of our body getting stuck in a state of stress, and it can have serious consequences to your health.

Most Common Causes of Chronic Stress

Chronic stress can be caused by illness, anxiety over financial matters, social crises, or emotional instability. Almost anything that causes physical or emotional pain can produce a stress response. If the source of stress is not resolved, chronic stress can result. Chronic stress can cause weight gain, fatigue, muscle weakness and mental exhaustion.

Events that Can Cause Chronic Stress:

  • Death of your spouse, family member or friend
  • Divorce or marital separation
  • Personal injury or illness
  • Marriage
  • Losing your job
  • Retirement
  • Drastic change in the health of a family member
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Birth of a child
  • Change in business status
  • Change in financial status

Source: Holmes T.H., Rahe R.H. “The Social Readjustment Rating Scale” J. Psychosom. Res. 11 (2): 213–8, 1967

What to Do About Chronic Stress

The good news is that people can and do get out of the stress cycle and go on to live much happier lives.

If you feel you are experiencing chronic stress, it is very important to find ways to calm your mind and body so that you can recover. Talk to your doctor as soon as possible, and start bettering your life experience through self-care and mindfulness techniques.

Stress Less Workshops Can Help

At Stress Less Workshops, we teach a set of Life Skills that help you change your response to stressful situations, allowing you to stay in a calm and restful state of mind no matter what is going on around you. Our workshops have been proven to help reduce the negative effects of stress on the lives of our clients. Try a Stress Less Workshop today.

5 Steps to Stop Stress Eating

Comfort Eating

Whatever is causing your anxiety; there are several strategies to help defuse it and help you not head to the kitchen. I recently read an article called 5 Steps To Stop Eating from Stress by Rosemary Foley. A summary peppered with my thoughts is as follows.

People who overeat in response to stressful situations are actually seeking comfort and control, according to psychologist Dr. Michael J. Salamon, founder and director of the Adult Developmental Center in Hewlett, New York. “Those feeling pressured often state that they control their anger (fear, anxiety, etc.) by the amounts of food they eat,” he says. “For many people, food provides a sense of comfort when there is no one around to comfort them.” The trick is finding more healthful responses.

5 Steps To Stop Stress Eating

  1. Focus on alternatives that make you feel good. “Work on your self-esteem… focus on your strengths,” advises Salamon. “Increase time with the people you find supportive. If you don’t have enough of those people in your life, get out and find them!”
  2. Change your approach: “Someone who tends to view things as a crisis or catastrophe is more likely to experience stress than another person who views things as a challenge or a problem that can be solved,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Len Doerfler, director of the counseling psychology program of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.
  3. Work out: If you’re upset, unwind with a walk instead of heading for the fridge. “Exercise (which is a ‘competing behavior’ to eating, as it would be difficult to exercise while eating!) is beneficial for reducing stress,” says Dr. Elizabeth Carll, a psychologist and stress expert in private practice in Long Island, New York.
  4. Do less, suggests Dr. Leslie Spencer, associate professor of health and exercise science at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. Rather than continually striving for professional success at the expense of personal interests, she recommends scaling back and enjoying hobbies and other activities simply for their own sake. “A lot of people are too busy,” she says. “Consider looking for a simple lifestyle, and seek simplicity in your lifestyle.”
  5. Tune into your real needs: “Ask yourself: ‘What do I want?’,” suggests psychologist Dr. Steven M. Sultanoff, president of the American Association for Therapeutic Humor. “Listen to your inner voice … then act on that rather than instinctively turning to eating.”

This gives you some insight into the daunting behavior of the stress = overeating impulse. We have been working with clients across the US in applying the Stress Less Workshops tools toward calming the mind when it comes to the compulsive food grab. This is a very complicated issue for some and can be very frightening for others. There is help in sight for regaining control of this unwanted reaction of stress leading to overeating.

The Cortisol-Stress Connection

The Cortisol-Stress Connection

Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in the cortex of the adrenal glands. Cortisol assists you in regulating blood pressure, cardiovascular functions, and your body’s use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Cortisol is also involved in glucose metabolism, insulin release for blood sugar maintenance, and inflammatory response. Cortisol helps in responding to and coping with stress, trauma and environmental extremes. Normal levels of cortisol increases energy and metabolism and helps regulate blood pressure. Cortisol also enhances the integrity of blood vessels and reduces allergic and inflammatory responses. [Aeron Biotechnology, 2010]

The Stress Hormone

Under normal circumstances, your body maintains or regulates your natural cortisol levels. Most healthy adults have a high cortisol level first thing in the morning and a low cortisol level at night. But when you’re feeling stressed, your body secretes more cortisol. Cortisol is frequently referred to as the “stress hormone” because it’s also secreted in higher levels during the body’s fight or flight response to stress. It is also responsible for several stress-related changes in your body. Small increases of cortisol produce positive effects like improved memory, reduced sensitivity to pain, and increased sustained energy. However, elevated cortisol levels from prolonged or chronic stress can cause side effects such as suppression of thyroid function, cognitive impairment, increased blood pressure, decreased bone density, and blood sugar imbalances. High levels of cortisol can also lower your immunity and inflammatory responses, as well as slow down the wound healing process. [Cortisol and The Stress Connection. John R. Lee, M.D. and Virginia Hopkins Virginia Hopkins Health Watch, One-to-One Inc., 2009]

Chronic Stress Increases Cortisol in the Body

Chronic stress leads to chronically high levels of cortisol in your body. This creates a need for higher levels of other hormones (e.g. thyroid, insulin, estrogen and testosterone) in order to do the same job. Chronic high concentration of cortisol is toxic to brain cells and can cause short-term memory loss. A lifetime of high cortisol levels may be a primary contributor to Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia. High cortisol is also a primary cause of osteoporosis. [Aeron Biotechnology, 2010].

Cortisol, Stress, and Your Weight

The Cortisol hormone serves many important functions in the body such as regulating blood sugar and blood pressure and providing energy for exercise and activity. Cortisol also plays a key role in the immunity and healing processes. [Greenspan F.S., Stewler G.J. (eds): Basic and Clinical Endocrinology. Appelton & Lange, Stamford, CT 1997] When your body is stressed, either physically or emotionally, it secretes Cortisol.

Cortisol is part of the fight or flight response. Faced with a “life or death” situation, Cortisol increases the flow of glucose (as well as protein and fat) from your tissues and into the bloodstream to increase energy and physical readiness to handle the stressful situation or threat. The problem is we often deal with stress mentally, and never respond to stress with physical activity that would burn the extra energy provided by the Cortisol surge. Whether your stress was emotional or physical, the stress response is identical, causing a spike in your appetite. This can cause a craving for comfort foods-foods high in fat and sugar. [D. Reynolds. Stress, Cortisol, and Weight Gain: Hormonal Response Can Cause Weight Loss Failure, 2007]

The body stores unused stress energy around the abdominal organs, Belly Fat. Accumulation of this type of fat, known as visceral fat, is most damaging to health, leading to an increased development of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. [D. Reynolds. Stress, Cortisol, and Weight Gain: Hormonal Response Can Cause Weight Loss Failure, 2007]

Increased Appetite

The meaning of “emotional eating” is now quite clear. Fatty and sugary foods relieve stress, but at what cost? If you are stressed, you may not be satisfied by a meal unless it contains fats or sugars.

Stress Reduction

At Stress Less Workshops, we teach proven Life Skills designed to help you get a handle on managing your stress. Imagine living a calm and centered life, free from emotional eating forever!

Stress at Work Will Find its Way Home

Stress at Work Will Find its Way Home

Stress at Work Will Find its Way Home

The following is an excerpt of an article I found on the Huffington Post: Why Companies Are Turning To Meditation and Yoga to Boost The Bottom Line.

“Workplace stress respects no boundaries, following workers home and reconstituting itself as family stress that then finds its way back to the cubicle in a feedback loop of tension. Unchecked, this sort of stress can fill an office with burnt-out people consumed with managing dread, anger and anxiety instead of the company’s business”

Why Companies Are Turning To Meditation And Yoga To Boost The Bottom Line