Stressed? Who, me?

This is the first in a series of Stress Reduction blog posts which are also being featured on the website of my great friend and colleague, Tom Sterner, author of The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life.

“I am SO stressed out!”

How many times have you heard that lament, or even uttered it yourself?  I am going to guess that you will need more than two hands to count all the times on your fingers.

We experience stress every day, but we often make the mistake of thinking that if we could only change our circumstances, then our stress would melt away.  Ah, if it were only so. Although we occasionally DO have some control over our stressful circumstances, in many cases, we do not.  After all, who is in a position to fire the co-worker who constantly puts you down?  Only your boss.  Or who can suddenly make a million dollars fall from the sky into your lap?  Maybe your close friend Donald Trump. Read on……

STRESS 101 – What’s Going On In My Body (And Why Should I Care?)

This is the second in a series of Stress Reduction blog posts which are also being featured on the website of my great friend and colleague, Tom Sterner, author of The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life.

Stressed Man With Back PainStress – we can’t live with it, we can’t live without it.

Eons ago, when we had to kill for our food,  or run for our lives when our food tried to kill us, the stress response, often referred to as the “fight or flight” response, came in very handy by releasing hormones that helped us to survive.  These much-needed hormones helped us to run faster and fight harder by increasing our heart rate and blood pressure, delivering more oxygen and blood sugar to power important muscles; and by increasing sweating in an effort to cool these muscles and help them stay efficient. They diverted blood away from the skin to the core of our bodies, reducing blood loss if we were damaged. And in addition to this, these hormones focused our attention on the threat, to the exclusion of everything else.

Fast forward to the present day. Read on……

Awareness, Awareness, Awareness

This is the third in a series of Stress Reduction blog posts which are also being featured on the website of my great friend and colleague, Tom Sterner, author of The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life.

In the previous blog post on stress reduction, “Stress 101”, you were left hanging with the pithy sentence:  “And the key to managing our stress is to learn how to CHANGE OUR EXPERIENCE OF STRESS by throwing out the old habits and replacing them with new ones.”  This was followed by “Next up: Awareness, Awareness, Awareness.”

Why the three-word emphasis, you might ask?  Here’s the answer:  Awareness plays a very important role throughout the entire process of managing and reducing stress. Read on……

Awareness, Part 2, or You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

This is the fourth in a series of Stress Reduction blog posts which are also being featured on the website of my great friend and colleague, Tom Sterner, author of The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life.  By now, you are probably ready for some easy answers to the question: “How can I change my current unhealthy responses to stress?”  So let’s get started………

Read on……

Putting Awareness Into Practice: A Few Basic Truths

This is the fifth in a series of Stress Reduction blog posts which are also being featured on the website of my great friend and colleague, Tom Sterner, author of The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life.

In the previous blog post, “Awareness, Part 2, or You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks”, we tried several exercises to bring our awareness to our thoughts and our physical and emotional responses to our stressors.   The first exercise illustrated how our minds naturally seem to resist stillness.  The second exercise showed us that, although our minds naturally resist stillness, they are equally capable of naturally becoming still when we are completely focused on accomplishing one task.  Let’s talk about these concepts in a little more depth.   Read on……

Putting It Into Practice: Some Stress Reduction Tools to Help You On Your Way

PeacefulThis is the sixth and last in a series of Stress Reduction blog posts which are also being featured on the website of my great friend and colleague, Tom Sterner, author of The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life.

In the previous blog post, “Putting It Into Practice: A Few Basic Truths”, we discussed several practices or techniques which can help us change our experience of stress.  These include various meditation practices, including mantra-based meditation, breath-based meditation, and guided meditation, in addition to informal and formal mindfulness-based meditation, such as mindful eating or walking meditations.  We also discussed a technique which involves the creation of a “pre-shot routine”, or procedure, where you decide – in an non-judgmental state of mind – which old, damaging, habitual responses you want to swap out for new, healthier versions, and then use stress triggers to alert you that it’s time to replace your old responses with the new ones you have created.

These methods enable you to reach a point where you can still your mind and remain in the present moment, key to changing your experience of stress for the better.  If you got to the end of the blog, you reached the fun part – HOMEWORK!  Since you had already experienced a two-minute meditation during the “try to not think for two minutes” exercise in an earlier blog post, this most recent homework exercise invited you to practice the procedure–>trigger–>new response technique.  So let’s take a moment to look at what you experienced during this exercise. Read on……