Monthly Archives: April 2015

It’s All in the Mind: Dealing with Stress

It’s all in the mind: Dealing with stress

WE LIVE in a fast-paced society and we have come to accept stress as a normal part of our lives. Stress in small doses can actually be beneficial as it can motivate us, improve our memory function, drive us to do things and make us perform better at the tasks we set out to do. However, the unfortunate truth is that many of us become over-stressed and this is when the problems start.


Your Mind in a Fog

The psychologist William James stated that to an infant the world appears as “blooming, buzzing confusion.” Everything is new. You don’t know what to make of anything or how to react to it. You gain experience with your world as you grow up. Your mind uses what you learn to see patterns in various situations. In turn you learn how to react appropriately after a few tries. At least that’s the hope, although some people do a better job making sense of themselves and their world than others do. Here is what chronic stress does to your mind:

  • When you weary of stress, any exertion can make your body feel like it is slogging through molasses. Your mind feels the same way when it is overtaxed.
  • Your thinking becomes unpredictable and you can’t count on your mind to stay focused.
  • You can’t rely on your mind to sort out problems or perhaps even make sense of them.
  • Organizing the facts involved, seeing your options and deciding on the correct course of action all become more difficult.
  • You can’t seem to get your mind in gear as if you have become paralyzed mentally.

The amount of stress you feel varies from one moment to the next and from one situation to another. Perhaps something distracts you from the stress and your mind functions a little better at least for a while.

Then the stress returns to your awareness and you again fumble with your thoughts. You feel like you are on a mental roller coaster, sometimes thinking clearly and sometimes lost in a jumble of disconnected thoughts.

With your mind in a state of confusion, you have trouble knowing what is going on around you and you are not sure you can trust what you see and hear. You might slip back into experiencing your world with the baby’s blooming buzzing confusion. If you are not sure what is going on, it will surely be hard for you to react appropriately to the situation in which you find yourself.

It’s like walking into a room where everyone is arguing with everyone else. You don’t know what, if anything, you should pay attention to. Words fly at you and you have trouble making sense of them. If someone took you aside and asked you which opinion made sense to you, how easy is it for you to form your own opinion while the shouting continues at full tilt?

Under stress, you can feel bewildered, even without anyone else present. You can see that uncertainty follows closely on the heels of confusion and you might like to take a break while you sort it all out. Yet in times of high or sustained stress, you don’t always have the option to put the matter aside and ponder it for a while.

If you can’t make sense of the situation, you are left with a sense of confusion and unpredictability as well. You have no idea what will happen next. How do you prepare for the unknown? You can’t tie up what you experience in a neat bundle and put it aside while you go on with your life. Instead you remain off balance, not quite sure how to react.

(Excerpt from Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life)

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Put Stress in Its Place

woman relaxing

How you handle stress makes a big difference in how you feel. It might even help your blood pressure, blood sugar level, and the rest of you.  Use these calming strategies to stop stress ASAP.

See the slide show at Web MD here.


Can You Change Your Situation?

Reinhold Niebuhr prayed as follows, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This prayer has been adopted by many AA members. Not everyone in AA believes in God, although there is a general consensus that there is a higher power beyond their comprehension to which everyone can turn for comfort and guidance.

Maybe this would be a good tool to use first. You have seen that it is harder to deal with things on your own than it is with help. If God cannot help you, who can? I also talked about seeing your stress in context. What greater context is there than being a creature in God’s universe?

When you say this prayer, you are asking God to help you be realistic. It is not always easy to know what is possible and what is not. After praying and reviewing your resources, you should have a better idea about whether your plan to deal with stress is realistic. Suppose you conclude that the stress you face is impossible to change. Maybe someone very close to you has died. Bringing that person back to life is not an option.

Saying it is not fair, too soon or can’t be happening doesn’t change the facts either. Not being able to change what has happened does not mean you are out of options. You can’t undo what has happened but you can make some changes in your life to compensate for what you have lost. This is best done through the process of transformation which I will talk about in the next chapter.

As I have said several times, Selye described stress as the response to a demand for change. Change is always stressful, whether you have chosen it or not. Change requires courage since you are stepping into the unknown and have no guarantee of where your path will take you.

A theologian I once knew, Father Augustine Hennessey, described marriage as jumping off a cliff and asking God to find you a soft landing. Many other life ventures are equally uncharted. If you decide that a particular stressor is one you can tackle, with or without help, it’s time to bring out your private arsenal.

(Excerpt form Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life)

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Four Simple Ways to Improve Your Attitude to Be Happier, Healthier, and More Productive

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Expert Author Scott Marcus

As the story goes, a couple is concerned about the huge gap in attitudes between their two sons. One lad is a confirmed pessimist, his sibling the decisive optimist. Wanting to advance the cynical child’s outlook and guard the other from disappointment by teaching him that things don’t always go as expected, the parents come up with a scheme.

On Christmas morning, each youngster awakens to find his own sizeable, wrapped present. The dour child opens his and discovers in it the ultimate building set. As if on cue, his demeanor sours and he whines, “There are too many pieces, I’m know I’ll lose a whole bunch of them and then I’ll be sad. Why would you do that to me?”

The upbeat sibling, on the other hand, unwraps his only to find a dirty, rusty horseshoe atop wads of paper. Undeterred by what appears to be a mean, lousy gift, he eagerly starts digging through the papers excitedly proclaiming, “Wow! There’s got to a pony in here somewhere!”

Attitude, our outlook on the events that make up our lives, will either elevate or ruin us because it determines our actions and therefore the manner in which others react to us.

I normally don’t write “how-to” columns but a coaching client recently asked how she could become more upbeat, so I thought, “What the heck, might as well share it more widely.” Making our planet a bit more cheery, one reader at a time, here are four of the more common reasons one’s attitude can take a trip to the dumpster.

Reason #1: All-or-nothing thinking

This is easily recognized when the post-mistake inner voice is akin to, “Wow! I blew it. Well, as long as I blew it, I might as well really blow it! I can always start again tomorrow.” Whether the trigger was eating inappropriately, or feeling like the “whole day is ruined” because it began poorly; perfectionist thinking will level the best attitude. Watch for words such as “always,” “never,” or “should” in your inner voice. Life is not black and white and one mistake does not ruin everything – unless you let it.

Reason #2: Selective Viewing

Here, we focus on one part of the picture that is not 100 percent up to expectation. Remember as a child how you felt after accomplishing a goal, only for someone to immediately find the flaw? That inner child still reacts in the same fashion. Focus on the entirety of the picture instead of individual pixels to avoid this trap.

Reason #3: Over generalizing

On the other hand, (at the risk of a mixed metaphor) painting with too broad of a brush will stop the journey before leaving the driveway. Truisms such as “It’s impossible to lose weight while on vacation,” or “People my age don’t go to the gym” are definitely true – for the person who says that. Reality is some people do actually lose weight while travelling, and you’ll see many gray hairs at the gym. Understand that no generalization is always true (including this one).

Reason #4: Catastrophic thinking

Becoming paralyzed with fear about what possibly, maybe, could go wrong later keeps us stagnant. Instead of not dieting because you might put it back on later, or avoiding a relationship because it could end badly assures a life of sadness, stagnation, and solitude. Sure, it’s wise to be cautious and, yes, “stuff” happens. Yet, avoiding the good because of what might go awry later definitely creates “badattude.”

We are enrolled in “Life 101,” and as with any student, we make mistakes. Nonetheless, what we say in response makes the difference between being mired in the muck of guilt and shame or enjoying a positive, productive, joyful attitude and the life and relationships that will certainly be its result.

Scott “Q” Marcus is a motivational weight loss expert who specializes on helping baby boomers live happier, healthier lives. He is a professional speaker, Syndicated Columnist, and the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of, a site for people who are tired of making promises to themselves but are willing to do what it takes to actually makes changes. In addition, he conducts speeches, workshops, and presentations throughout the country on how to achieve goals, improve attitude, and enjoy the process. You can contact him for speaking, coaching or consulting, or you can sign up for his free weekly “Monday Motivational Memo” at

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Ounce of Prevention: Health, Your Greatest Wealth

“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little, and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”

– Hippocrates

 THE GREEK physician Hippocrates often reminded his patients that ‘Your health is your greatest wealth’. Few people, however, give much thought to their health until they get ill. Real health is not just an absence of any diagnosed illness. No, it is something positive. The World Health Organization made this very clear, over half-a-century ago in its classic definition of health.

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. – World Health Organization, 1948.

My own belief is that the human body was designed to be healthy. When the good book says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, it is not just a nice-sounding phrase, it really is true.

Our bodies have an incredible capacity to heal and repair itself. Illness and disease are reflections of our failure to take proper care of our bodies and mind.

As a doctor, I have come to understand that I cannot really heal anyone. Healing is something that happens from within. Your body is the healer and the doctor’s role is to provide the support and assistance to facilitate the healing process. Until we, as a society, fully accept this concept, we will continue to face the dilemma of ‘more medicines, less health’.

Excerpt from an article by Dr. Tony Vendreyes in The Gleaner , Jamaica, WI Read the rest of the article here.



  • Where do you first feel stress? Do you get headaches, stomachaches, or feel tense? People react differently from stress. One theory is that stress attacks the weakest part of your body. Consider it an early warning system. Once you know stress is brewing, you will be more likely to head it off at the pass rather than letting it torture you and paralyze you.
  • Do you frequently come down with minor ailments? You can’t see your immune system, but if stress is keeping it from working efficiently, you will be more vulnerable to frequent colds, infections, stomach upsets and flu. This is a sign that you might have more stress in your life than you think.
  • How much attention do you pay to the signals your body sends you? Do you take these signals seriously or ignore them, hoping they will go away? Doing something about them sooner rather than later keeps your body operating at its best.
  • What if stress remains after you deal with it? This could mean one of two things. You might have more stress than you thought and need to keep working on it. The other possibility is that you could have more than one source of stress. Resolving one does not mean that you don’t have other issues to work on.

Excerpt from Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life

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