Stress Relief Strategies

Keep Calm and Stress Relief

We all know that stress adversely affects our bodies and our lives.  There are any number of sources of stress – at home, at work, in your relationships, finances, career, health, you name it.  Stress can cause weight loss or more typically weight gain, headaches, stomach aches, digestive problems, heart problems, and many other health ailments, which of course will only add to stress levels. We literally stress out over being stressed out sometimes!  Stress is impossible to avoid, and that is why it is so important to be able to develop coping strategies and deal with stress head-on.

So what can you do to alleviate stress in your life?  Even the most stressed of the stressed can adopt stress-relieving strategies to improve your health, mood, and life in general.  The following are tips to keep in your repertoire of coping strategies.

Manage Your Time
Learning how to manage your time effectively and plan ahead can help you avoid many unwanted surprises and give you more control over your daily schedule.  When you start having a better grasp of your schedule, you will know when you will have time for things that pop up unexpectedly and what you have going on that you can move to another time slot to deal with emergencies that arise on short notice.  Becoming more organized can help you streamline all the things you deal with on a day to day basis and keep you from feeling rushed, which creates more stress.  Eventually, once you get a handle on your time and all the tasks you have to fill your calendar with, you will settle into a routine that you’ll feel more comfortable with and find that everything will become much more manageable.  If chaos equals stress, order equals stress management.

You’ll see this on any stress management article, and that’s because it’s important and it works.  Sometimes, you have to hit the pause button, inhale 5 seconds, exhale 5 seconds, slow your heart rate a little bit, and ask yourself what you need right now.  You’ve heard these tips before, so it’s time to dust them off and put them to use.  Take a relaxing bath or shower, light some candles, take in a soothing scent.  Drink a nice glass of wine.  Grab one of those stress balls, back scratchers or scalp massagers, give yourself a hand or foot massage, or better yet, ask someone else to give you a nice soothing massage.  Drink a hot cup of stress relief tea.  Do some stretches, yoga, or meditation.  Get lost in a good book or your favorite TV show.  Make sure that your home is a place you can retreat to and a source of comfort.  Sometimes you just need to step away from the stressful situation for a moment to regroup yourself and your thoughts or take a break from thinking about it completely.  Sometimes you need to get your heart rate lowered to reduce the adrenaline rush that too much stress can sometimes overload your brain with making it impossible to think rationally or make good decisions.

Exercising is a very successful way to relieve stress.  When you exercise, endorphins release into your body that make you feel good and happy.  It enhances your mood significantly, and has also been shown to be just as effective as medication in alleviating depression!  If you don’t think exercise is for you, I challenge you to give kick-boxing a try on a day that you have reached and exceeded your frustration capacity.  When something is weighing heavily on your mind, go out for a walk or run around a park or even the sidewalks in your neighborhood (or use a good ol’ treadmill like me).  I was never a runner growing up.  In fact, I used to say I just wasn’t put together for running with my knock-knees, and the way my lungs burned when I even tried to run was enough to keep me from even trying.  But then one day, I had a friend (who happened to be a personal trainer and professional running coach) teach me how to run.  Now, I love it, and I finally understand the concept of the “runner’s high.”  This is one of my main go-to practices for relieving stress now.  It’s exhilarating, and it’s something I have been able to actually see my progress in.  I’ll never forget the first time I was able to run a straight mile without stopping to rest.  That was a long way from where I started, when I would walk with my headphones on and barely be able to make it through the chorus of one song running.  Seeing tangible achievements and results is very motivating and self-esteem building, which also releases those feel-good endorphins that help improve your mood.

Make a Stress Relief Kit
Put together a stress relief kit for yourself or as a gift to someone you know could use it.  Keep it at work, in your car, or wherever it can be easily accessible when the stress hits the fan.  A stress kit can include things like:

What are some of your own stress-relieving strategies that you don’t mind sharing to help others with some ideas?

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Advice for Fiance Texting Another Woman

A reader writes:

I hit the bottom yesterday in my relationship with my fiance.  We used to be so close.  Now he says I’m too clingy, and that broke my heart.  He’s never done this before.  He never used to hide texts.  I never hide my texts or anything from him.  We used to be so open with each other but now he is spending less time with me and he’s been nonstop texting a woman he says is just a friend who is married that he met at work, giving me hardly any attention at all.  He’s angry all the time and yet he says he wants me to stay and work things out.  Can you help us?  I feel so isolated.

First of all, I want to point out that even though your fiance is telling you he wants to work things out, you need to realize that actions always speak louder than words.  I see a lot of language that indicates he is pushing you away or shutting you out (aka – Stonewalling).  Furthermore, he is telling you that you are clingy (aka – Criticism to your character, and Contempt by name-calling).  He is hiding texts and making excuses (aka – Defensiveness) for turning away from the relationship by putting so much energy into texting another woman – married or not doesn’t matter – instead of turning toward the relationship to make it stronger.

It is likely that you have felt, whether consciously or subconsciously, that your fiance has progressively been pulling away from your relationship.  When this happens, it is a natural instinct to try to hold on tighter to keep it from slipping through your fingers.  The trouble is, doing this usually ends up pushing people even further away.

What I recommend for you is to offset the negatives that have built up in your relationship.  This is going to take some communication and commitment from both sides to be successful.

Dr. Gottman explains that the opposite of a criticism is a complaint.  Instead of going to him with a criticism on his character (i.e. “I can’t believe how selfish you’re being!  You don’t care at all how I feel.”), go to him with a complaint on the specific behavior (i.e. “I feel really insecure and afraid when you text this other woman.  When you hide this from me, it makes me feel like something is inappropriate about it.  I feel like you aren’t respecting my feelings when you continue to talk to her so much when you know it hurts me.  I feel like you’re pulling away from our relationship and I don’t know the best way to react to that.”)  Dr. Gottman calls it complain without blame.  You also need to ask for what you want, because no matter how obvious it may seem to you, it may not be obvious to your partner.

Try to communicate with him in a way that will keep him from getting defensive.  Let him know that your goal is to come to a resolution, not necessarily to point out what he’s doing wrong.  Figure out how you want the conversation to go before hand, and then ask yourself what is the best way to go about the conversation to get what you want out of it.

To offset contempt in a relationship, which by the way is THE Number 1 predictor of failed relationships, is to adopt a culture of Fondness and Admiration.  Remember when you first started dating and things were really great between the two of you?  What types of things did you do together?  The longer our relationships go with people, the more comfortable we get and we start neglecting some of those things that we take for granted will always be there.  Don’t stop dating your partner just because you’re married, or about to be!  Plan a weekend getaway together or a date night at least once a month.  Give compliments and let them know what you appreciate about them.  Don’t let the only feedback you give them be what they’re doing wrong.

This leads into how to offset the stonewalling in your relationship.  You need to create more positives than negatives in your relationship.  In fact, you should incorporate Gottman’s magic ratio – 5:1.  There should be FIVE positives or benefits in your relationship for every ONE negative or cost.  When you see your fiance beginning to shut you out, you need to give him a little time to calm down or help him calm down by soothing him, and go back to your “complain without blame” technique explained above by letting him know what you want or need from him.

Finally, I want you to be sure you are not truly isolated.  You need a support system to cheer for you when you’re happy and bring you up when you’re feeling down.  You need to hang on to your friends and family outside of your relationship.  It is not healthy to make one person your entire life for many reasons.  For one thing, if things don’t work out, you’re left with nothing.  For another thing, what do you possibly have to talk about with each other after a while if all you ever do he’s right there with you?

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Limited Time Offer – $5 Off 2014 Daily Planner & Organizer

Life Coaching Daily Planner & Organizer

Need help keeping track of your Resolutions and goals this year?  For a limited time, I am offering my Life Coaching Daily Planner & Organizer: 2014 (regular price $17.99) with a $5.00 Discount using discount code L4A3YUWC.  Hurry, though!  This discount will only be available through January 31, 2014!  Take it to your local office supply store for spiral binding to lay flat!

Click HERE to look inside.  (Product must be purchased through CreateSpace to use $5 Discount Code)

This daily planner and organizer contains monthly and weekly pages from January to December 2014. It is a tool for time management as well as a way to help set, plan for, and achieve short-term and long-term goals. It contains a detailed explanation of Paul J. Meyers’s SMART Goal criteria, motivational quotes for each week, and spaces with check boxes to list your monthly and weekly goals and action items.

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“With adversity lies opportunity.”

-Chinese Proverb

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The SMART Way to Make a New Year’s Resolution

New Year Resolution

It’s that time of year again.  The time when we set our goals for the year to come with the best of intentions at heart.  We might even make good progress for a while.  But then what happens?  Next thing you know, you look up and it’s February, and you forgot what your resolution was in the first place.

Why do so many of our well-intended resolutions fail?  How can we have more successful resolutions that we will follow through with?  The answer is to be SMART about them!

Life coaches have been helping people set and achieve goals for years, and the reason that life coaches are so successful in helping clients is because they use the SMART method introduced by Paul J. Meyer in his book, Attitude is Everything.  That is, goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

A goal should not be set in broad or vague terms (i.e. to lose weight).  It should be very specific.

  • Goals should be clearly defined.
  • Know exactly what action items will be involved, how you plan to complete each action item, who will be involved, and when you will complete each action item.

There must be a way to measure the progress you’ve made in achieving your goal.  If your goal is to be more successful, what does success look like?  How will you know when you’ve reached it?

  • There must be a way to measure the progress and achievement of your goals.
  • How are your results quantifiable?

What good is a goal if it is not possible to achieve?  Don’t set your goals so out of your reach that you will become discouraged by the daunting amount of work you’ll have to complete over a long extended period of time.  Set smaller short-term goals that serve as milestones to get you to your ultimate long-term goal.

  • Is your goal realistic?
  • Do you possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities to achieve your goal?
  • Do circumstances and other external factors allow the possibility for your goal to be achieved?

Sure, you can resolve to climb Mount Everest by the end of the year or to memorize the periodic table, but what will that mean to you in your life?  If you know you’ll be travelling the world in the next year, is it really relevant to set a goal of starting a new relationship or a family right now?

  • How does achieving your goal apply in terms of your life?
  • Is it important?  Does it matter?  Is it the right time?

Giving yourself a time limit on achieving a specific goal is important.  If your goal is not bound by a deadline, it is likely that you won’t have the motivation you need to work on your goal in the here and now… because you can put it off for tomorrow.  When you have a deadline to reach a particular milestone on your way to reaching your goal, you will be more likely to work harder at it to make the expected progress.

  • When will your goal be completely achieved?
  • When will you complete each action item to get closer to your end goal?

I need to lose 20 lbs to have a healthy BMI.  I will lose 20 lbs in the next 1 year by losing at least 2 lbs a month.  I will achieve this by keeping track of my calorie intake with My Fitness Pal calorie counter app, walking at least 10,000 steps per day using Fit Bit and the Fitbit app, and jogging at least 30 minutes a day using the Nike+ app.  I will lose 5 lbs by the end of March, 10 lbs by the end of June, 15 lbs by the end of September, and 20 lbs by the end of December – 5 lbs every 3 months.

Where to Begin
Goals and resolutions are a good way to become more successful in your own life.  If you’re having a hard time deciding what your resolution(s) should be this year, start out by defining what success means to you.  The life coaching Life Balance Wheel is a good place to start as well.  The areas of the Life Balance Wheel include Career, Money, Health, Friends/Family, Romance, Personal Growth, Fun/Recreation, and Physical Environment.

Personal Growth:
Physical Environment:

Keep Each Other Motivated
Need help staying motivated in sticking with your goals?  Find a friend with a similar goal that you have and share your progress together.  Maybe even work on your action items together!  Hold each other accountable for maintaining your momentum and getting it done.

General Ideas for New Year’s Resolutions

  • Take on a new hobby I’ve been wanting to try.
  • Read (x-number) books this year.
  • Start a daily/weekly blog.
  • Write (x-number) of hand-written letters to friends and family and mail them at set number interval.
  • Take up photography.
  • Take on a new responsibility at work.
  • Spend (x-amount) more time with family/loved one(s).
  • Work on my work/life balance.
  • Make healthier eating choices.
  • Save (x-amount) of money to take my dream vacation at specific time.
  • Fix that broken home appliance/shelf/cabinet/etc I’ve been meaning to get to.
  • Find ways to create more positives in my relationships.
  • Choose a specific marathon or half-marathon, sign up for it, and train for it.
  • Take your dog for walks (x-number) days a week.
  • Figure out how to get your next promotion at work and make it happen.
  • Eat an apple every day.
  • Clean out that old junk room/closet/storage space/barn by specific day.
  • Select a new theme for your bedroom and redecorate.
  • Plan a date night with your significant other (x-number) times a month on a specific day/time.
  • Start up game nights (x-number) times a month for your friends and family.
  • Learn to cook Korean/African/Irish/etc. food.
  • Host a foreign exchange student for a semester or school year.
  • Write a how-to book on something you’re really good at.
  • Learn a cultural tradition from another country and start implementing it yourself just for fun.
  • Build a playhouse/tree house with your kids in the back yard.
  • Learn to decorate cakes.
  • Learn to fly a plane and get a pilot’s license.
  • Go back to school and go for your dream job.
  • Have a more positive attitude at work/home/etc.
  • Learn a new language.
  • Add your ideas in the comment section below!

Need help keeping track of your goals?  For a limited time, I am offering my Life Coaching Daily Planner & Organizer: 2014 (regular price $17.99) with a $5.00 Discount using discount code L4A3YUWC.  Hurry, though!  This discount will only be available through January 31, 2014!  Take it to your local office supply store to have it spiral-bound!

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How An Attitude Adjustment Can Raise Job Satisfaction

In my constant quest to create a more positive atmosphere in the workplace for those around me as well as for myself, I often come across research articles that offer knowledge, wisdom, and guidance on how to improve job satisfaction and work productivity while reducing turnover.

Today, I came across one such article by Proudfoot, Corr, Guest, and Dunn (2009) that completed a scientific psychological experiment with regard to employee attributional styles and their effects on turnover rates, productivity, job satisfaction, self-esteem, and psychological well-being in the workplace.

Attributional Styles
You may be asking what is an attributional style?  Proudfoot and colleagues (2009) sum it up nicely with the following statement:

“Attributional style is the characteristic way people attribute causes to events, particularly successes and failures” (p. 147)

They go on to explain that a person with a Pessimistic Attributional Style tends to attribute negative events internally while positive events are attributed to external causes, even when there is evidence to the contrary (Proudfoot et al., 2009).  The Pessimistic Attributional Style often results in hopelessness and giving up when these individuals encounter stress, failure, rejection, or other negative events (Proudfoot et al., 2009).  In the workplace, this might be demonstrated by absenteeism and thoughts about or actually quitting (Proudfoot et al., 2009).

On the other hand, those with an Optimistic Attributional Style tend to attribute negative feelings externally and positive events internally.  In other words, they take credit for their own positive experiences and believe that negative experiences must be due to some external factor.  Proudfoot and colleagues (2009) quote the research of Corr and Gray (1995, 1996) reporting that this optimism significantly correlates with high job satisfaction and performance levels in the workplace.

In the research study conducted by Proudfoot and colleagues (2009), they provided a sample of employees with a Pessimistic Attributional Style who work in a high-stress, high-turnover profession with some Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy styled intervention to help them improve their outlook into a more Positive Attributional Style.

The intervention included teaching on automatic thoughts, thought recording, thinking errors, changing unhelpful thinking, accessing deeper beliefs, goal setting, time management, task breakdown, activity scheduling, action planning, and relapse intervention (Proudfoot et al., 2009).

The Results were profound.  They saw a 66% improvement in turnover rates, a significant increase in long-term productivity, and a significant decrease in symptoms of psychological stress warranting intervention (Proudfoot et al., 2009).

The point of this story is to emphasize that your outlook on life and how you choose to approach … anything… has a significant bearing on the outcome.  When you stop viewing yourself as a problem and start viewing yourself as a solution, good things will happen.  When you stop believing that people around you do not think highly of you and start thinking more highly of yourself, good things will happen to you.  And when you start looking for the positives in your life, your relationships, your workplace, believing that your positive experiences are a direct result of you making them happen for yourself, more positives will start coming your way.

Proudfoot, J. G., Corr, P. J., Guest, D. E., & Dunn, G. (2009). Cognitive-behavioural training to change attributional style improves employee well-being, job satisfaction, productivity, and turnover. Personality and Individual Differences, 46(2), 147-153.

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2014 Daily Planner & Organizer


Now Available – Life Coaching Daily Planner & Organizer: 2014

Sale Price: $17.99

This daily planner and organizer contains monthly and weekly pages from January to December 2014. It is a tool for time management as well as a way to help set, plan for, and achieve short-term and long-term goals. It contains a detailed explanation of Paul J. Meyers’s SMART Goal criteria, motivational quotes for each week, and spaces with check boxes to list your monthly and weekly goals and action items. Take it to your local office supply store for spiral binding to lay flat!

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Plan for Success

Leonid Afremov

Art by Leonid Afremov


“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” – Sun Tzu

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Tailor-Made Attitude

Painting for sale 'The underwater world'  painting art sale expressionism fantastic art paintings

Art by Martynchuk Vasily


“You cannot tailor-make the situations in life but you can tailor-make the attitudes to fit those situations.” – Zig Ziglar

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Poll Question: What is the Worst Relationship Killer?

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