Tag Archives: stress

Spend More Time Having Fun

Many of us spend too much time stressfully doing and checking off our to-do lists of chores and business accomplishments all day long. We don’t take time for the things we love to do in our lives. I am as guilty as anyone. I now include personal time on my to-do list to fit in more fun, and to remember to reach out to friends and family. Isn’t is a shame that I had to put fun on my to-do list? I have even thought about scheduling this time on my calendar like I do business meetings, but haven’t gone that far yet.

So what is it that you love to do outside work? This is a question I ask clients in our first meeting. Some really struggle with this since they don’t have much of a life outside of work. What ever happened to FUN and full 2-day weekends? How many people take off both days of the weekend? I remember when I started work in the early 1980s, I took off both days, and now like many in the US, I just take off one day.

So what do I do for fun? Exercise like hiking. snowshoeing, x-country skiing; music, cooking and creating things with my hands. I really enjoy conversation and recently enjoyed a church retreat with 22 women. I appreciate spending time with friends, and look forward to visiting friends and family in Minnesota this summer. While this trip was already planned, the recent loss of a Minnesota friend my same age reinforced this desire. I am in touch with friends all over the world since I was raised in an international community in Yokohama, Japan. We will be having our “Diva Reunion” in Yokohama, Japan this summer. This is our first return to Japan to celebrate this friendship.

Crochet RugLately I embraced sewing after a hiatus of several years. I have a lot of car time en route to art shows as my husband, Rodgers is an oil painter. Now I bring along sewing projects and I get so much done, and feel so good about what I create. My latest recreational project was a crochet rug for our bathroom. Rodgers helped me with the color order. For the more curious, my “yarn” is strips of material that I rip up. Many, many yards are consumed in a rug this size, almost 4 feet in diameter. I started this rug at the beginning of our recent car trip to Texas and Kansas. By the end of the trip, I only had 3 rows left to crochet. We now have a new rug and it feels so soft and cushy especially when stepping out of the shower. I started a second rug that will be much larger, which I will take on our next car trip to art shows in Chicago. I feel incredible gratitude that I started to let myself have more fun in the last year.

I hope you will take more time for FUN!


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How to Get Your Beauty Sleep

sleepingstudent_smDid you know that fatigue is the second most common cause for a primary care medical visit, second only to pain? NIH estimates that one of five Americans claim to suffer from fatigue severely enough to interfere with their daily lives.

From 2008-2012, sales of energy drinks grew 60% to $12.5 billion. This doesn’t include coffee and caffeinated sodas. Unfortunately all these caffeinated beverages don’t give people the energy they seek. Caffeine stimulates energy discharge, but doesn’t increase energy production or storage.

Eating whole foods is a great way to promote energy, as is getting a good night’s sleep. Most Americans don’t get enough sleep. In 1963, Americans received 8.5 hours of sleep per night. By 2002, the average American only received 5.9 hours of sleep per night Sunday through Thursday, and 8 hours per night on the weekends. Although people’s sleeping requirements vary, for most people this is not enough sleep to maintain optimum energy levels and good health. We also feel stress more when we are sleep deprived. Little things that we would scarcely notice can easily be blown out of proportion when we are sleep deprived.

Here are some tips to promote better quality sleep that I have incorporated in the last year. The overall motion is to get a routine of relaxation to promote a good night’s sleep starting a couple of hours before bed time.

  • Exercise during the day helps, but not just before bed as it raises your heart rate.
  • Caffeine after 2:00 pm should be avoided if you’re sensitive to it.
  • Have curtains or blinds in your room if you suffer from insomnia. The fuller moon keeps some people awake and others awake with the sun, which is mighty early during the summer months.
  • Don’t eat a heavy dinner or too late so you can sleep better
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol with dinner. While it will relax you: too much and you’ll be awake a few hours after you fall asleep.
  • Turn the PC off by a certain hour every night
  • Go to bed at around the same time every night, not too late
  • Take a hot bath or shower to relax before bed
  • Blue light emitted by cell phones and laptops should be avoided before bed. If you must, here is more detail about the effects of blue light and ways to lessen it
  • Ideally just don’t bring the PC, iPhone or tablet to bed and read email or Facebook
  • Read a paper book to relax
  • Listen to soft music or meditate
  • Write about your day, especially the things that went well that you are grateful for
  • As you fall asleep think about the things that went well for you during the day. Think about your loved ones, and how grateful you are for friends and family

Resources for further reading on sleep.


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12 Stress Busters

Lady Relax BeachWe have more tools than ever to simplify tasks and accomplish things more quickly, yet our “to do” lists get longer. Here are some things I do to calm myself down. In the process I become happier, more relaxed and grounded.

1. Make time for yourself. Don’t just go from task to task checking off your list. If you have to, add personal activity time to your daily planner for some time out. Do something playful and fun like the movies, reading a non-work related book, making a special dinner or learning something new.

2. Disconnect. Reduce technology stress by taking yourself off email for a day or the weekend. Check email 2 or 3 times a day rather than leaving it on all the time. If something is an emergency they’ll text or call you. I also like to disconnect from life in daily meditation. This is only 15-20 minutes, but I feel so refreshed and sparkle with new ideas after my meditation.

3. Eat slower and mindfully. Don’t speed through meals hardly tasting what you eat. Eat with intention and joy: chew foods slowly and enjoy the taste, smell and texture of the food. If you have a companion or family, eat at least one meal a day together. Dinner is the sacred hour in our home. We take no phone calls, and eat home cooked food by candlelight with conversation and nice music.

4. Sleep. Many in America are sleep deprived. I was for a long time. I find 7 hours of sleep helps me manage my stress level in everyday life. I am in a better mood, more alert and have a better memory when I get my sleep. Turn off your visual technology an hour before bed to start slowing down for a good night’s sleep. Contemplate what went well for you that day as you drift off to sleep.

5 Squash the negative self-talk. You can reverse the stories you play in your head that are not true. First you need to be aware of them. Sometimes when I am really down about something I will write it out. This is a powerful release and a reminder of how my wandering mind makes up stories that keep me from doing what I want to do, usually from fear: rejection or failure. It’s the idea of Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, except that I use journaling as a release at any time of the day.

6. Connect with family and friends. This seems obvious and should be simple, but I caught myself not really listening to my husband and almost finishing his sentences, until I realized what I was doing. Take the time to go deeper. Put the iPhones and notebooks aside and engage in conversation. There is nothing better than the company and support of family and friends.

7. Enjoy nature. In the mountains where I live, I watch the sun rise and set almost every day. Even in the busy work day, take a short break and enjoy some fresh air. Take a walk during lunch hour if you have a spot near work. I love to hike the trails in Colorado where I live in the summer and snow shoe or cross-country ski in the winter. I sleep so well those nights.

8. Take time to exercise. It will make you feel better. There are so many exercise options these days. I find that even a short burst of exercise during the workday can make the next hours more productive and enjoyable.

9. Appreciate what you have. Take time to be grateful for what you have, and note what is going right often. I have a gratitude journal. It’s nice to read back and realize how blessed I am in my life.

10. Remember your aspirations and goals for your life. Each year I write out what I plan to accomplish in the upcoming year. I like to read these periodically to keep myself centered or to allow myself to change my direction. Some people keep these goals by their bedside to get charged up in the morning. I prefer to start my day with meditation. Figure out what works best for you.

11. Take the time to organize your daily objectives. This makes it easier to get to work in the morning and to resist the temptation to spend too much time in the social media space. I also like to have goals for the week and the month that I can re-sort based on how my life evolves. If I make daily, weekly and monthly goals, I find fewer things fall through the cracks, and if they do I realize they weren’t that important after all.

12. Do random acts of kindness for no reason at all, just because. In my former life, I developed the notion of cooperative intelligence , that is giving to others in your organization with no expectation that they would be obligated to give back to you. It’s amazing how the floodgates of sharing open when you just simply give.

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Filed under exercise, gratitude, kindness, meditation, Sleep, Stress