Stress Free Holidays: Surviving the Family

Let go of expectations and protect yourself. Let’s face it – if your parents/siblings have not approved of you, your choices, your job etc until now, they are not going to change. Accept it and let go of the expectation that they will be different. Instead, protect yourself, focus on what you love about them, keep the conversations light and steer clear of family battles.

At this time of year, there is celebration, anticipation and STRESS!@X$!  As wonderful as it is to get together with loved ones, it can also be a very difficult time for many of us emotionally.  Here are some tips for taking care of yourself.

1. Advance Food Prep– Do as much as you can in advance and even consider

• making dinner a potluck

• ordering the turkey already cooked (many supermarkets like Publix will cook your whole meal)

• not cooking a turkey-having a brunch instead (less work)

• have the family do a service project instead of cooking

2.Alcohol dynamics. In many families, alcohol aggravates the family issues.  Drunks can get loud, critical, mean, demeaning and embarrassing. Think about:

• an alcohol-free meal; use festive hot cider and interesting hot drinks

• serving punch which is lightly spiked instead of offering beer, wine & hard liquor

• serving coffee drinks which have very little alcohol

3. Let go of expectations and protect yourself. Let’s face it  – if  your parents/siblings have not approved of you, your choices, your job etc until now, they are not going to change.  Accept it and let go of the expectation that they will be different.  Instead, protect yourself, focus on what you love about them, keep the conversations light and steer clear of family battles.  If your parent or sibling starts to criticize you, say “This is a holiday- I would appreciate it if you would be kind.  If you can’t be nice, please don’t say anything.”  Then walk away.

4. Before the family comes:

• get lots of sleep- at least 7 hours a night before they arrive

• hire a cleaning person if you can afford it

• take a hot bath with Epsom salts

• mentally shield yourself with a spiritual shield, prayer, protection or light.

• meditate, pray and move into gratitude for your blessings.

Don’t let your family bring you down.  Choose to be positive and loving regardless of their behavior.  And if they are really that dysfunctional, skip the holiday. Go away and be with people who appreciate you.

Stay Fired Up by Attending Live Events

How many live events have you attended this year? Conferences, seminars, trade shows, expos, retreats, boot camps, workshops, one day programs- all of these are considered live events, where you actually go and meet people face to face. Live events help you overcome the stress of working alone on your business, trying to come up with all the answers yourself, and they energize you. These are enormously valuable for so many reasons:

1. You meet great new people who fire you up and can become friends, business associates, affiliate marketers, partners in new ventures, international contacts and more.

Carrie Wilkerson with SnowdenHere’s what I mean.   I went to Mark Victor Hansen’s Megabook Marketing conference in Orlando in June 2009, which I attended because my new book Stress Express!  was about to be published.  There I listened to and met the wonderful Carrie Wilkerson, the Barefoot Executive, who became my internet marketing mentor and friend.  She is extraordinary, and it was my privilege to be a guest speaker on one of her CD’s and participate in her webinars. I attended her Boss 2009 weekend, which featured speakers and fascinating folks from all over the world, several of whom I have since done webinars and teleseminars with throughout 2009-2010. I also got to know the terrific Paul Evans, speaker, and  fascinating David Frey, internet marketer.  Both of these men are great people, very successful  and caring individuals who make such a difference in the world.  It was my honor to be on Paul’s Paul Evansblogtalk radio show last week and I have referred him for some speaking engagements we may do for the same client.  We are growing our friendship- all because of we both attended live events. Those kinds of connections get me totally Fired Up! and fill me with gratitude and inspiration.

2. You learn in a different way than if you attended a webinar or read a book.  That keeps you fresh and helps relieve your stress.

There is nothing like a live event where you can see the facial expressions, witness the body language and understand the nuances of the content being delivered.  Many times, comments are taken out of context and they don’t quite make sense.  At a live event, you get to witness the speaker and participate in their laughter, foibles, poignant stories and fun.  You are part of the experience because you are there,  engaged and involved, and you will more likely retain what you heard far more than if you listen on CD later on.

3. You are privy to upcoming news, specials, giveaways and more- which are often launched or announced at live events. That always fires me up!

Joel Comm, NY Times bestselling author of Twitter Power and hugely successful i-phone app creator, autographed his new book, Kaching, for us at Boss 2010, which we received because of his and Carrie’s generosity.

4. You stretch out of your comfort zone and start thinking in new ways, which is great for preventing burnout, and challenging the status quo.

Bob Burg and CarrieI had the joy of attending Bob Burg and Thom Scott’s event, Extreme Business Makeovers, last spring and again met such interesting people and learned so much. I took three legal pads full of notes and implemented a great many things based on what I learned there. Thom modeled marketing innovations through his creative coaching. Bob is a phenomenal man, filled with heart and wisdom, and he gave us all so much to think about. Each speaker made us think differently about our approaches. Most of all, Bob epitomizes adding value and being a  “go-giver,” which is the way I choose to live my life. (He also gives great hugs- which you would only know if you attended a live event!)

What live events are on your calendar for the next year?  Start planning now for new ways to learn, grow, connect, expand and make a difference. Whether it’s a business seminar or yoga retreat, be sure you get the most out of it by taking the time to really get to know the other attendees, add value to them wherever possible, helping them with their businesses and goals, soak up as much information as you can, act on what you learn and continually grow yourself and your business.

Value Others as a Way of Staying Fired Up!

keys to success

I received this poignant story via email today- I don’t know the author but it is inspiring. Let me know if it touches your heart, too.

A young man learns what’s most important in life from the guy next door.

It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son.. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him. Over the phone, his mother told him, “Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday.”

Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days. “Jack, did you hear me?” “Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you.. It’s been so long since I thought of him. I’m sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago,” Jack said

“Well, he didn’t forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were doing. He’d reminisce about the many days you spent over ‘his side of the fence’ as he put it,” Mom told him. “I loved that old house he lived in,” Jack said. “You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life,” she said “He’s the one who taught me carpentry,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him… He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important…Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral,” Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time. Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time.  The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture…..

Jack stopped suddenly. “What’s wrong, Jack?” his Mom asked. “The box is gone,” he said “What box?” Mom asked.. “There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was ‘the thing I value most,'” Jack said. It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it. “Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him,” Jack said. “I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom.”

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. “Signature required on a package.. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days,” the note read. Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was dif ficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. “Mr. Harold Belser” it read..

Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack’s hands shook as he read the note inside. “Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life.” A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box.. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.. Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover.. Inside he found these words engraved: “Jack, Thanks for your time! -Harold Belser.” “The thing he valued most was…my time”

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. “Why?” Janet, his assistant asked. “I need some time to spend with my son,” he said.

“Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!”

Think about this. You may not realize it, but it’s 100% true.

1. At least 2 people in this world love you so much they would die for you.

2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.

3. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don’t like you.

4. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.

5. You mean the world to someone.

6. If not for you, someone may not be living.

7. You are special and unique.

8. When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won’t get it, but if you trust God to do what’s best, and wait on His time, sooner or later, you will get it or something better..

9. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good can still come from it.

10. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely turned your back on the world.

11. Someone that you don’t even know exists loves you.

12. Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.

13 . Always tell someone how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know and you’ll both be happy.

14. If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great. You will certainly brighten someone’s day and might change their perspective on life..for the better. To everyone  I say “Thanks for your time and for taking the time to read this.”

Could Your Incompletions Be Stressing You Out?

Most of us have To-Do lists that never end, and when our day is over, we feel frustrated. Half-started projects, incomplete reports, books begun and never finished- all of these drain large amounts of energy and actually create stress.

Incompletions are a form of self-sabotage, which can create anxiety, worry and tension. Every day, each one of us makes commitments to do things. Saying you’ll be at work on time is an agreement. Setting up lunch with a friend at a certain time and place is an agreement. Promising to take out the garbage tonight is an agreement.

Most people are good at keeping agreements with others. People who don’t keep agreements don’t have many friends, because they aren’t trustworthy.

Broken agreements destroy relationships. The problem for many of us is keeping agreements with ourselves. Promising ourselves we will get up early to exercise and then rolling over when the alarm goes off is a broken agreement.

Completion is Powerful

Circle of CompletionIn The Path of Least Resistance, Robert Fritz describes the circle of completion. The three phases in this circle are germination, assimilation and completion. Germination is the initial start-up phase of a project. This is usually where you feel the greatest excitement and enthusiasm about your life. You’ll most likely share that contagious energy with others.

Assimilation is the phase where people take action, where you’re actually doing what needs to be done to make things happen. This is where many people get stuck and never completely finish projects. They get halfway done or they quit just short of realizing their goals. That is a big mistake because they lose out on all the joy and power that comes from Completion.

There is a distinct and special energy you experience every time you complete. Think about it. Reflect on the last time you finished some goal or project you’d been working towards for some time. How did you feel? Satisfied, pleased with yourself, perhaps even proud? That’s all part of the energy of completion and that energy gets you motivated to accomplish your next goal. It actually fuels the next project.

How to Get More Completion in Your L

• Walk through your house and notice what is incomplete. Is there a huge pile
of laundry waiting to be done? Is the carpet filthy? Take 10 minutes right
now and just do it. Feel the completion.

• Are there any old newspapers or half-read magazines in your home?
Recycle them or throw them away.

• Look in your closet. Is there some article of clothing you know you will
never wear again? Give it away.

Completions can fuel your energy for new projects and get you Fired Up!
Start tackling your incompletions now and see how much better you feel.

Forgotten Stress Reliever: Time with Friends

Two friends embracingMake time with friends a priority.  Several years ago Ladies Home Journal reported many women were lonely.  In 2007, more than 27 million Americans lived completely alone.  20% of people feel so cut off from others that loneliness is a major source of unhappiness.1

The danger of the Internet is isolation.  Relationships with people online don’t fulfill the deep-seated need for human contact, touch and quality conversation. Working alone on the computer  all day does not meet your needs for actual physical contact, hearing a friendly voice or looking into someone’s warm eyes.

Lonely people eat more fats, exercise less and are more apt to die young.2   The stress of social isolation contributes to breast cancer susceptibility.3  One Harvard Medical School Nurses’ Health Study says that not cultivating meaningful relationships can be as life-threatening as cigarettes.

The Solution: Schedule time with friends every week

Spending time with friends creates the release of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that relieves stress and promotes euphoria.  Those who had the most friends over a 9 year time period cut their risk of death by 60%.4 A recent study in Australia showed that people in contact with at least 5 friends on a weekly basis were 22% less likely to die in 10 years.5

Schedule in friend time; it could actually extend your life. Try to see at least 3 different friends every week and see how much better you feel.  It could also boost your happiness quotient.  Very happy people have good relationships.  Whether with a friend, partner, a parent or relative, a key indicator in two different happiness studies demonstrate that strong friendships and connections lead to joy.

1. & 2 Kleinfield, Judith, “The effects of loneliness are serious, studies show,” Fairbanks Daily News Mirror, April 5, 2009

3. Harms, William, “Isolation and stress identified as contributing to breast cancer risk,”

4.  Taylor, S. E.; Klein, L.C.; Lewis, B. P.; Gruenewald, T. L.; Gurung, R. A. R.; & Updegraff, J. A.  “Female Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight”, Psychological Review (2000), 107(3), p.41-429.

5.  McCafferty, Megan, “Easy Ways to Add Years to Your Life” and “Where Did All My Friends Go?” Ladies Home Journal, Feb., 2009, p. 140 and, April 2008

Manage Your Stress Through Yoga

photo of yoga posture from the book Stress Express!Practiced for over 5000 years, yoga is a profound and popular form of exercise, with nearly 11 million Americans practicing it.  It’s taught around the world  in many different forms.  Recent studies at the University of NC Hospitals and Duke University show yoga reduces stress and also provide significant improvements for those with illnesses such as arthritis, back pain, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.   The Center for Integrative Medicine of Thomas Jefferson University found that a 1 hour session of yoga lowered cortisol in participants with no previous yoga experience, even seven days later.

The Benefits of Yoga

Whatever form of yoga you enjoy, there are enormous benefits to your body, mind and spirit.  Yoga:

• increases flexibility through stretching

• improves posture

• promotes better breathing

• massages all internal organs of body

• increases lubrication of tendons, joints, ligaments

• flushes toxins out of the body

• tones muscles

• provides a deep sense of relaxation

I have been practicing yoga for over 20 years and I find it makes a tremendous difference to my energy, flexibility and strength.  Try it as a new form of exercise and stress relief.

Stress Relief Through Scent

Lemon with lemon slice for cutting stress and keyboard mistakesDid you know just inhaling certain fragrances can relieve stress?  It’s true.  One of the most interesting findings when I was researching my new book Stress Express! was the impact of scent.  Fragrance is powerful.  Realtors know this well.  They often put drops of cinnamon oil on lightbulbs when showing a house, or bake cookies with cinnamon in them.  The scent of cinnamon is said to be the most  welcoming for many Americans because it reminds them of breakfast with grandparents and cinnamon toast.

Here are a few stress-relieving scents you may want to check out:

Lemon– Believe it or not, the scent of lemon in the workplace cuts keyboard mistakes by 50%  according to Valerie Wormwood.  Think of what a difference that could make with your work.

Vanilla soothes restless children.  It has a positive impact on the limbic center of the brain, which controls emotion, according to a study done at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. A few drops on the wrists of a child can transform a cranky, whiny child into one who is happy and laughing.

•  Peppermint extract on your forehead or temples can help relieve pain immediately.  It’s also great for concentration.  A Univ. of Cincinnati study found people who breathe in peppermint oil are immediately more alert. Children who eat a peppermint before tests score better. And athletes perform better.

Lavender calms irritability, soothes tension and promotes relaxation.  Many sleep products like scented pillowcases are sold because of lavender’s soothing properties.  You’ll often find it in hotels these days.

Try these fragrances in a variety of ways- scented candles, air fresheners, extracts, etc. to help relieve your stress and feel better fast.  You may just be surprised with the results.

The Powerful Value of Naps

Exhausted woman Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Most Americans are not.  In fact, 40% of the US population is sleep-deprived.  According to the World Health Organization, less than 7 hours a night is considered a carcinogen, cancer-causing agent.


If you get less than 7 hours, you are:

•3 times more likely to catch the cold or flu
• likely to carry an extra 20 pounds of weight
• 4 times more likely to have a stroke over age 45.

What’s the solution?  For many people and more and more companies- naps!

I love naps.  I hated them when I was a kid, but today, I find them rejuvenating and energizing.  Naps work!  And there is a great deal of research to support it.

Naps of half an hour or less don’t interfere with sleep patterns, and  can restore clarity, alertness, and memory.  Albert Einstein was a big fan of naps. has a nap room and employees are encouraged to use it regularly.  More and more corporations are providing nap rooms.  Many railroads have them, and even Ben and Jerry’s believes in naps.

An exhausted employee is an ineffective and possibly dangerous employee. Both Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were related to sleep deprivation.

Sara Mednick, author of Take a Nap, Change Your Life, says a 20 minute power nap is very light and easy to wake from, and good for your motor memory.   A nap of 20 – 60 minutes is slow wave sleep, which is restorative.  It promotes muscle and tissue growth, as well as memory  performance.

“Sleepiness alone costs the American economy and employers about 18 billion dollars a year,” says Darrel Drobnich of the National Sleep Foundation in Washington, DC.  So why not address that proactively and provide a nap space at work?

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Are You Burnt-Out? The Top Ways to Find Out…


Stressed out Woman pulling her hairOne third of Americans say they are living with extreme stress.1 Career says that 78% of all American workers feel burned out (not just stressed.) Nearly 80% of all doctor visits are stress-related and 43% of all adults have ill health because of stress.

Stress is linked to the six major causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung disease, accidents, cirrhosis, and suicide.2  How about you?  How are your stress levels?

Check any questions that apply to you:

– You come home regularly dead-tired with little or no energy.

– The concept of vacation is inconceivable to you- you have way too much to do to go away.

– You don’t have time to exercise regularly or participate in your favorite hobbies.

– You snap at your loved ones and friends fairly often.

If 3 of the above are true for you, you may be hovering near burnout.

1. Being continually exhausted. Whether you are getting less than the 7 hours a night of sleep (the minimum to prevent cancer according to the World Health Organization) or you are working very long hours, this symptom is a wake-up call. Get a medical check-up, consider vitamins and supplements, and spend more time in play, in addition to getting more sleep.

2. Vacations: Expedia found that 34% of Americans don’t go on vacation at all!What’s scary about that is for women aged 45-64, two weeks of vacation cut their incidence of heart attack in half! 3 Expedia found most people feel rested and rejuvenated after vacation, are more productive and more satisfied with their marriages.  A coach in Canada discovered that when his clients doubled their vacation days, they doubled their income.4

3. Exercise- You know exercise is good for you, improves your memory and slows the aging process.  But did you know that it can also reduce stress reduction and increase joy? The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports reported that runners were 70 percent less likely to experience high stress and life dissatisfaction.  You don’t have to run, but do something physical at least 30 minutes 4 days a week.  Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter says even a sometime workout can reduce the risk of heart failure by 18%.

4. Relationships are key.  Snapping at loved ones destroys relationships. Whether they’re family or friends, they are critical to your health and well-being.  Spending time with friends creates the release of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that relieves stress and promotes euphoria.  Those who had the most friends over a 9 year time period cut their risk of death by 60%.5 Whether with a friend, partner, a parent or relative, a key indicator in two different happiness studies demonstrate that strong friendships and connections lead to joy.6

Whatever you can do to change your life, reduce your stress levels and increase your joy is going to make a big difference, both in the short and long-term.  Take care of yourself and the rest of your life will come into much better balance.


1. “Stress in US Rises, Causes Health Problems,” The Scoop, The Meeting Professional, March 2008, p.442.

2. Anschuetz, Barbara L. Dr, “The High Cost of Caring- Coping with Workplace Stress,”

3&4. Brown, Sarah,  “Clean Break,” Vogue, June 2003

5. &6. Taylor, S. E.; Klein, L.C.; Lewis, B. P.; Gruenewald, T. L.; Gurung, R. A. R.; & Updegraff, J. A.                “Female Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight”, Psychological Review (2000), 107(3), p.41-429.

Top Five Stress management Tips

Stress express book coverMost of you know I have just written a new book Stress Express! 15 Instant Stress Relievers!( After researching burnout for over a decade, partly due to having experienced a great deal of stress personally, I have found several stress management techniques that really make a difference in terms of decreasing anxiety, preventing burnout and helping you feel better fast.

Here are my top 5 stress management tips! Let me know which works best for you!

Sleep!The World Health Organization is considering labeling less than 7 hours of sleep a carcinogen- a cancer-causing agent! That’s how dangerous it is! If you get less than 7 hours, you are at a cognitive disadvantage, and are prone to weight gain and sugar issues. 40% of Americans get less than 7 hours a night- are you one of them? Try going to bed earlier- no phones, no TV, just a quiet dark room and settle in 1 hour before you want to sleep so your mind can quiet down.
DO NOT check your email before bed!

Laugh! Little children laugh 400-500 times a day; most adults laugh 7-10 times. One study showed that one big belly laugh is equal to 45 minutes of stress relief. Laughter also extends your life by improving your immune system, lowering your blood pressure and improving your brain function. We could all up our laughter quotient. Try listening to comedy channels on satellite radio, watching the comedy channel, or asking friends if anything funny has happened to them recently. Play comedy CD’s in the car when driving in rush hour traffic and watch your tension melt away.

Optimism Did you know that optimists live 7 years longer than pessimists,have better lung function and are far less likely to die young or die from cancer? Several studies from NIH and Yale demonstrate this. Pessimists are 25% more likely to develop heart disease. And since optimism is 75% learned, you can shift if you have been a negative thinker up until now.

Creative Expression! No matter how you like to express your creativity, from dancing, painting, singing, playing an instrument, writing, gardening, woodworking, scrapbooking, etc., creative expression keeps you in the present moment, free from worry about the past or future. Women with creative jobs have the cardio-vascular fitness of someone 6 years younger. And listening to music can reduce your depression by 25%, according to a study in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Volunteer. Doing something for someone else less fortunate instantly changes your perspective and makes you grateful for your life. Research shows that volunteerism, relieves depression, improves interpersonal skills, increases your longevity and strengthens the community. There are infinite ways to volunteer, from helping your neighbor care for their pet to working in a soup kitchen to building houses for Habitat for Humanity. Get involved and see what a difference it makes in your life.

Have a fantastic week, filled with good stress-relieving activities. Stay Fired Up!