#1 Stress Tip

According to a late 2008 report in Forbes, if you get less than 7 hours of sleep at night, you are at a “cognitive disadvantage;” your brain does not function properly. People who get less than 7 hours of sleep are three times more susceptible to colds and lack of sleep is a major cause of obesity and diabetes.

sleepless woman looks at alarm clock (from Stress Express book)The biggest contributor to stress is lack of sleep.

According to a late 2008 report in Forbes, if you get less than 7 hours of sleep at night, you are at a “cognitive disadvantage;” your brain does not function properly.  People who get less than 7 hours of sleep are three times more susceptible to colds and lack of sleep is a major cause of obesity and diabetes.  Those who sleep between 7 and 8.9 hours a night on average have healthy weights; those with less do not.  Typically, this is an extra 20 pounds of weight.
Entrepreneurs are also very stressed. 13% of those polled by Fortune Small Business reported having trouble getting to sleep every night.   So how do we handle it?  What do we give up?  All too often, we sacrifice precious sleep, which has become increasingly dangerous

So go to bed earlier, do NOT check email & social media before bed, do not take your cellphone to bed prepare yourself to sleep in a quiet, dark room.  You’ll be more effective in everything you do.


Reduce Your Stress Levels with Water!

Did you know that we start out our life as 99% water, before we are born?  By adulthood, we are 70% water and when we die, we are probably 50% water.  As Masaru Emoto writes, “We exist mostly as water.”

Glass of water from Stress ExpressEvery cell in our body depends on water to function properly. Throughout theday, we lose about 8 cups of water, which must be replenished.  A 5% drop in body fluids will cause a 25-30% loss in energy; a 15% drop causes death. It is estimated that 80% of North Americans are suffering from dehydration, which results in:

• energy loss
• mental and physical exhaustion
• headaches and stiff joints
• sleep disturbance
• anxiety and stress
• kidney stones
• cancer and diabetes.1

“The human body produces pain and develops various diseases when it is suffering from drought.”  Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D

Can you see now why the old adage, “drink 8 glasses of water a day,” is more important than ever?  Often overlooked, water is vital to health, to life and to stress reduction.  Try to drink filtered clean water, relieved of toxins like mercury, chlorine, etc, that are often found in public water systems.  Never drink water from a bottle that has been sitting in the hot sun all day…that can be a carcinogen.  And caffeine drinks actually leach water from your system, so you need to drink more to replace those beverages.

Many times, when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty.  You usually need to drink a whole 8 oz when you get up in the morning and replenish throughout the day.   When you start drinking more water, the changes can be substantial.  You often regain energy, vitality and clarity. You will be amazed at the change in how you feel.

1.Beuermann-King, Beverly, “Water : A Necessity in Maintaining Mental Health,” July 20, 2009, www.WorkSmartLiveSmart.com

© 2011 Snowden McFall, All rights reserved

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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.

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. Zappos.com 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 Builder.com 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.

Sources:

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,”http://www.epilepsyontario.org/client/EO/EOWeb.nsf/web/The+High+Cost+of+Caring+-+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.

Manage Your Stress through Volunteering

Different hands placed on construction beam

One of the last things you might think of doing when you are very stressed is to take the time to help someone else. But it can truly be the best thing you can do. I know this from my own personal experience.

Not too long ago, I was tired, frustrated and upset over a business issue. Heading home with my husband that night, we turned down our street. My husband said, “There’s a girl sitting on the corner crying.” We immediately stopped the car and I got out to talk to her. Turns out, she was working for one of those magazine sales companies where they drop off youths and pick them up at the end of the day. She had no phone and no money. Her ride was two hours late. So we called her manager from my cell phone and he said a ride was on its way. She waited in the car with us, shared her tragic life story, and when no ride arrived after 45 minutes, we turned around and drove her the half hour distance to her motel. When we arrived, I spoke to the manager about taking better care of this young woman (she was 20,) gave her some money and hugged her goodbye with some encouraging words. As we drove home again, all thoughts about my problems had completely vanished. My concerns were for her and how I could help others like her in the future. I realized my problems were far less pressing and there are those who are struggling to get by every day on the streets. It gave me a whole new appreciation of how fortunate I am.

That’s the value of volunteerism. It gives you instant perspective, awareness of how blessed your life really is, and it gets you out of the worry and anxiety of stress.

The Benefits of Volunteerism

There are several benefits of community service. It:

• promotes connection and sharing

• decreases stress and depression

• improves interpersonal skills

• enhances communication skills

• increases gratitude and empathy

• improves understanding of community issues1

• strengthens your ability to cope

• makes you feel good about yourself and your gifts

• increases how long you live2

• provides a sense of fulfillment and purpose

• strengthens the community

Next time you are stressed, think about all those less fortunate and instead of giving into depression, worry or fear, take some action. There are infinite ways to volunteer. Here are a few:

• mentor a child

• help a neighbor repair their home

• work at a soup kitchen

• walk a friend’s dog

• make a meal for someone in crisis

• be kind to a complete stranger

• help at a homeless shelter

• participate in a “clean up your park” project

• volunteer at an animal shelter

• read to seniors at a senior center or hospital

• collect diapers for newborn centers

• help out at an elementary school

• collect books for literacy programs and then read for them

• run a food drive for local food banks

• teach some craft or art skill to children or seniors

Volunteering has a huge impact on your health, longevity and stress levels. For me, it is absolutely one of the best instant stress relievers around, and you can do it at any time, any place, anywhere.

 

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia

 

1. “National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating: The Benefits of Volunteering,” Canadian Centre for Philanthropy research Program, 2000 http://www.nationalservice.gov/about/volunteering/benefits.asp

2. “The Health Benefits of Volunteering,” Corporation for National & Community Service, from the Office of Research and Policy Development April 19, 2006

http://www.worldvolunteerweb.org/fileadmin/docdb/pdf/2007/07_0506_USAbenefits_health.pdf

 

Staying Healthy as a Way to Keep Fired Up!

Warren Whitlock, author of Twitter Revolution, wrote of my last post that he wanted more information about how to prevent illness. So for my friend Warren and the rest of my friends, new and old, here are some stress management tips and health tips to help prevent illness.

be proactive, especially when it comes to your teeth. A recent tough lesson for me came when I ground my teeth so badly that I abraded my front tooth. My dentist told me it was infected and required a root canal in a few weeks! Uggh! Teeth grinding is a very common problem, and it results in broken teeth, TMJ, headaches, neck aches and shoulder problems. Fortunately, it can be treated with cranial-sacral work, massage, mouthguards and good dental care.

• Find a way to exercise that’s fun for you, and do it three-four times a week for 30 minutes. The best way is one that does not feel like work. Get an exercise buddy and go to the gym together, go for walks and catch up on your day, or do a sport you love. My husband and I are ballroom dancers, and it’s a great workout that is fun and challenging. Find what you enjoy.

Watch your food consumption, especially sugar and sugar substitutes. Over 1 billion people worldwide are obese, and many of them are diabetic. Read Sugar Blues by William Dufty to learn about the dangers of sugar, and check on-line studies on how sugar substitutes can damage your liver and kidney. I have a sweet tooth, so I use stevia, which is an herb with no calories and no side effects. Check with your doctor for what works best for you.

Get enough sleep- 7 hours of more. The World Health Organization says less than 7 hours may be a carcinogen- cancer-causing agent!1 Less than 7 hours lowers your immune function, makes you 3x more susceptible to colds, contributes to diabetes and creates a large drop in concentration and productivity. 40% of Americans are sleep deprived, are you one of them?2

Be careful of dependency on outside stimulants, whether they’re caffeine, alcohol, prescription drugs, or sleep aids. All of these can wreak havoc on your immune system and you body’s ability to relax naturally. A study published in Harvard Science Review said that walnuts and molasses may be just as effective at fighting depression as prescription drugs!3

Spend time in nature. Nature is soothing to the system on so many levels, from the physical contact of bare feet on sand, to the soothing relief of negative ions from oceans or waterfalls. Drink in the beauty of a crimson sunset on a lake, giggle as sea gulls dive for a piece of bread, or inhale the soft fragrance of a fresh rosebud. Nature is healing; spend time outside.

This is part one. Share your suggestions with me for more tips on staying healthy! Write me at orders@firedupow.com
1 Fisher, Anne, “ Make sleep work for you” Fortune Small Business, Sept. 2008, p.86-90
http://money.cnn.com/2008/08/19/smallbusiness/make_sleep_work_for_you.fsb/index.htm

2 Schwab, Dave, “Study: Naps improves brain power,” La Jolla Light, CA, April 1, 2009

3 . “Eat your way happy and healthy,” Woman’s World, May 5 2008, p.12
http://www.harvardscience.harvard.edu/medicine-health/articles/food-ingredients-may-be-effective-antidepressants

When Illness Threatens to Put Out Your Fire

victorious girl in wheelchairIt always amuses me when life gives me opportunities to practice what I preach. I am just finishing up my fifth book, which is about stress, and someone asked me if I felt I had to create more stress in my life in order to write the book. And if you looked at the past year, you might think that.

Tragically, our 41 year old sister in law died of melanoma after a five year courageous battle, leaving behind her husband and six year old son. Over the past few months, my husband and I have both had pneumonia and one of our cats has had a severe bacterial infection. We are normally a very healthy family but all of this illness has reminded me never to take that for granted. I originally learned that lesson as a young girl when my mother became terminally ill when I was six. She died 15 years later, and I discovered how important it is to tell people you love them when you have the chance. And how celebrating the wonderful, fun, joyful moments regardless of someone’s health is what fuels great memories later on.

So what about you? What do you do when you are sick? Do you have any nurturing rituals that help you feel better, besides your arsenal of vitamins, medications and syrups? My friend Lisa swears by very hot baths with Epsom salt; she claims they knock out everything! I myself love napping with my kitties and getting extra rest, doubling up on my Echinacea cold care tea and vitamin therapy. And I am not above asking for help. My husband Spencer is a loving, compassionate caretaker, when I let him be. As I Kleenex® my way through a nasty cold, he has been massaging my shoulders, making me dinner, fixing me hot beverages and bringing me magazines.

A very dear friend is once again battling breast cancer. And I love that she shares with me, asks questions, requests support in key ways and lets her honest fears and pains out. She is such a vibrant, courageous inspiration. She is not looking to die; she is embracing life fully and sometimes gets knocked down. But she just gets back up. Her Fired Up! attitude enables her to face something awful, cancer, in a positive way and she lifts every one around her with her tenacity, joie de vivre and laughter.

Stay Fired Up By doing What Inspires You!

Jumping for JoyWhat gets you excited about life? What inspires you, motivates you, touches your heart? Is it an incredible live performance of your child’s band or your niece’s dance recital? Is it reading an uplifting story of how someone overcame their horrible circumstances or watching a movie of how an underdog triumphed over all the obstacles? Is it training for a marathon and successfully completing it? Or starting a business you KNOW will help people and add value to their lives.

Think back to times when you have been truly Fired Up! about your life! You were so passionate and excited about what you were doing that you overlooked the challenges, ignored the stress, bounded over the hurdles and went for your dreams. Remember how fantastic that felt. Relive the experience of truly GOING FOR IT- whatever it was. That fire inside you fueled all your actions, made your decisions easy. There was no wavering or hesitation; you had a goal that was vitally important, life-affirming, perhaps even life-changing. Recall how truly powerful you felt and how enthusiastic you were about your goal. Nothing could stop you. And no matter what the outcome, you felt great about yourself because you went for it. You put in the time and discipline, took massive action and did what you needed to, all because you were fired up!

That is what this new blog is all about. It’s about how to get and stay Fired Up!, and how to reignite the fire when you get burnt-out. As the author and co-author of five books including Fired Up! (my new book on stress is due out by June 2010,) I am passionate about helping others do what they love and make a positive difference in the world.

That means looking at business and what helps others grow their businesses and what can slow them down. It means tuning into your dreams, passions and stuck spots and answering your questions. It also means going to the next level, because when we stretch ourselves and go beyond our box of self-limitation, miracles can happen.

So what about you? What fires you up? What brings you joy and what excites you about life? It’s time to find out!