Mindfulness While Doing Your Job: My Experiment

Everybody knows the benefits of mindfulness meditation.

From improved concentration, to even the ability to age slowly to restoration of peace of mind. And we can take this into the workplace, so we can be more productive with our tasks and be more happier in what we are doing.

What I’m saying is that being mindful has numerous benefits and if you can take this into the workplace, a place when you can get stressed very easily, your chances of panic attack recovery increases dramatically.

Even in a workplace where you find the workload dull and boring, mindfulness can be a great way in keeping yourself from being distracted, and therefore stopping mistakes by distraction from creeping in.

By stopping yourself from being distracted, you are consistently producing a higher quality of work, which should keep you in favor of your job and should, thanks to the decreased effects of the Amygdala, keep you as stress free as possible.

You see, I was going to write an article about mindfulness while actually doing your job. But then I decided against it for numerous reasons.

The Dilemma

When you are mindful, you are essentially in the, ‘hear and now’.

That’s fine, and we all need it to keep our stress levels at bay, stop panic attacks from flaring up, and ultimately have good peace of mind. The problem is in trying to be mindful enough to being present, yet still, ‘think’ as part of our job.

This was the dilemma I faced fairly recently. Being mindful while being at the work place… how can you be mindful, yet think in order to do your job?

Do you try to be present in between the small jobs you are doing, i.e. every small minute you have of free time?

This could seem slightly arduous, that only a very strong disciplined mind can achieve. We need to find something a bit more practical and more realistic to obtain; something that you can get into a habit of…that is to say, practicing it until you can do it without giving it a thought.

So instead of writing about mindfulness in the workplace, I’m going to do a 7 day experiment.

Starting from today, I’m going to incorporate a certain technique into my day-to-day running of things, and see how it will affect my way of thinking, my general focus, and ultimately my beliefs (I’m thinking that if I’m, ‘present’ as much as possible, surely this may indirectly affect what I believe in).

The Technique

In order for me to pull this off, I’m going to have to employ a famous mindfulness technique which is one that can be done using the tiniest of thinking power: Breathing.

I’m going to focus on my breathing, while trying to think about the task I am trying to achieve.

I have already done an earlier test on this, and found the results quite surprising; I found that although I could still think, I couldn’t daydream as easily as I could (I used to be a heavy fantasizer in days gone by).

And while my thoughts were quite clear, I found that I felt more at peace than when I was thinking fully.

The Drawback

Of course with any experiment, there will be some problems.

The first one I anticipate is the fantasying. I am big into day dreaming. I know it isn’t productive (i.e. it doesn’t help with achieving your goals, unless you focus that daydreaming into visualization) but I do fantasize quite a bit while doing my chores. So I don’t expect myself to be focused on my breath as much as I would like to.

Also, this is also sleep dependent. Having insomnia means that unless you have a great nights sleep, experiments like these are usually meaningless.

That is, unless you feel generally refreshed to begin with, people with attentional problems (like myself) find it hard to concentrate alone, not alone be mindful.

I’m hoping that if I can keep being focused on my breath slightly, my thoughts (although slow) will be more focused so I can still achieve my goals in the quickest time possible, while retaining the internal willpower and inner peace of mind that we expect mindfulness to achieve.

Keep in tune for the results next week;-)

 

Panic attacks in the workplace and 6 ways to cope with it

I’ll never forget the time when I had panic attacks in work.

It wasn’t sudden, but a build up of over a few years. One minute I would be fine talking to customers on the phone, the next minute I would be getting very hot under the collar, very clammy, and really panicky at saying the wrong word that could trigger a customer to start getting irate.

I hated it.

It’s funny that you can look back at these things years ago and sort off smile…but back then, it wasn’t funny. It was deadly serious. But I didn’t know what it was.

I sort of knew about panic attacks and extreme stress, but I had no idea of what a burnout was. I was in my mid twenties for crying out loud. Life wasn’t meant to be like this. But it was, especially for me. This was my life, and I was supposed to just accept it, not complain about it, deal with it and move on!

So that was it…for a period of about 2 1/2 years, I was constantly clammy, constantly rubbing my hands, constantly sipping water to trying to comfort myself; wandering whether the next customer was going to be nice or mean and wandering why I was panicky, feeling light headed and felt like I was going to pass out. I had know idea that I was able to use little techniques to eliminate a panic, and I certainly had no idea that I could use mindfulness to overcome those feelings of dread. For me, panic attacks at work was a way of life.

I even tried some Bach’s flower remedies to try to relax myself, but even that didn’t always work (although sometimes it did). I will say, looking back at it now, that I made the situation 10 times harder than it needed to be.

I should’ve gotten my sleep, yet at the time, 5 1/2 hours was luxury

I should’ve used mindfulness meditation, but at the time, I was more into Qi meditation than mindfulness…not a bad meditation to be fair, but it’s not going to do much to reduce the effects of an over-stimulated Amygdala.

Panic attacks and anxiety in the workplace is responsible for over $37 billion of the mental health bill, which pretty much means (that at the risk of sounding harsh), if you are not able to cope with and eventually eliminate your condition, not only is it sucking the life and soul out of you, it is also part of the problem that is costing billions.

Yet most of us understand the symptoms of excessive anxiety in the workplace: they range from being unable to focus, to sleep deprivation (including insomnia), from panic attacks to worrying excessively to the point of paranoia, plus much more.

So how do we improve our coping skills so we don’t feel our soul being sucked away from our life, and are therefore able to at least enjoy the aspects of the job that we find simple to do?

1 – Practice mindfulness throughout the day

Doing this alone will help reduce your anxiety in a very short space of time and will reduce the onset of a panic attack. Just taking a few minutes when the going gets tough is all that is required to restore a mental clarity and resume focus, so your main work doesn’t suffer.

You can achieve being present in various ways, but one of the easiest I have found is to widen your peripheral vision. This alone will help you reduce the mental chit-chatter and will restore a peaceful mind.

2 – Take exercise during break times

Maybe a short walk or even walking your car, whatever it takes to get you outside. This will help, ‘walk off’ the anxiety and will allow you to slowly relax, and take your mind of the anxiety or panic attack. Practicing mindfulness while doing this is a great way of getting better at being mindful.

3 -Meditate during your lunchtime

If you can do it, meditating in the privacy of your own car during the lunch break is a good way of reducing the anxiety and help reduce the onset of a future panic attack. I used to do a form of Chakra meditation, where I would visualize a spinning colored flower, the color dependent upon the Chakra that I would like to open and balance, but any kind of meditation should work for you, as long as you can get into a relaxed sitting position in your car.

4 – Practice deep breathing

Doing this will help calm yourself down and will also help reduce a current panic attack. It will also give you a clarity of mind that will help reduce the onset of any future intense anxiety.

Just by taking a minute to breath gently but deeply should allow the current anxiety to slowly subside. If you wish, take a deep belly breath via you nose, hold for 4 seconds, and then slowly release through your mouth. Doing this for a minute will help calm your nerves down.

5 – Get your sleep/power-nap

Getting your sleep is vital for reducing future panic attacks, but admittedly it can be a viscous circle. You can be that stressed at work, that getting your required 7-8 hours can be a huge task. If you find that you cannot switch off when going to bed, and end up getting a poor nights sleep, trying looking into supplements to help you relax, or try Bach Flower remedies.

For the immediate short term, trying getting a power-nap during your break times. Just 10-15 minutes of a nap is enough to keep your energy levels up, and will allow you to have some mental focus back.

6 – Open up your Heart Chakra

I put this one last, because of its spiritualistic nature, but what you can do if you feel panic coming on is to see people as extensions of yourself. I know this may sound weird, but it does strangely open up your Heart Chakra, so you can feel a deep compassion swell and fill your heart.

This has a nice soothing effect, and will even help reduce a future panic episode. Using the combination of opening up your Heart Chakra while being present can be a very powerful duo in combating anxiety attacks and restoring peace of mind.

Try the above and let me know how it goes on. Suffering from panic attacks in the workplace, when you’re trying to enjoy life and do work, is not only a terrible thing for a sufferer to go through, it’s also a waste of a precious life. By doing the above exercises, you can be sure that a recovery isn’t too far away.

 

Stressed at work? Here are 5 ways to make the impossible, possible!

Do you suffer from stress at work? Do you feel panicky when you see deadlines coming up that you haven’t met? Workplace stress affects over 1 in 4 people, and if not treated, can lead to long term anxiety and panic attacks.

If you really want to help yourself recover from stress, you firstly need to find coping mechanisms so when the going gets tough, you can get going.

But why we do we stressed to begin with?

Stress can be caused by many things, but the majority is usually a lack of support (emotional or otherwise) work related bullying or violence, and of course, work pressure. The thing is, work pressure takes place on a daily basis, but if you are unable to cope with the pressure, stress will be the response, and cortisol will be released (the stress hormone).

You’ll find yourself having a headache, having a few pains here and there, maybe having palpation’s of a pounding heart, and a dry mouth…these are all symptoms of a stressed body, so it is vitally important to have coping mechanisms in place, so when you do get the expected daily work pressure, you don’t let it bombard you…you simply go along with the ride.

Having been in a very pressurized environment myself, I knew about the daily pressures in trying to meet targets, and helping the company out. The only problems was that I had no coping mechanism, so I got stressed way too easily. And of course, if you get stressed, you are unable to focus so my targets suffered.

This meant that I couldn’t switch off, ended up going home, and wasting hours trying to entertain myself in an attempt to relax. The only problem was then I went to bed late, had a bad nights sleep, and had to go through the whole saga again.

It was a vicious circle, and all because I didn’t have a few coping mechanisms in place to help with the pressure.

What most people don’t realize, is that if you don’t have your particular coping mechanisms, you won’t be able to build up confidence, which naturally helps increase your resilience to stress. This means that if you don’t get the help to overcome a stressful moment (and some people don’t), it will lead to adrenaline kicking in (the fight-or-flight response).

If you still don’t get help even then, then it leads to subconscious behavior, so you will start to exhibit anxiety related psychological disorders, such as panic attacks, OCD, depression and so on.

So how do you break this cycle, and lead a more mentally healthier lifestyle at work, when those targets just keep on coming?

1- Try to act, rather than re-act.

Usually there is 50% of the workload which you have direct control over, and the other 50% can either take a long time, or could be challenging. The trick is to make the 50% which you control the best and quickest you can, so when you do come up against the inevitable 50% which you know is going to drag your day down, you won’t be too stressed by it.

2 – Learn to focus better by eliminating distractions.

When it comes to a distraction/interruption, you can either accept the distraction, get rid of it, or try to find its importance, accept it and plan around it. Obviously you would need to think quick about this, but by doing this, you will be able to return to your busy work schedule and keep on being focused in meeting your targets.

3 – Saying the, ‘No’ word!

Not every job will allow you to do this, but I included it here because it is a viable solution. By keeping your work manageable, your stress levels will be lowered. If you find you are being given way too much to do in the allocated time, learn to say the dreaded, ‘no’ word, but include a viable, practical solution.

4 – Belly breathing.

If you find that the work has gotten too much in such a short space of time, and you are unable to catch your breath, try belly breathing to help retain your focus and composure. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold, then breath out for 4 seconds through your belly. This will enable you to keep focus and keep that stress feeling down.

5 – Sleep and Diet

Of course, getting your sleep and making your diet good are critical aspects of handling your stress. Don’t forget to get your 8 hours of good sleep and make sure you have a good diet. Without a good nights sleep, you are pretty much playing catch up on the word go.

If you do find yourself having a bad night sleep, take time out to meditate or have a short 15 minute nap during a break-time, so you have some energy to go through the day.

Hopefully the above will inspire you to take action and will hopefully reduce not only your stress levels, but also reduce and prevent any long term anxiety as well.

 

Nighttime Anxiety: 5 Ways To Stop It Ruining Your Life!

Many of us with a panic disorder tend to drag that worry into our bedtime. The reason for this could be many things, from family pressures to work related stress. It is estimated that between 50-65% of us who suffer from a panic disorder will have a panic attack of some sort during bedtime at least once. And of course, when there is a first time, there is always the fear that it will happen again, which then perpetuates the panic even further.

The problem is that if you don’t have a good back up plan in dealing with your nightly terrors, the chances are that it is only going to happen again, and you will be wasting even more time by tossing and turning in bed, where usually the best thing to do would be to activate your mind.

Despite what might be a daunting task, overcoming panic attacks at night need not be an enduring ritual.

There are key steps that you can use in order to minimize your bed time terror, and still have a rejuvenating sleep!

1- Avoid medication, caffeine or alcohol

Medication, in many peoples cases only relieves you of the symptoms on a short term basis. You still need to find psychological and spiritual coping strategies if you want to recover in the long run. Caffeine is a proven stimulant, so taken this before bedtime simply means you are going to stay awake and find sleeping very difficult, and can even create insomnia (it is said that caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours). Alcohol, while very tempting, is also indirectly a stimulant.

2- Don’t look at the clock

Sounds silly and ridiculous, by incredibly this can sometimes work. By looking at the clock, you can inadvertently trigger more anxiety because you feel that you should be sleeping, not staying awake. You have to actually move and turn the clock away so you can’t see the lights (which can also keep you awake as well).

3 – Exercise during the day

Exercise is not only very healthy for you, but if done a few several hours before bed-time, before the panic of night starts to creep in, can actually help you drift off to sleep even quicker.

The best form of exercise is a form of H.I.I.T (High-Intensity Interval Training). Basically, you do something short but quick, i.e. use a stationary bike or run outside for a good 60 seconds at top speed. The trick here is to raise your heart beat so you are panting, recover to bring it back down, then rinse and repeat.

This type of exercise is famous for improving your lung capacity, and will help promote more Testosterone and Human Growth Hormone when you sleep. It also helps you to fall asleep more quickly as well.

4 – Drinking Valerian Root Tea

This not only helps you relax as it helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, but Valerian root tea can also be used to help promote a good night sleep, by reducing the anxiety you are feeling.

5 – Give yourself a time limit

If you do find yourself going to bed, and you are still tossing and turning for 15 minutes, don’t waste any more time. Read a book, or get up and do something. Actually try to engage your mind in something that is not too stimulating, but still quite fun. Only return to bed (or turn of the lights) when you find that you are getting increasingly tired.

But what happens when you wake up from a night terror?

If you have tried the above, found yourself going to bed on time, and drifted of quite easily thanks to some Valerian root tea and exercise, you may find that you have a panic attack when you dream. I remember once having a dream when sheer terror filled my heart, I almost woke up in a sweat! The trick here is to get up and do something active once you wake.

Give yourself a few minutes to see if you can fall asleep again (although not likely) and then get up for real. Try to really wake yourself, by splashing water on your face, start reading, or even checking downstairs (but don’t turn on the TV!).

Try to work with the panic and let the feeling work over you.

Just remember, it’s just a feeling. If you wish, try belly breathing to help calm you down, and even practice mindfulness meditation (being hear and now) so you can pay attention to any thoughts that can be making the panic worse.

Only once you’ve done this, should you start to feel sleepy. If you find that your eyelids are dropping, or you are yawning a lot, go back to bed. If you find that having done all this you are still very alert, try doing a boring task like tidying your bedroom.

You should find that the terror will subside and that your body will once again wish to have the restful sleep that it richly deserves

Try the above out, and let me know how you get on. By finding coping strategies for dealing with night terrors, this will also ensure you have a good night sleep which will help you with your panic attacks during the day. And prolonged good sleep will always help promote long term recovery.

 

The Top 6 Benefits Of Getting Your Sleep

Copyright: choreograph / 123RF Stock Photo

Everybody knows that sleep is important to you, but do you know just how important? They say it’s always quality over quantity, but are you sure you are getting your hours worth each night? For some adults, if it isn’t insomnia keeping them awake, it could be the pressure of job stress or even family obligations that’s doing the job.

I must confess, even though I’ve written an article on sleep before (last year I believe), even to this day, getting a great night sleep isn’t as easy as it sounds. Why? Well, for starters, bad habits die hard. When I was in my teens growing up, I would end up going to bed later and later, which ultimately caused my studying to suffer, and then my exams results. Secondly, stress in my adult life took it’s toll. And before I knew it, my twenties had come and gone.

You see, that’s the problem with a poor sleep schedule. Not only does it disrupt your body clock, but it makes the day wizz by without you appreciating it. And before you know, 6 months have already gone. By getting your sleep (somehow) you can make the most of your days and really appreciate being here in the moment. Here, I look at the top 6 benefits of getting your sleep.

1- Increases your immune system

Getting a good night sleep automatically boosts your bodies immune system, regardless if you eat plenty of fruit or not. If course, if you do eat your fruit, a good nights rest will naturally keep your body in good condition (from an illness view anyway). But even if you don’t eat that much fruit (I must confess, I don’t…) getting your sleep is a must for improved body immunity and a higher chance of fighting of illnesses.

Of course, if you do get ill, trying to get your sleep itself won’t be easy, and if you’re not careful, you may find yourself trapped in a viscous cycle, where you go to bed late and not dream much, followed by more illness, followed by more late sleep time etc. The trick is to find a way to relax, even attempt meditation (yes, I’ve done it, but not easy) so you can drift off and help your immune system. You can try listening to some Delta/Theta CD’s to help you drift off, if that helps, or drink some soothing Chamomile tea.

2- Reduces depression

Getting your hours of sleep will certainly help elevate your mood, and help reduce mood swings. From a spiritual standpoint, it could be said that the more sleep you have, the more you feel the higher vibrations of your soul, as well as your Chakras having a good proportion of Qi energy, which trickles through when you are dreaming (It’s been also said that dreaming is simply an unconscious out-of-body experience, as you are floating slightly above your body, so the Qi energy can trickle through and nourish your Chakras).

From a non-spiritual standpoint, getting you sleep does help with your mood, and also helps you to see the positive in a situation, when you would normally see the negative giving you a balanced and fair viewpoint at the situation at hand. And of course, it means that you don’t get stressed and anxious that easily, which means that you can better cope with tough tasks when they head in your direction.

3- Reduces the risk of death

Believe it or not, having your required amount of sleep will actually reduce the risk of death at an early age. Found in the, ‘Whitehall II Study’, Researchers from Britain looked at around 10’000 British Civil Servants over 2 decades, for sleep loss, and found out that the servants who had reduced their sleep from 7 hours to around 5 hours (or fewer) almost doubled their risk of death from different sources. Coupled with the fact, that sleep deprivation means that certain famous hormones are not being able to nourish certain parts of the body, and it’s not difficult to find out why.

4- Releases more Human Growth Hormone into the body

Probably one of the most famous of the hormones that are released when you are sleeping. True, you can buy supplements to compensate, but for a better, natural way of doing it, sleep will always be number 1. And why? Because The Human Growth Hormone is responsible for so many good things that our body needs, from promoting growth, to increasing thickened skin to improving muscle mass and bone structure.

That is why bodybuilding take HGH so seriously, they know how it can help increase muscle mass for building more muscle. Supplements can also help, but if you do want to give your body (and brain) a good head start, getting your required dosage of sleep is a must.

5- Increases your mental skills

This may seem a bit obvious, yet it amazes me how some people really work their brains hard, when a good night sleep will not only make them a slightly happier person, but they also don’t have to fight hard to get their minds working!. Essentially a good sleep (especially in the long run) will help with your cognitive functioning, your alertness and will help you visualizing (yeah, don’t try focused visualizing when you are tired, it doesn’t work very easily!). Essentially, you are helping your brain so you can makes better judgment calls, improve memory, and be more attentive to what you are doing…always valuable in the workplace.

Of course, this is easier said than done if you are stressed, or suffer from an anxiety disorder of some sort. Getting to bed itself is tricky, especially if you suffer from OCD, and actually being relaxed to fall asleep can be trickier still. Somehow, you have to find a way to relax, so this is where meditation can come into play, or a nice relaxing warm bath. If you do feel particularly anxious over a certain thing, try your hand at EFT (no pun intended;-). You’ll might find that you get the relaxed mindset that your body needs after all.

6. Reduces the risk of gaining weight

According to a study conducted in 2004, the people who slept for less than 6 hours a day were 30% more likely to suffer from obesity than those who slept between 7-9 hours. Not only that, but there is a link between sleep and the peptides that regulate the appetite. Shortened sleep is strongly associated with a decrease in Leptin and an increase in Ghrelin, Leptin being a protein hormone that has a key role in regulating appetite and Ghrelin being a hunger-stimulating peptide.

Put simply, getting your required hours means that you are less likely to go for that chocolate bar (probably due to the sugars that your brain and body needs to stay awake). You’ll also less likely to have a need for coffee, so you won’t need to worry about the stimulation of caffeine in your blood. This should make mental clarity much more easier to obtain. Food for thought;-)

 

Top 4 Ways To Reduce Stress And Anxiety Fast!

rapport

Do you want to combat and manage stress and anxiety for good? Are you really sick to death of the suffering? I don’t want to appear funny, but there are people who claim to want to heal themselves, but don’t actually do anything. It’s hard to believe, but the amount of people that I’ve come across who moan and winge about life, yet don’t get inspired to take any action baffles me. Then it dawned on me why this could happen…hard to believe, but some people actually feel great by feeling bad.

I couldn’t believe this when I heard it, at least on a conscious level. Yet, (and I know I shouldn’t really admit this) I’ve been guilty of doing this myself. Certainly waking up in the early hours of the night, being angry and depressed at not having something, or having a bad time with my life didn’t helps things, and of course only re-conditions the subconscious (due to the fact that when you wake up, your brainwaves exhibit mostly Theta waves, which is used in some peoples cases to re-programme the subconscious). I woke up once and tried to study the depression that I was feeling, to try to get a grasp of the feeling that I was having while being in a nice comfy bed.

To the best of my knowledge, despite it feeling bad and dis-empowering, there was like an addiction to the depression I was feeling. Even when I realized what was going on, and tried to loosely fantasize a happier outcome, my subconscious would come roaring back with ‘oh that’s impossible, stop being delusional’ etc. It took quite the effort to somehow break this spell, by sheer mental willpower (which is never nice early in the morning).

So believe me when I say, while I sympathize that people have stress/anxiety and many other mental health problems, there are some people who subconsciously like this. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but learning to see if you a secretly sabotaging your success will go a long way to enable your recovery.

That is part of the reason why I started this blog, to try to help people with what I’ve experienced. Now, I’m not going to list all of my ills here, but I thought I would summarize what I believe to be the top 4 ways to reducing stress and anxiety. Here we go;-)

1- Meditation

Summary – can be used to great effect at reducing (and some people would say, eliminating) long term anxiety and stress. Has been around and used for thousands of years, and baring some ridiculous miracle posture that cures all ills, will be around for the next 50 thousands years (as far as I’m concerned, providing that we don’t destroy our planet due to spiritual ignorance, of course!!!). Has the ability to help reduce your ego mind chatter, and increase intuition.

Pros – Numerous benefits to list them all here, but the main basis is certainly an increase in spiritual, mental and emotional well-being. Ability to heal past emotional wounds, and also helps create mental clarity so that you can think more clearly on the task at hand, allowing you to finish your goals, hopefully to better your life. Can be said to help with out-of-body experiences as well, especially being in the, ‘now’.

Cons – Not many, really, but it can be an absolute bugger to get started, especially if you simply don’t know what to do, or you have severe stomach gut issues which prevent you from relaxing completely. All it really takes is for you to move your attention from your thought process, to either your body, your breathing, or even the sounds outside Do this for a few minutes, and you should start to feel a deep peace. The issues is that some people find this, in itself, difficult. We have been trained to use our minds all the time, and the invention of the Gregorian calendar didn’t really help things when it came to the invention of time (but that’s for another day;-). Still, you know what they say, practice makes perfect!!!

2- Diet

Summary – Well established fact, that if you want to change your lifestyle, what you put into your body also has a significant effect on how you think. Think of eating sweets, and feeling really restless and energetic, for example. So it goes without thinking, that if you want to have a goods nights sleep, drinking coffee at 9 pm (and it is said that caffeine has a half life of 6 hours!) isn’t really going to help matters. Get your diet right, and your head should follow (not sure if I read that somewhere, but thought I’ll put it in anyway:-)

Pros – It’s diet, what do you think? Nutritional food, with nutritional drink, will help keep the body healthy, and your thoughts calmer. Don’t forget, the mind and body are interrelated, so what you think will manifest (to some degree) with your body, and vice versa! (Think of stress related illnesses as one example). It has also been documented, that loving thoughts helps almost single handedly to help the molecules of the water (think of Dr. Emoto, and that famous water experiment). And as our bodies is made up of around 70% water, it’s not hard to imagine the power of feelings on the body.

Cons – Of course, if your busy, this is that last thing you will care about. Busy people eat whatever they can (they have do, they don’t have time to prepare a nutritional snack) and of course if they are busy, the chances are that they need as much energy as they possible can get their hands on.

So we’re talking chocolates, energy drinks, and so on. And don’t forget, you have your emotional eaters (of course) who will always eat something specific to keep their stress levels away (called a coping mechanism). The thing is, emotional eating and eating in a rush does no one any favors, and one needs to create a more healthier coping mechanism, and of course, manage your time better (always helps).

3- Sleep!

Summary – Getting your sleep is absolutely vital to keeping your stress levels to an all time low, as well as being able to focus on your goals, and having a clearer mind. I know I probably shouldn’t admit this, but the article I researched for stress and sleep here was one of the biggest eye-openers for me.

Quite simply, sleep does more than you think! Alright, you already knew that, but they say that it is always quality sleep rather than quantity that always counts. I’m going to go one step further and say that it is the amount of non-rem sleep that you have (don’t forget, your sleep in 90 min cycles, with REM, the eye-twitching one, being the last stage of this cycle. It is also the type of sleep that allows you to dream…whether you remember it or not is another matter;-).

But we need as much non-rem sleep as possible, due mainly (but not exclusively) to the good ol’ Human Growth Hormone being released, probably given us that, ‘freshness’ that we feel when we wake up after a good night.

The thing is, we cannot plan how much non-rem sleep we’re going to have, that is why it is recommended that we have between 7 to 8 hours. Of course, there are those people who use delta CD’s and meditation to help…

Pros – Getting a good, refreshing sleep as numerous benefits, from improved memory, to reducing the risk of some physical ailments, to improved cognitive functioning, and of course, feeling great for the day. It allows you to keep your focus, and helps reduce your stress and anxiety levels (or at the very least, allows you to manage them more effectively).

Cons – For those insomniacs, or people with other sleep disorders, and of course, people who work nights, sleep is a luxury they simply cannot have. Meditation will help, but ultimately, a change in lifestyle may be required (especially those people who are too stressed, or even on a burnout to get any hours of sleep at all). I hate to say this, but medication, or sleeping pills may be the only way. But only if you are able to take the side effects…

4- EFT

Summary – I had heard of EFT before I started my blog, and to be honest with you, when I did my research for my post, EFT and Stress, I didn’t learn anything too new…

Having said that, I did learn a few more things. Firstly, the Chinese used a version of acupuncture (which later inspired EFT) to help treat physical illnesses, not emotional ones. And secondly, EFT can be used to treat nearly everything emotionally bound.

It’s free, it’s quick and best of all, it’s fun. And there’s nothing better than feeling better and like a huge weight has been lifted off of you shoulders. I’ve used it myself to help reduce my OCD to around 60%, have used it for a job interview, to get better focus, and even (and this even surprised me…) get more energy.

That’s right, using EFT in a certain way can get you more energy and help you feel more refreshed (although truth be told, I used it after a decent nights sleep and after meditation, so perhaps the two can work hand in hand…food for thought).

EFT is fast becoming huge popular, due to it’s widespread, and natural benefits.

Pros– Too many to list here, but mainly nearly all psychological conditions and some physical ones (as it is said that many illness are stress induced illnesses). EFT has been said to help reduce autism symptoms, and can also vastly help with PTSD, depression, and many other ailments. It can take as little as a few minutes each day, and the results can be long lasting.

Cons– Not too many, but I did notice in my research that the people who really benefit with EFT are the ones who do it longer than 5 minutes, so perhaps EFT isn’t the shortest treatment of them all (depends I suppose, on the problem at hand). Also, EFT isn’t perfect, and can’t cure all conditions physical or otherwise, under the sun. There are of course, limitations, as to what you can use EFT for. And don’t forget, it has it’s own competition in the likes of PSTEC and IST (which I will be doing future articles about, so watch this space.)

Like meditation, you have to dedicate a certain amount of time to get the maximum benefit from EFT, and some stressful people simply do not have that time. But if you do have 5 minutes to spare, it’s not a bad place to start, even if it does look silly…

What’s your favorite coping mechanism for stress, anxiety or depression? Let me know in the box below;-)

 

Not Getting Enough Sleep Due To Your Stress? Here Is a Simple Guide To Sleep Like A Baby!

Its a familiar story… you’re tired, and you come home. You try to finish all of your tasks for the evening, but you’re not sure if your boss is happy with that presentation you’ve just made, or the number of emails that you have managed to reply to…and you’re scared that you are going to lose your job! Your heart beats faster…your anxious and your tired.

It’s been like this for several weeks, but guess what, it’s now taking it’s toll. Your partner is moody at you, as you seem completely disinterested, and you’re scared that you are loosing your sanity and you’ll go broke.

You watch TV, feeling more and more tired, but for some reason, unable to get to bed. You finally trudge up the stairs, and limp to the bathroom, your mind still racing full of thoughts, like ants running around inside your brain. You look at your self in the mirror, and you know you look like a mess, but you dare not admit it to your partner.

You get undressed, and you get into bed. It’s already extremely late, and you’ve got to get up early tomorrow!

Your mind is still racing, and your sick of it!

This tired feeling numbs your senses, and you feel like you’re a zombie. As you turn the light of, you know that you’ll get 5 hours tops (and that’s if your lucky!). You lie in bed, initially staring at the ceiling, then at the moonlit curtains that’s casting a shadow over the dresser. You’re scared! You need this job, or else

You close you eyes and try to sleep, but no such luck. Your heart is beating faster than normal, and you feel achy around your heart. Your head feels like it is extremely hungover, like you’ve just been out in town. It feels like a big heavy doorknob that’s sitting on your shoulders Your mind gets dreamy, and very blurry…

You wake up, exhausted, eyesight not fully sharp. You stumble out of bed, and almost fall to the floor, head feels dead. Within the next hour, you will force some cereal down your throat, and drive to work, hoping to keep the bad feelings of dread to an all time low, and figuring another way to survive another day…

stress2

It’s the same old story for the millions of people who get stressed each day and loose sleep over it

It’s estimated that over 40% of people are stressed at work, while over 25% claiming to be super stressed. And that’s not all, it’s also estimated that people having time of work due to stress is costing the US economy over $299 billion yearly!

Yet, the cruel irony, is that for many of us who get stressed, we tend to skip on the very thing that can reduce it.

It’s a vicious cycle. Your stressed, so you try to get some sleep. But of course, that’s easier said then done, and you can’t focus. If you are paranoid, or have OCD, you will (of course) do your routine more than once, in an effort that some dreadful thing won’t happen. This naturally keeps the mind busy, making it even more difficult to relax.

You go to bed (eventually) only to discover that your imagination has suddenly gone into 5th gear. You close your eyes, but you’re nervous about tomorrow (assuming it’s not already tomorrow that is) and you look at the alarm clock. When you do wake up, you’re extremely tired, desperately wanting another couple of hours at the very least (but knowing you’re not going to get it).

And then you have to go to a job, which is mentally and emotionally draining, and you get stressed. You come home, and the cycle repeats itself

Stress causes lack of sleep, which causes more stress, which causes more lack of sleep, which causes more stress…

…and so on.

Do this for a long period of time, and you begin to mentally injure yourself!

You see, we need between 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep each night, as lack of sleep can cause

  1. Reduction in cognitive functioning. It impairs:
  • Alertness
  • Attention
  • Reasoning
  • Concentration
  • Problem solving abilities
  • Makes it extremely difficult to learn something more effeciently
  • You won’t remeber easily what was learned in the previous day, as sleep helps the consolidation of the memories in your mind. Simply put, you won’t remember much!

2. Accidents

It has been noted, that sleep deprivation has caused some of the biggest accidents in recent history. The 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island and the 1986 nuclear meltown at Chernobyl. Drowsiness does slow reaction time, similar to drink driving. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) estimates that fatigue causes around 100’000 vehicle crashes and around 1’550 crash related deaths per year in the US.

3. Reduced sleep increases your risk of:

 

  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • An irregular heartbeat
  • Diabetes
  • A stroke

 

4. Sleep deprivation can impair your own judgement

Getting regular loss of sleep decreases your ability to make accurate judgements of a situation or event, thereby causing you to make inaccurate assements and not act wisely, including whether or not you are getting enough sleep.

5. Lack of sleep can increase a risk of death.

Found in the, ‘Whitehall II Study’, Researchers from Britain looked at around 10’000 British Civil Servants over 2 decades, for sleep loss, and found out that the servants who had reduced their sleep from 7 hours to around 5 hours (or fewer) almost doubled their risk of death from different sources.

6. Loosing your sleep can make you gain weight

According to a study conducted in 2004, the people who slept for less than 6 hours a day were 30% more likely to suffer from obesity than those who slept between 7-9 hours. Not only that, but there is a link between sleep and the peptides that regulate the appetite. Shortened sleep is strongly associated with a decrease in Leptin and an increase in Ghrelin, Leptin being a protein hormone that has a key role in regulating appetite and Ghrelin being a hunger-stimulating peptide.

7. Reduced sleep actually ages your skin!

Too much reduced sleep leads to fine lines, lacklustre skin, and dark circles under the eyes. When you don’t get your sleep, your body produces more of the stress hormone, Cortisol. This breaks down the protein that keeps your skin nicely smooth and elastic, Collagen. Reduced sleep also reduces the release of the Human Growth Hormone, which help promote growth when we are young. As we get older, it helps increase thickened skin, muscle mass and strengthens bone.

8. Reduced sleep makes you depressed

Sleep disorders and reduced or ineffective sleep patterns all contribute to the symptoms of depression. In a poll conducted in 2005, people who were medically diagnosed with anxiety or depression were far more likely to be sleeping less than 6 hours a night.

9. Reduced sleep can kill your sex drive

Yes, it’s now official, lack of sleep reduces your sexual libido. Having less energy, increased tension (probably due to stress and anxiety) and feeling extremely tired or fatigued are most to blame.

10. Reduced sleep reduces your immune system

This is the same system that helps fight off colds and illnesses, and having a poor sleep schedule really helps in increasing your chance in catching a cold.

I could relate to some of this. Having suffered from OCD, paranoia and stress, I regularly got around 5 hours if I was lucky. You literally walk around in work, wanting to put your head on the desk.

I couldn’t concentrate, had mood swings, and got depressed and stressed way too easily.

You see, we lead such busy lives, we have commitments, families to take care off, and getting a good night sleep seems like the furthest thing on your mind.

Or it could be the opposite. Getting a good night sleep is something that you are desperate to achieve. But for some reason, you simply can’t get it.

You have tried everything, from hypnotherapy to sleeping pills. And if you’re not careful, you’re going to turn into an insomniac.

Yet due to the nature of technology, we believe we can do so much more, in the same amount of time.

This causes breakdowns of relationships, family issues, and puts a burden on your job. Ask any stressed out person, life simply isn’t fun, and your not fun to be around!

But why is sleep that important to reducing your stress levels, and getting you life back?

It’s because what sleep does, which is vitally important to your well being

stress3

Sleep reduces stress by revitalizing your body when you are dreaming, as well as:

  • Increasing more plasticity (connections between the nerve cells)
  • Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleeping enhances your emotional memory
  • Increases learning skills, and decision making processes
  • Cognitive functioning is increased during a healthy sleep

 

And cognitive functioning is a big one, because it’s the one that allows you to function more sharply!

So you see, not only does getting your quality sleep matter, it’s more important than you think

Don’t forget, your sleep goes through stages. Non- REM sleep (REM- Rapid Eye Movement) and then REM sleep (each cycle lasting around 90 minutes).

Stage 1- The transition to sleep – Takes roughly 5 minutes, eyes move slowly under the eyelids and your muscle activity slows down- brainwave electrical activity around light alpha (alpha between 8-13hz)

Stage 2- Light Sleep – Takes roughly 10 to 25 minutes and is when your eyes stop moving, your body temperature decreases, and your heart rate slows – brainwave activity around theta to deep alpha (theta between 4-7hz)

Stage 3- Deep Sleep – If you are spiritual, this part would be when you lose your sense of self, or you have achieved connection to the universal source. If you were to be awakened, you would feel very groggy, and dis-oriented. The blood flow is directed from your brain to your muscles, allowing the restoration of your physical energy. Brainwave state, 0.5 to 3hz (delta)

Stage 4 – REM sleep – Normally between 70-90 minutes after falling asleep, you enter REM sleep. It’s called REM because your eyes dart back and forth, and you are dreaming. Due to having a sense of self, you actually go back up to theta. It is this state where your legs and arms are paralyzed and and your heart beats and blood pressure increases, while your breathing shallows. Images are very vivid (well, you are dreaming after all!)

It’s stage 3 that is the crucial one. When you are in deep sleep, HGH is released, and you feel more refreshed. The only way to get more stage 3 deep sleep, is to start going to bed early i.e. spend more time in bed!

You will feel more refreshed, think more clearly, but most of all, feel alive!

But spiritualists also see sleep in a different light.

We have non-physical contact points, between the non-physical and the physical (the non-physical being part of the multi-verse). When we are asleep, life energy or Qi, trickles through these contact points, or votices. These votices are your chakras, and it is the chakras when you are sleeping that ultimately govern how refreshed you feel when you wake up.

stress4

Your chakras allow the Qi to nourish your vital organs, including your brain. This is why meditating is so important if you wish to have a quick dose of energy during the day. Just 10 minutes of meditation done during your lunch hour will helps re-energize you, as meditation can help open and all life energy to give you a burst of energy (I’ve done this successfully while sitting in my car, engine turned off).

However, your chakras are not the only reason why getting your sleep is vital in reducing your stress and anxiety levels for the short, to long run

A protein called the Circadian Rhythm is also important. This is essentially your internal body clock, and is responsible in stopping you having a good nights rest, especially if you are doing shift work in your job.

Simply put, the body requires routine.

If you go to bed at different times during the week, your circadian rhythm will be out of sync, and as a result, your deep sleep will suffer.

So not only are your chakras passing the vital life energy to your body, but your internal body clock is also happy, as well as your Human Growth Hormone helping you out while your in REM sleep, by:

  • Building stronger bones
  • Improving your sleep patterns
  • Increases the synthesis of new protein tissue, helping muscles repair or recovery
  • Helps improve the quality of your heart and Kidneys
  • And (of course) produces more energy.

 

So as you can see, the Human Growth Hormone plays an important role in the development of your emotional and physical well-being, as well as physical healing.

But this does beg a question, how does one get sleep when one is super stressed?

The trick here is to (somehow) relax the mind.

You’ve got to break the cycle somehow. The best way is to relax the mind to a degree that you can nod off.

In a moment, I’ll talk about quick ways you can relax the mind when you are stressed at work, but for now, let’s look at some quick ways to help calm the mind enough for you to get to bed and get (at the very least) your 7.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep (and that’s loads, by the way).

  1. Have a warm relaxing lavender bath
  1. De-clutter your bedroom
  1. Stop mind engaging activities 1 hour before going to bed
  1. Take up the art of mindfulness meditation
  1. Have a warm glass of milk before going to bed
  1. Avoid caffeine after 3pm
  1. Turn the clock the other way, so you don’t get distracted by the time
  1. Read Heart Warming stories
  1. Listen to a Delta Entrainement CD (I recommend the ARVARI, as they guide you to Delta extremely well)
  2.  And it goes without saying, but a nice air-cooled, comfy bed (and pillow) goes a long way!

 

But sometimes, you simply cannot get that restful sleep that you need, then what?

Believe it or not, there are tactics that you can use to get (some) refreshing energy to not only get you through your tough day in the office, but also get your mind remotely sharp.

  1. Learn to meditate in a private place, like your car

stress5

Just doing this for 10-15 minutes, either at break time or lunch, will help you feel some energy from your non-physical self. Try this as a quick test

 

  • Do deep belly breathing for a minute

 

  • Now listen to the breathing intently. Feel it and pay it attention when it enters your body and when it leaves

 

  • Now close your eyes, and keep your attention on your breathing.

 

  • Focus your attention for as long as possible, and you should find that a healing peace will flood your stomach area. You will feel very present, and you will have opened, or balanced your solar plexus chakra (the one responsible for personal willpower, ironically;-)

 

This will be enough to calm your mind down, so you can relax. If you can also balance this with feeling love flow and permeate your body, you will be able to feel re-energize and allow the Qi to make you slightly more refreshed and alert, as well as being able to de-stress you.

To feel love, try this:

 

  • Again, take some deep belly breaths for about a minute. This will help calm and slow down the mind (controlling your breathing helps control the mind)

 

  • Now, imagine hugging somebody you deeply love and admire. This could be your boyfriend/girlfriend, sister/brother, husband/wife, you get the picture;-)

 

  • Really try to imagine hugging them in your favorite place (this is your imagination, so choose any place you like)

 

If done correctly, you should feel love emanate from your heart chakra, and permeate your body. This will be a very unconditional, healing form of love, and you will start to begin dissolving any current psychological or emotional issues you have (true love always heals;-).

Try using your imagination to, ‘guide’ this love around your body. It should be pretty easy to do.

Using this with being present in the 1st exercise will not only help your mind stop racing, but will relax you, help you de-stress, re-energise you and give you a clear head. You can try this in your car (with the engine turned off, obviously) for about 10 minutes, and feel the difference..

2. Have a 15 minute Delta power-nap

If you do have a racing mind, and being in the present moment is simply too difficult, try buying a 15 delta power-nap mp3, and listen to it when you are in the car (again, engine turned off;-)

You can get some great mp3’s that really help your brain reach near the delta state, and will allow you to de-tune fairly easily, and a power nap increases the cognitive function up to 40%. You can get a 10 min mp3 to a 35 min one here (I use a 15 min myself).

3. Learn how to feel the love while in the workplace

You can try this one you’ve mastered the above exercise, but this time, while inside doing your job. It’s surprisingly easy to do once you get the hang of it, and when you let it spread through your body when you are sitting down, will help de-stress you in the moment and re-energise you.

4. Keep drinking the water

Not really a tactic, but I thought I must include it on this list, as not drinking enough water throughout the day will dehydrate your body, making the stress worst! So keep drinking the water, and avoid the caffeine. This alone will work wonders, and you will keep your organs ticking over

Lack of sleep and stress, when combined, make a deadly duo. But you can get your sleep, and as a result, your life back. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know below. I would love to hear from you;-)