Posts tagged with "stress"

360 MAGAZINE, Vaughn Lowery

5 Ways Your Relationship Can Hurt Your Health

By Robert Oldman

Anyone who clicked on a site like https://www.flirt.com and is now in a meaningful relationship as a result may well face their fair share of ups and downs. For most people, dating relationships are new and exciting uncharted territory. The experience will more typically be exemplified by happiness, contentment, fun nights out, cozy nights in. With all that going on, surely there can’t be any negatives associated with being in a relationship or dating someone? Actually, that’s not always the case at all. Your relationship can actually damage your health, in a variety of different, sometimes surprising ways. Here are five you may not necessarily have considered.

Stress

In any relationship, there will inevitably be times when you are less satisfied than others. It is pretty much impossible to coast along without there ever being moments of friction, whether this is anything to do with yourselves, or external factors have come into play.  Everything from worrying about family to money issues to work can impact your stress levels, but having doubts about your partnership can be especially concerning. If you are unduly bothered about anything at all, this can have a negative affect on everything from your blood pressure to your libido. Prolonged periods of stress can lead to even more potentially harmful problems, such as mental ill-health.

Overeating

There can be a direct correlation between stress and eating. What is known as comfort eating is a well-known medical condition, leading to people compensating for feelings of inadequacy by over-indulging, often in fatty or fast foods which are bad for your cardiovascular system. When couples are enjoying a healthy, relatively hassle-free relationship, they might not be aware of it but they can also do damage by spending excessive amounts of time dining out or going on regular restaurant dates. Drinking too much is another potentially risky side-effect for partners who relish each other’s company a bit too much!

Insomnia

While sleeping together and enjoying all the fruits of an active love life are all well and good, the fact you are sharing your bed with somebody can have its downside. Some partners can be restless, tossing and turning, or hogging the covers. One of the commonest issues in the bedroom department is when one of the parties has a snoring habit. Many factors can trigger this unfortunate activity, from eating late at night to drinking too much coffee to smoking, but the bottom line is hours of interrupted sleep for their other half. Insomnia brings several other issues, including impacts on mental health.

Partying

People who are enjoying a healthy and fulfilling partnership will often feel like letting off steam after a long working week. This is something which could well commence when they are at home, fortifying themselves with a few drinks prior to heading out to the bar, club or party. When couples get into the habit of indulging in liquid refreshments on a regular basis, they may well get to the stage where they no longer need the excuse of kickstarting their evening with pre-date drinks. It’s not uncommon for this type of behavior to begin on ‘school nights,’ too. People can all too quickly lapse into problematic drinking patterns, and if there are two susceptible individuals hovering near the supply of bottles, this could become something they share.

Depression

Many things can cause a relationship to slide off the rails, whether there are temporary disagreements or profound arguments. Disaffection can lead to more negative symptoms, and if these remain unchecked, the end result can be depressive illness. When one partner succumbs to any form of depression, the relationship can be tested to its breaking point.

About Robert Oldman

A Chief Writer of a relationship blog. He posseses a degree in Psychology from Kent State University and specializes in the field of interpersonal relationships as well as communication.

Avoid Clinical Entrepreneurial Syndrome

Whether you are running your own business as an entrepreneur – or running someone else’s business as an executive – there is an enormous amount of demand on your resources. You are likely to be playing the role of project manager, human resources liaison, accountant, and marketing specialist. You are the one who gets called on to extinguish fires as well as create new opportunities. All this and more, while remaining positive and energetic.

As enthusiastic as you may be about keeping the business afloat, it’s a fact that humans have a limited amount of resources available. When the demands upon us begin to exceed the energy levels that we have, we experience stress. This feeling is akin to a form of panic – and has a way of creeping into our daily operations. It lies under the surface of our consciousness, and slowly eats away at our resolve. In small doses, it can help us to accomplish great things. In large doses, and if left unaddressed, it can result in our physical and mental decline.

Stress Leads To Burnout

This doesn’t happen overnight. Those who are aware of the possibility of burnout may be able to feel it developing. Burnout is the eventual result of unresolved stress, and it is a warning sign from the mind and body that enough is enough. It is the point at which we decide that we can no longer perform the job functions in which we once took pride. We may begin to avoid work, produce lower quality work, or suddenly quit the job altogether.

The signs of stress which contribute to burnout include fatigue, insomnia, irritability, changes in weight, problems with digestion, becoming forgetful, and inability to concentrate. If you notice that these symptoms are becoming part of your daily experience, take it as a sign that something needs to change. If you aren’t able to change your workload in the face of stress, look into ways of changing your behaviors during your valuable time off. Failure to do so can mean the end of your venture as a successful business manager.

Avoid Burnout Through Being Proactive

As the stress that leads to burnout tends to attack us on three fronts – physical, cognitive, and emotional – the following are three ways to mitigate its negative effects.

Combat Stress on the Physical Level

The adrenaline and cortisol that the body produces in response to stress are responsible for activating our flight-or-fight response. These hormones prepare our bodies for action. When we fail to use this energy in an active way, it can turn on us and wreak havoc with our physical health. To disseminate that energy in a way that is best for the body, try engaging in similar actions as experienced in emergency situations – like going for a run or boxing it out at the gym.

Master Stress on the Cognitive Level

Much of what we interpret as being stressful depends on our perspective. What we have defined as our values and aspirations can fuel our sense of purpose, and that purpose can become an obsession. If we have tied our sense of self-esteem into our occupational achievements, we can become overwhelmed with producing results. To reduce that stress, which we experience over job demands and deadlines, we need to create a mental space where we are able to separate from those types of thoughts. Consider finding mental relief through engaging in meditation or mindfulness techniques on a daily basis. Venting that stress through consulting with a good therapist each week is another possibility.

Diminish Stress on the Emotional Level

Human beings need to have fun. When we engage in pleasurable activities, our body responds through releasing endorphins such as oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine. Unlike the urgent feelings which stress hormones produce, these types of natural chemicals result in our feeling happy, calm, and content. Keep in mind that it is unlikely that you will be able to remove all the stress associated with running a business by having fun. But you can counteract some of it by making sure to schedule time in your busy calendar for engagement in recreational activities.

About Dr. Jeff Nalin

Dr. Jeff Nalin, Psy.D is an award-winning licensed Clinical Psychologist and the Founder and Chief Clinical Director at Paradigm Malibu Treatment Center. The center has locations in both Malibu and San Francisco.

Majority of Adults Stressed by Mass Shootings

ONE-THIRD OF U.S. ADULTS SAY FEAR OF MASS SHOOTINGS PREVENTS THEM FROM GOING TO CERTAIN PLACES OR EVENTS

Hispanic adults more than twice as likely as white non-Hispanics to say they experience mass shooting-related stress often or constantly

A large majority of adults in the United States are stressed by mass shootings, and a third of U.S. adults say that fear of mass shootings stops them from going to certain places and events, according to a new survey on stress and mass shootings by the American Psychological Association. “It’s clear that mass shootings are taking a toll on our mental health, and we should be particularly concerned that they are affecting the way many of us are living our daily lives,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer. “The more these events happen in places where people can see themselves frequenting, the greater the mental health impact will be. We don’t have to experience these events directly for them to affect us. Simply hearing about them can have an emotional impact, and this can have negative repercussions for our mental and physical health.”

To better understand the impact of mass shootings on stress and health in the aftermath of the recent tragic El Paso and Dayton shootings, APA commissioned the nationally representative survey. It was conducted online by The Harris Poll between Aug. 8 and 12 among 2,017 adults ages 18 and older who reside in the U.S. The survey found that more than three-quarters of adults (79%) in the U.S. say they experience stress as a result of the possibility of a mass shooting. Additionally, many adults report that they are changing their behavior due to fear of mass shootings. Nearly one in three adults (32%) feel they cannot go anywhere without worrying about being a victim of a mass shooting, while just about the same number (33%) say fear prevents them from going to certain places or events. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of adults report changing how they live their lives because of fear of a mass shooting.

When asked which places they are stressed about the possibility of a mass shooting occurring, adults most commonly say a public event (53%), mall (50%), school or university (42%) or movie theater (38%), with only one in five (21%) saying they never experience stress as a result of the possibility of a mass shooting. “Mass shootings are a public health issue, and we need to take a comprehensive public health approach to understand and devise lasting policy solutions,” Evans said. “It is important that people and policymakers realize that this is not an insurmountable issue; it is something we have the power to change.”

Hispanic adults (32%) are more likely than white non-Hispanic adults (15%) to say they experience stress often or constantly related to the possibility of a mass shooting. Hispanic adults and African American adults also are more likely than white non-Hispanic adults to say they do not know how to cope with the stress they feel as a result of mass shootings (44% of Hispanic adults and 43% of African American adults vs. 30% of white adults). Black adults are more likely to feel that they or someone they know will be a victim of a mass shooting (60% compared with 41% of white adults and 50% of Hispanic adults). Women report feeling stressed more often than men about the possibility of a shooting (85% vs. 71%), and parents of children under the age of 18 are nearly twice as likely as those without children under 18 to say they experience stress often or constantly because of the possibility of a mass shooting (28% vs.16%). Further, 62% of parents say they “live in fear that their children will be victims of a mass shooting”.

7 Things To Give Up To Help You Get Pregnant This Year

by Mary Jane Minkin, MD, Clinical Professor of OB/GYN at Yale University

Unfortunately, a simple do-it-yourself plan doesn’t exist, but fertility specialists and women’s health experts agree that certain measures can create the best possible chances for fertilization to occur. So, without ironclad guarantees, here are 7 things to give up to help you get pregnant this year:Every couple mired in infertility, every woman who has ever spent hours scouring the Internet for new breakthroughs and conception tips has had the same wish: For a clear-cut, easy-to-follow program that would guarantee a healthy pregnancy. 

    • Alcohol. Studies focusing on alcohol’s effect on conception have produced mixed results, with some indicating that pregnancy is more likely if women give up drinking entirely and others suggesting that those who drink moderately might increase their chances of conception – perhaps because an occasional glass of wine makes them more relaxed. But experts agree that women who give up alcohol will increase their chances of a healthy baby once conception does happen, and that alone is reason enough for most women to quit.

 

    • Tobacco. Unlike alcohol, the data smoking’s correlation to pregnancy is undisputed. Both primary and secondhand smoke are detrimental to a woman’s chance of conceiving and to a developing fetus as well. Quitting is never easy, but resources and support to help you find a plan and stick to it.

 

    • Caffeine. As the daily substance of choice for most Americans, dependency on those morning cups of coffee is difficult to break. Try cutting back on your intake if you drink multiple cups a day- a recent study confirms ACOG guidelines that one standard 12 oz. cup of regular coffee (200 mg of caffeine) is safe for pregnancy. 

 

    • Your Spot on the Couch. In other words, get up and move around! Couch potatoes aren’t helping any aspect of their health, but women who are trying to conceive have an extra-compelling reason to kick it into high gear. Experts agree that women who stay within their ideal weight have a better chance of becoming pregnant, and a study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology reported that women who exercise 30 minutes or more a day had a reduced risk of ovulation disorders, which often lead to infertility.

 

    • Junk food. Generally speaking, any change that moves you toward a healthier lifestyle will promote fertility. But when it comes to diet, advice seems to fall all over the map. Specific fertility diets advocate for eating foods like oysters, garlic and yams, but an extensive 2009 study advised women to follow simpler guidelines – healthy fats, selective proteins, whole grains and plenty of iron and other vitamins. It’s important to start taking supplemental folic acid to help prevent birth defects. The sooner you can start taking a prenatal vitamin with sufficient folic acid like vitafusion, the better! You should begin taking prenatals even before you begin trying to conceive. And, obviously, putting down the potato chips and the candy bars is an excellent first step to take to help you get pregnant this year. 

 

    • Excessive Stress. Granted, this step is easier said than done, especially when the chief cause of the stress is the infertility itself. But if external factors are causing undue anxiety, a woman’s chance at conception can decrease, and the stress of waiting for that positive pregnancy test month after month could be the last straw for her emotional health. Give up extra responsibilities whenever possible, talk to your boss about reducing your job stress and work in regular “mental health” days to be refreshed by activities and people you enjoy.

 

  • Lubricants Containing Glycerin. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) “Guidelines for Optimizing Natural Fertility”, several leading vaginal lubricants (e.g. K-Y) may decrease fertility based on their observed effects on sperm survival. Another study showed that lubricants containing glycerin had an adverse effect on sperm motility. Fertility experts recommend using a fertility friendly lubricant like Pre-Seed that is specially formulated without glycerin that will not harm sperm and allows sperm to swim freely. 

Like we said, there is no checklist you can complete that guarantees a healthy pregnancy, but giving up these 7 things can help you get pregnant. It’s all about creating the ideal environment for the pregnancy to happen; a healthy, happy and active lifestyle is a solid base and giving up the aforementioned things will get you there.

Six Ways to Cut Down on Alcohol

by Tara Yombor, LMHC and clinical director at Pathway to Hope, a Delphi Behavioral Health Group facility.

Social (moderate) drinking, binge drinking, alcoholism, tolerance, and dependence. This is the typical pattern of progression for drinking that leads someone to think of him or herself as needing to cut down on alcohol. Some might think they are prone to alcoholism. Within that progression, the time for someone to cut down on drinking is based on the individual’s idea of what is causing dysfunction and unmanageability in their life.

Why is it so easy for someone to become addicted to alcohol, and what does it mean to have
an alcohol use disorder?

First of all, alcohol does not have an adverse social stigma, which makes the dependence for it more likely, and the consumption of it more acceptable. Alcohol is typically used to celebrate happy events and sooth the sad events in life. Think about a celebration. What do most people imagine? Alcohol, champagne, and a “toast to the New Year!”

During times of mourning or stress, alcohol can be used to ease the emotional pain of a loss or as a stress reliever. Social (or moderate) drinking is seen as a normal and perfectly harmless way of socializing, relaxing, or a form of celebration.

A binge drinker is defined as a man who drinks more than four to six drinks in a two-hour period, and a woman who drinks more than four to five drinks in a two-hour period. Someone with alcohol use disorder is typically a person with a long-term addiction to alcohol. This person is typically unable to control how much they consume or when to stop drinking and spends a lot of time thinking about the next drink.

It can be easy for someone to transition from a social drinker to a binge drinker to having an
alcohol use disorder. A binge drinker is someone who has more than the above allotted
acceptable drinks in a short amount of time.

Someone who is a binge drinker or struggling with heavy alcohol use may find that people close to them begin to notice negative patterns of behavior during times of drinking. Friends and family may start to become worried about the person’s drinking patterns and negative outcomes that have begun to arise from their drinking. A person who begins to engage in
binge drinking may find themselves calling out of work the day after drinking due to a hangover; they may miss important deadlines, get into arguments with their loved ones, or lose track of daily responsibilities.

Tolerance for alcohol means that a person needs more and more alcohol to feel the desired effect than they previously would not have needed. Someone who has a pattern of binge drinking may find themselves drinking even more alcohol in a short time to feel drunk.

Once tolerance increases, the possibility of dependence increases. Dependence can be defined as relying on alcohol to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Essentially, a person is controlled by their need to ingest alcohol to feel “normal.”

During any of these stages of alcohol use, someone may feel the need to seek treatment. The need for treatment varies for each person based on how dysfunctional or unmanageable their life has become due to their drinking.

Here are six things you (or anyone) can do to cut down on alcohol. Most of these mean a change in behavior.

1. Acknowledge the problem – in order to stop the behavior, you must first acknowledge what the negative behavior is and make a conscious effort to commit to changing that behavior. Also, put the goal in writing and make a list of reasons why you want to cut back on drinking. For example, if the behavior is drinking too much during celebrations, you have to determine what “too much” means to you and, next, set a goal to decrease the amount you are drinking during celebrations.

2. Set a realistic goal for drinking alcohol – if you struggle with binge drinking, set a realistic, and achievable goal. The next time you’re out during a social event, make it a goal to cut back to three to four drinks in two hours instead of five to six. Or perhaps instead of going to a happy hour on Friday or Saturday night, pick one night to go out and stay in the other night. Cutting back by making realistic and achievable goals will keep you on track and make you feel better about the fact that you are keeping your goals.

3. Write it down – make sure to keep a journal of the times you drink, how much you drink, and any negative outcomes related to the times you drink (for example, drinking and falling down or making an inappropriate comment to a friend). By keeping a journal, you will hopefully be able to see patterns of behavior. You can also share this journal with someone you trust and ask them to look out for any patterns you may have missed.

4. Don’t keep alcohol in your house – it is easier to come home after a long day of work and pour a glass of wine rather than going out to the bar on a Wednesday when you may have other obligations at home such as taking care of a child. When you don’t have alcohol in the house, it eliminates the desire or temptation to drink.

5. Stay busy – by having non-alcohol related activities to engage in, you are more likely to say no to drinking, as you’ll want to be present for the activity. Do things that keep you active, such as riding a bike, hiking, going for a walk as the endorphins from engaging in exercise may eliminate the desire for alcohol.

6. Ask for support/Talk to someone – tell people you trust about your goals and ask them to help keep you accountable during times when you may be struggling or find yourself surrounded by temptation. Also, there are therapists who specialize in alcohol/substance use who you can talk to that can assist you with your goals and process through any underlying emotions that may be related to drinking.

Remember that the above tips may not work for everyone. Some people may be into the stage of alcohol tolerance and dependence. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol dependence, reach out for help from a professional or call a treatment center in your area. Alcoholism and dependence look different for everyone.

Top Supplements to Keep you Healthy While Traveling

  1. Immune Support – Vitamin C with Bioflavinoids Vitamin C is a great travel add-on. It helps with free radical damage, boosts your immune system before you travel, and supports heart health.
  2. Stress and Energy Support – Cordyceps are great for their enhancing effects on immunological function which can be weakened by stress. They enhance cellular energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), molecules that use chemical energy created from the breakdown of food molecules to fuel other cellular processes.
  3. Digestive Support – Digestive Enzymes when you’re traveling, you’re probably not making your own food. This can mean eating things that you normally wouldn’t, causing some stomach upset. Add this enzyme to help digest those extra tasty, but maybe not on your normal dietary plan, meals.
  4. Sleep Support – Herbal Rest and Melatonin the Sound Slumber support is a one-two punch of herbal support and melatonin to help you rest easy while you are away from your own bed. While melatonin helps ease you to sleep, the herbal rest will help keep you asleep with its unique herbal blend.

Unique Stress-Relief Methods You Should Try

Over 40 percent of Americans report dealing with stress on a daily basis. Working a full-time job and raising a family can be overwhelming at times. Waiting too long to get a handle on your stress can result in physical and mental health issues.

Finding a hobby is a great way to take your mind off of stress. Most people completely focus on the enjoyment of performing an activity they love, which allows them to focus less on what is going on at work or with their personal finances.

Here are some unique stress relief methods you may want to try out.

Going to the Gun Range Can Be Enjoyable

Are you looking for a hobby that can offer a rush of adrenaline? If so, going to the gun range on a regular basis may be just what you need. Establishments like Bellevue Gun Club offer a safe and enjoyable environment for their clients to shoot guns in.

Not only can you take up gun shooting as a hobby, but you can actually compete as well. If you feel like you have what it takes to be the best shooter in your area, start to participate in tournaments. Even if you don’t win, you can make some new friends and make memories in one of these competitions.

Taking a Trip Can Help You Get Away From Stress

Getting up and going to work day in and day out can start to wear on a person after a while. If you feel like you are stuck in a routine and need a break from the hustle and bustle of your daily life, then taking a vacation is probably a good idea. Luckily, there are tons of vacation destinations to choose from.

If you are trying to be economical, you need to do some research about accommodations in the area you will be visiting. Websites like Airbnb offer luxurious homes for a very affordable rate. The key to having a good vacation rental experience is checking the reviews the property in question has received. Taking the time to look at these reviews can help you avoid getting taken advantage of.

Let’s Get Physical

If you are looking for a way to blow off some steam after a rough day in the office, you need to think about hitting the gym. Not only can working out help you reduce the amount of stress in your life, but it can also help you get into great shape. Participating in more extreme workouts like kickboxing or even the ever-popular CrossFit can be a lot of fun.

When you are working out at a fever pace, you will not have time to dwell on the stress in your life. If you can afford it, you may want to invest in a personal trainer.

Volunteering Is a Great Idea

Do you have a number of social causes that you are passionate about? If you answered yes, then volunteering to help with these causes is a great way to reduce stress.

Not only will you be helping yourself by relieving stress, but you will also be helping your fellow man. Most charitable organizations are always looking for a helping hand, which means you should have no problem finding volunteer opportunities in your area.

Being Consistent Is Key

If you don’t stick with your new hobby, you will be unable to reap the stress-relief benefits this activity can provide. This is why you need to focus on being consistent regardless of the hobby you choose.

The Handbook for Eliminating Stress for Sustainable Change in Work and Life

Stress and anxiety are part of leadership and life, but what if someone told you these feelings are simply self imposed states of mind and that humans belong to an ego-thought system that is a very common way of seeing, thinking and behaving in the world? That we can be hurt by nothing but our thoughts? Or that in order to be a truly transformational leader and enjoy a more peaceful and prosperous life in both business and family, one most surrender the ego to a higher power?

All too often, organizations implementing operational excellence do so without addressing the human and cultural implications of such a change strategy. They conduct studies, move equipment, reduce work in process, allocate employees and change measurement systems, all focusing on minimizing waste and improving the flow of value through the value stream, but they overlook the human impact of these changes, the mindset and belief system that must accompany it.

In Miracle-Minded Manager: A Modern Day Parable about How to Apply A Course in Miracles in Business [Beyond Words, October 22, 2019], “zentrepreneur” and mindful leadership expert John J. Murphy teaches readers how to get out of their own way by shifting their thinking to see life—and themselves—very differently. By integrating teachings of A Course in Miracles (ACIM), a unique, spiritual self-study program designed to awaken us to the truth of our oneness with God and love, along with other great spiritual lessons, Miracle Minded Manager helps people improve their lives. Readers are provided with the tools to eliminate stress, not just manage it, through a non-sectarian, non-denominational spiritual tone in which everyone can participate.

“The next time you have a big problem, look in the mirror,” says Murphy. “People all over the world are stressed, especially as innovation, change and uncertainty accelerate. More importantly, people are stressed and they are not aware it is a condition of their own making. The ego mindset is projecting a negative outcome or possibility onto the future and when we dwell on what could go wrong, we feel anxious and afraid. These negative assumptions, projected by the mind, are triggering fear and stress. It is like being nervous before giving a speech or taking an exam. We are nervous because we ‘think’ something might go wrong. Mindful leadership is essential to helping people see things differently – by teaching them to see in a different way, a miracle-minded way.

Miracle-Minded Manager is the sequel to Murphy’s Agent of Change: Leading a Cultural Revolutionbut it is not necessary to read Agent of Change before reading this book. An intriguing parable about bringing more inspiration, harmony, balance, and peace of mind to corporate culture, Miracle Minded Manager offers insightful lessons on how to overcome fear and eliminate stress in all areas of their lives. Through an entertaining and compelling fictional narrative, readers will learn how to apply the spiritual ideas of ACIM and the law of attraction to everyday challenges, discover practical meditation techniques, and experience a transformational shift in thinking to discover a whole new level of understanding, awareness and appreciation in life.

The story features enlightening conversations between two characters, Jack MacDonald, the president of a business unit of TYPCO (Typical Company), and Jordan McKay, an intriguing business consultant. With the help of Jordan, Jack learns how to overcome a great deal of resistance to completely reinvent the organizational culture he leads. In addition to this, he learns valuable insights that apply to his personal life. It is here that Jack first learns of the ACIM course and begins to apply it himself, along with the help of his wife.

Miracle Minded Manager can help business and government leaders, people living in stress and those seeking enlightenment, no matter what they are doing, overcome:

  • Fear, anxiety, worry and stress – at work and at home.
  • Challenging relationships – at work and at home.
  • Business culture issues; Divisiveness

“We all get in our own way from time to time by doubting ourselves and thinking inside a box- a paradigm- that doesn’t exist,” adds Murphy. “It could be a ‘rule’ that we follow, like we have to work 40 hours per week, eat three meals a day or wear certain clothing styles. We spend countless hours trying to find ways to improve performance and results inside these ‘boxes.’ Entire industries are being disrupted by innovations challenging old paradigms. The same is true in our personal lives. If we can find innovative ways to work four hours a day, or three days a week, why not? In healthcare, if we can find ways to prevent illness and disease, rather than treat it, what might that look like? This is what miracle-minded management is all about. It is about challenging old paradigms with a truly open and fearless mind.”

About the Author:

John J. Murphy is a global business consultant, speaker, spiritual mystic, “zentrepreneur,” and award winning author. He is Founder (1988) and CEO of Venture Management Consultants, Inc., a firm specializing in creating lean, high performance work environments.  As a business consultant, Murphy has delivered services to some of the world’s leading organizations, including ADP, AlliedSignal (Honeywell), BMW, Chase, the CIA, GE, GM, GSK, Hilton, Lockheed Martin, Merck, the Michigan State Senate, Perrigo, Prudential, Raytheon, Spectrum Health, Target Stores, Teva, and the US Navy. As an educator and Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Murphy has trained thousands of people from over 50 countries, including Fortune 500 executives, project leaders, military leaders, managers, and black belts. He has mentored dozens of project teams in Organizational Development, Operational Excellence, Business Process Innovation and Lean Six Sigma applications. As a speaker, Murphy has delivered keynotes and seminars worldwide. A critically-acclaimed authority on peak performance, transformational leadership and healthy mind-body-spirit, Murphy is a best-selling author who has published 19 books and appeared on over 400 radio and television stations and his work has been featured in over 50 newspapers nationwide.

Murphy is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame (BBA Finance) and the University of Michigan’s Human Resource Executive Program. He is also a former quarterback for Notre Dame.

Connect with John J. Murphy on Facebook @Author.John.J.Murphy, Twitter @sageleader, LinkedIn @johnjmurphymystic, YouTube @AuthorJohnJMurphy, Instagram @jjmurphy13 and visit www.johnjmurphy.org.

Miracle-Minded Manager: A Modern Day Parable about How to Apply A Course in Miracles in Business releases on October 22, 2019 in paperback and e-Book.

Stress Awareness Month: Alleviating Stress and Working Out

Natalie Durand-Bush, PhD, CMPC

Association for Applied Sport Psychology Executive Board Member

Full Professor, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

Co-Founder, Canadian Centre for Mental Health, Ottawa, Canada

Recovery plays a vital role in sport. It is necessary to prevent underperformance, overtraining, burnout, injuries, and illness. This is mainly due to the fact that athletes are subjected to ongoing physical and mental stressors while training in order to stretch their performance limits. However, it is important to balance such stressors with appropriate rest and recovery through the use of periodized approaches. Periodization programs are designed and implemented in sport to maximize the effects of physical and mental training over predetermined training cycles by varying key training variables such as volume and intensity.

The aim of these programs is to maximize long-term athlete development and peak performance during targeted competitions within identified periods or ‘mesocycles’ (e.g., hockey season, Olympic quadrennial). Each mesocycle consists of preparatory (e.g., off-season and pre-competitive season), competitive (e.g., regular competitive season), peaking (e.g., playoffs, national championship), and recovery (e.g., post-competition period prior to off-season training) periods or ‘microcycles’ that vary in length based on training objectives, athletes’ needs, and the amount of time available between peaking events. Issues often arise when periodization protocols are mismanaged and training responses are not properly monitored. For example, peaking may not occur if athletes do not respect built-in recovery activities (e.g., days off, sleep routine, naps, limited social media) as a result of fearing they will fall behind their competitors. Also, coaches who insufficiently pay attention to warning signs during high-intensity periods in which athletes require more time to physically and mentally recover can jeopardize athletes’ performance and health. The costs of poor or failed monitoring could be injury or illness, including low mental health and the onset of mental illness.

Athletes’ mental health reflects their psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Athletes who are mentally healthy are able to feel, think, and act in ways allowing them to work productively, reach their full potential and goals, enjoy life, contribute to their community, and cope with normal daily stressors. When stressors (e.g., physical, psychological) exceed athletes’ internal (e.g., resilience strategies) and external (e.g., parental and coaching support) coping resources, it can deplete them and lead to significant distress and impaired functioning. In other words, it can exacerbate an existing mental illness or trigger a new one. Symptoms to which coaches should pay attention when working with athletes include any significant changes in eating and sleeping patterns, isolation from others, unusual low energy/stamina, intense mood swings, decreased enjoyment and concentration, feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness, inexplicable pain, and difficulties performing daily tasks, to name a few. Coaches noticing such changes in athletes should intervene, particularly if these changes last more than two weeks.

This entails having a private, respectful, and empathetic conversation with struggling athletes by (a) asking them specific questions regarding observed changes (e.g., “I have noticed that you look more tired and withdrawn than usual, are you struggling at the moment?”), (b) offering support (e.g., “Your mental health is important to me, what can I do to help you recover and regain your strength?”), and (c) referring them to an appropriate mental health care provider if necessary (e.g., “I’m not a mental health expert but I am seeing signs that concern me; our team has access to a mental health practitioner and I’d like you to see this person to make sure you have the resources you need to cope and get back to your normal self”). Given the crucial role of rest and recovery in the management of both athletic performance and mental health, coaches should discuss with any struggling athletes the benefits of adding recovery periods in their training program or of taking a complete break to prioritize and help them restore their mental health.

Can Stress Help Your Workout?

By Eddie O’Connor, Ph.D., CMPC

You don’t need this article to tell you the benefits of exercise on your stress levels (but I will reinforce them anyway). Physical activity increases endorphin production in the body. Those feel-good pain-relieving hormones. And it’s good for your brain. Physical activity increases blood flow, which increases our cognitive capacity and speed. So, we think better. Focusing on exercise means we are not focusing on our stress, so there is a fantastic mental break from stress too, plus the positive meditative effect of focusing on the exercise, in the moment, as we do it. Your self-confidence likely gets a boost with the earned results of a better, healthier body.

But while exercise helps stress, can stress help you exercise? Your experience is probably going to tell you “no.” Ever been too tired to go to the gym and skip it? Ever prioritize more work or responsibility over your workout? Or be so fatigued that you’d rather zone out in front of the TV or phone, maybe eat a snack to feel better instead? Of course, you have. In fact, it is more likely that stress actually hurts your workout. Besides the decreased motivation to go, there is the real fatigue you feel even if you attend, decreasing the quality of your workout—especially if you are not recovering well with adequate sleep. There isn’t one major organ or process in the body that isn’t enhanced by sleep, or impaired without enough of it. (Get at least 8 hours to help both regulate your stress and improve your workouts.) Stress can cause muscle tension, increasing risk of injury and slowing tissue repair—which leads to longer recovery times. Stress makes it harder to lose weight and can increase food cravings. Those extra pounds don’t help us move well.

But despite these facts, I can think there is one way that stress can help get you moving.

It’s this: Notice how bad feeling stressed out feels. Rather than repeatedly numbing out, or working harder and longer in futile attempts to escape it (do you ever really catch up on everything?), notice how you feel. It’s terrible. It’s unhealthy. It turns us into not-so-nice people, crabby and irritable with others. Our performance in everything declines. And our coping strategies of snacking, sleeping less, and sedentary “resting” just make it worse.

And then realize that you have a choice. There is something you can do. It won’t feel good at first. You will be tired and sore and you might sweat a lot. But if you don’t want to be stressed, working out (or any physical activity) WILL help you. This isn’t my opinion. Its science.

So, the question is, are you willing to choose some discomfort in service of decreasing your stress and getting healthier? Stress can motivate your workout if you realize that working out is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress, and then engage exercise with your whole heart and mind to beat it.

About Eddie O’Connor

Dr. Eddie O’Connor is a Clinical and Sport Psychologist at Mary Free Bed Sports Rehabilitation in Grand Rapids, MI. He is a Fellow and Certified Mental Performance Consultant through the Association forApplied Sport Psychology—the largest organization for sport psychology consultants and professionals.  

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