Archives for August 2008

5 Steps to Reduce Stress

I don’t think there is a person alive on this planet who hasn’t suffered the heavy burden of stress at some point in their life. I am a great sufferer of stress. I let it keep me awake at night, it affects my digestions, my thoughts, my anxiety level and can steal happiness from a joyful moment.  That’s why I was so thrilled to see that Oprah had a section on her website that covered the issue of stress. It provides five solid tactics to help reduce stress. You can believe that I am going to begin incorporating all of these into my daily life.

The article states that, “on the most basic level, all emotions are experienced in the body.”

We might notice stress by how we feel emotionally or by what we are thinking, but there is also something happening physiologically in your body, too. How well we are taking care of our body will have a major impact on how we experience our stressful emotions. Just like our mothers always told us, we need to get enough sleep, we need to eat a balanced diet, we need to exercise regularly and we need to go to the doctor when we aren’t feeling well.

Here are the five steps to reducing stress:

1.) Sleep:

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces extra stress hormones, making you more vulnerable to stress. But too much sleep can also cause problems. The key is to get balanced sleep, which for most people means, on average, about eight hours a night.

2.) Diet:

Not eating enough can cause moodiness and irritability. And skipping breakfast is one fo the most common reasons for dips in blood sugar and midmorning crankiness.

3.) Exercise:

Exercise is one of the best stress relievers. Not only does exercise lead to greater muscle relaxation and increased production of antistress chemicals, research also shows that people who are physically fit exhibit less extreme physiological responses to stress. This means they are less likely to experience the health problems linked with chronic stress.

4.) A Focused Mind:

Multitasking—keeping a million balls in the air—this is the sign of a successful person, right? Wrong! Productivity and sense of well-being decrease when we have a scattered focus. In addition, when we are overburdened by details it is harder to be present in the moment, making it harder to connect with people and feel supported.

There are inherent rewards to having a single-minded focus. Our attention, sense of well-being, concentration, memory and productivity are all improved. Slowing down and taking in one thing at a time gives us the space we need to respond to stress, rather than merely reacting to it. We can use techniques such as meditation to cultivate this single-pointed focus.

The next time you realize that you are feeling scattered and overwhelmed, take a moment to just breathe and notice the sensation.

5.) A Healthy Body:

With our busy schedules, we often don’t take the time to attend to the regular maintenance of our bodies. Seeing your doctor and dentist for regular checkups is important. Taking time out from your schedule when you aren’t feeling well is another important self-care practice. All too often we push ourselves to keep going even when our body is telling us to sit still. When our bodies don’t feel well, we also are much more likely to feel bad emotionally.

{Information from}

The Gift of Fear

I was going to post all about the topic of today’s Oprah show, “HOW FEAR CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE.” It was about listening to our intuition and trusting our gut in the face of fear and how it could possibly save our lives. If you feel nervous walking down a dark street, turn around and go somewhere bright and filled with people. If the elevator door open and someone suspicious-looking stands alone in the elevator, don’t feel bad saying, “I’ll wait for the next one.” The purpose of this episode was to point out various ways in which intuition has saved lives, but the unfortunate aspect of this show is that it was fear building. I’m already a bit of a baby when it comes to scary situations and I may have seen one too many scary movies for my own mental well-being. So really this show just reinforced my own perpetual fears. I actually had to turn it off after about 25 minutes because I found myself locking doors and looking over my shoulder, repeatedly.

One point that was made with regards to unhealthy relationships and warning signs to look out for was the aspect of controlling men. Gavin de Becker made a good point when speaking with a woman who was in an abusive relationship but unaware of it for a long time leading up to danger. He said, “anytime someone doesn’t hear ‘No’ it means they are trying to control you.” He then followed up with a point that struck a chord with the audience because they were audibly roused by his statement, “When a man says ‘No’ it’s the end of a discussion, when a woman says ‘No’ it’s the beginning of a negotiation.” Hearing the audience rise up with this statement made me very aware that women across the country have all experienced some sort of a controlling aspect to relationships. Why is it so common? Why do some men feel the need to control? Oprah immediately instilled a sense of power to her audience by making a fantastic statement to combat those stuck in controlling relationships. “Sometimes saying ‘No’ to someone else means you are saying ‘YES’ to yourself!”

I don’t want to live in fear, but maybe it is a good idea to listen to your gut, follow your intuition and ere on the side of caution. It is also important to be the only person in control of your life. You are in the driver’s seat and you shouldn’t relinquish the keys to ANYONE!

What She Knows For Sure

This month’s issue of O, The Oprah Magazine is absolutely filled to the brim with fabulous articles, pertinent advice and anecdotes to help us all deal with being “overwhelmed.” There are so many articles and thoughts expressed in this issue that I want to mention and all I can say is how excited I am that I decided to begin this venture at this point in my life. I am at a crossroad, that stage where you can still feel all of the vibrancy of childhood, but are on the brink of major adult decisions and events. What better time to begin a personal revolution of change and adventure? When I began my Oprah Project, where I was planning on reading all of Oprah’s Book Club selections and documenting the effect they had on my life, I ended up discouraging myself by being my own worst critic and asking “Why Bother?” As Martha Beck writes in her column, ARE YOU ON THE RIGHT COURSE, I let my “Clever Critic” overpower me. I listened to my own self-doubts and was discouraged before I truly let myself begin. I over thought my Oprah Project and put in on the creativity crushing back-burner.

So when I read about Robyn Okrant’s challenge in The New York Times, I was both inspired and discouraged. Inspired because I had a similar desire to improve my life through a well thought out plan and encouragement from a media figure whom I admire and respect, Oprah. Discouraged because I immediately thought, “Why Bother?” Why bother because Robyn is already doing it, so why should I even throw my hat in the ring? Here is why I should bother…because this is MY life. Only I can have this particular perspective. Only I can see the changes that occur in my life by becoming more present, more aware and more grateful for all of the blessings in my life. In Martha Beck’s column, one of the women she profiles decides that she is going to write a love letter to cigarettes because that is what she really wanted to do. Martha writes,

“For the first time, Maida’s voice didn’t sound clever; it sounded real. Raw, alive, filled with emotional energy. When an email arrived that very day, I thought Maida’s superhero was unleashed. But no, her message came from the paralyzing Clever Critic. Another author, it appeared, had a new book about quitting cigarettes. This announcement,’ Maida wrote, ‘has stymied my enthusiasm.’ The email I sent back wasn’t gentle: “As your coach (and I mean this lovingly), I’m ordering you to cut the crap, cork the dithering in your brain, and write what you were planning to write. Now, soldier!”

If I had not taken the time to fully immerse myself in this month’s Oprah Magazine, which I typically don’t allow myself enough time to just sit and read a magazine cover-to-cover because I am usually too busy crossing things off my to-do list, I would not have read all of these inspiring articles. I am following Martha Beck’s advice and pursuing my adventure. I am unleashing my superhero and I am ready for great things.

Living Oprah

I just read this article in The New York Times and it closely relates to the project I was undertaking, READING WITH OPRAH. It reminds me of my own desire to see if following the Oprah doctrine can help change (and improve) a life, that I am taking on this challenge as well!

Starting today, August 17, 2008 and continuing straight through for ONE SOLID YEAR, I will be following my own Oprah Project. It will also include following my own previously mentioned book club. That way I can incorporate not only the standards set forth through Oprah’s program, but also through her magazine AND her books.

Right now I am reading the September issue of Oprah and will report back soon because it is PACKED with things I want to get a jump on incorporating into my own cluttered, confused and disheartened life. I am really looking forward to seeing where this adventure takes me. I am grabbing hold of my life with two strong hands and I am ready to jump in. I am excited, I am ecstatic and I am ready for change.

i want

i want to not always try to make things better. i want to let things just happen and not worry about putting in my two cents. i want everyone i love to be happy and i want to be with them to enjoy their happiness. i want to not “want” anything. i want to not imagine how things could, should, would be. i want more hours in the day. i want lazy moments. i want to not feel guilty about anything. i want to never stress about anything ever again. i want more laughter, less tears. i want no frustration, anger or disappointment. i want to know exactly what my dreams are and i want to accomplish them all. i want to find my hidden talent. i want to stop putting myself down or beating myself up. i want to capture the essence of peace and live with it in my heart-always. i want everything to fall into place. i want to be the person i admire. i want to make the most of these wonderful days and have no regrets. i don’t want to worry about having regrets. i want my thoughts to be more productive and less overly analytical. i want to be inspired daily and to be able to find inspiration in the ordinary. i want to have millions of those moments when everything feels alright with the world.