stress less holidays

Decorations are appearing everywhere, Christmas Carols are playing and events are being added to our calendars. It is the holidays. A time to focus on family, friends and our Spiritual beliefs. So, why do I hear so many people saying how stressed they are? Maybe it is because our focus becomes perfectionism instead?

We create expectations of the perfect decorations, gifts, parties, outfits and they all take their toll on our psyche. At the same time,in many businesses the end of the year means reviews and inventories that increase our workload. Added to this is the financial strains many feel with all of the added expenses. So it seems like “the most wonderful time of the year” becomes “the most stressful time of the year”.

So, what can we do? There are many things we can do to reduce “holiday stress.” This involves making choices. The power of our choices is amazing, when we remember that it is the little things that often make the biggest difference, we understand how big choice is.

So here are some choices you can consider to reduce stress

  • Choose to be money smart. Don’t overspend.Create a reasonable budget and stick to it. Remember it’s not about the presents, it’s about the presence.
  • Choose to keep your expectations balanced. You won’t get everything you want and things will go wrong. Remember thateverything doesn’t have to be perfect and don’t worry about things that are out of your control.
  • Choose to watch your diet and remember to exercise. It’s normal to eat more during the holidays, that doesn’t mean you have to abandon all sensibilities. Be aware of how certain foods affect your mood. If you eat fats and sweets, you will have less energy, which can make you feel more stressed and run down. Therefore, it can be very helpful to take a walk before and/or after a big holiday meal.
  • Choose forgiveness and acceptance. If some of your relatives have always acted out or made you feel bad, chances are they won’t change. If you know what you’re getting into, it will be easier to not let them push your buttons.
  • Choose to limit your commitments to those that you will have the time to enjoy. Eliminate activities or events that cause you to feel rushed or pressured. Fatigue, over scheduling, and taking on too many tasks can dampen your spirits. Learn to say no!
  • Choose to take some time for self-care. Whether it is getting a massage or listening to a hypnosis audio for stress relief, make some “me” time a priority.

Are you one of the folks who has a crazy busy day from the moment the alarm goes off until it is time once again to go to bed? Do you feel as though everyone else’s needs come first and you never have time for your own wellness? If so, then you are not alone and there is hope for you! For so many people the demands of family, home, work and school can be overwhelming. The thought of adding even one more thing in seems hopeless. The key is to start small and build from there. Add on one small change and when you realize it simply is a part of your routine, it seems less daunting to add the next small change.

Changes even a busy person can make

To me, the easiest thing to add is deep breathes. If you are someone who eats in front of the computer, step away. No matter how stressed, slow down, take three deep breathes before you take the first bite and notice what your meal looks like and smells like. Savor the flavors and the time to tune into what your body is telling you. Then continue to breathe between bites and notice when you’re full. Odds are you’ll end up eating much less (and feeling much better)!

The same thing when racing through traffic, breathe. With construction a familiar sight on the roads and crazy drivers from all over the country, our local traffic can be a real stressor. Stress is one of the biggest enemies of wellness there is. Instead of joining in with anger at your fellow commuters, why not just take some deep breathes each time you stop at a traffic light? Get the oxygen flowing through out your body and leave the stress behind. Listen to some favorite tunes or a good audio book, make the commute your transition time from work to home. You might even put a few drops of lavender oil in the car to get the added benefits of aroma therapy.

While at the office, stand whenever you can. Stand while you take phone calls, if possible walk around. Standing burns twice the calories than sitting and it gets the blood flowing to the extremities. You can also begin to do “deskercise”.  For instance, you might keep resistance bands at your desk and between phone calls pull them out for a set of ten reps. Have some filing to do? Why not do squats when putting things away in the lower shelves and cabinets?

Healthy changes for the busy

Instead of meeting for coffee or drinks, begin to live an active lifestyle. Meet a friend to walk and talk or for a game or class. While there may not always be time for a real workout, living actively helps. Spend time dancing or jumping or just plain playing with your kids. That way, you have quality time with them as well as teach them the value of moving the body.

If you are a smoker you are not only doing something unhealthy, but also wasting a lot of time. The average cigarette takes eleven minutes to smoke, while simultaneously taking away eleven minutes of life. So, want to add time on to your day and your life? Trade smoking for anything else that is heathy, legal and nonfattening! Try my favorite health tip once again and breathe deep!

It is helpful to turn off the technology at the end of the day.  Take a break from emails and messages and even social media. Your phone, television, and computer all have screens that emit artificial or blue light. Since we spend 90 percent of our waking hours staring at “glowing rectangles,” that’s definitely a problem. This light suppresses the release of melatonin, which helps you fall asleep. You will find you sleep better as a result. Also, it allows you to connect with family at a much better level.

Make your changes personal

There are many more ways that the little things can add up to a big and healthy change. Start with a few of these suggestions and you will soon find yourself creating a list of your own, one that is personal and works for you.  No matter how busy you are, if you don’t take time for you, your body will slow you down. So be proactive before it is time to be reactive.

Clutter can be overwhelming for the busy, yet having the time to eliminate it may be hard to find. Still if you are constantly looking for lost items, you are wasting time. If everything is in order, you can get out the door with less stress and more time. Many years ago I found a tremendously helpful website to help the busy clean up and declutter. It is Flylady.

Hypnosis for the busy

Hypnosis can help you find a way to understand your personal priorities and reset your day so that it reflects them. It is also known for the reduction of stress. Let’s face it, less stress makes everything better. I have recorded audios as short as ten minutes for the busy client who wants to make healthy changes for the better. I have also taught many busy people how to use self-hypnosis on the run.

I am concerned about the many people I have calling me recently about the stress, helplessness and anger they are feeling over the outcome of the election. This is from both sides! Families and friendships have broken up over it. Friends of mine (from both sides of the fence) have posted messages of anger and fear on social media. People speak of feeling betrayed by friends who voted differently.

Post Election Stress Disorder

I have read articles in professional journals recently that others are seeing the same thing. Today I was told about a diagnosis of Post-Election Stress Disorder (PESD).  Like its counterpart PTSD, PESD results when a person is exposed to a traumatic event that overwhelms their normal coping skills.  Common complaints are feelings of shock, dismay, depression, fear, panic and impending doom.  Even this has caused a division, as a veteran who has experienced the horrors of combat or a victim of violent domestic abuse feels it is disingenuous to compare the differing scenarios. What I know is, to the people I speak with their experience is real and they are suffering.

From Survivor to Thriver!

One of the traditional models of treating PTSD, developed by George Everly, PhD, uses a SAFER model to guide one through a crisis. This can be used for PESD as well.  The basic steps are:

  • Stabilize
  • Acknowledge the crisis
  • Facilitate understanding
  • Encourage effective coping
  • Recovery or Referral

Stabilize the situation by turning off the flow of stress, which includes the all-day news channels, social media sites, blogs, tweets and radio rants.  Unfollow political posters for a while. Limit your reading the latest news to a minimum.  For work, develop a list of distracting responses to the question “So, what did you think about the election?”

Acknowledge that this has been a unique experience in our nation’s electoral process.  It isn’t the first time our nation has been at odds, so remember the adage, “May you live in interesting times”. President Kennedy once referenced this in a speech he gave. We survived a Civil War and Nixon’s Watergate.

Facilitate understanding of what took place. It’s normal to have a shock reaction to unexpected events.  The fears and anxieties that are arising are simply the mind’s attempts to find meaning and take comfort in understanding.  Don’t worry about your worries.

Encourage effective coping. Maybe this is not the time to take to Twitter or Facebook and rant about everything that is wrong with the world.  Focus on being the light in a time of darkness. Breathe deep and commit random acts of kindness.  Take a step back and get the wider view.

Recover a sense of normalcy in your life. If you haven’t in the past spent large amounts of time neck-deep in politics, be cautious about submerging yourself into it now.  Swim out of the deep end of political rhetoric and take a walk, listen to music, follow your usual routines. Get back to focusing on chores and the kid’s extracurricular activities.  Rest and restore your energy; you’ve earned it. Listen to a stress relieving hypnosis audio. If, upon awakening, you find your resiliency muscle is in need of a workout, consider referring yourself to a helping professional.

The process of recovery and grieving is not an overnight miracle. However, through hypnosis, changes occur more rapidly than without. It is important to build up your ability to bounce back and to make the shift from survivor to thriver!

The good news is our forefathers had the wisdom to ensure we only go through this process once every four years.

This morning a weight client of mine commented how she had not realized that stress had been such a big factor in her weight gain and just how much hypnosis has helped her with her stress. She went on to further say that so many people she knows are stressed and they don’t know that hypnosis could help them! Wait a moment, she didn’t know that hypnosis could help relieve stress? Obviously from the number of clients I see for smoke cessation and weight management my message is out there. But apparently not the whole message. Hypnosis is a wonderful method to use for cutting down on stress!!!

Did you know there is good stress?

June is Rebuild Your Life Month. Whether it is that you have been thrown a curve ball by life and desperately need to make changes or more simply you just feel this is the time to make changes, this month can be a great time to kick off powerful ways to recreate yourself. This is a wonderful opportunity to reexamine your life and take charge of it by removing stressors as you are able.
Recognizing what your stressors are is the first step.  Job stress can, and often does, lead to an increased stress level at home and conversely a difficult home life can lead to an increase of stress while on the job. Therefore it is important to narrow down where the stress is coming.  
Sometimes this is as easy as removing clutter from your home and giving the home a thorough cleaning. Numerous studies have shown how physical clutter can create a mental clutter and cause an increase in stress elsewhere in your life. In Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, she devoted an entire month to ridding her life of clutter. She extols the virtues of how she truly enjoys the belongings she has chosen to keep and the freedom eliminating the clutter has given her.
Other times, the stress may come from conflict in your life. This may bring about the harsh recognition that a person (or persons) in your life are simply not good for you. There are those in life that we permit, that don’t have our best interest at heart. Cleansing those people from our lives is the healthiest option, even when the initial removal of them can be stressful. The removal of a toxic person from your life can cause an entire shift in how you experience life.
A job can be just as harmful. While it may be a challenge to extract yourself from a toxic workplace, it is important to take the steps to do so. You spend far too much of your life in the workplace, it can create serious health issues to be unhappy that much of the time. In fact, just beginning to look for other options whether it is a change in where you work or returning to school one class at a time in order to change careers can bring about an improved attitude.
Here are some changes you might consider making to lead a healthier, less stressed lifestyle as you rebuild your life.
  • Healthy Eating

In my opinion one of the best changes people can make for creating a healthy lifestyle is to eat healthy. Because of the negative health consequences of obesity, the positive influence fitness has on our self-esteem, and the effects of nutrition on our stress levels and our longevity, switching to a healthier diet brings some of the greatest benefits for wellness. I won’t tell you the best way to eat, as it is different for every individual.  I can tell you that a diet full of fast foods and snacks is NOT in your best interest.

  • Regular Exercise

Getting regular exercise is another wonderful way to keep your weight in check, manage overall stress levels, and stay connected with others. Exercise has been proven repeatedly to help not only the physical body, but also the emotional part of you. Dr. Daniel Amen, a psychiatrist who has written numerous books on the brain and brain health (How to Make A Good Brain Great and Unleash the Power of the Female Brain are two of his books I’ve enjoyed) repeatedly says that 20 minutes of vigorous exercise is better than any drug he can prescribe. 

  • Get Good Sleep

People often underestimate the importance of getting enough sleep, and getting good quality sleep. However, lack of adequate sleep has many negative consequences. Stress can rob you of a good night’s sleep. It is important to utilize stress reducing techniques to enable you to sleep better. It is also important to include good sleep habits so that you are better able to handle the day’s stresses. Self-hypnosis and meditation are two great tools to improve sleep while better handling stress.

  • Create A Happiness Ritual

Whether it is a daily cup of tea and quiet contemplation, coloring in a coloring book or a daily yoga session, find something that brings you joy and practice it. Practice it on a regular basis, so that you are reminded of your value. By consistently practicing your ritual you have those feelings to draw on when you are feeling stressed or sad.


No one has ever promised that life is going to be easy, although, it has been said that everything happens for a reason. Rebuilding your life can be as simple as de-cluttering your home (and your mind) or changing the relationships in your life. By readjusting the sails to navigate away from the past towards a new and improved future can be the best decision you will ever make. So, use this month to start rebuilding your life now. Your destination just might surprise you.
How would you like a simple exercise that helps to release anxious feelings? What if it was fun and easy to do? Imagine if you could do it anywhere, home, car, office, wherever you needed a quick mind/body release. There has been research done on this simple task and it has been found to help relieve stress.

First you want to acknowledge that you feel anxious, nervous, fearful or panicky. Allow that feeling to be present, without judging, just experience it. Understand that it is just a feeling and as such it will not harm you. Next, close your left hand (the one you write with) into a fist.  Be sure to make the fist nice and tight. Really squeeze it, feel the pressure of the tightness. Then begin to imagine all of your anxious feelings slowly flowing down your arm and into your fist.
If you want you can imagine those anxious feelings are like a red glowing energy or light that travels down your arm until it is trapped in your tight fist. Make these sensations as real as possible. You may notice that your fist will begin to pulsate with energy as the anxiety is transferred there. It may even change temperature.
Now, as the energy flows and the sensations occur begin to notice that your feelings will change from fear and anxiety into a tolerable nervous excitement. You can imagine the color changing, perhaps to a lighter shade like pink or even a cool blue color.
Now the final step – begin to open each finger of your fist nice and slowly. As you do this notice how the tension is released, you are setting the trapped anxiety free! Count each finger out from 5 down to 1, taking a breath as you open the hand up. Your hand will now be open flat and the tension, stress, anxiety and fear will float away from you. With one final deep breath, blow on to the palm of your hand and send all those negative feelings away for good!
Notice if you feel a light sense of release as the anxiety leaves. You might imagine it floating up, up and away into the sky, taken away into the stratosphere. Repeat this little exercise up to three times and notice how much better you feel. 

You can also tune into a free stress audio here: Serenity
“My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which have never happened.” ~Mark Twain
Have you ever had one of those days where it seems as though everything that can does go wrong? You even manage to get in the wrong line at the grocery store. Then, as you listen to the conversation of the person who seemed to be taking forever getting their items, you realize their tale of woe is so horrific you feel foolish for the things you have allowed to bother you.   Suddenly your perspective changes, maybe even your mood lifts and things just seem to be easier.
That is a case of a cognitive reframe.  Stress has been proven to be increased as well as decreased depending on our thoughts. That’s because stress, anxiety, and irrational thinking have a big impact on daily life, and how you react to certain situations. Reframing techniques can actually change your physical responses to stress because your body’s stress response is triggered by perceived stress, not actual events.
Reframing thoughts about situations is often a part of what occurs in my office. It is something I am well aware of. I preach/teach it enough you might imagine I am one continual happy thought train. I would love to have that be true, even more so, to have the world think that about me. I am putting myself out there with this blog post, but I feel that by sharing this truth, I am allowing you, reader, to understand we are in this together.
This past Saturday, I went out for bike ride with my husband (Greg). We both enjoy riding; have ridden many miles over the years. It has always been a source of exercise and a mood enhancer for us both. I had recently been ill and still was not feeling my full strength as we head out. I couldn’t keep up my normal pace. But, I was going to fight through it.
At one point Greg noticed some incredible flowers tucked inside of a clump of trees. He called to me to turn around so that we could take a closer look at them. That is when my imbalance really kicked in and a turn I could normally do with ease became impossible and I fell. I laid on the ground with tears in my eyes, more out of humiliation than any pain.

Once up, I really enjoyed the flowers and took several pictures of them. All seemed well with the world in that moment. However, as we got back on the bikes, I allowed my thoughts to run away with me. I began to feel insecure. I felt old, clumsy, stupid and any other negative adjective I could come up with in those moments. At our next stop I began to lament my condition to Greg.

Greg would have none of it, so he worked his magic. He reminded me of a recent conversation with clients of his who had known of many people suffering from the same ailment I just had. Some were younger, smarter, more balanced, etc. but all had struggled with the virus. Many of them suffered longer than me. It is a credit to my immune system and my tenacity that I was out on the bike.
Suddenly it was if the sun rose. We were on a beach causeway and I noticed children and families playing, brilliant colors, the warm breeze, the sound of the water and yes, even a beloved dolphin swimming near-by. My thoughts were happy and confident thoughts. I felt strong on the bike and happy that I could enjoy this perfect day.

A simple change in thought changed my day. Can you think of ways your thoughts can help improve your day?
April 16 (the day after Tax Day, April 15) has become a special day to set aside for Americans to become aware of just how stressed they may have become! Everyone feels stressed from time to time and if left unchecked, it tends to be a real happiness killer as well as a threat to your health. This makes it harder for us to live joy-filled lives. Stress has also been reported to lead to a number of major health problems, ranging anywhere from anxiety or severe depression to physical symptoms such as a mild case of acne to life-threatening heart attacks. It is easy to see why it is so vitally important to keep life’s major stressors in check.

Scientists report that psychological stress may exact its toll, at least in part, by affecting molecules believed to play a key role in cellular aging and possibly, disease development.  Anecdotal evidence and scientific evidence has have suggested that chronic stress can take years off your life. Stress can also have an indirect effect on the immune system as a person may use unhealthy behavioral coping strategies to reduce their stress, such as drinking and smoking. It is easy to see why it is so vitally important to keep life’s major stressors in check.
Enough of the dire news and warnings, I don’t need to stress you out more.
Instead, here are some quick tips for changing into a stress free zone for the day and at the end a link  to 3 free audios I have available for you to reduce your stress!
  1. Focus On The Now

So many people live their entire lives in yesterday or tomorrow. The truth is, however, that there is only the Now. Focusing on this moment, right now, provides a wonderful escape from the disappointment of what once was and the fear of what might be, leaving stress stuck in a time warp. (You do remember the Time Warp, right?)

2   Give Yourself A Pep Talk
Sometimes a good talking to is all you need to keep stress at bay. Maybe it is about time you gave yourself a pep talk, reminding yourself what is right with your life instead of dwelling on what’s wrong. Ask yourself how you got so lucky to have a roof over your head, food on the table and the opportunity to experience so much each day.

3.     Get the Giggles
Laughter really is the best medicine. Watch a comedy, share a funny joke, or go to a card shop and read funny cards. I always told my sons to find a reason to smile and laugh as they walked out the door. Maybe you can do the same, then share whatever it is, give yourself time for laughter each and every day.

4.     Use Self-Hypnosis
A still mind is a stress-free mind, so take a deep breath, quiet your thoughts and let the stress melt away. Even ten minutes done daily for the next 30 days will do wonders for releasing stress in your life.

5.     Keep a Happiness Journal
Starting today, spend a few minutes reflecting on the day you just experienced and list five things about the day that delighted you. Review that list when tempted to return to the old stinking thinking track.

6.     Lend  A Helping Hand
Sometimes the best way to deal with stress is by providing relief to someone else. Placing your focus on others needs takes the focus off your own challenges. This will lead to less rumination and therefore less stress. So look around you, see who needs a hand up and offer yours.

7.     Listen To A Hypnosis Audio
I have three audios I have created that are free for you. Just stop by anytime to listen. Share them with your friends, let’s get this stress-less party started! Stress Free Audios

Tampa made a top 10 list, in fact it made it to the number one spot! But, not a list we like to brag about around here. 
Sperling’s BestPlaces, a research firm specializing in livability rankings, has released its new study of major cities with the most and least stress.  The study analyzed a variety of factors associated with stress, including suicide, divorce, crime, joblessness and lengthy commuting. 
With that in mind, I decided to do my part to help reduce the stress. It may not be the cure, but if it even helps change one attitude, I believe the butterfly effect may begin.

 Click Here For Calm

Be sure you have a few minutes to enjoy, uninterrupted. Then please, share with anyone you might know that could use a moment of comfort. 

While walking this morning, I noticed birds above flying in a way that just appeared to be so free. Perhaps they were scouting for food, but by all appearances, they were just enjoying the winds and floating in circles. That made me smile. I had an amazing weekend, which followed the most wonderful experience on Friday. You see, on Friday, I was invited to shadow Dr. Cesar Lara.
Dr. Lara is a local family practitioner who specializes in weight management. We have begun working together and he felt I could better understand what it is he does, by observing him in action. Every hypnotist ought to have the same opportunity! Meeting with his patients, hearing their concerns and observing the gentle yet clear manner he communicates with them was inspiring. Furthermore, I always enjoy learning more about the science of medicine. Dr. Lara respectfully asked for my input. In just a few short moments, I could observe big changes occurring in the thoughts behind behaviors of these individuals.

Something I did notice is how the current “scarcity” mentality is affecting people’s weight. People are stressed, which in turn affects their sleep. Not enough sleep has been identified as a factor in weight gain. Furthermore, midnight snacking often occurs when sleep is interrupted.

Another reaction to stress is the release of cortisol by the adrenal glands. One of the functions of cortisol is to trigger a production of blood sugar from proteins. Excess glucose is then used for fat production. This increases fat storage in the body.

An additional outcome of scarcity thinking is that we tend to hoard. Why, there was even a report today on my local news station (10Connects) that there has been a reduction of trash recently due to the economy! Hoarding occurs on our bodies as well. We hold on to extra weight at a subconscious level because we fear not having enough food later. We over eat because we fear lack.

Nature is amazing in it’s abundance. When I look at my orange tree, it never produces just “the one” orange. It produces so many oranges that we have to give them to everyone we can. My son has recently laughingly reminded me that nature is
abundant with the generous amounts of pollen we have had to sweep from our drive daily. Sunsets are never ending. The number of seagulls every time I visit the beach, more than enough, thank you very much!

I realized that sometimes I do the same thing. I eat beyond the point of satisfaction, because at some level I believe I may never get to enjoy the wonderful dish before me again. Yet, in reality, there is always another dish set before me of equal enjoyment the very next meal. It is time for me to be very aware of mindful practice in eating. I will eat just a little less, trusting that I will always have another perfect meal.

1 2 3