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Below are the articles in the Stress category. Each article title is followed by a brief summary introduction to the content. Click "Read Excerpt" for a more comprehensive review. Click "Add to Package" to buy or redeem the article.


Are You Living Your Life on a Treadmill?

Empower yourself to stop living your life on a treadmill by answering three simple questions.

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Do you work hard but feel like you've accomplished little or nothing at the end of the day?

Do the fruits of your labor leave you wanting more?

Do you find yourself wondering, "Is this is all there is to life?"

If so, chances are you've been living as if you're on an endless treadmill. Here are a few useful ways to further investigate:

1. Do you often feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to take action? Perhaps you're no longer interested in trying anything new. Maybe your actions throughout the day are on "autopilot."

2. Has it become more and more difficult to make decisions? Our modern world can be overwhelming, and choices seem to get more complex. Have you started to simply ignore your challenges, hoping they'll go away?

Best Way to Beat Burnout—Prevent It!

Burnout has more to do with attitudes, work styles, and behavior than with any specific job situation. Article explores warning signs and eight ways to avoid burnout.

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Burnout resists simple definition because it affects so many aspects of an individual’s life. In their book, Beyond Burnout, authors David Welch, Donald Medeiros and George Tate, describe burnout as a condition that affects us physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

One of the first physical symptoms of burnout is fatigue. Intellectually, there may be a loss of creativity and sharpness in problem solving; cynicism may replace enthusiasm. Emotionally, the loss of dreams and expectations can result in feelings of helplessness and depression. In the social realm, isolation overtakes feeling of involvement, and spiritually, the person experiencing burnout may feel a lack of meaning or purposelessness to her life....

How can you avoid becoming one of the burnout statistics? First, recognize the warning signs:

• feelings of frustration and never being caught up

• a feeling of lack of control about how to do your job or what goes on in the workplace

• emotional outbursts

Boredom: A Symptom of Stress That Doesn’t Feel Like One

Boredom is a serious—and often unnoticed—form of stress that can lead to depression. Fortunately, it’s easy and fun to cure.

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In a culture of 20-plex cinemas, mega-bookstores, hundred-channel cable television, and the Web, who’d imagine that boredom would be a pervasive condition that threatens the health and well-being of a large portion of the population.

Yet boredom has been linked to everything from heart attack to drug abuse, and it can lead to premature death. Surveys show that many people ease their boredom with overeating, drinking, and infidelity. Boredom is a serious—and often unnoticed—form of stress that can also lead to depression.

Boredom isn’t always easy to detect. According to Steve Vodanovich, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, it’s less of a feeling than it is an “overwhelming absence of feeling.” Dr. Vodanovich’s studies have found that boredom-prone people report more emotional symptoms than other people do.

When you’re bored you may sense that there’s “something wrong,” but you can’t put your finger on it. There may be a predictable sameness to every day and a feeling that there’s nothing to look forward to.

Experts Take the Benefits of Laughter Seriously

“The arrival of a good clown into a village does more for its health than 20 asses laden with drugs,” observed Thomas Sydenham, a seventeenth century British physician, who may have been the first doctor to recommend laughter as the best medicine. Science has proven the doctor correct.

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Nowadays, not only is it common knowledge that laughter has all sorts of physical and mental health benefits, there’s even an organization called the American Association for Therapeutic Humor, which is made up of more than 600 doctors and health care professionals who study the effects of humor on humans. Here’s what they’re discovering:

❏Laughter decreases the amount of stress hormones in the body and increases the activity of natural killer cells that go after tumor cells.

❏It has also been shown to activate the cells that boost the immune system and to increase levels of immune system hormones that fight viruses.

❏Three minutes of deep belly laughing is the equivalent of three minutes on a fitness rowing machine.

Family Stress Test

Do family members bicker? Or do they acknowledge feelings and encourage their expression? This quiz will help one see if stress is exacting too great a toll.

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Stress is a natural and normal “by-product” of every family’s life. In fact, family stress can bring out the best of us: as we stretch to meet the challenges we face, we become better parents, our children blossom and our families grow. But too much stress can spiral our families in the other direction. Take this Thriving test to see how your family fares.

Set 1

1. There is a lot of bickering in our house. Someone is always angry at someone else.2. There’s never enough time to sit down together, either to talk or to eat. There’s always too much to do.3. My spouse and I argue a lot about how to raise the children.

Set 2

1. We acknowledge feelings, encourage their expression and allow time for dealing with the issues these feelings raise.2. We plan time for family activities. And we eat together at least once every day. 3. If a blended family, we maintain and nurture original parent-child relationships and let new relationships develop in their own time.

Holidays: Here They Come, Ready or Not

Somewhere around September when the weather changes, it starts. "It" is The Holidays, and whatever one celebrates, everyone has in common stress with a capital S. But there’s hope.

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All those events and activities, family gatherings. The kids are out of school again, houseguests are coming or you’re planning a trip. Don’t even ¬mention shopping for gifts, sending greeting cards or decorating the house. The credit cards are maxed out, you’ve got more chores than you can shake a stick at and your “to do” list is longer than Santa’s beard.

You swore it would all be different this year.

Take heart. It’s not too late. With intention, it really can be different this year.

First thing to remember: take good care of yourself: Eat healthfully, get plenty of rest (schedule it in), exercise, drink lots of water. Breathe deeply. Relax and have fun. (Schedule that in, too.)

Having houseguests? Try to make them as self-sufficient as possible. Ask for help. And even though it might be fun, don’t wear yourself out by staying up late every night, or stuffing each day as full as a Christmas goose.

How Well Do You Manage Stress?

This quiz offers helpful strategies for a more peaceful life.

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The impact of stress accumulates, and, beyond the ongoing, regular stress that comes from living in our high-impact culture, specific life events can really knock us for a loop. Even happy changes can cause bumps in the road, which we register both physically and emotionally. While we can’t eliminate stress from our lives, we can learn where our hot spots are and how to best reduce and manage the stress we do experience.

You won’t be scored at the end, but answer true or false to the following questions, and elaborate a bit on those that feel especially relevant.

T /F1. I set the pace for the day by beginning with peaceful thinking either through reading an inspiring passage, saying a prayer or acknowledging the gift of a fresh, new day.

T /F2. Throughout the day I live in the moment. I don’t brood about a past event or fret about the future.

T /F3. I eat healthfully and take the time to enjoy my meals. I set aside work, driving and other activities while I eat. No multi-tasking.

How Well Do You Manage Your Energy?

It is the skillful management of energy, not time, that most significantly affects high performance. Take this quiz to see if you could be managing energy in a healthier way.

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When the seemingly relentless demands at work and burdens of a busy life take their toll on work performance, we tend to think that managing our time better will improve the situation. If we can just work faster, multitask more efficiently, things will be better, we think, as we buy the latest time management gadget or software.

However, as Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, authors of The Power of Full Engagement, explain, it is the skillful management of energy, not time, that most significantly affects high performance. Too often, we squander this valuable resource through energy-taxing habits—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual habits. Take this Self-Quiz to see how well you are managing your energy.

1. I rely on sugary or carbohydrate-rich snacks for bursts of energy when I need an energetic pick-me-up.

2. Life is an endless marathon to be endured; you just have to keep on running.

3. I tend to do what feels immediately pressing and easier to accomplish rather than make intentional choices about how I spend my time and what matters most.

Music: A Soothing Balm for Stress

The astonishing benefits of music and its important role in stress relief and bringing balance to mind, body and spirit.

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Most people have experienced the relaxing effect of music—from the soft strains of a flute playing in the background during a massage, to tuning out the world with your headphones during a grueling commute on public transit.

With hectic schedules, busy families, financial pressures and life's many complications, stress can permeate every aspect of daily living. Whether you're experiencing more persistent stress or just looking to enjoy the many health benefits of increased relaxation, music can play an important role. It has the power to engage the body, mind and spirit and carry you into a more relaxed state.

The Mind

Listening to music may evoke memories, images or scenes. This is how music soundtracks help "tell" the story of a movie. We can all intentionally create soundtracks for our lives, and music therapist Jennifer Buchanan guides us in doing just that in her book, Tune In: Use Music Intentionally to Curb Stress, Boost Morale and Restore Health.

Overcoming Overwhelm by Coming Back to Ourselves

Whether overwhelm is sudden or cumulative, chronic or acute, the feeling is of drowning, immobility and powerlessness. Luckily, there’s hope.

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During times of overwhelm, everything feels too big. It’s not just everyday busyness and packed schedules. When we’re overwhelmed, making dinner becomes a monumental effort. Better eat out. Bills, housework? Forget it. Tasks that used to take only 10 or 15 minutes now seem utterly impossible. There seems to be no time for anything. So we do nothing.

Worse, we have no faith that this, too, shall pass. We seem hopelessly mired in the quicksand of “too much.” We keep trying to will our way out of the quicksand with a will that just wants to lie down.

We live in a very overwhelming time—much more so than in decades past, says Jan Boddie, Ph.D., a California therapist who trains individuals and consults with businesses on the topic.

Things are speeding up. Technology’s well-touted time saving seems to have yielded less leisure time, not more. Companies are demanding longer work hours. Many adults are sandwiched between the needs of older and younger generations....

Part of the problem is the cultural belief system in place, one that overrates doing and achievement and underrates quality of experience and connection with values.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is PTSD? How do you know if you have it? How do you cope with it?

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Ernesto just returned from Afghanistan where he witnessed an improvised explosive device (IED) destroy a Humvee in his convoy, killing his best friend. Now that he’s back home, he’s no longer the easy-going guy he once was. He has angry outbursts at the slightest provocation and uses illegal drugs to repress his wartime memories.

When Liz was seven years old, her stepfather sexually abused her. Now in her thirties, she wants to put the past behind her but can’t. She’s unable to establish intimate relationships and has frequent nightmares about her abuse.

It may not appear that Ernesto’s wartime experience has much in common with Liz’s sexual abuse, but it does. As a result of the trauma they’ve each experienced, they both now suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

Relieve Stress Through Creativity

Stress tends to go out the window when we let our creativity free.

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Why Incorporate Creativity into our Daily Lives?

According to Ruth Richards, author of Everyday Creativity, creativity is necessary and attainable for everyone. It is “one of the most powerful capacities we have, bringing us alive in each moment, affecting our health and well-being, offering richness and alternatives in what we do, and helping us move further in our creative and personal development.”

Exploring, experimenting, playing and entering the unknown—through anything from travel to taking an improv class to cooking—are all ways to practice creativity. You can also incorporate creativity into the workplace, finding ways to add spark and delight to otherwise mundane activities. For example, give yourself time to daydream at work, if possible. Experiment with new ideas and ask questions. One newspaper editor encourages his staff to indulge their creative side through humor, listening to music and brainstorming sessions because it leads to better work, an assertion seconded by many business experts.

Stress and Illness: What's the Connection

The difference between "healthy" stress and the chronic, persistent kind that becomes a way of life and makes us susceptible to illness.

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Believe it or not, stress may not be the villain it's made out to be. In small, short-term doses, stress can give an athlete the competitive edge or a public speaker the enthusiasm to project optimally. It can actually boost the immune system.

But chronic stress over time—the kind commonly encountered in daily life, such as work overload, financial difficulties, marital problems—can have significant negative effects on nearly every system of the body, suppressing the immune system and ultimately manifesting as an illness.

The danger occurs when stress becomes persistent and consistent, a way of life. Chronic stress raises the risk of viral infection and diabetes. It can trigger severe problems for asthmatics, lead to gastrointestinal issues and cause high blood pressure, which brings an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

To get a handle on this silent adversary, you need to first recognize that you are chronically stressed. Here are four kinds of warning signs:

Cognitive symptoms include problems with memory, an inability to focus, or feeling worried or negative all the time.

Top 10 Sources of Stress

Many people would find it surprising—and enlightening—to realize that stress is more often caused by internal pressure and anxiety than by external circumstances.

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Ask people why they’re stressed, and they’re likely to say that it’s these infernal deadlines or too much work and too little staff, or perhaps the ¬family’s overpacked schedules. And while these can certainly add to a ¬pressure-cooker atmosphere, they’re not really the greatest cause. At fault more than anything is the tremendous internal pressure and anxiety that we create for ourselves through the following:

1. Self-criticism. Tame your inner critic, focus on your strengths and forgive yourself.

2. Perfectionism. Do your best, but let the elusive “perfect” go.

3. Worry. Faith and action are the best antidote to worry, especially about situations we cannot control.

Top 10 Warning Signs of Stress

These ten symptoms are signs that stress is taking its toll.

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For all its bad reputation, stress isn’t necessarily a negative thing. It’s a response from your body to changes in your life. “Good” things can cause stress as frequently as “bad.” The stress created by getting that new job or the arrival of a baby can take its toll just as much as losing someone you care about or getting laid off from work.

Following are ten warning signs of stress. Simple stress reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, relaxation or exercise may be able to reduce these symptoms.

1. Fatigue or exhaustion that is interfering with daily activities.

2. Sleeplessness or bouts of insomnia caused by a list of concerns and worries.

Top 10 Ways to Cope with an Increased Workload

Good habits are essential in times of stress created by an increased workload.

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As businesses lay off workers and cut costs, those remaining usually face an increased workload. Stress is almost a given. Here are some ways to cope with all that extra work. The habits will serve you whether the economy is weak or strong.

1. Let go of perfection. It could not serve you less at this time. Good enough is good.

2. Identify time-wasters. Once you’re clear what they are, start reducing them.

3. Plan everything. It will help keep you sane, centered and on track.

Top 10 Ways to Get Through Tense Family Gatherings

Family gatherings may not always be fun, but they don’t have to be disasters.

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Let’s face it. Family gatherings are not always roses and cotton candy. For some families, they’re masked balls with everyone straining to maintain a façade of harmony. For others, they’re Wild West shootouts. Try some of these tips.

1. Make a pro-and-con list. Clear your head, find a calm moment and decide whether it is best for you to go. 2. Consider smaller portions. Plan to visit only for appetizers or dessert. 3. Educate yourself. Seek information on the issues or dynamics that tend to come up in your family. 4. Dig deeper. How do you contribute to the tension? Can you adjust your understanding of other points of view?

Top 10 Ways to Lower Stress

From the ongoing stress that comes from living in our high-impact culture to those life events that knock us for a loop, the impact of stress accumulates. Here are ten ways to return to balance.

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Recognizing our stress “hot spots” is a critical first step to reducing stress. The following are daily ways to help you maintain balance or get back to well-being following a particularly stressful period.

1. Do something physical. Exercise, walk, play a game, dance, weed/garden.

2. Breathe. Deeply. Especially when you find yourself irritable or angry.

3. Retreat. Find a place—your bedroom, a park bench, your car—where you can be quiet and restful. Go there when you need to.

Top 10 Ways to Sidestep Holiday Stress

The Holidays and stress seem to go together like egg and nog. But does it have to be that way?

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From the rising of the moon on Halloween eve until the setting of the sun on Super Bowl Sunday, the holidays create more opportunities for anxiety to get a foothold than a tile roof makes for Santa’s reindeer. Here are ten ideas to help you keep your own steady footing during the upcoming season.

1. Take good care of your self. Eat healthfully, get plenty of rest, exercise.

2. Make lists and set aside specific times to accomplish certain tasks. Prioritize. Consider scratching a few items off your list.

3. Ask for help. It’s more fun to do things together — from decorating the house to wrapping presents.

4. Make a budget and stick to it. No matter what. If you use your credit cards during the holidays then spend the rest of the year paying them off, try not charging anything this year.

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