Sunday, November 23, 2008

Workplace Stress: Change - Rough Seas or Calmer Waters

The economic storm that has hit our world is resulting in rough seas for people everywhere. The changes that are necessary to keep from sinking are not only tough on the passengers, but also on the crew and the captain. Mark MacLean, Senior Manager, has some sage advice on change.

"Always talk about why changes are being made and how different roles and people will be impacted by the changes.

Be honest. When you don't know the answers to their questions tell them so.

Make time available to spend with people who are impacted and empathise.

Remember to treat people who are re-deployed or made redundant with respect. Not just for their sake, but because everyone else who is staying on board will see how they are treated."

Change, particularly in this climate, produces a lot of fear - a negative emotion that creates stress within the body. It takes skill and compassion to help lessen or alleviate the concerns of those affected by the changes.

One of the things to keep in mind is that when we are able to ease people's burdens, even for a bit, we are not only helping them, but helping ourselves. Doing good and feeling good about doing good changes our heart rhythms. This is the paradox. We think we're helping someone else, but we're really helping ourselves with an improved heart rhythm. This affects our health & well-being and when we feel good we have more to offer others.

Although I can't speak for how Mark feels, I can say that by choosing to act as he has, he is actually improving the clarity of the signal from his heart to his brain. This means that he operates from a place of greater coherence, allowing him to perform better, professionally & personally. (Even his golf game will improve!) He has set a course for smoother waters, calming the seas of change that are so commonplace in today's turbulent times.

Photo by: Craig Jewell -

Friday, November 7, 2008

Rejuvenation - Appreciation!

Having stress techniques that can be implemented in the moment of a stressful event do much to balance the nervous system. This has an effect upon how you feel, think and do.

Collect positive experiences, regardless of scope, to draw upon when life gets tough. So, whether it's sitting down to a favourite meal, engaging in warm conversation with a good friend or going on holiday, the act of appreciating the memory is enough to make a positive & measurable change in your heart rhythms. This means it's good for your emotional, mental and physical health.

I was fortunate enough to win an overnight stay in an historic inn in Harrison Mills, B.C., which we enjoyed last week. (Thanks to the Langley Women's Festival '08!) Smooth heart rhythms abound!

Rowena's Inn is situated on The Sandpiper Golf Course, which looked so appealing, that even I wanted to go play the course, despite not knowing how to golf!

The spotless & beautifully-appointed cabins come complete with wood fireplace and jacuzzi tub. Bay windows open up to a small deck which overlooks the Harrison River and the Coastal Mountains, veiled in mist during our visit.

What a perfect get-away for those who live in the Lower Mainland and don't have a lot of time. It's also a good place to wean yourself off the on-going stress of being "connected" 24/7. (This can be an addiction and the techniques I teach help with that, as well.)

For those who wish to travel with their pets, Rowena's has designated one cabin as pet-friendly. Murphy was happy to come along.

Everything was perfect - the friendliness of the staff, the location, the cabin, the wine & cheese platter, dinner in the restaurant and the breakfast, which was delivered to our door by golf-cart. The presentation of the food looked as good as it tasted!

Sometimes a get-away, even if it's 24 hrs., is enough to recharge the batteries. If you can't get away, do the next best thing...change your scenery by going for a walk, or barring that, get up and change to another room. Remember, it doesn't have to be big to make a difference. The key ingredient is appreciation.

Remembering Mom

On Nov. 5th 1999, my mom passed away after her struggles with ovarian cancer. Sadly, she was not diagnosed until it was Stage 4 - and at a point where there is not much hope for remission/recovery.

Ovarian Cancer is one of those hard-to-detect cancers and often by the time it is detected, it is too late.

In honour of mom, I am rewriting sections from a card that I sent to her while she was in the hospital.

Lessons learned from mom:
1. Look both ways before crossing the road.
2. Do your best at school.
3. Mind your manners - say "please" and "thank you", often.
4. Send thank you cards.
5. Stay away from poisonous cleaning solutions under the sink.
6. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
7. Respect your elders.
8. Be kind to animals.
9. Share your food.
10. If you drink too much coffee, you'll get red hair. (I'm still waiting!)
11. Never, ever walk downtown with curlers in your hair.
12. Unplug your t.v. in a thunder storm.
13. If your feet are warm, you'll be warm.
14. Don't smoke on the street corner - you'll look "cheap".
15. Get the awful jobs over with first.
16. Be kind.
17. Help someone whenever you can.
18. You can't always judge a book by the cover.
19. Patience. (still working on that one!)
20. You can look at a glass as half-full or half-empty. Which one makes you feel better?
21. Skin colour doesn't matter.
22. Look for the simple pleasures in life.
23. Learn to be self-reliant.
24. Oatmeal is best on a cold winter's day.
25. Reuse and recycle. (Long before it was popular!)
26. Cook from scratch - it's healthier and more economical.

Regrettably, it wasn't meant-to-be that she impart these lessons to the next generation.

When illness strikes, it is normal to wonder "why?". Knowing what I do know now, I think a contributing factor to her disease was the lifelong stress that she was under.

Coming of age during WW2 in Holland, moving to a new country, living with an alcoholic, hard work on a farm, raising 3 children on a limited income, & care-taking my dad who suffered his first stroke in 1983 all took its toll.

Worry was her constant companion, despite hiding it behind a cheery disposition. She didn't sleep well, had migraine headaches, high blood pressure, heart disease and hormonal issues - all of which have a connection to cortisol - "the stress hormone".

She was always willing to help out her neighbours, friends and family and could literally make something out of nothing, whether it be clothing or a meal. If creativity is the mother of necessity, then she was the poster child.

When you consider that one stressful event releases a cascade of 1,400 chemical changes, complete with side-effects, my mom was literally soaking in side-effects.

It is my desire to educate people to realize that they can do something about the stress connection so that they live as emotionally, mentally and physically healthy life as possible.

It's too late to help my mom. I hope to be able to help others help themselves and in the process, live a better life.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

All Aboard!

The "worry train" is leaving the station and the conductor is trying to drag me on board. This time I know where this train doesn't go and I am making a different choice.

How often do you get "aboard" the "worry train" and depart on a journey that has no destination, even though you may think it does? When you worry you are tricked into thinking that you are problem-solving. If that were the case, money problems would disappear, the kids would always do the right thing, the job situation would improve and life would get better.

Signs of worry:

1. You go to bed at night and you have trouble sleeping because you are replaying the events of the day.
2. You fall asleep and you awaken several times during the night to think about a current problem.
3. You are driving and you find yourself endlessly thinking about a situation that you are trying to resolve.
4. You are at the gym or on a walk and are rehearsing a conversation over and over and over in your head.

Chronic worry wears out the nervous system and leaves you feeling exhausted. Many people (I was one of them) have no idea how much time is spent on the "worry train." Find out more by reading Transforming Anxiety: The Heartmath Solution for Overcoming Fear and Worry and Creating Serenity.

Worry is a learned habit and that is good news because it means that you can unlearn it, provided you have a replacement behaviour.

Did you know that by simply transforming those worry thoughts, you are improving your emotional, mental and physical health? Please email to learn some easy-to-apply and effective replacement behaviours.

In fact, by Christmas, you'll be ready to hop on a different kind of train - The Polar Express!

Photo: Rodolfo