Personal Development and Growth.

Jodie Floss

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Posted 10 years ago   
I wanted to start a thread which will provide information,articles,tips,hints on topics related to personal growth, health and development.
Feel free to chip in with information and comments!
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Jodie Floss

  • Member for 10 years
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Posted 10 years ago   
The first topic I wish to touch on is stress.
With stress being attributed to the cause of many debilitating and life threatening diseases, it becomes a necessity that we not only understand how stress affects our bodies, but how we can help to reduce the potentially negative effects on our wellbeing.

Wikipedia states "Stress is a biological term which refers to the consequences of the failure of a human or animal body to respond appropriately to emotional or physical threats to the organism, whether actual or imagined."
Basically stress is a feeling that's created when you react to certain events. It's the body's way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness.

Stress becomes a major issue when your ability to cope with everyday events is hampered.
The human body responds to events that provoke stress (stressors) by activating the nervous system and specific hormones. The hypothalamus signals the adrenal glands to produce more of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol and release them into the bloodstream. These hormones speed up heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and metabolism. The physical changes prepare you to react quickly and effectively to handle the pressure of the moment.

This natural reaction is known as the stress response. Working properly, the body's stress response improves your ability to perform well under pressure.
Stress affects everybody in a different way. What causes one person to become over-stressed may not have the same affect on someone else.

THE CAUSES

Life Crises
Research has proven that the experiences that we have encountered over the years are likely to cause diseases which do not manifest until later on in life.

The death of a spouse or a truly loved one causes the highest level of stress, followed by divorce and a marital separation.

The conflicts intertwined with relationships with people close to you cause you the most stress.

Occupational Stress
As humans, more of our time is spent working compared to any other awake activity.

Occupational stress is a result of a factor or a combinations of factors at work. It impacts the worker, disrupting their psychological or physical wellbeing. It can be caused by a number of factors including work overload and stimulus underload. Work overload results from the burden of excess work. It may also be caused by the ambiguity of the task required of the worker. Stimulus underload happens when there are not enough tasks for the worker to undertake. It can cause job dissatisfation, post traumatic stress syndrome, and increase the level of cholesterol and the heart rate.

Social Networks Disintegration
Relationships have been proved to be one of the more important aspects of our human life, especially to our psychological and physical well being.

Thus if someone who you truly cherish passes away, your social network begins to disintegrate as feelings of loneliness start to take over. This is because as humans, we need the warmth and love that relationships bring to us and the removal of one of these relationships can be heartbreaking.

Many things may cause people to become over-stressed, including:

* Exams
* Problems at school or work
* Sexual, physical or emotional abuse
* Relationships
* New responsibilities
* Moving to a new place
* A traumatic event - such as the death of a loved one
* New or chronic illness or disability
* Peer pressure, being bullied
* Unrealistic expectations placed on you by yourself, friend, family or culture
If you become over-stressed it may have unwanted consequences for your health - both physical and psychological. Some of these may include:

Psychological/Emotional

* Feeling hostile, angry, or irritable
* Feeling anxious
* Avoiding other people
* Crying
* Moodiness, feeling frustrated with things that normally don't bother you
* Low self-esteem or lack of confidence
* Anxiety attacks
* Depression or sadness

Physical

* Upset stomach, diarrhoea, or indigestion
* Headache
* Backache
* Inability to sleep
* Eating too much or too little
* Raised heart-rate
* Smoking

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Jodie Floss

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Posted 10 years ago   
Managing Stress

It may not be possible to remove the stress from your life, however managing your stress may help you to get things done. Below are some ideas for managing stress:

Go for a Walk or Run- Exercising can be a good way of relieving stress. It helps to get rid of all that pent up energy and can leave you feeling much calmer. Any sort of exercise can be good. You may want to go and kick a footy with friends or head to the gym.

Hang Out with Friends - If you are feeling stressed you may need to take your mind off things for a while. Hanging out with friends is one way of doing that. It may be that similar things that stress you out, also stress your friends out, and so talking about your problems with them may be helpful.

Taking Some Deep Breaths - Deep breathing can help to relax the body and hence calm you down. Taking deep breaths before an exam, game, job interview or before going on stage may help to calm you down and focus on what it is you are about to do.

Setting Realistic Goals - Becoming over-stressed may make it harder to keep things in perspective. Setting realistic goals (both for the short-term and long-term) and priorities and time management may be useful ways of managing your stress.

Have Multiple Options to Achieve your Goals - There is never just one way to achieve something. It's important not to put all your eggs into one basket - investigate and plan other ways to get to where you want to go, whether it's a uni degree, job, or holiday vacation.

Try to Avoid Smoking, Alcohol, and Caffeine - It may be tempting to use smoking and alcohol as a means of managing your stress. Try to avoid using these things as a way of coping, as in the long run they may make you more stressed out.

Watch What You're Thinking - Your outlook, attitude, and thoughts influence the way you see things. Is your cup half full or half empty? A healthy dose of optimism can help you make the best out of stressful circumstances. Even if you're out of practice, or tend to be a bit of a pessimist, everyone can learn to think more optimistically and reap the benefits.

Speaking to Someone - If you are finding you are always stressed and it is hard to carry on with day to day stuff, it may be helpful to talk to someone about it. Doctors,family, friends, and counsellors are people that may be able to help you cope.

Please always consult your doctor if you have any health concerns at all.
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Jodie Floss

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Posted 10 years ago   
What are some effective stress-management techniques?

Exercise

Physical exercise not only promotes overall fitness, but it helps you to manage emotional stress and tension as well. For one thing, exercise can emotionally remove one temporarily from a stressful environment or situation. Being fit and healthy also increases your ability to deal with stress as it arises.

Relaxation and meditation

There are many ways to use structured relaxation and meditation techniques to help control stress and improve your physical and mental well-being. While some types of meditation and relaxation therapies are best learned in a class, it's also possible to learn meditation techniques on your own. There are literally hundreds of different types of relaxation methods ranging from audio CDs to group martial arts and fitness classes. The following are only examples of the types of structured programs available that can increase our capacity for relaxation:

* Autogenic training: Developed in the early 20th century, this technique is based upon passive concentration and awareness of body sensations. Through repetition of so-called autogenic "formulas" one focuses upon different sensations, such as warmth or heaviness, in different regions of the body. Autogenic training has been used by physicians as a part of therapy for many conditions. Popular in Europe (where it is even covered by some insurance plans), this method is currently gaining acceptance in the United States. No particular physical skills or exercises are involved; however, people desiring to learn this technique must be prepared to invest time and patience. Since this technique is slightly more complex than some relaxation methods, a course is generally the best way to learn the method.


* Biofeedback: Biofeedback is one method of learning to achieve relaxation, control stress responses, or modify the body's reactions through the use of monitoring equipment that provides information from the body which would normally not be available. This method is based upon the principle first advanced in the early 1960s that the autonomic nervous system (the part we don't consciously use) is trainable. For example, instruments can be used to measure heart rate, blood pressure, brain activity, stomach acidity, muscle tension, or other parameters while people experiment with postural changes, breathing techniques, or thinking patterns. By receiving this feedback, one can learn to identify the processes that achieve the desired result, such as reduction in heart rate and blood pressure. Biofeedback is used by many practitioners for a variety of psychological and physical conditions. Because the technique involves the use of measuring devices, it can only be performed by a professional.


* Imagery: Imagery, sometimes referred to as guided imagery, is the use of pleasant or relaxing images to calm the mind and body. By controlling breathing and visualizing a soothing image, a state of deep relaxation can occur. This method can be learned by anyone and is relatively easy to try out.


* Meditation techniques: Ranging from practices associated with specific religions or beliefs to methods focusing purely on physical relaxation, meditation is one of the most popular techniques to achieve physical and mental relaxation. There are thousands of different types of meditation, and many can be learned on your own. The meditative state is one in which there is a deep centering and focusing upon the core of one's being; there is a quieting of the mind, emotions, and body. The meditative state can be achieved through structured (as in a daily practice of a routine) or unstructured (for example, while being alone outdoors) activities. While teachers of meditative arts are readily available, some techniques can be learned though books or online tutorials.

A form of meditation popularized in the last few decades is TM, or transcendental meditation. TM has the goal of achieving transcendental consciousness, or the simplest form of awareness. It is practiced for 15-20 minutes in the mornings and evenings and is relatively easy to learn. Numerous classes and teaching materials are available for beginners.

Another variant of a meditation technique has gained popularity in the U.S. since its description in the 1970s by Harvard physician Herbert Benson. This technique involves generation of the so-called relaxation response through the repetition of a word of phrase while quietly seated, 10-20 minutes per day. Designed to evoke the opposite bodily reaction to the stress response (or "fight or flight" reaction), this method carries no religious or spiritual overtones. Its value has been documented in the reduction of blood pressure and other bodily stress responses. Like other forms of meditation, it can be learned on one's own, but time and practice are required to elicit the desired relaxation state.


* Progressive muscle relaxation: Progressive muscle relaxation is a method developed in the 1930s in which muscle groups are tightened and then relaxed in succession. This method is based upon the idea that mental relaxation will be a natural outcome of physical relaxation. Although muscle activity is involved, this technique requires no special skills or conditioning, and it can be learned by almost anyone. Progressive muscle relaxation is generally practiced for 10-20 minutes a day. As with the relaxation response, practice and patience are required for maximum benefits.

* Qigong: The martial art qigong is an ancient Chinese health-care system that combines physical training (such as isometrics, isotonics, and aerobic conditioning) with Eastern philosophy and relaxation techniques. There are many different kinds of qigong, including medical qigong. Some forms are practiced while standing, sitting, or lying down; others involve structured movements or massage. Over 70 million Chinese practice some form of qigong daily. Qigong has been used for centuries in China for the treatment of a variety of medical conditions. Learning qigong involves time, commitment, patience, and determination, and learning from a master or group is advisable. Since this technique involves physical exertion, check with your doctor before beginning, particularly if you have a chronic medical condition or are over 40 years old.

* Tai chi: Like qigong, tai chi is a Chinese martial art. It has been termed a kind of "meditation in motion" and is characterized by soft, flowing movements that stress precision and force. Also known as tai chi chuan, this method is thousands of years old. As with qigong, training from a master is necessary to learn the art of tai chi. Again, since motion and force are required, check with your doctor before beginning training.

* Yoga: There are many forms of yoga, an ancient Indian form of exercise based upon the premise that the body and breathing are connected with the mind. The practice of yoga is thought to be over 5,000 years old. One goal of yoga is to restore balance and harmony to the body and emotions through numerous postural and breathing exercises. Yoga, which means "joining" or "union" in Sanskrit, has been called the "search for the soul" and the "union between the individual and the divine." Among the benefits of yoga are increased flexibility and capability for relaxation. No special level of conditioning is required; yoga can be learned by nearly anyone. Classes, books, and videos are widely available. Those with special or chronic physical conditions will want to get clearance from their doctor before beginning.

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Posted 10 years ago   
Hi Jodie it is fantastic to see that you have taken what i said in another thread seriousl, this is life saving information that many of us in business need.
Overwork, stress and poor diet can dramatically shorten your life and the life of your business, you should be awarded extra credits for this informative post Well Done!
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Jodie Floss

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Posted 10 years ago   
Thanks Dave! I want to try and cover topics that can us benefit businesswise and holistically. Yes, a balance of health, mental and spiritual help us all to perform at our best in all endeavours.

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Posted 10 years ago   
Your welcome Jodie i look forward to reading more of your posts here.

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Posted 10 years ago   
Emotional Health
and Well Being
The words of a 16 year old
young man highlight the
fears commonly associated
with the expression of
emotional distress.
“If I were to tell my
mates how I REALLY
feel they would think
I was off my head. I
know I’m not mad,
just bloody unhappy.”
Please refer to
Section One
Pages 3 and 4
Emotional Health and Well Being
Activity: Emotional Health and Ill Health
Instructions: Group leader draws two columns on a flip chart.
One column is labelled emotional health and the
second column emotional ill health.
In a circle go round the group and ask everyone to
say something they would associate with a person
who was emotionally healthy.
Example: relaxed, happy, content, easy going,
laid back, chatty, friendly, fun
As the suggestions are made the leader writes them
under the appropriate column.
Go round the circle again and this time everyone
says something they would associate with
emotional ill health.
Example: upset, sad, withdrawn, irritable, angry,
argumentative, quick tempered, tearful
General discussion comparing the two columns:
- Were there any surprises?
- Were there any stereotypes of emotional ill
health?
Resources: Flip chart paper or white board
Pens
Personal Growth
Emotional Health
and Well Being
aEmcotiotnail Hvealitht anide Welsl Being
“It would be really
good if everyone
could talk freely
about how they feel,
without being made
to feel that there is
something very
wrong with you.”
Section three Page 2
Focus 1: Factors Leading to Emotional Health
and Ill Health
Activity: Lifestyles
Instructions: In small groups of three or four people read the
following description of a young person:
Gemma is 16 and in her final term of school and
she is thinking about applying for a job. She would
like to be a hairdresser. She will be taking her
GCSE exams very soon. She lives with her mum,
dad, her sister aged 12 and her brother who is 9.
 Ask one or two groups to think about what life
changes might lead Gemma to become
emotionally ill, e.g. failing her exams, her
mother becoming ill.
 Ask one or two groups to think about what life
changes might lead Gemma to be emotionally
healthy, e.g. starting training as a hairdresser.
Ask each group to share their ideas with the whole
group and develop a discussion.
Resources: Description of ‘Gemma’ for each group (Page 3a)
Focus 2: Recognising an Emotional Healthy and
Unhealthy Individual
Activity: Poster Design
Instructions: Divide the group into two halves. One group
designs a poster to illustrate the meaning of
Emotional Health and the second group design
a poster to illustrate the meaning of Emotional Ill
Health.
Share ideas and discuss the differences between
the two.
Resources: Sheets of drawing paper
Pens, crayons, paints
Magazines
Glue
Photocopies of description of ‘Gemma’ (Page 3a)
Personal Growth
Emotional Health
and Well Being
fEmooticonalu Heaslth and Well Being
“Unless you are
happy all the time
people just don’t
want to know.”
Section three Page 3
Personal Growth
Emotional Health
and Well Being
rFoecus s1 ource
Section three Page 3a
Gemma is 16 and in her final term of
school and she is thinking about applying
for a job. She would like to be a
hairdresser. She will be taking her GCSE
exams very soon. She lives with her
mum, dad, her sister aged 12 and her
brother who is 9.
Gemma
Focus 1 Factors Leading to Emotional Health
and Ill Health
Focus 3: How to Help and Support Someone in
Emotional Distress
Activity: True or False
Instructions: Use any of the following statements for a group
discussion about the best way to help or support an
individual in emotional distress:
 Talking about how you feel doesn’t do any
good, you’ve just got to get on with life.
 It’s not easy knowing what to do if someone
tells you they are depressed.
 Most people tend to ignore people who are
miserable all the time.
 Being emotionally or mentally unwell is a sign
of weakness.
 Women generally are more able to talk about
their feelings than men.
Resources: Cards containing the above statements (Page 4a)
Focus 4: Creating a Mentally Healthy School
Activity: Group Ideas
Instructions: In groups of three or four, list some factors that
would make a “Healthy School”.
Get each group to share their ideas with the whole
group.
Compile one list.
Resources: Paper
Pens
Personal Growth
Emotional Health
and Well Being
fEmooticonalu Heaslth and Well Being
“If you break your
leg you can talk
about it, but if you
feel depressed
you’re often treated
as though you are
mad.”
Section three Page 4
Personal Growth
Emotional Health
and Well Being
rFoecus s3 ource
Section three Page 4a
Statement 1 Talking about how you feel
doesn’t do any good, you’ve
just got to get on with life.
Statement 2 It’s not easy knowing what to
do if someone tells you they
are depressed.
Statement 3 Most people tend to ignore
people who are miserable all
the time.
Statement 4 Being emotionally or mentally
unwell is a sign of weakness.
Statement 5 Women generally are more
able to talk about their
feelings than men.
Focus 3 Statement Cards
Personal Growth
Emotional Health
and Well Being
wEmotoionarl Hkealth sandh Weell Beeingt
Section three Page 5
GROUP LEADERS
Aim: To encourage each member of the group to write
about themselves.
Activity: About Me
Instructions: Each member of the group fills in the worksheet
overleaf anonymously.
Go round the group and ask each member to talk
briefly about one of their answers.
Develop a general discussion with the whole group.
Collect the worksheets at the end of the session.
Resources: Copies of worksheet
Pens
Other Activities
Talking Point
Activity: Emotional Well Being Continuum
Instructions: On a large sheet of paper draw a line. At one end
write Emotionally Well and at the other end write
Emotionally Unwell.
Go round the group and ask each person to make a
mark on the line to indicate how they feel at the
moment.
Invite people to say a little about the reason for
placing themselves in that particular position.
 What might lead them to move their position
to either end of the continuum?
 Where were they 6 months ago?
 Where would they like to be in 6 months time?
 What might they do to become more
emotionally well?
Resources: Large sheets of paper
Sellotape
Pens
Personal Growth
Emotional Health
and Well Being
oEmtotihonale Hearlth aand Wcellt Beiinvg ities
“I think it’s just as
important to look
after your emotional
health as it is to look
after your physical
health.”
Section three Page 6
Personal Growth
Emotional Health
and Well Being
wEmotoionarl Hkeal th sandh Weell Beeingt
About Me
My three favourite foods are . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
During the holidays I like . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sometimes I wish I had . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
One thing I’d never want to do is . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I find it easy to . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I find it hard to. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
One of the best things about school is. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I get into trouble when I. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I am happy when . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
One of my school subjects I need help with is . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I am angry when . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
With my friends I feel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The thing that worries me most is . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Something I do well is . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Something I’d like to learn to do is. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
My favourite holiday is. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The world would be a better place if . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A time when I felt sad was . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
When I think about the future I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
If I had a free day I would

Jodie Floss

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Posted 10 years ago   
Some great info there Kathy! Thanks for contributing.
So we all face various levels of stress daily, what triggers stress for you and how do you manage it?

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Posted 10 years ago   
My normal relief for stress is to go and potter around the garden, i take my frustrations out on the weeds while getting a light workout and a lot of fresh air lol

Jodie Floss

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Posted 10 years ago   
Good technique Dave, and in essence you also create space from the stressor so you can gain some perspective and balance.Some times we just need some distance from our problems and issues, getting out in some capacity tends to work wonders.

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Posted 10 years ago   
One of the issues facing many people today is the ability to maintain a sense of balance in their lives. It is impossible to have total balance in your life. There are too many demands, issues, problems, needs, goals and people to deal with. It is possible however to have enough balance to reduce the stress in your life while enjoying many of the gifts life has to offer.

There are several areas where we need to balance our lives. They are: family, work, financial, friends, social, spiritual, self-development, physical, personal interests, business or career interests, and fun.

At any given time you can be way out of balance. For example if you have just started a new business or career. You have just had your first child or you are in a new relationship.

During these times you will most likely devote more time and energy to these activities while ignoring some of the others. The problem is if we stay way out of balance in one area for a long period of time. For example, working 7 days a week for 25 years at the expense of your health, friends and family.

What are some of the reasons why people get out of balance?

1. A lack of clear long-term goals. 2. The inability to say no. 3. Trying to please everyone. 4. A lack of concentration and focus. 4. Emotional immaturity.
5. Insecurity. 6. Unrealistic goals. 7. A lack of self-respect. 8. A lack of planning. 9. A lack of respect for others. 10. Poor organization skills. 11. Over ambition. 12. Poor time management.

What are some steps we can take if we are out of balance?

1. Spend time deciding what is really important in your life, both short and long term. 2. Share your goals, dreams, needs and frustrations about being out of balance with the people in your life that matter. 3. Learn to set better priorities. 4. Say no more often. 5. Determine where you are out of balance and ask yourself, why. 6. Spend time better planning your days, weeks, months, and years. 7. Get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later. 8. Accept the fact that there are times in your life when you will be temporarily out of balance.
9. Simplify your life. 10. Simplify your life. (not a typo….intended repetition)
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Jodie Floss

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Posted 10 years ago   
Ok so we've covered the stress process including exactly what stress is, types of stress,causes and basic management strategies. Now lets look a little more in depth at stress relieving techniques.

The first I want to cover is meditation/visualisation basicaly because it is so easy to do, can be done anywhere and there does not need to be any cost associated with it.

Meditation of one style or another can be found in most of the major religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. Generally, Eastern religions have tended to concentrate on meditation as a means of realising spiritual enlightenment. This has usually also included many health promoting practices. In the West, meditation has been embraced for both reasons, too, although many people know it most as a self-help tool for promoting good health and for stress management.

Many forms of meditation result in the clearing of one’s mind and this promotes a sense of calm and heightened awareness. During meditation, the brain’s activity alters significantly, as mapped by a device called an electroencephalograph (EEG). The most well-known brain waves evident during many kinds of meditation are called alpha waves. These brain waves accompany relaxation of the entire nervous system. Gamma, delta and theta brain waves accompany other types of meditation and are associated with various altered states of consciousness. Scientific studies show that the regular practice of meditation can be a powerful healing tool.

A range of disorders
Regular meditation can be used to help treat a range of disorders,
including:

* Anxiety
* Chronic pain
* Depression
* Headaches
* High blood pressure
* Insomnia
* Migraines
* Stress
* Life-threatening illnesses
* Recovery from accident or illness
* A sense of rootlessness or purposelessness.

Benefits of meditation
The direct benefits of meditation can include:

* Improved physical, emotional and mental health
* Focused and clear thinking
* Enhancing a sense of self and personal presence
* Increased emotional balance
* Greater relaxation and ease
* More equanimity in the face of challenges
* An improved sense of spiritual fulfillment and awakening.

Soothing the nervous system
Resting the mind has a dramatic effect on brain activity. When the brain moves into an alpha wave state, many physiological changes occur, starting with the autonomic nervous system. One of the main roles of the autonomic nervous system is to regulate glands and organs without any effort from our conscious minds.

The autonomic nervous system is made up of two parts, called the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. These systems act in opposite yet complementary ways: the sympathetic nervous system ‘revs’ the body, while the parasympathetic calms it down. Chronic stress or burnout can occur when the sympathetic nervous system dominates for too long.

During an alpha wave state, the parasympathetic half of the autonomic nervous system comes to the fore. This results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate, a reduction in stress hormones and slowed metabolism. If meditation is practised regularly, these beneficial changes become relatively permanent.

Research combining current technological innovations (magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI) and the talents of long-term meditators has revealed marked changes in both brain function and structure. Finding evidence of these types of changes adds Western scientific validation to many of the claims made by advanced meditators for centuries.

Different types of meditation
Meditation has evolved out of many different religions and philosophies,
which means there are many different techniques to choose from.
Some examples include:

* Concentrating on the breath – consciously noticing the movement of air in and out of your nostrils, or counting the breath in variety of ways.
* Emptying the mind – allowing the mind to clear and ‘float’, gently pushing aside any stray thoughts, or allowing thoughts to float in and out of awareness.
* Looking at an object – focusing your attention, but not necessarily your thoughts, on the shape, sound and texture of an object, such as a tree or a candle flame.
* Movement – using a physical technique like yoga, Qi Gong or Tai Chi to still the mind by coordinating the breath and the body with gentle movement.
* Using a mantra – repeating a word or phrase over and over, either out loud or silently, to focus the attention, perhaps timed with the breath.

Practising meditation
Whatever your preferred technique, it helps in the beginning to have a quiet place, a comfortable sitting position and around five minutes to half an hour without outside distractions. Set an alarm if you don’t want to lose track of time. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor in order to meditate. You can sit in a chair or sit up in bed. You might just fall asleep, however, if you try to meditate lying down, which defeats the purpose of doing it.

Meditating every day at around the same time can help to develop a regular habit and make it easier and quicker to slip into deeply meditative states. Although you can master meditation by yourself, some people prefer to attend classes and learn in a group from an experienced teacher.

Trying too hard
Trying to meditate is a lot like trying to sleep – attempting to force it can often make it more difficult. Thinking of a meditation session as a chance to relax rather than as a discipline you have to master can make a great difference. If your attention wanders, practise acceptance and avoid getting annoyed with yourself. Simply direct your attention back to what you are doing and experience the moment.

Special considerations
In the instance of serious mental illness, meditation should be used with
caution, if at all.

Things to remember

* Meditation is the deliberate focusing of attention to bring about feelings of calm, and heightened energy and awareness.
* Regular meditation offers many health benefits, such as reduced stress
* and reduced blood pressure.
* There are many different ways to meditate, such as using a mantra, looking at an object, or focusing on the breath.

Jodie Floss

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Posted 10 years ago   
A simple but effective meditation...
Simple Meditation Exercise - Breathing



1. Be conscious of your breathing. It should not be forced, but, gentle and relaxed. If someone placed a feather in front of your nose it should barely move.
2. When you breathe in, feel that you are breathing in solid peace. Imagine that this peace is peculating your whole body.
3. When you breathe out feel that you are exhaling any tension, worries or anxieties.
4. Just for a moment, you can hold your breathe after the inhalation. When you hold your breathe concentrate on the absolute stillness and silence. No thought should enter your mind.
5. The aim is to become fully aware of our breathing. We are trying to identify totally with this simple action. But, it is more than just breathing in mechanically. We are exercising our imagination to feel new life and real sense of peace entering our being.
6. By focusing exclusively on the relaxing movement of our breathing, we switch off from the usual mental thought processes. By doing this we are able to enter into meditation.

In the beginning, we can practise this exercise for 5 minutes. But, we should try to lengthen the time we meditate from 5 minutes to 10 and then 15 minutes. However, there are no prizes for sitting in a chair for a long time. What matters is not the length of time we meditate, but, how sincere and soulful our meditation is. The exercise is very simple. But, meditation is supposed to be very simple. The only problem is that we are used to complexity, difficulties and problems. We aren’t so used to an activity that is inherently simple and natural. - Don’t analyse your meditation with the mind, but, try to enter into the flow of a new experience. If you can maintain real inner silence for just 5 minutes, you will feel a very new consciousness.

“Meditate Silently.
You will be able to create
A totally new life
For Yourself.”

Deleted

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Posted 10 years ago   
THE DEEPEST part of our life is our walk with God, our communion and communication with him. This is because we communicate with God spirit to spirit. The conscious mind is only such a small proportion of our whole soul. Most of our life and soul occurs below the surface - our abilities and memories and life that we`re not aware of. God wants to know and deal with our whole being - not just the small part that we normally live in.

Meditation is purely the name for any period of restful contemplation - not a passive rest but actively practising the presence of God. Whether it be focusing on a scripture, on part of God`s character or simply speaking in tongues the key is focus. The human heart may be deceitful above all things but the human mind is distracted above all things and, like so many other things in life, we soon learn that endurance is the only virtue.

The first couple of times I meditated I got very little out of it: "I wonder what`s for tea tonight.. oh no, feel a bit uncomfortable ... oops - supposed to be meditating..." and so on - the list of potential distractions is endless.

As I learned to let the distractions go, and not be worried about them, they eventually started to fade. It is only when you try and concentrate on God like this that you realise how much time you spend taken up with shallow things. It becomes painfully obvious that the clamouring voices of the soul are not easily stilled. After a few times though, a new peace started to come through the meditation and I was learning to get past the hecticness of my own head. Whatever state of mind you start in, there is plenty of hope. No matter how difficult it seems, if you give yourself to practise meditation you will get there.

When I finally found the worries of the day and the background nervous tension easing, I could feel an exciting life inside me. It was like being connected to a deeper part of myself - that I simply couldn't hear through all the static normally. Inside of this was the life of the Spirit - fantastic . Sometimes this was really strong - the kick in my guts of being alive.

The great thing is that the effect of meditation isn't a transient thing. The submerged machinery of the soul starts to work and you become aware of your own depths. I have often had things from my past run through my mind whilst meditating, or felt a strong desire to pray for people I know. The things that have been going on in my subconscious have risen to the surface - this gives you an opportunity to deal with them and let God into them. This works it's way into your spiritual life - and the rest of your life too.

One of the most beautiful meditations is a meditation on silence. Yes, it is very easy to get distracted but the same connection with the Jesus we find in woship - can also link us to God in meditation. This is exciting. It's not a passive blanking of your mind, susceptible to every spiritual influence [1]. The point is to keep your mind alert - but under control. Feel your spirit and reach out to the spirit of God.

I find it useful to start with a brief prayer, first thanking God, then repenting for recent sin. Following with a burst of speaking in tongues to crank up the spirit. I try to get comfortable before I start - then try not to listen to every groan and complaint of my body. Soon all the itches and groans will go, my body will relax, and my mind will find peace. Often, I'd learn what it means to feel my spirit soar.

I'd say to someone trying Christian meditation for the first time "explore and have fun!" God is the source of all life and as we develop strength of mind and will in His Spirit we can do it.

Russell Smith

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Posted 10 years ago   
This is a great topic Jodi,
I like to go hunting and fishing for my relaxation. I like to be out doors in the peaceful quietness of nature.

Jodie Floss

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Posted 10 years ago   
Great past times Russell! Love fishing myself. Awesome way to relieve stress by creating that distance from our issues or circumstances by changing our environment even if for the short term.

Have you noticed how revitalised you feel, how relaxed you are after a day out doing what you enjoy?
  • Last Edited 10 years ago
  • quote

Jodie Floss

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Posted 10 years ago   
Ok...so we've covered stress,it's causes, it's effect and some management techniques.
Now lets get more specific as to how it affects us at work..

The article below is drawn from Europe figure wise ,however everything else is applicable.

Some facts about the consequences of stress at work:

* More than 40 million people in the European Union (EU), or nearly one in three European workers say they feel stress in the workplace.
* The stress at work is the second in frequency problem (after back pain), affecting 28% of workers in the EU
* According to an official European survey conducted some years ago, stress is the cause of the loss of millions of working days each year (more than 1 / 4 absences of at least 2 weeks for health reasons from work), thus costing Member States at least 20 billion annually.

What is stress and what are the major causes of stress at work?

As already stated above: stress is not a disease.

Stress occurs when the pressure and demands of work are in a constant and intense degree and beyond the ability we can handle and deal with the situation.
What are the major causes of stress at work?

* The work under very tight conditions
* The uncertainty about the tasks
* Low or lack of control of labour
* Excessive demands
* Poor management of change
* Poor planning
* Psychological abuse like a threat to use violence
* Verbal abuse from customers
* Bullying from colleagues
* Physical Distractions in the area of work e.g. noise, poor ventilation, etc.

The above causes of stress also create the following symptoms: mental and physical health problems such as depression, anxiety, nervousness, weakness of focusing on a topic for a long time, fatigue and heart disease.

If any of the symptoms above is familiar to you, then it is an indication that something is not working for you, as it should have. You need to find a different way to handle everyday activities and stress in the area of your work but also in your life in general.
12 Tips to help you efficiently manage stress at work:


1.Plan your activities


What, why, how, when, and who will do the job. It is important to schedule obligations and your actions both long-term (weeks or months before), and on a daily basis.
2.Organize your time efficiently on a daily basis.

* Make a list of issues the next day.
* Give priority to the most important or the most pressing issues.
* At the end of each day check what completed.
* Try to be flexible in your planning and program.
* Make changes where needed, when needed


[See also "9 Ways to Manage Your Time at Work" and "16 Tips for Better Time Management"]
3.Refer to your records.

Certainly in the past you have faced problems and difficulties at work. Try to remember what you did to overcome the difficult moments. It may be something that you find it useful now.
4.Contribute to the creation of " a good" climate in your work environment

Be open for discussions and have a good communication with others.
5.Make sure that your understand your tasks and responsibilities.
6.Do not hesitate to ask

Ask a question when you need more clarifications for a task you have to complete.
7.Make regular breaks

Break a few minutes in the middle of the day. Relax, and do NOTHING for a few minutes. Take a deep breathing.
8.Promote team spirit between the members of your team
9.Each Person is different

Keep in mind individual differences, for example some people perform better under pressure, others need more time to organise their work.
10.Be updated for changes in the work environment

Be updated and inform the team with changes in the structure of the company. In this way you limit any concerns and insecurities among the team.
11.Delegation

Delegate responsibility when necessary, and check the result.
12.Working Conditions

Provide good working conditions. Minimize natural distractions (noise, ventilation, lighting, temperature, etc.)

Remember that anyone in any area, any company in any position is not unaffected by stress!

Besides stress at work and techniques on how to overcome and manage stress at our work environment, our everyday life and activities generate stress for a number of reasons.
The list below gives you 9 tips and techniques on how to manage stress in your life:
13.Massage

Massage is excellent for relaxation and the alleviation of tension.

Massage has proved that improves the quality of sleep, which contributes to less fatigue during the day, while allegedly gives the person a sense of completion. Research has showed that people who take massage are able better to understand the importance of meditation and the importance of 'cleaning' our minds from negative thoughts.
14.Exercise

The exercise is vital to combat stress, as it mobilises the muscles, blood flows faster and opens the lungs for us to take more oxygen. It is necessary to have an active lifestyle to avoid excess weight and to enjoy the benefits of exercise, such as better sleep and better health. [See also "Benefits of Exercise"]

The explosion of energy that we experience after a good work out is not a coincidence, our body produces more hormones that make us feel happy.
15.Hobbies

When someone feels irritation, a good way to remove stress is to find a hobby. Better are the hobbies that include social activity, as they contribute to a healthy social lifestyle. Participation in a charitable organization, for example, gives a positive perspective in your life, because of the sense of integration accompanying the bid.

But any relaxing hobby has beneficial properties, including removing the mind from what causes stress.
16.Hydration

While one could assume that what removes stress is a glass of wine or whiskey, in reality what can remove stress is actually a glass of water. Surely one or two glasses of wine help us relax, but research suggest that as soon as the influence from alcohol is weaken, stress is likely to wake up in middle of the night.

Moreover the consumption of water helps our body from dehydrating because dehydration causes fatigue, which in turn hampers the management of stress situations.
17.Meditation

Doctors say that the most powerful tool for treating stress is meditation. Specifically meditation clears the mind and helps us to concentrate better. It has been proven that fifteen minutes meditation can rest our body and mind as if we had an hour of sleep, but even the start of the day with two minutes meditation can be beneficial. Sit with your spine vertical and simply stop thinking. It may help you focus on a single word. The meditation helps one to forget thoughts and concerns contributing to stress.
18.Balanced Diet

When someone is stressed, it is a natural reaction to look at junk food. But carbohydrates located predominantly in snacks also increase insulin, which can force your body tired, leaving you with a feeling of exhaustion or a bad mood. [See also "30 Tips for better Health" and "6+1 Ways to improve your mood"]

Having a balanced diet and regular meals is a good way to fight stress, and balanced levels of sugar in the body. If you spend 4-5 hours without a meal, it is very likely to turn to the junk food.
19.Sex

If not already Did no know it, sex is a good cure for almost everything. Sex can also assist in the removal of stress. Doctors say it is a fantastic way to unlock anger or bad energy and stress. If accompanied by a relationship of love then it will be more beneficial, as it gives the feeling of satisfaction and completeness.
20.Sleep

When someone feels tired, it is not easy to deal with stress situations. Not having a good sleep is affecting every aspect of our day and can make any problem seem worse than it really is. If you have trouble sleeping, it may be directly related with stress. Try to get a power nap during the day, in conjunction with exercise and healthy eating.
21.Get professional treatment

A visit to a psychologist or psychiatrist can help someone identify the problems that create stress. The therapy sessions are also beneficial because it will allow us to express any negative thinking. A specialist has been able to give advice for relaxation and stress freethinking as well as a positive guidance to address problems and stress.

Remember everyone is affected by stress in one-way or another. Managing stress is not as difficult as it sounds. It is a matter of how we think for different situations we are engaged and also it is a matter of following some simple tips and techniques on how to manage stress.

Debbie Williams

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Posted 10 years ago   
Those are some great tips Jodie. My belief is that stress & how we cope with it is the major factor determining why some people who live in higher risk situations for cancers, alzheimers disease etc never get those type of illnesses.

I really believe (personal belief - not scientific fact obviously) if you are able to manage your stress effectively it can greatly reduce the chance of your body succumbing to those kind of major illnesses or increase your chance of completing therapy successfully if you do contract cancer..

It's the reason that I've always tried to let go of anger and irritation as fast as possible, to accept that others have a right to a different view point than me (long as they don't try to stuff theirs down my throat too much lol) and eat a reasonably balanced diet in spite of my love of chocolate and unhealthy carbs...

I manage my anger and frustration with visualisation and breathing, I also love music and dancing. Bopping along to one of my favourite tunes can really get rid of stress / anger / frustration fast, course thats not terribly practical if I'm in a business situation...

Jodie Floss

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Posted 10 years ago   
So we've pretty much covered stress and it's management. If you have any questions please feel free to ask! I don't bite!
Tomorrow we'll start a new topic!

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