Stress Free for the Holidays.......

What a concept!!!! Your holiday experience doesn't have to be havoc and stress as the photo on the right suggests. Is it possible to actually relax and enjoy the holidays without a meltdown. How do you do this? The definitive answer, it depends. If you try to make the make the holidays perfect, then it is quite unlikely that your holidays will be stress free. However, it you go about it with the notion that "the rituals for the holidays can be joyful," then you have a chance. Create positive rituals that are fun, memorable and lasting memories. Either invent fun rituals and experiences, recreate some of your best holiday childhood memories or investigate with friends and family their ideas that will help you make this holiday season fun and a positive lasting memory.
Be true to yourself and keep expectations realistic. Rest, keep alcohol to a minimum, be realistic, say "no" to commitments that overload you, be kind to yourself. In addition, be sure to communicate with friends and loved ones during this holiday season. Reach out and help others for love and support to give you a deeper sense of purpose and meaning for this season. 
Let this be your new motto:

Peak Performance in Sport or Life.......What Matters?

Shooting between heartbeats under tough conditions
Emotionally rewarding athletic development means self-satisfaction resulting from concentrated maximum athletic effort. Love of sport and happiness with personal or professional development will lead to self-actualization, and enhanced self-esteem, and confidence. These are natural biofeedback signals…Listen to them!

Knowing about, and believing in yourself in relationship to your sport is very important. Self-acceptance supports satisfaction with gradual athletic growth. Peak performance is most probable when athletes are in the “zone.” 
This concept applies to athletics, academics, work, and life in general. The psychological principles of peak performance are universal. Learn them in athletics and you can apply them throughout your life.

Professionals can assist you find your own “Zone,” though ultimately, only each athlete can figure it out for themselves. It takes time to sense and voluntarily control entry into the “Zone.” 

Biofeedback training can provide improved concentration, relaxation, control and faster reaction times. Happiness with sport and performance are good starting points for each athlete intent upon discovering their respective Zone of Peak PerformanceOnce the “Zone” is experienced you won’t forget it. Knowledge of it assists in organizing yourself towards getting back into it.  Others experience the “Zone” too, including musicians, artists, and others seeking peak performance experiences. Rock guitarist Carlos Santana has talked about entering his Zone when he records. These principles also apply to work performance, relationships and following your inner compass. Learning to trust yourself, mind and body will help you achieve in any endeavor.

What is your FUN QUOTIENT? (FQ)

We measure IQ, EQ, how about FQ? Today is a good day to take accountability of the fun you are having in your life. Think about the amount of time you decide to dedicate to whatever you consider to be fun. You can actually calculate your FQ by keeping track of the number of hours you spend in a week doing things that are fun and then applying that number to the following equation:
______ ÷ 168 hours per week
= ______ Fun Quotient (# of fun hours per week)
Does your number seem high or low? At least taking time to examine your own perception of the fun you are experiencing in your life may lead to a change in your daily activities and planning. Take a look at your calendar and see if you have written or scheduled any fun into your week. Do you think or talk about your fun activities with friends, partner or family?
Jumping for joy fun may not be your goal for fun, just find your groove to enhance the fun in your life. Fun is a counter balance for stress. What form does your fun take; sleep, art, baking, music, exercise, competing in races, travel, playing with your pet, shopping, trying new coffee houses, playing sports, boating, skiing, hiking or just relaxing without guilt. See what you can do to boost your FQ score. Talk about FQ with others for ideas. Lastly, if you have to do all of your work, chores and obligations before fun, you will never get to it. 

Change........are you with it or against it?

Change is inevitable. What is your stance when it comes to initiating, facing or managing change in your life? Are your excited and positive or fearful and negative. Do you embrace change as a opportunity or a threat? These questions are very relevant when it comes to developing your confidence and self-esteem.
Of course, change can come from many directions. Some is self-guided or initiated,  at other times, changed is from the outside and forced. How you react to change usually derives from you belief systems. When you feel a sense of purpose, get positive reinforcement and build skills from trying new things, the world opens up. On the other had, if you were taught to believe change is bad or scary, resistance and fear will result. 
As you examine your life, consider what you might want to change to improve your life, career, and/or relationships. In the 1970'2, James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente developed a change model for smoking cessation. The model provides a theoretical framework for you to apply to moving forward with initiating change in your life. It begins by understanding that you may not be aware of problems or issues that need to be addressed. This is PRECONTEMPLATION. Once you proceed to the CONTEMPLATION phase, you begin to consider ideas about things you  might want or need to do. This may include gaining new skills, changing jobs, exercising or having more fun in your life. Once contemplation has ripened, the PREPARATION phase begins. This may include taking classes, getting a personal trainer, pursuing a graduate degree, moving or looking for a new job by updating your resume or contacting a head hunter. Once the preparation phase has been completed, you take ACTION to make things happen. that you prepared for. This would be engagement and doing the work required for the changes your pursued. The last phase is MAINTENANCE, to keep up the action you have chosen. Step into change rather than wait for change to happen to you. Resistance to change is usually rooted in fear. What fears do you need to face today?
Avoidance is futile. Therapy and coaching can help you manage the process.


Peak Performance Qualities

Peak performance has several elements for doing your best. Borrowing from athletes could be useful to your career, job performance or your own athletic endeavors. A good place to for you to begin is by examining the elements of mental rehearsal or visual imagery for enhancing your ability to acquire and master new skills. One of the better techniques to utilize for performance is the use of mental or visual imagery.  What can mental imagery be used for?  
  • Familiarize the athlete with a competition site, a race course, a complex play pattern or routine etc.
  • Motivate the athlete by recalling images of their goals for that session, or of success in a past competition or beating a competitor in competition
  • Perfect skills or skill sequences the athlete is learning or refining
  • Reduce negative thoughts by focusing on positive outcomes
  • Refocus the athlete when the need arises e.g. if performance is feeling sluggish, imagery of a previous best performance or previous best event focus can help get things back on track
  • See success where the athlete sees themselves performing skills correctly and the desired outcomes
  • Set the stage for performance with a complete mental run through of the key elements of their performance to set the athlete's desired pre-competition feelings and focus.
Now, take these concepts and translate them to anything you want to do in your life, work, career, relationships or sport. Familiarize yourself with the best practices preparing by finding the right skills to learn, best coaches, teachers, mentors, then focus on approaching your goals with a positive mindset. Once you have established the purpose, meaning and direction you want to take, begin to mentally visualize yourself giving a talk, running a race, starting to become a better leader. One key is to visualize as vividly as possible doing everything exactly as you would like the outcome to be. Athletes don't visual falling, failing or fretting. They visualize precision, execution, to train the brain to react properly in the moment. Thus, no thought is required. Being physically and mentally relaxed allows the mental training to work the magic you have created. Now, close your eyes and rehearse.

7 Cardinal Rules for Life

I recently found this posting on FaceBook and thought it was worth posting. Take a look at the 7 Rules to see how you measure up. Accountably for your happiness lies within. See if you can begin a journey to adopt this rules to nurture your soul. Any burdens you carry for anger, resentment or regret can be released. Free yourself from guilt, worry and unhappiness. Take on one rule an hour, day, week or month and see how your self-worth is enhanced. These are simple, helpful and thoughtful principles to help you feel better about yourself, life, others and heal old wounds.

A Good LIfe.......Requires Gratitude

Think of a pyramid with that is self-reinforcing. Negative thoughts create negative or unpleasant emotions which impact your actions. Getting your mind positive, will get  your emotions positive and change your actions. Optimistism will enhance the quality of your life. Are you having fun in your life? If not, how are you holding yourself back? As the quote says, "Dream Big. 

  • Ask for what you want. 
  • Share how you feel.
  • Take risks
  • Create memories
  • Enjoy the simple things in life.
  • Be kind and thoughtful at all times.

So, what is a good life to you? Have you spent any time tending to all of the blessings you have? If not, a good way to start is by taking time every day to focus on gratitude. Gratitude is a powerful feeling of thankfulness and appreciation. Taking stock of all that brings you joy, love, appreciation whether large of small, is a way to transform your mood, attitude and perhaps happiness. Realization may only be a matter of paying attention to what you value, recognize it and then validate those moments. What can you control? You can control your thoughts, opinions, attitude and people you choose to spend time with. Self-Examination, looking inward with help your journey. Start with gratitude and express it freely and openly. Then, watch your happiness index go up and you will be changing yourself.

What Does It Take to Be Your Best Self?

The best "you" possible has many different elements. As you can see by the graph on the right, ensuring you are doing what you can to take control of your life will create a better "me."  Take time to enhance these essential aspects of your daily routines. For example, 
  1. Give yourself positive affirmation for things you do well. Praise yourself, validate your good deeds and moments.
  2. Develop good "sleep hygiene" with regular bed time, rituals, and quieting moments prior to sleep.
  3. Take control of your schedule by saying "no", cutting back on work, taking vacations and having fun.
  4. Work on relationship building, connection at work and energize yourself with positive challenges.
  5. Eating mindfully, examining your overall health, nutrition, weight, and exercise efforts will give you energy, enhance happiness, and longevity.
  6. Relax your mind and body. Meditation, massages, stress management and self-soothing activities will boost your immune system and invite health and well-being. 
Do this elements seem daunting? If so, start small with low expectations. Get a coach, trainer, nutritionist, therapist to create goals and accountability. Start today!

Emotional Baggage: What is it doing to me?

If you are carrying excessive "emotional baggage" from your childhood or family of origin, it can really weigh you down. It may be time to unload it! Like it or not, all of us unconsciously carry unwanted or even quite destructive consequences with us. 

It may be time to unload and unpack! In psychotherapy, there are many tools and techniques that can help accomplish releasing negative patterns, revealing destructive tendencies, burdens you carry as a result of family experience filled with trauma, abuse, alcoholism or worse. 

Once you begin to acknowledge the damage caused, you can begin to unload it. Unburdening yourself can help lighten your load and free you up. Are you projecting anger? Holding back from really trusting someone? Feeling damaged or unworthy of love?  Throwing up walls? Focused on past hurts? Can't forgive? If any of these are true for you, you are carrying baggage. Taking a look inward may help you find those hidden or blind spots. You psychological past determines to a great extent, your personal health and vitality. If your health or relationships are not what you want them to be, perhaps it is time to take a look inside.

Enhancing Self-Assurance, Self-Esteem

There is a big difference between confidence and self-esteem. Confidence is, "I can do something." Self-esteem is "how you feel about what you do. " Once you accomplish something, the next step is to take a moment to value yourself. Outside compliments are wonderful, but few people can really legimitmately take them in wholeheartedly.    Self-validation, positive self talk, is the best way  build self-assurance. In a recent article by Dr. Phil as seen by this graphic on the right, you can spin the arrow and begin to develop deeper self-acceptance. If you would like to read the article, just click on this link for the Huffington Post review. Ways to Self-Assurance.Below is a brief test Dr. Phil has to measure your self-esteem. Let's see how you do.

A Self-Esteem Quiz

Improving your self-esteem is a lot of work. Start by asking yourself these questions.
1. Is your self-esteem based on what others think of you?
2. Do you do things to make other people happy, even if it makes you feel bad?
3. Do you have a hard time being happy for others when they succeed?
4. Do you call yourself names like "stupid" or "dummy" when you make mistakes — or sometimes even when you don't?
5. Do you have a hard time taking risks?
Scoring:
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your self-concept or self-esteem may be distorted. If you answered yes to three or more, then you are not living authentically. 

The Hero's Journey of Your Life

The time is always..........now.  Of course, now, never waits!!! 
Do you procrastinate having fun? Do you hold yourself back?  Are you afraid to make a mistake? Is fear a factor in your decision making?
If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, it may be time for you to reevaluate your priorities in life.  

What is holding you back? 

There is a notion of readiness. You may need to prepare, learn, read, explore many avenues before you find the right path. This is part of the journey. The best way to accumulate regrets is to postpone seeking joy, purpose and meaning.  The model that best fits facing your fears and taking on challenges comes from The Hero's Journey, by Joseph Campbell. In the Power of Myth PBS series, Joseph Campbell gives you a perspective to help you find your way. There are distinct states to get your own life adventure started.  The Hero's Journey consists of the following passages. To help you unfold your myths, explore these ideas. Tis diagram shows the 12 steps and brief description of each one.


  1. Call to Adventure--This could be a telephone call to try something new or someone asking you to participate in their adventure. Do you answer the call or hang up? You welcome the quest. 
  2. Meeting a Mentor--most likely you will need some help. This is the a way to give you courage, strength, support. A coach, minister, friend, spouse, teacher or motivator.
  3. Challenges and Tests--There path will be fraught with obstacles, and people who will try to discourage you. You will also find allies. Go with them.
  4. The Ordeal--Here you will face your fears and most likely have to deal with a crisis.
  5. The Reward--Time to embrace the rewards of your endeavors, conquering fears, confronting yourself.
  6. The Return--Now, you return with your new found "elixir" of life and changed forever for having taken on the adventure.
Do you answer the call? Time will tell.

Sleep Hygiene.......Teach yourself to sleep.

Insomnia, waking up multiple times, trouble getting to sleep, poor sleep quality is a plague to many people. So, what are the reasons you can't sleep? What can you do about poor sleep? Many factors contribute to poor sleep. For example, medications, anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, work stress all can contribute to sleep problems. So what about sleep medications such as Ambien, Lunesta or other prescriptions? What about Melatonin?  Of course, consult with your doctor to assess or determine if you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder. Once you are medically cleared, consider medications to reset your sleep cycle with the understanding that this is a short-term solution. The mind likes predictability and rest to help you be at your best. Take a few minutes to conduct a brief inventory of your negative thoughts, attitudes and habits associated with your sleep. 
Poor sleep habits include the following:
  • napping during the day
  • drinking caffeine
  • using alcohol or nicotine
  • eating a large meal late at night
  • watching television while in bed
  • watching the clock at night increases stress making it harder to fall asleep
To enhance your sleep environment:
  • block out distractions & noise in your bedroom
  • practice self-soothing or relaxation techniques before sleep
  • go to sleep when you are tired
  • develop a pre-sleep routine or rituals
  • consistently go to bed on a regular schedule
  • balance fluid intake
  • exercise regularly (not too close to bedtime)
Reducing stress, anxiety and reducing fear can help you relax and look forward to getting a good nights sleep. 

Post Script. Alcohol MAY help you get to sleep or make you drowsy, however, the chemistry of your brain is changed such that you don't get to the deep REM sleep you need for complete rest and dreaming. Alcohol is a depressant, so watch out.

Happiness Ingredients


As you look at this graphic of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Where are you? Working on your higher purpose may seem distant and something you do in the future, however, this can create huge problems for your happiness now. What Maslow said was, "what a man can be, he must be." This means now, not later in life. Taking the perspective of living a life of self-actualization of realization of achieving your highest needs in your life. If you believe you will be happy when..............you make so much money, raise your children, get a promotion, marry, divorce or achieve some magical sum of savings in your bank account, you are probably on the wrong track. Postponing fun, travel, and really living creates regrets. Pursue what makes you feel free, happy and creative as possible. When you are stress, worried, anxious or fearful, this is the time to explore how to transcend those blocks. Try considering these 8 ways to self-actualize. Let's talk about how to make your life one of purpose.
1.  Experience things fully, vividly, and selflessly. Throw yourself into the experiencing of something: concentrate on it fully, let it totally absorb you.
2.  Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth): Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.
3.  Let the self emerge. Try to shut out the external clues as to what you should think, feel, say, and so on, and let your experience enable you to say what you truly feel.
4.   When in doubt, be honest. If you look into yourself and are honest, you will also take responsibility. Taking responsibility is self-actualizing.
5.  Listen to your own tastes. Be prepared to be unpopular.
6.  Use your intelligence, work to do well the things you want to do, no matter how insignificant they seem to be.
7.  Make peak experiencing more likely: get rid of illusions and false notions. Learn what you are good at and what your potentialities are not.
8.  Find out who you are, what you are, what you like and don't like, what is good and what is bad for you, where you are going, what your mission is. Opening yourself up to yourself in this way means identifying defenses--and then finding the courage to give them up.

Smoking.........is associated to anxiety, alcohol & drug problems


This cartoon validates the research done at Washington University Medical School mood regulation. According to the researchers, smoking/cigarettes use is undeniably linked to anxiety, depression and use of drugs and alcohol. Nicotine acts to neutralize unwanted emotions by getting to the pleasure center of the brain in about 6 seconds thereby impacting emotions such as anxiety, anger, stress, boredom. Of course, these emotions never get resolved and make the mood problems persist. In fact, the article suggests that to help impact and help people with anxiety moods, smoking addiction MUST be tackled first. The research article recently published online Journal of  Psychological Medicine states that, quitting smoking is linked to better mental health. The study showed that there were significant declines in anxiety, drug and alcohol use. I would add that pain management also fits into this category. Smoking is a distraction from the pain and mood, which delays and can actually prevent healing physically and emotionally.
 "Over 3 years, people who stopped smoking reported a drop in mood disorders, alcohol and drug problems." 
  • "According to the study, "clinicians tend to treat the depression, alcohol dependence or drug problem first and allow patients to 'self-medicate' with cigarettes if necessary," lead investigator Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, an assistant professor of psychiatry, said in the news release. "The assumption is that psychiatric problems are more challenging to treat and that quitting smoking may interfere with treatment." Actually, "these findings suggest a strong link between quitting smoking and improved mental health." To view the article click on the link to this link. Smoking; Mood Study Article
  • Just found an article on Regrets.....below are 2 of the 11 top picks. Smoking ranked #1 and #9 of the 11.  If you want to know all 11 regrets, this is the link: Most Common Regrets
    1. Smoking. A solid 88 percent of the smokers in the survey said they regret taking up smoking.
    2. Not quitting smoking earlier. So smoking was the number one regret on the list... but this point shows even people who *beat* smoking have regrets.

Relationships Need Maintenance, Care, Attention & Nurturance

  • Does your relationship feel flat? 
  • Do you just feel like you are roommates without the excitement, passion and intimacy that brought you together?
  • Are you bored by your relationship?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, it may be time for an overhaul. Elements of a happy marriage or relationship is NOT a secret formula. The tenants of a healthy marriage or partnership involve creating a "culture of praise" within the relationship and life.
Happy relationships have certain characteristics in common. Take time to learn what these are from your partner. John Gottman, Ph.D. a marriage psychologist has some very good, practical formulas for keeping a relationship vibrant. One essential feature of happy couples is that they "Turn Toward" the other 86% of the time. This means, being agreeable, accepting influence and being positive about requests, time together and making your partner feel heard and appreciated. The less happy or unhappy couples only "Turn Toward"  25% of the time. The other two options are even less desirable, in fact, destructive. "Turning Away" or "Turning Against" are harmful. Ignoring, avoiding and becoming hostile churn up a negative sentiment.
A daily goal in your life ought to include making your partner feel loved, valued, appreciated and understood.  Keep the following in mind to keep your relationship running smooth, loving and growing. 


  1. Be attentive with time, attention, affection, fun and creating good memories.
  2. Create positive memories by being active in keeping your relationship vibrant & alive.
  3. Acceptive influence from your partner by having an open mind.
  4. Keep the children in second place. If you put the children above the relationship, the magic is easily lost.
  5. Express your feelings, have conflict, but always make repairs and own your part of the conflict. 
  6. Validate your partner with loads of verbal affirmation, adoring and loving language.
  7. Add your own................
Marriage retreats, even counseling to make a good marriage even better is a great preventive medicine. Ask your partner today, "how can I be a better partner, lover or spouse." Word of caution, don't ask if you aren't ready to do what you need to do or what is asked.

Link to Gottman Books, CDs, & Workbooks