Archive for June, 2011

 Stress is evident everywhere in our fast-paced world. It’s a mental, emotional, or physical strain caused by anxiety or overwork. We all feel stress and often suffer the results of it in some way or other.

What you are about to read can have a significant impact on the levels of stress you experience. This post is not about how to deal with stress; it’s about how to reduce and avoid it.

Most of the stress we experience can be broken down into three categories.

1. Stress we can’t control—such as the loss of a job, loss of a loved one, or encountering major health challenges.

2. Natural stress—such as what we feel when we set goals, push ourselves outside our comfort zones, and strive to get better.

3. Stress we can control—such as being late to an appointment, having a breakdown in a relationship, or getting upset sitting in traffic.

When you identify and learn how to manage the things that create stress, you will experience improvements in every area of your life—from your relationships to your performance, from your health to your outlook on life.

Let me encourage you to print these 33 points and highlight the ones that you are determined to work on. The realization that you are in control of your stress is the foundation of stress management.

1. Don’t over commit. Whether in your personal or professional life, learn your limits and set boundaries. Know when to say, “No!” Don’t take on more than you can reasonably handle.

2. Avoid people who stress you out. If someone is a constant source of stress and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person, or end the relationship entirely.

3. Avoid heated topics. You know the topics that cause your blood pressure to rise, so learn to avoid them.

4. Practice relaxation techniques. Techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response—a state of restfulness opposite of the stress response. When practiced regularly, you will enjoy a reduction in your everyday stress levels, benefit by a boost in your feelings of peace and serenity, and increase your ability to stay calm under pressure.

5. Change how you view things. Practice viewing stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than getting stressed out about sitting in traffic, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, to listen to your favorite music or self-improvement CD, or to just enjoy some quiet time.

6. Practice positive thinking. How you think can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical well-being. People who maintain a positive attitude and practice positive thinking experience less stress than those who are pessimistic and negative.

7. Anticipate problems. When issues arise, address them head on before they escalate. The best way to avoid big problems is by addressing them when they are small.

8. Express your feelings. When something or someone is upsetting you, learn to communicate your concerns in an open and respectful manner. Even if it’s just sharing what you are going through with a friend, you will likely feel better.

9. Practice good time management. Every improvement you make in how you spend your time gives you greater control of your life and plays a small role in reducing your everyday stress levels.

10. Don’t procrastinate. Putting things off until the last minute is a guaranteed way to increase your stress levels. Start doing what you know you should do when you know you should do it. Become a do-it-now person.

11. Stop striving for perfection. We should push ourselves to improve and to always do our best, BUT we need to know when something is good enough. On a scale of 1-10, start shooting for 8’s and 9’s.

12. Look for the upside. When problems and challenges present themselves, look at them as opportunities for personal growth. The next time you are faced with a challenge remember this African proverb: “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”

13. Set aside relaxation time. Block out time each day to rest, relax, and recharge your batteries. Look at your daily schedule and identify one or more periods of time when you can take a break. Do something you enjoy during these blocks of time.

14. Keep your sense of humor. Smiling and laughing are great ways to reduce stress.

15. Exercise regularly. It is well documented that physical activity plays a key role in reducing the effects of stress on the body. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. A brisk walk can do wonders to reduce stress.

16. Consume healthy food and beverages. When we nourish our bodies with healthy foods and beverages our bodies are better prepared to cope with stress.

17. Get enough sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep allows you to rest your mind and body. When you are tired and fatigued, you experience more stress than when you are fresh and full of energy.

18. Use a “To Do” list. Writing down everything you need to do in a prioritized sequence is a huge stress reducer. When you are doing exactly what you should be doing in the exact sequence in which things need to be completed, you will feel more at peace.

19. Don’t accept stress. Refuse to get stressed out. As an example, if you are feeling stress because of everything you have to do, but yet you are giving 100% of yourself and you are working on things in a prioritized sequence, say, “I’m doing all I can do.” This is a conversation I have with myself several times each week as I consider all that I have to do.

20. Put together a debt-reduction plan. Putting together a plan to decrease your debt will do wonders to reduce financial stress. Much of the financial pressure people live with is a result of not having a budget or plan.

21. Build valued relationships. If you put an emphasis on building valued relationships, you will not only find greater enjoyment in life, but you will have fewer conflicts. Spending time with positive and encouraging people makes you feel better and reduces stress.

22. Stop stressing over little things. So much stress comes from getting worked up over petty little things—such as the person driving slowly in front of you, or listening to someone who has an opposing view on an insignificant subject. Use your self-control to ignore the little things that bug you.

23. Learn to respond, not react. When something upsets you, don’t react in haste. Instead pause and consider the best way to respond—a way that you will be proud of later.

24. Write things down. Stop trying to remember everything; start taking notes or making lists. This frees the mind and, because you don’t need to remember things, you will feel a whole lot less stress.

25. Don’t pick fights. You know the types of things that cause conflict. Unless it is something really important to you, learn to let it go.

26. Plan ahead and arrive early. We have all experienced the stress of running late for an appointment. When you have to be somewhere at a specific time, plan ahead and arrive early.

27. Stop expecting people to live by your rules. Dealing with unmet expectations is a huge source of stress. Make sure you set proper expectations for yourself. When you set expectations for others, make sure they understand them. Expecting people to fulfill your unspoken expectations is a sure fire way to get a dose of unwanted stress.

28. Get organized. How do you feel when your home, car, or workplace is a mess, or when you are working on a project and can’t find things? Take the time to get organized; then do the little things each day to stay organized.

29. Present yourself as being calm and in control. When you present yourself in this manner, you will feel less hurried and more confident, both of which will reduce the stress you feel.

30. Learn to estimate how long activities take. Start tracking how long things take to complete. In most cases, the actual amount of time it takes to do something is more than you initially estimated. By clearly understanding how long an activity “really” takes, you can better control your schedule and commitments.

31. Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control, including the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control, such as how you should respond to them.

32. Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that we all make mistakes. Let go of anger, resentment, and negative energy by forgiving those who have hurt you.

33. Be grateful. Take time each day to reflect on the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This will increase your happiness and help you keep things in perspective.

Let me encourage you to take some time and make a list of the things that cause you to feel stressed. As you look at each point, determine what you can do to reduce the stress it causes you.

As you go about each day, be aware of your stress levels and their sources. If watching the news impacts your stress levels, then stop watching it. If some of your choices are creating stressful situations, then learn from them and avoid them in the future.

Managing stress is all about taking control of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun.

What helps you reduce or avoid stress? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below this post.

Learning how to avoid and reduce stress is one of the most important skills you can master, not only for your own health and happiness but also because of how your stress levels impact those close to you.

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About the Author: Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 30 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts. (Todd’s podcasts are ranked #24 in America’s top 100 podcasts and #1 in the personal and development field.)

There’s an awesome scripture that promises:  “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” ~ Malachi 4:6

This scripture is a promise from the Lord. God desires us to be in harmony with our families. If we are not, we won’t have the capacity to reveal to them the peace love they  need   from our hearts.  Why is the heart the center of this passage? The meaning of the heart when explored further, meant: a place of ‘understanding, determination, passion and courage; the seat of the soul (our mind, will and emotions.)’ Interesting how all that pertains to our heart rests with our understanding and compassion.  Thusly, according to this passage of scripture, our fathers  ( and mothers) can influence all these parts of our lives and possibly even ‘unknowingly’ – by simply being present or absent in our lives. Our hearts are connected to our families as we seek out this passion in life. God has a plan for us, yet we have to fit into His plans, in order to fulfill our purpose.

When God sends out this promise – He wants children and fathers to allow their hearts to dispense the love that makes wrongs right, to minister justly unto our hearts of injury and wrong unto done us in times past; and to seek to restore that which will mend and heal us.

What encourages these actions of peace and resolve? Repentance. Prayers. Commitment. Interest. Pleasure. Praise. Contentment. Order. Friendship. Respect. Worthiness. There are so many actions of peace. And they all can be modeled.

What are the actions of unrest? Discord. Futility. Neglect. Ignorance. Mistrust. Violence. Anger. Detestableness. Revenge. Spitefulness. Alienation. Quarrelsomeness. These can be modeled as well.

Deuteronomy 30:17-20 puts it simply: “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed… Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”

This is  a passage of direction about our choices. You can make the choice by loving the Lord, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him and your choices will be forever effected towards good. This is the key to your life.

I once experienced the call of a child’s heart to her father. I was employed as a school counselor and a troubled mother brought her beautiful little girl to my office before school because she could not get her to stop crying. Before me stood a little girl of six yrs. with a face full of tears — who simply wanted her Daddy’s love. She came to school crying and sobbing… because she was in pain – and she couldn’t see her Daddy. Her mom explained…”I haven’t seen him, ..I don’t know where He is…I cannot get him or make him come to see her!” She explained her father used to come around and she was missing him badly and longing for him and had not seen him in quite some time. It was hard to help her. I didn’t know what to do… so I sat quietly with her and just prayed to myself, and for her. As she cried and exclaimed: “I want my daddy!” and sobbed. I pondered in my soul: ‘What makes a child heart hurt so badly when her father is absent? And now again…I wonder… had this father’s heart not been turned towards his child?? What prevented it?’ I really had no answers. All I knew was this –  her heart was turned immensely in that moment towards her father’s heart. And I was there to feel her pain. Her grief. Her distanced hope and pray for her yearning. I am sure many mothers and even some fathers, have felt this for their children.

Like this little sister…I recall several times in my life when my father’s influence over my life –was so crucial. I notice sometimes, even as an adult,  that I tend to gravitate towards my dad when making a really BIG decision. I don’t believe this is a coincidence. I believe it’s a spiritual plea of God’s divine order. I have noticed the order of God’s plan is that we yearn for our families to be in harmony. I still acknowledge the power of my dad to influence my decisions, even as an adult. Many of us don’t have the grace (goodness) provided in having such a father (or mother) to help influence our decisions, nor do we want them to.

If that’s you… please take the time to consider the love of your Heavenly Father. He has adopted us into His plan. And He makes all things new. He doesn’t make mistakes. Ask Him to come into your heart and help you take to take heed to His ways so you are blessed with His wisdom, His understanding today, and His love — and most of all – His forgiveness.

Copyright 2009 – Jennifer Owens ~All right reserved.

Jennifer is an avid  writer, author, child advocate and therapist whose spiritual blog can be found at


We all have a need to get the ‘hard stuff’ of life out of ouy way and lives, in order that the next generation of children won’t be harmed emotionally.  Sometimes we need to take time to search our hearts and mind and make amends.

This article is by Katherine M Piderman, Ph. D –  The Mayo Clinic :

When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge or embrace forgiveness and move forward. Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Your mother criticized your parenting skills. Your friend gossiped about you. Your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness and even vengeance.

But when you don’t practice forgiveness, you may be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Here, Katherine M. Piderman, Ph.D., staff chaplain at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., discusses forgiveness and how it can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

What is forgiveness?

There’s no one definition of forgiveness. But in general, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentments and thoughts of revenge. Forgiveness is the act of untying yourself from thoughts and feelings that bind you to the offense committed against you. This can reduce the power these feelings otherwise have over you, so that you can a live freer and happier life in the present. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Doesn’t forgiving someone mean you’re forgetting or condoning what happened?

Absolutely not! Forgiving isn’t the same as forgetting what happened to you. The act that hurt or offended you may always remain a part of your life. But forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness also doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act.

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

Researchers have recently become interested in studying the effects of being unforgiving and being forgiving. Evidence is mounting that holding on to grudges and bitterness results in long-term health problems. Forgiveness, on the other hand, offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Stress reduction
  • Less hostility
  • Better anger management skills
  • Lower heart rate
  • Lower risk of alcohol or substance abuse
  • Fewer depression symptoms
  • Fewer anxiety symptoms
  • Reduction in chronic pain
  • More friendships
  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater religious or spiritual well-being
  • Improved psychological well-being

Why do we hold grudges and become resentful and unforgiving?

The people most likely to hurt us are those closest to us — our partners, friends, siblings and parents. When we’re hurt by someone we love and trust — whether it’s a lie, betrayal, rejection, abuse or insult — it can be extremely difficult to overcome. And even minor offenses can turn into huge conflicts.

When you experience hurt or harm from someone’s actions or words, whether this is intended or not, you may begin experiencing negative feelings such as anger, confusion or sadness, especially when it’s someone close to you. These feelings may start out small. But if you don’t deal with them quickly, they can grow bigger and more powerful. They may even begin to crowd out positive feelings. Grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility take root when you dwell on hurtful events or situations, replaying them in your mind many times.

Soon, you may find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. You may feel trapped and may not see a way out. It’s very hard to let go of grudges at this point and instead you may remain resentful and unforgiving.

How do I know it’s time to try to embrace forgiveness?

When we hold on to pain, old grudges, bitterness and even hatred, many areas of our lives can suffer. When we’re unforgiving, it’s we who pay the price over and over. We may bring our anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Our lives may be so wrapped up in the wrong that we can’t enjoy the present. Other signs that it may be time to consider forgiveness include:

  • Dwelling on the events surrounding the offense
  • Hearing from others that you have a chip on your shoulder or that you’re wallowing in self-pity
  • Being avoided by family and friends because they don’t enjoy being around you
  • Having angry outbursts at the smallest perceived slights
  • Often feeling misunderstood
  • Drinking excessively, smoking or using drugs to try to cope with your pain
  • Having symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • Being consumed by a desire for revenge or punishment
  • Automatically thinking the worst about people or situations
  • Regretting the loss of a valued relationship
  • Feeling like your life lacks meaning or purpose
  • Feeling at odds with your religious or spiritual beliefs

The bottom line is that you may often feel miserable in your current life.

How do I reach a state of forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. It can be difficult and it can take time. Everyone moves toward forgiveness a little differently. One step is to recognize the value of forgiveness and its importance in our lives at a given time. Another is to reflect on the facts of the situation, how we’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected our lives, our health and our well-being. Then, as we are ready, we can actively choose to forgive the one who has offended us. In this way, we move away from our role as a victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in our lives.

Forgiveness also means that we change old patterns of beliefs and actions that are driven by our bitterness. As we let go of grudges, we’ll no longer define our lives by how we’ve been hurt, and we may even find compassion and understanding.

What happens if I can’t forgive someone?

Forgiveness can be very challenging. It may be particularly hard to forgive someone who doesn’t admit wrong or doesn’t speak of their sorrow. Keep in mind that the key benefits of forgiveness are for you. If you find yourself stuck, it may be helpful to take some time to talk with a person you’ve found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider or an unbiased family member or friend.

It may also be helpful to reflect on times you’ve hurt others and on those who have forgiven you. As you recall how you felt, it may help you to understand the position of the person who hurt you. It can also be beneficial to pray, use guided meditation or journal. In any case, if the intention to forgive is present, forgiveness will come in its time.

Does forgiveness guarantee reconciliation?

Not always. In some cases, reconciliation may be impossible because the offender has died. In other cases, reconciliation may not be appropriate, especially if you were attacked or assaulted. But even in those cases, forgiveness is still possible, even if reconciliation isn’t.

On the other hand, if the hurtful event involved a family member or friend whose relationship you otherwise value, forgiveness may lead to reconciliation. This may not happen quickly, as you both may need time to re-establish trust. But in the end, your relationship may very well be one that is rich and fulfilling.

What if I have to interact with the person who hurt me but I don’t want to?

These situations are difficult. If the hurt involves a family member, it may not always be possible to avoid him or her entirely. You may be invited to the same family holiday gatherings, for instance. If you’ve reached a state of forgiveness, you may be able to enjoy these gatherings without bringing up the old hurts. If you haven’t reached forgiveness, these gatherings may be tense and stressful for everyone, particularly if other family members have chosen sides in the conflict.

So how do you handle this? First, remember that you do have a choice whether to attend or not attend family get-togethers. Respect yourself and do what seems best. If you choose to go, don’t be surprised by a certain amount of awkwardness and perhaps even more intense feelings. It’s important to keep an eye on those feelings. You don’t want them to lead you to be unjust or unkind in return for what was done to you.

Also, avoid drinking too much alcohol as a way to try to numb your feelings or feel better — it’ll likely backfire. And keep an open heart and mind. People do change, and perhaps the offender will want to apologize or make amends. You also may find that the gathering helps you to move forward with forgiveness.

How do I know when I’ve truly forgiven someone?

Forgiveness may result in sincerely spoken words such as “I forgive you” or tender actions that fit the relationship. But more than this, forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life. The offense is no longer front and center in your thoughts or feelings. Your hostility, resentment and misery have made way for compassion, kindness and peace.

Also, remember that forgiveness often isn’t a one-time thing. It begins with a decision, but because memories or another set of words or actions may trigger old feelings, you may need to recommit to forgiveness over and over again.


What if the person I’m forgiving doesn’t change?

Getting the other person to change their actions, behavior or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. In fact, the other person may never change or apologize for the offense. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you more peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing.

Forgiveness takes away the power the other person continues to wield in your life. Through forgiveness, you choose to no longer define yourself as a victim. Forgiveness is done primarily for yourself, and less so for the person who wronged you.

What if I’m the one who needs forgiveness?

It may help to spend some time thinking about the offense you’ve committed and trying to determine the effect it has had on others. Unless it may cause more harm or distress, consider admitting the wrong you’ve done to those you’ve harmed, speaking of your sincere sorrow or regret, and specifically asking for forgiveness — without making excuses.

But if this seems unwise because it may further harm or distress, don’t do it — it’s not about making yourself feel better by apologizing. You don’t want to add salt to a painful wound. Also, keep in mind that you can’t force someone to forgive you. They will need to move to forgiveness in their own time.

In any case, we have to be willing to forgive ourselves. Holding on to resentment against yourself can be just as toxic as holding on to resentment against someone else. Recognize that poor behavior or mistakes don’t make you worthless or bad.

Accept the fact that you — like everyone else — aren’t perfect. Accept yourself despite your faults. Admit your mistakes. Commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect. And again, talking with a spiritual leader, mental health provider or trusted friend or relative may be helpful.

Forgiveness of yourself or someone else, though not easy, can transform your life. Instead of dwelling on the injustice and revenge, instead of being angry and bitter, you can move toward a life of peace, compassion, mercy, joy and kindness.

Do you know if your son or daughter is an introvert or extrovert?

This factor  is SO important in both getting to know your children and recognize their personalities’ as well as  helping your child to have a ‘ free spirit’ and  to be comfortable being themselves. Take the time to notice if your child is a loner, or needs to learn the social skills necessary in order “be”. Knowing your child’s temperament in this way can offer them better self- confidence.

Consider whether your child is an introvert, they pretty much have all these in common, if they do not they may be more of an extrovert. If they have half of these qualities, they may fall some where in the middle.

_____ When my child needs to rest, they don’t fall asleep easily in a room full of people. They prefer to spend time alone or with one or two close people .

_____ My child prefers to color or to write more than she likes to be active and jump around and play.

_____ My child likes to listen and observe more than he/she likes to talk.

_____ Some think my child is quiet, mysterious, aloof or calm.

_____ My child tends to notice details many people don’t see.

_____ My child tends to “zone out” if too much is going on, or escapes to another part of the room.

_____ My child likes to watch an activity for a while before he/she decides to join it.

_____ My child takes in lots of information, and it takes them awhile to sort it out, and put it into words.

_____ My child doesn’t like over-stimulating environments. He/She avoids loud and noisy children or noisy playrooms – they can be a bother.

_____ Sometimes my child has a strong reaction to smells, tastes, foods, weather, noises, etc.

_____My child is creative and/or imaginative.

_____ My child feels drained or irritable after social situations, even when he/she enjoys themselves.

_____ My child can become grouchy if around people or activities too long.

_____ My child often feels uncomfortable in new surroundings.

_____ My child tends to be very friendly, outgoing and has a strong personality .

Taken from the book : The Introvert Advantage, by Marti Olsen

Here’s another awesome article on introverts and extroverts:

An excellent article on introverts:

Here’s another:

The difference between the two:


It’s pertinent parents also know their child’s languages of love, but also that they know their OWN. Here’s a great link to help you, parents!























Author ~ Jennifer Owens ~  In honor of our fathers on Father’s Day