I heed my own advice – reduce stress to find more fulfilment in life!

It is a year since I shared my last insight. At the time I was in a difficult and uncomfortable situation as I could not use my right arm or hand without causing pain.   My neck and shoulder complained during the day and  I was unable to sleep without waking on several occasions. In retrospect it is obvious that I had become quite depressed.

Like so many of us with demanding careers,  I had been leading a very busy, lop-sided  lifestyle without really taking stock of the toll this was taking on both body and mind… and the quality of my personal life. I had not heeded warnings over many months – and indeed years – about the need for me to create more balance in my life. In addition to the pressures of the everyday, managing my consultancy, spending hours on end tapping the keys of a computer in my study or sitting bent over various hand held devices had taken its toll. Ironically, much of the focus of my writing and speaking during that time had referred to how important it is to take steps to counter the stresses so prevalent in our lives today!

As my last insight indicated, I found solace from  many of the pressures of everyday life by enjoying relaxing in a bath.  However, this was not enough to remedy the challenges of my body that was insisting I make changes in the way I was living my life.

The good news is that I was forced to stop and take stock and make decisions that would help me to heal and to create better health and more joy.  I am pleased that I decided not to have surgery as recommended. Instead  I made the decision to stop and take stock of what changes I could make to improve my health and reduce stress. It was obvious to me that I needed to  focus on what I could do to help strengthen my body and avoid an operation. As well as committing to daily doses of muscle strengthening exercises,  I also decided to avoid the computer where possible and to reduce my work commitments.   By doing so I became aware of how little time I had spent enjoying simple things that I had once taken for granted such as walking barefoot along a beach, catching up with friends on a regular basis, attending body balance classes and enjoying a breadth of cultural  and social pastimes with my partner.

Now, a year later, I feel renewed. My muscle strengthening exercises have been effective and I am now able to use my right arm and hand without pain though I avoid spending much time at the keyboard. The decision my partner Stephen and I made to move  from living in the city to be by the bay was a wonderful prescription to improve my health.  We spend much more quality time together and enjoy sharing interests and activities with family and friends.

What lies ahead?   Instead of thinking it time for me to bring my career to a close, I am now keen to continue striving to make a positive difference in as many lives as I can through my work – while ensuring that I practice what I preach. Often we teach best that which we most need to learn!

What changes  can you make to reduce stress and create more balance and fulilment in you life?

 

Managing stress is key to enjoying life and relationships…

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…so why are bathtubs going out of fashion?

Over the many years I have tapped the keyboard for countless hours about the importance of taking time out to care of ourselves if we are to counter the seemingly endless pressures of life today. Alas it seems I did not practice what I preach!  Several weeks ago, after having spent so much time at the computer, my body finally complained such that I could not tap the keys without shooting pain in my right arm and hand. As I had been finding it difficult to sleep and to enjoy life  I’m sure it had also been trying times for my partner, Stephen..  

,After viewing an x-ray, my doctor referred me to a surgeon who suggested that he operate on my neck and hand. For me surgery was an extreme and unappealing first option, especially given that it would focus on the symptoms rather than the cause of my body’s distress.  So instead I decided to take ‘stress leave’ from my everyday commitments and focus on strengthening muscles, working with a physio and taking time out. Relaxing in a bath – with bubbles! –  has also been high on my list of ‘to dos’ every day to take better care of myself

When house hunting recently with my partner Stephen,  I was surprised and disappointed to find that several of the advertised houses that offered features we sought – including a sea view and two bathrooms – only had showers.  A number of real estate agents told us this is common, especially in newer properties. It would also seem a trend in hotel accommodation as when booking a room last month for an interstate trip I was advised by reception that most of the suites had been recently renovated and that only those not yet updated still contained a bath!

The good news is that we now reside in a home by the sea which contains a bath and I continue to focus on taking better care of me.

What are you doing to take care of you?

Taking a bath may be ‘old fashioned’ or something you do not enjoy.  However, to prevent the distress caused by stress, it is important to take time out regularly to let your mind and body relax –  it will make a positive difference to your health and your relationships!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What would I like to have written on my tombstone?

 …a valuable question to ponder!

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Rather than a morbid exercise, reflecting on how we would like to be remembered can be a valuable key to creating more fulfillment in our lives.  In seminars I have led over the years, many participants have said that taking time to think about this simple question has led to their making decisions that were positive and life changing.

All too often we can get caught up in the ‘busyness’ of our lives.  This is frequently driven by the desire to meet expectations that are held of us by family, colleagues, friends and the world at large rather than what really matters to us. For many today it is a career focus that is all consuming, leaving little time ‘to smell the roses’ let alone nourish our need for love.

I recall ‘Jasmine’, an attractive woman in her early 50’s, who came to my consultancy to meet a potential partner.  Given her high IQ had been evident from childhood it was assumed she would follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a specialist surgeon…and she did.  While there were benefits she enjoyed from her career, Jasmine had never shared life with a partner nor had a child, something she now sadly rued.

A year before contacting me. Jasmine had taken long service leave to think about what she really wanted in her life.  During this time she had joined an art class. To her surprise she discovered she delighted in expressing her creativity…and decided to focus full time on becoming an artist.

During her initial discussion with me, Jasmine said that taking time out to think about what she would like to have writ about her life was simply that ‘she loved and was loved’. While this was not limited to sharing life with a partner, something she did hope to achieve was a loving relationship with a man, preferably one who had children of his own, and experience the joys of giving and receiving in an intimate relationship.

Taking time out to think about what really matters to us in life and how we would like to be remembered can help us to make conscious choices that are life enhancing.

Whatever has happened to My Fair Lady?

…How to handle a woman?

An item for guys that I recently contributed on request to Soot magazine www.sootmagazine.com

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There’s no doubt that achieving a balanced lifestyle can be tough for guys these days – and especially when it comes to relating to the female of the species!  I often hear men who would like to meet that special woman say that they rarely know if a gal is single or interested in them – it seems the innate flirting response has gone missing!  One outcome of this for many a male is that his life lacks the balance that a relationship with a woman brings and spends too much time focused on work – or at the pub – to the detriment of his health and wellbeing.

Not so long ago a man’s role was clear.  He was would take pride in being able to provide for the wellbeing of his wife and children. These days, however, a large percentage of women can expect to have careers in what was once a man’s domain and can provide for their material needs without the support of a partner.  Yet most of those who are single would still prefer to share their personal life in a great relationship. So if you’re a man who is attracted to a woman, don’t assume she is not interested and available.

Whether you meet her through business, via a matchmaker or dating site or in the world at large be aware that the tendency for a woman to focus ‘as if a man’ in her work role is likely to conceal feminine attributes that you can help to flourish as you get to know each other.  If you arrange to meet after work, be aware that the demands of her day may have left her stressed and she needs to relax and unwind…and that listening to her as she does so will boost her feel good hormones!

On a first date I strongly recommend you avoid conversations of any length to do with her work – or about past relationships.  Talking about common interests such as travel, movies or music can help you to both to be at ease.  Also be aware that all too often expectations lead to disappointment.

Don’t look for what is missing in your initial meeting;   focus on enjoying being in the present.   If you have enjoyed your time together let her know that you will contact her within a few days…and do so!

 

Hold and be held…

A simple prescription for health and happiness!

How long is it since you gave – and received – a caring hug?  For many of us these days much of our communication is not face-to-face but via today’s technology. Using telephony and online options such as email, Skype and Facebook are valuable and convenient ways of connecting, especially with family and friends who are not nearby.  However, as human beings, we also need to touch and be touched in the ‘real world’ for our emotional – and physical – wellbeing.

In the late 1970s after reading The Broken Heart, The Medical Consequences of Loneliness, I invited its author, Dr James Lynch, to travel from the US to share his insights with audiences in Australia.  In his controversial book, Dr Lynch revealed valuable information about the importance of touch when it comes to human health.  For example, research indicated that for patients who were unconscious and had erratic heartbeats, just touching and stroking their skin helped to settle the beat of their heart.

Given the increasing incidence of solo households in the western world…currently about 25% of all households in the US and expected to be about 31% in Australia by 2026, I would not be surprised if millions of men and women in the western world had not experienced the warmth of genuine human touch for many weeks or months – if not years. Unfortunately those who are touch-deprived are likely to include couples who live in the same residence but are estranged.

If you need a hug – or know someone who does – take action to hold and be held at the first opportunity you have to do so.  Not only could it be great for the health of you both but also make a positive difference to your day!