Thursday, September 1, 2016

Ward Off Worry in Five Easy Steps



What is worry? It is a stream of thoughts focused on the fear of what might happen. 

Here’s a five-step plan to minimize needless worry, developed by psychologist Thomas Borkovec, Ph.D., at the Pennsylvania State University. The idea is to acknowledge that you have something worth worrying about, but limit the time you spend worrying to a reasonable level.

  1. Identify your own symptoms of worry, like inability to concentrate, sweaty palms, or feeling as though you’ve got butterflies in your stomach.
  2. Set aside a period of ½ hour every day for the sole purpose of worrying.
  3. Write down a list of things that you plan to worry about during the assigned period.
  4. Use your worry time as a problem-solving session, to work on solutions and remedies.
  5. If you find yourself worrying at other times of the day, distract yourself by actively pursuing a chore or deliberately thinking of something else, or use the thought stopping technique.



Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010. www.healthylife.com

Monday, August 1, 2016

Say No to Stressful Thoughts



When negative thoughts or worries stand in the way of feeling good, a technique called thought stopping is an effective way to eradicate them. The trick is to recognize negative thoughts, then reduce their impact. Here’s what to do:

  1. Isolate the stressful thought.
  2. Close your eyes and focus on it briefly.
  3. Count to three.
  4. Imagine a stop sign, a flashing red light, or the word “stop” in bold letters.
  5. If the thought’s still present, repeat steps 3 to 5.
You can use this technique anytime you find yourself obsessed with negative thoughts.


Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010. www.healthylife.com

Friday, July 1, 2016

Make Stress Work for You



Lots of people have learned to tame stress by refusing to accept defeat in the face of negative forces. Instead, they meet stress head on, with a positive outcome. In other words, if you can use a negative event (like losing a job) to motivate you to take positive action (like getting a better job), you can beat stress at its own game.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Try not to think of setbacks as defeats.
  • View stress as an energizer. Consider each new demand as a challenge, no matter how forbidding it may seem.
  • Always ask yourself, “What’s the best that can happen?” rather than “What’s the worst possible outcome?”
  • Take  charge. Although you can’t control other people’s actions, you can control your response to what comes your way. When it comes to managing your emotions, you’re the boss.
  • Don’t try to please everyone – you can’t.
  • Get the big picture. Think in terms of long-range goals, not just day-to-day problems.


Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010. www.healthylife.com


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Burned Out?



Burnout isn’t something that hits out of the blue. Rather, burnout is a long, slow process arising from repeated frustration and unmet expectations. Some symptoms include:

  • Loss of energy
  • Weariness
  • Self-doubt
  • Reduced efficiency
  • Apathy

Different people respond to burnout in different ways: by feeling guilty or irritable, denying anything’s wrong, blaming others, or working even harder. These responses are futile and only fan the flames. 

Here’s what you can do to prevent burnout or nip it in the bud:

  • Pay attention to any signals your body is sending. Insomnia, overeating, and other minor complaints may be signs of burnout.
  • Ask yourself what you really expect to accomplish in your career or personal life. Are your expectations realistic? If not, re-evaluate your goals and make sure they’re reachable.
  • Mentally distance yourself from work.
  • Treat yourself to something special from time to time. A pleasant break, a change of scenery, or a slight indulgence can reduce negative feelings that often lead to burnout.
  • Reduce work hours – if possible. Take breaks. Learn to delegate some tasks.
  • Learn meditation or practice other relaxation techniques to help you through stressful periods.
  • Pursue some kind of physical activity.  


Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010. www.healthylife.com



Sunday, May 1, 2016

Keep Cool in a Crisis



If you’re going through a crisis, your view of the world probably isn’t too rosy. Sudden, sometimes unexplainable events like loss of a job, death of a loved one, or illness or injury throw people into an emotional abyss.

Much of the stress triggered by a crisis arises from our perception of the event – whether we view a crisis as a challenge or a threat, an opportunity or a ticket to doom. 

Here are some skills that are useful for putting crises into perspective and surviving with minimal damage to emotional health.

  • Visualize the future in positive, healing ways.
  • Learn to physically relax. It’s hard to feel tense when your body is completely relaxed.
  • Be realistic when you describe your situation to yourself and others. Avoid exaggerating or using emotionally charged words like “never,” “always,” or “hate.”
  • Take one day at a time. Set goals you can measure and achieve, and don’t demand too much of yourself.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be bogged down in self-pity, but be willing to accept help from others. Love, friendship, and social support are powerful coping tools for managing stress.
  • Remember, you’re not alone. Whatever you’re going through, others have experienced and survived. You will, too.


Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010. www.healthylife.com