10 Ways to Lessen Morning Stress

Not all people are “morning-people,” case-in-point….my husband is not a morning person, he gets up grumbling about how little sleep he got and demanding to know when someone is going to feed the damn cats. My daughter, is not a morning person. I drive her to school every morning and try to have a 20 minute conversation with her, and all she can say to me is “mom, you know I hate the mornings, please don’t talk.” I have always been a “morning-person.” I get up on the right side of the bed, I feel positive and energized. Here are ten tips to help you kick-start YOUR morning so your days can be less stressed, more productive and at the end you will feel more relaxed.

  • Organize your morning routine. Everyone has one, it’s really a process of getting up and getting on with the day. I once learned in a project management class, that “variance is evil to all processes.” This is true.
  • Set your alarm, snooze once, say to yourself…..”I WILL get up on the next alarm, then do it. Sit on the side of the bed for a minute, stretch your arms and back, take a long deep breath, hold it and then breath out slowly.
  • Use affirming thoughts when you first wake up, stop complaining about how early it is or how you hate your job. There are those less fortunate than you, who wish they had a home, a bed to sleep in and a job to pay the bills.
  • Pamper yourself a little in the morning, use a special soap, shampoo or aromatherapy in the shower. Use scents with energizing aromas like eucalyptus, mint or citrus, to “wake up” the senses.
  • If you like coffee in the morning, set the pot the night before so you wake up to the smell of your favorite blend. When you step out of the shower, go get yourself a cup while you shave or do your make-up.
  • Eat something with protein in it to get the brain and metabolism going.
  • Feel prepared for your day. If you need to go to a destination you’ve never been to before, use a navigator or mapping program. Make sure the car is full of gas and you know where your keys are.
  • Expect the unexpected and then don’t be surprised when it happens. If you know traffic is a nightmare, plan alternate routes.
  • Plan for the weather.
  • Make extra copies for your early morning meetings, don’t expect the secretary to do it, because this will be the day she calls out sick.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. The idea is the more you plan and prepare, the better you will feel. More than half of really living is a “mind-set,” if you wake up telling yourself you hate your life and it’s going to be a crappy day, then, guess what? It will.

If you agree, disagree or just want to add a tip or two, feel free to comment.

Photography as a Hobby can be Very Relaxing

How many of you out in the blogosphere have a hobby? Something that you really enjoy engaging in and investing your time in?

One of the most important aspects of relaxation is taking up a hobby as a means of enjoyment and personal fulfillment. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, although those of you who golf and need to have a set of those Calloway Clubs….well, have at it! Whatever makes you happy….right? But for now, let’s talk photography, taking digital pictures of anything you want and experiencing the immediate gratification that only a Polaroid could produce once invented by Edwin H. Land in 1944.

Digital photography has come along way, and digital cameras can do truly amazing things now. I use a Panasonic Lumix, DCM-ZS8 with a 16x Optical Zoom. It can take photos up to 14 mega-pixels, although I rarely use that setting and am normally happy with the quality of a 5 mega-pixel photo. My daughter, Amanda uses a Canon Rebel T….something which is much more expensive but can do much more than my Panasonic, including changing the lenses. Her photos can be seen at her blog Mandy Moon.

Anyway, if you don’t have a hobby or even if you do, like feeding the birds or gardening, it can be so gratifying to wander around your yard at different times of the year shooting pictures and seeing the beauty in what you have created.

Please have a less stressed day and week ahead. Mercedes.

Proper Sleep Essential for Feeling Refreshed

No one really thinks about the mattress they sleep on. Often times it’s a piece of forgotten and taken for granted furniture.

People generally change out the dining and living room furniture before they buy a new mattress and box springs. At least my husband and I fell into that category. But let me ask you a question….how long do you generally sit at the dining room table or on the sofa? My guess is probably anywhere between 30 minutes to 3 hours, depending on how long the football game goes into overtime. Now, answer the same question about your bed? The answer should be at least 6 to 8 hours per night, every night of the year, with the exception of vacations. And by the way, if you stay at even a moderately priced hotel, chances are their mattress is more comfortable than the old thing, you failed to replace.

My husband and I had our mattress for 17 years….now before you all start with the OMG’s, think about when you last switched out your mattress? I guess with us, the feeling was, “there is something more important we need to spend that money on….” I mean, our children had a better mattress set than us. So where am I going with this?

OK, we finally bit the bullet, bought a Simmons Beautyrest firm mattress with pillow-top. We shopped around for a couple of days, and by the way….I found out, you have to lay down on those mattresses in the store. Don’t be shy about it either, take off your shoes and really lay down….like you would at home. Do you test drive a car before you buy it? Expect to pay in the range of $1,000.00 to $1,500.00, for a pretty good one and if you have to have the “sponge mattress,” that sucks your body into it….what’s it called? Tempurpedic….well then, you’re talking $4,000.00 minimum.

What I’m getting at fellow stress reducers…is that ever since we got that new mattress, we have both been sleeping like babies. My husband has back issues, and he has not complained once since sleeping on this mattress. The bottom line, is you need good rest to be able to face the next day. You need a retreat, a bed that is comfy, cozy and inviting. And other than the actual mattress set, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on the headboard and pillows. As a matter of fact, I reused my original headboard and painted it. Purchased the pillows for cheap at the local Hobby Lobby on sale.

So next time you are considering a new sofa set, think about your own comfort and the amount of time you sleep on that old worn out mattress.

Please have a less stressed day. Mercedes.

Eat More Chocolate

With today being the day after Halloween, the night of tricks and mostly treats…..as in candy, and hopefully chocolate candy, I thought I’d write this article.

Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals, which can cause damage that leads to heart disease. Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries). Flavonoids also help relax blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide, and balance certain hormones in the body.

 

A new Harvard study found that eating a small square of dark chocolate daily can help lower blood pressure for people with hypertension. It found that dark chocolate, the kind that contains at least 50 to 70 percent cocoa, lowered blood pressure in all participants, but most notably in those with hypertension. Dark chocolate also appears to affect cholesterol. The Harvard researchers found some evidence for a small decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol and a significant increase in HDL (good) cholesterol.

 

But it doesn’t stop there….More benefits of eating dark chocolate include:

  • ·         it tastes good
  • ·         it stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure
  • ·         it contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant
  • ·         it contains theobromine, caffeine and other substances which are stimulants

 

Yes, but isn’t chocolate fattening? Not Dark Chocolate…..

Some of the fats in chocolate do not impact your cholesterol. The fats in chocolate are 1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid and 1/3 palmitic acid:

  • ·         Oleic Acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in olive oil.
  • ·         Stearic Acid is a saturated fat but one which research is shows has a neutral effect on cholesterol.
  • ·         Palmitic Acid is also a saturated fat, one which raises cholesterol and heart disease risk.

That means only 1/3 of the fat in dark chocolate is bad for you. The fattest and highest carbohydrate chocolates are milk chocolate, because cream and sugar are primary ingredients. And did you know that white chocolate, isn’t chocolate at all? There is no cocoa in white chocolate and this is the most fattening of all.

So enjoy raiding your kid’s treat bags, hope you find some good chocolate.

Hope you have a less stressed day. Mercedes.

New Experiences at a Discount

For years my husband and I argued about money, I mean….who doesn’t. Whether you are a young couple just starting out, maybe with a baby on the way, a middle-aged couple with kids in college, or an older couple in retirement, and unless you are independently wealthy, money plays a role in almost everything we do or don’t do!

In today’s economy, it’s especially important to watch the purse-strings and keep them as tight as possible, right? But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. Did you know that as we age, we literally forget how to play, how to have fun and when we do just blow off a day, doing whatever we want, there is usually some sort of guilt that follows.

I’m here to tell you to make time for play. Make time to do some of the things on your bucket list. Make time investing in the relationships that mean the most by creating memories of good times. Make time going on a date with your spouse. Make time to find new interests, see new places and eat new foods. Because there is truth and reality in the old saying, “you can’t take it with you.”

What I really want to talk about are today’s new deep discounts for doing just about anything from sky-diving to zip-line riding to trap shooting to a simple elegant dinner at a Tapas Bar. If you just put in a little effort, using you computer or smart phone, you can hunt for great bargains by using some of the most popular discount sites, such as ScoutMob, Living Social or Groupon. Most of the discounts are 50% or more and the intent is to make it more affordable for people to try new businesses who are having a difficult time getting customers in this really crappy economy.

My husband has surprised me with a sky-diving coupon and yes, at 50+ years old, it was on my “bucket-list,” and I’ve done it. We recently went trap-shooting. We have tried so many new restaurants, that we would have never found otherwise.

So if you’ve been skeptical, don’t be….get out there and live life, create some memories and build some relationships and don’t break the bank!

Explore New Hobbies for Relaxation

According to the World English Dictionary, hobby is defined as an activity pursued in spare time for pleasure or relaxation. I have done hundreds of Stress Management and Relaxation Seminars and one of the first questions I ask my audience is “how many of you have a hobby?” It’s amazing how many people don’t. That is to say, they don’t invest time into doing something….anything they truly enjoy for relaxation. Hobbies can be anything from simply reading a favorite book, to scuba diving with all the gear!

I learned how to water-color paint quite by accident and now I find it one of my most relaxing activities.  Although I don’t have time to paint as much as I’d like, I do paint while on vacation and find it most enjoyable. I learned that I wasn’t half bad at it several years ago when I was in college to complete my Bachelors degree in Nursing. I needed to choose an elective and one of the only classes available was “Water-color paints 101.” Now, I do admit that there is a bit of genetic creativity in my family history and perhaps I was channeling my late Great Uncle Paul who was one of the most talented artists I’ve ever known in both oils and water-colors.

The bottom line here folks is to find something you enjoy and “just do it!” As the Nike slogan goes. It’s important to find time for relaxing activities….this is your stress management plan for getting through life. We’ve all heard the old saying…”all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Well, quite frankly, “all work and no play makes Jack and Jill very ill.” Relaxation is YOUR outlet for stress. It’s a way for your body to take a break from the damaging effects of stress. It’s a way for your mind to wander off into calm serene places. And it’s a way to regenerate the soul.

So, let’s get going….get out there and try something new and have fun!

Hope you have a less stressed day.

Mercedes.

Being One with Nature

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our daily lives, the abundance of “stuff” around us, technology and the sheer enormity of people, places and things that touch our lives that we forget about what was here first and in it’s simplest form: NATURE.

If that’s a “run on” sentence, then I’m sorry…blogging is about putting your feelings on paper, or in this case in the blogosphere, it’s not necessarily about being grammatically correct, although spelling does count.

Getting back to Nature, is one of the easiest, most affordable ways to reduce your daily tension and relax. It’s about looking at what’s around you and seeing things in a different way. It’s about bringing out your inner child and looking at the smallest insect or the vastness of the universe at night and letting your mind wander and wonder. Being one with nature, means you are letting yourself become absorbed in what comes natural in life. There is an immediate feeling of relief when you let yourself walk among the trees, lay in a grassy meadow, stare at the movement of the clouds, gaze at the stars or listen to the waves of the ocean.

Remember the old saying, “stop and smell the roses”? The next time you are hurriedly moving through the grocery store and you pass by the florist area, STOP for a second, bend over, close your eyes and smell the roses. For one second in time you will be in another place and that one second might just lift your spirits to get you through the remainder of your day.

Have a less stressed day, Mercedes. 

Organization is the Key to Less Stress

We have all heard of making a “to do,” list to stay organized. And whether you use today’s technology, by inputting the information into your Android or IPhone or using plain old paper and pencil, the results will be the same. You will have a clearer picture of what needs to get done in order to stay organized. And why is it so important to stay organized? Because, long story short, organization is the key to reducing stress and allowing you more time to relax.

A good example is taking a vacation, like I will be doing in less than a week. This is not just any vacation, this is a complicated vacation and a very long list is needed. Taking my daughter and two of her best friends on a cruise to celebrate her Sweet 16 Birthday is no easy task. There are alot of plans to make.  Hell, it almost like plotting the take-over of a major corporation or engineering some new space vessel. Like they say, it’s all in the details!

But getting back to my point, lists can be long and complicated or short and sweet, the fact remains that they all do the same thing; keep you on track to get things done, help you prioritize what is most important and give you a sense of accomplishment as things get crossed off the list. But you might ask, so what if I can’t get it all done in one day? The answer is simple, re-prioritize the list for tomorrow and start new. Each day is a new beginning with challenges and rewards. Making a “to do,” list is just the first step in staying organized. More about the benefits of physically organizing your home, office, work-shop and even car on a later post.

So for now, whether you have big plans or just a few things that need to get done….Make that list and get going! Believe me you will feel better, stay on track and have time to relax.

Please have a less stressed day, Mercedes.

Good News for Failed New Year Resolutions

Research shows that 87% of those who have set a New Year’s resolution will fail within the first 90 days of the New Year. But there is good news, you don’t need to just throw your hands in the air and give up. Guess what is right around the corner, coming March 21st? That’s right the Spring Equinox.

And what better time to renew those old resolutions and try again. Spring is a time for renewal, rebirth and regrowth so why not renew your goals and put a “Spring” in your step while doing it? Most people set unrealistic goals. I want to talk about SMART goals…Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

If your goal is to save money for holiday spending for instance, do the math. What is your time frame and what is the ultimate goal? If the goal is to save $1,000.00 for the holidays, then you know you have 10 months. Divide the goal money by 10 months and you must save $100.00 per month. Now break that down day by day, roughly 300 days and you will need to save only $3.33 per day. What do you purchase on a daily basis that would cost $3.33? A fancy cup of coffee and a doughnut perhaps. An over-priced sandwich and a bag of chips? A package of cigarettes?

You get the picture, now do the same thing with your weight. If I want to lose 20 pounds by April 1st and today is March 1st, well that might not be realistic, however, 10 pounds might be more realistic. You see where I’m going with this right? Now get going and renew those “failed” New Year’s Resolutions.

Have a Less Stressed Day, Mercedes.