Stress Management for Writers

September 14, 2010

I have a new creation and creative outlet I want to share with you!   I just started a new blog called Stress Management for Writers.

This isn’t for professionals.   It’s for all of you who have ever felt the need to express yourself to the world.

Finding the courage to reach out to others with your feelings and your own personal message is what it’s all about!

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Why crying is a good thing

December 18, 2009

“There is a sacredness in tears.  They are not the mark of weakness, but of power.  They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.  They are messengers of overwhelming grief and unspeakable love.”   –Washington Irving

Biochemist William Frey has spent 15 years studying tears and why we cry.  His team of scientists have found that, although tear production organs were once thought to be unimportant and no longer necessary for survival, tears actually have numerous critical functions.

Tears are an emotional response which only humans have, for only people are known to weep.  While all animals that live in air produce tears to lubricate their eyes, only human beings possess the extensive system that causes us to cry.

Tears are secreted by your lacrimals—tiny, sponge-like glands which rest above the eye against the eye socket. The average person blinks every two to ten seconds. With every blink, the eyelid carries this fluid over your eye’s surface.

One of the most obvious functions of tears is to lubricate your eyeball and eyelid, but they also prevent dehydration of your various mucous membranes, as anyone with ‘dry eye’ problems can attest to.  A severe lack of lubrication produces a condition requiring medication or therapy to save the victim’s eyesight.

Another important function of tears is that they bathe your eyes in lysozyme, one of the most effective antibacterial and antiviral agents known to man.  Amazingly, lysozyme inactivates 90 to 95 per cent of all bacteria in a mere five to 10 minutes. Without it,  eye infections would be much more common and serious.

One amazing discovery is that tear production may actually aid a person in dealing with emotional problems.  Scientific studies have found that after crying, most people do feel better,  and those that suppress their tears do feel worse.

Not unexpectedly, those who suffer from the inherited disease familial dysautonomia not only cannot cry tears, but also have a lesser ability to deal with stressful events in their lives.

In a recent study, tears caused by simple irritants were compared to those brought on by emotion.  Researchers found that stress-induced tears actually remove toxic substances from the body. Volunteers were led to cry first from watching sad movies, and then from freshly cut onions. The researchers found that the tears from the movies contained far more toxic biological byproducts. Weeping, they concluded, is an excretory process which removes toxic substances that normally build up during emotional stress.

The simple act of crying also reduces the body’s manganese level, a mineral which affects mood and is found in up to 30 times greater concentration in tears than in blood serum. They also found that emotional tears contain 24 per cent higher albumin protein concentration than tears caused by eye irritants.

The researchers concluded that chemicals built up by the body during stress were removed by tears, which actually lowered stress. These include the endorphin leucine-enkephalin, which helps to control pain, and prolactin, a hormone which regulates milk production in mammals.

They found that one of the most important of those compounds which removed tears was adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), one of the best indicators of stress.  Suppressing tears increases stress levels, and contributes to diseases aggravated by stress, such as high blood pressure, heart problems and peptic ulcers.

Ashley Montagu concluded that weeping contributes not only to the health of the individual, but also to the group’s sense of community because ‘it tends to deepen involvement in the welfare of others’. Tears are an extremely effective method of communication, and can elicit sympathy much faster than any other means. They effectively relate that you are sincere about a certain concern, and anxious to deal with the problem.

What can we learn from all this? That the seemingly simple and common response of producing tears is enormously complex and, indeed, is an integral and necessary part of being human.  Without tears, life would be drastically different for humans—in the short run enormously uncomfortable, and in the long run our eyesight could be jeopardized.


How to transform negative thought patterns

October 30, 2009

brain photo blog sizeIf you are indeed serious about transforming your life, the first step is changing the way you think about yourself.

This is much harder than you might think, because your brain loves a good routine or pattern, and it is now stuck thinking negative things about you, as discussed previously.

It’s time to start challenging all of your previous assumptions about yourself , who you are, and why you do the things you do.

You must now begin consciously choosing thoughts that are the complete opposite of your usual negative patterns.

Positive thoughts are stronger and more vivid in nature. Like radio signals traveling through space, the waves that have more force behind them counteract those that are weaker in nature. Eventually, the synapses that support negative thoughts dwindle from disuse.

Just by repeatedly thinking something positive about yourself, something you want to think, on a daily basis, you can make your negative thoughts disappear in about 4 weeks. Positive thoughts will then affect your habitual emotions, your self-identifying belief systems, and your interactions with others.

The most well-known positive thoughts are called affirmations.  I’m sure you’ve all heard of these, but they really do work!  These are the chosen thoughts that replace the negative self-talk from childhood.  My favorite is to stand in front of a mirror, look myself directly in the eyes, and say:

“I love you and respect you exactly the way you are!”

Another way to challenge previous negative brain patterns is to begin questioning deeply your feelings about specific situations.

When you are involved in a difficult situation or feeling bad about a belief about yourself, first write it down.  Then separate yourself from the emotions of the situation and start diving deeper into the root of your unhappiness.  Play the “why” game with yourself.  “This make me feel bad.”  But why?  “Because I feel guilty (stupid, selfish.)”  But why?

In only a few cycles of “whys” you will begin to understand your feelings in much more depth, feel some compassion for yourself, and perhaps give yourself a break instead of feeling bad for the rest of the day about something you said or some other situation.

Your goal is self understanding and compassion.  Learn how to treat yourself at least as well as you treat others in your life!


Can we transform negative thought patterns?

October 28, 2009

Besides working to maintain ever expanding brain plasticity as we age, I believe it is essential that we keep turning our negative thought patterns into positive ones.

The potential to do ANYTHING you set your mind to, is already present within your own mind right now, but unfortunately so are all those nasty little irritating limiting thoughts and doubts. They are always happy to share with you the many perfectly good reasons why you do not deserve or cannot have whatever it is you want.

If you are anything like me, you constantly struggle to reconcile what you feel like you are supposed to do, with what you want to do.  Or perhaps you don’t even know what you want to do or be, because you’re so busy doing what everyone else around you wants or needs you to do.

Why do we keep re-creating the same realities for ourselves?  Why do we repeat the same mistakes in our relationships with others?  It is because all too often we believe everything we think.

The first step in changing this internal limiting mental pattern is to understand exactly how your brain works.   New discoveries in the brain sciences suggest that you can take control of your mind instead of letting it control you.

It is estimated that the human brain has about 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses. Each one of our neurons may be connected to hundreds of other brain cells by as many as 10,000 synapses.  The average person thinks between 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day, most of which we are not even conscious of.

Every thought we think is used by the same network of brain cells and synapses—every single time.  Every thought attracts thoughts of a similar nature because neural electrical branches are capable of growing secondary branches leading to similar thoughts.

So our brains have a tendency to hold on to those thoughts we think most often.  What happens in our brains determines what happens in our lives.  That’s why we need to stop believing everything we think.

Subconscious thoughts come to us effortlessly because the synapses that give life to them are wider and information can pass through them more easily. They usually represent the sights and sounds from our past which we have mentally revisited the most often or have affected us on the deepest emotional level—whether positive or negative.

One of the worst difficulties anyone can cope with is to be haunted by negative thoughts that constantly repeat themselves in our mind seemingly without our conscious control.   Negative thoughts serve no beneficial use to us whatsoever and can even drive us insane.

If you let them, they will take away all of your confidence, all of your happiness, and even your desire to better yourself. The negative unconscious thoughts from our childhoods are particularly brutal because they are the most deeply-ingrained and we have the tendency to believe their messages and then let them define who we are in every life situation.

Fortunately, one of the greatest discoveries ever made about the human mind is the fact that we can choose which thoughts to develop and which to eliminate.

I’ll teach you how next time.


Finding Your Area of Excellence

October 21, 2009

“If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write.  Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.”     – Louis L’Amour

Since deciding to become a writer in late 2005, I have met so many wanna be writers, which is silly because, let’s face it, we are ALL writers to some extent.  I loved the quote in Marrying George Clooney when Amy Ferris quips:  “Exactly how does a writer retire?”

But a few courageous or just plain crazy ones of us, decide to try to make a go of it as writers.  This makes sense.  The world NEEDS good writers and a lot more good editors too, judging by the TERRIBLE spelling and grammar on the internet!

The best advice I received when I started writing was to just keep writing! So many of us believe that one is only a “writer” if we are getting published regularly or if we are getting paid for our writing.  I know far too many writers who are getting paid to write annoying commercials and vapid TV shows.  Are they writers?  They are making more than most of us.

In my interview with Cheri Hill this week for our 50 Interviews book on professional speakers, she made a great point about being a brilliant speaker, one which also applies to writing.  Writing and speaking are both skills, they are crafts we can always get better at, with plenty of training and experience.

It is far too easy to assume that the great writers and speakers came to their level of excellence naturally.  They were not born writers or speakers.  They decided to dedicate their lives to growing and changing as their skills improved.

The tough part for most of us is simply finding that skill or trade that we can commit to.  Where should we put all of our belief and energy, because somewhere inside we KNOW that we can excel?  And we also know we need to find our own area of excellence to feel good about ourselves.

Dedicate your life to finding your own area of excellence!  And when you finally find it, don’t let ANYONE tell you you don’t know what you’re doing.

“The person who says it cannot be done, should not interrupt the person doing it.”    -Chinese proverb



Amy Ferris shares her confessions from a midlife crisis: Marrying George Clooney

October 12, 2009

One of the BEST benefits of being the Midlife Crisis Queen is being automatically mailed a few of the latest books published about midlife.

MarryingGeorgeClooneyBeing a librarian from way back, I ALWAYS appreciate a good read, and Marrying George Clooney: Confessions from a midlife crisis is just that!

Any book about midlife crisis that can make you laugh and cry at the same time, is well worth reading.

From her love affair with Ambien to her midnight musings as she cruises the internet, Amy Ferris captures the deeper turmoil and confusion that only menopause can bring.

At first I thought her book would only be a light and sometimes hilarious romp through Amy’s own version of a midlife crisis with great lines like, “I no longer have a waistline!” and her compulsive need to Google old boyfriends and lovers.  She definitely kept me on my toes and laughing through her discussions about being a control freak even AFTER her own death.

But at the end of the book, Amy graciously shares her last days with her mother before she died.  No more touching words have been written about the passing of a beloved parent.


Where does authenticity come from?

October 11, 2009

Unfortunately, for many of us, true authenticity can only come from finding ourselves in desperate situations.  I am speaking from personal experience here.

I recently spoke to a room full of newly unemployed people, folks who had never really known that kind of desperation before.  At the end, the first question was,

“Do you have to reach that point of feeling like you have very little left to lose, before you can begin to acknowledge and appreciate your own uniqueness?”

My only answer was, “I did.”  Before that point, I still believed I had all the answers.  I still believed in the traditional American dream and felt like it was working for me to some extent.  In other words, I was still willing to ignore my deepest personal need to become my best self, because I had some sort of marriage and job and that felt safe.  Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken!

But when that all crumbles before your eyes, when everything you thought you knew about yourself and your future is no longer true, desperation CAN lead to inspiration.

The same can be said about marriage.  If you have a mediocre marriage that meets a few of your needs and you feel safe, you may stay in it, because the alternatives look grim.  But when that marriage ends, you are forced to become much more creative when thinking about your future.  You realize now anything could happen, and that can be refreshing and terrifying at the same time.

But if you are willing to take the necessary risks and take the time to invest in finding a better future for yourself, help is available.  If you are certain you don’t want to go back to the same old, same old or your life feels like it has turned into a 9-to-5 way of dying, you are now ready to change for the better.

You may be ready to find the courage inside to explore what you were put on this earth to do!

Remember: do-overs are indeed possible before it’s all over!