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!


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.


Letting go of the old you

November 1, 2009

leap_of_faith blog sizeAs strange as it may seem, it is often difficult to let go of the old you, even when you are loving the new person you have become.

Unfortunately, it is essential to let go of your past in order to allow the new you to blossom.

It can be tough to clear out all those nasty old negative voices in your head that keep insisting you will never be smart enough, attractive enough or good enough.  As much as you want to clear out your own internal clutter, letting go of those old familiar critical voices can be a challenge.

Why?  Because if those voices are indeed wrong, than you have no more excuses for not living up to your full potential.  Before you knew exactly why you did not have the life you wanted, now there is nothing standing in your way.

Still, you have to let go of your old identity for your new one to emerge.  It’s just too uncomfortable standing in two worlds at once.  It’s time to take a leap of faith and embrace everything about this new you!

It’s like when I first met Mike in 2005.  We had started living together and things were great with us.  I knew I needed to sell my old house because I didn’t have any money left, but I was so afraid to commit to my new life with Mike…what if things didn’t work out?  What then?

It was time to take that gigantic leap of faith and make the absolute commitment to my new way of life, with no lifeboat to jump back onto if things didn’t “work out.”  It was time to embrace the new me in this new world Mike and I were co-creating.

It is really no different than taking in your pants after you have lost the weight.  Do you believe in yourself enough to commit to a new lifestyle?  Do you you trust yourself enough to believe in this new future you have created for yourself?


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!


Breast Cancer Awareness

October 20, 2009

breast-cancer-ribbon-stained-glass-alana-schmittLive one day at a time, and make it a masterpiece!

Breast cancer is one of my most insidious worries.  Ever since my Mom got cancer when I was in junior high, I have worried a lot about this!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This disease has touched all of our lives, and it’s time to stop it in it’s tracks!

Here’s a few short but very informative videos about detecting it early and SURVIVING!


What’s the point of worrying?

October 19, 2009

alfred_e_neumanParade magazine had an article yesterday called:  What Should You Worry About?

I was very surprised and disturbed to find out that a lot of what worries me the most, is highly unlikely to happen.

Here’s a few interesting statistics from the piece:

Elephants kill more people than sharks each year.

75% of murder victims know their assailants; seven out of ten rape victims do too.

When it comes to identity theft, nearly half of ID theft victims are ripped off by someone they know, and 90% of thefts happen offline!

I know many of us seem to be pre-wired to worry, but what a waste of energy!  You’re probably worrying about the wrong thing anyway.  I like this saying when it comes to worry:

Worry is like interest paid in advance, on a debt that may never come due.

The most important information I gleaned from this article is: 

Choose your friends very carefully!


Estrogen at menopause, good or bad for you?

October 14, 2009

Researchers seem to go back and forth on this one.  I’m sticking to my low dose bio-identical estrogen patch for now:

Hormones may ward off dementia

By JEFF DONN, Associated Press

BOSTON – New research suggests that hormone therapy taken soon after menopause may help protect against the mental decline of dementia, even though it raises that risk in elderly women.

The study adds yet another frustrating twist to the back-and-forth findings about whether hormone-replacement therapy protects against diseases of aging. Though the accepted answer has been “no” in recent years, the latest evidence suggests that timing of treatments may be key, at least for heart attacks and now for dementia.

“When you give it may be very important,” said Dr. Sam Gandy, an Alzheimer’s disease expert at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

The new findings were released Wednesday in Boston at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. Experts cautioned that they are preliminary.

Lead researcher Dr. Victor Henderson, of Stanford University, agreed that it’s too soon to consider putting younger women back on hormones to forestall dementia.

For decades, women routinely took hormones to treat the hot flashes of menopause and to ward off ailments of aging. Then, in 2002, a milestone study showed higher risks of heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer with estrogen-progestin treatments. Estrogen-only pills were later also linked to stroke.

As a result, millions of women gave up the pills, and government experts advised women to use them only for severe menopause symptoms and to take the lowest dose for the shortest time possible.

But in recent weeks, mounting evidence has emerged that women who take such drugs closer to menopause may get more benefit or confront less risk than women who start taking them later. An analysis this month indicated the drugs do not raise the risk of heart attack for women ages 50-to-59, and they seem to survive longer with the drug.

The latest findings focused on 7,153 women in an offshoot study of the huge Women’s Health Initiative that tracked breast cancer and heart disease. The cognitive study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and by Wyeth, which sells hormone treatments.

Previous research showed that women who take hormones after age 65 experience a 75 percent increased risk of dementia over other women.

But this study found the opposite for women who took hormones before age 65: Dementia risk was reduced by nearly half.

Dementia developed in 22 of 2,228 women — or only 1 percent — who took hormones at the earlier time, but in 84 of 4,925 who did not — or 1.7 percent. The apparent protective effect was especially strong for Alzheimer’s disease, a common form of dementia.

“It’s an intriguing and biologically plausible finding … but it needs to be confirmed,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who helped research the Women’s Health Initiative.

She said replacement hormones may preserve blood circulation in the brain.