Posts Tagged ‘Stress’

Stress and Sleep – Part 2

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Stress is an unavoidable and, to a large degree, a potentially positive force in our lives. Like all forces, the art lies in learning to manage the force to our advantage rather than to allow ourselves to be its passive victim. Or as Obewon Kanobe would say, “May the Force be with you.”

In the business context, stress is what you undergo when your body is switched into “fight or flight” mode. The causes of stress can be internal (imaginary) or external (“real”).

As with visualization, it matters little to your mind which category the trigger falls into – if it’s vividly imagined, its “real” to your mind!

Controlling Stress:

You have the choice of managing stress “on the way in”, or “on the way out”.

On the Way In: The only successful method of being preemptive in controlling stress, is to have a positive outlook – a positive philosophy or understanding of how the world works, and what your place is in the scheme of things.

It is never important what happens to you, but how you interpret and understand it. Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude, and develop a meaningful philosophy.

For example, if you were to view Life as “a challenging learning process, which carries a guarantee that you will never be challenged beyond your means” you might find that you welcome change, and look about within your own resources for the means that you know must be there to meet it.

Sounds like a winner to me.

Always see yourself as winning!

On the Way Out: Your body’s normal reaction to Stress is an extreme one. In physiological terms, it consists, among other things, of the injection of a number of natural chemical stimulants into your bloodstream. These substances are mildly toxic; their by-products are even more so. Your body is designed to flush them during the severe physical activity that they are intended to induce.

Since our current society induces stress, but does not sanction violent physical responses, you need find an opportunity to allow your body to go through the process of purging the stress by-products.

You can do this in two ways:
1. Actively: Through gross impact exercises, which mimic the “fight or flight” reaction and flush the system of stress toxins: Racquet Ball, Squash, Weightlifting, Aerobics, Swimming, Power Walking all assist the body in processing – and neutralizing the toxic by-products of stress.

2. Passively: There are a range of techniques you can learn that will effectively “process” stress out of your system, including:

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation techniques in which you learn to guide yourself into a deeply relaxed state. These can be learned using physical and mental disciplines (i.e. yoga) or by employing biofeedback mechanisms which enable you to gain greater control over what were previously assumed to be autonomic processes (heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, etc).
  • Restorative Therapies: These include Hydrotherapy (warm, moving water induces relaxation in muscles, with a subsequent relaxation of the mind); Sauna (induces increased blood flow and autonomic relaxation); Massage (induces relaxation, can release body-retained stresses).
  • Autogenic Training such as self-induced deep relaxation or true Meditation (at 7-14 brain cycles per second) for around 20 minutes a day. Deep prayer also comes into this category. Each of these types of technique enables you to put your body into a unique state which enables it to “backwash” its system, and process stress toxicity as well as carrying out a number of other processes in which the brain integrates recent stressful events into its system of understanding, values and knowledge (in much the same way we do when dreaming).

Well, there you have it. Some positive approaches to handle stress and sleep.

To your better health and a brighter future!

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success:

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at

Stress and Sleep – Part 1

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

So how are you sleeping nowadays? Need a little work perhaps?

Everyone needs their sleep, but for any business executive, sleep and renewal are important for two key reasons:
• To repair the physical wear and tear of a day of business.
• To “subconsciously process” the stressful events of the day, thus helping to reset our emotional “clocks” for the next day.

Sleep and Emotion:

Research has proven that REM (rapid eye movement or “dreaming”) sleep is crucial for the processing of stress. REM-deprived laboratory subjects are demonstrably less able to handle the normal stresses and strains of daily life.

They are much more likely to make mountains out of molehills. They are much more likely to over-react and to make poor decisions.

Along with a reasonable quality of sleep (i.e. at a dreaming level) we also need a reasonable quantity of sleep for optimal recovery.

Just how much is “enough” sleep is highly individualistic, but something in the range of five to eight hours is considered “normal” – that’s five to eight hours of sleep, not tossing and turning, and “horizontal worrying”.

Strategies for Better Sleep:

  1. Ensure that your room is DARK. Light is a switch that turns the brain on. You are just another energizer bunny battery pack!
  2. Cool rooms induce sleep more certainly than warm rooms, but a higher body temperature during sleep deepens sleep and increases the body’s production of melanin. (The more melanin you have, the better functioning is your Pineal gland, the more awake you are in the daytime and the deeper you sleep at night).
  3. If you exercise regularly, doing so after 4pm is likely to leave you physically “discharged” and so to induce sleep.
  4. Reduce or abstain from caffeinated products (tea, colas, aspirin, chocolate) for at least 4 hours before sleeping.
  5. Don’t drink liquids after 7pm. A walk to the toilet disturbs sleep patterns unnecessarily.
  6. Reduce or abstain from nicotine (powerful stimulant) after 7pm.
  7. Do not drink alcohol to induce sleep. While it can induce sleep, studies suggest it interferes with the duration of REM sleep. You may sleep 8 hours on a couple of scotches, but will wake feeling less refreshed than from non alcohol induced sleep.
  8. Generally it is not a good strategy to take medication designed to induce sleep. Like alcohol, these interfere with REM, and introduce tolerance and dependence issues you can do without. But there is an exception: Where the “habit” of sleeping for an extended period of time without interruption has been so badly eroded that a “re-boot” is required, it may be useful to use a short course (say 7 nights) of a light-dose sleeping assist to reestablish the habit. Then move off the medication (by progressively reducing the dose to nothing over the next week) to allow your system to find its own new rest pattern.
  9. Establish a regular pattern of preparation for sleep, starting 15 minutes before you intend to lie down. Even if disrupted by travel, attempt to maintain the same actions and sequence whenever possible. Do this for a night or two and you’ll actually feel yourself beginning to become drowsy as you go through your motions.
  10. If you have chronic sleeping problems reserve your bed for ONLY sleep, so that you associate it with only this activity. Avoid writing letters, eating, or watching TV in bed.
  11. Turn your bedside clock around. This is especially helpful for clock watchers who worry so much about sleep they’ve missed, that they miss some more checking to see how much they have left! Cure: For 3 weeks, set a “mental alarm” to wake at the same time each day, and a physical alarm (smart phone or clock) somewhere out of sight, but within hearing. Don’t be surprised if, after a few nights, you begin to wake naturally, a minute or two before your alarm. You now have a new habit and a knack for waking when you want just by setting your brain to do that.
  12. If, after some period of time, you have not fallen asleep, get out of bed, go to another room, do not eat or drink, and do not watch TV, do “fun” things, and don’t do “work”. Read quietly, or meditate, and only go back to bed when sleepy.
  13. If you need to nap during the day, limit these to power naps of less than 20 minutes. This avoids the groggy hangover of a siesta, provides refreshment and avoids the risk of interfering with your regular sleep period.

So there you have it.

I think I’ll just take a little nap. See you next time.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success:

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at

Stress and Communication – Part 1

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

We all come across stress and we all need to communicate. Let’s face it there is no avoiding either of these in our hyper-connected world. Here are some tips and insights that may help to improve both your stress levels and communication.

Communication Tips

  1. Behave. According to Susan Tardanico, CEO of The Authentic Leadership Alliance, “your behavior is your single greatest mode of communication, and it must be congruent with what you say. If your actions don’t align with your words, there’s trouble. And it can turn into big trouble if not corrected swiftly and genuinely. Since it’s often difficult to see the say-do gap in yourself, rely on a few trusted colleagues to tell it to you straight and flag discrepancies.”
    Pick your feedback team and give them explicit permission to be brutally honest with you, you are looking for people who will call you on your BS and call a spade a spade.
  2. Clarity is king. People these days are bombarded by information. Simplicity has never been more powerful or necessary. Effective communications distil complex thoughts and strategies into simple, memorable terms that people can grasp and act upon. If you’re having trouble distilling something to its essence, it may be that you don’t understand it. So get clear and look out for technical jargon and business speak, which add complexity. Say what you mean in as few words as possible.
    One way of testing this is by asking yourself, could this be understood if I had to explain it to a 12 year old.
  3. Listen. A very gifted and highly intelligent scientist once told a story about one of his university professors telling him “you have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a very good reason – listen twice as much as you speak especially if you know you’re not the smartest person in the room. By the way, if you can’t figure out who the smartest person in the room is – then it’s not you”.
  4. Body Language. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears. Remember that effective communication is two-way. It’s easy to be so focused on getting your message out – or persuading others – that you don’t tune in to what you see and hear. You need to read between the lines. Look for the nonverbal cues. Sometimes a person’s body language will tell you everything you need to know. Look at nonverbal communication signals as a group. Don’t read too much into a single gesture or nonverbal cue. Consider all of the nonverbal signals you receive, from eye contact to tone of voice to body language. Anyone can slip up occasionally and let eye contact slip, for example, or briefly cross their arms without meaning to. Consider the signals as a whole to get a better “read” on a person.

Experts recommend using body language to convey positive feelings even when you’re not actually experiencing them. If you’re nervous about a situation-a job interview, important presentation, or first date, for example-you can use positive body language to signal confidence, even though you’re not feeling it. Instead of tentatively entering a room with your head down, eyes averted, and sliding into a chair, try standing tall with your shoulders back, smiling and maintaining eye contact, and delivering a firm handshake. It will make you feel more self-confident and help to put the other person at ease.

Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk – Your Body language Shapes Who You Are, demonstrates the power of this.

Make communication one of your strengths.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success:

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at