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Sunday, November 18, 2012

stress, Stress, STRESS, and STRESS!!!

I am happy to have Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino of Best Ever You here with us today to keep the information flowing for #BeatStress November

Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino is a Hay House Author and the Founder and CEO of Best Ever You, understands first- hand the challenges life can bring and has worked with thousands across the globe to illuminate their light within and help them live their best life. Elizabeth and her husband and four boys live in Maine. She has a degree in Communications and Broadcasting, is a Life Coach, food allergy expert and survivor and is the host of The Best Ever You Show. Visit her websites at www.ElizabethHamiltonGuarino.com and www.BestEverYou.com for more information
When I write the word stress, watch what happens when I write it this way STRESS or this way S-T-R-E-S-S or STRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Or this way stress and lastly, for those with a laughter approach to it I will spell it backwards - sserts.   We read it differently when written differently; just as we react or respond according to what is happening in life.

Stress means different things to different people, and everyone deals with it differently.  For the most part, it is spelled the same way, but it is the impact of the words or actions that require solid, bold, uppercased and exclamation point-like attention or your health and quality of life will be affected.

Stress can also, believe it or not, have a POSITIVE influence on your life as well. According to a study published in the journal, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, stress can actually boost our immune system.  It's the fight or flight response that engages our hormones and pumps up our blood and gets us going! The hormone Cortisol is released when we experience that fight or flight response, and that can motivate us and actually improve our immunity. Too much Cortisol lowers our immunity and impacts our overall health. That's the good stress we experience when we are motivated to take action.  "Evolutionarily, it makes sense," said study author, Firdaus Dhabhar, a member of Stanford's Cancer Center. "In nature, stress and immune activity are typically coupled. It's like a lion chasing and wounding a gazelle. Nature taps into this stress response to give a boost to the immune system in the face of danger.


And so, it just depends on the type of stress and the person involved.

People react to a stressor in a different way.  For example, I am a mom of four boys: ages 11, 13, 15 and 17.  Over the years, people have said all sorts of things to me that you couldn’t possibly imagine. Here are a few comments from just this past week:

“How do you do it?”

“OMG four boys!!!!!  I’ve got 2 and I can barely function - wow, aren’t you tired?”

“How do you run Best Ever You, write books, do this and that and that, too, and have four boys?”

I could go on and on.

But you see, in my world, 4 boys does not stress me out, not to mention they are great kids and I have an amazingly supportive husband of 14 years. Do you know what seriously stresses me out? It is something more along the lines of flying in turbulence or bad weather.  I also can get a little stressed out dining out since I have such life-threatening food allergies. The kids tease me, because I am also not the biggest fan of wind and thunderstorms.

 But four boys? Sign me up for playing GI Joes, Xbox, baseball and much easier haircuts than girls any day!!!  Plus, my perspective is probably much different that the people asking me how I do it all.  You see, I come from a family of being in the middle of 10-11-12 kids or more like 25 if you threw everyone’s friends in there.  We shuttled around to the movies and out to eat in vans!!  Imagine Christmas, with the flu wave that went through when one person got sick and then the whole family. Ahh, the memories!! What was stressful in a house of that many kids?  Well, to me, it was the seven girls fighting for phone and bathroom time!

Dr. Katie Eastman of Recreate Counseling in Anacortes, Washington offers this acronym to help you change your relationship and manage stress.

RECREATE STRESS TIPS

Rest: Get enough sleep.
Exercise: Move every day.
Compassion: Help others.
Relax: Make time for quiet.
Explore: Try new things.
Affirm: Be a positive thinker.
Teach: Share your skills.
Enjoy: Schedule fun activities.

”By practicing these principles, you can ease the impact of stress. Like everything, stress is complex. There are good aspects of stress that inspire us to make positive changes in our lives. Stress becomes unhealthy when the activities we engage in daily challenge our ability to self care. If we are not able to eat well, exercise, or sleep well because of what our mind considers stressful, we need to reevaluate our stressors and their level of negative effect on our overall well- being,” says Dr. Katie Eastman.

One thing we are finding out about stress is that in excess, it damages your health.  More and more research points to stress = inflammation=disease = shorter life.  Throw in bad eating habits and not-so-great exercise habits, and it is a recipe for a less than optimal health.

Now on Best Ever You, I’d like to think we’ve got a command on stress, a one up if you will, but the truth is, while I teach about stress and managing it, none of us is without stress ourselves.  There are practices that we can put in place to help us ease our stress or deal with it so that we come back to a balancing, peaceful place instead of living in constant stress or become easily stressed.

I’ve developed a very simple method of dealing with stress that I affectionately call WWBWD.  Better known as What Would Betty White Do? My baseline is, yes, Betty White.  Why?  Because much like my grandmother, she is 90 and FULL OF LAUGHTER.  I really do think laughter is the best stress crusher. So, the next time you are faced with stress, try to see if you can find any glimmer of humor in it. Ask yourself, “WWBWD?” I promise you if you just stop and ask yourself this question, 9 times out of 10 you will laugh, or will have somewhat distracted yourself.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take what is happening seriously. It really means to try to put it in perspective and keep the stress in check.   If finding the right dress for an event puts you straight into heart palpation mode, go find the most crazy ugly dress you can find at the store, try it on and have a laugh at yourself.  If you get crazed every time you try to put on false eyelashes, like I do, find a few stuck to your hair during an important event once or twice in your lifetime and have a crazy good chuckle.

Los Angeles based talent manager and comedy producer, Randi Siegel adds, "Laughter is universally understood. The contagious, ripple effect that happens when one person starts to just chuckle is an extraordinary example of our human, basic need for humor. It can calm you, cross language barriers, smooth out awkward dinner moments, and soften some of the toughest personalities. Show me someone who doesn't like to laugh and I'll show you a Kardashian without plastic surgery. Exactly...they don't exist."

But seriously, in addition to laughter, much can be said for Gratitude.  The sheer art of Gratitude can make stress vanish. It’s a not-so-simple method of developing positive thankful language in your life. My dad, who is a stroke survivor since 2004 and a kidney cancer survivor since 2011, is the master of gratitude, along with my mom who has taken care of my dad and while having health troubles of her own. I can remember sitting with my dad in Sister Kenny, a stroke rehab facility in Minneapolis, for a speech test after his stroke and coma. The gal was just simply testing him to see if he could even speak after the trauma. She did this test on him to speak a word  that came to mind after each letter. She began with “A” to which he responded, “Aardvark”.  She was expecting something more along the lines of “and”, “at”, or even “a”.  Instead, he threw her a whole alphabet of words, which I have come to call my “Alphabet of Life”.  “B” was Benevolence, “C” was Courage, “D” was Determination, “E” was excellence, “F” was a choice word that we won’t repeat, and it went on through the entire alphabet.  The rehab specialist was stunned and it became the basis for my book PERCOLATE – Let Your Best Self Filter Through (Aug 2013, Hay House).

Find the positive in the negative. In every situation there is usually some opportunity that comes from the pain or stress.  My dad just had a bout of kidney cancer in late 2011. He was in the ICU in Burnsville, MN for over 40 days. There were some really scary and awful moments. The dread of potentially losing a parent or loved one is just sheer pain. Yet, a moment of laughter and gratitude presented itself. Out of the dark, came such brilliant light. When my dad was back in surgery, the entire family was gathered round in the waiting room. Now this group also included two x-husbands. My mom said, “Dad just does this every few years to get us all back together.”  Keep in mind this is a HUGE family. The waiting room was filled with grandkids, kids, husbands, friends, etc…We all simultaneously erupted in laughter.  It eased everyone’s pain and it is truly what my dad would want us all to do.  He is alive and doing so much better now as I write this. His room during those 40+ days was completely decorated with photos and the doctors and nurses there swear that our positive energy helped will him to live.

So the next time you think your life has really got you down, or something is completely stressing you out; stop, pause, be grateful for your life in its entirety and wash away the stress if possible with some laughter.

“The faster we move and the more stress we take on, the more we miss, the more numb we are and the less life we feel and experience.  We are the creators. Everything we think, feel, say and do creates.  All of our answers are inside.  To connect to the answers, we must first pause and breathe and allow and align to what comes up for each and everyone of us.  If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.  Wake up in the morning with an intention and a goal of peace,” says Gary Kobat, Integrative Life Coach and Best Ever You Expert.

When you think of stress try to think of balance. It's not good or bad, it's how we behave when we experience stress. Find the answers and solutions that work for you to help you be your best self in the face of the stress monsters. Stress is a part of life, make choices to be your Best Ever You.

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