Stress Management


Wall1Have you ever heard of the wall?  It’s a common phrase among marathoners.  It’s that elusive barrier when your body shuts down and no longer performs—except at a sputter, and only with great effort and agonizing pain.  If you’re a woman and you’ve had a baby, it’s almost as bad as labor, but without drugs.  If you haven’t had a baby, think about a time you’ve pushed hard at something—maybe a critical work project with a deadline closing in, and you pushed yourself to the point where your brain turned to mush.

I’ve started and completed 17 marathons to date. That’s a distance of 26.2 miles—each.  Why would I do that?  Well, that’s a question I’ve asked myself several times, but I do have a reason.  I had a dream and I wanted the dream so badly that it became an obsession.  The problem with an obsession is that you develop tunnel vision.  My dream you ask?  I wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon, the most prestigious marathon in the world.  Rule of thumb—only 10% of runners can qualify.  How I developed this dream was based on a one-time incident.  Almost a fluke.  I ran my first marathon, the Wichita Marathon, in 1983 at 30 years old in 4 hours and 20 minutes.  Ten years later, I ran my second marathon, the Long Beach Marathon, in 3:55.  Huge improvement!  It just so happened that I finished that marathon only five minutes over the qualifying time for the Boston Marathon—five little, measly minutes.  Also amazing, I hit the dreaded wall in that marathon for the first time. At mile 25 I had slowed to a crawl and each time my foot hit the ground, I felt like someone was stabbing me over and over.  But with one mile to go and gut determination, I crawled across the finish line.  Then I discovered that I had broken 4 hours in the marathon—quite a milestone.  Funny, the pain then became a distant memory.

Needless to say, I saw visions of Olympic stardom. That was only my second marathon and I had performed brilliantly despite hitting the wall.  Qualifying for the Boston Marathon was within my grasp.  I had to try again.  Did I think about why I hit the wall and how I could avoid it in the future?  No.  I just remembered that I needed to run fast and keep running fast.  If I just tried harder, I’d be able to hold on a little longer and finish faster.

What can I say. That strategy didn’t work.  The next marathon I ran, the Maui Marathon, was a total disaster.  That time I hit the wall much earlier, like at 13 miles.  Talk about a tough marathon to finish, but finish I did.  It took me 4 hours and 41 minutes.  Well over the 3:50 I needed to qualify for Boston.  But that fast Long Beach finish haunted me and I knew I could do it again and faster.  I blamed my dismal performance on the heat and decided to try again.

Then came marathon number four, the New York City Marathon. That marathon was to be my shinning redemption.  The marathon, however, was huge at 32,000 runners, and we arrived so late that we found ourselves way in the back of the pack of runners.  I didn’t even reach full stride until about mile 18.  No, I didn’t run 3:50.  I crossed the finish line at 4:34. That marathon, however, still stands as one of my favorite marathons.  Harlem, the formidable Queensborough Bridge and the great finish through Central Park to the thundering cheering of the crowds is burned into my memory—even if it wasn’t to a 3:50 time like I had dreamed.

What’s important here is that I didn’t hit the wall. In fact, I finished strong and had a ball.  No, it didn’t register at the time.  Slower consistent pace equals stronger finish.  Instead the strong finish encouraged me that I could qualify for Boston using the same strategy I had used before.

Then I ran marathon number five, the Napa Valley Marathon, and marathon number six, the St. George Marathon. Technically, I didn’t hit the wall at Napa Valley.  I didn’t train for it and ran it slow coming in at 5:05.  Technically, I did hit the wall at St. George at mile 20 and came in at 4:15.  Do you see a pattern here?  Finally, I got it.  I needed a different strategy.  Clearly I was doing something wrong.

It’s interesting as I reflect back on my marathon history. I see parallels between training and running a marathon and planning and living life.  Here’s what I finally learned—my life lessons from hitting the wall.

  1. The marathon is a strategic race.     

As in life, you think you’re on a path and then everything changes. The marathon is a long distance and anything can happen.  There are many variables that can affect your performance, like weather, what you ate the night before, a hilly course, your state of mind, etc.  Running a hilly course takes a different strategy than running a flat course.  And, no, it’s highly unlikely you can finish faster on a hilly course.  So rule number one is:  Do not pick a hilly course if you are trying to qualify for Boston.  Seems simple doesn’t it?

  1. Be coachable and learn from a professional.

Re-inventing the wheel is time consuming. The best way to shorten your path to greatness is to learn from a professional who’s been successful at what you are trying to do.  As far as running goes (and life), there are many different training plans and philosophies to follow.  Choose a coach that resonates with you and be coachable.  It’s hard to take criticism but how else will you learn?

  1. Follow a training plan and don’t wavier.

Because the marathon is so long, it’s best to be at a base of 30 miles per week BEFORE you start a training program. My training plan is a six-month plan that gradually increases mileage.  The plan allows the body to get strong and builds endurance.  Following the plan not only strengthens the body, but also the mind.  I’ve seen runners blow off part of their training plan and guess what?  They struggle on race day.  Don’t skimp on your long-term plan to accomplish something you want.  It’s the foundation to not hit the dreaded wall.

  1. The marathon is not a sprint.

This was my hardest lesson to learn. At the beginning of a race or project, you feel great and feel like you can go forever.  It’s easy to get caught up in the group energy and go out too fast.  Then you’re running someone else’s race not yours.  Then the early miles turn into the middle miles and then the grinding end miles lay before you.  Sure you can gut through at 10K (6.2 miles) and even a half-marathon (13.1 miles) but not a marathon.  The body gets totally depleted.  It’s all about the pacing.  The best way to avoid the wall is to start the race at a controlled, comfortable pace.  Yes, it’s hard to do but well worth it at the end.

  1. Relax and let go.

This was the most important lesson I learned. Are you the type of person who jumps out of bed ready to control whatever gets in your way?  Yeah, that’s me—or used to be.  I thought I could qualify for Boston through sheer, gut determination.  But it didn’t work.  It wasn’t until I relaxed and let go that my dream came true.  The first time I finally qualified for Boston (after 10 marathons), was after I had let go of my obsession and let it be okay that my dream would not come true—that I wasn’t a good enough runner.  The next marathon I ran, the Kansas City Marathon, I ran for the joy of running.  Not for some obsessive goal.  I got out of my head and felt the joy of running.  That simple transition changed my life.  I not only qualified, I did it at the age of 54 and qualified with a time of 3:55:46—not only beating 4 hours for the second time in my life, but beating my Boston qualifying time by over nine minutes.  I’m living proof that dreams do come true.

Think about it. Doesn’t training for and running a marathon parallel any big long-term challenge in your life?  Like changing careers, starting a business, or hiking to the top of Mount Whitney.  It takes strategy, a long-term plan, coaching, pacing, and passion.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about a barrier you’ve broken by letting go.  Comment on my blog.  Want more articles on staying youthful and productive as you age?  Subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook fan page.  Looking for a speaker?  Check out my website.

Let’s break barriers together!

Dolores

Dreams really do come true!  Read about my upcoming book Breaking Barriers Middle age is not the transition to old age, but the transition to mastery—the mastery of a life of learning and experience.  It’s our time to shine. 

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Nervous ManIf you’re looking for more opportunity or more money or to recreate your career, interviewing skills are imperative. In my personal experience as a veteran Executive Recruiter, most people screw up on their first interview. Much of that is due to fear, fear caused by inexperience. Face it, most of you don’t interview for a living. It’s hard to be good at something that you don’t do very often. The key to easing your fear and gaining self-confidence is preparation. Follow the six steps below to help you to overcome your fear before you walk into your next interview.

 

      1. Review your resume in detail.

Sometimes, after an interview, I hear a client say, “Your candidate couldn’t tell me in detail about something she wrote on her resume.”   I know it’s a common practice for a new job seeker to pull out the old resume, add a paragraph to the top to update it for the most recent job and start sending it out. Sure, it’s easy to speak to your current or most recent position. But what about the older jobs on your resume?  It’s amazing to me that someone would walk into an interview without preparing to speak to everything on the resume. If you can’t remember, take it off. If you get stumped on an interview question, it doesn’t help the confidence level for the rest of the interview.

  1. Do research on the company and the interviewer.

In today’s internet world it’s easy to do research. At the very least, check out the company website and look up the profile of the interviewer on LinkedIn. You’ll most likely see a detailed work history. This is great information to formulate questions to ask during the interview. People love to talk about themselves. Try this rapport building question at the start of the interview. “I looked up your profile on LinkedIn. I was impressed. How did your experience help you to become a success in this company?”

  1. Practice answering key interview questions.

Much of the fear of interviewing is not knowing how to answer certain questions. There is much information on the internet on common interview questions. There’s also much conflicting advice on how to answer them. Use your common sense and practice answering a list of questions out loud in front of your mirror. I provide you with a list of common interview questions and how to answer them in my audio CD, THE NINE KEYS FOR EFFECTIVE INTERVIEWING – Learn The Most Important Secret To Getting The Job. My answers are great and are based on years of experience sending candidates out on thousands of interviews. Check it out!       

  1. Be prepared to ask appropriate questions.

Based on your prior research of the company and interviewer, formulate several questions to ask. Then when the interviewer asks, do you have any questions? You will. In my experience, people who ask questions appear more interested in the job. Hiring managers like to hire people who want the job. I also include a list of questions to ask in my audio CD.

  1. Practice a relaxation technique.

I admit it. I have a difficult time empathizing with the fear of interviewing since I’m engaged in it on a regular basis. However, as a speaker, I can still recall the gut wrenching fear of walking in front of an audience to give a speech. Oh yes, I remember the sweaty palms, beating heart, and the dreaded cotton mouth. I started to practice a relaxation technique that worked wonders, a few minutes before I was to speak. Take a deep breath, hold it, and count to five. Then let it out slowly to a count of five. Imagine releasing your shoulders and visualize a positive interview experience. Repeat this process for a minute or two before you walk into your interview.

  1. Get out of your head.

The best way to get into your head is to worry about something. It’s difficult to connect with someone who’s in their head. Their energy in in their “head bubble.” I learned this when I became a licensed “Art of Feminine Presence” Instructor. Try this exercise with someone you know. Stand face to face with your partner. Think about something that bothers you and then spend one minute talking about how your morning went. Next, close your eyes and focus your attention on your “creative power center”. For women, we call this our “womb space” and it is located three inches below the navel toward the back of the spine. For men, the creative power center is two inches below the navel in the center of the body. As you focus your attention, you will feel your energy shift down. Open your eyes and tell your partner about your morning. Trade places and listen to your partner tell you about their morning, first in their “head bubble” and then from their creative power center. Give each other feedback on what you heard and felt in each case. You will be surprised at the difference.

Learning to speak from your gut will connect you more effectively with anyone you’re talking to. Your confidence will soar by learning this technique, not only in interviewing, but in life.

In conclusion, the best way to overcome a fear of interviewing is to practice and prepare. In today’s market, you’ve got to make the first interview count—the next interview may not come for a while. Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your last interviewing experience. What did you do to relax? Do you have a specific question you’d like to ask me?   Comment on my blog.  Want more articles on staying youthful and productive as you age?  Subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook fan page.  Looking for a speaker?  Check out my website.

Let’s break barriers together!

Dolores

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UnhappyDidn’t you just love the beginning of a happy relationship? Remember the first call after you met and the goosebumps you felt? Remember when you laughed at all of those, not so funny, jokes? Then, over time, things started to change and it was like the blinders lifted. You both started to become who you really are and one, or both, of you didn’t like what you saw.

That, of course, doesn’t happen in every relationship. Sometimes both people like each other, for better or for worse. Love relationships are complicated and, as I’ve said before, I am still trying to figure it all out. What I do know is that being in an unhappy relationship is not good for you. What I excelled at, in the past, was just hanging on, hoping something would change. As a result, I’ve been in two long-term marriages, one for 9 ½ years and another one for 18 years, and in a six-year (not-married) relationship—all of them unhappy. In two of the relationships, I attached myself to guys who were verbally abusive. Let me tell you, over time it’s difficult to not believe those names they’re calling you. But that’s a different story. The 18 year marriage was my escape from the verbal abuse of the first. But the distant, businesslike nature of the relationship wasn’t really what I wanted. To make matters worse, we worked together. We built a personnel firm from scratch and ran it together for 15 years to a two-office company with 20 employees at our high point, not counting all of the temporaries we had out on assignment. We were major players in Southern California, despite all of the blood stains splattered on the walls from our constant battles. The business dominated our relationship. When the business ended, so did our marriage.

Through all of this, I finally learned that it’s not the other person who will change. It must be you. It’s interesting, that when you change, the entire dance changes, and the other person must change too—or move on. So I changed me. As a result of my paradigm shift, my current, previously tumultuous relationship, is starting to be happy. I’m in amazement of what’s happening and it’s wonderful. How did I change? I let go. He is who he is and will not change. I accepted him and chose not to react to those behaviors and words that used to set me off. I let go of all the anger—which is really, really hard. Amazing. His anger has disappeared and those behaviors and words that used to drive me crazy are starting to change. We’re communicating and getting along. As a non-relationship expert, I’m not equipped to give advice on how to be happy in a relationship—I’m new at it.  I’m still learning at the tender age of 61!  What I can talk about is how to stay centered, fit, and healthy while under the enormous stress of an unhappy relationship.  Following is how I stayed sane.

    1.  Exercise.

This is first on my list. When I started to exercise, my entire life changed. As you know, I’m primarily a runner and, without running, I’d be in a padded room somewhere banging my head against the wall. There are so many positives to running (exercise in general) that I can’t begin to list them. The most obvious one here is that it is a stress reducer and releases the feel-good hormones. Everything looked brighter after a run. Check out these articles for additional benefits. 

  1. Take vitamins and minerals.

I’m a huge proponent of natural supplements. Our food is so depleted of minerals, that it’s smart to supplement. Every day I take a multi-vitamin, 5,000 mg of vitamin C (immune system booster), and a shot of colloidal minerals that are better absorbed than pills. The minerals include calcium and approximately 70 trace minerals. I take other herbs and hormones like DHEA, but, at a minimum, I would highly recommend the vitamins and minerals.   

  1. Do something you love.

Sometimes when I thought I’d blow up with anxiety and stress, I’d take out my guitar and play because I love playing. Now, years later, I don’t play that much anymore. I’ve replaced it with writing and speaking, a love so great, that I’m pursuing it now as a profession. Doing something you love moves your thoughts in a different direction. Instead of wallowing in the depths of despair, you’re feeling good about what you’re doing. It connects you to your capacity to feel love.

  1. Get adequate sleep.

If you’re not sleeping, you’re not happy. Add the stress of a bad relationship on top of that, and you could slide downhill fast. At the age of 22, while in an unhappy relationship and a challenging job, I couldn’t sleep for several months and I cracked under the pressure. Read about it here.  How Self-Hypnosis Can Keep You Calm And Young – Part One  Sleep and improve your chances of staying emotionally and physically healthy—not to mention staying youthful. 

  1. Meditate or do self-hypnosis.

I started doing self-hypnosis back in my early twenties and have never looked back. It is a constant feeding of positive thoughts into my subconscious mind. I now do meditation, the absence of thought, and find it to be much harder than self-hypnosis. Self-hypnosis and meditation help to strengthen the mind/body connection. This is how I am now able to “let go” and let words and actions, that used to set me off, float away. It’s a new form of freedom and self-control.

In conclusion, it’s far healthier to not stay in an unhappy relationship and to take some form of action, like change yourself or leave the relationship. Both of those action items are easier said than done. But you can help yourself to stay centered, fit, and healthy in the meantime by following the five steps above, and it doesn’t matter what age you happen to be.

What about you?  Have you ever been in an unhappy relationship?  How did you cope?  Did it affect your health?   Comment on my blog.  Want more articles on staying youthful and productive as you age?  Subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook fan page.  Looking for a speaker?  Check out my website.

Let’s break barriers together!

Dolores

HeartsDid you know that being married is considered to be so beneficial that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services promoted marriage as the centerpiece of its two-year old, $5MM national media campaign in 2012? Yes, research clearly shows that committed couples (married or not) live longer than singles.

If you’re single and female, chances are you are doing fine—better than if you are single and male. But what about those of us who are married or in a non-married committed relationship? Who’s better off?  I address three areas below to answer that question: 1) Lifespan;   2) Emotional stability; 3) Sex.

But first, you might ask, “What if my relationship isn’t happy?” Oh yes. I understand. I must be honest here. So far, I suck at relationships. I’ve been married twice, the first time for 9 ½ years and the second time for 18 years. Neither one would I consider a “happy” marriage. Then I was in a six-year committed relationship which was also not happy. I have been in my current relationship for six years and it has been, well, tumultuous. You have to give me credit for continuing to try! Practice makes perfect, right? The current relationship is different. We are totally committed to each other and the relationship is improving over time. I think the major difference here is the word “commitment”. I wasn’t really committed even though I was “married.”   I can say with utmost authority that being in a “bad” relationship is not good for your health, however, I’ll address that issue in my next blog post.

Therefore my points below are about satisfying marriages and long-term relationships—the type of relationship I’m striving for.

1)      Lifespan

Studies show that men are less likely to die from heart disease or stroke if they are in a long-term committed relationship, especially marriage. Men are more likely to stop risky behaviors like substance abuse and binge drinking. Wives are more likely to encourage a healthy lifestyle like eating right and exercise.

A 2007 European study showed that death rates for unmarried men over 40 were twice as high as married men. The difference between married and unmarried women was much less.

It’s interesting that both men and women tend to gain weight in long-term relationships, however, men are more likely to cross over into the dangerous categories of overweight and obesity. Still, they live longer.

Men win this point.

2)      Emotional stability

Women, according to research, place a greater emphasis on the importance of a relationship. A satisfying relationship is a big benefit emotionally. Women suffer from depression more than men—two times more and living with a partner decreases it.

As far as stress is concerned, men tend to get more stressed than women showing greater spikes in cortisol. A 2010 experiment showed that committed men had less spikes in cortisol, after a competitive game, than single men.

Personally, I feel less depressed and less stress when I’m getting along with my partner. Considering my current relationship, when we are at peace, we both are less stressed and happy.

This point is a tie.

3)      Sex

I read about a 1990 landmark national sex survey that showed that 49 percent of married men were “extremely” satisfied with their sex life, compared to 42 percent of married women. The difference was chalked up to resentment felt by women for inequities in domestic duties and they don’t feel appreciated. This I completely understand!

Studies indicate, overall, that couples who are married or in committed relationships have more satisfying sex than their single counterparts.

Men win this point.

My conclusion is that men benefit more by being married or in a committed long-term relationship and are healthier because of it. Even today, working women take more responsibility in a relationship for domestic duties. It’s stressful and, yes, it causes resentment.

Next week I’ll focus on the impact on your health of a “bad” relationship and divorce, which is rising at an alarming rate for people over 50.  I found myself single and alone at age 54.  Talk about scary.

I’m curious though. What do you think about whether men or women are healthier in a long-term relationship? What’s your experience?  Comment on my blog.  Want more articles on staying youthful and productive as you age?  Subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook fan page.  Looking for a speaker?  Check out my website.

Let’s break barriers together!

Dolores

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Relaxing womanStress will make you old. If you doubt that statement, click on this link to see how our Presidents have aged during office. It’s dramatic. Most of us would agree that the President of the United States has a stressful job. Okay, maybe you’re not the President, but the stress you may be feeling is real and it’s breaking your body down. Want to reverse that process? Read on.

As I described in Part One of this article, I stressed myself to exhaustion when I was 22 years old and ended up in the hospital with a “nervous breakdown”.  The gift to that dark cloud was being introduced to hypnosis and self-hypnosis. Not only did I recover from my ordeal without the use of any drugs, but I discovered a way to overcome negative thinking and to relax with just a deep breath.  But little did I know that, over time, I would discover other phenomenal benefits of practicing self-hypnosis.

The link between self-hypnosis and aging

Years after my introduction to self-hypnosis, I had the pleasure of hearing Teri D. Mahaney, Ph.D., author of the book “Change Your Mind/Life”, speak at a professional conference. I was in my early thirties at the time. Dr. Mahaney’s book, a step-by-step program to re-pattern the subconscious mind, used subliminal affirmations to replace negative thoughts in such areas as empowerment, healing and wellness, money and success, and sports performance.

First, you record a script. Second, you listen to your self-recorded script. Your mind then enters a theta brainwave state, or a state of deep hypnosis, which is similar to the state of your brain right before falling to sleep. In this deep, relaxed state, the affirmations recorded on the script are highly effective.

Intrigued, I listened intently because of my initial success with self-hypnosis. Teri began her research in the early 1980’s, which included frequent listening to her own scripts. Then she announced, “I am youthing.” That was an interesting comment that hit home when she announced her age. She looked fifteen years younger. Her program appeared to be reversing the aging process.

I bought the book and tried her program for a short period of time.  I didn’t have the patience at that time in my life to stick with it because I was still focused on succeeding through sheer effort and determination. Her lesson stuck with me, however, and later in life as I tired of the “nose to the grindstone” mentality, I began to revisit using self-hypnosis to relax and change my negative thought patterns.

Now I listen to relaxation recordings most evenings before bed and first thing in the morning. I very rarely have trouble sleeping and the recordings help me frame each day in a positive way before I get out of bed. My favorite recordings are listed at the end of this article. Give it a try.

The scientific link between stress and aging

Perhaps you’d like a scientific link between stress and aging? It is well known that cortisol and adrenaline are released when we feel stress. The higher the stress, the higher the level of hormones produced. Overloads of stress hormones have been linked to such diseases as heart disease, high blood pressure and weakened immune systems. Releasing stress is critical to staying healthy.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that stress can add years to the age of individual immune system cells, primarily telomeres (the structures at the tips of chromosomes), by becoming shorter each time the cell divides. When a cell becomes too short, it stops dividing and dies. Stress hastens the process.

Researchers checked both the telomeres and the stress levels of 58 healthy but highly stressed women. They found that their immune systems cells had aged, on average, an extra 10 years.

If you still question the link between stress and aging, take another look at the pictures of our presidents at the beginning of their presidency and at the end. Presidents undergo a process of accelerated aging, according to Dr. Michael Roizen, chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic and co-founder of RealAge.com. He has accumulated facts and figures on presidential health dating back to the 1920s, and speculates that “presidents get two years older for every year they’re in office.” The moral of this story, other than to not run for President, is to relax.

Some of my favorite relaxation books and CDs

Louise L. Hay, CD “Morning Meditation”/”Evening Meditation”

Louise L. Hay, Book “You Can Heal Your Life”

Teri D. Mahaney, Ph.D. Book “Change Your Mind/Life”

Doreen Virtue, Ph.D. Book/CD “Chakra Clearing”

Glenn Harrold, CD “A Chakra Meditation”

In summary, self-hypnosis is an effective tool to plant positive thoughts directly into the subconscious mind and bypass the clutter of the conscious mind. It’s hard, if not impossible, to feel a negative emotion and relax at the same time. Since I started listening to self-hypnosis recordings on a regular basis, the results have been subtle but undeniable—like alleviating my anxiety and like qualifying for the Boston Marathon for the first time at the age of 54. It took me 14 years and 8 marathons to qualify the first time, and only one try the second time . . . because I relaxed and let go.

Change will come easier for some than others. It didn’t come easily for me because I was so high strung and stubborn . . . still am. It took me years to learn to let go, but each time I did, my good came to me. I continue to learn and look forward to enjoying the rest of my life with energy and positive expectations. Aging is not the same as growing old. Stay youthful and enjoy life to the fullest.

Do you have any experience with hypnosis?  If so, I love to hear about your experience.  Comment on my blog.  Want more articles on staying young and productive as you age?  Subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook fan page.  Looking for a speaker?  Check out my website.

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Let’s break barriers together!

Dolores

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Nervous ManEver had trouble sleeping? How about for several nights in a row? Add 60-hour weeks on top of that and you’ve got major stress. I worked for a national CPA firm once, with the top performers in the field. Most of them competed hard for recognition and promotions. At 22 years old, I had never felt so much pressure and drove myself to exhaustion, both mentally and physically. Yes, I cracked under the pressure and checked myself into the hospital. I had what I call a nervous breakdown. The doctor said I suffered from acute anxiety. Either way, I didn’t work again for six weeks.

Welcome to the first part of a two part series on hypnosis.  I will explain what it is and how it can help you, both to relieve stress and to stay young.

There’s always a silver lining to what seems like our darkest days.  While in the hospital, I was introduced to the power of hypnosis and self-hypnosis.  I’ve never looked back.  While I lay, tense and stiff, in that hospital bed (right after they checked me in), and after I refused the pills they brought me in one of those little paper cups, a psychiatrist came to see me and told me he was going to hypnotize me.  I remember thinking that hypnosis was used for schizophrenic patients and the fear cursed through my body.  No, the doctor assured me that hypnosis was a natural way of relaxing.  Through hypnosis, he could talk directly to my subconscious mind and bypass all the clutter in my conscious mind.  He said I would always be in control and would never do anything I didn’t want to do.

Believe me.  I was skeptical, but after days of no sleep and racked with fear, I desperately needed to relax.  In a low, calm voice, the doctor told me to take a deep breath, hold it for five seconds and count to five as I let it out.  I repeated the deep breaths three times.  He then told me to imagine myself at the top of a mountain as the snow, soft and deep, fell softly around me.  He then guided me, as I skied effortlessly down the mountain, while he counted down from 10 to one.

Amazing—my neck muscles started to loosen up even though I couldn’t stop the barrage of skeptical thoughts.  But I started to relax—just a little.

When I reached the bottom of the mountain, the doctor suggested that I remain relaxed and calm.  Then, starting at my head, he told me to relax my eyes, unclench my teeth, relax my shoulders, back—every limb down to my toes.  After 30 minutes, he counted up from one to 10 and told me to open my eyes.

I felt more calm and less tense.  Then I fell asleep and slept for hours.  The doctor repeated this process every day for a week.  When I was released from the hospital, he gave me a tape to listen to every night before bed that would take me through the same relaxation technique.  I was training my mind to automatically relax by taking deep breaths when I felt afraid or tense.

To this day I listen to relaxation tapes, not only to fall asleep, but to reprogram negative thinking.  It works!   How and why does it work?  Read on.

What is Hypnosis?

A definition of hypnosis as cited in wiktionary.org is “…a trancelike state, artificially induced, in which a person has a heightened suggestibility…”  It operates on the law of concentrated attention.  The more you hear a suggestion, the more likely that the suggestion will be believed on the subconscious level.   Advertisers work on this principal bombarding us with the same message over and over.

Hypnosis is a way to access the subconscious mind directly.  The subconscious mind is that part of the mind that is intuitive.  All of our beliefs, habits and memories are stored in the subconscious.  It is our subconscious that causes us to react emotionally.  This is the part of the brain that is also responsible for our involuntary functions such as breathing and digestion.

Our conscious mind is responsible for logic and reasoning.  Any conscious act we do such as read, write, walk, do math, etc. comes from our conscious mind.  It is this part of our mind that is always thinking.

Hypnosis is effective because the deep relaxation calms and subdues the conscious mind so suggestions bypass the clutter and go directly into the subconscious where change can occur more effectively.  Studies have shown that hypnosis slows brain waves from cycling at 14-32 times per second down to as few as 4 times per second, which is the ideal speed for learning.

There are various benefits and uses of hypnosis, three of which I have experienced: reducing stress and anxiety, eliminating unwanted negative feelings, and increasing confidence and concentration.  Another widely used application of hypnosis is to reduce pain associated with disease or surgical procedures and in child-birth and dentistry.  Hypnosis was recognized as a valid therapeutic tool by the American Medical Association in 1958.

Following are some of the recordings I frequently listen to when I need to relax, concentrate, or just feel better.

Some of my favorite relaxation books and CDs

Louise L. Hay, CD “Morning Meditation”/”Evening Meditation”

Louise L. Hay, Book “You Can Heal Your Life”

Teri D. Mahaney, Ph.D. Book “Change Your Mind/Life”

Doreen Virtue, Ph.D. Book/CD “Chakra Clearing”

Glenn Harrold, CD “A Chakra Meditation”

There you have it—the mystery of hypnosis uncovered and how it can relieve stress and anxiety.  Thanks to self-hypnosis, I was able to recover from my acute anxiety without drugs and return to work and able to function normally.  Next week I’ll reveal how self-hypnosis can keep you young.  Do you have any experience with hypnosis?  If so, I love to hear about your experience.  Comment on my blog.  Want more articles on staying young and productive as you age?  Subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook fan page.  Looking for a speaker?  Check out my website.

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Let’s break barriers together!

Dolores

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Yoga woman_edited-3We are all aging.  But what does that mean to you?  How do you see yourself at age 60, 70, 80 and beyond?  Are you spending more money on facial serums and lotions to erase the years or getting a tuck here and there to save the fading figure.  Or maybe you exercise constantly.  Does it work?

Why this obsession with looking young?  I must admit, I suffer from this obsession.  Since I turned 60, I’m more conscious about getting old, or maybe I should say, looking old.  Yes, I exercise frequently but there is only so much exercise you can do and, still, your body changes.

So what’s the secret to the fountain of youth?

It’s a paradigm shift.  You need to reframe your thoughts from youth to youthfulness.  Youth conjures up thoughts of a young body, whereas youthfulness embodies life energy.  Youthfulness is being alive and in the world.  A youthful person is fun, interesting, and intriguing, no matter what age they happen to be.

I started running in my early 20’s.  At one of my first road races, I was passed by another runner.  In fact he flew by me.  Mind you, getting passed was not an unusual event.  However, this man looked to be in his 70’s and he had wings on his shoes.  He ran much faster than the other male runners 20 years younger.  It didn’t matter that he “looked old”.  His persona was high energy and I was mesmerized.  He’s the reason that I’m running.  I want to grow up like him, still active and living life in my 70’s and beyond.

Besides the obvious mistakes of not staying fit and not eating a healthy diet, here are the top five mistakes that will make you old.

  1. We stay in our comfort zone.

I belong to Toastmasters.  I joined about four years ago to practice public speaking.  I wasn’t a beginner at speaking.  In fact, I used to compete in speech contests in college.  But . . . how does that saying go?  Use it or lose it.  The first time I got up to speak, I was terrified.  When I tried Table Topics, I had a tough time talking for the minimum time of one minute.  Table Topics is impromptu speaking.  Someone asks a question and you must answer immediately, off the top of your head.  But I kept at it and it got easier.  Despite the terror I felt before that first speech, I walked away with a huge sense of accomplishment that I had overcome my fear.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to stay young and to get the energy flowing.  Join a Toastmasters club, take dancing lessons, sing at karaoke night.  Do something different that gets your heart pumping.

  1. We quit dreaming.

We’ve all been around the person who simply exists from day to day.  Someone who’s given up on life.  They can suck the life out of you if you let them.  On the other hand, if you’re around someone who’s striving for a dream and living life to the fullest, it’s a joy to be around them.  They’re magnetic.  We’re drawn to their positive energy.

Were you ever told to quit daydreaming?  Don’t!  Daydreaming encourages creativity and makes the impossible possible.  Anything you manifest starts with a thought.  Keep dreaming and stay youthful.

  1. We get set in our ways.

One of my favorite authors, Louise Hay, talks about being rigid in her book You Can Heal Your Life.  “KNEES, like the neck, have to do with flexibility:  only they express bending and pride, ego and stubbornness.  Often when moving forward, we are fearful of bending, and we become inflexible.  This stiffens the joints.  We want to move forward, but we do not want to change our ways.  This is why knees take so long to heal; our ego is involved.”

Pilates teacher, Fiona du Plooy, says that she can tell your “real” age by how flexible your spine is.

If you are totally stiff, that’s an indication of the stiffness in your mind.  Take Pilates or yoga classes which not only help you stay flexible and strong, they teach you proper breathing and are meditative in nature.

  1. We quit learning.

Does aging slow the brain? Not necessarily.  Several sources reveal that keeping the brain stimulated stops cognitive decline.  But also consider the advantage that years of experience gives you in creating something new over a young person.  With age comes wisdom.  Yes, a young person can more easily think out of the box because they don’t know there is a box, but they don’t have the same experience to draw on.

The key to staying youthful and creative is to believe you can.  Much of the decline in cognitive abilities is because of a lack of challenge.  Stay challenged, and stay youthful. 

  1. We quit making love.

Did you know that women who enjoy sex live longer?  According to Mehmet Oz, MD and author of YOU:  Being Beautiful, “Double your amount of satisfying sex and add up to three years to your life.”  He didn’t address men in the article, but I’m sure it helps them as well.  There are many physical and mental benefits to having sex such as decreased stress, increased self-esteem, increased heart rate, and allowing the ability to surrender to pleasure.  It’s fun and what is life without fun?  Have more sex and stay youthful.

In summary, as you age, focus on staying youthful, as opposed to young.  As I write in my soon to be published book, Breaking Barriers, “Middle age is not the transition to old age, but the transition to mastery—the mastery of a life of learning and experience.  It’s our time to shine.”

Please like my fan page and/or subscribe to my blog.  Do you want 26 free inspirational quotes to help keep you motivated?  Sign up here.  Want to know when my book is published?  Sign up here.

Let’s break barriers together!

Dolores

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ah yes…the theory of gravity from Sir Isaac Newton.  If it weren’t for gravity, running up those God forsaken hills would be so much easier.

I love to run on the trails.  There’s something about being in natural surroundings that’s revitalizing for the soul.  It’s a great way to de-stress and re-connect to what’s really important in life—feeling alive and free.   I’m lucky to live in Southern California with the opportunity to run several great trails within easy driving distance.  One of my favorite trails to run is Bommer Canyon in Irvine.  It’s only a 10 minute drive from my home.  Once I get there, I’m transformed from the city to a spacious, open-space preserve.

Now, back to gravity.  I’ve never really enjoyed running hills.  I know they make you strong, but I started running in Kansas, not in the Flint Hills mind you, in the Wichita area.  There are no hills to speak of.  So my first 10 years of running didn’t include hills.  Then I moved to sunny Southern California.  I must admit, I loved not having to deal with constant weather change and wind chill during my runs.  But what I wasn’t prepared for were the hills.  Well to me, they seemed more like mountains.

Here I am at the start of my trail run.  I look happy.

Bommer Canyon-Me 6-1-14

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trail starts with a slight elevation.  Beautiful, isn’t it?

Gentle up hill

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then the elevation gets less slight.  It’s still beautiful.

Less slight

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trail is still going up.  Who can see the scenery now?

And up1

 

 

 

 

 

 

And up.

 

Still going up1

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can see the top.

 I can see the top

 

 

 

 

 

There’s the top…finally.

The top

 

 

 

 

 

 

The really nice thing about going up for 3 miles, is that I get to turn around and go back down.  Another nice thing I noticed—I did get stronger on the hills.  Isn’t it funny?  When you force yourself to move out of your comfort zone and push ahead, the task becomes easier over time.  It feels good to not be intimidated anymore.  That’s how to stay young in life.  Keep trying something new.  Keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.  Before long, you’ll be soaring up the hills and enjoying the ride back down.

Let’s break barriers together!

Book Update—I’m close!  I’m about to turn the book over to my editor.  Meanwhile I’ve produced my first audio CD HOW TO NEVER BE UNEMPLOYED—Featuring The Ten Keys To Writing A Resume That Get’s Interviews and I’m in the process of producing my second audio CD THE NINE KEYS TO EFFECTIVE INTERVIEWING—Learn The Most Important Secret To Finding A Job.  They will both be available soon on my almost live website www.doloreslara.com.

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