Friday, July 5, 2019

How to Escape the Multitasking Trap - 3 Simple Steps to Release Stress and Improve Performance

How often do you get caught up in the hectic swirl of trying to juggle six tasks at once, only to do none of them well? 

“If I only push harder”, you say to yourself; "I can do better!"

“Yes, I will redouble my effort and do even more so all of these tasks get done!”. 

The Truth About Multitasking

Here’s a seldom heard truth: The parts of your brain handling conscious procedural tasks typically associated with day-to-day cognitive activities aren’t wired for multitasking. Your brainstem and midbrain sections handle parallel processing tasks with ease. The prefrontal cortex, that brain region where conscious cognition occurs, handles one task at a time.

What is actually happening when you think you’re multitasking? Your attention is moving rapidly from one activity to another. Five seconds here, three seconds there, and 10 seconds to several minutes of confusion trying to figure out what to do next. 

With each transfer of attention, there is performance friction. There is a time and brain energy cost every time you change focus. We are serial processors trying to make believe we have the ability for parallel processing. We don’t.

Trying to multitask results in your brain using up energy faster than your physiology can recharge the batteries. Your body tries valiantly to keep up, but as your energy wanes, you hit a brain performance wall.

Stress and It’s Effect on the Sympathetic Nervous System

Here we have an old friend named Stress begin knocking on our emotional door. One major stress trigger is the perception that we have too many tasks to complete in a given time period without the necessary resources.

Under stress the Sympathetic Nervous System, also called the Fight or Flight response, becomes hyperactive. Blood flow to higher brain regions including the Prefrontal Cortex, that area where rational thought normally hangs out, is reduced in favor of energizing large muscle groups in preparation to fight the tiger or run to safety.

The simple fact is we become significantly more stupid when we’re highly stressed. This makes it virtually impossible to perform well any of the tasks we so valiantly attempt to complete.

3 Simple Actions for Better Performance

What are the antidotes for the multitasking trap?

First, recognize multitasking is a myth. Your brain is wired to attend to one conscious task at a time. This is physiological fact.

Second, use what are called Focus Intervals. Schedule ONE task at a time and stick with that task until it’s done or you’ve worked on that task for no more than 45 minutes.

Third, take short, three to five minute breaks every 45 to 60 minutes. Get up, walk around, stretch, run in place, engage in relaxed diaphragmatic breathing, or engage in other energy restorative activities before returning to work.

Want extra bonus points? Turn off your phone and close out from all social media sites. They’re distractions that waste time and take energy away from productive, higher value activities.

Listen to the Podcast Episode for This Post

Listen to the companion podcast by clicking the player below or click:!3512e#t=2


For more Stress Mastery and Mindful Living tips, visit us listen to the latest “Mind Over Stress” podcast episodes at

Stephen Carter | CEO Stress Solutions, LLC | | Podcast: 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

How Can a Simple "Thank You" Note Create Emotional Wellbeing

Note: This post is a summary of the, "Mind Over Stress" Podcast, "Can a "Thank You" Note Enhance Emotional Wellbeing.

To listen to the podcast, click the player below or click the link if you don't see a player.

Photo of handwritten "Thank You" with pen
In this episode, you’ll discover why taking just two or three minutes to write a short note of appreciation can create positive feelings of self-worth for the person receiving the message AND for the person writing the message. That would be you!

What Research Tells Us About the Power of "Thank You" Notes:

So what does the science tell us about writing “Thank You” notes? Is it worth doing? Is it difficult? Who benefits?

What stops you from writing notes of appreciation? Does it feel awkward? Are you afraid you won’t know what to write? Are you concerned the recipient won’t really appreciate receiving that kind of message?

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Chicago published the results of their research into "Thank You" note writing in the journal, “Psychological Science”. They asked participants to write a letter of gratitude to someone who had done something special or nice for them. After writing the message, participants were asked to anticipate how recipients would react.

What were the results? Letter writers overestimated how awkward recipients would feel. They underestimated how surprised and pleased recipients would feel.

Dr. Amit Kumar of the University of Texas Comments:

Lead author, Dr. Amit Kumar, assistant professor in the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, said,

“We looked at what’s correlating with people’s likelihood of expressing gratitude - what drives those choices - and what we found is that predictions or expectations of that awkwardness, that anticipation of how a recipient would feel - those are the things that matter when people are deciding whether to express gratitude.”

He added anxiety about what to say and fear that recipients would misinterpret the intent, stopped many people from expressing gratitude to others. 

He continued, 

“What we saw is that it only takes a couple of minutes to compose letters like these, thoughtful ones and sincere. It comes at little cost but the benefits are larger than people expect.”

Your Personal Experience of Receiving a "Thank You" Note:

Think back to a time you received a note from someone expressing appreciation for a gift or something you did. How did you feel? What did you think about the person who wrote the note?

A Simple "Thank You" Note Template:

Here’s a template you can use to craft a short “Thank You” note:

First, think about the act of kindness. Allow yourself to really feel gratitude.

Use a simple, straightforward opening such as,

“Thank you for…”
“It was wonderful of you to…”
“I really appreciate you taking time and effort to…”

Add one to three sentences briefly describing the action, gift, or kindness. 

Close the body of your message with one or two sentences describing how the action, gift, or kindness affected you, such as,

“The flowers are beautiful! I feel so warm and loved every time I look at them!”
“I feel blessed to have you as a friend!”
“You really are a Knight in Shinning Armor! Your kindness is very much appreciated.”

End with an appropriate close such as,

“With heart-felt appreciation,”
“Blessings in abundance,”

Or other close appropriate to the person and your relationship with that person.

What's Next?

I encourage you to take a few minutes and write a "Thank You" note to someone who showed you kindness. You’ll boost their self-esteem and you will feel really, really good about acknowledging that kindness. 

To paraphrase the old joke about voting in Chicago, “Write early, and write often”. Your short notes of appreciation will go a long way to helping create a kinder, happier world one person at a time.

To hear other “Mind Over Stress” podcasts and to subscribe so you never miss an episode, visit us at

Stephen Carter | Stress Solutions, LLC | | "Mind Over Stress" Podcast: 

Sources and Resources:

“Writing a “Thank You” Note is More Powerful Than We Realize, Study Shows”

More information: Amit Kumar et al, Undervaluing Gratitude: Expressers Misunderstand the Consequences of Showing Appreciation, Psychological Science (2018). DOI: 10.1177/0956797618772506
Journal information: Psychological Science 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Dowsing and Distant Energy Healing

This is a video recording of a live online dowsing for healing demonstration followed by an actual Distant Healing session where attendees share their specific issues.

Each attendee receives Distant Healing energy from other participants. Each participant then shares their experience including the physical sensations and results.
Note: In the video I mention an earlier video that goes into detail about Distant Healing. I said that video was released in August. In fact, it was released in February.
Here is the link to that earlier YouTube published video:

Stephen Carter | CEO Stress Solutions, LLC | | Podcast: 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

How to Change a Painful Memory With a Simple NLP Technique

Can you change the way a painful incident is remembered?

You may be surprised to learn our memories are not fixed. 

As a matter of fact, many of our memories are far from accurate. As an example, ask a sibling or friend to recall an incident where you both were present. Chances are your sibling or friend's "story" has significant differences from the one you remember. You may even wonder if you're talking about the same incident.

This can be a big problem in our criminal justice system. Ask five eye witnesses to a crime what happened and you'll get seven different versions of the event.

Our Memories Aren't Fixed

To make matters worse, our own memory of a given event can change over time. Memories aren't photographs or video files. We may recall only a scant few bits and pieces of a past event. The brain fills in the rest to flesh out the memory.

There is a good news piece to this story. You can usually consciously change how you recall a given experience. If the experience was painful, you can adjust how the experience is rendered in mind in such a way as to lesson and often dissolve the emotional reaction.

NLP to the Rescue 

One tool for helping change how we represent and experience memories is a method called Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP. 

In the episode (click player) linked below of the, "Mind Over Stress" podcast, I take you through step by step a short NLP process to literally change how your brain represents a problem memory.

Important Disclaimer!

One important caveat: This technique is offered for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat or prevent any medical or psychological condition. If you choose to try this technique, you agree to take full, complete, and sole responsibility for your own psychological, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Always consult your medical doctor or appropriate licensed therapist for all issues of concern.

Assuming you're keen to learn and apply the NLP technique, click the player below and follow the simple steps shared in the audio podcast.

Stephen Carter | CEO, Stress Solutions, LLC | | "Mind Over Stress" Podcast website:

Direct link to player if you don't see one immediately below.!759a5

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Can a Forced Smile Change Mood and Emotion?

To listen to this new, "Less Stress More Joy" podcast episode, click the player below or go to

Can a Forced Smile Change Mood and Emotion?

A new large meta study by researchers at the University of Tenn. and Texas A&M looked at 138 scientific studies with more than 11,000 participants to determine if facial expressions - including the simple smile - can affect mood and emotional state. 

The answer, "absolutely yes!"

Results may be short lived, but there are measurable changes in mood and emotion when you smile, frown, or scowl.

4 Easy Actions to Improve Emotional Wellbeing

This episode summarizes study findings and offers three easy actions to improve your emotional wellbeing.

They are:

  • Take periodic breaks throughout the day. Stop what you’re doing, sit or stand comfortably, and take take three comfortable breaths as you yawn, sigh, and stretch.
  • Smile! Smile whether you feel like smiling or not. Hold the smile for at least 15 to 20 seconds or more.
  • Say the word, “Peace” and allow the vibration of the word to flow through your body as you smile.
  • Again, breathe comfortably as you yawn, sigh, and stretch and smile again before returning to your activities. 

For more Stress Mastery methods visit the, “Mind Over Stress Show” website at 

Stephen Carter

Stress Solutions, LLC | | Podcast: 

Here are study related links:

"The Key to Happiness? Just Smile Study Suggests";

"A Meta-analysis of the facial feedback literature: Effects of facial feedback on emotional experience are small and variable";

Monday, April 1, 2019

3 Stress Busting Ideas for Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month. This is a great time to look at the stress and the stressors in your life and create a path to eliminate or significantly lower the chronic stress response.

Good Stress Versus Bad Stress

A certain minimal level of stress can be good. It can help us focus attention and access success resources. That kind of stress is eustress.  

Eustress can happen for example when we're thinking about a first date with someone, preparing for a presentation, or doing something for the very first time. You've practiced, you're ready to go, you've done all the things necessary. But there are still those butterflies in your stomach. That type of stress is short lived, it’s episodic.

The problem stress is long term chronic stress. The sources of chronic stress can be many. They can be problematic situations at work, problems with significant others in a relationship, or ongoing financial based stress. These all (and many other situations) can create chronic stress. 

How can you successfully deal with stress? 

3 Ideas to Dissolve Stress 

Idea Number 1: Conduct a Stress Assessment

The first thing I suggest is take an inventory of the top two or three situations, people, or circumstances you believe are stressors. Write those stressors down. Naming the stress and naming the source of stress alone can often help reduce your stress response. 

Once written down, let your imagination wander and come up with three actions you can take to help reduce that number one stressor.

Questions to consider: 

  • Can you eliminate the trigger? 
  • Can you better prepare for the problem situation? 
  • Is this a situation that can helped or eliminated with an honest, open conversation? 

Let your subconscious mind have free rein to offer ideas that can eliminate or reduce the stress response.

Repeat the same process for the second and third stressors on your list. 

Idea Number 2: Take Defense Action Ahead of Stress Creating Situations

What do I mean by that? As an example, If you know you're going to have a conversation with someone who is a problem, plan that conversation and the circumstances related to that conversation. 

Rehearse in mind how you are going to deal with that person or situation. Create a mind video story where you act out what you will do, say, and feel. Play that video in the theatre of mind. Make the video big, bold, and in full Technicolor.

Once you have the plan in place and you created and played your video story, write down an affirmation that supports your story.

For example, if a co-worker is a problem you've created a video story about how you will deal with that co-worker on a day to day basis or in a particular situation. The affirmation would be something like, 

“I choose to develop the strategies I created in that video story. I choose to apply those strategies in circumstances where I have contact with the individual I have a problem with."

The magic two words are, “I choose”.  Before going into an interaction with that person, revisit the video story. It only takes a couple of seconds to do that. Then, reread the affirmation you have written down. This will help ensure you are emotionally prepared and mentally ready to deal with whatever comes up. 

Idea Number 3: Take 1 to 2 Minute Breathing Breaks

I recommend you apply deep breathing early and often. Breathe in for the count of five, hold briefly for a second or so, and breathe out for the count of five. That can be four seconds, five seconds, or six seconds. 

The important thing is to breathe diaphragmatically and rhythmically with a slow comfortable in breath, a brief hold for a second or so, and a slow out breath. As you breathe out, smile and say peace. Apply deep breathing for 30 seconds to two minutes as time and circumstances allow.

Doing this simple breath exercise several times a day will help keep your stress level down. You will feel better, your stress level will be lower, and you will have a much, much better day.

In Summary:

  • Take a Stress Inventory and identify two or three promising stress lowering strategies;
  • Create a video mind story for one or more of your chosen strategies and prepare a short affirmation using the words, “I Choose”; and,
  • Practice 1 to 2 minutes of deep, Diaphragmatic Breathing several times a day.

Visit the “Mind Over Stress” Show Website

For more Stress Mastery methods visit the “Mind Over Stress Show” website at 

Stephen Carter

Stress Solutions, LLC | | Podcast: 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Stress Mastery Tip: Practice Forest Bathing for Calm and Wellbeing

In Japan, there is a term for immersing yourself in the energy of trees. Shinnin-yoku is the practice of taking in the forest atmosphere or, "forest bathing".

Recall a time you wandered in the woods. Bring to mind how it felt to walk and experience the calming effects of Mother Nature. Perhaps there was a gentle breeze, a pleasing aroma, and sounds of birds and rustling leaves. 

The Magical Energy of Trees

There is something magical about spending time among trees. Some believe there is a special magical energy emitted by trees.

When trees are in groves, woods, or a forest, there seems to be an exponential increase in the energy field. It's palpable. I'll bet you experienced the calming effects yourself when you strolled among those majestic large trees. 

It's as if the Shinnin-yoku energy is absorbed within and through your entire energy system.

Why not take a stroll among trees now or as soon as possible? Even a small grove or perhaps a single, large tree will do. 

Really allow your awareness to connect with the sights, sounds, and sensations of the experience.

One More Shinnin-yoku Suggestion 

Oh... one more suggestion. When no one is looking, go ahead and hug a tree and feel it's texture and energy. 

The tree will love it and so will you.

Stephen Carter

Stress Solutions, LLC | | Podcast: