Monday, December 21, 2015

"I Complain Too Much!" - A Christmas Story of Gratitude

“I complain too much! I’m going to change that.”

Those were the words that greeted me when I answered a call from a client we’ll call Mary. 

“OK”, I replied. “What happened that caused you to conclude you complain too much?”

Mary's Story


"Earlier today I was standing in line at the food store. I noticed a lady in front  of me counting out change from a change purse. When I looked at her clothes, I saw she was wearing a worn shawl. It was cold and I remember thinking, ‘she should have a coat’.

"She placed a box of oatmeal and two cans of tunafish on the belt. When the clerk totaled up the cost, the lady looked at the coins she was holding and said in a flat, sad voice, 

‘I’m sorry, but I am 28 cents short. Please take off the box of oatmeal.’

Mary continued,

“I couldn’t stop myself. I said to the clerk, ‘Please go ahead and ring up the oatmeal. I will pay the 28 cents.

"The lady objected. She said, 'No, you don’t have to do that'.

“I said, ‘I want to pay for the oatmeal. Please accept it as a small gift for Christmas. I would also like to add this bag of tangerines I have here. Please, accept this as a Christmas gift’.

“The lady thanked me and walked off. As she was leaving, I looked down and saw she had a piece of duct tape holding the back of a shoe together. It was so sad."


Our Conversation About Mary's Experience


When she finished, I said to Mary, "You showed compassion for someone in need. That was very kind.”

“Maybe so”, she replied. “But why did I cry all the way home? I kept wondering if she had children at home that aren’t being feed properly. I then wondered if she had a pet she can’t feed."

Mary continued, “You know how many times I’ve complained about what I don’t have. I haven’t had a raise in nearly 10 years. I'm working a part-time job to pay for Christmas. Money is always tight. I’m always complaining.

“After this happened, I realized I may not have everything I want, but I have what I need. I have a house. My car is 15 years old, but it runs. I have a warm coat, food to eat and enough money to buy my cats food. Thank God I never have to choose between oatmeal and tunafish because I don't have 28 cents.

“Maybe I’ll complain later. Maybe not. Right now I feel very grateful for what I have.”

After my conversation with Mary, I thought about the many blessings in my life I am grateful for. 

What the Research Tells Us About Gratitude and Happiness


Research tells us the simple practice of writing down three things each day we’re grateful for helps increase our overall sense of happiness. 

Helping others is another way to raise our sense of happiness.

What three things or experiences today are you grateful for? Little things such as a lovely sunset, an infectious laugh by a child, or a special touch from a loved one all count.

Pass It Forward


Please share a smile with someone, drop a donation in a Salvation Army kettle, or buy a cup of coffee or even a meal for someone homeless. 

When you give someone else a reason to feel grateful, you can add that to your list as well.

May your holidays be blessed and joyous…

Love and light,

Steve


photo 
Stephen Carter
Stress Solutions, LLC
    


Important Note: This and all other postings to this blog along with any statement or statements made in any podcast, audio, or video associated with this site are for informational purposes only. This and all other written posts and statements in any audio or video recording associated with this blog, Stress Solutions, LLC, or Stephen Carter are not intended to diagnose, treat, or otherwise recommend any treatment for any medical or psychological condition. Anyone using any of the information contained in this or any other posting, audio or video recording linked to this website or associated in any way with this website, with Stephen Carter, or with Stress Solutions, LLC does so at his or her own risk. You are urged to seek competent medical consultations with appropriate licensed medical professionals for any and all medical, psychological, emotional, or physical conditions.

Monday, November 23, 2015

How to Stay Financially Stress Free After Holiday Spending - Guaranteed!

Sometimes we experience stress from surprising and unexpected events such as an auto accident or illness. Sometimes we willingly create circumstances that we know will lead to later anxiety and stress. Take, for example, our decisions about buying gifts for the holidays.

Holiday Overspending Leads to Financial and Emotional Stress That Can Last Long After the Tree is Gone!


According to a *survey of 1,000 parents with children between the ages of 8 and 14 years of age commissioned by T. Rowe Price in January of 2015, 62% of of those parents agreed with the statement, "I spent more for my kids over the holidays than I should have". 

This overspending led to a number of stress creating results including increased arguments with a spouse, a situation not healthy for the children or the parents.

The January Debt Free Solution:


So what are we to do? Is there a way we can stick to a budget that is realistic and yet still ensure our loved ones receive gifts they'll appreciate?

Here is what I recommend to make sure financial stress doesn't come down the chimney with Santa:
  • Look at your finances carefully and determine the absolute limit that makes sense given your other expenses. Write down this amount.
  • Make a list of the people you plan to buy for. Include any non-family members such as co-workers and service providers such as hair stylists.
  • After each name place the amount of money you plan to spend. If you want to add a specific item description (eg. X-Box), that's fine, but placing the allocated amount after each name is critical. Include the cost of shipping, holiday cards, and wrapping.
  • Add up the total amount you would like to spend for each person. Check that number against your agreed upon maximum spending.
If the total amount you would like spend on each person exceeds your budget, you have two choices: 

1) Cut the amount of money for each person across the entire list or by individual people, and / or;

2) Eliminate people from the list.

Make sure that, "It's OK to spend just a little more so people will love you" voice doesn't cloud your judgement. This voice is likely to show up as you're making the hard decisions about cutting. Acknowledge the voice and message, say, "Thank you", and proceed with the task at hand.

Once you have massaged your list and the amount you would like to spend matches your budget, take one more important action: 

Go to the bank and withdraw the exact amount of money you plan to spend. 

Purchase each gift with cash from a real physical store. If you're buying gift cards pay attention to the fine print. Some cards have specific time windows before the face value of the card is reduced or looses all value. Shop early and - if shipping is required - ship the gifts by early December.

Remember, once the allocated money is spent your shopping is done. Resist any temptation to use plastic or otherwise spend "just a little more on this special gift she'll really love".

Your Positive Results:


Following this plan assures you have zero debt in January. It also reenforces your positive self-image at the subconscious and conscious levels of mind as someone who is smart, money savvy, and decisive.

Happy stress free holidays!

Love and blessings, 

Steve

photo 
Stephen Carter
Stress Solutions, LLC
    


*Resource citation: T. ROWE PRICE: MOST PARENTS SAY THEY OVERSPEND ON KIDS' HOLIDAY GIFTS. Baltimore: November 12, 2015 press release: http://trowe.com/1P4jlMe.

Important Note: This and all other postings to this blog along with any statement or statements made in any podcast, audio, or video associated with this site are for informational purposes only. This and all other written posts and statements in any audio or video recording associated with this blog, Stress Solutions, LLC, or Stephen Carter are not intended to diagnose, treat, or otherwise recommend any treatment for any medical or psychological condition. Anyone using any of the information contained in this or any other posting, audio or video recording linked to this website or associated in any way with this website, with Stephen Carter, or with Stress Solutions, LLC does so at his or her own risk. You are urged to seek competent medical consultations with appropriate licensed medical professionals for any and all medical, psychological, emotional, or physical conditions.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness Change You - and the World!

Yesterday I happened to stop by a Baltimore City McDonald's to get a cup of coffee. Rain was falling and the wind was brisk, so I hurried toward the door.

As I approached the building, I noticed a mostly empty can of cat food someone had left about 20 feet from the entrance. 

This act of kitty kindness caused me to stop and give a tip of my hat to the unknown person who cared enough about the well-being of one or more stray cats to provide food. It was simply a random act of kindness.

Seeing the evidence of that stranger's random act of kindness was touching. Even more important, I was reminded that I too have opportunities every day to make this world a better, happier place. 

We all in fact have opportunities to practice random acts of kindness. Offering a smile to someone you pass on the street; allowing another motorist to pull ahead of you in traffic; buying a cup of coffee or even a meal for someone homeless are just three examples.

I encourage you to offer random acts of kindness today - and tomorrow. These acts change your chemistry and feelings for the better...

They also change the world.


Blessings,

Steve


photo 
Stephen Carter
Stress Solutions, LLC
    


Important Note: This and all other postings to this blog along with any statement or statements made in any podcast, audio, or video associated with this site are for informational purposes only. This and all other posts and statements in any audio or video recording associated with this blog, Stress Solutions, LLC, or Stephen Carter are not intended to diagnose, treat, or otherwise recommend any treatment for any medical or psychological condition. Anyone using any of the information contained in this or any other posting, audio or video recording linked to this website or associated in any way with this website does so at his or her own risk. You are urged to seek competent medical consultations with appropriate licensed medical professionals for any and all medical, psychological, or physical conditions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Healing Hatred With Love - Paris and Beyond

As I was dealing with my strong emotions following the barbaric murders in Paris, I recalled the Positive EFT Love audio (EFT is short for Emotional Freedom Techniques) I had recently recorded for clients. I was then reminded the most powerful healing energy in our universe is love. 

The Positive EFT Love Protocol begins by inviting the energy of love to flow through us and ends by inviting the healing energy of love to circle the globe and touch everyone living on Mother Earth.


How to Download the EFT Love Protocol 10-Minute Audio Guide

If you would like to use the Positive EFT Love Protocol, you can download the MP3 audio to listen directly on your computer or smartphone by clicking http://bit.ly/1N7Ae8l

If you have no knowledge of EFT tapping points, I suggest simply listening to the audio as a meditation. If you would like to learn about EFT and watch YouTube videos demonstrating tapping points, visit our Stress Solutions, LLC website at www.EFT-MD.com.

I encourage everyone to use whatever methods or practices - to include prayer - you are called toward to help counter the dark energy of hatred and killing.

EFT Love Protocol Audio Download Link: http://bit.ly/1N7Ae8l

Listen as Streaming Audio: http://bit.ly/1Lk5fhX.

Blessings,

Steve


photo 
Stephen Carter
Stress Solutions, LLC
    


Important Note: This and all other postings to this blog along with any statement or statements made in any podcast, audio, or video associated with this site are for informational purposes only. This and all other posts and statements in any audio or video recording associated with this blog, Stress Solutions, LLC, or Stephen Carter are not intended to diagnose, treat, or otherwise recommend any treatment for any medical or psychological condition. Anyone using any of the information contained in this or any other posting, audio or video recording linked to this website or associated in any way with this website does so at his or her own risk. You are urged to seek competent medical consultations with appropriate licensed medical professionals for any and all medical, psychological, or physical conditions.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

How to Stop Caregiver Burnout

Caregiving is one of the most difficult challenges anyone can face. If you are a caregiver for someone with a debilitating disease or other serious condition, you may be at elevated risk for chronic stress and burnout.

The suggestions below are based on my own experiences as a caregiver for my father during his final six months of life along with insights from my work helping clients navigate the troubled waters of caregiving to loved ones. I was blessed with strong family support and help with my father, but even with that support the emotional and physical toll was beyond anything I could have imagined before actually experiencing the journey.

Why Chronic Stress Matters

Chronic stress can result in periods of prolonged depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, and a range of other problem emotions. It's important to know chronic stress may contribute to medical and emotional conditions that can have serious consequences for your health and emotional well-being.

Caregiver stress is born from the emotional and physical strain that goes with caring for someone in constant need of help and attention. There is often a sense of overwhelm, particularly when a caregiver has limited opportunities to step out of the caregiving role.

The stress response can take several forms. Sometimes you can feel angry and frustrated. Other times you may feel a profound sense of helplessness, hopelessness, and sadness. You may feel as though you are on an emotional rollercoaster that never seems to stop. The ebb and flow of emotions - positive and negative - is common when acting in a caregiving role.

Steps to Help Stop Caregiver Stress and Burnout
  • Recognize when you are experiencing elevated stress. Signs may include an inability to fall or stay asleep, not getting enough sleep, chaotic thinking that may sometimes include violent thoughts, making mistakes giving medications, feeling alone and abandoned, or experiencing a chronic sense of depression or anxiety. 
  • Once you notice you are in a stress response, take action to change that response. This can include frequent mini-breaks, the application of EFT / Tapping or other stress releasing techniques such as a short yoga session, deep, slow breathing, or periods of meditation to help break the cycle of stressful thoughts and feelings. 
  • Talk with a trusted disinterested professional or friend to help work through strategies that better enable you to handle the day-to-day demands. This conversation should not be a pity party. Rather, look for the key stressors in your situation and identify ways to mitigate or eliminate them.
  • Ask - and demand if necessary - help from other family members. If they can't physically be present, ask for financial help to hire others so you can do activities that are fun and emotionally nourishing.
  • Use self-talk throughout the day that supports your emotional well-being. For example, saying, "I'm feeling frustrated, but I know this too shall pass. It always does", acknowledges what you're experiencing in that given moment, but it reminds you the feeling is temporary.
Additional Information

For more information to include additional suggestions for dealing with caregiver stress, download the Caregiver Stress Fact Sheet from the Office of Women's Health. That Fact Sheet is available at http://1.usa.gov/1k8lglZ.

Finally, if you believe you're experiencing chronic stress, or any physical or emotional challenge that may be affecting your health or emotional well-being, I suggest talking with your medical doctor or other appropriate medical professional. 

Please always remember, you owe it to yourself, the person you're caring for, and your loved ones to care for the caregiver. That would be you.

Blessings,

Steve


photo 
Stephen Carter
Stress Solutions, LLC
    

To learn more about how EFT / TFT / Tapping and Energy Psychology can help with stress and other challenging emotions, visit our Stress Solutions, LLC website at www.EFT-MD.com.

Important Note: This and all other postings to this blog along with any statement or statements made in any podcast, audio, or video associated with this site are for informational purposes only. This and all other posts and statements in any audio or video recording associated with this blog, Stress Solutions, LLC, or Stephen Carter are not intended to diagnose, treat, or otherwise recommend any treatment for any medical or psychological condition. Anyone using any of the information contained in this or any other posting, audio or video recording linked to this website or associated in any way with this website does so at his or her own risk. You are urged to seek competent medical consultations with appropriate licensed medical professionals for any and all medical, psychological, or physical conditions.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Phobias, Fears, and Other Strong Emotions - How a Snake Can Help Us Find Emotional Freedom

What can we learn from snakes about emotional well-being? It turns out we can learn a lot.

While out for my morning walk today I noticed four lawn care workers digging up some shrubs. New plants were at the ready.

As I walked past the men, one of the group, the team leader as I learned later, jumped back and screamed, “snake, snake, snake, oh my God, it’s a snake!” 

The other men all stepped back, each frozen in place. They seemed to be taking their behavior cue from the leader.

After about 10-seconds passed, the team leader in a quivering voice told one of the other men to “kill it! Get it out of here!”. He then took five steps backward waiting for the worker to carry out the order.

When the man who had been told to kill the snake walked back to where the snake had been, it wasn’t there. A couple of other workers cautiously looked at the ground trying to see the snake; the snake, at least for that moment, had saved it’s own life by moving.

I walked up to the team leader and said, “My gracious, it seems you are afraid of snakes”. Sometimes stating the obvious is a reasonably good way to open a conversation.

“Oh my God, yes!”, he said. “I am terrified of snakes. Look at my arms.”

When I looked at his arms, I saw the hairs were standing up. The man was still hyper breathing and his voice still quivered when he spoke.

As I turned my attention back to where the workers were standing, one of the men said in Spanish, “Here it is! He raised the shovel and readied himself to dispatch the snake. 

When I looked at the ground directly beneath where the shovel was about to fall, I saw the slithering serpent who was about to be killed. I stepped closer and raised my voice, saying in Spanish, “Stop!”. I then turned to the leader and said, “I’ll take care of the snake”.

I bent down, picked up the four-inch garter snake, carried it to a wooded area about 40 feet away, and placed the snake on the ground. It first curled up, but then quickly unfurled itself and moved deeper into the dense wooded area. 

The snake was saved and the men returned to work. But why did the snake trigger such a fearful reaction in the team leader? Are there lessons in this experience for those of us who have no phobic reaction to living creatures who slither about the countryside?

What is a Phobia?

Phobias are by definition an extreme or irrational fear or aversion to something. That something can be any object, person, place, animal, or perceived situation.

About four to five percent of the U.S. Population has at least one clinically significant fear in a given year. Social phobia responses typically appear in people between 15 - 20 years of age, although they can appear in younger and older people.

While the team leader’s reaction to seeing a four-inch garter snake was almost laughable, it certainly wasn’t laughable to him. The truth is we all have and react to irrational fears. Holding onto to those irrational fears is a choice, although it may not feel that way when we're triggered.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his famous 1933 Presidential Inaugural Address, said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

Roosevelt was so right. Let us keep in mind the person, place, or thing that triggers our fear response is exactly that: a trigger. The trigger itself is simply what it is. It is our reactions to the triggering object, person, place, or situation that creates our felt sense of fear.

Fears Can Control and Limit Us

While fear can be a life saving emotion, for far too many people the emotion shows up in situations where it is unneeded and limiting. Worse still, for those people who have full on phobias, extreme fear can turn into terror that causes them to literally freeze in place. A good example of this is the common fear of public speaking. Numerous surveys show this is the number one fear, even greater than the fear of death.

Can Irrational Fears be Released?

Are we destined to be controlled by irrational fear throughout life? The good news is the vast majority of people suffering from phobias and lessor fear reactions can be freed from their emotional prison. They are literally holding the prison door key in the palms of their hands.

In future posts, I’ll share a variety of ways to release irrational fear responses. As a starting point, I suggest the following steps to begin your journey to emotional freedom:

  • Recognize that fear is an emotional and physical reaction to the triggering stimulus. It is a feeling - strong or weak - that you are creating in the moment. 
  • If you know how to apply Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Thought Field Therapy (TFT), or other tapping / Energy Psychology protocol, begin tapping or applying the protocol immediately as you’re experiencing the fear / phobia reaction. Keep tapping until the reaction subsides and ultimately dissolves.
  • If you don’t know how to apply EFT, TFT, or other tapping / Energy Psychology protocol, click HERE to download the 1-page CenterPoint Release (CPR) guide. It's simple to remember and easy to use whenever you are triggered. As you apply the CPR protocol, you will likely experience a significant reduction in the intensity of the fear response. After one or two applications your fear reactions may be completely gone.
To learn more about how EFT / TFT and Energy Psychology can help with phobias and other challenging emotions, visit our Stress Solutions, LLC website at www.EFT-MD.com.

Blessings,

Steve


photo 
Stephen Carter
Stress Solutions, LLC
    

Important Note: This and all other postings to this blog along with any statement or statements made in any podcast, audio, or video associated with this site are for informational purposes only. This and all other posts and statements in any audio or video recording associated with this blog, Stress Solutions, LLC, or Stephen Carter are not intended to diagnose, treat, or otherwise recommend any treatment for any medical or psychological condition. Anyone using any of the information contained in this or any other posting, audio or video recording linked to this website or associated in any way with this website does so at his or her own risk. You are urged to seek competent medical consultations with appropriate licensed medical professionals for any and all medical, psychological, or physical conditions.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Stress Eating and How to Stop the Habit

Two recent studies published in the journal "Neuron", report on findings related to stress and food choices. Links to those two articles mentioned in the podcast are below.

Bottom Line Regarding Stress and Diet


The bottom line for those who are choosing to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is to recognize and account for the role stress plays in our choices about what we eat.

By clicking on the special episode audio podcast link below, you'll learn how to combine two easily done, simple methods that will dissolve stress and place you back in the captain's chair of control when making food choices.

To listen to the 5-minute audio, click:


http://www.audioacrobat.com/email/EDlF9PfRW




To download the MP3 audio file to listen on your smartphone or computer anytime, click HERE.

Key Points:
  • Stress affects our ability to make good food choices.
  • Stress chemicals can remain in the body up to several hours after a stress inducing event.
  • A three-step stress mastering process done before you make a food choice can help you make healthier choices.
  • How to apply the three-step stress mastering process:
    1. Identify where in your body stress / tension / uncomfortable sensations are located. If possible, touch those areas and really connect with your awareness.
    2. Say "Yes to the Stress!" Acknowledge "what is" without resistance or desire to feel any differently.
    3. Use Bi-Lateral foot tapping and voice (out loud or in mind) the command to, "Release and let it go... Let all of the stress dissolve and release."
Using this three-step process, you are now ready to make food choices from a place of more physical, emotional, and mental balance that supports better, healthier food choice decisions.

Blessings,

Steve

photo 
Stephen Carter
Stress Solutions, LLC
    

Important Note: This and all other postings to this blog along with any statement or statements made in any podcast, audio, or video associated with this site are for informational purposes only. This and all other posts and statements in any audio or video recording associated with this blog, Stress Solutions, LLC, or Stephen Carter are not intended to diagnose, treat, or otherwise recommend any treatment for any medical or psychological condition. Anyone using any of the information contained in this or any other posting, audio or video recording linked to this website or associated in any way with this website does so at his or her own risk. You are urged to seek competent medical consultations with appropriate licensed medical professionals for any and all medical, psychological, or physical conditions.

For more information about the studies mentioned in the podcast and intro above, click the links below.

Scientists scan the brain to see how stress undermines your diet


How stress can tweak the brain to sabotage self-control