New Trend in science help–Embrace stress don’t try to manage or run from it.

She is now researching a new book about the “upside of stress,” which will look at both why stress is good for us, and what makes us good at stress. In her words: “The old understanding of stress as a unhelpful relic of our animal instincts is being replaced by the understanding that stress actually makes us socially smart

— it’s what allows us to be fully human.” Kelly McGonigal

Kelly McGonigal’s talk from TEDGlobal 2013, “How to make stress your friend,” has inspired many people to stop thinking of stress as a terrifying thing — a big gift in itself. Here, the TED Talks she’d like to give for the holiday season.

Don’t miss this one

In a captivating TED talk last year she admits that what she has been teaching about stress over the last ten years is wrong . See more at


Daily Quote: “Stress is like Spice… not always bad for you

“Stress is like spice – in the right proportion it enhances the flavor of a dish. Too little produces a bland, dull meal; too much may choke you.” Dr. Donald Tubesing
Stress is a normal part of life.   Believe it or not stress can even be useful when it triggers us to danger. In every day life, living with a constant and elevated stress level can be a persistent problem that interferes with daily activities, such as work, school or sleep. This type of stress can disrupt relationships and enjoyment of life, and over time it can lead to serious health concerns (elevate blood pressure, digestive issues like IBS, depression, confused thinking and other chronic problems. Goal in life isn’t to get rid of it but to find the right balance between good stress and chronic stress which can’t be turned off. Some of the best research has been done by Robert Sapolsky in his book:  Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases and Coping

What does latest Research say about Living with Stress? Learn about the 90:10 Rule

Daily Quote: The bottom line of the latest research on stress is summarized by Dr. Daniela Kaufer, ” I think the ultimate message of our research is an optimistic one. Stress can be something that makes you better, but it is a question of how much, how long and how you interpret or perceive it. Stress can be a very positive motivator for personal growth and memory development.

Reflection: In looking at stress from a different point of view we can be less afraid of it and gain control of the positive aspects of the concept. I think invoking Aristotle’s “golden mean” approach to living a balanced life serves as a positive and reasonable approach for how to live our lives where “stress” is a given reality. To paraphrase this great philosopher “too much of anything can cause imbalance and overwhelm the human system and upset the natural order of things.”

Self Coaching Challenge:

Stress can be a contributor to some deadly conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease, thus if left unabated it could lead to death. On the other handle it can be a source of stimulation to support  a a growth mindset and provides an opportunity to live a more exciting lifestyle. Your attitude is the key to making stress a positive or negative factor in your life. Stress affects us all differently so how we handle requires a customized plan. A plan that its foundation aims to create balance in your life. This assertion about stress is true depending on your mindset about what stress is and how it affects you. If you see, stress as a signal for living and a necessary part of the “yin and yang” of life you are on the right path.

So your challenge is to educate yourself on the topic of stress and then build an approach that can support stress as a normal condition to be handles in life.

1. How is stress impacting your life? Use some self-assessment tools to learn how it is now effecting you. See more information

2. Choose some of the suggested behavioral tools and approaches outline in my past post on stress on how to develop new practices such as reframing, mindfulness and other beneficial practices to incorporate into your daily life. See– the wick post at

3. Learn to use the 90:10 rule for handling stress. View the following video on YouTube on the 90:10 Rule.


Is Stress A Silent Killer? The choice is yours.

Weekly Quote: ” The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” William James

Stress has been labeled the “silent killer.” This is somewhat a misnomer. Stress can be a contributor to some deadly conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease, thus if left unabated it could lead to death. On the other handle it can be a source of stimulation to support  improved performance and provides an opportunity to live a more exciting and lifestyle. Your attitude is the key to making stress a positive or negative factor in your life. Stress effects us all differently so how we handle requires a customized plan. A plan that its foundation aims to create balance in your life. This assertion about stress is true depending on your mindset about what stress is and how it affects you. If you see, stress as a signal for living and a necessary part of the “yin and yang” of life you are on the right path.

On the other hand, if you see stress as bad or evil and a thing that needs to be controlled or eliminated maybe it is necessary to up-date your mental map, beliefs and outlook about the the benefits and risks of stress.  Recent research points out that those people who see stress as bad actually bring on more negative effects of stress. Stress does affect the body and mind on all levels – physical, mental and emotional and there is a difference between acute stress and ongoing chronic stress. Recent research has demonstrated that chronic stress elevates levels of glucocorticoid stress hormones, which suppresses the production of new neurons in the hippocampus, impairing memory. This is in addition to the effect that chronically elevated levels of stress hormones have on the entire body, such as increasing the risk of chronic obesity, heart disease and depression.

The bottom line on this latest research is summarized by Dr. Daniela Kaufer,  I think the ultimate message of our research is an optimistic one. Stress can be something that makes you better, but it is a question of how much, how long and how you interpret or perceive it. Stress can be a very positive motivator for personal growth and memory development.” Remember Aristotle’s “golden mean” approach to living a balanced life. To paraphrase this great philosopher “too much of anything can cause imbalance and overwhelm the human system and upset the natural order of things.”

While we all have different triggers that cause stress, there are ways that everyone can find to re-store balance and live a happy and satisfying life.

Whole Life Practices for balancing Stress and Recovery

Stress has the potential for many illnesses and ailments, if left unabated. When you’re stressed you’re in survival mode, which shuts down the non-essential functions until the issue passes.  The problem with chronic stress is those “non-essentials,” like the immune system, continue to be suppressed , therefore increasing your chances of getting sick. Here are some tips to help you deal with chronic stress.


Schedule Time Off

Work is a cause of routine stress according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Are you feeling on edge all the time when you think about your  job and work environment? Are you working long hours to try to increase productivity, but instead just end up feeling overworked? It’s important to schedule your time off first, even before factoring in time to get your things to do list completed. Without downtime to recoup, you won’t have time for exercise, you will be distracted by tension, anxiety and stress which will reduce your productivity.

Tip #2 – Keep a Reflection and Growth Diary

This diary is not for recording dreams. It’s for keeping track of how you’re sleeping – the amount, the quality and the time it takes to fall asleep. Sleep is one part of your day that is greatly affected by stress, which in turn can affect everything else. Monitoring sleep is a health awareness habit that can catch some of the first signs of stress.

Tip #3– Create Healthy Physical routines and workouts by running and walking.

You’ve heard of fight or flight syndrome, but did you know stress is what gives you the ability to do either in an undesirable situation? A rush of nerve chemicals and hormones help in survival, but when this state is prolonged it has the opposite effect. Keep stress in check and improve your overall health by taking flight. Bonus: exercise is a mood booster.

Tip #4 – Find your Relaxation and Recovery through understanding and practicing the PlusOne technique using mindfulness and relaxation processes daily.

The PlusOne technique teaches us that in order to live the largest life possible, we need to be able to block and protect our time and energy to work towards our priorities and goals. For example, you must create alone times and reflection points in your daily life to avoid being overwhelmed with just doing stuff. Creating extended periods of focus, provides time for relaxation and reflection providing more room for creativity, innovative and thoughtful actions.   It may take a little time to establish this new routine, but eventually you will see and feel the payoffs.

Simply thinking differently won’t get us to where we want to be, we also need to dedicate time, energy, engagement and focus to our goals for change that will end with big results! And using mindfulness and meditation can make you more aware of your body and mind connection. With focus on relaxation, meditation and strengthening, these activities will help you tap into the positive side of stress, called eustress.


We all react to stress differently, and many people have discovered their own effective stress relievers on top of the general tips mentioned here. If I have missed an important tip that you use to reduce stress, please let us know a stress relief tip that has worked for you. By sharing we maybe able to stop this “silent killer”.

References and Resources:

Self-Coaching: Overcoming Pinches and Stress in Interpersonal Communications

Stress or Irritation (Pinch) – A pinch is a frustration or anger trigger that occur when one person, violates another’s needs, wants, expectations, boundaries, values, beliefs etc.

The offended person reacts with either a knot in the stomach or a small alien popping out of their chest to right the wrong caused by their frustration. Along with these physical sensations comes an irrational thought from the primitive part of their brain that over-rides the executive and rational part of their brain. Their thinking goes like this:  This person has offended or dis-respected me and should not have done/said that! Or in some cases, we think, this person should be more  responsive or courteous to me. In these situations we feel disappointed, frustrated or angry because our expectations are not being met.

Coaching Tip: Use alignment principle to manage stress and unmet expectations: Living with respect and empathy as core values means: not settling for less than what you think or know you deserve in a situation or relationship. To be proactive ask for what you want and need from others rather than assuming others know what you expect or want. When interacting with others speak your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behave in alignment with your personal values. Make choices based on what you believe, and not what others tell you to do. This approach will bring clarity to the interaction and may produce a better outcome.

Weekend Quote and Reflection: Fatigue makes cowards of us all.


Daily Quote 1: “Are you wondering whether your head is about to explode? Personal stress can be at the core of mental and physical upsets and stress because being tired and suffering from mental fatigue can be hard to read. Negativity, however, is a leading symptom, and it’s often ignored as just living a hard and productive life. I’m almost always looking for ways to meaningfully assess how influential — positively and negatively — my colleagues, collaborators and co-workers are. “Influence” increasingly is the coin of the organizational realm. Influence defies title, credential and seniority. Somebody may be smart, talented and still with precious few exceptions, be dominated by negative emotions which are stressful, hurtful, and destructive — to our ability to function, think and active in constructive ways for ourselves and to others. Obvious as this may seem, most of us spend a good deal of time feeling impatient, frustrated, angry, or anxious, defensive, and fearful without fully recognizing why these emotions arise so persistently or the toll they take on you physical and mental health”. Dr. Jeffrey Brantley 

Daily Quote 2 : Lombardi once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all”. Vince Lombardi


By contrast, think for a moment about how you feel when you’re performing at your best. How would you describe this state of being? I am sure that these are some of the words you would use – such as energized, in a zone, happy, excited, optimistic, confident, alive, and connected. These emotions not only feel good, they also help us to perform better.

So what prompts us to move so frequently in a negative or glass half-full direction? 

The answer is that we do it involuntarily because of our mental or physical fatigue. We move into negative emotions and become reactive. At an unconscious and  in an automatic way, when we’re feeling endangered or threatened. Nothing makes us more vulnerable than being physically tired and mentally drained through exhaustion. 

When we feel fatigue, or tired, what gets triggered first is our biochemistry — the fight or flight response. Adrenalin, noradrenaline, and cortisol flood our bloodstream. These hormones prompt a series of physiological responses designed to help us react more quickly and effectively to the perceived danger. Control of our behavior moves from the pre-frontal cortex where we do our rational thinking by using logic , to our primitive and barbarian part of the brain called the amygdala. This is where our fight or flight response, takes over and reacts far more quickly and often in an unproductive way, such as panic, freezing or getting angry.  

All this makes great sense if you’re facing an urgent and dangerous threat to your life. In those cases, thinking only slows down the time it takes to respond. If there’s a lion coming at you, it’s far better to react instinctively rather than reflectively.

Ways to re-energize pay attention to your stress and fatigue.

Have you ever noticed how many of your waking moments you spend in your head, anxious about meetings, fretting about what is going to happen with your job or company, focusing on in-completions in your life and staring at your things to-do list, mulling over past emotional up-sets with colleague, friend or family member, or just generating endless worries and concerns? Where is your body in all this thinking? What’s your body doing and feeling while you’re fatigued and  mentally stressing? Let’s explore some potential consequences.

  • Take this quiet moment to really pay attention to your physical body.
  • What is your body doing right now? Are you slouching, at cease, or tense or feeling aches somewhere? 
  • If your body had a voice, what would it say to you? Would it remind you of your knee or back pain? Would it ask you to do a few stretches to unwind and relax? Maybe it is asking you to sit upright and relax your legs. Maybe your eyes are tired after staring at a computer screen all day and they need a break or a good rub.
  • Take this time to listen to your inner body. When you hear what your body is saying, stop and stretch or take a deep breath or just stand and stretch because these activities will help your body relax and reconnect with it in deeply healing ways.

Have a good weekend and we will talk again next week. Coach, Mark 


Seven Ways to Improve Mental Toughness

So what is mental toughness? It can be defined as the ability to access and maintain focus and determination to complete a course of action despite complexity, distractions, difficulties or unknown consequences. Some say it is the will to never give-up or quit. So the question is: Can “mental toughness” (MT) be taught or is innate? Let’s look at the sports world where MT is often used to describe super stars. Many athletes and coaches think, MT is an innate quality or talent that you are born with and they believe it can’t be taught or learned because it is a part of your DNA or it isn’t. According to this school of thought mental toughness is usually something you’re born with and is reinforced early in life by your parents and environment. These authorities believe it’s hard to take a sensitive “mommies boy” and make him “tough” no matter what you do. This obviously is the nature vs. nuture argument. The nurture position states that people can be shaped and learn from different experiences, modeling and teaching. ” Mental Toughness is a state of mind, not a fact. No matter how much or how little stress we feel before any public performance from speeches to shooting to hitting the winning foul shot we are always just doing what we’re doing, simply living this one moment of our lives to the best of our ability. So MT is the ability to use anxiety and fear to drive positive expectations, energy and action. ”  Dr. Mark W. Hardwick, Communications Coach  . Winning seems so easy and natural for the Nadal’s and Feder’s of the tennis world. And in other sports too. But the real secret seems to be mental preparedness and toughness.  The perception that winning is easy we know is false but it does look like their work is play. Many of us chalk it up to the person’s is naturally talent and short change mental rehearsal and practice. Applications for staying focused and being mentally tough in difficult performance situations or under stress: Practicing Mental Toughness techniques prior to your performance will help handling more stress during the performance. Below see some tools of how to create a mental set and rituals of   Mental Toughness state:

1. Be your own best supporter and critic. Shutout distractions and negative self-talk

2. Be clear, concise and committed to meeting your goal or target for the activity.

3. Believe fully in your ability and strength to execute effectively, so you can  naturally perform the task at hand.

4. Be prepared to relax and refocus on your goal when things go wrong during an interaction or performance. Learn to center yourself through deep breathing and use of relaxation tools.

5. Don’t try to hard to be accepted or worry about the outcome of your communication.

6. Learn to control your anxiety and nervousness by using a mental re-focus tool–When your self-critic pops up just say–STOP. The inner voice helps us to re-focus and exert self-control by enhancing our ability to restrain our negative impulses.  When we are in stressful situations like giving a speech we worry about the situation and it’s consequences. These worries are usually verbal in nature and are especially problematic for tasks that rely heavily on speaking and in the moment thinking and reasoning skills. So to be quick on your feet find a way to knock the fears away so that you can be mentally tough and perform at your best.

7. Be optimistic. Love the challenge of the moment and learn to accept whatever comes by focusing on process rather than techniques or fear of making mistakes. By learning to “look on the bright side,” of challenges and seeing stressful situations as opportunities for growth, you increase the likelihood of producing a positive mental and physical state.  This positive mental state leads to a chain of biochemical events that mobilize the brain and the body to cope more effectively with the situation.  A positive reaction to stress can then lead to what some have labeled  the challenge response, which counteracts the fear of failure and need to be perfect.

Are you feeling negative about life–Learn 2 take control of your negativity and stress

“I’m feeling pretty negative about life and I’m feeling pretty stressed ABOUT…”

Has a friend ever said this to you?  What do you do? Try to reassure or rescue them by saying things will get better or let me help or do you dig for more understanding by asking them to tell you more…

When you have a big events coming… wedding…birth of twins…comforting a dying Father or Mother or Friend… or at work a  presentation or critical proposal due, the pressure you friend feels or you is usually self-imposed by your thinking and anxiety of the events. How do I know? Because stuff that felt high-pressure a few years ago is old hat to me now. Because it used to be hard for me to speak to a class of twenty people, or take the wild run with each up and down of my retirement stocks and now I just go for the ride. Because I now realize these challenges are just part of this wonderful journey so not only do I get used to life’s surprises and curve balls, I embrace and thrive on them rather than being negative. .

Unless you’re caught in a terrible storm or some other outside event most of what we experience and stress about is self-induced by negative self-talk and irrational thinking.

What you do with the stress in life is up to you. If it’s not helping you do great work, STOP AND CHANGE YOUR THINKING OR FIND WAYS TO DISTRACT, overcome or challenge the STRESS BY BEING MORE POSITIVe and Mentally Tough..

Constant Overload and stressed? Learn to Recover and Relax

Constantly on information overload. Prescription for change: Use Smart-step process.

“We can do no great things – only small things with great love. Mother Theresa 

By  overload I don’t just mean that you are busy multi-tasking or feel like the 50 things on the ” to do” list will never get done. I mean a general feeling of constant pressure and stress and the inability to relax.  In addition, I mean an overload of input from the outside that gives you a sense of being out of control. The result of this constant pressure and activity is that setting priorities, making choices and problem solving become difficult and your ability to concentrate wains.  If you just let all the outside interferences bombard you it will be hard to think clearly. It’s just too much stimulation. A few more potential downsides to this state are:

1. Some of the input you receive will be negative. The media and your surroundings often put a negative spin on things for various reasons. If you aren´t selective in what input you want in your life then you’ll be dragged into this negativity milieu. This affects how you think, feel and act.- It creates an urge to want to just run away from all of it.

2. It becomes hard to make decisions and take action if your mind is constantly running in and there with many diverse pieces of information or trying to meet all the demands and requests. Personally, I find that if I get too much information it leads to a sort of paralysis. Nothing gets done.. Or you get stuck doing and keeping busy, busy, busy at high-speed with low priority activities.

To be able to focus, think more clearly and take action it´s useful to be more selective in what you let into your mind and to take time to rest or relax the mind.

There is a friend who taught me to overcome overload by practicing mindfulness. Once a day, he finds a quote or a poem that is related to nature, serenity or quietness. After selecting the material to read he finds a peaceful spot to enjoy the poem or quote and in a reflect way explore it a bit and how it is relevant to his life. For me, quotes and poetry can often sink me into a state of greater relaxation and mindfulness if I just empty my mind and let the words float by.

So for today, here is a quote by John Gardner to reflect on—“When we talk about revitalizing of ourselves, organizations or society we tend to put exclusive emphasis on finding new ideas. Bu there is no shortage of new ideas; the problem is to get a hearing for them. And that means breaking through the crusty rigidity and stubborn complacency of the status quo.” 

After this break I guarantee you will feel like you have just spent 20 minuets mediating. Try it let me know what you think.

When you work shut out as much distractions as possible. Shut off the phone, internet and shut the door. It is strange how much you can get done when you aren´t interrupted every minute or have the opportunity to procrastinate by checking your RSS-feeds or favorite websites.

For instance, you don´t have to let in all the negative emotions from your surroundings. If everyone else is procrastinating or are anxiously keeping themselves busy by doing low-priority tasks at warp speed it´s easy to be influenced by that mood and context.

Get “tougher” Discover Constructive Living principles through mental Challenges

Life is lived and filtered by experience, emotion, reflection and action. In an attempt to keep yourself focused I am going to begin to post quotes challenge you to discover new Constructive Living principles that guide personal development and change.

Quote of the Day: “Memory grips the past, hope secures the future. You don’t take the trip, the trip takes you”.

John Steinbeck, author

REFLECTION: What this quote means to me is how we are not in control of everything that happens to us in life. If you are in control make a choice after weighing your options; if not in control admit that and move on as best as possible given the situation or events. A couple of tools for helping to manage  the stress in your life is to develop flexibility and tolerance for ambiguity. These attributes give you a sense of power to react to both good things and difficult things that come our way in life. So it is not that stuff won’t happen to all of us but how we react to these things that is important. Being able to handle disappointments and frustrations actually make us tougher for other things that may follow. By tougher I don’t mean a Clint Eastwood or gang type toughness I mean a way of thinking that makes you emotional more resilient and stronger in combating and thriving  on the struggles presented to us.

Exercise: In the next 24 hours try to identify one problem in life that is draining your energy and see if you can develop a solution that will increase your ability to handle this problem or stress factor to improve your personal productivity. Please share your successes with the rest of us because it is a powerful way for all of us to learn.

Reflection for the Day-Zen tip for living Constructively

A Professor went to see a Zen Master, to find out more about living a Constructive Life following Zen principles. As their meeting began the Zen Master started pouring the professor tea and continued to pour even though the cup was overflowing. The Professor cried. “Enough! No more will go in the cup it is spilling over!”
The Zen Master replied: “Like this cup you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Reflection when was the last time you took time to relax and recover from the daily stress of an activity centered live?

The Art of Caring Confrontation-Solutions for Fort Hood and Columbine shootings?

“When everyone in an organization accepts responsibility, shows respect and holds each other accountable to do the right thing through caring confrontation, everyone wins.” Gus Blanchard, ATT Long Lines

One of the most overwhelming negative feelings a person can have is that of being put-down and shunned. The outsider feels alienated and lonely, not being accepted, loved, or respected by others. Such mental maps and feelings can have a major effect on the way a person views the worth of their lives and how they interact with their culture and fellow citizens. Let’s look at two recent mass shootings– Walter Reed-Fort Hood and Columbine. Continue reading “The Art of Caring Confrontation-Solutions for Fort Hood and Columbine shootings?”

The Challenge Response + Optimism: A Framework 4 Handling Situational Stress.

During our recent Facilitation and Presentation workshops at the National Educators Forum, many attendees expressed the need for more information on how to overcome their stress and anxiety when facing an audience.  Research has shown that most of our presentation anxiety symptoms, including sweaty palms, dry mouth, increased heart rate, headaches, backaches and loss of thoughts can be caused or influenced by our thinking, feelings and stress levels. Continue reading “The Challenge Response + Optimism: A Framework 4 Handling Situational Stress.”