These Days of Sensory Bombardment

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Never in the history of humanity are people being bombarded with so much information… and advertising from every direction of technology. Some estimates suggest that on average we are exposed to as much as 3,000+ advertisements per day. Bits and bytes of information zooming into our brains through the eyes, ears, skin (and nose?) are estimated to be in the tens of thousands per minute. It wasn’t long ago that people had a choice of three TV stations to watch, and each house had just one phone number. Those days seem like ancient history now. Experts suggest that all of this media and wonderful technology that is so accessible is simply overloading our brains with a cacophony of information. As a result many people are showing signs of impatience, rudeness, irritability, poor attention span and poor sleep (insomnia); in other words: STRESS! It has long been known in stress management circles that sensory bombardment leads to eventual “burnout” with many of the same symptoms listed above. Not only does one begin to process all of this sensory information poorly, but at some level it, triggers the stress response to heighten your awareness, thus elevating the threshold of excitement. What this means is that it becomes harder and harder to relax—and have your body return to a sense of homeostasis. The end result could be one or several manifestations of chronic disease or illness, ranging from headaches to something much worse. Life is WAY too short for this. Remember technology is here to serve us. We are not supposed to be slaves to it.

• Stress Tip for the Day:
Consider giving yourself one hour a day free from technology and media— all which begs for your attention. This includes not using an IPOD while exercising. Give your mind a chance to deprogram from the sensory bombardment that is ever so pervasive in the American (if not global) culture. For those of you having problems sleeping at night, its very likely you will see a difference.

• On The Shelf: Book Recommendations:
A friend of mine mentioned a new book on the market called Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D. This book is the newest in the wave of books on the field of Positive Psychology and definitely worth reading.
A colleague of mine, Ron Frederick, has written a new book titled, Living Like You Mean It: Using the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want, which I also highly recommend.

Photo of the Day
This is a photo supporting the idea of taking time each day to unplug from technology and enjoy the simple things in life, in this case … a walk on the beach!

• Quote for the Day:

“If you want fast acting relief… try slowing down.”
—Lily Tomlin

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his

Two Brains are Best With Stress

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Split-brain research is so well known, the concepts of right-brain and left-brain thinking can practically be found on the back of cereal boxes today. Here is what you don’t hear that often about right brain (the intuitive, imaginative side) and left-brain (the analytical, rational side) t hought processing. The left-brain is more active during times of stress. The left-brain functions (e.g., judgment, time awareness, verbal acuity, linear thought processing, etc.), are essential for survival, hence t hey are the cornerstones to fight or flight. The right brain skills are more easily engaged during times of relaxation. Balance is the key! It has been said that American is a “left-brained country” in which the left brain skills are encouraged, even honored more so than the right brain skills (just ask any starving artist!). America is also a very stressed country (e.g., record numbers of people on anti-depressants, obesity issues, suicides and of course the every looming economic meltdown are just some examples). With all of this in mind, it stands to reason that it would be in our best interest to balance the hemispheres of thought by taking time to exercise the right brain for cognitive balance (and peace of mind). There are many ways to do this, but meditation is a great place to start. Sitting quietly (with no interruptions) and simply focusing on your breathing each morning for about 5 minutes is a great way to work toward this balance. Remember, in the end, we need both hemispheres of the brain working optimally (and together) to navigate this journey called life.

• Stress Tip for the Day:
To augment the right side of your brain or balance your cerebral hemispheres, consider using your non-dominant hand for everyday functions. Examples (pick one) might include moving the computer mouse to the left side of your keypad, brush your teeth with the other hand, or switch the use of your fork or spoon from the dominant to the non-dominant hand. Keep in mind that the first few days with this behavior will seem VERY awkward, but with some persistence it will soon become second nature. You may not notice the cognitive process becoming balanced immediately; this too will take a few days too. Be persistent, the benefits will help you immeasurably.

• Noteworthy Website Link:

A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words: This website link, with MANY pictures, was sent to me by a friend over a year ago. I find the concept and content fascinating. The artist has added a few more images since I first saw this. Hope you do too.

Photo of the Day:
Sunsets can be a magical part of the day. As we shift into Daylight Savings Time our body’s internal clock take a few days to adjust. This adjustment is always a little quicker/smoother when we spend an adequate amount of time in natural sunlight, which is why I chose this photo today. Enjoy.

• Quote for the Day:

“There are no great things, only small things with great love.”
—Mother Theresa

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E).

Shoes, Feet and the Art of Happiness

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This time of economic meltdown gives one pause for thought about how we have lived (before the meltdown) and how we need to change our behaviors in this rapidly changing world. Many experts are blaming this fiscal mess on greed, and not just with the banking industry. There is enough greed to spread around everywhere and everyone. I am reminded of a cartoon I saw recently where the caption read: “I have one of everything, I just don’t have it in every color.” Yes, the caption is funny, but very likely based on some element of truth. While the economic situation can be viewed as stressful, particularly if money is tight, we can try to see the bigger picture (a stress technique called reframing). This period serves as a great time to reflect on our stress-prone behaviors regarding our own fiscal management and start to make some corrections as we chart our course from here on out. Years ago I came across an autobiography by Robin Lee Graham titled, The Dove. It’s the story of a 16-year old who sailed around the world solo. One quote I remember vividly from his book was this: “It’s not how much we need to get buy, but how little we need.” Gandhi said it this way: “There is enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.” If your happiness is based on material possessions, then now might be a great time to start focusing on those priceless intangible things that also provide happiness. Perspective helps too. Another quote, I think from the depression, says: “I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, until I met a man with no feet.” If you get a chance to pick up The Dove, its a great read and given these times we are in, its helps put things about material posessions in perspective. Not to mention true happiness!

• Stress Tip for the Day:
Take inventory of what you do have and give thanks. Its hard to be down in the dumps when you are showing gratitude. Try this: Make a list of ten things that you are grateful for in your life. If you can’t think of ten things, start with the fact that you can breathe. If you can think of more than ten, go for it, then past this list some place where you can see it daily.

• Photo of the Day
This photo of the Napali Coast was taken by me on a cruise around the Hawaii Islands last year. The sailboat gives the rugged coast the scale to really appreciate its full beauty.

• Quote for the Day:

“It’s not how much you need to get by, but how little you need to get by.”
— Robin Lee Graham