Category Archives: Anxiety

Timing Your Day to Greater Advantage

A number of studies have pinpointed the best times for achieving the best results as we time-1196952-1work to succeed at life. Here what researchers have found.

YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME AND DAY

A study commissioned by Accountemps found that Monday and Tuesday are the two most productive days of the week for employees. However, if you want to make each-and-every day productive, research has found that a simple early morning practice of mentally framing your day in a positive light goes a long way to generating the mindset that sustains high performance, creativity and optimism. This simple practice only takes five-minutes first thing in the morning but the research shows that it delivers a big return on the investment.

When you consciously frame your day in a positive manner, you experience more positive emotions during the day (such as excitement, joy, and pride), and a positive emotional state is what activates the higher order brain function that sustains peak performance. As a result, you are more likely to be fully engaged in your work, and the Gallup Organization’s study of 82,000 business units found that those which were highly engaged employees were two to four times more productive and profitable.

In addition, when you consciously frame your day in a positive light, you are more likely to feel connected with others and be more collaborative, and you’ll sleep better that night. That’s a big return on investing five minutes each morning to frame your mind for success.

YOUR MOST CREATIVE TIME and DAY OF THE WEEKpicassoglass

The research shows that there is not a best time of the day for generating the kind of breakthrough creative insight that solves a problem or leads to innovation. Creativity syncs with your own internal clock.  If you identified yourself as a morning person, you will be better at creative problem-solving in the afternoon and evening. If you are a night owl, you will experience more “aha!” creative insights earlier in the day. This is because when your brain is working through your to-do list, focusing on one thing and then the next, it narrows perspective, screening out anything irrelevant to the present task.  But these seemingly ‘irrelevant’ mental flashes or hits are often at the beginnings of a creative insight.

A narrow focus is great if you’re doing a task that requires concentration. But brain research on creativity has found that creativity is more organic and holistic. It requires being open to seeing all the dots as each gradually connects to the other to deliver an Aha moment of creative insight.

Studies have shown that the creative insight that solves a problem, or helps us think out of the box, or leads to innovation requires stepping away from the grind. It’s born in the relaxation of letting everything go, freeing your mind and brain. A relaxed mood is a precondition to generating creative insights or ‘ah-ha’ moments. A recent breakthrough study on creativity at Stanford found that analyzing and thinking about a problem blocks the creative processes that can solve it.

BEST TIME TO SCHEDULE IMPORTANT MEETINGS

Research shows that Tuesday afternoon at 3:00 pm is the best time of the week to schedule an important meeting, partly because of people’s availability. Almost half of the large number of people studied responded that they are usually available for a 3 o’clock meeting on Tuesday. First thing in the workday is when the fewest people are available.  Additionally, a 3 o’clock meeting gives people ample time to prepare for the meeting.  Also, steer clear of Mondays for important meetings, when people tend to be moody, and avoid scheduling meetings between 1:00 and 2:00 PM, because it is the sleepiest hour of daytime when biorhythms shifts to siesta mode.

MORE IMPORTANTLY, GET THE STRESS OUT OF THE ROOMcanstockphoto696256

Lower the level of stress in the room by training employees on how to alleviate stress. It’s a matter of teaching people the practice that generates the neuroplastic change which rewires the brain to quell chronic stress reactions instead of inciting them. This skill is critical not only to a successful meeting but to sustaining the fearless self-confidence that succeeds at every level of life. That’s because stress hormones make people emotionally negative, non-collaborative (meaning fight, flight, or freeze behaviors), and can temporarily lower the level of IQ by as much as 40%, and short-circuit neural networks that enable people to brainstorm and think creatively. On top of that, stress makes you acutely ill and chronic stress can shorten your life by a decade or more.

BEST TIME FOR EMAIL MARKETING

Research shows that the highest click-through rate from marketing emails is on those sent around 6 a.m. Don’t waste your effort email marketing at 4:00 p.m and after. It has the lowest click-through rate of any time of day.

BEST TIME TO SELL OR APPLY FOR A JOB, LOAN or COLLEGE

A study by Bright.com found that people who apply for a job on a Monday have a 30 percent better chance of advancing to the next round.  And try not to be the last thing on someone else’s schedule. Researchers at Penn and Harvard business schools found that when five similarly qualified candidates were interviewed on the same day, the last one to interview received lower scores than they deserved.  It’s a phenomenon called “narrow bracketing,” and it could apply to any situation from selling widgets to applying for college admission. You’re routinely penalized if you are slotted late in the day or are the last one in line.

BEING HONEST AND FAIR

If you need to get an honest answer from someone, Harvard researchers found that the morning is the best time to ask. They’ve found that people tend to be moral in the morning, but dishonest in the afternoon.  It’s called the morning morality effect. People tend to have higher levels of moral awareness in the morning, meaning less lying and cheating, and more likely to make unethical decisions as the day wears on. The study found that students cheated 25 percent more often in the afternoon.  This effect was found to be even stronger for people who tend to be loose about being ethical.  The morality effect is the results of being mentally tired. As the day drags on your moral resolve wears down.

Above all, learn the practice that changes your brain to bust stress reactions, 97 percent of which are mind-made. Busting stress reactions not only regains the higher brain function that makes your success inevitable, it also creates the neurological condition that stimulates the growth of new brain cells forming new connections between existing neural networks, increasing your capacity to succeed.

Thought Attacks That Cause Heart Attacks

from Don’s Huffington Post article

Five hundred years ago, the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne said, “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.”  This quote made people laugh back then and it still makes us laugh today because our species hasn’t made much progress in transcending the mind’s capacity to catastrophize. But the consequences a fearful mind bring-on aren’t so funny.  Worry and fear activates the brain’s stress response system, dumping toxic stress hormones into the system that debilitates higher brain function that makes us smart, happy, and loving.

Studies suggest that high levels of stress hormones from chronic stress reactions can increase the risk of heart disease by increasing cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. At its worse, fight or flight stress reactions can take over and generate the hostile, impatient, controlling competitiveness that leads to the extreme stress condition called Type-A.  Type-A behavior increases the likelihood of a fatal heart attack.

Dr. Robert Sapolsky of Stanford, one of the world’s top stress researcher, states: “We human beings … generate all sorts of stressful events purely in our heads. We can experience wildly strong emotions, provoking our bodies into an accompanying uproar, and it’s all linked to mere thought.”

The technical term for it is psychological fear. It’s fearful, worried, pessimistic thoughts and attitudes that, when believed, produce a perception of threat, when none actually exist. Research has found that 85 percent of what people worried about never happened, and of the 15 percent that did, 79 percent solved the problem better than they thought they would. That means when we imagine some “terrible misfortune”, 97 percent of the time there was nothing to get worked up about.

Psychological Fear

We can wire our brain for the calm, creativity, and optimism that predicts the health, success, and love that defines the “Good Life”. It takes a change in mindset that accentuates the positive.  Making this change is simpler than you might think and change can happen faster than you might imagine, within a few weeks if you practice.

Rx Build Positive Mindset copyBelow is a prescription for wiring your brain for the Good Life by building a positive mindset (←click this link to download it). Do one of these lessons every day for the next three weeks.  You can do any one of these more than once if you like, but be consistent.  It takes an everyday practice to change the brain.

Day / Prescription

 1.   Choose the longest line at a store and stand in it, letting go of your mind’s sense of hurry and choosing to be at peace.

2.   Look out the window for thirty seconds and let your mind go. Watch the wind blow or the sun shine or the rain fall.

3.   Do one special thing for yourself today.

4.   Drive home in the slow lane.

5.   Listen to calming music instead of the news on the drive home.

6.   Smile more today.

7.   Practice listening without interrupting.

8.   Buy a small gift for a friend or family member.

9.   Call a good friend you haven’t talked to in a while.

10.  Look for the best in someone you know.

11.  Devote today to seeing your strengths and positive qualities.

12.  Practice forgiving trivial errors, yours and others.

13.  Use a measuring stick other than business to measure your accomplishments, such as your talents, creative abilities, human qualities, or close relationships.

14.  Quietly do a good deed or an act of kindness.

15.  Practice receiving compliments graciously.

16.  Accept that life is unfinished business.

17.  Take five minutes today to recall times when you were happy.

18.  Commit to stop judging yourself for your lack of perfection.

19.  Reflect for five minutes how in your life perfection has tended to emerge from the imperfections.

20.  When you feel conflict today, tell yourself, “I am not going to let this person or situation control how I feel.”

21.  Today,  feel more and think less. Allow yourself to be vulnerable to what you feel without your thoughts turning into a story.

 

Far from the holiday crowd, better known as peace

The holidays, especially the crowds, can be stressful to the point of making us miserable.  Peace is Picasso's Dove Pinterestsupposed to be the reason for season, and yet it’s the polar opposite experience for many.

You can change all that simply by making peace your primary intention this holiday season. It’s easier than you might imagine.

Think back to the last time you were at peace and how it made everything easier. Stress and anxiety are what make life hard. Peace is the one true quality that makes effort feel effortless. And science tells us that a dynamically peaceful mindset makes our higher brain work better, making us calmer, smarter, more creative and optimistic as we face stressors.

What better gift to give yourself this season; and you’ll be giving it to others. Peace, by its very nature, is contagious. Your peaceful vibration extends the gift of peace to everyone around you. Just ask anyone lucky enough to have sat at the feet of the Dalia Lama or Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela.

Starting the Day in Peace

The first step in this direction involves waking up ahead of the morning rush and starting each day in peace. Set the day in motion by making peace your primary goal.  Here’s how:

  • Sit comfortably in a place where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Tilt your head toward your heart and focus on your breathing.
  • Breathe slowly and evenly, allowing the next breath to wake-up your brain, the breath after that to open your mind, and the breath after that to arouse your heart.
  • Take a moment to feel appreciation for the gift of another day of life, and for another day to share it with the people you love.
  • Reflect for a moment on how you want to feel today.
  • Reflect on the state of mind you want to sustain throughout the day.
  • Reflect on how you want to be with other people.
  • Science has established that belief creates the actual fact. It’s called the “power of expectancy“. So, believe today will be as you imagined.
  • Set your intention to have a great day, accomplishing tasks with the effortless effort that an attitude of peace generates.

Studies show that people who start the day with good intention experience more positive emotions during the day, exhibit more interest in their work, are more likely to feel connected and supportive toward others, and are also more likely to sleep better that night.  Quite a reward for a five-minute investment.

Letting Go of Fear

Fear is the opposite of peace; that’s obvious. Thus, another step in preserving inner peace involves actively letting go of fear by not believing the stories fearful thoughts spin.  Start by adopting this motto:

If fear is talking, for the love of God, stop listening.

When we don’t believe a fearful thought, it doesn’t turn into stress or anger or depression.

Transcending the Holiday Crowds

Be prepared for crowded streets and stores. If you let it, the holiday crowd will stress you and wear you down, and it can even lead to a panic attack.  There are practical as well as spiritual things we can do to keep our commitment to being at peace, even in a crowded mall.

Being Practical

On the practical side, we can plan shopping treks carefully by avoiding weekends. Stores are crowded most on Saturdays and Sundays, so if you can, take a vacation day or two to shop a week-day. Especially avoid the three worst shopping days, which are:

  • The worst: Friday, November 27 (the day after Thanksgiving)
  • The second worst: Saturday, December 19
  • The third worst: Saturday, December 26

Being Spiritual

On the spiritual side, if crowds frighten you, protect yourself with the power of love by taking a friend with you when you go shopping. Friends are powerful stress busters, simply because they help us feel safe.

Mindfulness

If you are in a crowd and becoming stressed, you can quickly collapse the stress-provoking thinking that’s about to erupt into a reaction by using the Clear Button.  Here’s how:Clear Button for DJG

  • Imagine there is a button at the center of your palm that, when pressed, sends a signal to your brain to stop fearful, worried, judgmental, or pessimistic thinking.
  • Press the imaginary button with your index finger of your opposite hand and keep pressing it.
  • Imagine an electrical signal travels to the brain and begins to quiet your mind.
  • Now become aware of your breath, and begin counting to ‘3’, thinking of each number as a color.
  • Take in a breath, count “1.” On the exhale, think red.
  • Take in a second breath, count “2.” On the exhale, think blue.
  • Take in a third breath, count “3.” On the exhale, think green.

On the next breath, let your mind go blank for a moment for a few seconds. Let go and relax into the present moment. As you refocus on the world around you, make the commitment to be at peace as you relate to whatever comes next.

High Anxiety

If you start to have an anxiety attack, deep-breathing can help.

  • Find a chair in the store or if none are available return to your car.
  • Sit with your back straight and release the tension in your shoulders.
  • Close your eyes, and place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
  • Start with a few normal breaths, then breathe deeply. Deep breathing means your belly will rise and fall with every inhale and exhale.
  • Focus on moving your belly as you breathe deeply.

Family

Sometimes, it’s our families that crowd us out. Below is a simple formula for sustaining peace of mind with difficult relatives. It consists for 4 simple reminders:

  1. Listen better,
  2. Judge less,
  3. Forgive more
  4. And during those differences of opinions, ask yourself this: Would I rather be right or peaceful?

I wish you peace.

85% of What We Worry About Never Happens

Five hundred years ago, Michel de Montaigne said: My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.  Now there’s a study that proves it.   This study looked into how many of our imagined calamities never materialize. In this study, subjects were asked to write down their worries over an extended period of time and then identify which of their imagined misfortunes did not actually happen.

canstockphoto2930006

Lo and behold, it turns out that 85 percent of what subjects worried about never happened, and with the 15 percent that did happen, 79 percent of subjects discovered either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. This means that 97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions.

Montaigne’s quote has made people laugh for five centuries, but worry is no joke. A worried mind means a chronically stressed brain, and chronic stress generates serious problems.  The stress hormones stress and worry dump into your system shrinks brain masslowers your IQ, makes you prone to heart disease, cancer and premature aging, predicts martial problems, family dysfunction, and depression, and makes seniors more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s.

brain-scans-mayo-clinic copy

If we could get a handle on the worry and stress that habitually, incessantly, and often unconsciously seizes hold of our mind, we would greatly increase the odds of living a longer, happier, healthier, and more successful life. It’s a matter of reprogramming our brain.  We human beings are called the Crown of Creation because of our brain and Nobel Prize laureate Eric Kandle tells us that we direct our brain with “the most complex set of processes in the universe, the mind.”

Until recently, we haven’t had the owner’s manual for our brain that could identify the mental processes that switch our brain to full power … but we have it now. In the last 15 years new research has identified the mindset or mental attitude that literally changes your brain to change your life. In addition, this shift in attitude stimulates the growth of new connections that expand high order brain function to enable you to reach even greater heights.

The process of reprogramming your brain is called neuroplasticity. It takes a decision and a specific practice, but it’s simpler than you might imagine and results can happen quickly, in as little as four weeks. You can learn more about neuroplasticityin my book The End of Stress, Four Steps to Rewire Your Brain.  The book presents 20 proven tools and processes that are organized into a step by step practice that build the attitude that programs your brain for a better experience of life leading to far better results.Look Inside

“… the missing owner’s manual for your mind.
PsychCentral.com