Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Home not always place to find respite, safety
Stress for Success
November 30, 2011

Home is supposed to be welcoming, comfortable and pleasant; a respite away from your active and often stressful public life.

But what if you don’t feel safe in your own home? What if your home is more of a prison than a refuge? What if you fear for not only your own safety but for that of your children? The stress this creates is something families free of domestic violence can only attempt to understand.

October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, competing with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So I’ve waited until now to address the potentially extreme stress of domestic violence.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Center for Victims of Crime, and, domestic violence includes:
· A pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.
· It can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.

Physical abuse includes:
· Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair pulling, etc.
· It also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use upon him or her.

Sexual abuse is:
· Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent including but not limited to marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.

Emotional abuse is:
· Undermining someone’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem.
· This may include constant criticism, diminishing one's abilities, name-calling, or damaging one's relationship with his or her children.

Economic abuse:
· Making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one's access to money, or forbidding one's attendance at school or employment.

Psychological abuse:
· Causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner's family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. It occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships and can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, or dating.

Domestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses, and the community at large. Children, who grow up witnessing domestic violence, are among those seriously affected by this crime. Frequent exposure to violence in the home not only predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, but also teaches them that violence is a normal way of life therefore, increasing their risk of becoming society's next generation of victims and abusers.

If you need help, call the National domestic violence hotlines:
· 800-799-SAFE (7293)
· 800-787-3224

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple, at Email her to request she speak to your organization at

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Being grateful balances stress
Stress for Success
November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful for what we have. This balances stress by providing a better perspective on life.

Listing what you’re grateful for in difficult situations also limits their ability to overwhelm you. So, if you’re stressed by a traffic jam remind yourself you’re grateful you’re A-C works, there’s good music to listen to, etc.

Today I challenge you to stretch your conscious awareness of what you’re grateful for. This serves as a reminder that life is significantly better than you sometimes think.

Here’s my partial list. I’ll start at the beginning.

I’m grateful I was born to my parents who encouraged in all of us kids curiosity, personal responsibility, self-confidence, kindness, etc. They passed on their love of music and supported our vocal and instrumental musical development. This gave me the wonderful skill of reading music, opening up a life-time of joy. The challenge of reading, learning and performing with the Symphonic Chorale of SW FL (our new name) gives me bliss.

I’m also grateful my parents encouraged me to pursue whatever I wanted, which led me to a great education and a 27-month stint in the Peace Corps. This experience greatly expanded my mind through adventures, learning a second language and fascinating relationships. It made me realize I needed to work in the world of ideas, which has fueled my motivation since the 1970s.

I’m eternally grateful that I married a loving, kind, intelligent, creative and funny man; my best friend for almost 35 years. I’m thankful for the trust we have and the security that engenders. This loving existence almost certainly contributes to our on-going good health, for which I’m eternally thankful.

I’m also eternally grateful for our wide circle of dear friends. We’ve helped each other through great times and not-so-great ones. We’re always there for each other. We laugh and we cry - together.

I must include our local weather: no hurricanes this year, just plenty of nourishing rain, and an early fall, always good for my thinning MN blood.

We’re grateful our house sale, finding and buying a new one and moving are behind us. Good grief! We’re thankful our beloved cat, who went missing for two weeks after moving into our new neighborhood, found his way back home. We’re so impressed with the many kind neighbors who helped us look for him.

I’m grateful for sunsets and sun rises, the sound of the wind through the pine trees, no mortgage, funny people, my husband’s great cooking, the sweet premature babies I volunteer with at Health Park and the incredible nurses who run the Progressive Care Nursery. I’m thankful for a good night’s sleep, meditation, a commitment to things that are bigger than myself, that I virtually never get bored, and summers off – soon.

What are you thankful for? Make a very long list. Review it, especially when times are difficult. In anxious situations list a few things about that very situation for which you’re grateful. You minimize your stress each time you do this.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple, at Email her to request she speak to your organization at

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cause of your stress not always what you think
Stress for Success
November 15, 2011

Do you assume you usually know what causes your stress? Are you sure you’re right?

Often what you think is stressing you really isn’t. That’s why accurately identifying the actual cause of your stress is the first step in managing it.

To do this you need to understand the most important point in stress management: stress is in the mind of the beholder. What stresses you may or may not stress me and vice versa. In other words, more often than not, your stress is in how you interpret situations; more often than not much if not most of your stress is in your head.

For example, what’s your attitude toward our winter visitors? If you’re grateful for the business they represent you’re probably not, in general, be stressed by them. But if you find traffic jams and long lines at area restaurants aggravating you’re stressed and may wish the Snow Birds would go back home!

I hate to tell you this, but the Snow Birds aren’t causing your stress. If they were, everyone would have to be equally stressed by them.

It’s not to say you should or shouldn’t think about our tourist season in any certain way. The point is that stress is in the mind of the beholder. When you behold irritation and inconvenience you’re stressed. When you behold economic gain you’re not.

To complicate the picture, every day humans find what they look for. If you perceive the tourist season to be a hassle, you’ll look for and find evidence of it. If you see economic benefits you’ll look for and find confirmation of that.

Miss this point and you’ll miss great opportunities for problem-solving, therefore stress reduction. Here’s why.

Your perception or interpretation of stressors determines the options you can see to solve them. Assuming tourists stress you leaves you with no real options for problem-solving because your view suggests the tourists must change for you to feel better. When will this happen? Don’t hold your breath! Tourists are beyond your control. Effective problem-solving requires you to invest your energy into that which is within your control.

What is within your control is your choice of reactions. “In all situations that stress you, you have a minimum of two options. You can go crazy or you can go peacefully. The choice is always yours.” – Adelle Greenfield.

If you want to go more peacefully and lower your stress coping with heavy traffic and the busyness tourism brings to our area, what are your options? You could put on relaxing music when stuck in traffic, avoid traffic when possible during rush hours, leave early, you could focus on the benefits of tourism, or you could find some humor in frustrating situations. It’s really up to you how much stress you experience.

So what’s it going to be? Do you want to go crazy or go peacefully? The choice truly is yours. Make your choice soon because with any luck we’ll have a great and busy upcoming season.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple, at Email her to request she speak to your organization at