Newsflash

Coming Back from the Edge: Dealing with Stress

By the time Diane (not her real name) came to see me, she was at the end of her rope. She was a working mother, trying to balance a full-time job while struggling to deal with sports activities, dance lessons, volunteer committees, PTA meetings and all the other activities that packed her already full schedule.  

She sat in my office and said “I don’t think I can cope with my world anymore! I just didn’t sign up for all of this!” 
 
As her therapist, I soon discovered that, in some ways, the stress Diane was feeling were directly connected to things she had actually signed up for.  
 
But, like Diane, we do not always take time to evaluate the stress that accumulates in our lives. If your life feels a little out of control, here are six ways that you can de-stress:
 
Recognize the Symptoms
Stress shows up in three ways: physically, emotionally and behaviorally. Some of the common symptoms of stress can be an increased heart rate, sleep disturbance, appetite disturbance, irritability, anxiety, drugs or an increase in alcohol consumption. If you are having any of these symptoms of stress, ask your self “What is it I am trying to cope with right now?” 
 
Our bodies give us warning signs when we are stressed out. If we choose to ignore the warning signs, our bodies will go to any extent to get our attention; for example, we may have a panic attack. 
 
Evaluate the Stress
Take a few minutes to think about the stress you may have in your life. Is it good stress — such as preparing for a fun event like graduation or a wedding? 
 
Or is bad stress (known as distress). With distress, the stressors can lead to negative effects that will harm you or someone else? 
 
It is very important to distinguish the type of stress that you are experiencing to know how to proceed.
 
Eliminate Stressors
What stressors can you remove from you life? Is there anything you can ask for help with? 
 
If you are a full-time working mother, maybe eliminating stress means hiring a housekeeper, instead of trying to handle all the chores on your own. Or, do you really need to be involved in four volunteer committees or would it be better if you just picked two? 
 
Being able to remove the unnecessary significantly increases the ability to handle and cope with the stressors that can not be removed.
 
Organize and Prioritize
Have you made a “To-Do List” today? You might want to start! 
 
Writing down everything you must get done for the day is a great way to visualize what is going on in your head. Once you put your thoughts onto paper or device, arrange the important from the non-important items and the urgent from the non-urgent items. 
 
Often, we get overwhelmed with how much we have to get done in a day. Usually there are things that can hold off to another day or time. But, procrastination can also lead to an increase in stress. 
 
By planning and managing our time and figuring out what needs to be done today — and what can wait until next week — we establish some direction when it comes to our time which can reduce the amount of stress.
 
Use Positive Coping Skills
When was the last time you had some fun? It is interesting because, as children, play time was built into our day (i.e. recess), but as we become adults, we often lose the time that is meant for us to have some fun. 
 
Sometimes, stress is due to being overcommitted and not giving our bodies time to relax. Just like recess was planned into our school day as kids, we have to plan time for the activities we love. 
 
Unless you replace the negative coping skill with something positive, you are likely to return to your harmful way of coping. 
 
A positive coping skill is anything that is a healthy way of your body dealing with any stress that you may be under. This could be yoga/meditation, listening to music, exercising or journaling, just to name a few.
 
Find what works for you and start implementing these skills now. In a ]moment of crisis, you know what to resort to.
 
Get Help
There are certain situations that require professional help. If you feel as though you are not appropriately handling the stress in your life, don’t be afraid to ask for help. 
Whether it is individual or group counseling, a support group or a psychiatric hospital, there are many resources available.
 
Remember, life will never be completely stress-free, but stress can be greatly reduced when you choose to follow these six simple guidelines. 
 
Elise N. Banks, MS, LPC-Intern, is a graduate of Baylor University where she received a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and the University of Houston, where she received her master’s degree in counseling.  She is a licensed therapist who works with families and individuals in the Houston area. She is also the reigning Miss Texas International and her platform is “Healthy Mind, Successful Life.”
 
 

6 Factors that Make for Extraordinary Friendships

 

Developing friendships is an essential ingredient to a healthy life. But, few people are intentionally trying to avoid heart disease or improve their blood pressure when they seek out, or stumble into, new friendships. Instead, they just want someone to hang out with, confide in or trust in times of trouble.
 
Friends can start out from a variety of places, but they still share the same incredible bond. Sometimes, that bond can span a lifetime. Other times, the bond is present just for a short period. Either way, friendships are a vital part of life.
 
I became fascinated by the motivations behind friendships. Not all friendships are equal and, over the long haul, not all turn out the way people might like.
 
Having a mutually beneficial relationship is crucial. If only one person is willing to put in time and effort, that friendship won’t work. We tend to intuitively know who real friends are and which friendships are worth our time and energy.
 
Six factors can lead to great friendships – three that bring people together and three that keep them together.
 
Similarity. The phrase “birds of a feather flock together” has been around at least since the 16th century, and it’s no wonder it became such a well-worn cliché. It happens to be true. 
 
We surround ourselves with people whose style, attitudes, personalities, likes, dislikes and mannerisms are similar to ours. Those similarities help to build an instant bond. We feel comfortable around those people and easily slide into conversations about topics that interest both of us or schedule activities we both enjoy.
 
Intrigue. Sometimes, people are so fascinating that we can’t help but be drawn to them. We can build a great bond of friendship with someone when we are genuinely curious about their stories, their lifestyle or their backgrounds.
 
History. Growing up together, or going through the same or similar experiences, can lead to a lasting connection between two people. Other people may not be able to have a good understanding of, or empathy for, a situation you went through. But, this person understands you because she went through it, too. Sharing a past with someone definitely can create a special bond.
 
Positive influence. A great friend will be someone who is a good influence and will support you and your goals. She should inspire you to live up to your highest potential so you can be your best self. The world has enough negativity. You don’t need that in a friend.
 
Your happiness. True friends want to see you happy. The best kinds of friends are the ones who have your best interests at heart, even to a fault. They may tell you something you don’t want to hear at the risk of fracturing the friendship, just because they know it is in your best interest. At the same time, a true friend will never ask you to compromise or jeopardize any part of yourself in order to be her friend.
 
Loyalty. A loyal friend will have your back no matter what. She will stand up for you and with you when the need arises. She won’t speak ill of you to others, and she doesn’t let others speak badly about you either. Loyalty is not an easy trait to find, but it’s essential to any really good relationship.
 
As years go by, I think most of us start to realize it is no longer the quantity of friends that matters, but the quality. You just build a great bond with some people and you can call on each other in times of trouble. Good friends are hard to find, but impossible to forget.
 
Darlene Quinn is an author and journalist from Long Beach, Calif.. Her novels about deceit, intrigue and glamour in the retail fashion industry were inspired by her years working in management with Bullocks Wilshire Specialty department stores. Her latest is “Conflicting Webs,” the fifth book in her epic Web series(www.darlenequinn.net).

Clanton: Expectations and Fears

“Everybody will think you’re writing about me,” my wife commented, when I told her of my plans to write a piece for women from a man’s point of view. Admittedly, there would be plenty of fodder. But, my bride and I have a good relationship, and I really don’t want to jeopardize that by sharing gaffes and gripes that may exist behind the doors of La Casa Clanton.

That’s not the point of this at all — and to manage your expectations, and assuage her fears, let it be so stated for the record. This column is not about my bride! We’re actually a really average couple. We’ve been married 35 years, spawned two kids, and now dote on The World’s Most Amazing Two-Year-Old Granddaughter. That didn’t happen without a little effort, a lot of luck and plenty of pluck on our part. Mostly hers.

My wife has become an anomaly in this day and age — a stay-at-home mom who was able to send our kids off to school every morning and be home every afternoon when they returned. That is a full-time gig, by the way.  On job applications of late she’s listed her employment history as “Domestic Engineer.” While that’s an accurate description, unless the reviewer is savvy enough to catch the joke, it raises a few eyebrows. 

“Oh, so you’re an engineer…” some have cooed at company parties, unaware of the double entendre.

So, what compels me to presume to write to women about what men think about women, or what men wish women knew about men? I answered the call. Over salad and sandwiches recently at the Grand Lux Cafe, Publisher Beverly Denver shared her vision for this magazine as it enters its second decade of publication. Not to sound corny, because it’s not, the common thread in our conversation was “dream.”

Houston Woman Magazine started with a dream. It now tailors its editorial menu to inspiring others to dare to dream also, and to achieve those dreams. In my estimation that’s pretty starchy, and worthy of respect, regardless of the gender doing the dreaming. Dreams come in different shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. It’s okay to pursue them. It’s okay if you don’t.

What’s not okay is for someone to tell you that you cannot follow your dream. In my experience, that’s usually the spark that launches the next wave of greatness in the life of someone, just to prove the naysayers wrong.

So, my message to you, in this inaugural column is to not just dare to dream — but dare to do. Men need to be told it’s okay to stretch; women need to hear that, as well. Maybe we’re not so different after all.

Brent Clanton is a native Houstonian and recent inductee to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. He is now outnumbered two-to-one by his wife, Darlene, and their three-pound Yorkie, Sophie.

Heart Guild marries shopping and dining for philanthropy

 

The American Heart Association’s highly anticipated Shop with Heart Card shopping and dining fund-raising event returns this spring with more than 400 Houston and surrounding area top retailers and restaurants participating.  
 
The Shop with Heart Card event, presented by the Heart Guild of Houston, marries shopping and dining with philanthropy to help fund ongoing life-saving research by the American Heart Association.  
 
The Shop with Heart Card arrives just in time for shoppers looking for spring fashions, prom and wedding essentials, presents for graduation and Mother’s Day.  
 
For a minimum donation of $40 and 100 percent of all proceeds benefitting the American Heart Association, shoppers will receive the Shop With Heart Card. It provides two ways to save: 20 percent off regularly priced merchandise at participating retailers and patron’s choice of a complimentary appetizer or dessert with the purchase of an entrée at participating restaurants. Cards are available online now at www.shopwithheart.org or by phone at 844-210-4541 through April 10.  Cards can also be purchased at the participating retailers starting on April 10.
 
“The Heart Guild of Houston is pleased to lead this premiere spring shopping and dining fund-raising event for the American Heart Association,” said Julie Haralson, president of the Heart Guild. “We created this shopping event to offer a fun experience for Houstonians, to raise awareness for the American Heart Association, to improve the heart health of our community and to support local businesses. Our work is two-fold through this program. We are able to support the important work of the American Heart Association, while supporting local businesses.” 
 
Shopping with the 2015 Shop with Heart Card starts April 24 and continues on until May 3.  
 
Local merchants interested in participating may contact the Heart Guild at 844-210-4541. This fund-raising event is generously underwritten by the Paul and Deborah Adams Family Foundation, Beth Wolff Realtors, Hines and CityCentre. 
 
For more information and to see the full list of participating merchants, please go online to www.shopwithheart.com or call 844-210-4541. 
 

TWU welcomes new chancellor and president

 

Students, faculty, staff and friends of Texas Woman’s University recently welcomed its new chancellor and president, Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D., at a reception at TWU’s Institute of Health Sciences – Houston Center in the Texas Medical Center.
 
At the reception, Feyten met informally with students, answering questions and discussing issues ranging from parking to  tutoring to campus food and housing.  She then presented her vision for TWU in Houston as an integral part of the world-renown Texas Medical Center, noting that TWU has been in Houston for 55 years.
 
Feyten is the 11th president and second chancellor of the university, which has 1,300 students in Houston and more than 15,000 at its combined campuses in Denton, Dallas and Houston. 
 
A native of Belgium, Feyten previously served as dean of the College of Education, Health and Society at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. 
 
An internationally recognized consultant, speaker and scholar in the field of language learning, teaching methodologies and the integration of technology in education, she has authored or co- authored more than 100 journal articles, conference papers and book chapters.  
 
Feyten holds a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Education, Second Language Acquisition from the University of South Florida, as well as an M.A. in English, Dutch, Education and a B.A. in Germanic Philology from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. She is fluent in five languages, including English, French, Dutch, German and  Spanish.

Founded in 1901, Texas Woman’s University is the nation’s largest university primarily for women. TWU offers more than 140 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs in the liberal arts, nursing, health sciences, business, the sciences and education. For more information, visit http://www.twu.edu/. 
 
 
 
 
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