Thursday, December 4, 2008

Want to be happy? Talk to your neighbor

A Harvard Medical School study is about to be published in BMJ (a British journal) that adds weight to SSO's definition of stress: Stress is a reaction that commonly occurs when your current situation doesn't match your ideal version of that situation.

The operative word is commonly.

According to the NY Times article the study shows a positive impact of people around you being happy - particularly those who see and are physically close to.

"A next-door neighbor’s joy increased one’s chance of being happy by 34 percent, but a neighbor down the block had no effect. A friend living half a mile away was good for a 42 percent bounce, but the effect was almost half that for a friend two miles away. A friend in a different community altogether can win an Oscar without making you feel better. “You have to see them and be in physical and temporal proximity,” Dr. Christakis said."
This study also confirms the efficacy of the 6th R of Stress Release - Remind. The more reminders you have about your progress and desired state, the easier it will be to maintain.

So go out there and hang out with happy people!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Caffeine vs Napping

I've always found the siesta to be a great idea. Working from home most days has facilitated this greatly.

For those of you who may not be able to justify to themselves why it really is okay to do so, whose boss may still not see the benefit, or who insist that an afternoon coffee is still the way to be productive in the afternoon - I give you a link to further proof that the siesta is the way to go...

The NY Times just ran an article illustrating how a nap from 1-3 is more effective than a caffeine pill (or a placebo) at 3pm.

Send it around, then claim the spot for your afternoon nap. I recommend finding a place where you can go horizontal rather than just slumped in your chair.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A free wellness assessment

Whether you're a teen, in college, and adult, or an older adult, the National Wellness Institute has a free assessment that will tell you how you score in these areas:

  • Physical
  • Sexuality
  • Nutrition
  • Emotional
  • Self Care
  • Intellectual
  • Safety
  • Occupational
  • Environment
  • Spirituality

Monday, November 24, 2008

An online study of Jewish stress

It's like finding needles in a haystack, but for the one or two Jews out there who are stressed or worried there's a study going on right now at by Bowling Green State University PhD student, David H. Rosmarin, that "hopes to evaluate the effectiveness of two different treatments for stress and worry among Jews, delivered via the internet."

Qualifying participants for the 14-day study will be randomly assigned to receive 'treatments' that are spiritual-based, conventional, or no treatment. After you complete your assigned treatment you'll have access to the spiritual or conventional treatments for a year.

I can't tell you more details because I didn't qualify for the study ... not enough stress.

Looking forward to hearing back from those of you who do qualify!

(thanks to Lyn for the 411)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Not sure if you're happy? How much TV do you watch?

The NY Times just put out an article discussing a recent study about an activity that happy people do less of - watch TV.

This doesn't really surprise me because happiness tends to be an active, engaging state. And let's face it, there aren't that many amazing things on TV that leave us feeling upbeat.

Crime shows, news, reality TV, infomercials, lame sitcoms are the majority of what's available - these are not themes that lead us feeling upbeat - usually because we do it far longer than our interests really last.

Unlike socializing, going to church and reading newspapers (some of the other activities the study mentions) - where we take an active role, and when we're feeling done we move on, the shows keep coming, but it's hard to turn off the TV.

What can you do? (in increasing order of TV time)

  • Get out of the house
  • Throw out your TV so you're forced to do other things
  • Make activities around the home as easy to initiate as turning on the TV (and put reminders on the remote to remind you of them)
  • Set up a timer so you only watch a certain amount - turning off the alarm should require getting up
  • Only watch shows you find uplifting

More "Advice from the Experts"

I recently contributed to an response on Career Builder's blog (a service to college students and alumni to assist in the job search process) to this post by a student seeking more options than what she found at the career services office.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Stress: just how unhealthy is it?

Really, really unhealthy.

A documentary recently aired on PBS that follows Stanford professor, Robert Sapolsky's, detailed study about the effects of stress -

The gist:

Animals living on a Kenyan National Reserve experience high levels of stress for a few moments when trying to escape being eaten and then returning to normal

Typical humans in western civilization experience equally high levels of stress for rather mundane, non-life threatening situation, and have a hard time letting those stress levels go back down to the original - non-stressed levels.

There's also a section where he talks about his own stress - and he's a pretty high-strung guy. In it he shares how, while it works for others, meditating for a few minutes a day would cause him even more stress. Of course it would, it's not easy from having a head that's been running around quite quickly shift into low gear. That would be like reliving one of my worst cinema double-feature experiences - watching
Run Lola Run followed by The Straight Story.

Yet, we still have to ask ourselves - is the damage being done by maintaining the faster pace worth the "productivity"?

(Thanks to Scott for the link that inspired this post)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Trying to solve a problem? Take a nap

I've always been a big proponent of naps - and can pretty much take one regardless of the environment.

The NY Times recently ran an article about a study that shows significant increases in memory and creativity immediately after sleep, and discusses the benefits of
companies that have introduced nap-pods at the workplace.

No wonder I'm most productive in the morning!

(click on image for the cool blog post from where I got the image)

Monday, September 15, 2008

5 essentials for an effective resume

The key to an outstanding resume is getting into the head of the person reading it. How? Follow these tips!

  1. The job posting is the key - Each posting lists a short description of the company, the job responsibilities and the qualifications you're expected to bring. Use a highlighter to mark the most important skills and talents they're looking for and make sure they're in your resume.

  2. The resume is a sales letter - The purpose of the resume is to get the interview. So write it with that purpose. Include enough information to make it clear that they should talk with you and not more.

  3. The resume is not a biography - Too many people include every detail of their life "just in case." You wouldn't put your mom's name on your resume, so don't include every detail of what you've done in school or past jobs, just the ones that would be of most interest to the person reading it. If it's not stated or heavily implied in the job posting leave it out.

  4. Make the most of what you include - Employers are busy people so choose phrasing that will be the most specific and require the least thinking from them. You're the one who needs to explicitly state that as head of your science project team you delegated assignments for its 5 members and finished 2 weeks ahead of schedule.

  5. Spellcheck is not enough - Read your resume aloud - twice! Then ask at least two other people to do the same in front of you too. That way you'll catch it when you write that you have 'prefect' attendance.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Coaching misperception

Partnering with a coach

is not
asking for help
with things you can't do;

getting support
for things you want to do.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Outline for an intimate, touching, stress-free wedding speech

I recently returned from a wedding where I was asked to give a speech – with less than 30 minutes to prepare. If you’d like to share a few words at a similar gathering I offer you this outline for an intimate, touching, stress-free wedding speech:

  1. Select a theme that illustrates a trait about the groom or bride (like how they're imaginative, caring, terrible dresser).
  2. A short introduction on how/why you know the groom or bride.
  3. Share a little-known anecdote that illustrates their wonderful trait (the more people present you can refer to in the anecdotes the better it will be received).
  4. Share another anecdote that illustrates how the bride (or groom) helps make that trait even better (or fixes a bad one).
  5. Pause for a moment, raise a glass, and toast the bride and groom with the lesson from your theme.
Extra tips:
  • Smile and make eye contact with tables in each area of the room while you’re talking.
  • When you talk about a specific person, look at them. If you’re telling an anecdote where you can’t look at the person you’re talking about pick a different one (seriously).
  • You’re not out there to look smart, clever, funny, etc. – just make everyone feel good and you’ve succeeded.
  • Keep it short - 2 to 5 minutes at most.
  • Talk slowly – there’s a natural tendency to talk quickly when addressing a large audience. You’ll be better understood if you make a point of talking slowly.
  • Practice in front of a mirror or friend.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Keeping it together: Five actions that make employees (or relations) want to stick around

Employee turnover has a tremendous cost to any organization - lost productivity, cost of recruitment, lower morale for the remaining staff, etc. Here are my top five methods that any organization can use to significantly boost retention. (Families can use them to run more smoothly as well.)

#5: Clearly defined expectations - employees often run ragged trying to figure out what their job responsibilities really include, how much is enough, and when they're pushing too hard. (Are you sure your kids, parents, siblings, or friends know what you expect of them? Is it written down?)

#4: No jerks in the office - Managers should be aware of who is ruffling the most feathers and disturbing an otherwise smooth workflow (they may need to look at themselves).

#3: Ask them what bothers them most and fix it - Managers must feel comfortable sitting
down and conducting an honest evaluation about what their staff is experiencing.

#2: Do more of what is working - There's no need to reinvent the wheel. Expand policies that employees are already enjoying. Do them bigger, better, and more often.

For example, make them available to families w
hen both decision-makers feel like they are being treated well, two (or more) opinions have to change for one employee to leave.

#1: Vision pairing - Ensure that the department's goals the same as its members. People get excited about working on something that they believe in and are proud of. Sometimes this means revisiting the hiring process to make sure the best-fits are brought on board.

Costs = zero or minimal
Effectiveness = huge. Particularly when you consider the various impacts that turnover
has on a company - both on those that leave, but especially on those that stay.

Implement these methods and you'll get to confront problems such as employees sporting these on their desks.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How Ikea can tear you apart or bring you closer

Which mindset will you choose the next time you shop?

Tear apart:

Bring closer:

(Sometimes Ikea works both angles - like with their advertising campaign's slogan, "Just pack up, ship out, find a place of your own. And for all your new things, you know where to come. Make a fresh start.")

(Thanks to Alex for the link that inspired this post)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Stressing about things outside of your control

When we start complaining about the price of gas or the weather what we're really trying to figure out is, "How am I going to fit this new info into my already overwhelmed life?"

If you maintain a wellness cushion
you'll be in a clearer frame of mind
for the variations that will occur at some point.

It's why you're better off with:

- 6+ months of living expenses saved in the bank (your job may not be there tomorrow)

- giving yourself 20 minutes between meetings (they run long and bathroom breaks should be a priority)

- filling up on gas when there's still half a tank left (it's the last thing you want to think about when you're running late for a meeting)

- leaving one night a week open (it's nice to be able to take up a last minute offer of theater tickets or have dinner with a friend who just flew into town)

Friday, May 16, 2008

A tale of two allergies

Allergies are the worst of times (but they don't have to be).

Here are two examples:
Tale #1
Two weeks ago I was at brunch with a friend of mine and noticed a red blotch on his arm. I asked him what it was and he said it was a rash from an allergic reaction and that the blotches were actually all over his body.

I suggested he try X

15 minutes later the rash had diminished, and 90 minutes later it was 90% gone.

Tale #2
Last week I was talking with a woman taking three different allergy medications, but still suffering from a stuffed-up nose and feeling drowsy.

I suggested she try X

15 minutes later her nose was runny.

So what is X?

X = put a little lavender oil on your fingers and lick them. If I had my capsules with me though we could have put a single drop in them and have them swallow that.

Why does it work? Because lavender is a natural antihistamine.

Lavender: creating the best of times.

Get 100% pure, therapeutic grade lavender through my website:

P.S. You can also use lavender on cuts to shorten healing times.

P.P.S. Please note - I am not a medical professional and some people are allergic to lavender.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The urban dictionary grew today

I invented a new word - siouxn

as in: c u siouxn

(see you soon)

proliferate en masse!

P.S. Get creative with usage such as:
I'm on my way and will arrive at your party siouxn
If you don't get off my lawn I'll be siouxn you
I tore my jeans and I need them siouxn
The chips are gone; Siouxn ow what should we munch?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

For a piece of peace

As announced last week - I was interviewed for a sidebar in Woman's World magazine where I provided 5 tips to lower your stress and increase your sense of calm.


(click on the image to enlarge it and be able to read the full piece)

Monday, April 14, 2008

5 more things you can do to make your life peaceful

I contributed 5 tips for a sidebar in this week's Woman's World. The article is on bringing more peace into your life.

A few great tips that didn't make it into the article:

1) Recognize, Evaluate, and Secure Personal Boundaries

Understand why your buttons (aka boundaries) are being pushed rather than just the action that triggers them.

Ask yourself: "What is it that I am sensitive to that's being triggered? Why am I sensitive to it? How is that helping me?"

2) Get the other person's perspective of the situation

Every person sees the world differently. One person's helpful action is another's encroachment of personal space. Sustained communication and open dialogue, while taking effort in the short run, save it in the long run - that includes talking with yourself.

Ask yourself (and/or the other person): “What exactly are we arguing about? What happened that lead up to this situation? What would be a satisfactory resolution?”

3) Response-ability:
You can't change others, but you can change your response to their behavior.

Ask yourself: "How would I prefer to respond? What would it take to respond that way?"

4) Do-ability:

Every task you set before yourself is do-able (I'm not including inventors in this group). If you aren't getting it done some part of your approach or mind-set isn't working.

Ask yourself:
Do you need more time?

Is there a better time to make the attempt?

Are better tools available?

Are more hands needed?

Do you have enough information?

If you struggled with a task, and were eventually successful, take time to analyze what was different about the situation. The task may come up again.

5) The Best Response:
No matter the situation, the best response is never to "stress out."

Ask yourself: "What a better response would be?"

Then follow your advice ;)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Upset stomach? Have some mint!

I'll admit it - my stomach isn't always the most serene organ. But, what I've found helps me a lot is a couple of drops of Peppermint oil added to a full glass of water; I end up feeling better immediately.

I also add Peppermint to my water when I'm looking for a healthy spruce up to my water. It has more zing than Lemon Oil, and sometimes that's what the situation calls for. Sugar-filled and artificially flavored Vitamin Water? No thanks, I'll stick to my organic and 100% pure mint.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Get rid of canker sores fast!

Stress has a tremendous impact on your immune system1. In fact, up to 90% of illness is stress-related.

Canker sores often reappear in periods of elevated stress. If they are a concern of yours, I highly recommend Gathering - a Young Living exclusive essential oil blend.

Place 2 drops on a cotton swab and then apply directly onto the sore2. It can be applied when the sore is only starting to form as well. It doesn't taste particularly good, but you get over that quickly.

With 2 or 3 applications/day the sore typically goes away in 2-3 days instead of 5-6.

You can order gathering through my Young Living distributor site or calling Young Living's exceptional customer service line:
1-800-371-3515 and giving them my distributor #: 930469

1 Cortisol build up will decrease immune function. This occurs because the immune system reacts to or is turned on by a specific set of hormones which are turned off by cortisol.

2 Possible skin sensitivity. If pregnant or under a doctor's care, consult your physician. This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Behind the Scenes of my Letterman Taping

My whole philosophy towards the Letterman taping was not to show off my coaching skills, nor to help Andy Kindler release his stress, but to have a fun time and be as cheerful as possible (and if we got to some coaching and stress-related material that'd be a great bonus.)

I taped with Letterman's crew for over an hour so there was a lot that didn't make it to the 3 minute compilation of all five coaches. Here's a few behind-the-scenes nuggets from the taping.

Stating who you are in a recording is called a 'slate.' Fortunately I've done some professional voice acting, and have a few slates under my belt. This came in extremely handy when the director asked me to introduced myself:

"Hi, my name is Zohar Adner, a Stress Release Coach with Stop Stressing"
The director didn't look too pleased with it. I was worried that he wasn't going to let me plug my website, but a moment later he asked me to, "take out the 'hi'."

I smiled; said, "Of course!" and just said the 'hi' in my head before proceeding. Why is it so important to say 'hi'? Because when you want to come off as friendly as possible, a friendly 'hi' is a great way to do so.

You may have noticed near the end of the segment that the other coaches are making comments about Andy's glasses and how they fit his face. Why did they not show me in that series of clips? Here's our exchange:
Andy Kindler: "What do you think about my glasses? Do they work for me?"
ZA: "Do you see better with them on or off?"
AK: "On."
ZA: "I guess they work for you."
Andy responded with a pouty face indicating a mix of disappointment and amusement. While Abbott and Costello would have been proud, it didn't fit into the flow.

At one point Andy was getting a little antsy for material. I had already side-stepped the glasses bit (and a number of other goading questions about the coaching profession), but he and the writer really, really wanted a critique. So I decided to bite:
AK: "If you would change ONE THING about me, what would it be."
ZA: "I'd improve your posture. Your body has a variety of common postures - each associated with a different mood. When you want to feel less stress, shift your posture, and you'll feel your stress level instantly decrease."
Unfortunately the theory behind my suggestion wasn't shared with the viewing public.

On the phone
While I coached Andy on a park bench (which I have done a few times on gorgeous days for my one-on-one coaching clients in the lower Manhattan area), I conduct the majority of my coaching via telephone. At the time, the producers thought a fun way to end the entire segment would be with a shot of Andy talking on his cell phone, and then a pan/zoom across the street to me on a payphone.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Happiness 101

60 Minutes recently did a series on The Key to Happiness that includes discussion on what makes Denmark the happiest country in the world, and shares former Harvard Positive Psychology professor Tal Ben-Shahar's definition of happiness (and as we know from stress, it all starts with a definition.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Power of Yet

One of the steps to achieving consistent positive self-talk is adding the word 'Yet' to the end of a negative statement - it opens up the door for possibility (kind of like adding 'in bed' to fortune cookie predictions).

For example:
"I'm not good enough" becomes "I'm not good enough yet" (in bed)

What phrase do you use to negatively describe yourself?
How do you feel when you add 'yet' to that statement?

We're not at complete positive self-talk yet since adding 'yet' still leaves the negative phrasing in place.

Sometimes you can forgo the in-between steps and start feeling and behaving as though you've already achieved the result. Case in point this exchange in an episode of Seinfeld:

GEORGE: You're not really gonna go to California, are you?

KRAMER (points to his head): Up here, I'm already gone.
By embracing the feeling you expect to have afterwards, you can start enjoying it immediately.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The stress release --> ideal life continuum

A lot of people get caught up in their stress because they're used to it.

Oh sure, they're alive, doing their 'thing', but there's more out there ... an ideal...

Most people don't dare (or know how) to expand their frame of mind beyond their current situation to dream their impossible dream (sorry Cervantes). Practicality and reasonable-ness gets in the way. The thing is that your real, underlying ideals have no basis in practicality or reason. They're dreams, and the more we let ourselves recognize the adventure that's really going on in our heads, the better.

Without this expansion, you'll have no idea what your ideal is, or how close you can get to it.

Real-life scenario:
I conducted another Key to Stress Release workshop yesterday. In it, I coach a participant through the Seven R's of Stress Release starts with helping the coachee Recognize their ideals.

Last night's participant started talking about his (potential) need to move. As he was about to describe another two-bedroom apartment, I encouraged him to think bigger - the result that he'd love to have a house in Costa Rica.

While this may seem far-fetched (Where's the practicality?!?), it turned out that it wouldn't take much nudging or planning for him to actually have a house there (perhaps one he'd share with friends and/or family for the time-being), but it was not as distant as everyone else in the room thought it would when we first went down that path.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The biggest problem with the self-help movement is ...

the title 'self-help'

It makes too many people think that they should be able to read about techniques, use 5%, and tackle all their problems on their own. Change is a tough enough thing to accomplish, and just because you buy a hammer, wood and nails doesn't mean you're going to finish building your dream house.

Sometimes people end up getting caught up (or lost) in all the various things they could be doing ...

Spider Robinson penned a wonderful line - "Pain shared is lessened, joy shared, increased -- thus do we refute entropy*"

While it's up to the individual to create the change they seek, doing so in isolation is far from the best course of action. The trick is finding the right people to partner with on the journey.

Perhaps "Life's Journey" is too corny a name for what people are learning about and undertaking, but at least it's more accurate and empowering. I'm still tossing around these possibilities:
Life Development
Life Fulfillment
Life Growth
Life Actualization
Life Enhancement

In the meantime you may want to ask yourself:

What am I trying to do on my own?
Who do I know that no longer has that concern?
(someone I can learn from)
What's going on in their life that I could help with?

Or hire a professional to spend less time dreaming about, crafting, and building the dream house that is your life. (A good coach will also help you enjoy the process and results more)

* entropy is the tendency for increased randomness (aka craziness & hecticness)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Stressed out caregivers

The three main types of caregivers I come across are:

  • Parents supporting and raising their kids
  • Children looking after their parents
  • People whose job is to support others (teachers, sales people, nurses, receptionists, etc.)
The next time you talk to such a person ask, "Who's taking care of you?"

Most likely you'll get an exhaled laugh with eyes rolling up (to indicate a pipe-dream "I wish"), or down (to indicate "I gave up on that wish").

For all you caregivers out there running on fumes - it may seem impossible* to fit in, but a little time where you are the focus of the care will have a tremendous impact on your ability to provide the quality of service you're determined to give.

Whether it's an extra walk through the park, asking someone to help you, meditating for 15 minutes, taking a bath (with essential oils), light reading, a fun evening with friends, or a myriad of other options to relax and rejuvenate. You have to find a way to recharge your batteries. The people who rely on you deserve to be treated by the best you possible.

Note: Shopping, watching television, and drinking alcohol do not fit the rejuvenating criteria.

* it's not impossible, it's just different from what you're currently doing

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Identifying your decision making process

Much like a preferred learning modality, each of us has a preferred method of making decisions.

Knowing what to prepare, and what steps to follow will make deciding major issues on your own easier.

Plus, if you're in a group that needs to come to a consensus before moving forward, it would be much easier to get your point across if you understood how each person would like to process the issue.

Alex Linsker
has come up with a great visual tool for quickly determining your decision style.

Monday, February 4, 2008

An optimistic view of stress

There have been many studies on the differences between optimists and pessimists.

Overall, optimists attribute permanence, pervasive, and personal (the 3 Ps) to positive aspects of themselves and good things that happen, and only temporary status to negative ones.

"I do well on tests because I'm smart."
"I got that question wrong because it was hard."

Pessimists do the opposite - attributing the 3 Ps to negative aspects of themselves and bad things that happen and only temporary status to positive ones.

"I did well on that test because it was easy."
"I get questions wrong because I'm stupid."

Let's apply this to stress:
How much ownership do you take? How do you relate to your stress?

Consider the statements:
"Taking that test triggered a button within me."
"I get stressed when taking tests."

With the 1st statement, we've limited the scope of the effect of the test to an isolated incident.
With the 2nd statement, we've applied a universal statement to test-taking.

Which format are you using to describe the incidences in your life?

Monday, January 28, 2008

My Letterman Debut - stress free and loving it!

It finally happened. All the preparation and concern for the taping, the waiting for the actual broadcast, and now that it's here I couldn't be more pleased.

Quick recap:

In October 2007, The Late Show With David Letterman requested that I be one of five life coaches to work with anxiety-ridden comedian Andy Kindler.

For 90 minutes I utilized the Seven R's of Stress Release to address his stresses with relationships, confidence, and Stand-Up life.
Read my blog entries for a more detailed account of the experience.

Go to to watch the segment that aired on January 24th, 2008.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Letterman air-date announced!

Watch as I teach even anxiety-ridden comedian Andy Kindler how he can Stop Stressing Out!

The Late Show with David Letterman
Thursday, January 24th
11:30pm (Eastern) on CBS affiliates

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Proud to support a Union-backed Show

I received word that my segment on Late Show with David Letterman will air soon. I may not even get 24 hours notice, but will send out a notice very soon after I do.