The surprising thing is that all it takes to enhance your relationship with friends and neighbours is respect for their feelings, concern for their property and a helping hand when it’s needed.
Modern life is a lot less conducive to friendships and neighbourliness than it used to be. The average American moves every five years. People drive straight into their garages, hire lawn services, hang out in their backyards instead of their front porches. These days, neighbours don’t even know each other’s names.
Good neighbours and good friends are a lot alike electricity or running water: We don’t know how much we depend on them until we don’t have them. They make our lives more pleasant and give us sense of who we are, both as an individual and as a member of the community. In fact, the authors of a recent book, Refrigerator Rights, claim that refrigerators are gauges of intimate relationships; after all, you wouldn’t snatch a drumstick from the refrigerator of a stranger.
The surprising thing is that all it takes to enhance your relationship with friends and neighbours is respect for their feelings, concern for their property, and a helping hand when it’s needed. Here’s how to nurture your relationships with two types of vitally important people in your life.
Strikes up a conversation over the fence or on the sidewalk.
It’s okay to be the one to break the ice, even if you’ve lived next door for years. Most neighbours enjoy making small talk with the folks on the other side of the fence. So as you see them at work, in their yards or at play in their pool, smile, wave, and say hello. Ask how their kids are, (whether they’re toddlers or in college), whether they could use an extra zucchini from your garden, or what they think of the prices at the local supermarket.
Extend yourself to the new family down the block.
These days, the old Welcome Wagon is a thing of the past. But your new neighbours may be feeling lonely and unsure, especially if they’re far from home, and might appreciate a friendly face bearing fresh baked brownies. If they have kids, tell them where the children in the neighbourhood live. Clue them in to the best places to eat and shop. Invite them over for coffee when they get settled, give them your number and point to your house as you say goodbye.
Be considerate, especially of elderly neighbours.
Return anything that you borrow from a neighbour, such as tools, in good repair and as soon as you’re finished with them. Replace anything that belongs to your neigbour that you, your children, or your pets break or soil. If your neighbour hasn’t brought in his garbage cans yet, roll them back into his yard. Random acts of consideration will have your neighbours talking and the talk will be good.
Invite your neighbours to your next bash or throw one in their honour.
What better way to meet your neighbours than to invite them to an informal barbecue, pool party, or holiday open house.
Better yet, you might even consider throwing a get-to-gether just for them. Deliver the invitations in person to everyone who lives on your street and chat with each for five minutes before moving on to the next house. This way, you will get an idea of what your neighbours are like so that you can plan for appropriate food and music. Be a better friend.
On your computer, at home or at work, make “call friends” a standing appointment. Don’t have a computer? Keep a post it note on the phone, the bathroom mirror, the car dashboard, anywhere you’re likely to see it. Also make sure your friends’ phone numbers are programmed into your cell phone. Then call that friend when you’re stuck in traffic or waiting in line and chat for 10 minutes. Alternatively, schedule a standing once-a-month lunch, same time, same place.
Make time for friendships. Nothing makes closeness fade away than never talking with or seeing each other. While some bonds or friendships may be strong enough to span long silences, most aren’t. If you cherish a person’s friendship, make time for him or her, whether it’s just the occasional phone call or a weekly get-together.
Remember: a true friend doesn’t flee when changes occur. Nothing is sadder for new parents than to find that their single friends have abandoned them because of the baby. The sign of a good friend is one who stays true through it all, marriage, parenthood, new jobs, new homes, the losses. Just because situations change doesn’t mean the person has.
Make sure you aren’t being a burden to a friend.
Friendships fade away if there isn’t equilibrium between the give and the take. Be sensitive to how much your friend can and can’t offer you, be it time, energy, or help, and don’t step over the line and vice versa. Friendships that drain you will not last. If a friendship is out of balance in this way, you’ll need to talk the situation through.
Sweat the small stuff. Yes, there are times when it doesn’t pay to sweat the details, but in a friendship, it’s the little things that count. Notice her new hair-cut. Remember to ask about her mother’s surgery or her daughter’s new baby. And if you’re truly a good friend, you’ll know when she needs some cheering up, a simple arrangement of flowers if you can afford it, a simple card or e-mail if you can’t, it really is the thought that counts.
Be a good listener. It can be the hardest thing in the world to do, to simply listen as he or she pours it all out or is seeking your advice or opinion. To be a better listener, follow this advice:
Maintain eye contact. Offer nods and murmurs that indicate you understand her point of view.
Don’t finish your friend’s sentences. If you catch yourself planning your response while your friend is still talking, gently remind yourself to focus on him.
Minimize distracting, don’t type, open mail, or watch television while you’re on the phone with your friend. Your friend will undoubtedly hear your dis-interest in your responses.
Be careful with advice.
Assume your friend wants vent, not necessarily ask for a plan of action.
Be in her corner if she’s not there to defend herself.
If you’re at a gathering at which someone mentions your friend disparagingly, defend her against gossip or criticism. Say, “Mary is my friend, and it makes me feel bad to hear you talk this way.” Sooner or later, news of your loyalty will travel back to her and it will deepen your friendship.
Culled from Stealth Health.
Ten Mistakes Women Make With Men
Mothers must remember to praise those family members who are consistently helping out. Husbands and children love to hear that their contributions are making a difference.
A client asked me recently, “What do you believe are the most common reasons that mothers are overwhelmed?” I thought about this great question and decided to share with you my response. I’m giving you my top three here. Enjoy!
Mothers are overwhelmed and over scheduled due to the variety of extra-curricular activities that they find themselves in this time of the school year as well as the regular obligations of work, home and volunteer commitments. Today, mothers are no longer multi tasking but instead mega tasking.
If we follow the pattern backwards, it often points directly to the fact that moms never learn how to stop the “Mom-Me” rollercoaster. Here are some common mistakes made by mothers and another course of action they could be taking.
1. Mothers accept unrealistic workloads and allow guilt to drive them to create schedules that don’t work. They fail to delegate family chores effectively and find themselves exhausted by trying to do it all, and then blame themselves when it doesn’t work out.
Action: Mothers need to learn to delegate properly. The reason for delegating work is to get the family to help with. the needs of the family. Delegated projects should always be appropriate to the ability of the child to whom it is given. If the mom is washing dishes after dinner, she has to learn to ask her spouse for help with other nighttime tasks such as bath, bed time or planning for the next day.
2. Mothers fail to create a family culture of support. Children often have chores and have no idea of the value their task has on family living. As a result, family members don’t come to understand that everyone has a vital role of supporting the family this community.
Action: Mothers need to make sure that children understand not only what they are doing but why they are doing it. This builds the esteem of children and teaches them the importance of accountability. Parents need to explain to their children that active families members to lighten the responsibilities to make time for these extra-curicular responsibilities. Often children have no idea of the cost of baseball practice on the family’s schedule.
3. Mothers can be very picky, and rigid in family ex-open to having things approached differently if they want help from the family. The process of involving the family meeting to discuss weekly task and allowing each family member to share their best alternatives for helping. Mothers must remember to praise those family members who are consistently helping out. Husbands and children love to hear that their contributions are making a difference. In a nutshell, the happiest mothers are those who learn how to articulate their needs clearly, get help when needed and set realistic boundaries of what they can and can not do. As a “coached mom,” the “mother” has a deep understanding of the five essential strategies for personal self care and these replace the old methods of “Mommy Martyrdom”.
The Essential Strategies for a mother’s Self-Care, discuss the following five tenets of self-Care for moms. They are:
Creating a personal schedule that honors the mother’s values, allowing the mother to set realistic boundaries and allow her to fully enjoy what he commits too.
In order for a mother to truly help someone else she must begin by helping herself in order to truly be a wonderful contributor, you must help your self first. Mothers who commit to a reduced life load find that they get more enjoy-ment out of life.
Motherhood does not completely define us but enhances what already is. This involves understanding that while mothers create the lives of our children they must remember that it is their life too. When mothers establish viable supportive networks to assist them they recognize that they become stronger at parenting.
Anytime a mother wants make a change in your life she must begin by raising her standards. She has to decide that she wants more out of her life. Next, a mother must understand she must change what she believes is possible and be willing to try new strategies. She must be open to learning from non-judgmental sources like “mom-coaches” about techniques, solutions and real strategies on creating ways to incorporate what she wants into her life.
This strategy is aimed at helping mothers make shifts in their lives that leave them changed for the better. Personal growth is recognizing that mothers have the capacity to be more of who they are .
. In short, mothers have to find time for the “Me” in Mom and learn the Five Essential Strategies for a Mother’s Self-care.
Internal Causes Of Stress
Not all stress is caused by external pressures and demands. Your stress also be self-generated. Internal causes of stress include: uncertainty or worries, pessimistic attitude, self criticism, unrealistic expectations or belief, perfectionism, low self-esteem, excessive or unexpressed anger, lack of assertiveness.
Risk factors for stress
The presence of a stressor does not automatically result in disabling stress symptoms. The degree to which any stressful situation or event impacts your daily functioning depends partly on the nature of the stressor itself and partly on your own personal and external resources.
Stress : How vulnerable are you?
The nature of the stressors Stressors that involve central aspects of your life (your marriage, your job) or chronic issues (a physical handicap, living from pay cheque to pay cheque are more likely to cause severe distress.
A crisis experience
Sudden intense crisis situations (being raped, robbed at gunpoint, or attacked by a dog) are understandably over-whelming. Without immediate intervention and treatment, debilitating stress symptoms are common.
Multiple stressors or life changes stressors are cumulative, so the more life changes or daily hassles you’re dealing with at any one time, the more intense the symptoms of stress.
Your perception of the stressor
The same stressor can have very different effects on different people. For example, public speaking stresses many out, but others thrive on it. Additionally, if you’re able to see some benefit to the situation the silver lining or a hard lesson lesson learned-the stressor is easier to swallow.
Your knowledge and preparation
The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the better able you’ll be to face it. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-up, a painful recovery will be less traumatic than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.
Your stress tolerance
Some people roll with the punches, while others crumble at the slightest obstacle or frustration. The more confidence you have in yourself and your ability to persevere, the better able you’ll be to take a stressful situation in stride.
Your support network
As strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against life’s stressors. But the more lonely or isolated you are, the higher your risk to of stress.
Effects of chronic stress
Chronic stress wears you down day after day and year after year, with no visible escape. Under sustained or severe stress, even the most well-adjusted person loses the ability to adapt. When stress overwhelms our coping resources, our bodies and minds suffer.
Recent research suggests that anywhere from 60 to 90 per cent of illness is stress-related. The physical wear and tear of stress includes damage to the cardiovascular system and immune system suppression. Stress compromises your ability to fight off disease and infection, throws your digestive system off balance, makes it difficult to conceive a baby, and can even stunt growth in children.
Stress and your health
Many medical conditions are caused or exacerbated by stress, including:
Chronic pain, migraines, ulcers, heartburn, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, PMS, obesity, infertility, autoimmune, disease, irritable bowel syndrome, skin problems and emotional effects.
Chronic stress grinds away at your mental health, causing emotional damage in addition to physical ailments. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to everyday pressures and less able to cope. Over time, stress can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety depression eating disorders, and substance abuse.
Severe stress and trauma
Severe stress reactions can result from sudden, catastrophic events or traumatic experiences such as a natural disaster, sexual assault, life threatening accident, or participation in combat. After the initial shock and emotional fallout, many trauma victims gradually begin to recover from its effects. But for some people, the stress symptoms don’t go away, the body doesn’t regain its equilibrium, and life doesn’t return to normal. This severe and persisting reaction to trauma is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Common symptoms of PTSD include:
Flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmare about the trauma, avoidance of places and things associated with the trauma, hypervigilance for signs of danger, chronic irritability and tension, depression. PTSD is a serious disorder that requires professional intervention.
For more information on traumatic experience and how to recover, see Emotional and Psychological Trauma and Posttrumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Managing stress and its symptoms
While unchecked stress is undeniably damaging, there are many things you can do to control it and reduce its effects.
Coping with stress
Following a few simple stress management tips can help you minimize stressors in your life, deal with your stress symptoms in a healthy way, and buffer yourself from its negative effects.
Relaxation techniques for stress relief
Not all stress can be avoided; but when it hits, relaxation techniques such as mediation, deep breathing, and yoga can provide relief.
How Best To Reduce Stress
If the previous relaxation technique isn’t practical, perhaps because you’re at work in an open plan office, create some physical and emotional distance from the stressor. Walk away and find a quiet place even if that’s sitting in your car or a bathroom.
Take a couple of deeper breaths and imagine yourself far away. See the stressor for what it is. See it as small and manageable and notice how much calmer you feel. You are much more able to think clearly, to consider the problem or stressor calmly and rationally, and plan what you are going to do about it.
Meditation – Methods and techniques
Learning how to mediate can bring an abundance of calm and relaxation into your life. The methods and techniques take practice and patience but they are worth it.
Anybody can learn mediation techniques, either by attending a class, or learning at home through mediation videos and CDs.
A lot of people who are successful in their chosen field, and who have also managed to overcome stress, mediate, even if they haven’t learnt how to do it in any formal way. You might be able to think of some people like this; they never rush about, and you might sometimes happened on them sitting in their office, appearing to do nothing, just sitting and thinking. If you become good at mediation, eventually you’ll also be able to mediate without even thinking about it.
Breathing and relaxation
When we are born we breathe properly, ie with our stomachs. As we get older we learn to breathe in a more stressful way, from the chest.
“Belly breathing”, as it’s known, can be very effective with managing stress. With this type of breathing, when you breathe in, your stomach should move out as your diaphragm expands, if this doesn’t happen at the moment, then you can learn a new breathing technique.
This type of breathing is a professional stress management technique, and many actors and opera singers use it. Not only can breathing in this way help to overcome nerves as it relaxes the body, it also improves your posture and voice, helping to build self-confidence.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Your doctor or a professional stress management trainer might teach you some exercises which are known as the progressive muscle relaxation technique.
This means that you very gently tense and relax every muscle in your body, bit by bit, starting at your head or toes, and working to the other end of your body, all the while breathing in and out slowly.
This exercise can produce enjoyable physical feelings of relaxation and can be a very effective technique for relieving stress, however it is not a good idea to try it if you have had many muscular-skeletal problems or injuries in the past. If you are in any doubt, then you should consult your doctor.
You’ll hear about lots of different therapies, many of which involve relaxation. Many of these therapies involve other elements, for example reiki works with the body’s energy fields, and this may be of interest to you, but even if it’s not, you might find the relaxation side useful.
These types of methods and therapies include reiki, reflexology and various forms of massage. Do some research, read about different therapies, and maybe visit a local clinic to find out what’s on offer and find the most suitable treatment for you.
Some of the less “alternative” therapies include Jacuzzis, steam rooms and spa pools. You may also have heard of flotation tanks, also known as sensory deprivation tanks, which can be very effective, although you may find that a nice hot hath also does the trick.
Problem solving helps you to define what the problems actually are. It helps you divide the problems into smaller, and therefore more manageable parts. You can them look for solutions, options and ways forward – in other words, alternatives to stress.
The following are two very effective and practical ways of approaching problem solving.
Find a “problem solving partner”, someone either at home or at work who you can talk to about your problems, You will probably find that just talking it through will be very helpful, but having someone else to ask questions and give a different perspective also helps.
Problems that seem huge and insoluble when rattling around in your head can seem much less complex once they are out in the open.
If you don’t have a problem solving partner, or they are not available, write the problem down.
Again, you’ll be amazed at how the stress evaporates and how you’ll be able to work through the problem to find the answer, just by getting it out of your head and onto paper.
Have a plan to beat stress
This is another practical exercise to beat stress. Get a pen and piece of paper. At one end of the piece of paper, write down (using either words or pictures, whichever works best for you) where you are now, and at the other end, where you would like to be. For example, at the moment you are stressed because you are not getting on at work with someone, and you would like to be calm and happy and getting on well with all your colleagues.
In the centre of the page, write down the problems and obstacles that have to be overcome so that you can get to the other side of the paper. List some potential solutions as well, along with anything that you may need to change within yourself to reach your desired yourself to reach your desired outcome. This is just an idea – you can make your plan as simple or as complicated as you like, and you can include anything that will help you to analyse the problem and think it through to a positive solution.
Overcoming stress – A simple technique
This technique is similar to an earlier exercise. The first thing to remember with problem solving is that you need to recognize the signs that there is or could be a problem. Learn to be aware of the triggers. As soon as you start to notice the pressure building up, and you feel a creeping feeling of stress, make a list.
Write down everything that is bothering you – the big problems, but also the little things that have been nagging at the back of your mind.
However small or trivial it may seem, if it has been whizzing round your brain lately, write it down. Once you have everything on paper you will be ale to think more clearly, and it won’t look or feel as bad once your have got it out of your head.
You do have choices
It’s important to realize that at any one point, you do have choices, even if it feels as if you don’t. For example, if you are feeling under pressure at work, due to large amounts of overtime etc, you may feel that you have no choice but to resign. This is still a choice, even if it would be better if you didn’t resign.
It’s empowering to think about what choices you have. To make it easier, imagine yourself in he future, looking back at yourself now. Give yourself some perspective.
Or you could imagine a very assertive person that you know. What would he or she do in the same situation? What might you do if you were a different person? Actually, you have the same choices. You might you do if you were a different person? Actually, you have the same choices, you might also want to discuss it with a friend. What would they do?
Speak to someone who isn’t personally involved. Brainstorm a whole load of different choices easy, hard, silly, extreme choices – put them all down together to get you thinking in this way. This may not solve your problem, but it is the first step to creating choices, even if you don’t act on them. Start to act like a person with choices, and you’ll already start to feel better.
Problem solving for the future
Problem solving doesn’t have to be just about current problems or problems as they occur. Where it’s possible, you can also pre-empt and plan ahead for times of stress.
Know what your stressors are, when they are going to occur, and prepare for them. Get yourself in good shape.
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