Don’t Feed the Stress

stress feedingStress. We talk about it a lot, usually as a negative thing. This business meeting or that family gathering was stressful. I have so much going on, I’m stressed, and I can’t sleep. Too much stress, or the wrong kind, definitely has a negative impact on our health and happiness, but it’s also an important part of who we are as humans.

The phrase, That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, is actually based on scientific evidence. According to one study at UCLA, “People with a history of some lifetime adversity reported better mental health and well-being outcomes than not only people with a high history of adversity but also than people with no history of adversity.”  (Seery et al., 2010, p. 1025)

The key there, of course, is “some.” In the same study, researchers found that people with  the highest amount of lifetime stress had the poorest mental and physical heath. Everything in moderation, also has its foundations in fact. What does this mean for our everyday lives? We don’t necessarily have to view a brief period of moderate stress as a negative.

This morning, I woke up not having slept well. This is my deadline week (which might have you wondering why I’m spending time writing a blog post), I have birthday parties to plan and just a LOT of things to get done in the next several days. As I helped the kids get ready for school, I could literally feel my shoulders tensing up into my ears.

I know how this goes; I’ve been here before. I get anxious that I won’t get everything done, that I’ll forget something. Then I get annoyed at just about everyone who talks to me. I don’t like myself like that. So, I sat down to write in my journal. What I worked out, after rambling on for several pages is this: I was feeding the stress.

I was feeling the pressure of all the things I needed to do, and I was egging it on with self-doubt and self-judgment for bad behavior towards my family that hadn’t even occurred (yet.) This is what made me feel awful, not the stress itself.

As soon as I realized what I was doing and removed all that other stuff, I found the stress actually fed me! That feeling of having a lot to do got me motivated, energized. So much so, I decided I to post here before getting down to the nitty gritty. And, reminding myself that magazine deadlines are not life-or-death helped me get to a more calm and focused place as well. This must be what people who say they thrive on stress are talking about.

If you don’t feed the stress with all of your other baggage, stress can actually fuel you. Caveat: we’re not talking about chronic stress; you can’t operate this way all the time without negative repercussions. (This is where the whole “learn to say ‘no'” thing enters in.) But periodically, a stressful week can give you a sense of purpose and at the end, a feeling of accomplishment.

Instead of automatically assuming stress is bad, realize it’s more how we manage it. You can let it take over and freak you out, or you can harness it and allow it to fuel you to excel without letting it take over your life.

 

Photo credit: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_antonioguillem’>antonioguillem / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

What’s Cryotherapy & Why Do I Like It?

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The cryosauna

When I discovered Champion Cryotherapy in the Trails at 620, I was curious. I knew cryotherapy had something to do with extreme cold, but I live in Central Texas precisely to avoid such arctic blasts. Why would I want to try it? Because I am both pathologically skeptical and open-minded; I couldn’t resist the intrigue, and I’m always up for new ways to feel better.

When I walked in for my appointment, I was greeted by owner Todd Pendleton. Todd has a friendly and genuine demeanor. He and his office staff make you feel welcome in that casual, Hill Country way — like you’re old friends already. They know you have no idea what cryotherapy is, and they’re happy to let you in on the details.

Whole-body cryotherapy is a research-proven cold therapy that activates the body’s natural pain and inflammation fighters. While chilling in a cold-air sauna for three minutes, the body’s restorative processes are activated to provide…

  • relief from pain and inflammation, 
  • accelerated muscle recovery, 
  • boosted energy levels, 
  • increased metabolic rate,
  • enhanced complexion.

Todd led me into the cryotherapy room. In privacy, I disrobed and donned Champion Cryotherapy’s toasty warm socks, boots and gloves. I looked down at myself: underwear, boots and gloves — not a look I usually sport, but comfy nonetheless.

I stepped into the cryosauna, which Todd had adjusted for my height so my head would stick out the top. Then, he cranked the temperature down to negative 185 degrees and began talking, prompting me to turn every so often. What does that level of cold feel like in little else but a birthday suit? Surprisingly, not bad since it’s devoid of moisture.

While I literally chilled, Todd explained what was happening to my body. The low temperature was prompting it to protect my vital organs. Blood left my extremities and cycled through my heart, becoming re-oxygenated. That blood would return to my extremities refreshed when I warmed up. He continued speaking for the duration, as much to distract me from the cold as to provide education.

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NormaTec compression massage

Feeling invigorated after the intense cold, it was then time to experience NormaTec compression massage. After re-dressing, I reclined in a comfortable chair as Todd helped me put on thigh-high boots made of durable black cloth. He hooked them up to a machine, and the chambers within the boots began filling with air. They periodically inflated and deflated, moving from my feet up my legs. It was like a massage. The lighting was low, and I was offered a cup of water or tea — instant relaxation. The NormaTec system was developed to speed muscle recovery and mobilize fluid, which is why it can also help with varicose veins.

20 minutes later, my time was up. I was sad to take the boots off, but my legs felt good. When I got home, I noticed when I bent to touch my toes, my hamstrings were relaxed — not tight like they normally are. I also noted my fingers were no longer swollen and I could get my rings off (which I haven’t been able to do in a while.)

I’d chatted with another client, Michael, while I was there. He reported sleeping better after his previous session — the biggest benefit, as far as he was concerned. After two nights of sleep, post “squeeze and freeze” (which is what they call the cryotherapy/NormaTec combo session) I agree; I fell asleep faster than normal and didn’t wake up as often.

Most notable to me, however is this: days after my treatment, I still feel unusually upbeat — centered, focused, productive, emotionally satisfied. I live with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), and one of the key symptoms is cyclical depression. Cryotherapy has been shown to produce endorphins (feel-good hormones) as well as reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. 

Cryotherapy is excellent for muscle recovery, but you don’t have to be an athlete or injured to enjoy it; it had the feel of a short but highly effective spa treatment. For me, it was better (and faster) than a massage. And with the positive effect it had on my mood and ability to focus in the days following, well, that seals it. I’m a fan.

Champion Cryotherapy is located in the Trails at 620 Shopping Center Wilson Parke Rd., right next to ARC. For more information, visit ChampionCryotherapy.net.

Bang for Your Buck: Where to Put Your Marketing Dollars

adsI can’t believe I’m writing a post about advertising. Historically, this is not my area of expertise. But I’ve learned a lot helping the local businesses I work with find the best way to use their advertising budgets, no matter how modest. Working with over 100 different companies, many of them small, family-owned businesses, I’ve had the opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t:

Just Because You Build it, Doesn’t Mean They’ll Come.

It may have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but in the real world, just because you set up a storefront and a website doesn’t mean you’ll get customers, even if you have a much-needed, quality product.  You’ve got to put your name, logo, face in front of people multiple times, so when they do need your service, you are the one at the top of their minds.

Keep it Local.

One of the prime questions people often fail to ask when considering advertising is, “Who’s my audience?” If your target market is the Hill Country, because of your location or the type of service you offer, do you really want to pay to advertise all over Austin? Why not concentrate your efforts in your specific area and get ads in two or three publications for the price of one, instead spread over the entire city, when most of the readership is never going to make the trip to your store.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

You may have heard “content is king.” It’s common marketing adage, meaning you have to offer something besides advertising to win your audience’s trust. This is why so many people write professional blogs; it builds credibility. And your brand is more likely to stick around on someone’s coffee table, where multiple people will see it repeatedly, if there are educational articles to keep it there. This can be a much more effective marketing tool than those expensive, glossy postcards that often go straight to the recycle bin. Example: I picked up an issue of Austin magazine at the grocery checkout the other day, just because my doctor’s photo was on the front cover. That magazine is still sitting on the table next to my couch, where I pick it up and leaf through it occasionally.

Be Patient.

So you run an ad in a couple issues of a community publication. Nothing’s happening. You don’t feel like you’re getting any business from it, and you want to pull out. Two things:

  1. This is a long-game process. Your return will come a year or so after you begin your campaign, as people have seen your presence repeatedly and you build your credibility in your community, ideally through multiple channels. Volunteer work and sponsoring school or charity events can pair well with your print advertising efforts.
  2. People’s minds are funny. You can ask clientele where they heard about your business, and most of the time they won’t know. The name of your company worked its way into their brains slowly, as they saw your ad in a magazine, then an article you wrote, then your name on the banner of the elementary school book fair. Case in point: In one experiment, an outdoor furniture company found many of their shoppers said they’d heard about their sale on television, when the company hadn’t even run a TV ad.

So, do choose multiple venues for your advertising dollars, but choose them mindfully. Ideally, most of the people who see your ads and contributions to the community will be your target market, and they will see them repeatedly.  And once you’ve built that positive reputation in your community, that’s when good things start to happen.

 

Photo credit: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_thingass’>thingass / 123RF Stock Photo</a>