Professor Pete Alexander

A seasoned professional with over 30 years of Sales and Marketing experience, Pete has battled the negative effects of stress head-on and has developed the LIGHTEN™ stress relief model that motivates his peers to take action and overcome their self-imposed barriers to success using clever yet simple tools and techniques.
A seasoned professional with over 30 years of Sales and Marketing experience, Pete has battled the negative effects of stress head-on and has developed the LIGHTEN™ stress relief model that motivates his peers to take action and overcome their self-imposed barriers to success using clever yet simple tools and techniques.
Stress Relief Tool – Understand Busy Does Not Equal Success

Stress Relief Tool – Understand Busy Does Not Equal Success

“I’m busy.” It’s the common answer to the question of “how’s it going?” You rarely, if ever, hear somebody reply, “Work is easy, and I’m on top of everything.” This may seem like a minor conversational quirk, but it’s reflective of a much larger issue. As long as we connect the idea that being busy equals being important and successful, we’ll look for ways to keep making ourselves busier.

People brag about pulling an all-nighter to finish a project because they have no time. They eagerly share that they didn’t have five minutes to think during the course of their busy day. And they describe eating lunch at their desk while simultaneously replying to emails and being on a conference call, as if they just mastered a new magic trick. Our success isn’t tied to how busy we are, it’s tied to how much control we have of our time and how we choose to use it.

Think about that last sentence for a moment. If we stop worrying about what other people are thinking about the hours we work and how much is on our plate, we can refocus our efforts on using our time as effectively as possible. Inevitably, we will have more time for meaningful ventures, and our stress will reduce as a result.

The reality is that being fully invested in “busy” is a long day’s journey to nowhere. If all your efforts and time are used up being busy, then they are not being used to be clear, focused, and productive.1

Start keeping a list to be more mindful of what is keeping you busy. Weed out activities that are not adding value to your career and/or home life to help reduce your stress.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Realize Work Expands

Stress Relief Tool – Realize Work Expands

If you are a workaholic by nature, there is a reality you need to face: you’ll never get ALL your work done. There’s no finish line. You can always find new work to do if you look for it. This means your decision to stop working can’t be tied to your completion of responsibilities. Instead, you must learn to accept the inevitable, which is that there will always be undone tasks left on the table whenever you stop working.

When you realize you won’t ever get everything done, you lessen the guilt associated with working less and become more comfortable with stepping away from it. You no longer judge your progress against an impossible goal.

This was an important realization for me, and hopefully it will be for you too.

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Top Stress Relief Tips for Making the Most of Social Distancing

Top Stress Relief Tips for Making the Most of Social Distancing

With all the stress that can be associated with social distancing, many in my network have asked for ways to make this time more productive and positive. Since we can only control our own actions, here are some great techniques that will help you improve your morale. Please share them with your friends and family as we are all in this together.

Also, please feel free to share tips and techniques that work for you.

For Your Body

Physically, it is very important to stay hydrated – especially with warm and hot beverages. The virus apparently lives in our throats for 4 days before activating in our lungs, so if you wash it into your stomach with warm and hot liquids your stomach acid can neutralize it.

If you have a yard or uncrowded park available, doing some grounding with the earth would be beneficial.

Taking some deep breathes is very helpful, as is touching your temples (wash your hands first just to be safe).

For Your Mind

First of all, remember to be grateful – regardless of the situation you are better off than many others and it is up to you to form your reality of the world.

This is a great time to elicit your personal values on your career, family, relationships and/or health. Once you have clarified your personal values, turn your dream into a goal and create a vision board or binder to continually reinforce where you ultimately want to be in your life. If any of your goals or visions seem scary to pursue, try reframing your fear and ask yourself “what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

And if you are looking for alternatives to streaming videos, negative news and social media, consider:

For Dealing with Others

Try to limit your contact with negative people whenever possible. If you need to engage with a negative/toxic person, take a deep breath and resist the temptation to comment and/or encourage a negative conversation. By not encouraging the negative talk, that person will likely look for someone else to dump on and free your time for more positive activities. Also, make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive people.

When you have a one-on-one conversation, put down your phone and close your laptop so that you give that person your full attention. Try not to judge what the person is saying and just listen. You both will benefit from you being fully present and objective.

Consider providing random acts of kindness. At the beginning of your day, take one minute to send an email or text to someone thanking them or complimenting them on something they did. Make it short and sweet and don’t mentally put the expectation to yourself that a response is needed. This simple act is a win-win for both you and the lucky recipient.

When you have a conversation with someone and your active mind thinks “I better remember that, write it down. Even if you don’t have your notebook or laptop with you, use a calendar or notes app on your phone or even text or email yourself a reminder. Don’t assume you will remember it later because you are asking for unnecessary stress if you forget.

“Chunk up” your dialogue. When you find yourself in a conversation with someone who is providing too many details, ask them “what is this an example of?” to get them to think about their issue in higher level chunks. If you are in a conversation with someone who isn’t providing enough detail, ask them “what are examples of this?” to get more specific details you may need. This will allow you to effectively communicate with these individuals and minimize your stress by not wasting time trying to get to the point of the conversation.

Seek out a go-to person who you can talk to when you need to vent. This could be a coworker, family member, or friend. Just be sure that you use this opportunity to express your frustration rather than placing blame (refer to the “Avoid the Victim Mentality” technique), and make sure it is someone who will be supportive of you.

When you find yourself struggling with the solution to a problem, reach out to your network of friends and/or coworkers who have experience in this area. If you don’t have somebody in mind, consider asking your friends/coworkers if they have somebody they could recommend or Google a professional coach with a background similar to yours who can help you find a solution.

If you have had a negative encounter with someone during the day, write it down and then use the following process to remove any lingering negative emotions or stress:

  1. Before you go to bed, review what you wrote down and recall those who were involved.
  2. Close your eyes and imagine that person facing you. Look them in the eyes and say to them, “I forgive you. Please forgive me,
  3. Imagine that person giving you a sign that they have forgiven you.
  4. Repeat as necessary for any other people involved in the negative encounter.
  5. When completed, take a deep breath and open your eyes. You should feel a sense of relief.

A Couple other helpful articles:

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions – remember, we are all in this together.

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Stress Relief Tool – Set Boundaries

Stress Relief Tool – Set Boundaries

It’s happened to us all at one time or another. We say “yes” to every request to look like the good employee, friend, volunteer, etc., and then we stress over how we don’t have time to do all the things we committed to. This is especially true when it comes to requests from the person we report to at work.

Years ago, I coauthored a book that provided tips and strategies to help organizations recruit and retain technical professionals. What we found was that no matter what perks the organization offered their employees, the number-one reason people left was their relationship with their manager.1

It’s easy to blame our boss, employer, clients, or customers for our work-life balance getting out of whack, but it’s not their fault. The reality is: no matter how demanding others are or how excessive their expectations may be, we’re in charge of our own lives. We choose what to accept. If we’re overworked by our employer, it’s often because we’ve allowed it to get to that point; we didn’t set proper boundaries.2

To practice and get confident with this technique, try the following. Think about a time when a request was made of you that caused you stress. Replay that event in the following way: pause before answering the request and compare it to what you already have on your plate. If it is not as important and/or is something you do not want to do, kindly decline the request. If an explanation is necessary, mention that their request will delay other activities on your list of responsibilities. If it is your supervisor who has made the request, ask that person to select something else from your list of responsibilities that can be delayed if you attend to this request.

Ultimately, the solution is to learn how to say “no” to requests on your time. Just remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do or really need to do.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Get Good Quality Sleep

Stress Relief Tool – Get Good Quality Sleep

I know, this is an obvious tool. And if you are extremely busy, like most of us, you probably stress about getting good sleep—there’s an irony for you.

There are some very simple ways you can ensure a better night’s sleep, even if work and/or some other issue(s) are giving you anxiety. For example, give these a try:

  • No electronics in the bedroom. No TV, no phone, no laptop, no nothing unless it is a simple alarm clock. The phone is the biggest perpetrator, as a simple text or ping is like Pavlov’s dog responding to a stimulus. Once that ping wakes our brain up, we have a harder time getting back to sleep.
  • Go to bed at the same time each night, and follow a consistent ritual (brushing your teeth, putting sleeping clothes on, etc.) teaching your body and mind to expect sleep.
  • Use the bed for only two things: rest and sex. If you work at home, don’t work while lying in bed because it will confuse your body and make it harder for you to fall asleep when you really want to.

The key determinants of quality sleep include:1

  • Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
  • Waking up no more than once per night; and
  • Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep.

And one of the big mistakes we can make is to try and catch up on our sleep on the weekends. Though it feels good temporarily, having an inconsistent wake-up time disturbs your natural sleep pattern. Your body cycles through an elaborate series of sleep phases in order for you to wake up rested and refreshed. One of these phases involves preparing your mind to be awake and alert, which is why people often wake up just before their alarm clock goes off (the brain is trained and ready).

When you sleep past your regular wake-up time on the weekend, you end up feeling groggy and tired. This isn’t just disruptive to your day off, it also makes you less productive on Monday because your brain isn’t ready to wake up at your regular time. If you need to catch up on sleep, just go to bed earlier.2

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Get A Massage

Stress Relief Tool – Get A Massage

As stress builds, we tend to carry it in our neck, shoulders, and lower back. Over time, this body tension can affect our productivity and our quality of life. Treating yourself to a professional massage could be just the ticket to help you cope. In an hour or less, you can get a full body massage, or treat a particular area of your body. You come out of the massage feeling refreshed and relaxed.

If it is inconvenient to schedule or you are uncomfortable with the idea of going to a spa or massage parlor and having a stranger massage you, consider getting a massage chair for your home. There are several stores where you can give them a try (in airports, for example) to see what features might be of interest to you. I bought a massage chair for my home, and I find that using it for just 15 minutes in the evening before I go to bed helps me relax and get to sleep quicker. The money I have saved versus spa massages has more than paid for the chair.

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Guest Post – 6 Steps to Improve Your Sleep Quality and Improve Your Mental Health

Guest Post – 6 Steps to Improve Your Sleep Quality and Improve Your Mental Health

Improved mental health is one of the many benefits of better sleep. So if you are constantly tossing and turning at night, you could be waking up with more stress, and at higher risk for issues like depression and anxiety. So how can you turn things around and boost your emotional well-being? You can start by using these simple tips to adjust your nightly routine, improve your sleep environment, and set yourself up for a good night’s sleep and the best mental well-being.

Your Aching Back

You’re probably aware that discomfort can get in the way of a good night’s sleep. For those suffering with chronic issues like back pain, on top of that, the pain can negatively impact mental health. It’s like a double whammy, so if you suffer from back pain that is impacting your slumber, it’s important to address the issue. Oftentimes a new mattress can make a huge difference, especially if your current one is more than ten years old.

Gentle Transitions

If you use yoga to wake yourself up in the morning, why not use yoga to help yourself sleep better at night? A gentle flow can help prepare your body for rest, and meditation can help calm your mind as well. Supportive and restorative yin poses, like supported butterfly and legs-up-the-wall are best before settling into savasana in your bed, and for best results, practice at least five minutes of meditation at some point in the evening as well.

Sleeper’s Haven

As MSN explains, your bedroom should be a haven for sleep. To create the right ambiance in your bedroom, avoid using bold, bright colors, and instead, opt for soft tones that help relax your mind. Also try layering your bed and floors with soft fabrics, to create a cozy spot for your body to unwind and fall asleep faster. You can also add relaxing scents, such as lavender, bergamot and sandalwood, to help soothe your mind. Many people find that a dehumidifier can help them sleep, particularly during the warmer times of year. Excess humidity can bring about mold and dust which can make sleep difficult by irritating your skin and respiratory system.

Maintain Proper Temperatures and Lighting

The quality of your sleep can hinge on your circadian rhythm. This simply refers to the internal processes inside your brain and body that let you know it’s either time to sleep, or time to stay awake. If you’re having trouble sleeping, there may be something throwing your internal clock off, such as lighting or temperature. If you want to re-establish a healthy circadian rhythm, try lowering the thermostat to 60-68 degrees and dimming the lights as bedtime approaches, both of which signal to your mind and body that it’s time for sleep.

Turn Off Screens and Keep Them Out of Bedrooms

Many people relax at night by scrolling through social media or watching television, but Verywell Health explains by exposing themselves to blue light before bed, those folks could be severely impacting the quality of their sleep. Exposure to the blue light of screens disrupts that all-important circadian rhythm mentioned above. To remedy this, and improve your sleep for better mental health, be sure to turn off screens well ahead of your nightly bedtime and avoid the temptation to turn the back on by keeping televisions, tablets, and cell phones out of your room.

Take Care With Diet Choices, Especially During Evenings

If you mostly consume an inflammatory diet, studies suggest that you could be unintentionally throwing off your sleep patterns, and impacting your mental health in general. Refined carbohydrates, processed foods and red meat can all make inflammation and sleep issues worse, so consider eliminating problematic foods from your diet to see if your sleep quality improves.

Improving the quality of your sleep should be one of the first steps you take to manage your mental health. If these tips don’t help, or you are still having issues dealing with your emotions, it may be time to seek the advice of a mental or physical health professional. Your health, your happiness, and even your life can all depend on getting the sleep you need.

Author:

Cheryl Conklin
Wellness Central
cheryl.conklin@wellnesscentral.info
www.wellnesscentral.info

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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Stress Relief Tool – Trauma Release Exercises

Stress Relief Tool – Trauma Release Exercises

When we get anxious, our body carries stress in our neck, shoulders, back, and joints. These are the obvious signs and signals our body is giving us. However, if you have been carrying significant anxiety and emotional baggage inside you for years, Trauma Release Exercises (TRE®) could benefit you.

TRE is an innovative program that assists the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension, and trauma. The exercises safely activate a natural reflex mechanism of shaking or vibrating that releases muscular tension, calming down the nervous system. When this muscular shaking/vibrating mechanism is activated in a safe and controlled environment, the body is encouraged to return to a state of balance.

TRE is based on the fundamental idea—backed by research—that stress, tension, and trauma are psychological and physical. TRE’s reflexive muscle vibrations generally feel pleasant and soothing. After doing TRE, many people report feelings of peace and well-being.1

If you are interested in this technique, you can buy a book2 or video3 to help walk you through the process. However, it might be best to first start by attending a workshop4 facilitated by a trained professional to see if this process works for you.

I first experienced TRE at a weekend retreat, and while it was quite strenuous on my body, I felt an enormous amount of stress relief, which convinced me of its merits.

 

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Guest Post – How to Overcome Ego Depletion

Guest Post – How to Overcome Ego Depletion

Each day, you likely have a long list of responsibilities and roles you’re supposed to meet. When what’s expected of you becomes too much, it’s not uncommon to experience stress and burnout. Both of these are actually forms of ego depletion.

Your ego refers to the part of your brain that makes smart decisions. It mediates between your impulses and what you know you should be doing. Your ego is the part of your mind ensuring you don’t click over to social media when you’re craving a distraction from work. However many people believe that it is possible for you to over-use self-control, thus resulting in ego depletion.

There are many causes of ego depletion. Working too long on a particular task can lead to a form of ego depletion known as directed attention fatigue. Making too many tough decisions in a day can lead to decision fatigue. Finally, prolonged stress can also lead to burnout and ego depletion. Essentially, anytime you need to use your self-control to focus or do something you’d prefer not to do, you deplete your willpower.

However, we can’t simply avoid our responsibilities in order to avoid ego depletion. Instead, there are a number of strategies you can employ to make your willpower go further, and your stressful tasks less stressful. Keep reading this helpful infographic by Turbo for tips:

Note: Please include attribution to Turbo when sharing this graphic.

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Stress Relief Tool – Mental and Emotional Release

Stress Relief Tool – Mental and Emotional Release

Many of us have stress that has been building for years – often referred to as emotional baggage – that is out of proportion to the trigger that makes you react negatively in the first place. The only way to truly lead a less stressful life is to remove this baggage.

Mental and Emotional Release (MER™) is a process that works with your unconscious and the memories that your unconscious has organized according to your individual “timeline.” Using a specific interview process, a masterful MER practitioner helps you uncover the “root cause” of the baggage (which may or may not appear to be a significant event to your active mind). Then the master practitioner guides you back to the root cause, having you float over your timeline to retrieve the learning that you were supposed to gain from the experience and release the negative emotion.1

MER has been proven effective with addressing emotional baggage such as anger, fear, sadness, and guilt. Incidentally, guilt is only good for pushing you toward making things right again. After that, it becomes shame, and shame is a toxic substance which will eat you up inside.

MER is also effective in helping you remove your limiting beliefs, which are preventing you from moving forward with a challenge, expressed in statements such as, “I can’t” or “it’s too hard.” If you are not sure if you have a limiting belief, there is a great worksheet that artist and speaker Phil Hansen created that can help you get clarity around this subject.2

Not only has MER worked for me, it has worked for many of my clients who get the breakthrough experience that comes from having their emotional baggage disappear. The only downside of this process is that some of my clients have a hard time believing that their baggage is indeed gone. That’s because of our mistaken belief that we need years of therapy sessions when we just need to address the root cause of the negative emotions.

Negative emotions disappear using MER because they require time to express their meaning. Therefore, a switch in the temporal perspective (timeline) reframes the emotion. Switching the temporal perspective also shows the emotion to be the illusion it is, and it thus disappears in our unconscious mind.

Here’s the caveat: you must be willing to trust the process and get in touch with your unconscious mind. I know it sounds sort of “woo-woo” in the short description above. I was a skeptic as well until I experienced it firsthand and felt a dramatic shift in my overall demeanor. I was so compelled by this technique that I committed to becoming a master practitioner of MER to help others get rid of their emotional baggage.

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