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.

Guest Post: The Negative Health Impact of Stress Infographic

Stress & Work

Did you know that between 75 – 90% of all doctor’s office visits are caused by stress? In fact, 65% of people cite work as a top stressor and an estimated one billion employees miss work every day in the US due to stress. Research shows that work-related stress and burnout can result in a variety of physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms.

Managing Stress at Work

Stress management is as integral to your health as exercising or maintaining a balanced diet. Therefore, it’s important to develop effective stress management techniques that work for you. These could include:

  • Sticking to a regular sleeping schedule
  • Setting clear work-life boundaries
  • Seeking the help of a professional
  • Breathing exercises
  • Practicing meditation

How Does Stress Affect Our Health?

If you would like to learn more about the science of stress, then you should read the infographic guide below from Study Medicine Europe. This handy guide covers a lot of ground. Including:

  • Interesting facts and figures about stress
  • A summary of the stress response
  • A list of the different ways in which stress can affect the body
  • An overview of the dangers of chronic stress
  • Some suggestions on stress management techniques
The Negative Impact of Stress

The Negative Impact of Stress

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Stress Relief Tool – Parts Integration

Have you ever thought to yourself that “part of me wants to do this, and part of me doesn’t”? Me too. This inner conflict, if left unresolved, will continue to fester inside of you as these unresolved emotions churn and create unnecessary stress in your life.

The solution to this dilemma is getting more understanding of those conflicts and working on uniting the divided parts under a common goal or intention. The process requires you to get in touch with your unconscious mind and visualize what each part’s positive intention is for your common good. During the process, your disparate “parts” unite under a common purpose and the inner conflict dissipates as a result.

The process is extremely effective and provides near immediate stress relief as the conflict you were experiencing no longer exists. And it can work for just about any aspect of your life.

You can see video demonstrations and read more about the process by Googling “parts integration nlp.” Note that it is recommended to work with a trained professional to ensure the process works effectively for you. Please contact me at PeteAlexander.com for more information, or reach out to AIPonline.org for a referral if you need help resolving a parts conflict in your life.

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Stress Relief Tool – Personal Values

I was first exposed to “personal values work” in the mid-1990s when I got certified in Managing Professional Growth (MPG®),1 a program that is designed to align an employee’s personal values with the key responsibilities of their professional role. The end result is an employee who is more productive, loyal, and engaged with their work.

At the time, I found that learning my own personal values was quite insightful. Specifically, I didn’t list health as a high priority. Of course, later in life health became the number-one value for me, as it does with most everyone who experiences a life-altering medical crisis. And freedom (to do what I want) has become second only to health on my priority list as my career has progressed.

Your values are the things that you believe are important. They should determine your priorities and, deep down, they’re probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to.

Identifying and understanding your values is a challenging and important exercise. Your personal values are a central part of who you are—and who you want to be. By becoming more aware of these important factors in your life, you can use them as a guide to make the best choice in any situation. Some of life’s decisions are really about determining what you value most.

To determine what your personal values are, follow these steps:2

  1. Identify the times when you were happiest both professionally and personally. List what you were doing, who you were with, and other details about those events.
  2. Identify the times when you were most proud both professionally and personally. Describe why you were proud, who you were with, and other details about those events.
  3. Identify the times when you were most fulfilled and satisfied, either professionally or personally. Describe how and why this experience gave your life meaning, and other details about those events.
  4. Determine your top values, based on your experiences of happiness, pride, and fulfillment. Ask yourself what was important to you in those experiences listed in questions 1-3. Just list them out in no particular order.
  5. Prioritize your top-five values. Look at the first two values and ask yourself, “If I could satisfy only one of these, which would I choose?” For each value that ranks higher, compare it to the next value on your list. Keep ranking each value until you have an initial list, then double check the list starting at the bottom. Once you have double checked your list, you now have your list of top values.

The values that rank one to five on your list are your highest priority and should be used as reference whenever you are making an important decision, because only when you are in alignment with your personal values will that decision reduce your stress.

If you are having difficulty deciding on your personal values, consider working with a professional trained in values elicitation. Please contact me at PeteAlexander.com for more information or reach out to AIPonline.org for a referral.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Forgive Your Past

Do you feel guilty about something in the past? The burden of this past event is likely adding unnecessary stress that has been building for days, months, or years. It’s time to forgive your past.

Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different. It’s accepting the past for what it was and using the present moment to help yourself move forward. It is letting go so that the past does not hold you prisoner.1

A good technique for removing your guilt is to write a letter to someone you feel guilty toward. Explain why you feel this way and ask them to forgive you. This can be written to someone dead or alive, or it can be written to yourself if it was related to self-sabotage. Whatever the case, the act of writing the letter will be therapeutic and help reduce the burden of stress you have been carrying from the past.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Turn Your Dream Into A Goal

We all have dreams, and not just the ones that we have during our sleep. We imagine ourselves traveling, having a loving relationship, a great job, a cool car, a home to call our own, financial freedom, and many more. Unfortunately, our dreams remain just a dream unless we turn the dream into a goal.

Goals are dreams with deadlines. The human mind won’t move in the direction of a generality; it will move when it has something specific to aim at. Give your dream a deadline, and you will see movement. The more movement you experience, the more success you will have.1 And as your dreams become reality, your stress becomes a thing of the past.

You can start with the big-picture dream with its deadline, and then work backward by thinking of the small steps you can take to get you to your final destination.

For example, let’s say you are dreaming about a new car. Write down the make, model, and color of the car you want, along with the month and year that you want to buy that car. Now list out the key things you need to do in order to reach your goal. It could be saving extra money per month for the down payment, doing online research on the options available, and taking the car for a test drive. Whatever those milestones are, put a deadline on each of these to keep your momentum. You might even consider asking a friend to check regularly on your progress to keep you moving forward.

To help solidify the description of your big-picture goal (dream), consider structuring it as a S.M.A.R.T. goal:2

  • Specific: What exactly you want to accomplish.
  • Measurable: How you will know when it is accomplished. What proof will you use?
  • Achievable: How realistic your goal is given your resources. Make sure it is something you can control.
  • Relevant: Why is it worth doing it at this time and the impact you expect.
  • Time-Bound: What are the milestone deadlines for achieving your goal?

As you gain momentum you will be that much closer to turning your dream into a reality while building your confidence and reducing your stress along the way.

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Stress Relief Tool – Emotional Freedom Technique®

The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a remarkable healing modality based on the same principles that have been used for thousands of years in acupuncture, but without the needles. When I was going through my divorce, EFT helped me calm down when my ex-wife triggered negative emotions.

While there are different variations that you can see if you search “Brad Yates Tapping” on YouTube, the basic “tapping” process is as follows:

  1. Get in touch with the feeling related to the stressful situation you are dealing with.
  2. Gently tap a part of your body as you say, “I feel (state your emotion) about (identify person or situation). I deeply and completely accept myself.” Keep repeating this as you tap the following locations, this is exact order:
    1. outside of your hand
    2. between your eyebrows
    3. under eye
    4. under nose
    5. mid-chin
    6. collar bone
    7. under arm pit
    8. top of head
  1. Gently grasp your right wrist with your left hand and anchor into a feeling of gratitude by recalling a specific experience for which you are grateful for. Take a deep breath.1

When my therapist first demonstrated EFT to me, I thought it was hokey until I noticed its effectiveness. Don’t judge the process just by what you read or see: give it a try and then decide if it works for you.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Listen to Music

One of the positive effects of music comes from its ability to remind us of previous memories and environments. Scientifically, it is tapping into our context-dependent memory. Let’s say college was the happiest time of your life. If you start listening to the music that you were listening to at that time, it can help you feel more connected to that happier time in your life, and reminiscing about it can help reduce your stress.1

If you currently feel like you’ve hit a wall and can’t move forward, sometimes you need to switch up your routine to get going again. One simple change you can make is to listen to different music. If you always listen to the same tunes during your commute or workout, you might be reinforcing your current negative mood or habits.2 Try finding new music to help stimulate or calm your mind. Classical music, in particular, has been shown to relax the body and reduce blood pressure.3

Note: “Theme from The Greatest American Hero (Believe It or Not)” is a song composed by Mike Post with lyrics by Stephen Geyer, and sung by American singer Joey Scarbury.

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Stress Relief Tool – Find Something Nostalgic

There is a specialty candy shop not far from where I live, and every time I walk in there, I’m reminded of my favorite childhood treats. As soon as I pick up one of those candies and read the label, I immediately get nostalgic. Interestingly, those proficient at reminiscing—looking back on happy times, rekindling joy from happy memories—are best able to buffer stress.1

Is there an old toy you have from your childhood sitting in a box waiting to comfort you? Maybe it is an old photo album you haven’t looked through in years. Or maybe you just need a bite of your favorite childhood candy. You can probably find anything that brings up positive nostalgia for you simply by Googling it.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Hakalau

Hakalau is a light meditation suited for calming you before you need to present. It originates from the ancient Hawaiian Huna system called “the walking meditation of the kahuna” because the kahuna (a wise man or shaman) who practiced it were able to walk around and function while remaining in the state. There are five steps to this form of meditation:1

  1. Pick a spot on the wall to look at, preferably above eye level. Your field of vision should bump up against your eyebrows, but not so high as to cut off the field of vision.
  2. As you stare at this spot, just let your mind go loose, and focus all your attention on the spot.
  3. Notice that within a matter of moments, your vision begins to spread out, and you see more in the peripheral than you do in the central part of your vision.
  4. Now pay attention to the peripheral. In fact, pay more attention to the peripheral than to the central part of your vision.
  5. Stay in this state for as long as you can. Notice how it feels.

You are now calmer and more aware of your surroundings, and you are now more present and more ready to give a great presentation. As you practice Hakalau more and more, you will find that it can help dissipate your stress in other situations like conflict management with your peers and/or loved ones.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Label Your Stress

The word stress is used generically to describe any kind of anxiety, agitation, anger, fear, guilt, or sadness we are feeling. However, if we simply describe the emotion that is fueling our stress in a few words, it will help reduce the charge of the emotion.1

For example, when I feel that someone has let me down (oh those dreaded expectations), instead of thinking/saying “I feel disappointed” I describe it in a few more words such as “I feel disappointed because …” By describing your emotions with a little more detail, this identification process can help you to start relaxing.

 

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