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 – Track Your Time for a Week

Stress Relief Tool – Track Your Time for a Week

A common habit many people have is thinking they have less time during the week than they actually have. This leads to unnecessary stress because we feel we have hurry, which makes us more likely to make mistakes, further compounding our anxiety.

A good way to get a handle on the actual time you have is to objectively track it for a week and keep a notebook or spreadsheet of where you are spending your time. Track your time without actively attempting to change your behavior. Your behavior will naturally shift in positive directions due to monitoring, so there’s no need to force it, at least initially.

Limit brief work-related activities during non-work time, like checking your phone or firing off a quick email. These activities may only take a few minutes, but this pattern can feel like it consumes more time than it actually does, so try to curb these behaviors. Ultimately, you want to see how much time you really are spending, not what your mind thinks you are spending when you are stressed about time.1

The insight that you gain from this activity will help you objectively see whether your brain jumped to conclusions based on your emotions about feeling overworked versus what actually might be true. And with this clarity about your time you can help yourself fend off unnecessary stress in the future.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Lean Back Instead of Forward

Stress Relief Tool – Lean Back Instead of Forward

Have you noticed that when you are sitting at your desk for a long period of time your body starts to get stiff? This is especially true if you are leaning forward. When you lean back in your chair you are increasing the physical distance from a complex task and also increasing the psychological distance, which mitigates the sense of the task’s difficulty. Unconsciously your mind infers that a task seen from a greater distance is easier to tackle.

It might also help to stand up and move around regularly to minimize the negative effects of prolonged immobility. In fact, set a reminder every 15-30 minutes for you to lean back and catch your breath for 30 seconds, then stand up and move around for another 30 seconds. This will help mitigate how the stress is manifesting in your body.

Give a more relaxed posture a try when working on a computer. You may even want to invest in a recliner for your office as part of your stress-relief plan.

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Stress Relief Tool – Aromatherapy

Stress Relief Tool – Aromatherapy

Do you like the smell of vanilla? Me too. I always thought it was because I love vanilla ice cream, but clinical studies have confirmed that the smell of vanilla reduces human anxiety. In a medical study of patients undergoing a tense procedure for cancer diagnosis, a vanilla scent mixed into humidified air lessened anxiety up to 63 percent compared to patients who were administered humidified air alone.1

If vanilla isn’t your preference, you could use fresh rosemary in a bag like this, or you can use essential oils to get the benefits of aromatherapy in your office. You can use an essential oil diffuser on your desk, keep a small bottle for your personal use whenever you need it, or spray the air around you by mixing it with water. If you are using an oil diffuser or sprayer, just be mindful if you have coworkers nearby who may not appreciate the aromas you have chosen.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Stress Toys

Stress Relief Tool – Stress Toys

Giving your hands something to do during an anxious situation can help alleviate some of the tension. On my desk I have several toys including:

A mini Slinky (a metal one as the plastic ones don’t work as well), a wind-up doll that looks like he is dancing to Chubby Checkers’ “The Twist,” and dice that humorously help me decide my next course of action.

If you attend trade shows and conferences, there is usually a vendor giving away stress balls made out of foam. Those work great to squeeze in your hand. If you do a search on amazon.com, there will be over 20,000 items that match the search term “stress toy.”

Technically, a Dammit Doll could be considered another stress toy, but the usage makes it quite different. Whereas the stress toys I mentioned previously are more benign, a Dammit Doll is designed to let you release excessive negative energy. As the manufacturer describes on amazon.com:

“When life gives you that crazy urge to scream and destroy, Dammit Doll is here to support you. Go ahead – THROW, SLAM, and WHACK the ultimate stress-relief tool. The Classic Dammit Doll is engineered to absorb all that negative energy so you can let go and get your happy back on.”

I actually gave one of these to my elderly mom for Christmas one year, and she whacks it against her furniture and walls every time she hears something on the news she doesn’t like. It’s pretty funny to watch!

The bottom line is that you have a large assortment to choose from. Pick something you like that puts a smile on your face and/or helps you relax.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Minimize News Exposure

Stress Relief Tool – Minimize News Exposure

The media is the business of selling news, and it is human nature to be drawn to its negative aspects. We want to know what is going on in the world, but it can have dire effects on our system.

Chronic exposure to troubling and negative news events, such as COVID-19, can trigger an alarm that prompts our adrenal glands to flood our body with hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Our body is resilient enough to deal with passing stressors. But when the fight, flight, freeze mode is continually triggered, our stress response may get stuck in the “on” position. We each need to get a sense of what we can handle without feeling overwhelmed or traumatized and weigh the risk of overexposure with the risk of remaining ignorant. One part of self-care is to know our boundaries in relation to how much we can expose our psyches to without feeling paralyzed or besieged.1

It’s easy to put on the TV at home or the radio in the car and listen to news to have some background noise. However, if you are mindful of the effect (if any) negative news has on your stress levels, you might opt for a different TV show or listening to music or an audio book in your car instead.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Arrive Early to Meetings

Stress Relief Tool – Arrive Early to Meetings

Have you ever noticed that when you are running late, everything starts slowing you down? You are running late for work and you hit all the red lights. You are running late for a meeting and your boss needs an immediate five-minute chat. That before-lunch meeting is running late, and now you don’t have time to eat a proper meal. You get to the doctor’s office late, and now you have to wait longer because the next person has already been admitted. And with every one of these occurrences, your stress level goes up.

A simple solution to eliminating this unnecessary stress is to plan on getting to all your appointments and commitments early. If you get caught in traffic or held up, you’ll still be on time. And if you do actually manage to get there early, fantastic! Now you get some real YOU time. Read a novel, meditate, review your to-do list, make those phone calls, reply to emails, or simply relax for a moment and enjoy the view.

And it if is a meeting within your office building, set alarms for your meetings and commitments 10 minutes earlier than you normally would. When that alarm goes off, ask yourself “do I respect my co-workers’ time?” and then make a conscious effort to get to your next meeting early.

As an added bonus, those that you are meeting with will appreciate that you value their time just as much as your time. When you are constantly tardy, it sends the wrong message to your coworkers that you don’t have time management skills and/or are inconsiderate of their time.

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Stress Relief Tool – Pack Your Bag the Night Before

Stress Relief Tool – Pack Your Bag the Night Before

Have you ever got to work, school or some other event and realized you forgot something that wasn’t in your bag? It’s happened to all of us. The rush to get to work or school or wherever in the morning makes it difficult to concentrate.

A simple technique that can save you a lot of stress in the morning is packing your bag the night before. Take five minutes before you go to bed to do this and you’ll be less likely to forget something important like your schoolbook, wallet, office badge, or phone.1 When you have everything you need for your day, you advert unnecessary stress.

 

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Guest Post – How Mindfulness Protects You as You Get Older – Infographic

Guest Post – How Mindfulness Protects You as You Get Older – Infographic

“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

Mark Twain, Writer

Getting older comes with a raft of new challenges and changes. These could include dealing with sickness, transitioning from professional life into retirement, or coping with the death of loved ones. The practice of mindfulness has been proven to offer older adults with a way of handling these changes.

Mindfulness is all about cultivating an awareness of the present moment in a calm, non-judgmental manner. In order to accept the realities of getting older with all its ups and downs, a mindfulness approach is much required. As such, it provides a much-needed counterbalance to the idea that ageing is just a period of decline and decrepitude.

If you are or know an older adult who may benefit from mindfulness practice, then you should certainly read the infographic below from Be Independent Homecare which offers a comprehensive overview of the subject. This helpful explainer guide outlines the many ways in which mindfulness can benefit those aged 65+ and includes some advice on how to fit mindfulness practice into your everyday routine.

Scroll down to the infographic below to find out more.

Infographic

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Stress Relief Tool – Schedule Worry Time

Stress Relief Tool – Schedule Worry Time

Do you find yourself worrying as you go to bed and then have trouble falling asleep? If so, scheduling worry time in your schedule earlier in the day or evening might be a solution.

Carve out a small chunk of time each day—ideally always at the same time and place—to focus on your worries. This way, by the time bedtime rolls around, you’ve already addressed everything that’s making you anxious.

The key is to be productive while worrying, whether that means writing down any thoughts or concerns, creating a to-do list, or actively trying to solve the problems that the worries present. This process gives you the space to entertain your worries and then either (a) shift your focus, or (b) come up with a solution that allows you to move on.1

Here are the four steps to making this technique work for you:

  1. Make sure it is scheduled at the same time and place each day.
  2. Write down your concerns along with a to-do list that can help you solve your problems.
  3. Once your time is up, review your notes, take a deep breath, and focus on something else.
  4. Enjoy a more restful night’s sleep.

 

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Stress Relief Tool – Enjoy Your Lunch

Stress Relief Tool – Enjoy Your Lunch

I know, another one of those “are you kidding me?” suggestions. What I mean by “enjoy your lunch” is do not skimp on the time you give yourself to eat properly. Wolfing down your lunch in seven minutes flat will only ramp up the stress that you bring with you from the first few hours of work. Instead, let your lunch be a time of relaxation. Eat slowly and focus on the smell, texture, and taste of the food. Put down the fork and knife down between bites to make that easier.1

As a bonus, you may find yourself eating fewer calories because you will give your stomach a chance to let your brain know you are full. And when you eat less, you may lose a few unwanted pounds.

 

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