Published on April 6, 2014
SCOTT HAMMOND2 Every Day Dad: The Guide to Becoming a Better Father WRITTEN BY SCOTT HAMMOND Copyright © Scott Hammond, 2010. All rights reserved. ISBN: 978-1450-5366-46 Notice of Rights All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of both the publishers and copyright owner. Limit of Liability / Disclaimer of Warranty While the author and publisher have used their best efforts in preparing this publication; they make no representations of warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of its contents and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. Neither the author nor publisher shall be liable for the use or non-use of the information contained herein. The fact that a website or organization is referred to in this publication as a citation and/or potential source of further information does not mean that the author or publisher endorses the information that the website or organization may provide or recommendations it may make. The scanning, uploading, and distributing of this publication via the Internet, or via any other means, without the permission of the publisher, is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
EVERYDAYDAD.COM 3 “Scott Hammond empowers Dads to step up and overcome the negative influences in their lives. Read it. Live it. It’ll help you become the man your children will forever be proud to call ‘Dad.’” — Richard Paris Borough, Ph.D. ”If you want to leave a positive, lasting legacy for your family, read this book. Scott’s straight forward style gives you the tools you need to succeed. As one whose life was shaped by an awesome dad, I know how powerful these truths are!” — Glenna Salsbury, CSP, CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame Professional Speaker and Author of The Art of the Fresh Start and Heavenly Treasures ”Children benefit the most by having two involved parents — not just mom. This book will help all dads step up, have fun, and enjoy their role as a parent.” — Marjorie Brody, CSP, PCC, CPAE, Founder & CEO, BRODY Professional Development ”Some dads are so busy taking care of business that we forget to take care of our families. In this wonderful, heartwarming book, Scott shows you how to apply those great business skills to being a fantastic father. A must-read, and the sooner the better.” — Orvel Ray Wilson, CSP Best Selling Author, Speaker, and Proud Father ”We are a society in crisis and the root cause is parenting. This book will give you great tools to become a better parent and a better person at the same time.” — Larry Winget, Television Personality and New York Times Bestselling Author, Your Kids Are Your Own Fault: A Guide For Raising Responsible, Productive Adults ”For every man who wants to have more impact and influence on a daily basis with the people who matter most in his life.” — Mark LeBlanc, Author of Never Be The Same and Growing Your Business!
SCOTT HAMMOND4 “It’s about time! What a wonderful concept and hats off to you, Scott Hammond, for bringing the extremely important, long overdue issue of fatherhood to the forefront. With shifting roles, two working parents, and changes in the world at warp-speed, we need fathers more than ever to help the women in the world with our shared bundles of joy. To enjoy the laughter, joys, tears, and milestones, there couldn’t be a more important role for the men of this day and age and for the children of tomorrow!” — Karen Simmons, CEO, Founder, Autism Today “Modern fathers have a tough job. They have to be powerful at work, share the responsibilities at home, and be a loving attentive role model. The news headlines tell us what happens when men do not understand “The Business of Fathering”. Scott Hammond gives you the guide.” — Patricia Fripp, Past President, National Speakers Association “Fathering is a business that you do not want to fail in. Some men are great leaders in their business and not so great at home as a Father. Scott has written a great book here to help Dads become successful in that important business as well”...” — Dr. Keith M. Jowers, Founder, Dads 4 Life, Inc “With so many families at peril, this book is needed right now. I strongly recommend it. No matter what kind of a father you are, you will be empowered by this book to become a better father.” — Dr. Alan Zimmerman, Speaker, Author “As a father, football coach, and mentor, I am blown away by the invaluable resource Scott Hammond has delivered in this book.” — Chris T. Vitale World Class Football Coach “My kids wish I had read this book many years ago - but heck, it wasn’t even written way back then. Do your kids a favor (before they become adults) and read Every Day Dad.” — Michael Benidt Speaker, Consultant
EVERYDAYDAD.COM 5 “These days most careers require four-year college degrees. Training to become a medical doctor requires years of medical school, internships, and residency. Government heavily regulates licensure of those who wish to offer any type of personal service. However, two people who are old enough to procreate (too young to drive, in many cases) can make a baby. Unfortunately, children do not come into the world with a set of instructions clutched in their tiny hands. Scott Hammond provides great insights into what it really takes to be a dad — a father. This book is a must read for any man with or contemplating having children.” — Michael Roby Speaker, Trainer, Author, Consultant “When I became a father, several decades ago, I wanted to be the best I could be. After all, that’s what I wanted to do in all the (work) jobs I had. There was no book on all that it takes. Now comes along Scott Hammond’s book with lessons that, with effort (yes, it requires EFFORT) puts fatherhood in excellent perspective for your success.” — Jim Tunney, Ed.D Author, Educator, Former NFL Referee “Scott Hammond’s book, Every Day Dad, is an encyclopedia for being a Dad. He understands the business of being a Dad and he communicates it extremely well. This book is a must for every Dad.” — D.J.Young, www.Wisdom4Dads.com “An inspiring story of renewal and introspection, this book will make you think deeper and on a more meaningful level about one’s purpose in life.” — Dr. Nido Qubein, President, High Point University Chairman, Great Harvest Bread Co. “Become the dad your kids will look up to and the father your boys will strive to become themselves. A must read for any dad.” — Stacy Tetschner, Author Windows Into Heaven: Stories Celebrating Down Syndrome
SCOTT HAMMOND6 “Scott Hammond blends practical advice with expert storytelling on one of the most important (and often overlooked) issues of the day: Being a better father. By combing practical advice on how to accomplish one’s goals with down-to earth insights on what it means to be called “Dad,” he shows the “every man” that he doesn’t need to be a “super man” to be a fantastic father. If all men man read this book before deciding to have children, I am not exaggerating when I say our world would be a better place.” — Scott “Q” Marcus, Speaker and Recovering Perfectionist “Scott has hit the jackpot! Where else can you find 35 useful, realistic strategies to help you solve a problem which has plagued all fathers since we left the cave? Thank you, Scott, for a practical, workable tool to help us better respond as fathers to the world around us, both on a global level and in our own homes.” — Gary Minor, JD Executive Director, 21st Century Leadership Institute and Executive Coach
EVERYDAYDAD.COM 7 Dedications: To my wife, sister, friend & lover, Joni Hammond – without which I would not be a father 9 times! And to my father, Bob Hammond, (1921-2004) who taught me the value of the love for God, nature, and people by his kindness and grateful heart. Acknowledgements: A big thank you to Jesus of Nazareth, Joni Hammond; Bob Hammond; The Hammond Kids (all 9); Scott “Q” Marcus; Dr. Richard Borough; Liz Casey; Yvette Troyna; Barbra Browning; Chris Crouch and the GO System; Mark Smith; Rev. Scotty Miller; Michael Lee; Rebecca Kimbel; Ron Pileggi; Shannon Stoltz; Kathy Ortiz; Amy Miller; Toastmasters Intl.; National Speakers Association; Business Networking International; … and many more friends, loved ones, and colleagues who’ve invested their lives in me and formed life-long relationships. I am truly a blessed man. I love you all. Scott Hammond
SCOTT HAMMOND8 Table of Contents DEDICATIONS: ................................................................................................................................7 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:.................................................................................................................7 TABLE OF CONTENTS.......................................................................................................................8 FOREWORD.....................................................................................................................................9 UPDATED FORWARD FROM SCOTT.............................................................................................10 PREFACE........................................................................................................................................11 CHAPTER 1 PROBLEMS/DYSFUNCTION — GOT ISSUES?..........................................................12 CHAPTER 2 STRESS/ ANGER — GOT ATTITUDE?........................................................................17 CHAPTER 3 LIFE CRISIS — GOT PROBLEMS?.............................................................................29 CHAPTER 4 CHANGE — GOT TRANSITION?..............................................................................40 CHAPTER 5 BE PRESENT NOW — GOT A MINUTE?...................................................................46 CHAPTER 6 VISION AND MISSION — GOT PURPOSE?.............................................................54 CHAPTER 7 GOAL SETTING — GOT A PLAN?...........................................................................61 CHAPTER 8 TIME MANAGEMENT — GOT THE TIME?................................................................68 CHAPTER 9 LEGACY — GOT A PLANNED HERITAGE?.............................................................74 CHAPTER 10 SPIRITUAL LEGACY — GOT GOD?.......................................................................81 CHAPTER 11 COMMUNICATION — GOT THE WORDS?...........................................................91 CHAPTER 12 MARRIAGE — GOT A SOUL MATE?...................................................................102 CHAPTER 13 PARENTING — GOT THE GOODS?.....................................................................112 CHAPTER 14 RELATIONSHIPS — GOT A FRIEND?....................................................................122 CHAPTER 15 LIVE A GREAT LIFE — GOT A CLUE?..................................................................132 APPENDIX A................................................................................................................................136 APPENDIX B................................................................................................................................138 EPILOGUE...................................................................................................................................144
EVERYDAYDAD.COM 9 This book is about hope, renewal, and Life Renaissance — about what is possible. I’m writing this as a result of loss, death, and personal depression, all of which have resulted in a personal Midlife Renewal and Renaissance. The deaths of my father, Bob Hammond, and my friend, Dan Gunderson, caused me to think about how I live my life and what kind of legacy I am leaving behind for my children, wife, and friends. The deaths of two people very close to me made me realize the fragility and temporal nature of our existence. Life really does go by quickly and must be cherished and relished. My love for God, people, and especially parents and families has resulted in this work. It presents the possibility of incremental, practical, and a workable personal healing and change. It also presents methods for getting back on track as both a parent and as a person of value. My goal is to help people avoid a midlife crisis and, instead, have a Midlife Renewal and Life Renaissance — a restoration of hope. I’ve made great effort to avoid being glib, trite, or theoretical. Rather, I offer realistic, practical solutions, and strategies to live life on purpose and with passion. This book is about the ability to do the desires of your life, to live life on purpose with intentionality. This is about practicality and giving you the tools to take compelling action as you move forward. This book will help you: • Have pride in your life, marriage, and family as you define them. • Discover satisfaction as a person. • Find hope, by helping you create a workable life and plan for living with purpose, joy, and wisdom. • Save you time, energy, hassle, and money by being direct and compelling in content. My hope is that the content that I present here will result in an incremental, workable, personal parenting/life plan that will enable you to leave a positive and lasting legacy. This will require of you a willingness to be incremental, honest, and courageous. You will need to persevere as you break through into your own Renewal/ Life Renaissance. I pray that your personal passion in leaving a living legacy through your relationships results in an awesome heritage to all whom you ever know and love. May this book’s content be a signpost along your way. God bless you on your Hero’s Journey. Scott Hammond, FO-9 www.BecomeaBetterFather.com McKinleyville California Foreword
SCOTT HAMMOND10 Updated forward from Scott In order to help dads and all parents more joyfully participate in family life, we revised and polished this new edition. This newest edition is chock full of new ideas, content, and laid out in a more user friendly format, sure to be visually pleasing. In hopes of helping all parents and grandparents, we made the type and formatting larger to make it an easier read, especially for those on the go. Most of us are so busy that an “easy read” is more apt to grab and keep our attention as opposed to some thick and arduous book which requires more than we can give on the fly. To this end we give you Every Day Dad Edition. It is a complete encyclopedia for all parents who want to get better at their parenting game, joyfully participate in family, and take their parenting skills from Good to Great to Absolutely Awesome. Enjoy and become a better parent—Everyday. Warmly, Scott Hammond
EVERYDAYDAD.COM 11 Imagine, if you will, writing a full-length book with less than 30 minutes a day and being interrupted by kids, life, and poopy diapers. Seems like as soon as I am in a writing groove, I am interrupted for the 17th time with a crisis, poopy diaper, or other distraction guaranteed to throw me off-track. When I write about focus and time management it is because I have paid my dues and have lived what I write! This has been my odyssey in attempting to write the “Great American Novel-¬Bestseller.” The core of my motivation and intentionality is to tell my story and share what I have learned about fathering and how you can leverage good business acumen to be more fully engaged as a dad. The 3 takeaways of this book are simple: • Know exactly what you want, • Clearly put it on paper and to top of mind awareness, • Really DO your intentions with appropriate accountability. Sounds easy doesn’t it? My passion to “expertise” myself in the Fathering field and to grow my speaking business as a result came from the discovery of my real passion: my family. It is through this key passion-discovery that I have found my “voice” and have been compelled to tell my story via the written word. Undaunted by interruptions and life happening all around me, I have finished my work and hope you will find your voice and the ability to joyfully participate as the father of your family. Everyone loves a good deal, so we decided to give you a three for one when you bought this book. Why buy three books when one will do? Here are the benefits: Three distinct sections cover all specific topics so you can start wherever you feel is appropriate. Just start where you wish: • Dysfunction/Life Challenges • Goal Setting/Vision/Planning • Relationship Development/Leaving a Legacy Pick up or start where you want and when you want. The choice is all yours. You will not get “out of order” or miss something key. You can simply pick back up where you left off or start a new section. This is by intention. I wrote this book under pressure with my attention spans curtailed by life and its practical demands. It really is like having three books in one and they all work together to help you become that proud parent you want to be. We all want to take pride in our families and give ourselves to them in a consistently compelling way. It is my hope this book will offer you the tools to go forward in the journey we call life. Scott Hammond, www.BecomeaBetterFather.com www.EveryDayDad.com Preface
SCOTT HAMMOND12 DYSFUNCTION, PROBLEMS, CHALLENGES, AND ISSUES OF FATHERING “Because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you.” –Unknown WHAT: Fathers are in crisis of purpose, character, and being equipped as dads. SO WHAT: Awareness of this “Fathering Epidemic” and its results. NOW WHAT: Learning to apply quick-relief practice, application, and implementation of proven parenting solutions. Name the three great examples of fathers in current culture. But, here’s a trick: you can’t say Bill Cosby or the guy on the show Father Knows Best. Go ahead, we’re waiting. Can’t seem to find three? How come? Where have all the good dads gone? What is it with us guys? We can build societies, cities, economies, entire countries, but we can’t build relationships? What’s up with the dads? As I see it, dads are in trouble. Fathers are an Endangered Species! Everything assaults us: society, work, appetites, pressures, time management, busyness, etc. We have no training, no schools, and no classes on how to be an effective father. Men are dropped into Fatherhood without a clue, a plan, or a prayer! Secrets to Effective Fathers Men tend to be great planners, movers, shakers, project managers, people managers, but we are often horrid at building relationships with those we love. Why is that? Men can run businesses and governments, and even societies, but we often lack at running a family. The family, our wife and children, often get the leftovers of our minds, bodies, and emotions at the end of the day. Several of the reasons, the issues, problems, and challenges that men face are part of what we call modern life. For empire builders and government runners too many of the skills in our toolbox begin with the prefix ‘poor’: • Poor time management skills — being too busy and not managing time well enough. • Workaholism, perfectionism, poor skill sets with fathering. • Poor fathering examples — no fathermentors to speak of. Buying, owning, and maintaining too many possessions and having “stuff” plus a thousand other distractions — including low-priority activities such as: computer, TV, gaming, hobbies, sports, and illicit activities — all vie to drain our time, attention, and energy so that, at the end of the day, we have little enough to invest where it counts: our family. When men get stuck, they never ask for directions. How can we possibly admit weakness, vulnerability, or just being generally lost? This all makes for a very sad situation. Dads are not picking and living their priorities. Dads get lost, and they never ask for help. CHAPTER 1
EVERYDAYDAD.COM 13 Slumping Fathers Webster’s defines the word “slump” as “to drop or sag heavily”. What do Tiger Woods and Barry Bonds have in common? They’ve both experienced slumps in their crafts. (Especially Tiger as I write this.) You are likely either coming into or going out of a parenting slump. We all have them. Webster’s defines the term dysfunction as “Possessing or having an unhealthy response or approach to life challenges or issues…” Research is very clear. The American family and fathers in particular are in trouble. For example, Pop’s Culture survey of U.S. fathers shows that over 91% of families are dysfunctional. There is a “father-absence” crisis in the United States today according to the 2004 Fathering Attitudes Survey: • 43% of marriages dissolve within 15 years and 60% of divorcing couples have kids. • The average dad spends only 10 minutes a day with their kids. • Over 50% of all parents feel guilty for not spending more time with their children. Dads are in trouble; 91% of us suffer from various internal dysfunctions, responses, behaviors, and practices. What is your primary area of dysfunction — that thing you never think or talk about? And don’t make the mistake by instantly going on the defensive and denying there is an issue, you’d be lying to yourself. This book is not about blame, it’s about answers. Top Mistakes Parents Make Not Making Family as #1 Priority. Dads fail at keeping family relationships at the top of life’s priorities. They fail in identifying and making their wives and children the focus of their life and existence. The benefit and responsibility of having and raising a family is self-evident. The joy and the hard work of nurturing a solid family with contributing members is one of life’s true joys in that it adds richness and meaning to our existence. No Alignment With What You Want And What You Actually Do. Dads lack time management skills, and reacting to what’s urgent is not quite the same as really living and investing your resources (time, money, focus, gifts, and life units) in family life and relationships which really matter. We allow the perceived urgency of life and emergencies to really squeeze our time, energy, and focus. We allow the urgent to dominate the truly necessary. No Accountability or Responsibility. Answering to no one. Not arranging for someone to hold you accountable and ask you the hard questions about living and fathering priorities and the demands made upon you by family means that you are setting yourself up to fail. Without checks, controls, and balances, you cannot spot blind spots before they become gross errors and, by then, it is too late. Failure and Stress. Failure, stress, pain, discomfort, hurts, wounds, problems, challenges, obstacles, and so much more. The list sounds horrific and I know from experience that most dads have them all and many more in abundance.
SCOTT HAMMOND14 Money Start With The Provider Role: The Bread Winner. All parents, and fathers in particular, feel the pressure, stress, and angst of being the sole or primary provider. Continuous stress and pressure to make a living despite inflation and increasing energy prices can be a real source of stress for any parent. Financial struggles are the number one cause for divorce. All the studies on divorce indicate money problems are definitely a root of all marital evil. There are more scriptures in the Bible about money and the handling of resources than anything else. There are literally hundreds of scriptures dealing with money and wealth; more than any other Biblical subject by a long shot. Parents — especially fathers, given their longterm dysfunction in financial matters — can truly grow tired, exhausted, stressed out, and burnt out, exhibiting a spirit of defeat and exhaustion. That’s just the money provider part of being a dad. And, unless it’s managed properly, it takes its toll. Many dads are not living lives of congruity and balance. As dads, we forget to live our priorities and we lose our way. If you ask most fathers, they will tell you they wish for more hours to accomplish all of what needs done including personal priorities which never get addressed for lack of time, money and fatigue. This means that things are continually so out-ofwhack that the common obstacles, roadblocks, and challenges of life can really tip us over. Life issues, problems, challenges, and trials are all part of the package. Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa has said we are either coming into or coming out of life challenges. Challenges are a part of life. Period. The trouble is, many times challenges come in rapid succession, often in groups of three. Dads get buffeted from all sides. Over long periods of time, the hurt and stress can result in tangible life pathology and actual illness. Real life problems and ways of dealing with its challenges manifest in tangible and dysfunctional behaviors such as anger issues, depression, and other anti-social behaviors. This discomfort turns to pain, which turns to hurt, which turns to long-term deep wounds. TRUE STORY: BEN AND JERRY’S THERAPY This is a true story. We had just had our seventh child, Gabriel, when it happened: depression. My wife had been in bed rest for the last 30 days of the pregnancy with Gabe and things were really stressful. I was doing it all with all my good intended heart. It was not enough. Gabriel was born with Down syndrome and we were lost in an uncharted world of special needs and barely maintaining our own composure in survival mode. This is that mode where you simply exist and try to do the next thing in your long list of responsibilities as dad, husband, and provider. One night I found myself at 10:00 pm in the kitchen, burnt out and completely whipped, carving out and leveling craters with a spoon in a half gallon of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream tub! With spoon in hand and a blank stare in my eyes I went after the frozen nectar with a vengeance. It was then, as I carefully carved and rounded the edges in order to keep level the precious prize, that I realized my plight.
EVERYDAYDAD.COM 15 I was in shutdown, survivor-man mode. Everything in my world was out of control. I understood my hurt and poor response, and how I was reacting to my family and circumstance. Something had to give or I would simply snap. I was angry, frustrated, and not my usual chipper self. Pessimism ruled the day and negativity the night. That night was pivotal because something clicked. I knew that I could not keep going like that and unless I sought help from loved ones and those who could help us process and get through the difficult time I was in, I would not get through it. It was here when faith, friends, God, and good process helped me get whole again. I learned a valuable lesson: I can be severely hurt and not know or see it. We need help as fathers just to see, admit, and cope with the reality of our situation and plight. Many of these wounds have to do with the sheer leanness of spirit which ongoing stress, prolonged burnout, sleep deprivation, and sheer physical and emotional exhaustion can cause. The personal challenges, problems, and hardships that life deals up simply augment and add to this overarching dysfunction. The concept or vision of living life with congruity, balance, and centeredness becomes distant; even unimaginable to many people in this paradigm. When we are not living our values, we reflect this disconnect and become disconsolate as a result. This non-parity in our lives adds to the downward spiral of our own personal dysfunction and failure. We become selfcondemning and our self-image suffers which then causes a self-perpetuating downward spiral into deeper and more serious problems. This is a core challenge for fathers to overcome as it can lead to sickness and disease of the body, soul, and spirit, and even death. What is the answer? I think it’d be way more poignant and relevant to ask, what are the questions? What Causes “Father Failure”? Dads have no real Strategic Parenting Plan with a schedule, measurement criteria, and accountability. They lack the resources to get a decent result from their fathering investment. They also suffer from poor follow-through or not enough follow-up in their efforts at parenting effectively. Many dads are poorly organized, have poor planning, or poor time management, and they get caught up in the Tyranny of the Urgent vs. the truly necessary. Poor communication skills in speaking and listening combined with laziness, apathy, and denial all play a part in lackluster parenting. A Plan Of Action In other words, what we need, as dads, is a plan of action — a Strategic Parenting Plan, if you will — which will enable us to cope. Dads require job clarity to know and function in our roles as well. Dads need fathering accountability to themselves, their families, the community, and God. This really leads to the questions: Is it possible to cultivate a culture of celebration and learn how to have fun at home? Can we learn to recognize and strive for success with great vigor and consistency on the home front and still make it a fun and even joyful experience?
SCOTT HAMMOND16 The answer is YES. By being dedicated to a consistent course of methodical action which aligns us with our values, we can bypass the parenting failure so prevalent in our culture. ACTION POINTS FOR COMMITTED FATHERS • Recognize and consider your parental failures. What are 3 you can work on? • Identify what has to change: who, what, where, when, why, and how? • What is working? How can you leverage your strengths and resources? • Talk to your children about how you are doing as a parent. What ways you can work together to be more intentional in planning time together? • Make contact with a parent-mentor who has good parenting skills; what works? • Talk with your spouse about any marital tension and challenges you are facing. • What can you change in your role as a healthy person, spouse, and parent? • What are your top three parenting challenges today? What will you do to overcome them? A Personal Strategic Planner (a $50.00 value) to get you started is available for free as my gift to you at my website: www.BecomeaBetterFather.com/planner.
EVERYDAYDAD.COM 17 CHAPTER 2 STRESS, ANGER, AND DEPRESSION “If you don’t have health, then what do you have?” — Unknown WHAT: Stress is the silent killer of dads and fathering. SO WHAT: Awareness of the “Fathering Stress Epidemic”. NOW WHAT: Apply quantum leap proven stress reduction solutions. Stress is the modern day Black plague. It is viral and it is ubiquitous. You could say that it’s sometimes slippery, hard to identify, subtle, or cunning, but it is not understated. Stress is blatant and we all know about it. It is often the elephant in the room of life. Stress is an inevitable part of the human condition, and despite all the bad press over the last decade, stress has its redeeming qualities. Stress can be a motivator, helping us to prepare properly for that upcoming exam or important business meeting. Stress helps us to stay focused on an issue demanding our immediate attention. While stress is normal, and it can even be beneficial in the very short term, if not properly recognized and managed, persistent, high levels of stress, especially emotional stress, can lead to both physical and emotional problems. Medical researchers have linked stress to hypertension, heart attacks, diabetes, and many other physical ailments. In addition, chronic, persistent stress and tension can interfere with our emotional wellness, leading to persistent worry, irritability, and even depression. Stress becomes a problem when we fail to recognize unhealthy levels of stress and ignore our bodies’ warning signs. It is important for us therefore to identify the types of stress we face. External Stress External stress is caused by something tangible and real. It can be brought on by something as dramatic as someone trying to physically hurt you or by something as simple as watching a disturbing television program. Marriage, low self-esteem, career change, or having a baby, are all good examples of external stress. In other words, there is a valid reason for the stress. However, you can control your response to the cause of the stress. You can respond by conscious choice to external stress by employing behavioral strategies such as exercise, walking, counseling, healthy diversion and more. Internal Stress Internal stress can be generated by your own concerns about external stressors and life situations. It is self-imposed stress; you only experience the stress if you choose to. Internal stress is based on your emotional response to external events. Normal, everyday stress can bring on body symptoms — racing heart, dizziness, trembling, anxiety attacks, and other problems. The anxiety-prone individual will experience internally generated stress on top of an already uncomfortable external situation. We engage in self-talk like, “What’s wrong with me? Am I going to faint? What if I lose control and do something stupid and embarrass myself? I’m so dumb? Why did I let this happen?” It is often internal stress that gets dads into trouble. It’s from this internally generated anxiety that we get obsessive and carried away, scaring ourselves with untrue thoughts and imagined scenarios,
SCOTT HAMMOND18 which only add to our worries. Most of what we negatively imagine never actually happens and studies confirm this. This is the reality of an anxiety suffer. Anxiety disorders commonly include: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Negative Self Speak Negative self-talk is not helpful. In our minds we are all prone to creating false scenarios in which negative outcomes dominate. We can learn from the Masters in sports, business, and art. They are masters of rehearsing in their minds their positive outcomes in the art or sport which they are engaged in. Think of a P.G.A. golfer or an N.B.A. player setting up for their next shot. They imagine the optimum outcomes and literally see them happen in their minds. They do it so precisely and with such great intent that they leave no room for doubt in their minds. This is the positive use of the gift of imagination and it can be leveraged by us who suffer from “the sky is falling” syndrome. We needn’t always imagine the worst. We have terrible crystal balls and most of what we negatively imagine actually never happens. It has been studied and the numbers reveal that 98% of the negativity we anticipate never actually occurs. We sometimes live in imagined fear that rarely manifests. None of this negative thinking is necessarily created by conscious choice. People are trained and indoctrinated from childhood toward a negative way of thinking. We don’t always realize that we are doing it. Simply telling someone that they are doing it is not enough. These thoughts that they have are not “untrue”assuch.Thoughtshavethepowertobecomereality.It’sbeenprovenbypsychology.Thoughts are what create reality down to every little detail of one’s life. These thoughts are not untrue. They are very much true and that’s why people continue to have them and they, in turn, manifest themselves into unwanted aspects of life in physical form by way of circumstances and bodily ailments. They think these thoughts and they lead to even more thoughts like the original ones which are then generated and feelings get all bottled up in there, then manifestation happens. The human mind is a powerful tool capable of affecting us both positively and negatively. How Stress Affects your Mind and Body Here’s a thing about stress you need to bear in mind. The basis of your stress is usually temporary. The physical effects however are far longer lasting in their impact. This means that the longer you are stressed, the longer your physical reaction to the stress remains activated. Extended stress can alter the body’s immune system in ways that are detrimental. Stress is even associated with premature aging. Feelings of despair that accompany extended stress can easily worsen and become chronic depression. This in turn can put you at greater risk for heart disease, obesity, kidney dysfunction, and other problems. Stress can even complicate your ability to recover from a serious illness. Stress management training is a proven method for helping people combat the effects of stress and is even used to speed up patient recovery following a heart attack. When you deal with stress effectively, it is a worthwhile effort; even if you already consider yourself capable of handling anything life sends your way, it’s important to recognize and effectively manage your stress. This means that in order to do this we need to see just how it is manifested and how we can recognize it.
EVERYDAYDAD.COM 19 How Stress Manifests People suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, and other disorders related to external and internal stress often complain of the following: • Strong anxiety episodes/racing heart • Chest discomfort and trembling. • Nausea • Hot and cold flashes • Feelings of unreality and disorientation • Dizziness • Scary and uncontrollable thoughts • Panic episodes • Muscle tension • Migraine headaches • Numbness in various parts of the body • Strange aches and pains • Apprehensions about dying, illness, etc… • Depression • Fatigue • Feelings of helplessness • Extremely analytical thinking and/or obsessing • Low self-esteem • Perfectionist tendencies • Inner anxiety • Obsessive behaviors • Guilt ridden thoughts • Emotional Hypersensitivity • Hypochondria • Worry/Angst • Unrealistic expectations What’s The Worst Kind Of Stress? The most harmful form of stress is not the result of a major life crisis, the death of a spouse, divorce or the loss of a job — as once believed. What scientists now theorize is the chronic, uncontrolled low- level tension caused by our responses to the pressures and irritations of everyday life ARE far more dangerous. For example, difficulties at work, home, school, finances, deadlines, and more are all examples of on-going, low-level stress inducers. Each little frustration that occurs throughout the day speeds the heart rate, dilates the pupils, and floods the bloodstream with powerful hormones. In the long term, this uncontrolled low-level tension forces the body to go into overdrive, sapping energy and damaging physical and emotional health. Our immune systems eventually suffer as a result and this decreases the body’s ability to fight diseases, infections, and allergies. The good news is that our responses to a given situation determine whether we are feeling stressed or not. Stress is not something external, but a product of the mind and therefore something that each of us can control. Before WWII the concept of Stress as it relates to a mental condition did not exist. The
SCOTT HAMMOND20 common conception of being “stressed out” was not existent. While we have a lot of control over the kinds of thoughts we think and our responses to life’s events, we can’t zlways control every aspect of stress we experience. Stress is immediate and lightning fast. It comes on us in a split second. What we can do is pay more attention and take steps to eliminate our knee-jerk responses. We can control our responses to life, but for that to happen we need to be intentional and purposeful and disciplined. Anger, anxiety, stress, depression, and incapacitation all add up to poor mental health for much of our society, especially for parents and, in particular, dads. Managing this stress takes a reasonable plan that’s realistic, incremental, methodical, and sequential. Time and space are often limited in people’s lives for digging into the source of depression, anxiety, and anger. Many of us have developed issues in these areas and require help to overcome the problems and gain more healthy living. We really do need a plan to deal with stress. Work, Stress, and Marriage Stress is contagious. In this age of high expectations and long work hours, it’s easy for a man to bring his worries and frustrations home and spread them all over the household. A dad might treat his family like his boss treats him, which can be very destructive. Or some men might start resenting their family responsibilities, and expect to just relax on the sofa when they get home. Of course, that’s an insult to their wives, since they have stresses of their own after a day corralling the kids or working somewhere else. So the question here really is what can we do? There are some techniques designed to help you out here and we need to detail them for the sake of clarity. First, recognize the value of “decompression time.” Take some time in the car or in your first few minutes home to adjust your frame of mind. Exercise, read the newspaper, shower, or change clothes. After a few minutes alone, you can shift gears and be ready for family time. Second, keep communicating even if it’s just about the stress you’re facing. It’s easy for a spouse to feel like she’s going through the stressful work situation with her husband. But if she is informed about your work situation and she believes in the value of the work you’re doing, that will be a positive factor. Communicating will help both of you to stay aware of the stresses each is involved in, and can make you both more forgiving when one of you is in a bad mood as a result. Third, realize that sometimes bigger steps are necessary. If you’re stressed out or are blaming your family for your tension, or if there’s a growing distance between you and your wife, it may be time to start thinking about a job change. Have a heart-to-heart about your true values and priorities and reach a decision which will better suit you and your needs. Looking for a less stressful, more flexible position may cause more stress for a while, but you know you’re doing it for the right reasons. Even if the new position pays less, that’s an adjustment that most families can make. And isn’t your marriage worth it? You know, there are a lot of divorced men and fathers right now still working in high-stress jobs who regret not making changes sooner to try to save their families. As a father you owe it to yourself to not
EVERYDAYDAD.COM 21 let a stressful job slowly erode the foundations of your marriage and family. Take steps to protect it, starting today. So, what’s the plan? — What you can do about stress today: 1. Identify the causes of stress in your life; you may find those stresses which arise from something that’s relatively easy to correct. 2. Monitor your moods; If you feel stressed during the day, write down what is causing it along with your thoughts and feelings. Again, you may find the cause to be less serious than you at first thought. 3. Take time for yourself at least two or three times per week; even 15 minutes per day of personal time can help you freshen your mental outlook and slow down your body’s stress response systems. Turn off the phone, spend time alone in your room, go for a walk, exercise, or meditate to your favorite music. All of these are good ways to take time for you. 4. Walk away when you’re angry, before you react. Take time to mentally regroup by counting to 10. Then, look at the situation again. Walking or other physical activity will also help you work off steam and give you a new perspective. 5. Analyze your schedule; assess your priorities and delegate whatever tasks you can. Eliminate tasks and projects that are low priority. Separate the urgent from the necessary. 6. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others; don’t expect perfection. You are not perfect. Others are not perfect. Do yourself a favor and stop trying to be perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist. Join the human race. Get on the bus and drink the Kool-Aid with the rest of us bozos. Dysfunction and How to Deal With it Many of us get stuck in dysfunctional patterns of acting and being. Much of it is dictated by the fact that we simply give up and let go. We give into our moods, tiredness, burnout, and stress. We get snarky and we stop caring how we are impacting on those around us. We sometimes just quit. When we get stressed the tendency we feel is fight or flight. We tend to want to give up when faced with persistent stress and challenges in life. Sometimes the “fight” is a good thing in that at least you are still engaged, vested, and are continuing to make an effort. If you are still “fighting” you are at least still engaged and vested in the outcome. Let’s Fight Right! Many of us are comfortable fighting: literally, fighting. When the stress of life becomes too acute, many of us, seeking a way out for the stress we feel, begin to fight life and those around us. The resulting anger, abuse, and violence (both verbal and physical) become part of a chronic pattern of behavior which leads to a constant, low-burning anger inside us. Our level of anger often stems from childhood abuse, rage, and dysfunction often suffered at the hands of parents, siblings, or other guardians. The resulting mental and physical abuse from such a raging personality harms everyone around us. Personalities like this need help. They need to see the damage that they are causing to others. They need to own up to their anger and then be supported in methods for translating it, expressing it in a safe and healthy way, and letting it go. When we do not fight the only other alternative is flight and flight seems to be the choice of our culture today. People change relationships, marriages, churches, and jobs like changing clothes.
SCOTT HAMMOND22 Many people really live in a disposable society as far as relationships are concerned. We are far too ready to bail out of circumstances and relationships we deem too hard or too challenging. Many of us are comfortable walking away from a family, a relationship, or even a marriage. These all become disposable and interchangeable in a culture of relational dysfunction and chaos. Many of us are in the early stages of the above described dysfunction and have the opportunity not to repeat mistakes or become anything like the above. We simply need to assess honestly where we are, reach out for help, and really make incremental and sequential changes in our life responses. Our being stuck in poor ways of response can take many forms such as poor time management, burnout, light or severe depression, poor sleep, poor health habits, ‘stinking thinking’, and general malaise. There is too much pressure on parents to allow ourselves to get sidetracked from health and well-being, get stuck in a depressive rut, or become disqualified from life on any level. Healthy living has to do with healthy goal setting and strategic planning. Got (healthy) Goals? We need to know where we want to go, who we want to be, and what we want to do before we know if we’re on the right track or not. We need to be fit, to exercise, receive proper nutrition and allow for quality rest so we can adequately recover. If our minds and bodies are not in reasonably good shape, how can we possibly enjoy healthy thinking or even healthy relationships? We must see that this disparity of discipline vs. reality of practice does not really add up. We are trained to do too much for too little and for way too long. The result is illness on a grand scale, physical, spiritual, and relational. To get past this, to overcome, we need to learn how to let small stuff go and surrender things that we cannot control so we can begin to focus on getting unstuck in our personal lives. We need to correctly manage our stress, both practically and realistically. This requires a Personal Strategic Plan: • Recuperating • Setting goals • Physical and mental fitness • Getting proper nutrition • Getting adequate sleep and rest • Practicing healthy thinking, • Time management • Drinking enough water • Practicing deep breathing • Taking walks • Creating small breaks during the day • Having fun on purpose • Breaking routines • Identifying and rooting out dysfunction and poor habits • Becoming intentional about goals and plans and a personal mission
EVERYDAYDAD.COM 23 Living And Thinking Healthy Everybody wants health and well-being, but few of us are willing to pay the price for it. Managing stress, anger, depression, anxiety and everyday life is a pretty steep task. When you consider all the components and pieces of life that we’re expected to stay on top of, we have a pretty complex society. Healthy living has to do with the whole self: Spirit, Body, Mind, and Soul. If any of these are out of whack, so are we. Other people are likely riding on your success and well-being. Why is it that it’s considered selfish to take care of yourself first in order to take care of those around you, especially in the long-term? What good are you to those you love if you have a stroke, heart disease, cancer, or mental illness? You cannot fail to plan in the long term and see the whole picture. You must take care of yourself. It’s all up to you. Plan Your Work And Work Your Plan. The Importance of Physical Activity Regular physical activity substantially reduces the risk of dying of coronary heart disease, the nation’s leading cause of death. Physical activity also decreases the risk of colon cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It helps control weight, contributes to healthy bones, muscles, and joints, and reduces falls among the elderly. Exercise helps relieve the pain of arthritis, reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, and is associated with fewer hospitalizations, physician visits, and medications. It really is that great. Why Fitness Is Important The following are other benefits associated with a good level of physical fitness: • Reduces stress and all of its health risks. • Allows you to do and accomplish more. • Builds lean muscle, which lowers your body fat percentage. • Reduces the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. • Boosts your self-esteem in how you look; it increases your overall well-being. • Changes you from being an observer to becoming an active participant. • Provides motivation to stay consistent with diet and healthy eating goals. Fitness: Focus On The Big Three Cardio — Conditions your heart, lungs, and muscles to work stronger and longer. Cardio builds endurance and burns off calories. Strength training — Builds muscles and increases endurance. With leaner muscles, your body turns up the heat and burns fat much faster. Not only that, but when you’re stronger, you simply last longer and you get more out of your exercise sessions, thus burning even more calories. Stretching — Helps you to do your cardio and strength training safely and without pain. Loose muscles perform at a higher level and reduce the potential for injury.
SCOTT HAMMOND24 Physical Exercise In Mental Health Stress Relief A variety of studies over the last decade are focused on the effects of exercise on the mind. These results been remarkably similar in showing that exercise helps to reduce depression and anxiety. It also can increase short-term memory and improve intellectual function. This means that including breaks during your day could lead to enhanced productivity, greater time efficiency, and increased ability to handle stress. Apparently more of these feel-good hormones help stimulate our bodies and gives us a natural high. Runners have reported this for years. It is high time the rest of us took advantage of this knowledge and did something which gave us the benefits we need. The following are some tips about starting and maintaining your own exercise program: Start with walking. Walking is free and easy. In addition to the mental health benefits, walking is a weight bearing exercise and it strengthens bone and burns fat. Running does the same. You must walk before you run…really. Look for a nearby fitness center or community pool and join it. Make a three time a week workout part of your personal schedule. Replace your Monday, Wednesday and Friday lunch with a one-hour workout. The point is scheduling it. Just do something - Even if it’s for 10 minutes. Use the 10 minute rule to get started: do 10 minutes of exercise, take a 10 minute break, and then do 10 more minutes of exercise. Get support - working with a personal trainer or friend who works out - This may provide the support you need to keep going. Develop a friendship around your workouts. Set exercise goals for yourself - Be sure the goals you set are realistic, measurable, and more importantly, attainable. Achieving a goal can make you feel better about yourself and give you the incentive to continue your efforts. Ways To Control Your Stress Whether it’s coping with a rapidly approaching deadline, adjusting to organizational changes at work, or dealing with a difficult co-worker, we can choose our responses. The challenges you face at work can seep into other parts of your life and the struggle, always, lies in compartmentalizing this. Unwinding and enjoying time with family and friends can be an antidote to work stress. What can you do about it right now? Use the energy produced by stress to solve the problem of stress itself. This is basically the strategy of turning around the problem and making it part of the solution. Developing a sense of control over your responses to stress means the difference between feeling anxious or competent. When the effects of stress begin to negatively impact your personal, family, or work life or cause those around you to express concern, it indicates that the tools you’ve been using to combat stress are insufficient. The guidelines which follow are designed to help you develop a personal stress-coping strategy.
EVERYDAYDAD.COM 25 33 GUIDELINES TO HELP YOU DEVELOP YOUR ABILITY TO MANAGE STRESS 1. Planning your action. If immediate action is impossible, ask yourself if there is something that you can do about it in the future? Write an action plan with a script and goals. Be sure to put this on paper. Any effort to make the problem manageable is useful stress management. Once you take care of the part you can control, you’ll feel more in control overall. 2. Letting go. If you’ve exhausted your options in the situation, relax and let it go — you’ve done all you can. You can train yourself to tune out stressful thoughts. Remember that obsessing over the outcome of your efforts is a waste of energy. Learn to let things go. 3. Living at ease. Decide if you want to be contented and avoid being constantly on edge. It’s much easier let go of minor disappointments and even major setbacks. It’s about verifying how you want to move on with your life and not place major emphasis on the minors of life. It’s all about not sweating the small stuff. Set goals for yourself, but also hold that vision of yourself approaching life in peace, acceptance, and joy. Don’t major on the minors! 4. Learning when to let go. Every day, you face plenty of stress that you can’t do anything about — from loud noises outside your window to the state of the economy or the coffee spilled on your new shirt. While it’s frustrating to accept that you cannot always call the shots, raging against the inevitable can take its toll on your system — not to mention the people around you. If you find it impossible to go with the flow, look at the evidence and make a pragmatic choice: Ask yourself: “Do I want to keep trying to control things that I can’t control and let it break down my body or ruin my relationships? Or am I going to let go of that and have a healthier, happier body and life?” 5. Keep hope alive. Shaking it off is not always the best option. Often our current situation is so stressful that we can become hopeless. Do what is necessary for you to keep hope alive when you may believe and feel and think otherwise. Pray, rest, get good counsel from trusted advisors — do, in short, whatever it takes to keep a healthy perspective. Many times we need just a good night’s sleep! 6. Take the long way home. Don’t race home from work. Stay in the slow lane and unwind a bit. Put some time between your office experience and the rest of your day. Pray, meditate, listen to soothing music, call the kids, whatever it takes to unwind and decompress before you get home. 7. Give yourself 15 minutes off. When you arrive home, the last thing you want to do is to dive into a new set of problems or challenges. Make an arrangement with your family and spouse that the first 15 minutes of you being at home is your downtime. Then, go to your cave, hot tub, garage, or wherever you can throw off your day and unwind. 8. Learn new time management skills. Find the most efficient ways to spend your time on the job and at home. Learning how to better manage your units of work and play time will make it easier for you confine your work problems to the office hours and create a separation between your family and home life from work and business. 9. Set goals for yourself. Understand what you want to accomplish to make your life worthwhile and meaningful to you. Plan your work and work your plan. Be intentional, methodical, and sequential in all that you do. “Fail to plan and plan to fail” as the experts say. 10. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Learn what’s really important in your life and keep other problems in perspective. Is it really worth the time and worry and stress to let an irate boss or an unrealistic deadline infringe on your personal or home life? This isn’t to say you should ignore those problems — just deal with them at home or at work as appropriate. Don’t make the mistake of carrying over problems into the wrong venues. 11. Take time to relax. Take a deep breath and let go of tension after work. Read a book, watch a funny movie. Go for a quiet walk or choose whatever therapy works for you. Change your focus and you will soon find that stressful problems fade into the background.
SCOTT HAMMOND26 12. Watch your diet and exercise. Proper nutrition and regular exercise, coupled with adequate rest, will help you manage your stress better than just about anything else. 13. Get good rest; go to bed early. Get up early. Get started early and you might find that things just run smoother, because you are well rested and no longer running behind and constantly anxious. Your world will be easier if you are well rested and have enough energy to work and cope with your home life at the end of the workday. 14. Identify the causes of stress. Closely identify and evaluate the causes of stress in order to manage your stress more effectively. It’s important to identify those things that are causing stress and find ways to minimize or eliminate them. Identify, access, and then be incremental in the addressing of your stress “triggers”. 15. Identify the negative effects of stress. Just as important as identifying the source of your stress is being able to identify the negative effects of stress on your body and life. Take inventory of how you are feeling. Do you have fatigue, insomnia, headaches, back pain, nausea, worry, anxiety, fear, depression, irritability, increased eating, or other symptoms? If so, make note of them. Make a vow to reduce your stress as much as possible. 16. Practice the following anti-stress tips. Try deep breathing in a quiet place where you can close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly for a few minutes at a time. Try breathing in and out for a count of five seconds, and then do it for ten seconds. Start your day with a nutritious breakfast. Avoid wearing tight, restrictive clothes and shoes; let your body breathe. Practice simple stretches several times per day. Take your breaks and enjoy them. Walk outside. Read something non-work- related. 17. Have a laugh. Look for the humor in stressful situations. Laughter relaxes muscles, lowers blood pressure, and eases mental tension. Researchers find that laughter can also reduce our levels of hormones and diminish stress responses that suppress immunity. 18. Communicate artfully. Although many people avoid conflicts, it’s better to express your feelings and openly discuss the situation. Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out to others in your environment. Take a few minutes to talk with someone in your workplace or home and to be willing to communicate first. 19. Make realistic plans. Think ahead and adjust your plans and try to avoid triggers of stress such as overbooking your day, too closely booking appointments, and generally maintaining a crazy schedule. 20. Get a miracle massage. Ask a friend or spouse or hire someone. Massage slows down the heart rate and relaxes the body. Massage actually increases alertness and well-being. Treat yourself. You may find that you are even relaxed prior to the massage because just the anticipation of getting the massage can be soothing. 21. Count to 10. It’s good to acknowledge your anger. But, cool down before you yell, rant, or rave. Venting your anger impulsively or keeping it inside increases stress and all of the physical symptoms that can lead to illness and early death. 22. Enlist the help of your friends. Friends can be good medicine. Daily conversation, regular social engagements, and occasional sharing of our thoughts and feelings can reduce stress quite nicely. Your friends are there for you; talking to them helps them de-stress too. 23. Accept that nobody’s perfect. Don’t demand absolute perfection of yourself or others. Set realistic and attainable goals. While there are some areas in your life that you’ll always want to keep to high standards, it’s a fact of life that sometimes we miss the mark. 24. Don’t procrastinate. Loose ends, whether with family, friends, or at work, can cause stress. Make a list of the things you have to do. If the list is too long, prioritize tasks that are most important. See if there’s anything on the list that can be dropped or delegated.
EVERYDAYDAD.COM 27 25. Make sure your values are in syncopation with your lifestyle. If your values are out of sync with your lifestyle, you may experience greater internal stress. A firm understanding of your own valueswhat is most important to you, lets you set priorities and manage time more effectively. 26. Avoid stress-promoting ways of thought and speech. Identify the ways in which you think yourself into higher stress levels, including catastrophic thinking, over generalizing, dichotomous thinking, and perfectionist thinking. Find ways to manage yourself out of these mental ruts. 27. Avoid big changes, whenever possible. Avoid having too many big life changes come in at the same time. In other words, is your daughter getting married at the same time that you planned to sell your house? Are you vying for a big promotion at work while caring for someone with Special Needs ? See if you can apply better scheduling tactics to lessen some of the demands on your time and comfort level. This foresight can save you lots of angst, stress, and anxiety. 28. Work on your marriage, friendships, and spirituality. Studies show that people who are satisfied with their marriages, friendships, and spiritual feelings are better at coping with stress and live more fulfilling lives. Research shows married people have a plethora of mental and emotional benefits including the ability of dealing with stress. 29. Eat three to six small, balanced meals per day. You’re much more susceptible to stress when you’re hungry and lethargic than when you’re wellnourished. Take nourishment and be well supplied in mind, body, and soul. 30. Decrease or discontinue the use of alcohol and caffeine. Drinking these substances to relieve stress often works in reverse. Turning to alcohol to reduce stress actually increases the amount of stress on the system. 31. Use your imagination. The mind’s ability to dream, visualize, and imagine is a very powerful stress reduction tool. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine situations as you want them to be. See the positive outcomes in your mind. Athletes use this power of imagination to picture themselves doing a routine perfectly before the competition begins. It works for reducing stress and living more pleasantly, too. 32. Learn to simplify your life and prioritize. We cannot do everything at once. Let go of some of the things that you tell yourself you must do. There are some tasks that do not really
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