Participants: Don Mackintosh, Skip MacCarty
Series Code: HFAL
Program Code: HFAL000108
00:47 Hello and welcome to "Health for a Lifetime"
00:49 I'm your host Don Mackintosh
00:50 We're glad you're with us today.
00:51 Today we're going to be talking about stress.
00:53 It's something that affects most of us,
00:56 either in a positive way or a negative way.
00:58 And talking with us today, we have Dr. Skip MacCarty
01:02 And you've been doing a lot of research on stress.
01:05 You are one of the members of the American College,
01:09 I guess, a fellow of the "American Institute of Stress"
01:12 You've given major presentations for that organization,
01:15 and your "Stress Beyond Coping Seminar" is now
01:19 being used in many communities and is endorsed by the
01:22 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
01:24 We're going to be covering part of that seminar.
01:27 I've been impressed with it;
01:28 we won't be able to cover everything in the seminar.
01:30 I know that people can get in touch with that material
01:33 by either calling the General Conference or here at 3ABN.
01:36 But today, we're going to be focusing on what you call
01:39 in your seminar, "life management and how
01:44 it relates to stress management"
01:45 So that's a big thing... we can't cover everyone's
01:48 whole life here today, but give us an overview
01:51 of stress as you see it.
01:53 You have that organizational paradigm - the stress tank,
01:56 and some keys that you have discovered.
01:59 And then, let's talk about this life management.
02:01 Don, the "stress tank" is simply an invitation to
02:05 view your life as a tank, and you have stresses
02:10 being poured into your life throughout the day,
02:15 and if you get too much and it reaches the overflow point,
02:19 the point of overload,
02:20 then various kinds of harm, you're harder to get along with,
02:25 irritable, it puts a strain in relationships,
02:27 it can cause illness and disease.
02:32 ...60 to 90% of people who go to a physician for some kind of
02:36 health problem - it's estimated now are stress-related
02:40 problems - illnesses and accident proneness -
02:43 persons more prone to be in an accident if they are
02:48 under a lot of stress.
02:51 Fortunately, there's a pressure relief valve on the tank
02:53 that can drain stress to safe levels and prevent
02:58 the buildup to the harmful point.
03:01 There are ways we can close the pressure relief valve
03:03 thinking we're helping ourselves.
03:07 Six out of the 10 reasons why people who continue to smoke
03:11 do continue to smoke are stress-related reasons,
03:14 and #1 reason is to help them handle stress...
03:17 And yet it boomerangs, it actually creates more stress.
03:20 social stress, physical stress, etcetera.
03:28 There are 7 keys that open the pressure relief valve.
03:31 These are the keys to managing stress...
03:40 And then this last one here in this acronym at least,
03:43 "Time management and organization"
03:46 I assume that's where life management comes in.
03:48 That's where it fits in - in the organizational element.
03:51 We've already talked about time management.
03:52 We had a program on time management;
03:54 now, we're talking about organization.
03:55 It's life management - really is what it is.
03:57 Okay, so then in the overall scheme of
04:00 stress management, where would this fall?
04:02 Okay, in the stress pyramid that I've developed,
04:04 it's one of the 4th foundational elements.
04:07 So you can see, we've put it quite high in the
04:09 4 foundational elements there at the bottom...
04:11 And the real power elements of stress management
04:14 are the top 3, but this is still VERY important
04:17 in time management organization, life management...
04:20 And life management in some ways, it's kind of a
04:24 catch-all of a lot of different things going on in our lives...
04:26 It's not as specifically focused as just time management
04:29 or just exercise, but it involves a lot of
04:32 different elements.
04:33 So then how does life management
04:37 relate to stress management?
04:38 Well, good organization in life management, Don,
04:43 #1- It helps put us more in control of our situation.
04:49 And the control is such an important concept
04:53 in stress management.
04:55 When people lose control, they are under stress.
04:58 When they FEEL like they've lost control of their lives,
05:00 they're under stress.
05:03 When you take someone who has been independent,
05:06 and you put them in a nursing home...
05:07 Ooo - that's big. It's very big
05:10 They lose control of every element of their life.
05:13 They don't even choose, in many cases, what they wear
05:17 and it's chosen for them... What they eat, when to get up...
05:24 That's kind of taking it to an extreme...
05:26 But life management, it's just trying to get control over the
05:29 various elements of our life and be MORE in control
05:33 of our lives in that respect.
05:35 Okay so, anything else besides control,
05:37 I mean, taking away control that you once had,
05:40 but what else does life management do?
05:44 The second point is that it can help prevent distress
05:47 from just by controlling some of the environment around us.
05:54 That guy does look a little overloaded...
05:55 Part of our environment that we do have some control over...
05:59 Yes, he looks a bit out of control there... yes
06:01 We're trying to help him get in more control.
06:03 Give you more control and help you not look like that guy...
06:06 Help prevent the stress. Yeah and just to control
06:08 some of the elements of the environment around you.
06:10 All right, so lack of control, in other words,
06:14 out of control or losing control.
06:17 What else is involved in life management?
06:20 What's really ultimately involved,
06:22 and what's the bottom line?
06:23 Well, basically it's getting control of your life,
06:27 and trying to arrange things in your environment...
06:32 It's to keep you from reaching the overload.
06:34 There are certain things we can do - decisions we can make
06:36 to keep our stress tank from filling to the overload point.
06:39 We don't have control over a lot of things that
06:41 go on in our lives, but there is plenty that we
06:43 do have control over and it's managing to focus on the
06:45 elements we do have control over like the
06:47 Serenity Prayer suggested...
06:52 Grant me the serenity, Lord, to accept the things
06:56 I cannot change and be at peace about them...
06:58 And then to change the things that I can...
07:01 It's those things that we can, we do have control over.
07:04 It's really focusing on those things and gaining control,
07:07 and trying to line them up so they're not
07:09 stress-producing in our lives as much as possible.
07:11 What about this, you know we have a problem with
07:13 information overload.
07:14 Many times you just get SO much stuff coming in,
07:17 what do you do?
07:18 What does life management teach us about that?
07:21 Well first of all, I'd like to back just a little bit from that
07:25 and say that the first point I'd recommend in light of this
07:28 life management area, is that we start our days
07:32 slower and earlier because we lose...
07:34 Many people, if you get up in the day,
07:36 if it takes you 45 minutes to get ready, to get up
07:39 and quickly get ready for work and get out the door,
07:42 would recommend you give yourself -
07:44 try to back that up in 1/2 an hour,
07:46 and give yourself 1-1/2 hours.
07:48 Give yourself a little bit of leeway in there
07:51 so you're not so hurried, you're not so rushed.
07:55 That sets a different tone for the day.
07:58 Now you can't do it simply by setting your alarm clock
08:01 1/2 hour earlier - that doesn't work
08:03 because then you're irritable,
08:05 you haven't got enough sleep as it is and this is even worse.
08:08 It means managing the night before;
08:10 trying to get to bed a little bit earlier the night before.
08:13 You can't do it in a big - like move it an hour or 2 earlier
08:17 That doesn't work either.
08:19 But just moving it little by little in increments
08:21 until you give yourself extra time in the morning.
08:24 Wake up with an alarm clock - that's what we recommend.
08:27 Set your alarm as a failsafe but wake up without an
08:30 alarm clock but just wake up earlier than you ordinarily do
08:33 so you give yourself plenty of time...
08:34 Any little emergency come up, it's okay,
08:36 you give yourself some leeway and it sets a
08:39 different tone for the day, it's the only way to re-set it.
08:40 That's no alarm clock - if you can help it.
08:43 Yes, that's one of the other principles of the
08:46 rest and relaxation for stress is try to get
08:48 enough sleep at night so you don't have
08:50 to have that alarm clock to wake you up.
08:52 You can still set the alarm clock as a failsafe,
08:55 but if you want to wake up before the alarm goes off.
08:57 Okay, we're going to come to this information overload thing,
09:00 and I hope you help me with that... Yes, that very important
09:02 What about it? Information overload is
09:07 requiring us to make decisions.
09:08 Junk mail - The amount of junk mail we get these days...
09:13 If a person opens all the mail that they get,
09:15 those advertisers, the marketers design those products,
09:20 and design those ad pieces so that you have to
09:23 make some kind of decision.
09:24 So we're really - just adding to all the decisions
09:27 we already have to make in the day.
09:29 You take television advertisements,
09:33 that's an amazing amount of stuff that we have as well...
09:39 So you're saying here, don't even open the junk mail?
09:41 Don't even open it - a lot of it you don't even have
09:43 to open the junk mail.
09:44 Turn the radio off... Turn the radio off one way
09:47 at least one way - on the way to work or getting home
09:51 from work - turn the radio off because, again,
09:53 that's information - it can be information overload,
09:57 but let me tell you what's happening when the
09:58 radio is on all the time... is we learn to tune out
10:01 the human voice.
10:02 You've got the radio on, it's just noise.
10:05 You listen to it for a while, then after a while,
10:07 you're off thinking something else, but the guys keep talking
10:12 and you're not listening anymore.
10:13 So what happens is... somebody close to you,
10:16 you go home, your wife talks to you and you're not even
10:19 listening, you're training yourself on the way home
10:21 to tune out the human voice.
10:23 Maybe you listened for just a little bit and then "bang"
10:25 your mind is off - just like with the radio.
10:27 We recommend turning it off.
10:29 If you're not listening to something, turn it off.
10:32 And TV commercials, if you're watching TV,
10:34 and it has commercials, mute the commercials,
10:36 not on 3ABN because that's valuable information.
10:39 That's very politically correct to say that.
10:42 So what do you do with your junk mail?
10:45 See if I'm doing the right thing...
10:46 I have this big box where I put all mail in that I
10:49 don't want to open until later and I put it all in there,
10:52 and then I open it when I don't have anything else to do.
10:57 That's fine... you might even eventually decide,
11:02 is some of that not even worth that kind of time
11:05 because maybe there's something else,
11:06 a book you'd rather read or something else that would be
11:08 even more valuable, but it's up to you how you do that
11:12 Questionable junk mail I put in this box.
11:15 The other junk mail I put it right in the fireplace.
11:18 Yes, right... I hate to say that
11:20 No junk mail... But that's not a bad place
11:23 for it or recycle...
11:24 I have a recycle bin and I recycle that stuff.
11:28 Okay, so after we get a handle on it through getting
11:32 rid of the junk mail, not listening to the radio
11:35 both ways and these other things you've talked about,
11:38 what's the next step?
11:40 I mean, there seems to be so many things that are
11:41 required of us today to do, I mean, just basically
11:44 LIFE seems to be more complicated -
11:46 or am I missing something? What should we don?
11:48 I think we're all feeling the same crunch on that, Don,
11:53 and the next thing on my list that I recommend is
11:56 that we regulate the amount and the intensity of
11:59 activities that we're involved in.
12:01 I like the statement that was made by Dr. Meyer Friedman.
12:04 He was one of the researchers that discovered
12:09 the type A - type B personality and wrote that
12:11 and put that before us, and he said...
12:32 And what got him to that point of doing that, Don,
12:37 was that when he was 40 years old, he had
12:39 his first heart attack; a cardiologist,
12:40 a very successful cardiologist in San Francisco.
12:43 He had his first heart attack at age 40.
12:46 He began to re-think his life and reevaluate his life,
12:49 and then he came up with this 5-year test...
12:51 And he says, you put things in perspective when you do that.
12:54 Is it really going to matter?
12:58 What he did - he just slowed down the amount of
13:01 things happening in his life and began to regulate
13:04 his life and his situation more.
13:05 So the question practically again is to say,
13:07 "Hey look, whatever is being asked of me to do,
13:10 is it going to really MATTER in 5 years?"
13:13 And again, I think the other thing you talked about
13:16 one of the other keys was this time management principle
13:19 where you were looking at things and prioritizing
13:23 what you wanted to do today and in 5 years,
13:25 and then this and that - Maybe you're going to cover
13:27 a little bit of that today.
13:28 Focus on the things that are the
13:29 most important - that's correct.
13:31 Okay, so once you've done that, I'm sure there are other
13:35 steps and things that you will cover and I'm starting to
13:39 get an idea of what this means.
13:40 It's a pretty broad topic - life management,
13:42 but these are very practical things.
13:44 We've been talking with Dr. Skip MacCarty
13:46 We've been talking about time management,
13:48 and actually a life management as it relates to stress,
13:52 how you can reduce your stress if you get a handle on this.
13:56 Join us when we come back, we'll talk more about it.
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15:06 Welcome back, we've been talking about stress
15:08 and stress management - what you can do to
15:10 alleviate stress in your life.
15:12 The thing we've been talking about today with Dr. MacCarty
15:15 is LIFE MANAGEMENT and what we've talked about is that
15:19 if we just take an overall look at our life,
15:22 and we get started early in the morning,
15:23 we slow things down and we really take a steady look at
15:27 things, we really can have a more positive outlook
15:30 and we can have less stress...
15:32 At least some stress is good but unhealthy stress...
15:36 Is there anything else that's involved?
15:38 Anything else you'd like to add to that?
15:41 Well, another thing that we don't often think of
15:43 specifically as a major stressor of life and it may not be,
15:47 but it's another point and that is avoiding clutter.
15:50 AVOIDING CLUTTER... Avoiding clutter..
15:53 When you get in a car every day that's cluttered with stuff;
15:56 go home every day and the main
15:58 rooms you live in are cluttered with stuff,
16:01 just avoiding clutter is very important.
16:04 So start your day slower, limit the number of decisions
16:06 required through getting rid of the junk mail
16:08 and telemarketers and whatnot, and regulate the amount
16:12 and intensity of activities as well as avoiding CLUTTER!
16:16 My wife and I, since she's a professional too,
16:19 and she works full-time, we kind of share the housework,
16:24 and we even have to, at times, have had somebody come in
16:26 and help us with that because we just get so busy
16:29 with our work.
16:30 But we went together to kind of a housework seminar one time
16:36 by a professional and this person was a real professional.
16:39 It was fun to watch them... It sounds like a very
16:40 exciting seminar - a housework seminar!
16:42 It was only a half a day... she was great!
16:46 It was a passion for her doing housework,
16:49 and so she had all these different tips.
16:51 But one of the things she said that stuck with me...
16:53 Has influenced me from that point on...
16:55 Every room in our house, our car, cluttered places
17:00 or most of them are 5 minutes from being clutter-free.
17:04 ...5 minutes from clutter...
17:06 Now not 5 minutes from being clean,
17:09 like my wife considers cleanliness,
17:11 maybe clean like I might accept it,
17:14 but being from clutter-free
17:16 from stuff just laying all around.
17:18 You can go through quite quickly in a room
17:20 that's really cluttered and it IS stressful for most people
17:23 to be in cluttered areas all the time.
17:25 Especially at night when you trip over that stuff...
17:27 You know, the average executive's desk
17:31 has 36 hours of work sitting on the desk.
17:35 At times, mine has been known to have more than that!
17:38 And the best time management experts say it's best
17:44 to have a clutter-free desk.
17:45 To take that stuff and put it in another drawer,
17:49 so it kind of sits out of sight and then prioritize it
17:52 if you can so that you can start working off the top of it,
17:55 but only have the thing on your desk
17:57 that you're working on - one thing at a time on your desk
18:00 Now, you know, I try to do that; most of the time I'm not there,
18:04 but I know the goal and you know what,
18:07 I work better, I work faster, it's a better feeling...
18:11 All the way around, it's less stressful.
18:13 Less stressful to be in a clutter-free environment.
18:15 And clutter-free is not clean, but it's much less stressful.
18:21 I must confess to you - that I think my office
18:22 is about 7 minutes away from being clutter-free,
18:26 but I like the point and I'm sure my wife
18:29 will like the point too as she hears this.
18:31 Well moving from the clutter-free environment
18:34 which is, of course, good and it's a great thing,
18:37 and I do feel better too when my desk is clutter-free...
18:40 What about so many global things that are happening?
18:43 Now so many things seem to be bombarding the individual
18:46 at least in the affluent society of America,
18:50 what can we do to get a handle on that?
18:51 Is there any way we can manage that?
18:54 Don, we live in a world in which living is change.
18:57 Life is changed today.
18:59 So many changes taking place so fast in our lives.
19:03 And the experts again, suggest that there's only a
19:07 certain amount of change that we can handle at any one time
19:10 and then we actually, just in the change perspective alone,
19:13 it's a whole change theory of stress;
19:15 saying that stress is primarily change,
19:18 and you get too much of it and you're overloaded,
19:21 and you can literally start to have health breakdowns
19:25 that adversely affect your immune system.
19:27 There has been a scale that is probably the most scientifically
19:37 validated instrument for measuring the amount of stress
19:41 that we're under and it is what is called the "change scale"
19:46 developed by Dr. Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe,
19:49 University of Washington
19:50 Thomas Holmes, I believe, is deceased now,
19:53 and Richard Rahe is at the University of Nevada,
19:55 at Reno at the present time.
19:58 But this is a scale that took the
19:59 death of a spouse at 100 points.
20:01 It has 43 items on it and all the way down to
20:05 Christmas being 12 points, traffic ticket being 11.
20:08 So even things that we think are good are actually stressful
20:11 That's one of the things we learned from that scale.
20:14 You can have up to, like 300 points and not be
20:18 high stress - but you get over 300 points and your chances of
20:21 a major illness or accident in the next 12 months are like 80%
20:27 And I've had people in my seminars that have scored
20:30 500-600 points on those tests,
20:33 and they're really in a danger zone.
20:35 Now it doesn't mean that that means definitely
20:38 they're going to get serious illness or be in an accident,
20:42 but it means they need to be much more alert
20:44 and they need to be working on some things in their lives
20:48 and one of the things, some other stress principles
20:50 one of the things that is highly recommended, Don,
20:53 is if you're in a change time of life,
20:58 slow down the number of changes in your life
21:02 as much as you're able to do.
21:04 In other words, when you have all the stress going on,
21:07 it's not a good time to get a new house
21:09 and move across town if you have a whole bunch of
21:11 other things happening. Exactly right!
21:16 For instance, if someone is going through a divorce,
21:17 oftentimes, they'll even leave a community...
21:20 Not a good thing to do... Not a good thing to do because
21:24 they're upsetting their social support system;
21:26 they've got to reestablish themselves somewhere...
21:29 That means new shopping areas;
21:31 it means new physicians;
21:32 it means so many changes taking place in their lives,
21:37 MAJOR things that they can easily spike over 300 points
21:40 precipitated by that one change and then they chose
21:44 to make other major changes without thinking about
21:47 the consequences of that.
21:48 But we suggest people slow down.
21:50 The death of a spouse - sometimes the surviving spouse
21:54 will move quite quickly.
21:55 We suggest SLOW that down and spend some time
21:58 to get readjusted before you
22:00 make any other major moves during that time.
22:02 Well what about our schedules?
22:03 Many times they stay so packed with different things,
22:05 what can we do about that?
22:06 Well, as hard as it seems, our recommendation is to
22:11 monitor their schedule and and it so that it's not...
22:15 you know, regulate it so that it doesn't get out of control,
22:18 and when it does, we just put the most important things
22:20 at the top and do the best we can with them,
22:24 and when you go to bed, you have to go to bed with
22:25 peace in your heart knowing you did the best you could
22:27 for the day and forget the rest
22:29 of it and just go to bed with peace.
22:31 Finances - a major one, a major one today.
22:35 And I can tell you that one of the greatest stressors,
22:40 my wife can tell you - is if I even THINK I'm getting close to
22:44 being in debt, it overwhelms me.
22:47 It overwhelms me, yeah it does...
22:49 And even though I teach all this stuff,
22:51 you know, I just want to stay as far away from the debt ditch
22:54 Avoid it like the plague.
22:56 Now, the interesting thing is, I've got in front of me
22:58 right now, the August 27, 2001 issue of "Newsweek"
23:03 and the cover article is "Maxed Out"
23:05 And it's talking about... It says, "American consumers
23:08 are drowning in debt... How to swim to financial security"
23:13 Do you know that the American public today is
23:17 7.3 trillion dollars in debt, 5 trillion of that is
23:24 mortgage debt but can you imagine that half of the
23:31 mortgage debt is in credit card debt.
23:33 What I mean by that is half the amount of mortgage debt
23:40 is credit card debt.
23:41 It's almost all credit card debt and card debt,
23:45 larger interest rates.
23:47 So many people are having record bankruptcies
23:50 and so many people are just drowning in debt,
23:53 and that is a GREAT stressor.
23:56 So what do we do about it?
23:57 Well, there are some things that can be done.
24:02 The Bible says in Proverbs -
24:08 That's the truth! So we know that the goal is
24:11 not to be in slavery to a lender if possible.
24:15 Now the rules of thumb for indebtedness is...
24:17 #1- Don't charge an item that goes down in value.
24:22 Now that's not like a home - a home is not a depreciating item.
24:25 A home is an appreciating item. Hopefully...
24:28 Cars and a lot of things that are purchased by credit cards
24:33 ...most things that are purchased by credit cards
24:37 depreciate in value.
24:39 And 60% of the people that use credit cards
24:43 do not pay them off at the end of the month.
24:44 Sixty percent?... 60% Amazing!
24:46 And secondly, don't borrow to invest in speculative ventures.
24:50 I know it should go without saying and the recommendations
24:55 by the finance experts is, "Don't borrow money
24:58 to pay another debt. "
24:59 Even though you're borrowing with less interest;
25:02 even though you're consolidating -
25:05 because what happens is generally people
25:07 like they'll refinance their home at a
25:09 lower interest rate in order to pay off debt,
25:11 but when they do that, their credit cards -
25:14 they start putting up their credit cards again,
25:19 charging on their credit cards,
25:20 so then they get right back into debt again.
25:23 Now here are the 3 suggestions for getting out of debt...
25:26 #1- Incur no new debt... If you just make THAT
25:30 commitment - I will incur no NEW debt, eventually
25:34 you'll get out of debt.
25:35 If you can make your payments, even the minimum payments,
25:37 eventually you'll get out of debt.
25:38 So just make that decision -
25:40 We're not going to buy anything new;
25:41 we're not going to start out on anything new. #1- Yep
25:44 #2- When you pay off your smallest debt,
25:47 add that amount toward the retirement of your
25:50 next smallest debt.
25:53 Now even though it may not be as much interest
25:56 as another one, what you want to do is
25:57 get a sense of momentum.
25:58 So you have one credit card with $87 on it,
26:01 another one with $214 and another one with $2,000 on it;
26:07 you pay off your smallest one first and get it paid off
26:10 as fast as you can - then take that payment
26:13 and turn it right over and add that to the payment
26:15 you're making on your 200-and-something-odd-dollar one
26:17 When you get done with that, add those 2 payments
26:19 additional to that larger one and just keep doing that
26:23 until you get out of debt.
26:24 It may take several years, but it's worth it to do it.
26:27 Then continue following those 2 steps until you're out of debt
26:29 What if you're really deep in debt?
26:31 There's no other way than to follow the same process,
26:34 but you may need to - if you're so deep that you're facing
26:37 bankruptcy, you may need to go to a counselor,
26:39 and consult a financial counselor.
26:44 So these are very practical things from clutter to
26:47 what you do with your cash when it talks about
26:49 life management.
26:50 What one thing would you like to leave with people
26:53 as they're looking over this whole idea of life management?
26:55 Well Don, as redundant as this may seem,
26:57 as often as I refer to this, it's because it's so important
27:00 and that would be the Serenity Prayer
27:03 Every day and my wife can tell you how many situations
27:07 I say... How does this Serenity Prayer apply to this situation?
27:12 And then we think it through.
27:14 What are the things that we can do nothing about?
27:17 If we can identify those things,
27:20 then release them to God.
27:21 He can do something about them - we can't.
27:23 So don't spend any energy on them,
27:25 and then focus on the things you can do something about.
27:29 It may be very small, but focus on those things,
27:32 and work on those things.
27:33 Do the best you can on those things,
27:35 and go to bed every night with peace in your heart.
27:37 We've been talking with Dr. Skip MacCarty.
27:40 We've been talking about stress...
27:42 how we can get a handle on it.
27:43 We can have not negative stress but positive stress
27:48 as we look at life management.
27:50 You can find out more information about
27:52 Dr. MacCarty's seminar by contacting us here at 3ABN.
27:56 Thanks for watching us today.