Saturday, August 5, 2017

Power Up Your Life & Make Stress Work 4 You: excerpt # 11

Strategies to Combat Stress

General tips

Set yourself a mission
Even if it must inevitably change over the years, this will give a positive direction to your life and increase your personal value.
In the beginning, set yourself short, medium and long term realistic objectives.  Adhere to the principle that small gains create the necessary confidence to work up to larger ones.  Your sense of personal achievement will then be enhanced from victory to victory.  Always remember to reward yourself whenever you reach a goal.

Develop means to develop your objectives

Elaborate a strategy
Having a plan is reassuring as it helps to better evaluate the actions to be taken.  Write the plan down.  'Plan your work and work your plan'

Establish and manage priorities
Make a list in order of importance of the tasks to be accomplished in a day, a week or a month, etc.  Start the day by the most crucial task.  Therefore, if you're short of time at the end of the afternoon, the most important tasks will have been accomplished.

Manage time.
Take 15 minutes each evening to assess the time that will be needed to go through each items on your list of priorities for the next day.  Add all times.  If the total time exceeds the number of hours that you have planned for your day, look for shortcuts, or eliminate altogether the less important tasks.

Manage details
When an idea occurs to you, add it to your list of things to do.  Keep an inventory of things to say or do for each person (especially the difficult ones) with whom you have to frequently deal with.

Commit to exercise regularly
Promise yourself that no matter what happens, you will exercise two or three hours per week.  This will help eliminate the excess build up of negative energy.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk instead of driving for short distances, play golf, jog/run, etc.

Commit to practicing relaxation
Book at least fifteen to twenty minutes a day to practice relaxation techniques.  This will re-boost your physical and mental energies.

Eat healthy food and limit your tobacco and alcohol consumption.

Establish goals to stimulate the left hemisphere of your brain (intellect/memory)
Take courses: music, languages, mathematics, psychology, computer, and so on.

Establish goals to stimulate the right hemisphere of your brain ( creative imagination)
Sing, play a musical instrument, paint/draw artistically, tel stories to your children, etc.

Learn to recognize that your most important task is to take care of yourself
Therefore, treat yourself with respect, humour, adventures, dreams and treasured memories.

Finally, to conclude this segment and to maximize the effectiveness of our programme, the following actions need to be undertaken:
List things to enhance your quality of life
Clarify your personal values
Identify your irritants
Analyze what motivates you
Express your emotions
Learn how to become more sensitive
Accept that, as long as you're human, you will always need tenderness, passion, and personal pride.


Dr. Pierre Milot, Ph.D., Ph.D. (tc)
Therapeutic Counsellor - Relationship/Grief/Stress Coach - Author
Online - Phone - One-on-one consultations
Info or free evaluation
Canada: 613.360.9917 - USA: 813.515.4875

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Rising From The Ashes of Loss, My Voyage Through Grief: excerpt # 28

Chapter 8

April 22 to August, 2008
Anger - Resentment - Bitterness - Irritability - Bargaining.
This period was mainly dedicated to completing the five treatments left in the first round of chemotherapy.   The rate was one treatment every two to three weeks and before each session, a blood test was required to make sure that Louise’s white blood cell count was high enough to sustain the treatment successfully.  The sessions were long, exhausting and scary for her as she always had an aversion for needles to the point that she almost fainted at the mere sight of them.  To top it off, her veins were minuscule which made the treatments even more difficult and painful, a fact that was about to transform her life into a real nightmare in the months to come.
Finding a good vein to work with had become quite an undertaking for the oncology nurses.  The multitude of tests, blood work, scans and treatments rendered her veins so fragile and sensitive that eventually there was no other choice but to stab her through the veins at the top of her hands.  A very sensitive spot and anyone who’s ever had an injection there can vouch for that.  Imagine spending six to eight hours lying on a bed with a bunch of tubes and needles painfully stuck in your hand while burning liquid is being pumped through your body; it was a soul troubling experience.  
It was terribly hard for me to see her like this, all wired up like a damn robot, wincing and suffering.  My protective side was taking quite a beating and at times I wanted to scream my frustrations, rip out all this paraphernalia, take her home, pump her full of pain killers, let nature take its course and allow her to die painlessly in peace and dignity.  If only we would have known the outcome of our journey then, this may have spared us a lot of suffering and anguish and would have achieved the same results, but only sooner.  
Nevertheless, it was mainly her decision to take the treatments and she would go all the way regardless and I knew it.  She was that kind of a person.  There was nothing I could do but reluctantly stand guard, 'suck it up' and swallow my resentment.  
Little did I know then that shutting my big mouth would also be a prudent attitude to adopt all through these tribulations.  As we were soon about to find out, making waves and going outside the 'system' was not a prudent thing to do.


Dr. Pierre Milot, Ph.D., Ph.D. (tc)
Therapeutic Counsellor - Relationship/Grief/Stress Coach - Author
Online - Phone - One-on-one consultations
Info or free evaluation
Canada: 613.360.9917 - USA: 813.515.4875

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Rising From The Ashes of Loss, My Voyage Through Grief: excerpt # 27

The Dangers of Unresolved grief
The Ride, part 3, the end  
...I can barely face the fact that I behaved in such an irresponsible manner.  I’m usually Mr. Cool, the guy who leisurely strolls along at turtle speed while listening to smooth jazz and occasionally pull on the side of the road to let other hurried drivers pass by.  What just went on here?   Dazzled and confused, after much deliberation I come to the inescapable conclusion that grief is involved, unresolved grief to be more precise.   Reflecting back, I realize that in the past three years when Louise was under cancer treatment, our lives were so very restricted that we almost never left home. She was always too weak to travel and in the off chance that we did try a furtive escape, it was always cut short by a pressing retreat back at the house.  The only time we did force the outing was to go out for her treatments at the hospital.  No fun there, only stress, and lot’s of it!   Being her sole caretaker was a twenty-four hours a day job, and as the years went by it progressively turned into a way of life for me.  I grew into the grips of restrictions so progressively that it became a normalcy for me.  I did not think twice about it and I did what I had to do, no after-thoughts, no regrets, no resentment, and I probably would have done it for the rest of my life if she would not have passed away. 
My unexpected little escapade though makes me realize that through these three long years I continuously refrained from expressing myself emotionally.  Being Louise’s sole caretaker meant standing guard twenty-four/seven without flinching.  Her physical and emotional needs were so pressing at times that I had to put my own on the back burner,  no time to be sick, tired, sad or depressed, no breakdown possible here. That could come later, if it had to come at all, I reasoned.  Strength and determination were of the essence and I gave it my best shot.  
The fact that I was losing the love of my life, my best friend, my future, my life that could have been but will never be had to be ignored if I were to survive my ordeal and be an efficient lifesaving buoy for Louise.  But I was suffering, I was suffering a lot, and I knew that there would be a price to pay for this later, that these repressed and unresolved emotional grief issues would need to be unleashed at some point and today was one of those days.  On that particular road, in that particular car, at that particular time I snapped and turned into a devil in need of release.  That's how dangerous and devastating unresolved grief can be.  My temporary release valve sure enough gave me some kind of solace, but I sense that there is still a few more skeletons hiding in my closet and I need to be careful not to have a repeat performance.  
Jokingly I made a promise to myself that while in the process of resolving my grief I would seek a more benign form of expression as a coping strategy.   Here’s a good idea, why not ride a bicycle to exhaustion, which shouldn’t take too long anyway considering the pitiful physical shape I'm in.  Oh well, I’ll find something eventually, that’s what counts. 
About the car, I know what you're thinking and NO I'm not getting rid of it.  Mr. Caddie, my good buddy stays with me, period... 

Dr. Pierre Milot, Ph.D., Ph.D. (tc)
Therapeutic Counsellor - Life Coach - Author
Online - Phone - One-on-one consultations
Info or free evaluation
Canada: 613.360.9917 - USA: 813.515.4875

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Rising From The Ashes of Grief, My Voyage Through Grief: excerpt # 26

The Dangers of Unresolved Grief
The Ride: part 2
...As he slowly walks over to my car, I hurriedly struggle to pull myself together and try to look as innocent and naïve as I can in an attempt to soften the blow.  What's wrong officer?   Was I speeding? I stupidly ask after lowering my window to talk to him?   "Speeding?" he says with a tone of voice that says it all. "You must be kidding me," "I clocked you at a hundred and five km an hour", "the speed limit in the village is fifty km" he carry on leaving me no room for explanations.  I guess there are none I must admit.  I’m guilty as hell and I know it. I than deduce though that I still must have slowed down a bit somehow at one point, because I was riding way faster than that in those back roads.  "But let’s not tell him that, I’ve got a feeling that it wouldn’t work in my favour,” I think.  After he says his piece, he politely asks for my papers and goes back to his car to do whatever policemen do in cases like this.  
So as he sits in his black bomber doing his thing, I hesitantly get out of my Caddie, wave to him in a gesture that says, 'I’m crossing over to the post office to get my mail'.  He casually waves back at me with an OK sign through his cruiser’s windshield.  Hum "strange" I think, "I usually would be confined to my car while he’s verifying if I’m not an escaped prisoner or a wanted terrorist on a mission".   "Oh well, cool" I think and proceed across the street to pick up my mail.  It's only after coming back from the store that the whole thing starts to get a little bizarre.  
Just as I open my car door, I hear a voice calling my name (my first name that is) "weird" I think, usually in past similar situations, cops exhibited a polite intimidating air and a 'tight ass attitude' as they called me 'Sir'.  But no, not this guy and in a reassuring but intriguing manner he addresses me like so; "Pierre, would you come over here please"?   Whoa, what's going on here? I think suspiciously and intrigued as to what kind of tactic he’s pulling on me, I walk cautiously towards him.  "Ordinarily, I would never do this,”  he says, "but would you please take a look at the radar screen through the window of my cruiser and read the speed I clocked you at?” as he points with his finger at a gizmo inside the car.  It was not a question, but a clear directive.  Ouch! One hundred and five km flashing in bright red, no denying that at this point and instantly visions of dollar bills with wings pouring out of my wallet starts to float around.  Vague images of prison bars and handcuffs are not far behind. 
Getting even more bizarre now and to what phenomenon I can attribute what is about to happen, I can only guess.  The young officer must be psychic, or maybe he reads a big sign flashing over my fat air head saying, ‘crazy newly widowed, please handle with care.’  I don’t know.
But in any event, the young man hands me back my papers and with a nice smile says; ''I'll let you off with a warning for now, I don't like to ticket the locals, so please be careful next time''.  
"Geez... Aaah...hum.. well, thanks officer,” I awkwardly spit out and, completely stunned, I walk back to my car.  I can't say that I feel relieved or appreciative though, for at this time I am still under the influence of my crazy rush, and strangely enough the thought of loosing demerit points and paying a huge fine isn't truly a concern, actually I really couldn't care less.  It's only after a few hours of winding down at home that I realize what I have done, and I almost have a fit...

Dr. Pierre Milot, Ph.D., Ph.D. (tc)
Therapeutic Counsellor - Life Coach - Author
Online - Phone - One-on-one consultations
Info or free evaluation
Canada: 613.360.9917 - USA: 813.515.4875

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Power Naps and Stress Management

Why A Power Nap? Facts on Sleep

While small children typically take naps in the afternoon, our culture generally frowns upon mid-day sleep; however, even in those who get enough sleep (but particularly in those who don’t), many people experience a natural increase in drowsiness in the afternoon, about 8 hours after waking. And research shows that you can make yourself more alert, reduce stress, and improve cognitive functioning with a nap.
Mid-day sleep, or a ‘power nap’, means more patience, less stress, better reaction time, increased learning, more efficiency, and better health. Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of sleep and how a power nap can help you!

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Most experts agree that the body needs 7-9 hours of sleep per day, depending on personal and genetic factors.  Some research shows that 6 hours or less triples your risk of a car accident. (Interestingly, too much sleep--more than 9 hours--can actually be harmful for your health; studies show that those who sleep more than 9 hours per day don’t live as long as their 8-hour-sleep counterparts!)

The Effects of Missed Sleep

Sleep is cumulative; if you lose sleep one day, you feel it the next. If you miss adequate sleep several days in a row, you build up a ‘sleep deficit’, which impairs the following:
  • Reaction time
  • Judgment
  • Vision
  • Information processing
  • Short-term memory
  • Performance
  • Motivation
  • Vigilance
  • Patience
Fatigued people also experience more moodiness, aggressive behaviors, burnout and more stress.

The Benefit of a Power Nap

Studies show that 20 minutes of sleep in the afternoon provides more rest than 20 minutes more sleep in the morning (though the last two hours of morning sleep have special benefits of their own).
The body seems to be designed for this, as most people’s bodies naturally become more tired in the afternoon, about 8 hours after we wake up.

How Long Should I Sleep?

When you sleep you pass through different stages of sleep, known together as a sleep cycle. These stages include light sleep, deep sleep (which is believed to be the stage in which the body repairs itself), and rapid-eye movement sleep, or REM sleep (during which the mind is repaired).
Many experts advise to keep the nap between 15 and 30 minutes, as sleeping longer gets you into deeper stages of sleep, from which it’s more difficult to awaken. Also, longer naps can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night, especially if your sleep deficit is relatively small. However, research has shown that a 1-hour nap has many more restorative effects than a 30-minute nap, including a much greater improvement in cognitive functioning. The key to taking a longer nap is to get a sense of how long your sleep cycles are, and try to awaken at the end of a sleep cycle. (It’s actually more the interruption of the sleep cycle that makes you groggy, rather than the deeper states of sleep.)
As there are pros and cons to each length of sleep, you may want to let your schedule decide: if you only have 15 minutes to spare, take them!
But if you could work in an hour nap, you may do well to complete a whole sleep cycle, even if it means less sleep at night. If you only have 5 minutes to spare, just close your eyes; even a brief rest has the benefit of reducing stress and helping you relax a little, which can give you more energy to complete the tasks of your day.

Tips For a More Effective Nap

If you want to obtain more sleep, and the health benefits that go with getting enough sleep, here are some tips for more effective napping and sleep at night:
  • Avoid caffeine after 3pm. It’s a stimulant that can disrupt your sleep and stay in your system longer than you think; its half-life is four to six hours!
  • If you don’t want to nap a long time, set an alarm.
  • If you don’t have time for a power nap, or don’t feel comfortable napping during the day, try meditation; it gives your body a rest and produces slower brain waves similar to sleep.
Dr. Pierre Milot, Ph.D., Ph.D. (tc)
Therapeutic Counsellor - Life Coach - Author
Online - Phone - One-on-one consultations
Info or free evaluation
Canada: 613.360.9917 - USA: 813.515.4875

    Friday, May 5, 2017

    Rising From the Ashes of Loss, My Voyage Through Grief: excerpt # 25

    The Dangers of Unresolved Grief
    The Ride
    I’m driving back home after having had a nice lunch with a friend and I’m feeling quite good, if not a little pumped up on caffeine due to the last double espresso I had hurriedly ingested before taking the road.  As scheduled, I stop at the Lancaster provincial police station to report damages made to my car by the previous week’s wind storm.  The station, which is the first one coming into Ontario from Québec via highway 401 is surprisingly modern and impressive for a rural one, but when I try to get in, I butt my head on a locked door.  Wondering what the heck is going on, I finally get wise and decide to read the notice stuck on the door: closed for vacation. Bewildered, I smile to myself thinking, only in the country man, only in the country.  At that instant, I find myself transported in an old episode of the famous Andy Griffith’s Mayberry television series where a similar hand written poster wedged on the police station door said: closed for the day, gone fishing.  Who the heck has ever heard of a police station left unattended?  But as I will find out later, only the administrative office employees are cooling off their heels, not the local gendarmes.  
    Discombobulated, I walk back to my car and proceed to make the trip back home.  As I am pulling out of the parking lot though, something strange occurs in me and I 'snap' as I stare at the enticing road ahead.  At that particular moment, my sense of reality is distorted.  I feel besides myself and I am not seeing just a road, I am staring at a stretch of asphalt begging to be desecrated and violated.  It’s as if my wild side is taking over, and in an almost uncontrollable youthful boldness, right in front of the police station, I load an aggressive jazz 'cd' on my stereo, max out the volume, slip on an imaginary pair of driving tight leather gloves, look ahead and say out loud with a daring voice; "ok ROAD, let's see what you've got" and I step on it leaving a trail of burnt rubber behind me.  Man, what a rush!
    The feelings I experience as I get lost in that moment are nothing less than exhilarating.  Each gas pedal kick down I make dramatically increases the speed of my vehicle and transforms the exciting groovy roar of my baby’s muffler along with the entrancing racing sound of its intricate engine into an unparalleled experience.   My blood boils in my veins and I’m like a teen having forbidden sex for the first time.  I feel awesome, a weird mixture of guilt, fear, exhilaration, joy and excitement all at the same time.  I know that what I am doing is wrong, but like a possessed man caught up in the thrill of the forbidden, I do it anyway.  I’m aware of a growing sense of freedom and trepidation like I’ve never experienced before.   The more I step on the gas pedal, the more I want to push it as I unwillingly transform myself into some kind of angry devil taking over the car’s commands.  My speed is way over the safe limit but I don’t even want to look at the speedometer anymore.   Negotiating the steep curves of the narrow winding road at alarming speed gives me a kick that is almost orgasmic and brings me to marvel on the fact that the Caddie sticks to the road like a champ; not even a single screech from the over stressed tires.  "Man, what a car,” I marvel.  
    My wild and entrancing ride goes on for a while and I’m so lost in the thrill of the moment that I do not even notice the first signs of civilization and ignore the usual speed limit notification as I enter the village where I live.  As one can expect, the disturbing manifestations of my crazy behaviour does not remain unnoticed by 'you know who' and the inevitable happens.  My ass is fried and 'Inspector Clouseau' appears out of nowhere with blazing flashers and terrifying siren bringing me back to reality.  As I'm finally forced to slow down, with heart still racing I pull in front of the village’s post office and stare in my back mirror at the incoming trouble.  Mr. Gendarme steps out of his vehicle wearing a nasty grin.  At that moment a disturbing thought pops up in my mind: “Shucks. I’m done!”

    Read more at Barnes &

    Dr. Pierre Milot, Ph.D., Ph.D. (tc)
    Therapeutic Counsellor - Life Coach - Author
    Online - Phone - One-on-one consultations
    Info or free evaluation
    Canada: 613.703.9237 - USA: 813.515.4875

    Friday, April 21, 2017

    Rising From The Ashes of Loss, My Voyage Through Grief: excerpt # 24

    Relinquishing old attachments
    ... To grieve properly, I need to create a new relationship with Louise while keeping her memory alive in my heart.   I need to create a new identity for myself and develop new ways to function in the post-loss world.  As difficult as it may be, disconnecting from the suffering associated with the memory of the lost happy couple that we once were is what I unwillingly need to do.  I must now think in terms of  'I' instead of 'we' if I want to survive in my new world, my new reality.  Losing Louise who lovingly shared my life for thirty-eight years is like losing half of me.  Now I need to become a wizard and invent some king of magical trick to patch myself up and become whole again.  At least, this is how it feels and at times, I seriously doubt my abilities to do so.  I concede the show must go on and I relentlessly start over a new set of breathing exercises.  
    The days become weeks and I am making more and more progress with my exercises.  There are the usual ups and downs of course and the downs of my wild roller coaster ride seem to be less dramatic nowadays.  Time though remains a problem, as I have too much of it.  After spending twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for three years taking care of Louise while she was sick, the space that she left when she died is immeasurable and has become an extremely heavy burden on me.  Minutes seem like hours and hours feel like days and I am fighting like a lion to reorganize my distorted concept of time.   It is hard, very hard not to think of her and ignore the sick feeling of loss haunting me, when everything I see, smell and touch sorrowfully reminds me of our time together, who we were and who we are not anymore.   
    At regular intervals in my quest to rise from the ashes of loss I have felt the need to let go and dispose of material things that triggered too much pain and kept me attached to my pre-loss era.  Louise’s belongings, her clothes, the memorabilia’s, and most of the personal and business files that we had in common have all gone, and if I have not outright gotten rid of them, I have already learned to disconnect emotionally from those objects.   The pictures though I have not touch yet, that will come later, much later.  Some say that they should be packed away in a box and not looked at before we feel we are ready for them. That sometimes can take years for obvious reasons, and I sure as hell am not ready for that yet ...

    Dr. Pierre Milot, Ph.D., Ph.D. (tc)
    Therapeutic Counsellor - Life Coach - Author
    Online - Phone - One-on-one consultations
    Info or free evaluation
    Canada: 613.703.9237 - USA: 813.515.4875