Tag: stress

Slowing Down

 

 

If you are always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you’re in?”     ~ Nanette Matthews

 

Do you find yourself in a perpetual panic, chronically hurrying, feeling as if there’s never enough time? You’re not alone. The fervor of modern life can make it very challenging to slow down However it is possible to learn to temper your pace, while still achieving goals and checking off that ever revolving to do list. Slowing down doesn’t mean giving up, in fact, it is just the opposite! It is about investing in yourself, renegotiating your time, affording you more opportunity to be present, to be happy, less stressed and in the end, more efficient.

When you flit from one task to another, you deprive your spirit of soaking up the moment, and you rob yourself of the joy of the journey. Take a second to reflect on how many times you have been walking the dog, helping the kids, driving in your car, yet your mind is on a business meeting, a bill you have to pay, next week’s appointments. You miss the smells of nature, or the funny face your child made, or the beauty of the trees you are passing. So how can you learn to slow down, to notice, and to be more present?

Consciously learn to raise your awareness –Take small awareness breaks throughout the day. Look out of the window, notice how you are feeling, breathe fully for five or ten minutes. Turn away from your computer, your phone, your whatever and feel rather than do. Let go of day-to-day work and home demands for a few minutes every day.

Practice starting conversations with strangers – people in line, or the store clerk you see at your favorite grocery store. Acknowledge them; listen with interest to other people’s responses. By taking time to connect with others on a human level you open yourself up to new experience. Let go of the idea that you are too busy to listen to others. You will be astounded how often your assumptions of others prove to be wrong. You may get a little nugget of knowledge you hadn’t anticipated. Carving out time for others, even if it’s only a few moments of conversation, can renew your spirit and give you a sense of connection with others.

Connection lessens feelings of being overwhelmed and isolation – Think about when you talk to someone you barely know, maybe about something trivial, annoying or stress inducing, like traffic and realize, I’m not the only one who feels like this. If you never take the time to engage with others, you deprive yourself of giving and receiving acknowledgement.

Stop cramming your day with an impossible list of things to accomplish – Allow time for reflection, for exercise, for conversation with your family, for a relaxed meal. Be realistic about the number of minutes in a day. Prioritize, what is really feasible today? Ask for help, delegate responsibilities at work and home. When you try to be a superhero too often you find yourself depleted and resentful. Dodge those pitfalls by creating time for yourself.

Pay attention to your body, it is very wise – When you are tired, take a short nap. Like a car without gas or oil, your body needs fuel. Take the time to eat, not in the car or at your desk, but to eat with presence. Exercise, this can be a wonderful way to get out of your head. Breathe some fresh air, take a walk, a jog, a bike ride and focus on your breath.

Cultivate a small-town mentality – even if you are living in the center of a bustling city. What is small town mentality? It is slowing down long enough to say hi to the mail carrier, to notice the afternoon breeze or the soft tapping of rain on the window. It is bringing over cookies or flowers to a neighbor or simply saying hello to people. It is being part of the community you live in, acknowledging others.

Once you slow down, you’ll notice a new awareness settling in. You will have more energy, life will feel fuller and more rewarding. Gifting yourself with a slower pace will cultivate clarity, and garner new perspectives on life.

 


Will This Matter in 5 Years?

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In some cases, stress can be healthy. The ability to feel stress or anxiety is a result of our fight or flight response that have helped humans survive and succeed for so long. Feeling stress is natural; about finances, relationships, big-moment life decisions…these stresses exist for a reason. It’s our inherent way of focusing on what’s important and guiding ourselves to make positive decisions that bring joy or health to our lives.

But what happens when we stress about the small things in life? What happens when we let the anxiety behind being unable to control whether it rains, whether rescheduling an appointment will cause confrontation, or whether our spouse wants seafood or Thai for dinner on Saturday negatively impact our lives?

We live in a world where controlling even the smallest details of life can feel immensely important. This is partially because it’s so easy to control the small stuff in the 21st century. The ability to be constantly connected, schedule every aspect of life, and have immediate access to nearly everything makes it easy to feel all-powerful. It can feel like we’re in control of everything! Unfortunately, sometimes the stress that accompanies controlling these details isn’t worth dwelling on.

The stress that comes from feeling out of control is truly a vicious cycle. We become stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed by a situation that is beyond our control, no matter how small. Then we become stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed by our emotions and our inability to control them. The cycle continues, and it rarely benefits us emotionally. In fact, it’s usually harmful to the way we approach the world. Think of all the things we miss because we’re mired in our own stress.

As you look ahead, I challenge you to ask yourself this when feelings of stress creep up: Will this matter to me in 5 years?

If the problem you’re experiencing stress over won’t matter in 5 years, stop stressing about it. Release the need to control the outcome. Eliminating the need to control small details of life opens you up to live more fully, free of insignificant stress. It also opens you up to focus on the feelings of stress that crop up around dilemmas that will matter in 5 years – those “big moment” life choices that deserve extra consideration.

It would surely be a magical feeling to live a completely stress-free life. Stress is a result of being in situations where the outcome is not guaranteed. Rather than denying yourself the right to feel stress, refocus your stress on dilemmas that will have a long-term impact to make better use of the stress reaction.

Remember, when you begin to feel stressed, assess whether it will matter in 5 years. If not, stop stressing.

 


Conflict Busters

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If you have been in a relationship, it is likely that you have experienced conflict. A friend, family member, partner, co-worker … the potential for conflict is everywhere, and your response has the ability to allow the relationship to flourish or wither.

How do we maintain our cool during stressful times in our relationships?

Don’t make assumptions. Isaac Asimov said, “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”  If you can drop your assumptions and see things as they are, you will recognize that there are many possible solutions. “ There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”…. Leonard Cohen

Recognize that everyone has an opinion. As much as you think you are “right”, the other person may feel that same conviction. Is being “right” really that important? Will this situation even be remembered a year, a month or even a week from now? Acknowledge that other people have concerns that are very valid to them. Treat them with the same respect that you would like to receive.

While communicating about the problem, be sure to affirm the person rather than criticize. For every concern you have, think of a respectful quality of theirs to share. People are more likely to listen if they don’t feel like they are being beaten up. Soften the discussion.

Sometimes it is better to let the issue go or wait for 24 hours. Are one or both of you hungry or tired? Is there something else at play that is creating friction? Is there really a problem?

If this conflict is with a loved one, or a relationship that you truly care about, let them know that the relationship is more important than this problem. Acknowledge the strain that the issue is putting on you both.

Listen. Listen attentively. It is the basis of successful relationships. There is nothing more important to a person than to know that they are being truly heard. When you listen, not only can you learn something new, you can make people feel validated.

In the midst of a conflict, if you can stop and listen, this will create a wonderful space for clear, open and productive communication.


Do you need a vacation…or a more balanced life?

sunset over waterI love vacations. They are chances to see new sites and enjoy activities you may not typically incorporate into your daily schedule. Putting yourself in a new location can be invigorating to body and mind, as you are having different experiences than usual.

However, if you mainly use vacations as escape from your normal reality, you might want to examine the level of balance in your life. If your daily life is unbalanced, a vacation will merely be a quick fix and not help the underlying issue.

Imagine if you didn’t need a vacation in order to feel calm and centered, but could find that in your every day?

If you feel your life is unbalanced, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you overscheduling yourself? If so, consider ranking to-do’s and commitments by importance and complete them in that order. That way, you will accomplish what is most productive, supportive, and essential to you. Eliminating those “should” tasks can add more time and increase your level of satisfaction.
  • What is causing you overwhelm? Is it something you can delegate or ask for help with? If not, can you choose to shift your perspective on what you perceive to be stressful?
  • How often do you feel tired/sick and what is the cause? Is it poor nutrition, lack of sleep, or your thoughts? These are all factors that play a role in decreased energy and health.
  • How soon do you feel burned out after returning from a vacation? Try to remember what the precursors were to your last burnout. Did a particular thing, or combination of things, happen that led to it? Finding clues to what causes you to “need a vacation” is helpful for keeping an eye on in the future so you can make adjustments before burnout happens.

Now that you have explored your past life-balance history, write a vision of your life in the future. What could your life look like on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis if it were balanced? What are you doing in that vision? How do you feel? Determine how you could make aspects of your balanced life into realistic goals to achieve.

Vacations are not solutions to an unbalanced life. Focusing in on possible causes of imbalance, steps to regain balance, and how you desire to see your life in the future will bring more equilibrium and joy to your life. Vacations will be even more enjoyable when you don’t dread returning to the “real world”!


Emotions and Your Body

P1020568Have you ever experienced physical pain or discomfort with no apparent physical cause? For example, dreading doing something and after thinking about it for a while, having a headache or stomach upset? What we experience as physical pain in the absence of any injury or physical cause may stem from our emotions. Our thoughts and feelings are so powerful that they can manifest in our body. We become aware of this process when we feel discomfort. Emotions somatized can actually be the cause of our organs and systems not functioning properly.

Some examples of how emotions can manifest in the body:

  • Anxiety/Fear may be experienced in the body in many different ways. Often these feelings will affect the adrenal gland and the kidneys. Of course they can affect other parts of the body as well.

Possible causes: Lacking in confidence and security. If you dispute irrational thinking and keep your thoughts in present time rather than negative futures, you will eliminate anxiety and fear from your life.

  • Sadness often will affect the heart and the thymus gland.

Possible causes: Holding on to negative experiences, the inability to “let go.” Letting go of negative thoughts and past experiences will allow joy into one’s life and sadness will shift. Refer to the post Letting Go for more on this.

  • Depression often will affect the way we think, our head and brain.

Possible causes: A need for acceptance, self-consciousness; unable to see path; over-thinking or over-feeling with the perception of having no choice in life. Truly accepting yourself with all of your flaws and strengths decrease your need for outside approval. Practice seeing yourself as one with infinite possibilities.

  • Grief often will affect the liver, gall bladder and can cause many other challenges in the body.

Possible causes: Denying and/or not releasing grief,

  • Anger often will affect the liver, which cleanses our blood and stores our emotions.

Possible causes: Not releasing anger, bitterness, or resentment; not allowing forgiveness. By acknowledging experiencing, honoring and releasing these negative feelings you will be free of anger and able to allow joy in.

  • Stress in general can affect all organs, depending upon the person.

Possible causes: Imbalance in one or more aspects of life. Refer to the post, Life Balance, for more information and how to create balance.

  • Feeling stuck or confusion usually affects the throat area.

Possible causes: Having something to say but fearful to speak the truth, which results in feeling “stuck.”

Can affect: Gall bladder (for example, gall stones). The gall bladder acts as a passage from the liver to the small intestines.

Possible causes: Self-resentment, not allowing yourself to speak your truth.

Areas of the body that can alert us to emotional causes of pain:

  • Left side of body – represents feminine energy. Ask yourself are you denying your feminine qualities or ability to receive.
  • Right side of body – represents masculine energy. Ask yourself are you denying your masculine qualities or ability to take action.
  • Lungs – might indicate an inability to speak one’s truth.
  • Abdomen/gut – caused by the unconscious taking in of other peoples’ emotions.
  • Shoulder issues – the feeling of being overburdened by the challenges of others.
  • Hips – the feelings of insecurity and fear create the inability to move forward.
  • Knees – the lack of self-respect, often is the cause of knee issues.
  • Lower back – resentment rooted in the belief, that there is no one to help you and your burdens feel too great.
  • Cervical spine (neck) – linked to the inability or fear of being flexible in life.

We can use the presentation of symptoms to check in with ourselves and ask whether the pain or discomfort we are feeling could have an emotional cause, rather than a physical cause. Spending some time on releasing heavy emotions can help lessen—or completely resolve—physical symptoms.

Try using:

  • Meditation or yoga to quiet the mind and provide a sense of grounding, lightness, or peace.
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (known as EFT or Tapping), which involves tapping your fingertips on pressure points on the face and body to release emotions.
  • Journaling. The simple act of recording thoughts and feelings on paper can provide awareness, release, and resolution.
  • Counseling. Sometimes, just having an impartial person to hear you can provide great relief.
  • Coaching. Sometimes in combination with counseling, coaching will teach you the action steps you want to move forward.