Get Rid of Your Stress? Umm, ok…

I asked 100 people what their top 3 everyday stressors are.  The big ones…

  1. Time
  2. Family
  3. Work
  4. Appearance
  5. Health
  6. Taking care of the home
  7. Living up to the expectations of others

Seriously, it’s not like we can “get rid of” the stress of anything on this list, but maybe we can learn to let go and be less stressed. Can we let go of what we have been expecting our lives to be and make the best of what really is?  Here are some strategies to try.

  • Pay less attention to people’s judgments and don’t take things personally. No one has the right to judge you. When people judge it’s mostly about their own insecurities. They may think they know you but they aren’t living your life. They don’t know how you feel, or what you think or what you may be going through.  Forget about their judgments. LET IT GO. Focus on you.
  • When you’re angry, shut up and breathe. Take a step back and just breathe. Deep, deep breaths, give yourself a moment (or two) to think. Why are you angry? Someone not behaving the way you want? Things aren’t going exactly as you planned? Try changing how you deal with the actions of others and focus on things you can change. (You…you can change you)
  • Laugh. It’s much harder to be stressed when you are laughing. Try to find some humor in a stressful situation. It’s a mood booster and a stress reliever, and it just makes you feel better!!
  • Forgive freely and sincerely. We all make mistakes. We all do dumb things, some that come with heavy consequences. Our mistakes don’t mean that we are horrible, not to be trusted, unforgivable people. Remember this and always keep it with you. Forgive with every little piece of your heart, let go of the stress and be grateful for the experience.
  • Learn to say no. Be picky about what you agree to take on. Don’t allow yourself to give in to other’s expectations. If it’s going to stress you out…just say no.
  • Canoodle. Yep, hugging, cuddling, kissing and sex are all proven stress relievers. I read something about releasing oxytocin and lowering cortisol, but who cares? Canoodle away your stress.

Life is a lesson. We have to work hard and accept that holding on to what we think is supposed to happen and how we think our life should be unfolding is what really stresses us out. Embrace this wild ride called life. Dare to show up every day, and to be yourself, your best self, with no expectations.

Gestalt Prayer

“I do my thing and you do your thing.
I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations
and you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful
if not, it can’t be helped.”

-Fritz Perls-

Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response to what happens and response is something we can choose.  -Maureen Killoran-

 

Life is Messy

   embrace  So here we are,

living our lives, looking at everyone else and thinking – Gosh, they certainly have it all together. (Alright, ‘gosh’ is the really mild version.)

We catch ourselves wondering how their lives can be so smooth and easy while ours is so difficult and messy.

When we stop and take a good look though, we realize everyone is dealing with some kind of stress and/or difficulties. It can be big things like work, kids, money, and family or it can be something as simple as running out of paper towels or misplacing our keys. Things do not always go as planned. Ups and downs are inescapable, and when the going gets rough most of us flip out and lose our shit.  Life is messy.

IT’S OKAY –   no need to panic – life is supposed to be messy. Some of the best things in life are messy.  Relationships, raising children (not to mention having children), food,  animals, the great outdoors, and all things related to adulting are some of the messy parts of life.

Are we failing at life because ours is messy? Nope.  We should embrace and experience the messiness with gusto. If we just get out there and live life, messy as it is,  think of how much we can grow and learn. Here’s to a wonderfully messy life.

The-Absolute-Perfection-of-Being-Perfectly-Imperfect-Living-this-Messy-Life-Acorn-Oak-Forest-2

 

 

 

Some Thoughts On Thoughts

 

When I have negative thoughts I tend to hold on to them, accept them as true. I sulk. I know I am sucking at life.  I get pissed off when someone is the voice of reason and tells me to suck it up, that things aren’t as bad as they seem, to let it go. I would rather cry and scream, hit something, stomp my feet, and have an “oh, woe is me” party. Would you like to join me? Probably not. You would rather call me out because you see me, a smart capable independent woman, wallowing in self-worthlessness instead of getting on with things and living up to my potential.

I totally get that. I know that frustration. I feel the same way when someone I know, who is smart, capable and independent, doesn’t want to listen to my advice and is letting their thoughts control them.

Yep, that’s right. We are letting our thoughts control us. We need to turn that around and realize that we are in control of our thoughts.

Consider this: The thought you are having right now is your thought and yours alone. We like to think that our thoughts affect those around us. The reality is, no one else even knows they exist. Everyone else is having their own thoughts.  Our thoughts aren’t real until we allow them to be by believing they are true and feeding into them. If we don’t pay attention to them or give them credence they just go away.

Thoughts are just that…thoughts. They show up and it’s totally up to us whether we hold on to them or let them go.

thoughts2

 

Ordinary or Extraordinary: Which Will You Choose?

We seem to always have a list of reasons, challenges, and constraints as to why we can’t be extraordinary and live life extraordinarily.

  1. I don’t have enough money to do that
  2. now is just not the right time, I’ll do it later
  3. I would sooo do that if I didn’t have:
    • a family
    • a house to take care of
    • mortgage payment
    • the responsibility of protecting a safe, secure life
  4. I’m too old
  5. it’s impossible
  6. I simply can’t

We think these “reasons” are what’s holding us back when, in fact, they are not. Being extraordinary is a choice. Young, old, male, female, rich, poor, or whatever, it makes no difference. Anyone can be extraordinary; however, in order to be extraordinary, you must be willing (most people aren’t) to give up your ordinary life and make big changes. Warning: this will be uncomfortable and difficult. 

 

Here are some steps to start living YOUR extraordinary life:

  • embrace the unknown, there are so many great lessons to be learned
  • step outside your comfort zone, don’t run away from new experiences
  • realize there will be sacrifices
  • improve your confidence and believe in yourself
  • understand that you deserve to go after your dreams
  • know that failure is inevitable and that it’s ok, it’s part of the learning process
  • forget about what people think, there will always be naysayers and judgemental people
  • get out of your own way

The secret of living an extraordinary life is to take control of the mind since this alone will determine whether you live in a suffering state or a beautiful state. In the end, it’s all about the power of decisions. Our lives are shaped not by our conditions, but by our decisions.” Tony Robbins

extraordinary   WHAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK?

 

 

Is Sitting Making You Sick?

Sitting too much can cause more health issues than just, what used to be called, secretary spread.  It’s even been said that sitting is the new smoking.

It is well-known that a sedentary lifestyle can cause blood clots in your legs and/or your lungs. Travel is the usual reason for this concern; sitting in one place, a small space, for an extended period of time.  Other concerns of sitting are:

  • heart disease
  • shortened life
  • diabetes
  • various cancers
  • weakened bones
  • hip and back issues
  • weight issues
  • anxiety  or depression
  • varicose veins

Driving, working, watching TV, playing games on the computer, and reading, are all things people do sitting down. With that in mind, here are some suggestions to get up and get moving.

  • take a break every 30 minutes to just stand up, at work, watching TV, gaming, reading
  • take regular leg stretching breaks on long drives or when flying
  • walk over to your co-worker’s desk instead of emailing or calling
  • get a pedometer and set a reasonable, steps per day, goal
  • stand up and walk around when you are on the phone
  • do some basic stretching exercises at your desk
  • read on a treadmill or recumbent bike
  • take the stairs instead of an elevator
  • park your car farther from the door
  • use a desk that allows you to sit or stand

Remember, the risk of serious health issues increases with a sedentary lifestyle. Being active is not as hard as you think and there are lots of simple ways to include some physical activity in your day. Moving around is good for your physical health as well as your mental health.

 

Mindfulness – Living in the Moment

Does this sound familiar?  I’m under the gun, there aren’t enough hours in a day, I’m swamped, I’m overwhelmed, I have all these chores to do, I’m just too busy, I am busy, busy, busy. This is how many of us live our lives.  Don’t want to live this fast-paced, chaotic life?  Ponder this…

The world we live in today promotes distraction,  disassociation, and mental fragmentation. When we’re on vacation we’re worrying about the work piling up on our desk. When we’re at work we’re thinking about vacation.  We spend so much time in our heads, going over and over the past and having apprehension about the future, that the present goes whizzing by and we have missed it.  We can’t get those moments back.

We can, however,  practice mindfulness…living in the moment. Living in the moment means not being on autopilot but being aware of what is going on around you right here and right now. It means being present and staying in this moment, not thinking about what has happened in the past and not thinking about what will happen next.  We can practice being still and peaceful.

  1. Stop being self-conscious. Try focusing on what is going on around you and not what’s going on in your mind.
  2. Appreciate and focus on whatever you are doing at the moment,  driving to work, folding laundry, or having a cuppa. Focusing on the moment helps keep you from worrying about the future. Mark Twain said, “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
  3. Accept your thoughts and feelings and be judgment-free in your acceptance. Instead of being upset with yourself because of how you’re feeling, face it head on and know that unpleasant thoughts and feelings are a fact of life, and that’s OKAY. They are what they are and you don’t HAVE to do anything with them.
  4. See the world with new eyes. When we believe we know about things we stop paying attention to them. In order to notice new things, you have to be present. You can’t zone out, (like when you drive to work and are surprised when you get there). Make noticing new things a habit no matter what you are doing.

Now that we know some of the steps to being mindful, how do we put it into practice? PSYBLOG  (https://www.spring.org.uk ) suggests the following, simple, anyone can do them, exercises.

1. The walking meditation

If you do any period of undisturbed walking during the day — at least ten or fifteen minutes — then you can do a little walking mindfulness meditation.

It’ll be easiest if done somewhere with fewer distractions, but try it anywhere and see what happens.

As when cultivating all forms of mindfulness, it’s about focusing the attention.

At first, people often concentrate on the sensation of their feet touching the ground.

Then you could just as easily focus on your breath or move the attention around your body, part by part.

The key, though, is to develop a sort of relaxed attention. When your mind wanders away, bring it back gently, without judging yourself.

2. The eating meditation

Will you be eating any food today?

Thought so.

So you can practice a little mindfulness meditation while you eat.

When you take the first bite of any meal, just take a moment to really pay attention to the taste.

Look at the food carefully, feel the textures in your mouth, smell it and notice how your body reacts to it.

You don’t need to keep this up all the way through the meal but use it every now and then to focus your attention.

3. Mindful mini-break

Checking email has now become, for many, what we do in between other tasks, sometimes as a kind of break.

Change this.

Instead, drop the email and practice one of the mindfulness exercises.

Turn away from the computer/tablet/smartphone and sit for a moment noticing the sensations in your mind and body.

How do you feel? What can you hear?

Try to be as present in that moment.

If your mind wanders off to tasks that you have to complete or starts working over things that happened yesterday, let these go.

Gently bring your mind’s focus back to the present. Just be wherever you are for a few moments.

Remember: mindfulness is not about trying to make sense of anything, it’s about attention to that moment.

4. Listen mindfully

Any time that’s convenient, try a little mindful listening.

We get used to a lot of the sounds that are around us and quickly tune them out.

If you live in the city, there might be police sirens, train announcements and people sneezing.

In the countryside there could be trees rustling, birds calling or a gate creaking.

What can you hear right now?

Or, put on some music and really listen to it for a short period: try to hear the music without thinking about it.

Try not to let your mind wander to things it reminds you of, to judgments about the music or think about the lyrics too much.

Just allow the music to flow over you and for you to flow into the music.

5. Mindful brushing

Some things we do so often that we almost don’t notice them anymore.

Habits, like brushing your teeth, are usually performed automatically, while the mind skips off to other plans, worries or regrets.

Instead, try to focus on that chore and really experience it. Notice how the brush moves over your teeth and the taste of the toothpaste.

Another routine that can incorporate mindfulness exercises is showering or bathing.

Let your senses feed on the process and bring your mind back when it wanders off to other worries or thoughts.

You can perform any chore mindfully and you might be surprised what you notice.

6. Just one breath

At any time during the day, take a moment to focus on one breath.

Breathe in, then breathe out.

Focus your attention on how this feels, where you notice the air moving, how your chest and abdomen move.

Try it now.

You’re not looking for a revelation from this experience; think of it more like a little mental push-up for your mind.

That’s it, or if you want to extend it to a few more breaths, that’s fine.

7. Candle meditation

Of all the mindfulness exercises, this requires a little preparation: you need a candle and a darkened room.

Sit for a while watching the candle and focusing on the flame (don’t sit too close).

You are not trying to stare it out or ‘think’ about the chemical reaction that is going on.

In fact, you are not ‘trying’ to do anything: it’s more that you are just noticing the candle in a simple, pure way.

8. Experience nature

If your walking mindfulness exercises should happen to take you to a park or green space of some kind, then this is the perfect opportunity for a little more mindfulness meditation.

As you stand, sit or walk, try to become more aware of nature around you.

See the different types of leaves; hear the bird calls, the wind and the distant rumble of traffic; sense the air moving over your skin and sun heating your face.

Again, after a few moments, your mind may try to wander where it will.

Be kind to yourself: gently nudge your attention back to nature and your surroundings.

Many people do this naturally when they are in nature but do not necessarily label it as one of the mindfulness exercises.

It’s doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as your attention is focused on the present moment.

Mindfulness exercises

Hopefully, these will give you some ideas about how to practice mindfulness exercises during your day.

As mindfulness expert, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, says:

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

Don’t feel limited by these mindfulness exercises. Feel free to mix and match or fit them into your life any way you can.

Almost any activity can incorporate some mindfulness exercises.

Individually these steps may seem small, but you might be surprised at the effect they can have.