If any of that applies to you then welcome to the club. You’re not alone. During times of intense stress and anxiety, things can get bleak, dark, dreary, and grey very quick. You need something to shake things up in order to maintain your sense of purpose and also your sense of sanity. Well I have just the thing (or three things rather) to help you out because like Andre 3000 you know I got your back like chiroprac…tic!
1) Plan something to look forward to. Life wouldn’t be very awesome if there wasn’t anything to strive toward so plan the prize to keep your eye on while you battle the imminent forces life presents you. This way when you feel defeated or spread like butter across too much bread like my boy Bilbo, you have that motivation to carry on solider!
2) Give yourself permission to be good enough. We put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves to be perfect all the time in our society and that is overwhelming in and of itself. Do not fall victim to this popular mindset as it is a one way ticket to the Hotel California where you can check-out any time you like but you can never leave! Instead, give yourself permission to be good enough as is because you know what? YOU ARE! Now come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!
3) Treat yourself. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this in a previous blog and for good reason! Tom and Donna were really onto something in Parks and Recreation and you should tap into this goldmine of validation and confidence boosting! Rewarding yourself for all your hard work in persevering through the ebb and flow of life is what it’s all about! So TREAT YO SELF 2016 baby!
Now for those of you who were paying attention…name all the song lyrics and movie references laced throughout this blog and reward yourself for being awesome and observant!
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before but journaling can actually improve your quality of life. If you’re like me, you may be thinking “Yeah right like I really have the time to sit down to a bureau with my feather pen dipped in fresh ink to write in a red leather-bound book about all my adventures like Bilbo and Frodo Baggins” but in actuality you have more time than you think.
There are three common myths about journaling that I’d like to dispel in this particular blog:
Common Myth #1:I Don’t Have Time To Journal – Believe it or not, journaling doesn’t have to be a four-hour long engagement with you and your thoughts on paper. It can be a quick couple of lines jotted down to describe your day or some lingering thought you had or perhaps just a reflection on something you heard or experienced (I mean that’s pretty much like being on social media where you already work wonders easily with 140 characters or less).
Common Myth #2: My Life Isn’t Interesting Enough – Rubbish. You are a human being, exisiting in a world full of so much good, bad, and downright ugly where you interact with people all the time whether it be colleagues, family, or friends and you’ve yet to cease to live to tell the tale! You have more going on in your life than you think and it’s great material from which to
Common Myth #3: Journaling Is For Great Writers – Nay! You do not have to be a Pulitzer Prize-winner to be qualified to keep a journal. Journals do not judge you for having poor grammar or incoherent run on sentences nor should you! So feel free to write whatever comes to mind and don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t have to.
The cool thing is journaling has adapted to the digital age. This means for those of you who are tech savvy and prefer the electronic alternative to the old pen and paper method, you can download free journal apps on any of your mobile devices. As for myself personally, I enjoy the best of both worlds so I bought a journal and I downloaded an app for when time is sparse.
Journaling has a myriad of benefits. Just the idea of keeping track of your thoughts, reflections, and experiences can be very rewarding for your posterity who may not have had the opportunity to know you while you roamed the earth. It can be a source for inspiration and creativity when those moments of genius strike. According to a widely cited study by James W. Pennebaker and Janel D. Seagal, “Writing about important personal experiences in an emotional way…brings about improvements in mental and physical health.” Proven benefits include better stress management, strengthened immune systems, fewer doctor visits, and improvement in chronic illnesses such as asthma.
Needless to say journaling has endless benefits and you can always use something that will benefit you.
If you feel stressed and anxious more often than not then welcome to the club. In our ever increasingly busy world of information overload, these two unwanted companions can seem to take up permanent residency in our lives. Having to maintain the work/life balance while simultaneously multitasking endless to do lists can get to be quite overwhelming which creates the perfect storm of unwanted feels. How does one navigate these storms of certain woe? It may be more simple than you think and doesn’t take much time from your busy day. When you begin to feel these pesky squatters start to take up space in your mind, use these two following steps:
1. With either your eyes open or closed, begin to count your breaths (without changing your normal breathing patterns) from 1 to 10 with 1 being your inhaling breath and 2 being your exhaling breath up to 10.
2. Focus only on the counting (if you find yourself thinking random thoughts as you count – that’s totally fine, observe them, dismiss them, and refocus on the counting)
Unlike having to create addition time like most activities designed to get you to a place of calm, this can be done on your way to whatever demands of the day require. The best part is it can be as little as a minute or up to an hour, YOU pick the amount of time you need to get to your happy place. Now doesn’t that amount of control make you feel devilishly good inside? It’s okay to admit it because YOU ROCK! Now go forward and continue to conquer all of life’s demands you busy go-getters!
With the 2016 right around the corner there is so much to pause and reflect on from 2015. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows are all taken into account when assessing the 15th rotation since the dawn of the new millennium. Perhaps you finally completed that project you’ve been meaning to get around to, or you landed that promotion you were really hoping for, or signed on the house of your dreams, or…not. The beauty of it all is you set goals for the year and whether you achieved them or not give yourself credit for setting them in the first place. As we all get to the usual ritual of setting resolutions for 2016 remember these two things:
Be the good you want to see – If you feel like things aren’t unicorns and skittles as often as you’d like then that is a good sign that it is time to do some self-evaluating and figure out what you are doing to contribute to that unhappiness. Give yourself permission to answer the tough questions like, “What part did I play in how things turned out?”, “How could I have handled that situation differently?”, or “What can I do better?” Rarely is the case where someone else’s actions directly impact our levels of satisfaction – it is more often the case of how we react to their actions that has that impact. Be the good you want to see and then take notice just how much your perspective will change as you’re able to balance out the bad with the good. Let your inner Yoda serve as motivation to remind you to do or do not because there is no try.
Give yourself the credit you deserve – We often suffer from the “I’m not good enough” disease which eats away at our self-esteem and leave us defenseless against the tyranny of being our own worst critic. So what if you finished last in your first marathon, YOU FINISHED A MARATHON! I certainly can’t say that and I’m pretty awesome! So go head…it’s ya birthday…we gonna party like it’s ya birthday because you deserve the credit! It’s so easy to get caught up in the grass is greener mentality but I assure you it is all about proper lawn care and maintenance that gives it that crisp sheen. That maintenance involves celebrating the small victories in life like finishing your first marathon because it is the small things that we remember the most which ultimately becomes the cherished memories that we can look back upon fondly. Now go forward with that luxurious lawn that everyone else will be envious of and be the awesome person that you are in 2016!
How long has it been since you last “dated” your partner or spouse? I’m not talking about going out to eat or to the cinema, but actually doing some type of activity together to get to know them? If you’re like most couples, you’ve probably succumbed to the requisitions of life like a thriving professional career, the squatters who keep calling you “Mum” or “Dad”, or the pursuit of higher education. Let’s face it, the demands of life are all vying for your precious time and it can be difficult to maintain the balance necessary not to forget your significant other in all of it. Here are three helpful tips to enrich your relationship and remind you of why you chose your sweetheart to accompany you in the beautiful chaos that can be life. YOU’RE WELCOME.
Fall is nigh which for the devoted means football season is upon us! There is nothing quite like the sound of a roaring crowd when the football has been kicked off to signal the start of American’s version of The Beautiful Game. We wait in anticipation as our favourite players line up and explode off the line as soon as the pigskin is snapped. With curious wonder we watch as plays unfold and then we scratch our head or cheer depending upon the outcome. This isn’t all too far from how our relationships work either. You’ve heard many couples talk about how they “let this one slide” when it comes to arguments because you have to “pick your battles.” Like football, relationships have a defense and an offense. Sometimes the offense will get something by the defense and sometimes the defense will stop the offense in its tracks. This is the same way arguments work in relationships when you “pick your battles.” I have three suggestions chock full of football metaphors to help your “team” score touchdowns every time!
1) Break down the play – What went wrong that lead to an argument? How did your significant other say that certain thing that made you want to go for the jugular? What was the tone, intensity, and volume of what was being said? Like football players, we have to be willing to break down the game tape and understand how the play collapsed and fell apart. Who missed their blocking assignment? Who got lazy with their tackling and let it slip away? These are the important questions you have to ask in the relationship to really determine your strengths and weaknesses. In other words, if you can identify where you went wrong with trying to convey your point and open up dialogue with strong communication and accountability for where you went wrong you are well on your way to the next suggestion.
2) Learn from the play – Understanding how the play went wrong helps to understand what needs to be corrected for next time in order to have flawless execution in your touchdown drive to ultimately end up with the big score. Knowing what your role is in the play helps you solidify the “footwork” you need to display in order to stay in front of whatever is coming your way and adjust accordingly. In other words, if you know raising your voice in the heat of a discussion brewing into an argument is going to affect your partner – lower your voice, remain calm, and remember you’re on the same team trying to accomplish the same objective. Now on to our last suggestion.
3) Call an audible – Sometimes the quarterback may see something in the defense that doesn’t look quite right and he needs to have his team on the same page enough to call a different play to exploit the defense. This is called an audible which is basically switching up the play and doing something different. This isn’t all that different in relationships. If you start to notice that things don’t look quite right don’t be afraid to call an audible and do something different to break the cycle of the same ole same ole. In other words, if you start to notice you and your partner escalating to the point of no return don’t hesitate to switch it up and tell them how much you cherish them and appreciate them and sing your frustrations to them. Trust me, no one can stay upset for very long when their partner is singing to them in the key of Bohemian Rhapsody.
If you commit yourselves to these three suggestions you’ll not only beat the opposing team into submission but you’ll also gain the victory of a highly satisfying relationship and that’s when you can really break out your dance moves for the most epic touchdown celebration ever or not because it’s your touchdown celebration and you do whatever you want!
The arena is full of screaming fans losing their minds in anticipation of your arrival on the stage. The laser light show (which has been through rigorous test runs during pre-show rehearsal) is perfectly sync’d with your guitarist’s heavy monster riffs, your powerhouse vocal range, your bassist’s thumping bass licks, and your drummer’s pounding drum kicks. Your big moment arrives as you make a fashionably late but unforgettable entrance onto the stage and you slay the audience with your ferocious yet infectious energy. The crowd is electrified and shouting in unison back to you the lyrics to your well-crafted and polished songs. You move on to the next city. Repeat. Life as a rock star couldn’t be grander. What does this brilliant analogy have to do with you and some of the issues you may be facing? Everything when you incorporate the S.T.A.R. method.
What is S.T.A.R. you ask? Let me break it down for you:
S = Stop
T = Think
A = Act
R = Review
When we are bogged down with anxiety, depression, and other life struggles we tend to neglect the inner ROCK S.T.A.R. within us. When we stop – we allow ourselves the opportunity to consider the alternatives which gives us time to think – about what our actions and perceptions create within ourselves. With this critical information we are able to act – in ways that are beneficial to staying true to the simple universal truth that we are all capable of doing amazing rock star like things and for that we can happily review – our renewed sense of confidence in our ability to handle ourselves like the rock stars that we are. We too can slay our struggles like our favourite entertainers do to audiences on a regular basis.
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Yes that magical time of the year is upon us where we frantically run about trying to get the special people in our lives that special gift or take time out of our busy schedules to serve others. In all of the madness that is the holiday season it is interesting to note that the act of gift-giving or service has some psychological benefits of better health and less stress and that is pretty neat. Dr. Michael Poulin, an assistant professor at the University of Buffalo, had this to say on the topic:
You may have heard that stress is bad for health. Well, it turns out that giving to others may undo the negative effects of stress. In a recent study, my colleagues and I found that there was no link between stress and health among people who reported helping their friends and neighbors in the past year. But among people who didn’t engage in such helping, stressful life events predicted decreased odds of survival over the next five years.
Sometimes things happen in our lives that we aren’t quite prepared for and can leave us feeling empty and void emotionally. When these events occur we can incorporate a few strategies that can help us develop a sense of resiliency so that we are better prepared to face the perfect storms life has to offer. Here are a few surprisingly simple emotional coping strategies that are easy to do and cost very little money if any at all that can get you back in the saddle:
I ran across this fantastic article by Jon Gordon which talks about how to think like a champion. He lists 5 easy steps to help create a mindset or enhance your belief system to help you elevate your game like a champion in the game of life.
1. Champions Expect to Win – When they walk on the court, on the field, into a meeting or in a classroom they expect to win. They expect success and their positive beliefs often lead to positive actions and outcomes. This gives a new meaning to the popular saying “fake it till you make it”!