“A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.” ~ Lysa Terkeurst
Let’s look in and see what many women deal with, especially during the holidays …
As she starts her day, she wonders, “When am I going to find the time to get everything done? I have three work deadlines and I’m behind schedule. And now the holidays are here… so everything has to be perfect! The house must be cleaned from top to bottom. I have to decorate at least as well as my sister does or Mom is going to say something. With everyone’s food allergies how am I going to cook for all of them? On top of that I have to smile through Uncle Ted’s jokes again…Eeeeek! I feel like I’m going to explode!”
Life in general causes many women to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Then the holiday season brings with it its own set of stressful circumstances. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed all the time, it can almost drive you over the edge. It’s no wonder so many women are suffering from adrenal fatigue. They’re burning the candle at both ends.
So how can you relieve your feeling of overwhelm, so life is more enjoyable?
1. Create routines so you make fewer decisions.
If you’re not clear on what you want, making decisions creates stress. So the more things you can do routinely, the less stress you’ll have. This is one of the easiest ways to give yourself a break. Try simple changes like getting up at the same time or following a meal plan.
2. Move your body every day.
I’ve found that The Feldenkrais Method® really helps me to sense into myself.
Endorphins combat stress, and exercise stimulates endorphins. It doesn’t take a lot, just doing something extra every day.
3. Eat mindfully.
Too many people eat on the run. Make sure you carve out time to sit and mindfully eat a balanced breakfast and lunch. Don’t check your emails. Don’t try to work and eat. Put away your electronic devices and reading material. Breathe deeply and feel yourself slow down before you take your first bite.
4. Don’t immediately commit to something.
Because we hate to let anyone down we often reflexively say “yes” to every request. Instead, practice saying, “let me get back to you on that.” It buys you time to consider whether you want to do it or not.
5. Try simple meditation.
Close your eyes. Breathe in for a count of four. Breathe out for a count of four. Repeat another three times. And you’re done.
6. Visualize each task as completed.
Sit quietly for 30 seconds and think about what it means to finish what you start. Commit and trust yourself to follow through. How will that feel? What will it mean to your life? Think about it and let it move you forward.
“We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
7. What you should do doesn’t always matter.
We have a limited number of hours in the day, and while you may have many interests, you can only realistically do a few major projects a year. You don’t have to do everything. So ask yourself, “Do I really want to do this or can I let it slide?” Focus on the things you really want to do.
8. Don’t wait for motivation. So many times you won’t feel like doing a project, but if you just get started with one step of it, you’ll find it leads to the next. Waiting for inspiration to strike is a quick way to randomly pursue something, then give up, only to yo-yo back a couple weeks later. If you have life systems then you won’t have to depend on willpower or inspiration.
Instead of depending on fleeting motivation, build a system. This means you work through the steps of finding a new job, add it to your calendar every week, and make sure you have the time and mental energy (which are much easier once you know what to do).
Are you ready to live a more intentional life? Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype), and let’s get started.
What are you most grateful for? I’m so grateful for a supportive husband, close family, loving friends, a great business working with wonderful women, a strong body, having the skills to cope with daily ups and downs and so much more. My list is really too long to itemize. Perhaps it’s the same with you.
Did you realize that some people struggle with listing even five things they’re grateful for? Ungrateful people tend to focus on deprivation, regrets, lack, scarcity and loss. Grateful people, on the other hand, tend to talk about things like gifts, givers, blessings, fortune and abundance.
Why does being grateful come easily for some but not for others?
According to experiments conducted by Anthony Ahrens, associate professor of psychology at American University, people who score high for autonomy experience less overall gratitude, and they value it less. It’s possibly because they feel that gratitude undermines their independence.
People who tend to be perfectionists may also have a neutral or negative reaction to gratitude because it attributes their success to benefits received from others. They don’t want to feel beholden in any way. And they don’t want to share the spotlight with anyone else.
Living in a culture that equates having “things” with happiness also undermines a person’s ability to feel grateful. Much of society feels entitled, that the universe owes them. They see relationships through the lens that they are bought, used and disposed once their purpose is fulfilled, just like the “things” they purchase.
Depression may also be a factor. Studies suggest that chronic complaining may be linked to depression and anxiety. If you ever experience severe depression, please seek help immediately. If you’re experiencing a funk, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how practicing gratitude can life your spirits.
Have you been influenced by any of these limiting points of view? Don’t feel discouraged. There are things you can do to improve.
The good thing about gratitude is you can always have more. So don’t reserve a spirit of thankfulness to just once a year. As Zig Ziglar put it, “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”
When you do feel amazingly awesome moment of gratitude, savor those feelings. Pause. Notice. Let it sink in. Soak it up.
But gratitude is more than a feeling. Gratitude is a virtue that leads to action. It embodies the law of reciprocity. You do a nice thing for me, I want to do a nice thing for you. And it makes me feel so good I want to pass it on to someone else.
To say you’re grateful doesn’t mean everything in your life is great all the time. It just means you can see the goodness and you don’t take it for granted. Gratitude shifts your focus from what you think your life lacks to the abundance you already have. It increases your resiliency, optimism and energy. Gratitude puts situations into perspective so you don’t complain or stay stuck. It lessens panic and opens up your thinking of new solutions as you see what’s working for you.
Just as there are many ways to exercise, you can express gratitude in various ways like practicing mindfulness, meditating, praying, reminiscing and sharing stories, being more generous, or spending time in nature. Some families have made a practice of taking turns to express one thing they’re grateful for before eating dinner. What an easy and sustainable practice!
Once you decide to practice gratitude, give it some time before you expect changes. But be assured they will come, because you can rewire your brain. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). We can talk about more ways to practice gratitude and live an embodied life.
Self-control, self-discipline, self-regulation, self-restraint, willpower, resolution, mental toughness, grit…whatever you call it, it’s a cognitive process that you need if you’re going to reach your desired goal. And as the word “self” implies, this is something you must develop within yourself. No one can do it for you.
Yet, if you were to list your strengths, would self-control and willpower be on your list? If so, are they near the top? If you’re like most people, they’re probably nearer the bottom.
So much of today’s marketing says you’ll succeed (lose weight, quit smoking, excel in business) if you just have more willpower. You’re told to control yourself and make yourself do it.
But we’re all emotional beings. We have ups and downs. The problem with being told you need more willpower is that it doesn’t give you the skills or tools to know how to develop it. As the definition states, it’s a process in your brain. And a process can be built if you don’t have one, or it can be improved if you do have one.
How to build and increase your willpower and self-discipline? Learn to listen to yourself in the following areas:
1. Care for your physical needs. You’ve heard it before, but it can’t be overemphasized…eat nutritious food, get plenty of restorative sleep and exercise. Your body is an engine and it needs the right fuel and maintenance to run at peak efficiency. If you don’t care for yourself you’ll be moody, make rash decisions and lose your cool.
2. Ride the tide. Desires and distractions ebb and flow like the tide. When you have a strong impulse to do something you shouldn’t, count to 10. Breathe deeply and center yourself to stay in touch with what’s really important to you. Wait 10 minutes before taking action. By then that wave of desire will become a ripple that you can easily step over.
3. Forgive yourself. It’s a vicious cycle if you default to self-disgust when you don’t measure up to your ideals. It leads to the “Why try?” attitude, which leads to binging on the undesirable behavior you’re trying to conquer. When you slip up, forgive yourself and move on. Acknowledge how the mistake makes you feel, but don’t wallow in it. Shift your attention to what you can do to improve yourself and the situation right now.
4. Live in the present. There’s a trap in living in the past. You know that’s what you’re doing if you say, “I failed before; I’ll fail again”. Or you label yourself “I’m a ___”. That’s not who you are. That’s a past behavior that you don’t have to model today. The other trap is living in the future. That’s indicated by saying, “I’ll get to it someday, but not today.” Learn to be mindfully present in the moment.
5. Focus on results. Your emotional state is determined by what you focus your attention on. Focus on problems and you prolong negative emotions. Focus on positive actions you CAN take and you’ll feel empowered, even if it means taking just one little step forward. That one step will lead to another, which leads to another…until you get the results you desire.
6. Say “YES” when you mean YES and “NO” when you mean NO. I know. You hem and haw because you don’t want to let someone down or put someone out. But you’re not honoring them with indecisive messages. Give them a clear answer and they’ll accept it.
Wishy washy phrases like, “I’m not sure” or “I think so” give your power away. In fact, it harms your physical and mental health. Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco found that if you have trouble saying “no” you’re more likely to experience stress, burnout and depression.
When you honor how you feel and honor the things you’re committed to doing, it increases your self-control and willpower. You won’t be spreading yourself too thin by over-committing yourself.
7. Avoid perfectionism and be willing to pay the price. Regrets and worrying about “what ifs” get you nowhere. Plan your strategy and funnel your energies into your chosen course of action. It won’t be perfect, because nothing can be perfect. Just do it as competently as you can. You’ll be surprised by how much you accomplish and how empowering it is!
So now you have a process when you need the willpower to attain a goal or objective. But how do you know if it’s the right goal? Would you like to ensure you’re spending your time and energy on the right thing for you, right now? Then please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”~ Lao Tzu
In working with professional women, I often find that they have trouble identifying their strengths, their talents, and their value. Yet, it’s so important to know who you are and what your story is in order to excel at work, to market your skills, and to feel fulfilled in life.
When someone asks you, “What’s your story?” do you freeze? And then you say, “Oh, there’s nothing special about me. I really don’t have a story.”
Or someone asks, “What are you really good at?” Do you reply with some self- deprecating comment because deep down you don’t think you’re special?
How well do you know yourself?
Often others know you better than you know yourself. They know you’re capable of so much even when you don’t think so. If this remotely describes the battle going on inside you, the first thing you need to assess is: Are you able to love yourself unconditionally?
When you know yourself well, you will unconditionally love yourself and recognize and honor your own worth.
Over the decades, I’ve seen so many extraordinary women crippled by their lack of self-compassion and negative self-talk. They can’t look at themselves in a mirror without criticizing themselves. And they can’t accept a compliment.
This negative mindset shows itself in two distinct ways:
- You review your past performance and judge yourself as “not good enough”.
- You experienced deep pain in the past and are convinced you’re worthless.
Often this negativity comes from learning to control your emotions and actions by punishing yourself rather than encouraging yourself. You either heard or told yourself hurtful things like: “You’re so stupid.” “That was dumb.” “Your older sister never did a bonehead thing like that. Why can’t you be more like her?” “You don’t deserve anything better because you always mess up.” “You deserve to be hurt, because you’re not lovable.”
It’s time to get to know who you are and see all the good and wonderful things about yourself. You are an exceptional person worthy of honor, love and respect.
Let’s turn the negativity around so you can motivate yourself through positive encouragement! You can retrain your brain to analyze your feelings, sort out what’s true and what’s not, and focus on the positive in everything you experience.
Learning to love yourself unconditionally is a process you can master with practice. You’re going to be peeling back the layers. Be willing to experience pain and accept, not judge, your emotions and feelings. Don’t give up. With persistence it will get easier. The pain will diminish over time.
It’s taken you a lifetime to get to where you are today. Be patient with yourself as you retrain yourself to come from a place of self-compassion and love.
When you do learn to love yourself unconditionally you can:
- Be the real you and feel comfortable in your own skin.
- Recognize the amazing talents you have.
- Feel more empowered and energized to take advantage of new opportunities.
- Find more inner strength to stand up for yourself and what you believe in.
- Be able to ask for what you want and need.
- Be more resilient and persistent in the face of challenges.
- Bounce back from failure and suffer less from stress.
- Experience wellbeing and happiness.
- Build warm, positive relationships.
Be happy and proud that you’re an emotional being with values, needs and wants. Learn to honor these so you can feel whole. Explore and identify how your “Inner Critic” is trying to protect you from pain, and then accept its direction as it motivates you toward excellence.
Don’t allow a moment, a situation, or an experience to define who you are. You may have a moment of depression, anxiety, or anger. But that’s not who you are. You have the power to identify what triggers those emotions and you get to choose how to deal with those emotions. Take my 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment and get to know yourself on a much deeper level.
“The pursuit of happiness” is one of our unalienable rights, according to the U. S. Declaration of Independence. Isn’t that interesting? They focused on the process of searching for happiness. Not happiness itself. They knew that the process is what contributes to our feeling of wellbeing.
Why is our feeling of wellbeing dependent on the process or life system we use?
What makes me happy isn’t what makes you happy. For example, I love my pets, cats especially. Life wouldn’t be complete without them. But you may hate cats, or you may be allergic to them, so they make your life miserable.
We’re all so different. So to define happiness is impossible. But to mindfully choose to be happy – to choose to see the beauty in every situation – is part of the process.
Yes, everybody wants happiness. Sadly many people today find it elusive. Perhaps it’s because they focus on the wrong things. As the writer Denis Waitley noted:
“It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.”
What should you focus on to increase your feeling of wellbeing?
If you had to list what makes you happy, can you easily do it? Or is it difficult to define? Is your list the same as it was 25 years ago? Most likely not!
In his book Flourish, psychologist Martin Seligman, provides some clues that will help you find your happiness. (He’s known as the face of positive psychology.) He proposes the PERMA Contrast – the need for a balance between five different components of life. When you master these, you’ll increase your happiness and feeling of wellbeing.
The PERMA Model
1) Lead a life of Positive Emotions – maximize positive emotions and accept and understand negative emotions. Your feeling of wellbeing comes from things deeper than fleeting emotions or moods.
2) Lead a life of Engagement – seek out activities that allow you to be in flow. (You’re so involved you lose track of time and self.)
3) Lead a life of Relationships. It powerfully plays a role in supporting the other four components of wellbeing.
4) Lead a life of Meaning – belong to and serve something that is bigger than self. (Family, religion, community, country, ideals or causes.)
5) Lead a life of Accomplishment – pursue excellence and mastery, both as goals and as processes.
To maintain a feeling of wellbeing all five of these needs must be met and balanced. Try applying the 20/80 rule to your life. Spend 20% of your time on small mindful practices such as exercise, centering, meditation, reading, appreciation and gratitude. When you do, you’ll find that you’re able to handle 80% of your day in a positive way. No matter what circumstances you encounter.
Remember: it doesn’t take great changes to make you happy. It’s the small acts of self-love, mindfulness and appreciation that matter.
Of course, being happy doesn’t mean you’re smiling all the time. It means you’re living the life that you’re meant to live. Then you’re able to accept whatever comes your way.
Your feeling of wellbeing increases when you understand yourself and your core strengths and use them daily. Do you see areas that could benefit from some attention? Would you like to learn how to live a balanced life? Why not download my free 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment. It’s a great way to start to reconnect with your body, mind and spirit.
And if you want to grab a copy of Dr. Seligman’s book, Flourish, you can find it on Amazon. (In full disclosure, I’ll receive a few pennies in commission. It won’t affect your price at all. Enjoy!)