Maria Connolly Somatic Psychotherapy CoachingConnect with me on LinkedInLike us on Facebook

Posts Tagged ‘Mental Health’

Daily Taking a Break from Work –The Secret to Innovation and Excellence

Daily taking a break from work may seen foreign to you, yet it’s really the secret to greater innovation, performance excellence, and a life filled with joy.“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” ~ Anne Lamott

Every day we’re bombarded with advice to become more organized, to get more done, to write endless to-do lists as we break big projects into smaller portions. So the idea of daily taking a break from work may sound strange to you. And while I wholehearted support the concepts of being organized and prioritizing to get things done, there has to be a balance in life.

If you feel as if you have to be busy every moment of every day, and you don’t think you’re successful unless you have a lot of accomplishments – and you’re in an endless cycle of “Check! Done that! Move on! Check! Done that! Move on!” – perhaps it’s time to reassess what you’re really accomplishing.

Actually, scheduling some downtime and taking a break from work on a daily basis will increase your ability to come up with innovative ideas and creative solutions. However, a more important reason to take a break is that if you don’t, it’s only a matter of time before you experience burnout, which could damage your body and spirit so badly that they’re not able to fully recover.

So as a friend, let me ask you: When was the last time you really disconnected from your business and responsibilities? When you didn’t listen to anything but the buzzing of the bees? When you didn’t watch anything but the clouds floating by? When you didn’t plan anything except…well, you didn’t plan anything at all! How often do you get to experience total creative silence as you simply practice being in and enjoying the moment? If you can’t remember, you’re way overdue. You are, no doubt, already on cognitive overload.

Think about it: You know you need to eat every day, right? You do it, not only because it’s enjoyable, but you expend the calories in your output of energy. And your body automatically knows to breathe in after exhaling. Why? Because you use up your supply of oxygen and your body demands more. As children, we knew how to play…when did that change? When did people forget to take breaks and enjoy life?

You constantly give all day long. You push to do things for your family, your friends, and your job. Yet if you aren’t regularly taking a break from work, you’ll run out of resources. Your body and brain needs downtime to repair itself. Not only is a good night’s sleep essential for refreshing yourself, but taking a little bit of time off during the day is necessary too.

The benefits of taking a break from work are countless. Your mood will improve. Your stress level will go down. Your energy will return. Your heart will be healthier. Your creativity and productivity will skyrocket. Your relationships will flourish. You’ll do your most excellent work if you’re regularly taking a break from work.

Isn’t it time to give your body and brain the space and time it needs to process all that you’re taking in every day? Your body may already be telling you it needs a break…are you listening? Unfortunately most of us have learned to ignore these messages from our bodies. Please, download my free 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment. Go to a quiet place and give yourself the gift of reconnecting with yourself this month. You owe it to yourself.

Healing the Father Daughter Relationship: 5 Steps to Forging Healthy Friendships with Men

Learning to heal the father daughter relationship is vital because it influences your self image, emotional growth, mental health, decisions and attitudes. My relationship with my father was…well…it was very complicated. When I was really little I adored my dad. I thought he was the best. As I got older, I learned that my father could be difficult to be around. My new story as an adult is that my father did the best he could. But the truth is it took me a long time getting to a healthy perspective about our father daughter relationship.

While a mother has a great deal to do with nurturing and helping daughters discover who they are, the father daughter relationship is extremely important too. Why? Because fathers shape their daughters in the following ways:

  • our academic performance,
  • our career path and financial wellbeing,
  • our communication skills,
  • our self-esteem and confidence,
  • our body image and sense of self,
  • our behavior and attitudes,
  • our mental and emotional health,
  • our social traits,
  • who we are,
  • how we experience the world,
  • whether we feel safe or not,
  • how we handle stress,
  • how we relate with men platonically,
  • who we date,
  • how soon we have sex,
  • whether we have successful romantic relationships or not.

When a father actively engages in his daughter’s childhood, promoting her scholastic or athletic achievements, he encourages her self-reliance and assertiveness. As a result, she’s more likely to graduate from college and enter a higher paying, more demanding job. A close mentoring relationship with her father makes a girl feel secure and supported. There’s nothing she can’t do.

But what if that’s not the reality of your father daughter relationship? Maybe your father has been absent emotionally or physically. Does that mean you’re stuck with a lot of baggage that slows you down forever? By no means! You CAN move past it.

Firstly, it’s important to be aware of the kind of relationship you have had with your dad. Whether it was positive or not, acknowledge the hurt, loss, disappointment, yearning and longing for something different. By acknowledging your feelings, you can begin to grieve and become more at peace with what was. You can now turn things around by deliberately co-creating healthy relationships in your adult life.

“Slender at first, they quickly gather force
Growing in richness as they run their course;
Once started, they do not turn back again,
Rivers, and years and friendships with good men.”
~ Sanskrit poem ~

Five steps to begin healing the father daughter relationship…Healing the father daughter relationship is vital because it influences her self image, emotional growth, mental health, decisions and attitudes.

  1. Acknowledge the type of relationship you have had with your father.
  1. Be kind and compassionate toward your younger self that might still be hurting. Anger, numbness, indifference often hides a great amount of hurt that you might not want to feel, so create a safe space for you to process through these emotions mindfully. Never ever say, “I’m stupid for feeling this way”. You have a right to your feelings. Be patient with yourself as you sort through them.
  1. Allow yourself to grieve. Tell yourself that you deserved better, because you did! Mourn what you missed. But don’t get stuck in what should have been. Focus on learning to feel worthy of being loved, supported and cared for. Look for the positive things you did receive from your father. If nothing else, you are alive today because of him, so you can be grateful that you have the chance to use your life in a kinder, more expansive way.
  1. Look around you for healthy male role-models. Yes, they are out there often camouflaged as our co-workers, neighbors, or dear friends. Don’t be afraid to reach out. You have the chance to create your own supportive family of “fathers” and “brothers” to turn to for advice and help. However, be mindful of the boundaries they and their families are comfortable with. You can become a part of your male friend’s life without giving the appearance of “taking over” attention that should be given to his family and other friends.
  1. Deliberately surround yourself and co-create healthy friendships with the opposite sex. I understand that this might be challenging depending on the kind of beliefs and values you and your partner might have but I can’t recommend this one enough. Even though I have one of the most loving and supporting partners I could have ever asked for, I value my close friendship with other males.

As adults, we get to choose whom we want in our lives. A healthy mix of male and female friends adds richness and fullness to our experience. Your father daughter relationship is just one of the indicators of a life well lived. Take the 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment to see how you’re doing as a whole. Click here to download your free copy

Excellence is a Habit that Prevents Self-Defeating Beliefs and Behavior

Excellence is a habit that prevents self-defeating beliefs and behaviors from getting a foothold, thereby giving you the resources to make your life vision a reality. What is the controlling force in your life? Is it conscious choice or the power of habit? If you picked “habits’, you’re right!  And that’s a good thing, because if you had to stop and make a brand new decision about every little thing in life, you’d never make it out of bed, let alone get to work. You might get stuck on something nonessential like – “Should I put my shoe on my left foot first this morning or on my right foot?” Most habits are behaviors that save you a great deal of time.

But not all the habits are helpful. Some actually get in your way of making progress toward desired goals. For example, you might want to lose weight, but if it’s your habit to watch TV while you eat, you won’t be mindful about the type and amount of food you eat. It also promotes a less active lifestyle. Bad habits like this one are cruel taskmasters. They stop you from being the best version of you possible.

Excellence is a habit that supports you in your quest for a more fulfilling life. Let’s first see how bad habits are able to get such a strong hold over you.

How is a habit formed? Any activity or thought (physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual) will become a pattern or a habit if you repeat it often enough. They actually create physical, electrical and chemical pathways that become set in your brain. Yes, there are well-worn paths in your brain, and they got there just like you’d make a trail through a grassy meadow by going over the same ground again and again until you wore down the grass into bare soil. (If you’d like to learn more, check out Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. I highly recommend it.)

Once patterns of behaviors are set, they run unconsciously in the background, like your computer’s operating system. You don’t see them or think about them, but these unconscious patterns control your life.

Many of the patterns are laid down as a result of fears from early childhood events, and they will draw you off the path to success. Here are some of the worst habits that even leaders may fall prey to…

  1. Failure to hold on to your purpose.To know what adds meaning to your life, you must make time to be quiet and thoughtful. You need to be willing to be vulnerable and dig deeply into what really matters to you. Once you identify your purpose, success requires that you hold on to it and not let go. Being specific and intentional about what you want drives the creation of excellence as a habit and keeps you from reverting to the past.
  1. Unclear goals. A vision without a plan is just a wish. You have to define your goals and then chunk them down into baby steps so you can successful accomplish them.
  1. Inaction. Once you have a well-defined plan and you’ve defined your mini goals, you still need to take action. Procrastination and perfectionism are enemies to action. Effective leaders don’t wait for the perfect moment or try to plan for every contingency. Taking the first step may be the hardest, but have faith that everything will fall into place as you go.
  1. Loss of focus.Distractions and overstimulation interfere with planning and achieving goals. When your mind leaps from one thought to another, practice calming breathing exercises. Regularly spend time in mindful meditation. Learn to focus on one thing at a time.
  1. Acceptance of the status quo. Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you’re content with where you are, that’s fine. But if you want to excel, it requires that you take risks and get out of your comfort zone. You can’t change what’s going on around you until you change what’s going on within you. Rekindle the fire within yourself. Your determination and commitment will enable you to attain the success you seek. Each success fuels your self-confidence and spurs you on to greater efforts.

Do you agree that excellence is a habit you want in your life? Then, I’m happy to invite you to a special talk: Choose Life Enhancing Beliefs on Thursday, August 25th. Nando Raynolds and I will be meeting with you in Ashland, Oregon to share how NLP can expand your abilities for happiness and excellence. This is a great first step in reassessing your goals and analyzing your life to see if you’re incorporating excellence into your habits. Learn more about it by clicking here or contact me for more details. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

Self Sabotaging Behavior – 5 Traps Women Need to Avoid to be Truly Happy

self sabotaging behaviorWhich would you say is more damaging to your health: stress from a car accident or from a messy house? Which is worse: a breakup with a romantic partner or a friend who makes you crazy because she never follows through on what she promises?

The answer lies in whether the stress is short-term or long-term. We’re actually equipped to handle life-threatening situations. It’s the constant, nagging stress that causes problems. Why is that?

“Today, many people live in stress mode all the time, and the constant release of steroids like adrenaline and cortisol can lead directly to diseases like diabetes, heart disease, depression and cancer, and indirectly to bad health habits like undersleeping and overeating.” says James Ehrlich, MD, clinical associate professor of endocrinology at the University of Colorado.

Interestingly, women produce a higher amount of oxytocin than men do, which counters the rush from cortisol and epinephrine and puts them into a “nurturing, tending and befriending” mode, according to a WebMD article on why men and women react differently to stress. This means that if you’re not careful, you can find yourself focusing solely on giving to others, which will leave you depleted.

What is it that makes your stress level rise? Is it chaotic surroundings or disrupted schedules? Do you fall prey to negative self-talk or negative body image fed by food and fitness issues? Or do relationships make your blood pressure rise?

The underlying cause for many of these stressful issues can be traced to self sabotaging behavior. You’ll achieve greater happiness and freedom to excel if you adjust your perspective on the following five traps:

  1. Imagined fears.Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of rejection and even fear of how your decision will impact your family, friends and others – all of these are paralyzing. And it’s all imaginary. It’s not real. How many fears in the past actually came true? It’s better to focus on what’s real. Your desires for a better life are real. Your dreams can become real if you cultivate a mindset that gets rid of self sabotaging fears.
  1. Perfectionism. Women tend to compare themselves to others wishing to be smarter, more attractive, or more successful. These comparisons are harmful. The only comparison that’s beneficial is – how can I become a better version of myself? Love yourself for who you are.
  1. People Pleasing. Trying to be someone you’re not is exhausting. Worrying about what others think is nonproductive. Let everyone know what you need and think. If you set boundaries, you won’t fall into the trap of not having a life of your own, being at everyone’s beck and call. The world needs to see the “real you”, and they’ll respect you more. You absolutely do have gifts, skills, and personality traits that are extremely valuable. Value yourself, and others will value you more.
  1. DOing instead of BEing. When you measure your value by how much you achieve, will you ever feel like you’re good enough? Not likely. You won’t be able to slow down for even a moment because there’s so much to do! Give yourself a break and learn to be mindfully present in each moment. Enjoy the journey. In the end, what will make you feel more satisfied – accomplishments or a life well-lived?
  1. Self-punishment. So many women struggle with feeling unworthy or undeserving. They minimize their value as an individual. They downplay their accomplishments. You won’t become egotistical if you stop to recognize and acknowledge the positive good you do. When you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, choose to self-correct, find a better way, and keep moving forward. Everyone fails. That’s how we learn to do better.

Are there areas in your life that could use some attention? I’d love to partner with you as you create a life in alignment with your purpose. Join me in my new workshop, The Power of Embodied Presence – Empowering Women Through Somatic Education and the Art of Relationship. This highly experiential, one-day workshop draws on neuroscience, mindfulness, somatic principles, and adult development theory to help you unlock your inner wisdom and create harmony between your mind, spirit, and body. Mark your calendar – July 16th. Click here to learn more.

Don’t Let Fear Stop You from Fully Enjoying a Rich and Satisfying Life

Don’t let fear stop you from fully enjoying the rich life that you know you could have, so here are five ways to deal with fears so you reach your potentialDon’t you admire a fearless person – one who steps up and does the things you only wish you had the strength to do? Maybe it’s someone who speaks with ease in front of thousands, or happily travels to new places and fits in to every culture they encounter, or someone who reveals their deepest emotions without fear of rejection and has the most awesome relationships. Actually, if you talked with them, they’d tell you they have fears too. The difference is they’ve embraced the advice, “Don’t let fear stop you”. This is good news, because it means that you can too!

Granted, some fears protect you. Other fears are irrational. It’s your choice as to how you deal with your irrational fears. You can either let those fears box you in to a limiting life that immobilizes you from achieving your full potential. Or, ideally, you don’t let fear stop you because you’ve learned to non-judgmentally observe your emotions and face each fear. The second option allows you to view it as an opportunity to consciously choose to live more expansively.

Don’t let fear stop you from fully enjoying the life you want to live. Here are five ways to deal with fears so you can reach your potential for happiness

  1. Suspend self-criticism that you are “less than” and alone. Do you have one of these phobias: Ablutophobia (fear of washing or bathing), Bibliophobia (fear of books), Cacophobia (fear of ugliness), or Pteronophobia (fear of feathers)? From A to Z, there are literally hundreds of phobias that grip people today. You’re not alone. Don’t let yourself feel isolated or think you’re weird. You might even feel better knowing others deal with fears more severe than you.
  1. Fears can be overcome one small step at a time.As you take one small step toward conquering your fear, you can become more comfortable. What you thought would happen, doesn’t. As you ease into it, you’ll prove to yourself that your fears were groundless. For example, you learn that your heart isn’t going to stop if you speak in front of a crowd.
  1. Change your emotional focus and view it as an opportunity to grow. Look beyond your fear and see the improvements waiting for you – increased self-confidence, healthier personal relationships, happiness, even greater wealth and professional status. Shifting your focus away from the fearful feeling robs it of its power, because you’re no longer feeding it.
  1. Realize how much your imagination is involved. Neale Donald Walsch says that fear is an acronym for ‘False Evidence Appearing Real.’ This is closely connected to tip number 2. Your imagination magnifies your fear. You begin to rationalize your actions. You say, “I can’t do that because…” The excuse may sound reasonable on the surface. However, underneath it all the irrational fear has no basis in truth. Our imaginings may feel real, but they aren’t. Often our fears are based in our own insecurities. Those who excel learn that taking risks and stepping outside their comfort zone is a way of life that they become comfortable with.
  1. We learn through failure. Fear of failure seems to be the most common fear. Yet, failure isn’t something to be avoided. It gives us an opportunity to see our strengths and our weakness so we can mindfully focus on the area that needs improvement. Everyone fails. The difference is whether you pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and keep trying, because it’s the end results that matter in the long run. Failure is just part of the learning and growing process.

Learning to observe your emotions mindfully and adopting a positive state is a skill that will help you succeed in conquering your fears. I’m not saying it will be easy. I am encouraging you to not give up, because you have so much potential for experiencing a richer life. Don’t let fear stop you! I’d love to help you reach your potential for excellence, so please contact me and we can work together in person in Ashland, Oregon or if you live too far away we can work via Skype.

Recent Posts

About Maria

Our Address