Maria Connolly, LPC

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Continually grow as a person and find your work/life balance

How to Deal With Anxiety and Stress During Crises Like COVID-19

Learn how to deal with anxiety during crises like coronavirus by choosing your actions and thoughts carefully. By being prepared you can ease your anxiety. “Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.” ~ Walter Anderson

We are all concerned about keeping self and loved ones safe through the COVID-19 pandemic. And many people are rightly anxious about their businesses surviving. These are valid concerns. This kind of coronavirus anxiety moves us to take practical steps to protect ourselves. For example, we can…

Practice best hygiene practices. Wash hands often, for 20 seconds, with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with 70% ethyl alcohol. Keep hands away from the face. Comply with social distancing — staying 6 feet away.

Reassess work and business. If your work has already been negatively impacted, review your business strategies; perhaps you’ll find greater clarity and new opportunities where you didn’t see them before.

However, if you’re plagued by an overwhelming, paralyzing anxiety that is draining your energy and diminishing your joy in life, it’s time to mindfully identify the cause and taking steps to becoming more secure. (Remember that asking for assistance from a professional is not shameful. It’s a sign of self-knowledge and strength to admit you can’t do it by yourself.)

With a pandemic, there are many things we can’t control. But we can control our reaction to a crisis. By being prepared and doing all we can, we can ease our anxiety. Reestablish your sense of control by choosing your actions and thoughts carefully. Here are some suggestions…

How to deal with anxiety: do LESS of —

Overdoing junk food. Sugar lowers the effectiveness of our immune system. Now would be a good time to mindfully note the amount you consume and take steps to use little or no sugar. Using this pandemic as an excuse for overloading on junky comfort food will make your immune system vulnerable.

Staying up later; not getting restorative sleep. Try to keep your normal routine of getting up and dressed; then take advantage of this opportunity to get plenty of rest. This is your chance to reset your sleep cycle. Sleep strengthens your immune system.

Consuming too much news. Block out a limited amount of time in the morning or evening to stay informed from a credible source, not overdosing on sensational misinformation.

Isolating yourself. It’s vital to remain connected and engaged with your friends, family and community.

How to deal with anxiety: Do MORE of —

Remain calm. Panic releases cortisol, which suppresses your immune system.

Be humble. Being told you can’t go out causes anxiety in people who hate being told what to do. It may take extra effort to relax and let it go. Consider how the following statements affect you and how you can bring more balance to your life, respecting each one…

Remember this isn’t going to last forever. As resilient people, we will be able to pick up the pieces and keep going.

Don’t stress about what hasn’t happened yet. Our imagination can add to our anxiety by jumping to worse case scenario. While it’s good to be aware of how today’s actions will form tomorrow’s reality, during crisis see how life really is today (I have a home, food, toilet paper, etc). Take it one day at a time.

Ask yourself “What can I do right now?” Many people are using the Internet for work. Can you do that, too? If you’re at high risk for catching the virus… do all you can to build up your immune system. This reinforces your sense of control and reduces anxiety.

Practice gratitude. Focusing on what you do have, what’s right in your life, will bring peace and calm. It will remind you of how others’ are contributing to your well-being and move you to reach out and connect with them on a deeper level.

Keep learning. Give your mind something positive to focus on. Now is a good time to learn a new skill like speaking a foreign language or becoming better cook. Try a new relaxation method like mindfulness, Yoga, Progressive Muscle Relaxation or deep breathing exercises.

Get plenty of exercise. Sheltering in place does not mean sitting and surfing the Net. When you can’t go to the gym, walking outside in the sunshine is a tremendous help in releasing anxiety.

Do what brings you peace. Some people are using the time for Spring Cleaning. Other people are letting the bed-making and dishes go, so they can finish a creative project. How you deal with it, is up to you. Don’t fall into the trap of doing something because “everyone else is doing it!”

As a family, discuss your anxieties and how you will support each other through this. If you’d like to use this time for developing greater self-leadership skills, I’m happy to conduct the “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation by phone or via Zoom. Please contact me and we can work “together” putting this time of crisis to good use.

Value Yourself for Who You Are, Not What You Do

It’s important to value yourself accurately, not thinking too much or too little of yourself. Please use these tips to make a current assessment of yourself“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.” ~ Brené Brown

Recently, when I complimented one of my clients, she replied, “It’s nothing; anyone could have done it.” I heard what she was doing, but I knew she didn’t hear what she was telling herself in that discounting statement. Calmly I looked her in the eye and asked, “Is that really how you value yourself?” Her eyes widened, as she realized what she had done…

Why self-value and self-esteem are lacking today

I’d like you to give this some serious thought: When was the last time you said or did something that discounted your actions, thoughts, or words as being nothing special? Perhaps you under priced a service you provide, or you gave in to a disagreement relinquishing something you highly valued, or you dismissed sincere feedback, or you spoke in a self-deprecating manner, as if in jest.

It’s so important for you to value yourself accurately — you’re not presenting your true self if you over-inflate your importance (too much ego) nor if you discount yourself (too little self-esteem). Either way, you make yourself out to be something that you’re not. Balance comes when you assign the proper amount of value to yourself.

None of us can speak our truth, if we’re not recognizing and assessing our contribution to family, business, and community properly.

But this can be tricky! It takes mindful adjusting of our dials. You may need to dial down ego and dial up self-esteem, or vice versa. And when you do this, you’ll find that it’s not just one thing in your life that changes; it involves your whole body, mind, and spirit connection.

Recognize when you’re discounting or undervaluing yourself. As Dr. Asa Don Brown so eloquently puts it, “Self-talk reflects your innermost feelings.” Women, more so than men, seem to be “experts” at deflecting any mention of their personal or professional value. Some indicators are:

  • Confuse what you do with who you are.
  • Downplay or understate your real value.
  • Shy away from complements and praise.
  • Say things like, “It’s nothing” or “It’s just my job”.
  • Cringe inwardly and feel like a fraud when you outwardly accept recognition.

Only you can give value to yourself. When you value yourself, it shows in how you present yourself, influencing how others perceive you. This may be difficult because you may have accepted what other people have imposed on you…

  • Perhaps a parent was trying to teach you modesty and humility, but went overboard and taught you to be self-deprecating or overly critical of self.
  • Perhaps someone in authority, such as a teacher of boss, had ridiculed and used name calling to cut you down until you believe their assessments of your character.
  • Perhaps you’re, by nature, shy and introverted, so it’s easier to hide in the shadows and it’s painful to have the spotlight shone on you.

Our self-esteem can take some heavy knocks throughout our lives, and if we’re not mindfully assessing, recentering, grounding, and building ourselves back up, our self-value will suffer.

You, as a living human being, are valuable! During this time of social distancing due to COVID-19, why not make this your opportunity to become more aware of how you value yourself. I encourage you to use self-leadership strategies to do an assessment of your current…

What you do is not who you are. You may have done things you regret, but these do not decrease your value as a person! Please choose to value yourself by choosing new thoughts, new feelings, new speech and new behaviors that build you up. And remember that no fellow traveler on this journey called life has the right to pass judgment on your worth as a human being.  

Sometimes the hardest part about valuing yourself is learning to speak up respectfully for your needs, wants, values and beliefs. Effective communication is a skill I love working with my clients! Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation. We can do this via phone or Skype from the safety and comfort of your own home. I can’t think of a better way for getting through this trying time, can you?

Daily Developing Self-Leadership – Your Stepping Stone to a Leadership Career

Would you like to have a leadership career? To get started, it’s important to daily practice these 3 aspects when you’re developing self-leadership skills.“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” ~ Ray Kroc

There’s nothing like hands on experience to make your leadership skills grow. But how do you gain that experience when you don’t have a leadership position yet? The key is to make developing self-leadership a daily priority. This will quickly develop your self-confidence and create a reputation for being someone who reliably makes beneficial decisions, has good communication skills, and works well with and can effectively influence others.

Whether it’s in the family or in the corporate board room, it’s not enough for a leader to stand before a group to tell them what to do or how they should be. The most effective leaders stand with their team and model the behavior, attitudes and speech they expect from others. I like how M. D. Arnold pus it, “A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them.”

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What Is Self-Leadership? It’s Something Everyone Can Do!

We are all self-leaders. Some people seem to be born with a measure of this ability; others work to develop it; while others do not yet recognize this about themselves. “You get the best out of others when you get the best out of yourself.” ~ Harvey Firestone

You may have noticed that my new website design features the theme of self-leadership and many of the graphics center around sailing. Some of my clients have been curious about this shift and what exactly do I mean by self-leadership. Wouldn’t you agree that we cannot successfully lead another person before we first lead ourselves? This helps give us the answer to the question:

What is Self-Leadership?

In a nutshell, self-leadership is fully developing your sense of who you are, what you’re capable of doing, and where you are going, as you intentionally and mindfully influence your own communication, emotions and behaviors along the way.

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Coaching Vs Therapy: Know What Option Is Best for You!

s coaching vs therapy the right option for you? Learn how to make the best decision for you and how you ensure you benefit fully from the choice you make.We are interdependent beings; we can’t go it alone. So, it’s only natural that we highly value having someone who allows us to freely express our feelings and thoughts, without judging us. Too often, we hold back, because we have to be careful about what we reveal and to whom. For example, you probably don’t want to discuss your love life with your business partner, nor discuss a business option with your mother. There are definitely times when reaching out to an impartial, objective professional can be very helpful.  

I’m so happy to see more people taking advantage of this invaluable resource for bettering their lives. That’s a courageous step! However, hiring someone to help you get past your comfort zone or mental and emotional roadblocks is a highly personal choice, and it can be overwhelming. When you start looking for someone who can actually help, you’ll find a wide array of life coaches, business coaches, executive coaches, counselors, therapists, psychotherapists, mentors, consultants, and the list goes on. Some are licensed and regulated by the state, others are not.

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