Maria Connolly, LPC

Category: Controlling Stress

A very successful approach to controlling stress and achieving a lasting peace and calm is to live an embodied life by creating an inner peace and calm through learning to recognize and embrace your inner experience in an honest and curiosity-filled way. It means you’re aware of your total mind/body/spirit connection and you do things daily to nurture it.

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.

How to Stay Grounded in Reality – 10 Traits Grounded People Display

Life today is so stressful, many wonder how to stay grounded in reality. If you’d like more peace, learn and practice the 10 traits grounded people display.“Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.” ~ Tony Schwartz

As Beth drove to work, a car cut in front of her and nearly caused an accident. So many things were going wrong with her day. She’d spilled coffee on her shirt and had to rush and change. The thick frost on the driveway caused her to slip and fall. Was the whole day going to be one long disaster? Not at all!

Beth in one of the most grounded people I know. Because she practices mindfulness, she is completely present in the moment. Even under trying circumstances, she knows how to regain control of her mental and emotional self. She doesn’t let external forces change who she is. Would you like to be more like Beth?

Life today is so stressful, many wonder how to stay grounded in reality, when the world is falling apart around you. If you could use greater peace of mind, I invite you to learn and practice the following 10 traits grounded people display.

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Be Thankful for Setbacks in Life? You’ve GOT to be Kidding! Maybe Not…

You can be grateful for the setbacks in life, when you use them as opportunities to learn, course correct and for developing resilience and personal growth.“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

This time of year, many people make time to enjoy family, friends and some good food, too. What I love about this time of year is that it gives me the opportunity to reflect on everything I’m grateful for, like you being part of my community. I’m also loving my new website design and excited about new upcoming projects next year. How about you? The holiday season and end of year gives everyone the opportunity to enhance your ability to be grateful for all that comes into your life — even the setbacks in life!

What!? Do you think I’m crazy to write “be grateful for ALL that comes into your life”? Is there a benefit to accepting both the “good” and “bad”? (I use the apostrophes, because it’s not helpful to label anything as good or bad, even though this is how people commonly phrase what’s presently working as opposed to what’s not working.) We can all benefit somehow from anything that happens. It just depends on how you look at it.

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Clear Your Cluttered Mind and Make Space for What Matters Most

If you want to de-clutter your house or office, it’s vital to first clear out your cluttered mind, because it’s mental clutter that leads to physical clutter“The way a person does one thing is the way they do everything.” ~ Maria Connolly’s motto

Do you often forget things? Do you feel like you’re going nowhere fast? Is your to-do list getting longer and your stress level rising? Does it seem like you spend all your time taking care of your things, rather than them serving you? Are your relationships strained because you have too much to do or you ‘just can’t handle one more thing’? All of these may indicate that you have a cluttered mind. Because when your mind is at peace and rest, these life stressors won’t get to you so easily.

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Recovering from Burnout — 18 Tips for Restoring Balance

Burnout syndrome endangers many people who work in high-pressure jobs. Learn to recognize its symptoms and how you can start recovering from burnout today.“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” ~ Lou Holtz

The doctors say there’s nothing wrong with you, except for a little high blood pressure and fatigue. But you know there’s something seriously off. You’re not yourself. You drag yourself out of bed. As you walk around the house, you mutter “I’m just so tired,” but you can’t figure out why. Could it be you’re suffering from burnout?

Are you uncharacteristically short-tempered? Has your positive attitude been replaced with critical comments? Do you exercise less? Drink more? Have you lost touch with friends?  What should take minutes now takes hours. Sounds more and more like burnout!

No, it’s not all in your head. Less than a week ago, the World Health Organization posted their 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases, listing burnout as an occupational phenomenon. They state that:

“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
  • reduced professional efficacy.”

Burnout syndrome contributes to heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and premature aging. This is not something you want to ignore and hope goes away!

Some professions, (e.g. medical, legal, teaching, social work, entrepreneurship), are more prone to causing burnout, because they demand all you have to give and then more! You could be fulfilling responsibilities that are clearly out of the bounds of your job description, without being compensated for them. You may be working in an unsupportive or toxic environment. Perhaps you’re asked to compromise personal values and beliefs. On top of that, you may have unrealistic expectations of yourself.

Did you notice WHO said burnout results from “stress that has not been successfully managed”? That should give you hope, because you can learn to manage stress and start recovering from burnout, with a few adjustments to your life. Right now, you may feel like you can’t do one more thing! But, please, take steps to get your life back in balance.

How do you start the process of recovering from burnout? It all begins with a practice of mindfulness to check in with yourself throughout the day. Here are some other suggestions:

  1. Learn stress management skills. Yoga, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation techniques, reconnecting with nature, and utilizing the power of gratitude are all helpful.
  2. Tune into body sensations. Focus on your body’s response to movement. For example, stretching releases tightness and tension.
  3. Talk to someone. Find a good listener who isn’t going to try to “fix” you or judge you.
  4. Rekindle friendships. Phone someone and schedule a lunch date, or better yet, go for a walk with your friend and get some exercise, too.
  5. Limit contact with negative people. Your may have to work with them, but you don’t have to eat lunch or hang out after work with them.
  6. Learn to speak Positivity.
  7. Reframe the way you view work. Focus on how you help others.
  8. Set boundaries that support your valuesLearn to say “no!” and rediscover your happy place.
  9. Develop curiosity about emotional distress. Think of it as a learning tool.
  10. Take time off and get away. Ovid wisely said ~ “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”
  11. Stop the tech addiction. The world isn’t going to end because you completely disconnect from your devices at the end of each day!
  12. Feed your creative side and find a hobby.
  13. Get restorative sleep
  14. Make exercise a priority. Aim to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes/day. Mix it up with activities you like.
  15. Eat healthfully. Just cut out one harmful item and add one healthful item at a time. It makes a difference.
  16. Avoid narcotics, nicotine and alcohol. Stimulants and depressants alter your brain chemistry. The temporary euphoria isn’t worth the negative effects.
  17. Find a better job. It took courage, but I have never regretted shifting my practice to coaching women!
  18. Work smarter. Hone your time management and organizational skills.

Jonathan Lockwood Huie reminds us, “Say NO to the demands of the world. Say YES to the longings of your own heart.”  Are you ready to make that shift? Does recovering from burnout feel too overwhelming — you don’t know where to start? I’d love to help you create a plan that gets you to where you want to be. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).

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