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 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).

How to CALM Your Mind Using My 4-Step C.A.L.M. Process

Learn how to CALM your mind by using my 4-Step C.A.L.M. Process. Even in times of great stress, practicing it will help you achieve calm and peace more quickly.“I have never experienced a stressful feeling that wasn’t caused by attaching to an untrue thought. Behind every uncomfortable feeling, there’s a thought that isn’t true for us.” ~ Byron Katie

Many of you are doing a great job of maintaining a peaceful state in your lives through practicing mindfulness and other somatic skills I’ve shared with you. Yet in times of great stress, some clients tell me that they can’t help but revert back to a reactive state, which makes them feel out of control, defensive and on edge. Negative thoughts stream back into their minds. Let me reassure you, that’s quite natural. Don’t give up! The more you practice mindfulness the more it becomes your default method to calm your mind.

To make it easier to calm your mind during stressful times, I’ve come up with an acronym to help you remember the steps to take. It’s C.A.L.M.

Before I dive into how to CALM your mind, it’s helpful to understand the two systems or states your brain functions under –

  1. the reactive fight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system) or
  2. the responsive rest and digest state (parasympathetic nervous system).

To put it simply, these two systems transmit valuable information via your neurochemical systems that make the body/mind connection.

Ideally, you want to experience the responsive rest and digest state most of the time. It’s the “shock absorber” in your brain that stops feelings like fear, frustration or anger from taking total control over your actions. Because you have an underlying sense of security and fulfillment, you can observe your feelings without judgment, name them and rationally cope with them, without getting too stressed out.

The fight or flight response should only switch on occasionally, when you’re faced with real danger. After the threat passes, you should quickly return to the rest and digest state in which you feel safe and peaceful.

Are you ready to learn how to CALM your mind? It will allow you to pause and let your rational brain catch up with your emotional brain and give it some guidance.

C stands for Connect. Connect with what your body and emotions are telling you. Notice your body sensations or physical reactions. Identify the feelings attached to them. Name them. Remember, feelings are not right or wrong. They just are. Work on accepting and exploring your feelings.  

For example, your husband says something that hurts you.

Your response: I feel hurt. I’m clenching my jaw and tensing my shoulders. I feel sick to my stomach. I feel threatened. I feel ridiculed. I feel belittled like when my dad said I was just a stupid girl.

A stands for Assure. Assure yourself that you’re safe. Observe your thoughts. What story or assumption are you telling yourself to make you react this way?

Your response: Oh, I was thinking he doesn’t respect me anymore, that he would leave me. That’s not true. We’re committed to each other. He’s just upset because of what I did. He doesn’t understand. (Breathe…Relax.) I’m safe.

L stands for Live YOUR Truth. It’s possible to cause unnecessary stress for yourself by trying to please someone. The sad fact is we often think we’re pleasing someone by pulling back from our dreams or putting ourselves down, which only makes us miserable. And it makes them miserable, too. That’s not what they want. They just want to understand. Each of us has to live our own truth – not somebody else’s.

Your response: This is important to me, because _____. I know he doesn’t understand. Collect my thoughts, so I can explain it to him patiently and reasonably. He probably feels threatened too. Reassure him that I’m not leaving. I’m committed to our relationship.

M stands for Mindfulness. Mindfully and purposefully choose the thoughts and actions that support the life you want to live.

Your response: I’m a powerful, intelligent woman who has a lot to offer my family, career, and community. I have a purpose and there are things I can do right now to move me closer to fulfilling that purpose. I know I need to include him more often, communicating my desires, plans and goals, so he doesn’t feel left behind. I feel calm, happy, and safe.

Would you like more training on how to calm your mind and live up to your full potential? Then plan on joining us at our Women: Bring Forth the Leader Within Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. Yes! We’ve changed the name to reflect more accurately how we’re empowering women, like you, to live a vibrant life and make a difference in the world.

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