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Posts Categorized: Harness your stress

Gratitude

Did you know that just by searching for positive things to be grateful for, you are activating your brain to produce more “feel good” hormones? Just by the process itself you are changing how your brain is operating.

Wow! That’s pretty significant. But why then don’t we focus more on all the blessings and things we can be thankful for rather than the things we don’t like and that make us unhappy?

Because we also get a payoff from continuing to focus on all the bad things. We are rewarded at least in the short term. Even worrying makes your brain feel better – at least for the moment. But not in the long term.

And that is what is important – the long term consequence of what you are doing. Because that will have a more lasting effect on everything you do. It produces a feedback loop that continues to expand into more positive things.

Focus on what you can do – not what you can’t

What do you say to yourself?

What do you say to yourself when faced with handicaps or obstacles that seem overwhelming?

Do you say, I can do that, or do you look at all the reasons why you can’t do it.

That internal way of thinking will influence everything you do. When under pressure to complete work within a limited time frame, or when things go wrong in your marriage or you don’t know how to talk with your teens, and your life seems like it is spinning out of control, what you say to yourself is critical.

Our thoughts and typical approach to life will either compound and add to the stress we are experiencing or we will find new ways to accomplish what we want.

Unplug

Unplug and just “be”

Be in the moment. Take 15 minutes and simply disconnect from life as usual and connect with your self and your surroundings.

From the time we get up until the time we go to bed we are running – even when it is time to relax we are bombarding our thoughts and minds with media sites, posting, texting, zoning out with TV, video games, and on and on and on. All the things we must do, should have done or ought to do. I get tired just writing about it.

I propose a 15 minute reprieve from the madness of the day to day business of life.

Yes, there is a lot we have to do to pay the bills and take care of our families. And it may seem like a ludicrous suggestion to add another 15 minutes to my list. And yet, it may be the most important 15 minutes of your day.

Hope

As I was sharing with a friend a page from my book, “A Love so Great, A Grief so Deep,” I thought about all the times in life when we get overwhelmed and lose hope.

Here is what I wrote about hope when my husband was dying.

Hope is the effort to fly with wings not yet grown. If I don’t hope – don’t try – don’t struggle, there will never be the possibility of flying.

I was still hoping that he would live – even as I knew he would not.

We cannot live without hope. We may feel as though we are getting bruised and bloodied in the process, but that is a part of living. To live without hope is worse than struggling – you are only flapping your wings without going anywhere.

But with hope, our wings get stronger, and soon they are not just flapping but carrying us – taking us beyond sorrow to healing, recovery and beyond.

What Do You Focus On?

What do you focus on when you wake up?

Do your thoughts go something like this:

“I have to hurry, I will be late, there is so much to do, where will I begin, I wish I could have slept longer, I wish I hadn’t stayed up so late, did I make the kid’s lunch………

From the moment we wake up to the time we finally lay our thoughts down for the night, we are focusing on some part of life. Our thoughts often revolve around all the “have to’s” – the things we have to accomplish in order to survive.

After awhile our thoughts become so adrenalin filled we become highly charged and stressed before we leave home for work.

Before we know it, stress is ruling our lives – we aren’t. We are creating a pattern – a habit – a way of thinking that creates tension that works against us.

Stress. Everyone lives with it. But can you make it work for you?

Stress is Costly

When we allow ourselves to remain in constantly activated high stress, we are impacting our health on many levels. That stress maintained over time has an impact on your pocket book.

Many health costs experienced today can find their roots in long standing stress levels. But we can lower those levels when we become aware of those things that trigger unhealthy stress.

Several years ago, I put together a Wellness workshop and compiled facts and figures about stress at that time. Although these statistics are several years old, they still give us a picture of some of the costs associated with stress. Here are some of those statistics:

Those Ah-Ha Moments

Life will give us those Ah-Ha moments where we are able to get a glimpse of a larger truth that can forever alter our thinking. But we need to be ready to recognize them.

I was given such an Ah-Ha moment many years ago that changed my thinking forever.

We were preparing for a summer camping trip with the kids. I was doing loads of laundry in preparation for leaving the next day. But the job was hindered by a water pressure problem. For some reason the water filling my laundry tub was so slow it seemed to take forever.

It was one of the things on my husband’s to do list.

Time Out

In the game of sports, coaches call time outs to discuss new strategies.

In the game of life, we need time outs to step out of intense work cycles, give our mind a chance to calm down, and allow our bodies to release tension.

I work out of a home office and I periodically leave my computer and spend five to ten minutes doing some mindless chore to give my brain a break. Or to simply sit quietly and close my eyes and use the relaxation techniques I describe in my book on stress and my Relaxation CD. Mindless chores allow my body movement while my brain disconnects from planning, worrying or thinking.

Everybody needs time outs – your children as well as yourselves

This is not a boring 3-5 minutes sitting in a chair because of noncompliance. Time outs are a way to restore balance. It is unplugging – unhooking from all the electronic devices we use to divert ourselves and purposefully setting aside quiet time to allow our brains and bodies to relax.

Love Them or Hate Them

Do you remember when you were a teen and couldn’t wait to leave home? You couldn’t wait to live life the way you wanted to and didn’t want anybody telling you what you could or could not do.

Kids often can’t wait to leave home, establish their own rules and leave behind sibling rivalry, jealousies and what they might view as ongoing conflicts with their parents.

But like it or not, we take our families of origin with us. We can’t run away from them.

And whether we like it or not, we often end up repeating the behaviors we saw modeled – good or bad – even if we desperately want to do things different.

For those fortunate to grow up in nurturing and caring homes, we will have the support of our families as we leave home. We still want to be on our own, but will be able to appreciate the sacrifices and values and discipline we had as kids especially when we start our own families.

But for those who grew up in less than nurturing environments, were subjected to emotional or physical abuse, leaving home represents freedom from neglect and less than favorable family dynamics. They want to remove themselves as far as possible from their family of origin.

Where do we start

What is the earliest memory you have as a child and the relationships you had? Was it pleasant or sad?

We are shaped and molded by people and events as we grow up.

The experiences we had as a child affect our relationships as an adult.

Max Lucado in one segment of “Traveling Light for Mothers” writes about a “wedding reenactment” they did at his church. In this staged drama the thoughts of the bride and groom were revealed to those watching as they stood before the pastor and the altar.

Each had armloads full of “excess baggage” of “guilt, anger, arrogance, and insecurities” they were bringing with them to this new relationship.

Each believed they were marrying the person who would help them carry or relieve them of their load, and would take care of them.

As they stood before the congregation, their “baggage”, typically unseen, was piled high around them.