7 Ways to Handle Holiday Stress

bahhumbug

Rather than joy and anticipation the holiday season often brings stress, frustration and tension as we deal with the hustle and bustle. To help you cope, snap out of it, or at least feel a sense of balance I am sharing with you seven easy tips and tricks to lift your spirits and restore a sense of balance.

1. Forgive yourself and everyone around you: Holding grudges and blaming yourself drains you of energy and makes you no fun. Disagreements will happen during the holidays because everyone is on edge; consider the stress factor and don’t take it personal.

2. Be of Service: Doing for others is a sure fire way to help you both. Don’t do it because you should, do it because it is a great thing to do. Make it personal or join a group for a community service project. Volunteering for the good of others benefits everyone!

3. Be Realistic: Just because your mother made killer cinnamon rolls for the neighborhood and your father won the house decorating contest each year doesn’t mean you should. Scale it down and create new traditions that your own children will have trouble living up to when they are adults!

4. Keep Your Exercise Schedule: The holidays are no time to abandon your exercise routine. If you are bored, vary it a bit but do not quit. The time you save by not exercising won’t make up for the positive results lost. I have dodged a lot of pounds over the years by exercising through December.

5. Choose Wisely: Three dinners and one open house on the same day? No way! Make wise choices, without guilt, about what events you will attend in the month ahead.

6. Get Enough Sleep: Instead of staying up to wrap presents or staying another hour at a party you really didn’t want to attend anyway, go to bed! Sleepy people are testy, grumpy, make a mountain out of a mole hill people and that is one thing to avoid this time of year.

7. Be Still and Breathe: This works 365 days a year. Throughout the day stop what you are doing, sit back, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Ten ‘in through the nose out through the mouth’ breaths will bring relaxation and clarity to your world.

 

Acceptance-It Is What It Is

 

Acceptance

I am slowly seeing that acceptance is not a state of passivity or inaction, but rather the starting point of action. For me, and maybe for you, this is HUGE! Trying to change something or make progress toward a goal without accepting the reality of the situation will only lead to frustration and failure. For example, my entire life I have had to watch my weight and as an adolescent I was quite heavy. In order to really change my situation I had to conquer my thoughts of: “Why did this happen to me?”, “I’ll never be able to change the way I look.”, “I could make a change but my family isn’t helping me.”, “If I was taller than everything would be easier.” Obviously the list could go on and on and this stream of thinking can apply to any part of your life that you feel unhappy with; relationships, career success, friendships, and more. Instead I finally chose to accept myself (well kind of) and take responsibility for changing what I could. I never did get taller, but I was able to make drastic changes in my appearance and choices so that today I am much healthier than I was 30 some years ago.

To help you understand:

Acceptance Isn’t
-approval, endorsement, consent, agreement, confirmation, or condoning every situation.
-hitting your head against a wall of “should’s”, “have-to’s”, “must’s”, or “ought’s” instead of
moving forward.
-sitting back and wishing or hoping something will change or improve.
-labeling everything that happens to you as fair, just, or deserving.
-blaming others, the universe or higher powers for what you perceive as wrong with your life.

Acceptance Is
-using creativity and enthusiasm to overcome life’s frustrations.
-making a plan and breaking it down into achievable goals.
-eliminating the words “should”, “ought”, “have-to” and “must” from your vocabulary.
-taking personal responsibility for your life and refusing to whine and blame your way out of
situations.
-a sign of strength not weakness.
-seeing the incidents in life as something you can handle, not an excuse to give up.

Coming to a place of acceptance can be easy or hard; even knowing the truth I still oscillate between the two. To begin your acceptance journey, start with yourself. Many of life’s lessons come to us in the form of perceived “failures”. We can choose to learn the lesson or we can berate ourselves for our mistakes. Many of us can accept and be supportive of others but apply a more critical eye to our own fallible human ways. Strive to be as understanding of yourself as you are to others.

QUOTES OF THE MONTH

“Acceptance is not submission; it is acknowledgment of the facts of a situation. Then deciding what you’re going to do about it.” ~Kathleen Casey Theisen

“And that’s the way it is.” ~Walter Cronkite

Darla shows people how creativity and personal responsibility can change the world by positively effecting perceptions, attitudes, and relationships. For additional information on Darla’s programs and life coaching or to sign up to receive her Full Plate No Fork Newsletter or email her at Darla@DarlaArni.com.

5 Ways to Cope with a Bad Day

It happens to us all, you wake up feeling out of sorts, crabby or cloudy.  You don’t know why, you just do.  If someone asks what’s wrong you have no answer.  If they ask you more than once you might bite their head off!  You don’t want to feel this way but you can’t seem to shake it and it’s just not in you to fake a good mood.  When those off days happen and you’re not your best self, there are ways to manage yourself so your mood doesn’t get out of hand and ruin your entire day.

 1. Bite your tongue!  Don’t say everything out loud that pops into your head.  Activate your inner filter and block statements that could sound hurtful, out of line, or crass.  This is no time for bloviating; say what needs to be said with the least amount of words and move on.

 2. Do no harm.  Lashing out at others physically or verbally, will make matters worse and could escalate into conflict you will regret later.  In every situation there is a choice point; choose to deal with your mood in a positive non-confrontational way instead of blowing it out of proportion.  I still struggle with this and beat myself over the head later when I realize how one comment or attitudinal gesture left undone could have saved the day.

 3. Breathe.  I’m not talking about the shallow, automatic, keep you alive breathing we take for granted.  Sit back in your chair, close your eyes and breathe deeply, from your diaphragm, in through your nose and out through your mouth ten times.  It sounds simple and you’ve heard me say it before but millions of people tap into this powerful practice that brings relaxation and clear thinking, and I believe you are worthy of it too.  Just when you can’t stand ‘it’ one more minute, purposeful breathing can bring calm to your chaos which is why it is often a key component in anger management programs.

4. Don’t fight it.  Your off feeling will not last forever and soon this bad day will be history.  As my mother always said, “This too shall pass”, and while I hated hearing it I have to admit she was right. (But don’t tell her that, okay?)  Accept your feelings as transient and get busy with life.  When I have off days I draw a sad face or write the words, ‘bad day’ on my planning calendar; more often than not, a week later, I have no idea what that bad day was about!

 5.  Be antisocial.  Really.  If you are having one of those days it’s a good time to avoid the water cooler, put off lunch dates and isolate yourself.  The time alone can be rejuvenating and keeps you from being aggravated by others.  Retreat into your personal cave of choice and emerge tomorrow a better person.

Blame Game

I see a terrible trend developing, the lack of personal responsibility and how it impacts those around us. Whether it is a national crisis or a fingernail breaks, we are quick to blame someone else. And it’s not limited to adults or politicians, if you have the opportunity to spend some time around children, especially in a group, you will frequently hear the excuse, “It’s not my fault.” While admittedly there are times when something truly isn’t our fault, more often than not there was an element of choice involved in the incident and we made it.

Blame doesn’t solve the problem or offer valuable insight; it just gets the spotlight off of us for a while and shines it on someone else. Passing along the blame to someone else doesn’t even make you feel good; it just makes more people feel bad.

Maybe our problem is comprehending the difference between blame and responsibility. Being responsible is being accountable, reliable, distinguishing right from wrong. Blame on the other hand involves putting the responsibility on someone else, accusing and (I love this part), failing to find sympathy or understand.

Here is a perfect example. At one time I needed to move my mother’s phone service from one room to another within a nursing home facility. Because my mother has severe dementia and I wanted to be able to check in with her without interruption of service, I called several days ahead to schedule the change and was assured there would be no problem.  My mother was moved down the hall and no phone service. OK, I can be reasonable, so I check the next day, no service. After three days of no service, meaning I cannot check on my mother and she cannot call me, I called the phone company. I was told there was a problem with the initial order, and it would be another week before the phone was connected.

At this point I was still calm so I asked what the problem was and was told they really couldn’t say, but it was internal, nothing I did. I asked to talk to a supervisor, they gave me the same story, no one could tell me why but it would be, at the earliest, a week. I explained I was anxious about it taking so long because of my mothers dementia.  I also pointed out that the move is down the hall in the same facility in a town of 2,000 people.  How hard can this be? (Perhaps by now I am getting testy.) She can’t tell me anymore than that, would I like to talk to her district manager?  Of course I would! After going relating my story and getting the same response I began to plead, “Can you understand why I am upset and concerned? This is a safety issue, my mother has severe dementia.” The very curt reply was, “Well my mother is dead.”

At that point I realized I was getting nothing from this exchange. Did I want to find out why it happened? Maybe a little, but more important to me was I wanted someone to understand, I wanted someone to say, ” I don’t know why this happened but I am so sorry and I will do what I can to fix it as soon as possible.” It wasn’t just that it was taking longer than expected; it was that with every call to the phone company all I heard was blame passing with no hint of empathy and understanding, no personal responsibility. I knew I couldn’t change the outcome, but I would have been satisfied to have someone treat me like a human being.

We all want the human touch. We all want to feel the incidents of life, big or small, matter. Every encounter with another human being gives us a chance to practice personal responsibility instead of passing blame. Sometimes it just requires being quiet and not adding to the whininess of the world.

 

Integrity Matters

thewoodenshoes / Foter

There was a time I considered integrity a given; a man’s word was his bond and most people had personal integrity.  Similar to thinking everyone in the world has the same value system, same code by which they live and make decisions for their lives. Unfortunately that is not the case.

In the past year several public figures and entities have fallen from grace due to their lack of integrity: John Edwards, Bernard Madoff and Claremont McKenna College officials who lied about its students’ SAT scores to boost its position in the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of colleges to name a few. Our economic situation has brought to light questions of integrity as it pertains to large financial institutions, big business, and politicians.  Have we become a nation that lacks integrity or are our expectations simply out of touch with reality?

A common theory is that people want to fit in, be seen as successful or become famous and will sacrifice their integrity to do so. Corporate Attitude Strategist Kevin Burns sees it this way, “Anyone who gives up their personal integrity in the workplace in order to fit in really doesn’t seem to stand for anything. I mean, how could you? If you are prepared to give up your personal integrity in order to be liked and in order to fit in then you really don’t have anything that you stand for do you?”

In the workplace, home and relationships, integrity works. Why does it work? Because integrity is tied into everything that makes people feel valued, safe and good about themselves. And when people feel good about themselves in a grounded, non-superficial way they are more productive, more creative, more responsive, and in turn want to do their best to make others feel good also.  When integrity exists you can say goodbye to the mob mentality that tells you in order to fit in you must take on the attitudes, opinions and beliefs of everyone else. That sort of thinking reminds me of high school, not adult America.

So where are you on the integrity scale? Take the following quiz I found on www.cheatingculture.com and see how you score.

1. You’re a young lawyer who could lose your job if you don’t bill enough hours. All your colleagues are padding their hours. Do you pad yours?

2. Your next-door neighbor offers to hook you up with free cable television. Do you take the offer?

3. You’re an accountant who discovers that a company you’re auditing is inflating its earnings. Your boss says to go along or you’ll be fired. Do you comply?

4. You move to a state where auto insurance is sky-high. Do you keep your car registered at your old address?

5. You’re a CEO with a chance to make $100 million by cooking the books. The worst penalty you could face is two years in a country club prison – and you could keep the $100 million. Do you cook the books?

6. A friend offers you a dirt-cheap illegal sublet in a prime apartment building with a waiting list. Do you take the offer?

7. You don’t have enough money to pay your taxes at the end of the year. Your accountant recommends some made-up deductions, saying the IRS doesn’t audit anyone these days. Do you go along?

8. You’re a minor league baseball player trying to make the majors. Most of your teammates are taking steroids to hit better. Do you also dope?

9. An HMO denies a certain treatment to a patient under your care. Do you lie to the HMO to make the patient’s condition seem worse so they will get the treatment they need?

10. You’re a car salesman paid on commission. All the other salesmen are saying that the next shipment of the hot new model everyone wants is due in three weeks – when it’s really six weeks. Do you also say three weeks?

Score

You are:

Ethically Challenged – if you answered yes to all questions.

An Ordinary American – if you answered yes to half the questions.

A Saint – if you answered no to all questions.

Why not make integrity matter in 2012!

“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” – W. Clement Stone