7 Ways to Handle Holiday Stress

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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.

 

When Stuff Happens

This Too Shall Pass

We never know when life is going to throw us a curve! Little did I know in November 2013 that I would be speaking at the Missouri Hospital Association Conference one week and be in the hospital the next. I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Polymyositis and have been fighting it for over a year. It is a rare disease that attacks the muscles and I was being treated locally with little progress. In March I luckily got an appointment at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to see a Rheumatologist who specializes in this type of disease and he started me on a treatment that has been nothing short of miraculous! After being on his treatment only a week and a half I was able to drive and go up and down stairs; something I hadn’t been able to do for months. I am almost done with the treatment and while I still have some flexibility to regain, I have my life back!

 The last 2 years have been exhausting, challenging and frustrating as we also sold our home in the middle of all this; I signed the closing papers on our home while lying in a hospital bed. However our new home was being renovated so we lived in three different temporary housing situations until the end of March. Whew!! At the same time I know there have been important life lessons learned and many blessings through my experiences and am determined to get back to speaking, life coaching, and motivating others. I finally feel good enough to resume my business activities and have new insights and amazing stories of inspiration and coping to share with my newsletter subscribers and clients.

When your life takes a hit, you have choices to make. You can choose to ignore it, you can choose to whine about it and live in fear of the next big thing that happens, or you can handle it to the best of your ability with courage, creativity, responsibility, and the knowledge that you will not give up!  Help yourself and those around you by implementing these 5 important skills when stuff happens.

1. Be kind to yourself. 
This is no time for perfectionism. Be more effective, stress less, and conserve energy by adjusting your expectations of yourself. Sure you want to do your best but our ‘best’ varies with our emotional, mental and physical state.

2. Be mindful of your self-talk.  
The inner dialogue and daily messages you send yourself can be your worst enemy. Begin by monitoring the voice in your brain and replace self inflicted criticism with acceptance. When you control your mind you take control of your life.

3. Tune out and turn off.  Too much media focuses on repeating the problems and tragedies in the world. You can’t solve the problems of the world and adding them to your personal concerns can be overwhelming. Allow yourself some quiet time to rejuvenate and restore balance.
 
4. Take small steps.  
Focus on what you can do right now to better your situation instead of the enormity of the problem. List 5 things you can do today that will bring about a positive change and do them. Accomplishments are contagious and small action steps lead to success!

5. Avoid being a Drama Queen or King.
It looks good on t-shirts, pillows and media outlets; it doesn’t play well in real life. Give up the reality show mentality and realize that every incident in your life is not an emergency unless you choose to make it so.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“We don’t get to choose the things that happen to us in life. What we can choose is how to react to them, how we deal with them, and how we move on.”
-Sarah Winter

7 Ways to Beat Summer Stress

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 Wait a minute; summer and stress in the same sentence? Am I the only one that feels stressed out in the summer? While summer is perceived as a time for vacations and fun it also brings added responsibilities that leave us feeling more stressed than blessed. Some top summer stressors include: heat/humidity, activity overload for parents and kids, over commitment to social obligations, childcare/supervision concerns, yard work, bored kids, work interruptions, family reunions, and less sleep.

Here are some strategies to keep summer stress at bay:

 1. Make sleep a priority.Increased daylight hours, kid’s sleepovers, and numerous parties can result in sleep deprivation. Get seven to eight hours of sleep a night and prevent fatigue, weight gain, daytime sleepiness, decreased cognitive function and short tempers!

2. Drink more water.Long summer days filled with sun, outdoor activities and alcohol or caffeinated drinks can quickly lead to trouble. Make it a habit to carry a water bottle or icy glass of water around with you to prevent headaches, dizziness and other signs of dehydration.

3. Get a jump on the day.This is my favorite. The peace and quiet of the early morning hours combined with the psychological boost of being ahead of the game gets me off to a good start. Even if you can’t do this every day, try for three times a week and reap the rewards.

4. Eat light.Heavy lunches mean sleepy/zoned out afternoons and a severe case of the three o’clock slump. Up your energy level by eating light during the day and stay productive and alert.

5. Set limits.Too many summer fun activities with no down time can be stressful. Don’t be afraid to say no to some invitations and carefully choose what you want to do with your time. Seriously, do you really need to eat that much bbq?!

6. Plan a ‘staycation’.Fast paced, busy vacations can leave you feeling you need a vacation from your vacation! Try a few small staycations filled with time to relax and short day trips. The result is less stress plus more money and time.

7. List it.To prevent arriving at the end of summer with a whiny list of could’ve, should’ve wishes, take time to list major activities, events or experiences that you truly want to do.  Your list might include; weekly family bike rides, books you’d like to read, finally clean out the attic, visit local attractions (see #6), or have a regular cool off movie night. What you put on your list isn’t as important as actually doing what you put on your list.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”  ~Pooh’s Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

 

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.