#76 Keep A Stress Diary

By tracking each of these elements, you may discover a pattern that enables you to shift or make a change that eliminates the stress.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#76

Keep a Stress Diary

I’ve spoken several times about the deleterious effects of stress and offered numerous tools for managing stress yet I’ve yet to comment about recognizing stress and tracking it as a coping mechanism. A stress diary is the perfect way to do this.

Essentially, it is a record of when you feel stress, what was the triggering event, the intensity of the stress response, and how it manifested. Lastly, identify how you attempted to manage it and whether or not it helped. By tracking each of these elements, you may discover a pattern that enables you to shift or make a change that eliminates the stress.

When

Is there a particular time of day, or a week of the month, or a time of year that stress is magnified?.

What

What triggered your stress? Was it a person? A task? A thought? A sound? Go deep here… what about that person? What in particular about that task? Exactly what was the thought? Etc.

Intensity

Rate your stress response on a scale between 1 & 10 – 10 being pure panic. Here again, we’re seeking to identify those stressors that are manageable and those that need attention or adaptation.

Where

Where does stress appear in your body? Do you perspire? Rapid heart rate? Shallow breathing? Back or shoulder pain? Headache? Do you have a nervous twitch? Do you cry, yell, shut down?

Management

What did you do? Here, we’re trying to notice what helps and what doesn’t. Often, when we’re stressed, we’re not paying attention to how we worked it out and yet this is truly helpful information that we can use over. Keep track of the techniques that you used. Did you take a walk? Meditate? Breathe? Journal?

Diary

A stress diary can be formal or not so much. It can be a simple notebook, a bullet journal, or an excel spreadsheet depicting the key elements discussed here.

Keep the diary for 30 days during a typical period of your life and then analyze it for patterns. You’ll be amazed by what you discover when you…

Keep a stress diary.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#105 Stop Complaining

The adage “what we focus on … grows” and it’s indicated in physical science by looking at the way our brain sends electrical charges through our brain

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#105

Stop Complaining

I read that complaining was like emotional farting – a description that resonated with me and it turns out – that when we complain, it’s as if we are in a closed elevator – essentially impacting everyone in our vicinity with the negativity of our comments. Yes, complaining is contagious. When you are complaining, you are a black cloud of dust settling in, over, and around everything within earshot.

Second Nature

The adage “what we focus on … grows” and it’s indicated in physical science by looking at the way our brain sends electrical charges through our brain – eventually shortening the distance the charge travels and making it easier for the brain to think the way it is thinking. In this example, “grows” refers to the ease with which thoughts are triggered. When we complain a lot, complaining becomes second nature.

Based on this logic, the reverse would also be true. If we compliment – or notice the positive – over and over, they are the elements that become a natural part of our thought process.

Stress

Negativity begets stress… stress is hazardous to your overall health. When we are surrounded by complaining, stress levels increase. When we are complaining, stress is elevated. In both cases, the overarching effect on our system is negative which, in many cases – become another focus of our complaint.

Easy Street

Complaining is easy. We are hardwired to look for what’s wrong in life. It’s a mechanism that supports our survival and some complaining – is healthy. The truth is that some aspects of life feel negative and expressing frustration effectively is a necessity for good mental health. Constructively expressing the emotions we feel is more difficult than it appears.

Gratitude

The antidote to complaints is to recognize the good in each experience. Expressing gratitude for even the most difficult of scenarios is at the heart of healthy functioning. It is akin to finding the silver lining in every storm cloud and describing IT – instead of the horror of the storm. Noticing the good and allowing it to take center stage instead of complaining about the element that wasn’t perfect… can be where the focus goes. And ass it goes… “what we focus on… grows” so…

Stop Complaining.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#110 Learn Origami

Today, there are a number of world renowned artists whose only medium is paper and whose primary method is to fold.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#110

Learn Origami

When was the last time you even had a thought about folding big paper into little paper? For many, it was the last ‘cootie catcher’ you made in middle school or the last paper ‘football’ you made for the high school lunch table. Some of you may have folded paper in more appealing shapes in girl scouts or a crafting class, perhaps as part of a scrapbooking project. Origami though, takes folding paper to a whole new level.

Art

Origami is a true form of art. It’s attributed to the Chinese dating back to the 1600’s but there is reference to the process in different forms as far back as 1000 A.D. in a couple of cultures. Today, there are a number of world renowned artists whose only medium is paper and whose primary method is to fold.

giang-nudeback
Vietnamese artist Giang Dinh

Origami as therapy

Paper folding is a favorite de-stressing activity for a lot of hobbyists. It’s recommended as a ‘tool-box’ item for anxiety and depression. It’s attributed to lowering blood pressure, increasing attention capacity, and improves dexterity in people who’ve had injury to their hands. Some therapists recommend Origami for ADHD, Addictions, and raising self-esteem. It fosters creativity.

Mindfulness

Origami can be instrumental in the development of mindfulness as it brings your attention directly to the present moment and it can be done anywhere, anytime, and by anybody who has a piece of paper. It can help us let go of our need to be perfect and may foster a form of meditation as the skills develop and focused attention is deepened.

Family time

Some of the basic Origami folds can be accomplished by children as young as four years old. It’s a great activity that can bring the entire family to the table with very little – if any – expense. It has the potential to become a familial hobby – or one that is shared in an adult relationship – fostering time away from electronics and societal noise.

Real Deal

Origami as an art, a hobby, and a therapeutic tool is a real thing. There’s a National association, several annual conventions, and Meetup groups that allow lovers of paper folding to connect and share. So, if you saw the title of today’s suggestion and raised your eyebrow, I suggest you find a piece of paper and find out what all the fuss is by getting started on a basic fold as you watch the video and…

Learn Origami

 

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#112 Binge Watch a Show

If the motivation for disconnecting from the world to watch television for hours on end is to distress and regroup – then binge watching a program is a great way to do just that.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#112

Binge watch a show

‘Binging’ is not often attributed to a suggestion that might increase happiness and yet there are times when too much of a good thing ends up being even a better thing. Sometimes, taking a ‘down’ day offers our body, mind, and soul a much needed vacation from daily life and its stressors. One of the ways to escape is to binge watch television.

New Term

“Binge watching” is a relatively new term and yet it’s akin to the concept of ‘marathon’. Seemingly, one has a derogatory connotation while the other was much of a contest of sorts. When ‘reruns’ came into being, there would me weekend ‘marathons’ of Star Trek that captured the full attention of Trekkies all over the world. When the AMC channel was introduced and ran one Hallmark movie after another all day and night long, we’d hear about someone watching a ‘marathon’ of Robert Redford movies. Even movie theaters would offer marathons of Spencer Tracy movies or newsreels and you could buy a ticket and come in throughout the day – sit as long as you would choose – and leave when you were finished enjoying the experience. Today, we do it without commercials on channels like Netflix and Hulu but we call it ‘binging’.

Disconnecting

If the motivation for disconnecting from the world to watch television for hours on end is to distress and regroup – then binge watching a program is a great way to do just that. Pick an old favorite, a classic you never saw, or a series that you’ve had a hard time following (sometimes it is easier to follow if you don’t have to wait a week to reconnect to the story line). For some, there’s barely a difference between digressing into the dramatic world of television or devouring three Nora Roberts novelettes in a weekend.

Avoidance

When making the decision to ‘binge’… allow yourself an honest evaluation of the motivation. If is as describe in the paragraph above – give yourself permission to unplug and recharge. If, on the other hand, it is to AVOID something… you may want to reconsider using the binge suggestion as a reward for meeting the responsibilities at hand first. Avoidance rarely offers constructive consequences. Indeed, it is at the core of much dysfunction and the accessibility of binge watching on countless devices makes it an easy out when we are looking for excuses.

Set Limits

It may be appropriate to set limits for yourself as you enter a binge watching session. Personally, hanging out on a winter afternoon in front of the fireplace in my jammies and curled up in a blanket on my sofa watching reruns of Fixer Upper is one of the most relaxing things I can think of to do. If I were to do it every weekend, many of the things that are important to me would never get accomplished so its key to set a limit for my binging. I generally have an hour limit… once it was the entire day – 12 hours of a docu-series that I got hooked on right away. Most times it’s capped at 4 or 5 hours and I might do that a couple of times a year. I might of felt guilty that first time because there was a long list of ‘should’ playing in my mind but I’ve learned to silence them and use this suggestion as a form of ‘self care’.

Try it! You may find that it is fun to …

Binge watch a show.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#120 Use Imagery

If you are challenged to create a descriptive monologue that depicts exactly what you are hoping to achieve, then something recorded may be the best option to start with.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#120

Use Imagery

Yesterday I wrote about using affirmations – a practice popularized from the New Thought movement and now reinforced in many areas of positive psychology. Another technique used to build positivity and sometimes incorporated into cognitive therapy, is imagery.

Imagery

The goal behind imagery is to use your brain’s ability to imagine in order to foster thoughts and feelings more conducive to your goal. For example, if you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, it is helpful to imagine yourself sitting on a beach watching the waves roll in or by a waterfall, listening to the sound of the water hitting the rocks below.

If you’ve read The Secret or if you are a follower of the Law of Attraction, then you know that both promote the use of imagery by using vision boards or manifestation meditation in the pursuit of future objectives. The concept is “if you can ‘see’ it, then you can believe it – and ultimately manifest it as reality; a testament to the power of your brain and it’s connection to your body.

Guided Imagery

When getting started, guided imagery is often the best way to go. Three are thousands of guided imagery videos on YouTube and thousands of other scripts available online that you can record and listen to yourself. If you are challenged to create a descriptive monologue that depicts exactly what you are hoping to achieve, then something recorded may be the best option to start with.

Goals

Imagery is used in the treatment of anxiety, stress, and high blood pressure. It’s been shown to reduce blood loss and pain after surgery. It’s used with athletes to improve coordination, develop skill, and increase confidence. It can benefit self-esteem, deepen intuition, and bolster creativity. And, those are just the areas with empirical research substantiating the benefits.

There are some people who have claimed to ‘cure’ their cancer via visualization and The Simonton Process is now used in a number of hospitals across the country in cancer care. It’s a consistent practice of imagining cancer cells evaporating, getting swept away, or being attacked and destroyed by other means. Many of the patients who saw improvements – and an increase in immune function – were those who committed to the practice.

Think of a change you’d like to see in your life and search YouTube, or find a practitioner to help you get started. There’s a lot to gain when you learn how to…

Use imagery.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#123 Adopt a New Coping Skill

Just when we may feel like we would be better off in our sour mood alone, or when we don’t want to trouble anyone with our ‘issues’, that is the precise time to lean on our social support system.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#123

Adopt a new coping skill

Coping skill – those things that help us deal with the crap that life throws our way. They happen sometimes without much awareness and at others, with great intention. Some are health – others … not so much. Self awareness of the coping skills that we use to deal with things are super important. It’s necessary for us to distinguish between those things that work for us and those that don’t.

Dysfunction Coping

There are a handful of common ‘coping’ skills that are generally dysfunctional. Perhaps the most popular is avoidance. More often than not, when we avoid something – prevent ourselves from facing the problem – we do nothing more than save the discomfort for later. We deny ourselves the knowledge that we can exist simultaneously with the problem or better yet – solve it.

Overeating / Excessive anything

Another coping mechanism that we often turn to is that of comforting ourselves by over indulging in things that make us feel better like wine, chocolate, cookies, beer, and comfort food in general. Our overindulgence in the things that make us temporarily forget our problem doesn’t erase the problem and may raise our risk of developing unhealthy addictions.

While there are a number of other undeniable coping strategies that aren’t helpful, there are a number that are!

Functional Coping

There are a number of great ways to work through stress, problems, and life challenges that are immensely effective and have overall positive effects. Exercise, Me Time, and Self Care are at the top of the list. They are the some of the things that create balance in life.

Meditation / Mindfulness

These strategies are perhaps the most efficient and effective when it comes to overall feeling better. The research about mindfulness and its helpful effect on health, emotions, stress, and pain is overwhelming but it take practice and perseverance to be truly beneficial.

Laughter

Learning to laugh, to find humor in the mundane, and to appreciate silly is also a great coping strategy. When we become so stressed that our tempers flare, humor can generally take the edge of negative feelings if not neutralize them all together.

Social Support

Just when we may feel like we would be better off in our sour mood alone, or when we don’t want to trouble anyone with our ‘issues’, that is the precise time to lean on our social support system. The friends and family members that love us, that know us at our core… those are the people who can stand behind us when times are tough. When we need to ask for help… they are the ones we ask. And yes… learning to ASK is a functioning coping mechanism.

Assess your current repertoire of positive coping skills and research one that you’ve yet to develop. Practice, practice, and practice in the pursuit of

Developing a new coping skill.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#283 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

With your mind’s eye… review the memory and all the specifics – noticing each element in great detail. Notice the colors, the sounds, the smells…

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#283

Savor a memory

The science of ‘savoring’ is relatively new. It’s a component of Positive Psychology and it has received a fair amount of attention in recent years for its ability to increase feelings of well-being (happiness). The act of savoring is known to most of us. Just sit back and think of the last time you ate something that you exclaimed “was the best thing you’ve ever had!” or the last time you saw “the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen!”… Chances are you savored that moment.

You probably picked out a part of that experience that was pleasurable and focused on it with intensity. You may have completely absorbed yourself in the event, noticing each little pleasant detail with a feeling of delight and/or enjoyment. THAT was the act of savoring.

Now, to engage in this tip, I am suggesting that you choose a pleasant memory. Take yourself back to that time and space – in your mind, your thoughts. Take some time to imagine yourself reliving an experience that brought you peace, delight, or contentment. Breathe in.

With your mind’s eye… review the memory and all the specifics – noticing each element in great detail. Notice the colors, the sounds, the smells, and the textures. Remember the good feelings, try and recreate the way it felt in your body; the smile, the butterflies, the movement.

Remind yourself of the emotions experienced during this pleasant experience; joy, gratitude, love, appreciation, hope, or awe for example. Breathe in again, imagining that you are able to simply inhale emotion of it all again and again – whenever you wish. Take your time and feel it completely. As the sensation fades, recall another memory and begin the process again.

This process – savoring – is gaining popularity for improving symptoms of depression and has been indicated in the immediate improvement of stress responses when completely activated. It is frequently associated with mindfulness but they are different processes.

When you need a little boost or you’re in a pinch and need an immediate positive distraction …

Savor a memory.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.