#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.

#80 Take the Long Road

Taking the long road may allow you to contemplate a problem or run through solutions because driving and heading home are such rote activities

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.

#80

Take the Long Road

While this advice may not always be in your best interest, sometimes taking the long road offers a range of opportunities.

Taking the long road home allows you to gather your thoughts and partition work related stressors away from the energy you want to greet your family with.

Taking the long road on vacation allows you to experience the culture and ambiance of the location you are visiting in a vastly different way than a freeway or interstate does.

Taking the [figurative] long road in responding to a hurtful remark will allow you to make sure that your return comments aren’t ugly and spiteful.

Taking the [figurative] long road to consider ethical challenges will most often allow you to feel confident that your considerations were well thought out.

Taking the long road may help you bypass the frustration of traffic congestion.

Taking the long road may allow you to explore a conversation that may otherwise get interrupted. Some of the best conversations happen in a car when parties are somewhat captive.

Taking the long road may allow you to contemplate a problem or run through solutions because driving and heading home are such rote activities

Of course, taking the long road may also use more gas, put more miles on your automobile (except when using the figurative sense) and ultimately cost more money. Yet, there are times when it’s a clear advantage to…

Take the long road.

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

 

#83 Go Ahead and Veg

For some reason, we give ourselves permission to spend the day on the beach ‘vegging’ but deny ourselves that relaxation when we are at home.

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.

#83

Go Ahead and Veg

Do you know how to relax? Do you feel guilty or restless when you spend time doing ‘nothing’? It may be time for you to learn to let go and experience the pleasure of ‘veg’ing’ once in awhile.

Define

According to Urban Dictionary – to “Veg” means to “relax all day”, or to “be in a vegetative state”.  Most people think of this in terms of ‘doing nothing’ or ‘not accomplishing anything’ and I can’t help but wonder why most of us are so compelled to constantly ‘be accomplishing’ something.

I suppose we should also now clarify what it means to ‘relax’. The concept is easily considered if we imagine spending a day on the beach with our feet in the sand, a good book in our hand, and our mind fully content listening to the surf and seagulls. For some reason, we give ourselves permission to spend the day on the beach ‘vegging’ but deny ourselves that relaxation when we are at home.

Rest

Some might argue that in contemporary societies, we simply do not rest enough. Many studies have pointed out the perils of sleep deprivation with attention to the fact that it is at epidemic levels in the American society. Sleep then, would be the most beneficial way to obtain rest but so too… is fostering one’s ability to ‘veg’. This is a time when we are absolutely not focused on those things which could be linked to daily stressor items; work, money, family, etc. It may be reading a nonsense fiction book, or sitting on the deck birdwatching, or channel surfing – any activity at produces a resting heart rate and allows your mind, body, and soul to be on auto mode.

Recharge

Vegging helps you recharge. It settles your body and brain from the demanding performance levels one frequently experiences day-to-day. It is a ‘plugging in’ of sorts – breaking away from energy draining activities to recharge and regroup. Thinking of vegging in this manner may help you dismiss any derogatory feelings about letting those hours slip by unaccomplished.

Perspective

This is not to say that constant vegging will be good for anyone. Indeed, vegging should be utilized in those times – other than vacation – when its obvious that your tank is empty or when you feel the stress level about to overflow. Those are the times when its imperative that you give yourself permission to let go of the ‘to-do’ list and …

Go ahead and ‘veg’.

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

#86 Stop Worrying

t is part of our flight or fight response and for that 8% of the time it acts like a warning system for our physical or emotional safety.

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.

#86

Stop Worrying

Ok, I know… this is much easier said than done and yet, it may be one of the most elementary things you can do in order to live a happier, healthier, and more productive life. Worried thoughts create stress; stress produces Cortisol; too much stress hormone wreaks havoc on your body and spirit.

A few years back, a survey from Cornell University illustrated that 40% of the things we worry about actually never even happen! Thirty percent of the things we worry about are from the past and can’t be changed; 12% relate to other people and are therefore – none of our business; 10% relate to illness which, may or may not be real and that leaves 8%. Eight percent of the things we worry about are actually worth the energy spent; EIGHT PERCENT!

Historical precedent

Worry has been vital to the survival of the human species. It is part of our flight or fight response and for that 8% of the time it acts like a warning system for our physical or emotional safety. For that reason, we can’t ignore worry altogether.

Odds

One of the first questions I ask a client when we talk about what they’re worried about are the actual ‘odds’ of it happening. We discuss the possibility versus the probability. If it’s not actually probable… then strive to redirect or let it go. Anything is possible but many times, the things we worry about are literally, not probable.

Control

Based on the survey, 12% of the things we worry about are things that we have absolutely no control over because they are in the hands of another person (a family member getting home safely) and so it is often necessary to ask ourselves who controls the outcome of the thing we’re worried about. If the answer is anyone but ourselves… turn around and walk away from the worry. The key here is to trust that the people actually in control of the situation, have it in hand (like the pilot of an airplane).

Plan

For those things that are actually within our realm of our control, our worry is often mitigated with a plan. IF the thing we are worried about happens, it’s good to know how we’ll handle it. Generally I recommend a plan B as well… planning for contingencies is a good practice.

Mindfulness

Worry is most often about the past or the future and so learning how to stay deeply in the present moment will also mitigate much of the agony we experience when we feel concern. Mindfulness brings our attention to the ‘here and now’ – breaking the cycle of considering things too far from this point in time – in either direction.

In the best interest of your own physical and emotional health, take some of these suggestions and learn to…

Stop worrying.

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.

#119 Get Hypnotized

When we can reach the deepest part of our psyche, we are able to touch the truest power of 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.

#119

Get Hypnotized

My mother delivered me under hypnosis and without drugs or an epidural, she remembers only one labor pain. Hypnosis is widely misunderstood; people have a sense that while hypnotized they are unable to have any control. I frequently hear resistance that includes a fear of “not knowing what’s going on”. In actuality, hypnosis is nothing more than a hyper-focused state of concentration.

Hypnotic State

While ‘under hypnosis’, the hypnotized individual is in a heightened state of awareness, temporarily rendering the person fully susceptible to suggestion [but only to the extent that the individual is willing]. It is during this state that the individual is able to zero into the subconscious, mostly due to the absence of  environmental chatter – eliminated by suggestion. Some people call this state a ‘trance’ and is easily recognized by the state we all commonly experience when we arrive at a destination but have no memory of actually taking the route there.

Purpose of Hypnosis

Sometimes, there is so much internal or environmental ‘chatter’ that it is extremely difficult to get to the data stored in our brain. Hypnosis helps us dive through the noise. At other times, we are so consciously resistant to going ‘there’ that hypnosis allows us to bypass the auto-diverters that our psyche has created; allowing us to get ‘there’ [a memory or a feeling]. In other cases, hypnosis allows us to get underneath the ego or established defenses and to the place where we are vulnerable and receptive to new ways of thinking.

Benefits

When we can reach the deepest part of our psyche, we are able to touch the truest power of our brain. There, we can divert pain, established beliefs, and dysfunctional thinking. Hypnosis can attack phobias (irrational beliefs), sleep, depression, stress, and other mental health struggles. It can help us visualize, remember, and concentrate.

Cons

Some people question the validity of the ‘memories’ that are reportedly recalled while in a trance. Since these memories are often unable to be substantiated, it is helpful to consider the ‘point’ of the memory, what is the ‘meaning’ that may be attributed to what the brain has created, regardless of the truth or fiction. I find that under some circumstances, a fictional ‘memory’ may be just as valid a message as a literal recollection – similar to a dream.

If you are challenged with an addiction, an unidentified nagging feeling, or a curiosity about childhood – consider finding a therapist qualified to practice hypnosis and take the step to…

Get Hypnotized.

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.