Let’s talk Uncertainty

My coaching and researching over the years have resulted in the awareness that stress and anxiousness are rooted in three main drivers. Only one of these drivers needs to be present for anyone to start experiencing nervousness. This can easily lead to feeling powerless over time.

The three drivers are:

  1. A perceived lack of control
  2. Perceived lack of information, knowledge, and wisdom
  3. Perceived lack of feeling safe and sure.

When these drivers present in our lives for extended periods, they can show up in our bodies as uncomfortable feelings like heaviness or resistance. We use names for these bodily feelings like fear, unease, worry, overwhelm, stress, and anxiety.

It’s Only Natural

As human beings, we naturally crave certainty. We want to feel safe and secure in our environment and for our future. Our ability to accept and live with heightened levels of uncertainty has become second nature since the COVID-19 pandemic. Factors such as the economy, employment, finances, and health (both mental and physical) are challenging us like never before.

Everyone is different in how much uncertainty they tolerate before they feel the strain on bodily and neurological systems. For some, taking risks and living unpredictable lives is fun, exciting and they can’t imagine running their lives any other way. For others, high levels of randomness are deeply distressing.

The bottom line is that we all have a limit and that if you are feeling overwhelmed by the current level of current uncertainty, you are not alone. Many people are experiencing the same emotions right now. Know that no matter how helpless and hopeless you may feel right now, there are valuable steps that you can take to better deal with the level of uncertainty, alleviate your anxiousness and allow you to face the unknown.

Learning to Copy

Let’s face it, this feeling of uncertainty is not going anywhere. It has been with us since the beginning of time and an unavoidable part of life over the millennia. Very little is constant and you can’t control everything that happens. The 2020 pandemic has shown us that life can change radically and very quickly.

To cope with uncertainty, we try to predict the future thinking that will help us avoid any nasty surprises. In many ways this is a waste of time and energy, as this type of thinking only leads to overwhelm and worry. Conjuring up endless scenarios of negative outcomes is simultaneously robbing you of the enjoyment and pleasure of the present moment. It saps your energy, eliminates joy and many times creates unwanted and unnecessary behavior and habits.

Two Coping Mechanisms

Two ways to cope with uncertainty are more healthily are:

  1. Focus on what you can control

Whatever your fears or personal circumstances are, instead of worrying about the uncontrollable, refocus your mind to acting over the aspects that are within your control. For example, if you are worried about your health during the pandemic, act by regularly washing your hands, cleaning surfaces, and avoiding crowds. You can also amplify your ability to control your outcome by relentlessly focusing on you and your family being healthy. Allow only those images and thoughts to come into your awareness. Refuse to engage in any dialogue that does not support this as a reality.

  1. Accept that life is uncertain

The one thing that is sure about life is that it is unsure – but that isn’t always a bad thing. For every unpleasant surprise, there are good things that happen out of the blue as well. Think about the job offer that appeared, the unexpected phone call from a friend, or the chance awareness of information when you needed it. An opportunity arises from the unexpected and learning to deal with uncertainty can allow you to reap the rewards of the unknown.

Life is filled with uncertainty and these times are especially trying with so much unknown. Taking positive steps to reduce your overall stress and anxiousness can help interrupt the downward spiral of a negative thought. It will help you find your inner calm, and better cope with the ups and downs in your life. If you are interested in learning how my proprietary coaching method, Rewire Your Mind® can help you go from stressing to progressing in 3 proven steps, click HERE for a complimentary consultation.

 

What is worry?

We all know how worry feels. It is an uncomfortable feeling triggered by a thought of the worst-imagined outcome. This results in feeling uneasy, a belief of not being safe, and a fear of not being capable of handling the future.

That feeling of worry is prompted by a series of negative thoughts that then develop into gloomy mental images. Because, those worrying thoughts are focused on undesirable outcomes, there is a natural and frantic step into rapid problem solving that follows. The relentless scanning for answers in our neurology leaves us feeling overwhelmed, and if it lasts, we can experience fear and even panic.

Mental Rehearsal

Human beings have the outstanding ability to mentally rehearse future events. This ability to think ahead means that we can anticipate obstacles or problems that allow us to take appropriate pre-planned action. When this ability to think ahead is used in this manner, it is adaptive, productive, and highly-ecological for self and others.

However, when this ability is used to the extreme and it becomes focused on a relentless negative hypothetical scenario making that leaves one feeling anxious or apprehensive. Then it it can turn to be maladaptive and unproductive. The key is recognizing where and when you take on maladaptive future thinking.  It is the first step in combating unnecessary and damaging worry.

Worry During COVID-19

It’s tough not to be worried during the current pandemic. And it’s even harder to be productive and positive each day while going through all of the uncertainty. Anxiousness and stress are dominating many people’s lives right now and distracting them from focusing on the generous current moment where life is truly lived. Having a strategy to handle worry when it shows up is a smart step forward towards peace and towards controlling how you are living your life right here, right now.

Here are 4 of the top tips for handling worry during COVID-19:

  1. Imagine putting your worries in a box.

This is all about you controlling when and how you worry and to stop being a victim to your emotional state. To gain control over the feeling of worry, follow these easy and fun steps. Recognize that by implementing this method, you are allowing yourself to live worry-free for the majority of your day.

Step 1: Write down any worry that comes into your awareness on a piece of paper during the day. Be as specific about the feeling of worry as possible.

Step 2: Put the pieces of paper containing your worries into a designated worry box.

Step 3: Choose a time of day (preferably the same time each day and no longer than 30 minutes) to allow yourself to read each of your worries and to give them some attention.

Step 4: After you have read your worry it may no longer feel like a concern.  If so, throw the worry in the garbage.  If it still feels concerning, give yourself some time (around 5 minutes) to contemplate the worry.  Put the worry back in the worry box if you feel that it needs more attention tomorrow.

  1. Examine the thoughts that are triggering the worry

Recognize the extreme thinking that is fueling each worry that you have written down. More than likely the worry will be centered around an overestimation that everything will go badly or conversely an underestimation that things will go well. You most likely will have used words such as always, never, everything, everyone, all, no one, every or forever. You may have also used words such as can’t, won’t, shouldn’t, must, must not, or need to.

Next, ask yourself some challenging questions about each worry. Ask such questions such as: “how do I know for sure”, “what if something different happened”, “what are some facts that do not support my thinking.”

  1. Re-write each worry

Rewrite each worry in a more positive and realistic way.  Recognize the probability of the feared outcome is probably very low and so now focus on the more likely outcome. Focus on the result that is most desired by you, the one you truly want to become your reality.

  1. Recognize what is outside of your control and then let it go

Worries that are adaptive are usually ones that can you can approach with meaningful, productive, actionable steps. For example, if you were worried about not making your flight on time tomorrow, you can take steps to reduce that worry by checking-in online, pre-arranging a taxi, packing the night before, and so on.

If the worry is unsolvable or outside of your control to fix, then it is best to accept the uncertainty. This is the wheelhouse for most chronic worriers and where they need to do most of their work.

Worrying is often an attempt to predict the future to prevent unpleasant surprises and to control outcomes. The problem is that it does not work, it never has and it never will. Worrying about all of the ways that things could go wrong does not make life more predictable, it just keeps you from enjoying the good times that are right in front of you now.

To read more about handling uncertainty during the current pandemic, watch for my next blog coming out soon.

Let’s Connect

If you are interested in how my proprietary coaching program Rewire Your mind® can help you step away from worry and into a more joy-filled life, sign up for a complimentary consultation on my website.

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

To Your Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

It’s All In Your Imagination

Sitting in my home office and looking outside my window onto the street below I see the neighbourhood children playing. The boys are practicing their basketball skills, each imagining that they are the next Kawhi Leonard. A group of younger girls are kneeling down together as they draw a colourful game of hopscotch on the sidewalk with chalk.  Farther down the street I can see a lemonade stand being attended to by a bunch of cheerful want-to-be entrepreneurs.

Remember When We Were Children?

Taking all of this in has made me wonder, when did I stop using my imagination and why? When was the last time I imagined that I was the “star” player, an artist, or even a successful entrepreneur?

As we grow up and move into our teenage and then adult years, we begin to stop “pretending”. We begin to believe that we need to take life seriously. Many of us get repeated messaging from adults like, “get your head out of the clouds”, “quit dreaming” or “act serious”.

Imagination is a Gift

This move away from using our imagination does us a disservice in the long run for it is our imagination that keeps life interesting. It is in our imagination where new ideas flourish, we solve our problems in unique ways, and where we develop our self-confidence. Imagining ourselves successfully facing a job interview or nailing a work presentation, or even imaging ourselves enjoying a first date wires our brain with the necessary neurology to execute that act exactly as desired.

Actively using our imagination also turns on positive, super-charged chemicals in our brains and we get an immediate lift in how we feel in the moment. And the more we run the imaginary events over and over again in our brain, the better and more positive and confident we feel and the probability of the positive result actually occurring goes up exponentially. And isn’t it better to live in an imaginary world of positivity than rooted in fear or anxiety?

This gift that we have of imagination is just that, a gift for it is what separates us humans from most other forms of life on this planet. No other animal has the ability to garner imagination. Only us humans can look forward, plan, and “see” our imagined future from where we stand today.

We must stop assuming that imagination is only for children.  It is for anyone who wants to set goals, achieve results, or generally become happier in life.

Let’s Connect

How can you practice imagination today?  What in your life can you build an imaginary story around?  What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing!

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

Happiness Habits

In my latest blog, I wrote about how my dad chose to approach each day and how those choices, done consistently, granted him a truly happy life. Simple things like feeling and expressing appreciation every day for things and people in his life and consciously choosing to approach each day positively were how he shaped his life.

Consistency is Key

So you are probably wondering – what exactly are some other actions that you can do every day that will bring you happiness.

Research has shown that if you follow some simple, fairly mundane, and repetitive tasks day after day you can experience a significant shift towards a happier life. These are simple tasks, that if you do them persistently over a long enough period of time, you will get the results you are looking for.

The question that I would like to pose now is what other areas of your life will benefit from you being an overall happier person? Could you see your eating habits improving? How about your exercise routine? Think about your financial habits around savings or paying bills on time. Could they improve if you felt happier? Personal development, learning, and relationships – couldn’t they all be impacted positively?

What I am about to share with you are some actions that have come out of happiness research and that have shown that if you faithfully practice them for 3 weeks in a row they will become a happiness habit of yours. You will be rewiring your brain to see the world in a different way and as a result, you will become a happier person overall.

5 Behaviours That Lead to Happiness Habits

1. Make More Time for Friends

Meaningful friendships nourish us because they validate who we are and reflect back to us our worth. Good friends appreciate us and ensure that we feel supported. Make time for these connections.

2. Practice Savouring the Moment

Staying focused and centred on the present moment and finding the beauty and generosity in every situation is powerful and transformative. Keep your attention off of what has happened in the past or the concerns of the future and see what riches are in front of you right now.

3. Engage in Meaningful Activities

Find what is important to you and contribute to it. Are you motivated by the environment, social issues, safety for children or the elderly, animal rights…. It does not matter what your passion is but what does matter for you and the world is that you contribute to it with your talents.

4. Practice Forgiveness

Forgiveness is transformative. Finding a way to forgive can re-energize your life and can open up space for you to feel happiness in its place.

5. Do the Simple Act of Giving

Practicing random acts of kinds can lift up anyone’s spirits. It holds the power to make someone’s day with simple, small, selfless acts.  Seeing someone else smile due to something that you did in the moment can inject your day with a boost of happiness that can last for a long time.

You probably already know and may even be practicing your own list of happiness habits and maybe the above suggestions can be added to it. Do these simple things consistently, every day and in time you might be feeling a whole lot better – you might be a happier version of yourself.  Then you are free to enjoy how everything in your life is working out for the better as well.

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

The Secret to Happiness

Everyone wants to be happy.  Just ask anyone “what do you want most in life” and they will more than likely answer, “to be happy”. What is this happiness craze all about anyway and how do we go about being happy?

My Personal Struggle with Happiness

I have found myself caught up in the happiness craze.  I have spent lots of energy in the form of either time or money in the pursuit of it.  Often times, I thought that buying another pair of shoes will bring me happiness.  Or maybe losing the 10lbs of weight that has been hanging around my hips will make me happy.  Or better yet, maybe the next relationship will do it.

I have to say that each of those achievements did bring me some happiness however it was a fleeting experience.  It lasted for only short period of time and before long, I was right back feeling the same way I was before I either purchased the item, lost the weight, or started the relationship.

My Father’s Wise Words

I have come to realize that the best lesson on how to become and stay happy was being delivered every single day by my dad when I was growing up.  Obviously, living at home allowed me to see how my dad was but I never equated his behaviour and daily habits to why he was such a happy man.  Well, not until recently.

My dad was a man that did a few things really, really well and consistently and I think it was his formula for his happiness.  First of all, he was grateful every day for things that were in his life.  Often he would say things like, “I sure am a lucky guy”!  Was he saying this because he had the latest sports car or because we  just moved into a new, upgraded home.  No.  My family lived very modestly so it wasn’t riches and possessions that he was referring to.  My dad just felt truly appreciative  for everything he had in his life even if they were simple and inexpensive.

My dad made a habit out of making the same choice every single day and he did it before he got up in the morning.  I remember him talking to me about this  when I was a young girl. I didn’t really understand what he was getting at then, however now I see the true power in it.

He told me that every morning, before he put his feet on the floor to start his day he made a conscious choice to be happy.  He said that we all have the power to choose how we will approach the upcoming day, either with positivity or negativity.  He said that he always chose the positive option because it made the day go easier for both himself and everyone else.  He also said that choosing to be positive does not guarantee the day will go well, however “it sure increases the chances that it will”.  And you can’t argue with that logic!

Choose to be Happy

My dad and how he lived his life has shown me that it isn’t success that brings happiness per se but that happiness brings success regardless of how you define it.  Following a few key daily habits like counting your blessings and consciously choosing happiness as a way of being can propel anyone towards a much happier life and none of these things cost money and we can all choose to do them starting right now.

Even when money was tight at home or problems arose, my dad always seemed to be happy and content.  I know now that he wasn’t acting or just seeming to be happy, he truly was happy because he did a few simple yet conscious things every day that propelled him towards genuine lasting happiness.

Until Next Time

Watch for my next blog where I will talk about what formal research is telling us about how to achieve happiness.  I will share more strategies that, if practiced daily can make a significant, noticeable and measurable impact on how truly happy you feel each and every day. And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

Panic Attacks

What Is a Panic Attack?

If you have ever experienced one then you can probably clearly explain the body sensation of an attack. Heart palpitations, sweating, trembling and shaking, feeling nausea and dizzy are what are most common to people.  What is equally scary however is the fear of losing control and even dying.

During the years of living with my anxiety, I had a number of panic attacks. Some worse than others and some forcing me to go to the hospital convinced that I was having a heart attack. What I found out later was that due to the intensity of the symptoms that a panic attack can bring on, they tend to mimic those of heart disease and breathing disorders and that it is common for people experiencing a panic attack to be convinced they are having a life-threatening issue.

What is annoying about panic attacks is that they can occur unexpectedly. Doesn’t matter if you start out feeling calm or anxious, the attack can occur regardless. And since they are so unpleasant to experience and very frightening, you end up becoming worried about having another panic attack.

Detecting The Onset of An Attack

Through my trial and error with panic attacks I discovered that having a plan, a way to respond when one came one was the best approach for me. It reduced my ongoing worry about getting another attack because I felt more confident that I could manage myself out of one and it also reduced the length of time that I was experiencing the symptoms of the attack. Here is what I found worked for me.

What Works For Me

Firstly, I just recognize that I am feeling afraid and starting to panic.  I found it is best to not ignore the symptoms and pretend they are not happening.  I also remind myself that I am not in danger.  Usually the thought of being in danger accompanies panic attacks.   I  found that reminding myself that I am safe is very useful.  How I do this is I look around and say to myself, “See, you are fine.  You are safe.  You are secure.”

Next, I choose to not fight the feeling.  This goes against all of my instinct.  I just say to myself, “Well, it looks like I am having a panic attack right now.”  Then, I allow myself to just accept the symptoms. I see the physical sensations that I am experiencing as a logical and expected response to whatever thoughts I am having that are causing the panic. My body is functioning exactly as it should, and I know that my thoughts are creating the physical response. I thank my body for being so well-built and responsive.  This is a nice twist to what I used to do which was to worry and struggle which actually made it worse.

I then remind myself that I have been through this before and it always ended.  I remember that my last panic attack and the one before that and the one before that all came to an end and so this one will also end.

Grounding Exercises 

And lastly and most importantly, I focus on something outside of myself.  I find that getting into the present moment and focusing on something that is in my sight I can stop my imagination from making up the future stories that are negative and which are probably triggering the panic in the first place.  I stop any thinking that is accompanied by “what if….” by turning my focus on something is actually happening right in front of me.  I then work with my body by relaxing it using breath work.  Relaxing the muscles of my jaw, neck, shoulders and back really help.  I also make sure I am not standing rigid with muscles tensed and that I am NOT holding my breath.

I have found that by following these simple steps I can start making myself feel better rather quickly when a panic attack comes on.  Sometime I have to do the steps a couple of times before I start to see any results.  The important thing is to keep doing them and not give up.

You’re Not Alone

Panic is a normal response to either a real or imagined situation.  If you are like me and it is your mind making up “what if…” stories that are triggering the panic, then give the steps that I use a try and see if you can shorten the length and number of attacks you are experiencing. And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

Taking The Stress Out of Self-Care 

I live just north of Toronto, a city filled with health and wellness clinics, centres, boutiques, and workshops. Even in my “smallish” hometown of Aurora, businesses that focus on wellness are popping up everywhere. From fitness gyms on every corner to massage clinics located in strip malls, the wellness industry is booming. If you are looking into wellness services there are tons to choose from. There’s yoga, Power Pilates, Zumba, running groups, drumming circles, trampolining, indoor cycling, pole-dancing, cryotherapy, Cross-Fit and everything in between. The options seem almost endless. 

Recently, I took advantage of a free drop-in yoga class to see if it was the right fit for me. While I was in the class, I realized that I was not relaxing and reaching that wonderful meditative state that yoga promotes. Instead, I was rehearsing in my mind the multitude of things that I had to do before the day was over. Thoughts about getting groceries on the way home, responding to a client, and a networking event that I recently heard about raced through my mind.  

What I didn’t like about my experience was how self-care felt like helplessness to me. That was not what I was looking for. I was certainly not looking for one more thing to feel stressed about. Tspend time on crafting excuses that I can tell my friends and family as to why I didn’t make it to the gym, or go to the class, or make my appointment.   

A Self-Care Strategy 

I decided that I needed a strategy for my selfcare. Just like I need a strategy for everything else in my life that I deem important. For example, healthy meals don’t just magically appear on the table at my house. It is a result of a systematic approach that starts with a positive intention (I want myself and my family to eat healthy). And it includes the necessary steps to make it happen. Everything from consciously choosing where I buy the groceries for a recipe, to research and selection about different foods is involved in reaching the goal of healthy eating.   

Why would I think that self-care would be any different?  It too requires a systematic approach that starts with intention and includes conscious actions. 

After much trial and error, I identified four necessary elements in order to make self-care a reality for me. Let me share them with you. 

Start with Intention 

Everything starts with an idea or an intention. Ask yourself; “What do I want from self care?” If it is to feel part of a community then choose an activity that involves others or is group based. Iit to challenge yourself? Then pick something that will do that. A trainer at a gym seems like a good choice. Is it to get some alone time? Then look into yoga or mediation. What really matters is that you do something, anything, that satisfies your basic needs. 

Figure Out Your Why 

Once we know what we are looking for, in order to make it stickwe need to understand why we are doing it. Why is self-care important for you? So you can have more energy? Timprove your health? Or maybe to look better? It doesn’t matter what your why is, just that you know it and can relate to it. 

Get Into the Groove (and that WILL take time…accept it!) 

Now it is time to develop positive habits. Set a reminder on your phone. Have an accountability partner. Give yourself a reward for achievement. Habits require 63 consecutive days to form, and that leads up to the last suggestion. 

Persevere  

Whatever you find works for you, make it mandatory for yourself and commit to doing it. Once you start doing something positive on a regular basis, you are going to feel better about yourself. These positive actions will leave you feeling more confident and happier.  

How do you work self-care into your life? Is it something you look forward to each day or is it just another thing you need to get done? I invite you to join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. 

To our health and wellbeing, 

Karen 

Social Anxiety

Anxiety can show up in many forms. One of these is the intense feelings of nervousness and uncertainty that can occur when meeting new people or going into social situations. This is known as social anxiety. If you are someone who deals with social anxiety, you should know you are not alone. Almost everyone experiences some sort of shyness or introversion when meeting someone new or being in a crowd of people. It’s a natural response to feel somewhat apprehensive. And one that is hardwired into us as a protection mechanism. However, sometimes those feelings can become overwhelming, even debilitating, causing people to stop living their lives to the fullest. It may even impair their ability to do their jobs, go to school, interact with neighbours or take positive actions towards their general wellbeing, like seeing their doctor or dentist.

What Lies Behind Social Anxiety

In many of my previous blogs, I’ve talked quite openly about dealing with anxiety for most of my life. Although my anxiety was intense and frequent, I never experienced social anxiety. My personal experience with anxiety showed up as intense worry about my future. It wasn’t until I was able to get help in identifying and removing my unhealthy unconscious limiting beliefs about my future that my anxiety was actually eliminated. I can however say with much

confidence that a similar approach of dealing with unconscious limiting beliefs would work well with social anxiety.

Underneath the exterior behaviour that usually accompanies social anxiety such as sweating, blushing, and the inability to speak is most likely an internal dialogue of thoughts like; I will look stupid, I will be laughed at, or I am unsafe. Most social anxiety comes from being hurt in the past, either through bullying or teasing. It is in those intense negative experiences that people make decisions (usually unconsciously) that either they deserved what happened because there is something wrong with them, or that being with all other people is actually dangerous.

It Can be Overcome

If you have social anxiety, you may find yourself avoiding going out with friends, applying for jobs or dating. Joining social clubs is totally out of the question. Sometimes people with social anxiety live online, as that feels so much safer. Having a connection online to either people or groups is a good start; however, it cannot replace the benefits of face-to-face connection.

The good news is that social anxiety is understood now more than ever. The anxiousness does not need to be hidden, and admitting to the struggle with social situations is so much more accepted.

Do you struggle with social anxiety? How do you manage your social anxiety? Are you willing to open up to the idea that there could be unconscious limiting beliefs that are holding you back from engaging fully with others? I invite you to join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

The Anxiety Mindset

If you have an anxiety mindset, you constantly turn over issues. You think about the future, and pick over the past. You analyze, worry, or ‘nit-pick; about what did happen or might happen. It’s exhausting, and ultimately unproductive. I know, because I did it for years. I constantly reviewed every scenario, past and future, in my mind and dissected them into tiny bits of useless information, which I then used to berate myself with.

Anxiety-prone people often ask “what if?” What if I take the highway and there’s a crash? What if it rains and I get wet? I might get pneumonia and die. What if I say something stupid? This kind of anxiety

is largely based on fear of the unknown, of taking risks, and of feeling unprepared or unable to deal with the unseen.

‘I Wonder’ Instead of ‘What If’

In order to stop myself from the habit of imagining the worst-case scenario of asking “what if” followed by the inevitable negative thought, I now ask “I wonder.” And I follow this up with a positive thought. So instead of thinking; what if I take the highway and there’s a crash? I would think; I wonder how smoothly and safely the traffic will flow on the highway today?

Instead of thinking; what if it rains and I get wet? I might get pneumonia and die. I would think; I wonder if it will rain. I’ll take my raincoat in case it does. That way I will stay warm and dry no matter what the weather does. This mindfulness technique directs my attention to the alternative outcome. One that is more productive, creative and optimistic. This simple change in thinking has had a profound effect on my level of anxiety, as well as that of my clients.

‘If Onlys’ and ‘Shoulda, Wouldas’

Another common phrase people who deal with anxiety struggle with is, “If only…” If only we had gotten up earlier, we wouldn’t have been delayed. If only I had a million dollars, then I wouldn’t have any money worries. If only I hadn’t eaten that cake, I wouldn’t have got sick or put on weight. This kind of anxiety is tinged with regret, and often disguises an underlying anger or resentment.

The third kind of anxiety mindset is “shoulda, coulda, woulda.” This type is about what you should have done, what could have been or what would have happened. This is the worst kind of negative mindset;

as it is a major way of beating yourself up for the past, the present and the future.

This mindset takes a huge amount of energy, and can become quite obsessive, as we worry away, trying to rewrite our history. Shoulda, coulda, woulda mindset can also be a passive-aggressive way of blaming other people. Either way, it usually erases positive thinking as you constantly try to change the past and the future without being able to live in the present.

Awareness Is the First Step

Regardless of what particular negative thinking you engage in that triggers your anxiety, awareness is the first step towards making a positive change. Pay close attention to your language for the next week. What sort of negative talk and thinking dominates? Once you can recognize it, you can start making changes.

As with everything and anything, it is the small first steps that move the momentum forward. Over time this awareness, coupled with the discipline of correction, will eliminate anxiety-breeding talk and replace it with more talk that is accepting and gentle.

I invite you to share ways you try to focus your talk in a positive way in the comments. You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration. And if you’re looking for assistance overcoming those negative mindsets I’d love to chat.

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

Four Suggestions for a Stress-Free Christmas

The Christmas season is a time of seemingly endless gatherings with family and friends, celebrations at the office, and entertaining at home.  All of this anticipation can be exhilarating; however it can also be anxiety provoking due to the unrealistic expectation to create the “best Christmas ever.” The most wonderful time of the year can easily turn into the most exhausting time of the year. And this can lead to January burn out, regret and financial burden. I have come to appreciate how important planning and prioritizing is to reduce the probability of having a Christmas that is not all that jolly and actually a bit melancholy.

Here are some of my best suggestions for a stress free Christmas:

Set Realistic Expectations

The sooner you understand that the holidays don’t have to be perfect, the better. There is no perfect Christmas. That concept is reserved for the Hallmark TV  Channel only. Families change and grow and so traditions come and go. Choose the one or two celebrations that are meaningful enough to hold onto. Then allow space to create new traditions that serve your family as it is in the present.

Plan Ahead

As with all tasks, if you plan ahead the chances of success are higher than if you wing it. Christmas is no exception. Set aside specific days for activities like shopping, baking, visiting, decorating and so on. That will prevent last minute scrambling. Also, by having a plan you are more apt to say no to activities that would leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed.

Set a budget and stick to it!

Before you spend any money on the holidays, decide how much you can afford to spend and then portion that amount between all of the necessities such as gifts, food, entertaining, travel, etc. There is nothing more anxiety-provoking than the January credit card statements if December was managed poorly. Preplanning your spending and refusing to buy into the message: happiness is a mountain of presents, are necessary defences. Realize that there are a lot of ways to spend less money on gifts and yet still show that you care. Things like a gift exchange or Secret Santa is a great way to reduce the financial burden of gift giving. Homemade gifts are meaningful and can be very special to the person receiving them. Donating to charities is also becoming a popular alternative to actual store-bought presents.

Keep your health as a priority

All of your good work on health should not go out the window just because it’s December. Your routine might not be as strict as it usually is however that does not mean that you should just abandon your health goals. If you are watching what you eat, then use the  trick of eating healthy food before going to the holiday party to avoid overeating on sweets and appetizers. Also, incorporate some form of physical exercise into your routine each day and make sure that you’re getting the right amount of sleep.

By preplanning some simple, yet effective strategies for how to get through the holidays you can prevent anxiety and overwhelm from taking over this year. Identify what triggers cause you most the stress (financial or personal demands) and develop a plan of how to combat them. With some simple techniques and strategies, a joyful and anxiety-free Christmas can be enjoyed.

You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration.

To our health and wellbeing,

Happy Holidays!

Karen