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Release Your Emotions and Redirect Your Thoughts

What emotions should I be feeling given what is going on in the world today? Given the level of uncertainty and unpredictability in our environment, it is appropriate and proportional to be feeling fear, overwhelm and anxiousness. These emotions appear when we feel our wellbeing is under threat. And who isn’t feeling that their life, health, and livelihood is under attack? What we want to watch out for however, is to not linger in these negative emotions for long periods of time.

So, what can we do to manage our emotional state? My suggestion is to apply two approaches that together, can move you gently and effectively out of negativity.

Approach #1:  Releasing

This step involves having awareness of what emotions you are feeling and accepting those emotions fully. Be careful not to shame yourself or call yourself down for having a negative emotion.

Just have awareness and appreciation for the awareness.

Next, recognize where or what triggered these negative emotions. Realizing what the trigger was is valid so that you avoid or reduce these triggers in the future and therefore increase the chances of staying out of negativity.

The last and most important step is to release your negative emotions. You can do this by a number of productive actions such as journaling, meditation, breath work or distracting yourself with a good book or movie.

Approach #2:  Redirect

In this next step, you are choosing to redirect your thinking to better feeling thoughts and therefore calm down any negative emotions. Be sure to choose sources for your information that are reliable and truthful. This is one of the best things you can do to redirect your thoughts.

Just like choosing organic produce to feed your body, you want to feed your mind with well-researched, balanced news facts.

Secondly, you want to recognize when you have consumed enough information and that additional information will not helpful or healthy. Be sure to avoid over-indulging in information and facts. This is the same as not wanting to over-indulge in food at a buffet table to avoid making yourself sick.

And lastly, choose to redirect your thoughts to any better feeling thought. Choose to think about the beauty of your family, the appreciation you have for your pets, the improvement of the weather now that spring is upon us, the deliciousness of your last meal, etc. Think about anything that makes you feel better. This redirection of your thinking will naturally pull your emotions out of negativity and into positivity and possibility.

By releasing your emotions and redirecting your thoughts in a conscious and conscientious way you can effectively manage your emotional state and move through any powerful external event.

Let’s Connect

If you are interested in knowing how my coaching can help you manage your emotional state so that you are experiencing more joy and less fear, sign up for a complimentary consultation.

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

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

Disclaimer and Privacy Policy

Living with Anxiety

Most people experience feelings of anxiety before an important event such as a big exam, business presentation or first date. Stress in this type of situation is normal and it is a proportional reaction to an external pressure. Most people will experience some form of anxiousness in their lives and for the majority, the feelings of nervousness and worry disappear as soon as the event has passed.

Anxiety Disorders

Having an anxiety disorder however is usually diagnosed when the cause that is triggering the person to feel frightened, distressed and uneasy has no apparent reason. New research shows that anxiety disorders can run in families and that they can have a biological basis much like allergies or diabetes. Anxiety disorders may also develop from a complex set of risk factors including personality and life events.

Anxiety dramatically reduces a person’s productivity and quality of life. For these reasons alone, it is imperative that the person struggling with these feelings seek help sooner rather than later.

Symptoms of Anxiety

If you are experiencing anxiety you are not alone. Over 20% of adults have expressed some degree of experience with anxiety. Some of the more common symptoms experienced are:

  • Feeling restless
  • Feeling tired
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Muscle pain, tightness or soreness
  • Difficulty sleeping (both falling asleep or staying asleep)

Anxiety is all about worry and fear. Worry and fear happens when something causes you to learn to be scared and worried. This learning process affects your thoughts and your body, for example by causing your heart to race or excessive sweating. You can address your anxiety by examining your thoughts and physical reactions that are happening in your mind and body. For example, you can re-learn how to be around the thing that scares you and NOT react with fear.  This is done by reprogramming your thinking and behavioural habits.

How to Address Anxiety

Some examples of how to address anxiety are:

Coaching or Therapy: There are many different types of coaching as well as therapy options. It can be a great way to change behaviours, gain confidence, learn new skills and talk with someone openly and honestly.

Support Groups: Support groups are made up of individuals with similar experiences who meet regularly to discuss their experiences. Talking to people who are also going through the same experience can make you feel less alone and more connected. It also creates a space where people can share what has worked for them.

Medication: Medications prevent your body from reacting in a fearful way. They create a sense of calmness by slowing down your brain activity.

Lifestyle Changes: Research has shown that exercise, meditation and yoga can all improve mood and overall well-being. Research also shows the importance of nutrition and certain supplements in supporting brain and mood. Other things like taking time to take care of yourself, trying activities you enjoy, and spending time with people or environments where you feel supported can help as well.

While there is no specific answer, there are many options and combinations of options that can all address living with anxiety. It can take some time to find what works for you and sometimes just knowing that there are approaches to try can be all that we need in this moment to feel calm.

Watch for my next blog where I discuss the best stress reduction techniques.

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!

If you are curious about how my coaching services can help you access your greater, unlimited self and move you away from a life of anxiety, sign up for a complimentary consultation.

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

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

Disclaimer and Privacy Policy

Thinking Errors That Cause Anxiety

Wherever You Go, There You Are is a wonderful book on mindfulness written by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It reminds us that we cannot escape our thinking and that no matter what we do, our mindset goes with us. We can try to run away from ourselves by vacationing, shopping, eating and so on however, it is still you who is doing all of those things.

The Anxious Mental Narrative

For those of us who experience anxiety, our mental narrative tends to be skewed to the negative disproportionally and inappropriately. Since our thoughts are often not realistic and instead fabrications of our over-active and often destructive imagination, our lives get tossed around like a leaf blowing in a windstorm. We end up feeling overwhelmed and in a state of panic by the narrative that we are playing in our minds. We spend more energy and time reviewing what may be showing up as opposed to enjoying the beauty and peace of the present moment.

The best strategy to deal with this internal narrative is to first to realize that our thoughts are not always based on fact and that often these thoughts can lead to problems in our lives. Who hasn’t had a conversation with someone based on some crazy assumption that was conjured up in our own mind, only to find that the assumption was completely without merit? If you are lucky, you walked away only with egg on your face. However, sometimes these conversations lead to the destruction of a relationship. How about the dialogue that we tell ourselves about our health? If you are honest with yourself, is your self-talk helping you or hurting your health?

We all slip into erroneous thinking from time to time. Noticing and gently amending our thinking errors can help prevent anxiety from overwhelming us. Anxiety is often the outcome of a barrage of negative thinking – so give it up, like a bad habit.

The Thinking Errors of Anxiety

Here are the main thinking errors that anxious people tend to gravitate towards. Do you recognize any of these?

  1. Catastrophizing

This is the thinking error that I am most familiar with. I have to purposefully change this thinking every day. This way of thinking is about imagining things are much worse than they actually are. It becomes like a snowball going downhill once you let in a negative thought. It sounds a lot like, “It’s all hopeless”, or “it’s the end of the world”. The best strategy is to remind yourself that there are many ways that things can work out.

  1. Disqualifying the Positive

This is the “Yeah, but…” thinking style. This thinking style involves taking anything that is positively presented and disqualifying it and slamming it with a negative angle. It is seeing the glass half empty instead of half full. It is seeing the whole week as bad when we had maybe one bad day or maybe only one bad hour or meeting. By seeing the positive along with the negative, this thinking error can be toned down simply.

  1. Overgeneralization

When you overgeneralize, you think that “one bad apple ruins the bunch”. It is taking an experience and assuming that all experiences will go that way. For people with anxiety, overgeneralizing greatly limits their world because they tend to avoid repeating any experience that may have not gone to plan in the past. Recognizing the thought pattern and pushing oneself to face the experience again is the best way to change this habit.

  1. Mindreading

We sometimes convince ourselves that we are psychic, and that we know exactly what another person is thinking. When we do, we are trying to mindread. We never know what someone else is thinking and yet we hear ourselves saying “I know that he/she doesn’t like me.” When you catch yourself mindreading, challenge yourself with a simple question such as, “how do I know with certainty?”

  1. Black and White Thinking

Do you allow for shades of grey in your thinking? Is it all or nothing? Is your thinking, “you are either with me or against me”, or “take it or leave it”? Black and white thinking does not allow for options to be discovered and many times the answers to the problems causing our anxiety come from solutions that we could never have imagined. Recognize that shades of grey do exist and can open up to new ideas and amazing outcomes.

Regardless of if you are wanting a better personal or professional life, recognizing the thinking that is triggering your anxiousness and replacing it with more constructive thinking is a great way to experience more calmness. Soon you will see how you can re-write the story of your daily life in a more productive and happier manner with a lot less anxiousness.

If you are curious about how my coaching can help you permanently change your thinking errors and allow you experience a life with less anxiousness, sign up for a complimentary consultation.

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! 

If you are curious about how my coaching services can help you access your greater, unlimited self and move you away from a life of anxiety, sign up for a complimentary consultation. 

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

To our Health and Wellbeing, 

Karen 

Disclaimer and Privacy Policy 

You Can Escape Christmas Stress

Christmas is a prime time for feeling like everything is spiraling out of control. There is so much to get done in a relatively short period of time. Patience seems to be in short supply and nerves become frazzled. Everyone has a story about how much they have yet to get done before Christmas Eve – shopping, wrapping, decorating, visiting family and friends, attending Christmas concerts and parties. Then there are those pesky year-end work targets that hang over the celebrations and damped the mood like Scrooge.

When the pressure in our lives begins to build, like it does at Christmas, our minds can start to spin, and it becomes hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But the light is there and sometimes, all you need to do is shift a little to see it.  So, how does one actually “shift”? By escaping.

Escaping the Stress

Escaping can be a very helpful tool that can be easily incorporated into almost any busy schedule. It involves purposefully pulling yourself away from negative, overwhelming thoughts and providing yourself with an opportunity to take a mental break.

Be aware however, that there are helpful and non-helpful forms of escaping. For example, taking a year-long trip to visit the Tibetan monasteries may not be a particularly cost conscious form of escaping. It may actually add more stress than the stress it is intended to lessen. Using drugs and alcohol when the going gets tough can be a tempting way to “forget your stresses”, however it carries health concerns with it and, for some, the dangers of addiction. The same applies to gambling. The point being that you need to find a positive way to escape that supports your lifestyle, values and goals.

So, if you are not about to jet off somewhere exotic, how can you practice escaping and still reap the physical and mental benefits of unplugging temporarily? Here are some ways to put into practice around the holiday season.

Watch a Feel-good Movie

I love to watch any movie that has a happy ending. It allows me to escape into a world of either fantasy or love-conquers-all. I forget, just for a few hours, about the housework, unanswered emails or the shopping that awaits me.

Go for a walk

I really love this one. I find that walking and allowing my mind to wander to be refreshing and calming. Upon return to my home or work, I am blessed with a new perspective. The issues that felt like hundred-pound weights only an hour before no longer carry the weight.

Meditation

Everyone knows the benefits of meditation when you are experiencing anxiousness, tension or are worried. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace.  And here is the cool thing – I have learnt to practice mediation wherever I am. I have incorporated it into my walks, when I am waiting in the doctor’s office or even while I am in my favourite coffee shop.

Comfort Food

Although this can easily become a negative escape tool, I just had to add it because I love it so much. When negative emotions arise, turning to delicious comfort food does provide me with a momentary boost. However, I do need to be aware of the negative health consequences if I practice too much.

Escapism can be a powerfully positive tool, allowing you to rest and recharge your mind and body, before facing up to life’s challenges. Think about the positive aspects of this practice especially at this particularly demanding time of year. Think of it as an early Christmas present for yourself.

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!

If you are curious about how my coaching services can help you access your greater, unlimited self and move you away from a life of anxiety, sign up for a complimentary consultation.

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

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

Disclaimer and Privacy Policy

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

Anxiety vs Anxiety Disorder

Do you feel unsettled? Have you spent the night tossing and turning in your bed because you can’t sleep? Do you worry excessively? Are you feeling exceptionally stressed and rattled lately? Is something hindering you from functioning properly and being productive? If yes, then you are most likely experiencing anxiety.
There is nothing wrong with being anxious. Everyone gets anxious at some point in their lives, especially before big events. However, if your anxiety drags on for days and affects your daily living, then it is a problem.

What is Anxiety?

Many people use the word anxiety freely. But what really is it?
Anxiety is a strong emotion that is characterized by worrying, nervousness, and being uneasy because of something that is uncertain. How easy it is to define in words, but if you are the one experiencing the anxiety, you know it is not easy or simple.

The Fight or Flight Response

The strong emotion called anxiety is actually related to our fight or flight response. This means it is perfectly normal for a person to feel agitated, nervous, worried or experience difficulty sleeping – especially before a big event.
What is it exactly? It traces back to when man roamed the surface of the Earth endlessly to hunt for food and find a safe place to live. Our ancestors, being exposed to a life of endless running and endless hunting just to survive, developed the fight or
flight response. It is the body’s natural response to when we sense danger.
When our ancestors felt threatened, their bodies released several hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to help them prepare physically in case they needed to fight or run. Our body releases hormones that are meant to keep us physically, yet temporarily, well-equipped – like making our hearts beat faster for better blood circulation. These hormones also make us more alert to our surroundings. And once the threatening situation is out of the way, our bodies start to relax by releasing hormones that encourage muscle relaxation.
If you have experienced an adrenaline rush you must have felt how your whole body shook after the adventure. This normally happens as the body is relaxing the muscles.
Anxiety becomes a problem when it is overwhelming and constant. it may hamper everyday living by making it impossible to eat, sleep, concentrate, and even do our jobs. It is a disorder, a mental health diagnosis, when excessive and significant worry, apprehension and fear are present.

Anxiety Can Be Lethal in the Long Run

Although the symptoms of anxiety will not kill you, the long-term effects of living with stress hormones turned on can lead to life-threatening illnesses. The best thing that you can do for yourself, your family and those you love is to get help with how you manage your anxiety. Therapeutic approaches have proven to be extremely effective in generating life-long elimination of anxiety.

Let’s Connect

My personal journey away from a decade destroyed by anxiety is now my motivation to help others. You can read about my story or listen to my podcast (both can be found on my website). I explain how I discovered the miracle of neurolinguistics and belief-change modalities. My hope is that you find it inspiring and motivational so you can also turn away from anxiety disorder forever.I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

Being Rather Than Doing

What are you doing? And what did you do yesterday? What are you going to do tomorrow? Sound familiar? If it does, it’s because we are so used to emphasizing doing rather than being. As a result we put ourselves under constant pressure to meet the demands and the expectations of others. Most of us live in the “doing” mode all day long. The doing mode is what pushes us to strive to reach our goals, to get things off of our To Do List, to answer a hundred emails per day. It is what propels us forward. However, if we are in it all of the time, it can lead us towards stress, overwhelm and anxiety.

One way to conquer the anxiety associated with doing is to simply learn to do one thing at a time. This means learning to focus on the current moment. Rather than worrying about what hasn’t gotten done or what needs to be done next.

There are some mindfulness techniques associated with focusing on the now that can make a big difference in getting yourself to the being mode instead of constantly living in the doing mode.

Do One Thing at a Time

This is a winning strategy to keep your attention focused on being in the present. To do this, become aware of when your mind wanders away from what you are currently doing; and instead focuses on something else you should be doing. Or what you didn’t get done yesterday. Lately, I’ve started to close my internet browser and other applications when I’m working on a text document. Aside from the anxiety notifications and other windows can create when they ping, concentrating on one task fully has increased my productivity.

Start each Day with Stillness

Adopting a morning ritual that encourages your mind to be still and focused on the now as soon as you wake up will, over time, train your mind to stay centred and avoid racing toward the multitude of things that you want to get done during the day. This allows the day to be started with calmness and focus as opposed to anxiety and mind-spinning worry.

Here is how I like to do this. First of all, I decide to stay under the blankets for an extra five minutes after I wake up instead of jumping out of bed and getting into the flow of the work day. That is my first good decision for the day. Next, I lie on my back and close my eyes. I notice where in my body I may have tension, aches or anxiety. Then I place my attention on that place in my body and I allow myself to feel whatever is going on there. Sometimes it helps if I put my hand on the place where I am feeling the anxiety or pain.

Next, I exaggerate the feeling allowing my mind to focus on it. Then I relax. I tense up again, and really feel the feeling. Then I relax again.

Then I imagine a butterfly net coming along and sweeping over my head and down my body. All of my tense, difficult feelings are swept up in the net and are taken away.

Then, I breathe deeply in and out, five times.

After this is complete I calmly pull back the blanket and I get on with my day.

A Better Way

Learning to be, rather than caught up in doing all of the time has been a game changer for me and my health. How do you retreat from the pressure of accomplishment and responding? Do you practice mindfulness so you can enjoy the sweetness of the present moment? 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

Organization Can Be a Stress Reducer

I get asked all the time for quick and easy ways to reduce everyday stress. My answer is always the same: get organized. Putting effort into organization, especially if you can organize multiple areas of your life, can reduce stress levels in the long term by requiring less last-minute scrambling in a variety of everyday situations. The result can also bring on a sense of empowerment. You will be able to look forward to events as “exciting,” instead of “overwhelming” or “stressful.” Keeping your stress response from being triggered can minimize or eliminate negative reactions to situations, and result in an overall calmer state of being

For many however, getting organized can be quite difficult and confusing. For example, how organized is enough? Does organized mean that every minute of every day is scheduled? What are the most important areas of life to organize?

Where to Start

The following are two areas where good organization can bring about the greatest benefit:

Your House:

A house filled with clutter and disorganization can drain your energy and cause a lot of wasted effort attempting to get even the simplest of tasks done. Did you know that household clutter can also drain you in other ways? Clutter can drain your finances when you end up repurchasing items you thought were lost but were merely misplaced. And clutter can certainly drain your time as you spend wasted minutes or maybe even hours sifting through your possessions. That is why it is important to organize your home. While you don’t need to alphabetize your books or organize your closet by colours, it is important to have everything in its place and have that place be somewhere that makes sense to you.

Your Time:

Are you constantly rushing? Does your mind race with all that you have to do? And do you have difficulty remembering it all? If so, then you are probably living a pretty stressful life already. Organizing your time can greatly improve your life by getting you focused. Creating To-Do lists is a great way to stop your thoughts from being preoccupied, and instead allow them to pay attention to the immediate task at hand.

The first step to good time management is to choose a calendaring system that works for you and stick to it. Whether you decide to use an online calendar or the good ol’ paper system, it really does not matter. The important thing is to make the choice and stick with it. The second step to good time management is to not overbook yourself. Only schedule as many activities as you have time for, taking into account travel time, and preparation and/or recovery time.

Lastly, make sure you include downtime in your schedule. This is vital for health and happiness. Having a schedule that is jammed packed will actually be less efficient and probably less effective as well.

Becoming organized in your life is possible. It does take some time and effort to catch on to this new way of living, but the result of less stress can be felt almost immediately.

I invite you to share other ways you use organization in your life in the comments. You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration.

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen