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Kindness Can Reduce Anxiety

Years ago, when my anxiety was at its worst and before I experienced the powerful transformation that can come from neurolinguistics, there was one activity that helped me reduce my relentless anxiety. This activity was volunteer work. I chose to become a volunteer with a local pet therapy organization. I was fortunate to have an amazing chihuahua as a pet. She had a kind and sweet personality and socializing seemed like a good fit for both her and I. I looked forward to getting out of the house each week, interacting with others and witnessing the joy that my little dog brought others who were struggling with their own health challenges.

How Volunteering Can Help Anxiety

I soon noticed that making a deliberate attempt to brighten another person’s day by doing something thoughtful and caring made me feel less anxious in my own life. I realized that volunteering took me out of my mind and forced me to focus on the present moment. Very soon after signing up, I was feeling much happier and content overall. I found I could stay centered in gratitude for my life and all that I had. My awareness of my own good fortune was heightened. As an added bonus, I was blessed with some amazing friendships formed on the basis of our shared sense of connection to the hospital.

Today, I find other ways to volunteer my time. I am still involved in the local hospital however, now working on a committee that raises money to fund vital, underfunded equipment.  Each and every time I get together with the people in this organization, I get a strong sense of community and belonging.  This sense of belonging brings a huge sense of calm to me.

Why do Acts of Kindness Help Anxiety?

So why does practicing acts of kindness help with anxiety? First, it releases energy and when we are feeling anxious, we typically have an over-abundance of energy. Secondly, it releases the neurochemicals that are associated with feeling good. Neurochemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. And generally, it enhances physical health because usually negative physical health is precipitated by stress.

Today, volunteer work is on my list of ongoing activities that I undertake to manage my anxiety.  It is part of my anxiety-management routine along with exercise, getting enough sunlight and managing my sleep routine.

I encourage you to look into what volunteer work might interest you and then get involved.  You will soon find that the more you give, the more you get.

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

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

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

Why do we Self-Sabotage?

It has been a difficult start to 2019 for me.  

began the year doing all of the necessary things to ensure that I was starting off on the right foot – I set goals, I outlined strategies, I made detailed plans, and I landed on targets for both my personal and business life and yet…. for some reason, I have completely ignored my personal goals. I have been blocking myself from doing what it is that I want to do for my own health and well-being. My self-sabotaging behaviour, which has looked very much like shooting myself in my own foot, is preventing me from being my best, healthiest self.    

I am baffled as to why I am doing this kind of self-sabotage behaviour and I am also very interested and motivated to stop it. I know that one of the easiest ways to self-sabotage yourself is to NOT set clear, specific goals. Not having clarity or precision on where you are going allows you to convince yourself easily that your goal is not important. This however was not where I am letting myself down. I have clear and well-defined targets. So why am I not achieving them? After some reflection, I have come up with three reasons.  

I am doing too much 

I am realizing that I am doing too much as it relates to my commitments to others and therefore I am feeling like I am running on empty. I am putting myself last too often and when I have time for myself it consequently feels like a chore instead of something that is enjoyable and a well-deserved treat. 

I am over-blending 

When I am not working, I need to not work. When I am taking time off, I need to completely unplug, thus allowing myself the time and leisure to enjoy self-care. By taking up bits of time on my days off to fit in some work duties here and there, I am actually chewing into the opportunitfor me to explore what it is that I want to do for myself. What I want to do is not always obvious. Some days I want to go for a walk. Other days I want to visit a friend. Some days I want to go shopping or get myself to a yoga class. These decisions need to be fully explored and by jamming my off days with busy work at every opportunity, I am not giving myself the time to investigate.  

I am managing stuff that isn’t mine 

When I step outside of my own business and try to control things in other people’s lives, I start to feel disempowered. And rightfully so because outside of our own lives, I have no power to affect anything else. This activity is wasting my precious time and energy, and is leaving me depleted and not excited about doing anything for my own self-care.  

So with these revelations and the honest self-talk that comes with them,  I have decided to change my approach to my personal goals around self-care. I am going to set clear and consistent boundaries with others ensuring that I am preserving and protecting my energy and time. I am also going to begin to block off time and respect that it means that I am off of work completely. No more sneaking into my office to look at emails or complete a half-done article. And lastly, I am going to come back to my own business. I am going to focus only on things that are in my arena to manage – within my power to control like: my actions, my perspectives, and my attitudes. 

Are you self-sabotaging? Are you struggling with indulgences like procrastination, distraction, overwhelm? Can you realize that when we say we want something and we don’t make sure it happens we are only hurting ourselves and preventing our own greatness? 

I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

Are You Responding or Reacting?

Here is a question for you. In general, do you tend to respond or do you tend to react to life? At first you may say, “Aren’t they the same thing?” Actuallythey are not and how you perceive their difference can have a huge impact on how happy you areIt did for meOn my journey out of relentless anxiety, the above question about responding or reacting catapulted my transformation towards healing. 

My Journey 

When I started my journey out of anxiety, I was not even aware that every day I was choosing how I was thinking about my life. Wasn’t life just happening to me? I thought I was supposed to just respond to it in the best way I could? Wasn’t I just a helpless victim? I clearly saw my life as a random set of happenstances that I had to find a way to deal with the best I could. 

During my experience with transformational coaching, I began to see that my life was not a force outside of my control and by stepping up to the fact that I could always choose how I was going to respond to anything that was occurring, that I indeed had control of my life. In any situation, good or bad, I could always choose the most empowering response for myself. For the first time in my life, I felt both powerful and calm at the same time!  

The Hard Truth 

And then one day I was told something by my coach which was initially upsetting however it was exactly what I needed to hear, “Karen”, she said, “your life, as it exists today, is the sum total of all of the conscious and unconscious decisions you have made to date.” What? I was responsible for my shitty life! It took some time for me to accept this notion of responsibility fully and completely and when I finally did, it was liberating. As a matter of fact, it is perhaps the single most liberating thing I have ever done. I was off the hook for playing the victim. Although I didn’t like where I had directed my life to at that point, the single act of taking responsibility was empowering.    

The Responsibility is Ours 

To take full responsibility for both our past and current experiences is indeed empowering because when we blame others or situations, we are giving our power away. And when we do that, we are saying that something outside of ourselves is causing a reaction within us. When we take ownership of our response, even when others are at fault or are wrong, we control both our behaviour and our life’s direction. 

Over the years since my experience with transformational coaching, I have made a clear switch in my thinking.  Negative stuff still does happen and it happens to all of us, however it is how we respond, and how we view the circumstances and conditions that makes the difference between happiness and no happiness.    

Are you ready for happiness to show up?  And are you ready to respond and not react?  If you are, learn more about how transformational coaching can move you from victim to controller of your life. 

I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

Evening Routine For Better Sleep and Reduced Anxiety

Following a consistent routine before bedtime not only helps keep our stress levels low – but also boosts mindfulness, productivity, and results in better overall sleep.  

In my last blog post, I discussed the importance of starting our day off right by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness can be achieved by developing an acute awareness of our body and our surroundings with a sense of appreciation and calm.  In this blog, I will be examining how we can also end our day with mindfulness. By following a consistent and relaxing evening routine we will be able to get more of what we all crave – sleep. 

Stress Causes Insomnia  

Stress is one of the top reasons people experience insomnia. Remember – if you are struggling with insomnia you are not alone.  Around 30% of the adult population report that insomnia is a major factor in their life. It only takes one night of worry to see how stress directly impacts sleep.  The inability to mentally let go makes it difficult, if not impossible, to physically and mentally relax.  

Personally, when I experience worry or stress, getting sleep becomes a challenge. Missing sleep then creates more of what initially made sleep impossible – stress. This cycle can become quite debilitating and problematic – which is why developing a calming bedtime routine is so important.  It signals to our mind and our body that it is time to unwind and slow down. This can gently ease us into slumber – as opposed to trying to forcefully prod ourselves to sleep.  

A few relaxation techniques can be just what we need – especially when we are highly stressed and agitated. Below, I have outlined a few of my favourite bedtime rituals for mindful rest.  

Mindful Bedtime 

If you need to work in the evening, make sure you have some wind-down time before bed to avoid feeling tense. 

Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake, as this will make it harder to fall asleep. Instead, try drinking herbal teas, or a warm milky drink.  

It’s a good idea to have a warm bubble bath before bed, and not a heavy late-night meal or alcoholic nightcap –which can interfere with a sound sleep. This will in turn, lead to reduced anxiety the next day. 

Getting some fresh air and exercise may also help our body unwind. A stroll in the evening air, walking the dog, stretching, or yoga can help achieve the feelings of relaxation. 

Before Bed 

Before we tuck in, ensuring that our bedroom is a pleasant place to sleep in is vital – doing a quick tidy, even if its just putting things into piles can be especially helpful.  

Make a to-do list for the next day. This way, we can empty out our minds in readiness for sleep. 

It is also a good idea to lay out our clothes and pack a lunch so we are ready to go right away in the morning. All this preparation will undoubtedly help us relax and stop our minds from racing. 

Don’t listen to the news, or watch it less than an hour before bed. 

Ensure a calm sleeping environment, with no devices blinking and pinging to remind us of the stress of our work or social lives. And of course, we should try to avoid using electronic devices just before bedtime.  

Make sure the bedroom is as dark apossible, with no LED display lights, as these will interfere with sleep patterns.  

What bedtime routines do you use to quiet yourself? 

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