Stress

6 Actionable Tips To Create More Calm & Clarity Now

This is the time of year when sh*t hits the fan.

The time of year when our family and work responsibilities continue to increase, while the number of days til 2017 seem to count down like a ticking time bomb. For many, December 31st feels like an unconscious deadline for our goals, dreams, and well-intentioned thought spirals: What did I do with my year? Did I make the most of my time? Am I where I want to be?

As if to respond, the world of wellness has no shortage of solutions:

  • Meditation mastermind!
  • Vision board craft-a-palooza!
  • Colon cleanse!

But of all the advice, products, and programs that flood my inbox, the ones that stick out the most are the ones that tell me to, “trust your gut.” Two reasons why: 1) “Gut” reminds me of digestive issues and crime scenes from Law & Order. 2) For chronic over-thinkers (like me) it creates more questions than it answers.

When I'm in panic mode, the last thing I want to do is slow down, tune in, and “trust my gut.” But without that pause, my action plan would be a detailed, actionable, roadmap that leads nowhere. As crazy as it sounds, slowing down is the only way to ensure that we take the right actions that align with who we are and where we want to be.

So, in an effort to help you (and I) avoid the holiday frenzy (and ensuing mental breakdown), here are 6 actionable tips to help you slow down and get through the year with more calm & clarity:

1. Separate your thoughts from your feelings

Thoughts and feelings aren’t the same thing. Sounds obvious, but we often jump from one to another so quickly that it seems impossible to separate. For example, “I can’t believe my dog peed on my Christmas tree!” is a thought (true story!) Your ensuing feelings of frustration toward your dog are…you guessed it: a feeling. Knowing the difference in realtime will help you to gain clarity and avoid spiraling down the rabbit hole o’ stress. From there, you’ll be in a better state to take the next right action.

2. Focus on how you want to feel (not what you want to accomplish)

The goal of any goal is the feeling it gives you. For example, wanting to have $1 million isn’t about the cash or what you can buy with it, rather the feeling that those things will give you (whether it’s the joy of buying a unicorn onesie for yourself or the joy of spending it on others).

Instead of waiting to accomplish your goal to get that sensation, why not cut out the middle man and give yourself permission to feel amazing now. You have access to those emotions any time, any place. So, focus on ways you can cultivate those feelings here and now.

3. Do less to do more

Productivity isn’t about how much you do, it’s about doing the right things in the right order.  Take a good, hard, look at your “To-Do” List and ask yourself what’s important and what’s urgent. Often, you’ll find that much of what you’re spending your time on only seems important because it’s urgent. Give yourself permission to move things from your “To Do” List to your “To Don’t” List and only take action on what truly matters to you.

4. Say “no”

No to parties, no to secret Santa, no to anything that feels like a burden. “Obligation” is a fancy word for self-inflicted stress. Silence all the “shoulds,” “it’s safer tos,” and “common sense” that you’ve created. Instead, say “no” kindly and directly. Your future self will thank you.

5. Select one small act of self-care

Now is NOT the time for a major life overhaul. Set yourself up for success by picking one, tiny, act of self-care that you can consistently incorporate into your day. For example, drinking 8 glasses of water, not eating lunch at your desk, or allowing yourself an afternoon candy binge. (No judgments!)

6. Be okay with not being okay

The holidays can suck. That’s okay! Trust that you’ve gotten through similar obstacles before and can do it again. The more you resist the inherent stress of the holidays and wish things to be different, the worse you’ll feel. Instead, remind yourself that “this, too, shall pass” and a fresh start is right around the corner!

5 Tips To Feel Like Yourself Again

Fact: We all get off our game. Sometimes life is awesome and feels as happy as a puppy chasing a tennis ball.

Other times, life is overwhelming and feels as scary as a tennis ball being chased by a puppy.

I get it. Transitions happen. And sometimes they suck.

Life changes. And slowly, but surely, we start to feel less like ourselves. We suddenly realize that things feel like they're beyond our control, too much to handle, or simply out of sorts.

Like many people, I am my harshest critic. Whether it’s judging my work, my decisions, or my inability to solve a rubik’s cube, I can find a way to add stress and overcomplicate any situation. And when that happens and I start to get off track...

Here’s the exact formula I use to feel like myself:

5 Tips To Feel Like Yourself Again:

  1. Decide how you want to feel. This sounds obvious, but hear me out. If you don’t like how you feel right now, do you know how you'd like to feel? Come up with 3-5 adjectives that describe how you want to feel at your best. Ex. Energized, abundant, light, creative, joyous, etc. 
  2. Think Back. Figure out the last time you felt that way (or close to it). What were you doing? Who were you with? What activities did you enjoy? What did your lifestyle look like (food, sleep, etc.)? Write it out. Seriously, don’t just think about it. Actually write it out.
  3. Take Stock. Look at all the actions you’re currently taking (or not taking). How are they similar to or different than what you were doing when you were feeling great? Are you sleeping less? Drinking more? Spending time with the wrong people?
  4. Take care. Amp up the self-care. Go back to the basics and create a checklist of the daily behaviors that make you feel your best. Examples include meditation, exercise, drinking more water, making time for hobbies, etc. Adding in the good stuff will help to crowd out the crap.
  5. Simplify it. Filter out that which doesn’t serve you. If you’re anything like me, this is a big one. It can be hard to filter out the things that prevent us from feeling like ourselves when we’re caught up stressing over other people’s reactions, our ideas of what we “should” be doing, FOMO, etc. So here’s the key to keeping it simple: Create a filter question. Ask yourself, “Will ______ (doing this thing, seeing this person, inhaling this Cinnabon) get me closer to or further from feeling like myself again?” Then, act accordingly.

Above all, release judgment. Transitions happen to all of us. And while the unknown often creates overwhelm and a return to old behaviors, we always have the ability to reroute our course and steer ourselves in the direction that serves us best. So, in the spirit of following my own advice, I’m taking my dog to the park. Where I won’t be the dog or the ball, but simply a happy observer.

7 Tips To Deal With Change, Stress, & Starting Over

If you’re a regular reader of the Blog, you've probably noticed that for the last few weeks, I haven’t been writing as often. Apologies! I’ve been focusing on a project that I can't wait to share with you! 

So when it came time to write this post, a few things came to mind:

  1. What the F@#$ do I write about?
  2. Starting a habit after stopping really sucks.
  3. How do people ACTUALLY dust themselves off and start again?

And then it hit me.

I’d write a blog post about writing a blog post. Not literally, of course. That would be confusing!

Instead, here are the

7 Step-by-Step Tools I Used to Deal with Change, Conquer Stress, and Start Over:

1. Stop resisting it. When we’re screaming “no” (internally or externally), we unwittingly make things harder. Change sucks, but resisting it makes it suck more. You can’t move forward until you accept the reality of your current situation.

2. Accept impermanence. Habits are habits until they aren’t. No matter how still your image of yourself, another person, or a situation may be, it continues to change. In fact, regardless of how you perceive something at this moment, the thing itself is changing. Stress comes from trying to force things to be consistent and static instead of accepting that they aren’t. Simply put, stress comes from how you deal, not what you’re dealing with.

3. Acknowledge that change sucks. Admitting that something is challenging helps you to validate your own feelings. As Dr. Crum, Stanford University Psychology Professor notes, “Doing so changes the stress in your brain, moving it from the reactive amygdala to the more rational prefrontal cortex.”

4. Discharge it. Option 1: Call your brother at midnight to vent (Yup, just did that), or the less dramatic Option 2: Write out your best and worst-case scenarios on paper in order to clearly develop a rational plan. There’s something about seeing our crazy in black and white that makes us put on our big girl pants and get shit done.

5. Use the stress response proactively. Instead of letting it crush you, use it to help you adapt. What can you do differently next time? What’s the hidden lesson? Use stress as a helpful guide, rather than your enemy.

6. Be gentle. Have some self-compassion. Increase your self-care and trust that when everything is up in the air, it will come back together more beautiful, organized, and aligned than before. 

7.  Ice cream. A warm baguette also does quite nicely.

P.S. Speaking of Starting Over, join me for an exclusive interview with Divorce Coach, Heather Debreceni, for a special Dating Edition of the Empowered Divorce Summit. It starts on September 7th, click here to check it out!