Category Archives: Self-Growth and Self Improvement

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When We Blame First: How Do We Let Go of This?

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

When we experience a negative event in our lives, how many of us find ourselves reacting immediately with placing blame on others? Why do we do this and what are the negative impacts of this on ourselves and our relationships? In this post, we’ll be exploring the blame process and why this reaction comes so easily for people, the detrimental impacts of this, and what we can do to shut this reaction down more readily over time.

To understand why we blame others, let’s take a look at this brief video featuring Brene Brown. Here, she openly shares her own struggles with blaming and provides valuable insight as to why we do this.

From this, we see two important points about why we blame:

  1. It is a way that we attempt to find some reason for why something unexpected happens; therefore, we are creating a semblance of control for our minds in uncontrollable circumstances.
  2. It is a projection of our anger and pain, a quick way of expressing these emotions without the trouble of holding ourselves or someone else accountable.

There are a few problems with the “quick-to-blame” mentality. First, we aren’t addressing the root of our problem – by first blaming others when something bad happens, we are putting a stopper on reasonable and effective communication. Second, we put others in the position of dealing with the mental hurdles that we’ve navigated to place blame on them, hurdles that may not make sense to anyone but ourselves. When we don’t clearly explain why we are upset about something, and instead point fingers at our loved ones for things seemingly out of their control, we further reinforce the walls we have in our relationships. Both of these things have the potential to contribute to more and more relationship problems, such as stonewalling, anger, and a refusal to hear our partner’s side of things.

If you find yourself jumping to blame first, consider the following strategies to prevent this reaction:

  • Stop and breathe: When something unexpected happens, take a moment to process before saying anything. Analyze your thoughts. Are you already starting to place blame? Is the blame process logical or rooted in a place of anger and frustration?
  • Consider the source: If blame is coming from a place of anger, what caused this anger in the first place? For example, in Brene’s scenario, it wasn’t the spilled coffee – it was that her partner was late to return home. What might be happening in your relationship that’s causing negative feelings that you haven’t shared?
  • Discuss how you feel: While it may not be productive or enjoyable to feel the need to blame, it is a sign that there is something bothering you that you haven’t communicated. When this happens, take the time to engage in self-reflection and figure out what you need to communicate; then, do it without placing blame. Try to hold yourself accountable to holding others accountable in a respectful and empathetic way.

Through the need to blame, we are given the opportunity to peek into the issues facing our relationship – while letting go of blame, let’s commit to working towards more effective ways of communicating out needs and feelings with our partners.

 

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The Gifts of Self-Discipline

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

We’re ready to make a change. We’ve set a goal, or at least have thought deeply about what our goal might look like. So what’s holding us back? Why does the barrier of taking the steps needed to achieve our goals seem so impenetrable at times?

The answer is self-discipline, the key to taking what we know about goal attainment and making change in our lives and activating it for ourselves. It’s the idea that we are capable of doing what we should do, even when we don’t feel like doing it. For example, if you have a goal of exercising every morning, but wake up and can’t seem to get the energy to go for your daily walk, you aren’t working to achieve your goal. But if you make yourself do what you don’t want to do, you are showing enormous self-discipline – you’ve looked past your current feelings on the matter and are making a choice to forego what you want to do with respect for what you must do.

Now, self-discipline isn’t something we develop overnight. It’s a skill that’s cultivated over years with lots of trial and error. To learn more about developing this skill, take a moment to look at this video from Daily Discipline to learn how some of the most preeminent motivational speakers from around the country developed their own capacities for self-discipline.

This video has some wonderful points about things we can actually do each day to build up our self-discipline. Let’s review and reflect on some of the main takeaways from this below:

  • Are you giving yourself at least 10 minutes of uninterrupted time each morning (or night) to meditate and reflect? If so, what do you spend this time thinking about?
  • Tony Robbins describes a 3-step process towards more effective meditation: Thinking about gratitude, “3 to Thrive” (the three goals most important to you over the next 6 – 12 months), and loving more effectively. Try this during your own morning meditation – does this leave you feeling more energized and empowered to focus your actions of the day on the things that are most important to you?
  • Brian Tracy describes some of the best habits to have in order to achieve self-discipline. How well do you think you focus your daily thoughts on the following? Goals, results, people, health, honesty, and evaluation of your own self-discipline. When you feel yourself wandering away from these priorities throughout your day, how do you realign back? If these themes aren’t something you currently focus on, what could you do to hold yourself accountable to thinking about them?
  • How do you give back each day? What sort of returns do you hope for from this intelligent self-interest? How do you orient yourself to the “give first” mentality?

When we achieve self-discipline, we find ourselves at a tipping point in which we see how the goals we have set actually become achievable. This doesn’t just have an impact on our own self-actualization – through meeting the goals we have set, if we do so through the lens of positivity and giving, we are capable of making not just our own life better, but leaving a wonderful impact on the world and those we care about.

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The 5 Second Rule for Activating Change In Your Life

There’s no doubt about it – change is hard. And it isn’t hard because we don’t know what to do to achieve our goals. If we want to be healthier, we know this means being more active, making better choices in our diet, and giving up sedentary and unhealthy habits. If we want to spend more meaningful time with family, we know this means having “no-screen” time and planning out things we can do with our loved ones to build stronger connections and memories. But even with this knowledge of what to do, actually making change – or at least, making a change that lasts – is something that many of us struggle with. But why is this the case?

In this video, speaker Mel Robbins shares with us the neuroscience of change, why making change is a challenge for most, and simple tips for making change successfully. Watch the video, then read below for some of the key takeaways from this talk.

As I watched this speech, there were some definite “ah-ha!” moments that I’d like to share with you here. As you review, consider the questions asked and how you can use this information to build up your capacity for success in making change happen.

  • There are three obstacles that we all face when attempting to make a change. Our brains, our success, and our fear. This video really focuses on the brain and what we can do to combat this barrier; however, success and fear are also important to keep in mind. How has your own success contributed to a lack of willingness to change? How can you push the fear of the unknown away so that you are able to take the risk of making a change?
  • As Mel explains in this video, we used to believe that our brains stopped growing in our mid-twenties. We now know that our brains are actually always growing, which is good news for those of us seeking to make a change for the better in our lives. Because of the concept of neuro-plasticity, all of us have the power to embed new behaviors and routines into the pathways of our minds. This doesn’t come easily and requires active attention to making the change, but with repetition and dedication, we can slowly start moving change from an active process to something that our brains do while working on auto-pilot.
  • Before every new behavior we engage in, every move from stasis, our minds and bodies require energy to push us through the moment of hesitation. This applies when we get out of bed each day, when we stop ourselves from grabbing an unhealthy but loved snack, and when we actively engage in our new choice. This means that change IS hard – it requires us to commit to providing ourselves the energy to push through these moments without doing what comes more naturally.
  • We only do anything three reasons: We are paid to do it, we have to do it, or we are deeply committed to the action. Although she doesn’t dive into these concepts too deeply, we can further extrapolate some additional ideas for making change. For every new change or routine you are attempting, consider how you can use these facts to help you: How can you build incentives for yourself for engaging in the new behavior? Who will hold you accountable for the change? How can you remind yourself of the benefits of making the change, thereby building your passion for maintaining it?
  • Finally, Mel provides a simple exercise that can help us through the moment of hesitation – the 5 second rule. This is the window of time where we are most open to making steps towards change once we’ve made a decision to do so. How can we use this window to actually embed change though? Mel suggests writing down an idea, connecting with another person, or doing something that requires a bit of physical or mental effort that can keep us attuned to the motivator we have to change, to just do it. By doing this, we are leaving an impression on our brain – creating the first image of what change may look like, and give our brains an outline to follow that we can continue to fill with additional actions.

Think about a change you are trying to make in your own life – how can you use what you’ve learned to make this change a success? Leave your first impression by writing down your answer right now.

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Be Patient: Learning to Wait For Perspective in Life

As a counselor, one of the things I deal with daily is working with people who are experiencing negative life events, crisis, grief, or any other thing that is causing them emotional discomfort and pain. These events can be extremely traumatic – dealing with loss, death, divorce, long-buried trauma. As a counselor, my role is to help people understand, reframe, and cope with these feelings.

When I found this video, I felt like it wasn’t just an inspirational story – it really described the frame of mind that is most helpful for those who show enormous resilience in the face of adversity and strength when times aren’t going as well as they might like. Take a look below:

The lesson of this video, which I think is beautifully put, is this: It doesn’t benefit us to place judgement on any situation we experience by naming something as “good” or “bad.” Does that mean we shouldn’t have feelings about the things we experience? Absolutely not! When something painful occurs in your life, it’s normal to feel grief, sadness, and anger. When something positive happens, we should feel joy, pride, and relief.

But when we start naming these events as “good” or “bad,” when we place a fundamental value of the event within the trajectory of our life, we start internalizing. Instead of things that happen to us, these events become part of the story of who we are. And when we feel like many “bad” things are happening, it can be easy to start turning the blame for that onto ourselves or the people around us, instead of recognizing these as simply things we are living through.

That’s the power of “maybe” – having the wisdom to know that the tides of life are ever-changing, that the things that happen to us are just that – passing moments. Without the ability to predict how an event might actually shape the course of our life, how can we assign value to it? Everything we experience, both positive and painful, sends us down a journey that we cannot know. Peace is understanding that we will not understand our path until we complete it, and being open to the twists and turns as they appear before us.

As you reflect on this video and article, I encourage you to think about and journal on the following:

  • What would you say were the best and worst moments of your life? Why do you feel this way?
  • From these moments, how did the path of your life change?
  • What lessons did these moments teach you?
  • Were there “bad” moments that ended up changing your life for the better? Were there “good” moments that had unforeseen consequences?
  • How can you hold yourself accountable to sticking with “maybe” in your moments moving forward? How would this benefit you and your loved ones?

As a final exercise, journal for a few days on your initial reactions to events in your life. Note how often you are placing a value judgement on these events. Once you’re done, reflect on this list and consider what impact placing value had on your mood and attitude the remaining part of the day. Then, for a few more days, do the same journaling, but force yourself to stay in the “maybe” mind frame. How does this change your mood and attitude? See what works for you in maintaining this approach versus assigning judgement in the long-term.

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Self-Worth: What is This and What Power Does it Have?

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

One of the most essentials keys to happiness and having the ability to have introspection into ourselves is having a solid foundation of self-worth. This is the idea that no matter what we are experiencing or what trials we face in life, that there is within us a clear understanding of who we are. Further, not only do we know who we are, but we also value who we are – we believe ourselves worthy, good, and deserving.

When someone has a healthy level of self-worth, it means they are capable of staying resilient when times are tough; that they don’t allow the opinions or ideas of others to negatively influence their behaviors or beliefs about who they are; and, they can feel safe in thinking critically about who they are and what motivates their own choices, forgiving themselves for mistakes, and believing they are capable of change if this is needed. Take a look at this video from Meir Kay for a great visual of this in action:

Consider the following – what is your own understanding and acceptance of your self-worth? Is this something you feel is a strength, or something that you are struggling with? If you are struggling with this, what might be the reasons why you lack self-worth?

To accept that we are fully deserving of love, we must first love ourselves. That is why having self-worth is so important – it isn’t just about getting through the hard times. It’s about welcoming the good and being able to allow a connection between ourselves and our partners. Without this essential trait, we are left vulnerable and isolated. If a lack of self-worth is something that you’re struggling with, this should certainly be explored in a therapeutic setting so that you can safely examine the causes of this issue and learn techniques for learning to love who you are again.

 

 

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The Miracle Morning: Lessons For Creating a Better Life

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

I recently stumbled upon this video describing some of the concepts from the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. I was immediately drawn in by the story of what happened to Elrod, the choice he made to live a happy life, and how he was successful in this. Elrod writes this book from a place of healing and believes passionately that the key to success and fulfillment is in the choices we make. As you watch the below, pay attention to Elrod’s story and the major keys to what helped him through this time. When you’re done, we’ll review some of these ideas and consider how they can be applied in our own lives.

There’s so much wonderful advice and guidance in this video in such a short period of time, so let’s break down some of they key points:

We have the power to transform our day by starting our morning with a joyous and hopeful awakening; or, when we leave our bed looking forward to what the day will bring. Consider – when is the last time you left bed quickly and happily? What motivated you then to do so? Is this motivation something you have the power to create each day? 19347840292_7b2ac2cb42_b

There are acts we can engage in (SAVERS) before we try the miracle morning, things we can do the day before:

  • Silence: Are you giving yourself the time in your schedule to sit and reflect on the things you are grateful for each day? Time where you are alone and aren’t distracted by a phone, television, traffic? How can you work to embed this time, even a few minutes, into each day?
  • Affirmations: What mantras are you repeating in your mind? Are they ones of hope and self-gratitude? If not, can you push out the negative mantras and refocus on creating positive ones?
  • Visualizations: What are your hopes for the future? What do you want each day to look like moving forward? Are you creating the time to see this image in your mind?
  • Exercise: Are you moving your body every day, at least a little bit? If not, what’s an activity you enjoy? Can you commit to doing this for a few minutes a day to start?
  • Reading: How often do you read literature that fulfills you or helps you to meet your goals? Even 10 pages a day is enough.
  • Scribing: Do you reflect on and record the days events before you go to bed? Do you create and maintain to-do lists? 2986910735_a886018bed_z

In order for the SAVERS to work, they must become habits, things that we do on auto-pilot. Elrod recommends keeping the following in mind as you start on a path of embedding new habits:

  • Find someone to be your accountability partner who can ideally go through the steps with you.
  • Recognize and move past “rear view mirror syndrome”: Has something happened to you in the past that is holding you back from your goals? If so, what was it? Can you commit to trying again, understanding that just because something happened before does not mean it will happen again?
  • Recognize and avoid “isolating incidents”: Don’t treat any action or inaction you do as something that is “one-time” or “just today.” Every choice we make, big or small, starts us down a path of habit-forming. This means we need to constantly hold ourselves accountable and treat every choice as an opportunity to move further down our path of self-actualization.

Making the Habit: How We Can Effectively Embed New Habits Into Our Lives

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

We’re nearly midway though 2017, so let’s do a quick check in on something that a few of us may have long forgotten about – our New Year’s Resolutions. A little awkward, right? For some of us, these goals may no longer be goals because we’ve achieved them – we’ve started and maintained a regular gym schedule, we’ve quit an unhealthy habit, or we’ve dived into a new hobby we enjoy. But for many of us, well, these resolutions may have fallen away from our daily lives months ago. Why is that? Why is goal setting and habit formation such a hard thing for so many people? Here are some ideas around this:

  • We’re not designed to change easily: As human beings, we are naturally prone to stay within our comfort zone. It’s what our body is used to, it is what our mind can accept. When we introduce a new habit, when we try to make change, our body and mind naturally rebel against this. It takes a lot of willpower and planning to make a habit stick.
  • We try to do too much at once: The entire idea of setting New Year goals is already not helpful, simply because most of us don’t pick just one. I can think of years where I made a goal list an entire sheet of paper long, each goal more lofty and idealistic than the last. If we are naturally inclined to reject change, what does an attempt to change everything at once do? It puts our systems into shock. And when that happens, even the smaller and more attainable goals become more difficult; giving up on everything just seems easier.
  • There’s an elephant in the room named “Shame” that no one wants to talk about: Even though every person, no matter how successful they are, shares the reality that they have experienced failure, no one wants to talk about it. No one wants to admit when they’ve given up, no one shares a status update about forgoing a goal that meant so much to them. But in this secrecy lies shame, and shame is the kindling that fuels our inability to bring positive habits into our lives. When we can accept ourselves as fallible, it means looking shame in the face and moving past it. It means accepting that it is okay to fail, thereby losing the fear of trying so many of us hold onto.

So how can we invite habit formation back into our lives? I love this video (although, a warning – the humor is a bit quirky and there is some adult language used). Once you’ve finished, we can take a look at some other lessons from this.

Now that we’ve been informed of some great, evidence-based tips for how to make habits stick, let’s spend a few moments exploring some additional things to consider before you proceed with introducing a habit.

  • What’s your plan for holding yourself accountable? While the video above has some great ideas, make sure you’ve picked one that works for you before you get started. This accountability is especially important to make sure you get through those first 66 days, and to ensure you don’t go more than one day without engaging in your new habit.
  • What habit are you going prioritize? Just pick one to start, and don’t feel obligated to introduce new habits every 30 days – choose a time frame that works for you, where you don’t feel overwhelmed.
  • What’s your motivation for change? Why are you making the change? Why is this habit a priority for you? This is the kind of question that shouldn’t be answered quickly. When you think about the why behind your habit, take the time to meditate on this, journal about it, or talk with someone about. Dig down deep and go underneath the surface responses – there you’ll not just learn the why, but also the how behind keeping the habit you choose.
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Embedding Acceptance Into Your Partnership

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

Of the many things we hear about making a marriage happy, the goal of accepting our partners for who they are is often listed as a necessity. But what does this actually mean? And how will we know when we’ve reached acceptance? In this article, we explore what acceptance actually is and how it can shift the direction and nature of our partnerships to a more positive and healthy place.

Acceptance is defined as the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered; of being received as adequate or suitable. In the couple’s relationship, acceptance means inclusion, approval, security, safety, and being happy with one’s flaws. One of the biggest shifts offered by acceptance versus other partnership traits is the idea that we must be accepting of others as they are. This can be a challenge, because in order to do this effectively, it requires that we also admit that we are flawed and less than perfect. From this, we must be willing to take on our partner’s perspective and understand where they are coming from, realizing that we are not going to change our partners, that they are a different person that we are, and that those differences are okay.

The above video shares a fantastic example of building acceptance into the way you communicate with your partner. By approaching your partner with an attitude of “they are who they are,” without interjecting judgment or disapproval, it allows you to work together towards a more joyous and equitable relationship. Once we’ve achieved acceptance, we can establish togetherness, commit to agreed goals, improve communication, and feel calmer and worthier in the presence of our partner.

To move to achieving acceptance, consider the following questions:

  • What might be motivating the values that your partner holds?
  • How do the differences between you and your partner create struggles in your relationship?
  • How do the differences between you are your partner create strength in your relationship?

Remember, acceptance doesn’t mean always seeing eye to eye; it means approaching arguments with accepting that your partner is and always will be different from you, that they hold their own perspective, and that there is nothing wrong with how they think or feel. To truly move forward together, we must accept that our partner is a different person from us and that those differences are what give our relationship the balance and fortitude to last in the long-term.

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How Do You Invite Stress into Your Life? Let’s Work to Rescind This

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

In our last two articles, we’ve covered a few issues surrounding stress management – first, why it is so important to eliminate chronic stress and what we can do in the moment to address it. In this article, we’re shifting our focus a bit deeper: Looking carefully at the stressors we hold in our lives consistently, how we can work to reduce these, and how we can devise and implement a self-care routine that meets our needs.

Analyzing Stressors: Journaling

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The thing about stress is that it is both a shared human feeling, yet one that varies wildly between each person. What causes our stress and how we feel it will be different for each of us, so one of the most important steps you can take to start assessing your stress is by journaling each day about it. This doesn’t have to be an overly time-consuming process – just a simple notebook and pen is all you need to start. Each night, spend five minutes reflecting on those moments in your day that elevated your stress levels. Note what caused the event, what impact it had on your stress, and any techniques that were effective in mitigating this. Focus on being specific and descriptive. For example, instead of saying, “Traffic,” try saying, “Stuck in traffic when already late for work with an immediate phone appointment I’ll be late for.” This level of detail will help tremendously when you start analyzing your entries later.

Analyzing Stressors: Reflecting

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Once you’ve completed journaling for about two weeks, set aside about an hour to reflect on your entries (try to resist the urge to do this before completing two weeks of journaling!). As you analyze your entries, note the themes that emerge. What stressors occur most frequently? Which stressors had the greatest impact on your well-being? Are there patterns in the time of days (for example, are mornings consistently stressful? Or the after-work rush?). How about the people involved (spouse, family members, co-workers, etc.)? Through this analysis, some clear themes should start emerging as to what is actually causing your stress. The next step is to address them.

Identifying the Lifestyle Changes Needed to Reduce Stress

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This is the point in your journey where carefully identifying the changes needed is key. I think one of the best approaches to starting this is to ask yourself honestly, “If my life had minimal stress, what would need to be different? How would my day look? What kinds of relationships would I have? How would I spend my time?” Once you’ve reflected on and answered these questions, consider the differences and similarities between your life NOW and your life of minimal stress. What things would remain the same? What things would need to change? Just note – this is not an easy process. Through this work, you’ll likely identify choices you are unhappy with, toxic relationships, and things about yourself that you may feel compelled to alter. You’ll also find the need to embed a daily self-care ritual that will need time and require the giving up of other things you do with that same time currently. It’s an excellent idea to have a trusted confidant that can help support you during this work.

Committing to the Change: What It Means to Engage in Self-Care

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At this point, you should have the workings of an action plan – the ways you’ll remove unneeded stress from your days, what you’ll be doing to accomplish this, and how you’ll be embedding self-care techniques. Every person’s plan will look different, but let’s take a look at my own from years past as an example:

Biggest stressors:

  • Running late for work in the mornings due to long commute, getting children ready, and not having help to get out the door; Health anxiety; Feeling isolated from friends and family due to relocation.

Changes needed:

  • Request later start time and hiring a morning mother’s helper; Making and keeping needed doctor’s appointments and engaging in mindfulness meditation around health symptoms when feeling anxious; Setting aside scheduled time for phone dates with friends and family.

Seems simple, right? Unfortunately, this is where many of us stop this work. Why? Because it requires action on our part – it requires sacrifices. Hiring a mother’s helper was an incredible help for me… but it was also costly. It required weighing these costs with what I needed to make it through this challenging time. For each of us, our commitment to self-care will force us to make similar choices, create new routines, and make decisions around what we are willing to give up for our own self-preservation. What works for you will be individualized and necessary – for ideas, check out this video:

As you move through this work, find ways to hold yourself accountable to the changes you’ve committed to. Talk to someone you trust. Continue to journal. Forgive yourself for regression and remember every moment is a new start – there’s no better time for making the change than the one you are living in right now.

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I’m Stressed Out. So What Can I Do About It?

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

If you’re at the point of understanding that you are facing problems with stress and are ready to make a change, this is the article for you. So many of us go through life unaware of the high levels of chronic stress we experience. Even more people have this awareness, but are so used to living “under pressure” that making a commitment to eliminating stress seems impossible. In this post, we will explore a few simple things that you can do to help mitigate the negative impacts of stress.

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You Might Be Feeling Stress, But Stress Isn’t Who You Are

One of the most important things we can do when faced with a stressor is to remember that whatever is happening, it is happening outside of us. This doesn’t mean that everything that stresses us will literally be outside of our control – in fact, many stressors are the result of choices we make or may be caused by internal issues, such as health.

When we say that stress is external, it means that whatever is happening in our lives, we don’t allow that to change our personhood. Stress might squeeze us, mold us, and impact us, but we can refuse to let it alter who we fundamentally are. By keeping this mindset, we empower ourselves to fight back against stress.

We All Feel Stress in Different Ways and I Know Mine

I once had a teacher who explained how he felt stress – as a tightening of muscles from his toes to his knees. He shared this because it seemed like such a strange place to “hold tension,” but for myself, this was an awakening – the first time anyone had articulated the impacts of stress on the body. I realized that I was holding stress in my body without any awareness of it. By paying attention to my body and watching for my personal signs of stress, I could actually do something about it, in the moment.

Where do you hold your stress? Is it in the neck, head, or shoulders? Lower-back? Do you feel the impacts of stress on your internal functions (digestion, leg cramps); or, does it appear outside as well (such as through sweating)? If you’re not sure, the first step is to pay attention to your body when you are experiencing a stressful moment. How does your body feel? How does your functioning change? Once you have this knowledge, use it! When you feel the indicators of stress in yourself, take a moment to step away from that feeling, acknowledge it, and intervene.

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I’m Stressed! How Do I Feel Better?

Now we’re at the fun part of stress management – what to do when we are experiencing this feeling. Everyone feels stress differently, so it makes sense that we all need different ways to cope with it. Below are some general tips for “in-the-moment” stress reduction:

  • Take a time out: A tried and true method for children that works for adults too. When stress starts to feel overwhelming, take a moment for yourself. Breathe, meditate, and rest until you feel a bit more in control.
  • Exercise: Research has shown again and again the positive benefits of exercise on stress levels and mental functioning. A great technique is to go for a brisk walk while clearing your mind of the stressor.
  • Analyze and understand the stressor: This is one of my favorite techniques. For many of us, we may suddenly feel stress for no apparent reason, or there may be multiple things going on that are causing this feeling. One extremely effective technique is to take a moment to reflect on what is actually causing the feeling. Was this an event? A memory? A fear about the future? Once you’ve identified the stressor, analyze it: What about this stressor is in your control? What isn’t? What can you do about the issue today, tomorrow, next week? For the things out of your control, can you let that worry go?

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As discussed in our prior article, chronic stress has the potential to create a multitude of negative impacts on our health and functioning. The above outlines some of the basics of starting a stress management plan. While this is a great start, truly effective stress management entails a bit more – working to make the lifestyle changes necessary that minimize as-needed stress reduction techniques. As you start on this journey, consider journaling or noting how frequently you find it necessary to intervene with your stress. This will help identify patterns and frequency of stress for further work down the road. In the meantime, focus on starting this work. For a great summary of this article, check out the video below!