Posts Tagged ‘stress’

I think there is some assumptions about meditation made by those who’ve never experienced it. Let me tell you first off that you don’t’ have to dress in robes, or have a gong or burn incense.

Yes, you CAN do those things if you like, but you don’t need to by any means.

You can meditate exactly where you are, dressed as you are, right now.  You can stand, sit in a chair, lie down…in fact I find it rather meditative to be on the elliptical at the gym.  Yes…pj’s work too. In fact I often do my meditations in my pj’s as I like to meditate just before sleep.  Some folks like to meditate almost as soon as they wake up…which I also do in a way.

You see, the key to this is simply that meditation is as personal as anything else in your life.  What works for one person may not cut it for another.

I once tried to meditate by looking into a flame of a candle.  Drove me nuts.  It just didn’t work for me and I couldn’t understand how others found it helpful at all.  A fire in a fireplace maybe, but the candle just didn’t do it.  However, a friend of mine recalls doing this and she loved it.  She didn’t realize that this was a form of meditation and was really excited because sitting quietly trying to focus was hard for her ADD brain to handle.

I, however, found that meditative music worked wonders for me. Celtic meditative music in particular soothes my soul.  It gives my wandering mind something to focus on that connects deep within my spirit.  I understand that this type of music has a higher vibration that helps us also vibrate and that level.  I find it helps me settle into my self and when it fades out to silence I am able to sit more easily with that silence and focus on my breath.

meditation_Sep081For some (myself included) it can also be helpful to have ambient sounds in the background to keep from being distracted by sudden noises.  I live in a condo and a noise from the garden or the hallway can rip me out of a meditative state very suddenly.  I have an app on my phone that plays bird songs, rushing river, rain etc. called Relax Melodies.  Very helpful at times.   I have a very easy time meditating when I can hear the ocean lapping against the shore.  Assuming of course my dog doesn’t decide to go for a swim and then shake right next to me.  🙂

It took me some time to realize what worked for me.  It was a process and I am grateful for all the online guided meditations that are now out there that helped me get deeper.  I expect as my meditation muscles get stronger I will add to what can work for me.  I already find myself able to do short mediations out in the ‘real’ world when need be to calm myself or regain focus and energy.

Many ask “So why should I even bother to try to find a way to meditate that works for me?”

Easy answer? —> Meditation improves your  health and well-being. 

Several clinical studies have documented specific ways that meditating may help people stay healthier, improve mental focus and find better emotional control and connection with their emotions.  It increases your ability to be mindful even when not in the midst of meditation.

Some studies even show that the brain of someone who meditates may be physically different from someone who does not.

“A   study in 2005 by Sara Lazar, Ph.D., an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, worked to find out which parts of the brain came into play when a person practices mindfulness and meditation. Her study included 20 people who meditate regularly and 20 who do not.

The findings were amazing. The brain region called the cortex, which is associated with attention, sensory awareness and emotional processing, was thicker in those who meditated. In fact, people who meditated were discovered to have brains that grew thicker in direct correlation with how often they meditated.  The findings suggest that meditation can actually change the structure of the brain.

Meditation is a lot like playing a sport or going to the gym.  You will struggle a bit at the start, you’ll have to find what works for you and you will have good days and bad days with it. As you get more in tune with yourself you will be stronger and better at it.

We spend a crazy amount of our time and energy focused on the external world.  Our jobs, cars, bills, family…the list goes on.   Meditation allows us to explore our inner world and workings.  In turn it gives us more to offer our external world and puts all of that into perspective.

I also believe that this is a time you can focus healing energy on your heart, soul and body.  When I began to meditate regularly I found my body healed much quicker after my car accident.  I had less pain and more ability to focus on getting better.  I give a lot of credit to my practice with meditation for the decreasing pain and increasing mental focus and energy.

During meditation you can hear your true spirit and this is something far too many of us are missing out on.  I found my path to coaching when I was able to listen deeply to where my spirit wanted to go.

I love the expression that meditation charges up my ‘spiritual batteries’.  If you let your batteries run dry you have less to give your family, your job or your hobbies.  Less for life.  You need to nurture your spirit as it is the space you live in. It’s what you bring to your life and to other in it.

This is why I meditate.  This is why I struggle through those tough days where my brain just doesn’t want to settle down.  I heard it said somewhere that during times I am too busy to meditate, I need to meditate more.  Even the act of meditating imperfectly brings about some benefits of stress reduction, focus and calm.  Be kind to yourself as you get started and remember that everyone was once a beginner.

It is a practice and I will continue to practice.  Will you?


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This December has snuck up on me a little bit.  I mean…I knew it was coming.  I haven’t lost my mind completely…it’s around here somewhere.

Still, I personally have had a number of huge milestones in my life that I’ve been dealing with and putting to bed (so to speak). 

This Monday saw the tail end of a really, really big one but that’s not my point (and you know I tend to get going on tangents..I”m working on it!)  My point is holy moly look at that date!

21 days lift til Christmas and all I have done is hang my sad, tired wreath on the door.  I have a beautiful plan in my head for a new one that really reflects my personality but truly by theHolidayStress time I get it done it should be ready for next year!

In all honesty, it’s not that bad for me.  My list is small and I love the shopping, gift wrapping, cooking, baking and decorating.  LOVE it.  I may even be at home with my fur-family Christmas Day and I’m okay with that.  I love those guys and hiking on that day is spectacular because everyone else is busy, busy, busy!   So Mr. Charlie Bear gets to run off leash on the trails.  When I lived on the East Coast I often went snow hiking and it was awesome.

For others though, the holidays brings other emotions.  Stress, fear, worry and exhaustion.

I have a friend who was volunteered to host not one but TWO dinners.  She isn’t really up for it physically, but doesn’t want to risk disappointing other people.  She is a beautiful soul and a people pleaser.  The problem is, like many out there (Ladies especially…listen up) she pleases others at the expense of her own health and happiness.  Not cool!  I love my friend…she is like a second mother to me and I want her to be joyful, not upset.

I have been thinking of how to help her and in turn realized that a lot of people worry about disappointing others over the holidays and just about kill themselves to do it.  They break themselves mentally, emotionally, physically and with their budget.  That’s not fair! Everyone should be able to enjoy the blessings of time with family, the love in giving and joy in gratitude without despairing. 

I have some ideas (shocking I know!) on how to make the holidays better for everyone…and I do mean EVERYONE.  Yes, that includes you people pleaser.  You can enjoy making others happy without having to punish yourself in the process.

Putting First things FirstFirst of all we need to be realistic in our expectations of what we can do and what we are willing to do.  For a select few hosting many dinners would be like striking gold!  For others one is more than enough.  Being realistic about our family, our events and our … well everything and putting it in perspective first will help us from getting sucked in to deeply and having a melt down.

Learn to say No, but thanks!  Honestly, this has got to be one of the hardest things for people to learn to do.  Listen up…every request has 3 possible responses.  1 – yes, 2- no, 3 – not sure I’ll get back to you (which flies back to 1 & 2 eventually).  All are perfectly okay and perfectly reasonable responses.  Stop assuming that people will only love or like you if you use #1.  It just isn’t the reality of life.  People are more likely to be fine with it if you are calm and collected when you say no to a request.  Stop squirming..it’s better to be honest upfront then try to wiggle out of it later or be miserable.

If you do find yourself feeling a bit over your head – ask for help.  It’s been my personal experience that when you ask – people respond.   When you don’t ask, they don’t know you need help.  Trust me, most people aren’t ignoring you or your situation.  They just don’t know what you know….so tell them.  

The key?  Be specific and polite.  Yelling “why won’t you help me?” isn’t going to cut it.  Asking “can you take out the garbage” nicely is almost certain to get that garbage outta there.  Yes it would be nice if magically those loved ones around you can see into your head and just ‘know’ what needs to be done but until then….just get over it and ask.

Make it easier on yourself.  Seriously, if you are having 20 people over for dinner or a party and the thought of the pile of dishes waiting for you later is upsetting you..screw it and use disposable (and recycled of course) plates.  Or see above…ask for help cleaning up.  Make dinner a potluck for all the sides.  Gifts can be wrapped at the store or put in gift bags from the dollar store.  Planning ahead a little can really help reduce the pressure and work for you.

Let it go.  So what if my new wreath idea doesn’t get done til next year.  That’s not a really big deal in the larger scheme of things.  What does matter?  What memories will I want to take with me from the holidays?  5 years from now I’ll remember laughing and feasting with my loved ones, I most likely won’t recall what brand of wine I was drinking or if the decorations were exact and perfect.   You deserve the time to celebrate with everyone else, the other stuff is just trimmings.  Take that time! 

Find your joy and hold it.  Anything else is just gravy! (pun intended!)



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We had quite a wind storm here the other day. We’ve had much worse but the gusts were coming at just the right angle to make a lot of noise for me most of the night.

To be honest, I find wild weather kind of exciting.  I like the changes it brings and how it makes me feel pretty cozy inside my home.  In fact, I wrote my feelings of being blessed for a safe, warm place to sleep that night in my Gratitude Journal.

The next day, a lot of the leaves that had started to fill the trees with vibrant color were on the ground.  It really started to look like fall out there.  Which is just lovely. 

I also noticed that there were a few smallish branches lying around. Not many but a few.  I actually moved one off the road much to Charlies delight. He felt that the whole reason I must have gone out was to get him a really big stick to drag around.

It got me to thinking a little. I’ve seen pictures and been out and about after much worse wind storms and yet most of the trees remain don’t they? In fact I recall seeing pictures of some really devastated places after natural (and unnatural) events and there is often one or two trees still hanging on.

As I was walking, I heard a crunch and a snap behind me. Yup, Charlie had broken his lovely branch in half.  He was quite pleased with his progress too I might add.  I swear that dog was raised by beavers!  So much so that he went on to try to break off some of the smaller twigs attached.  But he couldn’t do it.  They were bending and twisting and were still soft and pliable, so he couldn’t simply break them off.  Not to say he didn’t try.

In a flash of understanding I realized that the larger branch had been hard and rigid; which is why is snapped off in the first place.  It wasn’t able to bend and move with the wind as the other branches in the tree did.

Are you seeing where I’m going yet?

When we are rigid and inflexible life is  much harder for us.  If we can learn to accept where we are and bend with the wind we will survive our own life storms with much more grace.

It occurred to me that this might just be where the idea of a breaking point comes from.  It might just explain why some people never reach a breaking point, but others do and some people reach theirs with horrible results.

Being soft, flexible and able to adjust when you need to will make you much harder to break.  When we are hard and inflexible we become brittle, bitter and we easily  find our breaking point.  We resist change, resist situations and refuse to accept things as they are.  I can attest to the power of bending, being soft and stretching to accept what is right now.  It brings peace.  Being intractable helps no one, least of all yourself.

This seemed so fascinating to me because so many out there think that being hard and fixed means being strong.  We think that the toughest of us will survive, and the people who are able to be flexible or yielding are weak; but in truth being unyielding and unable to give a little isn’t good for us.

Have you ever felt like you’ve reached your breaking point?  How did you handle it?

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There is a well – known saying that ‘success attracts success and failure attracts more failure’.  Or at least its something close to that.  Either way it’s pretty much the truth.

And the idea of it used to scare the crap out of me.

You see I didn’t really understand it.  I didn’t have a clear definition of success or failure.  More importantly I would struggle with the last part.  I mean, if I screw up doesn’t that mean I’m now destined to continue that cycle?  I really struggled wrapping my head around this idea.

No, no, no!  That is not what I wanted at all; so I would kill myself making sure I didn’t fail or mess up. At least not too badly! I became what I used to call a perfectionist.  Now I realize it’s a terribly deep, ingrained fear of being stuck in the failure trap.

Here’s the truth.  There is no trap.  It doesn’t exist unless you make it so.

Let me give you some examples.  I would work on school projects til the wee hours of the morning.  I’d change this or that, edit until the words swam in front of my eyes and re-write til my hand felt numb.   I once had a job at a fast food place (no, I won’t say which one) and I hated it.  I really, really did but I still worked my tail off and would even stay til after my shift to ensure that ‘my’ stuff was done and done right. 

Then I started University.  I had to wait a year to go to earn some money but I decided to take a night class to get my feet wet so to speak.  What I didn’t know is this particular class was about to teach me a lesson not related to psychology. 

Big secret reveal – I totally bombed my first paper.  Failed it; I mean REALLY failed it…I was horrified, devastated, mortified and embarrassed.  I wanted to run and hide but thankfully the Universe is kind, even in its harshest lessons.  The professor with over 500 students didn’t have time to see me anytime soon.  I was desperate to find out what I did wrong.  After all the next paper was coming up! My goodness that feeling of failure and feeling lost was hard to swallow.  Then the blessing arrived in the form of an upper class TA.  She offered to quickly look over my paper.  The content was good but the format was all wrong. 

Turns out this is a pretty common problem for first year students.  In fact, the University runs a workshop during FROSH week to get everyone on board because so many are not taught proper format for different papers in high school. Of course, because I wasn’t a regular student (one class only) I had no idea.  She also told me that she bombed her first paper too and not to worry because University is all about learning.

What a blessing this woman was to me.  She suggested the reference book that could help me, which I not only bought but ended up almost wearing out by the time I finished school.  Even with that failure, I managed a B+ in that class at the end of it all.  Not too shabby a jump!   I often thank her again silently when I think about it.  She gave me about 15 mins of her time and shared some of her knowledge and it changed my life.   I wonder if she knows…

The lesson this class gave me was two-fold.  Failure isn’t a cycle you can’t break.  What seems like a minor kindness to you, can be everything to someone else. 

But I want to talk more about this failure business.  I realized something that day, the day of my first big, public crash and burn.  I was okay.  I didn’t die, or get ridiculed.  No one branded me with a giant ‘F’ on my forehead to tell the world I was now just a big ol’ failure. 

In fact, no one but me really gave it much thought.  I had good enough sense to try to figure it out and that made all the difference.  failure

My failure morphed into a lesson that created success. 

I changed my path; broke the cycle or whatever you want to call it because of my mental mindset and my attitude.

I could have done things differently.  I could have cried into my pillow and then just given up assuming that I wasn’t cut out for higher learning.  Trust me, there were a few people in my life who would  have supported that decision.  I easily could have taken that path and there would have been easy ways to justify it.

But I didn’t.

This is why I say to you there is no failure trap other than one of your own making.   It’s all in how you handle your mess ups. 

Have some faith that you can and understand that failure just means that you still have something to learn


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I mentioned this as a coping skill in my last post “Fooled or Foolish” and I’ve since had the question about what I meant by that.

When I started getting a little better and could be awake for more than an hour at a time, I had to start to deal with all the stuff I ‘missed’.  You see, I was pretty much on my own for this *ahem* adventure in car accidents. 

I didn’t do very well. Or maybe I did.  Either way I did the best I could and that I suppose, is all anyone could ask of themselves.

And when I got a lot better, where I could actually remember what I did the day before, I started to also realize a lot of things had changed.  Myself included and I struggled with that.  I wanted ME back, I wanted my happier life back; I didn’t want to deal all the stuff that had piled up and I fought those changes and problems with avoidance.

I simply refused to deal with it until I what ever issue it was got so big I was forced to do something. 

Looking back I realize that at the time this was a coping skill.  I wasn’t able to deal with literally everything in my life turning upside down and on its head, as well as the emotional upheaval and the pain and rehab…ugh!  It’s not all over with yet either.  I just deal with it much better (most days).

Avoidance is a coping skill.  However, I found out that all that stuff just grows bigger while you’re pretending it’s not there. Now, I really did need to learn to put things aside so I could heal and I have to deal with that. 

However, it’s not a great way to cope over the long haul.  Avoiding life is fine for an afternoon where you have  a migraine that makes you want to hide in bed and just try to survive it.  It’s not a great way to live your life.  And  many do everyday and not because of an accident; they are simply stuck in a terrible cycle.  It causes a great deal of stress and upset, and it doesn’t have to be this way.

Perhaps this is a good thing to have gone through because as a Mindset Coach I can recognize it quite clearly.  I also can relate and understand how much emotion is behind using avoidance.  I also know first hand what it takes to fix it and get through it.

What I want you to know is this.  It doesn’t go away. You can avoid it only so long and you will have to deal with it.  It is much easier to deal with things one at a time as they happen then it is to have everything build up and come crashing down on you all at once. 

Facing up to life, getting things under control takes time, effort and courage.  I ended up having someone totally unexpected come around to help keep me from falling off the edge.  We need support and sometimes even ideas on what to do next when we are overwhelmed.  Boy do I get that.

So, what can I help you with?

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Let’s face it…we all have stress.  I know I sure do.

Sometimes, we simply have a situation like a job interview, sometimes it’s just been a busy and overwhelming day, and occasionally we are dealing with a situation over time that causes the stress to last and for days of overwhelm bleed into one another, until we start to forget how to be relaxed!

Long drawn out stress or constant stress can really do a number on you.  It affects your sleep (hello 3 am!) , your body (ugh..belly fat!) and your moods.  It decreases your focus and concentration.  Prolonged stress can affect your desire to do things you normally enjoy (going out, hobbies, sex).  It makes you fatigued and more inclined to get and stay sick.  Oh, and it causes wrinkles…yuck!

My point?  You have to do something to alleviate the stress in your body and mind or you will be unhealthy.

Many of the tips below can apply to all different types of stress, although I’d perhaps wait to exercise til after your job interview.  😉

Stress busting tips.

1.  Exercise.  Many of the chemicals and hormones released from our stress reaction comes from the old response called fight or flight.  Back in the day we needed this to boost our ability to survive encounters with the not-so-friendly environment.  Now, we usually can’t run away nor physically challenge that which is giving us stress.  At least not without medical or police intervention.  The best way to get rid of this type of stress is to exercise. 

2. Being Mindful.  Pay attention to how you are feeling emotionally and how your body is reacting.  Are you tensing up the muscles in your neck?  Is your stomach twisting in knots?  Are you getting angry and moody?  Being mindful comes without judgment, it is simply accepting and exploring how your body is reacting and how you are feeling breath by breath.

Before you can do anything about your stress you need to look at it, know it and acknowledge it.  Sometimes this alone can help bring the stress value down a little.

3. Choose how you react.  If you have been paying attention to my blog for a while you know I strongly believe in choice. We are in command and we get to choose how we life this life.  Sure, sometimes our emotions are very strong and we need to feel these before we can move through them; but we don’t have to let them dictate how we react to life. 

We choose what we think about.  I am a huge advocate of living from Gratitude.  Try blessing a situation and focusing on the things you do have to be grateful for and see how your stress decreases.  Focusing on what stresses you out all of the time only serves to build it up.

4. Make a plan.  This is one of my favourite things to do when I have a very stressful situation.  The way a plan might look will depend upon your needs and the situation of course, but I find putting it down on paper incredibly releasing.  Sometimes we feel we just dont’ know what to do or how to do it.  The act of creating a plan itself gives us a feeling of taking control and that is an important step. 

It also organizes our thoughts and gets them out of the circling stress ball we create in our heads.  It’s been my experience as well that once we take an objective look at things they are rarely so hopeless or scary as we first thought.  Consider trying a brainstorming session, a step by step plan, mind map or simply letting your feelings flow out onto the paper.

5. Take a break from it all.  Yup. Turn off the phone, tv, computer and do something else that will give you a mental and physical break from what is stressing you out.  Go dancing, read a favourite book, hike a trail, volunteer…whatever gets you a break.  You need to let yourself have these times off or you will burn out.

6. Find support.  Depending on your needs you might look for a friend to listen or you might want to seek professional help to sort it out.  People…we are not meant to go through this life alone.  Stop martyr-ing yourself and allow others to give you a hand up.  Ideas?  Try your doctor, online groups, friends, or even a Coach.

7. Have a laugh.  There is no rule book for life. Therefore, there is no rule that just because life is handing you some crappy cards you  must be miserable everywhere and in every aspect of your life.  Put your worries in time out and find the joyful gifts you have been given; laugh when things are funny, smile because you still can. 

8. Meditate and/or deep breathing exercises.  Not everyone feels super comfortable with meditating, and sometimes it isn’t really viable.  Still, it is a practice I really urge you to pick up.  Can’t or not sure? Try some deep breathing exercises.  These are  milder version of meditation and in a wonderful twist of events breathing is done everywhere and so you can also do these types of exercises just about anywhere! 

What do you do to help reduce stress in your life?  Everyone has their own tricks and tips. Please share yours!

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Got hope?

Hope:  the wish or desire for a future that is good.  The expectation that a wish will be fulfilled.

I know  it’s here somewhere right?  We all have hopes, wishes and dreams. We all have secrets wishes and we all have dreams that we shout to the world.

We all also have those certain someones around who like to squash them.  Those people kinda suck. True, they might even think they are doing us a ‘favor’ or ‘telling it like it is’.  At least that is how they justify their negative output.  They also make it really hard to stay strong because fulfilling our dreams and wishes can be hard sometimes.  It can be a lot of work and there are more often than not a few setbacks and more than one disappointment along the way.

What we need is someone who can offer a hand up when we fall flat on our face

Someone who nudges you to get going and says ‘yes you can’ instead of telling  you the million scenarios where you stumble.

Someone who says” this is going to be a challenge…let’s kick it’s ass”…rather than “oh, that’s going to be really hard..forget it.”

Which person are you to others?  Or for that matter to yourself?

Don’t suck.  Never steal someones hope as it might be the only thing they have right now.  This includes your own. 

Imagine all that would change in the world if only we offered support instead of concern?  Imagine if instead of offering criticism alone, we offered solutions to the possible problems?

This world needs hope, it needs dreamers and it need people to lift those up and want to see them succeed. We need to believe that we can make things better, we can reach our goals and see our dream come to life. 

Listen to yourself next time someone is sharing with you.  Listen to yourself next time you hear from that voice inside your own head who tells you all the reasons you can’t. Tell that voice to shut the hell up cuz you’re doing it anyway! 

I know all about this.  I have had a lot of naysayers in my life.  Many of you who follow my blog and other social networks know one of my goals is at least once a month,  to do something I’ve never done. Something that scares the crap out of me.  Well so far I’ve been doing this and having a blast doing it. 

However, April is making me nervous…really nervous.  I’ve made some things start rolling that are almost as nerve-wracking as they are exciting!  I invited some amazing people I know to share in my idea and it’s coming to fruition.  My idea was to be able to share with each other life lessons, experiences that made big shifts for us personally.  We all spend so much time fighting our battles with our own life until we learn how to create the kind of life we want to live.  We need to share these lessons!  After all, why learn it if you can’t share it  right?

So Coffee with Soul was born.  Of course…the closer it gets the more my insider voice..my saboteur kicks up the volume.  My hope? That this tele series makes a difference for someone. That we can touch some lives.  The same reason I went out and got myself certified as a coach! 

My fears?  That I will suck as a host, that my talk will be lame and that the technical side of it will win (as in I won’t be able to handle it).  Well let’s face it. The technical stuff happens good or bad and I can only do my best. I plan to have a test run and go from there.  The other stuff…well I know how to deal with the stress, I  know how to practice and the people I’m working with are already freakin amazing!  I hear that voice and do it anyway!

Am I scared? Terrified!  BUT I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway.  I have hope.  I have people who remind me that I can do this and who will join me in celebration and laugh with me at my mistakes.  They will keep me on track towards success if I start to stumble. 

Life is good when you have hope.  Life is better when you have people you love support you in that hope.  Life is amazing when you can love yourself and learn to support your own hopes and dreams.

Let’s move towards the light and love of lifting each other up.




ps.  I’d love for you to join us for our tele series…if you are interested to find out how to stop fighting your life and make it fabulous you can learn more about how to register here.  The first speaker is April 9th, 2012.

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