PEM: Team Rosebush or Team Thornbush?

A belated Happy Father’s Day to all those wonderful guys out there doing the best they can with the challenge of raising their little and big ones. An awesome undertaking no matter what the stage!

On a Positive Energy Monday I’ll be brief:  just sharing about perspective from a framed saying I bought for my mom while I attended a retreat during my teenage years. I guess it’s been the way I look at life, and maybe always have.

The quote reads:

I can complain because rosebushes have thorns or rejoice because thornbushes have roses.

I’m definitely a “thornbush with roses”  kind of girl.

How about you?

Have a great day!

Joanna

Dealing with Stress

Good day and welcome back to Positve Energy Mondays, everyone! So glad to be back! (Hiatus wasn’t fun but good is coming of it so I’m grateful.) Hope those who celebrated enjoyed a peaceful and joyful Easter and/or Passover. Loving all those bulbs bursting forth and screaming spring with their colorful blooms. Finally! Spring is in full force! Makes me happy 🙂

       

Diane Lang is in the house! Today she shares some thoughts on managing stress:

Every morning I follow the same routine. I wake up, drink my coffee and put on the morning news. It’s a ritual, I have grown to despise. Every morning, I feel brief moments of panic and anxiety. Just turning on the news makes my heart race; my head spin and my stomach feel sour. I get anxious and long for my daughter to wake up so I can get my daily dose of cartoons to lighten my mood for the day. I tried to make the decision that I would no longer watch the news but between the traffic, weather and just knowing how my IRA is doing I always get stuck watching the news. After talking with many other people, I have realized that most of us feel the same. It doesn’t matter where we live, what age our kids are, if we are stay at home moms or work outside the house- we all feel the pressure of “The Family Squeeze” – trying to save money, cut corners while saving for college, retirement, etc at the same time that stock prices are falling and food prices are rising. We all have the same fear within us that the economy will not turn around soon and that prices will keep rising.

The typical question I get as a Therapist is how can I handle all this fear and anxiety? What happens if I stay stressed out? I can’t change the economy but hopefully this column will help you deal with anxiety more effectively.

Coping with Stress and Anxiety:

Be honest with yourself – what is causing you stress? Confront the issues.

What type of stress do you have?

Is it Physiological – illness, pain, lack of proper nutrition, exercise, poor sleeping habits, excessive drinking, smoking, etc?

Psychological – Frustration, conflict, feeling overwhelmed, going thru transitional times, loss, etc

Is it school problems – test anxiety, stress at work, financial, and/or relationship?

Once you know where the stress is coming from- you can find solutions to deal with the stress.

Be realistic on what you can change and what you can’t. What can you take control of in your life right now? Control is a positive step to regaining your power. Once you take action, you gain control and you will start feeling better. Set realistic goals and priorities.

Learn to listen to your body to know when you’re too stressed out and hitting the “burnout Stage”. We receive these signs to let us know something is not right and that we need to make changes.

Physical signs of Stress and Anxiety: Stomach problems, headaches, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, low immune system – catch frequent colds, flu, panic attack symptoms – chest pains, racing heart, hot and cold flashes, dizziness, nauseous, problems catching your breath, hyperventilating even fainting.

Psychological signs: Change in appetite, sleeping patterns, loneliness, loss of focus and concentration, mood swings, irritability, little or no patience and lack of desire for socializing and hobbies.

Burnout – a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion.

Stop trying to be perfect – ask for help, have a support system. Find ways to simplify your life. Be proud of your accomplishments.

Be kind to yourself. Self-care. What have you done for yourself lately? Learn to relax and take breaks. Even if it’s only 10-15 minutes a day. Learn that caring for yourself is every bit as important as caring for others.

Learn to trust your instincts. You know yourself the best and you are usually right. Trust yourself.

Stop negative thoughts – monitor your self. Write down all your negative thoughts, next to your negative thoughts write down the rational,positive thoughts. Practice substituting the negative for the positive. Then praise yourself/reward yourself every time you change a negative thought for a positive thought.

If you feel your anxiety/stress is more then you can handle or you have chronic anxiety and/or panic attacks. There are the options of: Counseling and support groups.

Diane’s upcoming appearances and workshops:

Monday, April 25th – Create balance & relieve anxiety -7pm; Westfield Adult school, NJ 908-232-4050

Tuesday, April 26th – Letting go of anger -6:30pm; Mt Olive Adult school, NJ 973-691-4006 ext 7635

Friday, April 29th – How Far We’ve Come…  Learn, Laugh, Lunch – 9-3pm; Brookdale community college, NJ: We have come a long way! Celebrate the journey.
Welcome the promise of Spring Renewal with a day of inspirational speakers and energizing workshops. Fee: $65 includes morning coffee, lunch, speakers and two workshops
For more information: ncosta@brookdalecc.edu    (732) 224-2315  

Friday’s workshop sounds like fun–I’m almost sorry I scheduled my day otherwise. As per later this week, Wednesday I’ll be showcasing author Christopher Wills, whom I ‘met’ online when I came across an excellent article of his about designing characters. And drop in Friday for a special post that ties together some fun, life lessons and my wedding anniversary. Until then, all good thoughts to all of you,

Joanna

Negativity Stops Here!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, friends. Saturday, I cleaned the first floor. Sunday, I attacked the second floor. Yours truly, who always criticized her mother for cleaning on weekends and vacations, was in compulsive mode against dirt and dust bunnies all weekend. Scary to think I’ve become my mother.

Friend, educator, psycologist and life coach Diane Lang fuels up Positive Energy Mondays with another great post about keeping an upbeat outlook on the day-to-day. Today, she tackles negativity and how to not to get caught up in it:

         

Dealing with Tough Times 

Times are tough, that’s what we hear from everyone. Unemployment is high, fear of layoffs, gasoline prices are through the roof, natural disasters are all around us and these are just a few of the stories we see on a daily basis on our TV, on the homepage of our computers, in newspapers and on the radio. How are we to escape all this negativity so we can move forward in our day to day lives?  When things are bad in the world, we still need to have some normalcy so we can sleep at night and keep our kids happy and healthy. I wish I could get rid of all the stress and negativity in the world but I can’t, so here are some tips to help you get through your day on a positive note.

1. Stay away from the negative – there is no reason why you have to watch the negativity on the TV, read it in your newspapers, hear it on the radio, etc. Make a conscious choice to limit your negative time. I have learned that it is better to watch the cartoons and kids shows on Disney with my daughter then all the morning programs. Why? because the morning shows have one positive story to 10 negative ones. I can’t compete with the negative. I’m not saying to ignore the world events but limiting the amount of negativity you get in one day is definitely a healthier choice.

2. Negativity is not just found on your local news programs. Watch the “toxic” people in your life. Moods/emotions are contagious. If you surround yourself with negative people it will rub off on you. It only takes about 10 minutes for a mood to be passed onto others.

3. Watch the negative self-talk. Try this experiment for a day (Snap to awareness exercise): Wear a rubber band around your wrist. Every time you have a negative thought, action or say something negative to others, snap the rubber band. You might be surprised how red your wrist is by the end of the day. When we are feeling negative we tend to over-generalize what is going on and one small issue turns into a big issue. We domino-affect one problem into many others.

Example: Driving to work on the highway and all of a sudden you hit traffic and you’re stuck. You get upset but instead of just focusing on the traffic, it turns into a negative party. You start insulting the traffic, the car you drive, the other drivers, the weather, the place you were going to, etc.

When you do the “Snap to awareness” exercise with the rubber band, you find out how negative you are. This self-awareness can allow you to slow down the negativity.

Watch the negative words like: Maybe, should, could or would. Replace them with power words like: Choose, Choice, I will, etc.

4. Work on what you CAN control in your life, not what you can’t. Just a quick reminder – we can only change ourselves, we can never control others. If we try to change others, we are setting ourselves up for failure because it’s unrealistic. Make a list of everything in your life you can control then ask yourself- what can I do about it now? Set up goals and action plans. Make sure all goals are realistic and achievable. Take baby steps when making changes.

 5. Tough times are real but they are only temporary. Remember that when things are bad. Instead of saying things like: This will never change; this problem seems impossible, etc. start saying: This issue/situation is only temporary. You’re not a victim. Go back to #4 and work on what you can control. This brings back the power.

 6. Tough times are teachable moments. I always tell clients, don’t live in the past, learn from your past. The tough situation you’re in now will be temporary and then one day will be a teachable moment. Think to yourself: what can I learn from this issue? What can I do to not be a victim? I have adult college students tell me I lost my job BUT I’m using this time to further my education or learn a new skill. There is always a positive side to every negative story. Look for the positive.

7. Consequences – think of the consequences. If you remain negative, stressed out and unbalanced, you will feel the effects emotionally, mentally and physically. Here are some of the signs to look for:

 Change in eating/sleeping habits

Low energy/fatigue

poor concentration, focus and attention

irritable/mood swings

low immune system

muscle aches and pains

migraines, jaw pain

stomach problems

isolation, depression

Burnout – mental, physical and emotional exhaustion

 8. If you feel completely overwhelmed by your situation seek professional help. Remember you’re not alone. APA reported that 80% of Americans feel stressed due to the economy and Harvard research says that over 60% of doctor visits are due to stress.

As always, Diane, your wisdom is much appreciated! Getting caught up in negative attitudes, outlooks, demeanors can really mess with a person’s serenity. I’ll use upbeat music, a walk and prayer (often to help someone see things in a more positive light) as ways to put myself back into a better frame of mind. If all else fails, I’ll deal with those people as kindly and normally as I can then go on my way and carry on with what the day needs and/or brings. When necessary, I’ll confront, share my feelings and if need be, own  my part. Resentment tends to couple very closely with negativity so I’ll do  my best to keep myself from getting caught up in that.

Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips with us! (Find more at Diane’s blog!) Hope to have you back again very soon.

Your turn, friends! How do you deal with the negative in your life? Diane and I would love to know the actions you take (or don’t) when striving to maintain a positive outlook. (You never know who you’ll touch by putting your strategy out there.)

Wednesday, y’all get to meet my newest online writer/author friend and possible kindred spirit, with whom I connected through Writers’ Digest. Log on  then for more details!

 Until then, may a blessed day be yours,

Joanna