Posts tagged with ‘stress’

26 sep

Stressed Out? What’s in Your Coping Toolbox?

MaricleMariclePost25SeptHow Do You Cope with Stress?

Something my clients talk about a lot is how to cope with stress and anxiety. What does “coping” really mean? Coping is simply what we do, think, or feel that helps us deal with our feelings, without getting too overwhelmed. You already have a number of these skills that you use all the time, whether you think about it or not.

People who cope well with stress and change have a large “toolbox” of skills. Examples of skills might include:

• Telling yourself, “It’s not worth it,” instead of getting into an argument
• Seeking the positive in difficult situations (See a more detailed post here)
• Journaling
• Talking to a friend about your troubles
• Taking a walk to “cool off”

I like to think about having a coping toolbox. My toolbox is comprised of skills in two overlapping categories: self-care and coping skills.

Self-Care: Self-care is the time I dedicate to myself daily, whether alone or with someone else, in order to meet my basic needs, relax and have fun, or enrich or benefit myself in some way. I like to think about self-care as “useful selfishness.” Without taking care of myself, I have nothing to give.

Coping Skills: Coping skills are the techniques I use in the moment to relieve stress, anger, fear, or anxiety.

Taking Care of Myself

When I let my own self-care fall down on my priority list, it shows. I feel grumpy, snappy, and not my usual happy self. Self-care for me includes: running and exercise, talking with my husband, social time with friends and family, being goofy with my kids, making art or music, spending time with my dogs, cooking, and getting enough sleep.

Adequate coping skills also help me stay on an even-keel. Talking directly with someone about what is bothering me, looking for solutions to my problem, reframing a difficult situation in terms of the benefits it brings, running, making art, and journaling all help me deal with very difficult feelings.

Usually though, coping well with stress requires more than just good self-care or one good coping skill. We are complex and dynamic beings, and so our responses to our problems need to be too. Any one skill will probably help me feel a minimum of about 10% better, so I need to use a combination of good self-care and coping skills to cope effectively.

What’s in your toolbox?
Which tools work the best for you? Do you take a shower, go for a drive, dance, build things, or vent? What’s a sure sign that you are letting go of your self-care? Share your insights in the comments section. Thanks for reading and be well.

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Amy Maricle on September 26th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

02 feb

Let Go of Worry

MikeRobbinsNewHow often do you catch yourself worrying?

When I was a kid my mom used to say to me, “95% of what you worry about never happens.” I think she recognized that I was the “worrying type” and was trying to help ease my mind. Although this rarely worked, I appreciated her sentiment and know now that she was right.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been prone to worrying. I continue to work on this, let it go, forgive myself for it, and choose different ways of being in the face of my fear. And, I still catch myself worrying more than I’d like – about the future, about my body, about how things will turn out, about what people think about me, about money, about the well-being of my loved ones, about the state of the world, and much more.

However, no matter how much we worry, it never really helps. And, as we look deeper at what worrying actually is – a set-up for failure, a negative attractor, and a denial or avoidance of feeling our true feelings – we see that it can have a damaging impact on our lives, our work, and our relationships. When we worry, we’re simply preparing to be upset or angry – assuming something won’t work out in the future.

Worry not only creates stress, it has an impact (usually negative) on what we create and manifest, and on our experience of life in general. Worry is a superficial emotion. It’s clearly something that many of us are all familiar with, can share with others in a way that will garner sympathy, empathy, or even pity, and is easy for us to go through daily life experiencing. However, underneath our worry are usually deeper emotions like shame, fear, guilt, hurt, or anger; many of which are more difficult for us to feel and express.

If we’re able to tell the truth and face our deeper feelings, we won’t have to waste our time and energy worrying. We can then deal with the root of the issue, not the superficial impact of it (which is what worry usually is).

There’s nothing wrong with feeling scared, angry, hurt, and even “worried,” in and of itself. These emotions, like love, gratitude, excitement, joy, and others are very important to our human experience. Emotions that are felt deeply and expressed appropriately give us power (regardless of what they are). Emotions that are not felt deeply, that are denied or avoided, and are not effectively expressed, can be damaging to us and those around us.

Worry is always a sign that there are some deeper feelings or issues for us to address. It’s often a good reminder for us to get more real, take better care of ourselves, and pay attention.

Below is a list of some things you can do when you get worried. These simple ideas can help you move through your worry in a positive way:

1. When you notice yourself worrying; stop, check in with yourself, and take a few slow deep breaths (all the way down to your belly)

2. Ask yourself, what’s underneath my worry? (i.e. why am I really worried and what am I really feeling?)

3. Face, feel, and express these underlying emotions – get support from others in this process if you need it.

4. Once you have felt and expressed these emotions, choose how you want to feel and what you want to create, instead of playing the role of the victim.

5. Appreciate yourself for the courage it takes to be honest and to deal with the challenging situations or emotions you’re experiencing.

6. Focus on the good stuff in your life (i.e. be grateful for what you have, who you are, and what you’re going through)

7. Be of service to others – generously put your attention on those around you who can benefit from your help. It will be a great gift to them and to you. Service can allow you to shift your attention from your worry to what you have to give, which is a true win-win for everyone involved.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

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Posted by Mike Robbins on February 2nd, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , ,

23 aug

The Importance of Unplugging

MikeRobbins96What percentage of your waking hours are you “plugged in” (i.e. checking things on the internet, doing email, texting, playing with your wireless device, watching TV, posting to Facebook or Twitter, and more)? If you’re anything like me and most of the people I know and work with, probably more than you’d like to admit.

Recently I began to confront my own obsession (borderline addiction) to being plugged in. For many years I’ve justified my somewhat obsessive nature about email and internet use by the fact that I run my own business and have to stay connected in order to make sure I’m taking care of my clients, generating new business, and not missing out on important opportunities.

However “true” this may seem, in the past few years (especially with the addition of social networking, texting, and other forms of “instant” communication and information sharing), it has become clear to me that my desire to stay connected has gotten a bit out of control and has had a negative impact on my life, my well being, and my relationships.

From entrepreneurs to sales people to managers to stay-at-home moms – just about everyone I know and work with seems to have some form of electronic obsession impacting their lives in a negative way.

About a month ago, I woke up on a Sunday morning and said to my wife Michelle, “I’m going to have a media free day today – no email, iPhone, internet, TV, or anything else. Today, I’m going to be totally unplugged.” She looked at me with a bit of amazement and disbelief – I think both because I was actually saying this and because she wasn’t convinced I could do it.

I had my own doubts and a few weak moments early in the day where I almost fell off the wagon and checked my phone. However, I was able to do it and by the end of that day, I felt great. I was able to relax and be present in a way that felt grounded and peaceful. The past four Sundays I’ve been “unplugged” and I’m loving it.

What if we unplugged more often? What if we gave ourselves permission to disconnect from technology and the “important” world of uber-communication? While for some of us this is easier than others, most of us could benefit from a little more unplugging and a little less emailing/texting/web or channel surfing in our lives.

What’s funny to me is how hypocritical we often are about it. When our spouse, co-worker, or friend is busy on their phone, checking email, or being “obnoxiously” plugged in, we often get annoyed. However, when we’re the one doing it, it’s almost always “necessary.”

Here are a few things you can do to start unplugging yourself in a healthy way.

1) Take inventory of the negative impact of technology in your life. How much stress, frustration, and difficulty does being constantly “plugged in” cause for you? Think about this on a physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual level. Admittedly, this is a bigger issue for some of us than others. However, the more honest you can be with yourself about it – both the impact it has on you and any underlying fears that may be associated with it, the more able you’ll be to alter your habits.

2) Challenge yourself to take conscious breaks. See if you can schedule a full day to be “unplugged.” If that seems to scary at first, try a morning or a few hours. And, if doing a full day seems easy – try a full weekend, a work day, or something else that will be a stretch. I’m working up to doing a full weekend myself and entertaining the idea of week day (although that seems scarier to me at the moment). Push yourself, but go easy on yourself at the same time – baby steps are important and perfectly acceptable with this.

3) Unplug together. See if you can get other people in your house, your family, or those you work with to unplug with you. Doing this with the support of other people can be fun and make it easier. It will also create accountability for you and those around you.

Our issues and challenges with technology and our obsession with being connected and online 24/7 don’t seem to be going away or getting better culturally. In fact, if we just take a look at our own lives and habits in the past few years – for most of us, things are getting worse. It is up to us to interrupt this pattern and to disengage from our electronic obsession in a conscious way.

While unplugging may not always easy or encouraged in the environments we find ourselves in, it’s crucial to our success and well being in life. When we’re able to disconnect ourselves, we can regain some of the passion, energy, creativity, and perspective that often gets diminshed or lost when we allow ourselves to get sucked into our phones, computers, TVs and other devices.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on August 23rd, 2010 in General, Global/Social Change | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

08 dec

The Best Gift of All

mike_robbinsDuring one of her shows a few years back, Oprah Winfrey made a profound and beautiful statement that I appreciated very much. She said, “We do shows about lots of ‘stuff’ and my ‘favorite things,’ but what people want more than anything else is to know that they’re appreciated…that’s the best gift of all.”

At this time of year it’s easy for us to get caught up in the stress of getting everything on our “list” crossed off, preparing for parties and events, and rushing around to buy gifts. And, with money tight for many of us this year, there’s added stress as we think about what gifts to get for our family members, friends, co-workers, and others.

Instead of just giving “stuff” for the holidays this year, what if we gave the people in our life the most meaningful gift of all; our appreciation? Let the people around you know what you appreciate about them and why.

What do you value most about your best friend? What is it about your kids that you really appreciate? What do you love best about your spouse? How does your co-worker or your boss make your job easier and more fun?

Expressing our heartfelt and genuine appreciation for the important people in our life is magical and it’s essential to our ability to create happiness, fulfillment, loving relationships, healthy families, successful teams, and productive communities. Appreciation is also an important element of effectively dealing with the stress of challenges and uncertainty that so many of us are facing these days.

This year, our holiday gifts can be expressions of true appreciation which will have real impact on our relationships and make our holiday season one to remember. And, with things the way they are financially for many people these days, taking time to appreciate others and life is so important this year.

Here are three simple suggestions to make your holiday gifts and your holiday season special and meaningful:

1) In addition to (or instead of) giving gifts, take time to write heartfelt thank you cards. Write cards of gratitude – letting the people around you know what you appreciate about them and how they have impacted your life in a positive way. Express your appreciation genuinely, specifically, and personally – in a heartfelt way.

2) Ask people what they really want. Giving something specific that someone really wants will have them feel appreciated and valued. It doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as it’s personal to them. And, if you ask them directly you may find out that what they really want is something simple that can’t be bought or doesn’t cost money.

3) Give the gift of your time or service. Make a list of a few important people in your life and instead of buying them something, call and ask each them if there is some project they’ve been putting off or procrastinating that you might be able to help them with. Schedule time to come over to their house or support them specifically in getting that task or project accomplished.

Remember what most people want, more than almost anything else, is to know that they are loved, valued, and appreciated. Appreciation truly is the best gift we can give to the people in our lives (for the holidays and at any time of the year).

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

Posted by Mike Robbins on December 8th, 2009 in Family, Finances, Global/Social Change, Relationships | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

01 dec

How to Stay Grounded During the Holidays

mike_robbinsThe holiday season is now in full swing. If you’re anything like me you probably have mixed feelings about the holidays. I love the excitement, parties, decorations, rituals, music, gifts, connections, and more. However, even these fun things can wear on me. And, the stress, drama, consumption, obligation, expense, and more that often come along with this time of year are not on my list of “favorite things.”

In addition, I often feel like I’m not doing enough, not on top of my “list,” and I sometimes worry that I won’t get everything done in time to make the people in my life happy the way I want to. Can you relate?

This year, especially with all that’s going on around us in the economy and the world, what if we each made a commitment to appreciate the holiday season and enjoy the whole experience – regardless of our circumstances or any external pressure we may feel? Appreciating the holiday season, as with anything in life, will make it much more enjoyable and much less stressful.

Instead of rushing around in a high state of anxiety and worry about crossing every item off of our never-ending to-do list, we could choose another way – one which will make this holiday season enjoyable, fun, and peaceful for us and those around us.

Here are a few things we can remember this holiday season to make things more fulfilling and less overwhelming:

1) Take Responsibility for Your Experience. It’s important to remember that the stress we experience during the holiday season does not come from the holidays themselves, but from us. We’re always the creators of our own experience and the more we can remember this and live our lives from this perspective, the more empowered we are. When we stop thinking, speaking, and acting as if we’re mere victims of holiday madness (or anything else in our lives for that matter), we can dramatically enhance our enjoyment and lower our stress.

2) Remember That You Are at Choice. We always have a choice about how we engage with anything. This holiday season we can choose to be annoyed by family members, obligations, forced work gatherings, crowds, prices, or anything else. Or, we can choose to enjoy the magic and fun of this time of year. We may not always get to choose the people and circumstances around us, but we always have a choice about how we relate to them. Our experience of the holidays (and of life) is up to us, as it always is.

3) Focus on What You Appreciate About the Holidays. Consciously choose to focus on the things that you appreciate about the holiday season the most. Tell the truth about this to yourself and to those around you. If at all possible, don’t participate in work or family gatherings out of obligation. But, regardless of where you are, what you do, or whom you are with – make a commitment to appreciate what’s happening, the people around you, and the many blessings of this season and in your life right now.

Even and especially when things are challenging, we always have so much to be grateful for. At this time of the year, we can take a step back, breathe deeply, and experience the gratitude we have for our lives, the people in it, and for ourselves. If not now, then when?

While there are always things for us to do, gifts to buy, gatherings to attend, and much more going on at this time of year; we can choose to have this holiday season be one that is filled with authentic peace, gratitude, and joy – if we’re willing to look for, find, and focus on what we appreciate.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

Posted by Mike Robbins on December 1st, 2009 in Family, Global/Social Change, Relationships, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

13 nov

Worry Never Works

mike_robbinsI was talking to a friend of mine last week and she said, “If worrying worked, I’d weigh 115 pounds and be a millionaire by now.” I laughed out loud – appreciating her humor and insight.

Worrying, which is something I’ve spent and wasted a lot of time and energy on throughout my life, never seems to work, does it? Worry is actually detrimental to our health, well-being, and our ability to manifest both the things and feelings we truly want in life. When we worry, we’re simply preparing to be upset in the future – assuming that something “bad” will happen.

I’ve recently become even more aware of my own obsession with worry and have realized for me, as is true for many of us, it has simply become a habituated and unconscious behavior. At some level, I find myself justifying my own worrying – thinking that it proves I really care, helps keep me focused, or allows me to stay on top of things in a responsible way. While this all makes sense, on a deeper level I’ve realized that worrying is just my erroneous attempt to control the uncontrollable – life.

Given that we all know, at least to some degree, that worrying doesn’t really work and actually makes things worse – why do we do it?

First of all, we’ve been trained to worry – by our parents, teachers, friends, family members, co-workers, the media, our culture, and more. From the time we were kids and to this day, we’re taught (directly and indirectly) that we’re supposed to worry about lots of things – crime, illness, money, our children, being taken advantage of, pollution, and so much more. While some may argue that there are many things we should be concerned and aware about, “worrying” about any of these things doesn’t make them better or help us address them in a specific way.

Second of all, we’re not usually encouraged or even all that good at acknowledging, addressing, and expressing our real emotions. Worry is often a suppressed form of fear, anger, shame, or other emotions we find difficult to deal with. Because worrying is much more socially acceptable than expressing our authentic fear (or anger, guilt, helplessness, shame, sadness, etc.), we tend to actively worry about things all the time. Our inability to express our real emotions, which is usually the source, is what keeps worry in place.

Finally, we worry that if we stop worrying, something really bad will happen. As ironic and odd as it may seem, we continue to worry somehow thinking we are protecting ourselves. In actuality when we worry we’re just setting ourselves up for more stress and fear.

Here are a few things you can do to let go of worry and live with a deeper sense of peace and freedom:

1) Notice what you worry about – Like most aspects of life and growth, the first step is authentic awareness. When we become conscious about our own habits, thoughts, and patterns as it relates to worrying, we can start to make some healthy choices and changes. As you notice your own tendency to worry, have compassion with yourself and see if you’re willing to let it go.

2) Identify and express your real emotions – The root cause of all worry is an emotion or set of emotions. If we can identify how we really feel (scared, angry, sad, ashamed, helpless, etc.) and we’re willing to express our emotions with passion and authenticity, we will move through the emotion and release its energy, thus transforming it and letting go of our worry.

3) Take conscious and courageous action – Worry often renders us inactive; stuck in a state of negative thinking or fear based reactions. Taking conscious and courageous actions in the face of our fear and worry can be one of the most empowering things for us to do. This is not about frantic, random, erroneous activity (just for the sake of doing something), this is about us taking deliberate action as a way of moving through our fear in a direct and confident way.

There’s nothing wrong with us for worrying – it is part of being human, especially in our world today. We don’t need to judge ourselves for it, but it is important for us to acknowledge our worry when it shows up, as it can be quite detrimental to our success, well-being, and fulfillment in life. When we remember that worrying never works and we’re willing to dive deeper into what is really going on within us, we can transform our worry and use it as a catalyst for positive change.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

Posted by Mike Robbins on November 13th, 2009 in Family, Global/Social Change, Health, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,