Reduce Holiday Stress and Experience Peace of Mind

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Reduce-Holiday-Stress-Peace-of-MindWith holiday festivities to host and attend, families and friends to connect with and visit, gifts to buy, food to prepare, with time and money at a premium, you may find yourself tied up in ribbons.

The American Psychological Association, reported that one in three adults in the U.S. experience extreme stress on a continuing basis. I imagine these numbers are compounded during the holidays.

I invite you to remember that it is my true nature to be happy, healthy, full of energy, creative, expansive, inspired. It is my true nature to want connect with others, imagine what is possible and create it.I experience stress when I am out of alignment with my true nature.

  • I could be out of alignment because what I am thinking, saying or doing is really not true to me. It’s not what I envision or hope for myself and others.
  • I could be out of alignment because something is happening or someone is behaving in a way that is different than what I expect, what I believe, what I have learned, what I have practiced, what I value.
  • I could be out of alignment because I am in a state of force.
  • I could be out of alignment because of how I am thinking a thought.

When I am out of alignment for whatever reason, my brain acts as if I am in physical danger and, delivers to me the fight, flight, and freeze thoughts that I have practiced.

Of course, I am not in physical danger. My brain, bless its heart, doesn’t know that and goes into a state of flight, fight, or freeze anyway.  It delivers thoughts of worry, frustration, anxiety, anger, disappointment, insecurity, criticism, depression….and other fight, flight and freeze thoughts that I have practiced in similar circumstances.

Without self-awareness, that’s where I remain–in fight, flight, or freeze. With self-awareness, I can pause, take a breath, and add light to the situation. I can choose thoughts that move me in a direction that helps me create what I truly want and be my highest vision.

Here are some powerful thoughts to practice during the holiday season to rise to a new level of consciousness, restore your ability to discover what truly matters to you, receive ideas on what to do next, and experience peace of mind and the joy of the season.

  1. List everything you think you want to accomplish during the holidays, and ask yourself, “What does this bring me?” for each item. Keep asking and answering the question “What does this bring me?” until you get to the essence of what you want. If the essence of what you want does not bring you peace or inspire you, then you can cross the item off your list and wonder what you could think, say, or do to accomplish the essence of what you truly want.
  2. Notice  “I have to,” “I need to” and “I should” thoughts. As soon as you catch yourself thinking one of these forceful, often judgmental (and exhausting) thoughts, restate the thought using “I am,” “I choose,” “I am committed to,” “It could be great if” or “I wonder how I can” and finish the thought with what difference you are making for yourself and others by doing what you are choosing to do. Turning these forceful thoughts into thoughts of intention and wonder help us to reclaim our lives, discover what we really want and open us to the many ideas on how we could achieve it.
  3. Take a deep breath,  focus on the exhale, (holding my breath actually contributes to stress!) and think “I wonder what truly matters in this moment?”  Take as many breaths as it takes until you feel a click, back in alignment, true to you. Re-invoking the state of wonder is a sure-fire way to reduce stress, spark creativity, and  stay fully present and focused on what really matters, what truly brings peace and joy.

I invite you to practice any one of the above suggestions and see what happens.

 

© 2014 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

Transforming Guilt

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Transforming Guilt by Mary J. LoreToday is the 64th wedding anniversary of my parents. It’s also been two months since my dad made one of the most difficult decisions of his life. Recovering from his third stroke in six months, he decided to move from my parents’ new independent living apartment, to a small apartment, and move my mom to a home that specializes in care for those with dementia. This blog is seventh in a series on my parents’ recent move from their home of forty years and handling big changes in their lives.

When a counselor asked my dad how he was doing, he said that he felt the best he has felt in years. Then he added, “There are times I feel guilty.  When I’m enjoying myself, I feel guilty.  I think about my wife being alone, wondering why we’re not living together, feeling abandoned, thinking she’s been put away.”

The counselor said, “You shouldn’t feel guilty.” She went on to describe how well mom is doing, how well she is cared for and how much fun she’s having dancing and participating in activities. She then told my dad that he needed to take care of himself and finished with, “You shouldn’t feel guilty.”

Of course, after the first, “You shouldn’t feel guilty,” all that my dad heard was, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” And after the second, “You shouldn’t feel guilty,” his brain was busy delivering to him his entire archive of thoughts and feelings of guilt and now he really felt guilty!

I later explained to my dad that guilt is a fight, flight, and freeze thought that his brain is delivering to him because something is happening that is different from what he hopes or expects or believes or has concluded from past experiences.

He shared that he never dreamed that he and my mom would end up like this.

I asked him, “What do you truly want?” He said when they got married, he vowed to take care of my mom, no matter what.  I asked him, “What are all the ways you can take care of Mom?”

He had a long list – he’s made sure she’s in a great place, with great food and company and care, he visits her every day, tucks her in at night, brings her chocolate, holds her hand, takes her to church and on a lunch date every Sunday, plays bingo with her, puts her on the phone with her sisters, tells her jokes, helps her to feel safe and loved.

I asked him, “What are all the ways you can take care of yourself so you can take care of Mom?” Again, he had a long list of things he could do to take care of his mind, body and spirit, which of course, included being with friends and enjoying himself.

Then I asked him what he could practice thinking when he experiences guilt. He decided to acknowledge the guilt thought, without blame or judgment, and remind himself how much he loves his wife and how he’s fulfilling the promise he made 64 years ago–to take care of her, no matter what.

What are you telling yourself you should or shouldn’t think? And what could you prefer to think?

© 2011 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

Holiday Stress Management: How to Reduce Stress and Experience Peace of Mind this Season

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Reducing Holiday StressWith holiday plays and parties to attend, cards to mail, gifts to buy, baking to do, guests to prepare for, and a slashed budget to boot, you may find yourself tied up in ribbons. Yet focusing on the essence of what you want is one of the most powerful ways of thinking to reduce stress and bring about peace and happiness during the holidays.

During these stressful times, we may find ourselves consumed with thoughts of worry, self-criticism, frustration, and even anger. Thinking about the essence of what we want, on the other hand, raises us to a new level of consciousness, gives us the ability to discover what truly matters to us, receive ideas on what to do next, and experience peace and happiness.

Here are some practices to help you discover the essence of what you want:

  • Stop thinking, “I have to,” “I need to” or “I should” thoughts. As soon as you catch yourself thinking one of these judgmental – and exhausting – thoughts, restate your thoughts using the words, “I choose,” “I am committed to,” “It would be great if” or “I wonder how I can” and notice what happens. These powerful thoughts help us relax, discover what we really want and open us to the many ideas on how to achieve it.
  • List everything you think you want to accomplish during the holidays, and ask yourself, “What does this bring me?” for each item. Keep asking and answering the question “What does this bring me?” until you get to the essence of what you want. If the essence of what we want brings us peace or inspires us, we open ourselves to the myriad of possibilities on how to fulfill what we truly want. If the essence does not bring us peace, then we can cross the item off our list or choose another way to think about it.
  • Take a deep breath focusing on the exhale and think “I wonder what truly matters in this moment?” Reinvoking the state of wonder is a sure-fire way to reduce stress, spark creativity, and keep us fully present and focused on what really brings us peace and joy.

©2010 Managing Thought. All rights reserved.

For more on reducing holiday stress, listen to my Heartbeat Radio Show airing live on December 6th at 12:30 pm EST and my Forward Thinking™ podcast.