#1 Stress Reducer

Baby-sleeping-on-bed

 

I’ve posted about stress, but I haven’t yet posted about what helps reduce stress. The #1 stress reducer : Sleep. Ahhhhh…sleep. I don’t know about you, but I love to sleep. So much so that my favorite room in the house is my bedroom, and my favorite piece of furniture is my bed. But lately, I haven’t been getting the restful sleep that I need or that I’m used to.

Sleep allows your body to rest and realign, allowing your brain to process and dump the day’s experience. Deep sleep is what we’re after because it is in the 3rd and 4th stages of sleep that our brain waves move reeeaaally slow. There are no eye or muscle movements.  This is Delta sleep stage. This sleep state induces healing. If we find ourselves getting continuous or more light sleep than deep sleep, your body and mind will not have the time or space to rejuvenate or heal.  Lack of sleep impacts your weight, your heart,  immune system and makes you age faster or at least look like it.

nosleep

 

Stress and sleep are closely linked and sometimes it’s like asking the question: what came first the chicken or the egg. Stress can impact your sleep, just think about any time you’ve lost sleep because you were worried about something , a relationship, a job, a performance etc. Losing sleep can create stress. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night or maybe too early in the morning only to find that you’re unable to go back to sleep? The more time passes, you toss and turn, you try different sleep positions thinking and hoping this will help. Instead, you become more stressed out because you see the clock getting closer and closer to the time you actually need to get up and all you want to do is scream “Ugh!!!!!!?”   Frustrating I know. Not sleeping through the night can snowball into more than one night. Not getting enough sleep can lead to stress or compound your stress, and stress can lead to not getting enough sleep because of worry or anxiety. It is cyclical, and they both interact and impact each other.

 

There was a time when I worked at a rehab center, which I liked to call an emotional ER. People would be admitted  because their lives were in shambles due to addictions and trauma. There was constant stress and intensity, so much so that my nights after work looked like Homer below.  I was getting a lot of sleep, but not the deep sleep I needed for my nervous system to Fully decompress, destress or heal. I was in a state of exhaustion.  Many people may find themselves in this state due to situational stress, stress that is due to a certain career, job, receiving higher education (freshman 15 weight gain) demands and expectations.

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So, the next time you find yourself overwhelmed, exhausted or stressed, and your body is needing you to sleep, give yourself permission and some time to take a catnap.  This is normal. This is your body telling you that, “Hey, I need to heal. I need to decompress.”  Your body and your mind will thank you.

 

Sleep Well

 

The Great Pumpkin!

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I remember watching The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown since being a kid, and as I’ve grown up, watching The Great Pumpkin became a nostalgic comfort. It meant Halloween is officially here. As an adult, I watched The Great Pumpkin and I saw something different. A metaphor for faith and belief. Yes, I know, being an adult is overrated sometimes. I wondered if I was on the right track so I did a little research regarding this subject and by little, I mean miniscule. I looked on Wikipedia. Linus believed that The Great Pumpkin existed and he waited all night for the great pumpkin to rear its head, but the great pumpkin never came. Linus believed wholeheartedly in his Great Pumpkin and with faith waited to no avail yet missing out on the festivities with his friends.

Charles Schulz was genius! The Great Pumpkin is also a metaphor for believing in something greater than ourselves, some call it God, The Universe, Allah, Yahweh, Supreme Being, Father Sky, Mother Earth, Nature and many other names. Some people identify their faith with their religion. For instance, individuals identify as Christian to describe their faith. But, identifying with a religion is also identifying with a set of beliefs that the particular religion holds. Faith, to me, is not a religion but a practice in letting go and surrender of control. Just because a person may identify with a certain religion doesn’t automatically create faith in their heart.

Faith is more like a muscle that needs to be exercised. Faith is intangible: you can’t touch it, you can’t contain it, you can’t even really identify it. Faith is an exercise in trust, not trust from a mental perspective but trust from a whole person heart experience. It’s easy for me to say, ‘I have faith’ when things are going well and the way I want them to in my life. But, I exercise Faith when things aren’t going well or the way I want them to. Faith is a deep, heartfelt, whole-body trust and intrinsic knowing that everything works out for the best no matter what the outcome or the external circumstances look like. Do I exercise my faith (trusting that it all works out) when I lose something dear to me, go through a major life transition or simply make a change for the betterment of me? Do I or you have that deep faith? Or, do you, as I do often times, try to control the situation or the outcome? In trying to control, do you stop the flow or change in your life that may serve you better or do you stick to your beliefs, and hold on to something that is no longer of service to you?

linus-great-pumpkin

 

Belief on the other hand, is identifiable and tangible because we can put a clear description to it. Belief is mental. If your belief is tied to your religion then you can provide clear descriptions of the belief’s and practice’s of your religion.

We have many beliefs, beliefs that we carry from our family of origin, beliefs about ourselves that we pick up from others such as teachers, extended family members, friends, and society. You may have adopted belief’s about money, relationships, work, body image, gender, worthiness. For instance, you may have a belief that the more money you have or make equates to your success or your personal value/worthiness, or you may have a belief that you ‘can’t rely on anyone else, because they all leave,’ or you may have a belief that you are not good enough, unloveable, or unworthy. All of these beliefs most likely are or have been impacting you, your relationships, work, and money.

Beliefs are interesting because beliefs are easy to hold on to and scary to let go of even when we know the belief is a lie, outdated and no longer serves our well-being. We defend our beliefs as if they are US.  We, humans, defend our beliefs to the death.  Beliefs are just strongly held ideas.  As I’ve grown and examined and experience my life, my beliefs are ever evolving and being challenged and my faith exercised.  I leave you with these questions:

How would you describe faith?
What belief’s take faith in your life today?
Are your belief’s exclusionary or inclusive of others?
Have you missed out on an experience you wanted, or meeting people because of a strongly held belief?
What beliefs do you think or feel you’ve held that are no longer helpful to you?
What beliefs are you willing to let go of?

And you thought The Great Pumpkin was just a cartoon.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

The Meaning of Success

The meaning of success.

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What a loaded sentence. Everyone has their own definition of success. I was posed with this question recently at a toastmaster’s meeting. How I responded was interesting because, I responded in a linear manner. Meaning a talked about achieving or accomplishing a goal and assessing in my mind the accumulation of goals and money. That’s where my mind went first. Interesting, considering success for me, since my college years was simple: being in a loving committed marriage, have a family and doing work that I love helping others and being creative. As I thought about that statement further, success for me is about following my heart.  Because, when I follow my heart, I have no idea what the outcome will be and therefore each time I follow my heart, I take a risk. And I have taken ALL kinds of risks. So often, we are our worst enemy, focusing on what we don’t have, haven’t done (‘right’), what we need to do differently or better until it all begins to sound like Blah Blah Blah. Can you relate?

I think back to the risks I’ve taken based on my Heart and I recall twice in my adult life, packing my car with just certain belongings such as photos, music, some books and clothes and traveling across country to a new state in which I had NO job lined up. What was I thinking?

Then I started to think about other times in my life where I followed my heart and realized that I am more of a risk-taker than I give myself credit for but I haven’t seen this aspect of myself because I’ve focused so much on the Fear I’ve felt.

I’ve taken a risk and changed careers, multiple times in my life; I’ve changed my life and began a business, which has been the scariest/hardest chapter in my life to date. I have traveled alone, I have moved across country – alone, I have made decisions that others would think and have thought, “what is she thinking ?” or “what the hell is she going to do next?” I’ve stepped outside of my comfortable box and taken more risks. I have to remember that, so that I don’t become paralyzed by the fear and the lies of Fear itself telling me something that isn’t true.  Risk takes courage.

I am a risk-taker. I follow my heart. I am courageous. My heart will take me to places, experiences and bring people into my life that I never imagined happening. That is Success – to me.

What is your definition of Success and has it changed over time?

Exercise:
Take a moment to acknowledge ways in which you’ve taken risks (stepped out of your comfort zone).

Change

time-for-change

Change.

Everyone wants change at some point in their life, but may not know how to go about it. Change can be exciting and scary, regardless if the change is facilitated by you or uncontrolled circumstances in your life such as losing your job, your partner wanting a divorce, or a newly diagnosed medical illness.

Change is a choice.

Change ushers in the new, but often we focus on what we’re losing or leaving behind. There’s excitement and grief related to change. There’s also fear. Fear of the unknown as change happens. ‘If I change (certain behaviors) what will happen to my relationships?’ ‘If I change my relationship, will I find another partner, will the relationship be better, different?’ ‘If I change my job/career will I be able to financially take care of myself and my family?’  These are all valid concerns and questions yet they are based on fear. The issue with basing our choices on fear is that fear can keep us in behaviors, relationships, jobs that no longer serve us. Fear can keep us complacent in being comfortable. Fear keeps your spirit trapped; fearful of moving forward or in a different direction.

I know this personally.

I love change. Well, let me rephrase that. I used to Love change, now I like it. Sometimes. When I can control it. I loved change when I was younger and often welcomed and facilitated change. Change of job, change of career, change of residence. If I felt like it was becoming old hat to me, I’d get these nagging thoughts and a gut feeling that it’s time for a change.  I was excited by the thought of exploring new towns, meeting new people, creating new friendships, being challenged at a different job, always learning and experiencing something new. With these changes, I’ve allowed myself to be guided solely by my heart, my intuition.

But, I confess, as I’ve become older, change has been much slower for me. I am more apt to rely on my practical left brain rather than my intuitive self. Because to be an adult is to be responsible – in every way. At least that was the belief. I also believed that to be a responsible adult meant that I had to live by the book, no ‘reckless’ behavior such as following my intuition. So I shut it down or didn’t listen. In doing so, I shut down my child like wonder and awe for the world that I’ve had throughout my life. I stopped exploring. And my spirit suffered. I physically suffered.

Instead of letting go and allowing myself to flow with the Universe, I have been holding on to  Control for the last year. Not Cool. I would go in spurts between letting go and flowing with Universe, then the fear would pop up and the control would rear its ugly head-again.  It has been a back and forth experience.  Two steps forward, one step back, with all the usual and imagined frustration in-between.  No one writes about the actual process of gut-wrenching change.  We usually hear about it as facts, “I lost everything, stayed with friends for a while, partner left me,’ etc.  We don’t always hear about the internal strife within, the confusion, indecision, fear or self-doubt probably because it doesn’t sound easy. And it’s not. We usually hear about the internal strife, when they’ve come out on the other side, on top of their mountain.

Well, that’s where I have been the last year.  Questioning if I was hearing my intuition clearly.  Wondering if I was on the ‘right’ path. Being confused, having self-doubt, stress and indecision.  Hence, the no writing.

 

Change is a choice.  And sometimes, the Universe chooses for you.

And I am listening.

 

What change are you wanting to make?  What choice are you willing to make?

A Pick Me Up….

Tough day emotionally.

Needed a pick me up.

On my way to happy hour,

 in the car

and this is the first

song I heard.

Grateful for the reminder

from Spirit and the pick me up.

So, I had to share this.

Hope you enjoy.

Follow your Heart

images-7I’ve been debating on whether to share more personal posts, but then I reminded myself that this is my blog about all things heart centered.  And, I also thought that if someone doesn’t want to read it, they don’t have to.  So here I go, writing about ‘following your heart’ because I have decided to do just that. I have also worked with many people in transition from a familiar life to an unknown life.

Following my heart meant that  I needed to leave a my steady paying job, simply because it was sucking the life out of me and I allowed it to happen by staying longer than what was good for me.   I stuffed and ignored what my heart and body were telling me for a long time.  I knew I needed to leave, but I just kept putting off the inevitable because of fear.  I rationalized the experience by telling myself, ” The pay is good,” ‘the job isn’t always so stressful,’ ‘ I have a steady income’ blah blah blah.   This worked, until it didn’t.   My body was breaking down, therefore screaming for a change.  I had to listen.  “Leave!”   So I did. I left a steady paying and  stressful job in August without any consistent income coming in.  I figured that I can’t just talk and write about taking care of yourself if I’m not doing it for myself.  So I set out to go into private practice full-time instead of part time and take some time to rest and heal and work on bringing my life back into balance.

In doing so, I’m walking through the dark (unknown) by listening.   I have no idea what my life will look like a year from now or even next month, but I’m Listening to my intuition, the Universe, my sleeping dreams, and my body for clues and guidance.  I am following what has heart and meaning. It takes work to shave off the internal landscape. I thought I was finished but nope, I’m not; which is irritating in itself, but that’s a different post. I get more life lessons on boundaries (getting clear on what I really want to do and saying no to the things that will leave me with resentment by making decisions out of fear),  working through negative emotions (fear, doubt, worry) and thoughts (you can fill in the blank).

All to be able to Listen better and in the process, Cultivate my heart.