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Stress Management 101: 4 Easy Steps Toward the Path to Inner Peace

Managing stress is a challenge for everyone during these hectic times. With recent technological advances, it becomes harder to find respite from the demands placed upon us. Here are some tips on how to manage stress. For more detailed information on how to manage stress, put the following practices into your life, find work/life balance, or to set up any personal goal, visit http://terrievanover.com to reserve personal coaching sessions. The first 30-minute consultation session is free.

4 Easy Steps to Manage Stress:

  1. Unplug. The first way to “recharge your batteries” is to disconnect! That’s right—in order for you to find some peace, make it a daily habit to put away the phones and computers. Make it a rule that there is no technology during dinnertime. Enjoy these quiet moments just talking with your family. Take some time afterwards to have some time to yourself not checking emails, Facebook, etc. Carve out a time each day where you have no access to “screens”.
  2. Exercise consistently. Although finding time to do this is difficult, it is crucial for your physical AND mental well-being. Find a time four days a week to workout. Make it something you ENJOY doing so you’ll look forward to it. If you enjoy basketball, join a league. If you enjoy yoga, do it. If you like the outdoors, take up running or hiking. Find a person to hold you accountable. Studies show that if you have an exercise partner or someone that you report to, you’re more likely to stick to your routine.
  3. Meditate. Though this seemingly mysterious activity has scientifically based evidence that it has numerous health benefits, few Americans practice it. But it is surprisingly easy and beneficial if you will take a few minutes a day to learn it. Some benefits include stress reduction, increased concentration, an increased self-awareness, improved immunity, and it helps to slow the aging process. By meditating and reducing stress, studies show that cognition is preserved. If you feel intimidated by the process, download an app to help guide you. I use “Headspace” and “Guided Meditations” from the Meditation Society of Australia.
  4. Monitor your sleep. Use your Fitbit to help you track your sleep. Getting enough rest will help your brain to fight stress. According to researchers at Harvard, sleep is key to our brain’s memory and ability to learn. Sleep helps you fight stress, regulates your metabolism, and helps ward off diseases. Turn off all technology 30 minutes prior to going to bed to give your brain a rest from the blue light given off from LED screens. Read a book (Yes, an actual book made from trees!) to help you unwind and get your mind off of the day’s worries. Then, try to get at least seven hours a night.

Visit terrievanover.com to learn more about how to implement exercise and meditation into your daily life, how to manage stress,  find work/life balance, or to set up personal goals.  The first 30-minute consultation session is free, and could be the first step you take to changing your life!

Top Five Fall Family Activities

0is0ojtqn1Autumn is the perfect time to harvest the love of your family and friends. It’s a time to reconnect with nature as well as with your loved ones. Find activities that allow you to be mindful of nature’s gifts. Be inspired by the vibrant colors of the trees, the crisp bite of a fresh apple. Delight in the texture of a newly picked pumpkin and its prickly stem. After reading my list of favorite fall activities, please share the activities that have positively impacted your family!

  1. Go Apple Picking– This family activity will delight each of your five senses! After enjoying being outdoors in the lovely orchard and choosing delicious apples, the best part is being able to take the apples home to eat and cook and bake to continue to enjoy the experience for many days! My family enjoys traveling to Wisconsin to pick Honeycrisps. We always have enough to share with friends. And we never miss the freshly made apple cider donuts that are cooked in the bakery of the farm!
  2. Enjoy an Autumn Walk– Take your family to the woods to enjoy the fall colors. Point out the changing trees, kick through the leaves, and encourage children to collect the leaves to compare their colors, textures, and shapes. We love going to the local nature park that overlooks a lake with a bird sanctuary. It’s a great place to bike.
  3. Cook a Fall Treat– Choose a favorite recipe and have the whole family help cook. Each year, my family experiments with adding pumpkin to recipes. We discovered a delicious pumpkin butter! From apple pies to pumpkin pancakes, the list of autumn yummies is endless!
  4. Go Pumpkin Picking-We were lucky enough this year to grow a pumpkin in our garden this year. (It’s surprisingly easy and fun to observe.) But if you don’t have room for a large pumpkin vine, visit a farm and pick your own. Encourage children to feel and explore the different sized and varieties of pumpkins. Relish their textures and colors.
  5. Decorate to Celebrate the Season-One of the best parts of this season is being able to decorate. The fall allows us to bring nature indoors. The decorations can be simple yet festive. Children can collect branches covered with fall leaves, pinecones, and pumpkins. A few simple lights added can bring warmth to any room. Having children make their own decorations can be an entertaining and lively family activity. I delight in bringing out my children’s homemade crafts as we begin to decorate for Halloween. I still love my son’s toilet paper roll Frankenstein and my daughter’s black paper plate cat that they made as preschoolers! Check out online sites for ideas to make inexpensive, easy, age-appropriate crafts from painting pumpkins to paper plate bats.

Change Your Mindset

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old,

but on building the new.”

Socrates

We’ve all encountered “failures”. Or have we? Perhaps you should look at failure as another opportunity to find success. Don’t look at a setback as a stumbling block. Instead, look at it as a stepping stone. When you encounter a setback to your goal, look at it as a learning experience rather than failure. Then,  after you’ve problem-solved, regrouped your resources, hired the right person, you’ll realize that the setback was a problem that was a teaching tool in disguise. When we don’t get the job, that promotion we desire, or the sales account we were counting on, we should look at what we can learn from the experience. We should look at how we can grow from our mistakes so that we don’t repeat negative patterns. When we change our mindset about the mistakes we make, a roadblock becomes a step up to something better.

Embracing Discomfort

As I was working out at my local gym, I overheard a trainer telling her client that she can’t expect results without having some discomfort.  This was very profound to me, although not in the way that trainer necessarily meant it. I know that what she said rings true as one is working out. In order for us to build muscle mass and change our bodies, we must push our muscles past their comfort level. We will see results only if we push ourselves past the comfort zone of our current strength level.

But I realized that this is true for us emotionally and mentally as well. In order for us to grow as individuals, we must force ourselves out of our comfort zone. To meet new people at a party, we must reach out and introduce ourselves to strangers. In order to get that new job or a raise, we must put ourselves out there and take risks. Taking risks can be uncomfortable. We have to face our fear of rejection. But until we go beyond what we already know and do, we can’t grow and develop. Take the risk. Embrace your discomfort.high rock climb

From the Ashes

“The tragedy of life is not death

but what we let die inside of us while we live.” 

Native American Adage

 

Perhaps you are struggling right now. Perhaps you are dealing with a setback. Maybe you’ve experienced a traumatic event and are grappling to get beyond it. There is hope. There is light. You will gain strength from your trials. When we are given life’s tests, we can grow. In the Sierra Nevada, the mighty sequoia trees do not germinate until they’ve been through a forest fire. The heat from the fire opens the seed cones. In order to be born, they literally have to go through hell. From the fire grows a massive, beautiful, strong sequoia tree. Once grown, these trees are now fire resistant.

The traumatic event you’re experiencing may be your rebirth. After coming through your battle, you will be stronger and more resilient. On the other side of pain and loss is strength. See this struggle as a path to a stronger you.

Bring it up, Bring it down

“What we think, we become.”

Buddha

Two of the most life changing habits I’ve made in my life are the addition of regular, vigorous exercise and meditation. I’m a runner and believe that it has helped control my weight, but just as important, it has helped me maintain a healthy mental state. When I go several days without exercise, I can feel my mood decline and my energy levels drop. Throw in a few unhealthy meal choices, and here comes Godzilla!

Secondly, I recently added meditation to my morning schedule. I know that you’re thinking that there is NO way you can add another activity to your already hectic schedule! I understand! But after a few short sessions, I actually CRAVED the meditation and my body instinctively woke up early to squeeze it in. I have been surprised at how drastically it has eased my anxiety and helped me to fight off negative thought cycles that sometimes entangle me. When our thoughts are in a constant negative cycle, it affects our actions. This is what Buddha is referring to in the above quote. By meditating, it is possible to stay in the moment, or mindful of the present. It helps to stop the negative thoughts from controlling our behavior. When we focus our thoughts on love, peace, or light, our actions will inevitably follow.

I strongly urge you to adopt these positive changes in your life. Begin by taking short walks and increase your time and speed daily. Make small changes in your diet-such as cut out drinks with calories and sugar, eat out fewer times a week, and switch to whole grains and high fiber/low sugar snacks.Download a meditation app or try a Yoga class at your gym. Remember, put yourself first! You must take care of YOU in order to take care of others!

Do You Come First?

“No one saves us but ourselves.  No one can and no one may.  We  ourselves must walk in the path.”

Mahatma Ghandi

When you are in an airplane, as the attendants review the safety procedures should the plane lose cabin pressure, have you ever noticed that you’re instructed to put on your air mask first before helping others to secure theirs? You can’t help others if you’re unconscious! The same is true in our everyday lives. To take care of our loved ones, we must put ourselves FIRST. We cannot give love and care if our own resources are depleted. Be sure to put YOUR needs at the top of the to-do list. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you develop your priority list.

  • Make time to rest. Sleep is important to recharging your body. Turn off the electronics 30 minutes prior to bed time, so your brain can calm itself.
  • Make time for your hobbies. When you develop the family calendar, don’t just put in the kids’ activities. The parents’ activities and hobbies need to be scheduled as well. Don’t have a hobby? GET ONE! Find something that brings you happiness. By interacting with adults with similar interests, you can gain energy from people and activities that bring you joy.
  • Set boundaries. It is okay to say NO. By not committing to things you don’t want to do or don’t have the time to do, you will free up time for your needs.
  • Prioritize. You can’t get everything done all at once. Start with the most important items on your list (and that should be yourself), then chip away on items that are less urgent or important. Things have a way of getting done, so don’t sweat the small stuff.

 

Are You THAT Family?

“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put into that action.”
Mother Teresa

Are you the family with children that scream and throw tantrums in line?  Did you have to leave the register to chase down your toddler out the store’s front door? Were you the spectacle at the restaurant  because your kids spilled their beverage (twice) and kicked each other under the table while yelling loudly? Does your daughter’s hair perpetually look as though it hasn’t seen a brush in three days? Did your son wear his shoes to school on the wrong feet again? And again the next day?

Congratulations! You’re THAT family!  The inept parents with the kids that seem to be out of control. We’ve all been there. The key is to take a breath, find your center, then laugh. Sometimes the best antidote to the immediate stress of the situation is to find humor in the absurdity of family life. As parents, we can get caught up in the stress of the moment. We want to yell, threaten, but mostly, hide from our children.

It’s hard to understand that one day we will long for these chaotic moments. When our children are grown and no longer need us, we will wish for the times our children still cling in our arms. The best reassurance that this is temporary comes from the occasional older bystander. Surreptitiously, an older gentleman will be standing there, watching, smiling, absorbing it all. Through the screaming, the wrestling of the slippery toddler, and  the juggling groceries (all while wiping away the flopsweat) we’re profusely apologizing for all the chaos. But the older folks just smile and nod, utter a few kind words of encouragement and share their remembrances of their long gone little ones. And the sad truth is, they understand that these moments are too fleeting. Too brief. The memories of youngsters doing what youngsters do are just that-memories.

So enjoy that three year old throwing his shoe at you, dad! Proudly display those spaghetti and milk stains on your blouse, mom. One day, the noise  and mess will be missed.