Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's - Looking Back

Image: Pedja Mi.
About a month ago, an eighty-three year old family member and I were discussing her most recent health issues.

"Whatever happens, I've had a good long life," she said. 

Sadly, those words were part of the last conversation I had with her. She passed away just before Christmas.

I've been thinking about what she said, ever since. 

You may think this is a strange way to begin a new year, but I hope that her words will inspire you, as they have me.

As 2012 stretches, awakens and gets up, can you say that you've had a good life? If you hesitate to answer in the affirmative, take heart, all is not lost. Each day is a gift for you to do something differently, to learn something new, or to simply enjoy and give thanks for what you have.

What small, incremental and consistent changes can you make to allow you to not only survive, but to thrive? 

To help you get clear, you may wish to check out last year's post: A Quick Year Planning Exercise - Stop! Start! Continue...

Health. Finances. Work. Relationships. Recreation. Look at each of these areas separately. Are you able to apply the "good life" statement to it? Perhaps only one area is causing you grief, but it casts shadows over the others, colouring your perspective. 

The good thing about perspective is that it can be changed. 

How? By learning and practising stress transformation techniques. These techniques bring about subtle, yet profound changes in many areas of your life.

It's never too late to change the course of your life. What would it feel like to be able to say, "I've had a good life,"?

I wish you a Happy New Year - one that is just right for you!

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's in the Spirit

Last week, on CBC's Passionate Eye, I had the pleasure of watching a documentary, Becoming Santa.

Jack Sanderson, a.k.a. Santa, even has a Twitter account. However, I think he may be far too busy at this time of year to be tweeting his Santa thoughts and impressions.

As the film rolls on, you witness him growing into his larger-than-life role. He is everything a Santa should be; not only in looks, but also in personality and persona.

This documentary is about more than the commercial frenzy that signifies this season. It's about honesty, the sharing of secrets and the wonder and kindness of a larger-than-life myth that represents hope and possibilities.

It is obvious that by the end of the film, Jack feels it, too.

However you are celebrating this holiday season, may it be one that is filled with safe travels, booming laughter and joyful memories. Merry Christmas!

Wish on stars 
 Take time for wonder 
Enjoy a beautiful, peaceful holiday season! 
~Author Unknown

Image: Ilco

Quicksand of Feelings

Image courtesy of mn-que
I was thrashing about in an emotional pit of quicksand. As I wildly kicked at feelings of depression, annoyance, frustration and hurt, I sank deeper into the sludge of negative emotions.

In September, I enthusiastically and whole-heartedly began a year-long blogging project. On A Rheumful of Tips, I share an assortment of tips, tricks, techniques and strategies that document how I've moved through thirty-four years of living life with rheumatoid arthritis.

By providing an intimate look at how I live with this disease, my goal is to inspire people to live their life well, in spite of a devastating diagnosis. 

It sounds good so far, right?

You see, I was getting mired by things over which I had little or no control. 

Before I go on, I'd like to share a definition of stress with which I like to work. Then, I'll explain how I used it as a "big stick" to help me move onto solid ground.

Stress is your interpretation of external events that causes internal distortion or strain. How you feel determines whether or not the stress response is triggered - a cascade of fourteen-hundred chemicals that flood your body, prepping it for flight, fight or freeze. By learning to treat the cause of your stress, not just the symptoms, you can transform our stress.

I was getting bogged down (internal strain) by my interpretation of what I thought should be happening with my blog by this point in time. My readership was something over which I had no control (an external event). 

Fortunately, I soon recognized that I was feeling disappointment. I was doing the best I could by sharing a part of my life that I don't typically discuss in such detail - three-hundred and sixty-five days worth of details! I was condensing thirty-four years of my life into one year. It seemed that my common-sense strategies for living with a disease that is debilitating wasn't of much interest to many people.

Hurt Solution
Quit! After all, I know these strategies, so why spend so much time blogging about them, if it doesn't matter?

Heart Solution
Undress my stress! I did a heart-based stress technique that helps to bring the nervous system back into balance. This then enabled me to make a better and more informed decision - one that was not made from the position of stress. In my case, the negative emotions I felt - disappointment, frustration, hurt - only contributed to more of the same. I was up to my neck in it!

I gained several insights from doing the technique: 
  1. Continue on with A Rheumful of Tips because I am helping the readers I do have. 
  2. It takes time to gain a readership.
  3. Recognize that I am in over-care, which impacts the quality of my writing. 
Now, you may be thinking that these are common-sense solutions. Indeed they are! Remember, that stinkin' stress thinkin' often results in far-from-common-sense self-talk.

Your turn
Are you able to recall examples of when your stinkin' stress thinkin' caused you to sink even deeper in the pit of despair? What changed it for you?

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Does Your Marriage Have A Flat Tire?

Image courtesy of Petr Kovar

Whether it's a new romance or one that has rolled easily along, life has a way of creating break-downs. Those break-downs could be as quick as a blow-out or could be like a slow leak. Regardless, both have the same result over time - a flat tire or a flat relationship.

Very few people drive around without a spare tire in their car. In fact, they may be better-prepared for a flat tire than they are for relationship break-downs.

Your married life can change in a heartbeat. Serious illness. Job loss. Relocation. Increased work load. Unexpected bills. Troubled children. Family issues. All of these events can put even the soundest of relationships to the test.

Without adequate tools and techniques, the stress that results from these pressures continue to wreck havoc, both externally and internally. Each bout of negative thinking results in a cascade of 1400 chemical changes, which affect you in the short and long-term.

Externally, there may be an increased incidence of addictions (alcohol, drugs, food, etc.). Communication breaks down and people may choose to withdraw in order to cope. Or, the number of arguments grow. In either case, intimacy suffers.

Internal changes include changes in sleep patterns, digestive upset, irritability, loss of memory. Stress has a connection to a number of serious illnesses. Over time, it may lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol and immune and fertility issues.

Stress is defined as your internal interpretation of events that leads to internal strain. If your marriage is developing or has a “flat tire,” one of the best things you can for yourself is to ensure that you have tools and techniques in place to transform your stress. This allows you to look after your emotional, physical and mental health, and get back on the road, whichever one it may be, faster and with more ease.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What is Stress Doing to You?

It's not "just stress". There's nothing "just" about the impact that stress has on you and your family.

Empower yourself with tools and techniques that treat the cause of your stress and not just the symptoms. 

If you're ready for results, please email or visit my website.

* Why not put a gift certificate from Auntie Stress - that's me - on your gift list? Either to give or to receive.