How to Eliminate Stress from Your Life without Taking a Yoga Class or Changing Your Schedule in 10 Steps

parentHave you ever Googled “eliminate stress” only to find a long list of impossible tasks from people who obviously don’t have a job and aren’t married with kids?  My personal favorite ideas were to quit work (really… because last time I checked you work to earn money to care for your family and quitting work would add considerable stress to your life), have an open schedule (this is laughable as my schedule is almost entirely dictated by my kid’s activities), and avoid difficult people (yes, that is really possible when you work with difficult people all day long).  You already know that you need to reduce the stress in your life but having ridiculous suggestions about how to go about it only increases stress and gives you the impression that reducing stress in your very busy life is impossible.  It’s not.

Here are a few suggestions that been tested and proven to be effective by very busy people like you.

  1. Know where you are going.  As silly as it sounds, having goals for each area of your life actually reduces stress.  For instance, if your goal with your teenage son is to help him be a self-sufficient adult who is not stuck playing video games on your sofa at age 25 then you have a goal.  With that goal in mind he should be making his own meals, taking care of his own laundry, and working at a part-time job.  Doing this process for each area of your life makes decisions easier and less stressful.
  2. Stick to your plan.  Using the teenage son example you will undoubtedly be met with stiff resistance on his part as you enforce the new direction.  This is good.  As a parent your responsibility is to teach your child to become a functional adult it is not to be their friend (hopefully that will come much later).  By remembering your goal and sticking with it and serving out consequences for not following the plan, you will reduce more stress in the long run but not the short run.
  3. Set realistic expectations.  Just because you spent all day cleaning the floors of your house does not mean that anyone will even notice.  If you clean the floors expecting gratitude or praise then you are likely to be disappointed.  Instead, recognize that you like the floors clean and you are really cleaning them for yourself.
  4. Monitor your thoughts.  This is a biggie for most women as thoughts tend to run ramped and one strange phone call can leave you replaying it for hours if not days.  Give yourself the two times rule.  You are allowed to replay a conversation two times but any more than that you need to distract yourself and move on.  Think about it for a second, when was it ever productive to waste a bunch of time obsessing over something that you can’t change.
  5. Be your own best friend.  Your inner dialogue should be as kind to yourself as you are to your best friend.  Would you ever look at your best friend and call her “stupid” for making a mistake at work or call her “fat” for eating a piece of chocolate cake or call her “loser” for missing an appointment? Of course not!  So stop doing this to yourself.
  6. It’s ok to say “no”.  Mommy guilt runs strong and powerful especially when you are working and you know that your kids don’t have your undivided attention.  This means that some activities will conflict with work forcing you to say the dreaded “no” word.  It’s ok, you are not in this alone and it is good to teach your kids that they can’t get everything they want when they want it.  Remember the bigger picture.
  7. Don’t lie.  It is very tempting to play God and believe that you know what someone else is thinking and can make someone feel better by telling a little lie.  But lies have a strange way of catching up to you and creating much bigger problems and stress in the end.  So make a habit of being truthful even if it might hurt someone’s feelings.
  8. Set boundaries in your life.  Boundaries are like walls which are very useful after all who wants to watch you in the bathroom at work (ok, I admit that visualization was a bit over the top but highly effective).  Here are some practical stress reducing boundaries: don’t answer your phone when it rings, check email only three times a day, non-emergency communication gets an automatic 24 hour wait before responding, and limit social media stuff to once a day.
  9. Choose OCD behaviors wisely.  Some OCD tendencies are rather useful such as always putting your keys or purse in the exact same place every day.  This eliminates the mad dash to find things.  But some OCD behaviors are not useful such as needing to wash your hands 50 times a day or cleaning obsessively with bleach.  Get help for the behaviors that you need to change and embrace new habits that are time savers.
  10. Work on you, not everyone else.  In the end, you are only responsible for yourself. (Yes, there are those kids of yours but they are already responsible for some of their behaviors and most likely need more not less responsibility.)  When you take time to work on your own issues instead of pretending they don’t exist, you will find more energy.  After all, you can’t give what you don’t already have.

Reducing stress in your life does not have to be about taking a yoga class, changing you schedule, exercising more and eating healthy.  These are all external things, not internal things. And while these things certainly have their place, the best place to start is in your mind.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

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Marriage Tip: Be Intentionally Grateful to Your Spouse

Try it.  Don’t talk about it, think about it or put it off.  Just be intentionally grateful about something, anything will really do, which is far better than nothing.  Even if your spouse misunderstood your last comment, argued with you over something meaningless, made a thoughtless remark, or turned a casual comment into a lecture opportunity, show gratitude in a way that matters to them.  It is not about finding the right moment, because it will never come.  It is about creating the right moment in the mist of wrong moments to be grateful.  You can be grateful by making a positive comment about your spouse not a passive aggressive sarcastic remark.  You can be grateful by doing something for your spouse not doing something that you have asked them repeatedly to do and it still is not done.  You can be grateful by giving something to your spouse not by giving them something that is really for you.  You can be grateful by spending time with your spouse not by demanding your spouse spend time with you.  You can be grateful by gently squeezing your spouse’s hand not by yanking their hand.  So what are you waiting for, go be grateful to your spouse.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Is Your Child Becoming Like Their Narcissistic Parent?

Woman Holding Blank FrameIt can’t be.  While the narcissistic parent is insensitive and uncaring, your child seems overly compassionate, caring, and highly attuned, almost to the point of compulsion, to needs of others.  Your child fails to see anything wrong with the narcissistic parent and believes the parent to be near perfect.  Gratitude and praise flow off your child’s lips as such a welcome change from the demoralizing comments emanating from the narcissistic parent.  So your child couldn’t be narcissistic, right?  Wrong.

There is a budding type of narcissism known as the inverted narcissist and is occasionally seen in children of narcissistic parents.  Basically it works like this.  The child idealizes the narcissistic parent to the point that he or she gets satisfaction out of pleasing the parent who is difficult to please.  Your child gives the narcissistic parent an unending supply of adoration and admiration which the parent in turn craves.  Because the child supplies the narcissist’s needs with excessive praise, the parent then becomes possessive and dependent as an addict is to a drug in an unhealthy manner.  Your child figuratively becomes the mirror which the narcissistic parent uses to view their inflated ego.

What can you do?  There really is no use in identifying all of the flaws of the narcissistic parent because it will only serve as a point of contention between you and your child possibly ending in alienation.  Instead, don’t burst your child’s bubble about the narcissistic parent but don’t lie by agreeing with your child either.  Rather listen to your child’s point of view and don’t take advantage of your child’s giving nature.  This will naturally set you apart from the narcissistic parent.

What can you say?  As the non-narcissistic parent, you might not be in the best position to bring clarity to your child’s opinions about the narcissistic parent.  More than likely you will be too emotionally involved to think clearly and present an alternative opinion.  In addition, you need to focus on non-manipulative communication with your child avoiding such pitfalls as guilt tactics or bribery.  So find a safe adult person that your child can confide in to discuss any issues related to the narcissistic parent.  This person should have a full understanding of narcissism and not be subject to the same idealization as your child.

Will it get better?  Yes but not without some hurt feelings along the way.  Eventually the narcissistic parent will disappoint the child because the facade cannot be maintained for too long; however it may not happen until adulthood.  In the meantime, don’t do anything to destroy your relationship with the child; your child needs a strong parental bond because the narcissist is not empathic.  Your child may want to spend alone time with the narcissistic parent and naturally you will want to protect your child from potential harm.  Yet, this alone time may just be what is needed to bring about clarity for your child in the difference between the two parents.

Narcissism is hard to deal with by itself.  If you are struggling with it, imagine how hard it is for your child who does not have the life experience to tell them something is wrong.  At some point in adulthood your child will confront you about the narcissistic parent so be prepared to be honest about your own struggle and successes in dealing with narcissism.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

It’s the Most Lonely Time of the Year

As if feeling lonely isn’t bad enough by itself, add the Holidays to the mix and your loneliness becomes magnified.  Excitement is in the air during this time with extra stuff crowded the isles at most stores in all kinds of bright and cheerful colors screaming “buy me”.  The aroma of scented candles and flavored coffee permeates the air while the music is loud and joyful with new versions of familiar lyrics.  The traffic is busy at odd times during the day with more people on the road, in the airports, on the subway and at train stations.  Lights flash, decorations hung, Santa hats appear, and the excess of delicious food and drink dominate the atmosphere.

But no one else seems to be lonely.  One quick glance around you yields abundant laughter, smiles of delight on children’s faces, and embr­­aces of greeting.  Yet you find yourself feeling even more alienated, more alone, and more depressed as even acquaintances treat you more like Scrooge or the Grinch, a person to be avoided rather than included.  And realistically, you don’t even want to be included because then the expectation would be to put on a happy face and you just can’t fake it anymore.  So just how do you then survive the Holidays?

Perspective, perspective, perspective.  Everything is not what it seems.  The reality is that many are struggling this year financially, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually, they just don’t show it.  Your honesty about how you feel reminds them of their struggles which they are trying hard to forget.  But this reality still does not decrease your loneliness; in fact, it increases it because now the avoidance is intentional.  However, by understanding better their perspective, you in turn have the opportunity to be the compassionate person.  So instead of trying to survive yet another party, invite one person out for coffee and just talk.

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.  One of the causes of loneliness is a lack of appropriate boundaries.  How you ask?  Examine a playground for a moment.  Several studies have shown that a playground without a fence causes children to hover around the equipment.  In contrast, a playground with a fence frees the children to run away from the equipment yet still within the confines of the fence.  If the fence is too close to the equipment, the fence becomes part of the equipment and is climbed over.  Good boundaries are the same way; they exist but are neither too restrictive nor too distant to be effective.  Examine your boundaries.  Are you too restrictive about trying new friendships?  Do you lack boundaries for new friendships?  Either way, this simple concept could be creating unnecessary loneliness in your life.

Time, time, time.  If the cause of your loneliness is a death, divorce, or other significant life change within the last year, then you are still within the appropriate grieving period.  Anytime you endure a major life change, everything changes especially how you celebrate the Holidays.  This year will be different because your life change is making it different and you are most likely missing the good times of the past.  Even though your life change may have been a welcomed one there will still be things that you will miss.  Don’t try to deny it; rather recognize it and acknowledge it as part of the grieving process.  Then you can begin to look forward to creating a new tradition.

Surviving “the most lonely time of the year” is about keeping your perspective, establishing appropriate boundaries and giving yourself the gift of time to recover from major change.  Your loneliness may be here for a season, but it does not have to last after the season is done.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

DISC Personality Profile: Working Together

You understand your personality profile and can now see how the pieces fit together to form a whole functioning group.  So now the struggle becomes how to communicate effectively with each other.  Effective communication is difficult under normal circumstances but try complicating it with different strengths, weaknesses, needs and motivations and you are likely to feel a bit overwhelmed.  Worse yet, do this for an entire team of different profiles and watch your time disappear.

Instead of resorting back to the way things were before you learned all of this information, try incorporating a couple of these tactics the next time you have a team meeting.  Remember you can meet the needs of all your personalities in one meeting at one time which in the end will save you time and energy while reducing stress and frustration.

Project Outline. In order to better understand effective communication, the same example will be used for each profile.  You have been given a task of reducing your team’s budget by $1M over the next three years and are holding a team meeting to communicate the expectations, deadlines, and potential concerns.

What.  For the dominating in your group, they need to know the “what” of this project.  They are not interested in how you think they should go about cutting the budget or who is involved; rather they just want to know what are the expectations and deadlines.  The more information you give them the more likely they are to be frustrated and fear that you don’t trust them to complete the task.  Less information is best, they will ask for more details if they need it.

Who.  For the influential in your group, they need to know “who” is involved this project.  While the other information such as deadlines and objectives are necessary, you will get further if you explain who will be involved in the project with them and who will be reviewing the project in the end.  If there is potential for public recognition, use this as a motivating piece to encourage the project to be completed on a timely basis.  For this group, it is best to move the deadline earlier as they are likely to be late.

How.  For the steadfast in your group, they need to know the “how” of this project.  Questions like how is this project going to be measured, how are they going to tell someone that the budget has been cut, and how are they going to viewed by others are important issues to address.  The more support, reassurance, and loyalty you can show this group the more comfortable they will be accomplishing this task.  This group will come back to you over and over again because they are afraid of hurting someone along the way.

Why.  For the conscientious in your group, they need to know the “why” of this project.  Begin by explaining the big picture of why the budget is being cut then move to why their specific area needs to be cut.  It will be hard for this group to participate in such a project without fully understanding all of the details and decisions that lead to this conclusion.  Give them as much information as you can and then redirect them to someone else for additional information if needed.  More information is better than less.

Don’t feel as though everyone needs to hear all of this information, they don’t.  if the dominating of the group are done, let them leave and begin to work.  If the influential of the group want to hang out because they like to be with others, let them but don’t expect them to hear anything past the “who”.  You will have to give the steadfast permission to leave the meeting as they are least likely to take initiative.  But the conscientious of the group will outlast and out question all of the groups.  Meeting the needs of each group one time is a far better use of your time and will reduce the level of stress for your team.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Do You Have a Food Addiction?

Some addictions are more easily identified than others and with some addictions, eliminating the substance is very effective.   however, with a food addiction there really is no way to stop eating without getting another serious problem.  So you are forced to deal with it nearly everyday and every time you eat.  This article is very enlightening as to what type of food addiction you might have and some simple ways to attempt to overcome.

Of course, the only way to have complete healing is to discover the root of the problem and fix that.  Changing your eating habits can provide temporary relief from a food addiction but long-term results require solutions that are much more personal and deeper.  Counseling helps to reveal the hidden areas of your life that could be contributing to your food addiction.  In the meantime, this article is a good place to start.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/10/25/6-ways-to-beat-your-food-addiction/?intcmp=features

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Are You At Higher Risk For PTSD?

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new study conducted in Japan analyzes brain scans of teens before and after the earthquake to see who is at higher risk for PTSD.  The study concluded that teens with weak front right connections in the brain had greater anxiety which can then lead to PTSD in traumatic situations.  While this is not conclusive and more studies need to be done, it is something to guard for if you have had prior damage in that area of the brain.  “The Magnificent Mind At Any Age” by Dr. Daniel Amen is an excellent book outlining other anxiety disorders and their relationship to the brain.  He also offers many suggestions as to how to deal with such injuries.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/10/22/brain-images-may-reveal-ptsd-risk-before-disasters/

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.