Wintering

This time of year sickness, depression, and lack of motivation can take over more than any other time of the year. Often, we fight against Winter ,which can make us all feel more miserable. What if you embrace this time of year instead? The holidays are over, we survived another year. Allow yourself time to sit in a warm cozy spot and reflect on what you have learned and how you have grown. Taking time to get things in order around your home on those long winter days when it is too cold to get outside. This is a time of preparation and self-care. Instead of wishing the remaining winter months away, embrace them. Allow yourself to rest and relax, this is not being lazy. Planning a garden for Spring, cleaning out closets and reorganizing, reading those books on your to be read list, learning a new skill while spending so many days indoors. Wintering is a time when nature is resting and preparing and we can learn from this process. Allowing ourselves time to slow down and be still in both mind and body. Cozy, calm, and quiet moments can be spent journaling or shared with family and friends over a hardy meal. Accepting that Winter is necessary for our minds and bodies give yourself this time to slow down and just be in the moment.

With love, happiness and health,

Stacy

Alone

10 Things That Happen When You Start to Enjoy Being Alone

Alone: having no one else present, on one’s own. The definition of alone sounds a bit lonely at first. I have found out recently that lonely to one person is not necessarily the same for another. The truth is, I like being alone and it takes a lot for me to truly feel lonely. This recent discovery came after my long-distance relationship ended. I knew he was not handling the distance well but I also knew he had other issues he was working through that had nothing to do with me and maybe that is the real key to being alone and being okay. I am happy with myself, my path, my life in general. I am ready to accept another into my world and share it but I don’t have to have someone. I think sometimes people are lonely and any warm body will do to keep from dealing with the thoughts and feelings they are avoiding. Being alone means sitting with those thoughts and processing your shit. Being alone means not having to constantly be entertained because you have interests that keep you entertained. I can read, research, cook, clean, watch TV, garden, tend to my pets or plants, organize, write…spend days doing things that do not involve another person. I understand this may not be healthy after some length of time, but the ability to do it and not feel lonely is healthy.

I go out to lunch with friends, have coffee, get dinner and drinks, and other activities in my life. I visit my parents farm and interact socially. I am not a hermit. I think the key word here is balance. Balance includes a healthy variety of friends and family and alone time. If you are not getting quality time socializing with others that can be bad but not having the ability to be alone is also bad. This recent relationship had many warning signs that grew over time. It saddens me because it also had many wonderful qualities. It is hard to let someone go when you see them struggling, especially as a therapist. I have to remind myself that it is not my job to fix him. We agreed to be friends and here I am on a Friday night wondering what is next in my book of life? I admit, I am tired. I am starting to make peace with myself and my goals and become more and more comfortable with the idea of remaining alone. It seems dating and relationships have lost their magic for me. The times when couples would be miles apart and only write letters and get the occasional phone call but still stay in love are long gone. Attention 24/7 is often desired. People have no patience or grit to hang in and work for long term goals. Instant gratification and keeping score of who gives what and how much can often be the bigger focus than learning someones heart and their hopes for the future.

It is disheartening but I have not lost hope, but for now I do believe I am quite happy just being alone.

With love, health, and happiness

Stacy

How Busy is too Busy?

My Top 5 Health And Fitness Tips For Busy Women and Moms •

I am a full time office manager for a busy private practice counseling center. I am also a full time graduate student getting my masters in mental health counseling. I am also doing my practicum at my private practice site location where I am the office manager, which includes not only my regular office duties but now, also seeing clients. Not to mention all the other responsibilities I have in my life right now, a teenage daughter, a long distance relationship, and paying my bills, taking care of my pets…well, you get the point. Each day I play the roulette wheel of life to figure out where my focus will be to make sure I am giving my time to the most important projects and people. This has become a delicate balancing act, attempting to keep all the balls in the air and not letting them all fall completely to the ground.

I know I am not the only one who is doing this juggling/balancing act each week. Luckily I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with my graduation in May and my final internship next Summer. Supervision hours will start this time next year and before I know it, I will be successfully navigating my business plan for the future. These steady stepping stones are even more clear to me with my new relationship added into the picture. I have met a man who is military and on a similar timeline to his retirement. About the time I complete my supervision and become a fully licensed counselor he will be retiring from the Army and moving back to Missouri. This three year plan sounds like a long time and a lot of work but I can look back and remember when I was just finishing my BA in Psychology. So this brings me to the current evaluation of my busy life. How busy is too busy?

I have a new relationship I am navigating and even though we both have so much in common and similar long term goals, there is a distance between us that just makes things feel more complicated. As I am learning what kind of counselor I want to be I am also learning a new relationship and becoming more clear on how I see my future five years from now. When I think of how busy and stressed I am I realize that there is an end game, all my stress and everything making me so busy is for a purpose. I believe that purpose is what makes it easier to tolerate and more manageable. So my answer is, when busy is too busy is for you to decide. Are the things that make you feel so damn busy all the time really worthy of the stress? Are they projects and people you are investing in for the betterment of your future? Then it is not too much, it is not too busy, its worth it. I am a strong believer in re-evaluating our goals, routines, habits, and even relationships on a regular basis. If you are feeling overwhelmed and just too busy, then it is time to see if you can bring yourself peace of mind with your current choices or are there some things that need to go? Because you are never really too busy for your priorities in life.

With love, health, and happiness

Stacy

Balancing Act

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Well 2020 has started off like the Kentucky Derby running full speed ahead and whipping my arse all the way! I have been juggling work, school, time with family and friends, trying to stay healthy and the very beginnings of a new relationship that was completely not in my plans.  It happens when you least expect it is what I have always heard and he definitely was not!  Trying to balance everything and still make time for myself has been a bit of a struggle.  It is impossible to give one hundred percent to every aspect of your life so that means that when trying to focus on one area there is bound to be at least one other area that starts to falter.

I have previously posted about tools like the Wellness Wheel that can help us check in and see how we are doing in all the areas of life but the truth is, most of us already know where we are struggling.  I often feel like I am in a game of Jenga, steadily pulling time and effort from one area and stacking on another and any minute it is all going to come tumbling down on me.   This balancing act can be a bit stressful at times and that is why it is so important to stop and be present.  It is easy to get caught up in the crazy flow of everything life and not stop to smell the roses.  However, I have found when I do take time to slow it all down is when I realize it is all going to be okay.

I have wrote about acceptance before but more from a perspective of accepting others not situations.  There are going to be points in life where we just have to accept the fact that we are not going to have the time to do and be the best at everything.  As long as you are trying your best that is good enough.  Don’t be afraid to ask yourself if some of the things you are trying to add into your day are even worth it.  If you are making time for things that really don’t add to your joy in some way can you just cut them out?  Now I know that some of you will say you would like to cut out cleaning your home or doing laundry but doing those things actually do add to your joy in the end game.

It is good to re-evaluate your schedules, habits, and routines on a regular basis and ask yourself what can be done better and what can be done away with.  I am constantly re-assessing how to make my life more productive and balance everything I want in life.  If you are trying to balance so many things that you love you may end up not loving any of it.  Do not overwhelm yourself with trying to be everything to everyone.  Make sure you are focused on things that are truly a priority to you.  Also, it is good to remember, goals can change because we as people are constantly changing.  Maybe the passion you felt in one area isn’t really who you are or who you want to be anymore.  Big changes may be necessary in order to create a more positive balance.  Moving closer to work, changing jobs, going back to school, deciding to have a baby, or even considering working less and traveling more are all big things to consider in life.

Don’t hold back because you are comfortable where you are, push yourself to change and grow.  With change and growth you may find that more positive balance you were longing for. Sometimes we find ourselves stuck in a rut and feeling like we have stay somewhere in life out of obligation and I am here to tell you that is not true and there are always options.  Those options may be hard to navigate but often, at the end of the day, they are so worth it.  So here is to big changes in life and goals in order to find that healthy balance we all desire!

With love, health, happiness & balance..

Stacy

Grief Recovery

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As I move forward in my mental health counseling graduate school I realize that I have a passion for working with couples and grief counseling.  My ultimate goal is to combine my 15 years of working in holistic wellness with my counseling practice.  This will include yoga, mindfulness, meditations, visualizations, Ayurveda, and neuroscience and many other processes to help individuals have a full and healthy life in body, mind, and spirit.  As I move forward in my education, while working full time, I often feel extra stress and I usually manage it really well.  However, I have realized with my recent loss of a relationship combined with my daily stresses has resulted in sickness.  So, as I sit here in my bed on day two of no work I realize my mental process is now negatively affecting my physical and my immune system has finally relented.  Grief affects us all, whether it be loss through death or loss through divorce or a breakup, it will have an affect on a deeper level than we realize.  Not allowing yourself to grieve is a recipe for disaster.  If you push it away now it will find a way to resurface later.

Grief often works in cycles but it doesn’t mean that once you move through one cycle that it is done.  Often we can cycle back more than once through the sadness or anger if we do not properly process or we encounter a situation that brings up memories.  Even with all my knowledge of different methods I have still allowed my mind and body to absorb and hold on to some negativity.  Yesterday I spent most of the day in bed.  Body aches, exhaustion, tension throughout my body, nausea and just an overwhelming feeling of sadness and anger had taken over my body.  In the process of doing a body scan I realized my solar plexus area was, and still is, extremely sore.  This area of the body is connected to our self-esteem.  When it is blocked it will not only create all the symptoms I was physically having, it is also directly tied to self-esteem, and mine has recently taken a hard hit.  Self-love, self-acceptance and knowing your self-worth are all vital to the health and balance of your solar plexus chakra.  So how do I get myself out of this negative place, get myself back in balance, restore my mind, body, and spirit back to health?

The first big step is to move passed the feelings of loss and get myself on the path of acceptance in the grief process.  The relationship whys and what ifs no longer matter, let it go and stop talking about the other person and the relationship and change the focus to yourself and the future.  After a relationship ends we feel rejected or maybe guilty, depending on the circumstances, and this can lead to negative thoughts and feelings towards ourselves.  So the second big step for me in home care is to focus on building myself back up, understanding this was not about me not being enough or not being worthy, we were just not in alignment and no longer on the same path.  I can work towards building my self-esteem and self-worth with EFT and positive affirmations.  Caring for the nausea and body tension can include herbal tea, healthy food choices and a little yoga and meditation.  When a specific area of the body is ill and suffering I also find visualization is a great tool in the healing process.

I picture my stomach area red and irritated with a bunch of knots tied in a rope and the redness is pulsing.  Then I picture the redness fading to a lighter pink, then purple and a calming cool blue and all the knots in the rope slowly coming loose and floating freely.  This process helps relax my stomach and ease the nausea along with a nice ginger tea and maybe even a warm bath with some essential oils.  With tea and toast I can build my strength to do some light yoga and stretching.  All of this process combined with rest can help reclaim my positive energy and overall well-being.  It is also good to remember that what we are taking in through all of our senses can affect us, so watching sad or negative shows on television, talking with friends and family about the negative situation, or even listening to sad music can magnify the grief and cause you to cycle back through a process over and over again.  The goal is to plan for the future. What is your new game plan?  Your life is changing and what new goals are you setting for yourself?  The focus needs to change from then to now and looking forward.  Take time to write down things you would like to do differently or goals that you want to work towards.

This is also a good time to reflect on what you have learned that was good, but do not let yourself get caught up in the negative in an effort to find the positive.  Desires for what you want in a future relationship should be more clear as well as desires for yourself, like boundaries you may need to make more clear for yourself moving forward.  The grief process does not have to be all bad.  I have often said perspective is everything and the ability to take joy in knowing that you are moving forward in a positive way with new growth and a clearer vision of what you want in life is empowering.  Remove the memories, stop replaying conversations and move towards acceptance.  Accept the relationship as a learning process and now it is over and time to move on to a new lesson in life is the best.  Be gentle with yourself and understand you must love yourself first and foremost.

With love, health, and happiness,

Stacy

Live In The Moment

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I am a planner, an over-thinker, over-analyzer, philosophical, deep thoughts and conversations type of person with a love for lists, goal setting and processes.  I like to have a plan of action and know where I stand and what is expected of me.  This desire to have some degree of control in every situation causes me to worry more than I should about things that don’t really matter.  I often feel like I am pushing upstream instead of going with the flow when I get in these need to know and have control moments.  I know it is better if I just let go of the situation and allow myself to live in the moment.  Stop worrying about the what-ifs and trying to figure out the how and why of everything.  Stop trying to figure out what other people may be thinking or doing.  Just focus on the moment and myself in the moment.  Soak it all up and take it all in and understand that the real pleasures in life are the ones right in front of me.

Recently I went through a break-up and then we reconnected a couple of months later.  Since then we have been in this limbo, without any real conversation about what the heck we are doing.  The old me would be going crazy wanting to have a talk and figure everything out but something within me has shifted.  I don’t really have the desire to figure it all out anymore.  I am tired of trying to figure it all out.  I just want to be happy.  After the break-up I kept myself busy making plans to do things I love… hiking, kayaking, going for long walks, listening to live music and yoga classes.  I found myself enjoying work, school and time with friends and some much needed alone time, all in a nice balance.  As I found this balance and joy I felt my desire to control and over-think slowly start to fade.  I realized that my lack of alignment was creating this need to over-think situations and it was also probably the reason behind the negatives in other areas, like my relationship.  Once I found my balance and alignment the positive aspects of my relationship and other positives in my life began to return to me in full force. This was a signal to me that I was on to something!

I found myself going through little routines each day that brought me more happiness and joy and took my focus off the over-thinking and worry.  As the weeks went by I started to realize that a habit was being created and I was becoming much more self-aware.  I would catch myself reverting back to old patterns when I would be stressed or frustrated but I would quickly find a positive way to refocus.  Some days are easier than others but I don’t give up.  There are many tools and processes you can use to find your way into the vortex or get in alignment with source.  I like meditation, tapping, yoga, journaling, focus wheels, being thankful, and doing my best to focus on the positive in every moment.  Learning to let go and trust the process of asking, believing and receiving is much easier than we make it.  How are you holding yourself back?

With love, happiness, health and living in the moment,

Stacy

Balance & Boundaries

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It’s a rainy, overcast Saturday morning, the kind of day I would want to stay home with a little bit of housework occasionally sprinkled in-between my binge of Yellowstone (cowboys & Costner =  win win).  I love relaxing productive Saturdays where I can mix work in the garden, laundry and making a beautiful meal with drinking a nice red wine and watching a great TV show, Blues game(Stanley Cup here we come) or even listening to a Cardinals game on the radio.  A healthy balance of work and pleasure is really my idea of happiness.

I enjoy my job, my home, my relationships and time off better when I am working hard and still allowing myself time to rest and relax.  I am more productive throughout the work week when I am taking the weekends to really focus on me and things that bring me joy.  Learning to have a healthy balance in life is one of the most important things a person can ever learn along with setting healthy boundaries.  Today is not just going to be a lazy Saturday for me though, I am headed to the very small river town where I grew up.  I will be meeting with my Dad and his mothers side of the family for a family reunion.  It is really the only side of the family that has a regular reunion, which is sad to me because I have many family members I haven’t seen in years and some I have never met.  After spending most of the day with family I will return home to join a group of  friends for an evening of playing music, eating, drinking and just being merry!

My boyfriend owns a historical restaurant in my current town and it has a lovely outdoor patio.  Today my friends and I are hoping the weather will clear and allow us to break out the guitars and play a little music.  I have worked hard all week adding 2 new providers to our growing counseling practice and sending out provider referral lists to all the surrounding hospitals and clinics.  It is an exciting time for growth in our practice and I am learning a lot as I manage the office and prepare to start my masters in mental health counseling.  When it comes to my own personal mental health I know that balancing work and pleasure is the key to my happiness.  I also know that I better enjoy my summer because when school starts back I will be working my arse off!

Knowing when to buckle down and get serious and when to let it all go is something that does not come easy to most of us.  There have been times when I have felt guilty for taking time for myself instead of working.  It has been a slow process to get to the healthy perspective I have today.  If I do feel guilt creeping in I ask myself if the work is really a priority over the other option, if it is not then I let it go.  I have also found that scheduling, routines and creating habits have all been helpful in creating healthy balance and boundaries.  If I know how my week is going to go and I see the time divided up to devote to different projects and priorities then it is easier for me to focus and relax in the current moment.  I have read many books on creating good habits and getting rid of bad ones and right now I am listening to one of the best I think I have ever encountered called Atomic Habits by James Clear.  If you are struggling to create the lifestyle you want I highly recommend listening to his audiobook.  Mel Robbins is another great writer who really breaks down the importance of balance, boundaries and how to focus on things in smaller steps in order to reach your goals.

As I spend my day devoting time to my family and friends I am thankful and going to enjoy this time to fullest.  I will not worry about the pile of paperwork on my desk at work or the laundry waiting to be put away.  I am at a point in my life where I understand there will always be more paperwork and more laundry but there may not always be those people we love.  Take time to devote to the hobbies you have because some day you may be too old to enjoy it.  Take time to devote to the people you love now because they may not always be around for you to hug and play music with.  The work should be something that makes you proud.  Earn a living so that you can pay the bills and live a comfortable life, but work, money and material possessions are just pieces of a bigger picture and we all need that reminder sometimes.  We should not live to work but instead be working to live.  Don’t spend your weeks just wishing for the weekend, make time throughout the week enjoyable.  Planning something special like lunch with a friend every Monday will make it easier to get up and tackle the week.

As you set forth to enjoy your weekend try to enjoy it to the fullest and don’t let the worries of the next work week or the troubles of last week creep in.  Call your mom, hug your kids, play a round of golf, spend the day in your pajama’s reading a great book but don’t forget to feed the dog and make your bed because….balance is the key!

With love, health, & happiness,

Stacy

Whose Opinion Matters?

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When creating a life we love we must consider the people, places and things we encounter most.  We often read about removing toxic people from our lives or learning to focus on the positive of those we can’t exactly remove for one reason or another, (coworker, family member).  One thing I have found in my research, reading and just life experience in general is we often tend to adopt the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of those we hang around the most, sometimes without even realizing it.  I have discussed the influence of people in our lives a few times before, but today I want to get a bit more specific and discuss opinions and how to determine which ones matter and which ones don’t and why.

I am a habit and routine junky.  I am constantly reading books on how to become more efficient and productive to get the most out of my day.  I am also an observer, I like to watch people and their behaviors to discover their routines and habits.  Listening and observing has taught me a lot.  As I have progressed through my education I have become more aware of why I choose to validate some opinions more than others and those reasons are not always good.  As a young woman I had to learn that just because someone is your boss and you value their assessment of your work ethic and abilities does not mean you must value their opinions in all areas of life.  Just because someone is older does not mean they are wiser and know more than you do, and just because someone is successful in one area doesn’t mean they are in all areas.  Sometimes I struggle to separate my respect for a person in one area of life and my total disagreement in another area.  In these relationships I have learned to create boundaries so that I could still love and appreciate what they brought to the table in a positive aspect and not let the other get under my skin.  This ability can come with maturity but it still takes practice no matter your age.

Be a leader, not a follower is a phrase I have often stated to my daughter.  Don’t be afraid to be different and don’t conform to the majority if your gut is telling you something isn’t right.  Basically, learn to think for yourself, which is one of the most important things for a teen and young adult to learn in this world (or anyone for that matter).  If you don’t understand something then don’t just take another persons opinion as gospel, research that shit yourself and form your own opinion.  Also, you must always consider the source.  Then ask yourself, is this person really someone whose opinion matters in this particular situation?

At this point in life I realize whose opinions mean the most to me and it is a pretty small circle.  I am respectful enough to listen to others, but the value I assign to it varies.  Watching how others live their lives helps me determine if this is a person whose opinion I should value and to what extent.  Being aware and setting boundaries can be life changing and most of all, freeing.  When you stop letting everyone’s opinion matter then you are free to be yourself without the stress of worrying what others think.  Ask yourself what value each relationship brings to the table for you and understand that each one does not have to be all-encompassing. Boundaries and balance are such great qualities to learn when it comes to any relationship.  So next time you find yourself becoming frustrated by someone voicing their opinion on a particular subject ask yourself why?  If it’s an individual that you truly admire and their opinion is important then you can take it a little deeper and explore the why.  If this individual is voicing an opinion and they have no real importance in the big scheme of things in your life, then why let it bother you?  Because at the end of the day I will quote what my old school, military Dad has always said:  “honey, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one”.  So basically, its up to each of us to determine which ones really matter to us and why.

With love, health, happiness, and a little humor from Dad,

Stacy

Relax without Guilt

I take the role of daughter, mother, girlfriend, office manager, student, family member, friend, therapist and countless other roles in life.  Even when preparing for vacation I find myself not only packing and preparing for my personal needs, but the needs of others.  Once we arrive I find myself grocery shopping and prepping meals and cleaning up.  I like cooking occasionally on vacation and I like a clean and organized space because I can relax better.  However, I do feel myself getting frustrated when no one is offering to help.  What would happen if I just stopped?  What if I didn’t get up on my vacation and cook breakfast for everyone and wash the dishes after?  What if I didn’t pack all the snacks and the cooler for the boat?  What if I did like everyone else and just looked out for #1?

The thing is, I have felt this way in a few areas of life.  Sometimes we take on certain responsibilities and just do it out of habit, but after a bit of time maybe it becomes less appreciated as a special act of love and just expected as a duty or obligation.  Basically, all we do starts to be taken for granted by those we do for.  A little extra helping hand without asking is always appreciated.  It is not my job, this is a family and everyone should participate in the process.  If I cook and there are dishes in the sink after you eat, why isn’t it automatic that you offer to clean the kitchen?  So I absolve myself of guilt.  I will not feel guilty anymore if I don’t want to put out the extra effort.  At one point the love and appreciation and reward of helping and making everyone happy was enjoyable but now I am just tired.  I am taking a step back to ask myself what is a priority for me and all the extra little duties are not anymore.  Love and effort should be give and take and true acts of love and kindness have not expectations of anything in return.  So if you really do not want to do for pure love and kindness then don’t bother or you will end up resentful and hurt.  Stop having expectations of others because expectations will leave  you disappointed.  Just live your life from the heart, with responsibility and understanding that life really isn’t fair.

I don’t mean to sound like a Debbie Downer or a Negative Nancy,  I am just being realistic,  life really isn’t fair.  You may always be the one who loves more, gives more and has to work harder to get where you want to be. but that is not a reason to give up.  Just reassess where you are putting your efforts and ask yourself if these people, places, things, or ideas are worth all the effort.  Do you need to have a talk with loved ones about the balance of effort in some areas of life?  Do not feel guilty if you slow down or completely put a stop to the effort in some areas and just relax and let life play out.  Maybe people will step up without you saying a word and maybe some people who truly take you for granted will fade out of your life.  It is okay to relax and not feel guilty for choosing not to constantly do for others.  It is not selfish, in fact, self-love is necessary in order to continue to love others to the fullest.  As always, balance is key.  As I grow older and my daughter has become more independent after turning 18 and graduating high school I realize some of my priorities are changing.  I am starting to shift my focus onto my schooling and career as my role as a mother slows down.  As we transition in life sometimes it is hard to let ourselves relax a little without feeling guilty but as we mature and find success in certain areas we should naturally be able to slow down and relax a little, we have earned it….at least that is what I keep telling myself, but sometimes it is easier said than done.

With love, health, happiness and relaxing without guilt,

Stacy

Good Stress Vs. Bad Stress

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With the abundance of self-help and self-improvement books and video’s, all the education and information on being mindful and removing the stress and negativity, it would be easy to just start cleaning house and completely getting rid of people who don’t make you feel absolute joy.  However, some stress in our lives is good.  In order to grow as individuals we need to be challenged.  So how do we determine when the ability to grow is lost and the stress is simply just unnecessary?

I have a select few people in my life that come to mind that I originally believed were challenges put in my path to help me grow.  I tried to connect more and leave myself open to their thoughts and ideas because I knew they were so vastly different from mine. I thought maybe I was missing something so I allowed myself to get involved in conversations and be challenged only to feel worse after the interaction.  After some time has passed I realize that any engagement with them just leaves me feeling frustrated and exhausted and not enlightened or joyful.  I realize, I do not feel I am learning or growing from the interactions, I am just walking away more stressed.  It has opened my eyes even more to how important it is to create boundaries and maintain balance.

You know when you have a found a person who says things that create an Ah Ha! moment within you.  These are the conversations you want to partake in because you feel like you could talk to them all night.  Their approach in how they explain their thoughts are just fascinating and you are eager to pick their brain and learn more. You walk away wanting to read and research more on the topic and feel inspired and joyful instead of drained.  This is how you know you are engaging with a person who is promoting positive growth.

Even some of our closest family members or coworkers will have vastly different beliefs.  I have found it is best to  just listen in the moment and not engage.  Then I can  research their words later to form my own informed opinion.  In the research process we learn that either we should adjust our perspective a little (or maybe a lot) or we become more confirmed in our own beliefs, either way we are learning and growing.  It is easier to come from a place of wanting to understand than a place of debate, and often we are so set in our own beliefs that we forget our original intent.  If someone does not ask my opinion I have decided not to give it.  This can be very hard, but if someone is spouting off their beliefs and never stopping to ask your thoughts and ideas I have found it is best to just let them talk.  You learn a lot more when you listen anyway, even if it’s just that the other person is full of it.

I have also found unfollowing certain individuals on social media is in my best interest when it comes to setting boundaries.  I enjoy getting on Facebook to see happy and funny things my friends post, but if I start getting an over abundance of negativity and confrontational information on my feed I will unfollow.  It is a simple solution that doesn’t completely remove the person from your circle, it just cuts out the stress for you.  If you don’t want to constantly see Sally’s relationship drama that you have advised her on numerous times, or Karen’s religious beliefs, or Tom’s political views or even Mandy’s cooking pics, or Gretchen’s gym pics… for whatever reason, then just unfollow.  You do not have to justify your reasons with anyone just click the button and go on about your life.

The good stress is learning to listen and not say a word, learning to research it later and form an educated opinion on the subject so that when someone does stop to take time and ask your opinion you can answer intelligently and confidently.  If you feel stress creeping in ask yourself if this is something worth stressing over?  Is it necessary to engage in that moment?  Are you stressing about something in the past or something in the future?  Stressing about things you cannot control is pointless and not productive unless you plan to take action in some way.  So ask yourself, in that moment when you feel your body reacting and your thoughts start to follow the stress path…Is this something I can take control of and if so, how?  Take steps to tackle the problem because action is the key.  Prepare yourself, if you know you are going to encounter a person who instigates stress within you at a party or gathering, then have a plan so you already know how to proceed.  Preparation is a form of taking action even if your plan is to do nothing more than smile, say hello and walk-away.

Creating healthy boundaries for yourself is a great way to fight stress.  We all have our own limits on different things.  Maybe you are struggling with weight so hearing about someones diet or seeing gym pics is not motivational for you right now.  Maybe you are strong in your faith with God and seeing posts or conversations from your atheist neighbor causes you stress.  Maybe you are strong in your political beliefs and seeing the opinion of the opposing party gives you stress.  Maybe you just went through a horrible break-up so seeing wedding pics or baby pics with a happy couple is just depressing for you.  This doesn’t make you a bad person if you struggle in a moment to be happy for others and it doesn’t make you a closed minded person if you have done your research on certain beliefs and already know where you stand. It is okay to set boundaries tailored specifically for your personal circumstances in that that moment.

Good stress gets your blood pumping because you are being motivated or pushed to be better, learn something new or tackle a project.  There should be some kind of positive outcome.  Bad stress is when your blood starts pumping and you feel frustrated, angry, or just exhausted at the thought, sometimes even anxiety, dread, sadness or a sense of panic will come over you.   Learn to be self aware, be gentle and honest with yourself.  As you clue in to how your body reacts and the thoughts going on inside your head, you will know which kind of stress is being activated.  What one person finds as good stress and bad stress may not be the same for you.  Nobody knows your mind-body connection better than you do.  Boundaries and balance is key in managing your stress levels so don’t be afraid to make the changes that work for you.

With love, happiness, health

Stacy