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2019, Week 1: Nailed It!

As we begin this first full week of the new year, I’m happy to report that so far I’ve met my weekly goals!  Okay, so we’re only one week in, but I’m still calling it a win!  Let me explain why that matters . . .

We all know that many times people make resolutions that don’t stick, in part because they’re unrealistic to start with.  But what about those goals we make that really should be attainable, and we really want to meet them, but somehow we get a month or two into the year and find that we’ve lost motivation or we feel we’re too far off the mark already to be successful?

Here’s why I’m excited to have met my weekly goals; they are designed to move me toward successfully meeting my goals for the year!  If I break down my yearly goals into smaller parts, I can be consistently moving in the right direction, staying on target and seeing that target get closer and closer – which is inspiring and motivating!

Visualize your goal.  Really set it in your mind.  Then work backward.  In order to meet your goal, where will you need to be in September? June? March?  Then break those quarters down into months.  What action can you be taking by the end of each month to move you closer to your goal?  Then break the months into weekly, consistent habits that help you stay motivated.  These weekly goals should set me up for success, so that I feel motivated and excited, because I’m seeing progress.

An example: If I want to read 12 books by the end of the year, I will plan to read a book every month. Since I don’t want to get to the end of the month and be only 10 pages into my 200-page book, I’ll set a weekly goal of reading one fourth of the book, and then a daily goal of a certain number of pages. I may find it helpful to spend 30 minutes or less per day on social media (which happens to check off another goal on my list for 2019) so I have more time available for reading. Important note: I am actually doing this, and while it may sound rigid, it’s the only realistic way for me to meet this particular goal (especially as a grad student who already reads volumes!). That said, I give myself Saturdays as a “catch up day” because, you know, life sometimes gets in the way. Remember, the goal is to set ourselves up for success!

Evaluate the goal.  Check in at the end of each week to see how you did that week.  The same with each month, and then the quarters.  Pay attention to those weekly goals, though!  They set the direction and enable you to make minor tweaks before you’re too far off course.  What’s working? What isn’t? What do you need to do more of/less of to get those weekly goals back in focus?

Have some accountability.  This is a good idea, even if you don’t need prodding.  Accountability partners are those folks we have to confess to when we’re not doing what we want to be doing to reach our goals.  But guess what?  They’re also those people who we get to celebrate with when we do well!  Okay, we’re not supposed to be boastful, but hey – we all like to tell someone about our victories, and that’s the happier side of having an accountability partner!

Be kind to yourself. So, you slipped. It happens! Recognize it, then remind yourself why the goal was important enough to make in the first place. Refocus, dust yourself off, square your shoulders, and . . . begin again! Don’t waste precious time beating yourself up. It just gets you further behind, and puts you in a negative mindset to begin again or, worse, give up on something that matters to you. We all have days and weeks that are less than what we’d hoped they’d be. Accept it and move on! (As you’ll see below, I actually budget my time to allow for those “off” days.)

Reward yourself for meeting your goals.  Use a gold star, smiley face or checklist – something you can see, something you can look back at and note your success when things get a little tricky along the way.  This helps thwart discouragement before it really takes hold.

Your turn! Have you set a goal/goals for 2019? What are you planning to do through the year to move yourself toward the goal(s) you’ve set?  I’d love to hear about it!

Help is available. If you find goal-setting (or, more specifically, goal-achieving) to be daunting and want a little coaching to get you on the right track, contact me at AngelaGlickLifeCoach@gmail.com and let me help you set yourself up for success!

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Stress Management Tool #3 – Meditation

Stop rolling your eyes!  Any healthy conversation about holistic stress management has to turn to meditation sooner or later – and you can do it!  Come on, then, and let’s talk a little about meditation, and hopefully demystify it and make it more accessible…

What Exactly is Meditation?  Chrisman and Blackwell (2018) define meditation as “a practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath, movement, or attention itself in order to increase awareness of the present moment, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance personal and spiritual growth” (p. 2256).  The recommended focus varies among cultures and religions; however, Clinton, et al. (2005) teach that Christian meditation includes meditating on God’s Word and on Christ.

Benefits of Meditation.  The National Institutes of Health (2016) reports a finding that scientific evidence supports that meditation reduces the symptoms of stress, to include depression and anxiety.  In fact, one study found that meditation is among the top-recommended methods of coping with a wide range of stress-related maladies, both physical and emotional (Chrisman & Blackwell, 2018).  Bergland (2013) writes that “any type of meditation will reduce anxiety” and lower the levels of cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone; Bergland goes on to recommend taking several deep, slow breaths at the first signs of stress.

Methods of Meditation.  Meditation can seem a bit “mystical” and “mysterious” to those who have not practiced it, but it is a valid stress intervention that is readily available to everyone, and it’s more down-to-earth than you may think (i.e., it doesn’t have to be all “woo-woo” – a technical term).  In fact, Christians may be surprised to learn that meditation is a practice supported by Scripture (see Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2, Psalm 104:34).

Bergland (2013) offers this encouragement:

“You can meditate anytime and any place. There don’t have to be strict boundaries to when and how you do it. Mindfulness and meditation is a powerful de-stressor and cortisol reducer that is always in your toolbox and at your fingertips. You can squeeze in a few minutes of meditation on the subway, in a waiting room, on a coffee break . . .”

Bergland goes on to write that setting aside as little as ten minutes for meditation can calm the mind and body.

So now that you know what meditation is and how beneficial it can be, you may be wondering how to do it yourself.  Need specific tips to start your own meditation practice to help relieve stress in your life?  Contact me and I’ll be delighted to help you develop your own meditation practice!

 References

Bergland, C. (2013). Cortisol: Why the “stress hormone” is public enemy no. 1: 5 simple ways to lower your cortisol levels without drugs. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

Chrisman, L., & Blackwell, A. H. (2018). Meditation. In J. L. Longe (Ed.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health (4th ed., Vol. 4, pp. 2256-2260). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale. Retrieved from https://link-galegroup-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/apps/doc/CX3662600722/HWRC?u=vic_liberty&sid=HWRC&xid=23ec990f

Clinton, T., Hart, A. and Ohlschlager, G. (2005). Caring for people God’s way: Personal and emotional issues, addictions, grief and trauma.  Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

National Institutes of Health. (2016, January). Mind and body approaches for stress: What the science says. NCCIH Clinical Digest for health professionals. Retrieved June 23, 2018, from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/mind-body-stress-science

 

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Pamper Yourself!

Stress Management Tip #3 – Self-Care and Creativity

Self-care is a concept that is often dismissed by women, frequently because they feel guilty for devoting time to themselves instead of those around them.  Christian women in particular often consider self-care “wrong” or “bad.”  After all, the Bible makes a point of teaching that Christians are to be humble and put others first, right (e.g., Phil. 2:3)?  Well guess what . . . Scripture also teaches that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19) and that we are to take care of it (1 Cor. 3:17).  Proverbs 14:30 teaches that “a heart at peace gives life to the body,” and being so stressed out we can’t fit rest and self-care into our schedule is at odds with having a peaceful heart, wouldn’t you say?

If that’s not enough, the benefits of self-care are backed by science.  Research reveals that taking a “creative break” can be relaxing and rejuvenating.  A recent study demonstrated that participants of varying levels of experience, after engaging in artistic expression for only forty-five minutes, experienced a significant reduction in levels of the stress hormone cortisol (Kaimal, Ray & Muniz, 2016).  Another study found that artistic expression, including dance, writing, visual art (painting, crafting), and music, were beneficial to mental health.  The results of that study “indicated that creative engagement can decrease anxiety, stress, and mood disturbances” (emphasis mine) (Stuckey and Nobel, 2010, p. 261).  Thus, there is ample biblical and scientific support for embracing the discipline of self-care (yes, I called it a discipline!).

Dear one, if you’re earnestly trying to learn effective stress management techniques, you simply must get comfortable with the idea of taking care of YOU, and even – gasp! – pampering yourself!  Try making a list of the things you find relaxing and indulgent, but that don’t cause you to feel guilty afterward (i.e., eating a pint of full-fat ice cream in one sitting, after consuming half a pizza, is not recommended).  So what brave step will you take toward caring for yourself?  It can be simple, inexpensive, and doesn’t even have to take that much time.  Maybe give yourself a pedicure and paint your toes a wild color you love!  Or, or settle in with a favorite book for even half an hour.  Make a crafting date with yourself and get creative making something pretty!  You could sit quietly and listen to soothing music (or, provided you don’t have neighbors super close, turn up your favorite “happy song” and belt it out!), buy yourself some flowers, take a long walk in the woods, have a “home spa” night, take a hot soak . . . whatever it is, it will be unique to you and whatever you’re in the mood for.  Precious one, do this for yourself!

Need individual guidance on how to de-stress your life? Contact me for one-on-one stress management coaching in person, via phone, or on FaceTime!

References

Kaimal, G., Ray, K. & Muniz, J. (2016). Reduction of cortisol levels and participants’ responses following art making.  Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association33(2), 74-80. doi: 10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832

Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). The connection between art, healing, and public health: A review of current literature. American Journal of Public Health100(2), 254–263. http://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2008.156497

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Let’s Talk Herb(s)!

Stress Management: Tool #2 – Herbal Aids

Before delving into the discussion and research concerning herbal aids for stress management, it is necessary to issue a word of caution: It is very important for you to check with your doctor and/or pharmacist to ensure there are no interactions between any herbs you are considering taking and any medical conditions you have and/or medications you take.  THIS BLOG POST IS INTENDED TO RELAY RESEARCH RESULTS AND IS NOT AN ATTEMPT TO GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE.

Research has found that herbal aids, when used responsibly, often help people manage stress and the symptoms of stress.  Recently, a study conducted in Europe using self-reported ratings on the PSS-10 scale (Perceived Stress Scale-10) concluded that “the short-term use of herbal remedies seems … effective in reducing perceived stress” (Gasparini, et al., 2016, p. 465).  The study revealed approximately a 50% decrease in perceived stress after consuming certain herbal aids, including hops, valerian and melissa.

Depression.  Studies show a correlation between stress and depression (Clinton and Langberg 2011); therefore, considering herbal aids used to relieve depression may serve to aid in stress reduction.  Depression is often a response to, or effect of, both acute and prolonged stress.  A 2008 Harvard study reported that persons suffering with mild depression found the use of various herbal supplements to be beneficial in helping to relieve their depression (Herbal and Dietary Supplements for Depression, 2008).  The findings of the study include benefit from folic acid, which helps the brain to produce serotonin, which can improve mood, and in many patients, stimulated their response to their prescribed antidepressant medication.  The study reported that similar benefits were produced through supplementation with SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine). As with folic acid, SAMe is reported to help the brain produce neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, and can bring the brain’s levels of these neurotransmitters to a normal level in patients with a deficiency thereof (Herbal and Dietary Supplements for Depression, 2008).  This report stated that “eight studies compared SAMe to a tricyclic antidepressant; six concluded that SAMe was equivalent to the drug (p. 4).”  Herbal and Dietary Supplements for Depression (2008) reported that St. John’s Wort and Omega-3 fatty acids also have been found beneficial in helping to minimize depression in patients.

Anxiety.  Similarly, Lakhan and Vieria (2010) state that in other research passionflower, kava, St. John’s wort, lysine and magnesium have been effective in the treatment of anxiety.  Clinton, et al. (2005) add that melatonin may be useful in aiding sleep, which may help break the cycle of sleeplessness leading to stress, and stress leading to sleeplessness.

Clearly, many studies have shown that, when used responsibly, herbal aids can often help diminish and control the perception and effects of stress.

Need more information on managing stress?  Contact Angela at AngelaGlickLifeCoach.com for one-on-one and group coaching for stress management.

References

Clinton, T., Hart, A. and Ohlschlager, G. (2005). Caring for people God’s way: Personal and emotional issues, addictions, grief and trauma.  Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Clinton, T., & Langberg, D. (2011). The quick-reference guide to counseling women: 40 topics, spiritual insights and easy-to-use action steps. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Gasparini, M., Aurilia, C., Lubian, D., & Testa, M. (2016). Herbal remedies and the self-treatment of stress: An Italian survey. European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 8(4), 465-470.

Herbal and Dietary Supplements for Depression. (2008). Harvard Mental Health Letter, 25(4), 4-5.

Lakhan, S. E., & Vieira, K. F. (2010). Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. Nutrition Journal, 942-55. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-42McNealus, K. (2018, February).  Let’s talk about stress. Exceptional Parent Magazine, 16-19. Retrieved from https://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A530360703/HWRC?u=vic_liberty&sid=HWRC&xid=a6bef996