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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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Give Yourself a Break!

After just finishing up a challenging semester in grad school (and aren’t they all challenging, really?), I’m giving myself this week off!  I worked really hard to make time for some much-needed rest and relaxation, and this time I’m really, really going to do it.  Stop laughing, I’m serious!

See, usually, I *say* I’m going to take the week off and then I book every single day with as much as I can fit in.  I call it the “funnel effect,” and I’m betting you’re familiar with it.  It happens when I have so many things on my “to do” list that I can’t possibly get them done in a day, so they accumulate until I can’t get them done in a week, and on it goes (until I “declutter” my “to do” list, but I’ve already blogged about that).

So when I stop to take a break from school, all the miscellaneous stuff that hasn’t gotten done over the semester funnels right into the space I’ve created in my schedule, until I’m completely overwhelmed again!  So, maybe it’s household stuff, and sure, that needs to get done.  Maybe it’s time with friends, and absolutely, I love spending time with my friends!  Maybe it’s working on my blog, which I enjoy, or tending to some marketing matters for my small business(es) I’d like to grow, and that’s legitimate and helpful to our household.  I’m betting you can relate to the funnel effect, am I right?

But wait . . .

If all that stuff has waited for the last sixteen or seventeen weeks, I’m left wondering . . . why do I try to squeeze it all into the time off that I’ve worked so hard to carve out?!  Maybe it’s important, but it’s obviously not urgent or it would probably not still be on my “to do” list, right?  Some things have been put off during the school term BECAUSE THEY CAN BE PUT OFF.  So that means they don’t all have to get done on my break, either.

I’ve capped off the funnel this time!  I set a small amount of time aside to visit with a couple of friends, I have a work-related project I really do want to accomplish this week, and I’m going to dust our apartment and clean one particular window that’s driving me nuts.  Otherwise, I have a novel I’ve been trying to read for over a year (did I mention that I’m in grad school?) and I *will* finish it on my break, on our balcony, with a cup of tea, possibly in my bathrobe.

I will spend precious time in my studio making beautiful things – some for sale, but much will be for our home and for gifting – because that makes my heart happy, and because engaging the creative part of my brain is an excellent way to de-stress (studies prove it!).  I’ll practice yoga, spend some extra time in prayer and meditation, and do whatever else rejuvenates me, but I’m *not* adding anything new to my calendar or my “to do” list.  In fact, I intentionally scheduled one day with absolutely NOTHING on the calendar or the to-do list, and I may turn it into a prayer and meditation day (super rejuvenating!)

I’m determined to feel like I took a break.  I can do it.  But since I already know this, the reason I’m posting it publicly is to remind you that you can, too!  Someone recently mentioned that every weekend leaves her feeling like she needs another weekend to recover from it.  We’ve all said that, probably.

Busyness is largely a choice, and often is a symptom of weak boundaries.  I know, I know, that sounds harsh.  And it hurts when I have to say it to myself, too.  But it’s the raw truth.  So, go ahead and give yourself a break – all the cool kids are doing it!

So to that end, my faithful followers, I am wrapping up this post and I’m going to head to the studio!  Shalom!

If you need help with life strategies such as stress management, spiritual development, and women’s concerns including painting a victorious new future after overcoming emotional, sexual and physical abuse, please contact me!  We can set something up for next week.  😉

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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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Fear demands courage. Courage requires fear.

Fear demands courage.  Courage requires fear.

They can’t live without each other.  If you’ve ever been afraid and you’re still here, it’s because of courage.  Courage to pray. Courage to put one foot in front of the other. Courage to stand strong, courage to get back on your feet when you fall.

And we wouldn’t need courage if there was no fear. 

Fear is a training ground for courage.  How would we know how strong we truly are, or understand our potential, or begin to grasp God’s greatness if we never experienced fear?

I don’t think it’s fair to tell a person not to be afraid.  Yes, the Bible instructs us not to fear, and purportedly it does so 365 times.  I’ve heard it, and I believe it.  But I don’t think it means to deny our fear.  Denial of our emotions is the beginning of disaster. Denial of our emotions can, and almost certainly will, over time, cause or contribute to potentially severe health issues (high blood pressure, heart attacks, severe and ongoing headaches, diabetes, autoimmune issues and so much more).  Denial of our emotions can, and often does, take a severe and sometimes irreversible toll on our mental health (nervous breakdowns, depression, anxiety, and even suicide).  And then there’s our spiritual life.  Denying our emotions can dramatically strain our relationship with God, our sense of purpose, and the wellness in our soul that comes from being able to live in a place of hope.  Finally, our relational life takes a beating when we deny our emotions (divorce, infidelity, alienation of family and friends and on and on).

Some folks label emotions as “good” and “bad.”  I’ve done it myself, in the interest of brevity and simplicity.  But I think it’s tricky and dangerous to call fear a “bad” emotion.  It’s perfectly valid.  It must be, because it is God-given.  It serves a healthy purpose, to warn us off from taking harmful actions or engaging in detrimental behaviors.  What I think the Scriptures are saying is not to never experience fear, but rather not to unpack and camp out in a place of fear; not to let it take over our emotional, physical, spiritual and relational wellbeing; not to let it drive or control our hearts, minds or actions.

Feel the fear.  Confess the fear.  Pray about the fear.  Find a trusted confidant and talk about/cry about/rail against/scream about the fear.  But let it be like an afternoon thundershower.  When it’s over, see the light of hope.  Feel the freshness of grace on your skin.  Sense the renewal on the horizon.  And then look closer.  Look inside.  Look for him.  Can you see him?  There he is, reaching out to you.  Take his hand.  Let Jesus help you up, and even lean on him.  It’s one of the reasons he’s here.  Allow him to introduce you to the Victor in you (1 Cor. 6:19).  Allow the fear, accept the help, and dig deep for the courage that is in you.  Lift your chin a little higher and march on, wiser and stronger for your inevitable encounter with fear.

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Dealing with Insecurities

Let’s face it. We all struggle with insecurity. I mean, I don’t think I know a single person  who doesn’t struggle with insecurity in some form at some time.

There is a public figure who’s circle I am peripherally a part of, and frankly I don’t give her much thought other than respecting who she is and the accomplishments that she has achieved. And I have never once had the thought in my head, ‘Wow! I really wish Suzie Q would send me a card’ … until I found out that I didn’t make the cut, but a number of other people received handwritten cards from her.  After that, I found little tiny whispers of thoughts creeping into my head: what do I have to do to make the grade next time? What do I have to do to be in this person‘s inner circle? When I realized what was happening, I was, of course, apalled.

At Christmas time, I put a note out in the public space of the apartment building where my husband and I live. It was a very kind note thanking my neighbors for being people I can trust, for being pleasant, for being the kinds of neighbors to help each other out, etc. I almost didn’t hang it. I mean, what if they thought it was a dork, or a jerk, or some kind of loser?

We all struggle with insecurity from time to time, and that’s alright. The important thing is to learn to recognize it for what it is.  It’s a lie. Don’t beat yourself up for having insecurities, but do try to learn to recognize when they are rearing their ugly heads. When they do, look them in the eye, and remind them that you were created to be perfectly you, and that’s exactly what you are.  Perfectly you. God made only one of you, and He made you exactly the way He wanted you. There is only one of you, and you are a blessing to this world.

Then straighten your crown and march on. 🙂

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Monday Moment for New Year’s Day (a few days late)

It is fitting that this post would be late, given it’s content, unrealistic expectations.  However, the reason for its tardiness is that my laptop crashed (yes, my less than 5-month-old laptop’s hard drive mangled itself with all my info on it, *sigh*), and try as I might, I couldn’t locate this file on January 1.  Anyhoo, I found it today and I think it’s still worth sharing…

If you know me you know that I don’t do new year’s resolutions.  I long ago resolved to be the best version of myself that I’m capable of being every day.  Some days I shine like … something really, really shiny … and some days I suck the light right out of my space.  But every day I try to be the best I can, to give every day all I have to give.  And every day I go to the well (yes, the one for which this blog is named) and I refill.  The well of living water.  I live at that well.  I can’t live apart from that well.  If I stray from that well I quickly sink into the quicksand of despair, become toxic to myself and those around me, and claw my way back to the well as quickly as possible.

I set difficult, sometimes unrealistic goals for myself during the year, and I modify them as needed.  I long ago decided to stop setting unattainable goals for myself on January 1 that would leave me feeling inadequate, inept, unworthy and often fat, ugly and stupid.  People battle this type of thinking all year long – why set ourselves up on the first day of a brand spanking new year to flop horribly in, statistically speaking, approximately three weeks?!

No, you won’t find me declaring at 12:01 on January 1, 2018 that I resolve to lose 10, 20, 30, or 50 pounds in the coming 12 months.  If it was that easy I wouldn’t need to declare such a thing.  I would simply do it.  Nor will you find me vowing to stop drinking, or eating sugar, or swearing on January 1.  Instead, I try daily to learn more self-control with the help of the Lord (because without his help … well … you wouldn’t like me much and neither would I).

I openly decry the notion of new year’s resolutions, without shame or reservation.  Because we beat ourselves up plenty 365 days every year; I think it’s a horrible idea to choose one day each year when we vow to achieve unrealistic goals and then bludgeon ourselves emotionally when we, predictably, cannot or do not achieve them.

I’d rather see us all make a commitment to ourselves and to God every day that we will strive to be present, that we will strive to be kind to ourselves and others, and that we will do our best that day to be more Christlike and to stretch ourselves to live fuller, richer lives that further the kingdom of God every day of every year, and then take positive steps to grow in those areas.  We all have room for improvement and we can all take measurable steps to move into that improvement.  One day at a time.  Realistically.

That said, I have a delightful habit of keeping a monthly journal of major events and accomplishments and then reviewing them on December 31/January 1.  It’s such a joy to see what I’ve accomplished, overcome, and celebrated throughout the year, with God’s good grace!  I encourage everyone to spend their time reviewing the past year in a positive light instead of setting themselves up for disappointment and self-recrimination in the next!

May you have a fulfilling, joyful, blessed and peaceful 2018!

Shalom,

Angela