It seems that stressful times are the times when our self-care is lacking. It is precisely at these times when we need to be vigilant about eating right, getting enough rest, exercising, laughing, connecting, and making good choices to help us through the stress unscathed. When our resistance is low, we are no longer in the driver’s seat and we lack the energy to take charge. If we let ourselves run down by not guarding our personal energy, then we won’t have the energy to take care of others, our work, or ourselves. And so starts a downward spiral of negative energy that is ever harder to break.
Even when our minds won’t recognize that we need a break, our bodies will take over and put us flat on our backs for as long as it needs to heal itself and recharge. The lesson is to take care of yourself first, or else you won’t be able to take care of anybody or anything else.
We need to plan time for creative renewal on a regular basis and particularly during times of intense focus or stress. Good old rest and relaxation are still vitally important to the mental and physical well being of fighting soldiers. Being emotionally drained affects our performance as much as being physically exhausted. We can be very physically fit and get enough rest and still be emotionally exhausted. Taking time out to decompress is vitally important for our vitality.
Sleep and restful downtime increases your concentration and gives you the stamina you need to fight off sickness or other enemies. Adjust your bedtime rituals to allow for restful, uninterrupted sleep. Avoid exercising, caffeine, or lots of liquids just before bedtime and set a regular time schedule and habits to signal your body that it is time to slow down. Just ask any rotating shift worker how productive or alert they feel in-between rounds.
It’s not easy to conjure up enthusiasm for sex when you’re stressed out, but not having sex can actually lead to a higher anxiety level and it can become a stressor if it is unavailable or unsatisfactory. Building a healthy, intimate relationship with your partner can lead to other types of stress releases and emotional support as well as the physical release. Take the time to refresh and renew yourself regularly to avoid the perils and pitfalls of being overcome by stress.
No excuses for where you have been. Start from where you are right now and make positive changes toward increased energy. Select a few strategies that seem most workable for your lifestyle and make adjustments from there. It’s never too late to make a difference in somebody’s life – even your own. You don’t have to wait for that proverbial wake-up call such as a heart attack, cancer, a stroke, termination, divorce, children going off to college, or death of a loved one; you can decide to change now.
We either take what we get or ask for what we want and have some influence over what we want. Waiting around for fate to make our decisions doesn’t give us much of a back-up plan or wiggle room to move towards what we want. So what are you waiting for?
Where do you want to go? What steps do you have to take to move forward in the direction and the end state that was mentioned earlier? Each day is the dawn of a new beginning and a chance for each of us to start fresh and use our past experience as feedback and not an excuse.
Start today to create what you need to energize yourself and your life. Don’t drown yourself in the negative energy of what happened to you in your past or the energy drain of feeling like a victim from your past experiences.
Quit the bad habits that are draining the life out of you, or may have been holding you back, or may have lead you to a negative place in the past. No excuses. Just do it because you know what these habits are and you know it’s the right thing to do. I know it’s hard; but the benefits of long-term satisfaction will far outweigh the short-term gratification.
Get yourself together, get your partner, get a friend, or get professional assistance to help you quit the bad stuff for the long haul. Just do it. While you’re at it, quit procrastinating and move on to newer and better things. Getting the inertia moving in the right direction towards more positive things helps bring energy into our lives.
Take a fresh look at what you have today and where or who you want to be tomorrow and focus on what you need to do right now to start down that new path. Just do it.
You may not be able to control what comes your way, but you can control what you do with it. You know the old lemonade poem “if life hands you lemons, yadda, yadda, yadda”. Your confidence and energy will increase each time you successfully handle one of these situations. Take stock of your uniqueness, your strengths, your experiences, and your options to create the best opportunity for yourself. Capitalize on your circumstances to make a difference in the world or in your local community. Don’t dwell on what has been in the past; start fresh from today to make a difference in your circumstances.
Look at what you can learn from each of your experiences. It’s up to you whether you see each of your experiences as positive or negative and your choice of perception has everything to do with the outcomes of you capitalize on your experience. When you find yourself in the middle of a life lesson, learn from it so you don’t have to keep repeating it in order to get the lesson. Instead of saying “why me”, ask yourself what can be gained or learned from the experience. Your brain will answer any questions you ask it, so make sure you are asking the right questions in order to capitalize on your situation.
Pause/Break: Take a break to enjoy yourself, your partner, your pet, your co-workers, your family. . .
A pause for the cause does wonders for your productivity and your soul. Slow down on that super highway or get off the beaten path and find a trail. The mind, body, and spirit all need downtime to refresh, relax, recuperate, rejuvenate, recreate, and regenerate for what lies ahead.
After the pause, you will come back with more vigor and vitality to take on life. Employers have found that allowing workers to telecommute, job share, or have a flexible work schedule to accommodate other facets of their lives will improve loyalty, dedication, productivity, and focus at work. Work-life balance and mental health breaks are critical to our health and the health of an organization. Performance research from the Swiss Polytechnic Institute shows that when workers perform a task for longer than 20-30 minutes straight, the time they need to solve the problem increases by 500%. It would be wise to take a short break at least each hour to improve your concentration, your productivity, and your problem solving ability.
Other studies have found that if you perform an activity that uses the opposite side of the brain than the side you have been using for the task, the benefits are even greater when you come back to your task because you have let that side of your brain take a break. Studies out of the National Recreation and Park Association show that even short leisure moments in your day build resilience to future stress.
Why not incorporate your pet into your break. Animals significantly contribute to your peace of mind and playfulness. Pet popularity has been on the increase and their psychotherapeutic affects are long-lasting. Our “best friends” can give us a boost like no other with their unconditional love and affection. My newly-adopted doxi, Fozzi, is proof positive of the positive affects of pets.
Research indicates the positive effects of pet therapy and the calming, yet energizing effect pets have on the people around them. Stroking them and being around their happy dispositions create a positive connection, adding joy to people’s lives. Their only reason for being is to enjoy life. Why not take a queue from our animals? Have you ever noticed how excited your pet is to see you after you’ve been gone all day? Do your kids, your spouse, or your family members exude a similar reaction? Why not try being as enthusiastic with your greetings as your pet and watch the reactions to your newfound energy.
Matt Weinstein’s book How to Work Like Your Dog is a great read on how to lighten up and be more like your pet.
Physically fleeing the scene of stress for a holiday restores personal energy. Sometimes all we have is a “holimoment” where we can purposefully escape into daydreams or meditation if we can’t physically escape to take a break. Americans lag far behind most of the world in reaping the rewards of longer vacations and time to escape the real world responsibilities.
Employers in Europe know the secret to having employees be refreshed, renewed, and recharged for more productivity is taking longer or more frequent holidays. Europeans average five weeks per year holiday time as compared to the paltry American two weeks annual vacation. If you are saving up those vacation days, or worse yet, losing them because they have expired, you are doing yourself, your family, and your colleagues a disservice by not giving them the best you can be at optimum performance levels.
We need a break to clear our minds and re-connect in order to perform at peak performance at other times. If you must hang around the office, surround yourself with items that bring back good memories or that state your affirmations boldly. Take a mental health break by gazing at your memorabilia while you wait on hold on the phone. (Research suggests we are on hold an average of 15 minutes/day or 60 hours/year). Fresh air and movement do wonders, as do office toys or a personalized treasure map of things you want to accomplish in your life.
Treasure maps are collages of pictures and words representing your desires, goals, or affirmations. These posters filled with cut and past magazine photos and headlines are a physical and mental reminder of what’s dear, and act as a magnet to attract you closer to your goals and aspirations. The more you use the powerful force of visualization; the imagery of your dreams becomes imbedded into your subconscious and you start behaving in a manner to elicit responses to move you towards your image. There have been numerous studies of athletes and performers using guided imagery and visualization to help them compete and win. When you start imagining the possibilities and show your brain concrete images, it sends your body signals to help make that image materialize.
Travel can generate excitement, adventure, intrigue, and other awesome feelings all rolled up into one package. Experience other cultures and new ways of life, or just get out of town for a weekend escape. We need this time for creative renewal in order to be our best to meet our challenges. Seeing how other cultures live gives us a fresh perspective on what may be out of kilter back home. Flexibility and an attitude of discovery go a long way in creating positive travel experiences. Where are you going next?
By popular demand, I’m offering a series based on my first book Keys to Energize, A Caffeine-Free Guide to Perk Up Your Life. The ideas have built a career, launched over 500 articles, inspired over 1500 programs and touched many thousands. I’d like to share one key at a time – the idea being that you have the answers at your fingertips – on your computer keyboard. Each of the keys in front of your nose hold the answers to dynamize your life so you can live and lead hartfully.
I dedicate this series to everybody who is burned out, stressed out, rusted out and looking for a way out of the energy drainage trap.
Are you feeling tattered, tired, tested, toasted, and roasted? Are you overworked, overwhelmed, and overdue for a personal energy overhaul? Look no further than your fingertips for your solutions to sanity, less stress, more fun, and more energy. The keys to practicing safe stress and energizing yourself and your life are right in front of your face on your computer keyboard. Knowing that one in four workers suffer from an anxiety related disorder brought on by stress, that 80% of the hospital beds are taken up by stress-related afflictions, that five minutes of exposure to negativity can affect our central nervous system for up to six hours, and that Americans consume at least 15 tons of aspirin per day is enough to move me to action and share my insights and inspiration with my audiences and my readers.
Use this series as your easy-reading travel guide, and your keyboard as a visual reminder to lighten up and unlock the secrets to revitalization. Filled with quick bytes to give you a quick boost to recharge your batteries and refresh your memory; your keyboard holds the keys to quick quality tips for distressing, decompressing, and delighting yourself. So hang up your phone it’s time to get re-connected with yourself and access your energy stores.
From research, reading, interviews, personal experience, and interaction with thousands of people around the world; I would like to share my insider secrets for the keys to enhanced personal energy and the simple, yet effective coping mechanisms I’ve come to believe are the key ingredients to a more satisfying and more energized life.
It’s all about energy and our total energy force field which includes both physical energy and emotional energy. Emotional energy comes from our spirit, our hope for great things, our passion about life, and our sense of vitality for living. What I have witnessed is primarily an emotional energy drainage from those feeling less than optimum. These are the people who feel emotionally fatigued, unable to cope, irritated at the slightest thing, feeling that their heart isn’t into whatever it is they think it should be, or just going through the motions and not really being able to make an effort.
Other researchers have confirmed my findings in interviews with energy experts such as endocrinologists, nutritionists, and specialists in sports medicine. Mira Kirshenbaum’s work studying the emotional energy factor in her book The Emotional Energy Factor, reports that only 30% of our total energy comes from physical energy while 70% of the energy we need to make up out complete energy comes from emotional energy. That’s why some people going through tough times can get all the rest in the world and still feel fatigued, while others in love or going through a boom time at work can get very little rest and still have boundless energy.
Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it just takes on different forms. This book will give you some tips on how to mold energy into the most positive form for your use. The good news is that since energy cannot be destroyed, it is still inside of us and under our control to tap into it. Once we know how to tap into this wellspring of well-being, we can begin approaching life differently in order to keep that well from running dry, and to keep ourselves from running on empty. It stems from the universal truths of giving to get, or what you throw out to the universe will come back to you.
I appreciate all my clients and attendees who have demonstrated the dire need for this book and who have asked for more information on this topic. From those inquiries, I offered Live Wire, my monthly E-zine with the freshest ideas to refresh, renew, and recharge your team, your family, and yourself for 10 years. I offer my blog with tips to ignite work, wealth and well-being and the art of living and leading Hartfully to give you the ammunition you need to stave off stress and revitalize your life.
Stress itself isn’t all bad. There is good stress called eustress that we need to keep us interested, engaged, and alert and that some of us thrive on to keep us going. Then there is bad stress called distress that can be disabling and distracting. When the stress hormones of cortisol and adrenaline remain elevated, they suppress our immune system, making us more susceptible to colds, flu, and infections. They also increase blood pressure, may contribute to memory loss, and raise the risk of heart disease, depression, and autoimmune diseases like type I diabetes. And then there’s smoking, overeating, drug abuse, drinking alcohol, and not exercising which are other common results of stress. The longer those stress hormones course through our veins, the greater the chance for mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical damage.
Stay tuned for more of the Keys to Energize series – there are many more keys to come.
I wanted to start out the year on the right foot….or is it the left foot. I prefer goofy footed. Here are some things you can delete from your day that can make your life a lot easier and maybe, just maybe a lot happier. If we choose to let go of what isn’t serving us in relation to the greater good of our life as we work towards the greater good of our family, our organizaton, or the world; then we release bad energy from our lives and expand on the good energy and the happiness factor. Starting today we will give up on all those things that no longer serve us, and we will embrace change. Ready? Here we go:
1. Give up your need to always be right. There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” Wayne Dyer. Dr. Phil says “Would you rather be right, or be happy?” You make the call.
2. Ditch your need for control. Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.
3. Toss out your self-defeating self-talk. Some studies show that 70% of our self talk is negative – just think how many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating.
4. Drop complaining and criticism from your vocabulary. Give up your constant need to complain and criticize– people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking. Read the book by Byron Katie Loving What Is. Think of the use of Transformational Vocabulary – what we say to others and what we say to ourselves – see #3 above on defeating self talk, can have a tremendous impact on our energy. Think of the statement “I can’t do that.” vs. “I won’t do that.” vs. “I’ll find a way to do that even though I don’t yet know how.” vs. “I’m not allowed to do that”. Hmmmmmm. Start measuring and weighing your words. Practice WAIT: Why Am I Talking?
5. Lose your need to impress others. Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take of all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly. There will always be some better and others worse off than you. Be in competition with yourself. Keep your eyes in your lane and swim the best race you can. Do you think Michael Phelps won all those gold medals by keeping his eyes on all the lanes of his competitors? He kept his eyes focused on his goal and his the target with all he had.
6. Stop your excuses. We limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real. We can spend as much energy making up the exuceses than just doing it. Offering excuses to yourself is draining your energy. Live above the line, buck up and just do it.
7. Relese your need for attachment. Ekhart Tolle describes in his book A New Earth, our need to cultivate a healthy detachment to things. You get better and better at with time and practice. Letting go of stuff, letting go of things that don’t really matter gives us a peace and serenity. Practice letting go of the past and cut some of the emotional attachments you have to stuff so it frees yo to be happy. The same is true for detaching from some of the old habits that don’t serve you any more. Try non-traditional celebrating over the holidays with less stress.
Just try some of these things to see how it lightens your load. You may just find a little more peace, joy, happiness and a new light shining from within after you ditch the baggage of things that don’t serve you any more. AND you just may feel lighter and better to serve others with your new found happiness and light. Happy Holidays!
It never ceases to amazing me, the rushing about, the velocity of people and the ramping up of activity as we roll into the holiday season. As if many of our lives aren’t hectic enough jammed packed with busy-ness; we amp up and cram in more activities. I dare you to put a little more white space into your life. Make space for serendipity and make room for new things to flow into your path. If our lives and our homes and offices, and cars and garages and closets and calendars are filled to maximum capacity; how is the Universe going to send something to an already-full space? Clear out some stuff to make room for what matters more.
When I was in full-tilt keynote speaker mode for many years; I would always schedule some play time in the city where I was speaking to spend time with friends who lived nearby or to explore a new area. I would also “try” to schedule a down day after a trip to regroup and recharge before going out again for another program. Of course I was also guilting of booking back-to-back programs, in different parts of the world or the country in the same week or sometimes in the, gasp, same day. That would stress me out to no end if I did book something in two different states on the same day – hoping no weather-related or flight-related incidents cropped up. I paid the price for it with stress and exhaustion. I would run into other speakers at conventions who would tell me that they were doing 150 programs that year. My response was “are you bragging or complaining”…. followed by “I’m sorry to hear that.” Which usually got a wierd look in response.
Boundaries. We need to set boundaries and create white space in our lives to allow space for ourselves and our thoughts and day dreaming and planning. My hunch is the over-stuffed schedules come from a fear-based approach to not wanting to lose out on an income-producing opportunity, or to lose out to a competitor or to have to sit with ourselves and our thoughts for just a moment. A fear that we will somehow miss whatever it is may be happening whereever we may not be. Wealth and income cannot and will not flow into a space that is not accepting of it. If you have no room for more to flow in, it won’t. Period. Are you ready for more flow in your life and to release the old stuff and old ways to have more white space?
Most people spend more time writing out their holiday gift list than writing out their life plan and their dream list or their self-improvement list and goals. Why not take a breather this coming holiday season and spend time at home, away from the malls, off the freeways, out of your in-laws or relatives homes and create some more white space within yourself and within your life. I guarantee it will allow you space to Refresh, Refocus and Reconnect with you.
If you’re feeling crazed or off track or stuck or whipped up into a frenzy with all the stuff you usually do rolling into this time of year; I offer you permission to Refresh your frazzled nerves any way that feels organice and natural to who you are. It could be feeding the ducks, going to an art museum, getting a massage, facial or mani/pedi, sipping coffee on the porch, bubble baths or naps. Whatever it is that recharges your batteries, create white space for it.
Refocus and reframe your situation and your choices and your usual to-do lists during the upcoming time of year. Refocus on what you want to do for you so you can better serve others in the future. You can’t give what you don’t have, so regaining your energy and your focus makes you better at what you do. Leaders can’t lead well if their nerves are shot and their attention is scattered. Refocus on what matters most and drop the rest.
Reconnect with your Source, Yourself and Others. Make room for Spirit to work magic in your life and invite positive energy into your intentions. Reconnect with yourself through radical release. Release the old ways of running ragged. Dump the notion that the holidays mean stress. For the past few decades I’ve made a promise to myself to stay out of the malls and shopping centers between Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King Day to avoid the craziness. That is my release from all things un-spirited about the spirit of the season. No more lines, no more figting for parking, no more crowds…it’s quite a good feeling to be released from all of that negativity. I’ve come to love home delivery of my groceries and drug store purchases. Releasing myself from those time-zapping errands gives me a few hours of more white space per month and reduces my stress levels. What can you release from your life to give you more energy for other things that matter more?
Reconnecting with friends – making room for more time to really connect, not just on Facebook. Reconnecting through phone calls, sending a heart-felt card or meeting face to face the olf-fashioined way lifts our spirits. My gift to you is to send a free card to somebody and reconnect with them. Let them know you’re thinking about them – a real card with a stamp and envelope that will land in their mailbox, anywhere in the world. There’s a video that will walk you through how to send it – my treat – http://www.BizBuilderCards.com.
How can you practice radical release and create more white space in your life over the holidays and every day? What new habits can you form that will give you more wiggle room? What things and activities can you delete from your life and your space to make room for the Universe to bring you something that matters more? I double dog dare you to start creating more white space in the margins of your life and allow the flow to come to you. If there is no space for it to flow to you, it will flow to somebody else and you stay stuck in your ways. Let me know what things you’ve released from your life to make more white space to BE.