How Noisy is Your “Mind Chatter”?

How Noisy is Your “Mind Chatter”?

When you stop to listen to the chatter running through your mind, how noisy is it?  “I have so much on my to do list, I don’t know …..  I am too busy.  Why can’t I get things done? I can’t do anything …… “ How distracting and draining is it?

If you recognize any of these thoughts, you’re not alone.  This “mind chatter”, an endless, restless stream of incomplete thoughts, anxieties and self-talk can race constantly through our minds.   Daily, we have anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts and questions running through our heads.  With 80% of those thoughts being negative, this puts our brains into a fight or flight mode which releases cortisol and adrenaline- causal factors of stress.

I have found three ways to calm the “mind chatter” and calm the mind’s anxiety  that I want to share with you.

Awareness

Until you become aware of what your mind is saying to you, nothing can change.  You may think you know what your running commentary is, yet actually writing it down can be helpful.

Carry a tiny notebook around with you for a few days.  Set a reminder on your phone or a timer on your desk to tell you to stop what you are doing and reflect on what you are thinking about at that moment.  Write down those thoughts.  They can be a list, snatches of thoughts, or questions.  What are your thoughts or questions?  Judging those around you?  Thinking negative thoughts about yourself- coulda, woulda, shoulda?  Feeling like you’re worried, unloved, worthless? What are the words running through your mind at that moment of the reminder?  Some psychologists call them “gnats”, which I feel are a great, visual descriptor.  Write down your gnats buzzing in your brain.

After a few days, look at the list you have compiled.  What stands out to you?  What themes have you discovered?  What surprises you?

Change

Once you have discovered the themes in your thinking, you are ready to make changes.  Remember it takes 21 days to make a habit.  What is one new thinking pattern you’d like to start?  For me, it’s thinking grateful thoughts as I jump out of bed.  I have a tendency to start thinking about all I have to do for the day as soon as my feet hit the floor. Instead, I am thanking God for the day, the breathe I am breathing, even a good night’s sleep, before I get wound up about the day’s activities.  I am not there yet but that is one change in my thinking I know I want to make.

If judging is a gnat you’ve discovered, how could you change your thinking about that?  One way to do that is to focus on the types of questions you are asking yourself and others.  In the book, Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, Dr. Marilee Adams focuses on learner questions, questions that help us learn about people, places and things, rather than judge them.  For example, why questions lead us to judging – “Why is Julie doing that?!”   What and how questions lead us to learning about people and things.  “What can I experience in this situation?”

Breathe

Finally, when you feel your anxiety rising, stopping to take deep breathes and focus on your one to two word prayer calms the fight or flight response.  Being still and deep breathing brings down the anxiety, even when you feel like you’re going to jump out of your skin.  When you are doing this, you can notice your thoughts, yet you let them go right past you, like thoughts floating down the river.  You don’t have to do anything about those thoughts, just let them go right by you.

Notice how you feel after even 5 minutes of doing this contemplative prayer or another meditation.  You’ll find your mind refreshed and your body calm.

The Takeaway

I used to believe my body was betraying me, when I would suffer anxiety attacks.  I  realize now I have strategies to practice which reduce the likelihood of them occurring or lasting very long.  I am grateful for those tools.   Being more aware of what my mind is saying to me, changing my thought patterns and taking the time to breathe deeply have significantly reduced my anxiety.  I  know when the anxiety starts to rise, I have things I can do..

I hope these strategies can be helpful to you, too.  If you would like someone to come alongside you as you practice these strategies, I would love to accompany you.  Contact me for a free coaching session and you can reflect on what your mind is saying to you.  A coach lets you move forward faster.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Enjoy that deep breathing!

Nancy Booth is a certified life coach and certified brain-based coach.  She loves creating safe spaces for women going through life’s transitions to discover and support their visions for health and well-being in an overwhelming world, explore possibilities for next steps and find hope.  She writes about taming the overwhelm and reducing stress, looking for ways to motivate, energize and inspire you!  You can sign up to receive her weekly blog or contact her to find out ways you can begin to shed overwhelm and stress.  It’s time to explore possibilities of new relationships, better life pacing and gain hope and peace.

 

Finding Peace in the Midst of a Chaotic Life

Finding Peace in the Midst of a Chaotic Life

Recently talking with a colleague, she bemoaned the fact that as soon as her feet hit the floor, her mind whirled with all of the things she had to do that day.  Her list included getting herself ready,  preparing a healthy lunch to take to work, grabbing exercise clothes for after work, throwing dishes in the dishwasher, poking the teens for school, getting breakfast, letting the dog out, thinking of last minute details for a work presentation and getting out the door on time.  She had really wanted a time of peace with God before the kids were up, but she hit the snooze button instead.  She wondered, “Would life always be this chaotic?”   All of this occurred in the 90 minutes before leaving for work….

Sound familiar?  The details may change for your household a little, yet morning life can be chaotic.  Where does the time go?  Where is the peace?  How do I slow the pace down to at least glimmer of peace to start the day, then have that peace and calm center me for the day?

I have wondered that as well.  My mind goes 100 miles an hour and I want to slow my pace and practice that peace in the middle of my chaotic life.  I know it’s important for my well-being. I am semi-retired now, yet building my own business, watching my two-year old grandson as well as being affected by things going on around the world, I don’t necessarily feel peaceful either.

Peace though, is not about things and events around me.  It’s an important inside job.  It’s a choice I can make and ask for help with.   The continual message I notice is “Quit striving.”

I think seeking peace will be a continuous journey, which is why it’s my word for the year, ha!.  I can picture peace like a river, with me floating down it, gently, when I can get myself quiet and contemplative- which means developing capacities for deep concentration and quieting the mind in the midst of the action.  Isn’t contemplative a great word picture?

Fortunately, I found a great contemplative prayer yesterday, based on Psalm 46:10 from the Gravity Center, “Be still and know that I am God.”  I felt peace wash over me as I focused on the bigger picture.  I have set a reminder on my phone to come up to the word, “be” so that I can savor that feeling throughout the day.  I can know that the God of I AM is at work within me and I can savor peace.

How to do the Be Still prayer to find peace

In this prayer, you take time to settle into a comfy chair and a quiet space – at  your desk, your car in the parking lot, your favorite chair at home.  Take a few deep breathes and acknowledge that you want to be in God’s presence.  Then between each line of the prayer, pause and take a few more deep breathes so that each line can flow deep into your heart. 

“Be still and know that I am God.”

“Be still and know that I am.”

“Be still and know .”

“Be still and know.”

“Be still and.”

“Be still.”

“Be.”

“Amen”

May you, too, find a chance to be still this day, find peace and quiet the chaos of your heart!

Nancy Booth is a certified life coach and certified brain-based coach.  She loves creating safe spaces for women going through life’s transitions to discover and support their visions for health and well-being in an overwhelming world, explore possibilities for next steps and find hope.  She writes about taming the overwhelm and reducing stress, looking for ways to motivate, energize and inspire you!  You can sign up to receive her weekly blog or contact her to find out ways you can begin to shed overwhelm and stress.  It’s time to explore possibilities of new relationships, better life pacing and gain hope and peace.

Encouragement – 5 things to do when you need it

Encouragement – 5 things to do when you need it

Monday morning rolled around quickly.  This particular Monday morning was dark, misty, cool and damp.  How many of these dark ones had we had in a row?  Would spring ever get here?  I needed some sunshine and spring for encouragement to my soul.  The darkness of the morning matched my mood.  Have you felt that way, especially on a Monday morning?

I got up to my office with my Diet Coke (I’m not a coffee drinker, but I like my caffeine)  and went to work on my to do list for the week.  My thoughts were sluggish and my prayer time non-existent.

The longer I worked, the lower my emotions went.  I began to do some research for a book I am hoping to write.  A book proposal outline suggested looking back over journals as part of memoir research to see what nuggets could be discovered as a theme to my writing.  Ah, I thought, perhaps I’ll find encouragement in my past writing!

Low and behold, journals from four years ago had the same theme and desire that I have today to shepherd and encourage women to connect with God and other women and live with a healthy mind, body and soul.   That did it!  I was officially on a downward pity party.  If that was my theme from four years ago, how have I not made progress! How come I am not serving and encouraging more women than I am?   You should have heard my mind.  It was saying not nice things to me.

As I had my pity party, I realized reading my journal that day was not going to be helpful nor encouraging.  I knew I needed to encouragement and fast.  I didn’t want to stay in this slimy pit so I began some practices that had helped in the past:

  • Pray – I started praying for a change of mind. I realized I was in a pity party and I couldn’t stay in that spot or I would get anxious and depressed.
  • Connect with a friend – I got on Facebook and messaged my good friend to pray for me. She said she would and asked me what my next steps were going to be.  Action helps get my brain moving in an upspiral.
  • Read – I had the book, You are Free, Be Who You Already Are, by Rebekah Lyons, sitting beside me. The title seemed to reach out and encourage me.  I told my friend I would spend time reading the book, which specifically talks about throwing off self-condemnation and masks of perfection, and step boldly into God’s purpose for you, which was exactly the message I needed. 
  • Self- care – I took time for a good lunch and a short rest.
  • Reflect – As I read the book, one chapter in particular talked about being Free to Wait. I reflected how waiting in the last four years had done for me. I needed to get training, get healthy, recover from my depression and anxiety and know my own self better before coming alongside women who are hurting.  God reminded me that the waiting had been intentional.  He wanted my full attention and love first.  I wasn’t ready four years ago.  I had my own work to do before I could love and support other women.

By the end of the day, mercifully, I could leave my pity party and realize that my Create Your Vision for Healthy Living retreat I am leading this weekend for women is exactly that  – “shepherding and encouraging women to connect with themselves and God for a healthy vision of their minds, bodies and souls.”

I am encouraged.  I am participating in the vision God gave me four years ago. Thank goodness!

What about you? How can waiting be an encouragement to you?  What do you do to find encouragement when you find yourself headed down a slippery slope?  Getting into a slimy pit of depression and pity is easy to do and not easy to climb out of, especially if you find yourself going there often.

Prayer, connecting with a friend, reading, self-care and reflection have all helped encourage my brain and thinking to keep to a positive course and promote my wellbeing. I hope the practices I put into place this time can be choices for you. They are ones I have developed over my four years of waiting.

Now if only the sun would shine!

 

Nancy Booth is a certified life coach and certified brain-based coach.  She loves creating safe spaces for women going through life’s transitions to discover and support their visions for health and well-being in an overwhelming world, explore possibilities for next steps and find hope.  She writes about taming the overwhelm and reducing stress, looking for ways to motivate, energize and inspire you!  You can sign up to receive her weekly blog or contact her to find out ways you can begin to shed overwhelm and stress.  It’s time to explore possibilities of new relationships, better life pacing and gain hope and peace.

3 More Questions to a Better You!

3 More Questions to a Better You!

What would it take to be a better you? As I continue to talk to women about wellbeing, I know how hard it is to put new habits into place.  One friend I was talking to realized she could give herself more energy management.  After a busy weekend of speaking and traveling, she allowed herself a day of down time.  Before, she would have kept plowing through, to the detriment of her health.  What are you beginning to notice?

We talked last week about social, physical and career/purpose wellbeing.  This week, let’s look at  financial, community and spiritual wellbeing. Let the following questions guide your vision of a healthier you!

Financial Wellbeing- ­­How content are you as you spend your money?

Interestingly enough, money doesn’t buy wellbeing although it is needed to have enough for food, shelter, transportation- the basics. Without those basics, finances can be stressful.  After basics are met, the positives of money come from being able to spend it on others.  Studies show that spending it on experiences and creating memories also have a lasting effect on your well-being, rather than on material things.

What is your financial outlook?  Where are you on the financial scale,1-10 (with 10 being easy-peasy to give away) of spending money on others?  What about on experiences?  What visions and intentions do you want to foster for your financial wellbeing?

Community Wellbeing- How well do you like and are involved in your community?

Community has to do with where you live and play.  Do you feel safe in your community?  How active are you in your community?  Attachments to a community are first based on security, then personality, family, interests and personal pursuits.  For my husband and I, we chose the Madison, WI area because of the university, availability of work, the beauty and the friendly Midwest culture. What made you choose the community you now live in?

After living in the city for 26 years, we ended moving to a beautiful, oak grove outside of Madison.  I was suffering from daily headaches at the time and needed the quiet.  The older I got, the louder the interstate traffic got near our home in the city.  We made an intentional choice for our well-being. What a difference the beauty and the quiet have made for both of us! What community changes may you need or want to make for your well-being?

Spiritual Wellbeing – What spiritual practices can connect you to better health?

According to research being done at the University of Minnesota, there is a growing body of evidence that indicates spiritual practices are associated with better health and wellbeing.

One of the major ways to spiritual wellbeing considered are contemplative practices, those practices that guide you to a specific focus, often an inward-looking reflection or concept.  These contemplative practices are shown to increase compassion, empathy, and attention as well as quiet the mind.

Some of these contemplative practices include:

  • Mindful meditation, in which you take time to focus on your breathing has shown to induce feelings of calm and clear-headedness as well as improve concentration and attention.
  • Prayer, a belief that there is a higher power that has a level of influence over your life, can provide a relaxation response as well as feelings of hope, gratitude and compassion. People who believed God was at work in their health and wellbeing responded to better to treatment more than those who did not.
  • Journaling, considered a contemplative practice in that it helps you become more aware of your inner life and get connected to the thoughts swirling in your head. By placing your thoughts on paper, you have the opportunity to make meaning out of what is going on in your life.

For me, this has been my greatest area of growth for my health.  By taking the time to pray, reflect and quiet my mind daily, I have been restored to hope, joy and contentment.  I have a more healthy mind, released from the anxiety and depression I experienced early and I am grateful.

What is your vision of wellbeing?

From these last two blogs, how do you begin to envision and create your own pathway to a life of better wellbeing?

Social – Who do you spend time with every day?

Physical – What choices do you make every day?

Career/Purpose- Do you like what you do each day?

Finances – How content are you with how you spend your money?

Community – How well do you like your community and how involved are you?

Spiritual – What spiritual practices are connecting you to better health?

A vision board helps you visualize a preferred future in each of these areas.  Scientific studies reveal that when you visualize an action, you stimulate the same brain regions as when you actually perform that action.

One athletic study proved that visualization enabled nationally ranked gymnasts to execute several complex tricks for the first time. Visualization has also been shown to improve high jumpers clearing the bar!

In other words, your brain can be trained to create outcomes you most want.

So, begin to gather those visions in each area.  Join me and other women April 1st for a day long retreat in the Stoughton, WI area and invest in a day for yourself to create your well-being vision.  Check out the details on my facebook page and contact me for more details.  Now is the time to set your vision and intentions to move forward on your wellbeing.  You’ll be glad you did!

 

 

Nancy Booth is a certified life coach and certified brain-based coach.  She loves creating safe spaces for women going through life’s transitions to discover and support their visions for health and well-being in an overwhelming world, explore possibilities for next steps and find hope.  She writes about taming the overwhelm and reducing stress, looking for ways to motivate, energize and inspire you!  You can sign up to receive her weekly blog or contact her to find out ways you can begin to shed overwhelm and stress.  It’s time to explore possibilities of new relationships, better life pacing and gain hope and peace.

3 Questions Calling You to a Better You!

3 Questions Calling You to a Better You!

What would it take to be a better you? More friends, better relationships in your family, better health, less physical pain,  more of a purpose in life….. What areas are strong for you?  What areas are causing you pain? Let the following questions guide your thinking and vision of a healthier you as you envision an inspired life!

In a recent survey (still would love your opinion:-)  I sent out to my readers, I asked women how stress was affecting them. Part of those survey results revealed that worries and concerns for adult children and physical chronic pain rate high on the list of chronic stressors.  How does that resonate with you?

Much research and print these days is dedicated to your happiness, health and lowering stress.  Wellbeing isn’t just about being happy, or wealthy or physically fit.  In the book, Wellbeing, The Five Essential ElementsTom Rath and Jim Harter give  insights behind the research and ways to incorporate the research into your daily life.  In this blog, we’ll look at the first three elements – social, physical and career or purpose.

Social Wellbeing- Who do you spend time with?

Research shows that our social networks matter. No surprise here! Positive social interaction with friends, family, co-workers increases our positive emotions of love, peace, joy and interests.  Data suggests we need six hours of positive interaction a day! I wonder who gets this and how they get it:-) This can be on the phone, with co-workers, emailing and other communications.  Even three hours of positive interaction reduces the odds of a bad day to 10%. Rate your social network on a scale of 1-10.  How can you strengthen your social network, such as people around your friendship table?

This social network of friends becomes even more important as you navigate those relationships with your adult children.  Bouncing off ideas with a fellow mom is invaluable in lowering stress. Since our adult children are going through some tough times right now, my college roommate and I decided we would call each other every Sunday night so we could encourage and pray for each other.

Physical Wellbeing- What choices do you make every day?

Regardless of your physical health, each day you make a choice.  You are either getting healthier by the choices you make, or less healthy.  For example, I need to be exercising outdoors on a daily basis as it helps my mood.  Am I?  No, for some reason, getting out the door is challenging.  The list goes on – eating, exercising, rest,…(I love naps!)  What about you?  How would you rate your physical wellbeing and self-care?  What do you need to do to get more things involved as habits?

Facing chronic pain makes self-care even more challenging.  When I was facing chronic daily headaches, my doctor describe the view through my pain as looking at the world through glass doors smeared with vasoline.  That description resonated with me as I felt pain colored everything I did and viewed.

With chronic pain, one choice is to be gentle on yourself and find out how best to manage your energy.  Pain takes a lot of energy. One friend looked for energy saving devices such as a cane and a motorized cart when traveling long distances.  Another gave herself permission to rest and do nothing the day after three long grueling days of a conference.  What works best for you and how can you conserve the energy you do have?

Career Wellbeing  – Do you like what you do each day?

In thinking about your work or career, the basic question is, Do you like what you do each day?   We spend the majority of our waking hours at what we consider our job, work or career.  In Jeff Goins, The Art of Workhe envisions work as more of a “passion-fueled calling that makes each day an exciting adventure.”   How are using your strengths on a daily basis?  Where are you on a scale of 1-10 with ten being madly in love with what you do? (even if it is not a career) Your career greatly impacts your health, your thinking, your emotions and your outlook on life. If you are leaving a career, what purpose do you wake up to each day that is meaningful?

How did you score on your wellbeing so far (rate each area on a scale of 1-10)?  Top score would be 30 if you are off the charts in every area.  You will probably find you are lower in some scales than others.

How surprising was this to you?  You can make changes in your wellbeing.  What will be your next steps?  For me, it was working with a coach because I was very low in physical wellbeing and career wellbeing.  One client I am working with currently is working on her social wellbeing and developing a better social structure that works for her as a single, retired woman.

Create Your VisionComing up April 1st is our Create Your Vision day long retreat that will be focusing on a healthier you.  This day will give you a chance to envision what is calling your heart to be a better you!  Contact me at nancy@nancyboothcoaching.com for more information.

Let’s get ready motivated and energized for a healthy summer!

Nancy Booth is a certified life coach and certified brain-based coach.  She loves creating safe spaces for women going through life’s transitions to discover and support their visions for health and well-being in an overwhelming world, explore possibilities for next steps and find hope.  She writes about taming the overwhelm and reducing stress, looking for ways to motivate, energize and inspire you!  You can sign up to receive her weekly blog or contact her to find out ways you can begin to shed overwhelm and stress.  It’s time to explore possibilities of new relationships, better life pacing and gain hope and peace.

 

5 Ways to Recognize and Reduce Stress

5 Ways to Recognize and Reduce Stress

When you hear the word stress, what comes immediately to mind?  Is it the stress that comes with peak performance, as an athlete in top shape, running the best race of her life? Or the stress that pumps adrenaline into your body as your sprint to catch your child as he falls off the chair?  Do you see stress as your friend or your enemy?

 

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction, or the stress response. The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.

What about you?

Is stress in your life beyond a certain point of being helpful?

Rate the following statements about your life (1 being never to 5 being almost daily) over the last two weeks:

Ways to recognize Stress Never   Often   Almost Daily
I am not sleeping soundly at night 1 2 3 4 5
My shoulders and neck are tense 1 2 3 4 5
I have a reoccurring tension headache 1 2 3 4 5
I have been continually sick and can’t seem to get over it 1 2 3 4 5
I am having trouble concentrating 1 2 3 4 5

If you are experiencing long-term stressful responses (mostly 4-5’s) as the chart above indicates, your body is distributing cortisol and adrenaline at a high rate.  Your brain doesn’t know you’re not in immediate danger and is preparing you for “flight or fight.”

Long term, excess cortisol and adrenaline in your body are linked to a whole host of long-term poor health outcomes for you, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression, gastrointestinal issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome.  Stress is not to be taken lightly.

What are you to do?

Your first step is to acknowledge the presence of stress in your life and pay attention to what part of you is being most affected by the stress response.  Where are you carrying your stress?  Neck and shoulders?  Swirling thoughts?  Knot in your stomach?  Tension headache?  Sleeplessness?

Once you locate the area being affected by the stress response, you can begin to help your body relieve stress in that area, regardless of the stressors, which you may or may not be able to control.

Where do I start?

Adding to an already full plate may feel more stressful.  However, the 5 steps below are baby-step habits to incorporate into your daily life to begin reducing your stress response so that you begin to take your health back.  You have choices – just don’t do everything all at once.  Even one choice can calm your brain and reduce your “flight or fight” stress response.

If you  Then brain-based stress fighters could be:
are not sleeping soundly at night discovering a bedtime routine to calm your thinking – reading, journaling your thoughts, soft music, yoga stretching, and a similar routine each evening to signal to your body it’s time to sleep.  Screen time can excite the brain so stopping an hour before bed is preferable
find shoulders and neck are tense finding gentle yoga and stretching exercises to get blood flowing to those muscles. Also relaxation exercises can help those muscles as well.
have a reoccurring tension headache listening to your reoccurring thoughts before you get your headache.  What thinking preceded your headache?  Is what your thinking an expectation or reality?  What compassion can you have for yourself and the situation that precedes the headache triggers? Check with a doctor to make sure everything else checks out okay.
have been continually sick and can’t seem to get over it listening to your body when you are tired or hurt.  How much have you been pushing?  Give yourself permission to rest and care for whatever your body is telling you it needs
have trouble concentrating pausing for deep breathing exercises throughout the day gives your brain a break. It does wonders for your concentration and mood as you get more oxygen to your body and brain.

These ideas are just the beginning of our journey towards a more simple, less stressful life.  I hope that you’ll explore some of these possibilities to reduce your stress. The future of your long-term health and well-being depend upon it.

I am still looking for more of you help me write good articles for you by filling out in your surveys.  I have gotten good feedback so far and will continue on the emphasis of stress-free living which includes, getting things off our plates, using our time wisely and ways to reduce the overwhelm in our lives.

Let me hear your ideas.  Click on the survey link here if you’ve not already done so. I look forward to hearing from you.

Nancy Booth is a certified life coach and certified brain-based coach.  She loves creating safe spaces for women going through life’s transitions to discover and support their visions for health and well-being in an overwhelming world, explore possibilities for next steps and find hope.  She writes about taming the overwhelm and reducing stress through connecting to yourself and others, possibilities thinking, and brain-based strategies for hopeful living.  You can sign up to receive her weekly blog or contact her to find out ways you can begin to shed overwhelm, explore possibilities and find hope.

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