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.

Behind the Scenes at Nancy Booth Coaching

Behind the Scenes at Nancy Booth Coaching

There are some changes taking place at Nancy Booth Coaching that I hope will be of benefit to you and your well-being. I want to be sure I am writing blogs that meet your needs as you fight overwhelm in your life and look to get healthier and more hopeful.

First, since we have been talking about vision boards, I thought  it would be fun to share my vision board in my move towards supporting women and my personal vision of no sugar!!  As you see in the above vision board, I am focused on vision, inspiration, turning darkness into light, joy, connecting with my family and peace among other things.

For me, I want to create safe spaces, such as retreats, for you as a professional woman who is feeling overwhelmed in your life and to change those overwhelmed feelings and disconnectedness.  Problems shared are problems cut in half.

I, then, want to provide a variety of opportunities for us to explore possibilities that lessen your overwhelm and worry load.  I envision us working together to discover action steps and habits that make your life more healthy and hopeful.  Finally, in finding hope, I think you’ll see a noticeable difference in your well-being.  I certainly have over the past two years.

What is overwhelming you right now?  Too much to do in too short a time?  Not enough energy and feeling tired all the time?  Feeling the world is out to get you?  Thinking your home, work, life is so disorganized there’s no end in sight?  Beating yourself up for the umpteenth time for not doing x,y,z?

I used to live in a continual overwhelmed state.  I am currently healthier than I have been in the last two years. A lot of that has to do with learning self-care, exploring brain-based wellness strategies and giving myself permission to care for myself.

Nancy’s Desk

However, some habits die hard.  My current overwhelm comes in the form of organization. Here is a picture from my office desk.  I still have so many ideas running through my head that I go from one pile to the next.  I am working towards systems that have me list my top three tasks for the next day.

So behind the scenes at Nancy Booth Coaching, I am working on research and topics that will hopefully support us in our quest to shed different types of overwhelm and live a more hopeful, joyful life, regardless of our circumstances.  With my background in brain-based coaching, and all the research going on in neuroscience, I am excited to look at how my writing, retreats, coaching and workshops may support you in brain-based wellness and hopeful living.

What about you? What are the causes of overwhelm in your life?  Over the next two weeks, I hope to be contacting you, my readers, for advice and feedback on several items including:

  • What your current overwhelm challenges are?
  • What areas of self-care and wellness are most challenging and of most interest to you?
  • What is your vision of well-being for the next few years?
  • What types of formats do you like information in, ie blog, newsletter, topical videos or e-books? Or additional learning – face to face workshops, online groups, e-courses at your leisure, coaching?

I will announce the results of my findings on March 9th with the roll-out of of my new emphasis on brain-based wellness and self-care to lessen the overwhelm in your life.

See you in two weeks!

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 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.

 

How Does Your Hope Garden Grow?

How Does Your Hope Garden Grow?

Finding ways to grow your hope can be like growing a garden. Hope can come in many different packages and grow in different ways.  The definition of hope includes:

  • a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen
  • a feeling of trust.
  • want something to happen or be the case.
  • intend if possible to do something.

All of these definitions could look like different flowers in a garden, depending on what you need at the present moment.  Are you desiring a change in your career or move into retirement?  Are you hoping that you can trust someone more?  Or are you hoping something about your life will be different – better health perhaps, but you’re not sure?

I have had coaching conversations lately with women who are on the verge of sprouting new hopeful ideas. They are moving into new ways of living.  We have discussed their initial hopes and dreams which feel like little sprouts, tender and green.

How do you go about planting your garden of hope?

Till the soil.

Sometimes before hope for a different life, or a different career or even a different day, you are in the dark.  You have to begin to dig the soil around you, break up the hard dirt and get it ready for the hopes and dreams to sprout.  Tilling may include examining your mindsets – what is causing you to be stuck or feel hopeless?  What do you need to do to get the right ingredients in the soil so that it’s ready to plant?  Sometimes it’s a question such as “How would I like my life to be different?”

Examine the seeds.

Begin to explore all the different seeds you might want to plant.  Research your possibilities for change.  What is the one thing, that if you did this thing, would start you moving forward to other positive changes in your life?  What do you want to be?  What do you want to do?  What do you want to have?  These are the vision questions to help you examine seeds of hope you can plant.   Is it a career change?  Is it a lifestyle change?  Is it the way you think about yourself on a daily basis?

Choose seeds to plant.

Start your hope garden by creating a vision board or a picture of what your garden could look like.  Then choose what seeds to plant.  For example, one client I am working with has decided to move forward with a career change.  That’s a large seed to plant.  However, as she nurtures and lets it grow slowly, she’s excited to see what kind of beautiful flower will grow from it.

Care for the seed and sprout tenderly.

The seed of hope is tender.  When any change is being explored, you have to keep weeds pulled, like “What am I thinking- I can’t do this?”  or “This is too hard, I don’t know what I’m doing.”  Or letting other people’s comments trample on the tender shoot “What do you mean you’re changing jobs?”

Ask for help in tending your hope garden.

Tending a garden can be a challenge. You are working, watching and waiting.  You can be pulling weeds, watering the hope and waiting for it to grow.  By watching for changes in hope, you feel the strength growing within yourself.  It’s okay to ask for a community of helpers to support you as you tend your garden.  They may like to walk in the hope garden with you and admire the growth.

I know the plans I have for you plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

Growing your hope garden takes time, energy, sunshine and patience.  The change that hope brings, even day to day will bloom for a lifetime.  I would love to help you find and tend your hope garden.  Let’s get those sprouts growing.

 

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 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.
Real Life Word of the Year Stories

Real Life Word of the Year Stories

In January, I wrote about the Word of the Year choosing me.  I wondered at the time how peace, the word that choose me would manifest itself in my life.  I am such an easily distractible woman, I could easily have forgotten what my word is by now. However, since my word chose me, it has seemed to stick around and come up in different ways.  I wondered if that was true in real life for others as well.

For me,  I realized I am feeling more peaceful and contented.  As I was going to church this past Sunday morning, the sun was rising and I was overwhelmed with the feelings of gratitude, peace and the realization of feeling healthy and whole.  Those emotions brought tears to my eyes.  Being fully present to notice God’s fingerprints in my life has has brought the feeling of peace on a more day to day basis.

I also recently returned from a quarterly retreat where I have been meeting with the same people over the past year and a half.  How encouraging for some to say to me, “You seem more peaceful.”  I am glad that the peace I am feeling on the inside is manifesting itself on the outside.

I know my marriage is showing it.  We are getting along so well right now.  He is more attentive, listening to me, and encouraging.  Think it has something to do with the way I am interacting with him?  Hmmm…..

I decided to gather some real life stories to see if they were noticing any differences in their lives, even in six weeks.  I have been encouraged by their stories.  It is so amazing to hear what happens when we get a vision and begin to get intentional about that vision.

For example, one coaching friend of mine told me her word chose her.  Her word is “purge”.  She said she certainly wouldn’t have chosen that word on her own. She wrote:

“The word I got (notice I don’t use the word chose) is Purge. I said I would take that word for January and then see what came next. Well, there’s still a ton of stuff to purge from my office, my basement, my house in general. I’m also finding that I need to purge some old thinking and old outdated perspectives. So, whether I like it or not, the word purge is here for a while. “

We laughed about God’s sense of humor and how He knows what we need and when we need it.

Another client of mine wanted a word of the year and was struggling to find it.  She toyed with the word, abundance, yet it didn’t seem to quite fit.  After a sermon at church one morning, it came to her – “light”.  –“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”  She wrote,

After much thought, prayer, and consideration, the word “lightAmanda's family 1came to me. In the past few weeks I’ve been shown and reminded so often of “light” now. It’s come to me in verse, in the form of actual “light” in the darkness, as awareness to something new, or as a bright, warm, positive moment, such as with my family. “

She has commented that even her colleagues at work are noticing her happier and lighter.

Finally, in a lunch conversation I was having with a fellow educator and mom, I asked her about her word, which was focus.  She said that word came to her as I was asking about the word of the year on a facebook post.  At first, she discounted that much had changed.  As we talked though, she realized that in the mornings, when out walking the dog, she focused on enjoying the present moment. She then came into the morning routine with her three boys in a much more focused state of mind.  She had to choosen not to project herself into the day ahead.

“Baby steps,” she said. “Their morning routine doesn’t change. I still have to remind them to get up. We still have to get out the door at a certain time. It is just how I approach them in my calm, focused state that changes.”

These are observations of four women after six weeks.  What will happen in six months?  I don’t know but I’m excited to find out how God will move and work.

It’s never too late to start your word.  Ask for what vision or intent is needed in your life.  Or allow me to come alongside you. We can start a conversation, first.  I would love to help you get intentional in discovering your vision, exploring possibilities and finding the hope for a better 2017.

 

Nancy Booth is a certified life coach and certified brain-based coach.  She loves creating safe spaces for women, especially educators 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 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.

4 Steps to Start Combating Overwhelm

4 Steps to Start Combating Overwhelm

The month of January is almost over!  How is that battle on overwhelm going?  Did you make New Year’s Resolutions to fight it?   What were they?  Eat healthy?  Exercise daily?  Go to bed at a decent hour? Spend less time on Facebook? How is that working for you?

If you are like me, you set good intentions at the beginning of the month and now with 26 days in, those good intentions have evaporated or become overwhelmed with daily living.  How do you combat overwhelm without beating yourself over your failures?  The following 4-step process can lift overwhelm in a way that can improve your chances of a more balanced life approach.

The following steps help you focus on what you need to leave behind in your thinking and surroundings and what you need to take with you into your surroundings.    Notice what you want to leave behind and begin to shed the fear/flight response.  Replace that thinking and feeling  with more positive thoughts and feelings, like joy, peace, gratitude and become intentional about what you are taking with you as you move forward into the future.   These positive feelings in return build resiliency.

Step 1 – How can you get quiet in order to do some reflecting?

You will need to have some time to get yourself quiet.  I know that’s the first challenge. Start by noticing your breathing to help you get quiet. Is it shallow and rapid?  If so, can you take some deeper breaths and slow it down a little?  Just by noticing your breathing you can pause a moment and be refreshed.   Your brain thinks so much more clearly with more oxygen.

Step 2- What are you grateful for in your life right now?

If that is a hard question for you to answer right now because you’re feeling so overwhelmed, start with the basics, breathing or what you see around you.

Take a few minutes to reflect upon what is really working well in your life right now.  If someone asked you what you are grateful for and would want to celebrate, what would you tell them?

Notice what you are wearing.   Notice the colors and textures of what you are wearing.  How do they feel?  How do they look?  What about them can you be grateful?

Step 3   What mind chatter is going on that you need to leave behind?

How often do you really stop to listen what you are saying to yourself?  I was surprised when I was asked to keep a small journal of my thoughts.  I was sooo judgmental of others in my head.  I wasn’t saying it to others but I sure had a running dialogue going of how I thought others should be behaving and acting.  What an energy waster!

What is weighing you down?  What is it about your thinking or emotions, or physical surroundings that you want to leave behind and not continued to expend energy towards? Are you sitting in physical or mental clutter?  What can you do about that?  Are you cold?  Any changes you can make to your comfort level?  What is in your control to leave behind so your thinking and feeling can be more joyous and free?  Begin to note little things that you can leave behind and not pick up again.   It will take intentionality and practice!

Step 4   What thinking and feelings will you take with you?

Once you begin to see what you want to leave behind and shed of your overwhelm, you’ll be surprised at what you notice you want to take with you.  For example, when I realized I was being so judgmental, I began to take with me more grace and compassion for myself first of all, and then for others.  I took with me acceptance of reality and let go of expectations.  I truly believe taking acceptance of reality with me was a huge step in my recovery of anxiety.  “It is what it is.”

I am also taking with me a focus on the present moment.  My grandchildren are teaching me a lot about that.  They notice little details and delight in the smallest things.  I want to take with me a focus and joy about the moments in my life.  By doing so, I am actually changing my brain pathways and building joy responders.  Great reason to enjoy my grandchildren, right?

 

What about you?  How can you begin the practice of leave behind and take with?  I can’t wait to hear how you begin to explore possibilities and find more hope in coming out from under your overwhelm.

 

 

Nancy Booth is a certified life coach  and certified brain-based coach.  She loves creating safe spaces for women, especially educators 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 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.

 

3 Ways to Handle Christmas Anticipation

3 Ways to Handle Christmas Anticipation

One of the biggest holidays of the year is almost here.  Is your to-do list almost your done list? What are you anticipating in the next few days?  Family? Flurry? Stress? Joy? Sadness? Anxiety? How are you handling the “It’s almost here”?  How does anticipation effect you?

The definition of anticipation is the action of anticipating something, an expectation or prediction.  You are looking forward with expectancy, excitement or even suspense.  Depending on your prior experience with the Christmas season, you may be experiencing all these emotions.  Or if this is a Christmas season of transition, you are in anticipation of not knowing and that brings suspense and anxiety.

As you look at the next few days before Christmas and find yourself disconnected from the season or in a state of overwhelm or even joyously anticipating the day, consider the following three ways you might handle the anticipation of Christmas and all your emotions associated with the next few days.

Create Some Space

cup20161222_044603Even though you feel like you may be running around like a chicken with her head cut off, or your space is unbearably quiet, create some safe space for yourself where you can be still.  What is your heart’s anticipation? What are your emotions?  How does God see the upcoming few days?  Take a cup of your favorite beverage, sit quietly and breathe.  I find when I sit at the feet of Jesus and ask Him how He sees what I am facing, I get insights into my emotions.  I want to go into my Christmas with open hands and open heart, anticipating that He will guide me, not my emotions.  I don’t want to miss anything He has for me.

Explore the Possibilities

This year is a transitional year for us, as we will be celebrating with most of the family after Christmas Day.  My daughter and her son will be here part of the day, but my husband and I may be by ourselves for part of Christmas Day.  That looks very different than years past.  What that could look like for my husband and I?  Go to a movie?  Eat out for supper?  Invite other friends over?  I haven’t decided yet as I am still exploring possibilities.  I am anticipating what my own needs may be for that day – rest, family fun, church, since it is a Sunday.  How does what I want play into others’ expectations of a traditional Christmas meal?

What about you?  What possibilities and choices do you have coming up?  If family are far away, what friends can be family that day?  If this is the first Christmas after losing a loved one, how can you change things up?  If the holiday is usually stressful, what choices do you have to alleviate some of the stress?  Stand back and look at your life as if you were looking at it from a distance.  What advice would you give yourself?

Find Hope

I pray that God, the source of all hope, will infuse your lives with an abundance of joy and peace in the midst of your faith so that your hope will overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 The Voice

navtivity20161222_044249-1So in this Christmas season, where do you find hope?  My prayer is that you are looking to God for your hope, in the midst of whatever you are facing.  As the angel told Mary before the birth of Jesus, “So the impossible is possible with God”. Luke 1:37

What impossible are you anticipating for the Christmas?  Give it to God and see what happens.  I will be praying for my readers and would love to pray for your specifically.  You can send me a private message on my facebook page NancyBooth Coaching if you would like me praying for you.  He loves you and wants to join in your anticipation of Christmas for the impossible.

Merry Christmas!

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.

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