Category Archives: Caring for Ourselves

11 Jul

Emotional Intelligence, Stress and Emotions

hands of people sitting at a wooden table taking notes

The Power of Psychosocial stress

We often think of outside factors as stress inducers, for example – sitting in traffic, job changes or moving. But psychosocial stress (as in stress in relationships) is cited as one of the top stressors for people when it comes to emotional stress. What research shows is that what people think you of and how you interact with them sometimes really does matter.

Exchanges that are uncomfortable like direct conflict, situations that leave your wondering if you responded correctly, or situations that leave you worrying where you stand with that person can tax your mind and body. Awkward or uncomfortable situations can also lead to more conflict, misunderstandings, and stand-offs, leaving you feel anxious or depressed.

Your body has a natural way of responding to stress, sometimes boldly (for example somatic responses like sudden pain in your stomach or back), or sometimes in more subtle ways (for example, a sudden questioning of self-worth). Other signs that stress is impacting you can be changes in sleep or eating, changes in mood, or losing your temper over small things. Also having an inexplicable lethargy and general lack of motivation, might be signs that someone or some situation is taxing you.   

How does Emotional Intelligence help with the resolution of conflict?  

“Emotional intelligence means being able to read your own and other’s emotions and being able to respond to the emotions of others in a cooperative, functional, and empathetic manner”.

                                                               John Gottman, Ph.D., The Gottman Institute

 

Responding to people and situations is normal for us. We are engaged with the world around us and are permeable as humans; things are bound to impact us. Believe it or not, practicing self-care in those uncomfortable moments is one of the best way to help yourself. The self-care skills here are about learning to regulate your emotions. In other words, be in control of them, not have them hijack you or the situation. Taking charge of our emotions can feel quite contradictory to our instincts, which often tell us to keep doing what we have always done in these type of situations, keep fighting – physically, verbally or psychologically to prove we are right or because of that script playing in our head that says we need to defend ourselves. Those thoughts are often due to fear, which can actually elicit unfounded beliefs. Often, we continue to engage and champion the cause, pushing to make sure we are right and heard. But research in social and emotional intelligence actually shows that practicing vital emotional intelligence skills like empathy, understanding, and patience and are actually better for your mind and body. They allow you to become more aware of your thoughts and responses and in turn, allow you to better control your behavior. They also impact the outcome of conflict in a more positive way.  As counterintuitive as these concepts feel in the moment, approaching the relationship from this perspective can not only make you feel better but also help prevent a negative outcome. Compassion and understanding are also precursors to compromise, which in marriage is a key factor to success.  

“Emotional Intelligence is the measure of an individual’s abilities to recognize and manage their emotions and the emotions of other people, both individually and in groups”.

                                                               TheSkillsYouNeed.com

 

7 ways to handle emotional stress

Take a break. Not forever, just from the situation in that moment. Walk away when things get heated or super uncomfortable.  Break up the tension and go for a walk or ask to “sleep on it” before the yelling starts or before you start to say things you will later apologize for. Give yourself and the other person a change of pace and a chance for a fresh perspective.

Channel your energy through another outlet. Try talking to a friend that can be neutral, supportive and objective. Or try writing things out in a journal. Just write, don’t edit, and get as much out as you can.

Practice mindfulness. This is about taking quiet moments to reflect and think. No, you do not need to sit cross-legged, with palms up chanting “Om” (you can if you want :^) This is more about developing an awareness of your thought process. Learning what triggers you and why, simply by reflecting about it. Observing your thoughts and reactions with curiosity not judgment is a great way to support yourself.

Go for a walk or workout.  Sounds like a distraction but actually exercise has been clinically proven to help with depression and changes in mood. Raising your heart rate pumps blood through your body and into your brain, releasing endorphins, which kicks off a whole other series of chemical responses in your brain. It may not solve the issue itself, but the minute you start working out, you are practicing great self-care by helping your body diffuse the stress and tension out of your body.

Try to dialogue vs. debate. When you return to the conversation, make sure you are both in a calm state. Instead of trying to win the battle and lose the war, try pursuing a dialogue vs. another heated debate. Become a good listener and practice compassion. If what is being said is a trigger for your, don’t say anything, but try really listening from the other person’s perspective, even if you don’t agree with it. Repeat back what they are saying in an understanding way. Then just sit with that. Don’t judge. Keep the dialogue going in an open manner and look for something you can take with you as a learning lesson.

Think before you speak. Why you are engaging with such passion or rigidity to what the person is saying? Do you really need to say it in a way that will be perceived as hurtful or insulting? What can you gain from engaging in battle? Is this topic worth the fight? Is there another way to hold your position and not hurt the other person in the process?

Look from an accountability perspective. What will be the outcome of what you are doing and/or saying? What will you be accountable for in this situation? Is the topic worth fighting over? Is there another way to resolve it or say what you need to say in less harming way?

Next time you find yourself getting heated, try one of these techniques to move towards peace of mind.


Resources:

The Institute for Social and Emotional Intelligence

Types of Stress and Their Symptoms 

Emotional Signs of Too Much Stress

5 Ways to Cope With Emotional Stress 

Tap Into Your Emotional Intelligence to Resolve Conflict

Empathy is the Key to Conflict Resolution or Management 

6 Brilliant Things People With Emotional Intelligence Do Under Pressure

Evolve As A Leader: Top 11 Emotional Intelligence Skills For Improved Business Performance

 

08 Apr

How to Use Positive Affirmations in 6 Easy Steps

note-to-self

It’s so easy to create an affirmation.

But honestly, how often do we actually do this?

I think about it . . .  and forget as life gets in the way.

We move fast in today’s world. Our brains, our thinking, our activities, our agendas. It seems like things are always moving.

But did you know that many experts both in the fields of Psychology and Spirituality recommend slowing things down? At least long enough to relax a bit and gain some clarity and vision about what you want to achieve.

The most successful entrepreneurs have certain habits that help them daily and one of them is to think – alone, and often.

Thinking is the part we take for granted, along with visualizing.

Successful entrepreneurs allot time to think and they do it often.

They also visualize their goals and dreams.

inspirational quote with butterfly

They do vision boards, goal boards, story boards; they set goals and set markers to track performance and achievement. They mark their wins and then turn around and do it again.

And it all starts with thinking and visualizing.

So where do you begin?

Well how about with some positive affirmation?

Positive affirmations are combing the art of thinking with visualizing.

Here’s a quick exercise you can do right now:

  1. Select a word that you like.
  2. Just think about it.
  3. Now picture the word, say it and feel all the warm fuzzy stuff that comes along with it.
  4. Let the images flow for 3 minutes.
  5. Don’t forget to breath and relax!
  6. See what resonates with you, what images peak your interest. Don’t judge, just be with it.

Here are some words to get you started:

Abundance
Peace
Determination
Surrender
Focus
Tranquility
Success
Resilience

Start this as a habit once or twice a day and take note of how you feel afterwards.

Your deepest desires and dreams are already in your head, just waiting to be discovered by you.

The solutions you seek are there. You just have to access them.

Maybe the time to do that is now. Simple affirmations and daily visualization exercises are a clear path to starting that.

Enjoy!

19 Nov

8 Ways Creating a Vision Board Can Help You

photo with collage magazine, inspirational quite and creative imageryy

“So, what is a Vision Board?

It’s you. Your dreams.

Your best Self.

Just waiting to be”.

Christine Kane, Founder, www.VisionBoardPro.com

Creating a Vision Board is a process that helps you tap into your visions, dreams, ideas and goals by physically working in a creative space focused on this process.

It’s more than just talking and thinking.

It’s doing.

Writing or picturing images and putting these thoughts, images and words together helps manifest your highest values, your dreams and deepest desires.

It’s a process. And it helps to designate time and space to it.

Before Creating the board, ask yourself:

  • What is it going to represent, what does it mean to you?
  • What feeling do you want when you look at it?
  • What images will make you feel satisfied with the project?

 

“What is it you want to be, do and have?”

–      Christine Kane

You can create a general Vision Board generally or focus on a specific topic or area of your life. For example:
Goals, Dreams, career, relationship, lifestyle.

inspirational quote with butterfly

8 Ways a Vision Boards can help you:

  1. Create Focus
  2. Gain Clarity
  3. Actively set intentions
  4. Tap into your Inspiration
  5. Offer you an opportunity to tap into another part of yourself
  6. Helps you uncover more layers of you
  7. Connect with your inner voice, your source, your Goddess, and your own inspiration
  8. Provide an opportunity to reflect on your life by connecting with your heart and soul

Creating a Vision Board is often a process that becomes a source of inspiration.

The act of creating a board turns into heart and soul work.

3 reasons why Vision Board workshops are so powerful for people:

  1. You get to practice self-care and spend a whole day attending to you!
  2. You have the opportunity to focus on these dreams, goals and this vision. Yes, all those things that you never quite get around to.
  3. And you have undivided attention on yourself, to get to know yourself better.
  4. You get to designate time to get more focused on those things that are waiting to manifest.

Workshop environments allow you valuable time to walk, think, reflect, and envision.

For more information about Vision Board Workshops I am offering, please visit: Etainservices.com


Resources

What is a Vision Board?

Create a Vision Board for Success

5 Reasons Everyone Should Make a Vision Board in 2018

Why Vision Boards Work

 Books

The Complete Guide to Vision Boards, Christine Kane

My VISION BOARD BOOK, Sebrena L. Flagg-Briggs

YouTube.com

3 Types of Vision Boards for Entrepreneurs

How to Make Your Own Vision Board

 

09 Mar

8 Tools and Tips for Project Completion

overhead photo of desk with open graphics textbook, notebook with pencils, a laptop computer and a cellphone

Are you struggling to get a project or task completed? Sometimes it’s an internal reason, like a feeling of overwhelm or burnout. In today’s world, many of us go full throttle all day long and forget to eat or stop to think if we are actually doing something we enjoy or see if we got enough sleep the night before. Factors like these can definitely impact cognitive and physical performance along with perception. They also impact motivation, or lack of, which keeps us from moving forward.

The other common internal struggle is around that inner dialogue we carry on in our heads.  Yes, all those things we are thinking. Some good, some bad, some helpful, some, not so much.

The good news? Research shows that that dialogue going in your head can actually be good for the brain. It helps organize and complete executive functions, such as decision making and the ability to focus. And research shows that not just any self-talk works, it needs to be positive self-talk.

Yep, that’s the talk that makes you feel good and calm. And then you feel more confident and motivated, which leads to action. So simple, right. Well . . .

Regardless of the reasons why the project isn’t getting done, here are some tips and tools that might help you along the way.

  1. Improve the self-talk. Is your self-talk more negative or positive and empowering? What can you say to yourself to motivate yourself?  Click here to learn about the Happiness Advantage.

    “Research among athletes and students has shown that positive self-talk results in improved performance by a number of measures”.

    AttitudeMag.com

  1. Try a time management tool:
    18 Time Management Tools That Will Skyrocket Your Productivity from HubStaff.com. Or a technique like Time Chunking.
  1. Allow yourself time to think. Take time to plan and organize. To learn more about the Pomodoro Technique, click here.
  1. Collaborate with others.

    “Collaboration is a working practice whereby individuals work together to a common purpose to achieve business benefit”.
    AIIM.org

    Connect with people that you trust and that can contribute to the brainstorming process itself as ideas feed off of each other. Look for those that can add value to a particular niche and are creative.

    Trending now: #sharedworkspace

    The use of shared workspaces is and up and coming office model for the independent solo-preneur. Shared workspaces offer a creative, safe and unique environment where like-minded individuals can meet. With an organic flow of dialogue, it’s much easier to collaborate and support fellow business owners.

  1. Break the project down into smaller projects. Complete one task at a time. And delegate when possible. Here’s a great task management program called Monday.
  1. Or take a break from the project. Do something to get your mind off of it and revisit when you have a fresh perspective. Did you know that only 1 in 3 people actually take a lunch break? (and it wasn’t me today!)

    5 Reasons You Need to Take a Break
    from Quickbooks.Intuit.com.
  1. Check your flexibility index. Flexibility directly influences productivity. Not only in behavior but flexibility in mindset.

    “Harvard economist Claudia Goldin found that careers in which work is substitutable tend to have more flexibility and gender equity”.
    HBR.org

  1. Reward yourself when the task is completed. This guy bought himself a Dodge Viper when he hit his business goals!

 

Have your own ideas or suggestions? Share them in the comment section below! 


References

Why Science Says You Should Talk to Yourself from GetResponse.com

5 Tips for More Productive Self Talk from ChristineHertz.com.

Unleash Your Hidden Productivity: Give Yourself ‘Think Time’ by Chris Winfield on Inc.com. 

7 Steps to Triple your Concentration (And Save your Time) from MindfulnessForSuccess.com.

The Science Behind the Growing Importance of Collaboration from Insight.Kellog.Northwestern.edu. 

Why Collaboration is Crucial to Success from FastCompany.com.

How to Break Down a Massive Project Into Sub Projects from SmallBusiness.Chron.com.

5 Science-Backed Ways Taking a Break Boosts Our Productivity by Kate Bartolotta on HuffingtonPost.com.

The Importance of Breaks At Work from LifeHack.org.

Increase Workplace Flexibility and Boost Performance from the Harvard Business Review on HBR.org.

155 Ways to Reward Yourself for Completing a Goal or Task from DevelopGoodHabits.com.

 

05 Aug

6 Tools to Build Self-Compassion

 

meditation self-compassion

“There is no limit to the amount of compassion that you can develop in your life if you are willing to practice”

                                                                                                 Tim Desmond, The Self-Compassion Skills Workbook

This month I am highlighting one of the few workbooks I’ve ever used. Usually I read a book, cover to cover and then share what I’ve learned in a blog. But with this workbook, I had to complete exercises in each chapter over a 14-day period (hence the name workbook!) It was challenging and quite rewarding. The author of this workbook and I are reaching for the same goal, to offer something useful for you as a reader you can use in everyday life.

So what is this thing called compassion? Compassion is one of those concepts that can be easily misunderstood; it’s very similar to empathy and it sounds like one of those “coined” terms we already know about. The assumption from there is that if we know it, we already know how to and use it, or we already have it incorporated into our way of being. And that may not be true. It’s actually more than just a term or concept, it is a mindfulness technique, and a skill that must first be understood and then practiced. For true compassion to be manifested, it must be practiced in the moment, in our daily activities. 

And why do we need to practice this?

Abraham Maslow eloquently pointed out that we have a complex motivational system at work in us, a hierarchy of needs of sorts: we seek food, clothing and shelter, then safety, and then relationship, where we seek acceptance, validation and love. Ultimately we seek to self-actualize and then self-transcendence. We naturally seek relationship, with our self and with others. We know from studies in psychology that many things happen outside and around us that we interact and respond to but what now we are also learning is that the most important work going on is inside of ourselves. So concepts like self-compassion become really important because they help us learn more and also get along better with ourselves.

One of the tasks in teaching empathy and self compassion is learning to temper the negative, harsh critical voice so many of us have inside our head. Through the modeling of parents and other adults in our lives many receive this training as children. We naturally incorporate behaviors and concepts we see and hear, and then practice them on others. As we learn this skill set, it grows with us as our brain develops cognitively and we develop complex thoughts and feelings along with a healthy form of self-talk. We develop that soft spoken voice that is encouraging, we learn what patience feels like, we learn when to be silent, and we see when to show forgiveness, empathy, warmth or an expression of love.

But not all training is good. Maybe an adult modeled an unforgiving way of handling things in life, so tolerance was never modeled. Or perhaps the family culture had an implicit message embedded in it by modeling a lack of discussion around feelings. As a result emotions were pushed away. Perhaps feelings were seen as a weakness and as a result, they were forbidden and a feeling of guilt around expressing them developed. Maybe conformity was valued or authenticity. And silence praised instead of expression. Or, maybe there was simply an absence of all of this kind of thing, so the scripts in our heads developed on their own. Sometimes the dialogue or voice inside our head isn’t so great. As a result, it’s actually inhibiting or blocking our productivity and happiness. It can almost become a way of being for. We can get used to the limits, and predict the outcomes, which are unsatisfying. Perhaps it impacts sleep or performance at work. Or it’s a subtle saboteur in relationship, always keeping us from what we really want and deserve. It can be negative, judgmental, and unrelenting. Maybe it comes out in an expression of explosive anger at inappropriate times.

When a negative inner voice develops and goes “unchecked” so to speak, it can almost take on a life of it’s own. Although it serves a purpose, sometimes it ends up impeding the work that is trying to be achieved. This voice can actually become painful to listen to. Even if it’s based in fact, the way it’s being expressed and received is unproductive. This form of negative self-talk tends to lead people down a road that actually decreases self-esteem and undermines self-confidence. It can undo trust, damage relationships and effect productivity and performance. An unexpected side effect can be in increase in anxiety; it can actually create an uneasy perspective about the world around us.

The good news is that these scripts and the perspective can be changed. That’s all they are, scripts. Scripts tied to beliefs that are not really true. They are scripts and dialogues that you wrote that you have the power to change. One way to develop healthy scripts and self-talk, is through learning to practice self-compassion.

The idea of what self-compassion is may be a little fuzzy by definition for those of us that don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about it. It’s those moments when you feel impatient or critical of yourself and that soothing voice kicks in to calm the siege inside. It’s that part of yourself that questions something and gently suggests why that really might not be a good idea even though you really want to do it. It’s that nurturing voice that acknowledges when you are sad or suffering and allows the feelings to be experienced and the emotions to flow freely. And it’s that voice inside that forgives you when you’ve made a terrible mistake. It’s part of that inner wisdom people refer to. It’s the cheerleader that always rallies in your corner.

What is the difference between self-compassion, empathy and sympathy? Sympathy is defined as: harmony of or agreement in feeling, as between persons or on the part of one person with respect to another. Empathy is defined as: the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. And Compassion is defined as: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. (Dictionary.com)

The distinguishing feature of compassion is: “to alleviate the suffering”.  If that’s true then we could easily say that self-compassion is the feeling of deep sympathy for ourselves along with the desire to alleviate our own suffering. That means we don’t have a harsh critical voice, but rather a gentle voice with a softer attitude. Not based in fear or anger but rather self love In this we then practice Maitri, loving kindness towards others and oneself

So how do we practice this? Here are 6 tools to help you develop Self-Compassion:

“The root word “buddh” means to wake up, to know, to understand; and he or she who wakes up and understand is called a Buddha. It is as simple as that. The capacity to wake up, to understand, and to love is called Buddha nature. When Buddhists say, “I take refuge in the Buddha”, they are expressing trust in their own capacity of understanding, of becoming awake”.

                                                                                   – Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

 

Awareness – Begin thinking about self-compassion more. Think about times when you have expressed empathy and compassion towards yourself and others. What have you learned about yourself recently?

Mindfulness –Develop a routine for listening to the voice in your head. Do you have time in your day to sit quietly and reflect? What can you do to improve your inner dialogue?

Breathing – I read a book recently that recommended starting each day with 40 deep breaths. Have you ever tried breathing exercises, meditation or yoga? Attention to breathing will not only decrease the experience of stress but also allow the space for reflection and awareness to develop.

Practice self-acceptance – Try a new script when something doesn’t go right. Find the positive and replace the negative. How skilled are you at forgiving yourself?

Embrace suffering –  Not like your looking for things to suffer about but rather just to acknowledge the truth that suffering exists and your suffering may be very real right now. And it will pass. What can you do to nurture yourself during this time?

Cultivate Joy – We must find meaning in our world. Part of this is by embracing the positive and joyful things inside of us, as well as around us. Find joy. For example for me, when I need something uplifting, I hug my children more, or watch funny pet videos on You Tube. Sometimes I look at motivational quotes or go for a walk. Find something that warms your heart and helps make you feel grounded again.

*In his workbook, Desmond offers 8 exercises to help cultivate self-compassion. He reminds readers that embracing suffering and cultivating joy are two points that need to be balanced and offers suggestions how to do this.

In closing, I offer you this on your journey towards happiness:

 

“May you be happy. May you have ease. May you be free. May you be loved”.

                                                                                                Buddhist Meditation, Cited from the Self-Compassion Skills Workbook


Resources

Books:

The Self-Compassion Skills Workbook, Tim Desmond, 2017

Being Peace, Thich Nhat Hanh, 1987

 

Websites:

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs  from Wikipedia.

The Self-Compassion Skills Workbook on Tim Desmond’s website.

Empathy and compassion on Scoop.it.

Developing self-compassion and learning to be nicer to ourselves on Tiny Buddha website.

 

06 Feb

Meditation Made Easy: Some Apps, Books, and YouTube Videos

Last week, I discovered my 9 year old son had fallen asleep with his iPad and earphones, so I asked him about it the next day. He confessed he listens to peaceful music sometimes to help him get to sleep. It sounded like it puts him in a relaxed meditative state. I have to admit I was surprised. As progressive as I try to be, looking up an “app” on a phone to play relaxing music or meditate didn’t even cross my mind. Brilliant! If someone had offered me quick yoga poses or meditations that I could download on my phone while I was at the office, I think my performance and stress level at my past job would have been significantly different. I managed to get through it and performed well but it always seemed much harder and more stressful than it had to be.  Could a simple app like one of these make a difference? The answer is “yes”!

Many of us suffer from worry, stress or anxiety, in various forms at different times of our lives. My sister says “we need all the help we can get”.  And so this month, I am promoting the idea of a support system, instead of the traditional New Year’s Resolution. This promotion is not for an in-person support system, although that’s always helpful, but rather, an electronic one in the form of apps, and YouTube videos. And I’ve thrown in some books, a bit more heady, (about Buddhist practice and philosophy), but helpful in understanding the ongoing and complex relationship we have with our mind. We are naturally complex beings, so even simple things can be difficult sometimes.

Below is a short list of apps for phones, videos on YouTube, and books I have found helpful. I have tried, read and watched all of them. This list is by no means comprehensive or a review/endorsement of the products/services listed, but merely an example of how many resources there are to help us along the way. Additional note:  I usually offer a book recommendation but this month, since the theme is primarily digital, I’ve offered instead, a list of CD’s that are great for meditation and visualization exercises.

Meditation has moved way beyond the iconic image of a Yogi chanting “om” under a tree (with funky guitar music playing in the background). You don’t have to be spiritual or religious to meditate. You also don’t have to commit to anything except yourself, and a minimum of 5 minutes. (It is recommended to not try meditating while driving . . .) Basically if you can breath, you can meditate. Basically, it’s finding a quiet space, a few minutes and breathing. It’s that simple. It can be done in all sorts of ways. Some wake up and meditate; some have a formal routine of going some place to meditate with others. Others do it before bed or during a break while at work.

Meditation has been definitively proven to lower heart rates and decreases the experience of stress a person feels.  It has also been repeatedly found to help individuals find a sense of peace, which can decrease anxiety. The breathing techniques in the meditation process increase oxygen to the brain, effecting the actual synaptic functioning of the brain. Some studies have found that leaders and college students (taking tests) have shown more clarity and decision-making after meditating before an event.

A meditation practice can start anytime. I find if I can take a few minutes (literally 5-10 minutes) to invite a new simple habit it into my busy life, if it’s easy, I like it and it has a reward (like helping me feel better) it’s easier to continue the habit.
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Meditation Resources

Apps to Help You Meditate:

OMG. I Can Meditate! App:
This app has an immediate start with a nice short visual tutorial. It also offers hundreds of meditations for various things a person may be struggling with.
For iPhone: OMG. I Can Meditate! on the Apple Store
For Android: OMG. I Can Meditate! on Google PlayV

Welzen App:
Also user friendly, is subscription based: with a package of 5 free sessions available, the rest are purchase as you go.
For iPhone: Welzen app on the Apple Store
For Android: Welzen app on Google Play

Spotify:
Free and pay subscription options available, user friendly, short meditations.
For all devices visit Spotify.com to download.

Videos On YouTube to Learn Meditation:

Benefits Of Meditation – TOP 6 BENEFITS video by Improvement Pill

How To Meditate For Beginners – A Definitive Guide video by Improvement Pill

How to Meditate and Why Most People Fail video with Noah Elkrief

Books to Explore More:

Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering, Phillip Moffit, 2008, Rodale Publishing, NY

Grace Unfolding, Psychotherapy in the Spirit of Tao-te Ching, Greg Johanson and Ron Kurtz, 1991, Bell Tower, NY

03 Sep

4 Ways to Build Body Esteem

*This article was written with women in mind, but can apply to anyone that has negative self talk.

Body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror. It can include memories you have about your body, or assumptions you make about your body. Body esteem is one part of your body image. Specifically, it’s how you feel about the your own image. This might also include how you feel in your body. Usually it’s a positive or negative image. It’s how you feel about your height, your shape and your weight, along with attributes, like your hair, your eyes etc.

For many us, gaining weight combined with having major changes in our bodies, even during something as important as pregnancy can create feelings of low body esteem.

Here are a few ways to feel good about your body now:

1. Be your own friend!

We all have a positive way and a negative way to think about things. You have a choice in what you think and can choose what to focus on when it comes to your body. Good body esteem means knowing how your body looks today, accepting it, not hating it, and taking action steps to promote a healthy relationship with your body. Thinking constantly about another surgery or what you don’t have, or how you never measure up to someone else is not good body esteem. Don’t denigrate yourself.

Positive image technique: Try starting your day with positive affirmations like: “I am happy with who I am”, or “Today, I see nothing but beauty when I look in the mirror!”

Challenge: Do this for 14 days and see if you notice a difference.

2. Radiate confidence from the inside out.

Studies show confident women feel good about their insides as well as their outsides. If you’re carrying a baby, that’s a big deal. Celebrate that beautiful body you have as a special vessel designed to nurture and support that beautiful gift you are carrying! Affirmations like: “My belly is beautiful and has a beautiful baby inside of it”. Or, “I sure look beautiful pregnant!” can help ease poor self esteem.

3. Accept the changes.

We all know the changes are going to happen. With time, with age etc. . . What the media doesn’t talk so much about is the fact that our bodies are changing all the time. Life = changes. It’s simply how the human body is wired. Get in front of this by creating a positive script in your head to playback when the self-criticism starts. Self talk like “My body is great the way it is”. Or, “my body is changing and I accept the changes” can go a long way.

4. Find one or two attributes and focus on them.

Attributes are qualities you have that you like. Focus on the ones you love. Enhance them, enjoy them and keep the positive talk going in your head. If it’s your nails, keep getting your nails done and fall in love with them again. If it’s your hair, keep trying new things or keep that cut you know you love and feel good about.

Try this: When you feel the critical voice start to kick in, take a deep breath, say to yourself “I don’t want that”, count slowly to 5 while you let your breath out. Repeat this several times, as often as you need to to break the self criticism cycle.

Be a friend to yourself and your body. Model healthy self -esteem and body image for yourself and the women around you, and make life a little easier!


References:

20 Body Positive Affirmations That Could Help Change Your Perception

Body Image

Vain or just paranoid? Women check their reflection EIGHT TIMES a day

6 Things Truly Confident Women See When They Look In The Mirror

What is Body Image?

11 Apr

12 Ways to Relieve Anxiety and Stress

12 forms of anxiety and stress relief to care for ourselves.

Prayer

The beauty about prayer is that you can do this anytime, anywhere. To me, having anxiety while having faith is one of the truest paradoxes of being human. So talk it out. Ask for what you need. Have faith that someone is listening!

If you don’t believe in a higher power, know that your thoughts and prayers are not wasted, they are clearing the way to set your true intention, which is one of the steps that leads to taking action, taking your power back and achieving your dreams.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises help lower heart rate, decrease stress and calm the mind and body. (Meditation exercises also incorporate breathing exercises, which often include the act of focusing on your breath).

Deep Breathing resource:
Example of exercises from Dr. Weil

Also called “relaxation exercises”, this name implies a task which becomes a repeated pattern of behavior. To see and feel results, I recommend trying this for 14 days minimum. They say it takes 21 days to change behavior, so 21 days is also recommended. Incorporate it into your morning exercise routine, or while on a break at work.

Relaxation Exercises resource:
For more information about relaxation exercises, see the Mayo Clinic’s recommends in Relaxation Technique 

Life Coaching

A great way to get support, develop a better understanding of yourself and achieve your goals.

Life Coaching resource:
Check out my website for more information about life coaching.

Meditation

Meditation is a great way to slow things down. Similar to relaxation exercises, studies have shown that a regular pattern of meditation (which includes deep breathing!) can literally change the synaptic functions in the brain. This translates to better use of logic and problem solving skills, and possibly a better outlook on life! It is also a great way to access the wisdom that is inside each of us. You don’t have to be a spiritual guru or someone seeking enlightenment to meditate. You simply just have to have the desire and willingness to try! How much meditation is defined by what is right for your mind, body and life style. Remember, it’s not quantity but quality that counts.

Meditation resources:
A great website that talks about this process is How to Meditate.

Another good read is 5 Reason’s to Meditate by Pema Chodron [PDF Download]

A great book is How to Meditate by Pema Chodron :

Journaling

Talking about what is happening in a safe forum is a great way to relax, think about what is happening, and validate how you are feeling.

Journaling resource:
Life Hack has a great article on how 6 Ways Journaling can Change your Life.

Aromatherapy

I think this name makes the experience and process sound much more formal than it really is. Also called “alternative medicine”, I thought you had to take a class in it to be versed but what I found out was that basically you can light a scented candle and you are practicing aromatherapy, lol! Phew! It’s anything that offers scents and healing, for mind, body and spirit. Buy some scented oils or a peppermint foot scrub and you’re on your way!

To this industry’s credit, there are many ways to offer healing and relaxation for the body, as well as many professionals trained in this area. How would it feel to promise yourself a warm bubble bath with lavender scented bubbles in candle light with soft music in the background? What are you waiting for? You deserve it!

Aromatherapy resource:
Find out more on Aromatherapy.com.

Counseling

Our culture has developed a stigma about counseling, but you don’t have to have something “wrong” with you to see a counselor.

Freud actually started working with clients simply to bring the unconscious into consciousness. Some of the clients he wrote about had a certain pathology that happened to interest him, which became more well known. But they were not all of his clientele.

Therapists now-a-days offer a myriad of short and long term therapy options to offer support. It’s ok to learn about yourself and better your life.

Good therapy can help relieve anxiety, and address the negative impact stress and anxiety can bring about on the mind and body. It’s wear and tear you don’t need. If you are suffering from ongoing and/or severe anxiety, therapy is a great way to help yourself. You can get ongoing support and resources to relieve the symptoms and keep them at bay!

Many insurance carriers cover therapy costs now (often with a copay). You won’t know if it works until you try!

Exercise

I think we all know the benefits of exercise on the mind and body, ad naseum. Yes, it’s good for the heart, as well as, the mind! AND how quickly we can let this practice go, only to be replaced by our love of eating and watching tv . . . or making excuses. As the old Nike ad used to say “Just Do It!”

Perhaps it’s time to find a new form of exercise. And if you can get outside to do it, even better! Researchers are now studying the positive effects of nature on the brain. Go meditate with a tree! Or by a tree . . . or hug a tree . . .

An yoga/walking exercise resource:
For those that can’t turn their thoughts off while they walk, try a Walking Meditation:

Creative Visualization

One of my favorite authors is Shakti Gawain. Her book on “Creative Visualization” is one probably one of my top 5 favorite books of all time, that I frequently recommend to people. The idea of focusing on intention and visualizing what you want is paramount to achieving your goals. Visualizing is an active mind exercise that helps you clarify what your goal is. This is the primary tool (next to prayer and meditation) I use to help me better understand myself, get clear about my goals and manifest them into physical form. I can’t recommend this book enough.

Creative Visualization resources:
Find out more about the author, Shakti Gawain on her website.

Read more about the author and her other well known book in this Huffington Post article by BJ Gallagher.

Hobbies and Interests

When was the last time you sat down and focused on something fun?

One of the tasks when doing meditation or relaxation exercises is to be present in the moment. In this moment now. A great way to do that is to focus your thoughts and energies on a hobby or interest. One preferably that does not include media (easy to get distracted!).

Things like gardening, sports, reading, flying a plane, making a sculpture, cooking a meal, etc are the things that interest you and can provide a break from that nagging in your mind.

Literally, the medicine here is to get your mind off of it! You know yourself the best. What interests you?

Get a Hug!

Some day I would like to create a foundation and call it “the Hug Foundation” and I will get all the people around the world that like to give hugs moving into action giving hugs. Wouldn’t that be glorious? Think of all the healing that could happen! In the meantime, take a small step for yourself or for someone else, ask for a hug!

Connect with a Friend

When was the last time you went out lunch with a friend?A business lunch doesn’t count (unless you’re using it as a tax ride off :^)

As humans, we need to connect, we need to talk, express ourselves, hear what’s going in with others, tell our stories, laugh and have fun. We not only require that to live, but to live a balanced life.

The most successful people I know frequently talk about their relationships, not only because it’s valued support which has helped them get them where they are, but good healthy relationships bring a balance into our every day living.

Take your partner out to dinner. Go for a walk with a friend. Ask for time with your child. Go have coffee with an in-law. Put the phone away and connect.

The internet is filled with creative souls who have put together published lists of ideas for things to do! Some of these lists have saved me as a parent countless times!

For an example here’s a great list of 50 Things to do for Free or Cheap.

Copyright 2019 Etain Services.