Author: Rebekah Burke

Manage your Anxiety by Managing your Time

I find that when I encounter someone who is type A, or high strung, that they always seem to be on the go. There is always something to do or somewhere they need to be. Regardless as to how they use their time and how many things they knock off their to-do list there is always sometime more on there.

We have been talking a lot recently on how rework your priority list, examining habits to see how they serve you and contribute to your day to day functioning. I want to spend today looking a bit more specifically on time management. How are you using your time? Are the things you do on a daily basis serving you well, contributing to your day or are they nervous habits? Things you do because you are anxious or stressed out?

schedule

  • Look at your calendar, check out your day’s schedule and see how much you do each day.
  • On a scale of 1-10 rate how frantic you feel during the day – 1 being relaxed and 10 being VERY frantic.
  • List the accomplishments you have each day. What things did you get done today?
  • Compare how well your level of frantic matches your level of productivity.

Now please be realistic. If you feel very stressed or anxious (putting yourself at a 8 or higher) then it is completely appropriate for you to give yourself permission to cool off a bit and relax.

A level of activity between a 5-7 is fairly healthy when you are accomplishing a lot of things. When you are feeling like a 5 or 7 and you have a small list of little accomplishments then you might need to rethink how you are spending your time. Cut out some of the nervous habits and do something that will serve you better.

When you feel like you are below a 5 then you have reached a level of relaxation or calm that most people don’t reach on a regular basis.  Enjoy that! If this is you and you aren’t getting the things you need to get done accomplished then consider the benefit of not addressing your responsibilities. Maybe you really don’t need to get much done and you are able to relax. But that isn’t the case for most of us. If you are below a 5 and you are accomplishing all or most of your goals please share with us how you make that happen – that is a huge success!

This is all to help you do what you need to do everyday without feeling overwhelmed or worn out. In order to do that you need to start with a clear baseline picture of how you spend your time, what you can say you get done during your day, and how you feel at the end of it all.1

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

To Panic or Not to Panic

Here’s the scenario:

Woman has been running to and from meetings all morning and as she drives halfway across town to make it to all of them. As she is finishing up lunch at home and on her way back out for meeting #5 of the day she realizes that she can’t find her wallet in her bag. Or her coat pocket. Or her car. She scours the house and the car, looking everywhere it could possibly be and she cannot find it anywhere. Wallets have important things in them like driver’s licenses, health insurance cards, credit cards, etc. An identity essentially. So in a last ditch effort she calls her supervisor to see if he sees it around the office. He checks and puts the word out for co-workers to look as well but the wallet hasn’t turned up.

There are two ways to respond to this situation. She can panic – total melt down and freak out. Cancel her afternoon/evening appointments and look all over town to see if she can find the missing wallet. While driving frantically she can call and cancel all of the cards and start requesting duplicate cards for the health insurance.

OR she can collect herself, make it through the rest of the day and hope that someone either locates the wallet and turns it in, or she can begin to cancel things and work on replacing the licenses and other cards later that evening/tomorrow morning.

That is a hard place to be, to have to decide if you are going to let your natural instinct to panic take control or if you are going to keep it together long enough to make it through the task at hand. What is more important and needs your full attention? There isn’t a right or a wrong answer when you are faced with a crisis situation. What matters is how you handle yourself and whether or not you are able to keep some shard of logic or reason while you work through the crisis.

  • Evaluate what is truly within your control and what steps you can actually take at the moment.
  • When you know what you can reasonably do, do that and handle the rest when the current task is completed.
  • Do something that helps keep you calm – keeping your mind busy with something productive, taking deep breaths, talking to someone, etc.

Crises come up at the most inconvenient times but when we can maintain control over ourselves we can handle the situations well and effectively – and you’ll know what to do next time incase the situation presents itself again.1

 

AND I found my wallet! This was definitely me yesterday – hot tip: check your email. A co-worker who didn’t have my phone number emailed me to let me know she had it.

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

Changing Your Ripple Effect

A good friend of mine lost someone this week. Max Gjerde. My friend and Max went to school together, Max was diagnosed with a rare from of soft-tissue cancer shortly after they both graduated from Transylvania University in Lexington KY. I never knew Max, but the impact he has had on those around him is a legacy that speaks mountains of the generosity and compassion that this man had for others.

After reading this article and briefly hearing from my friend about Max and what he was passionate about, I really feel like I need a priority check. In the last days of his life Max was concerned for others and was an encouragement to the people he came in contact with. He was really an inspiration.

rippleAnd that has me asking, what do I do to encourage and inspire others? Is that even a priority? It is so easy for all of us to get caught up in the hustle and bustle that we don’t pause and reconsider the ripple we are sending out in to the world and what consequences that will create.

Max wasn’t a ripple, he was a wave. The fact that I am even thinking about how I can be more compassionate, more encouraging – that is the consequence of his unwavering strength of spirit! But what do I do about it? What does anyone do when they are placed in front of a mirror and asked to reflect on how others see them and how they see others?

We have to decide. Are we comfortable with the way we impact others? Are we content with the knowledge that we could have a more positive impact if we adjusted our focus or put in a little more effort?

  • What is your legacy?
  • How do you impact and reach others?
  • What does your ripple effect look like?

Let today be a day of reflection. Take a look inward and see where you think you might want to move forward from here, how you might want to start reaching out.1

*If you are interested in reaching out to others in a way that would honor Max, please consider donating to his favorite charity 3 Little Birds 4 Life. You can make a donation in his name by clicking here.

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

No Time Like the Present

save-the-dayThere is never any better time to start doing something than right now. That saying “No time like the present” is especially targeted to the things that wind up on our priority list but never quite make it to the top. You know what I mean, the diet you will start on Monday (until Monday arrives and then it is postponed another week), the pile of bills you need to sort through that isn’t addressed until the final seconds, the paper you have known about all semester and are just now thinking about. We all have our own version of putting things off and waiting just a little bit longer to get up and do whatever it is that needs our attention.

With this time of year there are many things that are on their way to winding down and tons of others that are ramping up. School is getting ready for the finals season, plans for family gatherings are in the works and ready to reach a frenzy, and if you are in any kind of marketing or retail you know that January and February deadlines are near or already past.

So what gets prioritized and what gets pushed back a week or two?

Is there something that you have been wanting to do for yourself to help manage all of this commotion? Is there something you can’t put at the top of your “to-do” list because it just doesn’t contribute to the mountain of things you feel you need to do?

Here is a new spin for you if you aren’t able to operate at 100% then it is impossible for you to be able to give your best to the things that you label high priority.  When you are stressed it is important to put yourself on a priority list and give yourself the attention you need. If you aren’t stressed yet then there is not better time to get a head start at helping your body and mind work at 100%.

Do something great for yourself and be able to work more productively and sustainably. When we are stressed or anxious about the mountain of things we have to do then we aren’t able to work as efficiently or as expertly as we are able. So, there is no time like the present. And you can run with this in one of two ways. You can seize the moment to be proactive in taking care of your self OR you can get a move on that low priority thing that has been looming over you for the past few weeks.1

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

Habits – How Do They Serve You?

coffeeMy most prized kitchen appliance is my Keurig, I have 2 different French press systems and I refer to coffee as the “elixir of life.” You can imagine how devastated I was upon reading an article yesterday about how drinking coffee before 9:30 in the morning is not ideal for your body’s alertness and is less effective in keeping you awake during the day. I was mortified and slightly angry, the author obviously didn’t know that coffee transforms me from the bleary-eyes sleep monster that crawls from the depths of my covers to the radiant human being that sits before the general public. I will have my coffee when I wake up. And I’ll drink it too!

But my response to this new information on my most prized morning ritual opens a door to other habits in my life that I have let go unaccounted for and uncheck for a very long time. We all have habits that at one time served a function. At one time they were beneficial to our everyday life, were protective from some threat, or maybe the habit was just a point of comfort.

So here is a challenge for you:

Examine your habits.
From as small as you put the toothpaste on the toothbrush before getting it wet to as big as You scope out the corners of a restaurant to make sure there is an open table before agreeing to eat there.

Pick one that you want to focus on.
Choose wisely, you might find that the habit needs some altering or to end all together.

Discover the source of your habit.
Why do you map out all of the emergency clinics/emergency rooms in the area before going to an unfamiliar place. Does that come from your experience of panic? Were you in need of a hospital at one time and were far away from help?

Reevaluate the habit.
Is this still a necessary part of your life? Do you need to let go of this habit for a lifestyle that better serves you or do you need to alter the existing habit so that it is more appropriate for your current situation?

While you practice your challenge I am going to do mine to! I have multiple habits – a lot actually – that go back years that I have no good reason for engaging in right now but I still do it. Time to shake this off and live better. This is a moment to live more efficiently and comfortably. Give yourself a chance to improve a small area of your life and see how that impacts everything else!1

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

Mantras

mantraHave you ever heard of mantras? When I hear that word I think of some weird pep talk I need to give myself in order to get the confidence I need to be able to do something. Honestly I think the word sounds a little cheesy and I get this picture in my head of someone sitting cross-legged on the floor in some meditation pose, eyes closed, muttering the same sentence over and over again in some singsong voice. If this is you – own it! If I sit on the floor with my eyes closed for more that 2 seconds I am prime target for a dog-tackle, so I have to find a safer way to use my mantra.

I’m off topic. Mantras are all about finding one or two simple sentences that define you. Not necessarily the “you” you are now but the “you” you are trying to become. The person you are striving to be everyday. Maybe this is the beginning of this journey for you; you haven’t started changing your actions, your thoughts, your everyday patterns but you kind of want to. You know there is something more for you. So find a mantra!

This is an activity that takes some time and some thought. Find what it is that you want for yourself. The kind of person you want to wake up and be every day. If you struggle with compassion towards other you might say something like:

I am cultivating a kind heart; I am looking for opportunities to be gracious and compassionate to others around me.

Or if you are trying to reduce your anxiety and level or stress you might say:

I am moving towards peace and calmness in my everyday life, I am relaxed in moments of stress and I am able to work through my worry.

Mantras don’t need to be fancy or eloquent. It is however it will speak to you. If it needs to be a simple as:

I am not a worrywart, and I don’t let stress get the better of me.

The idea here is to have a positive intention or focus to your mantra. This is something you are moving toward or trying to increase in your life, not what you are moving away from or trying to decrease. It is completely appropriate to look at the things you don’t like about your life to get a base for what you want to increase but don’t dwell there – you are in the process of moving toward something more positive, not just bashing the negative you see in your life.

notesonmirror

This is excessive but you get the idea.

After you have your mantra say it to yourself every day at least once. You can write it on a card and put it on your bathroom mirror. Put it on a piece of paper in your car or your wallet. Where ever you will see it everyday and every time you see it read it out loud to yourself. Own it! This is you! And if you can sit on the floor and meditation style repeat it to yourself more power to you!

Enjoy this process. Not only are you working on getting to know the person you are working to become but you are also giving yourself the tools to get there.1

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

Celebrate Your Life

diadelosToday is the last day of Dia de los Muertos and I am on a hunt for pan de muerto.  That is a traditional sweet bread that is eaten on the holiday. You can find out the basics of what you need to know on Wikipedia, but the gist is that this is a celebration of life.  Families honor their children, honoring the innocents in their lives, and spend countless hours making shrines and gifts for those in their family that have passed, honoring and celebrating their lives and the family’s heritage.

A lot of the symbols of Dia de los Muertos are the same as Halloween, with skulls and bones and children dressed up but everything is so colorful and bright.  The family has a time to come together and remember where they came from. This all has me thinking about my family history and how little I celebrate the lives of those who have come before me. The work they put in to build the family that I enjoy today. And how do I celebrate life? This presents a great opportunity to be mindful of life and living well.

When I say living well I don’t mean being uber healthy or going the extra mile every day. I really mean honoring yourself and the life that is yours. How do you do that? Do you have a moment tucked away in your day, your week, where you can really honor yourself and recognize that you are worth celebrating?

Sometimes this may create feelings of guilt. “I don’t have the time or resources to honor myself and that would be wasteful.” Or “To honor myself would be arrogant or prideful, and that’s not the kind of person I am.” But honoring yourself, celebrating life and the life that you live can be a simple as not doing something that would be harmful to you, like staying late at work every day this week instead of spending time with your family and recharging for the next day. Deciding to take some time to read a book you enjoy or that is inspirational to you instead of neglecting your need for relaxation.

We all have moments where we can decide to honor ourselves or to put that celebration of self, of life, on the back burner. It is always on the “to-do” list but never at the top. Prioritize yourself and honor your life today! I know I am going to do some digging and honor my heritage today too.1

Quien con la esperanza vive, alegre muere. (He who lives with hope dies happy.)

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

Masking Your Nervous Self

maskLast night was Halloween and of course everyone gets dressed up and pretends to be someone else. It is so fun to see how excited kids get when they decide on a costume and even more excited when they get to put it on! One little boy I know dressed up as a ninja and he owned his new identity. As soon as he put on his suit he stopped talking (and this kiddo is a chatter box!) and went into stealth mode. He was rolling from room to room and slipping into doorways without a sound. He slipped on his costume and he truly became another person.

We all do that sometimes. We wear masks to help us get through different situations. Sometimes the “mask” is as literal as putting on your pair of power shoes to give you the confidence to get through a presentation or a meeting. It can be a new identity you try to take on as you go into a social event that regular Harold wouldn’t be able to get through but “Harry,” the life of the party has no problem.

  • How many different versions of yourself to you have?
  • How do they serve you?
  • What do they help you accomplish?

Different triggers and situations demand new kinds of action from us and pull from different areas of our strengths. Sometimes the “everyday” version of us can rise to the occasion and sometimes that doesn’t seem like enough. We need to pull in someone else that can carry us through, so we put on our mask and assume some other identity. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t able to take care of business on your own, after all the mask is really just another side of you. It is simply shifting your skills and strengths to accomplish a task and also serves a protective function to preserve the you that feels vulnerable.

Examine what situations or events require you to put on a mask – or what situations you might be able to get through more gracefully if you started using a mask. What strength do you need to pull from and who do you need to become in order to be the best you that can get through the moment. This is an exciting moment where you can discover how to best take care of you in uncomfortable and anxiety-provoking situations. And it can be as simple and putting on a pair of shoes or becoming Harry instead of Harold for a few minutes.1

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

Slumps and Silver Linings

Sometimes your day just sucks and there doesn’t seem to be anything good about it. One thing happens after another and a day that seemed to just get off on the wrong foot is suddenly ruined. Bad days can turn into bad weeks and there you go. You are in a slump.

the_silver_lining_by_ducky108-d36pu7c

Slumps (or funks as my dad likes to call them) are hard to get out of and uncomfortable to explain to others. Family and friends notice you are “off” and ask you about it – and then what do you say? Some will explain it away as not getting outside enough; some will say they have been under the weather. Whatever your explanation or the thing that got you in your slump, the best way to get out of the slump is to intentionally find your sliver lining.

Throughout your day, as terrible as your slump day may feel, I will be bold and say that not everything IS terrible and that there are a few shining moments where things are not as bad as all that. Find those moments. Give your attention to them – highlight what that means to your day. I think you will find that the more you look for silver lining moments, the more you will find. The more you find, the less terrible your slump (day, week, month, etc.) will feel.

When we focus our attention on the things that are going wrong or the places in our life where we are dissatisfied we breed an attitude of discontent and negativity. If all you see in your work is one deadline after another, one more productivity requirement without additional compensation, then you won’t be able to appreciate the moments where you are praised for the work you have accomplished this quarter, you won’t really enjoy the coffee your co-worker picked up for you on the way to work.

How different could your perspective and attitude be if instead of letting the kids stress you out with the million different activities they are in you took time to intentionally enjoy them making pancakes with you on Saturday. Or intentionally enjoyed catching your kids joyfully playing a game together. Things look different very quickly when we are intentional about what we give our focus to and the importance we place on the things that are good in our lives.

I’m not saying that slumps aren’t miserable and difficult to get out of. The situation that lead to your slump might be something that needs to change to keep you from burning out or being in an extended slump. But in the moment, the day to day in between that change and right now, you have the opportunity to look for something better that is already present in your life. Enjoy the positive things that already exist around you.1

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

Push Yourself, but Don’t Over Do It

Have you ever heard the saying “pain is weakness leaving the body?” I think that is ridiculous – and completely untrue. I hear this most from people when they are working out. They push themselves and push themselves until they are physically exhausted and can’t stand up straight. I truly admire and respect those with the extreme physical discipline to go the extra mile and stay in the space that is uncomfortable – but when you are pushing yourself to the point of pain that is just foolishness! It isn’t good for your body or your mind and you are going to feel terrible tomorrow (making your no pain, no gain theory a total bust).

1.12-exhausted

This is true in all areas of our lives. I’m talking in work, family, and other things we commit ourselves to. If we are really pushing ourselves to the point where we are exhausted, where are reserves are left at zero, and we are in either physical or mental distress then we are forced to recoup and aren’t able to function well. A good friend told me recently,

“Find your edge, the place where you can’t go any farther and then back off a bit. Never do as much as you can, do just a little bit less.”

My initial type A, overachiever reaction is:

“NO! I’m not lazy and I can do this at 110% all the time. Don’t expect less of what I am capable of!”

And then I take a minute to think about what he is really saying.  He is really saying that if you operate from a place where you can act with consistency then you are more productive and your effort will be more sustainable. When you need to do more the energy and capacity will be there. In layman’s terms: You can do what you do longer and can move into overdrive when and only when you really need to.

We experience burn-out so regularly doing this, that, and the other. Our culture values going above and beyond to the point where you have nothing left. What would happen if you took a gentler, more consistent approach to the things you do? Worked consistently and sustainably at work, at school, in your family, in your hobbies? You would have so much more to pour out and offer others and yourself simply by making sure you never had to tap into your last reserves of energy. You might even be happier because you would be taking care of you!1

 

My good friend is Matt Harris, a yoga instructor and a fellow therapist. He works in Louisville, specializing in couple’s therapy.

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953