All Stressed Up and Nowhere to Go

Too much stress 1



We live in an incredibly fast-paced and complicated world where more and more of our lives require clear thinking and sharp minds. Lucky for me my brain works pretty well. But I noticed some time ago that sometimes my brain abandons me for parts unknown…and at the most inconvenient times, even more so recently. I tried many techniques to “clear” my mind with little or no improvement that I could see or feel. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t coming apart at the seams but the incidences of not remembering why I walked upstairs and what exactly I was looking for were becoming more frequent. Was it just age? Maybe. But growing evidence tells us that it’s not necessarily about that. Maybe my recent lapses were more about my mental juggling while on a high wire act.


You see, I have a job as an employee benefits professional. I own a business as well. I have family responsibilities including the raising of my 5 year old twin nieces and caring for my retired dad. I have four adult children whose lives I keep an eye on in spite of their insistence that they are grown ups and don’t need me to. (Yeah. Right. Motherhood is a lifetime sentence…uh I mean commitment.) I have my own health and fitness goals. Friends. Continuing education and business building activities…and a partridge in a pear tree!


Not all that long ago the world was encouraged to MULTITASK. That is to do several things at the same time. And practically everyone jumped on that band wagon including me. This was supposed to allow us to cram as much into our already busy days as possible. Guess what? Turns out we may get more done but it’s probably not nearly as efficient as we thought and more importantly to me. It increases stress in our lives and in our bodies.  In fact many researchers now believe the human brain doesn’t actually multitask very well.


“Multitasking can reduce productivity by approximately 40-percent according to some researchers.”


“Switching from one task to another makes it difficult to tune out distractions and can cause mental blocks that can slow down your progress.”

I don’t know about you, but missing deadlines or rather the fear of missing a deadline causes me a great deal of stress. Now while I accept that I can’t avoid all stress or stressful situations there are some things you and I can do to lessen it:


  • Focus. Concentrate. Multi-tasking may seem more productive but dividing your attention can be very stressful. Limit Distractions and interruptions when possible.


  • Don’t procrastinate. Use a paper planner or electronic one to plan your tasks each week. Seeing scheduled tasks on paper can keep you focused on what needs to be done. Break a large project into small steps, and set a deadline for each one. Meeting deadlines can eliminate stress.


  • Schedule your “Me” Time. Self care like a mani/pedi, a massage,  a facial, journaling or just being alone with your own thoughts shouldn’t be negotiable or pushed aside. Make an appointment with yourself…and keep it! You’re worth it!


  • Just say “no”. Simple. Don’t commit to something that will overload or overwhelm you.


  • Pray. Meditate. Breathe. Spend time daily centering your thoughts and your heart on God or your personal belief system. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, slowly.


  • Schedule time to have fun. Put it down on your schedule. Make it a priority.  


  • Move your Tail regularly. Physical activity can be the best stress relief. Find something you enjoy doing – run, walk, jog, practice yoga, Pilates, dance, cycling, hiking, climbing, etc.


  • Talk it out. Sometimes the best stress-reducer is simply sharing your stress with someone close to you. Make sure you have a support system of trusted people. If you don’t have one look form an organized support group or start one.


  • Stay positive. Remember that everyone has good and bad days. Think positively. Develop your own PRIDE Positivity Protocol.


  • Reward Yourself. When you make progress toward or complete a project, celebrate. Enjoy a healthy snack. But the best rewards are non-food related. Schedule some more “Me” time. Give yourself that spa treatment you always wanted to try. Call a member of your PRIDE and take in a movie or a show or shoe shop.





What it is and What it Aint

When The ANTs Come Marching In

I recently learned a valuable lesson. I learned that not every thought that creeps, slithers or oozes from the darker recesses of my mind are to be believed. Sometimes my mind lies to me. Oh I’m not special in this regard. Sometimes yours lies to you too. It happens to us all. There’s that woman that thinks she still ought to wear the cut off tank top when her core is obviously no longer appropriate for display. There’s that guy that thinks he really is as good a ball player as he once may have been or that the toupee he’s wearing looks natural when in fact everyone knows it’s a hair piece…a very bad hair piece.

You see automatic thoughts come in many forms but I have a problem with the Negative ones.
These thoughts are called ANTs by Dr. Daniel Amen… Automatic Negative Thoughts. These are the thoughts that come to you unbidden and unplanned. They pop up seemingly out of nowhere ruining our day, keeping us stuck and often unable to move forward. They can rob us of our joy and of our positive momentum. Before we allow those ANTS to take control of our lives we need to stop and ask ourselves whether the things our brains are telling us are really true or whether our minds are playing games with us.

These ants have been running through my head since I was a little girl. They have plagued me most of my life. My ants don’t tell me that I’m smaller, sexier, smarter or more talented than I am. My thoughts that say I’m not pretty enough (obviously lies since I am in fact quite nice to look at.) The thoughts that insist I’m not tall enough or that I’m too tall when I am in fact the perfect height for me. Whispering in my ear and annoying me. Undermining my self confidence and possibly robbing me of opportunities by creating uncertainty where there should be none. So today I’m killing ants. I have been smashing the heck out of some ANTS. And I’m declaring my head a NO ANT ZONE! I’m squashing them the minute they surface. I’m hiring me to be pest control! The ANTS must go! I’m not saying I won’t occasionally think some less than positive stuff but I’m dealing with the automatic ones…the reflexive ones. I’ve decided that if I’m going to have unbidden, reflexive thoughts I’m opting for positive ones. No. I don’t plan to wear any cut off midriff baring tops and I’m not gonna glue or weave 20lbs of someone else’s china doll hair onto my head but I do plan to think of myself as freaking awesome! I will be thinking of myself as flawless courtesy of Beyonce. Yes I woke up like dis!