Does Fear Hold You Back?

Does Fear Hold You Back?

I often start yelling at the TV when a character in the movie is in a scary situation. He or she just stands there as I am shouting, “Run!” or “Hide!” For some reason, these characters can’t hear me and don’t move. Ha ha! Or are they portraying what often happens to people who are faced with fear?

 I will never forget the moment I was paralyzed with fear. I was in high school and it was around Halloween time. My older sisters had their friends over, but I didn’t know some of them were outside. I heard a knock at the glass door and as I reached for the handle, an old, scary face appeared. I froze. I could not scream or speak. I could not run. I started slowly walking backwards away from the door until I bumped into the wall behind me.

I just stood there. It took several moments for me to recover, and then run upstairs. When I realized it was a mask, of course, it was funny. Everyone was laughing but inwardly, I felt awful. I couldn’t understand why I could not talk or move. I was paralyzed with fear and I never want to feel that way again.

Fear is a gripping emotion. It is so powerful that it can completely consume your mind and body. You may not be able to eat, sleep, or think straight. You may perspire or feel your heart race. We feel out of control of our mind and body and sometimes it feels as though we are helpless.

Fear can also keep you from living a life you desire. We may be afraid to try new things, or go on a date, or apply for a new job. We may fear the world as it changes so quickly. Fear can keep us stuck doing what is comfortable.

So how do we remove ourselves from the grip of fear?

What are you scared to do?

First, we have to know what we fear, and why. This takes some reflection and patience to uncover what is at the root of our fear. I like to start this process with my journal. I make a list of all the things I would do in an ideal life situation and compare that list to what I am actually doing. What are the things I want to be doing? Why am I not doing them?

You might be surprised at your results. Some of these items may be big, but others could be as small as going for a walk alone. (And yes, I was afraid to go on a walk alone.)

Assess your fears.

Go through your list of fears. Next to each one, write about why you might have this fear. If it is a fear of public speaking, for example, it might be that you are afraid someone might ask a question afterwards and you won’t have the answer. Or it might be that you are afraid your presentation will be boring. My fear of going on a walk alone, came from my anxious mother who instilled fear in me about being safe.

Write about all the possible reasons why you may have each fear. No one will read your journal so really explore the root of your fears. If you have no explanation, that’s okay too. Just write that down.

Take a step.

I took my list of fears and decided I wanted to live better. I didn’t want these things to hold me back any longer. I picked three items from my list that I thought I could overcome. One of them was go on a walk alone. Another was to go to a movie alone. Another was to ride the public transportation to the city.

Next, I chose a date on my calendar to do each of these things. I had to really get in the right frame of mind. I was scared. I felt the tension in my body. I got ready and just had to walk out the door. As soon as I did, I won! I was no longer afraid to walk alone. When I reached the corner, I had a huge smile on my face. This was enjoyable and I could be alone with my thoughts. Now, I love walking … alone or with someone.

Enlist support.

When a fear has a strong grip on you, you might need support. Call a friend. Let them be there to encourage and cheer you on. I would tell my friends that I am making myself do (blank) this week. It held me accountable to follow through. Plus, when I overcame each fear, I had someone to celebrate with me!

Expect growth.

I grew so much as a person during this process. I am now excited to learn new things. I like to challenge myself whenever possible. I push myself more than ever before. I try not to limit myself. If I can do this, I know YOU can!

Oh, fear still tries to creep back in on occasion, but I am no longer paralyzed by it. I try to recognize it for what it is – something that is holding me back. Instead of letting fear overtake me, I face it head on and win!

 

Featured photo by Sebastien Goldberg on Unsplash.

Getting Out of a Slump

Getting Out of a Slump

During these past few months, I have been in such a slump. It is one of the reasons I haven’t written a blog post in awhile. I know I am not alone. The more people I reach out to, the more I realize how many are feeling this same way.

I wanted to share the steps that I have taken to get myself living well again. Hopefully, you will find something to help you if you are searching for something to pull you out of your own slump.

Make a before & after list.

I didn’t see how much I was resisting to the changes happening around me until I made a list of “life before and life after Covid.” This process helped me to see on paper how drastically my life had changed and how many really good habits I stopped doing since March. I could see exactly what I needed to adjust to get my life back on track.

Adjust one habit at a time.

Many of us have traded the habit of going to the gym with sitting on the couch and snacking. Hence, we have added the Covid 19 to our waistline. So look at your list and pick one change you can make right now to improve your life. For me, I decided to exercise every morning (and stop snacking). After about two weeks, I was still snacking (but not as much) and I added the exercise. I was already feeling better and then an added bonus, my gym reopened. So today, I had a really good workout.

Create a strong morning routine.

I am a firm believer that the way you start your morning, sets you up to have either a really good day or a not-so-good day. Choose just a couple things to do each morning to insure you have a great day. One of my morning habits is meditating. It takes me only 10-15 minutes, but what an impact this small amount of time has on my day. You may have other things you enjoy in the morning such as journaling, walking, or reading. Whatever helps you start your day should become part of your morning routine.

It’s simple actually. There is no secret formula to make life better and I haven’t shared anything new or anything that you probably didn’t know already. It is just making the decision to want to change your life, get out of a slump, and care enough about yourself to do the work.

No more slumping! You got this! Make your life better!

If you have any tips to share that have helped you, please share them. We learn from each other!

Featured photo by Joanna Nix-Walkup on Unsplash.

Put It In a Box

Put It In a Box

As organized as I am, (and if you know me at all, you will know I am very organized), even someone like me who has to have a place for everything and everything in its place . . . I also, occasionally, every once-in-a-while, manage to accumulate a pile of clutter. Yikes! That is hard to admit, but it is true.

Clutter comes in all shapes and sizes.

It sneaks in all around us – through paper, junk, emotions, and thoughts. We cannot escape it because “stuff” bombards us all day long. I personally get frustrated when my desk starts to pile up because I like to clear it off each night. So, I began to take notice.

What was I leaving in a pile? And why?

Sorting through the papers, it hit me. This is all the stuff I don’t want to deal with right now. It included things I didn’t know what to do with, or I just didn’t want to do, or it carried some emotional weight. That’s when procrastination sets in and instead of dealing with these tasks head-on, I chose to put them in a pile. At least now I know why my clutter and piles start to grow.

We can have physical, mental, and emotional clutter.

Each of these areas have things in common and we can deal with all of them in some similar ways.

  • Physical clutter: papers, bills, magazines, clothes, toys, shoes, etc. Basically anything that you can hold in your hand is physical clutter.
  • Mental clutter: thoughts, to-do’s, stress, upcoming deadlines, etc. Anything you are thinking about constantly or several times a day is mental clutter.
  • Emotional clutter: feelings, worry, anxiety, stress, shame, guilt, etc. All those issues that impact our emotions that we carry around with us is emotional clutter.

It is easiest to deal with PHYSICAL clutter because we can see it, touch it, and feel it, but this works for MENTAL and EMOTIONAL clutter too!

To quickly deal with this type of clutter, BOX IT UP! I learned this tip from a friend. She would come over and help me with my scrapbooking business and while we were busy cutting paper and preparing for a class, my workspace would get a little messy. She suggested that instead of having all these little places of piles, just put the piles in one place, a box, so that everything looked clean. I did this and instantly felt better! Then I took the box and put things away one at a time.

  1. Boxing things up clears up your view. When we clear our line of vision, we do feel better and not overwhelmed. It allows us to take a moment and experience how good it is to have everything done and put away.
  2. Boxing things up allows you to focus on one thing. Instead of seeing all the piles of clutter, you see the top thing. The box contains the clutter and you can just deal with one thing.
  3. Boxing things up helps us to prioritize. When you go through the box, you will notice that we tend to do the things that must be done right away. We prioritize without really thinking about it. The most important things rise to the top.

Caution: you must empty the box.

The box is not a solution for avoiding uncomfortable tasks. Those tasks must be done, otherwise you wouldn’t have them in your box. Try to tackle the harder tasks as quickly as possible. Make them fun or ask for help. It may be worth it to pay someone to do them if possible. But don’t continue to avoid them.

Boxing things up is NOT long-term storage!

Set a deadline for you to empty this box. Really push yourself to do those things you keep procrastinating. (I am speaking to myself here too!)

Boxing things up works for mental and emotional clutter too!

Our minds are full of thoughts, worry, stress, to-do lists, expectations, and the list goes on. How can you use this “box method” for your mind? I like to use a notebook and write everything that is going on in my head down on to paper. Just get it all out of your head and into your notebook. The notebook is your “box” for your head. The same steps can be applied to this list.

You will feel relief and a sense of calm when you box up the clutter.

Remember, though, we are not avoiding our tasks. We are just dealing with them on our terms, with a clear view, one at a time, and prioritized.

Now, it is time for me to clear my workspace and box it all up.

Featured photo by Lia Trevarthen on Unsplash.

Today’s Focus

Today’s Focus

There are days that I am not organized enough to know what to do first. Some days are overwhelming because I have so much to do. Other days I am distracted and put my priorities to the side for someone else. Ugh! It is hard to have a productive day, day after day after day.

So, when those troublesome times appear, I have had to come up with a strategy to make the most out of a challenging day.

I love being home and working from home.

I love the opportunity to mingle work with personal appointments and get up early or stay up late to meet a deadline. For me, I am at my most productive self when I am working at home. But there is a drawback. It is sometimes easy to push a task to the next day or even week. There is always tomorrow.

It is easy to procrastinate, and that bad habit is hard to break.

If something doesn’t get done today, I can do it tomorrow. Without a boss to tell me it has to be done by five o’clock, it is difficult to push off that last minute invitation for lunch. I found myself getting further and further behind where I wanted to be.

I started to get behind on my goals.

I had to have a sit down with myself and reexamine why I wanted to build this business. I had to rediscover my passion and start saying no to going out for lunch. With my tasks piling up, I had to figure out how I was going to catch up on the work I procrastinated to do.

My solution was to make an all-encompassing to-do list.

I love a to-do list! I went through all my piles of papers, notes, email and bills. I organized the piles into categories and then wrote down each task on my to-do list. It was long. The next day, I woke up excited to get working but I no longer felt ambitious.

My motivation died because I felt overwhelmed.

My to-do list was just too long and instead of feeling excited, I felt discouraged. I was overwhelmed. That day turned out to be unproductive. The next morning, I woke up with the same feeling, but instead of doing nothing, I decided to focus on just one thing. It worked because that “one thing” motivated me to do the next thing, and the next, and the next. I had a very productive day and my mojo was coming back.

I continued to focus on one thing each day for the rest of the week.

Some days are so much more productive than other days. Some tasks just take more time. But at the end of the day, that “one thing” gets done. And that is very motivating.

I am calling this my “today’s focus” task.

Today’s focus was to write this blog. I will probably get more done before the day is over, but I know my main focus is complete. Not every day needs a push; most days are fine, and I follow my work schedule. But on the days when I feel overwhelmed, I decide what my focus will be for that day and I get it done. Anything more is just the gravy on top.

When you are feeling overwhelmed, instead of shutting down and doing nothing. Try to focus on just one thing. At the end of the day, you will feel good that at the very least, you accomplished your task.

Featured photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash.

Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness

I take my dog outside about four times a day. When I bump into someone (usually because they are walking their dog), I have noticed that as we part ways, one of us says, “Stay healthy.” Do you remember anyone saying that phrase before this pandemic?

Right now, more than ever before, people are focused on staying healthy. No one wants to get the coronavirus, so fingers are crossed, masks are on, and hands are washed. This focus on health is to avoid getting sick, but another way to focus on health is to be proactive and take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Here are four areas to consider for attaining a balanced and healthy body and mind.

Eat well.

During this stressful time, many people are joking about eating ten meals a day because of sheltering in place and having nothing to do. We eat when we are bored. If our emotions are becoming a little melancholy, we crave something sweet in order to feel better. We eat when we are emotional. With so much time on our hands, many people are spending more time watching tv or playing video games. We eat when we are in front of the tv.

Just as the events going on around us influence our eating habits, our eating habits influence how we will feel. When we eat healthy, we feel good and generally, have more productive days. This is why it is especially important to eat well during times of stress.

Take a look at your diet and try to eat well each day. Reduce the amount of sugar you eat. Take care of your body so it will be strong and capable of fighting off sickness. Here is a link to another blog post about eating salad every day.

Stay active.

It is fun to be home when it is snowing or raining outside and cuddle up with a blanket, movie, or a good book. It is not fun (even though it is necessary) when we must stay home for seven weeks and counting. This can cause anyone to become a couch potato, but it is important for our mental and physical health to stay active.

Each day focus on staying active by moving. Even though gyms are closed, there are plenty of things we can do at home. Take a walk or jog. Ride a bike. Exercise while watching tv. Do jumping jacks, sit-ups, or push-ups. Use a workout app to give you some motivation. It doesn’t matter how you choose to do it, just stay active every day.

Meditate.

I think the best kept secret of life is meditation. It is a secret because most people have a preconceived idea of what it is so are not inclined to try it. I discovered that meditation is simply a way to clear your mind and sit quietly for ten minutes. Seems simple, but the effects are profound.

Especially now, when our minds could be filled with worry or anxiety, mediation is an essential part of staying healthy. I recommend Headspace but there are other meditation apps available. Now is a great time to try mediation.

Here are some related links about mediation and nature.

Sleep deeply.

Our sleep gets interrupted when we are under stress. We may toss and turn throughout the night and then wake up in the morning feeling more exhausted than when we went to bed. A good night of sleep can do wonders for mental and physical health.

The best tip for sleep (that has helped me) is going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. My body automatically feels tired at the same time each night.

Here is a recent blog post about sleep.

These four areas, eating well, staying active, meditating, and sleeping deeply, will make you stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally. Instead of self-medicating with chocolate or wine, Try making better lifestyle choices and take care of yourself during these difficult weeks. Even if you just do a little bit more for yourself each day, your effort will be worth the results.

Take care of you and “stay healthy.”

 

 

Featured photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash.