Slow Down! Going Faster is Tempting Disaster

I just read this article on Psychology Today and loved it! I thought you might love it, too! The original article can be found HERE.

old chronometer

The other week en route to New York, my plane landed at Chicago O’Hare at the very minute my connection to Newark began boarding. I was seated in the bulkhead row just behind first class, and as soon as the door opened and the first class folks filed out, I launched myself out of the plane and sprinted full speed up the gangway.

A few long strides in, I realized something was off. I stopped and turned and sure enough, the flight attendant standing at the door of the plane was holding the high heel from my right boot up in the air and waving it at me.

Without even noticing, I had sheared it right off when I leapt out of the plane.

Beyond dismayed, I hobbled back to grab my mangled heel, and must have made quite a spectacle as I ran across the terminal in a bizarre limping run, clutching the heel in my right hand the whole way. I got to the boarding area just as the last person had boarded, and I’m amazed they let me on—there were exposed nails sticking out of the heel and there was no way I would be parted from it (in case it could be repaired; these were my very favorite shoes). Thankfully the flight attendant was so busy laughing at me that she didn’t notice.

Was it really necessary to be in SUCH a rush? Probably not. If I’d just focused on calmly yet briskly making my plane, I’d probably still have made it. Some other latecomers boarded after me, and I’d still be wearing my beloved boots, which sadly were beyond repair.

I’ve had a few conversations lately with people about this epidemic of rushing, and here are some thoughts on why and how most of us need to slow down:

  • You think you’ll get there faster but you’re tempting disaster: Whether you’re racing through your house to get out the door on time or weaving through traffic like you’re stunting a movie chase scene, you edge yourself perilously close to trouble far worse than being late. I’ve treated patients who fell down stairs and broke bones while rushing around, and if you think of times when you’ve hurt yourself, it was very possibly because you were moving too quickly and not paying attention.

The other day I was trying to get home quickly and decided to get around traffic by slipping through an alley. By the time I was halfway down it, I realized it wasn’t taking me where I needed to go. Annoyed, I decided to back up to get out. My rearview was clear but I missed seeing something just off to the left and scraped the side of my car as I backed up. I don’t even want to know how much it’s going to cost to fix the damage to my car, and it really would not have made a huge difference to my life to wait in traffic. It would have been a far lesser evil. Awful! Remind yourself to back off and calm down when you find yourself racing along the edge of safety (and even the law!). It really isn’t worth it.

  • If you focus too much on your destination you’ll be blind to where you are: A friend recently told me about a disaster that occurred on a busy weekend packed with tons of commitments. She was thinking about all she had to get done and running from task to task, in that keyed-up state you might be familiar with. Rush, rush, rush. Coming out of a store and hurrying back to her car, she stepped out from between a row of cars in the parking lot. Bam – a passing car crashed into her leg. She was so lost in her thoughts and her rushing that she didn’t see it coming, and wasn’t present enough to catch the license plate as the driver took off. She’s still having pain and trouble walking weeks later.

If you notice you’re tuning out because you’re in “hurry” mode, slow down, catch your breath, and make sure you’re aware of your surroundings. Being present not only will you feel calmer and perform better under time pressure, but it will also keep you safe.

  • You don’t want to miss the good stuff: A client that I’m coaching told me yesterday that an alarming number of people close to her are having bad things happen to them. A friend has cancer, another lost her husband, and another friend was in an accident. “Everyone seems to be falling apart around me,” she said. “It’s really woken me up, and I’m learning to slow down and be more aware of life. I need to stop racing around, and concentrate on what’s truly important.”

What could you be missing in your haste? Do you miss connecting with (or even making eye contact with) your kids or spouse in the morning as you hurry to get ready? When you’re racing to get to a destination, do you miss having a real conversation with whoever is in the car with you? When you go for your brisk morning run, are you taking time to notice [things around you]? What would be better about your life if you just slowed down? (And I haven’t even talked about the stress hormones that this constant rushing generates)

Whenever you find yourself getting worked up and starting to rush, start by reminding yourself to breathe, and back off your pace just a little. I find that repeating this to myself helps, too: “You have enough time. You’ll be just fine. Slow down, take your time.” When I calmed myself this way yesterday, I ended up being half an hour early for a speaking engagement when I’d worried much of the day that I’d end up being late.

The funny thing is that when you take your time, you seem to have more of it. Try this and watch what happens!

Dr. Susan Biali, M.D. is a medical doctor, media wellness expert, transformational life coach, professional speaker, flamenco dancer and the author of Live a Life You Love: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You. She is available for keynote presentations, seminars, media commentary and private coaching – contact susan@susanbiali.com or visit www.susanbiali.com for more details.

Coping With Holiday Stress: An Attitude of Gratitude

For many people, the holidays are times of emotional unrest. After a most unsettling experience with a family member several years ago, I let go of my remaining expectations of holiday bliss and decided to let in whatever happened, ups and downs, sorrows and joys, pleasant and unpleasant experiences. The  season in all its splendor and NOT, like people bumping into you at the mall and grimacing when you look at them. Holiday spirit for sure!

Here’s a poem from Rumi, one of my favorite poets, about accepting life as it comes. A holiday gift to each of you to hold in your heart when holiday stress gets the best of you. It’s a reminder to always have an attitude of gratitude. Hope you enjoy it too.

“The Guest House” by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival. 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor. 

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight. 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in. 

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Dealing with Loss During the Holidays

The subject of death has popped up once again this holiday season. My husband’s aunt is very ill and is not expected to make it much longer. His grandmother passed away a few years ago in December. My good friend’s mother passed away ON Christmas Day several years ago. It seems like LOTS of people in my orbit have lost loved ones during the holidays, and it tends to put a wet blanket on this time of good cheer.

I was so curious about what seems like a trend, I looked up some statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the highest death rates in the US occur in the months of December, January and March. Common sense and a bit of research tells me that suicide rates are higher during the winter months and people do tend to come down with illnesses more frequently because we are all inside together to keep warm. Because of this, bacteria and viruses spread easily (which is why it is important to wash your hands frequently). And if someone is already ill with a disease such as cancer, opportunistic infections are more easily caught because that person is exposed to more people who may be sick (and not even know it yet).

Even if your lost loved one didn’t pass away during the holidays, the season can be tough because that person is simply no longer in your life. This is especially hard if you have lost a close family member or friend who would have normally celebrated the season with you. His or her absence can seem to fill the room.

It’s human to miss those we’ve lost. However, we don’t have to let our grief ruin the joy of the present. If you’re feeling down or depressed thinking about someone you’ve lost, try some of these techniques/coping tools:

  • Vividly imagine a good moment with the person you’ve lost. Notice the sights, smells, temperature, and good feelings of that past moment. When you’re filled with those good feelings, bring your attention back to the present and bring those positive emotions with you. I’d guess that your loved one would want you to feel good this season!
  • Honor the life of your lost loved one in some way. Make an ornament in his/her honor to hang on your tree. Write a card to that person, telling him/her what positive things they brought to your life and how you continue to value those things. Light a candle in celebration of him/her. Create a shrine to his/her life and write down the wonderful things about that person. Write a message to him/her, put it in a helium balloon and let it fly to the heavens.
  • Connect with the person you have lost in meditation. You don’t have to believe in “spirits” to do this. Sit quietly and breathe for a while until you are focused on your breath and it is slow and deep. Picture your loved one’s face in detail. Picture your face near your loved one’s face. Tell him/her that you miss him. Tell her that you are grateful for having had her in your life. Then listen. Let your loved one tell you wonderful things about yourself. You’d be surprised how well this works!
  • If you’re feeling depressed, go out amongst people. Isolating yourself will not help you feel better.
  • If you are feeling suicidal, get help immediately! Go to the nearest emergency room if you have a real plan or contact a professional for help if you are not planning to do anything immediately or if you have suicidal thoughts with no plan.

Death is a natural part of life. Depending on your beliefs, the end of suffering for your loved one may bring you comfort. Or if the death was a result of a tragedy, perhaps remembering that your loved one is most likely in a peaceful place may help. The holidays call for a celebration of life – both for the living and the passed. May your holidays be peaceful and may you feel your lost loved ones smiling down on you, adding to your joy.

Healthy Living at the Holidays: The Gift of Attention

I got so busy this past week, I forgot that an interview I’d done weeks ago was coming out in a St.Louis magazine, Town and Style. Today when I opened my e-mail, I had a link to a post about “Killing Off Supermom,” and how women are still striving and killing themselves to “have and be it all.” Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Often, when my own attention becomes scattered that I’m not thinking about what I may need to consider, the universe sends me a message (usually multiple ones) to alert me that I’ve strayed. Yes, it happens to all of us even with a daily mediation practice. No woman is exempt. Ever.

This time it’s the holidays! While I haven’t been baking cookies or putting up decorations, I’m still the one who sends out cards, buys gifts, keeps the pantry stocked, makes plans, etc. Although I don’t “feel busy,” I realize I must be and that I’ve grown so accustomed to over-doing, I hardly notice. I’m not complaining, I’ve put myself here and I’m the only one who can get myself out.

Then, the universe reminds me again that the real present of life is our presence. To show up and pay attention to your life in this moment is a priceless gift to yourself and your loved ones. Thomas Moore, a psychologist and spiritual teacher said, “In the twenty-first century, attention will be the new aphrodisiac.”

This season, turn off your to-do list, your worries, your cell phone, your tablet and “be here now.”  Each moment is precious. Your attention is the best gift of all.

Happy Holidays!

Eight Tips for a Low-Stress Holiday

This year more than last, at least in my opinion, people seem to be more up in arms about the use of the term “Merry Christmas” and other tidbits. I don’t really care what you say to me to wish me a good holiday, but these are the kinds of things that add such unwarranted stress to the season. Actually, most of the stresses of the season are self-imposed. If you’re looking to reduce the pressure this year, consider the following tips:

  • You don’t have to do any of it. If putting up decorations, baking, etc. is not your thing, then don’t do it. Most people who complain about “having” to do things are doing them out of obligation or pressures they put on themselves or because of societal influences. Of course, if you have young children, they may be counting on some traditional stuff, and that’s understandable. But if you find yourself dreading a seasonal activity and it’s really not important to you or your kids, then don’t do it. And stop feeling guilty about it! A friend of mine had a tough time getting around to taking down and packing up her tree and decorations last year. It turned out well because this year, everything was already out and ready for her to put the tree back up!
  • Consider only getting gifts for the kids. Some adults love to shop for that perfect gift. More power to them/you! But if your list is super-long, pare it down by suggesting that the adults not exchange gifts. You’d be surprised at how much relief you’ll get and give via this suggestion. I tossed that out a few years ago to my family and friends and all of them exhaled and said, “What a great idea!”
  • Online shopping is a wonderful, less-stressful way to find and buy the gifts you do need to get. If you’re not a fan of crowds, what could be better than sitting in your own home, “browsing the shelves?” Plus, you can find the most unique gifts online. Just make sure you buy from sites that start with “https:” as that indicates a secure site. Also, never use your debit card to buy online. Always use a credit card! If something does go wrong and your information falls into the wrong hands, dealing with a credit card company offers you a lot more protection than having to work with your personal bank.
  • Gift cards are not lame. They allow the recipient to buy what he/she really wants and almost every store in the country offers them! It is so much easier to buy a gift card than try to guess what someone wants.
  • Suggest that the people you do buy for create Wish Lists on Amazon.com. They can even add things from other stores! This is another way to make shopping quick, easy and effective.
  • Consider buying a heat-and-eat meal if you’re hosting a gathering. Randall’s and Luby’s are just two places that offer complete meals for around $50 – and they actually taste great!
  • Another party tip is to consider having it catered! Many restaurants offer reasonably-priced catering and some even come set everything up for you! Check with your favorite eatery to see if they offer this service.
  • Stay away from negative news, social media, etc. It only fuels your inner perfectionistic voice and/or adds negative energy to your soul.

Society tells us that everything must be homemade, lit up, wrapped in pretty bows and perfect. We all know that perfect doesn’t exist. If you decide to try some of these tips, just remember that you’re taking care of yourself, and that’s the best gift you can give to yourself, and by extension, to others! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus and Happy Holidays!

Give the Gift of Self-Compassion

buddha

At the holidays, we often get caught up in what to buy our family and friends. Sometimes, we even sneak a little something in for ourselves. What we frequently overlook though is being kind, patient and loving towards ourselves as we weather the ups and downs the season and many of our family gatherings bring.

Last week in Psychology Today online, a group of 25 women bloggers posted about how they practice self-compassion in their lives, and had some great advice which we wanted to share with you here today. Here’s what a few of them had to say. For the complete article, click here.

Drop Self-Judgment

For me it means dropping self-judgment every time I notice it—from eating too much chocolate last night to procrastinating writing my novel this morning to being envious of a friend this afternoon. It is the act of dropping my story that I am bad, wrong, less than, not spiritual, not progressing.

–Jennifer Louden

Put Self-Care First

My greatest challenge and learning from this practice is that self-care and compassion has to come first—not after I’ve taken care of others, or done my work for the day, but as my first priority.

–Sandi Amorim

compassionShow Up for Yourself

The most intimate relationship we will have in our entire lifetime is with ourselves. No one hears our   hearts the way we do. No one knows our hurts the way we do. We are the sages of our soft spots and our   edges. Self-compassion is showing up to that relationship with honesty and with love.

–Jamie Ridler

Let Yourself Fail

Self-compassion means not having to be right all the time. Letting myself off the hook if I’ve tried my best and things didn’t come out like I wanted. A lot of it is forgiveness. I get to be a mortal. I don’t have to be better or stronger than other people. I get to just be a fallible, wonderful, person like everyone else. It means I’m not special, but in a good way.

–Laura Simms

Forgive Yourself

Oh, and how do I practice self compassion? Easy. I am constantly forgiving myself. Forgiving myself when I judge another to be wrong, when I judge myself as less than… and judge the world for what I see as “bad”. Practicing self-compassion is saying “I forgive myself, for I know not what I see/do.” over and over again.

Kerilyn Russo

Give yourself the gift of self-compassion this holiday season. You’ll be glad you did!

Life Lessons from A Mogul-Mom-and Maid

For the past 20+ years, I’ve had a successful business in women’s health psychology. Two years before that, I became a mom and had no idea what it would be like to combine work and motherhood. The maid part has always suffered, although I was the main “cook” in my home especially when my daughters were young. From my journey as a mogul, mom and maid, here’s what I’ve learned:

1.  You can’t “have it all” at once. At different times in my life, one of these roles has required more of my time and attention. My 25 year-old still reminds me how I missed her first “double-digit” birthday to attend a professional workshop out-of-town. Similarly, I turned down opportunities to promote my professional life because I wanted time with my children and family. As my children reached their tweens, I made certain to be home after school the days I wasn’t in my office to stay connected with them. Now, I have two twenty-something daughters who are caring, successful young women who are making their own mark on the world.

2.  You can “have it all” sequentially. Since my children are almost launched, I have more time to devote to my business and service activities. Even with older children, I’ve learned that parenting never ends, but the concentrated time you spend and the energy it takes eases some. I still make certain to make time to talk when they call or be available when they need me, but I have more time for close friends, personal interests and my marriage. My “maid” part is happily de-cluttering our home because as I get older, I discover less need for stuff and more for simplicity.

3.  Being “successful” is in the eye of the beholder. Earlier in my life as a mom and mogul, I wanted success to be all about me and how well I was doing at seamlessly combining motherhood and business woman. Of course, I wasn’t (no one can) but that was my goal. I also wanted more of everything, money-power-status-stuff. Everywhere it seemed, I saw other women scaling career heights never before imagined and they had children and families too. Then I realized that their families and personal lives were suffering (back to lesson #1-You can’t have it all), and instead of reaching for the stars, re-evaluated my definition of success.

4.  Success changes at each life stage. While as a younger woman, I defined success primarily by what I’d achieved in my career and professional life, my feeling successful has much more to do with my role as a mom and person. Nothing is more important to me than raising my children to be caring, responsible, honest human beings who act with integrity and compassion. Likewise, it’s continuing to ask myself what I can do today to make the world a better and more loving place to live in. These are my current measures of success.

What are yours?

Many thanks to Liz O’Donnell for hosting this Mogul, Mom & Maid Blog Carnival. Please check out her new book at http://www.mogulmommaid.com or visit her blog at http://www.helloladies.com.