A Good Kind of Stress

I just got back from a wonderful vacation to Disney World with my daughter and my dad. It was a great week, but I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation! This got me thinking about the stress we experience from good things – it’s called “eustress.”

Whether it’s a vacation, getting married or getting a promotion, even good experiences have stress attached to them. At Disney, we did a lot of walking and waiting in long lines in a high heat and humidity climate. We had to navigate crowds and deal with air travel. So while we all had a fabulous time, all 3 of us are now taking a couple of days to relax from the eustress we experienced.

Many people don’t realize the amount of stress that’s involved with positive events. And if they feel stressed-out, irritable or anxious, they think that there’s something wrong with them instead of acknowledging the eustress that accompanies good events. Thoughts like, “How can I be feeling so bad? I’m on vacation!” can increase anxiety and cause guilt. But when folks accept that yes, even positive situations are stressful, the anxiety and guilt will usually decrease or go away altogether.

When we chose the dates for our vacation, we purposely booked the flight home on a Friday so we would have the weekend to decompress from our eustress before going back to work on Monday. I have been relaxing, watching movies and playing around on the computer all weekend. Laundry and other chores need to be done, but they will still be there tomorrow when, hopefully, I will feel recovered from my vacation eustress.

What are some of the coping techniques that you have used to dissolve your eustress? We’d love to hear what works for you!

P.S. We will be announcing the winners from our May Self-Care Challenge on Thursday! Stay tuned!

The Impossibility of Loneliness

National Womens' Health Week

As we’re heading toward the end of National Women’s Health Week, we hope you have taken some time out for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. We hope you also learned something about what your needs are and how you can help yourself every day live a more stress-free life!

One of the coping techniques that have been backed up with plenty of research is that friends are essential for reducing stress. But what happens if you are disabled and can’t get out of the house…or live way out in rural country…or find it very difficult to make friends? I’m sure we could list many more situations that could interfere with one’s social life. Just over a decade ago, folks had to settle with loneliness or had to come up with very creative ways to interact with others. Today, in the age of instant information, as long as you have a way to get on-line, you have a way to make friends!

Around the turn of the century, as the Internet was becoming more and more popular, random people started writing weblogs – or blogs, for short. The author(s) could write whenever he or she wanted to (Can’t sleep? Write a tirade about Ugandan sweatshops at 2am!), as often as he or she wanted to. But that was just the beginning of what blogs would become. Soon after, free sites like blogger.com and WordPress introduced “search” features that would let the user find other blogs that related to them in geographical proximity, interests, and musical preferences, for example. It became almost impossible to be lonely!

For the most part, technology has been beneficial. It has streamlined everyday living and has made accessible things we never thought would be. But, as anyone who has waited in a line while “our computers are down,” will agree – it is far from perfect. Yet, as I think of my real friends – folks that I have come to know and enjoy – I am proud to include a few names of people that I have never met, at least not in person…yet.

Congratulations!

I spent the weekend watching movies on Showtime and its partner channels. Most of them were older, such as Medicine Man and The Core. As I watched, one thing stood out in each movie: recognition. Whether it’s a presentation of a new project or a potential cure for cancer, the characters wanted to make sure their names were included in the program/scientific journals.

As American culture dictates, we all work hard and try to be as productive as possible. But what do we work for (besides our paychecks)? Recognition or praise. Some managers recognize this need and make sure to praise their employees when appropriate. As a result, the employee will want to continue to work hard to keep worthy of the praise that was given to him/her. Recognition is a great motivator.

Praise is within your reach anytime you need it. This may be a difficult task, but pepper your self-talk with positive things. Instead of I am such an idiot! try I made a mistake, but I am human. I forgive myself. Extend your positivity to your children; praise them any time they are exhibiting pleasant behavior. Thank you for being such a helpful boy! encourages the child to be helpful more often. Giving praise to family, friends, co-workers, kids and especially yourself will make life much sunnier and definitely more peaceful. Happy April!

Spring (Give Me a) Break!

Hey, parents! What time is it? SPRING BREAK TIME! “What gave it away?” you ask. Yes, the students are bouncing off of the walls, but that’s not it. What alerts me are the bleary-eyed looks I get from parents when I mention the one-week school vacation.

Spring Break was designed to give students and teachers a rest from the rigors of the second half of the school year. Families sometimes take advantage of this time to go on trips and spend time together. But do we really do what we want to over the Break or are we too focused on doing what others are doing?

“Maria’s family is going to Disneyland,” my daughter reported one year after I told her we had no plans for Spring Break. I felt a twinge of guilt (synonym for mother) and inferiority when I thought about what Maria’s parents had planned for their family trip. In fact, most of my daughter’s friends were going out of town for at least part of the week. We were staying home, much to my kiddo’s chagrin.

When the week was over, Maria’s mom came by. I noticed the bags under her eyes and her eyelids at half-mast as she described their “incredibly fun” trip. “So, you’d recommend that we go some time?” I asked as she got up to leave. She stopped, turned to look directly at me and said, “I’d recommend that you do what you want to do. ‘Cuz doing what everybody else wants to do sucks.”

http://www.pearlandtherapy.com

I couldn’t have said it better myself! This Spring Break, ask yourself what it is that YOU want and need. Maybe it is a trip to Disneyland, but chances are, you and your family need a little rest and relaxation. And no matter how fun an amusement park is, it promotes anything but rest. The idea is to return to school and work feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, so give yourself a Break and make it happen!

Want To Win A Box of Godiva Chocolates: Read This

To celebrate our almost first birthday which is October 9, we’re sponsoring a contest for our current and new subscribers. Because we want our October self-care contest/challenge to succeed, we’re asking that any subscriber get ten other friends, family, co-workers, etc. to join our blog, and we’ll enter you in a random weekly drawing for a box of Godiva chocolates for the month of September.

Winners will be chosen each Sunday and announced the following Monday. If you’ve never tasted Godiva chocolates, you’re in for a treat and if you have, you know how irresistable they are. For any new subscriber you recruit, have them leave your name in our comment box so you get credit.

We’re also asking you to give us your recommendations for favorite woman-or-mom-related blogs and websites, so we can include them in the October contest/self-care challenge. While we’ve discovered many sites we think are terrific and worthwhile, the web is too vast for anyone (except possibly a search engine expert) to know what’s out there. This will help ensure that we provide what you want. Likewise, as much as we enjoy social media, we can’t quit our day jobs for endless web surfing.

Now our self-care tip for the week. Focus on those experiences which strengthen rather than weaken you. I realized this again, when I was having a massage and started to freak out about an upcoming interview. Instead of scaring myself, I thought about situations I’d survived despite my fears and felt much calmer.

It’s Summertime-Don’t Forget Yourself

It’s summertime when many of our schedules are crammed with kid and family activities. Several months ago, Susan Wenner-Jackson, co-founder of Working Moms Against Guilt wrote a great post about rediscovering herself after having children. We decided to rerun it so you don’t forget yourself during this busy season.

“As a mom, my only times alone with my thoughts have been 10 minutes in the shower or commuting to work. And guess what I was thinking? “Man, this shower feels good” or “I really hate this $#&@ing traffic.” Deep stuff.

Perhaps because my almost-5-year-old is more independent and my 19-month-old is no longer a baby, I’m now emerging from the mom-cocoon. It also helps that I work for myself, from home, with child care. As I poke my head (antennae?) out, I’m looking around saying, “What about me? What do I want?”

I’m allowing myself to move up my priority list. How do I want to spend my time? What do I want to experience or accomplish? It’s exciting to ponder these questions. I’m still a mom, with all the responsibilities and joys that come with it. But I’m also a person — who’s enjoying getting reacquainted with herself again.”

It doesn’t take long to reconnect with yourself. Spend 15-20 minutes each day doing something you enjoy whether it’s sipping coffee, sitting in a comfy chair daydreaming or painting your nails. Keep your thoughts on yourself and what you’re doing. Don’t let the summer pass by without making me-time. Have a great one.

A Shout Out to All Moms

This is one of our favorite videos about motherhood.  Since Wednesday’s post was on loosening the bonds of self-criticism, it seemed fitting to consider all the things that moms do each day which go unrecognized.  It’s exhausting to think about but deserving of our attention.

Instead of putting ourselves down, we need to remember to pat ourselves on the back whether anyone else does.  To appreciate all our hard work which keeps our families going.  But it’s Friday, so for now have fun with this YouTube video and take some me-time this weekend.

Laughter: “An Instant Vacation”

I was teaching a self-care class on Wednesday to hair stylists, who certainly do their share of counseling, when one commented she’d seen this great sign, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”  I agree wholeheartedly so when my younger daughter sent me this cat picture a few months ago, I saved it for when I need a good laugh and decided this week to share it with you.  Hope this tickles your funny bone.

"Jabba" the Cat

May “the force” of laughter be with you.  Enjoy your weekend!

Three steps to teachable holiday moments

The holidays often sucks us into the gimmes, just like our kids, as we make the holidays happen. We easily lose track of the underlying message of the season for our kids. Consider these focused activities to reconnect with the holiday lessons:

1) CHOOSE actively, in line with your values. Stop and consider what you want to teach about the holiday season. You might want to say no if an event is too commercial, or detracts from planned family time. It’s fine to focus on fun–and opt out if an event is more drudgery or duty than pleasure. This is your holiday, too, and you have the right to celebrate it in a way that is meaningful and enjoyable for you. What a good example for your children!

2) INVOLVE everyone in the process of giving, helping small children pick out toys for the holiday toy drive, donate from their piggy banks to the bell ringer at the grocery, or make macaroni necklaces for favorite aunts or sitters. Older children might perform a chore, or sing/perform on an instrument for neighbors, visiting family, or residents of a senior living community.

3) READ one book about your spiritual perspective and traditions nightly. Every library has a children’s librarian eager to suggest new (or old favorite) titles. On the subject of reading, consider a classic book as a gift each year. Building a personal library for a child fosters a lifelong love of reading, one value to focus on that continues throughout the year.

Press Release: Our Thanksgiving Gift to You

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to express gratitude for what you are thankful for. While this tradition often gets buried beneath mounds of stuffing and mashed potatoes, Ann and I believe it’s an important practice to remember. So, we want to thank all of you for LIVING Self-Care with us and sharing your comments and lives. As our Thanksgiving gift to you, here’s a holiday song to enjoy with your pumpkin pie.

Please share it with all the moms you know to express your gratitude for them. And for other songbirds out there, send us or upload in the comments a video of you singing along, and we’ll put it up. Or if you have other original songs redone to holiday favorites, send us or upload in the comments a video of that. Who knows? It could be your ticket to fame (lol).