High Stress: The Three Most Common Mistakes People Make That Magnify Stress

“If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it.” 
-Mary Engelbreit

High stress and pressure to perform can come about from real problems and life circumstances. Work, family, health and financial stress can consume you to the point of being completely overwhelmed. Exhaustion doesn’t seem to go away but you keep pushing forward to accomplish the endless to do list.  One thought keeps turning like a revolving door, “If I stop everything will crumble.”  You might know someone who lives in this world and it could even be you. Living under this kind of stress for any length of time is harmful to your emotional and physical health.

What if I told you that you could make it stop?

Thriving in chaos and the rush of adrenaline can become a lifestyle choice. Keeping a constant pace to get work accomplished just becomes commonplace. However, there are behaviors and habits that can keep you stuck. And it’s creating suffering and stress.

Mistake #1 Chronic Complaining. This behavior goes beyond discussing that something is bothering the complainer. Nothing seems to go right and the world is wrong. No thoughts or choices made have anything to do with the current circumstances. This is living in a victim’s world. The complainer chooses to take little responsibility for their actions.

Check for patterns in life. If there’s a bad streak of luck, ask what choices were made that led up to the outcome. Situations have two sides. Victim thinking suggests being powerless. The next choice made can be one of owning responsibility instead of blaming others or circumstances.

Mistake #2 Regret the Past or Fear the Future. When living in the past or future, there is no present life. The world is seen through the eyes of someone wounded from the past or fearful of the future. The result is that there is no life to live. The mind is somewhere else other than whatever is happening.

Take a deep breath and live in the now. Acknowledge that the mind is taking a vacation that has no beginning or end. The present is a beautiful place to live. The colors of life are grander than any worry or fear.

Mistake #3 Control. Control is the master magician’s mind trick. As long as people, places and things are under control, life is manageable. The level of energy and intense work required to keep everything under control is exhausting.

Control isn’t about how to organize everything around you. It has everything to do with self love and peace inside yourself. Begin to watch if these patterns crop up and be aware of the patterns that magnify stress.

People Pleasing: When Does Helping Others Turn into a Problem?

Pleasing people through real generosity is a beautiful gift. Showing compassion to others and helping out people in need are part of being human. When does lending a hand to others become an issue?  Pleasing others becomes a problem when your choices, thoughts and actions are based on what other people will think of you. It’s when you wait for others to make a decision for you for acceptance. Saying yes and always being helpful is the norm.

 People pleasing can become just plain stressful and exhausting.

“I just want to be loved,” Michelle said. “I know if I could do everything for my boyfriend he would stay with me.” Michelle was a patient of mine when I worked as an occupational therapist years ago. This example of pleasing others is an extreme situation but Michelle played a victim role in her life. She truly believed that her friends and family would love her more if she did everything for them. Michelle rarely said no to others and lost her identity in the process. She taught me that worrying about what other people think can be harmful physically, mentally and spiritually.

Many folks struggle with chronically pleasing others. For some, pleasing others becomes a pattern where you say to somebody exactly what they want to hear. This problem is above and beyond doing something kind for the next person. This form of self-sacrifice has a payoff. It might be thinking that you are loved, accepted and needed. The message that you may be sending out might be different than you think.

In that process, you sacrifice who you are as a human being.  The bottom line is that it’s none of your business what other people think of you. No amount of approval-seeking from others can fill you up and make you whole. You are a complete person just as you are right now.

Recognize the people pleasing pattern by checking out the intent of your actions. Check and see that always being readily available comes from your heart. Sometimes it’s the niggling tension in your gut that tells you something isn’t right. Listen to your intuition and be clear about your actions.

Approval seeking can become an issue in how you relate to others and yourself. Saying no at the risk of being rejected can be scary. But that kind of self-love is fills your heart. Be comfortable in your skin. Your opinion of yourself is what matters most.

https://unlockyourinnerpotential.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/fanpage1-e1324684839265.jpg For over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives. Lisa specializes in stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.


Stress and Perfectionism: When Is What You Do Good Enough?

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. – Anna Quindlen

Perfectionism is distorted thinking that creates unrealistic expectations. Your thoughts become filled with ways to become your own worst enemy. The twisted side of perfectionist thinking is that it actually puts you down and limits your options. It is a form of fear-based thinking that stops us from seeing anything but an out of reach goal. The fear can be connected with altered core beliefs about self-worth. Somewhere you might have connected your achievements with how you feel about yourself. Performance somehow got linked with who you are as a person. So, the higher the achievement, the better you feel about yourself. That achievement however has upped the bar for the next task.

Perfectionists ratchet up expectations so high that you can only see the goal and rarely the journey. Thinking in this way sets you up for defeat and puts you in a never ending cycle of stress reactions. Your body flips on the stress switch, releasing hormones that tell you body it’s in danger. But that’s simply not true.  Perfectionism is a learned behavior that oddly enough can begin as procrastination. Everything has to be just right to get something done.  Starting a project just is not worthwhile unless everything is perfect. Deadlines can kick you into overdrive and push your body and mind beyond its limits. This type of thinking causes incredible stress that is truly self-induced.

So, how can put perfectionism out of business?

Watch your words. Begin to examine thoughts or statements that include should, always and never. These words may mean you are beginning to criticize yourself or use controlling behavior. An example is “I’ve always done it this way,” leaving no other option or path to get a task done. Other words to watch out for have to do with beating yourself up. A rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t say something to put down a friend, don’t say it to you, either.

 Get real. Give yourself space to develop realistic expectations. Pace your projects and avoid the temptation to start something at the last minute.  Be flexible when setting your goals. You may find that situations change after setting a goal. Revise goals as needed. Treat them as if they were living, breathing entities. They will shift and change with you as you grow.

You are enough. Self worth is not measured by how much you do. Self-worth doesn’t come from things outside of you. It comes from within.   Journal about the qualities you like about yourself- not things you do but rather who you are. Then journal about one specific perfection behavior you would like to change. How would you like to see yourself dealing with that behavior differently? Keep it simple and don’t overwhelm yourself with change. Picking one behavior at a time allows success for change and will reduce stress.

https://unlockyourinnerpotential.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/fanpage1-e1324684839265.jpg For over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives.Lisa specializes stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.


Motivation: Three Keys to Turn Your Plan into a Reality

“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you ready or not, to put this plan into action.” Napoleon Hill

Motivation is the force that drives you into action. It is the fuel that allows us to spring out of bed and feel passionate about the day. Many people, however, find that energy to move forward is missing. You have taken time to develop a plan by getting the tools and support in place to succeed at your goal.  The first couple of weeks start off with a bang and you are charged up about kicking a problem once and for all. Something happens and your motivation motor stalls.

Motivation was always a popular topic when I held groups as an occupational therapist. We talked about the two types of motivation, the kind that came from the inside and the other from outside themselves. Extrinsic motivations are outside forces that drive you to get something done. Outside motivation is fueled by dodging a consequence for not doing a task.  Intrinsic motivation however is fed by the fire that lives in your heart. Motivation within is what truly drives us across the finish line when finishing a plan.

Let’s talk about the keys to getting a project or plan finished:

1. Get clear about why you want it. Writing goals are very important. Goals are the stepping stones to getting where you are going. However, writing goals are not enough to keep your plan in motion. Maybe you have recently written a goal about weight loss. Write as many reasons as you can come up with for why you want to lose weight. Carry those reasons with you no matter where you go. Pull them out when you want to give up. See the moment that you made the goal in your mind. Feel the excitement all over again as you remember why you wrote the goal to begin with. And keep going.

2. Stop trying and start doing. Did you realize that the definition of try is to make an attempt or effort to do something? You find out pretty quickly that try is not a word I use if you are with me for any period of time. Try lacks commitment in getting something done. Get clear about your desire to achieve your plan and do it.

3. Get off the couch and do it. There is no better way to get something done than to move. Our minds can come up with dozens of excuses or reasons think about moving forward with a plan. Remember a plan is never set in stone. You can course correct at any time during your action plan. Just avoid procrastination and its sister perfection.

Keep these three keys with you when working your plan. Then watch your dream turn into reality.

Change: The Desire to Make Something Different Even When You Don’t Want To

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. –Alan Watts

New Years Day is just around the corner. For most people, it triggers thoughts about a change in habits, such as weight loss or quitting smoking. Usually, ideas get stirred up about what people want to be different in their lives.  The idea that life could transform sparks the passion for change.

Change is inevitable. Time moves forward whether you are conscious of it or not. What we see around us only appears to be a constant in our lives, but in fact there are changes happening every moment. Change is a double-edged sword. You may want to make an improvement but something stops you dead in your tracks. It’s called fear.  Fear can disguise itself in many ways, the biggest being a battle to see or do things in a new way. The key is that the desire to change far outweighs the need to continue the habit. When I quit smoking nearly five years ago I made the decision to quit. I wrote down a list of reasons why I no longer wanted to smoke. I wanted to breathe. I was tired of smelling like smoke. I wanted to get rid of my nagging cough. I wanted to save money. And, it was my father’s last wish for me. He suffered so much from smoking and I saw what the effects did to his quality of life.

Change can happen in of two ways. First you can make a decision to change a thought or behavior because something no longer works in your life. This is when you begin to have signs that you can’t ignore that something different has to happen. The more you become aware of something you want to change, you begin to see signs you can’t ignore.

The other reason people make changes are because they have to. In other words, you have only two choices; you change or know there are consequences about to happen if you don’t. This is when what seems like a 2 x4 has smacked you upside the head. It’s when you have ignored or pressed through all the warning signs that something wasn’t working.

Learn to dance with change rather than resist it.

I’ll be sharing my upcoming health goals with you. What are you thinking about changing this New Years Day? Post below-I’d love to hear about them!


https://unlockyourinnerpotential.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/fanpage1-e1324684839265.jpgFor over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped thousands of people reduce stress in their lives.Lisa specializes stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.


Denial: Are You Sweeping Stress Under the Rug?

“Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt”-Mark Twain

Denial can be a defense mechanism that helps you to adapt to a changing situation. It can buy you  a little time to work through acceptance of an issue. It can also be harmful when used by refusing to accept current circumstances or lessen the outcome of a situation.

Usually denial pops up when there are significant or traumatic situations happening in your life, such as a significant illness, loss of job, or addiction. Denial can also happen when you are running on adrenaline, full throttle. Overlooking your high level of stress to get things done is a recipe for exhaustion-physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Getting past denial would require admitting there was a problem in the first place.
Your first response to a situation might be “This can’t be happening.” When this defense mechanism becomes a mess is when you continue to deny the truth of a situation. In other words, you choose not to take control of you or the situation at hand.

Many years ago, I worked on a psychiatric unit as an occupational therapist. My job was to help people find different ways to cope with their problems. I remember working with a patient, whom I’ll call Jan,  that denied she had a problem with stress. “I just have to keep going. There’s no one else that can do the work I do at home or at the office. There is no other way. I don’t have a problem with working like I do. It’s everything else that causes me problems.” Jan looked worn, and anxious, as she sat curled up in the chair next to me dressed in hospital whites. She had just attempted suicide a few days earlier. Her denial was so strong that she couldn’t see that she had the power to change her life. Jan worked very hard in group therapy and began to break through her denial. She began to see that she didn’t  have to play superwoman anymore.

One of the techniques I taught was to gain feedback from friends and family.  But the trick was developing the skill of listening of the patient. The patients also learned certain actions that denial was a problem, such blaming other people, places and things. Another skill I taught was journaling everyday. It’s a great way to see whether you are falling back into old habits. Writing out your feelings can open up your awareness to help break through denial. One practice I used was to ask myself what I was afraid of happening. Writing it down helped me see what was really going on.

Check into today and see if your sweeping stress under the rug. Write in the post below about denial.


https://unlockyourinnerpotential.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/fanpage1-e1324684839265.jpg For over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives.Lisa specializes stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.

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