Stress Budget during the holidays

Less Stress BudgetThe holidays can be festive times. They can be fun and happy for many people. But it can also be sad and stressful for many. An activity that helps my clients is creating a stress budget in times of burnout, hardship and during the holidays. Just like a financial budget tracks spending of money, a stress budget tracks the expenditure of stress!

Let me show you an example and offer an activity for you to try:
Let’s assume that one starts the work week with 100 units of stress resistance or self-care units.

 Awoken up in the middle of the night by son coming home past curfew and making too much noise
 Argument with colleague during board meeting
 Dealing with normal work hassles
 Driving home 
 Argument with with spouse
5 30

In this scenario you are left with a little bit of currency in reserve. After watching your favorite TV show, getting a good meal and 8 hours of sleep, you are likely to charge all the way back up to 100 or higher for the next day.

Although, not everyday looks like this with a reserve:

 Breakfast argument with spouse ad son
 Accident on the highway on your way to work makes you late
 Dealing with normal work hassles
 Argument with secretary 
 Major crisis occurs: Your wife was in an automobile accident
45 -5
Did not complete all work and boss is stressing out
15 -20
 Drive home

You may have overspent your reserve by 30 units!

Not everyday do you get to re-charge. Maybe that night you had to eat fast food as your wife was in the hospital for four hours. By the time everyone is home it is past your bed time and you did not get to enjoy any “me” time. The night is restless as you keep checking on your wife and worry about her car. So you start with only a balance of 65 the next day.

 Car does not start at first
 Deal with normal work hassles 
20 40
 Drive home
10 30
 Son wants to talk to you about his bad day
10 20
 Take care of cooking dinner and caring for wife
20 0

Now the day is over and you are exhausted. You still have a totaled car to deal with and dirty dishes and laundry are piling up. All you want to do is go to bed!

Especially during the holidays where there is even more stress! There are presents to shop for and purchase. There are family and relatives to visit and greet. There are community and job get-togethers and parties to attend and contribute to. There are holiday meals to create and contribute to. There are decorations to put up through-out, around and on the house. There is a sense of volunteerism (to help those less fortunate).
All of these activities (and more) are can be fun but they can also take even more of your self-care units or stress resistance units.This can cause a lot of stress and difficulties especially when our self-care units are already really low from a crisis, like an automobile accident or  family emergency.

So what to do about this?
Just as with financial budgeting, some planning can really help. Plan out and decide which festivities you are going to try to be involved with in advanced. Schedule time in for self-care. Even when life is hectic and unpredictable, be cognizant of your own needs. For some people, going to bed earlier will help re-charge their self-care units. For others, this might mean leaving time at the end of the day for a hobby (like exercising, musical instrument, playing cards with friends, watching TV, relaxing with tea and a hot bath, yoga, etc). I offer even more ideas for hobbies and relaxation methods in this post. 
Also another key to this is prioritizing tasks in life. I speak about this in more detail in my video. In order to decide what to do during the holidays, we must decide if the activity is important enough for us. If the activity is not important or relevant to you, in some cases, it may be better to stay home and re-charge instead of feeling like you must go to every event.
So the main message is two-fold. The first is preventative in deciding in advance (planing out) some holiday events. The second is an on-going habit of intentional self-care time. The third is in communication. Let your friends an loved ones know where you are at stress-wise. If you imagine that your self-care units are getting low and you need time alone or to get more rest, let others know. They will be more likely to understand when the situation is explained to them and transition from holiday events will go smoother.

Depression Wednesday Link List

Wednesday Link List

Here are this weeks’ links:

1. CBT During Dialysis May Combat Depression by PsychCentral

2. Depression and recovery summed up nicely in a picture by Danny Baker

3. How to Transform Depression Into Awe by The Change Blog

4. Exercise May Allay Anxiety, Depression by the MedPage

5. Down in the Dumps? How to Become a More Positive Person by Dumb Little Man

Keep up with all things “Fully Alive Life Coaching,” with my daily paper that features over 200 contributors but most importantly my feeds on Twitter, Youtube and Facebook. Here is the link:

Moving Away

On Mondays, I like to post something a little more person and about me. Today, the topic is about moving away. When I  was eleven years old my family moved away from the house I had grown up in. We had spent, what seemed like an eternity to me a as a child, about 5 years in this house in Kenova, WV. We moved to a larger city in Athens, Ohio which was about 2 hours away. While my step-father was moving up in his career and earning enough to raise the family in a more fortunate way, it was still tough for me. At that time my best friends lived in Kenova and it was a tough transition for me initially. I did not make friends quickly and the ones that did socialize with me were not the best influence on me.  It took some time for me to really develop healthy friends and begin to get settled into Athens. So when I see clients who are struggling in a new social situation or who are having a tough time with moving,, I realize that moving away can be really tough on a child.
As for me, I lived out the rest of my adolescent, teenage-age years and part of college life in Athens. I fell in love with the place. It is a beautiful city (mostly just the campus of Ohio University). It was at this institution that I learned a lot about my faith and myself. I was really involved with Campus Crusade for Christ in college and I really grew a lot socially during this time frame.
I have moved from Athens, Oh. And I have found that moving as an adult is not the same as moving as a child. I find the transition a little bit easier each time, but I am a a season of life where I only need to take care of myself, so it is pretty easy to pack a bag and go wherever life takes me.

Can You hear Him?

Right after an amazing display from God himself, Elijah is in a crisis. In 1 Kings chapter 18, God proved himself to be the only true God against Baal. Not only did God of Elijah merely show up, it was pure mockery of an absent Baal. Elijah leads the way with faith. After watching the poor prophets take up half of the day crying out to Baal, Elijah prepares his altar with three times as much water around the alter. And in a matter of moments upon praying to God, the entire altar is set ablaze and even all of the water is dried up! Talk about an amazing sight! Then Elijah, guided by God’s power and command slaughtered the prophets of Baal. 

The contrasts between 1 Kings 18 and 1 Kings 19 are sharp and startling. Earlier, Elijah is bold and courageous, victoriously facing all kinds of odds with the chapter concluding, “the hand of the Lord was on Elijah.” Elijah experienced God’s supernatural strength to do the extraordinary. But in chapter 19, we find Elijah fearful, running scared, exhausted, depressed, and wanting to die.

In the section before us we see the cause of the change in Elijah. King Ahab tells the notorious Jezebel what Elijah had done. She reacts with vengeance and threatens Elijah’s life. Elijah runs for his life down to Beersheba in the desert in the southern most part of Judah. Leaving his servant, he continues another day’s journey further into the desert, crawls under a scrubby tree and, in deep depression, asks God to let him die.

It is in this state of spiritual depression that we find Elijah. Elijah’s depression is the result of a “perfect storm”—the convergence of several common causes. The first factor is what we might call unrealistic expectations. Re-read 19:4 – “I’ve had enough” means “That’s the last straw—I can’t take any more.” It is easy to get in trouble by letting legitimate spiritual desires turn into expectations that go beyond what God actually promises. This happens most often by expecting that key people in our lives will make good decisions about God. Of course we desire that they do this, and we pray to this end. But God has never promised that our desires or prayers (or even God himself) will overturn people’s free will. I have been devastated by expecting family members to turn to Christ—only to suddenly harden again and back away. I have counseled Christian friends about their wrong attitudes, watched my counsel sink in—only to see them revert back to the same wrong attitude. When things like this happen, they are bound to make us sad because we care about them. But when we base our emotional security on people’s choices rather than God’s faithfulness, the result is serious depression.

It is at this very time when Elijah most needed his support most, that he left himself totally isolated  (juniper tree; cave). But it is here where he meets God again. He is waiting to hear from God in BIG ways….(let’s read):

1 Kings 19:11-13 (HCSB) “11 Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.”At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
James 1:19 (NASB) “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak…”

After a very eventful season of life where God showed Himself in big ways, Elijah just needed to rest and hear God in a small still voice, in a gentle whisper. This ties into the series of self-care. Especially as Christians, we must rest. We must be able to hear God in all of our business and busyness. We must take time to truly meditate and listen to God’s voice. If we are on top of the world or if we are depressed. If we are stress and busy or bored and feel meaningless. In all situations, we need to build on our strong foundation and cornerstone, which is our relationship with God. He is our strong tower. 

Stress Wednesday Link List

Keep up with all things “Fully Alive Life Coaching,” with my daily paper that features over 200 contributors but most importantly my feeds on Twitter, Youtube and Facebook. Here is the link:

A loaf of Bread

A few weeks ago, I purchased a loaf of bread in Ashland, Ohio. I took it to where I was staying at in Wooster, Ohio because I had some lunch meat to eat and I figured having some bread would be nice as I would create sandwiches for lunches.

In a week, I had a road trip to Lynchburg, Va. By the time it was time to go to Lynchburg, I had not eaten any of the bread, so I packed it with me. I was in Lynchburg for a little over a week.
 I returned with a full loaf of bread.
After a few days back between Ashland and Wooster, it was time to head back to my home town of Lancaster, Ohio. Once I got home, I realized that it had been over three weeks since I purchased the loaf of bread that was still sitting in my car unopened.

I learned some things from this loaf of bread about myself. Clearly, I do not eat a lot of bread. I Asked myself, “Why am I still holding on this loaf of bread?” It reminded me that often times in life, we hold on to things that we do not need to keep holding on to. In my bedroom, in my car and in my office, I have several books and gadgets that I am not using on a regular basis. They are just taking up space. Most of these things will not go bad like a loaf of bread will but there they sit collecting dust.

Worse, sometimes, are the feelings we hold on to. The emotions that we just do not want to let go of. Instead of collecting dust or going bad, grudges and past pains/hurts have much different consequences. When we hold on to these emotions, it is not the product that goes to waste, but the person holding on to the emotions. Let this time be a quick reflection of what emotions or past hurts you are currently holding on to.