This time of year sickness, depression, and lack of motivation can take over more than any other time of the year. Often, we fight against Winter ,which can make us all feel more miserable. What if you embrace this time of year instead? The holidays are over, we survived another year. Allow yourself time to sit in a warm cozy spot and reflect on what you have learned and how you have grown. Taking time to get things in order around your home on those long winter days when it is too cold to get outside. This is a time of preparation and self-care. Instead of wishing the remaining winter months away, embrace them. Allow yourself to rest and relax, this is not being lazy. Planning a garden for Spring, cleaning out closets and reorganizing, reading those books on your to be read list, learning a new skill while spending so many days indoors. Wintering is a time when nature is resting and preparing and we can learn from this process. Allowing ourselves time to slow down and be still in both mind and body. Cozy, calm, and quiet moments can be spent journaling or shared with family and friends over a hardy meal. Accepting that Winter is necessary for our minds and bodies give yourself this time to slow down and just be in the moment.

With love, happiness and health,



Everything that crosses our path in life can have an impact. A book, a song, a warm fire in the fireplace, a cozy blanket, a smile, a good meal….I could go on and on but I think you get the point. It has been about 6 months since my last entry. It was not by choice but more that life has just pulled me away from writing. I have missed coming here and sharing what I have learned about myself and the world around me. I have had many wonderful adventures in the last 6 months and had my share of personal struggles. Probably the biggest struggle came earlier this week. As a fairly new therapist I have navigated my internship, then my practicum but only been under my supervision as full time therapist for about a year now. In this first year I have experienced all types of counseling, from children to elderly and the full spectrum of diagnosis. I work with only the Medicaid population so I have had the opportunity to learn from people of all walks of life.

This last week I had a moment with a client that shook me. I am strong and have a pretty clear idea of my morals, values, and beliefs but when a person threatens you for the first time after months of working with them, it can cause you to question some things. When you watch a person literally become someone else in front of your eyes it is hard not to ask…is this controlled or uncontrolled, is this a choice or are they not aware of what is happening and what they are saying and doing, do I stay and sit in this moment or should I remove myself from this situation….I pride myself on my ability to stay calm, cool and collected under most circumstances. On the surface I was able to in this situation, but it did have an impact bigger than I even realized in that moment. I know these experiences in my first year as full time counselor will teach me many useful things moving forward in my career. Seeing up to 8 clients a day for an hour at a time and listening to trauma and sadness, and worries day after day can take a toll. I felt that toll to the fullest the day I was threatened in great verbal detail and watched a client talk and behave in a way he had not for the 6 months before. A deeper understanding and knowing was awakened within me. Knowing that I can help and I can guide and I can listen and we can prescribe all the right medications but if the individual does not want the help, guidance, listening ear or the medications we have to be willing to set boundaries and let them go. All choices have consequences.

Each event or situation will illicit a thought, with each thought there is an emotion, and with that emotion you have a choice on how to respond, and with your response comes a behavior. Often I see people responding from an emotional mind instead of a wise mind which can lead to saying and doing things we regret. We can easily identify the emotion or feeling and the automatic response but what happens when you start identifying the thought behind the feeling and what happens when we start evaluating alternative choices instead of automatic behaviors? This awareness is when change can begin. Unfortunately, there are times when other things must be factored in that go beyond unhealthy habitual responses. Mental Health is a vast and complicated subject that can take on so many forms. Mental health is unique to each one of us and I realize no matter how many clients I see, books I read or seminars I attend….I will never be able to understand or help everyone. Trusting my own gut instinct and setting my own healthy boundaries is me practicing what I preach to all my clients. Deciding to no longer see a client feels wise in some aspects and heartbreaking in another. Still learning and growing in my craft…

With love, health, happiness, and kindess

Stacy Byrd


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I have really worked to overcome a lot of fears this year. Some were of the mental and emotional sort and others more physical. I have done a lot of hiking this year and heights are not always easy for me, but I have pushed through the fear and felt really proud on the other side of it. I have watched my beautiful daughter go through the loss of a pregnancy and realized for the first time that Mom can’t make all the pain go away as easily as I did when she was little. I have been forced to be more patient with life and trust the process, allowing everything to fall into place as the universe sees fit. I can honestly say, I have grown more in this year than I have maybe in my whole life. That is kind of amazing to admit considering I will be 44 years old next month.

I read in a book, (I believe it was Think and Grow Rich) that many people hit a point of increased wisdom, understanding, growth and success in their lives once they reach their forties. That stuck with me when I read it because it seems to be very true in my case. The book went on to mention many famous men and women who accomplished great things in their forties and beyond. It is never too late to learn something new, go back to school, follow a dream, or climb a mountain! Often, we put ourselves in a box after we reach a certain age. We create unnecessary boundaries for ourselves stating we are too old, or not as athletic as we used to be. We stop pushing ourselves out of the comfort zone and that is when the growth opportunities begin to wain. It is so easy to allow ourselves to get comfortable in life and just coast. However, eventually you will start to feel like something is missing in your life.

Challenge yourself to try new things and overcome fears. That feeling of something missing is our human desire to have adventure, grow and learn, be the best versions of ourselves. Sometimes life will force us to grow by bringing in loss or tragedy in some shape or form. Maybe a loss of a loved one, a relationship, or a job. These are all things that force us to grow in some way and learn something new about ourselves. Reflect on your life and what growth opportunities are being presented to you in this moment. Are you stagnant and just going through life like a hamster on a wheel or have you found new ways to challenge yourself?

Some down time is needed in life and we do not always have to be in challenge mode but it is never good to get too comfortable. Too comfortable leads to boredom and we all know the famous saying, idle hands is the devils playground. Choose healthy challenges in life before you succumb to boredom and start eating more, stay on your electronics for hours, sleep the day away, find unhealthy distractions like gossiping, social media, or an affair. Often these things come about when people say “something was missing in my life” and don’t take positive action to figure it out. Be proactive while navigating your path in life and continue to challenge yourself. Continue overcoming fears, pursuing dreams, and challenging yourself whenever the opportunity presents itself. The growth opportunities are endless and the rewards are great.

With love, health, happiness, and positive growth…


Reflect, Reassess, Reset…

On this rainy November 11th morning I find myself reflecting on how much has happened to me this year. I think a friend of mine said it best, you have lived 3 years worth of life in this year. Completing my masters, starting a new relationship, moving, selling my house, starting a new job, traveling more, my daughter announcing her engagement and then her pregnancy, paying off debt and investing in my retirement more. I have worked hard to get to this point in my life. I am thankful for many things as I reflect over the year and watch the leaves float gently from the trees outside my window. Sometimes I find myself getting impatient and caught up in the end goals and I have to catch myself and remind myself it will all work out as it is supposed, when it is supposed to.

I believe one of the best things a person can do consistently in life is stop and take a moment to not just reflect on the past but ask yourself if the path you on is still the path you want. Maybe you have strayed far from the original path and haven’t even taken the time to notice. Maybe you never even had a path in the first place! Reassessing where you are in the present moment is important because our lives are constantly changing. You as a person are learning and growing and with that comes change. Your goals and hopes and dreams may not even be the same as they were a year ago. When a relationship ends, a job changes, a new relationship starts, you move to a new home or a new city or town, this can all change the plans you had before. So reassess what is important to you and rest with it for a bit. Ask yourself what feels exciting and speaks to your soul. It is okay to let go of old dreams and create new ones. It does not mean you failed in any way by letting go of dreams you had of fixing up a home or growing old in it because you decided to sell it and move. It does not mean you failed if you divorced or ended a relationship and now your dreams no longer include a partner. Clearing your head and heart of those hopes and dreams can be bittersweet sometimes but holding on to the past is not healthy. It is good to reflect on the good for growth and learning, reassess where you are in this present moment and then hit the reset button.

No wallowing allowed! After you reassess and start to gain a clear idea on where you want to go from here it is important to accept it and commit to positive action. I call this reset. When I reset I feel like I am hitting the reset button on life with a clear and conscious path. It removes all the clutter of the past and goals that may no longer be serving me. We often get stuck on auto pilot, pushing forward with dreams and goals that we set years ago believing that we are failing some how if we don’t see them to completion. The real question you should be asking yourself is, does this bring me joy? Am I still excited about this goal or plan for my future? Does this still fit my lifestyle and the person I want to be? If no, then let it go! A fresh start is something everyone needs every now and then and boy does it feel good!

I have been stuck in a pattern of what feels like “hurry up and wait”. Waiting on graduation, moving day, selling my house, closing on my house, waiting on my license application to process, waiting on my start date with my job….that hurried feeling of wanting it to be over and done with so I can get on with my life. I had to keep reminding myself to enjoy the present moment and that it would all work out in time. So as we move forward into the holiday season I encourage you to take inventory of your own life and ask yourself if you are fully present and fully invested in the goals you are working towards? Are you living the life you want in this present moment and if not, what can you to take action in your daily life to make changes to get you on that path? Reflect, Reassess, and Reset is a great way to start preparing for the new year!

With love, health, happiness, and the 3 R’s


What I Have Learned

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At 41 and about to cross over into 42 I have learned a lot about the world around me and myself.  My life has been full of ups and downs and through it all I grown to be a happier and healthier woman.  Lately, I admit sadness takes up residence in a corner of my heart due to loss of a relationship but as I have experienced before, this too shall pass.  As I move through my day, getting up each morning to make my bed, meditate and pray, shower, brush my teeth and feed my pets, these routines give me comfort. My drive to work each morning is usually listening to an audio book and often my morning routine at the office means arriving early and involves coffee, checking emails and maybe a little time to write.

As I move through my work day I like the freedom to work through each task at my own pace and often work through my lunch hour because I truly love my job.  Leaving around 5 each day I listen to my audio book again or sometimes I choose to listen to music.  Evenings may very, but often throughout the week I have dinner either alone or with my daughter, if I even eat dinner.  Sometimes my evening classes in grad school prevent even having time for dinner.  When I am home alone and don’t have class I may take an hour for Netflix or Prime, use the evening for study time or reading a book of my choice.  Reading soon leads to crawling into bed and a cup of hot tea before finally falling asleep.  Then I wake the next day to do it all over again.

Sometimes, I may go for walks in the evenings after work or have dinner with a friend.  Occasional yoga classes, kayaking or hiking on the weekends keep me active.  I try to plan little trips throughout the year to explore a place I have never been in one trip and to get my beloved beach time at least once a year.  I love my three cats, my dog and my house plants and my beautiful 18-year-old daughter who is in college and works.  She makes occasional appearances to spend time with her mom when she isn’t working on school, working at the restaurant or spending time with her boyfriend and friends.  I am a partial empty nester, which means I spend a lot of evenings throughout the week home alone, but that doesn’t really make me lonely.  I have learned to really appreciate my alone time.

As I recount my day to day activity I realize that I am living a blessed life.  I have so much to be thankful for and I have learned that being exactly where I am is enough.  I have spent most of my life striving to be, do, and have more and honestly, it can be exhausting.  Just accepting and fully appreciating who I am, what I have accomplished and all the people I have met, experiences I have had, places I have traveled….I know I have done well and nobody can take that away. I have learned that people may come and go in our lives but those who truly have touched my heart will remain in my heart.  I have learned that to truly forgive brings a peace that cannot be matched.  I have learned that there is no wrong way to love and you cannot love too much, there are just people that may not be ready for the type of love or the amount of love you have to give.  I have learned that no dream is too big and no act of kindness is too small to matter.

Some mornings I may wake thinking I just don’t feel like going through the same old routine again, I just want to pull the covers over my head and hide out.  What I have learned about that feeling, it is normal.  We all have days where we can’t really explain why but we just don’t want to get up and go.  I have also learned that pushing through is often good but sometimes it is okay to just call in to work and take a mental health day.  I have learned that it is okay to not always be positive and have a smile on your face, but the more you smile the better life usually is.  I have learned many things in my life and as Thanksgiving approaches and I reflect on the last 41 years, I know one thing is for sure, I will never stop learning.  The peace of slowing down and appreciating exactly where I am in this moment is truly the best lesson I have learned yet.  I ask that as you prepare to have time with family and/or friends this holiday season to just fully appreciate the moment and always look for the lesson.

With love, health and happiness,


What is a Great Partnership to You?

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When I think about all I have learned in my life through experiences and my relationships I am able to see how my desires in life have changed.  To say that a person never really changes is a bit of a myth in my opinion.  The truth is, the people who are not changing are not ready or do not have a desire to.  Change is always possible and often necessary in order to live a full life.  I am definitely not the same woman I was at 21 or 31.  I have grown a lot through the years and I feel I am getting better with age.

So with that being said, I also realize my desires in a relationship have changed.  With the ending of each relationship it is good to re-evaluate where we are in life and reflect on the things we found good and bad in the relationship.  Breaking it down during the grieving process is not just helpful to make sense of things but helpful to gain clarity on what you want to do differently moving forward.  I know there are things I will do differently moving forward in my life.  I have spoke about setting boundaries and I believe that is one area where I am definitely going to be stronger but also paying closer attention to a persons other relationships.

When I think about a great partnership I often think of qualities I would like in a man, the real focus for me is not just his individual qualities but how he interacts with the world around him.  Observing an individual and how they interact with their family and friends, coworkers, strangers they encounter in a normal day… I have found this to be the most telling about an individual.  We often tend to put our best foot forward when we are newly dating and really like someone, so we are more likely to be on our best behavior.  I prefer to take a different perspective.  The level of openness, vulnerability, time devoted, and how a person communicates and interacts with others that have been in their lives for a while will give you better insight into what you will see of them once you are passed the honeymoon stage.  This is probably the most valuable lesson I can take away from my most recent relationship.

Looking back and considering the interactions and relationships that already existed  I can easily see all the signs of things that would never work to nurture a happy healthy relationship.  I admit I saw it early on but as a typical therapist minded individual I saw potential for change and believed I could be the catalyst.  Unfortunately, I chose to ignore the fact that the desire and readiness for change in him had nothing to do with me. I know looking forward I would like someone capable of building deep and beautiful relationships with the ability to openly communicate and be vulnerable, challenge himself to take risks when it comes to connecting with others.  A person who initiates the hard conversations and the intimacy.  Someone who is willing to face a challenge head on and not run away when things get hard.  A man who understands in order to keep the spark alive it takes effort and doesn’t just happen magically.   These are things that set a man apart for me.

My parents have been married for 56 years and they are the first to tell me that relationships take work.  Yet they also express the absolute purest form of love with each other that I have ever seen.  As I watch my dad help my mom in the kitchen they tease each other and my heart feels full of joy.  A simple kiss from my dad to my mothers forehead as he passes by to the sink with a dirty dish….my short mom reaching for a bowl on the top shelf and my dad laughing as he reaches to get it for her.  My older brother is married with four little boys, we get excited and talk loud retelling funny stories on each other.  My 18 year old daughter watches her four nephews run around like crazy and becomes more clear on the fact that she does not want children…we laugh because we both know someday she will.  Observing my family at the holidays and how we interact I know love is a staple that can be easily found.

I know not all families are like mine and not all people have had good examples of a healthy relationship.  The desire to learn, understand, grow and have those relationships has to be there in order to change for the better.  This can be scary and hard at first, if you haven’t allowed yourself to be vulnerable and face the hard conversations before but it is so worth it.   People who truly love you and want to know you will respect and appreciate the effort.  Observe those you are getting to know and may be considering spending more time with.  Long talks over dinner can tell you many things but just watching a person interact with others is even more telling.  Learning about a person takes time, don’t rush it, and pay attention to actions, they often speak louder than words.  Watch, listen, and learn….

With love, health and happiness,


Be Your Own Mentor

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I have been struggling lately to find a person in my career field that fits the profile I am looking for in a mentor.  I have longed to find someone that I can connect with on a deeper level who has this incredible mix of wisdom, humor, experience and passion.  This search has definitely led me to some interesting people who may fit one aspect or another in the list, but not the full enchilada.  I want the full meal deal and I have come to realize that what I am looking for may not exist…at least not in my area.  So I have decided that having one actual individual to look to for guidance may not be where I am meant to look.  My curiosity has led me to many great books, blogs, journal articles, pod casts, people of history, YouTube videos and TED talks.  So maybe in a round about way these individuals are combined and through my own leadership in discovery I have become my own mentor.

The wealth of knowledge at our fingertips today makes it easy to be our own mentor and I believe the days of practicing under one professional to learn a certain method are going by the wayside.  As research and methods intermingle our learning expands and we all end up with our own versions of success.  This does not just apply to the career field but to our spiritual and political beliefs as well.  Our experiences, environment, relationships and interests create this beautiful mix that is unique to each of us.  When we share our own unique perspective on the world then we can begin to discover other like minded individuals and maybe even discover new ideas that challenge where we started in our belief system.  The once rigid systems of politics, religion and career structure has become more flexible and a lot less black and white.  Practices of holistic and eastern medicine are beginning to compliment the more traditional western medicine with meditation, yoga, massage, and acupuncture.  I spent 15 years of my life working in chiropractic and holistic medicine and I love the study of how the body and mind connect and work together. This has led me to finish my degree in psychology and mental health counseling with the hope to combine the two into a unique mind and body practice.

As I move forward in my education I realize that I have brought together the knowledge of many professionals, from all fields, to create the practice I want to share.  I have realized that when you discover a unique path that no one has traveled down before then it is not likely you will find a mentor…you have to be your own.  This can be a little scary, but if you look hard enough you will eventually find others out there with the same vision as you.  If you don’t then you can’t let it discourage you, it probably means you are on to something truly original and worth pursuing.  The search for meaning and joy in life comes from within and finding our own path is important, sometimes that means taking the road less traveled.  When we go down that road we may find that no mentor is necessary because you have the power to seek the knowledge and the ability and capability all within you.

With love, health, happiness


Seeds That Grow Our Future

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I started my life on a small farm in Southeast Missouri.  As a kid I grew up fishing for catfish in the pond on our farm, picking blueberries, peaches, and pears right off the tree.  I spend many hours sitting on a milk crate pulling weeds from the peppers, tomato and strawberry plants and chasing all the farm cats around the barn.  Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, I had a blessed life on a back dirt road with a creek to swim in with the neighbor kids and nights spent catching fire flies.  My mother used cloth diapers she washed and hung from the clothes line in our back yard, I had a grandmother who actually chewed snuff and spit it in an old coffee can and bottle milk was still delivered to our door step when I was just a baby.  I drank well water that was produced by a spring fed creek near our home and didn’t have a soda until I was 10 years old.  I played sports and rode my bike and my brother and I would have wars with sling shots using black walnuts and acorns as ammo!

My mother taught me about how to grow herbs and all their uses, about home remedies and essential oils. My primary care physician was a chiropractor that I would babysit for and when his kids grew up I then transitioned into the chiropractic office as a file clerk and learned to take SOAP notes working after school each evening.  Little did I know these seeds planted in me as a young kid and teenager would follow me into my life and career goals as an adult.

After getting married, moving to Texas and having a baby, I returned to Missouri.  I ended up being hired on at a very busy and successful chiropractic office in my new Missouri town and I worked there for 15 years learning every aspect of the practice.  I could do the billing and coding, the therapies, x-rays, scheduling, collections and I learned about natural health and wellness.  I studied the muscles and bones of the body, vitamins, supplements, hormones and the science of diet and exercise and the holistic benefits of essential oils, massage, meditation, yoga and of course chiropractic and physical therapy.  My interest in the mind and body connection began to grown around the time I went through a hard break-up and some health issues all at once.  I was in my early thirties and ready for a change.  Even with all the healthy physical changes I was making in my life I was still struggling and I realized how important our mind can be in the process.

With the support of my boss I went back to school while working for him.  He allowed me to work on my projects and pick his brain on thoughts and ideas.  I knew I wanted a degree in psychology but not just a mental health counseling job, I wanted something outside the box that would incorporate everything I know and love.  I left the chiropractic office after 15 years and went to work for a private practice counseling center while completing my masters degree so I could learn the office management aspects of insurance and billing for counseling providers and to get my supervised hours.  The connections I made with the chiropractor and massage therapist have been great and I have a vision to work with them again when I complete my degree.  I want a holistic practice that incorporates mind and body care.  We will create a space for guided meditative yoga, massage, coaching and therapy for individuals and groups.  Individuals can be counseled on every aspect of their lives and learn mental and physical ways to manage stress and live their best life.

This vision is in the works and something I have been meditating on and working towards my whole life.  I think about my childhood and pieces from my past, how it all adds together in a path that has lead me to this point in my life.  I am excited about what I have learned, who I have become and what the future holds.  The wealth of knowledge I have gained in my life is something I want to share with others.  My degree is not quite complete and I still have a lot to learn (don’t we all) but on this day I am feeling blessed as I look at how far I have come.  Those seeds planted along the way have made me who I am today.

With love, health, happiness and blessings


Your 5 People

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It has been said that you adopt the behaviors, habits and thoughts of the 5 people you hang around the most.  So stop and think for a minute…does this thought make you feel proud or panicked?  Honestly?  It made me a little worried when I thought about it. I am forced to spend time with some people, family or coworkers,  and if I am so busy that I am not getting much time with friends I value and admire then I may be absorbing some aspects of others I don’t really care to have in my life.  I felt the need to tip the scale a bit more in my favor by making time for those people who really motivate and inspire me to be a better version of myself.

Have you ever met a person and the conversation flows so easily and every topic lights a fire in your soul because you can relate to their perspective so easily?  Or maybe the person who just throws out a perspective that you have never considered before and suddenly you are asking rapid fire questions to learn more about where their thoughts and ideas come from and how you can learn more?  Is there a person in your world that you are in awe of their career, their relationships, their style, their looks, or financial gains?  Why not ask them how they do it?  You think these people got their without asking questions or being on the learning end of the spectrum at some point?  I think the world today has created a bunch of competitors and that can be great up to a point…those failing points are when competition becomes a game where everyone thinks they should win no matter the effort and the other fail is when people become so competitive they refuse to learn from others because they think they can do it all on their own.  Those two extreme ends of the spectrum will create a monster.  As I often in say, balance is key.

Surrounding yourself with amazing people who are doing and succeeding better than you is actually a win for you.  Learn to be humble, accept the fact that you really should not always be the smartest person in the room and if you are, you are doing yourself a great disservice.  I grew up in a household where not knowing was a weakness and shameful.  My Dad would get so frustrated if he quizzed me and my brother on a subject and we didn’t know the answer.  It didn’t feel like a learning opportunity with gentle guidance, he just made us feel stupid.  So I learned to associate asking for help and not knowing the answer with being stupid and weak.  This has been one of the biggest struggles in my life, I always felt great embarrassment when it would come to admitting I didn’t know the answer and sometimes bigger embarrassment when I would not admit I didn’t know and just pushed through hoping no one would notice.  As I have gotten older and went through raising a child of my own, my perspective on this subject has drastically changed.

I have asked myself who the top five people are in my life right now that I feel could benefit me in my goals.  Some may say this is very selfish, to choose friends and relationships based on your selfish needs, but I strongly disagree.  You can have people in your life that you love and respect for exactly who they are and not want anything from them and especially not want to be anything like them, but that is rare.  We are naturally attracted to people who we can see qualities that we value in ourselves or qualities we wish we had.  Those people are the ones you should be making more time for.  Do not be afraid to admit you do not know things, ask questions, look for people you admire, find yourself a mentor in areas that you are interested in learning.  My mother often would say “birds of a feather flock together”.  As a teen and young adult I thought that phrase was kind of dumb because I knew I was hanging out with some bad influences and believed I was the “good girl” in the group.  I thought I would be the one they would come to for advice on life and maybe even influence them in a positive way….but the opposite happened. We may think we are stronger than we actually are, over time some negative relationships and people will change us whether we want to change or not.  Be aware of co-workers or friends who constantly share their negativity and find a nice way to remove yourself from their vent sessions.

At the end of the day, everyone needs a little motivation and support to stay on track, make sure your home team is one you are proud of.

With love, health, happiness with a supportive top 5,


Coping with Stress


When you start to live a truly full life it can be exciting and rewarding.  I have a full-time job managing a busy counseling office, full time college completing my counseling degree, part-time waitress & bartender at my boyfriends restaurant, a mom of a teenager, a sweet dog and 3 lazy cats, paying the bills & the mortgage, trying to stick to a healthy diet and exercise routine, keeping up my look with hair, nails and fashion.  From self care to balancing work and school and financial responsibilities it can all add up to a lot of stress!

Research has steadily proved that stress is one of the leading causes of health problems. The need to deal with it has become more of a need to just cover-it-up and avoid by incorporating things that may not be any better for us than the actual stress itself.  Some of us eat more because of stress, some smoke, some drink, increase caffeine intake, some take medications (maybe you do all the above)… all to deal with the stresses of life.  When we adopt these bad habits we are actually just making matters worse.  After reading and listening to thousands of books, articles and research journals I have experimented with many different methods.  In this process I have come up with a few that really work for me and are much healthier.

  • Routine

When I first started my personal journey to de-stress my life I found the number one tool was having a routine.  Having consistency in your life makes life much easier and less stressed.  Important routines are morning and bedtime routines.  Having a certain time you go to bed and wake-up each day will not only give you the proper rest you need to fight off sickness, but it will make life feel a lot less chaotic.  I can tell when I stay up too late the night before and it throws off my routine the next day.  I don’t want to get out of bed and then I feel rushed when I finally do motivate at the last minute.  Planning out what you will wear and what you want & need to accomplish the next day is a great way to mentally prepare you before you go to bed.  Have a routine of washing your face, brushing your teeth, adding a nice night cream to your skin and listening to a meditation at the same time every night.  Also, (as most of us already know), reduce your screen time and remove technology from the bedroom as much as possible so you are not tempted to stay up late watching TV or getting on your phone.

Once I get up in the morning I like to exercise first thing and then shower and ease in to my day with a light breakfast, morning news and a cup of coffee while I get ready.  I listen to an audio book on my drive to work and I like to get in my daily water intake as I go through my morning.  I drink water upon waking and throughout my workout, then another bottle after my workout while I am getting ready and then a third bottle on my drive to work.  I usually have half my water intake complete before I even sit at my desk in the mornings.  Having routines at each part of your day can be very beneficial.  I have a routine I go through once I arrive at the office as well, to insure I am as productive and efficient as possible.

  • Preparation

The next valuable tool I have learned and applied in my life is preparation.  Being prepared saves you time, money and frustration.  Have a certain place you always keep your phone, keys, wallet/purse and other important items so you are not always looking for them.  Lay out your workout clothes/shoes and work clothes/shoes for the next day so you don’t have to waste time in the morning looking for them.  If you have a certain travel coffee mug you like make sure it is washed and next to the coffee maker the next morning.  Check your calendar the night before and prepare by making a list of any errands or special events you need to take care of in your day so you are not caught by surprised or miss something important.  People who follow certain diets do meal preparations so they have healthy food choices, this is a great example of how being prepared can keep you on track.  Walking yourself through your day the night before is a great way to do a mental check-list to be sure you have everything together.

  • Organization

Organization goes along with preparation in a lot of ways, but it gets a little deeper.  Anyone who have recently read the book or watched the show Tidying Up knows how helpful and refreshing the look of a truly organized home can be.  A clean and organized home can drastically reduce stress in life.  Be diligent about cleaning out pantries, closets, dressers and cabinets.  Throw away or give to charity what is not serving you anymore.  I have slowly been doing this in my house and it does create a better feeling when I come home each day and go into my kitchen to prepare a meal.  Opening the kitchen pantry and refrigerator to see it clean and neatly organized is very rewarding and encourages me to cook more instead of eating out.  Having my closets and dresser neatly organized with clothes I love motivates me to immediately put away my laundry instead of leaving it in the basket or piled on a chair in my room.  Organizing my bathroom has been the most helpful, having makeup and other beauty products neatly separated in baskets makes getting ready each day a breeze!

  • Mentality

Lets be honest, you can have routines, be prepared and organized and still have mountains of stress.  Your mental capabilities really come in to play when the going gets tough.  Are you a Negative Ned/Nancy or a Positive Paul/Pam?  Your brain and thought processes are like muscles in the body and you need to be honest with what process you choose when shit hits the fan.  Are you instantly thinking the worst and giving up by pulling the covers over your head, or are you a person who tackles the tough stuff head on with grit and determination?  You can train your brain to handle things in life just like you can train your body to run a marathon.  For many people, once they adjust how they perceive the world around them then their entire lives change.  Your mental loop can make or break you in high stress situations.

I am taking an online class and I had logged on to take a quiz.  The quiz allowed me 20 minutes to answer 15 questions and as soon as I hit the button to start the quiz the page just froze.  The quiz would not load on my lap top and I felt the panic rise within me because I had no idea if the time was ticking away on the quiz as I was waiting for the page to load.  It took me 15 of that 20 minutes before I was finally able to get the quiz to load on my computer and I then had only 5 minutes to answer 15 questions!  Needless to say, I did not do well on the quiz and for about 5 minutes I felt frustration, anger, and stress.  However, instead of going into a complete meltdown I simply emailed my professor and explained what happened and went on about my evening.  My younger self would have let it ruin my whole evening but the fact is, shit happens and sometimes there really is no matter of preparation, organization or any special routine that is going to stop the flow of shit.  That is when you have to be able to depend on your mental strength to logically evaluate the situation and decide if you have truly done your best.  There is no sense dwelling on things if you have sincerely tried and done all you can do.  Acknowledge your anger, frustration or any other emotions you are having and then move on.  Never feel bad for being emotional but never remain in that emotional state.  Allow yourself to cry or vent about the stress in your life and then let it go or do something about it, but do not be the person who constantly cries with no action or effort to fix it.

  • Wise Choices

Last, but certainly not least, take responsibility for choices you have made in life.  We all make mistakes, we may rack-up debt and have financial stress, we may not take care of ourselves and end up sick, only you know the truth of why some stress is in your life.  Owning your role in it is a bit of a relief in itself.  Once you stop pointing fingers you can focus on what steps to take to remedy the issue.  One of my favorite quotes comes from Andy Stanley:  In light of my  past experience, my current circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?

I believe the main goal in life is not to just survive but to thrive.  In order to do this we must constantly learn and grow as individuals.  When a person has something to strive for they are usually happier and healthier.  Having hopes and dreams that you choose for yourself can be invigorating.  Do not focus on what others think you should do, not even what may be considered the right or wrong thing for you to do, instead ask what is the wise thing for you to do?  Nobody else knows what you want in life better than you and if you are unsure maybe you should explore those questions.  Making choices for yourself instead of living the hopes, dreams and expectations of others can relieve a lot of stress.  Without a plan you cannot possibly know where to start and that can be stressful.  What do you want out of life?  Are you making the wise choices to make it happen?

In conclusion, stress is just part of life, but it doesn’t have to take over your life.  To keep a healthy balance it requires really knowing yourself.  Your routines, level of preparation, organization and mental strength will be different from everyone else.  Don’t add stress to yourself by trying to take on a morning persons routine if you are a night owl.  Be realistic and create a lifestyle that works for you!

With love, health, happiness & less stress