Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wellness in the New Year - Step One : Letting Go of Stuff...

"The first wealth is health"  - Ralph Waldo Emerson

With the New Year here, many of us are already stressing about what new resolutions or expectations we should place upon ourselves. That is typically followed by the dread of how quickly we will break them or not measure up to them.  I have a suggestion - let's greet the New Year by letting go of stuff.

Lots of Stuff!!

By stuff, I mean anything! It could be letting go of....
  • a person or persons- a toxic relationship, an unhealthy partner, a dysfunctional family member, a negative group...
  • a place or thing - the memory of or a tangible reminder of an environment or person that is harmful or unpleasant...
  • an idea or thought - negative life messages, worry, pessimism... 
  • an emotion, attitude or feeling - regret, guilt, grief, anger, blame, self-doubt, disappointment... 
  • a behavior or habit - rescuing unhealthy individuals, over- committing, working too many hours, not eating right or exercising enough...and so on.
In order to get started, it is important is that we spend some time thinking about how we are feeling. Give yourself permission to take a brutal and honest inventory. Ask and answer these questions.

1. What is working for me in my life? What or who is contributing to my well-being - augmenting my wellness, enhancing my sense of worth and of self, and fueling me in healthy ways?

2. Along with that, what is not? What or who is depleting me - taking away my energy, draining my resources, and diminishing my capacity for inner peace, balance, and joy? 

Take your time, but do spend time completing this exercise.  This is Step One in letting go of stuff. I know from first hand experience that this can be hard - really hard. Let me explain...

A few years ago in October 2013, I started hosting my own weekly radio show. I had prepared long and hard for this opportunity and was excited about this new leg of my professional journey. After the first two weeks, I felt over-worked and over-committed. I was spending anywhere from 30 - 40 hours a week preparing for each show. My other professional obligations were suffering, and I could feel the stress taking its toll on me. After two months, I was feeling depleted and resentful of the entire process. To add insult to injury, I began beating myself up for making such a huge commitment and felt extremely guilty for wanting to give it up. I worried how others would be disappointed in me or how I might be letting them down. Taking a few weeks off for the holidays allowed me to clear my mind and to feel the relief of being released from the burden of the show.  I realized what I had to do - I had to let it go. And, as I did, I felt the Holli I know myself to be return to being herself.  

So, I do understand that it is hard to self-examine and to make changes. However, wellness - like anything else - takes hard work. Let's start today...let's start  now.

                                           Letting Go of Stuff!!

Homework:  This exercise is so important. Over the next week, take your self-inventory and write down what or who is not working for you. You are not being selfish - you are taking care of you. Let's start the New Year off by letting go of stuff!

Remember - we are only as good FOR others as we are TO ourselves.

Next time, we will move on the Step Two - Ways of Letting Go of Stuff!

For more wellness tools, visit Holli Kenley & Author Holli Kenley @ Amazon

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Celebration Saboteurs? More Stress-Reducing Keys for the Holidays!

As the holiday celebrations continue over this month and into the next, let's remind ourselves about the two most common celebration saboteurs - our expectations and our losses.
  • Although expectations are a natural part of who we are and are an outgrowth of the norms of families, if we cling on to them too tightly, they can cause us to be uncompromising and unforgiving. Also, because of past unhealthy experiences within families, unrealistic expectations can lead to more disappointment, hurt, and further complicate family dynamics.  

This all causes stress!

Honor our losses in healing ways.
  • Secondly, whether memories surface of loved ones who have passed and whose presence is missed deeply, or there are reminders of relationships which remain unrepaired, or the emergence of personal or inner personal wounds are re-opened because of the triggers that accompany family gatherings, the profound and poignant presence of loss creates a stress that is deeply entwined in grief. 
The good news is - there are steps we can take to reduce holiday stress!  The hard part is....we have to be willing to make the changes!  I will share briefly a few keys for making change.  For more healing information, please take a listen to Got Holiday Stress?.

When tackling those naughty expectations, consider the following:

First, ask yourself - "Am I willing to re-adjust my expectations?"  Be honest!  If you are, great!  If  not, right now, make an attitude adjustment!  Let go of 'needing to have it one way - your way - or the right way! Be flexible.  Communicate your feelings, but then, be willing to compromise and go with the flow of the family's needs! (If there are hardships, please see below.) 

Secondly, if you are hosting over the holidays, clearly communicate what your expectations are and if there are any changes!  Make sure you do this with plenty of advance notice, giving others time to re-adjust their expectations!  

Thirdly, if there are other stressors or changes that your family is dealing with - expenses, hardships, travel, gifts - and you are finding that the rituals and traditions of your family are not working for you, communicate your needs to your family, again with plenty of advance notice. Honor your situation and circumstances so that resentment does not build.   

When confronting painful personal and inner personal losses, consider the following:

First, in dealing with the loss of a family member, it is important for family members to communicate their individual desires as well as the family's needs in honoring the passing of a loved one. Although this is extremely difficult to do, holding onto private expectations and then being hurt when those are not met intensifies your grief and compounds levels of stress.

Secondly, if you are a family dealing with estrangement issues, broken relationships, or division within your family, it is important to practice releasing what you cannot change and of letting go of the heavy weight of emotion that accompanies those dynamics. (For ways to release, please listen to Got Holiday Stress?) Do these releasing exercises well in advance of holiday gatherings.

Thirdly, the holidays can be reminders or triggers of past painful experiences and of personal as well as inner personal losses. Holidays are also times where individuals are at risk for relapse and/or regression into a myriad of unhealthy behaviors, again because of triggers.  It is critical to be aware of your triggers and how they impact you.  Then, implement the following exercise if you feel triggered, at risk, or unsafe.

1. Catch the thought and identify your feelings (connect them to the trigger).
2. Stop the thought and contain the feeling.
3. Calm yourself.  Breathe....slowly.  Inhale and exhale.  If need be, give yourself a short time out.  Leave the room - go to quiet place or go outside.  Relax.  Breathe.  Honor honor your feeling and release them. Return when you are ready.
4. Replace the thought with something positive and healing; and/or redirect your conversation or actions.
5. Reassert your present reality.  Work on staying in the present - focusing on what is now.  Remind yourself that you are safe...and you are strong.  Continue releasing any residual pain.

In closing, the holidays can indeed be a time of joy - 
if we choose to readjust our expectations and to release our losses in healthy and healing ways.
 And, it is our choice.  No one can do this for us.  We  must do it for ourselves. 
 It is time to let go of those celebration saboteurs and start rejoicing!!  

Start Rejoicing!

For more informative & restorative guidance, visit 
Holli Kenley 
Author Holli Kenley @ Amazon

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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