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Posts Tagged ‘stress’

  1. How to escape the tyranny of time

    April 2, 2017 by Diane

    Gone Fishing

    I had it all figured out—the scheduling, the getting things done. I was determined to master my time.

    First I listed what tasks I needed to complete. Then I scheduled them into a calendar program, printed out the schedule, and hung it up. Every day as I completed the tasks, I marked a bright pink “X” through the day with my fancy marker.

    I had it all figured out.

    For about a week.

    The second week, the fancy pink marker sat in the ceramic pencil jar on my desk.

    The third week, I crumpled the schedule and replaced it with a To-Do list. Every day, as I completed a task I crossed it off the list. I was making progress.

    For about two weeks.

    The third week, I had so many undone tasks on my To-Do list it drove me squirrelly. I knew I needed to complete them all by Sunday night so I could put up a new list, but I cheated, transferring the undone tasks to the new To-Do list and hung it up. I had it all figured out.

    Ah, who was I kidding? The new list didn’t propel me to get things done, any better than the old list, any better than the calendar. So I tried a pink post-it, jotting down the things I needed to do the next day. I scheduled them to the minute.

    From 8:00 – 8:30 I’ll do X.

    From 8:30 to 9:00 I’ll do Y.

    From 9:00 to 10:00 I’ll do Z.

    Problem is, I didn’t wake up until 9:00. I was already an hour behind schedule. Did that make me leap out of bed? No. I lay there, my face smushed into the pillow, reconfiguring the timeline. And I was so tense! I felt awful.

    So I crumpled the pink post-it.

    I meditated. I felt the need to reconnect to myself, to get a handle on why I felt so overwhelmed. But I was too tense to get a good read on myself, so I pulled down a copy of Full Catastrophe Living and read a chapter about the tyranny of time. Jon Kabat-Zinn says that if you schedule all your time, you won’t have any left.


    That’s why I felt like I didn’t have enough time. I had scheduled it down to the minute!

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful, I thought, to live according to my inner time clock? Set everything aside for two weeks (except work, of course, because a gal’s gotta eat, right?) and just be in the moment, living each moment to its fullest, which I know from experience makes time seem to expand. Wouldn’t it be nice, when it gets dark, to sit around the candlelight and then go to bed, and wake up with the sun, like our ancestors did before the internet and smartphones and television and the electric light?

    It seems to me, at first I’d get antsy, thinking about what I should be doing. I’d get anxious, withdrawing from the technology “high.” Then I’d get bored. And then, quite possibly, I’d start noticing what’s important to me, what I want to invest my time and energy in, and what’s in the way of my taking action. All that busywork, I suspected, might be my way of avoiding something else. Something big. Something my heart is craving.

    So I’m doing the two-week experiment. That means no blogging. No Twitter. No GoodReads. No  website-browsing. No rewriting, no copywriting, no webinars. Just work, walks in nature, and downtime.

    To escape the tyranny of time, sometimes we need to take time out. Just unplug, and reconnect to our inner clocks.

    I invite you to join me. For a day. Half a day. A space of time. Allow yourself to set aside all but the essentials, and breathe. Listen to your inner stirrings. Whatever needs to get done, will. Later. Or you might discover, in the big scheme of things called life, some of those tasks weren’t all that important after all.

  2. How to Worry Well

    October 23, 2016 by Diane

    Last weekend, it rained. Hard. And steady.

    When it rains hard and steady in California, we stay indoors. We don’t know what that stuff is pouring down from the skies, and if we can’t go out in shorts and flip flops, we just don’t.

    So indoors I stayed. In my box of a playhouse.

    I felt like a caged animal, which is sometimes how I feel in my head. Imagine my delight when I discovered a program on PBS called The Healing Mind. I tuned in, and although my reception was spotty (because I’ve still got squirrels in the doohickey), I got the gist of what Dr. Martin Rossman had to say about worry. The good, the bad, and the huh? what should I do about it?

    Worry is something we all do, sometimes to the point of driving us squirrelly. But according to Marty, we can learn to worry well.

    A worry well? Where we drop our worries and make wishes?

    No. But that’s an interesting idea.

    Worrying well looks something like this:

    Take a sheet of paper, and divide it into three columns. Label the columns:

    Good Worries

    Bad Worries

    I Don’t Know Worries

    Then list all those nuclear nuggets rattling around in your head, all those worry thoughts.

    Is the worry something you can do something about? Then it’s a good one. Is it something you can’t do anything about? It’s a bad one. The rest go in the “I Don’t Know” column.

    Now, for the good worries, decide on steps you can take to deal with them. Brainstorm. Write down your ideas. Make an action plan.

    For the bad worries, visualize a positive outcome. Visualize what you’d like to have happen. This doesn’t guarantee that it will happen, but at the very least, it will help you feel better.

    For the worries you don’t know how to handle, ask your wise self for advice. According to Marty, we use only a small portion of our brain, thinking. The rest of it, the vast uncharted territory, is where imagination and wisdom resides.

    You don’t think you’re wise? Think again.

    If a friend asked you for advice about a problem, you’d have an answer. Where does that wisdom come from?

    Your wise self.

    So lie down, or sit in your comfy cozy chair, close your eyes, breathe deeply from the abdomen, relax your muscles, and visualize your wise advisor. Ask your advisor what you can do about your specific concern. And listen for the answer.

    I was eager to jot down my worries, and found that most of them fell under the “I Don’t Know” column. Just seeing them written down in their various columns lifted a weight from my soul.

    Our minds are tricky buggers. But, as Marty says:

    You are not your mind. You have a mind, but you are not your mind.

    There’s a part of us that can observe our thoughts. Which means, we have the power to choose what we want to think, or not think. We have the power to change our thoughts, our brain chemistry, and its wiring.

    We have the power!

    Here’s another interesting tidbit:

    Worry is a thinking activity. Anxiety is our emotional response. Stress is our physical response.

    To tamp down our anxiety and stress levels, we need to use our heads. We need to nip it in the bud at the source of the problem: our minds.

    So breathe deeply, relax, and go to your imaginary safe place, somewhere the rain don’t pour. And start visualizing.

    Wanna learn more? Get the book, The Worry Solution.

    Here’s a guided imagery by Marty Rossman.