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Coach Carlene

Are you in a season that’s exciting and makes you want to jump out of bed everyday? Or, maybe you’re in a season where you feel kind of meh.? Or, maybe you’re in a season that’s stressful and exhausting and you can’t wait to get back to better days?

I’m in a rough season right now. It’s been grueling and has taken it’s toll on my relationships, my productivity, my energy, my focus, my self-esteem, and dare I say, my outlook.

I don’t want to bore you with the details of this season I’m in. Because, no one’s seasons are the same. Here are some different seasons you can probably relate to like; being a huge support to your grown/almost grown kids, taking care of aging parents. running your own business, staying in the game of your profession because, my gosh, you have worked so dang hard to get there.

Or maybe you’re in a season of transition; moving, becoming an empty-nester, divorce, mourning the end of a friendship that has run its course, a job change, retirement. The list is long.

Some seasons are full of joy. Others are full of sorrow. Others are little of both, AKA bittersweet.

I’ve come to learn that life is full of seasons and it’s how we navigate them that really matters. When a new season rolls around I get overwhelmed. I start to lose my footing, and as result, I become super vulnerable to anything that throws me off.

So, that’s why I wanted to share a couple different ways that I stay grounded, especially in situations like the past few weeks, when things have gotten really tough.

Here’s what has helped me stay grounded as I move from season to season.

Change Your Scorecard

We’re always wearing so many hats, and there’s only so much time to get things accomplished. If you are still measuring yourself by the high bar you set for yourself in a joyful season or a season where you were the master of your days and you are now in a season where your time is not your own, you need a new scorecard.

Why?

Because your priorities have changed. It’s time to change your expectations of yourself. There is absolutely no shame in putting things off for a few months or longer. If you’re in a really busy season you have to look at that calendar.

So, if you had all these projects you wanted to tackle but your time is now spent caring for a sick child, partner, or parent, you need to readjust your expectations. If you don’t, you’ll be constantly beating yourself up for “not getting anything done”. Trust me. It’s terrible for your self-esteem.

You should be measuring if you’ve been showing up for this person as best as you can. Have you brought your best self to the situation? Sure, you can keep one project on your scorecard, but lower the bar. I know that doesn’t feel good initially, but you will soon realize you just took a whole lot of pressure off yourself.

Remind Yourself You Are In A Season

One thing I do when things are tough is to remind myself that I’m in a season and that this, too, shall pass. The season I’m in right now is one I’ve been in for awhile, and it’s a whole lot of bittersweet.

Please hear me when I say that I’m not complaining. I’m beyond grateful to have my amazing family and friends. I’m so grateful for the business I’ve created and to have the opportunity to wake up and do the things that I love every single day. Truly. But just like you, I’m human, and sometimes it can be a lot.

By reminding myself that this is just a season and that it will eventually end, I’m able to rein in some of those negative thoughts and maintain a much better mindset.

Be Grateful

Now, on the flip side, when things are going really, really well – when you’re just hitting it on all cylinders, like, things are just moving and flowing – that, too, is a season.

I think about how I’m in a season right now that on one hand, I’m looking forward to getting out of, but on the other hand, I know there is an incredibly painful loss that defines the end of this season. Bittersweet.

Whether it’s a great season, or kind of a rough season like I’m in now, I’m just going to be grateful because I know the season I’m in now, I’m growing. And at the same time, I’m just grateful that I know things are going to move forward and change. And, if I was in an amazing season right now, I’d be grateful for it because I know it doesn’t always stay that way.

Breathe

When I started doing breathing exercises this year, I had no idea that I have the most shallow breath. It’s hard for me to take a really deep breath. Is it easy for you take a deep breath and count to four? Like, one, two, three, four, maybe fix, six? Can you do a little bit more and then hold it for four? And then let it out for eight? That’s what they do on the Calm app, I breathe in for four, hold for four, out for eight.

When you take a deep breath in, hold it and let it out, your entire body responds. Science backs this up. Deep breathing stimulates your vagus nerve that then calms you. I do this every morning before getting out of bed. Then you’ll find me throughout the day now just taking a moment, just taking a breath. Deep breathing gets me through those anxious moments.

Ask For Help

Finally, when I’ve got too many plates spinning in the air and I feel like they’re all about to come crashing down, I have to be brutally honest with myself. I can’t pretend that I’ll somehow get it all done. This is so closely tied to Changing Your Scorecard above. Lying to myself is only going to make it worse for me and everyone else.

Instead, I need to lean on my amazing family and friends and delegate some things that I absolutely need to take off my plate. Most importantly, I can’t be afraid to ask for support.

So, in this season, I’m not worrying about getting dinner on the table or grocery shopping. My family is so capable and willing to take that on. I’ve had to push some big things off in my business and focus on my 1:1 coaching clients.

Wrapping It Up

When a new season is upon you, reprioritize your scorecard, eliminating, delegating, changing expectations. Remind yourself seasons of life are normal. You will be okay. Just breathe.

My friend, whatever season you are in, know we are all in this together. Right now is the time to love yourself hard. Love those around you you hard. Give yourself the space to move through your priorities at a pace that feels manageable to you. And in the moments you feel like you’ve jumped into more than you can handle or life has just dumped it on you, remember that you’ve got this, and I am so cheering you on.

Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all of the big things that I want to do to make my dreams a reality.

Do you know what that feels like?

Your head is spinning. It can be hard to know what to do or where to start.

I’ve been playing around with this tool for awhile now and want to share it with you so you can beat the overwhelm, reduce stress and anxiety and move forward with clarity.

Let me introduce you to my version of The Mind Sweep.

What exactly is a Mind Sweep?

It’s an intentional methodical way for getting everything out of your head onto paper – or into a Google Doc, or wherever you’re capturing your thoughts in an organized meaningful way.

A Mind Sweep is different than a mind dump. A mind dump is also effective at getting things out, but it’s kind of like taking the mess of thoughts in your brain and creating a new mess on paper. And it can continue the train of overwhelm, because now you have to sort through all of the junk you just dumped out on paper.

Imagine pulling out the junk drawer in your kitchen and dumping it on the floor. That doesn’t really help much…the junk is just in a new spot.

On the flip side, a Mind Sweep is a lot more organized. We pictured dumping the junk drawer on the floor and making a mess. Now imagine yourself sweeping the floor in your kitchen.

When you sweep you’re not just randomly swishing the broom around to see what happens. No! When you sweep, you start at the edges and work in a certain direction. Every swish of the broom has a purpose, and you’ve got an end goal in mind.

That’s what happens when you do a mind sweep. You get everything out of your head in a deliberate and purposeful way so that you’re not dumping junk on a page. Your sweeping out the cobwebs so you can get more clarity and start fresh.

David Allen author of Getting Things Done, uses a Mind Sweep as part of his kind of complicated system GTD for capturing and processing information in your life and work so that you never miss a thing.

His version of a mind sweep is great, but I found it to be a bit much. I’ve played with it for a while, and this is what my mind sweep looks like now. I always tell my clients, their success lies in taking someone else system and tweaking it to make it your own.

HOW TO DO MY VERSION OF A MIND SWEEP

FIRST – Decide where you’ll capture your Mind Sweep thoughts. In a notebook? A journal? A Google Doc? Don’t overthink this. Pick something and start. I mind sweep the old-fashioned way with pen and paper.

SECOND – Decide when and how often you’ll capture your thoughts.

Will you do this in the morning or at night?

In the morning, the mind sweep can help improve focus by reducing distractions. At night, a mind sweep can help quiet racing thoughts and turn your brain “off” so you can sleep.

Doing a mind sweep takes muscle memory, just like any other habit. To start, promise yourself you’ll do a mindset sweep one time a week.

THIRD – Focus your sweep.

Organizing your thoughts into categories helps you manage them.

I sweep my thoughts into one of 3 categories; My To-Do’s, My Worries, and My Inner-Critic. Let’s talk about these from YOUR perspective.

CATEGORY #1: YOUR TO-DO THOUGHTS

This is the first category because I’ve found that these thoughts are at the forefront of my mind. When I do mind sweeps with clients, they also default to thinking about their to-do’s first.

To sweep your to-do thoughts, ask yourself; “What are the important things I need to accomplish today? Tomorrow? This week?

If it helps, think about your to-do’s in sub-categories like; work, home, kids, bills, parents, medical, vacations. You get the point.

Now that you got your To-Do Thoughts out of your head, it’s time to make a doable plan.

3 Steps to Make a Doable Plan

FIRST: Break out projects vs tasks.

Your list probably contains a mix of projects and tasks. A project is anything that has more than one step to complete.

Book a vacation is an example of a project. Choose 3 places to research is a task.

One of the most common reasons we end the day without crossing things off our to-do list is because our list is full of projects, instead of tasks. So we might spend hours working on a few tasks for one project, but not finish the whole project. So even though we made good progress – progress to be proud of – we still feel bad for not crossing it off the list.

When you identify something from your to-do mind sweep that’s a project, put the letter P next to it so you can come back to it later and map out the tasks within the project.

SECOND: Prioritize

With the tasks that are left, it’s time to prioritize. Remember, when everything is important, nothing is important.

Start with lightening the load. What on the list can you eliminate? Now that you see it on paper you may realize you’ve been hanging onto something that doesn’t need to be done at all.

The simplest way to prioritize is by using a ranking system. Go through the list and add numeric or word rankings like NOW, NEXT, and LATER. For more on prioritizing check out this blog post.

THIRD: Delegate and Schedule

Is there anything on the list that you can delegate? Maybe to a coworker, spouse, kids, a virtual assistant, an intern? What can you delegate and get off your plate?

For the remaining urgent things on the list, schedule them into your day and into the next week with time blocks. This helps you keep what you decide to tackle realistic. You can’t get a lot done if you’re in meetings all day. But you can get something done when you have an hour open between appointments. Schedule it and keep that appointment with yourself.

CATEGORY #2 YOUR WORRY THOUGHTS

Worrying causes a huge bottleneck in your productivity. When you worry, you’re all up in your head and not solving a darn thing.

Now sweep for your worry thoughts. Ask yourself;

  • What am I worrying about or dwelling on right now?
  • What am I overthinking?
  • What am I ruminating over?
  • What thoughts are keeping me up at night?
  • What thoughts are distracting me during the day?

Next, review all those thoughts an ask yourself; “What do I have control over? Is there anything I can do about this worry?”

If yes, move that action or task to Category #1: Your To-Do Thoughts. If no, choose to let it go. Worrying has never solved any problem. It simply keeps you spinning.

If you must worry, schedule a time to worry. Every time you catch yourself worrying, remind yourself that you have 30 minutes of worry time scheduled at say 7pm tonight. Maybe use that time to journal about your worries.

CATEGORY #3: YOUR INNER-CRITIC THOUGHTS

Oh, these thoughts keep you so stuck. They tell you that you aren’t enough. They tell you to play it safe. And the secret here, my friend, is that most of your thoughts are outright lies.

Now sweep for your inner-critic thoughts.

  1. What am I beating myself up for right now?
    It may be things like;
    I never do what I say I’m going to do.
    I’m always distracted.
    I never finish anything.

2. Finish this thought; I’ve never been good at _____________________. Or, it might come out of your head as “I’m a terrible writer, speaker, friend, parent, boss, leader.”

Review each thought and ask yourself if it is a fact or simply a thought.

Our thoughts are just that, thoughts. They are not facts. A fact is something that would hold up in a court of law. There is no emotion around facts. Thoughts are full of emotions. Also, notice words like, always, never, constantly, all the time, etc. Those are clues that the thought is a lie.

Now if it’s a lie, what else could you say to yourself? For example, “I keep putting off writing my resume because I’m a terrible writer.” That’s not a fact. So reframe the thought to:

“Now that I think about it, people have told me that I’m a great writer. I even got pretty good grades on my papers in school. I can tackle this resume.”

THAT’S IT! YOU’RE DONE WITH YOUR MIND SWEEP!

Enjoy the feeling that you have. You probably feel a little lighter now that your mind is de-cluttered and you have clarity like you’ve never had before.

“What do I want for lunch? Pasta or sushi?”

“When is the right time to have that difficult conversation?”

“Where can I go on vacation? Can I afford it?”

A typical adult makes more than 35,000 decisions per day – usually starting with whether to turn off the alarm or hit the snooze button.

We face hundreds of choices every day – from simple, “What should I wear to work?” to more complicated decisions that involve our emotional, financial, and physical well-being, “Should we pivot the business?”

The number of decisions you have to make in a day can get so overwhelming that by the time you get home, you can barely decide what to eat for dinner.

This is what’s known as decision fatigue – a term coined by social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, as the emotional and mental strain resulting from a burden of choices.

This type of fatigue leads to one of two outcomes; risky decision-making or decision avoidance.

In other words, when your mental energy begins running low, you’re less able to override basic desires and more likely to go for whatever is easiest.

Fear not! That feeling when you’re overly stressed by the endless amount of decisions you’ve had to make throughout the day can be remedied.

How to Recognize It

Remember decision fatigue isn’t always easy to spot. Here are some tell-tale signs that might suggest you’re heading for burnout.

  • Procrastination – “I’ll tackle this later.”
  • Impulsivity – “A quick decision will give me relief.”
  • Avoidance – “I can’t deal with this right now.”
  • Indecision – “When in doubt, I just say no.”

ONE: Focus on self-care

Take time to rest by setting aside 10-minute breaks between tasks throughout the day.

Recovering also means making sure you’re getting enough sleep, making sure you’re eating healthy, and watching your alcohol intake.

TWO: Prioritize your decisions.

Cut down on needless decision-making by jotting down your top priorities for the day and ensuring you tackle those first. This way, your most important decisions get done when your energy is at its highest.

THREE: Save major decisions for when you’re rested and refreshed.

Ask yourself;

  • “How tired am I in the present moment?”
  • “Am I making a decision to simply solve the thing and get it off my plate?”
  • “How much impact on my life will this decision have?”

If the answer is that it’ll have a high impact, only allow yourself to make those decisions when you have to make them or when you feel refreshed.

That might mean setting aside a block of time each month to evaluate the pros and cons of those major decisions.

FOUR: Minimize low-stake decisions

Reduce decision drain by planning ahead and taking relatively minor decisions out of the equation. For example, take your lunch to work to avoid having to decide which restaurant to order from. Or, lay out your clothes the night before.

Yes, you are still making the decision but you are doing it at a time when you’re not rushed and stressed.

Remember, your morning is only as good as the night before.

We don’t realize that things that have very little impact on our lives can actually take a lot of decision energy.

FIVE: Create routines that will stick

Set up your day so that you have to make the fewest decisions possible. Have a morning and evening routine. Put as many things on auto-pilot as possible.

This means having strict and clear rules about certain things, such as;

  • when you’ll go to sleep
  • specific days you’ll hit the gym
  • going grocery shopping

SIX: Allow others to help

Sharing the mental load of decision-making can help prevent overwhelm.

Here are a few examples of what you can delegate:

  • If you’re having a hard time meal planning, allow your partner or roommate to come up with a menu. You can help out with the shopping.
  • Ask a close friend for a referral for a plumber.
  • Let a colleague choose which images to use on your next presentation.

SEVEN: Keep tabs on your mental and physical state

Everyone gets overwhelmed with decisions at times. Pay attention to your emotional and physical responses.

Are you repeatedly making poor choices because you feel overwhelmed? Do you find yourself making a habit of snacking on junk food to avoid making decisions about dinner?

Keeping track of your reactions can help you understand which habits need improvement.

EIGHT: Celebrate your good decisions.

You make so many small decisions during the day without even realizing it. And that’s on top of all the big, noticeable ones.

Celebrating the big and small decisions alike, boosts your confidence and sets you up for more confident decision-making tomorrow.

Mel Robbins created the High-Five Habit so we could all start celebrating ourselves. So, go high-five yourself in the mirror for showing up and making the best decisions you could today.

If you liked this, be sure to grab your free guide:

The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

A lot of us are back to the office and school. This is great for so many reasons like, connecting with others, having structure & routine, and even some built in accountability. 

What many of us didn’t notice while we were working from home, was the opportunities it afforded us to set our own schedule’s and take some downtime when we needed it.

Between 2 pm and 4 pm, is when we typically experience afternoon slumps to some degree; where you feel mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. For those with ADHD, you don’t experience just a little slump, yours are full blown crashes. 

No matter if you fall on the side of a slump or a crash, they both affect your attention, focus, productivity, and your ability to stay calm and rational.

Here are 7 things you can do to minimize or prevent your afternoon slumps and crashes. The more suggestions you implement, the more results you will see!

1. Simply put, EAT

Many of us don’t eat breakfast; either because we don’t feel hungry in the mornings or because we are in a rush to get out the door. However, starting the day with a protein packed breakfast is incredibly helpful to avoid the afternoon crash.

Lunch is often a meal eaten on the run or skipped when we get busy in our day. Or because we missed breakfast, we are ravenous and eat a big heavy lunch. What we eat for lunch has a direct effect on our energy in the afternoon. Take time to eat a gluten-free lunch with some good-quality protein (chicken or fish) and fiber in the form of vegetables. Your afternoons will be transformed.

2. Get your 7 hours of Sleep

75% of ADHDers have problems with falling and staying asleep. According to the CDC, more than 35% of Americans get less than the recommended 7 hours a night. If you are sleep deprived or had a night of poor sleep, then an afternoon crash is more likely to happen. However, they can still be minimized with the other suggestions on this list.

3. Be a Smart Caffeine Drinker

Caffeine isn’t bad; and if you become a smart caffeine drinker, you can still drink it and not get afternoon crashes.

Drink your first coffee of the day after you have eaten breakfast.
If drinking coffee gives you energy highs and lows, then switch to green tea.
Both tips will give you more sustained energy. Don’t drink caffeine after 2pm because it will interfere with your sleep (which in turn affects crashes).

4. Get Moving

After you exercise, your whole body and mind is energized for 3 hours. To capitalize on this, move your workout to lunch time and see if you notice a difference in your energy level in the afternoons.

5. Drink up

Staying hydrated is by far the simplest ways to fight fatigue, yet remembering to drink water throughout the day isn’t as simple. Don’t skip this step!

6. Say Goodbye to Stress

Stress is exhausting! If your morning is full of tension, mini crisis (forgetting things, mad dashes for deadlines), worry and anxiety, then by the afternoon, you will be emotionally exhausted and ready to crash. 

Stress comes from 2 sources: things you can control and things you can’t.
Focus on the life stressors that are in your control. Using strategies to reduce your worry and anxiety is a great place to start.

7. Stop Multi-Tasking

We love to multi-task. It feels exciting and exhilarating. However, it’s also very tiring. Every time we shift focus, we burn glucose, which is the food our neurons use. After a couple of hours of speedy shifting, we feel drained and ready for a nap. Also, our glucose store is depleted; cortisol (the stress hormone) has also been released, causing us to feel edgy and stressed.
Stop multi-tasking and start single tasking.

Stop here and jot down which of these tips you’re going to put into practice. Don’t skip this step. Doing this sets your intentions. Also, share your intentions with a family member or friend. They may want to join you on getting out of the afternoon slump!

Have you grabbed your free confidence building guide yet?

The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence

I’m not going to tell you how amazing it is to start over or how freeing it feels do something that makes you nervous and doubt yourself. If you’re looking for that you can stop reading.

But if you’re still with me, let me ask you this:

How are you stopping yourself from moving forward?

Signing up for a barre exercise class felt like doing something for the first time for me. It wasn’t. I did barre for years, before the world stopped turning. But returning to that practice made me a beginner again. And I had all the icky feelings of not feeling like enough, doubting I could even get through a class without passing out, and fearing everyone judging me. 

We hate being a beginner. Our habit brains set us up to stay stuck in the fear. Here are two things you can do to move past the fear and start again.

1. Embrace being a beginner, don’t resist it.

I don’t know about you, but I like doing things I’m good at. It’s why I don’t try new things often enough. But when your life gets shaken up, you become a beginner again.

When you embrace the change, you grow. Resist it and your life gets smaller.

Maybe it’s going back to the office or seeing an old group of friends. Maybe it’s exercise, like me.

Whatever is hard for you now will become easier over time.

You may have heard me say that once you start doing the thing that scares you, the fear fades. Let me add this: sometimes it takes a while to fade.

Wherever you are facing a new beginning or getting back to something you love in life, give yourself some grace. It’s normal to be nervous and to doubt yourself. But please, start. Action is the most effective way to eventually moving past the fear. 

2. Affirm yourself, don’t doubt yourself.

One of the most common ways we doubt ourselves is to ask the wrong questions. Wrong questions are disempowering. They immediately change our subconscious thought patterns from positive to negative, or vice versa. They are powerful.

Question: Why can’t I lost weight?
Answer: Because you’re a pig.

Question: Why can’t I do things right?
Answer: Because you’re not smart!

Question: Why am I so broke?
Answer: Because you’re a loser.

Ask a bad question and you’ll get a bad answer. This is how our subconscious mind works. Because the conscious mind programs the subconscious. You can take charge.

Good questions lead to productive answers:

What are the top two things I can do to lose weight?

What is a better way to do this?

What are three things I can do to increase my cashflow?

Asking the right question is empowering.

With the right mindset you can do anything.

What are you going to do now?

If you liked this,

Grab your free confidence guide here. 

You’ve heard sooooo many tips on how to manage anxiety that you’re done listening. I getchu! I wish the mental health community would share the science behind these strategies. When you understand the physiology of why these things work, you’re more likely to do them.

Let me introduce you to your vagus nerve. It is the nerve that connects your gut and brain. It has some MAJOR power. It regulates your nervous system and runs from your gut, through every major organ, all the way up to your brain.

There are very specific ways you can “tone” or stimulate this nerve, making it easier for you to settle your nervous system and control your anxiety.

When you’ve been told some of these strategies in the past, maybe you rolled your eyes and thought, “Ya, like some deep breathing is gonna do anything for me.” Why would you believe it? It sounds too simple and you feel like the person telling you this is brushing you off and simply does NOT understand how bad your anxiety is.

Sometimes the solution is simple. Most times, you can do something to stop the overwhelm of anxiety and spiraling into a panic attack.

Here are 6 science-based ways to activate and calm your vagus nerve.

Strategy 1: Go for a walk in silence.
Getting out into nature is a crucial way to tone or stimulate your vagus nerve. Doing it in silence offers opportunities for self-reflection & daydreaming which activates multiple parts of your brain. It gives you time to turn down the inner noise & increase awareness of what matters most and gets you into the present moment.

Strategy 2: Hum loudly.
When you hum, it sends vibrations through your body. Research has found that the vibrations from “OM” chanting stimulates the vagus nerve.

Strategy 3: Sing a song at the top of your lungs.
Singing releases tension in your diaphragm by activating the vagus nerve. Bonus points for singing as loud as you can! According to research, the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, in someone’s saliva decreases after they sing.

Strategy 4: Practice deep breathing.
Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the vagus nerve, which promotes a state of calmness. Matching movement to breath in yoga & meditation is so important as it grounds you in your body & in the present moment.

Strategy 5: Take a bath.
Hot water activates the vagus nerve & relaxes the body. When a tense body enters a warm bath, the hot water increases the body temperature & relaxes the muscles, which not only soothes you physically but also mentally. No bath? No problem. Stand under a hot shower.

Strategy 6: Hug someone you love.
Oxytocin, sometimes called the “cuddle hormone,” is released when people hug or snuggle us. This release has been found to lower heart rate & reduce stress. Can’t find someone to hug? Curl yourself up with your knees up to your chest. Wrap your arms around your legs. The pressure will activate your vagus nerve. Research also suggests that weighted blankets simulate being held or hugged. Go get yourself a weighted blanket.

Have you grabbed your free confidence guide?
The Habit of Self-Doubt: Crush It and Build Real Confidence.