Coach Carlene

When we are stressed and anxious we usually fall into one or more behavior traps that keep us stuck. We repeat these things over and over. Most of the time we don’t even know we are doing these things. They have become our habit and our way of protecting ourselves.

These are the most common go-to behaviors when our anxiety is triggered and what you can do instead.

1. PROCRASTINATION

Procrastination is a way of avoiding the thing that is stressful for you. This keeps you from doing the things you want and need to do and you likely beat yourself up for procrastinating. 

What to do instead:

When your procrastination has been triggered, ask yourself, “What am I avoiding? Can I avoid it forever or will I have to do it eventually?”

Most likely, you’re going to have to do it at some point.  You get to choose if you step into this zone of being uncomfortable now or later. Choose now so you can get it over with and you can stop thinking and stressing about it.  

If you are second-guessing yourself and you’re not sure what your first or next step is, talk it out with a friend or co-worker. The fear of “I don’t know what to do” can be solved quickly.

Now go do the darn thing! You got this!

2. WORRYING 

When you feel anxious, you think about everything that can go wrong. You stay stuck in the worry and cannot take action. 99.9% of the things you are worrying about will never happen. It feels so huge in your head though. Worrying creates stress in your body and leads to full blown anxiety. Do you wake in the middle of the night worrying about things? It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? 

The fact is, that never, ever, ever has a problem been solved by worrying.  

Here’s how to break the worry cycle:

Ask yourself, “What do I have control over?” Then decide what action you can take in that space of control. Worrying is NOT an action. 

Once you see there is something you can do, go do it! There is nothing more powerful over our minds than taking action and proving all our worry thoughts wrong. 

3. PERFECTIONISM 

Did you know that perfectionism is the greatest form of procrastination? It helps us avoid the things that make us anxious. Perfect does NOT exist, which means you will never finish that thing you’re working on. You may never even get started.

Perfectionism is a trap, fooling us into thinking that we have such high standards for ourselves and that’s a good thing. Wrong! It holds us back from learning and growing. If you’ve ever heard of the growth mindset, you know what I’m talking about. When you adopt a growth mindset you don’t think about getting it all right. You think about what is this “try” going to teach me, so the next time I “try” I’ll be smarter. 

Here’s what you can do:

When you find yourself trying to get it perfect, ask yourself “What’s the worst thing that will happen if this is B+ work instead of A+ work? Will anyone but me really notice?” Probably not. Approach each thing you are avoiding as an opportunity to learn something new. If this mindset is foreign to you, check out Carol Dweck’s book Mindset – The New Psychology of Success.

4. STRESS EATING 

When you’re feeling anxious food comforts you. Well, it comforts you in the moment. But later you most likely regret that emotional eating. We all have our comfort foods. The biggest problem with this behavior is it is such an auto-pilot response we don’t even notice it. 

Here’s what you can do:

Before you grab something and put it in your mouth ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” If not, exit the kitchen and go get busy for 10 minutes. Your desire to comfort yourself with food will most likely go away.  Try some deep breathing.

And this next one is the most powerful…get up and move! Anxiety isn’t just an emotion. It sits in our body as muscle aches, a racing heart, a heavy heart, sweaty palms etc. When you move, you help the anxiety move through and out of your body. Give it a try.

If you’re not sure which of the above behaviors is your default, go take this quick 5 question quiz to find out.

Overwhelm is paralyzing. We can’t think logically or make decisions or take action. 

 I’m telling you, my friend, you want to fight this overwhelm. If you allow yourself to stay in the state of being overwhelmed by the amount of things that you have to do, that pressure and that uncertainty combined with this feeling that you can’t get anything done, is going to create anxiety in your life. It’s going to impact not only your wellbeing but, it’s also going to severely limit your ability to focus and get things done. 

The two most important things to understand about overwhelm is first, what it is, and second, a simple tool you can use to get rid of it. 

In order to do your best thinking, you need to make sure you’ve got the full capacity of your brain leveraged and pointed at the things that are important to you. 

Here’s the problem. When you go through life, as you go through life, what happens is your brain starts to fill up with information and that’s what creates a state of feeling overwhelmed.

Being overwhelmed is nothing more than having a full brain. 

As you go through your day to day life and… 

start checking email and 

looking at texts and 

looking at Facebook and 

sitting in meetings and

going to class and 

flipping through television channels and 

sending emails and 

writing excel spreadsheets and 

running and picking up the kids and 

getting another text and 

looking at Instagram and 

looking at Twitter and 

checking out the news, 

…your brain gets pretty full doesn’t it? And now you feel overwhelmed because your brain is full of a bunch of garbage.

In order to fight overwhelm, you need to do a brain dump. You have to get rid of all that stuff so that you’ve got an empty brain so you can focus again. 

You are literally going to dump out everything that’s in your head onto a piece of paper; every concern, every worry, every to do, everything that’s bothering you that you’re thinking about, you’re going to write it down.

When you’re done writing down everything that’s in your head and there’s absolutely nothing left, pull out a highlighter. Take a look. You could do everything that’s on that list, you could. But what should you do? 

What are three things, just three, that you need to do in order to advance the things that matter to you most? Highlight these three things.

See all that garbage that is NOT highlighted? That is the garbage causing your overwhelm. It’s other people’s stuff. It’s the email stuff.  It’s the meeting stuff. It’s the stuff that’s not all that important. By dumping all that garbage out, you’ve gotten clear on the three most important things you need to do. You’ve got a clear head so you can get it done. 

It works. So, go do it and get back in action!

Grab your free guide:

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

We can all agree that waking up feeling anxious sets you up for a horrible day. And how crappy is it that you haven’t even gotten out of bed and you’re stressed already?!

It doesn’t have to be that way. Trust me. If you take one small step it will lead to another small step and then another. You don’t have to sit in your anxiety. Follow these steps and then I invite you to add/change them based on what works for you. Make yourself a promise to take one first step.

1.Get up! Do not lay in bed.

This is your one first step. It is also THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. Let’s do this.

If you can get up, you can get moving. If you can get moving, you can get dressed. If you can get dressed, you can move your body. If you can move your body, you can move your emotions. If you can move your emotions, you can move your mind. If you can move your mind, you can move your mood. One thing leads to another. 

2. Make your bed. 

I still make my side of the bed even if my husband is still in it. I make my bed when I’m in a hotel room. I do it for myself. It’s a little promise I keep to myself. It’s a habit. Habits are amazing at grounding us. It creates a foundation; a foundation that’s there for us no matter where we are. It’s right here, even in a moment of anxiety. 

3. Talk back to your anxiety.

Remind yourself that you’re ok. Step back and notice that you are safe. Nothing bad is happening right now. Yes, the anxiety feels bad and uncomfortable, but you are ok. 

4. Get your exercise clothes on.

Seriously, this is a game changer. It’s a constant reminder that you need to move your body or exercise (whatever you call it). Do this step and you’re more likely to do the next step. In fact, I put my exercise clothes out the night before. I don’t need more decisions to make when I wake up.

5. Move your body. 

Moving your body, moves the anxiety out. This isn’t about crushing a workout. This is about doing whatever releases the stress and anxiety for you. For some it’s yoga, others cardio, others strength training, or simply stretch for 10 minutes. Play with it and see what gives you the best relief. 

6. Move your mind.

Journal. Do a brain dump. Write down every single thing that is on your mind. By clearing your mind and letting go off all that stuff, you manage the anxiety instead of it managing you. 

You don’t have to let anxiety hijack you. You can meet those moments and manage them. Whether those moments are when you wake up or it’s the anxiety that comes at night, or the anxiety that is your companion during the day.

Anxiety is a normal part of life. Having a simple process allows you to respond to it vs. reacting to it. It’s an essential skill that makes a profound difference in your ability to move through your life and face the obstacles that life throws at you. 

I’d love to hear what works for you. Give yourself permission to find your best way to manage your anxiety. 

Grab your free guide:

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

Tuning out her son army crawling across the floor to grab his headphones and helping her daughter make homemade tortillas for her Spanish class all while running a virtual team meeting was the breaking point for one of my executive clients.

Let’s call this client Claire. During our last conversation I could hear her exhaustion, frustration and overwhelm.

She sighed, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I’ve hit the wall!”

Can you relate?

After weeks and weeks “safe-at-home” we are hearing more and more that people are feeling overworked, distracted, stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. Adrenaline got us through those first weeks. Now we’re reaching into our energy reserves to get us through.

Claire knows she is not showing up for her team or family like she wants to or like they need her to. Not only is she distracted, but she’s got a short fuse. She says she doesn’t have any patience to listen to her family or team. She wants to simply tell them what to do and move on. Her stress is at an all-time high.

When our brains are flooded with stress chemicals, we lose the ability to show up with empathy.

Add to that, we are no longer getting that great energy from being with others in person.

And the cherry on top is that connecting virtually comes at a cost. According to Harvard Business Review, we are suffering from “Zoom fatigue”. They have found that when we are on virtual calls, we have to use so much more energy to focus. This explains why Claire is so exhausted after meeting on-screen at least 6 hours a day.

Meeting in person is like having a healthy, well-balanced meal and meeting virtually is like eating cheetos for dinner.

After talking more, we discovered Claire is not taking care of herself. Her sleep is erratic at best. Exercise is non-existent. She has her leaded coffee for breakfast, cheez itz for lunch and M&M’s for dinner.

Claire wants to do better.

I asked her what she could do now to empty all the crap out of her cup and fill it with things to reduce her stress and give her more energy and focus.

She said, “I think I need to make wellness part of my job description. Framing it that way will help me make it a priority.”

I usually don’t encourage clients to take on more than one change at a time. But Claire is ready to do radical self-care. She decided to tackle three areas that will have the greatest positive impact on her overall well-being.

Eating

  • Claire has committed to eating something high in protein with her morning coffee.
  • She’s blocking 30 minutes at noon each day to eat a healthy lunch with her daughter and catch up with her.
  • She’s telling her team that her workday is done at 6pm and will make a weekly plan with her family for getting a healthy meal on the table every night.

Movement (Exercise has a negative connotation for Claire.)

  • Claire committed to doing 15 push-ups as she rolls out of bed.
  • Claire will set her timer to go off 30 minutes into each meeting and have everyone get up and move for 5 minutes.
  • She committed to walking the dog with her husband every night after dinner.

Sleep

  • Claire will go to bed at 10:30pm and wake up at 6:30am every day.
  • She will do a 5-10 minute meditation to wind down from the day and clear her mind.
  • She will not check her phone in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. She will check her phone after she has had her breakfast.

This is the time to double down on our self-care.

In fact, Claire told me she was never this “messy” with her self-care. She can’t even believe what bad habits she has adopted these past several weeks. She’s confident she can get back on track.

If you’ve got some messy self-care going on, make your own action plan of specific things you’re going to do to start feeling better.

Feeling crazed and exhausted every day? I know the feeling. The fix sounds simple…make self-care a non-negotiable priority.

It’s likely if you’re not recharging your battery every single day, you’re walking around haggard, crabby, and resentful.

The first step in self-care is to be gentle and kind to yourself. Practice self-compassion.

Next, give yourself permission to get support around your self-care. Yes, you can ask for help. It’s a positive healthy part of life.

Now, make a commitment with your spouse, a friend, your sister, anyone who loves you a lot and scares you just a little to hold you accountable. Ok? You got your person? Good.

Lastly, be realistic. I know you have superhuman powers. After all you’re a woman. It goes without saying. Choose just one of the following hacks to start. Not all of them. Once you’ve made one of these part of your life, add on another. Read More

It feels like everyone expects you to cooperatively organize everyone without complaining, and look great while you do it.

It’s unrealistic for anyone. There’s the part of you that knows it’s unrealistic, and then there’s the part of you that pursues it anyway.

When you feel chronically strung out and stressed, you don’t feel you deserve any time for yourself.

You don’t feel entitled to relaxation or adequate sleep, and you put your own self-care on the back burner.

This saps your resources, makes you more likely to get sick or have an accident, and exacerbates your ADHD symptoms even more. Feeling awful becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Don’t give up hope. Read More

Shhhh. I know it’s embarrassing. You don’t understand it. You pray no one else notices. You know? The smell; the stink of not showering. Of course you know keeping yourself clean and well groomed is healthy and socially acceptable. Anything less, is…well…not.

What the heck is going on then? Maybe you’re at one of those ages when a lot of people have a hard time with personal hygiene. Yes, there are times in our lives when it is harder for us and for lots of different reasons.

Surprise, you’re a tween. You’ve always showered but Mom is always nagging you about it now. Why are you resisting? It was never a big deal before.

Maybe you’re a new Mom. Oh boy. I remember those days. I felt so accomplished if I actually showered and put on a t-shirt that wasn’t covered in baby spit-up. New Mom’s have a great excuse. But, it doesn’t make you feel any better. In fact, you feel kind of gross.

You could be in your “golden years” and gosh darn it, you’re tired! You have every right to be. After all, you’ve spent years taking care of everyone else.

Or, you have a physical condition that makes it hard to shower. Maybe you struggle with fine motor skills.

Maybe you have ADHD and that makes it even harder.

I get it. You’re thinking, “What’s the big deal? Just shower.” Showering is a common self-care act. But common does not mean easy for those who struggle in other parts of their life with time, organization, motivation, memory, activation, and action.

So don’t beat yourself up or anyone else. Instead, you can coach yourself or someone else to figuring out what’s getting in the way of showering and what to do about it.

Read More

For better or worse, what we eat affects our brains performance for the day.

The combination of foods determines if our brains make the right connections. Are you ready for the secret formula? Here we go.

Read More

What if you can’t remember your past because you never actually made memories? Is that worse than making them and then forgetting them?

I wonder who will tell this present when it becomes the past? Will future grandparents have stories that start with “I remember when I was your age…?”

I don’t know the answer to that but I do know these things to be true.

  • I can’t go back and live the past because it’s gone. Poof! Doesn’t exist.
  • And I can’t live in the future because it doesn’t exist yet.
  • The only thing that does exist is the present.

So, if I’m not existing in the present, do I exist at all?

Read More

Does it surprise you that lot’s of people are lonely and disconnected, despite our on-line connections of friends, followers and likes?

We’re missing out on the positive effects of sharing smiles and hugs with all this technology. When you add ADHD to the mix, the problem gets worse.

Some ADHD quirks get in the way of making and holding on to friends. Friendships depend on us being on time and being at the right place to meet; remembering names; remembering people’s stories; not putting foot in mouth; listening — not interrupting; not getting too close too quickly; being able to tolerate frustration; managing emotions, being patient.

You’ve Got Lots to Offer

On the flip-side, ADD’ers are, in many ways, gifted in friendships — being warm, generous, forgiving, and intuitive. Sadly, these great qualities aren’t recognized enough because the other quirky challenges of ADHD get in the way.

Friendships cost nothing but time and attention.

But they rely on us taking initiative. When one person is always the one to keep in touch, it gets old and the friendship eventually dies. Tending to your current friends is crucial. You have to check in with a person regularly to make sure the friendship stays healthy.

Think of one person you’d like to connect with more. Someone who you share a genuine and mutual connection with…..even if it’s been awhile since you’ve talked.

You’re hesitating?

Consider these four reasons why friendships are so important to our health and well-being before brushing this aside.

Read More

Are you your own worst bully?

Pay attention to the negative chatter in your head. Would you talk to a friend or your child that way? No?!

You deserve the same respect.

Yes. You. Do.

Next time you feel beat up notice who is throwing the punches.

If it’s you, it’s time to start building some self-love into your days.

Read More

The double whammy of having ADHD yourself and raising a kid with ADHD leaves many Mom’s feeling alone, depressed, overwhelmed, and did I mention exhausted?

I talk to lots of Mom’s about their kid’s ADHD. Recently, I asked a Mom if she has ever been diagnosed with ADHD. She chuckled lightly and said she suspected she would be, if she could find the time to see a doctor. Sigh. Sigh. She’s not alone.

Moms rely heavily on the brain’s executive functions including, exercising good judgment, planning, being patient, keeping calm, time management, and organization. Moms struggling with these challenges look at their chaotic, cluttered, unorganized lives and wonder how other Mom’s keep it “all together”.

If you’ve got kids dealing with those same challenges, you’re bound to have more missed deadlines, general mishaps, emotional outbursts, and, just as often, moments that, at least in retrospect, are poignantly funny.

You don’t outgrow ADHD or get it as an adult although it’s so common for girls to discover it late in life. If you have it as an adult, you’ve lived with it as a little girl. A Missed Diagnosis. Depression, anxiety, and dangerously low self-esteem are all too common for those girls who’ve slipped under the ADHD radar.

The good news is that as awareness of the seriousness of ADHD increases, more women are getting diagnosed—an experience many describe as liberating. Many women say they’re happy they pursued a diagnosis, which has helped them make sense of their pasts while managing their lives today.

Knowing how your brain works is a big benefit! Building self-awareness around how ADHD shows up for you is super important in finding successful strategies to ease day-to-day symptoms. Some things have to be accepted, while others can be tweaked to make life go a little smoother.

Have you been putting off getting a diagnosis and/or treatment? What if your diagnosis and treatment could lead you to saving just one inattentive daydreaming girl from a lifetime of suffering? Wondering, who that could be? They are the girls and women hidden in plain sight….. a student in a classroom where you volunteer, a niece, a granddaughter, a friend, a sister, another Mom.

Helping yourself first, allows you to share your story with others. Your journey can become part of someone else’s journey – their beginning of self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-compassion.

More and more information is becoming available about women and ADHD. You don’t have to go it alone. If you would like more information or support for women and girls with ADHD please get in touch with me at support@coachcarlene.com

Did you like this article?
Get weekly email updates on more great ways to Live ADHD Awesome!
Click Here