Archive for February, 2011

Stuck in a Rut Part 2

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

If you’ve been feeling stuck in a rut, here are some questions to ask yourself: 

  1. In what area(s) of my life do I feel stuck?  You might feel stuck in one or more areas, including job/career, financial situation, relationships, health, home, or family responsibilities.  Or perhaps everything looks good on the outside, but you still feel like something is missing on the inside.  It’s difficult to make life changes if you don’t know what you want, so take some time and figure it out.   
  2. What feeling is missing in those areas?   Perhaps you are missing a feeling of security, safety, freedom, self-esteem, self-confidence, appreciation, love, variety, adventure, fun, connectedness, or a sense of purpose.   Sometimes when people feel stuck in a rut, they might think it’s necessary to make a big change.  But when you identify what you’re missing, you may realize that you just need to make a little change in order to get out of your rut.  
  3. What am I doing that is filling a void?  If you can recognize that you are overeating, drinking, self-medicating, shopping, or zoning out with the TV or computer to fill a void in your life, then you can take steps to replace those habits with actions that will move you in the right direction.
  4. What actions can I take to get out of my rut?  Do you need something big like getting a new job, changing careers, or moving?  Or could you feel better by doing something as simple as learning a new skill, trying a new hobby, or taking a vacation?
  5. Is my stuck in a rut feeling based on life circumstances that are under my control?  It can be especially difficult if you are dealing with a situation over which you have no control.  You might not be able to change your life circumstances, but these are the times that often lead to personal or spiritual growth.
  6. Am I really ready for change?  If your life changed for the better, are you ready for it?  If not, what do you need to do to get ready? 

Overcoming Procrastination

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

If you’re interested in answering the question “How do I overcome my procrastination?”, here are some questions to ask yourself first.

  1. In what areas of my life do I procrastinate (work, home, school, personal, other)?
  2. What tasks do I tend to put off (paperwork, doing taxes, making phone calls, making decisions, other)?
  3. Why do I procrastinate (difficulty in focusing, feeling overwhelmed, avoiding an unpleasant task, other)?
  4. Are there particular times when I procrastinate (starting or finishing a project, certain times of the year, other)?
  5. What activities do I distract myself with when I’m procrastinating (checking e-mail, watching TV, other)?
  6. Are there any solutions that have worked for me in overcoming procrastination?

Although there are lots of sources for tips for overcoming procrastination, I don’t believe in a one size fits all approach.  Asking yourself these questions and answering them will give you a good place to start.  Then be creative.  For example, I’ve often heard that to overcome procrastination, one should tackle a difficult project first.  The opposite works for me.  I like to start with something easy to accomplish.  I don’t resist an easy project and once I’m in the flow of work, it’s easier to move on to a more challenging project.

Nobody knows you better than you know yourself, so try some new ways of overcoming your procrastination and see what works for you.

Stuck in a Rut

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

I’ve been watching stories about the winter storms on TV lately.  Lots of people don’t know how to deal with driving on ice or snow.  They slip and slide out of control or they end up stuck.  I read some tips on for helping drivers when they are stuck in the snow that I thought would help people who are stuck in a rut in their lives.

  1. Don’t spin your wheels.  This will only dig you in deeper.  This is true in life as well.  It’s easy to look at someone else’s life and think “Why do they keep doing the same thing over and over?  Why don’t they do something different?”  As a result of our own life experiences, we tend to create patterns in our lives that are hard to break.  So when you’re stuck in a rut, don’t spin your wheels.  Try something different. 
  2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.  To get out of your rut, make a change.  Change the way you look at your situation.  Change your thoughts, your words, and your  actions.  Getting your obstacles out of the way makes getting out of the rut so much easier.   
  3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.  What  action do you need to take in your life?  You might feel like you need a big push to get out of your rut, but sometimes a light touch will do the trick.  Easy does it. 
  4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.  If turning your wheels didn’t work, maybe you need a tool to help clear your path.  Get coaching or counseling,  talk to a minister or a trusted friend, or use self-help or spiritual materials to help you out.       
  5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel, or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.  Without traction, you have no control over your car.  So it is with your life. You need to get a grip so that you can get and maintain control.   
  6. Try rocking the vehicle.  (Check your owner’s manual first – it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.)  Shift from forward to reverse, and back again.  Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.  Sometimes shaking things up will get you out of your rut and sometimes it can hurt you.  Trust your gut instinct, your inner manual, to let you know whether to make a big change or not.  If you do decide to make some changes, go easy at first.  You’ll be out of that rut soon enough. 


Beat the Winter Blahs

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

This has been a long, cold winter for much of the country.  For those people who live where they are getting lots of cold weather, snow, and ice,  I know many people are getting “cabin fever”.  It’s really hard to be focused on your goals, especially those of weight loss and healthier living when you’re just trying to get through another day.  I thought this was a good time to review some suggestions that might just help you get through this winter with your resolutions still intact.

Identify and Avoid Triggers. What triggers your old patterns?  Look at these common triggers and see which ones you have.  Try some of the suggestions and see if they help.

1. Sensory triggers can be anything you see, smell, taste, hear, and touch. Have you always resorted to eating lots of sweets to boost your energy level and mood?  Seeing food ads on TV or going to Super Bowl parties with lots of high fat foods and sugary drinks are just some of the sensory triggers that are happening at this time of year.  Eating smaller meals and a combination of healthy protein/complex carbohydrates/fat before you head to a party really does help control those triggers.

2. Emotional triggers relate to your emotional state. When the days are short and the sky is cloudy, many people have a severe dip in serotonin.  A lack of this neurotransmitter is related to a variety of symptoms; including moodiness, sleep problems, carbohydrate cravings, memory, etc.  To help with these symptoms, get outside for a little while on days when the sun is out, exercise a little every day, (as listed above) eat smaller meals and a combination of healthy protein/carbohydrates/fat, listen to music that makes you happy, make yourself get out of the house and socialize, and so on.  Have a fun “Beat the Winter Blahs” party.  Turn up the thermostat, make your guests wear summer clothing, fix some summer foods like grilled chicken and fruit plates, and for one night forget what time of year it is.

3. Other triggers, such as being tired, can derail your healthy goals. You may be a night owl and be dragging when morning comes.  Try to get to bed at the same time every night.  Attach a light switch timer to your bedside lamp and set it just as you would your alarm.  If you don’t want to awaken to a bright light, you can use a 3 way bulb and set it at a low setting.  For those willing to spend a little money, try a dusk/dawn simulator.  This is intended to awaken you gradually just as the rising sun would.  If you’re interested in light therapy, you should talk with your doctor about the use of a light box, especially if you have severe depression, bipolar disorder, and so on.  Light therapy is a medically approved treatment for some forms of depression, but it isn’t appropriate for everyone.  I checked out the Sunbox Company’s website and they are having a wintertime blues special, so it’s a good time if you’re looking to buy a lightbox.  Besides cutting back on sugar, consider cutting back on caffeine as well.   Frequent use of caffeine can lead to tolerance of it’s many effects.  At high doses, caffeine can cause nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, and other symptoms.

Don’t forget that the famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, didn’t see his shadow on Groundhog Day, so that’s supposed to mean an early spring.  In the meantime, go watch “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray.  It’s a funny movie and that should lift your spirits a little.