Archive for the ‘Stress Management’ Category

Sing a Song

Posted on: June 11th, 2013 by susie No Comments

Do you ever sing out loud? In public? Last week I came across three different people who were singing a song. Out loud. And every time it made me smile.

(It also triggered the memory of a classic from Sesame Street called “Sing a Song. It’s super 1970’s, and tell me if you don’t end up singing the la, la’s part in your head the rest of the day after hearing it.)

I think about the vibe that we bring with us into public spaces, and whether it’s a fairly positive energy or otherwise. The singers – positive without a doubt, notwithstanding the fact that singing aloud in public will draw some interesting looks from people. The three would-be performers seemed content and comfortable enough with themselves to just sing it out. They seemed relaxed even.

It’s all too easy to notice the sad, stressed, angry, impatient behaviour that happens all the time in public. But then there’s a lot of positive energy out there too.

For me those people made the day seem just a little lighter. Especially coming to and from my counselling office, where there’s the weight of the issues that I’ve been working on with clients. It was a reminder to me to smile.

And then what about ways that I can be a little lighter and more positive in public? I can say hi to the person on the elevator instead of pretending they’re not there. I can make eye contact and speak kindly to the person that’s at the check out in the store, rather than being on autopilot. I can hold the door open for people and smile at them.

So I’m quite certain I’m not going to start belting out a tune as I walk down the street, but I’m sure glad there are people who do that, who have taken the Sesame Street song lyrics to heart, “Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear, sing, sing a song”.

Here’s to bringing some positive energy to the day, in whatever form that takes.



Navigating Life with Gremlins and Disorderly Ducks

Posted on: May 3rd, 2012 by susie No Comments

I’m in the midst of reading “Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way”, by Rick Carson.  To be honest I would recommend the book just based on the gremlin illustrations in it by Novle Rogers, they are brilliant!  And really, who doesn’t love a book with some pictures?

In the section I was just reading Carson says, “Your gremlin would have you believe that you will be content and satisfied when you get your ducks in a row, never telling you that your idea of a straight line may not remotely resemble what the universe has in mind.”  (p. 40) Carson then goes on to say, in an indented, bolded statement: “you will never get your ducks in a row”.

What?  You mean I’m never going to have it all together?  I will admit there’s part of me that doesn’t believe this to be true (ah, but maybe that’s just my gremlin at work…).  But it also brings to mind a small lake near where I live that is a perfect spot to observe the ducklings in the spring as they start off swimming in an orderly, organized row behind their parent.  Oh, but then one goes off on it’s own to chase a bug on the water, and another one swims out ahead of the group, and then another two are swimming in circles around each other, and oh no, here come the lily pads, now it’s just mayhem!

Sure, there’s an imagined stability or security that would come with having all our “ducks in a row”, or having all areas of our lives the way we would like them to be, but I’m wondering if life isn’t more interesting because they’re not.  And of course, the reality is that we don’t have complete control over getting everything in order, stuff happens that we don’t necessarily want.

Then the challenge is:  How can I remain centered and grounded in my life no matter how much things aren’t in line the way I would like?  And choose NOT to listen to my gremlin that tells me I’ve screwed up or made a mess of things or that I’m somehow a lesser human being because things are not perfect.

So I’ll keep reading, but in the meantime I might go and check on those ducks at the lake and see what they’re up to.

Here’s to letting the ducks go where they will, and seeing the beauty in allowing my life to unfold as it is.

A Word (or two) for the Year

Posted on: January 6th, 2012 by susie No Comments

Just over a year ago I heard someone talk about the idea of choosing a word for the year at new years.  It would be a word to represent an intention or focus for the coming year.  Apparently I like to think about things before acting on them, so it took me more than a year to decide that I’d like to do this exercise.

I really love words and what they represent, so it was tough to narrow it down.  I’ve got two words in mind and can’t seem to settle on the “best” one.  In fact I think I might just use both of them!


Contentment is something I’d like to experience more of.  I fully believe I can experience it at any time and that in fact it is not dependent on my circumstances.  Eckhart Tolle has written a lot about being in the Now, and about the kind of relationship we have with the present moment.  He suggests that we ask ourselves, “Do I want the present moment to be my friend or my enemy?”

He goes on to say that if you are feeling stressed and frustrated, you may be seeing life as “a ‘problem’, and you come to inhabit a world of problems that all need to be solved before you can be happy, fulfilled, or really start living – or so you think”.  (From “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”)  I know I fall into that trap often, so rather than allow discontentment to rule, I can choose to make peace with what is.


Acceptance is the other word that came to mind and it overlaps with the idea of contentment.  Again, I’m thinking of a peaceful approach to life and circumstances, rather than a feeling of always being at odds or at war with what is happening or what I anticipate will be happening.  Acceptance doesn’t mean not planning or setting goals to make changes, for me it just means starting from a place of accepting that “it is what it is”.

These words are like seeds that I plant in my consciousness.  With reminders to myself from week to week and month to month, by watering them with attention and intention, by putting them in the sunlight of my day to day thoughts, I hope that they will grow and flourish into the themes by which I live.

What about you, what word(s) would you choose and why?

Here’s to another year!  May it be made up of moments in which I can experience contentment and practice acceptance.

“Stressed”, I Thought?

Posted on: September 15th, 2011 by susie No Comments

As I’m in the process of launching my therapy practice and beginning a blog, the topic of stress is on my mind.  (There are other things on my mind as well of course, such as – “Oh.  A blog.  Guess that means I need to write something…”) It was two years ago at around this time that I “hit the wall” as it were, and needed to take time off from work due to burnout.  I won’t go into all the gory details, but the experience forced me to consider how I was managing stress – or not – and figure out what I needed to do differently.

I actually remember my first encounter with the word “stressed”, which believe it or not was not always part of our everyday conversation.  I was 18 years old and at the beginning of my first year of university.  A fourth year student at the university was volunteering to help with choosing and registering for courses, and I distinctly remember her saying something like “I’ll help you arrange your class schedule so you don’t end up being too stressed”.  “Stressed”, I thought?  And suddenly there was this word to describe something that I suppose I had already felt, but didn’t have a name for it as such.

The Free Online Dictionary defines stress as:

“A mentally or emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse external influences and capable of affecting physical health, usually characterized by increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, muscular tension, irritability, and depression.”

Yikes! The fact that it affects physical health is significant, as I think it’s easy to forget that part as we bulldoze our way through stressful situation after stressful situation, claiming that we can “handle it”.

If you’re up for reading further on the topic of stress and its impact on physical health, I highly recommend Dr. Gabor Mate’s “When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress”.  If we are continually unable to say no or to set boundaries around our time and energy, eventually our bodies will say no for us in various ways.  The mind body connection is profound, and the impact of stress on our physical health is a case in point.

Since being burnt out I’ve had to make changes.  I’m careful about how much I take on at one time.  I’m learning how to set boundaries around the time that I work.  I’m mindful of not comparing myself to so-and-so’s energy level and trying to match it, but rather paying attention to how I’m feeling and resting when I need to.  It’s been a learning process.  There are other things that I keep in mind and try to practice, but I’ll save them for another post!

Here’s to making changes and discovering a new path to health.