• 5 Ways to Stop Overthinking – Be in The Present Moment

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    Has anyone ever told you to stop overthinking things?

    I know that I’ve heard it a few thousand times! That might be an exaggeration, but probably not! In this article learn 5 simple steps that I take to stop overthinking and be present.

    You’ll know if you’re overthinking when you experience repetitive and unproductive thoughts – like your mind is on a merry-go-round that keeps circling around and around. The challenge is that overthinking keeps you focused on one thing. That one thing is usually what you’re unsure about and at the same time you’re invested in a particular outcome – that you can’t control.

    Since thoughts are focused in many different ways, the research has generally made the distinction between rumination which is focused on the past and worry which is focused on the future. No matter which word you use overthinking tends to loop around the same thought and there isn’t a resolution to what you’re overthinking. In fact, the overthinking loop is what keeps the cycle of thoughts running in your mind.

    One of the most frustrating things about overthinking is that it doesn’t get you any further and is generally just not helpful. A good way to know if you’re overthinking is when you recognize that you are stuck thinking about the same thing over and over again but your thinking doesn’t lead to a solution.

    Overthinking tends to follow a pattern

    Re-evaluating the past

    Rumination is the term often used by researcher that includes repetitive thoughts about the past (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1991). Regrets (feeling badly about an event or missed opportunity) and resentments (anger about an experience) also fit within this area. Many people are disappointed that they didn’t pursue a different path in life or are angry about how they were treated in a relationship. But one of the things I hear a lot in my practice is when client’s keep thinking about something they said. It might be second guessing how a comment might be perceived or judging themselves about a comment and feeling embarrassed about it. No matter what your overthinking the past is about, the truth is that it’s not helping you to be present or confidently move toward your future.

    Be in the present moment

    Does overthinking lead to being stuck today? Many people overthink the present and it leads to feeling like they’re in quicksand. It could be that you question your choices and how they led to your current life circumstances, relationships or work.  Typically, this results in more stress and feeling less fulfilled in life.

    Your relationship with yourself is based on the thoughts you think about yourself, your life and the people in the present moment. Do you allow yourself to experience your life positively or overthink and focus on perceived flaws and mistakes? If so, this is an opportunity to reassess where you are in the present moment so that you can choose your next steps.

    Controlling the future

    Overthinking your future is what’s usually described as worry. Worry can be either short term or long term. Short term worry is something like not waking up when your alarm goes off two hours early to catch a flight or text anxiety – did I study enough or even the correct material. Long term worries might be, will I have enough money and be healthy enough to enjoy my retirement?

    Overthinking signals a problem

    When overthinking happens it’s a signal that there’s a problem and you don’t yet know how to solve it.  You might have thoughts –

    • I’m not happy with my career is it the job or me?
    • Is my partner my soulmate or is a soulmate even a real thing?
    • Is there a way for me to feel confident about my finances?

    While these are great questions to ask yourself, overthinking clouds or even prevents you from making decisions that lead to answers. van Randenborgh and colleagues found that rumination- replaying thoughts from the past, negatively affected decision-making. Participants in their study found making decisions more difficult and feeling less confident in the decisions they made (2010).

    Research has found that negative thinking is strongly associated with overthinking (Segerstrom et al., 2000). Another study found that, future-focused worry is associated with increased anxiety and thinking ability (McLaughlin et al., 2007). And lastly, research suggests that changing overthinking that leads to worry can reduce anxiety since they are interrelated (Gana et al., 2001).

    How to Stop Overthinking

    1. Relaxation techniques

    Not only can overthinking increase stress and anxiety, but it can work in reverse – anxiety can lead to increased worry – it’s a bi-directional vicious cycle. A powerful way to interrupt the cycle is to use relaxation techniques. There are many relaxation techniques you can use. One way to relax is engaging in physical activity like working out, going for a walk or practicing yoga. Another type of relaxation engages your mind and body like taking some deep breaths, practicing mediation or guided imagery.

    And then there is relaxation just because it helps you to shift out of overthinking and into being in the present moment. These techniques could be reading a good book, watching an enjoyable moving, spending time outside, talking with a neighbor, friend or family member journaling and the list could go on and on. When you notice that you’ve thought about the same thing more than once and it’s leading you to overthinking that’s the time to stop, plan some relaxation time and shift your thinking.

    2. Get some distance

    Sometimes it’s good to put a little space between you and what’s on your mind. Mindfulness allows you to take a step back from your thoughts so you can consider where you want to go with it. The ability to take an objective viewpoint of your thoughts is key to stop overthinking them. When you overthink, you can become consumed by issue you’re focusing on and lose perspective. When you realize that’s what’s happening, it’s helpful to future pace which is asking yourself, “will this be important to me in a year, five years?”

    3. Challenge yourself

    When you challenge yourself it’s easier to hold yourself accountable, so you can make changes as needed. Ask yourself, “are these thoughts helpful to me?” When you have more awareness of overthinking, you can put it into perspective and make a choice about how you’ll respond. A lot of the time overthinking is a way to pause taking action. We all have coping mechanisms, no matter how unhelpful they might be. Sometimes overthinking is a way to press the pause button and give yourself some space. Challenging yourself is one way to break through the overthinking noise and take action.

    4. Fact or fiction?

    Have you heard the phrase, “thoughts are not facts?” But we all know that at times it can feel like they are stone cold facts. Sometimes it’s helpful remember exceptions. It’s human nature to make mistakes or deviate from a habit.  When you realize that your thoughts aren’t helpful or reflect your reality it’s helpful to look for exceptions. Sometimes reminding yourself that very few things in are “always” one way or another can free you from overthinking.

    5. Spend time with a pet

    For the most part pets don’t seem to experience stress as humans do (Sapolsky, 2004). They don’t think overthink about or are embarrassed by their behavior. What they can show us is how to live in the present moment and enjoy it!


    Overthinking is not only unhelpful, but it can also actively harm your well-being by increasing stress, anxiety and negative emotional states. When you understand how overthinking functions in your life and how to stop it with the stress management skills above you have what you need to break free from the patterns that hold you back from living a fulfilling life!

  • Calm Your Mind with 5 Science Backed Strategies

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    Read on to discover science-backed strategies to help you calm your mind for more piece of mind.

    When you calm your mind, do you have peace of mind? Most of my coaching clients want to be in a state of calmness or tranquility and they also want to have the confidence that they can reduce stress as needed. Life is busy when you know how to manage daily stress it helps to have freedom from worry and anxiety. When your mind is overwhelmed with too many thoughts and feelings, it can be intense and stressful. A calm, relaxed, and content mind is just what’s in order!

    There’s a lot of research that gives many ideas or options on how to decrease stress and calm your mind. When your sympathetic nervous system is activated, it releases of cortisol, and other stress hormones catecholamines norepinephrine and epinephrine (Charmandari, Tsigos, & Chrousos, 2005). If you know what helps you to stay in a calm and relaxed state the stress hormones remain at a moderate level, which help your brain and body to experience fewer consequences of stress.

    There are a number of ways to reduce stress. Fortunately, there are also a number of science-supported ways to calm your mind.

    Here are five powerful ways to calm your mind and feel less stressed:

    1. Practice Visualization

    When your mind is full of stress, commitments and must-dos, it is helpful to exchange your thoughts with a more soothing state of mind. One way to do this is with visualization. For example, you can imagine yourself on a sandy beach, enjoying the sunshine on your face and a slight breeze carrying the scent of tropical flowers. This type of imagery can give you a little break and remind you that you have control over your thoughts.

    What’s great about visualization is that when you imagine situations, your brain reacts in very similar ways as if those things are happening in real time in your life right now. So, when you visualize a calming situation or image, some parts of your brain think it’s real. The result is that you begin to feel the emotions the visualization evokes for you (Quoidbach, Wood, & Hansenne, 2009). If you want to have a calm mind, imagine a scenario that cultivates peace of mind and assess how you feel.

    2. Practice Mindfulness

    Mindfulness is one of the most popular ways to slow down, put the brakes on a racing mind, lower anxiety, and help you be in the present moment. Many people do mindful meditations to calm stress and anxiety on a regular basis. Although mindful meditation isn’t a good fit for everyone (Krick & Felfe, 2019), it is useful tool to try it out and see if it has a calming and clarity inducing effect for you. Guided meditations, in particular, can help you stay focused with the meditation enough to experience beneficial results.

    3. Listen to Binaural Beats

    Research had shown that listening to calming music reduces cortisol for many people. As a reminder, cortisol is one of the key stress hormones (Khalfa et al., 2003). In addition, there is compelling research suggesting that there are benefits of listening to music with binaural beats. Binaural beats are when two tones with slightly different frequencies are played one beat in one ear and the other beat in the other ear. The research shows that listening to binaural beats before working on a task helps to improve performance. They might also help to calm the mind (Garcia-Argibay, Santed, & Reales, 2019).

    4. ​Go Outside

    One of the best ways to calm the mind is to go outside and breathe the fresh air. Getting outside no matter if it’s into the forest, a park, even your own backyard is beneficial for your well-being (Ulrich & Parsons, 1992). Whether it’s because of the fresh air, sunlight, or breathing in the scent of trees (all of which are good for our health), it doesn’t matter. What the research shows is that being outside helps calm and soothe both your mind and body.

    5. ​Do Things You Love

    If you’re prone to feeling the effects of stress it’s easy to get stuck feeling anxious when your life provides you with little inspiration, excitement, or fulfillment. Luckily, you have a lot of power to change this point of view of your life. What you’ll need is to do more of the things you love. Maybe you love painting, cooking, playing softball, playing with your pet, or watching old movies. Whatever it is, when you do things that make you feel good, you dissolve some of the negative thoughts and emotions that clutter your minds.


    When you calm your mind, it often leads to peace of mind. Building a foundation that supports you on a regular basis to keep stress low is important. Equally important are skills that you can easily use when life happens and your stress level increases. One thing I know is that the ability to calm your mind is one that keeps giving dividends year after year!

  • Learn How to Easily Soothe Yourself: 5 Tips to Renew Your Inner Peace

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    Inner peace doesn’t just happen it takes skills to self-soothe which is one of the most important.

    Keep reading to learn science-backed strategies to increase your ability to self-soothe and feel the calm of inner peace!

    Self-soothing is defined as the effort or capacity to calm yourself when you’re in a state of emotional distress (Wright, 2009).

    There are three factors that determine how long the emotional stress lasts depending on

    1. how emotionally reactive a person is
    2. the level or amount of difficulty they have with regulating their emotions
    3. how quickly they recover from emotional distress.

    Self-soothing usually focuses on child development. Childhood is when we learn many self-soothing patterns which starts when we’re just babies. Child development researchers find that when people are soothed by caregivers, they internalize the experience of soothing and learn how to recreate the emotional experience for themselves (Wright, 2009).

    What happens when your caregiver doesn’t know how to self-soothe or if there are other barriers to our learning how to self-soothe?

    The good news is that you can learn to self-soothe no matter what age you are and no matter how uncomfortable it is to learn something new. Improving your self-soothing skills as an adult requires insight into what you need, learning about self-soothing skills, and the ability to focus effectively on self-soothing, so that you can return to an emotional baseline. It might sound like a vague skillset, but as you practice is becomes clear and you know what to do to help yourself. Here are some quick and easy self-soothing techniques that have a lot of impact and that many of my clients find helpful:

    1. Listen to Relaxing Music

    Listening to relaxing music often reduces cortisol. Cortisol is an important stress hormone that decreases when we shift out of a stressful state and into a relaxed stated (Khalfa et al., 2003). If you’re feeling anxious or you feel like you have excess energy and can’t settle down, calming music can help.  Music supports your brain by changing your mood, helps you to breathe more deeply and focus on positive emotions and decrease negative emotions.

    2. Take a Few Deep Breaths

    A key part of self-soothing is decreasing activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Using your car as an example, it’s the accelerator that speeds up the car and makes the engine work harder. We slow and calm our stress response by activating the parasympathetic nervous system or in the car example it’s the braking system. The parasympathetic nervous system slows down the acceleration and stops the fight, flight or freeze response, so you can return to a baseline calm state.

    To activate the parasympathetic nervous system or the breaks, take a few long, deep breaths. One easy breathing strategy to remember is box breathing.  Box breathing involves breathing in for a count of four, holding for a count of four, breathing out for a count of four, and then holding for a count of four. Repeat this box breathing method for a few rounds until you start to feel calmer.

    3. Do Pleasant Activities

    Engaging in pleasant and enjoyable activities is another easy way to self-soothe (Linehan, 1993). Participating in an activity you enjoy often helps you feel more contented. When you’re stressed doing something you like supports your well-being when you experience a positive state of being. Some low-key pleasant activities are gardening, spending time with friends, and doing arts and crafts. It doesn’t need to be fancy – a word search, doodling or reading are great options.

    4. Identify Your Stress Triggers

    Many clients have told me that one of the most frustrating parts of experiencing intense negative emotions is the unpredictability. It’s as if they are blind sighted by emotion coming from nowhere or even bubbling up after an uncomfortable event. Sometimes this happens hours or even days after. By gaining more awareness about what leads to stress, you can self-soothe and prevent stress. This leads to better control of your emotions overall.

    One easy way to practice this is to decide when it’s worth the challenge and when it’s not. For example, you can avoid the gossipy neighbor who leaves you feeling like you’ve been slimed. You can stop yourself from saying something you’ll regret and prevent the same argument with your mother- again.

    5. Explore When and What Upsets You

    What are the common themes when you get upset, especially the time of day and the topic. Ask yourself: do I feel out of control or overwhelmed when I’m tired or hungry? It’s important because the solution is simple and feeling better sooner is almost certain. Changing your schedule so you’re in alignment with when you need to eat and you can sleep longer hours is helpful.

    Another important point is to ask yourself –

    • Are there specific thoughts or energy that leave you feeling stressed?
    • Are you overthinking it—playing out the situation over in your mind again and again?
    • Or are you catastrophizing—imagining the worst possible outcomes?

    It could even be your negative inner critic—that little voice in your head that tells you that you’re not _____ (fill in the blank) enough.

    ​When thoughts stick, it’s good to know what they are so you can take action and prevent them from spinning out of control.

    In Sum – Benefits of Self-soothing

    When you feel upset and your nervous system is in fight, flight or freeze mode it is difficult to self-soothe. When you have options that help you feel better you have choices. By using self-soothing techniques, you do have a lot of control over how you think and feel than you realize. Being calm, clear and connected is possible when you know how to reduce stress and manage your emotional well-being.

  • 5 Simple Ways to Boost Your Mood

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    Ready for science-based ways to boost your mood with positive emotions while you decrease negative emotions, so you can enjoy life more?

    Life isn’t always easy or fun or what you thought it would be like. Sometimes negative things happen that result in feeling negative and a bad mood is what you experience. Other times you make a decision that doesn’t turn out the way you would like. And at other times you might feel down for no obvious reason. When this happens, we know that we want to feel better, as fast as possible. The confusing thing is that it’s often difficult to think of even simple things to do to boost your mood. Luckily, psychological research has shown which practices can reliably boost your mood.

    Here are a few to check out:

    1. Practice gratitude

    One of the best ways to start feeling better fast is to practice gratitude. Gratitude is said to be the parent of all virtues and it often leads to an optimistic perspective too. You can write in a gratitude journal or make a gratitude list to remind you of what’s important to you. These simple practices are quick and boost your mood – fast!

    2. Cultivate self-compassion

    Self-compassion can help you feel better about yourself. When you’re not as judgmental of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors – you treat yourself better. You can boost self-compassion by writing down things you’re proud of and reminding yourself that you’re always learning and evolving. Even when things don’t work out as you hoped, a small nugget of wisdom can help boost your mood. When you keep in mind all of the good things about yourself it encourages you to treat yourself with kindness.

    3. Boost self-confidence

    When you are confident, you’re more likely to take the necessary actions you need to take to improve your life. As a result of this boost in motivation, it is easier to be in a better mood. One way to boost self-confidence is by reminding yourself of your strengths and positive qualities. Think about your strengths. It doesn’t have to be a huge accomplishment — maybe you’re a great baker, the video game champ in your friend group or you’re good at your job. Acknowledging what your good can help boost your mood.

    4. Change your point of view

    Research shows that future pacing or looking at your current life from a point view in the future can decrease your negative emotional experience and help you feel better now (Bruehlman-Senecal & Ayduk, 2015). So, if you’ve experienced a difficult situation that leads to feeling down, it can be helpful to imagine what your life after there’s some distance between now and then. This perspective helps to feel hopeful about the future and boost your mood. Tell yourself about all the great stuff your future self is doing. Acknowledge that you’ll move through this challenging situation and on the other side you’ll have gained more experience and self-knowledge.

    5. Notice the positive things

    Many studies show that focusing your attention on the positive improves well-being (MacLeod, et al., 2002; Wadlinger & Isaacowitz, 2008). This doesn’t mean, “focus on the positive and forget the negative” – that’s just not practical. Instead, acknowledge the current situation and what’s difficult and at the same time also acknowledging the good things in life is the focus. A well-rounded perspective is both realistic, helps boost your mood and gives you something to look forward to as well.

    In sum

    When life happens, like it does for all of us and you’re feeling down it’s often difficult to think about what would help. This short article gives you some simple and easy steps you can take to boost your mood. Be sure to remember that self-compassion will help you feel better with more authenticity than negative thinking could ever do!

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  • Discover How to Grow Your Emotional Well-being

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    What if you could create more positive emotional experiences and improve your emotional well-being?

    Improving your emotional well-being is not about stopping or avoiding uncomfortable emotional experiences. Emotions are a normal and necessary part of life – both emotions we like as well as those that are uncomfortable. Emotional well-being includes your emotional awareness, emotion regulation, and emotional recovery for optimal functioning. Increasing emotional well-being is entirely possible. Emotional well-being skills can be built at any point in time.

    Here are some ways to have more emotional well-being:

    1. Grow your emotional awareness

    Emotional awareness increases when you engage in self-reflection—

    • What am I feeling?
    • Why do I feel this way?
    • What will help me stop feeling uncomfortable?

    When you’re unaware of your emotions, you may engage in behaviors that hurt your emotional well-being. But, when you pay more attention to your emotions, you begin to learn which situations, people, or thoughts affect your emotions – positive or negative. You can use your emotional awareness to take action and help you have more enjoyable emotional experiences.

    2. Engage in mindful acceptance

    Mindfulness includes emotional awareness and it also includes self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is when you experience emotions without judging and accept them as part of who you are. Self-acceptance helps prevent the secondary negative emotions. Here’s an example: when you feel guilty about feeling angry, guilt is a secondary emotion. Acceptance of all emotions (positive or negative) helps prevent adding extra negative emotions into the mix. When you practice non-judgmental self-acceptance, you let your emotions come and go without labeling them as good or bad. You allow yourself to be present and emotions to flow which enhances emotional well-being. One way to develop this skill is practicing mindfulness meditation.

    3. Shift your focus

    Shifting your focus or re-directing your attention from uncomfortable feelings you’re currently experiencing to the wider impact or “big picture” can help. If your focus is on a disappointing situation, you might shift your attention to focus on the other things in life that are going well. Most of us have a mix of things we feel good about as well as things we want less of in our lives. Looking at the big picture is easier said than done, but research shows that training ourselves to focus on neutral events or situations instead of threatening events can reduce anxiety (Amir et al., 2009). Reducing anxiety is a key factor in emotional well-being.

    4. Reframe your experience

    Reframing is an emotion regulation strategy where you interpret a stressful situation in a different and often more positive perspective. As a result, you understand that there is more than one point of view. This can help you prevent getting stuck in one emotion and instead boost overall emotional well-being.  You can practice reevaluating situations by listing things that are good as a positive –

    • How is this an opportunity to grow?
    • What can I learn?
    • What are the good parts of this situation?

    Reframing is a skill, so the more you practice, the easier it becomes.

    5. Get some emotional space

    Emotional distancing is taking on an observer perspective of yourself. It’s like being a “a fly on the wall” as you experience an emotion. Another option is to try future pacing.  Imagine being a day, month or year from now and as you look back on your current situation, what do you predict your perspective will be? For example, after an argument with your partner, think about how you’ll feel about this fight in a week, month, or year. By using emotional distancing, you usually don’t have as many negative judgments about it and can recover from negative experiences more easily (Bruehlman-Senecal & Ayduk, 2015). Recovery from negative experiences is another important factor in emotional well-being.

    6. Imagine/visualize the good things

    When you imagine positive events, your brain produces similar signals as if you were experiencing those things in real life. This is the reason positive imagination and visualization can be such a powerful tool for emotional well-being. When you’re going through a tough time, you might not have a lot of positive things to focus on. But when you use your imagination, you help your brain experience positive emotions, nonetheless. So, try to imagine yourself in a good place and generate more positive emotions.

    7. Share positive moments

    When you share your positive moments, you help them grow, expand, and last longer. When something good happens, show, tell, or share your experience with someone you care about since it supports emotional well-being for both of you. For example, you could send a text to a friend or call them on the phone. Just be careful not to ‘humble brag’. For example, if you got a promotion, you could say, I’m feeling so great today about my career. I’d love to celebrate by taking you out to dinner. The people who love you in your life will want to celebrate with you!

    In sum

    Emotional well-being is the foundation for a life well-lived. It helps you to manage challenging situations while remaining present. When you know that you have the skills to care for yourself no matter what happens – life gets easier. Practice these 7 well-being skills and you’ll create a solid foundation for your life.

  • How to Unlock Negative Emotions that Trigger Stress Eating

    Mindless stress or emotional eating.

    You’ve been there – eating when you don’t really want to, but the stress needs to go somewhere and that when stress or emotional eating starts.

    It’s a distraction that helps to calm your stress with relief even if it’s only for a few minutes.

    You’re only trying to get away from the negativity. Eating something, especially if it’s a high carbohydrate snack it works!

    Your brain is bathed in calming, feel-good neurotransmitters that changes your brain chemistry. Your brain is taking care of the immediate situation, “I need to calm the tension now.”

    This is the heart of mindless stress eating.

    You start feeling better when you have a pleasurable experience.

    But shame and guilt hits you like a ton of bricks and now you’re right back to feeling uncomfortable and the soothing you experienced starts to evaporate.

    What happens next? A lot of clients say it’s something like this:

    You already ate the food, so you –

    • restrict your food intake
    • promise that next time you will resist
    • focus on more willpower


    • you go back down the path of mindlessness stress or emotional eating
    • justify your discomfort by telling yourself you might as well enjoy it while you can
    • feel hopeless that you’ll ever be in control of food

    There are a lot of reasons stress or emotional eating cycle repeats over and over.

    The reason with the biggest impact is that you feel near immediate relief in the moment.

    There’s a whole lot of brain chemical reasons why people feel a sense of control and relief after eating.  Regardless of how long the relief lasts, using stress or emotional eating brings relief from uncomfortable feelings.

    The desire to create and maintain a calm state is a powerful drive. When emotional reactivity is high, stress or emotional eating is one of the quickest legal ways to get calm.

    Over the past few decades, the intersection of psychology and neuroscience have shown us that our emotions, how we as feel, think, manage, and understand our experiences, is in large part based in learning how to cope and manage different states of being.

    What’s important about this is that we have the opportunity to learn new skills at point in our lives.

    The bottom line is that you can learn how to become a Conscious Eater even after years, decades even – of stress or emotional eating or dieting.

    Mind, body and heart peace.

    When emotions are vague, people tend to generalize them and think in broad brush strokes: “I feel bad or depressed, or sad, or mad, etc.”

    This is a good start and you can develop a more refined, specific emotional vocabulary to help you even more.

    It’s in our human nature seek feeling good as much as possible, so when uncomfortable feelings surface you probably want to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

    Spending time pondering the subtleties of sadness isn’t something most people tend to do without some sort of highly motivating factor to do it.

    Emotional self-awareness requires you to be specific.

    Becoming a Conscious Eater helps you increase your emotional vocabulary, so that you are more aware of what you feel. When this happens you more options for calming and soothing yourself, without needing food to do the job for you.

    While I can’t promise that this is an easy task, what I can tell you is that just like learning anything new, with intentional practice you’ll become more skillful.

    Vague feelings lead to no specific action plan and lead to stress or emotional eating.

    So, why all this talk about the specifics of feelings? Getting specific about the feeling provides you with a broader range of options so you can feel better sooner.

    Here’s an example:

    Say you’re at work and there’s a project you’re leading, the deadline is near and it’s not going well.  You’ve racked your brain to come up with solutions, but it’s just not happening. So, you decide to summon up courage and talk with your boss about it. You want to receive some guidance on how to move forward.

    Bad news: your boss is tense and busy with an emergency. Furthermore, she tells you that she expects you to handle it on your own and is confident that if you just spent a little more time on it, you’ll figure out what you need to do. She wraps up by telling you she has a conference call in 2 minutes and, with a tone clearly sending the message, ‘don’t come back with this problem – just give me your best work in the morning.’

    Has this ever happened to you?

    I imagine we all have experienced some version of this at least once in life!

    Notice the feelings you might have felt as you read the example.

    Frustration at the inability to get the project done without a fresh perspective.

    Which can lead to anxiety about not knowing and needing to ask for help.

    Which can lead to feeling vulnerable that your boss will judge your work performance as poor and that you’re not a valuable employee.

    Your boss’s response can lead to anger.

    You asked for help, she’s your boss, it’s part of her job and she’s not doing it!

    The anger, if left unexplored, can get stuck. You could become focused on your boss’s incompetence, her dislike of you, and her plan to set you up for failure, etc.

    The mind can go to very dark places when we get stuck in fear!

    Even if this all this negativity happens to be true—there are difficult bosses out there—you can still remain curious about the variety of feelings you experience and then decide if the feelings become problematic for you.

    The emotionally curious part of you, the part who desires to be more conscious and intentional in life, may have a conversation with yourself like this:

    I made myself vulnerable and asked for help when I needed it. Now I feel dismissed that my work isn’t important, maybe even taken to old familiar feeling – I am not important.

    I’m disappointed because I really like my boss and look up to her as a role model and now, my heart is broken a little.

    Maybe she’s not the superwoman I wanted her to be.

    I feel even less able to do my best work, maybe I’m not as invested and excited as I once was. Maybe I’ll just go to lunch early, have my favorite food to console myself.

    But wait, no, maybe the problem she’s dealing with really is more urgent at this moment than the project due tomorrow. After all it is an emergency! I know that she doesn’t have time until the problem is solved.

    She put her faith in me and tried to be encouraging but didn’t have the time or capacity in the moment.

    Hmm, taking into account all of the feelings I’ve just processed, maybe what I can do is give her what I have, make notes on what needs to be refined and we can talk after the problem is resolved and she catches her breath.

    Maybe I can take a deep breath too, take a walk outside and get some fresh air. It’s a nice day and that will help.

    I need to practice patience. Have a nourishing lunch, then get a game plan together, so that I’m prepared as much as I can be at this point in my work.

    When you get more specific about your feelings you have more options.

    With time and practice you can get to the heart of the matter more quickly.

    There is a simplicity in directly addressing the nuance of feeling which helps guide you in how to care for the feeling.

    What if part of the problem with emotional eating isn’t really the food, but rather not being clear about the feeling or what to do with it?

    What if you separate out the food from the feeling in a way that gives you more information about the feelings and possibilities for taking care of yourself, without focusing on food?

    The assumption we’re working with is – you need to fuel your body and fullness-satiety is a need. Nobody can work very well with their feelings if your body needs fuel. Get something to eat and check in with yourself. Nourish your body at the beginning signs of hunger.

    The two systems – feeling and nourishment – are interrelated; we can’t truly separate them altogether, but we can separate them enough to find some clarity. They require different questions and most often different answers.

    Let food be food and emotions be emotions.


    How to identify the nuance of feelings and prevent stress or emotional eating.

    Feelings identification process.

    There are three basic emotions that most people start from: anxiety, anger, and sadness.

    If you think about the intensity of the emotion, like a little anticipatory anxiety when you’re at week two of a new job. Just a little, enough to keep you on your toes, versus intense anxiety when you’re about to give a pitch to a venture capital team for several million dollars. Intensity of emotion about an unknown situation like your first day on the job can be consuming.

    If you lump these experiences into one, as if they are the same, you short-change the relationship you have with yourself.

    Lots of people do this every day.

    In the attempt to get past difficult emotions, you may dismiss them as if they are nothing and in return you miss the possibility to care for yourself in a truly meaningful way.

    How to apply “feelings identification” to decrease stress or emotional eating.

    Depending on your experience with a particular emotion and the intensity you experience of it you’ll need options. A variety of coping skills to work your way through the emotional experience helps a lot. You can get to the other side of your emotions faster and that’s what builds emotional awareness.

    Think of this like any new skill you learn. Riding a bike at first is shaky and usually involves losing your balance and falling off and trying again. With each round of trial and error you learn more. Your mind and body become experienced in bike riding and you know more about how to stay balanced.

    They are necessary steps, which help you learn what not to do, so you learn what works – faster.

    If you try a coping skill that doesn’t fit the emotion, meaning, it doesn’t help decrease the intensity it’s okay. Try the next idea – it may be the one that helps! To make it easier and hopefully faster, I have a process for you to try.

    The SILK process, can be very helpful to help you get the clarity you need.

    SILK – Stop

    Be still and give yourself a few minutes to feel.

    No worries if it’s difficult. This is time limited and it will pass in a few minutes.

    You need to allow yourself a couple of minutes to find what you’re working with.

    Silk -Identify

    List your feelings and consider the possibilities. Look up some of the synonyms and add them to your list.

    You may find that the dictionary definition or browse the thesaurus it provides clarity that is how you feel.

    Think of it as explorating, so that you get a sense of what you are responding to. And that’s which is clue to what you need for your well-being.

    SILK – Listen

    In your heart you know where and which feeling is resonating when you look at the feeling list.

    Notice what hits you with, “yeah, that’s it.”  The next step is to ask yourself “what can I do to help me to feel taken care of?”

    What will help you to move through the difficult part and get to the other side where growth resides?

    SILK – Kindness

    Work from a growth mindset perspective.

    This is the place where the Golden Rule of Self-care applies to you.

    Treat yourself well. It may take time to figure out what you need.

    You will make mistakes along the way and that’s okay; you are learning.

    You are getting to know yourself in a different way that leads to good things.

    Getting unstuck is the best reward.

    I hope that you find that developing your emotional vocabulary leads you down the path to Conscious Eating!

    What happens when you solve stress or emotional eating is that burnout, overwhelm and feeling stressed also decrease dramatically. You’re able to use your newly developed self-awareness to take care of your needs. You’ll have the time and energy to pursue what you need and live a personally fulfilling life you love. And after all – it’s that what it’s all about?

  • How to Empower Yourself in Midlife

    How to empower yourself isn’t a topic that’s directly discussed much.

    You’ll often read about what’s empowering after the fact. It’s as if the feeling is a surprising result. Instead, the tools to empower yourself are simple and can become your way of being in the world. When you know what can help you reach your goals, it’s nearly impossible to go for it!

    Feeling confident, effective and competent are all important for growing and learning as a person. You are much more likely to be accomplish what you want to in life if you believe you can do it. The opposite is also true. Doubt and insecurity can steal to your confidence to learn new things and grow when they overshadow potential.

    While it may often feel like things are out of your control it is rarely the case. Stepping into the power you have in your own life is possible and it is called empowerment. Keep reading to learn more about what empowerment is, how you can use it to fuel your motivation, and how to build even more of it within yourself. ​​​​​​​​​

    What Is Empowerment?

    Have you ever felt like you can take on any challenge regardless of the stress swirling around you? The feelings of self-confidence, clarity, and self-determination are important parts of feeling empowered. Empowerment is defined as a “process that fosters power in people for use in their own lives, their communities, and their society, by acting on issues they define as important” (Page & Czuba, 1999). When you feel empowered, you feel you’re in power or control of your life. Empowerment is what allows you to feel confident that you have the power to create a personally fulfilling life. It’s also confidence that you are capable of accomplishing what’s important to you.

    Feeling empowered is motivating.  You can pursue your goals and dreams with enthusiasm. If you feel a lack motivation or doubt yourself, increasing your sense of empowerment within yourself can help build your self-esteem and a better quality of life.

    A study that used an online psychological-educational program to help people suffering with depression, measured changes in empowerment. Following the program, participants noted an increase in self-esteem and empowerment. The participants improved their quality of life even six months after the completion of the program (Crisp et al., 2014). What this shows is that improving your self-esteem and feeling more empowered can have a positive effect on your overall quality of life.

    The opposite of feeling empowered is powerlessness or defeat. A disempowered mindset can leave you to feel like you don’t have control of your life. While it isn’t possible to feel fully empowered and confident one hundred percent of the time, it is possible to have a more neutral mindset so you don’t experience negative consequences that can impact your health.

    A lack of empowerment (high powerlessness scores) is associated with:

    • Limits on physical activity with age
    • Negative psychosocial symptoms with age
    • Health problems five- and ten-years post-survey
    • Poorer of health in general (Seeman & Lewis, 1995)

    Empowerment is a trait that you can build within yourself with time and practice.

    How To Empower Yourself

    Now that empowerment is defined, it’s time to explore how you can build more empowerment within yourself? For some people, feeling empowered and self-confident may already be skills they’ve learned. Building a sense of empowerment may take a bit of a mindset shift, especially for midlife women. The following are empowerment skills you can develop and actions you can take to implement them on a daily basis.

    Develop more positive self-talk​

    Negative self-talk, especially when it involved negative self-assessments can be detrimental to an empowered mindset. To develop more positive self-talk, you may need to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. For example, instead of thinking “I can’t do that”, think “I can do hard things”. This simple switch can make a world of difference.

    Create an action list for your goals

    Ideas and goals are a great start, but without taking action you won’t get very far! Empowered people know that to move forward and achieve your goals takes effort.  One way to make the process more practical is to write down your large goals.  Break them down into smaller parts by necessary progressive steps. Then step is to break them down even smaller info weekly and then daily goals that are “doable.” Small consistent goals keep you moving forward at a pace where you can integrate the changes you’ve made.

    Practice confidence and assertiveness

    Stepping into a more confident and powerful sense of yourself is a key component of feeling empowered. It often takes practice – you can learn to speak up and make your voice heard. Robin Sharma once said, “Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.” Try practicing what you are going to say in your head before you say it out loud if you feel extra nervous.

    In Sum

    Empowerment is an important skill to support you in achieving your goals and dreams. When you feel confident and powerful in your ability to go after what you want it’s priceless. People who live with an empowered mindset have more positive self-talk, take action to reach their goals, and are assertive and confident. Once you start believing in your capacity, you’re your life, you will find you are capable of so much more than you’ve dreamed!

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  • Tips for a Great Quality of Life

    Learn what you need for a great quality of life in mind, body and heart.

    How do you know if you have a good quality of life?

    What exactly does quality of life mean anyway?

    Does quality of life simply mean you experience more happiness than disappointment or is there more to it than that?

    Many fields study quality of life, including psychology, personal development, business, and health and wellness. The term varies depending on the context in which it is used. Which is why there is no single agreed-upon definition of quality of life.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) definition of quality of life is: “an individual’s perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards, and concerns” (, n.d.). Since the WHO’s definition is used in many public and global health research studies it’s an important benchmark. Essentially the WHO’s definition states that quality of life is a subjective measure of an individual’s well-being. This point is debated – some researchers state that quality of life must involve objective along with subjective measures (Karimi & Brazier, 2016).

    This article focuses predominantly on how the quality of life is relevant to you and your well-being.

    Tips for Improving Your Quality of Life

    To improve your quality of life, it’s helpful to look at the different areas of life and focus on the area where there is the most room for improvement. As a starting point, you can begin by focusing on the six domains the WHO includes in its definition – Physical, Psychological, Level of independence, Social Relationships, Environment, and Spirituality/religion/personal beliefs.

    Which domain catches your attention? Is this the area that you want to improve for a great quality of life or do you feel confident and satisfied with it? Don’t worry too much about the names of the domains, what’s important is to take a step back and neutrally assess each one.

    Below are some examples and questions, based on some of the WHO’s domains which are directly related to your relationship with yourself – physical, psychological, social relationships and spirituality. I hope these questions get you thinking about how you would like to enhance your quality of life.


    This domain takes into account, health, illness, physical limitations as well as possibilities for improving your relationship with your body.

    • Does your physical health add to or detracting from your quality of life?
    • Do your food choices affect your mood and energy levels?
    • How satisfied are you with your sleep quantity and quality?
    • How often do you move your body?


    This domain focuses on emotional health and well-being, understanding of stressors, coping with feelings and your unique understanding of your mental well-being.

    • Do you manage your emotions and moods as you like?
    • Are you living in the present or do you find yourself in a cycle of distraction?
    • Are you optimistic about the future?
    • Do you feel resilient when faced with life stressors?

    Social Relationships

    In this domain focuses on the relationships with others, how comfortable and confident you are in social situations and how much enjoyment you receive from them.

    • Do you have someone to talk to about your struggles?
    • How confident are you when you meet new people?
    • Do you feel like you have good communication with your significant other/friends/family?

    Spirituality & Personal Beliefs

    The last domain in this article focuses on personal beliefs which included spirituality and religion. It might be helpful to also think about your personal values and the role they play in your quality of life.

    • Is religion/spirituality important to you?
    • Do you have people in your life that discuss your personal beliefs with?
    • Is spirituality a source of confusion for you?
    • Does the media you consume help you grow as a person?

    Your answers to the above questions and any other questions you come up with for yourself will help guide your choices. There aren’t quick fixes, but rather focused effort to live in alignment with what you need for your life. Small habit changes in your everyday life are the changes that add up to more happiness and fulfillment – two important aspects that lead to a great quality of life.

    I hope that the questions above help you focus on aspects of your life that you have the power to change. Remember to track your progress. You’ll know that you’re moving forward as you feel more and more content with your life. Journaling is also a great way to track changes. Progress can motivate you to continue your journey as you improve the quality of your life.

    In Sum

    The theory and research behind quality of life are wide-reaching but reflecting on the parts of your life that you have an opportunity to enhance can lead to great quality of life. When you focus on the parts you can change you can make a plan that works for you. Spending your time improving your quality of life also improves your overall well-being and that’s what leads to more happiness and a fulfilling life!

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  • How To Embrace Your Inner Strength and Cultivate Self-Acceptance

    Inner strength is one of the most powerful traits to cultivate self-acceptance.

    The science and philosophy that support self-acceptance as a way to be effective in your life and align with your intentions and goals is strong.

    Self-acceptance is embracing all of your attributes, positive or negative, exactly as they are (Morgado, Campana, & Tavares, 2014). Sometimes, you may struggle to accept particular qualities you have. Maybe you were criticized as a child or you’re locked in the comparison trap that’s rampant in popular culture or on social media, it is not easy to be compassion with yourself. But, accepting who you are is vital for your happiness and overall well-being. Self-acceptance is a fundamental part of psychological health and well-being. Keep reading for a more in-depth explanation and ideas on how to cultivate self-acceptance.

    Self-Acceptance for Mental Health

    Low self-acceptance leads to suffering. When you don’t fully accept yourself, you’re at a higher risk for experiencing anxiety and depression (Macinnes, 2006). Specifically, when you reject negative qualities about yourself, it can lead to rumination about the negative attributes. When you are in a situation and the negative parts of yourself show up the result is often negative self-talk. Some examples of negative self-talk include statements such as:

    • I’m not good enough.
    • I’m a failure.
    • I’ll never get things right.

    Negative statements we tell ourselves often become feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, sadness, and anxiety. However, when you accept yourself, especially the parts of yourself that you’re not proud of, you increase your control over your emotions. In other words, self-acceptance can prevent anxiety and any other emotion that’s difficult to accept.

    Self-Acceptance for Happiness and Well-Being

    Similar to mental health, cultivating self-acceptance is a key to your happiness and well-being. When you have more control over your thought patterns and feelings, you can manage negative self-talk more effectively. In fact, high levels of self-acceptance boost your self-esteem, allowing you to be more confident about yourself, and gives you the power to handle criticism better (Szentagatoi & David, 2013).

    Self-Acceptance as a Means for Change

    Maybe up to this point you have the impression that self-acceptance means becoming stagnant or complacent. It’s easy to think about, especially because the philosophy and science of self-acceptance encourages you to embrace every part of yourself. But self-acceptance doesn’t mean that you stop learning about yourself and growing. Self-acceptance gives you the freedom to recognize and acknowledge your weaknesses so you become aware of the things in your life that you want to change.

    Personal growth is spotlighted through the lens of self-acceptance. You cannot grow and improve your relationship with yourself without knowing who you are. The benefit is that cultivating self-acceptance opens you so you can practice self-compassion and self-love and transform into your most authentic self (Boyraz & Kuhl, 2015).

    How to Practice Self-Acceptance

    The science and philosophy behind self-acceptance makes a lot of sense, but how do you start a practice in your daily life?

    Here are a few techniques to get you started –

    Remind yourself that you’re learning and growing.

    Remember the last time you learned a new skill? When I first started gardening it looked so easy on the shows I watched. I wanted my yard in my new house to look just like the pictures in all the magazines. But I got a bit overwhelmed about learning about soil conditions, light requirements, some plants don’t flower the first year and it went on and on. My garden that year, it didn’t look anything like the picture. My neighbor – she had been gardening for over 10 years and her garden was beautiful!

    Making mistakes leaves the door open for negative self-talk to peek around the corner, ready to break into your mind. I could have told myself, “I’m a terrible gardener” or “gardening just isn’t for me.” But you can go in a different direction and tell yourself you’re learning and developing new skills. When you find yourself in a situation that you are not naturally skilled in compassionate self-talk like, “I will get better at this”, or “It’s okay, I’m learning and next time will be better.” Allowing yourself to accept that you’re learning and making mistakes is part of the process can release the expectation of perfection and empower you to try again (Carson & Langer, 2006).

    Keep a gratitude journal.

    When you catch yourself focused on things that went wrong during the day or dwelling on things you don’t like about yourself, it’s helpful stop, breathe and shift your focus. Developing a habit that signals you to think about ways to shift your focus to a more positive mindset helps you cultivate self-acceptance. One way to accomplish this is by keeping a journal (or a notes app on your phone) to write down a few things you are grateful to have in your life every day. When you focus on the positive, you’ll begin to reduce negative feelings which can boost your ability to accept yourself more mindfully (Carson & Langer, 2006).

    View your experiences from a different perspective.

    If you keep circling back, thinking over and over again about a situation feels uncomfortable? Try looking at the situation from a different point of view. Is there anything that could be a silver lining? Sometimes you can get stuck in your feelings and it’s like you keep experiencing them all over again. It’s often helpful to ask the question, what or how would Aunt Jane think about this? When you look at situations with fresh eyes, you’ll find things you didn’t notice before that may help you accept the experience (Carson & Langer, 2006).

    Cultivating self-acceptance is not a practice we can master in a day, and that is totally okay. The important thing is to recognize the concept and find ways to incorporate self-acceptance into your own life to better support your mental well-being, so you experience more happiness.​

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  • 28 Quotes to Inspire Optimism and Energize Your Life

    If you clicked on this post, I’m guessing that a positive quote, a few words of inspiration are one of the things in life that gives you a boost.

    I love a great quote to –

    • make sense of confusing situations
    • support a more optimistic point of view
    • spark motivation when it’s low
    • reminder to be patient
    • practice compassion and gratitude

    There are so many ways that quotes nourish the mind and inspire living your life with optimism and intention.

    Quotes are one type of affirmation.

    I like to think of them as a holder of your values. When you include quotes in your daily life that speaks to where you’ve been, where you are or where you’re going, they help you focus on how you want to live your life.

    Most quotes take just a minute to read and yet they hold a lot of power.

    Here are some examples of how you easily use them throughout your day:

    -> Help you maintain a positive attitude – save it as your smartphone screen.

    -> Help your motivation at work – in a paper planner write your quote in your planner at the start of the week or in an electronic calendar put it in the header, with either option you’ll see it every time you check your schedule.

    -> You can also display positive quotes—on a post-it, on your cell phone case, on your fridge. Putting positive quotes where you can easily read them are great reminders to shift your mindset and help you achieve your goals.

    Remember – we can get used to seeing them and ‘edit’ them and stop paying attention to them – just like the pile a paper on the counter, so you’ll want to move them around from time to time.

    Positive thinking & growth mindset

    Positive quotes and daily affirmations rely on the power of positive thinking and a growth mindset. Although positive quotes and daily affirmations are different, the idea behind them is similar: they help shift your mindset toward a more positive and optimistic point of view that can improve your life.

    There is also research that shows the benefits to positive affirmations and positive thinking.

    In one study about the psychological impact of the September 11th terrorist attacks, researchers found that positive thoughts and positive emotions buffer against depression and sustain thriving in resilient people (Fredrickson et al., 2003). Also, positive thinking can be beneficial for your overall well-being, which includes less depression, a reduced risk of cardiovascular-related death, and even an increase in life expectancy (Buigues et al., 2021).

    I hope you find this list helpful!

    They are short so, easy to keep in mind and powerful so, they make an impact.

    Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light

    Albus Dumbledore

    Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.

    Carl Jung

    The most effective way to do it is to do it.

    Amelia Earhart

    If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

    Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.

    Marcus Aurelius

    Say goodbye to your inner critic and take this pledge to be kinder to yourself and others.

    Oprah Winfrey

    I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself.

    Emma Stone

    Today is a good day to try.


    When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

    Lao Tzu

    Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.

    Albert Einstein

    We know what we are but know not what we may be.

    William Shakespeare

    No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone.

    Friedrich Nietzsche

    Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.

    Madam C.J Walker

    Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

    Winston Churchill

    Believe you can and you’re halfway there.

    Theodore Roosevelt

    I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

    Michael Jordan

    You define beauty yourself. Society doesn’t define your beauty.

    Lady Gaga

    People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder.

    Salma Hayek

    I’m excited about the aging process. I’m more interested in women who aren’t perfect. They’re more compelling.

    Emma Watson

    You have power over your mind–not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.

    Marcus Aurelius

    I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves.

    Mary Shelley

    Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.

    James Baldwin

    It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

    Charles Darwin

    If you do not change direction, you might end up where you are heading.

    Lao Tzu

    There is nothing permanent except change.


    If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

    Maya Angelou

    Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.


    If you would like even more strategies to live an intentionally happy life take the quiz!