3 Steps to Keep Your Calm When Your Buttons Get Pushed

Recently I attended a workshop led by my dear friend and colleague Beth Racine. She presented on the topic of effective listening to a room filled with around 50 men and women ranging in all ages.
The overall gist of her presentation was all about keeping your composure when your buttons get pushed. 

Think about the last time someone pushed your buttons.

Where were you and what was happening? How did you feel in the moment? For me, an immediate flash takes me back to last week as I was inside a home my husband and I are considering buying, when I looked outside to find an officer writing up a ticket on my car for parking on the street! How about that for a warm welcome to a new neighborhood? You can imagine the tightness I felt rise up in my chest as it took all that I had to not run out screaming like a crazy person.
Can you think of a similar moment when your buttons were pushed? Maybe it was with a colleague, significant other, family member, or a complete stranger on the street? Once you got it, hold onto it.
Our initial reaction when we are feeling frustrated is to either fight or flight. We either go into attack mode or completely shut down and walk away. This is totally normal. That’s because when we feel an immediate threat, which is sensed in our brain stems, we go into a state of survival. For me, this was that moment I looked out the window and saw the officer by my car. For the record, I decided to fight, as I swiftly headed over to the officer.
After the fight or flight response, we enter into the emotional part of the brain—the limbic system. This is where we react. [Cue the part of me that wanted to scream like a crazy person.]
Lastly, the frontal lobe, or pre-frontal cortex is our rational part of the brain. Beth described how in this part of our brains we think clearly, discern choices, access creativity and problem solve with others. As you can imagine, this is where we react with the most intention and respond in a way that helps us feel good about what we are wanting. This is precisely why after some time has passed we can more effectively react and listen.
The good news is we can access this rational part of our brains in about 6 seconds.
That’s right. Only 6 seconds! But the problem is that we are wired to fight or flight first and react in the emotional part of our brains. Both of these parts by the way, are very “self” and “me” focused. Our rational parts, however, are more “we” focused as we attempt to work with others.
So, the key here, is to create some space, roughly 6 seconds of space, to pause and react effectively. This is important as we interact with others so that we avoid jumping to conclusions, acting out of character, or creating tension so that we can maintain a calm, centered space.
I’ll leave you with my favorite take-away from the workshop on how to create this space. It’s a coaching tool Beth calls 3-2-1. 

Here’s how it works:

1. Pay attention to the signs your body is giving you. 

Is it a hotness in your chest? Do you feel a tightness in your throat? Do you feel flushed in the face? Notice it because that’s the signal you are about to act a hot mess. As soon as you notice these “check engine lights” as Beth affectionately calls them, you can practice 3-2-1. 

2. In your mind, state 3 things you see, 2 things you hear, and 1 thing to say out loud.

I recommend identifying the word you will say right now to start getting in the habit of this exercise. My word is “LOVE.” It is a reminder to respond from a place of love and understanding, which I am NOT experiencing while in the fight or flight and emotional state, so that once those 6 seconds pass and I'm in my rational mind I can react more effectively.

3.Reflect and repeat! 

It is very important to get into a rhythm of reflecting on our behavior. How do you feel after engaging in an uncomfortable chat with someone? How do you feel about your behavior, or personal response? It is all information for us moving forward so we can show up with even more intention for the next encounter.
So, let’s get out there and try it. Surprise the people in your life next time by responding mindfully with some emotional control. While we can’t control how others will respond to us, we can maintain the peace on our ends and feel better about how WE respond. 

3 Tips for Getting Your Productivity On

Have you ever had one of those majorly productive days where you look back at the clock and realize the whole day has gone by and you never even took a lunch break? You rocked all those things you needed to get done. You happily head home, while checking off x, y, and z from your list.
Those days are the best. It feels great to power through the to-do’s. But if you’re anything like me, the following day is where things get interesting. You might find yourself feeling all revved up initially.

And then, the slump comes in. All that energy?? Gone. Out the door. 
I had this very experience recently and talked about it with my friend. I told her I’d been feeling a little down because I would have these super productive days, and then whoooooop, nothing. No energy. (Can you relate!?) She said something to me in that moment that I really needed to hear. What if this is all just part of how I work? That I’m somebody who has one or two super productive days a week, and the days that follow I may experience lower energy levels. If I know this moving forward, I can seize the days I’m feeling my energy peak, and plan to do my most important work during this time. Talk about a game-changer!
So, how about you? What’s your productivity like? When does your energy peak? Are you like me, and experience energy in waves, or do you find that your energy is consistently high at a certain time of the day?

Here are my top 3 tips for getting your very own productivity on:
1. Identify your own personal patterns of energy.

Start by taking inventory of your own energy levels. I recommend taking a week to do a little self-research. Log your energy levels based on your schedule. Do certain errands tire you out? Do various work tasks promote or drain your energy? Get clear on what they are.

2. Try to plan around your energy if possible. 

The purpose of planning around your energy levels is so you can be more effective at getting what you want done, DONE. Have you been wanting to work out more often? Plan to take a class on those high-energy days. Are you needing to get a project done by a certain date? Commit to doing that project first thing on the days you feel your energy peak.

3. Don’t be hard on yourself for having low productivity on your low-energy days. 

Instead, give yourself some love for having such a productive day and allow your body the rest that it needs to replenish for the next one. Try to do the things that don’t require so much thought and creativity in the meantime, while tending to the things that still have to get done, like your everyday tasks. 
Once you understand your own personal energy flow, you’ll be getting your productivity on in no time. 

How to Deal with Comparison in a Positive, Self-Loving Way

I have been seeing a lot of the hashtag #DoYou lately and have to admit I’m a fan. I love a message that encourages us to keep our eyes on our own page. Yet, what I find ironic (CUE a little Alanis here…) is that it’s a hashtag leading us to other social media pages, which begs a game of comparison. 

The comparison game doesn’t just exist on social media. It shows up in unexpected ways in our everyday life. But like any game, we can play strategically.  

Comparison doesn’t have to be a negative thing.

Here’s my challenge for you. When you're perusing Facebook or Instagram & find yourself thinking about what you don’t have or don’t do—you know, playing a good old game of comparison—take a moment & think about the flip side. The flip side is you tapping into YOUR interests, YOUR wants, YOUR desires, YOUR truths. It is you seeking more information about what you are craving & wanting in your life. It is using a moment of comparison to learn more about what you innately might be craving.

So let’s play for a minute. You see a photo and find yourself thinking the following:

"I don't have enough money."

What's the flip side? Maybe it's something like, "I will get serious about how much money I actually need. I'll create a financial plan & stick to it."

"I don't have time to travel."

What's the flip side? "I'm craving more adventure. I'll plan a day trip to somewhere new."

"I don't do yoga."

What's the flip side? "So I don't do yoga. But I DO do hair flips & dance parties. I'll call a friend & take a Zumba class."

Let's use the comparison game to understand ourselves more. I’ll be playing this week too over on Instagram & would love for you to join me. Use the hashtag #DoYou & tag me in your post.


A New Meaning for Self-Care

When I was a teacher, I remember talking to my 6th graders about the importance of good hygiene. My colleagues and I loved these conversations with kids, even though it usually meant swapping the smell of B.O. for clouds of cologne.  

As adults we understand the importance of basic self-care. 

Brushing our teeth, showering, getting enough sleep. We know how important these daily habits are to not only our health, but our well-being too.  

Self-care goes beyond the daily rituals and routines of good hygiene. 

It encompasses those little moments throughout the day when you take time out just for you. And no—I’m not talking about mindlessly perusing Facebook and Instagram. I’m talking about those intentional moments when you honor your worth and give yourself profound care. It could be a hot shower in the morning and really noticing the warmth of the water as it hits your body. Maybe it’s a yoga class after a long day of work. It might be an iced-coffee on a summer’s day or reading your favorite book at night before bed. If you’re like me, it might be in the form of a private dance party in your living room— hair flips included. Self-care looks like any and all of these mini-moments of you loving on you.  

Self-care is self-love.  And self-love is not selfish.

Let that sink in for a minute. Think about all the times you’ve decided to skip your self-care. Maybe there just wasn’t enough time to squeeze that workout in or get that manicure or take a full lunch break. What happens when you decide there’s not enough time?  You decide to push through whatever commitments you have. You keep going and doing, going and doing. When you create a habit and daily routine of NOT prioritizing your self-care, you start to feel drained, exhausted, and completely wiped. This leaves you feeling frustrated, and you better believe this comes through in how you show up in the world.

I’m a believer that by creating daily rituals and routines around self-care, you are making a bold statement that it’s okay to take time out for you.   

Self-care really is AN intentional statement you are making to yourself that you are worthy of your own care.

Sometimes it might look like a bubble bath, a yummy latte, or a new top. And other times, it is lovingly reframing your self-talk, taking a deep breath to collect your thoughts, or creating some much-needed personal boundaries.

What statement do you want your self-care to communicate?