There is hardly one woman I know who doesn’t have some fairly high level of stress in their lives – especially women who work – who are in their own business or have a career. For a lot of us, being happy is inconsistent or elusive. As women, we still feel we must do it all – do it, give it, make it happen. This pressure is almost debilitating and it can become harmful to our overall health. We may experience a feeling that it is hard to breathe, develop a pattern of sleep problems, poor eating habits. Perhaps become sullen or angry, or depressed or worried. Sometimes our lives are unfulfilled or unpleasant because we are too pressured with responsibilities to enjoy life. We can almost be so unhappy that we get to a point where we realize we are in too much pain and something must change.
About Conscious Choices
Our lives will not change unless we make conscious choices to make change happen.
I have been thinking a lot about how to get myself into action so that I could reduce my stress and increase my level of happiness every single day. It is a lot about acknowledging something is not right and about giving ourselves permission to get support and find more joy every day.
Many of you know my story: how my beloved husband of 30+ years passed away last year, leaving what feels like an endless void of sorrow. Besides this new reality, I’m still growing and running my business. I have had to make extreme efforts at times to move forward, and now am at the point of being very conscious of how I can be happier every day, despite the circumstances of my life. It is not a place that I would ever choose to be, but here I am and I want to share what has helped me manage my layers of stress and sadness and move forward by taking responsibility for my happiness now.
Here are 3 powerful ways I want to share with you to help you move forward and find a sigh of relief and joy each day:
- Move Your Body
It is truly amazing how good it feels to move! I started to use my Apple Watch which has this great little reminder that goes off every 60 minutes. It reminds me to breathe, and but I also use it to get up and walk around. And even better, I started to take dance lessons, which is something I have been wanting to do for years but was unable to. I said to my dance instructor, Christian, that is impossible to be sad or stressed and dance at the same time! Go take a lesson. I’m learning the Bachata, and I just have to laugh. Put on your favorite dance music (I like Better When I’m Dancin’, and My Heart Is In Havana. — I am playing it now and dancing at my desk while I write this.) Smiling is not optional! Speaking of which:
- Smile and Laugh
In an INC. article, Angelina Zimmerman writes: “Children laugh an average of300 times per day compared with an adult’s average of 5 times.” What has changed and why has this happened to us? Some would say – “Well, you have to grow up sometime.” And I say dig into that inner child instead. She is still there waiting to enjoy life again. Women who work (outside or inside the home) especially need to laugh.
Even by simply making yourself smile, the body does a little happy dance inside your brain – endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin are released.
These chemicals are released in the brain(called neuro-transmitters) and go to work to make you feel good – blood pressure and heart rate drops, your body relaxes and a feeling of overall pleasure descends, even if for a moment. (Endorphins are also triggered by dark chocolate! A good excuse to indulge a little.)
Share the Joy A smile truly rubs off on others because smiles are contagious. When you smile at someone else, there also is an automatic trigger which pushes them to smile back (unless they consciously stop it). Try it a minimum of 3 times today. You’ll be amazed at the reactions.
- Talk to Others and Support Them
Not text or email them – talk to them. I made a resolution this year to text less and talk more and am finding that choosing to talk and connect live with others has its own joy. Establishing this verbal connection brings me closer because I can actually hear how the other person is feeling. Hearing the voices of others live, I can decipher whether they are happy, sad or stressed and can then talk about that and we both leave in a better place.
Reaching out can also lower our stress, and theirs. Even a small offer of support does wonders. Come from a sincere place of service to others. Your muscles relax when you are in a place of support which puts things in perspective. When we text or email, we simply don’t get the whole picture. We don’t see or hear the whole person and many times, we “make stuff up.” A personal connection helps us sort through how we both feel. It takes active, conscious listening, which is the topic of the next article.
Decide to do more of what makes you happy – right now. Step up and make a conscious choice to make changes in your life which will reduce the stress you have been living with for far too long.
We are not here in this life to be sad or anxious all the time. We are here to take part in the bounty and beauty of life which is all around us. We get to choose how we want to spend each day. Please let me know your thoughts and ideas on how You find joy everyday.
If you are an executive woman or business owner, the International Center for Women’s Leadership is offering an Ultimate Self-Care Program just for you – A retreat in Orvieto, Italy, for self-care and finding joy, to take place in the spring of 2019. This will be offered to no more than 10 women internationally so please see how you can join us for a Week of Self-Care,
Reflection, Connection, and Renewal
This is first in a series of articles and podcasts for executive women and business owners which will take place over the next few months.