Since the election on November 9 of last year and most recently the inauguration on January 20 of this year, there has been an awful lots of energy, strong energy, expressed right here in our country and also around the world. Unless you live under a rock and are cut off from society, you are exposed to that energy. Depends on its form, it can be very inspiring, motivating and uplifting or it can be discouraging, unsettling, stressful and anxiety ridden.

Mainstream media and social media are filled with the weight of what I call big emotions. In order to protect and nurture myself, I have shut down the news completely, sporadically go on Facebook or Twitter and rarely publish my posts. Since I call myself a blogger, not posting is like a self-imposed sentence. Just to be clear, I have no desire to argue, persuade or even share my observation or opinion on what’s taking place. Like everyone else, I have my opinions and beliefs and at this moment I choose to not engage. I feel that the best way for me to contribute right now is to lighten the mood as much as I can. I also wonder how you are dealing and coping with what’s going on? With this inquiry in mind, this seems like a good time to share with you about the coping skills I keep in my toolbox.

I have categorized my inventory into two types of coping skills: one provides temporary relief but not very effective, such as posting on social media. We tend to feel better when we get to purge whatever emotions are weighing us down. Everyone and their brother are purging right now, yours truly included. Is it any wonder then, the heavy energy that is being circulated out there? While using social media to vent does tend to give us a temporary relief, it can and usually does backfire because our post could be misinterpreted and/or trigger comments that might worsen our feelings and/or escalate the urgency of our desire for peace, safety, and security.

Another quick relief and just as ineffective way I deal with stress sometimes is my go to glass of wine. I’m not sure if it does but I believe a glass of wine puts me in a relaxing mode. However, the risk of having this practice backfire is there when my one glass turns in to two or three and put me out completely. Then it becomes a negative coping habit because I turn to alcohol use to numb my feelings instead of dealing with them. Thus, we need to look at coping skills that are more effective and can be practiced as well as maintained when physical and emotional stress show up.

Over the years I have learned of and built up quite a few of these positive coping skills. Here are some of them:
• Physical activity: Tennis is my thing. I get to do something I love and enjoy so playing tennis is never a dreaded activity for me. It’s exercising with benefits. Physical activity causes the brain to produce endorphins, the feel good hormone; therefore it provides your body and mind with great stress relief.
• Spirituality: Attending church, praying, meditating, expressing daily gratitude. All these practices give me hope, bring me a sense of calm and provide me with a positive outlook.
• Creativity: Cooking, writing, listening to music provide me with an outlet to express myself and be able to relieve stress.
• Self-care: Making sure I get a nice, long bath, a good night of sleep, good nutrition and time for myself allows me to stay healthy and be able to provide for and support my loved ones.

Recently I was re-acquainted with and gained a more in-depth understanding of a method called reframing. It was brought to my attention when my neighbor Judd Hoekstra wanted to connect on LinkedIn. Judd and his co-author Rick Peterson, the pitching coach with the Oakland A’s, during the Moneyball years, (yes, it’s that Moneyball movie starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill,) share their various reframing strategies in a book called Crunch Time: How to Be Your Best When It Matters Most. While I have only known Judd as a nice and friendly neighbor, he has quite a resume. Here’s a one sentence of Judd’s biography: “Judd is a leadership and human performance expert, sales executive, bestselling author and speaker.” I am excited to share a sneak peek, taken from the book, to entice you with what reframing is:

Reframing-The Shortest Path from Threat to Opportunity

At its core, reframing describes the skill of consciously and intentionally thinking about a situation in a new or different way. This, in turn, allows us to shift the meaning we attach to the situation, the actions we take, and the results we achieve. The operative word in our definition is skill. In other words, it’s not something some are gifted with and others are not. With practice, reframing can be learned by anyone.

As I see it, reframing is a learned skill which we can all use to turn a “threat” (people, events and situations) that causes us stress or produces negative feelings into an “opportunity” which provides us with good feelings and positive results. Reframing teaches us to question our old and disempowering beliefs and acquire new and empowering beliefs to turn every situation from negative to positive. This book is an easy read with all kinds of tips and tools that can be added to your toolbox and put to use immediately.

Happy reading and happy creating your toolbox!

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