how to reduce anxiety

How to set goals you can actually accomplish in 2019

Happy New Year! I can't believe it's already 2019. It seems as if last year rolled by too fast. Now, if you're like most people, you probably have great dreams for this year. You want your life to be filled with joy, you want your family to be healthy, and you want to accomplish some great goals. The problem is you have a bad habit of setting New Year's resolutions and then forgetting all about them by February.

Remember that unused gym membership from 2018? Remember the time when you said you were going to write a book but you didn't? Well, today is your lucky day because I'm going to give you 6 tips to increase your chances of actually following through with your goal.

1) Make your goals SMART

We all set life goals, but the problem is that some of us have goals that are way too vague. 'Make more money,' 'Lose weight,' 'Be happier,' all sound like great goals on the surface, but they are way too broad. I like to break my goals up in a SMART way. Here are the steps:

Make sure your goal is Specific: Make sure your goal isn't too vague. You brain can't compute anything that's too vague and your heart won't become emotionally tied to a vague goal. If you are emotionally attached to your goal, you'll be more motivated to follow through. So, you could say something like "I want to make $1,000 more in January 2019." That's as specific as it gets. 

Make it Measurable: Quantify your goals. Make sure each goal either has a completion date or some type of number attached to it. So your money goal of making $1,000 in January 2019 is measurable. We know exactly how much money you're trying to make and we know the deadline for completing the goal. That way you can break it down further each week to know what targets you should be hitting to stay on track.

Make sure it's Achievable: It's always great to reach for the sky, but how many of us have actually ever touched the sky?  If your goal is unattainable, it has the opposite result. You'll get discouraged and stop trying to pursue it. If your goal is to make $1000 in January 2019 but you haven't held a job in the past 5 years, chances are you might not be able to achieve it. So set something attainable, then set another goal as soon as you reach that one. So if you haven't had a job in 5 years, perhaps your goal could be to make $100 extra in January 2019. After you've met that goal, set a goal to make $200. Be systematic.

Make sure it's Reasonable: Also pay attention to your abilities, the level of support you have in your life, and your resources. If your goal is to travel to 5 countries this year but you know that you work a regular 9 to 5 job and you don't have any time off, that's pretty unreasonable. Even though it's great to think outside the box, an unreasonable goal will discourage you. And a discouraged person most likely won't be motivated to complete a goal.

Make it Time Limited: Add a completion date to your goal. An open ended goal will kill your ambition and you'll lose steam fast. But when you know you're going to be working toward a goal for a limited amount of time, it's easier to maintain focus. It's helpful to set 3 month and 6 month goals to begin with. Then as you get good at maintaining your focus, you can stretch those goals into 1-year, 2-year and 3-year goals.

2) Get an accountability partner: When you have someone positive cheering you on, you are more likely to work tirelessly toward your goal because you know they're going to ask you about it. No one wants to deal with the embarrassment of letting their accountability partner down. Make sure you only pick someone who is positive and encouraging. A Debbie Downer will kill your mojo.

3) Post your goals somewhere visible: I like the added accountability of posting my goals on a mirror, a door, in my car or somewhere I cannot ignore it. Why? Because if you can't see your goals, you can easily ignore them. Out of sight, out of mind. But when you are greeted by your goals every single day, you'll be more motived to actually work towards them.

4) Plan out small steps towards your big goal: A 5 year goal can be very daunting. So after writing the long term goal, break it down further. If you want to accomplish something big like buying a house in 5 years, what would you need to do in 3 years to help you reach the goal? Break it down further. What would you need to do in 1 year to reach your goal? Break it down further! What would you need to do in 6 months to reach your goal? Even further. What would you need to do in 3 months, and then weekly to reach your goal?

5) Schedule everything: Once you've broken down your goal into smaller steps, it's time to schedule it out on your planner or phone. I love Google Calendar. It's free and it can also send you reminders. Spend 1 day planning out your tasks and setting them automatically on your phone. That way when the alert pops up, you remember to get right on it.

6) Give yourself a reward: Goal setting is difficult business. Set a benchmark for yourself and agree to give yourself a reward every time you hit that benchmark. So for example, if your goal is to make $1000 more in January, you can buy yourself a treat every time you make $250. If your goal is to buy a house, you can do something special every 3 months as you're on your way to rocking your goal.

There you have it- 6 easy ways to actually accomplish your goals this year. And if anxiety or insomnia are keeping you from accomplishing your goals, I'd love to chat with you for 15 minutes to see if I might be a good fit for you. I help anxious women, insomniacs and engaged couples in the Temecula/Murrieta feel calmer, sleep better and lay a solid foundation for their future. Click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call.

 

This is why your life sometimes feels sucky

Thanksgiving is around the corner. The turkeys are in the freezer, pumpkins are everywhere, the leaves are looking colorful, and the air is crisp. But for some reason you are not feeling your best. All you want to do is stay in bed, be upset and not talk to people. You wonder if something is wrong with you- and maybe there is something wrong- but perhaps a few simple tweaks can turn the day around. Sometimes you feel like your life just sucks. You get trapped in an ugly black hole. The more you try to climb out, the deeper you seem to fall. 

But little do you know that there are some things you could do to possibly help you get out of the hole for good.

Start your day off right

Many people start their days off without any intentions. They spring out of bed in the morning, rush into the shower, make a cup of coffee, skip breakfast and hope for the best. If you want your days to consistently feel great, then plan them out. Now don't get it wrong, there are no quick fixes to give you a perfect life. However, people who have an intentional approach to their lives often end up enjoying their lives more than those who wake up, are unplanned and who just hope for the best.

Try to wake up 10 to 15 minutes earlier than usual. I know it sounds alarming, but trust me, your future self will thank you. When your alarm rings, slowly get out of bed, say one or two things you're grateful for (It'll even be better if you could get a notebook just for this), say a quick prayer, meditate on scripture, then reach for a glass of water to rehydrate your thirsty body. Once you're out of bed, spend about 5 minutes stretching your body. As you stretch, create a visual for how you would like your day to unfold. Imagine yourself walking to work with a smile on your face, or dropping the kids off while saying "Have a great day," or giving your spouse a hug before he or she runs out of the door. 

Intentional minds create much more positive results.

Bring the joy

Once you begin to dive into your usual tasks, do them with joy. Even if you're picking up dog poop or combing your screaming child's hair, remind yourself that you are actually lucky that you get to do these things. These subtle mindset shifts will help you move from disgruntled to appreciative. When you go to the store, greet the greeters with a smile. Smiles are free, and they bring joy to most people (ignore the perpetually grumpy folks). 

Before you begin your work day, take 30 seconds to breathe and tell yourself that today will be a great day. It'll be great, not because everything will be perfect, but it'll be great because you have decided to bring the joy with your wherever you go.

Pick the right people to do life with

Life can be so sweet- that is if you have the right people to do life with. When your friends and family members are negative, uninspiring or unsupportive, then it's time to do something different. Now of course you don't get to pick your family members, but when you notice that you are trapped in a toxic environment, perhaps it's time to put them at arms' length. I'm not saying to cut them off, but you get to decide how much time you can spend with them, and how much of yourself to share with them.

The same goes with friendships. If the top 5 people you hang out with aren't living the happy, balanced life you've always dreamed about, then it's time to evaluate your circle. You should only be hanging out with people who leave you feeling recharged, excited about life and feeling great. if your friends seem to be going nowhere fast, chances are your life will go nowhere fast. You are who you hang out with. So take a long, hard look around you.

This might sound harsh, but I've seen too many people be sucked into negative spirals by friends who are no good for them.

Put the phone down

This last one sounds strange. What does a phone have to do with a sucky life? Well too many people spend entirely too much time scrolling mindlessly on social media. They could be working out, networking, taking naps, eating, and enjoying the world, but they spend all the time on social media. Make an effort not to pick up your phone right when you wake up and right before you go to bed.

Give your thumbs, your eyes, your posture and your mind a break. When you feel the urge to post all of your feelings to complete strangers, perhaps think of a friend you could share those feelings with. Create real connections. When you are at work, try to plow away at your actual work tasks and resist the urge to use your phone as a crutch. 

Another problem with too much phone use is that it creates the green grass syndrome. You begin to imagine that everyone is living their best lives except you. You look at their flashy cars, their 6-pack abs, their amazing executive offices, and you begin to feel self pity. Truth is, social media only highlights the best of the best. very few people chronicle their journey to the top. Most people only show themselves on their best days-with great hair, great makeup and their best outfits.

So before you get sucked in, put the phone in a drawer, or in another room. Put your head up, and enjoy the life you actually have. Remember, the grass isn't greener on the other side. It's actually greener where you water it.

And if you are feeling like you just can't take these steps on your own. Click here to schedule a free 15-minute consultation call to determine if I'm the therapist to move you from sucky life to happy life. You can also call me on 951-905-3181. I help women who are overwhelmed and anxious, create boundaries, find their strengths and live calm lives.

 

Could gratitude help your anxiety?

One of my favorite sayings is "When you focus on the past, you get depressed. When you focus on the future, you feel anxious. But when you focus on the present, you will be okay." And it really is true. If you have anxiety, you probably spend a good amount of time thinking about the things that could go wrong with your day or worrying about how you are going to handle different situations. In some cases, the worry becomes so awful that it weighs you down and your thoughts just don't stop. Anxiety could also trigger muscle aches and tightness in your neck, shoulders and back. Some people worry so much that they end up with ulcers.

But what if I told you that focusing on the things you're grateful for could probably reduce your anxiety a little bit? You see, when your mind is filled with worry, it can quickly spiral into anxiety, and full blown anxiety can be tough to kick.

The first step is to get yourself a little notebook. Just something light that you can keep by your bed side or carry around with you. Some people like notebooks with encouraging quotes on them or pictures of peaceful scenes. Those are fine too. Each day, when you wake up, think about one thing that you are grateful for. It can be as simple as the trees in your yard, clean, running water, or the yummy sandwich you ate for dinner the night before. I'm sure you're thinking "This sounds too easy." Well it's not super easy if you're used to worrying about everything that could go wrong and beating yourself up for the things you messed up on. But gratitude is truly a practice that gets easier with time. I call it a practice because it takes works. Naturally, most of us would rather focus on the bad-like a glass half empty kind of situation. But make yourself think up something different each day.

Does this mean that you should never think about the things that are going wrong in your life? No. But honestly how many problems have you fixed by thinking about them 100 times a day? What you should focus on is what you can do in the moment to make the problem better, rather than just reminding yourself that you have a problem. The truth is that majority of the fears you have will never come true. So don't bother spending all of your energy wondering if something bad will happen to you. 

Use your energy wisely. Use it for gratitude and use it to actually solve a problem. If you cannot solve the problem, then use your resources. Find someone who can either help you or introduce you to somehow who will help. Try using gratitude for 30 days and you'll see how different your life will be after a month.

And if you are a woman who still struggles with anxiety, but you just don't know how to manage it on your own, consider seeking therapy. Sometimes a trained, neutral party is who you need to get you from anxious to calm. If you are near the Temecula/Murrieta area, you can click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call. We will talk about your struggles and how we can work together to get you from anxious to calm and in control. I also provide online therapy within California if you live too far away from my office or you would just rather be in the comfort of your own home when we work together.

How your thoughts are making you anxious

You spend a lot of time trying to keep the butterflies in your tummy at bay. You've tried breathing, yoga and reading every self help book out there, but nothing is working out for you. Your anxiety is off the rails. You wonder if you are broken, because every day is a challenge. You think to yourself, "Why am I the only one who struggles so much?"

Well, maybe your thoughts are holding you back. There is a belief among therapists that your thoughts, your feelings and your behavior are all linked. If you change one, you can change the others. Let's say you really want to begin a new, exciting career. If you say to yourself, "I'm pretty sure I'll never be able to succeed in this new career," those thoughts would lead to feelings of frustration, sadness and maybe even insecurity. In essence, you've defeated yourself before the battle has even begun. The feelings of frustration, sadness and insecurity would lead to procrastinating on filling out applications, staying up late while worrying about your future, and just generally feeling sorry for yourself. And even if you're able to break into that new career, when you have a defeatist attitude, you will not be bold enough to pursue your career fully and put in all your effort.

You get it? Your sucky thoughts might be dragging you down.

So how do you begin to change this downward spiral?

Start by challenging your thoughts. First figure out if indeed your thoughts are true. If they aren't, figure out what the truth is. So if you're saying to yourself, "I won't succeed in my new career," what is the proof that this is actually true? Have you ever tried that career? Have you ever succeeded at a career or job in the past? Do you have skills that could help you succeed? Is it really truly that you won't succeed? How do you know that you won't succeed? Where's the logical proof? You see most of us think irrational unhelpful thoughts but we convince ourselves that these thoughts are true.

Next, what is the proof that your thoughts are false? Think of the reasons why your thoughts are false. Think of all the times you've succeeded at a job. Actually write them down so that you can remind yourself that you do well at some tasks. It might be helpful to write your thought at the top of a piece of paper, then draw a line right down the middle of the paper. On the left write out 'Why my thoughts are true.' Then on the right, write out 'Why my thoughts are false.'

Once you're done with both columns, come up with other thoughts to support your conclusion. So if you realize that you do have what it takes to break through in a new career, you can tell yourself, "Even though this career change will be difficult, I have succeeded in other things before and I have a great chance of succeeding now." Say this to yourself as often as possible. This will help you feel more motivated to take action. So do not discount the fact that you will face difficulties. Acknowledge that and then include your reason why you will be okay. 

Don't get it wrong. Positive thoughts alone will not get you anywhere-you must also take the necessary steps to set yourself up for success. In our example above, if you're not trying to learn about the new career, you definitely will fail.

So try this out and let me know how it goes. You can comment below. If you have been struggling with anxious thoughts and you're sick and tired of feeling like the world is about to crumble around you, now's the time to get help. I help anxious women regain their sense of self esteem and live boldly. Click here to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation. Let's get you from frazzled to calm.

The benefits of online therapy

You've been struggling with anxiety for a while. You feel very unsure of yourself and you're becoming someone you don't recognize.  Maybe you're crying all the time or your anger is off the charts. It's affecting your work, your relationships, your kids,  and you're sick and tired of it. You know one or two friends who have seen a therapist before and the idea of going to see one has popped in your head, but you just aren't sure you're ready to go to see someone. You imagine sitting in the waiting room. What if someone you know sees you? What will the waiting room look like? Would it be cold and sterile? What if I told you that you could actually see a therapist without ever visiting her office?

Did you know that in the state of California you can actually see a mental health therapist or counselor online? That's right. As long as you are physically located within California's boundaries, you have access to a licensed therapist. Think about it- there are thousands of mental health professionals just waiting to serve you. It doesn't matter if you're in Murrieta or Temecula or Beverly Hills or Los Angeles, all you need is a computer, a webcam and internet connection. Just like that.

How is online therapy different?

When I conduct online sessions, I use the same specialized knowledge and skills that I use in regular in person therapy sessions. You fill out the same paperwork that you would if you were to see me in my office in Murrieta and I still provide you with individualized service that caters to your needs. It's the difference between a face to face conversation and a Skype or FaceTime call. And we all know there's very little difference between the two.

Is online therapy cheaper?

Well that depends on the therapist. Some therapists charge a little less for online sessions, but others charge the same. Think about it this way, when you are talking to someone on Skype, are you using less energy or fewer brain cells? Probably not. You get the exact same service and probably very similar results. But the benefit of online therapy for you is that you do not have to drive to my office, park your car, then drive back to your next destination. You can sit in the comfort of your home or office and have your session. Some people schedule their sessions during their breaks. Some people who travel for work regularly like to schedule online sessions so they don't lose the progress they've made in therapy. But remember, you have to be physically located in California to see me.

 Can I get good results from online counseling?

Yes you can get the same results from an online session as you would from an in person session. Actually you can have an online couples therapy session as well as an online individual therapy session. Like I said previously, when I conduct online sessions, I'm still using the same resources and skills that I would use with you if you were sitting across from me in my office.

 Are online counseling or therapy sessions confidential?

When I conduct online sessions, I use a secure platform called Vsee. Think of it like Skype, but more secure. The reason why I don't do Skype is because it can easily be hacked and your identity is not protected. But Vsee was created for professionals, so you can rest assured. And when I'm in an online session, I'm sitting in a room with the door shut. I'll never be at a coffee shop or at the mall. I treat the online session the same way I'd treat an in person session.

So, do you think you'd ever try online sessions?  If you are interested in scheduling a free 15 minute consultation to talk about how to get you from anxious to calm and confident, call me on 951-905-3181 or email me here. You don't have to be stuck forever. I'm just a click away.