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Archive for the ‘Stress Management’ Category


After having such a rough first half of the year, including a mental meltdown in front of my boss, I had to take a major step back from my life. I had to learn to listen to my body and take care of myself. I had to learn to speak out for myself.

Steps for recovering from burnout:

– Went to my doctor and tried some different medications.

– Started seeing a counselor each week. I began to learn that how I interpreted the expectations placed on me created real physical stress for me.

– I cutoff all ties from my job, no phone, no email.

– I stayed at home most of the time. I learned that I could not go to the store on my own without a panic attack.

– I spent a lot of time reading, writing, praying, sleeping.

– My husband would take me out of the house several evenings a week to keep me from being too housebound.

– He actually sent me off to Savannah, GA for a week. He drove me down there and got me settled in. I had a little apartment, time to read, rest, and walk on the beach.

– Once I returned, I actually started cleaning my house again, and doing laundry. I even began cooking again.

You see, I had been working so much for the past 2 years, I didn’t even know what a schedule for real people looked like. I learned the flow of eating regular meals, taking a shower, housework, rest, spending time with family, all things I really did not do much of for the previous 2 years.

What matters most

I began to remember the important things in life. Time to think, time to spend with my husband, time to dream, time to relax, time to spend with friends and family. Time to volunteer for those less fortunate.

I realized that there was more to life than money, than recognition. That if I didn’t have my health, my faith, or my family, what good was anything else I had? I learned that I had to devote time to developing who *I* was as a person.

I learned to search my soul for what my passion was, what I was meant to do in my life. I have realized that the passion I had in my job to help others with their lives was very important to me and that I wanted to use that further. And I realized that I loved to write!

Learned my limits

I also have learned that I have limits. I actually think I thought that I was invincible. I like to tease that I finally learned that there is a God, and it isn’t me! I think He is much better at it than I am, lol!

I do best if I am not around large groups for long periods of time. I need a balance of time alone versus time with others. As much as I thought I was a people person, I have learned that I love to be around groups for a short time, but then I have to be alone to recharge.

Even though this year was one of the toughest in my life, I am grateful for the lessons I have learned about life and about myself. I hope that I will live a lot longer because of it and that I will be healthier and happier!

I encourage you to take a look at your life this past year.

What didn’t work?

What did work?

Have you learned some important lessons?

As we move into 2011, I am conducting an 8 week Journey to Balance here on my blog. It is free to participate, just be sure to subscribe! If you know someone else who would benefit, be sure to share by clicking below!

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The look at what worked for Christmas and what didn’t was very helpful for me so I thought I would try the same approach for looking over this past year. The year 2010 was a pretty tough one for me!

What didn’t go so well this year-

My year started out with me working in corporate America. I had come through a very stressful Christmas season dealing with some family drama (a mentally handicapped brother, and another brother and his family, long story). I had spent Thanksgiving week in the hospital as I thought I was having a heart attack.

In my job, as a sales manager, I was responsible for the “sales quota” for my district. Being in recession, and a very slow 1st quarter, it was difficult to accomplish what was being asked from me. I increased the number of hours I was working, upwards of 80 hours a week. I could not turn off my work, it was always there with me. My boss even realized how tough it was on us and scheduled a retreat at the end of May. It was nice to get away, but we STILL had to get the work done.

I started writing my personal blog in May, Ramblings of a Woman. It was a way for me to vent, but it was also a way for me to learn about the blogging world and how it all works. It was a huge learning curve at first, so much to know! I realized, though, that I love to write and connect with my readers!

In June, I served on jury duty for the first time. It was a very interesting experience. I can’t say I would want to do it again, but it truly opened my eyes to my community.

Winding up tighter and tighter

All the while, my stress level was compounding. I always felt like I was climbing out of my skin and got to the point where I had to have a glass of wine every night just to be able to sit still. I talked to my doctor about how I was feeling (I was already on some meds for depression and anxiety). He suggested I wait until after my upcoming vacation and see how I felt.

Vacation was good, although it took me too long to unwind. When I returned home, my stress was all still right there. One of my last straws was my boss’s boss stating in a broadcast message that to be able to accomplish the company’s objectives, we were to put forth effort 24/7. It was the next week that I had to prepare and present a mid-year review to my boss.

The meltdown

I could not concentrate on the reports. I could not wrap my brain around what I was supposed to be presenting. I could not find info I needed. My mental capacity was decreasing daily. I could hardly talk to my staff, and only left the house for absolutely mandatory meetings. Everything else I did by email.

When I met with my boss for my review, I fell apart. Into tears. Could not make it through, could not intelligently present my data. I left and immediately called my doctor. I believe I would have checked myself into a hospital if I had known where to go at that point.

My doctor immediately pulled me from work and put me on medical leave. He added and changed some medications. And I had to try to explain to everyone what happened to Superwoman. The one who had it all together.

Wearing the mask

You see, nobody knew I was suffering. Nobody at work, nobody at church, not my friends, and not even my family knew just how bad it was. I think my husband was getting a clue, but I did so well at pushing on, pressing forward, that people were shocked when I dropped off the face of the earth.

***And I want to reach out here to you, my reader. I know that there are some of you out there who feel this same way right now. You are overwhelmed and drowning and yet you won’t cry out for help. Since I didn’t ask for help sooner, I had to completely step away from my life. You may or may not need to do that, but the sooner you ask for help, the better.

Find someone you can talk to ~~ Be very blunt with them ~~ Tell them what you need help with~~ Make some changes for your sake and the sake of those around you!

While this post ends on a heavy note, be sure to read the next one! I will be talking about what went right this year, and what I learned from what went wrong.

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You know I am passionate about writing about my mental meltdown. I want to make sure other people who are feeling the pressure, realize where they are headed, and do what they can to put the brakes on before they hit a wall. Or, if they hit the wall, then what? 

This is the second part of my story, I fell down, but I got back up. I didn’t do it by myself, it was by the grace of God and the love and support of my husband and family. You can read more about this at my other blog, Living the Balanced Life.

Everyone falls down. It’s okay to fall down. What matters is what happens next. Do you get back up? Do you reach out for a helping hand? Do you dust yourself off and climb back on the horse? Maybe you have to be picked up and carried off for recuperation, that’s okay too.

 Just get back up again.

General Motors has had a rough couple of years. They put out a commercial that portays how I feel very well.

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Well, I have been rambling here for a little over 5 months now. It is interesting that when I began, I thought I was just learning about ‘how to blog’. What I didn’t realize was that I was about to embark on one of the most difficult, yet most important times of my life, and blogging was there to help me through it.

I appreciate all the readers who have followed my journey and provided encouragement to me and I know that many have benefited from my writing as they have told me so.

When I began my blog, I was already on the verge of a mental breakdown, although I wouldn’t admit it, which eventually happened in July. I tried so hard to be strong, and to hide what was inside, but you see,

what is true in our hearts will eventually shine through.

I was absolutely falling apart on the inside and eventually it had to come out. While this has been a significant trial for me, it is also helping me to dig deep inside and determine WHO I truly am, what I LOVE to do, and WHAT I want to spend the rest of my life doing.

Who I Am

I already knew that I liked to help women. As a matter of fact, I have defined a major mission in my life is to help YOU, to be the best YOU that YOU can be. Many people are just wandering through life letting it happen to them, and not making any major decisions about their direction. I feel passionately about helping you determine what your path is supposed to be.

My hope and prayer is, that as my healing process allows, I will eventually offer success and accountability coaching, as well as online workshops, and e-books.

For now however, my more immediate goal is to reach out to others who are in the same boat I am in, or may be headed in that direction. Women specifically, need to stop hiding behind their Superwoman cape and admit that, 

 “Yes, maybe I can have it all, but at what cost?” 

Announcing the Launch of Living the Balanced Life!

Living the Balanced Life will be launching on

Monday, November 8th

The content will be pertinent to both male and female (most of the time!) and will be geared toward helping you find the balance you so desperately need. I encourage you to go right now to http://livingthebalancedlife.com and join our email list. The form is on the left side of the page. The site is functional, there is just very little there yet!

All subscribers who sign up will receive a FREE download of Leo Babauta’s latest e-book, Focus. We all could use a little help on learning how to focus!

Please also consider becoming a fan on Facebook, and following me on Twitter!

In the meantime, I have an awesome video for you to watch with an important message for EVERYONE! Listen to the words as they sing!

I would love to hear from my readers! Could you use balance in your life? Are you tired of hiding behind your Superwoman cape?

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The Birth of a Blog

When I began my blog back in late May 2010, it was a trial run. I knew nothing about blogging, design, traffic, RSS, commenting, memes or carnivals. I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a mommy blogger.

I wanted to learn about blogging because I had an idea for a business and I had read that blogging would be a good way to promote it. Boy, did I jump into something so much bigger than I ever imagined! And I was headed into a very interesting period in my life, a period af enormous change.

Just Under the Surface

My life, at the time, was completely out of balance, although I had no idea JUST how unbalanced I was. You see, I was pretty good at hiding behind a mask and stuffing my emotions inside. My body was starting to rebel, but I wasn’t listening.

In July, I took a vacation hoping that would help me relax and move beyond my stress. About 5 days into my 7 day vacation I started to feel a little relief, however, within 2 days of returning home it hit me full force. As I was preparing to do a midyear review with my boss, I knew that I was in trouble. I had difficulty preparing my reports, I could not think clearly, and I was staying at home only when I did not have a very specific meeting scheduled.

get out of my box

The review was a disaster and it became apparent to me and to my boss that I could no longer do my job in my current state of mind. I took a personal leave and made an appointment to see my doctor. I have been on medical leave ever since. I am on medication, see a psychologist weekly, and have been doing much prayer and soul-searching during this time.

Our bodies are not meant to hold the kind of stress I was dealing with. I was overloaded beyond belief. I had work issues and personal issues I was dealing with. 

Part of it was external circumstances, however, part of it was due to how I handled and processed stressors in my life. I have had to learn with both sides of this issue.

As I began to write about my journey, I heard from more and more people about how they are dealing with the same thing on some level. They are stressed, overwhelmed and feel completely stuck in their lives. As I was working on my healing process, I realized I wanted to help those who were also feeling the same. This is where the change comes in!

The Balanced Life, Perfectly Imbalanced

I currently am working on another blog specifically geared towards helping women and men work out the balance in their lives. To put their stressors in perspective. To learn what to say yes to and when to say “No”.

My new blog is titled “Living the Balanced Life”. It will encompass 8 different areas of our lives:

Faith, Prayer and Worship
Connecting to Those Around You
Finding Joy in Life
Learning to Just BE
Live Healthy
Being Productive
Renew and Refresh
Manage Your Home and Time

Living the Balanced Life will have regular posts in each of these areas to help you in your quest for balance. I will also eventually be offering, for sale, resources to help you on your journey. 

My hope is to have Living the Balanced Life launch sometime early November, and to be in full swing by the time the New Year rolls around!  Please note that my plan is to continue to ramble my more emotional thoughts at THIS blog, while LTBL will be practical and action oriented (or NON-action!)
 

NEWS FLASH!newpaper-boy

To be sure you don’t miss out on when the new blog will be launching and when updates are made to THIS blog, be sure to subscribe via EMAIL by clicking HERE. I promise, I don’t share or sell your info, and I won’t hit you with spam!

Those who sign up via email will also receive for FREE the report “40 Ways to Live and Not Merely Exist!

In the meantime, for your education and encouragement…

As I am preparing to launch the new blog, my ramblings here will be on hold, unless I just can’t keep my mouth shut, lol!  I need to practice what I am preaching and balance my time and resources on what is priority at the moment, which is getting my other blog live.

So… if you are visiting during my hiatus, I have reorganized my ramblings (as much as one CAN organize ramblings!) for you to pick and choose the topics that might best help you where you are at. You can choose from my most popular posts below, or from the list of Posts by Category in the upper right-hand column.

I do enourage you to leave comments as I will still be reading those!

Some of my most popular posts:

So…Who IS This Rambling Woman?

10 Ways to Avoid a Mental Meltdown

Is Your Brain on Overload?

This is Your Brain, This is Your Brain on Overload

Someday is a Dangerous Word

Ahh, the American Dream

The Cure for the American Dream

If there are specific issues that you would like to see me address on my new blog, please feel free to send me an email to–

bernicemwood at gmail dot com! 

Also, if you believe a friend would benefit from my writings, please share by clicking the appropriate button below!

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I have recently gone through quite a bit of change and turmoil in my life. I basically had a mental meltdown back in July. (I don’t like saying ‘nervous breakdown’ and it is not a true medical term anyway!)  I had gotten to a point where nothing in my life was working. I had pushed myself to the MAX in so many different areas, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, in my relationships and in my career. My body finally had enough and said NO MORE!

My Life at a Standstill

depressed in a boxI had to take a medical leave from my job. I could barely leave the house, much less go to work. I couldn’t even go to Walmart by myself!  I reduced other responsibilities I had. Luckily my kids are mostly grown, so they can take care of themselves most of the time!  I stopped just about anything and everything I was doing. Pruned it away.

Rotten thinking

I had to start working on my mind as well. I had some pretty messed up ways of looking at things.

Things like…

  • I have to do all that is expected of me
  • I have to do it if I want it done right
  • My way is the best way and therefore the only way
  • I have to keep up a front that I am ok
  • I had to look the part of the professional role model all the time

Notice that these thoughts are all based on the big “I”. As I started pruning these things away with the help of my psychologist, my hubby and much prayer, I realized that alot of these thoughts were based in…

PRIDE

And, although I like to joke about this, I have had to REALLY learn that there is a God, and it isn’t ME.

I am NOT all powerful.

I CANNOT do everything.

I AM NOT Superwoman.

So, I am pruning out these thoughts… although I do find it is an everyday struggle!

STUFF!

Now that I am beginning to feel better, (more on that in a minute) I am also starting to prune away in my physical surroundings. I had surrounded myself with a lot of STUFF. I think that lots of stuff is another way of hiding. I am tired of hiding behind ANYTHING, so I am pruning away my belongings. Getting rid of the extra, the stuff that doesn’t add joy or value. 

Want growth? Gotta prune!

Now, I am no gardener, but I can tell you this, pruning is necessary for growth. If vines and trees and bushes are not pruned properly, they can never grow to their full potential.

In the Bible, in John 15, Jesus is portrayed as the gardener. As the Gardener, he examines each and every branch and twig in our vines to see if they are healthy or not. We also need to take this role in our lives.

Examine your life. Ask these questions

  • Am I fruitful in this area?
  • Or am I just spinning my wheels?
  • If I rid myself of “this”, could I better use my time over “here” instead?

Prune, or be pruned!

And, personally, as a Christian, I believe that if we do not make these adjustments to our vines on our own, the Gardener will bring or allow things into our lives to do the pruning for us. That, is what I feel happened in my life. I had let many things get out of control, I had weeds and vines all intertwined and had allowed quite a mess!

But I think that the Gardener was sitting back and saying, “I have SO much more for you. There is such great potential for you, but you cannot see it with all this overgrowth.” And so PRUNING was required. I had no choice at this point. I was at the end  of myself, and so the pruning began.overgrown vines

Cutting away those things that were unhealthy for my mind, soul and spirit. Clearing away the brush so I could see the open sky waiting for me. Chopping out completely the limbs that were diseased.

Was it painful? Absolutely.

Was it humbling? You better believe it. You see, before, I had quite a plant growing. I mean, I had vines going every direction, and it looked liked there was growth and life there, and then it was all cut away.

Now, however, I have hope. I know that the Gardener only wants the best for me. And instead of that mess I had, with his pruning, and my new growth with his guidance, I can grow into something more like this, with beauty, and the opportunity to see and do so much more than I could have before.

flowering vines

Am I there yet? Nope. I’ve got a lot of growing to do. I’ve gotta make sure I am doing the right things for the right reasons. I have make sure my thoughts don’t get skewed again. I need to add the right things to my life for the right reasons. For now, this is how I see myself.

sproutSee that little shoot growing from the cut stump? That is me. Rising up from my pruned state, green leaves reaching toward the sky in anticipation of what is to come!

Have you ever been through the “pruning process”? What are some things that were pruned away?

 

My goal is to help as many people as possible with these issues we all deal with! Be sure to subscribe via email or RSS so you don’t miss any posts! If you know of someone who would benefit from the info in this post and in my blog and you would like to share with them, please click on the appropriate link below!
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Being Busy Steals Your Life Away

busy womanMost of America and many other developed nations feel that being busy is a badge of honor

We think gives us our worth.

 

I think the opposite.

I think that being busy can keep us from being who we TRULY are.

I think it gets in the way of doing the things that are the MOST important to us.

I think that WE use being busy as a way to protect ourselves from stepping out of our comfort zone into what we feel deep inside we ought to be doing — and I am not talking about all the nagging ‘shoulds’ that come from outside, but those things which we know we are ‘called’ to do.

Doing Good, or Doing the Best?

We’ve all heard the quote, “The good is the enemy of the best”. I am not saying that many of the things you are doing aren’t good things. They may even be GREAT things, but, they may not be the BEST THING for YOU at this point in your life. When busyness gets a hold of us, we become bound by our ‘shoulds’ and we cannot be at peace in our lives.
work life balance sign

So how can you be sure you are doing the right things?

Christ wants us to have life and have it abundantly. He wants us to have what is best for US. We must be in tune with Him and with our hearts to avoid this empty busyness.

Below is a list adapted from Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits. Included are links to many of his helpful tips to accomplish these things.

10 Ways to Stop being So Busy

  1. Make a list of your top 4-5 important things. What’s most important to you? What do you value most? What 4-5 things do you most want to do in your life? Simplifying starts with these priorities, as you are trying to make room in your life so you have more time for these things.  
  2. Evaluate your commitments. Look at everything you’ve got going on in your life. Everything, from work to home to civic to kids’ activities to hobbies to side businesses to other projects. Think about which of these really gives you value, which ones you love doing. Which of these are in line with the 4-5 most important things you listed above? Drop those that aren’t in line with those things. Article here.  
  3. family organizer cozi

  4. Evaluate your time. How do you spend your day? What things do you do, from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep? Make a list, and evaluate whether they’re in line with your priorities. If not, eliminate the things that aren’t, and focus on what’s important. Redesign your day.  
  5. Simplify work tasks. Our work day is made up of an endless list of work tasks. If you simply try to knock off all the tasks on your to-do list, you’ll never get everything done, and worse yet, you’ll never get the important stuff done. Focus on the essential tasks and eliminate the rest. Read more.  
  6. Simplify home tasks. In that vein, think about all the stuff you do at home. Sometimes our home task list is just as long as our work list. And we’ll never get that done either. So focus on the most important, and try to find ways to eliminate the other tasks (automate, eliminate, delegate, or hire help).not to do
  7. Learn to say no. This is actually one of the key habits for those trying to simplify their lives. If you can’t say no, you will take on too much. Article here on how to say NO.  
  8. Limit your communications. Our lives these days are filled with a vast flow of communications: email, IM, cell phones, paper mail, Skype, Twitter, forums, and more. It can take up your whole day if you let it. Instead, put a limit on your communications: only do email at certain times of the day, for a certain number of minutes (I recommend twice a day, but do what works for you). Only do IM once a day, for a limited amount of time. Limit phone calls to certain times too. Same with any other communications. Set a schedule and stick to it.  
  9. Limit your media consumption. This tip won’t be for everyone, so if media consumption is important to you, please skip it (as with any of the other tips). However, I believe that the media in our lives — TV, radio, Internet, magazines, etc. — can come to dominate our lives. Don’t let it. Simplify your life and your information consumption by limiting it. Try a media fast.  
  10. Purge your stuff. If you can devote a weekend to purging the stuff you don’t want, it feels seriously terrific. Get boxes and trash bags for the stuff you want to donate or toss. Here’s my guide on decluttering. Here’s a post on starting small.
  11. Do what you love. Once you’ve freed up some time, be sure to spend that extra time doing things you love. Go back to your list of 4-5 important things. Do those, and nothing else. Read more.

Woman WritingIt will take time to implement these steps. They cannot be accomplished in a week, or even a month. I encourage you, however, if you find that you are not at peace with your level of busyness, that you go through this list, examine your heart, spend some time in meditation, and create an action plan for creating change in your life.

What are some things that you would like to change or possibly do away with in your life? Are there some things you would actually like to add?

 My goal is to help as many people as possible with these issues we all deal with! Be sure to subscribe via email or RSS so you don’t miss any posts! If you know of someone who would benefit from the info in this post and in my blog and you would like to share with them, please click on the appropriate link below!
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