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Your Sofa May be Killing You

Posted by Julia Stewart

Sofa may be killing you

Should you finally write that novel while you're staying at home or should you cut yourself some slack and take it easy?

Some productivity gurus seem to encourage us to use this time to reach all those goals we never had time for, while others say this is a tough situation and we should take it slow for a while.

That's a false choice and a dangerous trap...

The first choice is problematic if it discourages you from practicing sufficient self compassion, an attitude that few in our society have mastered. Without self compassion, reaching for major goals during a difficult time is a workaholic response that is usually unsustainable. Sooner or later we burn out and our loved ones pay the price until we do.

The second choice invites us to use the pandemic as an excuse to be less than our best and there's a hidden danger to that. For example, I'm hearing from people who say they're having trouble getting out of bed, or off the sofa, and are engaging in old bad habits, like overeating and binge watching TV they don't even like. Those are symptoms that, over time, can be deadly, and I'm not just talking about becoming unfit or overweight.

When we give up on what gets us out of bed, even for a while, we're telling our bodies that we are no longer needed. When that happens, our bodies tend to shut down and age. Sometimes, people begin the process of dying when they no longer have a purpose. We've all heard those stories of elderly couples who die within days of each other. That is, perhaps, a dramatic example.

The psychologist, Jim Loehr, who specializes in helping people optimize their energy, has a theory. He says shutting down and dying, when we no longer have a purpose, has adaptive value for our species. Because it frees up resources, like food, for those that do have a purpose.

I remember hearing a story from psychologist, Don Beck, who teaches Spiral Dynamics, about an indigenous family in the Canadian arctic. They had too little food to survive the winter, so the grandparents volunteered to commit a traditional sacrifice. The grandparents climbed onto an ice flow and the family pushed them out to sea...

 

They sacrificed themselves to free up resources for their families in one last act of purpose.

 

I'm guessing that your situation does not require you to die for the survival of your family. But you do need a sense of purpose to survive the pandemic. You can can reach goals that matter. You can grow and transcend. But you need a little extra self compassion when the new abnormal gets overwhelming.

I'm teaching a free course on how to thrive in the pandemic in which I share numerous positive psychology and neuroscience tools and practices. One of the tools that participants have found most impactful is an act of self compassion.

Here it is. Take your hand and place it on your cheek (make sure you've washed your hand, of course.) Then tell yourself, "I understand. It's okay. I forgive you. Everything will be all right."

 

One participant cried when she did this.

 

Try it. If it touches you deeply, you probably need to do it regularly.

Your short-term purpose may have changed temporarily. But you can replace it with something meaningful, right now. Maybe even complete that novel you've always wanted to write. And it may be possible to work toward your long-term vision if you're willing to be flexible and creative. I'm offering a taste of this in the free course.

 

But that sense of laziness, of slacking off and becoming one with the sofa, could slowly be killing you.

 

Don't make this an either/or choice. Do pursue important goals. Do practice self compassion, as needed. Do thrive despite the pandemic and help create a better world.

 

There are two classes left in the free Fully Alive course. Sign up below to attend.

 

Register for Free: Fully Alive in the Pandemic

 

Topics: Free, life purpose, Spiral Dynamics, positive psychology coaching, coaching with neuroscience, Don Beck, resilience, Covid

How Thomas Leonard Prepared Me for the Covid Pandemic

Posted by Julia Stewart

Covid-19 Reserves

In 2001, the Founder of the Coaching Profession helped me get ready for Covid-19.

He also helped me thrive through 9/11 in New York City. Unfortunately, Thomas passed of natural causes in 2003, but his influence still prepared me to flourish through the Covid pandemic.

How am I flourishing? Well, my online business is doing great in the shut down and I just took my blood pressure. It's 97/67. I'm not special. Here's how Thomas Leonard helped me get here...

Thomas was a self-described worrier. He was also a massive risk-taker. That's a tough combination. But he was endlessly creative and among his many brilliant approaches to coaching are some that are designed to boost confidence for even the biggest scaredy cats so they can take big risks to reach their cherished goals. What follows is just one approach that works for me...

Twenty years ago, before paranoid preppers were a joke, Thomas found a simple way to get ready for almost anything and thereby raise your confidence and lower your anxiety. (Here's my distinction between paranoia and anxiety: The first is a sense of threat that people are out to get you. The second is a worry that things will go wrong and you won't be able to handle it. It's normal to feel anxious if you're unprepared.)

This approach eliminates the greatest source of human suffering.

Thomas created a checklist called, Super Reserves, that helps people develop a reserve of almost anything they could ever need because when our needs are met, we are freed to live our best lives. Until our needs are met, we unconsciously suffer and chase what we don't have instead of enjoying what we do have and creating what we really want. That word, need, is important because this concept is related to Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which you probably learned about in a course on psychology. It's a precursor to positive psychology.

Reserves sound like they couldn't possibly work but my story, below, demonstrates the dramatic shift they cause.

I got my very first coaching client the week of 9/11 when I was still living in New York City. I was studying coaching with Thomas Leonard and also had a successful personal training business that I eventually transitioned out of. But those weeks after the terrorist attacks were filled with bomb and terror threats (90 false threats on September 12th, alone). It was still possible to drive in and out of Manhattan and even park for free, in those days, but the threats and resulting twelve-hour traffic jams were constantly shaking me up.

I was terrified.

I talked to a psychotherapist friend who said the best antidote to anxiety is to take action. I reviewed my options for taking action. Could I stop the threats? No. Could I stop seeing my clients? No. What was the worst that could happen? I'd be caught in a terrorist attack. What was likely to happen? I'd get stuck in an epic traffic jam. What would I need if one of those events occurred? Ah! That's where Reserves came in.

I made a plan.

Honestly, I thought it was kind of silly, but I decided to follow Thomas' Reserves approach and get ready for "anything". So I got out an old gym bag that I carried in my car and started filling it with whatever I might need if something bad happened: masks, goggles, extra clothes, a blanket, comfortable shoes, food that would "keep", water, etc., etc.

What happened?

At some point, my anxiety vanished because I knew I was prepared. Did I ever need the stuff? Nope! But it already did its work: I was happier, more relaxed, and able to show up at my best to coach the many traumatized New Yorkers that I had the honor to work with over the next year.

You see, your nervous system has two basic modes.

One is optimized for connection and works best when you're relaxed. The other is optimized for protection and is triggered when needs aren't met. We tend to be at our best during connection and are more attractive and able to see opportunities and possibilities, but our unconscious behavior is more negative and off-putting when we're in protection mode and we tend to see problems everywhere. Both modes are needed sometimes but connection is often needed more. Filling my needs with reserves put my nervous system in connection mode.

So how did this prepare me for the current pandemic?

I never forgot that Reserves lesson. Now I always keep things on hand that I might someday need. When toilet paper was in short supply, I already had a case of it. When we found out we needed masks, I already had a box of N95 masks. I was also able to donate masks to first responders and healthcare workers, which felt a lot better than panicking because there was a shortage. My business was already online and I work from home and have experience training others to do the same so business is good. I could go on and on...

I was ready, so I could relax and help instead of panic.

I train coaches to coach their clients to be ready for anything, because in the age of the Climate Crisis, anything can happen. If you'd like to learn more about the ultimate work-from-home profession, download the free Become a Coach eBook, below.

 

Get Your Free 'Become a Coach' eBook Now

Topics: become a coach, Thomas Leonard, 9/11, Climate Change, Covid, Reserves

Coach Stephanie Harris Shares Her Incredible Story of Covid-19 Survival

Posted by Stephanie Harris

Coach Stephanie Harris and Husband Mark Skiing 2020

Three weeks ago, a member of the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, Stephanie Harris, shared something shocking with me: Her husband had just recovered from Covid-19 and she was still asymptomatic.

I was relieved they were alright and impressed at Stephanie's positive attitude and desire to help others navigate this collective nightmare. Television news programs around the country are interviewing Stephanie to share understanding about her experience. What follows, in Stephanie's own words, are some details of what happened and an invitation to a FREE one-hour interview with Stephanie about what she learned and how she can help. - Julia Stewart

Read on...

"The epidemiologist believes, my husband Mark, contracted Covid-19 at the National Brotherhood of Skiers Summit in Sun Valley, ID, where we were, from February 29 th to March 6 th. I have received firsthand reports of multiple hospitalizations, multiple positive test results and 6 deaths, thus far.

On March 8 th, Mark was feeling achy and coughing slightly. He described his affect as feeling tired. His fatigue continued and on March 9th, 10 tthand 11 th, I called urgent care, our local emergency room, the Broward County, Florida, Department of Health and our primary care office, to obtain information on the best way to treat his situation.
 
As there was no protocol at that time, all I got was “There's no tests kits here, so do not come here”. His fever, headache, chills, fatigue and lack of appetite continued, but, oddly, he was not coughing.
 
On March 12 th, I eventually got an appointment with the primary care office and after a stop by urgent care for a chest x-ray, we made it to the ER and I set the goal of getting him tested.
 
While Mark received IV fluids and an antibiotic, I was forced to continually ask about Covid-19 testing, as the lack of a consistent protocol was evident. I refused to hear anything about the CDC guidelines. As I told the Dr. “This past Saturday, we were on three airplanes and in four airports….do YOU know where those people came from??”
 
It was a long night, largely, in part to me sounding like a broken record and asking any Dr. who would listen, WHEN WILL HE BE TESTED!! I got put on time out by one of the nurses, because she was fearful, I could spread pneumonia or something worse.
 
Since his fever dropped, he was sent home with antibiotics to treat the bacterial pneumonia and a cough medication. We were told we should have the results in a few days. Throughout the weekend, he rested and we continued immune boosting supplements, foods and thoughts.
 
The Broward County Epidemiologist called Tuesday, March 17 th with the news he tested positive. His illness pattern occurred from March 8 th until March 30 th, when he was able to walk 15 minutes, eat well and function without coughing. He is now up to 50 minutes and performing basic body weight exercises. Thankfully, he is doing great!
 
As I pursue this role of support and advocacy, it's very clear I cannot do it alone. Surviving Covid-19 is one thing, coming back home and having zero resources and support, is another. As the spouse of a Covid-19 patient,who has navigated the road to recovery, I am uniquely qualified in understanding the mental aspects of healing, as well as the physical. I am passionate about helping others develop positive changes, in the face of an uncertain and complicated future."
 
Visit Stephanie's website: ShiftWithSteph.com
 
For her informative videos related to Covid-19, go to: Facebook.com/Shiftwithsteph
 
Stephanie has so much wisdom to share on how to survive Covid-19 and help your loved ones: from maintaining a good attitude, to buying a pulse-oximeter, to becoming a strong patient advocate, that we did a FREE one-hour interview with her. The recording is  available to those who register below.
 
Register for Stephanie Harris Interview

 

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Covid

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