Two Changes Worth Considering

by Elizabeth West Krause, Ph.D. 

We all want to change:  just try to get a stairmaster by the t.v. at the gym in January.   We all know the importance of eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise, and getting a good night’s rest, although we may not consistently do them.  What is equally important, is how well we are able to relax or manage stress, and how well we are able to regulate our emotions.  By emphasizing these inward efforts this year, you will be more consistent and successful with your external measures of success or wellness. 

One reason true happiness is so elusive for many of us is >span class="apple-converted-space"> By emphasizing how well you manage stress and how well you regulate your emotions, the making changes that are truly important to you will be much easier to achieve.    

Essential Commitment #1:  Stress Management 

Research tells us >span class="apple-converted-space"> time every day to sit quietly and breathe deeply has as powerful effect on the body as Ativan, Xanax, Chocolate, or whatever your current quick fix stress release is.  Relaxation >span class="apple-converted-space"> calms the nervous system and gets us out of our relentless thinking/worrying mind.   Once we do that, we can more clearly get in touch with our inner resources for moving our life in the direction we want.   

Without making a commitment to managing stress, we are vulnerable to continue repeating negative habits and then beating ourselves up.  The more loss, trauma, and difficulty you have had, especially early on in life, the more complicated and more essential stress management becomes.  Reaching a point where you can nurture yourself, sit quietly and be sensitive to letting the effects of stress go is an essential commitment.   

Sounds easy, but what about the busy days?  Experiment with when and how to fit it in, but keep experimenting. Deep Breathing is portable.  Just by adding tension release, you have a powerful agent against the effects of stress.   

Essential Commitment #2:  Emotion Management 

 There is only one way to feel bad:  To think negative thoughts.  Everyone who is thinking negativistic, catastrophic, judgmental thoughts is going to be victim to emotional, close minded, and anxious thinking.  By simply monitoring the our thoughts, we can improve our emotional responses in very powerful ways.   

Emotions arise from stories that we tell ourselves about what other people are doing that is good/bad, right/wrong, black/white.  If we do not learn to monitor what we are automatically and mindlessly thinking, our lives will be run by our emotions and our behaviors will be reactive in nature.  Ask yourself, what are the automatic thoughts inside me that are not serving me anymore?   What do I need to accept or let go of to make room for inspiration, creativity, and mindful responses that honor and lift others and myself up? 

We all want basically the same things in life:  love and respect.  If we start giving to others what we want and need, we will fulfill ourselves in a much deeper way.  By affecting inward change we promote the emotional well being of those around us.    

Resolutions That Start a Revolution 

1.           I will take 5 minutes every day this year to sit quietly.  I will make a commitment to clear out the mindless chatter in my mind.  I will notice the effects of stress on my body and make an effort to let go of tension.   

2.           I will make an effort to appreciate someone or something that I ordinarily take for granted every day this year.  I will accept what is happening without judgment and feel grateful for the opportunities for growth in my life.   

I’d like to invite you to make a commitment to yourself this year by making time daily to address the effects of stress on your body and consciously catching yourself worrying.  By beginning an inward focus and fundamentally addressing how we are in the world, we can start affecting behavioral change in our weight management, money management, and negative habits in a more powerful way.   

The therapists at Malec, Herring and Krause wish you a Mindful, Healthy, and Contented New Year.  Do not hesitate to contact us to support or jump start your commitments to yourself this year.  Please visit us at or call us at (724) 772-4949. 

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