How to Handle Stress During Challenging Times

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Our world has certainly changed in the last seven days. I have never seen anything like this. It’s scary and overwhelming and confusing. Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, our kids are home from school, our offices have closed their doors and we have watched our entire city shut down. And for many, you don’t even know when you will get your next paycheck.

How do we deal with it all? How do we survive all the stress?

My goal, in my speeches and in my life, is to help people gain a positive attitude – to see the silver lining. It’s really hard to do this when we are surrounded by such depressing news 24 hours a day. So, let me give you a few tips on how to get through the day with some sort of sanity and to experience some stress-free moments:

First, pick one time throughout the day to watch/listen to the news, then TURN IT OFF. The constant reporting of disease and death is enough to drive anyone crazy. Yes, we want to stay on top of what’s happening around the world, and in our own back yard, but once a day is enough. This will be difficult, so force yourself to shut off that TV, unplug that computer and find an inspirational book to read or music to listen to.

That takes me to number two – find your favorite music, whatever it may be. Make a playlist, then listen to it whenever you are feeling down. One of my favorites is: This is My Fight Song. Every day I sing these words at the top of my lungs: “This is my fight song, take back my life song.” Yes, I will take back my life and return to some sort of normalcy – soon.

Third, visualize a healthy you. Take all your five senses and See yourself as a healthy person; Hear your strong voice; Smell the flowers; Taste the food at your favorite restaurant; Feel vibrant and healthy. What you focus on, grows. So focus on a healthy you.

It’s up to you to take control of your life during these crazy times. My advice is to take small steps leading to a healthier, stress-free you. Let’s all come together to take care of ourselves and help each other. In the process you will find a courage inside yourself that you didn’t even know existed.

 

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My, How Times Have Changed

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Trailblazer. Don’t you just love that word?

This past Sunday was International Women’s Day and I’ve been reading a lot about the many achievements of women. I know it sometimes feels like we are standing still, but I guarantee you – we are not.

Here’s a short story of how far we’ve come.

In 1979, only 41 years ago, I needed my husband’s signature to buy a car. Yep, your read that right! I was 30 years old, a college graduate, full time teacher getting my own paycheck, and was told that I could not buy a car without my husband’s signature. When I responded that I was divorced and had no husband, their answer came quickly: then we need your father’s signature.

Today that would never happen. As women, we are independent, strong, powerful, financially savvy, and the list goes on. There are so many women who have come before me who have paved the way and help me live the life I have imagined for myself. At the top of my list is my mother. Although, growing up, I thought her stubbornness and feistiness were obstacles, I have now come to thank her for passing those same traits onto me. Because of her, I have learned to stand up for myself, take care of myself and be proud of myself. My only hope is that I can make a difference in some small way for the women who are yet to follow.

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The Impact of One Email

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

It may have taken him five minutes, maybe less, to send that email, but in that time he was able to make me feel like I could conquer the world. And I have no idea who he is.

You see, last Saturday I gave a presentation at the Toastmasters Conference in Darien, Illinois. My topic was TEDx presentations; how to find them, prepare for them and deliver them. During my talk I mentioned how my personal TEDx speech, the one I gave a few years ago, had technical difficulties. Both the lighting and sound were pretty bad. I expressed my disappointment and said that I haven’t shared that video because it lacked good quality.

Then, out of nowhere, someone I have never met emailed me saying:

Just wanted to let you know I enjoyed it [my TEDx speech] and the sound didn’t phase me one bit. Your message was too powerful for me to be pulled away by a small echo here and there. When the speech was over, your story is what I remembered, the sound blips are nothing. Your brother would be proud of you with that speech. Well done!!!

“Your brother would be proud of you”… Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve been missing the point all along. I was so focused on the technical difficulties that I diminished the power of my message. So, it is with great pride that I invite you to watch and enjoy my TEDx speech: Nancy’s TEDx talk.

And a huge thanks to Matthew for taking the time to reach out to me. Your kind words have truly made a difference.

 

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Even the Famous Ones Need Help

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Did you know that…

  • Oprah Winfrey was told she was unfit for TV because she couldn’t separate her emotions from her stories.
  • Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star Newspaper because he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.
  • J.K. Rowling depended on welfare to survive while trying to raise a child on her own.

So, the next time you start to beat yourself up because you feel stuck, or you haven’t come as far as you would like, know that you are not alone. There are some very powerful, successful and dynamic people who also felt like giving up. Yet, someone, something, kept them moving forward. They found a way to put one step in front of the other.

Use them as an example. Research others who have struggled and survived, then read their stories on the days when you need a little boost. Ask yourself: Who will be my anchor; what will be my safety net???

And here’s a secret: sometimes we begin to move forward when we stop, turn around, and lend a helping hand to someone who is just behind us.

 

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Emotional Intelligence? Please Explain!

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

I’ve been hearing a lot about Emotional Intelligence and it caught my attention. It didn’t seem like these two words fit together. Emotional comes from the heart; Intelligence comes from the head. So how did they end up in one phrase?

I started to research it and I found it quite fascinating. Everything I read defined EQ (Emotional Intelligence) as being able to understand your own emotions and how they affect the people around you. This in turn helps us all to manage our relationships more effectively. How cool is that? I sure have a few relationships that could use some managing, so I continued my research.

It turns out that EQ is becoming more and more popular in the workplace. It is helping managers better understand their team and what motivates them. It is also showing us all how to develop better work/life balance. It’s pretty powerful stuff.

Then I came across this flowchart that actually helps you perceive, manage and understand your own emotions. I actually found it fun to follow the various lines and arrows, reading the different answers and seeing where I fit in. That’s why I’d like to share it with you: Flowchart.

Take a moment to check it out and see how you can enhance your relationships with others, and more importantly, with yourself.

 

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Navigating the Detours in Life

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

I am constantly lost. Directions have always been a challenge for me. I can’t tell north from south, east from west, and if I tell you to turn left, that’s your cue to turn right. I honestly don’t know what I would do without my new best friend, Alice – my navigation system. No matter how long I have lived in one place, or how many times I have taken the same route, I still get confused.

People always make fun of me because I never know where I am or how I got there. I used to beat myself up over my lack of direction, but over the years I have learned to enjoy the detours along the way, both on the road and in life.

When I was 21, I had my whole life mapped out. Did it turn out the way I planned? NO! But by enjoying the twists and turns along the way, I have found treasures I never imagined possible.

As some wise person once said (no, it wasn’t me but I wish it was):

“A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.”

So, you see, detours can be good – and lacking a sense of direction can be a real adventure. It’s like watching a movie for the first time, not knowing how it will end.

 

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How Do You Prepare for Unexpected Loses?

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Take one step at a time. Clear one hurdle at a time. If you get ahead of yourself, you run the risk of getting cocky. I saw it happen in the Super Bowl game last Sunday. At one point the San Francisco 49ers thought they had won the game. Between plays, they even sat together on the field as though they were posing for their photo as the Super Bowl champions. Well, we all know how that turned out.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all been in that moment when we thought we won the trophy, landed the sale, or got the promotion. Then suddenly someone else’s name was called. Totally shocked, we end up thinking: “what just happened here?”

So, how do we prepare for that? How do we stay in the moment and focus on the goal that is right in front of us? One of my tricks is to picture a bullseye. There, right in the center, I can actually visualize what I want – what I am striving for. Everything else goes away and I can only see the center of that bullseye. That way, it doesn’t matter if someone else is winning or getting ahead of me. My laser focus causes me to remain steady.

Does this work every single time? I think you already know the answer to that. But on those occasions when it doesn’t work, it keeps me from getting cocky, from being blindsided, and to keep moving forward, no matter how much my surroundings may change. Think of it as the game of life, and on those days when things don’t go as planned, you can always drop back 10 yards and punt.

 

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The Adventures of Retirement

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Retirement. What does that word mean to you?

From the time we enter our very first career, we are consumed with it. We start to save for retirement, plan for retirement and dream of the day when we reach retirement. I hear so many people say: “I can’t wait until I retire.” And my response is always the same: “WHY?”

My take is that people who look forward to retiring have something in their life they want to do more. They either want to read more or work in the garden more or spend more time with their grandchildren. They want more time to do all the things they can’t do now because of their current job. And for them, retirement is welcomed.

But what about those folks who are forced into retirement. For some reason their current career has come to an end and they’re just not ready for the next phase of their life. What does retirement mean to them?

This happened to me at the age of 63 when I suddenly found out that I had lost my job. I was stunned and confused and scared. Then, for some unknown reason, I decided to try Toastmasters. Just about everyone I talked to said it was a great organization, and since I had the time, I thought: Why not? That was the stepping stone that lead me to my current career as a Professional Speaker. Who knew? It certainly wasn’t something I would have tried if I was still working in my previous job.

So, to those of you who are forced into retirement, I encourage you to see it as a whole new adventure; a whole new beginning. This is your opportunity to explore a new world and try something that brings a smile to your face. It could be cooking or traveling or knitting. Possibly take some classes on the topics that interest you, talk to the people who work in the industry that intrigues you, take that leap of faith and risk trying something new.

Start with baby steps and see where it will lead you. You are about to go on the adventure of your life.

 

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Life’s Too Short for Annoying People

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

This morning I shared a cup of coffee and some great conversation with a dear friend of mine.

She told me that she just celebrated her 19 year anniversary with the love of her life. As a gift, she decided to write 19 reasons why she still loved him – one reason for each year they were together.  It was truly a precious gift.

That gave me an idea. What if I flip the switch and think about the people in my life who actually annoy me? You know what I’m talking about – it could be that co-worker who won’t stop chatting, or that boss who doesn’t give you credit for all your hard work, or that friend who only talks about herself and never asks how you are doing?

What if I take a closer look at all those people who tend to aggravate me and list just 5 things that are good about them? It could be something as simple as “they have a sweet smile” or something more obvious like “they bring brownies to work for everyone to enjoy.” I could even work on substituting words for their annoying behavior, like:

  • Cheap could be replaced by Thrifty and Budget Minded
  • Gossipy could be replaced by Informative
  • Unfocused could be replaced by Unpredictable and Fun

It just may help you see them in a different light. If nothing else, it can turn your annoyance into tolerance.  I’m not sure if it will work, but I’m willing to give it a try. What do you think? Are you willing to join me by looking at the annoying people in your life a little differently? The photo I’ve included can work as a wordsmith to help get you started. Let me know how it goes.

 

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If Fear Were Not an Option

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Have you ever been asked the question: “What would you dare to do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Have you ever thought about what your answer would be?

Recently, a friend asked me this very same question. I had to think long and hard and I’m still not sure if I know the answer. Where would I be today if I wasn’t afraid of rejection or that feeling of not being good enough. Would my business be more successful? Would I have more friends?? Would I have taken more risks???

What would you do if fear wasn’t an option for you? I recently read an article that said the one thing that most people regret at the end of their life was not taking chances. I hope this is not one of my regrets. So, to make sure that doesn’t happen, I’m going to keep asking myself that question: “What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail.” In fact, I’m going to write it at the top of my whiteboard right now so I can see it every day. Who knows what new doors it may open – for both you and for me.

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