Coffee with Kim

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Series One: Stress and Awareness

Introducing "Coffee with Kim"
Together we will explore many fascinating topics to help you lead a less stressful life. The first series focuses on the stress and awareness. Join me for coffee and a chat! I promise it's a little bit of science mixed with alot of fun!

Let's begin our discussion by talking about various sources of stress. Many things impact us, from traffic jams to the weather. I especially dislike cold weather. Burghhh. Environmental stress bombards us and we often don't notice the impact. How do you react when caught in traffic?

Not only are we stressed by external factors, we are also impacted by social stressors. Are you dealing with a deadline? Perhaps you have been procrastinating? Do you feel like you are spread too thin and there's simply not enough of you to go around? Does your home and work life demand so much of your time that you get lost in the shuffle?

Add to that our body's physiology and we can cook up a nice stressful soup. Are you eating properly? Exercising? Are you at a stage of life that seems unbearable? Does your back hurt or are you worried about your teenager? If so, you will likely manifest symptoms that could include anything from shoulder tension to headaches or worse.

Lastly, our own thoughts are one of our most challenging stressors. Our thoughts are clearly generated in our own minds, but our thoughts do not define us. That is, not if we don't allow them to define us. Our brains are always in translation mode, computing signals from our environment and letting us know if we are in danger or not. We are inundated by smells and sights, digital notifications and the exposure to stimuli never seems to stop. One thought turns to two and then to hundreds, even thousands. Do you try to file all of your thoughts for safe keeping? If so, is it necessary to tuck in the recesses of your mind?

Do yourself a favor and try a small experiment. Start thinking about your world in two parts, an internal world and an external world. Tune into the fact that you, your thoughts and your body, are impacted by both the traffic jams of life and the thousands of thoughts and to do lists that you continually generate. Allow yourself to have a moment of awareness, better yet, several moments of awareness.

Between today and our next coffee time, recognize and ask yourself these questions. Use the acronym PEET to remind you of each category. The outline below is a useful tool when you want to engage in increased awareness. Start the journey by committing to becoming more aware of internal and external trigger points:

1. Physiological: You have a headache. Hmmm???
a. Did you get enough sleep?
b. Did you misplace your glasses and continue to try to read or work on your laptop?
c. Have you been sitting in front of my computer too long?
2. External/Social: You are really annoyed with your colleague.
a. Ask yourself, are you in control of your thoughts and happiness?
b. Think about why your colleague might act the way that he or she does.
c. Ask yourself if this annoyance is worth your increased stress.
3. Environmental: You are cold (sound familiar; remember who hates the cold)
a. Ask yourself is there anything you can do, like put on two pairs of socks?
b. It's rainy and cold. You just want the sunshine to come out.
Can you control the weather? Could you look at a sunny picture? Could you use
imagery to imagine yourself on a beautiful, tropical beach ?
4. Thoughts: Just notice your thoughts. Are they mostly positive in nature or do you have some
work to do? My thoughts are always a work in progress. Frankly, I have to keep
reminding myself that they do not define me.
a. Remember, it's just as easy to give yourself a pep talk as is is to converse with yourself in
negative chatter mode.
b. Let's all think about a time when we "thought" something and latter realized that we were
c. Let's also think about a time when we thought about something incessantly. After 6 weeks
or 6 months passed by, were all those focused thoughts really worth it? Remember our
thoughts are like the clouds of change. Let's just keep them moving along.