Warning…Attitude Adjusment in Progress!

It’s a gorgeous day! I’m ready to take on this day and all
it has to offer. Let’s get some things done today!!!

Ugh! I hate my job. My legs feel like lead today. Probably
won’t get a run in.  Why the heck am I
doing any of this? What’s the point?

So….what side of the bed did you wake up on this morning?

Health goes beyond the way we look, our weight, our body
composition, our cardiovascular endurance and our clothing size.  Our mental health is definitely a factor in determining
our success in achieving our goals in all those other markers of health.  Let’s be clear. I’m not an expert in mental
health. You’ll have to go to your health care provider for anything beyond the less
than optimistic attitude.  I’m just here
to remind you that attitude is everything.

I know that the weather, your children’s behavior, work
drama, friend drama, spouse drama (life is full of drama) lack of sleep can all
be overwhelming.  I have been standing
there in your shoes or some version of your shoes.  Let’s face it. If we choose to do so, we can
go spiraling into the depths of despair pretty quickly if we lose our
grip.  How the heck do we hang on tight?

There is something to be said for gratitude.  I’m not saying that everyone has a fantastic
mansion, a perfect child, or a lucrative career for which to give thanks.  Being thankful for the little things in life
can color your day with optimism in a way that a doom and gloom attitude can
ruin it.   It is your choice to focus on what’s going
well versus wallowing (like a pig in slop) in misery.

We have all been there.
It’s the 17th day in a row of miserable weather, everyone in
the house is yelling or crying, there are 2 more pounds showing on the scale, there
is no coffee, the car’s fuel light is on, traffic is at a standstill, late for
an appointment and it is only 8:30 in the morning!  Now is the time. You are faced with a
choice.  Continue on with the attitude
that the day is on track for winning “Craptastic Day of the Century” or adjust.  Time to hang on to what’s important.   Is any of this life threatening or life
changing?  No-check.  Do I have shoes on?  Yes, phew! -check.  Will it always feel like this? No-check.

Don’t mistake my suggestion to choose another, more positive
attitude for putting my head in the sand.
We do need to face the things that make us miserable. We can’t ignore
the cat barf on the carpet.  I will say
that I have been guilty of lying on my bed wondering what I did to have everything
go so wrong. It would have been so easy to just continue lying there letting
the world go on around me.  I had to
choose to be the one to make things happen. I had to choose to make things
different and if I couldn’t make them different, I could choose a different
attitude about it.  I had to choose to
clean up the cat barf in my life.  It’s
not easy to believe you have that much control. It is true.

Did you know that stress makes you fat? Did I get your
attention?  The hormones released in our
ancestors to provide extra energy to out run a hungry animal are released in us
when we are aggravated with our boss. Our bodies don’t know that we are sitting
at our work desk and not running for our lives.
This extra energy that was meant to power our legs toward a safe cave is
instead getting stored as belly fat because we don’t need extra energy to be annoyed
in the office. Unless you are running for your life you are going to get/stay
fat around the middle.  So determine if
it is worth the belly fat to let negative thoughts continue to swirl around in
your head.

Do what you can. Accept the things you can’t control.
Control what you can. It’s not essential that every single day be bursting with
positivity. Who needs that kind of pressure? It is essential that you try to
make the most of every day.  A day viewed
through rose-colored glasses is much prettier than one viewed between blinders
that only see what is not going well.
What are you going to be wearing today?

Until next time…Live well!
– Toni Kuhel

Is This a Trip or a Vacation?

 

My gosh! How did it get to be the end of the school year already???  This seems like the perfect time to address traveling with your posse. The idea of days on end with kids suddenly without the structure of a school day makes one feel like leaving home.  Learning to live well is tough enough when you can control your environment.  When you’re at home you control what is in your cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer.  If you’ve made the commitment (if you’re not there you are on your way) then you have “real food” everywhere.  If you are normal then you also have a couple (just a couple) of items that you should have only once in a great while. Confession time…  my 2 things are fresh buffalo mozzarella and butter.  Activity-wise, you also have a routine.  You’ve scheduled your work-outs, found your three 10 minute “chunks”, and have your favorite walking routes around the neighborhood.  But what happens when you are NOT in control of your environment?  Now there are plenty of times when I feel I have no control of my environment, but that mostly pertains to my 3 little angels and 1 big one.  The actuality is that you can always control your choices and thusly it doesn’t matter what environment you are entering.  You don’t ever have to take a vacation from the healthy lifestyle you’ve created, even when you are on vacation.  Stop rolling your eyes long enough to see how painless it can be.

The Kuhel family travels each year and when the kids come (just about always) it is then a trip and not a vacation due to the amount of work that inherently comes with taking the whole circus on the road.  To be quite honest, making our lifestyle changes at home came a lot easier than making those same changes in other situations.  I really had to sit and brainstorm about how we could possibly do these things out in the real world.  Let’s face it.  The real world is loaded with choices that can lead us down an ugly path.  That’s why our nation is in the shape (round is a shape) it is in.  Here are a few ways we navigate our way through the dangerous sea called the vacation/trip.

  • Plan ahead:  Chances are you are not walking to your destination.  At least not the whole way, I hope.  That means you are either driving, flying or boating.  If you are traveling another way (rocket ship, hot air balloon etc.) planning ahead will serve you well too.  Most of these modes of transportation don’t lend themselves to having healthy snacks as part of the deal.  You are going to have to bring some “real food” or pay an unreasonable amount of money for a few acceptable choices.  The Kuhel family’s money tree in the front yard died so we watch our dollars as much as we can.  If your money tree is thriving, then go ahead and take your chances but sometimes it doesn’t matter how much money you have.  That gas station in the middle of nowhere isn’t going to give you fresh blueberries for a fistful of dollars.  You are going to get a questionable mystery meat sandwich, a 2 year old Twinkie, and purple liquid in a dusty odd shaped bottle. Mmmm mmmm good. 

 

Pack your snacks. If you are traveling a fair distance by car, be smart about it.  For long trips I suggest packing 2 coolers and a snack bag.  One larger cooler in the trunk or in the back of the minivan you said you’d never get.  Use one smaller cooler for the front of the car.  The larger cooler should be your replenishment cooler.  This one should have lots of bottled water, 100% fruit juice boxes, string cheese, re-sealable bags filled with single servings of grapes, carrots, sugar snap peas, small dark chocolate bars (gotta have treats) and anything else your family likes cold.  The smaller cooler should have smaller quantities of the same thing.  No one wants to travel with a giant cooler inside the car and there is no way a little cooler is going to get you past the state line. The snack bag should be contain re-sealable bags filled with single servings of walnuts, almonds, whole grain cereal, home-made trail mix, whole grain crackers,  pbj sandwiches, apples, bananas and containers of applesauce (don’t forget spoons). On our recent road trip, Renee was “snack manager” and she handed out snacks when anyone asked and monitored our inventory so we knew when we had to get supplies from the large cooler.  She is a control freak so this was a sweet deal for her. Also, no one else wanted the job. Traveling by air has restrictions on liquids so you are just going to have to buy water after the security check.  Your snack bag is obviously going to be smaller, but be sure to bring it.  Somehow I can’t justify $7 + (or something like that) for a box with $2 (or something like that) worth of marginal snacks.

That’s about all for part 1.  Part 2 to follow soon.

          Till next time…live well! Toni Kuhel

Are we coming or going? -Part 3

10 minutesWhat are we trying to fit in?  Eating right, exercise/activity, and stress management are all going to make it into your life.  This is the part where I ask you to get out of your own way.  Try not to succumb to that little voice that says “you’ve got to be kidding me.”  Thinking the way you’ve been thinking all these years has not gotten you on the path of living well thus far.  Change is good so embrace it!

Go and find that paper that you used to map out your week.   Take a good hard look at it and see what days are your “light” days.  Let’s face it.  Some days are better than others.  Take those better days and look at them as opportunities.  You don’t need to find huge chunks of time.  Remember, three 10 minute chunks of moderate activity, is as effective as 30 consecutive minutes. First try and see if you can find at least one 30 minute chunk.  If you can, use it!  Find an activity that you enjoy and fits your current fitness level.  If it’s fun you’ll be more likely to do it… see!

www.autoblog.com/2009/10/08/video-volkswagen-wants-you-to-have-fun-taking-the-stairs/#continued

If you can’t find something you really love, just find something you don’t hate. Something I try to tell myself is “you only have to do it for 10 minutes”.  This is usually enough to get me started and of course I end up working out for more than that.  One thing that is inevitable is feeling better when your activity of choice is all said and done.  Keep a variety of choices for activity in your bag of tricks.  This will keep you from getting bored or injured.  Walk everywhere you can. Take the stairs whenever you can (even if it’s not a piano). Move quickly throughout your day. Carry things instead of pushing if you can.  Whatever it is that you are doing fitness-wise, make an effort to do a bit more every week.  Changes in your body and overall health depend on making progress.  Just a wee bit more time or effort can reward you many times over in the future.

Every day you should try and take a few moments to close your eyes and breathe.  Take a 7 second inhale, hold for 7 seconds, exhale for 7 seconds.  It works like magic and you should try it now. This blog isn’t going anywhere, I’ll wait.  Also try and listen to music that moves you. It doesn’t need to be a song you want to dance to, but it could be. It could also be music that calms you or brings back a favorite memory of yours. Compile a “happy track” on your ipod/mp3 thing.  It will be your savior on a particularly stressful day.  Try some silence.  Instead of flipping on the TV or the radio every morning when you come into your kitchen, try nothing.  If you start out every morning in silence, try your “happy track”.  Change it up and see what feels good to you.  Simply changing what you hear can have an effect on your mindset for the day. This will also probably catch your family off guard and everyone knows how much fun that can be.  Often times we don’t know we are in a rut until we make a change. Make a change!

Until next time….Live Well! – Toni Kuhel

Are we coming or going? – Part 1

overscheduled

Are we coming or going? – Part 1

It’s time for another series! Woo hoo!!! Translation – too much for one blog so I’m splitting it up so as not to add to your constant feeling of being overwhelmed. You’re welcome. Enjoy!

It seems as if each day is filled to the absolute brim.  The day is can sometimes resemble a rollercoaster ride.  You get on, it goes up and down, upside-down, twists, turns, and it goes around again.  Eventually you get off, but then you just have to get on again tomorrow.  If you are lucky, it will pause on occasion.  Your roller coaster ride might look like mine complete with kids (and all the stuff that comes with them), work, food preparation, and cleaning etc.  You might have a day that consists of a 12 hour work day, commuting, and classes.  Whatever the case may be, everyone seems to think there are not enough hours in the day to do all the things that need doing.  I came to this conclusion after completing my extensive research.  My very unscientific research consists of chatting with everyone:  the neighbors on my driveway, co-workers at the school, friends at lunch, parents at my children’s various activities, and the many strangers I feel the need to bond with while I’m out and about running errands.  Most likely, your life is some kind of crazy.  I’m constantly working to try and slow this rollercoaster down so that we can have the time to actually get around to living.  I’m not sure how it got this crazy but as I’ve always said…the Kuhels are a work in progress.  This craziness is an excuse that many of us are accustomed to using as the reason we can’t do the things we need to do to live well.  As a family we’ve come across some ways to surpass the chaos and make health a priority.  I have a few ideas on how to handle living well in the midst of living crazily.

Time – What time?

If you have extra time on your hands and you are not living well, go ahead and look over “Is today THE day?” blog. This blog is reserved for those with seemingly insurmountable time constraints.  I say “seemingly” because at first glance, maybe even after a few long hard stares, making time to live well can feel very unlikely.  Just thinking about how to wedge in ANYTHING else can be that hurdle that keeps you and your family from making changes.  The good news is that with a bit of creativity and compromise, you can just change how you do what you already do, without trying to carve out those non-existent extra hours in a day. You know that saying “work smarter not harder”?  I wish I was the genius that thought up that little nugget, but I’m okay with having credit for just trying to adopt the concept.  You are going to have to stop having your pity party and saying things like “Well if I had tons of time and money I could be in great shape with a personal trainer, nutritionist, and a personal chef.”  I have uttered that exact sentence myself over the years and that wishful thinking got me nowhere in a hurry.  For most of the general public, ideal time and monetary scenarios are not a reality.  After growing tired of waiting for the money tree to grow in the front yard, I realized that you have to do what you can with what you’ve got.

  • Get a handle – Take some time (make some time-this is your life we’re talking about) to put your typical week down on paper.  Make sure you plug in all your obligations.  Include commute time, prep time, wait time.  Put it all in a format that makes sense to you.  You can use your PDA, a day timer/planner, spreadsheet, paper and pencil, or a napkin and crayon (it’s some people’s reality – don’t judge).  Be as detailed as possible to help this problem solving process along. So…”work” for an 8-12 hour block is not going to help you very much.  Pay attention to your day and figure in any breaks,  traveling to meetings, typical number of trips away from your desk, hours at your desk/work area, study time, TV time, specific chores, car pooling etc.  You are probably going to have to blink several times when you look at all you are doing during those precious hours each day.  You may find yourself feeling something.  You are going to pat yourself on the back for being an overachiever, realize you have some time that could be better utilized,  see that you are chasing your tail because you are not too organized, come to the conclusion that you are simply overextended, or likely you will feel a little bit of all of these things.  So in the end, it’s all there in black and white (or purple crayon).  Your life and your family’s life in a nutshell for you to dissect.
  • Get real– Now it’s time to face the music and get comfy cozy with your reality.   Resist the urge to further fill your days if you see some dead space.  Resist the urge to poke your eyes out if you see no dead space.  Do embrace the idea of scanning your days with an eye toward efficiency.

If you find yourself trolling the aisles of the local drug-mart several times a week because you discover no more toilet paper on Monday, no more cat litter on Tuesday (garbage night) , index cards for a school project on Thursday, and a Sunday night dark chocolate bar emergency, take notice.

Try and keep a list of your most used items in your house and when you start getting low (don’t wait until you are staring at the last empty roll of toilet paper on the dispenser) make a check mark.   When you get enough check marks, go and get the stuff in one trip.  My kids are notorious for last minute “needs” for school and it is best not to have the economy pack of dark chocolate bars lying around, so some of this running around is unavoidable.  LOTS of running around is avoidable so plan, plan, plan. This kind of planning is applicable to your grocery shopping, picking  up dry-cleaning, shuttling your kids from place to place, getting yourself from place to place and so on and so on.

Plan your routes to hit several places in one shot.  Resist the urge to run out for just one thing. I KNOW you have more than only one thing you can take care of while you are out.  Take a second and you can save yourself lots of time and aggravation.   You will discover some time previously lost along with your mind that you lost last week racing to the store while someone was sitting patiently because they forgot to check the TP situation BEFORE sitting. We’ll talk more about what to do with your new found time in just a bit.

Okay, so a bit will be in the next blog.  Take some time and try to get your daily life sketched out and we’ll cover a bit more next time.  Come back and see what’s next.

Until next time…Live Well! – Toni Kuhel

….Stressed?!? Part 3 – tah dah!!!

 

Wooooooo hoooooooooo!!!

Wooooooo hoooooooooo!!!

Happy Friday everyone!!!!!! You made it! The weekend is almost here and I know you’ve earned every last second of it.  Not to burst your bubble but Monday will be here before you know it and with it may come a teeny weeny tiny bit of stress. Just sayin’.  If you’ve been following the last 2 blogs, you know we’ve been on a stress busting mission.  If you’ve missed the last 2 then scroll down to catch up.  Today is the last in this blog series ….thank goodness! I had a friend ask if I was especially stressed because I’d been blogging about it.  Nooooooo. Not especially, just normally stressed and that’s enough for me.  So here’s the last of my two cents on this subject….for now 🙂 .

  •  Eat happy and be happy.  Dark chocolate, beer, red wine, coffee!!!!  Have I got your attention?  You can have these!! All things in moderation, but these treats can actually be good for you.  Oh happy day! 

 

First let’s get the stress inducing foods out of the way.  Things to avoid are foods laden with sugar and caffeine (soda/pop), as well as “white” foods (white bread, chips, white crackers etc).  These cause blood sugar spikes or adrenaline to rise which can put you on a roller coaster that you do not want to ride.  It makes sense. Your blood sugar and adrenaline level rises – with that increase in stress, your heart rate and breathing become rapid. NOT GOOD!  Your blood sugar and adrenaline level crashes and so do you. You feel sluggish, irritable, and tired. NOT GOOD! You think more of the same is going to get you “up” again only to come crashing down once more.  How crazy is that? If you haven’t recognized it yet, you’ve just experienced a dreaded mood swing.  Who the heck needs help having more of those? There is a time and a place for exceptions of course.  White bread toasted with marshmallow cream and peanut butter sandwiches are fine on a camping trip when your child can run that sugar high into the woods and crash in the tent.  This is not a good snack choice when you are headed off to school to sit still, pay attention, and stay awake to learn. You make the call.

 

Now we can move on to the Superfoods that are stress busting.  Superfood = broccoli, fatty fish (salmon etc.), garlic, high fiber food (beans, whole grain food etc), tea, tomatoes, olive oil, berries, soy, and nuts. All of those foods keep our bodies running smoothly.  Look for more blogs to come with ideas about how to fit more of these into your snacks and meals.  These foods are packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals.  The high fiber in them keeps your blood sugar levels from rising and falling quickly.  If your body feels good it will help your mind feel good.  I know we could all use more feel good moments.

 

  • Fake it ‘til you make it.  Smile.  Go ahead and smile.  It feels good.  Those days that it is hard to face the world are really tough.  Try to rethink whatever is weighing heavily on your mind and smile a bit.  What do you do when you approach someone who is smiling at you? It is human nature to smile back.  You don’t want to look like a loon. But a smile, even a small one, begets a smile.  It’s the kind of cycle you want to perpetuate.  Beware of the doom and gloom bunch because they will seek out a sad face and just tell you to hunker down because it’s going to be a bad day. Smiling when you don’t really feel like it is not going to work every day.  It will work on plenty of days.  I say, the more days that you are smiling on this earth, the better.  Just give it a go.  What do you have to lose…maybe a few frown lines?

 

  • Shake your groove thang.  Get moving. It’s no great mystery that you feel good after you’ve gotten your blood pumping.  You don’t have to run a marathon to reap the rewards of exercise.  ANY exercise can be of benefit to you.  A good walk can do wonders to clear your head.  A fun spin class at the gym can get the sweat pouring and make you feel good because you’ve accomplished something.  A 30 minute yoga session can put you in your happy place and stretch the stress away.  Raking the leaves with your ipod jamming can shorten that list of things to do and get your heart going.  The world always looks a bit brighter to me after I break a sweat. Lots of people dread a workout, but I don’t know one person that doesn’t feel better afterwards.

 

As I said, our family is a work in progress when it comes to managing stress.  I fly off the handle WAY more than I ought to.  I obsess about things that are out of my control more often than I should.  I worry about what “they” will think as if it really matters.  Our kids are doing a bit more than they probably should be doing.  Alex is a touch more negative than he needs to be.  Admittedly, we are a bit of a disaster in this area of wellness.  Rethinking is our biggest challenge and we are facing it with a smile.  We are working on it.  What will you do?

Until next time….Live Well! –Toni Kuhel

….Stressed ?!? Part 2

Enough of us must be stressed if they made a button!

Enough of us must be stressed if they made a button!

Yesterday I covered rethinking “it”(stressful situations). Stress is a huge problem for all of us and is the reason for this 3 part blog. Wouldn’t want to stress you out with 9 pages covering stress.  Here’s another little bite on stress reduction….

I try not to watch the news every day.  If you watch mindfully, you will notice that 99% of the content is negative, horrible, and just depressing.  This kind of input will give no one a reason to put on a happy face.  Unless you are the Secretary of the Treasury Department, you probably don’t need to know how bad the stock market is at 5:00 pm, 6:00 pm, and 10:00pm and again at those same hours in the morning.  I personally don’t need to know who did what to whom, what burned down where, and which celebrity is in rehab again.  Don’t worry.  The world will still be turning even though you aren’t tuning in to see how screwy it is.

 Laughter is the best medicine.  Everyone has a favorite comedy show. I have a few favorites that can give me a few chuckles and, on occasion, a good milk-through-the-nose belly laugh.  If you are lucky, you have a buddy or a group of buddies that shares your sense of humor.  They quote the same movies you do.  They’ve been there for all those embarrassing moments and never pass up a chance to relive them.  Dancing with my family, watching “The Office” and girls’ night out are my laugh factories.  Make time to have a good laugh.  It’s just as important as the other things you do for your health. Just anticipating a happy or funny event can be good for you.  It increases serotonin (“feel good” chemical) and decreases stress hormones. Sounds like a good deal to me. 

 

I try to keep my head filled with positive thoughts.  On any given night you will find at least 4 different kinds of reading material on my bedside table.  One on health and wellness (big surprise), another on food (I love food!), something about the positive thinking, and my guilty pleasure of a mindless, easy read.  Your collection might include something more intellectual, but try to make sure it’s something that feeds your mind in a positive way.  It should leave you in your happy place.  A gift you can give yourself is ending your day with only good thoughts in your mind.

 

Think about who is around you. Who do you choose to spend your precious time with? Everyone knows at least one “Negative Nellie”.  She is also known as “Debbie Downer”.  Who are you thinking of? This is the type of person that exhausts you just about every time you talk to him/her.  According to this person, everything is horrible, everyone is awful, nothing works, everything hurts, and blah blah blah.  This person wants to suck you into this thinking and wants you to agree that indeed the sky is falling.  Evaluate how you feel after talking to someone.  Are you smiling? Are you laughing? Are you crying or wanting to cry? Are you fed up? Do you want to crawl in a hole and die?  I figure life is way too short and my socializing time is way too limited to be spending time listening to the same woes all the time.  If you can turn the tide of the conversation then go ahead and do it.  If you can’t, then become “busy” and turn on your heel and walk away.  I am not saying you can’t be a good friend and listen when someone is in need.  You know the difference.  Be realistic and cut people some slack.  Anyone can have a bad day and wear the name tag that says Negative Nellie from time to time.  But, keep a look out for those chronic folks that seem to have it tattooed on their forehead.  These are those people who would complain, “The sun’s too bright, the sand is too hot, and oh yeah- I should be working “when they are on a vacation of a lifetime.  Avoid these people like the plague!  If you recognize yourself as one of these people, we have work to do. True, you can’t always choose who you work with or who is drawn to you.  You can choose not to get sucked into the negative vortex.  The pull is strong, but resist the urge to fall into the pit of despair uttering the words “You’re right, that is awful.”  Instead, seek out those people who put a spring in your step.  Find that positive person that smiles and compliments others.  Listen for the laughter and I bet you’ll find that “Suzy Sunshine” that is choosing to have a good day. THAT is who you want to spend your precious time with.  “Sunshine” is contagious. Don’t think I’m saying you need to find a manic person who is not grounded in reality. I’m just pointing out that there are positive minded people out there.  You really do become who you surround yourself with.  Remember how your mom didn’t want you running with the wrong crowd? There is much wisdom in that thinking. You don’t want to be running with the wrong crowd.  It’s just plain miserable and THAT is stressful.

Still not done yet…got a few more ways to battle stress.  Come back one more time for the last little bit. Come back after that because I’m sure I’ll have yet another story from my crazy life as you are coming to know it 🙂

Til tomorrow…Live Well! – Toni Kuhel

STRESSED? I’m not stressed. DO I LOOK STRESSED!?! Part 1

STRESSED? I’m not stressed. DO I LOOK STRESSED!?!    stressed out

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Slap, slap…snooze (9 minutes later) BEEP! BEEP! Slap, slap, CRASH (book, cup of water, glasses –off the table). My thought bubble: Omigosh is it time to get up? Is it Tuesday? Friday? What is stuck in the corner of my eye? Sadly, this is how most days start for me. I haven’t learned to put my stuff on the other side of my alarm clock. I cannot figure out what day it is for the first 10 minutes in the morning and, to top it all off, for some unknown reason there has been something in my eye EVERY morning of my life. It’s not exactly a stellar way to start the week but it is what it is. It is the calm before the storm. As soon as I shake the fog off my brain, I am off to the races. Because I wait too long to get going, I’m in a rush to catch up with the day. Argh!!! This is a stress I bring on myself. We all have stress that we bring on ourselves. My stress follows me throughout the day if I don’t get a grip and consciously work on minimizing it. What’s your stress? It’s probably a combination of a number of things-too much to do, not enough time, enough guilt to fill an ocean, and not having 2 nickels to rub together- among other things. My stream of consciousness/worry is as follows- bathing suit season is coming (in 9 months- but still it’s coming), homework, clutter, what did I just step in, traffic, noise, gotta change that light bulb, meetings, no clean underwear for the boys, time to go to Target for boys underwear, that guy has 17 items in this express line and I only have 2 packs of underwear, 112 urgent unread emails, 4 shows on the DVR, is that Evan’s lunch on the counter, when is that Pilates class, breathe ….Does any of this sound vaguely familiar? Life is crazy. There’s no denying it. NOW WHAT?!? Ummm…try that again…now what?

Expert suggestions: Break the cycle of stress.

• Reframe stressful situations

• Deep breathing – deep breath in for 7 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, exhale for 7 seconds – let the stress leave you

• Avoid stress-triggering foods/ eat stress busting foods

• Laugh/smile

• exercise

Kuhel Family challenges: Sounds good but does not sound natural-AKA “Easier said than done.”

Kuhel solutions: Stress in your life might look like the stress in my life. Our lists of “things to do” seem to grow by leaps and bounds. If you are like me, you carry your life list mentally and your work list on paper/PDA. I’ve heard there are people that actually have lists and cross things off. I‘ve heard some of these same people actually put things on the list after they’ve already done them just so they can cross it off. Lists or no lists, these things are just the beginning of what can cause us stress because it makes us feel overloaded. Other stresses- things that happen to us. When someone is rude to you, is mean to you, hurtful, or worse does this to someone you love, you can be undeniably stressed. Stress is your body’s response to anything that makes you feel overloaded or threatened. It seems most of us are feeling overloaded or threatened most days. The Kuhels fall smack in the middle of that group. Our family is a work in progress in terms of managing our stress. This is how we are attempting to manage our bodies’ responses to things that make us feel stressed.

 • Rethink “it” – “It” is anything that you can interpret as causing you stress. These days there is a surplus of “it”. The economy, your family, work/ lack of work, relationships, and the daily grind can be very overwhelming if you let it become overwhelming. If you feel your heart rate or rate of breathing change, you are letting “it” stress you. You are going to have to change your mind set. Road rage is a concept that is foreign to me, but lucky me, I’ve been a passenger in a few cars with people that LOVE to rage. It’s a favorite past time for them I’m sure. We are talking throwing a full-on– steering wheel banging-fist shaking-red faced screaming – hissy fit! All this energy expended because the guy in front of us conducted a less than graceful merge. Now you don’t have to throw the described hissy fit to be experiencing stress. Merely letting it tick you off to the point that it puts you in a bad mood for a time can really negatively affect your health. You can choose how much you let it affect you. You can choose to believe that this driver sought you out and tried to make this untimely move with the sole purpose of getting in your way. You could also choose to believe this driver forgot to check his blind spot, doesn’t know how to drive, is nervous about merging, or just didn’t see you. Time for that above mentioned deep breathing. You could also choose not to give it another thought. You don’t have to be a genius to spot which choice could send your day into a downward spiral. Is it something worth getting upset about? Nooooo. What good is going to come of you freaking out? Nada, zip, nothing. The point is that you have a choice about how much you are going to allow something to affect your state of mind. My rethinking challenge comes into play when I think about my family. Some days I’m better at this than others and I’m not above sharing my experiences for the sake of making my point. My kids will forgive me someday. Certain days I feel like my house is going to crumble all around me. My twin boys will pound around the house like a herd of elephants screaming like savages. It’s enough to make me consider moving to a convent where I know they’ve got some kind of rule about keeping quiet. My instinct is to yell at them to stop so I can launch into a monologue about respecting the house, rant about how I can’t hear myself think, and question if they’ve been raised by a pack of wolves. On a good day I stop to hear if the screaming is happy. I also realize that we have wood floors, the boys are getting big and they haven’t walked at all since the day they learned to run. If no one is getting hurt and nothing is getting broken, does it really need to be quiet? Like I said, some days it is a “YES!” because I’m having a not so good day. I’m trying to see the big picture and work towards having more days when I can say that I have a house with kids so noise is part of the deal. This is an opportune time for some more of that deep breathing. I’m not saying you should let your kids run your household. What I am saying is that you might want to take moment to assess if it is something worth getting upset about. Pick your battles carefully because you can’t win them all. There are situations that are not as easy to rethink. Finances are often a huge stress. A chronic illness of a loved one can be all consuming. A marriage with increasing challenges can result in endless sleepless nights. For situations like these I can only offer what I do to cope…..

Clearly too much for one post so come back tomorrow to read more.