This photo was taken yesterday… no stress…on the beach… enjoying the Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Yep! That’s the name of the book that I’m reading… While being on the beach reading an awesome book can easily be the number one secret to chillin’ when you feel stressed… most days, that’s just no doable. As most of you know, staples to my head and a concussion has been my story for the last few weeks. Never would I have thought that a concussion could be so stressful. Nothing with bright lights, ie. my laptop, my cell phone, my kindle, my television. Having my brain take control and not think, just rest…. that’s stressful! I’ve got things to do, clients to see, emails to return, pages of my book to write! STRESS? You betcha I’m stressed! So I’ve pondered this while trying NOT to use my brain. Staying in my lane of no stimuli while ultimately coming to the conclusion that I am in the perfect place in my life at this moment. And just maybe, stressed is the way that I’m supposed to be feeling right now, so that I can understand that stress is just made up bullshit. So, what have I been doing to relieve this stress of mine? Glad you asked! (Or even if you didn’t, I’m going to let you in on my little secrets, because I love ya like that!) Secret number one: Phone a friend. But not just any friend. THE friend. You know that friend who would much prefer to talk about you and your life than her own. The one that sometimes asks you so much about yourself that you have guilt not asking about her in return? THE friend that truly wants you to live an amazing life and is always there to support you.. Yes. That’s the one I’m talking about. She has a way of making me realize that my life is awesome, no matter how I happen to be feeling in the moment. Call that friend! She’s going to immediately make you realize that Stress, is just bullshit! Secret number two: I practice yoga, sometimes, when I think about it, when I’m in the mood… seriously that’s when I do it. But I will tell you the truth here… it absolutely relieves my stress. Secret number three: The realization that I’m stressed, only stresses me out more. I mean really? What is stress anyway? So I looked that up. Literally. I had the jarring reminder that stress can cause some serious bodily injury. We’re talking, weight gain, depression, anxiety, hypertension, headaches, chronic pain, insomnia. To top it all off, chronic stress has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning, (I did remember that from nursing school). Ummm, no thanks! Secret number three is… acknowledging when you are feeling stressed. Say it out loud… “I’m so incredibly stressed right now, that I could ________” Then ask yourself this… “Am I really stressed or am I using that word as a blanket word for not taking the time to take care of myself?” In my opinion stress really is our own perception. So what if I can’t get on my laptop… my BRAIN is healing for goodness sakes… Trust me, even with that realization, not “doing” isn’t as easy as it sounds. I have to be reminded of that daily when I complain to my kids how much I miss my electronics and they shake their heads in agreement, thinking, thank goodness its her and not me! Leading me onward to… Secret number four: I’ve been playing card games with those above mentioned competitive kids and we’ve been having so much fun together. (And it’s also keeping them off of their own electronics). WIN> WIN> Secret number five: Meditation, long walks, petting your puppy or kitty, yep, they all matter. They are all stress relievers. You may be thinking, ok Nicole, great, but I have some really major stress related issues! Listen, I understand that this may sound like some woo woo BS coming from a medium. But if you have read this far, you know I’m your friend and would never steer you wrong. Alas, here it is… my golden nugget secret, the biggest stress reliever of ALL times… IMMEDIATELY RECOGNIZING WHEN I’M BULLSHITTING MYSELF INTO BELIEVING THAT I’M STRESSED… Acknowledging the stressors that I have created by stepping away from the situation by sitting alone, taking deep breaths while talking it all out in my head and realizing that this stress that I am experiencing is not in any way a reflection of ME. It’s not permanent. It’s not debilitating, unless I allow it to be. Stress is just a word, a feeling that we feed into like hungry little chicks when we are feeling out of control. It’s a condition that we choose when we are overwhelmed with life and all of the beautiful, and sometimes awful experiences that come along with traversing your path. When we don’t know what the outcome will be, our friend Stress returns to remind us that the shit is about to hit the fan. Don’t do that to yourself. Stress = Fear I don’t want to live my life in fear. Enjoy your days. Make the most of them by remembering that there are people around you that love you and want you to be happy. They are rooting for you to succeed in whichever way you wish. Life is not against us, it’s for us. XOXO Nicole P.S. I always read more than one book at a time so that I’m never bored. My second book is The Bhagavad Gita. This book is the most powerful book I have yet to read, and I read daily. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to the Gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow.” PS.S. Not in any way to diminish my other book of the moment…if you haven’t read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, I highly recommend it.