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How to Practice Presence and Compassion in Your Own Life

Toward the end of my suicide prevention workshops, I say something like this, “If you forget everything else I say, hear this: All people really want and need from you is your love and presence.”

Could it really be that simple?

Yes, I think so.

That’s not to discount things like professional help, medication, and the like. For a long season of my life, I would have DIED without the help of counselors and mental health professionals. And I’m a HUGE proponent of medication if you need it.

What I am trying to say is this: if you don’t approach hurting people from a place of compassion, and with your full presence, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Hurting people have a super-sensitive bullshit meter. And they will spot your disingenuous nature from a mile away.

But if you show up fully and love completely, get ready to watch the transformation take place.

The same is true for yourself. If you want to heal the deepest wounds in your life, you must show up entirely, and show yourself some compassion.

In today’s video, I will teach you the basics of how to practice presence and compassion in your own life. It will take us about 15 minutes. Click below and skip to the 1:35 mark to get into the good stuff.

If you’d like to dig deeper into self-compassion, I’d like to invite you on the sacred journey from chaos to calm. Beginning February 19th, just a few months away, I’ll be launching 90 Days of Calm. We’re going to focus on things like self-care, self-compassion, and self-help. And we’re going to do it together.

But if you sign up right now, I’m offering one heck of an early bird discount. If you join by 11:59pm Monday night, November 26th, you’ll save 50% OFF the enrollment fee.

To join, just go to 90DaysofCalm.com and enter the discount code 90DAYS50 at checkout.

There are three tiers, based on your ability to invest in yourself. No matter the tier you choose, you get 50% OFF if you join by Monday night. And the other great news is that there’s a flexible payment plan for each tier.

And that’s not all!

If you sign up by Monday night, you also get immediate access to 5 incredible bonuses. Here they are:

  1. 25 Self-Esteem Tips

  2. 50 Ways to Crush the Things that are Keeping You from Happiness & Success

  3. Understanding Shame (e-book & journal)

  4. A Survivor’s Manifesto

  5. Daily Gratitude Checklist

To join, just go to 90DaysofCalm.com and enter the discount code 90DAYS50 at checkout.

There are a limited number of spaces available, and the sale ends Monday night! I hope to see you there!

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Is Your Life in Chaos? Introducing: 90 Days of Calm

Every day, I get asked about shame, self-care, and self-compassion. I even surveyed my Tribe a couple of weeks ago, and those three topics were at the top of the list for courses they want to take in 2019.

As a result, I’m thrilled to announce 90 Days of Calm.

As most of you know, I nearly died by suicide in 2012. I was overwhelmed and full of fear, shame, and guilt. I was desperate for a life of love, light, and inner peace, but I felt hopeless.

Thankfully, a suicide attempt wasn’t the end of my story.

Since recovering from the worst day of my life, I’ve mapped out the exact methods I’ve used to create lasting change in my own life. I’d love to share those methods with you.

My goal is to fill 90 Days of Calm with people who feel the gentle nudge toward this sacred journey.

Over the past 6 years, I have begun to experience new levels of freedom, strength, healing, and energy. I am continuing to transition from a life of constant chaos to a life of continual, intentional calm.

It hasn’t been easy – nothing worth doing is ever that easy. But learning to silence my inner-critic, practice self-care, and cultivate a courageous life of vulnerability has been transformative. The ripple effects have impacted my marriage, the way I parent, and all those in my inner circle.

Too many people are stressed out and overwhelmed. They’re holding onto deep suffering, unable to catch their breath in a world that tells them to fake it till they make it. As the pressure of fear, pain, anxiety, and anger build, sooner or later these individuals are going to explode—just like I nearly did.

I’ve created 90 Days of Calm because I know without a doubt these methods work in creating a life of substance and depth, peace and intention. Most important – learning to cultivate calm in your everyday life can empower you to live the life you’ve always dreamt of.

This is the very foundation of the Membership: calm is waiting on the other side of chaos.

You can do practical, actionable things to create a life of calm right now. It’s not just a dream – you can map it out and quickly begin to feel the waters of inner peace wash over your soul.

The life you’ve imagined really is possible. If you want to be a part of a community of people who are not only dreaming of a better way, but are committed to creating a peace-filled life, then join us.

It’s simple. But not always easy. That’s why I’ve created this course and community. All you have to do is follow each step along the sacred journey.

CONTENT + COMMUNITY + COACHING

There’s no shortcut. It’s one little step after another. As you begin to connect each stone along the path: compassion, understanding, daily practice, and most of all – community – you will see that you are moving forward more quickly and with more intention than you ever dreamed. Our energy multiplies when we work together toward the common goal of inner peace.

I believe you can do everything I’ve just mentioned while having a fantastic (and dare I say, “fun”) time in the process! That’s why I’ve created a sacred space where all of these elements can be housed together.

This is a safe, affirming community, and I’d love for you to join me. There is a method to this, and if you join, it is going to change your life forever.

Whatever it is that pushed you toward the sacred journey from chaos to calm, I think life (or God, or the Universe) brings us exactly where we need to be, at the precise time we need to be there.

BIG NEWS: 90 Days of Calm begins February 18, 2019.

Here’s just a sample of what you’ll learn in 90 Days of Calm:

  • Reducing clutter (physical & mental) that causes stress

  • Creating inner calm through meditation & mindfulness

  • Simple ways to stay calm when chaos erupts

  • A critical look at the media you’re consuming

  • How to makeover your morning routine

  • Cutting out distractions (the dangers of multitasking)

  • Forming good habits

  • Getting over guilt/Moving past regrets

  • Dealing with good stress & bad stress

All this and SO much more!

Steve Austin speaks from his own experiences of trauma, abuse, depression, attempted suicide, the deconstruction of his faith, and the reconstruction of something more beautiful than he could have ever expected. Suitable for the Christian, Agnostic, Atheist, Buddhist, and many more. If you find yourself suffocating from the pain of depression, faith deconstruction, or traumatic suffering: this book can help you catch your breath again and maybe even restore your hope for life.

— David Quaid Melton, Amazon review

This book is much needed since more people are having issues with stress and anxiety. Steve does a brilliant job. He’s so honest and vulnerable, while at the same time, not ending with his story. He genuinely wants to help others not be where he was and offers encouragement, not being fluffy or giving false hope. I’m personally thankful for Steve and this book! You won’t be disappointed.

— Casey, Amazon review

Every pastor should read this book. Especially if you are recovering from burnout. I gave it a five star rating because Steve doesn’t disappoint. He presents metaphor after metaphor that gives permission for self care. He gives practical exercises that are healing. After years of listening to sermons about total depravity, I needed this.

— Belinda McDaniel, Amazon review

Steve Austin is an empathetic mastermind. He uses his personal story to relate to the reader and isn’t afraid to be truly genuine and honest in order to help others. This book is a must read for anyone that deals with anxiety or wants to learn more about self care and managing stress. You won’t regret this buy.

— Jessica Gabel, Amazon review

90 Days of Calm: Basic

97.00

Includes:

  • All Emails & Lessons

  • Cool, Calm, & Confident e-book

  • Cool, Calm, & Confident Journal

  • Lifetime access to all content

Flexible Payment Plan Available! (Just click here.)

Quantity:

Add to Cart

90 Days of Calm: Advanced

197.00

Includes:

  • All Emails & Lessons

  • Cool, Calm, & Confident e-book

  • Cool, Calm, & Confident Journal

  • Exclusive Facebook group

    • 4 Facebook live webinars

  • Plus BONUS content & surprise guests

  • Lifetime access to all content & community

    *Only 48 spots available!

Flexible Payment Plan Available! (Just click here.)

Quantity:

Add to Cart

90 Days of Calm: Premium

397.00

Includes:

  • All Emails & Lessons

  • Cool, Calm, & Confident e-book

  • Cool, Calm, & Confident Journal

  • Exclusive Facebook group

    • 4 Facebook live webinars

  • 6 group coaching sessions (via Zoom)

  • 1 private 30-minute coaching session

  • 4-part guided meditation series (.mp3)

  • Plus BONUS content & surprise guests

  • Lifetime access to all content & community

  • 10% discount on future coaching sessions

*Only 24 spots available!

Flexible Payment Plan Available! (Just click here.)

Quantity:

Add to Cart

 

If you’d like to gain more clarity and inner peace than you ever thought possible, join 90 Days of Calm today.

Here’s a list of frequently asked questions:

Questions #1: How many emails/articles will I receive?

Answer: You’ll receive 2 e-books & a journal, plus new articles every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for the full 90 Days.

Question #2: What’s your refund policy?

Answer: I’m so confident this course is going to transform your life, that I’ll give you a full refund, up to 7 days from your date of purchase.

Question #3: How long will I have access to the material?

Answer: As with all my programs, you will have lifetime access. I want this training to be something that you can reference whenever you need it and something that can serve you over and over again as you feel the waters of chaos start to lap against your feet.

Question #4: I’m brand-new to the online world. Is this going to be tech-heavy, and complicated?

Answer: Not at all! If you can operate your email and Facebook, you’ll have no problem.

Question #5: I’m not sure I have the time to dedicate to this program right now. How much time will it take for me to be successful?

Answer: We all lead demanding, crazy, busy lives. Trust me, I know as an entrepreneur and dad of two! That is why I have broken up the training into 12 weeks. You’ll be receiving an email/article every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The lessons are only about 400 words each.

If you sign up for the Advanced or Premium level, you’ll also have access to the exclusive Facebook group, where you can find support from other members. We’ll be doing group coaching calls every other week, and Premium members will schedule one private session with me. In short, this will take an average of an hour per week (2 hours on group coaching weeks).

I strongly believe you’ll be able to do this course without having to sacrifice family time or feel like you’re falling behind. Of course, you are welcome to work ahead too if you find yourself having a free day or maybe you learn better by consuming everything marathon style. In fact, it might not be such a bad idea to binge on something other than Netflix — something that might actually help you create more sanity and serenity in your personal life. Just a thought 😉

Question #6: What exactly do I get with this program?

Answer: Great question. There are 3 levels, depending on your budget and desired level of involvement. Each tier is laid out clearly on the site. Here’s everything you’ll be getting with the Premium Membership:

Question #7: Can I afford this right now?

Answer: At the end of the day that’s a question you have to answer. However, I have created 3 Membership Tiers, to try and accommodate every budget and interest level. The other BIG NEWS is that there’s a flexible payment plan for every single tier. What that means is, you pay a reasonable down payment when you sign up, and split the remaining balance into 2 monthly payments. Easy and affordable!

I would challenge you to ask another question, “Can you afford to pass this up?”

90 Days of Calm begins February 18, 2019.

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When You Just Can’t Deal with the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us. I can hardly stand the excitement of family get-togethers and out-of-town guests.

No, really. I can hardly stand it.

12 Snarky Self-Care Tips for the Holidays

The only thing worse than dry turkey is the runny lemon meringue pie Grandma tries her best to guilt you into eating. But worse than Cousin Martha’s green bean casserole is having to get together with people you only see twice a year and being forced to act like you enjoy their company.

Uncle Jeff is bound to fall asleep in the recliner and snore through the second half of the football game. Little Johnny is going to clog the toilet. He always does. Aunt Louise will catch everyone up on hometown gossip. Grandpa will regale you with stories from his childhood (which you’ve heard at least 174 times). And your mom will continue to shove plates of food in your face for the duration of the afternoon. “Diet?” she’ll say, horrified, “Whoever heard of a diet during the holidays?!”

If you dread the holidays as much as my friends and me, here’s 12 ways to guard yourself from holiday craziness:

  1. If you have unresolved chores, bills, family relationships that are strained or projects that are unfinished, do everything you can to get them managed before the holidays set in.

  2. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. Know which topics and people are off-limits. If a conversation comes up that you’re not comfortable having, walk away.

  3. Park on the street so you don’t get blocked in.

  4. Agree on a “code word” prior to the holiday celebration that says, “I’ve had enough of this and I have to get out of here before I throw a rod!” – Kate Pieper, LMFT

  5. Arrive late and leave early.

  6. When hosting the family hellabration, it is important to have hooch somewhere. If you are from a family of teetotalers, make a pot of coffee and keep a bottle of Irish cream under the sink to …errr…sweeten it with. They will be in awe of your endless holiday cheer. – Sasha Maples Johns, True Vine Gifts

  7. Lots of families have a “crazy Uncle Bo.” Be intentional about not leaving any family member alone with “Uncle Bo.” Think of it as ‘leave no family member behind!’ – Kate Pieper, LMFT

  8. Have an “after party” planned so you can only stay with draining people for a set amount of time (i.e, take the kids to see Christmas lights, go to a late movie with a friend, plan on taking goodies to a coworker’s house, etc). Or have someone on standby to send an “emergency” text/phone call when you need to get out. – Lindsey Austin

  9. The bathroom is your safe place. – Teer Hardy, Crackers and Grape Juice Podcast

  10. Set expectations low. Family holidays aren’t times to truly bond or resolve issues. Go in with the expectation of it not being perfect, but “just be kind.” – Kate Pieper, LMFT

  11. Stay in the moment. Remember the reason for your season. Whatever your personal reasons are for celebrating the holidays, remember to be present and enjoy everything you can. This year will never be here again! – Faydra Koenig

  12. If all else fails, it’s perfectly acceptable to come down with a last-minute stomach bug. (Seriously – it is perfectly acceptable to say no to the things that cause more stress than joy.)

While the holidays can be a joyous time, for many, they are stressful and cause anxiety. Whether finances, family dynamics or other worries are at play, not everyone is excited about the added stresses that the holidays can bring.

On December 3rd, I’m launching a free 10-day course, “How to Keep the CrayCray Outta Your Christmas!”

It’s super helpful, loads of fun, and totally free. Click here to sign up before you forget.


Dealing with Holiday Stress? Here’s 3 Tips for Complicated Families

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Everything You Need to Know about a Gratitude Journal

Once you get into the habit of contemplating what you’re grateful for each day, it’s time to consider making it a written activity. This can be intimidating for people who don’t like to write or who feel they may not have time to dedicate to such a practice. In all honesty, it really doesn’t take much more time to write it down than to just think on what you appreciate.

You don’t even have to have strong writing skills to jot down three sentences. Let’s see if we can’t make the process seem less stressful. There truly are some fantastic benefits that come from the physical process of creating a record of gratefulness.

More About Gratitude Journals

While it’s called a “gratitude journal,” it’s actually a tool or a record. You don’t have to write in a paper journal. You could put it in a file on your desktop, or save it in the “notes” app on your phone. The important part is that you take the time each day to record a few things that make you feel fortunate. Doing so can actually help to manifest more positive things.

Writing down what you’re appreciative of each day brings that sense of gratefulness to the forefront. It allows you to focus on the positive, helping you to spot opportunities you might otherwise have missed. When I think about the sacred journey from chaos to calm, gratitude is one of the most important stops on the journey. And the great thing about keeping a gratitude journal is that you now have a written record to pull out and reflect over any time you’re feeling down or needy. It can provide you with motivation in the toughest of times.

Benefits of a Gratitude Journal

There are many benefits to keeping a gratitude journal. Instilling a writing practice in this way ensures that you maintain a focus on positivity. Sure, sometimes bad things may happen, but this overall emphasis on finding the good can help to provide you with the resilience to keep going.

Your stress levels will decrease as you begin embracing an attitude of gratitude. Plus, the act of writing can be therapeutic in itself. Writing also helps to give you a different perspective on things that you might not see as readily without engaging in the process. You can identify patterns and insight into your life that might help you to identify opportunities and to grow.

Tips for Using Your Journal

The most important thing when it comes to a gratitude journal is the consistency of practice. Some journal twice daily. Others prefer once. Regardless, it will only be useful if you use it regularly.

One of the best ways to help yourself want to use your journal is to choose a format you enjoy. Don’t force yourself to write in a journal by hand if you prefer to use electronic methods. You can keep your records in a simple word processing spreadsheet or use one of many apps that are available for this purpose.

On the other hand, if you are inspired by a beautifully-bound paper journal, find one that speaks to you and start writing your thoughts down immediately. One member of the Facebook group said she keeps her gratitude journal in a Day Planner, so it’s easy to chronicle what she was thankful for each day of the year.

No matter what you use, keep it handy by your bedside or on easily accessed devices. Turn your routine into a ritual. Make it a process that feeds your soul. Incorporate your morning coffee into your journal writing or light a candle with a lovely aroma to accompany your routine.

Just make it yours.

A gratitude journal can be an insightful and life-changing tool. Remember, you only have to write three simple things you’re grateful for. There’s no need to make it complicated. Start your record keeping practice today and see what it can do for you.


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How Gratitude Can Make All the Difference

Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.

— Brene’ Brown

One Sunday morning a few years ago, a friend asked, “What’s exciting in your life this week?” Without thinking, I said, “You know, most days I just want to get the kids in bed in one piece and pay the power bill. That’s my main calling.” I said it tongue-in-cheek, but I meant it.

The question (and my response) weighed heavy on my heart for several days. I knew there had to be more to life than just working to pay the bills. But most days, I felt like I was just dragging my wife and kids behind me, as I kept trying to climb the ladder of success.

Gratitude can be broken down to appreciating the good things in your life. It doesn’t always seem simple, though. When things are hectic or stressful, finding the silver lining can be challenging. However, learning how to embrace gratitude can significantly boost your happiness. Being grateful offers a host of other benefits you’re probably not aware of, too. Let’s take a closer look at the concept, ways it can improve your life and how to practice it.

About Gratitude

There are many definitions of gratitude. Some people believe it’s a feeling or emotion. Others look at it as more of a mood. Still, some folks think gratitude is a personality trait a person exhibits.

These can all be correct.

In essence, gratitude elicits satisfaction and appreciation in a person through feelings, actions or even inherent qualities. But here’s the thing: even those of us who may be more inclined to feel grateful about particular things still probably need to work on establishing a regular gratitude practice.

Gratitude can be viewed as a practice or something you embrace regularly. Most people practice something because it benefits them. This is true of gratitude. As with other practices, you’ll get better at demonstrating gratitude the more you work at it.

Benefits of Embracing Gratitude

There are many benefits of gratitude that have been scientifically proven. Once you begin to understand these, chances are good that you’ll see why it’s so important to develop a grateful mindset. Gratitude can have a positive effect on both physical and mental health.

Research has shown it to improve relaxation, sleep quality, self-esteem, and energy levels. Being thankful for your blessings can enhance your emotional wellness. You’ll deal better in crisis situations and find you’re more resilient when you’re able to look on the bright side. This can contribute to better relationships, too.

Appreciating the positives in life can simply make you feel happier.

Ways to Practice Gratitude

Recognizing your blessings may not come easily at first, but there are some ways to help make it a habit and a regular part of your routine. One of the most convenient and impactful methods for cultivating appreciation is through keeping a gratitude journal. In this practice, you’ll write down three things each day that you’re grateful for, which makes it easier to notice and recognize those good things.

Meditation has also been shown to help. Also, making an effort to thank someone each day, for even the smallest thing, opens your eyes and heart to abundance. Giving back and doing good for others can provide great perspective, as well.

In a different season, my marriage nearly fell apart, due to my constant busyness and drive to do something “big.” These days, gratitude urges me to recognize the privilege of making my wife’s coffee in the mornings and helping with household chores. While I’m prone to complain about my four-year-old’s knees in my rib cage when she crawls into our bed in the middle of the night, gratitude reminds me that she won’t always be this little. The shift for me is trying to breathe in all these memories. Instead of viewing my wife and children as additional baggage – one more responsibility – I now realize they are my greatest gifts.

Gratitude has changed my life. And now you have a better understanding of how noticing every blessing can change things for you, too. Embracing and expressing gratitude are more critical than many of us realize.


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My 5 Favorite Questions about My New Book

Catching Your Breath: The Sacred Journey from Chaos to Calm is available now!

After nearly a year of pouring my soul onto paper and working hard to craft a powerful and clear message, it’s here! To celebrate, I asked my friends what they’d like to know about this process. Here they are:

#1 – Catching Your Breath is all about helping people learn how to feel less overwhelmed. However, what are some things things YOU learned as you wrote the book?

What a great question! To be honest, I’ve learned that I better practice what I preach in this book. As a self-published author, it’s all on me. Sure, I hired a cover designer and an editor, but everything else has been on me. I don’t think people realize just how much goes into a successful book launch: from promotion and marketing to recording and producing the audiobook to interviews and blogs and endorsements and so many other things. It’s so much more than just writing a book.

This book impacted me as an author in a very personal way, because it kept giving me permission to be a human. To slow down and take breaks. To extend the deadline when necessary. (This book is a great big permission slip to embrace your true self, so if I’m not doing that as a creator, it makes me quite a hypocrite.)

#2 – What was the writing process like for your family?

Things were different with this book. To be honest, this was the first time it felt like Lindsey and I were on the same page (writer pun) with a new project of mine. She has been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic about this book.

That wasn’t always the case for us.

For so long, I put my work before my family, jeopardizing the strength and security of my marriage, plus my relationship with my children. It’s typical for an unhealthy Enneagram 3 to behave this way, but it’s no excuse.

So, after years of hard work to become the healthiest person I can be, Lindsey noticed and respected the shift. These days, rather than dragging my family behind me, my wife is my partner and #1 fan.

#3 – What’s the most important message you want someone to walk away WITH after reading?  

If you find yourself feeling all alone on your island of insignificance and shame, you are not alone. And you can’t stay there. You’ll die if you do.

I wrote this book because I know what it’s like to feel completely overwhelmed. I know what it’s like to try and take a “magic Jesus pill” and hope everything would miraculously change. (And I was really disappointed when it didn’t.) This book is a permission slip, as I mentioned earlier – but it’s also a game plan for getting your life back. Little by little, step by step, with patience and self-compassion, you can come up for air and learn to breathe again.

#4 – What authors inspire you?

How long do you have? Here are a few of my favorites (in no particular order).

  1. Bob Goff

  2. J. Dana Trent

  3. Mike Foster

  4. Diana Butler Bass

  5. Ed Bacon

  6. J.J. Landis

  7. Thich Nhat Hanh

  8. Brandon Andress

  9. Jen Hatmaker

  10. Matthew Paul Turner

  11. Jamie Wright

  12. Brene’ Brown

  13. Brennan Manning

#5 – What is next for you?

I’m taking a breath! I am taking a break from the podcast (not sure for how long), and just generally slowing down a bit with content creation. Sounds counter-productive, eh? That’s what this book is all about.

Slowing down a bit with writing and podcasting will free me up to coach and speak more – and I LOVE both of those things. (Have you seen my free e-courses?)

Links to order Catching Your Breath:

Want to know more about Catching Your Breath? Listen to this podcast interview with the Inglorious Pasterds.


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The Top 3 Mistakes People Make When Stressed

You’re stressed, and you want relief. Maybe you’ve thought things like:

  • I feel like I can’t catch a break!

  • This day is going to be a total waste.

  • Go ahead, kick me while I’m down.

  • I cannot handle another thing. And another thing just keeps happening.

In fact, I know you’ve said things like this. You have either posted it on social media, told me in a coaching session, confessed it at the end of one of my workshops, or emailed me.

The good news? This 4-minute crash course will help you identify common mistakes people make when stressed. It will also give you three better choices for those times when you’re having a case of the Mondays. At the end of this article, you can sign up for my new FREE stress management e-course: 6 Proven Ways to Calm Down.

What makes me the expert?

I’m glad you asked. The truth is: life is a hell of a teacher. Suffering and stress nearly destroyed me, but self-compassion, self-care, and professional help have changed my life. So, I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned along the way, in hopes that you save yourself some trouble.

If you heed this advice, you’ll quickly be able to avoid compounding your stress. You might even be able to help those you care about, too!

The top 3 mistakes people make when stressed:

1. Commiserate with other stressed out people

When we’re stressed to the max, it’s easy to find other stressed out people. Like attracts like, right? However, when is the last time you left a grip session with another miserable person and felt better about it? When did it change your situation or improve your outlook?

Probably never.

Like it or not, the best thing you can do for yourself when you’re stressed is to avoid other stressed people, who are operating in a negative headspace.

Instead, surround yourself with people who seem to be in a good place.

Can’t handle the super optimistic, always-bubbly personality? Fine – read a book. Alternatively, listen to a podcast. Chill out with some music. Or make an appointment with a counselor or life coach. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re filling yourself up with useful, positive, helpful information.

Otherwise, it’s all garbage in/garbage out, and you’ll never get better that way.

Here’s a great article from HuffPost: 5 Ways Commiserating Keeps You from Moving Forward

2. Engage in numbing behaviors

When I’m stressed and not dealing with it healthily, I want one of two things: ice cream or alcohol. No, really.

The sugar gives me that temporary rush (and who doesn’t love some Ben and Jerry’s?), and the beer (or maybe the whiskey) helps my shoulders lower. But it doesn’t fix anything. After the sugar or the buzz wears off, I’m still dealing with whatever stressors put me there in the first place. And now I’m dealing with all those extra calories, plus the guilt from binging.

What is it for you?

Netflix? Zoning out on your phone? Smoking a cigar on the back patio?

Look, I’m not anti any of the things listed above; the problem is the heart behind it.

Instead of engaging in numbing behaviors, why not deal with the stress in healthy, productive ways, and then reward yourself with a treat or your favorite show? See the difference?

Instead of the ice cream or the booze, why not take a walk when you’re stressed? Rather than Netflix or Facebook for two hours (I’m guilty, too), why not get together with a friend who always seems to listen without judgment? Or have that stogie while you make a phone call to your life coach.

Read this from Psychology Today: Stop Numbing Out and Awake To Your Life

3. Push it down & ignore it.

I was reeling from panic attacks brought on by my childhood sexual abuse. I tried to cover it up in the following ways:

  • Making the rest of my life seem perfect.

  • Becoming involved in every church activity possible.

  • Masking the pain by being the life of the party.

Eventually, it all came tumbling down, and I had to face myself for the first time in 29 years.

A shame-based culture tells us to discount our pain and avoid seeming weak at all costs. We try to Botox our flaws away, and we wish life came with an Instagram filter. But perfection is a big nasty lie. And the only way to move forward when it feels like you’re drowning is to find the courage to tell the truth and ask for help.

You have to start telling the truth.

Stress is a serial killer. Shame is, too. And the only way to combat the two is by speaking your pain and triggers aloud. Who can you trust when it feels like your life is coming apart at the seams? A parent? Your partner? That mental health professional you’ve been meaning to re-schedule with for six months? Your best friend?

Brene’ Brown says, “Shame can’t survive being spoken.” She’s right. (Hint: she’s always right.)

So find the courage to tell the truth. Admit that you’re not okay. Tell someone you’re stressed out. And ask for help.

Think you can’t afford help? Think again. Check out lowcosthelp.com today. Low-Cost Help is a national directory of affordable and sliding scale counseling services. Access to affordable mental health care should never be limited by your ability to pay.


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