Managing Stress in the COVID Era

stress covidYour stress levels have never been higher. No matter who you are, your world has likely been turned upsidedown by COVID. How you feel about this virus is only a part of the overall stress it can bring to your life. Whether we acknowledge the virus’s impact or not, it will still stress you out.

COVID and Job Loss
The number one stress for most people in the U.S. is the fear of losing their job, or having lost a job due to your place of work being closed…temporarily or otherwise. This is one of the top stressors and causes of mental health issues…adjustment disorders or decompensation for those with existing mental health conditions. The key to lowering stress over this issue is action. Actions you take if you lose your job:
1. Call your support network, friends, family, mentors, colleagues, past workers and let them know the situation. you need all the support you can get.
2. If you have a counselor or therapist, consider going to weekly visits until you are stable and feel better.
3. Give yourself good self-care and self-compassion. You did not do anything to deserve this outcome. You can only control so much.
4. Apply for unemplyment, then start looking for new work. Try networking with friends, then use sites like Indeed.

COVID and Family or Friends Getting Sick
This is probably higher than job loss, though at this time less common. It is important to remember, that if you are not careful, your actions affect others. If you get exposed, you then expose your family, friends, and coworkers. If a family member gets sick in your house, you will need to isolate that person. If you are the caregiver, your stress is multiplied. You will have to care for that person, but exercise the greatest caution, cleanliness skills, and care you can. Actions to take:
1. Reach out in a safe way (phone, text, email) to friends and family for support. Don’t be afraid to tell people what is going on. You need support and isolation is a major issue whether you are the caregiver or the one sick.
2. Work on self-care, meditation, prayer, and resources to keep you in the moment (breathing exercises, grounding exercises). Try not to think from a place of fear.
3. If you or a loved one experiences difficulty breathing or a fever, immediately consult a doctor, or if breathing difficult go to the ER. One of the best ways to monitor yourself is to get a Pulse Oximeter, which tells you your oxygen concentration. You can find one here:
Pulse Oximeter on Amazon

These are just a few tips, but the main thing is you have to take good care of yourself BEFORE you can be a good help or resource to others. Stay safe!

Other good resources:
Music to Calm Yourself

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Your Life Purpose and Stress

Relieve stress, find your life purpose.Finding your life purpose can relieve stress.

Do you know that 70% of the people working are either neutral or hate their jobs? We spend 80% of our lives working, and we seem to be willing to sleep walk through our days or even being depressed, anxious, and hating our daily work. Why? Because we do not have the energy, willingness to change, desire, inclination, motivation, to seek out our true life’s purpose.Ev These choices, and yes it is a choice for each one of us, lead to addictive behaviors, depression, loss of productivity, a sleeping workforce not paying attention to where corporations and leaders are taking us, and in general a world of zombies being lead to the end of a road and what awaits us at the end of such a life?

Okay, that’s a lot of doom and gloom, but this is a topic I am quite passionate about. 10 years ago, I was working in a career, at a level, for a paycheck most people would be grateful for, but I was very unhappy. I was in an untenuous management position, where I did so much to help and solve problems, but could not see from day to day, the human impact I was making with my work. I felt like I was just running in circles, and not really making any headway in the job or my career in general. I knew something was drastically wrong, and I needed to change.

I did an exercise, which helped me identify my Life’s Purpose in 20 minutes. It isn’t as easy for everyone as it was for me, but I think I had reached a point where I was absolutely ready. I found the thing that “made me cry”, the thing next to motherhood, which drew tears of joy, knowledge that it was right for me. It took me ten years to complete the transition from a professional in IT to a professional counselor, but it was worth it.  However, I know I couldn’t have done it without sacrifice and support of my husband along the way at a job he struggles at as well.

How can people who feel trapped financially or by circumstances pursue their dreams? What can we do to feel like we are moving forward toward our true purpose, if the thing that pays the bills is in the opposite direction? First, do an exercise to identify what is your true purpose? Steve Pavlina has a couple good resources for this:

After you have identified your life’s purpose, break down the steps, even the smallest tasks leading toward that goal. For you that might mean, updating your resume, looking for jobs with characteristics of your purpose (i.e. helping people, and you are in IT, doing help desk work), identifying financial strategies if you need to gain education or training to move toward your purpose, gaining buy-in from spouses and family who need to become your support system in achieving your purpose. Some people may ask, what if my life’s purpose cannot make me enough money to live? At that point I say, you will need to identify your purpose with volunteering in free time. This can still help you feel like you are achieving your purpose, even if it cannot be your full-time vocation. Cutting expenses is another way to achieve working in lower paid professions, such as taking roommates, eating out less, using pay as you go phone services, and public transport over private cars. I know that sounds drastic, but the question is, is 80% of your life worth being happy or not? 

Living your life’s purpose is a choice, and even if your previous choices seem to limit your ability to achieve your purpose now, you can adapt, accommodate, and change in order to achieve your future purpose. You have to do so in a compassionate way that does not hurt others, but will still allow you to be happy in yourself, and what you are doing. Some people see their jobs as a means to an end which is their purpose (i.e. supporting one’s family), but I beg to differ, because families grow up, move away, and we are still left with ourselves and our own purpose. So many fade in retirement, because their purpose centered around others, their work, or their family members, but in the absence of all of those things which can be taken away, what we only control in the end is our own path. Don’t let your path be tied to others in such a way, that if they pass away, leave, or grow up/move out, you won’t be able to continue your journey and still be satisfied.







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Stress and the Holidays

What is really getting to you this holiday season?

We all know that the holidays are stressful for many reasons. Lately I have been thinking about some of the deeper reasons why the holidays can be a time of both light and darkness. The answer may be in saying less yes, and more no.

Be authentic to reduce stress at the holidays

On the surface, there are the usual reasons for stress at the holiday time, not enough money, not enough time, too much work to finish before the year end and time off.  However, I believe at the heart of this year-end drama that plays out every Christmas/Holiday season, there is something even more serious going on.

When we look at our memories about the holidays, they can be positive and filled with love and family, or sometimes they are horrible and filled with fighting and family.  There are even many holiday films about the “joys” of families getting together over the holidays, and the emotional stress these get togethers can cause. 

Ultimately however, I wonder if the true stress is within ourselves. Are we in essence at this time of year, sorting through our sub-conscious, and seeing how much deep down we don’t connect to our most valid versions of ourselves?  I guess what I am getting at really is a sense of authenticity, and at this time of year, when we are more thoughtful about our connections to others, perhaps it is a time when we should ask….are we really being who we want to be, to whom we want to be? Whether friends or lovers, are we being authentic people to those around us? For example, don’t you wish you could only send Christmas cards to the people who send them to you? How many times do you send out all 40 cards, taking the high road even though you know you might get 10 back if you are lucky?

What about the people you are visiting? Are you doing so out of obligation or a genuine desire to spend time with these people? The more we do because we have to do it, because it looks good, because we are supposed to, the more we drift away from our true self. Authenticity means doing what you want, when you want, because you want to do it, and because you care about doing it. For some that might sound selfish, but actually, it is called being real. Hopefully what you want to do is good for the rest of the world and the people around you, eases your own suffering, and does not increase the suffering of others. 

Ultimately I believe all stress comes from holding two different expectations in our mind or heart at the same time…the thing we want to do vs. the thing we feel like we have to do. Stress would not exist if those things aligned. 

So as you rush around this season, buying more gifts than you can afford, spending time shopping vs. with your loved ones, spending time working too hard, instead of resting and maintaining healthy boundaries, ask yourself,  “Am I doing what I want? Am I being with who I want? Is that person going to care if I send a gift or a card? Has he or she even spoken to me in the past year? Have I spoken to him or her in the past year? Gage your responses, pay attention to what you really want, and learn how to let the stress go with every “no”. 



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Stress and Credit Card Fraud

Avoid Credit Card Fraud, Cover Your Pin

Stress and Credit Card Fraud – Protect Your Pin

We found out a few days ago that my husband’s bank card had been cloned and used by a fraudster. We were alerted by text by our bank and took prompt action. Luckily we were changing banks, so we only had a couple hundred dollars in the account. However, it was stressful, and in the end you do feel violated.

I tried to sleep after the texts came in and my mind was racing with all these thoughts about how it’s modern day mugging, and horrible how it’s so common place and normal now. We just accept it as an inconvenience of the digital age. This made me pretty angry, and I had to use every tool in my mindfulness tool box to try too sooth myself and go to sleep (we are talking progressive relaxation, chakra music, reading, prayers). And I still didn’t go to sleep til 3AM.

After taking action with the bank the following day, I decided to research the heck out of this issue. It turned out that our card info had been stolen at the drive-through ATM of the bank itself! I mean if you can’t trust the banks to check their own machines, what hope do we have in other point of sale locations.

Tips to Ease Your Mind About Fraud

Here are some strategies I learned to help make this issue less stressful for you:

  1. Make sure you have text alerts setup on your online banking, so when irregularities are detected, you get info as quickly as possible. When they text you respond immediately.
  2. When making point of sale purchases at gas pumps, the grocery and other stores, use credit instead of debit when possible to avoid revealing your PIN. If you must use debit, then always cover your hand while putting the digits in.
  3.  Before putting your card into the ATM slot, wiggle the card reader. If it moves at all, don’t use the ATM. Look around the machine for anything odd, cameras are often hidden in plugs, or brochure attachments on or near the machine.
  4. When you put the card into the slot, wiggle it a bit, this can help mess up the reader from gathering your data off the magnetic strip.
  5. Use smart access cards or limited pre-paid visa cards for online purchases or purchases when you are out and about. Keep limited funds on these cards, so crooks never have access to the bulk of your funds.
  6. Check your accounts online or on your mobile apps frequently, especially when on vacation to watch for irregular charges or ATM withdraws.

Here’s a great report on it from an ABC station in LA:

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Ease Stress Through Ancient Hawaiian Forgiveness Practice – Ho’Oponopono

Ease Stress Ho'Oponopono4 Easy Steps to More Peace

We know that most of our stress is caused by our own thoughts about our lives. Yes, there are stressful external circumstances, but how we cope with them is largely dependent on our cognitive processing of those events. We can be positive, we can be negative, we can be in denial, we can be resilient, but ultimately, how we feel about something is in direct relation to our thoughts.

Recently, I was introduced to an idea called ancestral clearing. There are some who believe that our genes carry more than just physical information on the DNA, but also possibly hand down ancestral memories via a universal consciousness. Karl Jung believed in this universal consciousness, and it was the foundation of his concept of synchronicity.

Ancestral clearing practices have been in place across multiple cultures, but I want to focus on the Hawaiian practice of Ho’Oponopono. Traditionally, this was a family or group ceremony where a spiritual leader/counselor will guide a family to state their issues, apologize for those issues, express gratitude, and love for one another, and thus clear the issues from the family history, freeing the individuals spiritually and emotionally.

There are modern psychological treatments which do the same thing for trauma patients, especially one called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocesing). EMDR helps people replace negative and traumatic memories with more positively charged feelings and thoughts. The scientifically, evidence-based process is approved by the VA to help veterans, and I can attest it is extremely effective.

The interesting convergence of these two concepts is what the current leader in Ho’Oponopono, Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len calls getting to zero. Basically, using a method he calls “cleaning”, Dr. Hew Len teaches people to process their memories/programs from childhood and beyond to release blocks within them. Once the blocks are released, a person is free to receive Divine inspiration. According to Dr. Hew Len, we have a choice to struggle and suffer reacting to our memories and programs, or we can clear them and move toward our goals with a clear mind and heart.

Two leaders in this field of ancestral clearing are John Newton, an actor who trained and transitioned his life over to serving others through these practices, and Howard Wills, his mentor, who also has his own version of Ho’Oponopono utilizing a form of prayer.

I will post links to their videos and websites here if you’d like to give it a try. I have personally been doing the prayers/clearing routines for a few weeks, and have felt more at peace with my efforts to stop eating sugar and manage/release anger.  The awesome thing about these programs is they are not a religion, cult like, you don’t have to join or pay anything to practice. You can sign up for classes if you want to, and both John and Howard do their own personal sessions, but I recommend just reading and trying it on your own. I’m open to discussing it with anyone as well. I would love to hear about the results.

Remember these four basic parts:
1. Say you are sorry, take responsibility (even if it’s not just yours…there is no such thing in a Universal consciousness)
2. Ask forgiveness from yourself, for yourself, forgive yourself, and anyone related to the issue.
3. Express gratitude/thanks
4. Express love

And keep cleaning until you feel you are in the “void” or back to zero….

I recommend starting with books by Hew Len, because they are short and to the point:

Then I recommend watching John Newton’s ancestral clearing Youtube:

John’s website is:

Howard Wills, who John studied as part of his training, has a couple videos here:

These are what John Newton calls complementary ways to help you improve your life. They are not meant to replace medications, treatment with counselors or psychiatrists, or other health professionals. However, I believe if you do these practices, they work on your mind much like meditation and mindfulness, giving you the peace and space you need to move forward.


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