Converting stress into positive action for 2017
Creating Awareness; the things I can change
It’s been a while since we last connected. I’ve missed writing to you these past few months however I needed to focus my undivided attention on addressing significant life changes, grief and confusion and my journey to renewed energy and hope. At some point in our lives we’ve all been thrown curveballs – unexpected circumstances that have threatened to derail us, especially when combined with life’s daily stressors. I would like to dedicate this year-end issue to creating awareness of the things we can change, and the things we can’t; how we choose our stressors in life and how we surrender when needed.
In our busy lives we are often impacted by events such as job changes, work challenges, loss of loved ones, personal relationships dynamics, health and matters of the heart. But what happens when we stress about everything? How can we allocate time and energy to what really matters? When do we surrender and let go?
Circle of Influence, Circle of Concern
Much inspired by the work of Dr Steven Covey’s book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ we would like to explore the power of choice by navigating the Circle of Influence Diagram:
Source: image extracted from THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE book
The circles represent the two areas where you can focus your time and
energy: circle of concern (all concerns) and circle of influence (the things we can actually influence and possibly change).
The vast majority of people focus too much time and energy outside the Circle of Influence, in the Circle of Concern. Such people typically stress over things they can’t control or change, such as the presidential election results, changes in the work environment or people, weather next weekend, family and friends’ personal choices in life. Preoccupying yourself with issues such as these not only creates added stress but is a huge waste of time and energy. And today most of us struggle with multi-tasking and time management – 24 hours in a day is simply not enough.
Dr Steven’s principle is that highly effective people think and act primarily within their
Circle of Influence – the things they can have a say and possibly change. They put aside the things over which they have no control, preferring to focus their time and energy on issues where they can actually make a difference. By doing this, they gradually expand their Circle
of Influence as they earn more power and respect. Now that’s the power of choice and by exercising the power of choice we manage the stressors in life. We also learn to surrender to the things we can’t change. When my beloved dog and companion, Sam, passed away recently, I had to accept that I could not change our circumstances. I had to surrender to the stress and focus my efforts on managing stress factors that I could control.
Converting stress into positive energy and action
There are many approaches to creating new choices in life. Here are some tips to convert common stressors into positive energy:
- Reframe worry into positive action – instead of focusing on things that worry us, focus on positive actions and things we can actually change. For example: move beyond worrying about the environment to focusing on recycling, minimizing waste, or joining HK’s environmental groups. Rather than worry about animal welfare focus on joining local animal rescue groups that rescue, treat and rehome animals in HK. There are a number of social initiatives in our city and we can transform the concern into positive action. Small actions can create bigger changes if lead with passion and determination.
- Channel the emotional energy – Over-concern, anxiety and fear are common emotions felt when we do not know the future and we cannot change things around us. The end result is that we become emotionally frustrated, angry and imbalanced and this may impact our health and also relationships around us.
- Bach Flower Remedies are excellent to help us access the core of the problem and restore emotional balance. Here are a few remedies for such emotional states:
It’s normal to feel fear at times of change and uncertainty but over-concern with what might take place to a point that compromises your life actions creates paralysis and self-belief issues calls for Mimulus. Mimulus allows you to access your inner courage so you can face life in a more positive and confident way.
When things do not go as planned or we have very fixed opinions about things we often feel very critical of others. This brings out negativity in our selves and impacts our relationships. We can instead inspire people with the acceptance of their views and their limitations: Beech helps us develop tolerance and see beyond our shortcomings in others.
- Challenging our Beliefs – when we experience setbacks and disappointments in life we automatically experience feelings such as frustration and anxiety. Psychologist and researcher Dr. Albert Ellis created the ABC model to help us understand the meaning of our reactions to events and adversity.
A is the adversity—the situation or event.
B is our belief—our explanation about why the situation happened.
C is the consequence—the feelings and behaviours that our belief causes.
Adversity -> Beliefs -> Consequences
Here’s an example: Susan received feedback from her boss that things are not going as expected. Her belief is that she is a failure and falls into depression.
The key point of the tool is that if we challenge our beliefs we can alter the consequence, or at least our interpretation of the consequences. Here’s what this would look like:
Example: Susan received feedback from her boss that things are not going as expected. Her belief is that she is going through a learning curve so bound to make mistakes. She perceives this as an opportunity for growth and knows that much dedication is needed. She feels an even greater desire to challenge herself and try harder.
What changed? Quite simply: Susan’s beliefs around the circumstance of receiving constructive or negative feedback, which impacted how she reacted. Most certainly, in our brains, the belief that something negative is going to happen (future threat) leaves us feeling anxious and fearful so if we want to see changes we need to make new choices and challenge our ingrained beliefs.
My wonderful friend and colleague, Kully Jaswal, founder of Ignition Coaching, knows only too well how to navigate life’s journey when stressful situations arise. Her ability to identify her stressors, recognize those that she can influence and adapt her emotions and actions to manage those that she can’t, is an inspiration to us all. Here’s her story:
“In 2014, my husband told me we had an opportunity to move to NYC. My first reaction was one of shock. We had discussed the possibility of moving to the US but I believed it would be in a few years. The timing was not great for me: my kids were happy at school, my business was growing and attracting increased corporate attention and, as a family, we
felt settled. Starting afresh – making new friends, rebuilding my career while my husband and children settled into their routines- unnerved me.
Then, I adopted a more positive mindset, reminding myself that we had done this before when we moved from England to Hong Kong which initially was a very difficult move – but I reminded myself how much I loved Hong Kong. I reframed self-doubts and negative chatter. I spoke with friends, practiced yoga, Kirtan and mindfulness and focused on keeping a practical to-do list.
After some reflection I also realized the move presented an opportunity to grow my business and use the new skills I gained over the past 4 years to expand into a new market. My HK colleagues and friends were a great support: they connected me with some wonderful business connections and like-minded people, which allowed me to expand my business into New York while continuing the work we had started in Hong Kong.
We moved in August 2015 and I had my first opportunity in September, which worked perfectly once the kids were settled in their new schools.
Naturally, the first year was stressful as we adjusted to a new life but this year has started to get much easier. We are making new friends and feeling settled in our new home, business is going well (Americans love my British accent!), and the kids are happy at school.
There are still days that I feel stressed, but the most important factor for me is to realize it and do something about it, whether it’s exercise, practicing mindfulness or reprioritizing my to-do list. Having moved countries/continents twice in 7 years now, I think of stress differently: I always try to keep an open mind when facing challenges and I try to understand the learning and opportunities behind difficult situations.” Kully Jaswal, Founder of Ignition Coaching, Ignition Coaching LLC. is a coaching and training company with offices in Hong Kong and New York. Its team of executive coaches and trainers combine their deep expertise in talent with a strong background in corporate and leadership development to enable individuals to maximise their performance at both a personal and professional level. Ignition Coaching LLC. works with its clients to help them achieve greater resilience, drive and performance.
Making conscious choices about where to focus our time and energy, and reassessing our thoughts, beliefs and emotions ultimately impacts how we feel and what we do in stressful situations, as Kully’s story goes to show. Define your circle of influence, choose your stressors and learn to surrender when needed.
Recipe of the Month
This month, we are joined by Jacqueline Renee Cohen of Lantau Mama. Passionate about fermenting for health and flavours, she teaches classes around Hong Kong in fermenting, kefir, kombucha, dehydration and more.
According to Jacqueline, Sauerkraut is one of the easiest, most affordable ferments only requiring cabbage, salt and time. Sauerkraut is also very ‘physical’ to make. Many find mashing and squeezing the cabbage therapeutic and stress relieving!
Below is a basic recipe. Once this is mastered it is easy to experiment using this same method with other vegetable and spice combinations.
- 2 heads of cabbage (5 lbs / 2.3 kg), one white, one purple
- 2 per cent of the total cabbage weight in Celtic sea salt (approximately 2.5 Tablespoons for 2 small heads of cabbage)
- Put two large cabbage leaves to the side to use later
- Cut the remaining cabbage into strips, use a knife or grater
- Place the cabbage in a large bowl, sprinkling the salt as you go
- Massage/pound/squeeze the cabbage until liquid is released
- When the liquid covers the cabbage, transfer to a fermenting vessel
- Cover with the cabbage leaves, press down so all the cabbage is below the liquid
- Add a weight on top to keep the cabbage down below the level of the brine
- Close the container
During the next two to three days, continue to check the cabbage and press down below the liquid if needed.
Then transfer the jars to a dark warm place to ferment until it reaches the desired taste.
Some people only let their sauerkraut ferment for a few days, some 6 weeks, some 6 months… taste regularly until YOU like the taste.
When done refrigerate where it will last for months; the taste will mellow with time.
HINT: If you are having trouble massaging the cabbage, let the salt sit on it for about 10 minutes. Then try again.
You can find Jacqueline on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as LantauMama and at www.LantauMama.com
November and December Events
23 November Express your truth with Kirtan
This is a very special session through a journey of the Throat Chakra, our fifth major energy center, so we understand how imbalances impact the endocrine system, cause common throat infections and affect our communication skills. Participants will learn how Kirtan can powerfully nurture and re-balance the throat chakra for greater truth, creative expression and improved health.
02 December Kirtan at Pause Central (former SOL Wellness)
Monthly devotional Kirtan sessions where voices unite for powerful healing to take place. Together we help our body soothe and release emotions through the powerful sounds produced by ancient sacred mantras.
05 December Meditation with Kirtan at IMI Central
In this unique blend of Kirtan, the usage of powerful yet gentle mantras, techniques and guidance Cristina aims to help you to develop a simple mindfulness or meditation practice.
Cristina in the Media
Liv Magazine November 2016
Wishing you all an enjoyable and memorable festive season with your loved ones. We shall reconnect in January to welcome the New Year!
Manipura Wellness Practice
This newsletter is dedicated to my Sam who left us on 26 May 2016 at age 14 and 5 months. Sam was my beloved boy and a part of my support system. Losing him affected me tremendously. It was all too fast and too soon and I was not prepared to let him go. So amongst the many things my boy taught me – unconditional love, patience, perseverance and forgiveness – he also taught me the art of surrender. To let life takes its natural course and complete its cycle. We all have a life cycle and when the time comes there is nothing to be done but to realize and accept; that the pain of physical absence is to be replaced by cherished memories and a wish that we will meet again one day. I love you Sam, and always will. Till we meet again my boy, because we surely will, Mama Cristina Rodenbeck