Three Steps to Peace & Joy

SAVE THE DATE: 3.9.2021 The Next Pink Event Featuring UPS CEO Carol Tome 

The holiday season is here! With all that’s going on, we’re wondering, where you are on the rollercoaster of emotions? Isn’t it amazing that the answer to this question an hour ago or 20 minutes from now could be different than the one you’d give right now? What has COVID done to us?
Working with driven professional women, I’m witnessing a shift these past several months. Many were even keeled. You had your rhythm going and felt content. But now, you go from crying in one moment to laughing out loud the next, or, from feeling overwhelmed one minute to seeing the bigger purpose next. 
You are not alone. Recent CDC survey results show that overall, 40.9% of respondents reported an adverse mental or behavioral health condition. This includes symptoms of anxiety or depression. Many admitted to either having started or increasing substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19.
Everyone is affected. While I know many effective tools to reduce and even eliminate stress and bring more JOY into my life, I wasn’t immune to the initial tsunami of emotional overwhelm either. You can read about that in my article “Finally I can cancel Netflix again”.
What I realized in those first four months of COVID is, knowing the right tools is one thing, but applying them is another. It’s like having a car in your garage but complaining about the fact that your feet hurt from having to walk everywhere. 
Are you interested in seeing the world in a more JOYful light again? This is what we’ve found works. To get started, we kick off our coaching sessions with a vision exercise— to create an inspiring “North Star” that will motivate you even in challenging moments.
For example, if you’d like to feel more at peace, what exactly does that look like? Is it reading a book alone with a cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon? Or, is it finding a job with a boss who appreciates the value you bring?
What does your life look like when you’re your healthiest and best self? A clear vision of that, should bring you goosebumps of excitement. It shouldn’t feel like a daunting goal that seems unattainable.
Over the last decade I’ve come to understand that my mental wellbeing is tethered to three areas of focus. Note: This list may feel overwhelming, but the key is to start with one or two things, to integrate them into your life before adding more. Each has the power to propel you forward. Combined, these have the potential to change the trajectory of your physical and mental wellbeing.
Three Steps to Peace & JOY:

  1. Pay attention to what you ingest

The foods and liquids we consume have a significant impact on our mood. For example, sugar wreaks havoc on your brain chemistry. It depletes vitamin B which plays a crucial role in your mood, and can cause a rollercoaster of energy surges and slumps throughout your day. Too much alcohol and caffeine can be toxic for your adrenals. These glands are responsible for managing your stress hormones. Additionally, focusing on the quality of your food can have a great impact on your mental well-being.
Consider buying organic vs. conventionally grown or GMO foods. At a minimum you want to avoid foods on this ‘Dirty Dozen’ list as they are known to have the most pesticides. Also, when buying fish look for wild-caught vs. farm raised and meats that are pasture raised.
Don’t forget that you ingest more than just food and liquid. All day, your skin and airways ingest toxins from standard household products and the environment. Scented candles, plug-in incense, laundry detergent, body wash, shampoo, are a short list of products that are most often filled with chemicals. These chemicals can either stop or alter signals in your brain impacting your mood.
In addition, they often mess with a slew of other hormones in your body like the production of thyroids. This can lead to either anxiousness or fatigue and depression.
Look for body products that are ‘toxin free’. Companies like Pure Haven and Keep Me Safe offer non and low toxic skincare, makeup, cleaning products and even products for your pet. Cleaning up your diet and reducing the toxic load on your body can do wonders for your mind.

  1. Apply powerful mind techniques

The list of tools and techniques to reduce stress and experience more JOY is long. Finding what resonates is key. Here are the 4 practices I’ve found to be most powerful:

  • Breathe Effectively: If you watch your breathing for a moment, you’ll most likely find that you only use your upper chest when you breathe. Now try this…on a count of 4 slowly inhale through your nose deeply into your belly then your chest and then your head. Hold your breath for a count of 4 and then slowly exhale through your nose on a count of 4 holding your breath out again before repeating this circle 3-4 times. Ahhh…peace. You can do this anytime and anywhere, but especially when you feel uptight and overwhelmed.
  • Practice Gratitude: There is a lot of buzz around gratitude these days and rightfully so. Research shows that 90% of our thoughts are the same thoughts we had yesterday. Having a daily gratitude practice, one where you truly feel the emotion of gratitude, rewires your brain making it easier and easier to produce happy thoughts more often.
  • Experience Nature: Unless you spend your walks talking on the phone and worrying about how many calories you burn, being in nature will have a tremendous calming effect. But get this! Research shows that listening to just nature sounds has a similar effect. Pop open YouTube, search for “nature sounds” and pick from a list of flowing rivers, chirping birds or crashing ocean waves. Two hours a day have shown to reduce the stress hormones in your body by up to 800% and activate 500-600 DNA segments responsible for healing.
  • Meditate: Meditation is probably the most important tool in my toolbox. So much research has been done and the evidence is rock solid. Meditation reduces your symptoms of anxiety and depression. It helps you choose your perspective on any situation in life. Meditation gives you more compassion for yourself and others. It has also been shown to greatly reduce the stress hormones in your body.

    You can find many more tools on the JOYVIAL YouTube channel.

  1. Becoming aware of, and address subconscious beliefs

Do you believe that others (your spouse, your boss, your kids, etc.), your to-do list, or your circumstances cause you to feel stressed and unhappy? Well, it is not true. Think about it.
If that was the case, then you believe the other person or outside circumstances are in charge of your emotions. You are putting yourself into a victim role by believing your external world is controlling your thoughts. Again, that is not the case. Anytime you have a negative emotion it’s because you are dealing with old subconscious programming. Say what?
Hear me out. Research has proven that we are all programmed in our first 6-7 years of life. By watching our parents or any other person of authority, we learn what is worth arguing about, worrying about, or getting sad about.
We learn the role of a woman by watching our mom. We learn how to engage with others. Our brain gets hardwired, literally!
Allow me to compare a newborn baby to a computer for a moment. A baby has a heart, a brain, etc. But it has no programs, no beliefs, no values. Everything a child sees gets downloaded into her subconscious and is viewed as her reality. Nothing gets debated as true or false.
Research shows that in our adult life we react from that subconscious programming 95% of the time, not questioning our reaction to any given situation. We are on auto-pilot. Our current worries, anxiety, or sadness is based on the programming we received when we were kids!
So, what can we do about that?

  1. Realize that your thoughts are not your truth. It’s just a voice that keeps yapping away wanting to keep that subconscious programming alive. That means that you must…
  2. Become aware of your thoughts every time you have a negative reaction (i.e. anger, sadness, etc.)
  3. Determine what subconscious programming (i.e. beliefs) you hold about the situation
  4. Question the belief – i.e. ask yourself ‘is this my truth?’ and ‘does this align with my values/the person who I want to be?’
  5. Reprogram your mind so you can live from a place that is congruent with who you want to be.

By Hanni Berger
Hanni Berger is the CEO of JOYVIAL, an online network of professional health coaches who help you live your healthiest, most joyful and fulfilled life. Hanni is also a speaker showing busy professionals how to reduce stress to find peace and joy in all areas of their lives.

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