Barbara Alfors Coaching and Consulting

Be in choice, be aligned, know your path, know your genius.

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Managing Stress in Difficult Times

Saturday I was looking out the window and the beautiful fall leaves were falling. By the end of the day the tree had lost all of its leaves, and was ready for the snow that came the next day.

Like the trees, we are also in a time of transformation. Taking time for self-care may be especially important as we deal with covid, an uncertain economy, and the election. Things have been stressful for many of us for a while now, and at this point we might be running on reserves. Unlike other times of stress we may have been through, this time it’s affecting almost everyone. Other people in our lives may be less able to listen or be supportive. 

So what can we do to support ourselves? Sometimes it’s helpful to imagine what we would do to support a friend if they were having problems. Have compassion for yourself! We are experiencing something we haven’t had to deal with before. 

Acknowledge that things are difficult; whether you’ve got kids at home for online school, or are working from home, or are feeling the stress of not being able to get together with family and friends, it all adds up! 
Think about the things that nourish you; imagine being in a beautiful place, or connecting with friends, or creating something beautiful. We might be limited in some things right now, but we can still make phone calls, take walks, do some reading, journaling or photography – whatever it is that makes you happy. For many of us, spending less time on social media or watching the news might help reduce stress levels.  

For other ideas on reducing stress levels, check out my mindfulness resources or my post on resilience.

If you would like to explore how to brighten your path, or are just curious about coaching, contact me to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

Have you met your wise inner adult? 

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a wise adult who you could alway rely on for great advice or support? 

We often hear the voice of our inner critic, telling us we aren’t doing things right or other discouraging commentary. We might even have some core beliefs that are based on this perspective of the inner critic. Or we follow the voice of our inner child, who often just says “I don’t wanna! You can’t make me!” But we also all have a wise inner adult. 

Some of us are easily in touch with our inner adult when taking care of commitments for others, but that voice is harder to hear when managing commitments to ourselves. For others, it’s the opposite, and for a blessed few the voice is always there! When we slow down and connect with our inner selves, we have a better chance of hearing the voice of our own wise adult. 

My wise adult knows that daily meditation would be great for me; but my inner child says “you can’t make me!” 

Shifting our inner dialogue so that we can hear the wise adult more loudly than the inner critic or child takes time and practice. It starts with noticing when we hear those voices, and labeling them so we can identify them more easily next time. Often the voice of the inner critic is based on a belief we have; once we can identify the voice we can start to identify the belief. For example, my inner critic might say, “only someone stupid couldn’t figure this out” when the wise choice would be to reach out for support. The underlying belief is that I should be able to do everything on my own, which is not very helpful when learning new things. 

Beliefs are tricky things. We believe any number of things that we don’t realize. When we need that support or advice from our wise adult, we might first ask ourselves what beliefs we have that are relevant to the situation. 

When something is challenging you in your life, what voice do you hear? Does that voice encourage or discourage you? 

If you would like to explore how to brighten your path, or are just curious about coaching, contact me to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

Being vs Doing

snow on blue spruce

It’s snowing today, the day after Labor Day. 

Which seems like a good opportunity to reflect; the snow always invites quiet and reflection and calm. I’ve been thinking about being vs doing, and what that might look like. 

The idea of ‘just being’ can be challenging. Just existing in the moment and accepting that you are here, now. There’s nothing you need to do, no particular way you need to feel. Letting go and allowing this to happen might even feel scary! But giving ourselves a break from the ‘doing’ can make such a difference in our lives! 

It’s the reason writers might go on a retreat and isolate themselves; having space to ‘just be’ is often necessary to the creative process. And we all can benefit from that creative mind space. 

How will you ‘just be’ today? 

If you would like to explore how to brighten your path, or are just curious about coaching, contact me to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

Resilience and Neuroscience

I’ve been a proponent of mindfulness practices for years now, and I believe they are truly useful in making our lives go more smoothly.
I took a webinar the other day that explained why – the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which controls our higher-level thinking, has limited capacity. This is the part of the brain that manages emotions and refocuses attention. When we are using our limbic system for thinking, we are overly reactive and don’t use that higher-level thinking. (The limbic system contains the amygdala, which you may be familiar with from the term “amygdala hijack.”) 

So how do we build our capacity for higher level thinking and managing emotions? Mindfulness practices! 
And how do we connect to the higher level thinking of our prefrontal cortex? Mindfulness again! 

How does all this connect to resilience? We can think of resilience as the ability to recover after an upset, so having greater capacity to manage our emotions can help us recover more quickly. 

It seems that most people have a hard time keeping a regular mindfulness practice (myself included!), so learning about how it expands our capacity for managing emotions is a useful motivation for me! 

I’ve got some mindfulness resources here;  and I found this article on resilience and brain plasticity interesting as well: .  If you’re interested in the different parts of the brain, this is a good read:

If you would like to explore how to brighten your path, or are just curious about coaching, contact me to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

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