Stress Less: Better By Monday

a-stress-balance-mandala“These light and dark halves, Jung thought, revealed not only conscious and subconscious forces – and most usefully to leaders-our positive and negative evaluations of them, forces that, like the deities of the ancients, govern our lives.”  – John O’Neil

Our stress often comes from a negative evaluation of an event more than from the event itself.  Albert Ellis taught that our irrational belief about something causes more stress than the event we attribute that stress too.  We all have things which stress us out – so why don’t we write those things down to better understand them?

In John O’Neil’s book, Leadership Aikido, he encourages balance (chapter four) through the art of creating a Mandala. This is not like the art found in Adult Coloring Books where you simply fill in empty spaces with color preferences. The Mandala in O’Neil’s book is made of opposites-opposing forces which work against each other, in a personal way, within an individual.

He suggests that you identify pairs of opposing forces in your life such as the example of pairs provided below.

Control versus Trust

Diversity versus Unity

Family Needs versus Career Needs

Preference for Thinking versus Preference for Action

Clear Communication versus Creative Ambiguity

If these pairs are related to what stresses you out, include them in your Mandala, or make up your unique pairs of opposing forces. A few other opposite ideas which most of us encounter are Love/Hate, Peace/Chaos, Security/Fear, Mastery/Incompetence, New/Old, and Kind/Mean.

Once you have a list, begin to arrange them in a large, drawn circle across from each other, the level of creativity is up to you. A slightly irregular, hand-drawn circle, will work well enough for this exercise.

The items on the Mandala can be connected through a series of lines drawn from one to the other, across the circle. Additional connections can be made between adjacent words to involve two pairs of opposites into a shared connection.

Looking at the words can create a new perspective about which ideas (values, forces) can influence how you look at the division between the original pair of opposite forces.  For example, if Love versus Hate is adjacent to Peace versus Chaos on your Mandala – how do the items in the second pair influence the ideas in the first pair. This can be done with any two pairs of opposing ideas.

O’Neal said, “Only you are the final judge,” of which forces influence, soften, and change the way you feel.

One Thing To Do: Make a Mandala which identifies your stressors and their opposites. Then explore your drawing by discovering the positive or negative impact some ideas can have on others.  

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.




Mental Energy Can Be Better by Monday

“We’re drowning in information and starving for knowledge.” -Rutherford D. Rogers

Taking a break from technology can be a good experience but when you dive back into the technological sea of information you may feel like you’re drowning on the first day you return.

The amount of information you are being flooded with may seem normal but it may also be too much to deal with on a daily basis. You will feel flooded by extraneous data. Then when something really personal and important goes wrong you may have no energy left to deal with it. The information overload  makes your brain ache – you feel like shutting down. You may have to miss work – not because you have a virus but because you are overworking your own mental and emotional circuitry leaving no room to solve real problems.

We are drinking from a technology fire hose all day long. Even if you are not chewing and swallowing every bite being fed to you – you are still having to make decisions about what you taste. If someone followed you around throughout the day saying, “Taste this, now taste this, now this…” You would feel overwhelmed and frustrated that someone was pushing you to try things and use your limited thinking energy to make hundreds of small decisions about tasting things that have little value to you at the time they are presented.

One Thing To Do this Weekend: Erase 5 things from your phone or computer that pester you with a constant stream of less than important information.

Dawna Daigneault

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Better By Monday: Holiday Stress Buster

Better By MondayDuring the holiday season, triggers which negatively affect your emotional elevation abound. Higher expectations, deadlines and a harried pace contribute to the potential for us to be gone in sixty seconds or less to an unhappy place. Gone from fun family sing alongs with each other in the car, while looking at lights, to Rudolph the Red Faced Rage – Deer.

Jumping into a frustrated, disagreeable, anxious and/or deflated state may steal away the rest of an otherwise good day. To keep your good mood through the holiday season, keep these three statements handy.

How to be selective about what (or who) triggers your emotions:

  1. Ask yourself, “Do I have all the facts about what is happening?”
  2. Tell yourself, “If I wait, this may resolve itself.”
  3. Self-soothe, “I can handle this right now – the right way.”

The answer to number one is always, “No!” We never have ALL the facts. So, don’t give your power away to a moment that looks like a mess, sounds like a mess and will only become more messy if you jump in too. If there is truth you need to tell someone try to wait until a shared moment with that person can be had one-to-one.

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Better By Monday is a blog about one thing you can try, over the weekend, to feel a little better by Monday.

Better By Monday: Do you Lift or Lean?

Better By MondayMonday isn’t always given the respect it deserves. Disagreeable mumbling by more than one not-ready-for-work sleeper is heard. The sunlight sneaking between the blinds into the bedroom window doesn’t bring the delight of a new day it brings the burden of another day to endure.

The sun doesn’t seem to warm the morning air with hope but lights it up with anticipatory anxiety. Problems are waiting for us. Stress of different shapes and sizes line the halls of the schools our children attend, the streets we drive down, the rows of offices in our buildings and we don’t have solutions.

Even if old problems are left in the past, new problems seem to always be just ahead. We don’t always benefit from thinking about getting ahead because sometimes we can only get through. A sea of daily stress with endless days of rowing can feel unrewarding and unmanageable. But are all the moments in a day made up of problems, pain, stress and frustration?

What if we could give each other a moment away from feeling our problems? I know you’ve heard of Random Acts of Kindness (which work well) but have you considered making those into small acts of compassion/ kindness you can do throughout the day? By looking for the opportunity to show compassion in small ways during the day you give yourself a break from feeling your own stress and co-create a stress relieving moment with others.

SACK someone’s stress by showing grace, interest, empathy and/or patience in a moment of need and you get a day filled with more meaningful moments. Look for the moments where you can show a little compassion. Monday through Friday will feel lighter because you are lifting instead of leaning away.

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault Ed.S., LPC.

Better By Monday is a blog about one thing you can do, over the weekend, to feel a little better by Monday.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.