Sleep, Sleep, Sleep – Counting Sheep!

The whole world seems to be tired or experiencing a “mental fog.”

We are living in a society where one in every three of us is not getting enough sleep. There are waaay too many things preventing us from getting a good night’s rest. Some of these are by designed by business interests that want to keep us awake, so our relationship with sleep is not the healthiest. When you consider COVID stresses, streaming videos, and for some, nightlife, it is easy to understand.

Sleep is a topic that should be taken seriously. It is one of the most important aspects of your health and life. Good sleep involves an understanding of diet, exercise, and work/life integration. We know that without a restful, peaceful sleep, we are not our best selves. The goal is to calm our mind and central nervous system.

Sleeping tips for anyone (at any age) can be helpful. Consider the tips below if you are someone who gets up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep, or if you have a hard time falling asleep once you get into bed.

A few things you should know before I get to my tips. When you wake up in the morning, your cortisol (stress hormone) is high. The reason is because it helps to keep you awake and alert as you get ready for the day ahead. So, ease into the day.

Next, stress, even when you first wake up, will adversely affect your day and your sleep at the end of the day. So, wait before you begin your “work-day.” By this I mean do the personal things upon awakening first – checking voicemail and emails can wait. Ease into the day – many of us check our voice messages and email the minute we get up in the morning. Any given message can certainly start to cause stress or alertness. Then your adrenals jump up, your cortisol (which is a big part of your sleep process) increases, your heart rate may get higher, and you may get anxious. And then you are ‘off to the races’ and you haven’t brushed your teeth yet!

Pay attention to your resilience level. Your resilience level is shaped by your thinking style (look at what energizes you and what depletes you), your individual needs, and your experiences. How have you sustained your resilience during this pandemic? You have to dig deep to persevere and endure. Sleep, diet, and exercise, which many consider trite, are of the utmost importance. I said this above, but it bears repeating: without a restful, peaceful sleep, you are not your best self.

One of the tools that I use for myself and which I use to guide clients is setting up a nighttime routine. People often hesitate or resist setting up a routine, but they really can work. Think about how good it will feel to get a good night’s sleep. You’ll feel refreshed, clear, and ready to take on the day!

Creating a Routine

Be prepared – mentally. Allowing yourself to calm and decompress helps you to relax. You can visualize how you want your day to go. Leave yourself a list of one or two things at the end of the day so it helps you get started the next morning.

Form a habit. Do the same thing each night at the same time, such as turning off everything electronic at nine o’clock; then brushing your teeth and getting into bed. This sends a message to your body. You are telling your body and your mind to settle down instead of your mind telling you how it is going to be and running the show.

In this process, take command of your chatter or self-talk (and therefore your life). Your mind really does sometimes ‘take on a life of its own,’ literally and figuratively, and it’s hard to quiet it down.

Prepare your body and mindset with an intention to improve your sleeping habits, and to create a routine, so you are not sabotaging yourself each night.

Breathing Exercise

Here’s a simple breathing exercise: 4X4X4. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds. You can adjust the seconds with a rhythm that works for you.

Tapping – Emotional Freedom Technique (commonly referred to as Tapping)

Tapping is a wonderful technique where you tap on different points on your body to release stuck energy. When tapping, you are working on the underlying emotional component and the pain or problem while tapping on it. Tapping calms the mind and nervous system. Five to ten minutes of tapping sends signals to the brain, cardiovascular system, nervous system which allows your body to relax and let go. Considering we have 65-70,000 thoughts each day with 77% of those thoughts being negative, tapping can be very helpful. To learn more about it, feel free to contact me with absolutely no obligation. It’s easy to show this to you on FaceTime or Zoom.

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Be Vigilant With What You Put in Your Body and Mind

Biochemically it is important what we choose to put into our body and mind (violent shows, the news at bedtime, junk food, our self-talk, any discomfort or pain) as these choices WILL affect us, both positively and negatively. If you watch the news, don’t watch before you go to bed. Cortisol, a stress hormone, is a very big part of the sleep process. Remember, your mind continues to process even as you sleep.

Mind Dump

I keep a pen and pad on my night table. If I have a lot on my mind I write it down to get it out of my head, knowing that I can refer to it in the morning. It allows me to decompress and that process is calming.

Build Your Resilience and a Positive Mindset

Set your intentions and create a nightly ritual that works for you. Because of the negative slant that our brain has, we tend to think of what’s missing rather than focusing on what we have. You must be intentional with your thoughts. You control your thoughts, they don’t control you.

Take command of your life … Make yourself and sleep a priority.

Do You Have Zoom Fatigue?

Zooming should be in the next edition of the dictionary. It is now more a norm of business interaction than in-person communication. And it can be fatiguing! At first, wow, what fun, but after a while, being on video call after video call gets to you. It becomes fatiguing, both physically and emotionally. Sitting all day can get to your back and neck, and not being with others can feel isolating. Being on constant video calls (whether it’s Zoom or another platform) requires more mental processing than face-to-face interactions. Moreover, seeing ourselves gives us the sense that we are always “on” and have to act accordingly.

Now, the veteran zoomers among us tend to multi-task even more than usual. Our poor brains! The brain is not meant to multi-task so we end up using even more energy to do so.

It appears there are efforts moving us back to “normal.” In some geographic areas and in some businesses, in-person meetings and gatherings have begun, while others are being more cautious and sticking with videos, and still, others are trying hybrid meetings which could be the best resolution of all.

“Normal” is coming, and yes, the COVID vaccine is being rolled out, but as a gentle reminder, it is not a cure. It does not prevent you from becoming infected, and it does not stop the possibility of you infecting others. The vaccine, they say, will reduce your symptoms if you become infected. Therefore my friends, until we understand more about COVID and the different strains, as well as knowing more about the different vaccines, please be careful. Think not only about yourself and also about others.

Here are some tips to help Zoom fatigue:

1) Schedule 10-15 minutes between each call so you don’t burn out.

2) Center and ground yourself in between calls and shake off the energy from one call so you go into the next with a fresh, positive, clear-headed mindset.

3) Stand up and walk around between calls, change your posture, step outside, or do some deep breathing.

4) Eat healthy snacks with protein and healthy drinks and avoid excess sugar and caffeine.

5) Do some exercise stretches at your desk, standing or on a mat. For example, try some bicep or tricep curls, lay on your back, pull your knees to your chest and rock back and forth so you are massaging your lower back.

6) Turn off video camera – Just listen without being on screen. You may be able to focus better just using your auditory sense and giving the visual a rest!

7) Use your time productively and shorten the length of your calls. Try 45 minutes instead of an hour, or 30 minutes, or even 15 if you can. In the course of a day it can make a big difference.

8) Schedule a screen-free time, even if it’s on the weekend.

9) Try a meeting-free day. Do some tasks to catch-up and aren’t screen-related.

10) Reduce stress with whatever works for you – music, meditation, sports, taking your dog for a walk, and so on.

On a personal note … Drum roll: Eliminate the word pivot from your vocabulary – that fatigues me!!!

Using Your Time Productively: 8 Tips for Better Living During Stressful Times

How have you been managing your time during Covid? Most people are working, playing, eating, celebrating different occasions, and so on, from home. People are becoming more comfortable with ‘tele-everything’ and adapting to virtual platforms, both professionally and personally. 

No one is sure what the new normal will look like yet, and life as we know it will be different. That is not a “bad” thing, it’s simply different. From ordering groceries to ordering almost any product you can think of, many people are managing well. 

Doing something constructive with your time is important. Many of us thrive when we feel a sense of achievement and in learning something new. I have a client that is taking piano lessons, another client that is learning how to host virtual workshops, and another who has joined a group who share similar interests. My husband started a podcast.

The point is to take baby steps forward. Here are some things you can try. And if you have any other ideas, please share ([email protected]).

Be Productive

Do one thing each day to move yourself forward. What about setting up a nice office space in your house or apartment?

De-clutter and organize your “stuff”

There are so many people de-cluttering and organizing that stores that sell the containers and storage are backordered. De-cluttering and organizing will allow you to think more clearly and feel more focused.

Spend quality time with your family

Staying in on a weekend as opposed to running errands, eating out, going to the movies, etc., can be a wonderful way to spend quality family time together. Try a board game, video game, or anything else that comes to mind. Be creative, especially with the holidays coming up. Is there something you can make, build or design together?

Positive mindset

Practice positive, productive thinking. You can look for the silver lining in all situations without being ‘Susie Sunshine.’ When we don’t have control over certain areas in your life, make the best of any situation that you can.  

Catch up with technology

It’s a good time to learn how to use technology if you are not skilled at it.

Books and games

What about joining a virtual book club or playing games?

Celebrate occasions

Why not celebrate a virtual birthday, graduations, or any milestones? Any joy is worth celebrating. 

Home gym

Stay in shape, physically and emotionally. There are many on-line fitness classes being offered. For example, I put the rubber flooring on the tile in an area in my home so that the floor was cushioned, bought some weights, a Pilates ring, jump rope, bands, and mats, and I watch a class or two several times a week. It gives me a great way to start the day and provides structure that I like. It’s a win-win! And it was inexpensive!

Like everything else in life, you can make good use of the time or you can complain. It’s your choice, choose well! Change is okay … it can even be better than okay!

Be Creative and Use Your Imagination During the Pandemic … And Don’t Pressure Yourself!

People are sheltering to protect themselves and their loved ones from the spread of the coronavirus. Whether you are quarantining with others, or alone, use your imagination and be creative to stay mentally and physically healthy. Creating helps us feel better. 

Constructively Vent and Get Outside

I’ve got clients telling me if they have one more video call, they’re going to scream! Screaming might actually be a good idea. It’s good to get it out in a constructive way. 

Find your own space to ease the burdens of being tired and frustrated. Whether that space is inside or out, there is nothing wrong with a good scream. Many people also find that simply being outside can help clear the head. That space can make it possible to be more creative. 

What Inspires You … Take Action and Make it a Reality


Another client told me he and his family love music. Each is playing the instrument they play, or singing, and trying to make it ‘band-worthy.’ While they may not make it to a real stage, it can be fun to dream! 

If you enjoy music, and it’s a stress-reducer for many, there’s an online concert venue called ‘StageIt’ where artists perform live shows from their laptop that are never recorded or archived. ‘StageIt’ allows both the artist and the fans to be part of the show. Check it out! 


Some people find inspiration in writing. It doesn’t have to be long or a masterpiece. Get your laptop or a pen and notebook and start writing. Become your creative you.  Write a story.  The exercise itself can be amazing!

Another idea to keep you focused is to write out some goals:  put pen to paper and write down one short-term and one long-term goal. Visualize what you want to achieve and write brief steps on how to make it happen. 

Cooking and Baking

For all of us, cooking and baking can be a great outlet. Whether you create new recipes or use old recipes, you can have fun and enjoy it! 

Try Something New or Restart Something You Had Put Away

Remember that old model plane you were gluing together or that painting you started? What about the book club you’re in but haven’t read the past two books? Now is as good as time as any to develop a new hobby or rekindle what you started. There are many games online today that you can access and be as involved as you like!

Brainstorm Ideas

This might be a very good time to set personal and professional goals you would like to reach, and then brainstorm some ideas with friends, family or colleagues. What would you like to accomplish, short-term or long-term? Keep it simple. It doesn’t have to be hard.

Physical Exercise

It is also very important to be physically fit. You may have been a member of a gym or played team sports. Keep in mind you can do things outside like running or walking. Something I did recently was to set up an in-house mini gym. I take on-line fitness classes. I have also purchased light weights, mats, a jump rope, and bands. I’m taking everything from cardio and aerobics classes to barre and stretching. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Whew!

One word of caution is to not pressure yourself. You can’t force creativity. Check in with yourself and accept where you are. Let that be your starting point. After all, life is about cycles. Day gives way to night, the tide flows in and out and so on. Be kind to yourself and do your best.

Tips to Learn How to Deal With Stress

Have you ever been around a moody person? You never know what type of behavior you’re going to get, or what might trigger the person. Several times in the past week I have heard clients say they feel like they are “walking on eggshells” … not a pleasant way to live. Easing some things in your life can reduce stress. The impact moodiness has can cause stress. Setting healthy boundaries and limits can reduce stress.

Recently I was in line at Whole Foods when I saw the cover of Time magazine promoting The Science of Stress:  Manage It, Avoid It. Put it to Use. One of that themed concept was an article that stood out to me called Simple Ways to Manage Your Mood, by Audrey Noble. 

Noble gave statistics about stress. She noted that a Gallup poll found 8 out of 10 Americans are afflicted by stress. She continued that according to the American Psychology Association, the top three stressors were (1) the uncertainty of the nation’s future, (2) money, and (3) work. Workplace stress accounts for nearly $200 billion in health-care costs, according to Forbes.

Noble pointed out that there are healthy ways of dealing with stress in your professional and personal life. Here are a few tips:

Focus on Intention

Direct your emotions about upcoming goals or obligations toward positive feelings instead of focusing on the negative. Practice feeling that emotion so you can carry that mindset whenever stress starts to arise.

Set Realistic Expectations

We are living in a world where bigger and better is pushed in every aspect of our lives. That sets us up for failure. People feel they’ll be less stressed if they get a better ‘this’ or a bigger ‘that’. Set realistic expectations. Focus on finding gratitude for the things we have in our lives that fulfill us.

Find a Confidant

Get an outside, objective perspective from someone with whom you feel that you’re in a ‘safe space’. Being able to confide in someone can reduce stress.

Change Your Mindset

Intentionally activating positive heart emotions such as care, appreciation, compassion and ease decreases stress. The key is learning how to react positively to negative stressors.

Write It Down

Once you’ve identified what triggers you, write them down. Writing things down can be a therapeutic mode of expression. Once they are written down, share them with someone you feel safe with at work or personally.

Seek Peace and Love

Spend five minutes a day to find something that brings you serenity. Listening to music or finding a quiet time can help. Surround yourself with caring friends or family. Do things to elevate your mood.

Stressing Out: Making Better Choices

With a growing number of people complaining about the stress in their lives, how many are actually doing something about it? I say don’t wear stress like a ‘badge of courage.’ Being busy is fine, but if it is too much it can be stress producing, and that is not desirable.

The impact stress has on your immune system over time can negatively affect your health.  Stress can manifest in many ways and sometimes you can feel it in your body. Other times it can shift your personality. Are you abrupt or impatient with people? Do you feel the tension? In what part of your body does stress show up? The good news is you can do something about it. Your family and colleagues will appreciate it and you.

I found the following in the December 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review. The article referenced a 2017 Stress in America survey. It said that the American Psychological Association (APA) found that “constant checkers” – people who check their emails, texts, and social media on a constant basis – experience more stress than those who don’t. More than 42% of respondents attribute their stress to political and cultural discussions on social media, compared with 33% of non-constant checkers. While it may feel impossible to take a cold turkey break from technology, the APA says that periodically unplugging or limiting your digital access can be great for your mental health.

As a coach I hear some common themes from people in the C suite to the head of the household. No one is immune. Stress is a part of our world. How you deal with it and react to it will make the difference in your life. Giving serious thought and focus to how you want to lead and live your life is vital. You need to take a time-out, without technology distractions, where you can think about how you want to live your life.

There’s a reason there is a wellness revolution taking place today. I believe people want to take breaks and don’t believe they can. There’s the feeling that there’s not enough time; that we are on the hamster wheel. But as they are beginning to see, businesses are shifting their perspectives on subjects like getting enough sleep and eating healthy as serious subjects because we are seeing the toll stress is taking on the health of their employees, and therefore, their ROI.  

Not too long ago, I was visiting a friend who works at Bloomberg News in NYC. I noticed the company provided healthy snacks and lounging areas for employees to take a break. We know scientifically that we are more productive and creative when we’ve had enough sleep. I remember an interview with Arianna Huffington after she was diagnosed with exhaustion. She started making changes at the Huffington Post. She created areas where employees could nap. She said that well rested employees were more productive and creative. We all know how much better we feel with a good night’s sleep.

The APA article also said that chronic stress floods our nervous system with cortisol and adrenaline, which short-circuits important cognitive functions. Researchers have studied the negative effects of stress on focus, memory, and other cognitive functions for decades. The findings are consistent – short-term stress raises cortisol levels (the so-called stress hormone) for short periods and can jump-start our adrenalin and motivate us to perform more efficiently in response to impending deadlines. Long-term stress, however, can lead to prolonged increases in cortisol and can be toxic to the brain. We also have lower resilience level and a negative or non-productive self-talk.

Here’s something you can try:

Increase your self-awareness so that you can improve your focus. In other words, pay attention to what might lead to your losing your focus. You then have the ability to dismiss distractions and stick with what you were originally focused on. This is an area where you have the ability to change things.