Communication – what areas need improvement?

June 8th, 2021

June is here and the heat wave has begun. I realize that 90 degrees is not all that hot but after the lower 80’s it is quite an adjustment! Last week we found out the components of effective communication as well as a more complete definition of communication. This week we will continue discussing communication – how to recognize areas of deficiency and how to improve in those areas. Let’s dive back into all things communication!

How do we find our weaknesses, or as I like to call them – the opportunities for improvement, when it comes to communication? Ask those that we communicate with the most. I realize this may be uncomfortable, but growth rarely is comfortable. Who specifically do you ask? Coworkers, spouse/significant other, parents, children, and friends are all good resources to utilize in this adventure. The more people you ask, the more complete and better perspective you will have on your communication abilities. There are some websites that have communication quizzes, but to get the most out of these you need to be very honest with yourself and be prepared for the feedback provided.

Masterclass lists 6 areas to work on to improve your communication:

  1. Listening – Practice active listening by engaging with affirmative replies and asking relevant questions.
  2. Nonverbal – Focus on nonverbal communication as this is a major component of a first impression. Good nonverbal communication skills include eye contact with the speaker and positive facial expressions.
  3. Emotions – Manage your own emotions and express them appropriately for the situation.
  4. Feedback – Ask for feedback as I have already suggested above.
  5. Public Speaking – Practice public speaking to help develop good communication skills by the sink or swim method. The first time you speak in public will probably be scary, but it will get easier or at least less frightening with repetition.
  6. Filter – Develop a filter to help you express yourself in many different settings. I personally struggle with this one because I am an open book in most cases and my facial expressions (nonverbal communication) gives me away.

Whether this is the first time reading my blog, or you are a loyal subscriber, I am so glad you tuned in this week! I am loving all the feedback, so keep it coming! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Communication – what is it and how to become more effective

June 1st, 2021

How was everyone’s extended weekend? Did you take time to reflect on the reason for the holiday? I am so thankful for the men and women who gave their lives protecting this country. That is how much our freedom costs, their lives. This month we will be discussing communication – what it is, the struggles, and how to improve our skill level that will in-turn improve the quality of our lives. You may be thinking that is a stretch, but tune in this month as we learn together. Let’s dive into all things communication!

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines communication as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.” The Free dictionary defines communication as “the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, writing, or behavior.” I believe the combination of these two definitions gives us a more complete picture of communication. We are all aware that our words are communication, but sometimes we forget or over-look the fact that our actions and behavior are also communication and can “speak” louder/send a stronger message than our words.

We have already identified that communication is more than just the words we say, so let’s identify the other components of communication:

  • How you say words – including the tone of your voice
  • Why you say words – the intention of the message
  • When you say words – point of time in conversation, time of day
  • What you do not say – words omitted that could paint a clearer picture
  • Your body language – facial expressions, posture, and gestures

For me, I know that I have room for improvement in the area of body language. I have been told more than once that I have no poker face. This means that I must focus and be more of an active listener to avoid miscommunication via my facial expressions. Can you identify an area where you need to practice good communication skills?

Another part of communication that we will cover later is listening. Listening creates two-way communication and completes the effective communication process as it allows you to receive information, not just provide information. Otherwise, you would just be giving a monolog and not be provided with feedback. Without feedback, we do not know if our message was received, received correctly, or understood.

Whether this is the first time reading my blog, or you are a loyal subscriber, I am so glad you tuned in this week! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Change your mindset and develop your routine!

May 25th, 2021

I am over all the rain and thinking about building an ark. I hope y’all are staying healthy and happy! I am staying busy with all things work and sneaking in a few hours of self-care in the form journaling every morning and making healthy eating choices. Mental health is a pretty heavy topic, but I will do my best to keep it light and provide helpful and practical tips to maintain good mental health each week this month. Maintaining good mental health is a vital component to self-care. So far this month we have identified what good mental health looks like, how to recognize problems in others as well as yourself and discussed how to improve and maintain good mental health. This week will look at ways to change your mindset and develop a routine to maintain good mental health. Today’s post might seem a little scattered because I am going to be throwing several resources at you. Buckle up because here we go!

First let’s talk about mindset. Having a positive mindset does not mean everything is sunshine, roses and unicorns, but instead it means having a positive outlook for the direction of your life and making positive thoughts a habit and your go-to thought pattern. This does not happen overnight, but you can change your outlook by focusing on positive outcomes and the silver lining in all situations. When you first begin this process, you will not immediately recognize the silver lining but the more often you practice it, the more it will become a reflex for you. For more information, I recommend visiting www.positivepsychology.com.

To create your routine and develop/maintain good mental health, you need to make sure you are in good physical health. This includes exercising, eating a nourishing diet that is free from toxins and staying hydrated. Exercising gives you a way to literally work through your problems and exert energy. Giving your body the nourishment it needs helps to balance the body. Staying hydrated ensures that your body systems are functioning at the optimum level for success. Please contact your doctor, a health coach, a trainer and/or dietitian for further assistance in these areas to make sure each is tailored to your specific needs.

According to Psychology Today, a study found that healthy sleep cycles are associated with better mental health. Shocking, I know! You may be asking how you can develop a healthy sleep cycle. Try an active daytime routine instead of an active nighttime routine. Uninterrupted sleep cycles also help maintain good mental health.  For help with your sleep routine, check out www.sleepfoundation.com or www.heart.org and search sleep routine.

Whether this is your first time reading my blog, or you are a loyal subscriber, I am so glad you tuned in this week! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

How to maintain good mental health

May 18th, 2021

How is everyone doing this week? I hope y’all are staying healthy and happy! My schedule is staying crazy busy! I am learning to be careful of what I wish for, because what can happen when it becomes your reality. I love staying busy in my business, but I did not anticipate reaching my goals over 2 years early! I know this is a first world problem and am doing my absolute best to take it all in stride and give myself grace in this growing phase.

 So far this month we have defined mental health and learned some of the warning signs of mental health problems and this week we will learn some ways to maintain good mental health. *Maintaining good mental health is a vital component to self-care. As someone who has struggled at times with mental health, let me warn you that this is a sensitive and sometimes difficult topic to discuss. I promise to be as transparent as possible and give you solid information, but I am not a mental health professional.

The state of your mental health can directly affect other areas of your life, which is one reason for my emphasis on this important topic that is, for some reason, still largely taboo. If you know me in real life, you understand that I am not afraid to speak my mind even if it goes against popular beliefs. I have not always been comfortable in my own skin or speaking my mind, especially if it went against people’s expectations or perceptions of who I should be. Was it easy? No! I hate to break it to you, but life is hard. How did I change? Lots of hard work! Let’s highlight a few opportunities for growth:

  • Your circle – the people around you should be your biggest cheerleaders and offer you a reality check, in a loving way, when you need it.
  • Your self-worth – (candid moment, I still struggle with this) give yourself the same grace, kindness, and patience you extend to others and avoid destructive self-talk.
  • Your goals – goals should scare you because they make you stretch and reach but are not unattainable.
  • Resources – know what help is available in your area and when to ask for help.

You do not have to achieve all the things by tonight or tomorrow, it is a process and sometimes a longer and slower process than we would like, but the trick is to keep going. I did not build my circle overnight or even in a month. Your personal growth takes time, habits are not easy to break, goals worth striving for take time to develop and finding the right resources takes time to research. Unfortunately, this is not a process you can effectively speed up. Take the time needed and the results will be worth it!

Whether this is the first time reading my blog, or you are a loyal subscriber, I am so glad you tuned in this week! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe! Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

How to recognize mental health problems in yourself & others

May 11th, 2021

How is everyone doing this week? I hope y’all are staying healthy and happy! I am staying busy with all things work and sneaking in a few hours of self-care in the form of relaxing from my on-the-go schedule. Last week we identified what mental health looks like and some common mental health problems. This week we will learn to recognize problems in yourself and others. By recognizing these warning signs, you are able to seek help and be on the way to better mental health sooner.

*Mental health is a pretty heavy topic, but I will do my best to keep it light and provide helpful and practical tips to maintain good mental health each week this month. Maintaining good mental health is a vital component to self-care. As someone who has struggled at times with mental health, let me warn you that this is a sensitive and sometimes difficult topic to discuss. I promise to be as transparent as possible and give you solid information, but I am not a mental health professional.

Signs of mental health issues, in most cases, are subtle and can be managed with quick action including seeking professional help. What are those signs, you ask? I will cover the most common.  In adults the warning signs can be emotional, thought and behavior driven. Let’s start with the emotional driven warning signs including but not limited to unexplained feelings of sadness, extreme mood swings, excessive fears or worries, and extreme guilt. Thought driven warning signs include confused thinking, reduced ability to concentrate, detachment from reality, trouble understanding situations/others, and even suicidal thoughts. Behavior driven warning signs include withdrawal from family and friends, alcohol/drug abuse, major changes in eating habits and changes in libido.

 Want to prevent the early signs and symptoms from progressing into a more serious mental health situation? Education and counseling may be components to your treatment plan. Counseling can come in many forms and from many different resources. To find the option that works best for you, you can do a google search, ask a friend, ask a pastor, or send me a message. I promise you are not the only one dealing with these problems and help is available to you.

Whether this is the first-time or you are a loyal subscriber, I am so glad you tuned in this week for my blog! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

It’s National Mental Health Month, so what is mental health?

May 4th, 2021

Spring is here! It has brought with it flowers, green grass, beautiful weather, sunshine, and allergies. I hope you have been enjoying all things spring, except the allergies! Mental health is a pretty heavy topic, but I will do my best to keep it light and provide helpful and practical tips to maintain good mental health each week this month. Maintaining good mental health is a vital component to self-care. Let’s dive right into all things mental health, beginning with defining it. *As someone who has struggled at times with mental health, let me warn you that this is a sensitive and sometimes difficult topic to discuss. I promise to be as transparent as possible and give you solid information.

Mental health refers to an individual’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being according to mentalhealth.gov. Our mental health affects how we think, how we behave, and how we feel about ourselves (our mood). Our mental health influences how we deal with stress, interact with others, and the choices we make every day. Your mental health is impacted by your genes, your family history, and your life experiences. Mental health problems are common, but the good news is your mental health can be improved.

We are all probably familiar with the terms depression, PTSD, and anxiety. These terms have become buzz words in the news and on social media over the last year and, because of events over the past year, has helped raise awareness of mental health issues. I have personally battled depression and anxiety at different times in my life. With the help of professionals, a great support system and developing skills to help shift my mindset, I am able to maintain good mental health and recover quickly from any pitfalls that I incur along my journey. I do not make that statement flippantly or to pat myself on the back, I say this to encourage you if you are in the midst of a struggle that you can get through this. Will it be easy? Definitely not, but it is so worth it! Do not misunderstand me! I know firsthand it is a challenge and if you feel like it is too much to deal with alone, then reach out for help. There is no shame in asking for help. No one person is a master at everything in life and we all need help at one time or another. If you need help finding resources available to you, reach out to me, do a google search, or ask a pastor or doctor, just please do not remain silent. Let me be clear, I am not a mental health professional but I can help you find a professional in your area.

I want to thank you for reading this week, whether this is the first time or you are a loyal subscriber. This topic is near and dear to my heart as mental health problems have affected those close to me. I look forward to the rest of the month as we will cover how to recognize the warning signs in yourself and others, ways to get and stay mentally healthy, and ideas on how to develop your own routine to maintain good mental health.

I am so glad you tuned in this week for my blog! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Stress – create your plan to manage it!

April 27th, 2021

Let’s review what we have discovered so far this month…first we learned what stress is, how to identify it and found out that it is meant to help us survive, as long as it doesn’t turn into chronic stress, and last week we learned about the effects stress has on our bodies. Wow – we have covered a lot of ground so far this month! Today we are going to explore how to manage our stress, by discovering different ways to cope in stressful situations, and set ourselves up with a plan to succeed in the battle against chronic stress. A Winston Churchill quote keeps coming up in my mind is simple but true: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

I am astonished that healthy methods for coping with stress are not taught today. Think about it for a minute. We are under stress more now than we have been in over 35 years, all ages of society are impacted daily by stress out of our control and yet we are not taught how to cope with it in a positive manner. Stress is rarely mentioned as a problem, instead it is accepted as an everyday reality that we must “suffer through” until we die. Not a very optimistic outlook, is it? Let’s change our mindset and create a plan to deal with stress in a positive way that will improve our quality of lives and the lives of those around us!

I am going to separate the activities into two categories: physical and mental.

  • Physical coping mechanism ideas: exercise, run outside, spend time with your pets/animals, volunteer at church or local charity, spend time with family and friends, attend a concert, cooking, gardening, or watching live sports.
  • Mental coping mechanism ideas:  meditation, journaling, goal visualization, sleep (if you are lacking it), goal setting, deep breathing exercises, prayer, mindset shift, positive self-talk, create plan/list to change habits or meal planning.

The lists are truly endless but is a good starting point of ideas. The key is to find an activity that you enjoy, can do and have time to include in your routine. What other ideas do you have that I did not include? Would it be helpful to list these activities on my website for you to reference and continue to add to the list? Let me know your thoughts and I can make the list happen as it’s own page and add your ideas to the list!

I am so glad you tuned in this week for my blog! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Stress – the effects it has on your body

April 20th, 2021

How is everyone’s week going? I woke up this morning to a taste of winter with snow and cold temperatures. Winter is not my favorite season, and I can’t wait until more spring-like conditions return. Today we are going to discover the effects stress can have on our bodies. Hopefully, this will further illustrate the importance of developing a plan to manage your stress instead of letting your stress manage your life.

Last week we learned about the fight or flight stress response and how some activities of the body shut down in order to give that energy to saving our lives. Have you ever thought what other changes stress causes to your body? Let’s break it down according to systems as explained in the book, “Why zebras don’t get ulcers.”

  • Cardiovascular – heart rate is faster, some major arteries constrict (causing a rise in blood pressure), and your kidneys pause so that water can be reabsorbed into the circulatory system. Crazy, huh? I learn something new every day!
  • Metabolism – storage of energy in fat cells stops, the body uses this energy and also begins to use stored energy to aid in your crisis. Sounds great right? Not so fast! This process is not efficient as you have wasted potential energy during this process. You can also lose muscle due to the constant break down of proteins.
  • Digestive – as we have already discussed, digestion is shut down during stress. Ulcers (gastric, esophageal, and peptic), stomach contractions, colitis, irritable bowels, and a change in appetite are just a few of the negative effects that stress can have on our digestive system.

*Chronic stress, which is unchecked, unmanaged, ongoing stress, can lead to cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, muscle atrophy and even diabetes.

I know I have asked these questions several times already and will continue to ask them, because I believe they are that important: Do you understand the importance of developing a plan to manage your stress? Have you created your stress plan?

Do you have questions on today’s topic or suggestions for future blogs? Send me a message and I promise a response!

I am so glad you tuned in this week for my blog! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Stress – what it looks like and can it be helpful?

April 13th, 2021

I hope you are having a great start to your week! In today’s post we are going to find out what stress looks like and I will share with you what I have been discovering in the book titled, “Why zebras don’t get ulcers,” and how this is relevant to our lives.

As we identified last week, stress is a demand for change. Today we will look at one of the most basic and primal responses to stress: fight or flight. The fight or flight decision is a response to a physical threat or stressor. Pretty simple right? This response is essential, and we need that rush of adrenaline to help us survive when we are in danger. Example: If you are in Africa and being chased by a rhinoceros, you have a decision to make – stop and fight the animal or run for your life. Most likely you will run for your life. Your adrenaline will kick in and fuel your body to move your muscles to aid in your attempt to outrun the animal and live another day.

Let’s dig deeper. If all or most of our energy is going to outrun the immediate threat, where do we take that energy from? Our bodies stop/slow some functions in order to give that energy to help us move. Are you with me? For instance, when we are running for our lives, digesting our lunch and growing our hair are not our main concerns, so these activities are put on hold. Make sense? These non-essential (at-the-moment) activities will resume when we are out of danger and our fight or flight stress response is no longer active. The problem comes when we are in a constant state of stress and our body never gets to recover. When this happens, we can experience weight fluctuation, hormone imbalance, fatigue and even decreased immunity. All of that sounds no good to me!

Did you know that humans can make up and cause their own stress response without the presence of an actual threat? Anxiety and worry trigger our stress response. While reading, “Why zebras don’t get ulcers,” this line stuck out to me and actually caused me to stop, reread and highlight it because it is that good! “If you repeatedly turn on the stress-response, or if you cannot appropriately turn off the stress-response at the end of a stressful event, the stress-response can eventually become nearly as damaging as some stressors themselves.” Read that again. How important is a plan to manage your stress – essential! This week begin to identify instances when you create stress and how/if you recover from it. This will help you begin to develop your stress management plan!

I am so glad you tuned in this week for my blog! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Stress! What’s that?

April 6th, 2021

April is stress awareness month! This may be a little bit of a review of the March 9th blog, but I promise to add new information as well.

Stress, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is constraining force or influence, also strain or pressure. Well that sound about right! According to The American Institute of Stress, (no, I’m not making that up as it actually exists!) we owe credit for the current use of the word to Hans Selve, defined as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” That is a fairly broad definition! According to this “standard,” I guess we all handle stress well overall. Every day we experience the demand for change, most of us probably experience a demand for change several times a day. We commonly refer to this as being flexible and if you are not Type-A personality this may be easy for you to cope with while it could be a struggle for others, like myself.

As we go through life, only one thing is for certain and that is change. The seasons change, day turns into night and vice versa, people grow older, etc. Because life is full of change, we must learn to adapt or deal with the change/stress that will most certainly be thrown our way. This is when we must learn to pick our battles wisely and recognize that all change is not bad. Those of you that know me in real life are most likely laughing right now and saying remember to practice what you are teaching. I will admit I am a work in progress and am often reminded that change is not as devastating as I may initially think. I am always striving to become a better version of the person I was yesterday; it’s called growth and ultimately it is change. This is a change for the better.

Think of it this way, babies are expected to change. We can’t wait for them to say their first word, to crawl, to take their first step, for them to begin eating new food and the list goes on and on. Why is change expected and acceptable for them but not us? I know I just stepped on some toes because that hit me too! It is all about mindset and perspective. Do you regularly look at situations from several viewpoints before reacting/responding?

I recently took a webinar on mindset. This presenter asked us to take a quiz to figure out where we are in our mindset journey. I was a little shocked to realize that I was in the category of being able to be a mindset coach as I believe I have more work to do in this area. I realized that it comes more naturally for me to help others change their mindset/perspective than it is for me to apply those principles to my own life. I challenge you to work on your mindset (mental attitude) this week alongside me and take note of how it influences those around you.

I am so glad you tuned in this week for my blog! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Life with Lacey

Self-care is not selfish, but very necessary!