(See the more complete word document format for this checklist.)
When Barbara, after some coaxing and discussion, finally realized the great benefits of daily practices, she became so committed and did such a marvelous job that she reaped magnificently from them and felt so much better about everything, starting in a relatively short time, a little at first (in the first week of regular practice). Before, she would start something, like a year long program, and quit because she didn't see the results she wanted as her role of being superhuman (or suprahuman, in expectations). This is (and was) a significant part of her transforming into an optimistic, bright, energetic person.
I suggest that you read the Practices page and also that you use the monitoring sheet on that page, as Barbara found it helped her keep track and to be more accountable. After the initial help of a coach to get her going on this, she used the principle of partnership by enrolling a friend to keep each other accountable. And then she and her friend raised the level to using the partnering life coaching approach that works so well to accelerate people's progress in life as well as living much better right now.
THE COMPONENTS - Discussed more below in this section. Also, use the Search Engine (on the main page of each major section) to find any writings on the subjects below.
MY DAILY PRACTICES CHECKLIST
To be revised:
Read the discussions below and follow the specifics.
I review this list in my daily reminders session, daily for at least 28 days. (I pasted this section into a word processing document and now keep it in my Reminders Notebook.)
___ Deep breathing - Full 2x/day, in the moment as it occurs (5x). A must. Until
breathing is regularly and automatically deep and slow, I do ten deep breaths
in a row 10 times a day (each hour approximately).
___ Relaxation - Completely 2x/day, in the moment as it occurs. A must
___ Exercise - 5 days, 30 min. A must
___ Stretching, for at least
___ Bed at regular times
___ Reading, reviewing reinforcing materials
___ Gratitude journal, and reviewing it daily, for at least 30 days, then
___ Affirmations readings
___ All basic affirmations
___ 30 minutes a day, for at least a month, of the complete sections, with
reasoning, etc., on core affirmations, so thoroughly grounded and
___ Review and reenergize and remind myself of dreams and foundational items.
___ Eating 6 times a day and keeping my blood sugar stable, with no gratuitous
flour or sugar.
___ Non-Hurrying - Being to appointments at least 10 minutes early.
___ Engaging in no negative conversations
___ Stopping all negative thoughts that are not useful
___ Speaking authentically, honestly, and with responsible languaging
Random, for specific occurrences
___ Prep and actions during potential panic situations
___ Momentary tension releasing
DEEP BREATHING - Full routine, two times a day for a year; then 1/day.
Deep breathing is a practice designed not only for current energy but for rewiring the brain, especially in Barbara's case where she had hardwired it for an overwhelming series of (imagined) threat reactions.
By deep breathing we are sending a signal back up the neuronal pathway to the primitive brain, which sees that a safe, relaxed behavior is being engaged in so, it "reasons", it must be safe and it can relax a bit. Over time, the neuronal pathway changes in regard to this.
The catch is that it takes 6 to 12 months to create the physical hard wiring - which is the greater objective, greater than the individual days or moments of feeling better.
Barbara was amazed at the effect it created, as she was more able to deal with anxious situations and actually engage in deep breathing while being in those situations, getting so good at it that she was so confident about handling it that it created a "knowing" ((true belief) that she could handle it, to such a level that she often no longer even experienced the anxiety, other than seeing a few weak communications from the primitive brain, which she dismissed quickly.
She followed the recommended practices of Dr. , but she modified it to fit in her schedule and to be only 15 minutes long, as the 45 minutes suggested wasn't workable.
RELAXATION - 2/day complete relaxation for a year, then 1/day.
This is also a "re-wiring" exercise, but it also frees up energy by having the body not waste energy on holding itself tight for no real reason.
As with breathing, one of the points here is to practice the opposite of the body's actions during stressed and/or fearful times. It seems easy to understand that it is good to do the opposite of what is harmful.
The effects, in a short while, were felt in terms of more energy and less stiffness - and her body just felt better, which is a mood raiser in itself.
The rewiring was gradual and seemed almost seamless.
She also learned to relax the minute a normally anxiety provoking situation came up, which helped to offset the tendency to hyperventilate and go into that downward spiral.
She was amazed at the long term underlying effect, as she began to be so confident that her wiring and her body would not overreact, because it automatically reacted far less, that she also noticed that it almost didn't ever occur in the first place. When the anxiety thoughts would come up from the primitive brain, it became easy to dismiss them for what they were and to see that there was in fact no real danger. "What a relief!", she would exclaim. (She was incredibly reluctant and resistant to this practice at first, believing she had to be constantly on the alert.)
She initially used the "progressive relaxation" muscle tensing/release method and then got so good at being aware of how to release that she starting using strictly mental relaxation using the counting backwards into deeper relaxation for each part of the body.
This was such a good practice that, although she had planned to drop back to once a day, she continued the practice, as it was easy to do first thing in the morning and last thing at night, using the counting backwards meditation. The practice is quick and continues to provide benefits always each day.
Also recommended is to do at least a short Meditation.
Tub bath - At least 1/week, 3 recommended. Barbara enjoyed this, as it smacked of nurturing oneself, which she never did before. However, she eventually got bored with "just lying there" that she set it up so that she could relax but also read a book, which she loved and which made it easier to follow this practice. read...
See, also, naps, below.
EXERCISE - 5+ times/week 30 minutes aerobics; 5 min. weight bearing exercise
Exercise is such a vital part of stabilizing one's energy and blood sugar, plus it adds good feeling chemicals to the day. It also is a major way of retraining the body and rewiring the mind not to emit so many emergency signals as it creates a feeling of well-being that helps the Amygdala, et. al., to not be so concerned (which is also true of all of the other practices).
She began to warm up to the idea, once she got past her loneliness feeling and thinking the people at the gym helped to obviate it, that she should buy a treadmill for her place, so that it would be easier to exercise regularly, well worth the price. She saw the wisdom in the 8020 principle (see the website 80/20 Living), which involves making things easier, removing the barriers, and getting a much bigger payoff with your time while reducing stress to virtually zero.
STRETCHING - Daily, A.M., 5 minutes
Nobody seems to like to stretch, as a separate exercise anyway. But it improves muscle tone and also releases tension, which in Barbara's case is vital. Plus it wakes one up!
With that improved muscle tone muscle, she will tend not to tense up and will prove to be more pliable. The stretched muscle will also tend to have less of tendency to tense (contract), as it is elongated. Doing strong stretches during the day is also helpful, at random.
Barbara settled on 5 key stretches, one for the neck, one for the shoulders, one for the back of the legs and lower back, one for the glutes (a key area people hold tension), and one to twist stretch the back. See Stretching Exercises.
BED AT REGULAR TIMES, NAPS - Before midnight.
This was a tough sell to her. But after she practiced it for only a couple of weeks she felt so much more energetic, felt good about getting up earlier, and she felt stronger. She would, almost always, use technique of body scanning and counting backwards to relieve each tension/holding spot - by the time she finished most of it, she was asleep.
Staying up late at night, even when she did it rarely, would exhaust her system and put the body into a struggle mode - which is the opposite of what we want to train the body to do. The body should be tested only occasionally or it will get almost paranoid and definitely more tired.
This practice has an upwards spiraling effect, with feeling better causing more energy and more energy causing her to feel better. She woke up, especially with her other practices she did, and felt great about the day, optimistic and even cheery. As she looked back, she couldn't believe the old her ever existed and that she did all those counterproductive actions. She said that if she had known this was part of the path to not suffering so much she would have gladly, with no resistance, done it quicker.
An interesting side effect for her is she no longer was stuck in the idea that she was undisciplined. She hadn't realized that it is difficult to be disciplined (a higher brain function) when the body is tired and competing for resources (the body in emergency shuts down the unnecessary functions for dealing with an emergency, such as digestion, the higher brain, etc.). She now feels discipline is easy - and has it be ok when she is not disciplined at times.
Naps - 20-30 minutes, before 3 pm or after lunch, depending on schedules.
This was a super challenge for her. She believed the partial truth that taking a nap can cause one to not be able to sleep at bedtime. But her learning how to relax helped her to sleep even when she was not tired at bedtime. The nap itself released the tension and rejuvenated her, which made her not only function better but to be far less susceptible to anxiety attacks. Before going to places where she might have social anxiety, she made a practice of taking naps. Now, she is an ardent believer and advocate, helping (mostly through talks) others who were prone to anxieties.
READING REINFORCING MATERIALS - 5 to 20 minutes before beginning rest of day
She didn't believe in this type of crap, as she'd tried some "similar" types of things. But it wasn't long before she was a firm believer in its effects, especially setting up the day from a more positive view. It took her a few months, but she set up her Grounding/Reminders Notebook with all the reinforcing items that were true and believable, perusing them so that she was reminded of all that was good. Her gratitude level went through the roof, whereas before she would only let herself see what was missing. (It was vital that she read the gratitude section.) This also began to rewire the brain.
Gratitude journal - 5+ days a week, 5 items, for at least 3 months
Doing this common practice provided a different focus for her and did affect her happiness permanently, just like the studies showed as a proven way for others(!!). Doing this helped to provide more material to put into the reminders notebook, so that she could use the notebook for an instant review. See Journals page. Reviewing basic affirmations of truths - Part of the work Barbara did was to "re-write" the right/wrong beliefs that underlie blame, criticism, and victimhood that she was taught so that they meet the test of a truth instead of being an illusion with no real meaning in the world. These truths, especially as we shed more and more of the old recordings gradually, will lead us to having a solid foundation for winning the game called happiness. The initial work included reading and practicing for at least 20 minutes a day the Barksdale materials.
Reading something that contributes to hope
Filling oneself up with the "Chicken Soup" stories and other stories of how successfully people have handled life help remind us of our capability to produce what we want in life (not perfectly but essentially) and to be happy. Barbara regularly went to the Grounding Reminding Inspiring section and use the recommended pieces and books as part of the practice of reading reinforcing materials (we get plenty of the opposite from other sources, like tv and news).
Barbara loved this, though she avoided what she still saw as "sappy" stories, as she found plenty of great material, from Helen Keller and other biographies to even some of the Chicken Soup books; and she actually made sure that she had them available for her reading before going to sleep, so that she drifted off into sleep with something positive on her mind.
ENGAGING IN NO NEGATIVE CONVERSATIONS
Barbara at first thought this was too limiting, but when the meaning was clarified, she jumped in with both feet. She liked the idea that no longer having or being in conversation that are pointlessly negative would help some of the negatively based neuronal pathways to actually wither away, as in the scientific studies. The distinction that helped is that it was ok to talk about what was negative, but only when it is for a progressive purpose, like solving a problem such as reworking the negative into a positive or correcting a poor habit.
She accepted the idea that she no longer got to tell her victim stories, though it took her longer to let go of them totally - but not telling them anymore meant that she had moved on, and they stopped recurring in her mind naturally without any effort. She accepted that she could no longer make her brother wrong and confronting him about how he was making her wrong. One side benefit of all this is that she learned to have better conversations (to fill up the space emptied by not having the negative ones) and experienced more social success (though she had the inherent capability all along).
SPEAKING AUTHENTICALLY, HONESTLY, AND WITH RESPONSIBLE LANGUAGING
In a way, it was rather humorous how Barbara at first resisted this commitment. She was slippery in putting old untrue beliefs and bad habits that she had relied on for her life back into conversation, though she easily saw it when it was pointed out - and, as in all learning, she persisted until she became a master at speaking totally responsibly.
Being honest about what she was experiencing (where it was appropriate to have such a conversation) was difficult for Barbara at first, as she held on to the idea of having to present an image of being perfect was required to be "good enough" for people to associate with. However, she found that people responded better to her for being who she was, with flaws and human touches, than her perfectionist mask.
She followed the rules with regard to the use of language, to never speak untruths. For instance, she never said anymore that "x made me feel this way", but that "I made myself feel that way" ("from my own beliefs and what I made up about things"). She never ever again disrespected herself by saying she was stupid or inadequate, as those were not truths. She, with minor slipups at first due to habit, pretty much gave up saying she felt something that was a conclusion or a belief and corrected herself to use the words "I think" or "I believe" and only used the word "feel" related to actual emotions.
She rapidly progressed to speaking powerfully and positively, even about herself and about her brother and other people who she realized were just doing the best they could and using the learned behaviors that they knew but hadn't overcome yet.
RANDOMLY TIME-WISE, FOR SPECIFIC OCCURRENCES
Prep and actions during potential panic situations
Any time she was about to go into a situation where she might create anxiety for herself, she remembered to religiously do the opposite of what the opposite of what the problem was (we had to phrase it that way, as there was a "knowing" of what the negative actions, thoughts, and reactions were). The procedure to follow is delineated under Panic Attacks.
Releasing momentary tension
As many times as she needed during the day, when she noticed any tension, she did the progressive relaxation exercise, most often taking only about two minutes. If she noticed her breathing was short, she would do slow, deep, belly breathing, from just 5 of them when there was no standard threat instance impending - for the "big" events, she would do the breathing, the relaxation, and a strong set of affirmations (see the program for specific situations) beforehand after taking a nap that was refreshing (she made sure she never went into that type of situation when tired, as it was a recipe for disaster, so to speak).