10 Life lessons from the time of COVID

10 Life lessons from the time of COVID

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After the last 15 months of closure, a lot of the world is opening. We can try on clothes in the store, go to the movies, and gather to worship. Are you ready? No matter where you fall on your opinions about the pandemic, I think everyone has a takeaway or life lesson coming out of this last 15 months. If you have not considered your takeaways, this list is going to be a reminder of what you can take from the last 15 months into the future. I call it making lemonade out of lemons.

1. We are more social than we think we are and there is still a necessity for down time. The time of covid was an introvert’s delight. There was a permission to sit and just be. But I heard from many introverts that did want more freedom to go out. I am an extrovert, and I missed all the public places I had gone and the people I could not see. Even though I missed the time out with others, I found I cherished the downtime where I was not expected to be anywhere. Holidays at home and no requirement to drive anywhere felt freeing to me. 

2. There is an interconnectedness to this world.
As I heard the stories of sadness, loss, and fear, I found it so extraordinary to hear my clients and others share feelings and experiences I was experiencing at the same time with them. I felt powerless to make big changes and sitting with the feelings was my call to action often. People in the helping profession are not usually experiencing the same experience at the same time as their clients. This was profound. I had to make a conscious decision to more connected to my self-care than ever.

3. We do not always know what curve balls life will throw us.
My family and I thought we had the year 2020 planned when the clock struck midnight and the new year began. We entered 2020 with a feeling of exuberance and joy. We had so many plans for the year. We dubbed it the “year of the McLaughlin’s.” I had heard so many of my friends express the same excitement for 2020 and saw it as a turning point year. The curve ball is my metaphor when life does not go the way I planned or expected. Once the year began to roll out, it was clear 2020 would not look like what any of us thought.

4. Be grateful for what you have.
As I sat home with my family, I was grateful that I had my husband and child here and my parents close by. I know of people who had some many different experiences, either feeling alone or being around too many people for too long.

5. Food is comforting.
We know food is comforting, but the world experienced food as comfort. I felt scared when I went to the grocery store and saw the shelves empty of food. I have never lived in a place where there was food scarcity, and this is what I experienced. We never actually went without food, but my empathy increased for people who do experience the lack of food.

6. Movement is critical.
I sat- a lot. My family and I walked most every day to get out of the house and to get fresh air and to have movement. I found working from home created more time of sitting and my body hurt. My gym was closed, and they had virtual exercises. I tried to engage virtually, but I did not push myself like I do at the gym. I was grateful when the gym “opened” in early summer at the park. We were able to work out together and stay socially distanced. I realized that I need the social experience of movement to push myself to do more.

7. Routines are important- no matter what.
The pandemic brought this lack of centeredness for myself, my family, and my clients. We did not necessarily have to keep to schedules because life felt upside down. Working from home and virtual school created different routine patterns and I expected less from myself. Sleep was off, food routines were off, and general life was off balance. Once I realized that having a routine no matter what was essential, life became more in balanced.

8. We can adapt to difficult situations, and we are resilient.
I worried about my daughter’s school closing. I did not know how she could get the education she needed. I knew my husband and I were not equipped to be her teachers. It took time, but her school figured out how to have quality virtual classes. We were able to set up a routine for her where she was not on a device all day. She had a lot of virtual playdates where she and her friends make DIY projects, talked, and played games.

9. You do not know when your last day on earth will be, cherish the people and the moments.
This was a tough year. We had a few family members who made their transition during the time of COVID, but they did not die of COVID. Actually, we knew only a very few people close to us who got COVID and no one who was extremely sick with it. I heard many stories of loved ones who died of COVID or got extremely sick. There was and is much pain with the loss of so many lives over a relatively short period of time. I was reminded that death can give us a different perspective on life and to appreciate the moments, no matter what they look like.

10. No matter what, kindness is the key.
Lastly, kindness matters. It really does. I felt so grateful for the doctors and nurses who were on the front lines and did their best to assist as many people as possible. I had more psychotherapy clients want sessions than I could assist. People were feeling the stress, loneliness, and fear. I felt it was an honor to help people during this really difficult time. I had such regard for those who kept working at the grocery stores and made sure we could all get the food and essentials we needed. It was a time of helping neighbors and strangers. We were all going through this shared experience that bonded us together.

 

I do not know what the future will hold, and I am grateful to be healthy and incredibly grateful my daughter was able to go back to school. My gym is open, and I love my workouts and do not take them for granted.  

I am embracing the lessons from the time of COVID, and I strive to not forget them. I feel changed in a way that is hard to describe.

 Kim McLaughlin, MA is a Counselor, Speaker, Podcaster, and Inspirational Coach who specializes in working with people who suffer from binge eating and emotional eating. She is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She is the author of the book Feed Your Soul Nourish Your Life! A Six Step System to Peace with Food and the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Discovery Your Inspiration

You can find Kim on her podcast Feed Your Soul with Kim and you can find it on all podcast platforms. 

Determine if you are an Emotional Eater by signing up for the free Am I an Emotional Eater Quiz at https://kimmclaughlin.influencersoft.com/FYSU-EE

Finding Happiness: Be serious about play

Finding Happiness: Be serious about play

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I have been creating a whole podcast and blog series on the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (you can find the companion Feed Your Soul with Kim podcast here.) Each month Gretchen takes on a topic related to happiness. She talks about being serious about play. I find it interesting that we would talk about being serious about play when play is about being fun and not serious. I have found in my adulthood that I do not necessarily take time to have play and to commit to the effort to it. I did not say do not have time for play, I said I do not make time for play. There is a difference, and I can get stuck in work and what I have to do. For me, it does take effort to remind myself that I need to be in this matter of play.

How can we be serious about play AND make it a priority?

1. First, we need to find more fun. The starting point I think is to find what is fun and to have more of it. As adults seriousness creeps and that can suck the life out of the fun.

Gretchen encourages us to asked ourselves to ask ourselves,
“what is fun for me?”  She goes into depth about is finding what is fun for you, not what you think should be fun.

She talks about thinking she had to have fun in to way others have fun, like playing chess, getting a pedicure, etc. She realized that it was no fun to have to model our fun after what we THINK should be fun. I encourage you to determine what is fun for you. One way I suggest is reminding yourself that what you did do for fun in the past. Thinking about what I used to do in the past for fun brings up good memories and ideas for me that has been listening to musical theater, collaging and going to the library.

2. Second, Gretchen encourages us to take time to be silly. Being silly can be tough to do in this fast-paced world. Find laughter can be illusive, especially in this year+ of COVID 19. Gretchen talks about silliness being contagious. The phenomenon of “emotional contagion” where you unconsciously pick up emotions from others. Good mood brings out good moods and others.

3. Third, she talks about starting a collection as a way of having fun. I thought this idea a little silly until I realized that I have a collection of dragonfly items that I love. I love to search for the perfect dragonfly item to add to my collection. My collection goes so deep that I got a dragonfly tattoo on my forearm. It brings me joy to see dragonflies and see my dragonfly collection.

4. Fourth, she talks about going off the path, which means to me to do something new, unexpected, and different. Ideas for play are endless and a starting spot can be to do what you used to do for play.  

————————————————————————————–

I keep list of what are new things I would like to do. I actually have a list of 100 things I would like to do. Going of the path and doing something new can mean being uncomfortable, but it could be well worth it. I do yoga every week and sometimes the poses are well out of my comfort zone. Every time I try a new pose, I feel satisfied. Truthfully, I never thought I would have called anything physically fun, but the workouts I do provide an atmosphere of fun. Getting out of my comfort zone physically is one of the ways of going off the path, for me.

I encourage you to consider how you can go off the path and find something new. This past year+ during the time of COVID 19 we all had to go off the path and it was often not fun. Now I am ready to add more fun in and am excited to explore this idea. 

It is easy to go off the path by simply exploring your neighborhood, walk a different way, go in a different direction down grocery aisles. These are daily easy ways to go off the path. I encourage you to make a list of what you can do for fun and start DOING it. Increasing fun is a fantastic way to increase happiness

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a Counselor, Speaker, Podcaster, and Inspirational Coach who specializes in working with people who suffer from binge eating and emotional eating. She is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She is the author of the book Feed Your Soul Nourish Your Life! A Six Step System to Peace with Food and the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Discovery Your Inspiration

You can find Kim on her podcast Feed Your Soul with Kim and you can find it on all podcast platforms. 

Determine if you are an Emotional Eater by signing up for the free Am I an Emotional Eater Quiz at https://kimmclaughlin.influencersoft.com/FYSU-EE

Finding Happiness: Lighten Up

Finding Happiness: Lighten Up

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I love Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project each month she tackles a topic to help us improve our happiness. She outlines tasks that are scientifically proven to increase happiness. Each month we have looked at the suggestions she has made to increase happiness and see how we can do it for ourselves.

After this last year of the pandemic, all our escapes to find “happiness” had been taken away and now we have been poised to look internally.

Gretchen talks about focusing on becoming more playful and she relates it in the context of being with her children. I want to focus further out then seeing playfulness with just children. I know some of you do not have children or your children are grown.

Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project encourages us to look at some new methods to increase happiness:

1. Sing in the Morning- 

I find this interesting since I remember when I was a teen, the mom of a friend of mine would play the radio in the morning as they were getting ready.

I remember it felt so soothing to have music going in the morning.

During the pandemic, I had been listening to more music and especially listening to more musical theatre recordings. It is so uplifting to have music playing. Yes, I do put it on and sing, which is half of the fun. It thoroughly embarrasses my daughter.

Gretchen introduces us to the idea of having a “sing in the morning” frame of mind. I think this enables us to be less stressed at any point in the day.

2. Acknowledge the Reality of People’s Feelings

This is a classic truth about communication 101. 

People can tend to tell you…

  • “You do not feel the way.” 
  • “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
  • “Get over it.” 

Over this last year, we have been in close proximity to the people we live with and there have been less outlets for feelings. We had been asked to not see people, I know we are getting back to seeing people now, but the trauma of this last year lingers.

I work with my clients on effective communication and one sure technique to help manage a situation, is to just acknowledge how the other person feels. No judgment, just acknowledge it. This is powerful.

Allow the other person to be with their feelings, listen to them and acknowledge you hear them. Man, often, we just want to be heard. You do not have to do any more than that. 

  1. Be a Treasure House of Happy Memories

Gretchen says it is important to, “Keep happy memories vivid.” She says studies show that recalling happy times helps boost happiness in the present. I call them, “remember when’s.” Remember when’s bring back the joy of the time. This is why looking at old pictures is so important. It reminds us of the fun we had. We then share stories and this enlivens everyone. 

Keeping up with family members to let them know how you are doing as well as connecting is critical. These people you have spent years of connecting with are important.

Gretchen talks, also, about the importance of family traditions. There is familiarity and excitement with the traditions. Last year, many holidays fell during the time of the pandemic. Many of you like me and my family decided to forgo our traditions to shelter in place. We made some new family traditions to make the holidays special. It was kinda fun to have holiday get togethers over Zoom. 

What are you going to do to increase your happiness? I just gave you at least three ideas today. We are still in a time of transition as we move back into having gatherings.  How we move through this time will have an effect on how well we transition out of it. There is room to be happy in tough times. The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and there are blessings all around. Happiness is all around us if we decide to find it.

 Kim McLaughlin, MA is a Counselor, Speaker, Podcaster, and Inspirational Coach who specializes in working with people who suffer from binge eating and emotional eating. She is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She is the author of the book Feed Your Soul Nourish Your Life! A Six Step System to Peace with Food and the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Discovery Your Inspiration

You can find Kim on her podcast Feed Your Soul with Kim and you can find it on all podcast platforms. 

Do you eat your emotions?

Do you eat your emotions?

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You eat your emotions? This sounds like a strange question, right. It also means do you eat when you are lonely, angry, tired, sad, happy, or overwhelmed. I am not talking about occasionally eating over your emotions, I mean often. 

Emotional eating (or stress eating) is using food to make yourself feel better, eating to satisfy emotional needs, rather than to satisfy physical hunger. … And you often feel worse than you did before because you feel angry with yourself and you have not addressed true hunger with food.

Recently, I asked my community what their challenges with food were and what they wanted me to talk about.  One hundred percent of the people polled said they needed to hear more about emotional eating.

Interestingly, when I talk to people about emotional eating, initially they do not think they are an emotional eater.

They think they just eat because they have not found the right diet or they just like food too much. Once we talk about the ins and outs of emotional eating they resonate with the concept.

This occurred so much that I created the Am I an Emotional Eater Quiz (you can take the quiz here).

One way to determine if you are an emotional eater is to start noticing when do you eat. This can be extremely hard to do. If you have a history of eating mindlessly then noticing feelings that lead to overeating is exceedingly difficult. 

Another way to determine if you are an emotional eater is to look at what you are saying to yourself about food. Do you criticize yourself about your food choices and say they are “good or bad foods”? These thoughts engage the part of your brain that wants to stay stuck. Really food is food, there is no good or bad food. 

Emotional eating also comes when we eat from emotional hunger, not physical hunger. I have talked on the Feed Your Soul with Kim podcast and in my blog about the Four Hungers. 

I think it can be helpful to know the basics of the different kinds of hunger, so you can start noticing what might be leading you to overeat. 

Basically, the Four Hungers are: 

  • Tummy Hunger- the feeling of hunger in your stomach.
  • Heart Hunger- this is the emotional hunger. 
  • Mouth Hunger- the yearning for the taste of a certain food.
  • Head Hunger- the thoughts of food in your head. 

As I stated before we are an emotional eater, we mistake emotional hunger for physical hunger. Responding to emotions for our clues to eat, will generally lead us to overeat. 

What is the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger?

*Emotional hunger can be strong and can feel overpowering. It’s so easy to mistake it for physical hunger. But there are clues you can look for to help you tell physical and emotional hunger apart. Start noticing what your body feels like when you are physically hungry. Some of my clues are my tummy grumbles, low energy, mood starts to dip. 

*Emotional hunger strikes you suddenly. Bam! It hits you quickly and it feels overwhelming and urgent. 

Physical hunger, on the other hand, comes on more gradually, if you are paying attention to it. The urge to eat doesn’t feel as dire or demand instant satisfaction (unless you haven’t eaten for a very long time).

*Emotional hunger generally turns into mindless eating. You will tend to eat to overfull before you even notice what you are doing. You might have an agreement with yourself that you will only have one or a little, but you end up eating it all.

I hear stories all the time (this is my story too) where you have a container of ice cream and it is gone in one sitting. When you are eating for physical hunger, you can feel in control, conscious and empowered with food. 

*When eating from emotional hunger you do not feel satisfied when you are full. You will notice you are full, but not want to stop. This is when we say, “It tastes so good, I did not want to stop.”  

When eating from physical hunger, you don’t need to get overfull, because you feel physically satisfied. You have satisfied the physical hunger. You cannot satisfy emotional hunger with food.

*Emotional hunger isn’t located in the stomach. It is a sense of overwhelm and you cannot get the thought of eating out of your head. You feel compelled to eat, not matter what your physical hunger might say. You cannot talk yourself out of it.

Physical hunger is grumbling in your tummy or a hunger pain. You physically feel this type of hunger, it is not emotional. 

Now that you have learned more about emotional eating it can be time to take some action. Here is a step to take NOW:

I know that overeating can be a tough problem and the solution takes one step at a time. The first step is to take the Am I an Emotional Eater quiz. After you have taken the quiz, look at the questions you have said yes to.  Could it be that you are an emotional eater? If the answer is, yes, congratulations you are moving in the direction of peace with food.

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a Counselor, Speaker, Podcaster, and Inspirational Coach who specializes in working with people who suffer from binge eating and emotional eating. She is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. 

She is the author of the book Feed Your Soul Nourish Your Life! A Six Step System to Peace with Food and the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Discovery Your Inspiration

You can find Kim on her podcast Feed Your Soul with Kim and you can find it on all podcast platforms. Listen to the podcast focused on emotional eating here

Determine if you are an Emotional Eater by signing up for the free Am I an Emotional Eater Quiz at https://kimmclaughlin.influencersoft.com/FYSU-EE

How to Find Happiness

How to Find Happiness

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Could you use more happiness? Is there actually a way to be happier? 

In Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, she challenges us to look at happiness and see what we can do to boost it. Gretchen engages her readers in different concepts each month to build a stronger foundation of happiness.

In her first chapter, she focuses on how to find happiness. Her happiness project is fun and helps us explore the idea of happiness and how to increase it. 

Happiness is the state of being happy, a feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. Do you know that 1.2 billion people are looking up happiness on the internet? This tells me that lots of people are trying to find more happiness.

Not sure how happy you really are? One way to determine your happiness is to take the Subjective Happiness Scale (Lyubomirsky, S., & Lepper, H).

Subjective Happiness Scale

For each of the following statements and/or questions, please circle the point on the scale that you feel is most appropriate in describing you. 

  1. In general, I consider myself: 

1     2     3     4     5     6    

Not very happy                 very happy  

  1. Compared to most of my peers, I consider myself: 

1     2     3     4     5     6    

Less happy                     more happy 

  1. Some people are generally very happy. They enjoy life regardless of what is going on, getting the most out of everything. To what extent does this characterization describe you? 

1     2    3     4     5     6    

Not happy at all                 Very happy 

  1. Some people are generally not very happy. Although they are not depressed, they never seem as happy as they might be. To what extent does this characterization describe you? 

1     2     3     4     5     6    

Not at all                     a great deal.

*Lyubomirsky, S., & Lepper, H. (1999). A measure of subjective happiness: Preliminary reliability and construct validationSocial Indicators Research, 46, 137-155. The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com.

Taking that quiz can be an eye opener to how happy you are. How did you score? Did you notice in some ways you are not happy or not as happy as you want to be?

Gretchen Rubin spends time in each of her chapters looking at how to increase happiness. I think you will find the ideas presented are helpful to boost happiness.

One way to increase happiness is to boost your energy, which entails increasing some basic shifts in your life.

First, go to sleep earlier.

Focus on getting 8 hours of sleep. Truthfully, many of us are sleep deprived. Here are some ways to get better sleep:

  1. Turn off electronics.
  2. Make the room dark.
  3. Keep the room cold. 

Second, exercise better (this is a term Gretchen uses)

She talks about being more efficient in your exercise/movement. I am really a just do it kind of girl. There are many hacks I try to use: 

  1. First, I call it movement. I find many people are turned off to “exercising” because they have felt so much shame over their lives about their weight and body image. 
  2. Second, I put it in my calendar. I actually have my gym time in my schedule. I find it is hard skipping a day when it is in my calendar.
  3. Third, my movement is fun. Yes, it is fun. I make it a goal to find movement that is enjoyable. We are physical beings in a physical body that does require us to have some form of movement. Do what is fun!

Third, get rid of the clutter: toss, restore, organize:

Look around and see what type of clutter you have. 

  1. Nostalgic clutter 
  2. Conservation clutter 
  3. Nostalgic clutter
  4. Bargain clutter
  5. Freebie clutter
  6. Crutch clutter 
  7. Aspirational clutter
  8. Outgrown clutter
  9. Buyer’s remorse clutter

This clutter can make you feel energetically stuck. See where your clutter is and find a way to either toss, restore or organize. You will feel more energy from it.

Fourth, tackle a nagging project.

What is an unfinished task that is nagging at you? We all have them and they help us to remain energetically stuck. I have some craft project that I either need to finish or get rid of. What about you?

Fifth, just act more energetic.

Putting out energy or effort does increase energy. I find action creates more action. It is a physical phenomenon. 

Lastly, listen to the Feed Your Soul with Kim podcast focused on Finding Happiness

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1056343/3583681-36-finding-happiness

Getting happier is a goal I can get behind. It makes me feel good. What can you do today to get happier? 

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a Counselor, Speaker, Podcaster and Inspirational Coach who specializes in working with people who suffer from binge eating and emotional eating. She is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She is the author of the book Feed Your Soul Nourish Your Life! A Six Step System to Peace with Food and the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Discovery Your Inspiration

You can find Kim on her podcast Feed Your Soul with Kim and you can find it on all podcast platforms. 

Determine if you are an Emotional Eater by signing up for the free Am I an Emotional Eater Quiz at https://kimmclaughlin.influencersoft.com/FYSU-EE

I have the tool for you.

I have the tool for you.

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I have been focused on wellness A LOT lately. I have found that 1 year into the pandemic, I have felt worn out. It feels like all the difficulty of the year has caught up with me. Many of you have told me the same thing. 

One of my favorite wellness tools is writing and journaling. I use a couple of different techniques for my journaling. Years ago, I came upon an extraordinary book, The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. 

This week’s Feed Your Soul with Kim Podcast is called: 

Wellness Tool #1: Journaling

In this episode we are looking at the value of journaling and we will:

  • Identify 5 key components to a productive journaling practice.
  • Explore 5 barriers to journaling. 
  • Learn the 4 (and more) benefits to journaling and how you can get started.

Have a listen to the program and please leave a comment, it helps our podcast get found by others. 

Here’s to using our tools.

Peace,

Kim

P.S. Have you checked out Emotional Eating Solutions Self Study? It is an affordable way to get a handle on overeating to have peace with food. 

Check it out: https://feedyoursoulunlimited.com/emotional-eating-solutions-self-study/

Am I an Emotional Eater?

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