Do you ever feel like giving up when things are getting too hard?
Most people do some time in their life.
How do you get over those feelings?
I had my own experience getting over that kind of feeling a few months back when I was ready to give up on publishing my book. My coach helped me one day with an exercise that helped me through it. I am sharing it with you today so you might benefit from it too, in case you are going through similar feelings.
Before I share what that exercise is, let me share a brief story about why persevering is so important.
A few weeks back, I got an email from a professor at the University of Washington. It informed me that my book Stress to Joy was added to a graduate program course.
OMG! My book – a university reading recommendation – that is a bigger honor for me than even becoming a bestseller.
I got tears in my eyes because it was only a few months back that I was ready to give up on publishing the book.
You see, I had been working on this book project for almost ten years. With my other responsibilities, it was getting delayed again and again.
I had schooling to become a medical doctor, not an author. We tend to write shorthand for medical notation, and it was hard for me to write for the book. I had to go through revisions after revisions, which made me feel that I was not good enough.
To make it even harder, I had to go through another horrifically stressful event. A government agency had penalized my business for $35,000 in error.
Although they removed the penalty later, it was extremely stressful while it lasted.
As you may know, when you are stressed, everything feels even more difficult. The stress I was feeling was making it more difficult for me to complete the book. I was getting emotional and felt like I did not have what it took to get it published. Giving up felt like the easiest thing to do.
I am so grateful for my coaches, Ben Patwa and Derek Doepker, who helped me through that difficult time.
I vividly remember that day when I had a video coaching call. Tearfully, I told my coaches, “I am holding by a thin thread. I feel like giving up.”
So they took me through a visualization exercise.
Visualization is a powerful technique. When you try to see in your brain’s eye a vision of something you want, you see it as if it has already happened.
My coach had seen a painting in our house done by my husband. It has a staircase arising from the tip of a pen, leading to a door on the top. He asked me to visualize taking those steps leading to that door and then asked me what I saw on the other side of the door when I finally reached it.
I told him that I saw and heard people saying thank you for making a difference in their lives. My spiritual leader, my family, and my friends were all smiling with pride on their faces.
That visualization was the turning point for me. It reminded me of my purpose. When I realized that my purpose was bigger than my problems, it gave me the courage to overcome the feeling of wanting to give up.
I am so happy and grateful that I did. Because if I would have given up at that time,
The book would not have been published.
It would not have become a number one best seller on Amazon.
It would not have become a reading recommendation at a University.
I would not have been invited to give interviews and keynote speeches.
Because of the book, I get the opportunity to share the message with health care professionals and a wide variety of other people who can use the message to help others.
When these people share what they learn with people they come in contact with, the ripple effect will help so many more. In turn, that also brings me closer to my mission of helping more than a million people become healthier and happier.
All this would not have been possible if I had given up when it was hard. So if you ever feel like giving up, remind yourself of your purpose.
If your purpose is more significant than your problems, you will be able to overcome the obstacles.
Next time you feel that your project is too hard, you can ask these questions:
Why do you want to complete that project in the first place? What is your purpose?
What will it feel like when you finally achieve your purpose? Give advance gratitude for achieving your goal.
If one path to your purpose is hard, are there detours you can take to your destination?
Make a choice and start taking action, no matter how small.
Let me know how this technique helps you and if you have any questions.
“What if I could help my patients before their stress turned into major depression?”
In a recent interview with Patricia Brooks, host of the Discovering Courage podcast, I shared how this question started the Stress to Joy Movement with the goal of preventing one million people from suffering unnecessarily.
Do you ever wonder if you could grow new brain cells to improve your memory, focus or thinking capacity?
In the past, we used to believe that all brain cells are formed in childhood and there is no further growth. We only lose brain cells as we age or develop disorders like Alzheimer’s dementia. We can’t do anything to grow new ones.
New research has found that brain (nerve) cells can grow even in adults. Researchers have found new cell growth in the brain area called the hippocampus. These cells play a vital role in the areas of learning, memory, mood, and emotion. Scientists are also discovering the steps we can take to help this process.
Check out this videoof an interview with a cutting edge health scientist Dr. Sandrine Thuret. She shared her research findings on How to Grow New Brain Cells.
Make a note at about 16 minutes mark, when she identified the role of stress in this process.
Even low-grade chronic stress interferes with the growth of new brain cells. This can not only lead to depression but also memory and learning problems.
Although stress is part of today’s life so you can’t get rid of it completely. Still, you can do something about it. While you can’t control all the stressful events in your life, you can control how you respond to them.
If you don’t manage how you’re reacting, stress can cause devastating consequences. And it can sabotage the growth of critical new brain cells. By training yourself to respond effectively to life’s challenges you can grow new brain cells, enhance your memory, and experience greater happiness.
Are you managing your stress before it manages you and growing these new brain cells?
If you are applying some of the techniques you are learning through these articles, you are. You can take more steps from the tips in the video and protect yourself against dementia.
Do you ever struggle with low energy or irritability? There could be many reasons, but some are common and easy to fix. You may know but may be forgetting.
Let me remind you by sharing how Pam, a 35 yr old woman, mother of two and working full time, is improving her low energy and irritability.
For several months before implementing these fixes, she was feeling as if she was dragging thru the day and was getting irritated by simple things her kids, clients or co-workers were doing.
This was different from her baseline as she was generally a very energetic person with the ability to laugh off simple irritations easily.
After she implemented these five fixes, she started feeling more energetic and calm. Plus, she was better able to tolerate her kids and even enjoy their simple mischief. She got her zest for life back.
Pam realized something had to be done.
A few weeks back, Pam came in and shared that she has been feeling tired after work and getting easily frustrated. Sometimes she’s screaming at her kids for simple mischiefs.
She is an executive who tries to balance her many roles, and although she’s not going through any major stressors, she keeps on having low-grade stress due to multiple demands in her life.
When we discussed her daily habits of how she was taking care of herself while meeting those demands, she reported;
She doesn’t have time to eat regularly. Therefore, she usually eats whatever she finds on the go.
For long periods during the day, she forgets to drink water. Usually, she ends up drinking less than two glasses of water a day.
As she works late, after putting her kids to sleep, she doesn’t get enough sleep herself.
She has a sedentary job, long hours and kids activities after work, she doesn’t get much exercise.
Most of the time she is running between activities taking care of her work and family. She says; “Who has time to relax?”
What do you think is the reason for her lack of energy and irritability?
Do you see similar patterns in your life?
As I was hearing her, I felt that it is the story of my life too. As we brainstormed implementing the five simple fixes, I was deciding to give more attention to these fixes in my life too and wanted to share them with you today. These are so simple that we all know them but forget and need reminders from time to time.
Five Simple Fixes that helped her were:
Body Exercise and
Everybody knows that the food to the body is like fuel/power for your car. If you don’t add the fuel, your car won’t run.
When your body doesn’t get nutrition, it feels tired. When your brain cells don’t get food, they get irritated easily.
Have you noticed that when a team member is absent, the other team members get a little overworked and become irritable?
When you force your body and brain cells to work with an inconsistent supply of fuel for energy- i.e., food, they become overworked and irritated.
What can you do?
I usually suggest to my clients using alarms to remind them every 3-4 hrs to eat something healthy.
Assuming that on a typical day, you are awake between 8 am to 10 pm, then you can put the alarms every three hours like 9, 12, 3, 6 and 9 for three small meals and two healthy snacks.
For a balanced meal, I usually share a printout of the healthy eating plate recommendation from Harvard Medical School.
I also like the recommendation of eating at least five colors of fresh fruits and vegetables to get a variety of nutrients.
Add a healthy snack (size of your fist) in the form of a cup of yogurt, or 8 to 10 almonds or 5 to 10 baby carrots etc.
Although water is part of the nutrition, many people forget so I have started to count it as a separate fix. Water is the basic necessity of life.
Intrinsically we know that life is where water is ( so many wars fought over that). In many parts of the world, people don’t have access to clean drinking water. We have that access, yet with our busy lives, many people forget to drink enough water.
Do you drink enough water? Lack of water (hydration) can lead to dehydration and make you feel tired. I recommend keeping a water bottle with you and target to finish one (16 oz) bottle or two (8 oz) glasses of water before each meal and before sleep.
That way you will get approximately eight (8 oz) glasses or four (16 oz) bottles of water-i.e 64 ounces of water a day.
Your body and mind need proper sleep to rejuvenate and replenish. When your body and mind are rested enough, you would be able to do the things you are trying to do in half of the time. Protect your sleep to get 6 to 8 hours.
4. Body Exercise:
With a sedentary work and lifestyle, the body joints get stiff with lack of movement. So intermittently between activities, get up to walk few steps. To avoid building tension, stretch before or after your busy day.
Exercise also releases endorphins which help uplift your mood. Despite all the benefits, it is hard to incorporate an outside routine many times. For those people, I like to share some exercises doable within your daily schedules. I like the 5 min kitchen exercise by Dr. Chatterjee as he shared in his book ‘Four Pillars Plan’ and in this video.
5. Mind Exercise:
You do physical exercise for your body to function; similarly, your mind also needs exercise to perform at its best.
When I mention mind exercise, people think of relaxing. Yes, resting the brain is most important, yet it is only one aspect of mental exercise. Regular reflection about our mindset, reactions patterns and choices are essential to reset and rejuvenate your mind for it to work at it’s best.
As I mentioned earlier, these are mostly things that you and I know but need reminders from time as a human beings are forgetful beings and sometimes forget what is essential.
So let’s make some intentions together at the beginning of this year to take care of ourselves.
“I choose to take care of my body and mind and give it a priority.”
If you don’t do it, you will have low energy and irritability which can develop into further ill health. If you do take care of your mind and body with these five pillars for optimum health, you will enjoy optimum health and happiness.
Let me know how this step helped you and if you have any questions.
Dedicated to your health and happiness, Dr. Rozina # 1 Bestselling Author, Psychiatrist, Transformational Speaker www.drrozina.com
The beginning of the year is also a time when people have gone through increased demands of activities, socializing and sometimes vacations. Many times they feel drained and exhausted afterwards.
Because too many of even good things can be stressful for the body and mind.
We call it positive stress. The stress due to too many positive things.
Stress, even when positive, can cause some adverse effects.
Therefore, let me share here how to minimize the negative effects of positive stress by using my personal example.
I had a stimulating end of the year with a vacation planning for a family wedding and release of my Stress to Joy Guided Gratitude Journal, on top of all the year-end stuff a business owner has to do.
I was thrilled and enjoyed all the socializing and excitement. I did not feel any stress although my body was experiencing some negative effects of positive stress.
Few weeks later, I was found to have high blood pressure. Now if you are a healthcare professional, or know someone who is, you may know that doctors make terrible patients because they know all the possible consequences of an illness.
Like many doctors, my mind started going over all the possible worse case scenarios, I could go thru with an underlying high blood pressure; strokes, heart attacks, dementia, etc.
Consequently, I started feeling stressed and worried.
[Yes, stress doctors can also feel stressed].
The next day, I caught myself worrying and decided to apply the basic formula I teach others in the Stress to Joy® program.
Once I went through the exercise I felt relief from stress. I stopped worrying and started feeling empowered to take action. I started feeling calmer again even though my external situation hadn’t changed yet.
What helped me?
My journaling practice.
I usually start my mornings with my gratitude journal and follow up with my reflections. So that day as I began to reflect, I applied the basic Stress to Joy® formula ACR.
A – I acknowledged that I am going through the positive stress of publishing as well as vacation planning and business management. Although it makes me happy and excited, it is causing some adverse effects on my health. I noticed the body tension and jumpy thoughts.
C – I calmed down intentionally with the feet to floor exercise and mindfulness.
R – I started reflecting using 3Rs:
Recognize: I recognized that certain things are in my control and certain things are not. The number on the blood pressure machine is not in my control.
It is in my circle of concern but not in my circle of control.
Although I cannot control it, I can still influence it by taking specific actions; e.g., watching my diet, doing my exercises, making my doctor’s appointment, and taking medications if needed.
Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence
Realize: I realized that I was reacting by focusing on the worst-case scenarios and that it is not helping me.
Response: So I told myself to use the mantra for letting go of worries;
“I choose not to suffer before suffering. I will deal with the problem if it happens when it happens. ( There is a chance it may never happen, or it may occur after a long time. ) I choose to focus on and take steps to get the results I want rather than the results I don’t want.”
I added my intention and choice statement to my daily to-do list for my daily reminders:
I choose to walk 10 min three times a day.
I choose to drink water, eat healthily, and take my meds and vitamins regularly.
I choose to give priority to self-care.
I choose to focus on My “I can” circle.
Do I even need to tell you how it shifted my mindset?
If you can relate to my story, then try this technique regularly and see how it helps you shift your mindset gradually and transform your suffering and stress to health and happiness.
You can learn more detail of this technique and many other techniques like this in the book Stress to Joy. (Specifically this technique is on page 113). www.stresstojoy.com
Let me know if you can relate to my story and how this technique helps you.
In my next blog, I will share “Five Easy Fixes for Tiredness and Irritability” so watch out for that.
Dedicated to your health and happiness,
# 1 Bestselling Author, Transformational Speaker and Psychiatrist
That may be no surprise to anyone who’s studied all the benefits of practicing
But there was one thing I read in their research that was shocking which few people know about yet…
Changes in Brain:
It turns out; a gratitude practice creates changes in the brain- the medial prefrontal cortex. This area is associated with social cognition and behavior. The most surprising part is that these changes lasted even three months after the study period.
Indeed, many studies over the past decade have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed.
The finding of changes in the brain means a gratitude practice could potentially have long-lasting benefits for our brain and mental health.
Ways to Heal Faster:
With the pressure of our fast-paced world, we are always looking for ways to heal faster and derive the greatest possible benefit from treatment in the shortest amount of time.
Therefore, many healthcare providers, especially in the mental health, are using research-backed approaches to complement psychological counseling with additional activities that are not too taxing for our clients but yield high results, and gratitude practice is one such activity.
Over the years I have used this technique to complement treatment for many of my clients and seen its power. I have also seen its benefitsin myownlife as I have practiced gratitude journaling for more than 14 years. I started after I broke my right hand and realized the importance of my left hand. (Read more about my story in the book “Stress to Joy“.)
My friend Sam recently expressed her surprise when I showed her STJ Guided Gratitude Journal, “Oh, I thought this was just a pretty journal with empty lines. I did not know that there are so many instructions and inspirations in it. I feel like it can help many people like me. I will definitely try it.”
So let me share what is inside this journal. This journal is hybrid of book and journal. It consists of seven components as follows.
1. Reasons behind each prompt: When you know the “why” of something, it helps to you get motivated to do it.
Therefore I have added the explanation and reasons for the practice and each prompt.
2. Examples: I usually ask my patients to share three things they feel grateful for while I am writing their prescriptions. Some people have a hard time initially. Examples make it easier.
Therefore, I will share some examples for each prompt to get you thinking.
3. Flexibility to write short or long entry: Some days, you’re going to be filled with motivation and want to dive deep into your gratitude practice.
And let’s be honest, there’s probably going to
be some days when you’re busy and doing that much could feel overwhelming.
This journal gives you the choice of how much
you want to journal each day.
If you simply want to do the minimum, that’s
And on days you want to do more, you have extra
space and additional prompts to connect with a
sense of gratitude and joy deeply.
4. Invitation to doodle: Do you like to doodle? One person told me that she feels almost guilty for doodling when she “should be” doing work.
New research supports
the benefits of doodling and expressing creatively.
Therefore, you will find a sketch/doodle/brain
dump/visualize zone on alternate pages of the journal – a blank space without
You may draw something that you are grateful for
or something that is your vision/goal. You may doodle or color or paste some
You may sketch the floating bubble exercise (an
exercise to be able to sleep when the mind is too active as described in
‘Stress to Joy’ book), brain dumps of your ideas, priorities of the day or
merely write free flow.
The open space is to invite you to do whatever you desire that day.
5. Thought Provoking Quotes: Good quotes usually inspire and stimulate thinking. Therefore, I have scattered a few of my favorite inspirational quotes throughout the Journal.
6. Gradual Instructions: When I wrote in my journal for the first time, I started with only a few words. Over time it evolved as I introduced different prompts and variations.
When I teach this technique to my patients, I start with the basics and gradually add more prompts to deepen the practice.
This journal is designed to guide you in the same way. The prompts expand gradually to help you master each set.
7. Other Resources: Last but not least, I’ve compiled and shared a list of resources that I have developed to benefit you in acquiring the optimum mindset for health and happiness.
If you would like to use these powerful tools, all you have to do is keep this journal or any journal or notebook by your bedside, in your pocket, or your purse. Every morning, before you get busy with the daily demands of your life, or evening before retiring to bed, pick up the journal and write.
My friend just sent me this note; “I love the Stress to Joy Guided Gratitude Journal. I was thinking about trying a gratitude journal for some time, and I am glad I started here. The thought-provoking quotes and the guided text has motivated me and provided me with a perspective which is helping me express my feelings and focus on the positives. The simple act of journaling has enabled me to see the meaning of events going on around me and helps me create meaning in my own life; as a result, I feel much happier, calmer and more grateful for everything. “
I hope it helps you too and I look forward to hearing from you how it has helped to transform your life.
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All comments will appear after moderator review. The tools and techniques I teach have proven to be highly successful for improving emotional, mental, and physical balance, but they are not intended to replace treatments prescribed by licensed medical or mental health professional.