Linda Gorchels blogs


The Long and Winding Road to Normal

Most of us are anxiously looking forward to the end of the COVID pandemic. We are hoping for answers to a host of questions. When will it be over? What will the new normal look like? Will there be a second wave? Can someone who has recovered get it another time?

All unanswerable questions.

That means we have to learn to live with ambiguity. We have to find ways to focus on what we can control rather than what we can’t.

Here are a few suggestions for coping with the ambiguity of the coronavirus.

Follow concrete guidelines for well-being

Every month I’ve written on a variety of well-being topics. All of the concepts still apply. Here are links to refresh your thinking.… Read the rest

The Soul of Music in Anxious Times

This will be a short post this week. Given that everyone is overwhelmed with COVID-19 news, I just wanted to remind people to find ways to calm their anxieties. Yoga and meditation help me, but so does music.

Think about what types of music bring a smile to your face, or peace to your heart. Listen to your preferred songs. There is no best type. My husband gravitates to classic rock. His brother and wife like country. My kids prefer contemporary music as well as an eclectic mix of oldies. Some of my friends listen to pop, Elvis, doo wop, and a host of alternatives.

There are songs in each genre I like. But my go-to for calming myself is usually New Age. … Read the rest

Your Gut-Brain Connection

Do you get “butterflies” before a major event? Or feel like your stomach is “tied in knots” after an argument? Or suffer through a digestive system that’s “out of whack” because of stress?

You’re not alone. The gut-brain connection is real.

I conducted corporate training for over 25 years. I taught multiple MBA courses. And I was a keynote speaker at conferences around the world. Yet, there was never a time when I didn’t get nervous. And my brain told my body to react.

The microbiome

Signals from your brain (e.g., I’m nervous) connect with your gut bacteria, known as the microbiome. According to Harvard Medical School, emotions such as anxiety or even elation can trigger symptoms in the gastrointestinal (GI) track through these brain signals.… Read the rest

How to Unstick Your Negative Emotions

Have you ever gotten pine pitch on your hands while putting up a Christmas tree? Or blobbed adhesive on your fingers while gluing two things together? Or stepped on a piece of gum? Not only is the gooey residue hard to get off, everything you touch sticks to it.

That’s the way it is with negative emotions. They’re sticky, attracting more gloomy thoughts. And they keep you from moving, similar to spinning your wheels in the muck.

There is no complete list of negative emotions, but the chart at the left lists some most cited. Any of them can have dramatic impacts on your physical health.

Anger, for example, heightens the risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. In the words of Dr.Read the rest

Is Well-Being a Choice?
Is Well-Being a Choice?

Is Well-Being a Choice?

Quick. What was your first thought when you woke up this morning? Was it: Today will be a great day? Probably not.

What was your last thought before you went to sleep last night? Was it: I’m so grateful for [fill-in-the-blank] that happened in the last 24 hours? Again, probably not.

But why not?

Why do most of us lack these habits? I guess we get caught up in the busyness of everyday life. And these well-being behaviors can be downright hard.

I know they’re hard for me. I am a recovering pessimist.

But long ago I learned that well-being is a journey, rather than a destination. We don’t one day arrive at a state of well-being and stay there forever.… Read the rest

More Ways to Damage Well-Being

Last month I discussed 10 Bad Habits that Harm Well-Being. Here is another batch of bad habits.

I’m going to start with a memory I have from my mom’s house. She had a plaque in her bedroom which read:

Worry, regret, self-pity

These are the agents of death.

These three agents of death are unlikely to kill well-being immediately. But over time they can weaken and damage it if they become habitual. They’re worth thinking about.

Excessive Worry

We all worry. Is that mole changing? Will the check arrive soon enough to pay the bills? Are my children progressing normally?

Some worry can actually be a good thing. It’s an evolutionary byproduct of maintaining awareness of potentially dangerous situations.… Read the rest

10 Bad Habits That Harm Well-Being

Earlier this year I had posted my personal recipe for well-being. Now I’d like to look at a few common routines that cripple well-being.

1. Relying on vitamins for nutrition

Many people have told me they don’t worry about eating a balanced diet because they take vitamins. Yes, if you have a deficiency, vitamins may be necessary. But it shouldn’t be an excuse for constantly consuming empty calories.  According to Johns Hopkins researchers, “multivitamins don’t reduce the risk for heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline (such as memory loss and slowed-down thinking) or an early death.” And as Harvard Medical School pointed out, dietary supplements (unlike prescription medications) are not regulated. As a result, “manufacturers can sell these products without submitting evidence of their purity, potency, safety, or efficacy.”… Read the rest

Be Happy

I used to think happiness was genetic, that happy people were born that way. That’s only half-true; some research suggests that 50% is determined by heredity. What about the other half? About 10% comes from living conditions. The remaining 40% depends on YOU.

Happiness Defined

Happiness is not just the absence of sadness. It’s related to optimism, hope, pleasure, and joy, but it’s not interchangeable with any of them. It’s difficult to quantify, to measure, and to track. And it’s something that most people say they want. Even the U.S.  Declaration of Independence included the pursuit of happiness as an inalienable right.

The World Happiness Report, which ranks countries by how happy its citizens perceive themselves to be, provides a series of social snapshots over time.… Read the rest

Life is a Pain in the Gluteus Maximus

Or a pain in the back, or the shoulder, or the head….

Let’s face it. Pain happens. We all experience it, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual. Every day.

The question is, how do you deal with it?

Well-being isn’t the absence of aches and pains. Rather it’s an effort to effectively cope. And to acknowledge that there are options beyond reaching for the nearest painkiller or drug. Here are some alternatives.

Get moving, but do it with care

As you get into your thirties, forties and beyond, physical flexibility changes. Muscles and ligaments are tighter, joints are stiffer. That’s why it’s even more important to keep blood circulating. Staying active is key. Strengthening and loosening joint muscles takes the pressure off the bones and joints, lessening pain.… Read the rest

Are You on the Road to Burnout?

Credit: Pixabay

Are you snippy and irritable? Do you procrastinate on things that are important? Has complete exhaustion and disillusionment overtaken your life? Is every day a bad day, with seemingly insurmountable problems?

Then you may be on the road to burnout, a serious obstacle to well-being. Burnout is caused by excessive and prolonged stress—it’s stress multiplied. As the following table shows, stress produces a sense of overload, whereas burnout produces a sense of emptiness.

Stress vs. Burnout
Stress Burnout
Characterized by over-engagement Characterized by disengagement
Emotions are over-reactive Emotions are blunted
Produces urgency and hyperactivity Produces helplessness and hopelessness
Loss of energy Loss of motivation, ideals, and hope
Leads to anxiety disorders Leads to detachment and depression
Primary damage is physical Primary damage is emotional
May kill you prematurely May make life seem not worth living
Source: Stress and Burnout in Ministry

Burnout can emerge gradually from insufficient sleep and relaxation, or from drowning in stress.… Read the rest