CREATING METHODS OF HAPPINESS, PEACE & SUCCESS

Topics for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

 

Overcoming Resistance To Change: Episode 023



“ When things change inside of you, things change around you “

There are times you may think about changing something, yet you resist taking the committed action towards making it happen. Examining your beliefs, values and feelings can help you develop a strategy to make the change occur. Today’s episode explores some of the top reasons why “change” can become complicated and what to do about it.

 

Have you already subscribed to my podcast? If not, I’m encouraging you to do that today. I wouldn’t want you to miss an episode.

And, if you’re feeling extra loving, please share it and leave a review; it makes it easier to find. We can all benefit from a little nudge to start making small shifts towards increased health and happiness 🙂

 

Overcoming resistance to change checklist

Emotional Flow: Episode 21



” Everything is temporary; emotions, thoughts, people, and scenery. Do not become attached, just flow with it. ”

 

Emotions are neither good nor bad, they just are. Learning how to recognize and accept them may take practice, patience and persistence. By acknowledging your emotions, without judgement, you can allow, accept and make space for the experience until it passes or changes. This episode guides you how to begin.

 

Have you already subscribed to my podcast? If not, I’m encouraging you to do that today. I wouldn’t want you to miss an episode.

And, if you’re feeling extra loving, please share it and leave a review; it makes it easier to find. We can all benefit from a little nudge to start making small shifts towards increased health and happiness 🙂

Calm amongst worries



“Don’t worry”      “It’ll be ok”       “Just relax”        “Don’t think about that”

 

When you are feeling anxious, worried or afraid, you might receive some well intended advice to just stop worrying and the feeling will all go away.

 

As if it were so easy.

 

Rarely does it happen that way.

 

Many of us worry about all kinds of things: money, health, family, relationships, work.

Some concerns are valid, but many are unnecessary and quite frankly out of our control.

 

No matter what kind of worry you have, the response on your body is always the same: It increases your cortisol levels.

And long-term elevated cortisol level is something you definitely do not want.

Cortisol ( a stress hormone) compromises your immune system and as a result you will be more susceptible to disease, both physically and mentally.

 

Ever heard of “I’m worried sick?”

 

Luckily there are ways to shift your body from a stress response to a relaxation response, which will shut down increased cortisol production and make you feel way better.

Let’s start by getting clear on why you may be feeling stressed, worried, anxious or afraid. Is it that you are feeling uncertain or powerless.

 

I suggest getting a paper and pen and writing down your concerns.

 

Ask yourself:

 

What am I worried about?

What are my beliefs around this situation?

Is this circumstance a fact or an opinion?

What’s the evidence?

What part of this situation can I control or change? How?

If I cannot change the circumstance, am I willing to let it go?

 

This exercise will help you gain clarity and come up with possible solutions and let go of the things that you can’t change. By writing  down your stressors, you may feel like you are taking action by emptying your mind and you will start to relax as you feel lighter and less tense.

 

Next, develop a daily practice of diaphragmatic breathing. Repeat various times a day.

 

  1. Breathe in through your nose, slowly and deeply, for a count of 4 as your belly expands. The breath should originate from your diaphragm and belly instead of your chest.
  2. Hold that breath for 4 seconds.
  3. Exhale, out through your mouth, slowly for a count of 6.
  4. Hold. Wait a few seconds before taking another breath.

 

Others things that help:

  • Stretching (including your jaws and shoulders)
  • Exercise (even a brisk walk helps)
  • Acupressure (there’s lots of good points- google them)
  • Warm epsom salt bath (magnesium is calming)
  • Diffusing soothing essential oils or applying them with a carrier oil to the soles of your feet or the back of your neck.
  • Calming herbal teas such as chamomile or lemon balm.
  • Visualizing your happy place. Focus on the different sensory attributes present in your scene. For instance, if you are imagining a beach scene, spend some time vividly imagining the warmth of the sun on your skin, the smell of the ocean, seaweed and salt spray, and the sound of the waves, wind and seagulls. The more you can invoke your senses, the more vivid the entire image will become.
  • Meditation ( even if it’s just lighting a candle and staring at the flame)
  • Journaling
  • Watch a funny video. Laugh.
  • Listening to music
  • Sleep

 

The most important part of taming your worries is the mental piece, the story you tell yourself. By offering yourself alternate positive possibilities you begin the calming process. By creating a calm environment you further support your body ability to regulate.

 

Keep things in perspective and know that the more you practice these tips, the better you will feel. Think of it as a cumulative effect.

 

So what are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time to start taking those deep breaths 🙂

Behaviors that might suggest a teenager is experiencing difficulties



Parents often worry about their teens behavior. It is the norm for teenagers to sometimes appear withdrawn and moody and in their own world, but this shouldn’t last for a long time or interfere with their functioning.

We all have needs, such as feeling safe, liked, understood, and supported and they show up in different ways. There are times, however, when mental health issues can arise when things don’t seem to be going as expected. Your child may be experiencing lack of confidence, anxiety, perhaps even being bullied. Talk to them and help them express their feelings and come up with solutions.

The following is a list of behaviors that might suggest a teenager is experiencing difficulties.

If you are concerned about any of them, talk to your child and get professional help.

  • Becoming withdrawn and losing interest in friends, sports or favorite activities.
  • Having changes in sleep patterns such as not sleeping or sleeping for long periods.
  • Avoiding food, overeating or exercising excessively.
  • Seeming to be preoccupied or obsessed over a particular issue.
  • Having a change in mood such as becoming hostile or having feelings of anxiety or depression.
  • Having a sudden drop in schoolwork.
  • Doing things that don’t make sense to others.
  • Seeing or hearing things that nobody else sees or hears.
  • Being excessively tired or neglecting personal hygiene.
  • Wearing long sleeve clothes in hot weather. It may suggest they are hiding signs of self-harm.

Things you can do to feel better



There are many things that happen every day that can cause you to feel ill, uncomfortable, upset, anxious, or irritated. You will want to do things to help yourself feel better as quickly as possible, without doing anything that has negative consequences, for example, drinking, committing crimes, hurting yourself, risking your life, or eating lots of junk food.

Read through the following list. Check off the ideas that appeal to you and give each of them a try when you need to help yourself feel better. Make a list of the ones you find to be most useful, along with those you have successfully used in the past, and hang the list in a prominent place—like on your refrigerator door-as a reminder at times when you need to comfort yourself. Use these techniques whenever you are having a hard time or as a special treat to yourself.

 

  _____ Do something fun or creative, something you really enjoy, like crafts, needlework, painting, drawing, woodworking, making a sculpture, reading fiction, comics, mystery novels, or inspirational writings, doing crossword or jigsaw puzzles, playing a game, taking some photographs, going fishing, going to a movie or other community event, or gardening.

_____Get some exercise. Exercise is a great way to help yourself feel better while improving your overall stamina and health. The right exercise can even be fun.

______Write something. Writing can help you feel better. You can keep lists, record dreams, respond to questions, and explore your feelings. All ways are correct. Don’t worry about how well you write. It’s not important. It is only for you. Writing about the trauma or traumatic events also helps a lot. It allows you to safely process the emotions you are experiencing. It tells your mind that you are taking care of the situation and helps to relieve the difficult symptoms you may be experiencing. Keep your writings in a safe place where others cannot read them. Share them only with people you feel comfortable with. You may even want to write a letter to the person or people who have treated you badly, telling them how it affected you, and not send the letter.

_____Use your spiritual resources. Spiritual resources and making use of these resources varies from person to person. For some people it means praying, going to church, or reaching out to a member of the clergy. For others it is meditating or reading affirmations and other kinds of inspirational materials. It may include rituals and ceremonies—whatever feels right to you. Spiritual work does not necessarily occur within the bounds of an organized religion. Remember, you can be spiritual without being religious.

_____Do something routine. When you don’t feel well, it helps to do something “normal”—the kind of thing you do every day or often, things that are part of your routine like taking a shower, washing your hair, making yourself a sandwich, calling a friend or family member, making your bed, walking the dog, or getting gas in the car.

_____Wear something that makes you feel good. Everybody has certain clothes or jewelry that they enjoy wearing. These are the things to wear when you need to comfort yourself.

_____Get some little things done. It always helps you feel better if you accomplish something, even if it is a very small thing. Think of some easy things to do that don’t take much time. Then do them. Here are some ideas: clean out one drawer, put five pictures in a photo album, dust a book case, read a page in a favorite book, do a load of laundry, cook yourself something healthful, send someone a card.

_____Learn something new. Think about a topic that you are interested in but have never explored. Find some information on it in the library. Check it out on the Internet. Go to a class. Look at something in a new way. Read a favorite saying, poem, or piece of scripture, and see if you can find new meaning in it.

____ Do a reality check. Checking in on what is really going on rather than responding to your initial “gut reaction” can be very helpful. For instance, if you come in the house and loud music is playing, it may trigger the thinking that someone is playing the music just to annoy you. The initial reaction is to get really angry with them. That would make both of you feel awful. A reality check gives the person playing the loud music a chance to look at what is really going on. Perhaps the person playing the music thought you wouldn’t be in until later and took advantage of the opportunity to play loud music. If you would call upstairs and ask him to turn down the music so you could rest, he probably would say, “Sure!” It helps if you can stop yourself from jumping to conclusions before you check the facts.

_____ Be present in the moment. This is often referred to as mindfulness. Many of us spend so much time focusing on the future or thinking about the past that we miss out on fully experiencing what is going on in the present. Making a conscious effort to focus your attention on what you are doing right now and what is happening around you can help you feel better. Look around at nature. Feel the weather. Look at the sky when it is filled with stars.

_____Stare at something pretty or something that has special meaning for you. Stop what you are doing and take a long, close look at a flower, a leaf, a plant, the sky, a work of art, a souvenir from an adventure, a picture of a loved one, or a picture of yourself. Notice how much better you feel after doing this.

_____Play with children in your family or with a pet. Romping in the grass with a dog, petting a kitten, reading a story to a child, rocking a baby, and similar activities have a calming effect which translates into feeling better.

_____Do a relaxation exercise. There are many good books available that describe relaxation exercises. Try them to discover which ones you prefer. Practice them daily. Use them whenever you need to help yourself feel better. Relaxation tapes which feature relaxing music or nature sounds are available. Just listening for 10 minutes can help you feel better.

_____Take a warm bath. This may sound simplistic, but it helps. If you are lucky enough to have access to a Jacuzzi or hot tub, it’s even better. Warm water is relaxing and healing.

_____Expose yourself to something that smells good to you. Many people have discovered fragrances that help them feel good. Sometimes a bouquet of fragrant flowers or the smell of fresh baked bread will help you feel better.

_____Listen to music. Pay attention to your sense of hearing by pampering yourself with delightful music you really enjoy. Libraries often have records and tapes available for loan. If you enjoy music, make it an essential part of every day.

_____Make music. Making music is also a good way to help yourself feel better. Drums and other kinds of musical instruments are popular ways of relieving tension and increasing well-being. Perhaps you have an instrument that you enjoy playing, like a harmonica, kazoo, penny whistle, or guitar.

_____Sing. Singing helps. It fills your lungs with fresh air and makes you feel better. Sing to yourself. Sing at the top of your lungs. Sing when you are driving your car. Sing when you are in the shower. Sing for the fun of it. Sing along with favorite records, tapes, compact discs, or the radio. Sing the favorite songs you remember from your childhood.

Perhaps you can think of some other things you could do that would help you feel better.

 

 

A SAMHSA publication

How to talk to your child about traumatic events



Part of parenting is protecting your child and helping them navigate difficult situations, organize their thoughts and express their emotions. One of the most challenging conversations a parent can have with their child is one that involves tragedy. In this digital era, children are exposed to everything. It is no longer an option to hide the ugly happenings in the world from your child. The images and the news is everywhere. There is no easy way to talk to your child about traumatic events but there are things you can do to help them cope with what they are seeing, hearing and feeling.

Here are some tips to facilitate conversation:

  • Keep in mind your child’s developmental stage and personality when exchanging thoughts and information. Elementary school children do not need elaborate explanations. They are looking for simple answers and reassurance that they will be safe. High school kids on the other hand may want details, facts and explanations and a space to vent safely.
  • Listen first, ask questions later. Give them the opportunity to express their concerns and feelings about what has occurred. Respond with empathy. Don’t make assumptions. Answer their questions honestly, even if that means “I don’t know.” And remember to ask them how you could help?
  • Validate their feelings. Let them know it’s ok to feel the way they do. Normalize their feelings by saying, “ It’s normal to feel sad, angry or scared when tragedy occurs.“
  • Don’t obsess about talking about the tragedy. Let them know that you are available to listen and answer any questions as they arise.
  • Balance grief with positive memories.
  • Assure them that there are good people in the world working hard to keep them safe and fix the problem.
  • Empower them to speak up to teachers, legislature, peers. Remind them that their voice and feelings matter.
  • Encourage self care and model it. Self care can include meditating, yoga, journaling, expression through art, exercising, eating healthy, sleeping well and focusing on the positive.

Listening and talking is the key to a healthy connection between you and your child.

I can say this instead…



 

Instead of …                                     Try thinking…

 

– I’m not good at this                          – What am I missing?

 

– I’m awesome at this                         – I’m on the right track

 

– I give up!                                           – I’ll use a different strategy

 

– This is too hard                                – This may take some time & effort

 

– I can’t do math                                – I’m going to train my brain in math

 

– I made a mistake                             – Mistakes help me improve

 

– Its’ good enough                            – Is this really my best work?

 

– They don’t like me                         – I don’t need anyone’s approval

 

– I’m too impulsive                          – I’m very spontaneous

 

 

 

 

Deep Breathing



Proper breathing helps your body break away from the “fight or flight” response. When you are stressed, your breath becomes more rapid and shallow. Deep breathing allows the body to return to a state of calmness and delivers oxygen throughout the body as it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.

Deep breathing is a technique that can be used anywhere and anytime. It is best to practice it in a calm state so that when you are stressed, the technique can be easily implemented.

 

Belly Breathing

  • Lie on your back. Put your hands on your belly.
  • With your mouth closed, breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 4 as your belly expands.
  • Hold the breath for a count of 2.
  • Slowly exhale the breath though your mouth as your belly retracts.
  • Repeat several times.

 

Making it fun for children

  • Blowing a pinwheel
  • Blowing a feather
  • Blowing bubbles.
  • Placing a stuffed animal on their stomach, while lying down and watching it rise and lower with each breath.
  • Add imagery while inhaling, such as a colorful balloon filling up with air and then letting the air out of the balloon upon exhale.
  • Add a phrase, such as “ breathe in the good, breathe out the bad.”

 

 

Managing a panic attack



A panic attack is a sudden episode of overwhelming fear that occurs spontaneously. It is a short period of intense anxiety, often lasting several minutes. It can happen at any moment, whether asleep or awake. It can be emotionally debilitating and terrifying, but not life threatening.

A panic attack is due to high levels of adrenaline. Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, is a hormone and neurotransmitter that activates the fight or flight mechanism in your body. When excess adrenaline is pumped into your bloodstream, you may start to feel the symptoms of a panic attack until all the adrenaline released is used up by your autonomic nervous system. When there is no more surplus adrenaline in your bloodstream, the panic attack subsides.

 

These are some symptoms that you may experience during a panic attack:

  • Light-headedness
  • Numbness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Tingling
  • Shortness of breath or smothering
  • Stomach problems
  • Shaking
  • Chills/heat
  • Dizziness
  • Flushes
  • Fear of dying
  • Chest pains
  • Racing heart/palpitations
  • Feeling of unreality
  • Feeling of choking
  • Fear of losing control

 

What can you do?

  1. Sit or lay down. Ground yourself.
  2. Think, “This will pass” “Even though I am very scared and uncomfortable, I am going to be ok”, “ I am not in danger”, “ This is not life-threatening”
  3. Concentrate on your breathing, and breathe deeply and slowly in through your nose for four seconds and out through your mouth for six seconds. Keep doing this for a few  minutes. This will bring the needed oxygen back into your body. It is best to practice this first while you are feeling calm rather than wait until you are anxious
  4. Some people prefer to close their eyes and others prefer to look around and notice all the typical things happening around them to distract themselves.
  5. Cold water and ice works well with panic attacks. Sip cold water, put a cold cloth on the base of your neck, splash ice water on your face\
  6.  As a lifestyle, cut out coffee, tea, soda and start a stress reduction practice. Your nervous system will thank you for it.
  7.  Diet can affect anxiety levels. Talk to your doctor about nutrition therapy and how vitamins and minerals can support your autonomic nervous system
  8.  If panic attacks occur often, you may want to consider medication.

 

 

Exercise Your Brain



Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise. Regularly exercising your brain with mentally stimulating novel activities helps brain function (thinking skills and memory) and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The best brain exercises challenge you to try something new and develop new neural pathways.

There are many ways you can exercise your brain. You could try:

  • Attending lectures to learn something new.
  • Playing board or card games.
  • Enrolling in classes in your local adult education center.
  • A hobby such as painting, carpentry, sewing etc.
  • Reading different genres of books or magazines.
  • Learn to dance, play a musical instrument or speak a new language.
  • Join a club or community group.
  • Find a volunteer position that allows you to meet new people and experience new situations.
  • Create a jigsaw puzzle.
  • Perform a task with your non-dominant hand.
  • Change your routines. This will help you refocus your attention.
  • And of course, continue your physical exercise. Exercise improves circulation and sends oxygen to your brain.