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Entries from December 2006

Stop, Drop, Roll & Reassure

One of the biggest causes for relationship distress and an upset mood stems from our very own thoughts. We truly create our reality. Often the troublesome thought processes are so subtle and automatic that we never see the snowball forming until it's too late. We just see ourselves react in anger, judgment, accusation, disgust, panic, sadness and/or despair. Sadly, repeated forms of the same snowball formation (where one subtle thought leads to another and another until it forms an intense reaction) creates neural pathways in the brain. It then becomes easier and easier to jump to the same conclusion when presented with a situation or person (hence, the term "trigger"). Here's a simple example. You walk in a classroom and discover there's a test that day. You're not prepared. You begin to have thoughts that you're going to fail. You're beating yourself up for not being prepared and forgetting there's an exam. You continue this until you're absolutely terrified and frozen when the exam touches your desk. You're so scared that you don't even remember to put your name on the exam, let alone remembering the answers to the simple questions. We all have the ability to react like this in a variety of situations...especially with our loved ones. So, what to do? Just as you would if you caught on fire (Stop, Drop & Roll), STOP your snowball, DROP the negative and punishing self-talk from your mind, and ROLL with the situation via a positive perspective. Lastly, REASSURE yourself. STOP, DROP, ROLL & REASSURE...

5 Ways Out of Anxiety

Want a quick cure for anxiety? Focus on the here and now. Anxiety usually arises when you leave the moment. Maybe you're having some fear about the future. You may also have flooding thoughts from the past. The upside is that anxiety can be a signal for you to make a change, but making that change in an anxious state of mind isn't always the wisest course of action. Moreover, you may feel just plain stuck and overwhelmed. So again, get back into the here and now. It'll clear your mind, leading to better decision-making. How do you get into the here and now you ask? Ahhh, let your five senses lead the way--taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing. Take a deep breath and try this experiment. Swallow (even better with a sip of water) and notice the taste. Feel your skin by touching a soft fabric. Notice your surroundings and count the number of colors around you (try it now--look--I just counted 16 colors in one corner). Finally, listen to the noises around you (the heating fan is blowing above me and the sound of the keys is almost melodic, okay, maybe cacophonic). Try this often and let your senses provide you with a relaxing vacation from your anxious thoughts. (We'll talk about more about those thoughts next time...) Peace.

Easing Pain through Balance

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) lists 15 million adults as impacted by major depression each year. Treating depression is a serious matter, especially because it is so isolating for the person experiencing it. It's also a paradox because it tends to bubble up from unfelt and denied pain. Often the pain stems from assaults to one's self-worth. Where do you derive your sense of self-worth? Is it from an intimate relationship? Your career? Your children's success? The amount of money in your bank account (high and low)? Your spirituality? This is where I urge you make a self-assessment. Pay attention to the influences that affect your self-esteem. Are they balanced or are all your eggs in one basket? I've seen people fall apart when they've lost a relationship or a job. Their sense of self was completely tied to that one aspect and they didn't know who they were anymore. It's a wake-up call for growth, but make a self-assessment even if you're not experiencing that devastation right now. Divvy up your self-esteem eggs into many baskets. Place the most in your own basket. That's balance.

De-stressing Your December

The last month of 2006 has arrived and one cannot ignore the holidays and New Year's Eve accompanying it. Often portrayed as a joyous time, the season seems to trigger sadness and grief for many. Undoubtedly stress is high. Therefore this month's posts will be dedicated to discussing methods for de-stressing your December. This month can be high for heart attacks, so check out these heart warning signs by the American Heart Association. For complete heart disease and stroke statistics, check out their 2006 report. While suicide is not highest during this time of year (it's actually highest in the spring), it's still a serious issue. Check out the Center for Disease Control's suicide fact sheet. Further posts will expand on tips for de-stressing, but remember my 4 S's for now--Self-Express (talk, journal, art), Self-Physical-Care (eat healthy, drink water, avoid drugs and numbing self with alcohol, get plenty of sleep, exercise), Self-Emotional-Care (honor your feelings, love yourself and quiet the inner critical voice, allow laughter, find forgiveness, cultivate an attitude of appreciation) and Social Support (accept help from friends, group members, neighbors, community members, support groups, church members, etc.). Last thing, take December (and life!) day by day...