Stress and Self-care

LettingGo

With the elections coming up, I have become more and more aware of the state of the world, or at least the state of these United States. Who would have ever though that Donald Trump with be a candidate in a presidential election with a possibility to win? Certainly not me. Just watching these debates and thinking about how much life could possible change if presidential hopeful Donald Trump is elected puts me in an area of fear and stress like no other. Which brings me to my point. In this fast paced rapid world that we live in stress has become a ritual. Being under stress has become as routine as taking a bath or brushing one’s teeth. I can’t tell you the amount of coffee consumed each day or the amount of cigarettes that are smoked each day in an effort to relieve stress. It is important that people understand that stress is just as deadly as any other disease. It is known as the silent killer. Stress will eat away at a person until there is nothing left. Too much of anything can lead to depression and stress is the number one culprit. Having to live with these levels of stress daily make it important to have the tools for self-care and stress management. Self-care includes any intentional action you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health. We tend to only think about self-care when our body are telling us that it is tired, and even then we only focus on the physical. The truth is self-car should be a daily venture and has to very well-rounded in order to be effective. I found and article with some self-care tips that can be done daily in order to relieve stress. This list is below broken down into the three major areas of self-care; self-care for the mind, self-care for the body and self-care for the soul. The list can be viewed below.

Tiny Self-Care Ideas for the Mind

1. Start a compliments file. Document the great things people say about you to read later.
2. Scratch off a lurker on your to-do list, something that’s been there for ages and you’ll never do.
3. Change up the way you make decisions. Decide something with your heart if you usually use your head. Or if you tend to go with your heart, decide with your head.
4. Go cloud-watching. Lie on your back, relax, and watch the sky.
5. Take another route to work. Mixing up your routine in small ways creates new neural pathways in the brain to keep it healthy.
6. Pay complete attention to something you usually do on autopilot, perhaps brushing your teeth, driving, eating, or performing your morning routine.
7. Goof around for a bit. Schedule in five minutes of “play” (non-directed activity) several times throughout your day.
8. Create a deliberate habit, and routinize something small in your life by doing it in the same way each day—what you wear on Tuesdays, or picking up the dental floss before you brush.
9. Fix a small annoyance at home that’s been nagging you—a button lost, a drawer that’s stuck, a light bulb that’s gone.
10. Punctuate your day with a mini-meditation with one minute of awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations; one minute of focused attention on breathing; and one minute of awareness of the body as a whole.
11. Be selfish. Do one thing today just because it makes you happy.
12. Do a mini-declutter. Recycle three things from your wardrobe that you don’t love or regularly wear.
13. Unplug for an hour. Switch everything to airplane mode and free yourself from the constant bings of social media and email.
14. Get out of your comfort zone, even if it’s just talking to a stranger at the bus stop.
15. Edit your social media feeds, and take out any negative people. You can just “mute” them; you don’t have to delete them.

Tiny Self-Care Ideas for the Body

1. Give your body ten minutes of mindful attention. Use the body scan technique to check in with each part of your body.
2. Oxygenate by taking three deep breaths. Breathe into your abdomen, and let the air puff out your stomach and chest.
3. Get down and boogie. Put on your favorite upbeat record and shake your booty.
4. Stretch out the kinks. If you’re at work, you can always head to the bathroom to avoid strange looks.
5. Run (or walk, depending on your current physical health) for a few minutes. Or go up and down the stairs three times.
6. Narrow your food choices. Pick two healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners and rotate for the week.
7. Activate your self-soothing system. Stroke your own arm, or if that feels too weird, moisturize.
8. Get to know yourself intimately. Look lovingly and without judgment at yourself naked. (Use a mirror to make sure you get to know all of you!)
9. Make one small change to your diet for the week. Drink an extra glass of water each day, or have an extra portion of veggies each meal.
10. Give your body a treat. Pick something from your wardrobe that feels great next to your skin.
11. Be still. Sit somewhere green, and be quiet for a few minutes.
12. Get fifteen minutes of sun, especially if you’re in a cold climate. (Use sunscreen if appropriate.)
13. Inhale an upbeat smell. Try peppermint to suppress food cravings and boost mood and motivation.
14. Have a good laugh. Read a couple of comic strips that you enjoy.
15. Take a quick nap. Ten to twenty minutes can reduce your sleep debt and leave you ready for action.

Tiny Self-Care Ideas for the Soul

1. Imagine you’re your best friend. If you were, what would you tell yourself right now? Look in the mirror and say it.
2. Use your commute for a “Beauty Scavenger Hunt.” Find five unexpected beautiful things on your way to work
3. Help someone. Carry a bag, open a door, or pick up an extra carton of milk for a neighbor.
4. Check in with your emotions. Sit quietly and just name without judgment what you’re feeling.
5. Write out your thoughts. Go for fifteen minutes on anything bothering you. Then let it go as you burn or bin the paper.
6. Choose who you spend your time with today. Hang out with “Radiators” who emit enthusiasm and positivity, and not “Drains” whose pessimism and negativity robs energy.
7. Stroke a pet. If you don’t have one, go to the park and find one.
8. Get positive feedback. Ask three good friends to tell you what they love about you.
9. Make a small connection. Have a few sentences of conversation with someone in customer service such as a sales assistant or barista.
10. Splurge a little. Buy a small luxury as a way of valuing yourself.
11. Have a self-date. Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you (reading, your hobby, visiting a museum or gallery, etc.)
12. Exercise a signature strength. Think about what you’re good at, and find an opportunity for it today.
13. Take a home spa. Have a long bath or shower, sit around in your bathrobe, and read magazines.
14. Ask for help—big or small, but reach out.
15. Plan a two-day holiday for next weekend. Turn off your phone, tell people you’ll be away, and then do something new in your own town.

Bard, E. (2015). 45 Simple Self-Care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul. Retrieved 2016, from http://tinybuddha.com/blog/45-simple-self-care-practices-for-a-healthy-mind-body-and-soul/

Laughter

Laughter

More and more research has proven what we already instinctively know – “laughter is the best medicine.”   A study was conducted with volunteers who watch a 10-minute, humorous video clip while connected to an EEG monitor (to measure the brain wave frequencies).  The results showed an association between laughter and  increased gamma wave activity.  This is significant because gamma waves, the fastest of all brain waves, help the brain perform at peak performance.  These brain waves help different parts of the brain function together more efficiently.  So laughter helps the brain get a total-brain workout!  Indeed more research needs to be conducted, but laughter can be a powerful antidote for increased mental health because it is free, convenient, and easy to implement.

Try to create daily opportunities for laughter in your life – watch a funny comedy show or movie, watch funny YouTube videos, hit the comedy club, read the newspaper funny section, ask someone about the funniest thing that happened this week, laugh at yourself,  or take time out for fun activities with friends and family.

Cheers to more laughter!

Laughter

Laughter

More and more research has proven what we already instinctively know – “laughter is the best medicine.”   A study was conducted with volunteers who watch a 10-minute, humorous video clip while connected to an EEG monitor (to measure the brain wave frequencies).  The results showed an association between laughter and  increased gamma wave activity.  This is significant because gamma waves, the fastest of all brain waves, help the brain perform at peak performance.  These brain waves essentially help different parts of the brain function together more efficiently.  So laughter helps the brain get a total-brain workout!  Indeed more research needs to be conducted, but laughter can be a powerful antidote for increased mental health because it is free, convenient, and easy to implement.

Try to create daily opportunities for laughter in your life – watch a funny comedy show or movie, watch funny YouTube videos, hit the comedy club, read the newspaper funny section, ask someone about the funniest thing that happened this week, laugh at yourself,  or take time out for fun activities with friends and family.

Cheers to more laughter!

Unhelpful Thinking Styles – Part I

Unhelpful Thinking Styles - Part 1There are 10 unhelpful thinking styles that Centre for Clinical Interventions (www.cci.health.wa.gov.au) describes that we experience when we are feeling an unhelpful emotion, such as depression or anxiety.  In this post, we will look at the first 3 unhelpful thinking styles.  As you read this post and the preceding two posts about the thinking styles, you will find that some of the styles overlap and that you may have experienced a style one time or another.

1. Mental Filter.

This thinking style can also be considered “tunnel vision”.  Mental filter occurs when you focus on a specific word or phrase and ignore the rest of what was mentioned.  For example, let’s say your boss examines and critiques a project that you completed.  Your boss gives high praises and shows authentic interest in your work, but when he/she mentions that the project could use more research information or should have been turned in a week ago , you ignore all the positives and focus on the negatives.  If you continue to focus on the negative aspects of the critique, your mood may and often does, decrease.  Take the tunnel vision off and view the communication with all aspects – positives and negatives before determining how to react.

2. Jumping to Conclusions.

Do you find yourself often coming up with conclusions or solutions before receiving all the information?  There are two ways that we jump to conclusions: mind reading and predictive thinking.  Mind reading is when you make assumptions that are based on you.  For example, if a friend yawns while having a discussion with you, you may interpret that what you are saying is “boring”.  We tend to jump to this conclusion when we are feeling and thinking of ourselves.  Any other time, you may interpret the yawn as the individual needing oxygen to the brain (in actuality).  When you use predictive thinking, you are predicting what will happen.  One of the biggest predictive thinking statements that I hear from my clients is “I already know what they will say if I was to call them.  They will just yell and cuss at me.”  That may be a valid possibility, but you are already setting yourself up for failure before even attempting the phone call.  Check in with your emotions before jumping to conclusions – it will help you from the fall.

3. Personalization.

Personalization is largest from ages 3-5, when the world revolves around the child.  However, even as adults we can slip into personalization at times.  For example, your child may have received a C in one of his/her classes at school.  You may think “It is my fault that he/she did not study more”, “I should have assisted my child better” or “I’m a failure as a parent”.  Having these thoughts can be detrimental, because you are allowing yourself to take total responsibility for external events.  What were you going to do… take the test for your child?  Taking full 100% responsibility for someone else action is a huge burden and unproductive.  Take a load off and allow yourself to solely accept ownership of what you have in control will lessen the guilt and disappointment.

Read more with Part II soon!

Suicide – 10th Leading Cause of Death

Suicide

It has been fifteen days since the incident and ten days ago when I found out.  The news devastated me when I heard it… a loss of a great individual.  That individual was a past boyfriend.  To be exact, my high school sweetheart.

The last time I contacted him was back in 2002.  However, when I read his obituary and saw his picture, my mind transported me back to our relationship.  All the highs and lows that we experienced as young teenagers in our year and a half relationship.  He was romantic, attentive, kind, highly intelligent and good-looking… everything I wanted in a guy.  Unfortunately, the relationship did not last due to my move to San Antonio.

So, when I read his obituary ten days ago, I was stunned.  How can someone so well-educated, career-oriented, social and a follower of Christ be gone so soon?  The obituary stated that he died at his home.  No further description.  Of course the worst goes through my mind… suicide.  When I spoke with some mutual friends, they confirmed my suspicions.  How come no one noticed the warning signs?  How come he didn’t receive mental health assistance?  Why would a so-called Christian commit such an act?  So many questions and no answers…

I felt numb, sad, anxious and concerned, all rolled into one.  I lost countless hours of sleep, experienced panic attacks, lack of concentration at work and clung to my husband as if he was going to die next.  As a counselor, I listen to numerous accounts of suicidal attempts from my clients (and yes, I take them seriously!).  However, this is the first time that suicide has affected me personally.  The loss of someone who I had a deep relationship with is no longer on this earth.

So, in telling my personal account, I’d like to extend to all FFC readers the facts on suicide.  I wish I was the only person that has experienced this loss, but unfortunately, suicide is too common in our society.  Let’s take a stand by educating ourselves about the facts and advocating for those that have had suicidal attempts before it is too late.

Suicide Facts from www.SAVE.org:

– Suicide takes the lives of nearly 40,000 Americans every year.

– Over half of all suicides occur in adult men, ages 25-65.

– Suicide rates in the United States are highest in the spring.

– Over half of all suicides are completed with a firearm.

– For young people 15-24 years old, suicide is the second leading cause of death.

– 80% of people who seek treatment for depression are treated successfully.

– There are an estimated 8 to 25 attempted suicides to 1 completion.

– 1 in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 die by suicide each year.

– Substance abuse is a risk factor for suicide.

– The strongest risk factor for suicide is depression.

– An average of one person dies by suicide every 13.3 minutes. (CDC, AAS).

– There are four male suicides for every female suicide. (CDC, AAS).

– Research has shown medications and therapy to be effective suicide prevention.

– Suicide can be prevented through education and public awareness.

– There are three female suicide attempts for each male attempt. (CDC, AAS).

– According to the Violent Death Reporting System, in 2004 73% of suicides also tested positive for at least one substance (alcohol, cocaine, heroin or marijuana).

Are You Addicted to Gaming Apps?

Are You Addicted to Gaming?

“Download app trivia crack.”

That is the text message I received from a co-worker/friend the other day.  At first, I ignored the text message and thought I don’t need to be sucked into a time-wasting game.  After all, I have avoided downloading any addictive games thus far, so why start?  Until I got bored waiting at the Doctor’s office…

I downloaded Trivia Crack and instantly became drawn in to a never-ending play of Trivial Pursuit.  I admit that I never won a game in Trivial Pursuit, but I am one that enjoys gaining useless knowledge.  So, here I write this article between trivia games.  Am I addicted?  Are you possibly addicted to a game app?

According to www.Video-Game-Addiction.org’s website, these are the top 5 signs showing that you are in need of help with gaming or internet addiction:

1. You are happy when gaming, but immediately your mood shifts to being upset or angry when you have to stop.

2. Your thoughts are distracted with gaming instead of focusing on here-and-now (such as school work, job, family time).

3. You spend more time online or on your phone game app than physically spending time with your friends.

4. When confronted about your excessive amount of time spent on games, you lie or laugh it off.

5. You view your phone, e-mails, game requests in the middle of the night when you find it hard to sleep.

If you find yourself showing any of the following signs, you’re not alone.  There is roughly 10% of individuals that are addicted to some form of gaming.  If you notice yourself doing any of these signs, tell someone who you trust.  Admitting to an addiction is the first step towards recovery and overcoming the addiction.  Seeking professional counseling can assist in freeing yourself from the bond of addiction.  Are you ready to take that first step?  If so, contact Family First Counseling!