Category: Mental Health

stressed eldery man holding his head

Stress In Seniors

By Guest Blogger Christian Worstell

   

Too much stress can be bad for anyone, but safeguarding against the impact of stress for seniors is particularly important. Identifying signs of stress in seniors and taking action to reduce that stress can be critical to their mental, emotional, and physical health.

How Stress Affects Seniors

While frequent stress isn’t beneficial for anyone, it is particularly concerning for seniors. The root of the problem has to do with the functioning of seniors’ brains and immune systems.

As we age, our brain loses the ability to efficiently regulate stress hormones. The rise of stress hormones such as cortisol can eventually lead to severe health problems such as damage to the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for retrieving memories. And this kind of damage has been linked to stress-related memory loss in older populations.

Also, our immune system over time loses its defense mechanisms and is less efficient at fighting off stress-related illnesses such as increased inflammation. As a result, seniors are more vulnerable to the negative effects of stress such as heart problems, dental issues, and stomach problems, to name just a few.

Another thing to note is that seniors tend to have a harder time coping with stress than younger adults.

Unfortunately, there are stressful elements in the lives of most seniors that are hard to avoid. For example, while some seniors may be dealing with the stress of losing a close friend or family member, others may be taking on the stress of caregiving for a spouse while dealing with their own health problems.

The negative health implications of stress for seniors is clear, but the outlook does not have to be a bleak one. There are numerous steps seniors can take to reduce the impact of stress in their lives.

Signs of Stress in Seniors

The signs of stress in seniors are similar to those of people of all ages. The difference is that in senior populations, the signs may be misinterpreted as simply normal parts of aging.

This is a mistake, and when older adults begin to suffer from such symptoms, it is important to look to stress reduction as well as considering whether other conditions could be responsible.

Possible signs of stress in seniors can include:

  • Insomnia or irregular sleeping patterns
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Poor concentration
  • Changes in appetite

It is important for family members, caregivers and seniors themselves to recognize that stress and depression are not just a normal part of aging. Stress and depression can cause confusion and memory loss that may look like the early stages of dementia.

Older adults may be less likely to talk openly about the stress they are experiencing. It is important to be alert to changes in the behavior of seniors and realize that stress could be at the root of those changes.

Tips for Stress Reduction in Seniors

The good news for seniors is that there are many avenues available for stress reduction. Below are some of the most effective.

  1. Exercise

Exercise can help with stress relief in people of all ages, and seniors are no exception. Exercise in seniors can be tailored to their ability. Some seniors may still be able to engage in more strenuous exercises, but there are also many modified exercise programs available for seniors at most levels of physical ability.

In addition to stress reduction, some types of exercise can offer specific physical benefits that are important to senior health. For example, yoga can improve balance, lower blood pressure, increase bone strength and help with blood circulation among many other benefits.

  1. Getting Involved

Senior isolation can be both a source and symptom of stress for seniors, but becoming involved in volunteer activities, church groups, activities offered at a senior center or engaging with people in other ways can significantly reduce that stress. Some colleges offer reduced or even free tuition for seniors.

Rather than seeing retirement and the senior years as a time to step back from involvement, seniors can take this opportunity to finally pursue interests they had to set aside in their working years.

  1. Therapy and Lifestyle Changes

Like people of all ages, seniors suffering from stress may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation and other approaches that focus on changing thought patterns.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting enough sleep can also be critical aspects of reducing stress.

  1. Getting Help

Some seniors may still wish to remain in their home but may need help with some tasks such as household chores, yard work or grocery shopping and meal preparation. Struggling with these tasks can be a source of stress. There may be programs in your community specifically geared toward seniors that offer these services.

Stress and the problems it causes for seniors are not an inevitable part of aging. By recognizing and addressing the signs of stress in seniors, caregivers and seniors can take steps to ensure that these years are as full and rewarding as the ones that preceded them.

 

Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.

Guest Blogger Christian Worstell
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Being Authentic When You Feel Imperfect

By Dr. Matthew Welsh J.D., Ph.D – Guest Blogger

Founder of Spiritual Media Blog

https://www.spiritualmediablog.com/

One of my life goals is to be authentic. Initially, this may seem or sound simple. Being authentic simply means to be yourself, speak your truth, or be true to yourself. However, one of the hardest parts about being authentic is recognizing that I am not perfect. Thus, part of being authentic is giving myself permission to be imperfect.

This has been a struggle for me at times. I strive for perfection, have high goals for myself, and push myself beyond what most would believe to be comfortable thresholds. The advantages of this are that I have become extremely discipline with how I spend my time and my behavior, I often achieve my goals, and when I fall short I of my goals I am still able to feel good about my results.

The Downside Of Perfectionism

However, the down side of striving for perfection is that when I fall short in ANY aspect of my life, then I am at risk of not being happy with myself or feeling unsatisfied. Additionally, I can be excessively hard on myself when I don’t reach my goals. Further, I often put so much pressure on myself that it is difficult for me to enjoy the inevitable ups and downs, twists and turns, and zigs and zags that come with living life and being a human.

Part of the antidote for this is recognize that in order for me to be authentic, I must give myself permission to be imperfect and accept myself for who I am at this moment in time and accept the current circumstances of life.This does not mean lowering standards or not trying to change your circumstances. It is simply accepting where you are in this moment, feeling good about the progress you have made in some areas of your life and recognizing that you would prefer to change other areas of your life.  Helpful thoughts to aid in this process include:

  1. My self-worth encompasses more than my external circumstances (e.g., weight, financial worth, career, relationships)

 

  1. My invisible self is shining right now and worthy of love

 

  1. I am going to give myself permission to be happy, even if everything is not exactly how I would like it to be in my life right now

 

  1. I may not prefer my current circumstances, but I am willing to accept them.

Accept The Imperfections

Plus, when we fight our current circumstances, then that often leads to unhelpful thoughts such as:

I should/must/need to have more money, improved relationships, or better body in order to be happy, let myself relax and accept myself for who I am.

This distracts us from being in tune with our higher self or spirit. Plus, our self worth and attraction is often viewed by others to be completely different than how we view ourselves when we are demanding perfection. Finally, if we really want to be authentic, then it can help to learn to accept ourselves for our strengths and imperfections.

Peace,

Dr. Matthew Welsh J.D., Ph.D

Founder of Spiritual Media Blog

Spiritual Media Blog is a website that features guest posts, articles, interviews, and reviews about spirituality, psychology, and inspirational entertainment. Please visit http://www.spiritualmediablog.com for more information

Dr. Matthew Welsh J.D., Ph.D. is the founder of Spiritual Media Blog. After graduating from law school Dr. Welsh created Spiritual Media Blog to be a source of inspirational content, media, and entertainment. He began his career in Hollywood working for an entertainment agency, the William Morris Agency, and then as a trial lawyer for the Department of Child Services in Indiana. He realized that he was not happy working as a lawyer. So, he quit his job as a lawyer to pursue his calling to become a psychologist and obtained his PhD in Psychology. He now works as a full-time psychologist. Spiritual Media Blog is a creative outlet for his passions related to psychology, spirituality, and inspirational entertainment. His hope for Spiritual Media Blog is that it provides you with content that is practical, inspirational, and entertaining.

 

 

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vintage drawing of sections of brain

I Endorse Buddhist Psychology

Buddhism – Religion or Psychology Theory?

Psychology theories provide explanations of emotional and cognitive patterns to predict the trajectory of “normal” mental health development. After enough data has been collected and analyzed, reliable-ish predictions can be made about “normal” developmental patterns. After a consensus is reached on what constitutes  “normal” and “abnormal” behavior,  clusters of abnormal are categorized and mental health diagnosis or labels are born. From the various clusters of mental health diagnosis, mental health treatments are formulated.

Based on this criterion, Buddhism could rightfully be re-designated from a word religion to a theory of psychology.  Non-secular Buddhist teachings illuminates maladaptive psychological patterns and the source of those patterns, as well as provide treatment plans to alleviate emotional and mental suffering.

I am a psychotherapist in private practice, specializing in mood disorders. I am also a Buddhist who practices daily meditation, mindfulness and studies Buddhist teachings. These non-secular  practices foster many benefits in my life, including improved cognitive and emotional health and better relationships. When I share the same teachings and practices with clients, they realize therapeutic value. I endorse Buddhist Psychology, which to me means using the teachings of Buddhism to label maladaptive mental/emotional/behavioral patterns and draw from the Dharma to formulate treatment plans so that clients can reach their treatment goals and improve their emotional, cognitive, and relational health.

Buddhist Psychology and the Clinical Treatment Plan

The language of Buddhist Dharma is very different than traditional psychology theories. In my humble opinion, Buddhist Psychology is much easier to understand, explain and translate than the psychobabble found in many theories and treatment plans. The treatment plan is the guideline for the client that identifies what changes are needed to reach his or her treatment goals. If done well, the treatment plan provides a realistic road map that identifies opportunities for change that will help the client achieve her goals. Usually this road map contains a combination of emotional, behavioral or cognitive changes.

For example, in treating anxiety, it is helpful to see anxiety producing thoughts as a mental process, rather than an accurate interpretation of your current condition. We all have a human mind. The nature of our mind is to engage in processes such as perceiving, interpreting, analyzing and judging. The slope becomes slippery when we confuse our thoughts with reality. Just because we have a thought does not mean it is accurate. Many times our thoughts are wrong.

When we see a mental process such as an anxiety producing thought as though we are an observer of the thought, we create space between our psyche and the thought. In other words, there is the thinker and something that can observe the thinker.  You can think ‘today is going to be an awful day’ but witness that you just had this thought. As opposed to having the thought ‘today is going to be an awful day’ because blah blah blah. There we go down the slippery slope, believing the thinker and going down the abyss of anxiety producing thinking.

Observers Mind

Women with thought bubbles around her
Buddhist Psychology suggest practices such as observers mind to slow down the mind and reduce anxiety.

Buddhist Psychology suggest witnessing our mental process as though we are an observer. Pannatti insight is a type of observing  that recognizes the name and form of phenomenon.   If one recognizes and keeps their minds eye on the mental process of “worrying” the descension down the rabbit hole of anxiety producing thoughts is reduced. If this process is done often enough, neuro-biology tells us that the neural web that is activated while we are having anxiety producing thoughts becomes disconnected and we change our mental health.

There are countless other applications of Buddhist Psychology. It has been an honor and a privilege to study these teaching. They have benefited me greatly, as well as the many clients who I have had the privilege to work with.

Be in peace – Diane

Diane Chrestman is the author of Zenergy Mindfulness.
Available on Amazon February 2019.

 

 

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drawing of brain with caption energy psychology

Energy Psychology – Fast & Effective Treatment

When I began studying modalities of energy psychology I was skeptical. The techniques and interventions were strange. But after using these techniques I realized energy psychology was fast and effective for many mental health disorders and clients were pleased by the relief they felt.

I wish energy psychology was a mainstream intervention for psychological disorders. Why? Because energy psychology is fast and effective.

These are some physiological changes that occur in the body that explain how energy psychology works.PICTURE OF ALBERT EINSTINE WITH QUOTE THAT EVERYTHING IS ENERGY

  • Tapping on acupuncture points is thought to down regulate areas of the brain such as the limbic system and amygdala which are activated during stress. These points help to turn off the fight/flight/freeze response.
  • Techniques used in energy psychology change brain wave patterns to lower frequencies. These lower frequencies indicate relaxed states and higher frequencies indicate greater arousal.
  • Hormones such as cortisol, are reduced. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” because it is used to activate the body’s stress response during anxiety or panic attacks.
  • Acupuncture points and meridians correspond with connective tissue in the body.  Connective tissue is made of collagen which is a conductor. Therefore, tapping on acupuncture point triggers the endocrine system to regulate the body’s parasympathetic chart showing results for vets with ptsd after using energy psychologynervous system

The simplest answer may be that everything is made of energy and therefore our thoughts and emotions have energy. We can use the interventions offered in energy psychology to instill healthy thought patterns and diminish the intensity of unhealthy thought patterns through the manipulation of the associated energy fields.

The scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of energy psychology is mounting.

103 Studies have been reported in Scientific Peer Reviewed Journals. 102 of those studies reported benefits of Energy Psychology. This chart shows results after 49 vets used an Energy Psychology technique know as tapping. The results are astonishing.

Clients report that not only are the techniques effective but the benefits are lasting.

be in peace – diane

 

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man yelling into megaphone. Text that reads "Affordable counseling in Georgia"

Affordable Counseling in Georgia- Resources & Contact Information

In 2016, 13.9% of Georgia residents were uninsured. For uninsured individuals, comprehensive mental health care, including therapy, is often a rare commodity. The following resource list contains agencies in Georgia who offer affordable counseling, and other mental health services.

       Brenau University 

Low cost clinics are available in two locations: Norcross and Gainesville. In addition to counseling, psychological assessments are available at a reduced rate.

Care and Counseling Center of Georgia

A nonprofit, ecumenical organization offering low cost counseling, pastoral care and education to individuals, couples, and families. They have several counselors in training. Located in Decatur, GA; 404-636-1457.

Emory University Outpatient Psychotherapy Training Program

A Department of Psychiatry training program for new psychiatrists, providing evaluations and individual, couples and group therapy, as well as medication management, on a sliding fee scale; 404-727-0399.

Emory University Psychological Center

A Psychology Department therapy training center providing individual, couples, family and group psychotherapy on a sliding fee sale. They also provide a variety of lower cost psychological testing, including IQ, learning disability, attention deficit disorder and neuropsychological assessment services; 404-727-7451.

Georgia Community Mental Health Service Boards

The publicly funded adult and youth community-based mental health service system in Georgia, provides affordable counseling treatment for mental health and addiction disorders; 404-657-2136.

Georgia State University Psychiatry  Clinic

A Georgia State Department of Psychology training center for new therapists providing individual, couples, family, group psychotherapy, and psychological testing on a sliding fee scale; 404-413-6229.

Heartwork Counseling Center

A therapy training center providing some low fee counseling through their “Project Open Heart” program.  Located in Inman Park, near the Marta station; 404-658-1222.

Jewish Family & Career Services

An organization that provides health, career and human services, including low fee counseling services, serving people of all faiths. They have several locations and counselors in training; 770-677-9305.

Karuna Counseling

Located off Clairmont Road just north of the Emory campus; 404-321-4307.

The Link Counseling Center

A nonprofit community counseling center located in Sandy Springs, 404-256-9797, and Cobb County, 770-541-1114.

Mercer Family Therapy Center

A Mercer University training clinic for new therapists, providing couple and family therapy; located at Piedmont Hospital, near Buckhead; 678-547-6789.

Metropolitan Counseling Services

A nonprofit community counseling center and training center for new therapists providing affordalbe counseling services to adults, located in Atlanta, on Buford Highway; 404-321-0305.

Open Path Collective

Website where therapists register and clients can search for therapist by zip code. This site is for discount sessions $30.00-$50.00 per session. Client’s must pay an initial registration fee of 50$. Individual therapist set their own prices for their counseling services.

Sage Center, Sage Therapy and Education Partnership (STEP Program)

The Mission of the Sage Center is to promote comprehensive wellness in the community by providing quality support services through counseling, consultation, education, and mentorship to individuals, professionals and organizations. Sage Center is committed to serving with integrity, compassion and respect in a balanced and collaborative environment. Reduced fee counseling services available now between $40 – $95. Clients seeking services through the STEP program may complete a short application at www.sagecenteratlanta.com that will help identify the counselor that can best meet the client’s needs and also determine fee. For more information or to inquire about services, please visit www.sagecenteratlanta.comor call Sage Center at 404-419-4221 Extension 103. Sage Center is conveniently located in North Atlanta near interstates 85 and 285 inside the perimeter.

The Training & Counseling Center at St. Luke’s (TACC)

An outreach of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church serving people of all faiths, providing sliding fee scale. Located in downtown Atlanta just south of Crawford Long Hospital off of Courtland Street; 404-876-6266.

Authentic-Life Counseling does not have first hand experience working with any of these agencies.

The reference list of agencies offering affordable counseling in Georgia has been provided as a resource.

Special thanks to Allyce Wellons, psychotherapist, who originally posted this content.

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confused, indecisive woman holding a ball that says Yes and one that says No

Responding to Wishy-Washy People

If you love a person who is wish-washy, unreliable and commitment-phobic (WWUCP), I feel your pain. Many people feel your pain. The unreliable person is a far to common complaint.  We give a pass to serial no-shows, last minute change of plans, and an inability to make a commitment.  Because of the passive-aggressive nature of the WWCUP actions, we are made to feel unjustified in expressing our unhappiness with the constant disappointment.

We should recognize that trying to cultivate a meaningful relationship with unreliable people has a negative impact our mental health. It is not good for us. It is time to respond to the Wishy-Washy, Unreliable and Commitment-Phobic People (WWUCP) in your life.

Stop Feeling Guilty About Setting A Boundary.

If a friend or family member was stealing from you, you would set a boundary and put a stop to it. If you do not, you are enabling their behavior.

Unreliability and an inability to make a commitment is a passive-aggressive form of theft. It steals your time which is a precious commodity.

Time manipulation is often tolerated because of the passive-aggressive nature. We don’t see it as a form of disrespect and theft, but it is.

Stop Accepting The Never Ending Excuses

We all have busy lives. Your time is not more valuable than mine. Unreliable people cancel with weak excuses. Don’t accept them. Weak excuses include canceling plans at the last minute because “Something else came along” or “I changed my mind at the last minute” is more than inconsiderate, it is disrespectful.

lady sitting at river bank
Social isolation and loneliness are one of the effects of having unreliable people as friends.

Call Out Minimizing

WCCUPS friends and family members are great at minimizing their behaviors. “What is the big deal?” “You could have still gone without me.” “Why are you getting so upset?” are familiar justifications. Minimizing their inconsiderate behavior while attempting to shine a light of hard-to-please, demanding, and needy behavior on you.     

Opportunity Cost

Often used in business, an opportunity cost is defined as –  A benefit, profit, or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else. Since every resource (land, money, time, etc.) can be put to alternative uses, every action, choice, or decision has an associated opportunity cost.

Your time is valuable, and when it is manipulated, unreliable people make you pay an opportunity cost.

Social Isolation

Loneliness and social isolation has been linked to depression, low-self esteem and shame. If you are experiencing lack of social contact because of WCCUPS’s manipulation of your time, you should understand these mental health implications. It is time for you to set a boundary.

Setting Boundaries with Inconsiderate People

Don’t Wait

You should feel confident and assured when setting a boundary. You are not being mean or inconsiderate by expressing your feelings and insisting on respect. The longer you tolerate the WCUUPS behavior the more resentful you will become. Inevitably this leads to you expressing how you feel when you are angry. Don’t wait.

Boundary Setting With WWUCP

If you do not know what to say, use this basic boundary setting format. It allows you to express how you feel while minimizing the risk of creating defensiveness.   

“I feel blank when you do blank.”

Examples:

I feel manipulated when you cancel our plans at the last minute.

I feel sad that I missed the opportunity to go out and have fun on my only day off.

Use Appropriate Levels of Firmness When Setting Boundaries

Start with a lower level of firmness and increase as necessary.

A lower level of firmness might include explaining your feelings of disappointment. Lifting the firmness level up a little would include an more assertive body language such as raising your voice slightly, changing the tone. Be mindful that when you set a boundary you never use an apologetic tone. Use a tone of voice which is confident and assured but kind. Give the WCUUP the benefit of the doubt that they do not understand the impact of their behaviors.

Ask for what you want and need in terms of commitment and reliability. For example, canceling plans at the last minute without a good reason is frustrating.    

Use Higher Levels of Firmness When Necessary

After determining your needs and asking for what wait to see how they respond. If your needs and desires continue to be ignored you have some tough decisions to make. This may include limiting contact and declining future invitations. The relationship may only be able to continue in a  superficial manner. You may need to face the fact that it is time to find new friends.

 

I hope this was helpful. Please leave a comment below and tell me how you are affected by WWUCP’s.    Be in peace – diane

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Santa Clause wearing boxing gloves

Surviving Christmas in a Dysfunctional Family

Visions of the perfect story-book holiday is a particularly difficult idea for many people.  Surviving Christmas in dysfunctional families requires us to pull out all the tools we have learned in therapy so that we are not triggered by mal-adaptive thinking and emotional patterns.

 Let This Dose of Encouragement Strengthen You

You have probably survived a lot already and will survive another Christmas too. Strengths, capabilities and wisdom are in you. Feel them and know that they are in you. Access your strengths now. In the words of the remarkable Louse Hayes:

“You have the power to heal your life, and you need to know that. We think so often that we are helpless, but we’re not. We always have the power of our minds…Claim and consciously use your power.”
― Louise L. Hay

 

  • Create Your Own Traditions – Surviving Christmas in dysfunctional families requires an authentic expression of new traditions. We do not have to engage in traditional rituals that do not work for us. If traditional family dinners or family visits create arguing and fighting, you might consider not participatichristmas tradition woman sitting in front of Christmas treeng. Emotions run high during Christmas and maladaptive patterns run rampant. If Christmas creates the perfect storm for family members to act at their worst, give yourself permission to not participate.

 

  • Be Aware of Your Expectations – For years I tried to create an ideal Christmas despite a great deal of dysfunction in my family. Of course, after the “big event” was over, I felt exhausted, anxious and sad. I had to accept that my expectations were irrational. An idyllic Christmas was not in my future. Once I accepted this reality, the holidays became much easier.

 

  • Set Boundaries – Surviving Christmas in dysfunctional families involves understanding your personal limits when you are exposed to mal-adaptive or abusive behaviors by family members. Perhaps that line in the sand is when too much alSleeping puppy with santa hatcohol is consumed, or passive aggressive actions are directed your way. Know what your limits are, and plan your escape strategy. Perhaps setting boundaries is limiting the time you spend with dysfunctional family members, or declining to participate in gift exchanges. Know your limits and protect your sanity.

 

  • Lean into Your Coping and Self-Care StrategiesIf you come from a dysfunctional family, hopefully you have developed coping skills and self-care strategies to get you through the holidays. Lean into them or develop new ones. Be creative and give yourself permission to do what you need to do. Practice self-compassion.

If you have established a new traditions or coping strategies that has helped you survive Christmas in your dysfunctional family, please share your wisdom. It may help those of us who are still trying to master the art of Surviving Christmas in a dysfunctional family.

Be in peace – diane

 

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the word Anxiety in text

Anxiety Treatment

Top 5 Approaches

Although anxiety is classified as mood disorder, there are physical and cognitive (thinking) patterns that maintain the condition. Effective anxiety treatment not only addresses the anxious mood, but also the physical and cognitive aspects that support the anxiety.

At Authentic-Life Counseling, anxiety treatment utilizes traditional Western medicine and non-traditional Eastern healing techniques.  The top five anxiety treatment approaches include:

5. Anxiety treatment – Addressing the Physical Aspect

Woman lying down on bed.
Body relaxation techniques such as progressive body scans are effective in anxiety treatment. 

When our body relaxes our mind relaxes. Many techniques are effective in calming the body. Progressive body relaxation is an example of an anxiety treatment frequently used to relax the body. Many guided mediation apps and YouTube videos are available to teach and guide individuals in learning this technique. The important thing to remember is to practice.  The goal is to train the Central Nervous System to calm down so that the fight/flight/freeze response in the body is not so easily triggered.

4. Anxiety treatment – Life-Style Assessment and Changes

This may be a no-brainer but, anxiety treatment must include a thorough assessment of life style patterns. Poor sleep hygiene, exercise habits and diet contribute to the anxiety epidemic. Most people fail to honestly evaluate their life-style habits. Formulating a plan to make changes begins with setting small goals. Be mindful of realistic pacing to reach your goals. Ask for support from your family and friends. Be aware of your accomplishments and reinforce them in a meaningful way.

Woman doing yoga
Life-style habits including diet, exercise and sleep patterns are important considerations in anxiety treatment.

3. Anxiety treatment – The cognitive Aspect

Mindfulness.  Many anxiety producing thoughts project a fear into the future. Mindfulness practice anchors us in the here and now. We are not in the future, we are in the present.  The only place you can touch your life is in the present moment. In the present moment you can begin to notice the coming and going of sensory input. Your eyes, ears, and body are perceiving sights, sounds and physical sensations. Just let the sensations come and go.  Something in you is witnessing the sensations. This is your consciousness or observers mind. Try to be a mindful witness of the present moment. Do not add anything to the present moment.

2. Anxiety treatment – Meditation

woman meditating on bed
Regular meditation practice reduce the symptoms associated with many mental health disorders

I teach all clients how to meditate, because I believe that meditation improves mental health. The intensity of  racing thoughts determines how to begin your meditation practice. The easiest level of meditation is guided meditation. After learning to relax and concentrate during guided meditation, practice evolves into  sitting meditation with a mantra. The purpose of a mantra is to stabilize and concentrate the mind, and relax the body. More difficult still, is releasing the mantra and sitting in observer’s mind. In this meditation practice we let mental processes arise, with acceptance and observance. We do not let the content of the thoughts hi-jack our emotional reaction. The thoughts are simply mental processes.         

1 Anxiety treatment – The Subtle Energy System and Energy Psychology

These acupuncture points are often used in Energy Psychology treatments to reduce anxiety.

In the East, the subtle energy systems of the body are utilized to support healing. The subtle energy systems include the Chakra and Meridian Pathways. Energy Psychology is an evidenced based treatment which combines Eastern subtle energy healing with Western psychological modalities such as exposure therapy or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are.  In the treatment of anxiety, the intensity of anxiety producing thoughts are reduced by moving the subtle energy associated with and maintaining the anxiety producing thought. Conversely, reinforcing belief systems to promote our strengths and capabilities are strengthened through the manipulation of the subtle energy systems.

be in peace – diane

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mindulness Christmas shopping

Mindful Christmas Shopping

Of all the clinical interventions that I might use, I find mindfulness to be one of the most effective for clients. Using Mindfulness vs. not, is akin to using a navigation system or not. Mindfulness is a constant gentle awareness of where we are and where we are going. It prevents us from getting lost. Even in situations like an overcrowded shopping mall.

While Christmas shopping is a buzz-kill for many of us, you can get transcend the manic energy of it all by practicing Mindful Christmas Shopping.

These tips are useful to strengthen a mindfulness practice during the holidays.

  • KISS – Keep It Simple Sweetie

The key to cultivating mindfulness is simply practice, practice, and more practice. When a person is learning mindfulness, they will often slip in and out of awareness frequently, especially in the beginning. The more they practice they longer they will stay in a state of mindfulness, and the deeper their practice will become.  It is that simple.

  • Practice mindfulness during daily activities such as eating, walking, or driving.

You do not have to be sitting in lotus position in an ashram to practice mindfulness. Try to practice regularly  throughout the day. And Yes, you can even practice Mindful Christmas shopping while you are at the mall

  • Come Back

Be present. The most valuable energy you can give to yourself, relationships, and your work, is your full presence. Multi-tasking does not bring right action or right effort to most situations. It does bring scattered-ness and impatience.

  • Follow your breath. Mindful Christmas Shopping Instruction

Unite your body with your mind. Through mindful breathing to return to the present moment.

  • Use a phone app.

Several mindfulness apps have been made available which can be quite helpful.  My favorite is a mindfulness bell which chimes at specified intervals  to remind me to come back to the present moment.

Mindfulness strategies could be useful to curb any compulsive or obsessive behavior. To apply mindfulness  to  curb compulsive spending an individual might find these strategies useful:

  • Know when you are in a trance.

Being unconsciousness or unaware lends itself to acting on urges in a trance-like state. To be fully in the present moment, one is aware of their actions, perceptions, and feelings.  Know when the energy of compulsive behaviors  rise up. A conscious awareness of the unwanted urges is a critical first step to change.

  • Are you a puppet and your emotions the puppeteer?

Identify the emotional levers manipulating the behavior. Compulsive behaviors often point to unpleasant feelings we are trying to deny or minimize. Feelings that could be a precursor to compulsive spending include boredom, anxiety, or sadness.

  • This too will pass

Realize the nature of Impermanence. Mindfulness points to the impermanent nature of all phenomena. For example, our likes become dislikes and our dislikes become likes. Realize the impermanent nature of desire and attachment. The next purchase that we think we have to have in just a matter of time will become the thing you no longer want.

  • Attaching ethical guidelines to your mindful life

Understand your consumption. Consumer spending is as much an expression of consumption as what you had for breakfast. Who or what are you supporting through your next purchase? Understand that our spending habits influence economics, the environment, and human rights. Consider passing on those purchases which have ridiculously wasteful packaging or limit spending with companies who have notoriously working conditions for their employees.

be in peace – diane

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Mental Health and the 2016 Presidential Election

Your Mental Health and the 2016 Presidential Election

 The Connection Between Your Mental Health and the 2016 Presidential Election

There seems to be a new issue in the offices of many psychotherapist around the country.  People are coming to therapy to discuss the connection between their mental health and the 2017 Presidential election

People are reporting a mental health decline since the election, marked by intense sadness, fear, and anger.

Our relationships with family and friends are taking a hit as well.  The discord in inter-personal relationships make us feel more isolated, invisible and alone which intensifies these emotions.

These  “clinical issues” are certainly not new for therapist.  However, a collective emotional reaction being triggered by a presidential election is a new phenomenon.

If you feel as though your mental health has deteriorated since the presidential election, understanding your reaction, and knowing how to respond with right action and right effort, can help balance and equalize your well-being

Understand Your Emotional Response

If you have been a victim of, or witnessed acts of violence such as sexual assault, bullying or racial discrimination, re-exposure to a similar threat can trigger responses associated with the fight/flight/freeze response such as fear, anger, or sadness. For example, the sexual predatory language used by President Elect Donald Trump may trigger a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder flavored reaction for women who have been sexually assaulted. The same is true for victims of racial discrimination and bulling. The exposure to the recent racially charged acts of violence can trigger a fight/flight/freeze response in those who have been a victim or or witnessed this type of violence.

Empowerment and Healing

If you have felt emotional upset by recent current affairs, this does not make you weak or thin-skinned. Don’t buy into this perspective which only re-victimizes the victim.

Although you may have been victimized, you are still responsible for your own actions, thinking processes and how you regulate your emotions.  

Victims have a responsibility to understand and take care of the part of themselves that is wounded.

When we begin to feel in control again, our sense of autonomy, confidence, and self-mastery is enhanced. Walking a path that empowers, although not easy, is the path which leads to healing.   

What You Can Do?

  • Engage in Self-Care – Do the things that make you feel cared for. Approach yourself with the nurturing love of a mother or father that protects, heals and soothes. Self-care does not mean you must spend a lot of money. Self-care might include  subtle actions such as speaking meaningful words of affirmation and encouragement to yourself.
  • Therapy – Release some of the pain by talking about it. Express your emotions. Therapist are trained to help us understand how we internalize emotions in a hurtful manner such as self-blame. If you cannot talk to a therapist consider a faith leader, a trusted friend or family member who will listen with compassion.
  • Master Yourself – Every long journey begins with the first step. Take the first small step to self-mastery. You do have the capacity to feel in control, safe and connected. Take risk and be willing to try new things. There are others out there who have suffered similar traumas, and like a phoenix, they have risen out of the ashes.
  • Unplug – Many of us have become obsessed with the latest political developments. If watching the news upsets you beyond what might feel like a normal response, take a break. Unplug. You don’t have to put your head in the sand or become uninformed, just take a little break. Instead, allow something uplifting to become the object of your mind such as spiritually uplifting material.

Be in peace – diane

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