Tag: stress

Watching the news is stressing you out

Is Watching the News Stressing You Out?

Watching the news is stressing you out

Images in the news of  police violence, racial tension, domestic and international terrorist attacks, and a divisive Presidential Election are constantly streaming. These images become part of our conscious mind. The result is that 

Watching the news is having a negative affect on our mental health.

I have noticed relationships between family and friends straining and breaking  as we argue and disagree about the causes and solutions to our problems. What I know about problems and solutions is this: Creative and solutions focused thinking, deep listening and flexibility are the ingredients  needed to solve the complicated problems we face in our families and communities. Stress, worry, ego and anxiety will always prevent collaboration and understanding.

If you are stressed out, understanding the root cause is critical, and will dictate the best course of treatment. The root causes of anxiety vary a great deal from one person to the next. Some of us are predisposed to anxiety because of heredity factors.   

We inherit personality types from our parents which make us susceptible to becoming  easily excited, aroused or threatened.

Anxiety might also be sustained through our beliefs, behaviors, or emotions. When we sustain anxiety we are often engaged in anxious self-talk, irrational beliefs, or disassociating from feelings.

Irrational beliefs often have their genesis in childhood. We inherit them from our family of origin.

For example, if the unspoken family rule was “We don’t talk about feelings”, we may assume this behavior. Irrational beliefs further support the behavior. We may subconsciously  think “I am weak when I talk about feelings”. As the cycle continues as we begin to disassociate. We try not to feel anything when in reality, anger, worry and fear is marinating somewhere deep inside, waiting for the right conditions to erupt. The final nail in the coffin occurs when we begin to only pay attention to the stimulus that supports our entrenched beliefs and perceptions. We see what we want to see. We only tune in to the news or radio shows which will support our pre-existing beliefs.

Short-term causes of anxiety are driven by experiences we have in the world. A personal experience with a traumatic event is the hallmark experience which leads to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Witnessing a traumatic event in which we feel threatened or in danger can create PTSD symptoms.

PTSD is particularly relevant  concern today. When we turn on the news we risk witnessing a traumatic event in which we feel personally threatened.

Here are a few solutions to reduce anxiety, stress and worry.

  • A healthy mind must be supported by a healthy life style.

    If your lifestyle lacks exercise, a healthy diet or adequate rest, try to address these issues first. Begin with small changes. If a gym membership makes you feel overwhelmed, begin with a 15 minute walk.

  • Minimize the personality traits that feed anxiety.

    If you are a glass half-empty personality, try to see the glass  half-full. Don’t expect changes to come all at once. This will be a gradual process.  Start with a paradigm changes few times during the day.  I like the book Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson which provides great exercises for changing how we internalize environmental stimulus from a half-empty to a half-full paradigm.

  • Find a therapist.

    Maintaining causes or short term causes of anxiety, are often sustained through a complex interplay of cognition, behaviors, perceptions, and emoting. It is very helpful to have an objective person to help you figure it out, provide support, and offer specific treatments. Use list services  such as Psychologytoday.com or Networktherapy.com to find therapist in your area. These websites also allow for searching by criteria such as areas of specialty, treatment options, gender and religion

  • Practice mindfulness.

    Breathe and be in the present moment. Learn to turn down the racing thoughts. Stop right now and practice. Find something in the present moment that is beautiful, graceful, calming. Often we over-look stimulus in the present moment that will bring us peace, joy, or calm. There are many options for learning mindfulness. Meetup typically offers local groups that provide instruction and support for learning and practicing.  I learned a great deal about mindfulness from reading books. You A. re Here by Zen Master Tich Nhat Hanh is beautifully written, simple and easy to apply. If you are new to meditation, begin with guided meditations which can be found on-line for free.

  • Use a comprehensive treatment approach.

    .We are holistic beings. A change in our physical behavior can change our attitude and vice versa. Do not limit your treatment to one area. If you take up exercise, that will likely reduce anxiety or other psychological symptoms. Try to expand your consciousness and be willing to try changing your behaviors, thinking patterns and how you emote. You can then learn to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.

I often tell clients to try and be the best version of you. This best version is not a version that is hyper-vigilant, afraid, or worried. The best version is flexible, expressive, authentic, happy and calm. Be this. The world needs you at your best.

be well, diane

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10 Methods to Reduce Stress That Anyone Can Do

Chronic Stress – Modern Day Malady

Stress is a modern day malady that has reached epidemic proportions.
Stress is a modern day malady that has reached epidemic proportions.

Traffic jams, computer fatigue, high-pressured work environment and an impossible fast pace in our day to day lives. This has become the rule more than the exception and it takes a toll on our physical and mental health. In effect, we stay in a chronic state of fight/flight/freeze which does a number on the central nervous system. The fight/flight/freeze response is great when we need it. It keeps us alive by signaling the body to release neurotransmitters, hormones, suppress the immune system and increase blood pressure and blood sugar levels to prepare for the fight or enable us to run for our lives. These reactions are obviously hard on the body. We are not designed to stay in this hyper vigilant, annoyed, on-guard state. It is designed for emergency use only, not traffic jams or slow internet connections. The result is a hyper sensitive, quick to react response from the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/freeze reaction) and a parasympathetic nervous system (rest/relax) that can’t is sluggish and slow to activate.

10 Methods to Reduce Stress That Anyone Can Do

1. Exercise. Even moderate exercise can help to offset the physical responses of the fight/flight response. Tension can be released from the body by stretching or walking. Blood pressure is reduced and the mind is cleared.

Moderate exercise is beneficial to reduce stress.
Moderate exercise is beneficial in reducing stress.

2. Use Intentions. Form follows our thoughts. We don’t have to set world changing or even life changing intentions. A simple intention can help us to remain calm. Public speaking is one of the biggest triggers for anxiety. Recently before making a presentation I felt my heart rate spiking. I set an intention that I will share the information I have been asked to share with calm and ease. It brought my anxiety down immediately

3. Notice the Rest/Relax State of Mind – When you are feeling calm or relaxed, try to be conscious of this fact. Notice the ease of mind and body. Feel the calm and be aware of it to help trigger the parasympathetic nervous system to “kick in”.

4. Do Something You Love – It sounds simple and it is. Sometimes the most simple of treatments are the best place to start. When we take the time to engage in those things which make our heart soar, or our mouths curve into a smile it is like a release valve. The stress melts away.

5. Be Grateful – Seeing the blessings, the good, the glass as half full is a great healer which holds enormous healing potential. It gives the mind a break from the troubles and stops the repeat narrative of gloom/doom.

6. Use positive Self Affirmations – We live in a highly competitive society. When we do not excel or properly keep up with the Jones’s, the negative self talk narrative kicks in and gets loud. Many people have highly harsh and critical inner voices. You may not be perfect, but you are not all bad. Find something true, pure, loving that is good about you. Say it. Own it. Remind yourself of the good that is your true essence.

7. See Impermanence – If you pay attention to your current condition, the only thing you can be sure of is it will change. Our moods can change moment to moment, as well as our pain level, relationship status, financial status. You name it, and it is changing. Keeping the notion of impermanence in our minds helps us to create a space between ourselves and our suffering.

8. Massage Your Forehead – This simple technique is used in Energy Psychology. It is effective in bringing blood back to the pre-frontal cortex area of your brain. When you are under stress blood leaves this area of your brain to support fight/flight/freeze. That is why it is difficult to think when you are under stress. Crown Pull Instructions – Place the thumbs of each hand on your temples. Let your fingers rest across your forehead, just above your eyebrows, with finger tips touching. Begin pulling the skin on your forehead, until they separate and reach your hair line. Repeat the process moving up your forehead, until you reach the upper part of your hairline above your eyes.

9. Talk With Someone – When we feel alone, not understood or not seen, we spiral much easier into anxiety and depression. Find someone to talk to. Reach out to your friend that gives you support and good advice. If you don’t have a good support system you need one. It will mean taking risk and doing things that might make you uncomfortable. Visit a church, find a support group in your area, join a social meet-up group with people who have similar interest.

10. Humor – Laugh easily and freely. If it is hard for you to laugh, watch funny movies. In the book Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins describes using a high intake of funny movies and vitamin C to significantly reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. He was able to stop taking pain killers and reduced many of the symptoms associated with the disease.

be in peace – diane

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