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July 2021

It is okay if you are not okay

2022-08-29T19:30:09+00:00July 26th, 2021|anxiety, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

I have not posted in quite a while. Like you I am getting used to whatever this new “normal” is.

One of the topics I hear the most about from people is how hard it still is. The problem is that most people feel like it shouldn’t still be hard. There is a culture in the US that does not allow us time to grieve but instead tells us to just pull up our bootstraps and move on. There is a vaccine now. Everything is okay. Move on regardless of whatever grief, loss, sadness, anger, or other feelings you have. This is the American Way!

It is so unfortunate because for the last year and a half (and for some of us back to January 2017) we have been going through  multiple traumas. But there has not been an acknowledgment of that fact. People feel a bit crazy if they are still struggling. Or maybe they are on the feelings roller coaster. One day is fine and the next day feels topsy-turvey.

The information we are getting seems like it changes every day. Is it safe to go indoors without a mask? Can vaccinated people get the virus and spread it? One day we hear yes and no and a few weeks later it is probably not and probably yes. Again it is enough to make you feel crazy. The risk assessment you did in May has probably changed in July.

So how do you manage this all? The first thing is you do the best you can every day. And you understand that some days your best may not be as good as you want it to be. Secondly, you keep up on your self-care your walks or bike rides or Friday night zooms with your friends. It’s harder to schedule things now because people are doing things but keep it going! If you have to return to an office it may be harder to keep up the self-care but I strongly encourage you to try and find a way to do it. Thirdly talk about it. A real issue is that many of us feel crazy in our heads but if we talk to others we find out many experiences are the same. Feeling like it is not just you having these feelings is a great way to reduce any feelings of isolation. Of course, if it all feels like too much I would encourage you to find a therapist.

Take care of yourselves and your families.

September 2017

Trump Anxiety-7 Tips to Manage It

2017-09-06T16:16:42+00:00September 6th, 2017|anxiety|

Many therapists and other professionals have written about Trump anxiety since before the election. What I am seeing now is more than anxiety it is a sense of fear and overwhelm. Many people are really really scared.   They are scared of being discriminated against. They are scared of being physically attacked. They worry deeply about the future of this country. They worry about how this will affect their children. Some express their fear as anger. Others as sadness or as having a feeling of apathy. The unpredictability of how the government is run and the constant barrage of news escalates these feelings.

So how to cope. There is honestly no easy answer here. Every person needs to find their own way. Here are some suggestions.

  1. Be an activist. Many people feel more empowered if they are able to take action. There are many groups out there you can join.
  2. Find your support system and lean on it. Know the people in your life you can talk about this with and do so. As often as you need to.
  3. Regulate your news and social media activity. While I understand that it can be hard not to be constantly connected that connection can elevate your anxiety level. Stay informed but not constantly.
  4. Keep doing the things that bring you joy. You know what they are. Movies, reading, walking, gardening, being with family, etc. If you lose the joy in your life despair may come.
  5. Keep up on the basics. Eat well. Prioritize sleep. Exercise if you can. Even a walk makes a difference.
  6. Start or continue a mindfulness practice. Meditate for 10 minutes every day. It helps to pull your body and mind out of the constant fight or flight state it may be in.
  7. If it feels like too much seek professional help. A therapist can provide support and help you navigate your feelings.

 

Photo Copyright: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo

July 2017

Practicing self-compassion

2017-07-18T18:38:46+00:00July 18th, 2017|anxiety, mindfulness|

Practicing self-compassion

I work with many people that are very empathetic and compassionate, except towards themselves. It is interesting to me how so many of us have a double standard for behavior for ourselves and others. I believe that self-compassion is a cornerstone of a happy life.

Compassion is defined as

“a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/compassion

 

So feeling the pain or another and wanting to make it better. So why is it that many times when we have the opportunity to do this towards ourselves we cannot?

The other day I got into a fender bender. It was my fault. It was an accident and no person was hurt and the damage was relatively minor. But I beat myself up over for a few days. I knew I was doing it. Friends called me out on it. And I know that if a friend did the same thing I would say it’s okay. It was an accident. Things happen. So why did I struggle with it?

 

  1. We have visions of perfectionism for ourselves that we don’t hold others to. Somehow in my mind, I felt like I need to be perfect and I am not allowed a mistake. Not kind and not very realistic.

 

  1. We second-guess our decisions if they turn out poorly. I questioned why I had parked in the spot I had questioned earlier on. If I had not parked there the accident would not have happened. I did not question any of the million of decisions I made earlier in that day that turned out well. I picked one that may or may not have really contributed to the accident and focused on that.

 

  1. We have some sort of association that equates punishment with an accident or bad decision. In my mind, I had to beat myself up and give myself consequences for my mistake. Instead of just living with the natural consequences of repair costs.

 

So what did I do and what could I do differently. Well since I am practicing compassion I can say overall I did ok. I did ruminate on it for a bit but I was able to let it go after talking to friends. I recognized that my thought patterns were distorted and were not helping me. I also challenged my beliefs that this incident was going to be bigger than it was. I remind myself that even those compassionate to themselves might have a bit of self-pity or worry after a fender bender. I allowed myself to have my feelings and I moved on. Hopefully next mistake I make I can do even better with kindness towards myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Copyright: glopphy / 123RF Stock Photo

December 2014

Meditation In Practice Continues

2017-03-25T23:08:00+00:00December 30th, 2014|anxiety, mindfulness, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

Meditation In Practice Continues

Not to long ago I wrote a blog piece about my struggles with keeping a regular meditation practice.  A friend recently recommended the book Full Catastrophe Living to me. This book is one by Jon Kabat-Zinn who is a founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programs. In class form this consists of 8 2.5 hour classes plus one full Saturday class. You have to commit to meditation 45 minutes a day while in the program. In fact, there is some recent research that doing this program can change your brain in the 8 week period.

My first reaction to looking at dong the home program was “No Way!” I If you are didn’t think I could do 45 minutes a day of meditation. But I tried it. I am now starting week 3 of the program where you can add Mindful Yoga to your routine if you are able. I have to say that since I have been doing this I have felt really good. I have also found myself looking forward to doing my 45 minute meditation every day. It is hard no doubt. Right now I am doing the Body Scan Meditation which is focusing on one part of your body at a time. I have to redirect my thoughts about every 5 seconds or so it seems. But I do it and I feel like it is making a difference. Interestingly enough I have been more engaged in doing the longer meditation daily than I ever was in the shorter ones I did previously. I know I can keep up on the practice for the 8 weeks it is structured for and I hope I can keep it up as an ongoing practice beyond that. I have read so much research recently on how meditation can improve both physical and mental well being that it seems really important to add this to my day.

If you are interested here is a resource to get the meditations for free. And here you can find more information on MBSR and buy Jon Kabat-Zinn’s cds for the program.

I would love to hear from you more about how you try and integrate mindfulness into your day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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April 2012

Some Tips For Coping with Anxiety

2017-09-06T16:21:57+00:00April 6th, 2012|anxiety, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

The free online dictionary defines anxiety as “a state of uneasiness or tension caused by apprehension of possible future misfortune, danger, etc.; worry.”

What can you do when you experience anxiety?

  1. Don’t fight it or deny it. Since anxiety is such an uncomfortable feeling most people try to push it away. However, the more you push your anxiety away the more intense it will be when it returns and it usually returns.
  2. Anxiety is often masking an underlying feeling such as sadness, anger, or fear. Allow yourself to sit and notice what is going on underneath the anxiety. If you allow yourself to have those feelings your anxiety will abate.
  3. Exercise is good both when you are feeling anxious and as a way to prevent anxiety. Research has shown that exercise can be an effective treatment for anxiety right up there with therapy and medication.
  4. Daily meditation is an excellent treatment for anxiety. You do not have to meditate for long periods of time each day, ten minutes a day can significantly help anxiety. There are many different ways to meditate and many free resources for this on the internet.
  5. Reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant and can worsen anxiety symptoms.
  6. Write it out. Often anxiety manifests by racing thoughts. Taking the time to write out these thoughts can often take away their power and as a result, reduce your anxiety.
  7. Talk it out. For the same reasons as above talking it out can help you feel better about a situation.
  8. Train your brain to do things differently. When your mind starts racing with anxiety visualize a stop sign and stop your brain from moving forward. You will have to do this a few times in order to stop your brain but the more you practice this the easier it will get.
  9. Give yourself some daily worry time. You know you have a lot on your mind and you are worried so allow yourself a certain time every day to worry. When the time is up using your thought stopping techniques to stop your worrying. Your worry time should not be more than half an hour.
  10. Seek professional help. If the above suggestions do not help your anxiety it may be time to seek professional help from your doctor or a therapist.

 

I have some free short meditations on my website for you to try it out.

 

Photo Copyright: kbuntu / 123RF Stock Photo

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