Would you say that your thinking is more negative or positive? Well, if you said negative, you’re not alone. Not that there aren’t any positive people out there. Because there are, but for the most part, our brains have a negativity bias. They naturally tend to zero in on the negative more than the positive.
For example, You might have positive experiences like your boss praising you frequently for your work. Still, if he expresses concern over a particular area of your job performance, you can’t stop thinking about it. Or, you might have insults stuck in your brain somebody slung your way decades ago.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.” Wow, isn’t that the truth! I believe that you could also apply that quote to mean that if you are always looking for the bad in every situation, you will find it. So why not flip the phrase into “If you look for the good in people or life situations, you will surely find it.”
TURNING NEGATIVE THINKING INTO POSITIVE THINKING
Positive thinking boils down to being able to acknowledge both negative and positive events but choosing to focus on the positive aspects rather than the negative ones. It is not avoiding or ignoring an adverse event but dealing with it by allowing the appropriate amount of time for the negative emotions to surface and then moving on from it by focusing on the positive.
Even though the process is simple, it does take time and practice to create new habits. So let’s look at some ways to think and behave more positively and optimistically:
▪ Acknowledge what areas need to change. What areas of your life do you typically have negative thoughts about? Maybe it’s family, a relationship, a work environment, or even your daily commute to work. Whatever it is, start small and focus on one area of your life that you can start approaching more positively.
▪ Check in with yourself. Throughout the day, take a moment and evaluate how you have been thinking and acting. If you find that your behavior has been primarily negative, change course and put a positive spin on it.
▪ Surround yourself with positive people. Spend time with people who inspire you to be a better person. Look for people who will be supportive and make you feel good. Negative people can sap the energy right out of you and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
▪ Practice positive self-talk. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t talk to yourself in a way you wouldn’t talk to someone else. When a negative thought about yourself comes into your mind, be reasonable with yourself and respond with affirmations about what is good about you.
▪ Look for the humor. It’s okay to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Look for the funny in everyday situations. When you can laugh at life, you will feel less stressed.
▪ Live a healthy lifestyle. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. Find time to exercise at least three times a week. Exercise is proven to affect your mood and reduce stress positively. It is also helpful to learn techniques that manage stress.
PRACTICE POSITIVE THINKING EVERY DAY
I like to say just a few essential words about practicing positive self-talk as it relates to positive thinking. And that is, positive thinking often starts with positive self-talk. Self-talk is that constant chatter in your head that never stops. It is automatic thoughts that can be positive or negative coming from logic and reason or misconceptions stemming from a lack of or wrong information.
If the majority of your thoughts running through your head are mostly positive, you are probably an optimist (someone who practices positive thinking). That’s great! You can be an example and inspiration to others who aren’t, so keep it up!
On the other hand, if the thoughts running through your head are mostly negative, you more than likely are a pessimist and would benefit from the suggestions listed above to become more positive.
By practicing positive self-talk daily your inner voice will eventually contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance, which will probably help you become less critical of the world around you.
In June, I wrote a blog titled 5 Steps To Overcome Harmful Self-Criticism”. It provided information about self-criticism that you might find helpful. Or, if you have read it and are still struggling with critical self-talk, maybe rereading it would benefit you as a refresher course. We all need reminders at times.
Filling your head with more positive thoughts can make a big difference in how you see AND react to things in life. You can better handle everyday stress more constructively when your state of mind is generally optimistic. And we all know how stress can play havoc with our health. So, it is not surprising why researchers believe that having the ability to think more positively may contribute to the widely observed health benefits.
“Choose to be optimistic; it feels better.” — Dalai Lama
In closing, I would like to give you an exercise that can help you on the way to becoming more positive. At the end of your day, share with someone close to you one great moment that you experienced that day. If you can make this a habit, it will encourage you to be on the lookout for positive moments throughout the day. This exercise is also a great way to increase feelings of gratitude for even the simple things in your life. Things that you might not even realize that you’ve been overlooking.
Also, while writing this blog, a specific song kept coming to my mind. It’s an oldy but still a classic. It’s called “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive.” Give it a listen and let the words get into your brain. And when your thoughts want to turn in a negative direction, hopefully, the words will return to you, and you can turn the negative into positive.
If you want to develop a more positive view, working with a coach can be very helpful. A coach can help you explore and walk through various techniques to help you see the bright side of things more easily.
I’m looking forward to your call.
This article originally appeared on Counseling Solutions of West Michigan.
Could self-criticism be holding you back from leading a meaningful and fulfilled life? Is it derailing your success in the pursuit of your goals?
For many of us, self-criticism is just the way we talk to ourselves. Our inner dialogue goes something like this: “I can’t do anything right.” “I look horrible.” “I’m such an idiot!” “What’s wrong with me?”
How would you answer if I were to ask, “What does it mean to be kind to yourself?” Would you say, “I’d buy myself something expensive, or I’d go on a long trip somewhere exotic?” Or perhaps I’d hang a sign in my kitchen saying, “Out of order until further notice,” and head to the beach with a book all by myself. Oh — the possibilities are endless, aren’t they?
But, I wonder if anybody answered with “I would talk nicer to myself” or “I would look for the good in me and not just the bad.”
Be Kinder To Yourself
Often, and probably too often, we are our own harshest critics. If we treated our friends like we treat ourselves, we probably wouldn’t have any.
Case in point, after two friends recently attended a wedding, a curious thing happened while discussing some pictures posted on social media. What one friend saw in the photos was her and her friend smiling, laughing, dancing, and enjoying themselves at the beautiful event. However, the other friend saw a long list of what she perceived was wrong with herself. For example, she thought her arms were too fat, and her hair wasn’t right, she hadn’t said the right things, etc.
The ironic thing is, she did have a wonderful time at the wedding. But while looking at the pictures, she didn’t focus on how happy her friend was that she had been there or even the great time she had. Instead, all she could zero in on was what she perceived to be wrong with herself.
Effects of harmful self-criticism
Unfortunately, people mistakenly think such self-critical statements safeguard them against mistakes, laziness, and complacency. Or they will keep them in line and ensure they achieve their goals. However, the opposite actually happens.
It can drain their energy and confidence and paralyze progress. Destructive self-criticism triggers feelings such as guilt, shame, anger, sadness, frustration, embarrassment, disappointment, and hopelessness.
Whether being overly critical of how they look or because of something they did, people who rebuke themselves are more likely to become depressed, anxious, and lonely.
Is all self-criticism bad?
I say absolutely not, for we all benefit from constructive self-criticism from time to time.
Why? Because it’s vital for our growth and development and, ultimately, our success. If self-criticism is used correctly, it can be a helpful tool for pointing out problematic behaviors. The kind of behaviors that could be standing in the way of us achieving our goals. If misused, it can have a damaging effect on our self-worth and confidence.
When we can objectively observe the behaviors we don’t like, we can take the necessary steps needed to change that undesired behavior so we can become the best version of ourselves.
So let’s look at how you can practice self-criticism without undermining your self-worth and confidence.
5 Steps to overcome harmful self-criticism
Millions of us find ourselves battling self-criticism that is hard to escape. But, the good news is that you CAN defeat harmful self-criticism and challenge that voice that puts you down. Below are five steps that will help you answer that voice.
- REPLACE SELF-CRITICISM WITH SELF-CORRECTION. Instead of criticizing yourself, thinking it will correct your mistake and motivate you to do better (which it will not), look for a solution, and change your behavior.
- ACKNOWLEDGE THE POSITIVES. No one needs help seeing the negatives, and even if some of the negatives are true, why not consider the positives also?
- BE AS KIND TO YOURSELF AS YOU ARE TO OTHERS. Recognize it as a double standard when you are harsher on yourself than you are with someone else. Just like you need your friends on your side, you need yourself to be in your corner as well.
- LET YOURSELF BE HUMAN. If you make a mistake, don’t think you look perfect, treat someone wrongly, etc. Don’t spend hours criticizing yourself. We ALL make mistakes and have flaws and defects. Just like we accept and love the people we know who make mistakes and have imperfections, accept and love yourself. At times, we all have some unlovable, quirky, and somewhat bad qualities. We can recognize our shortcomings without digging a hole and climbing into them. You can rise above your self-critic and say, “YES, I am human. Deal with it!”
- FOCUS ON YOUR GOALS, NOT ON YOUR SELF-CRITIC. Sometimes no matter what you do, that loud voice will still be yapping away, telling you something negative. So give it a wave and say, “Yes, I hear you, but I am going to get on with my life doing what I have to do.”
“Being self-critical is good; being self-hating is destructive. There’s a very fine line there somewhere, and I walk it carefully.” — Daniel Radcliffe
Answering your self-critic is the best way to fight for your self-esteem. It would be best if you had yourself on your side. You have to be willing to give yourself credit for what you do that is right and improve what is wrong. In other words – Be Kinder To Yourself!
Changing the way you respond to your self-critical voice will not occur overnight. So be patient with yourself. Thinking style is a habit, but with time and practice, you CAN change that habit into more of a healthy balance.
Working with a coach can be very helpful if you want to explore additional strategies to cope with being too self-critical. A coach can walk you through various techniques that can help you learn how to be self-critical in a healthy way to increase your overall success in pursuing your goals
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. If you want more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or schedule your phone call today. I’m looking forward to your call.
This article originally appeared on Counseling Solutions of West Michigan.
Back in March, when old man winter was stubbornly refusing to leave, I wrote a blog about dealing with “the winter blues.” And now that spring has finally sprung, I’m a little curious. Did “the blues” fade away, or are you perplexed to find they still hang on? Or maybe, feeling blue was never your issue. Perhaps you lean the other way and deal with feeling stressed out, anxious, and overwhelmed. Either way, I have something you might find interesting. And that is, spending time in nature has been found to help with anxiety and depression.
Let me ask you a question. How much time do you spend outdoors? If you are like most adults, it’s often limited. However, according to researchers, you might be surprised to know that the average American spends as much as 90% of their life indoors.
People don’t realize just how much time they spend indoors. With modern technology, we can work from home, shop online, do our walking on a treadmill in front of a tv, and communicate with our friends. I mean, good grief, you don’t even have to leave your house to get groceries nowadays.
So, with that being said. Let’s say you are dealing with anxiety or depression. What can you do about it? Here’s where spending time in nature comes into play. I want to introduce you to a term you probably haven’t heard before. And that is “Ecotherapy.”
Have you ever heard the term “Ecotherapy?” It actually goes by a couple of different names but boiled down; it basically means — contact with nature. So it is a name given to a wide range of treatment programs that aim to improve your mental and physical wellbeing through outdoor activities in nature. And here’s the best part — you don’t have to pay for it, it’s free! And you can access it anytime!
Ecotherapy can make a significant difference in how you feel. For example, it can help you feel more grounded, provide an alternative perspective on life, and allow your mind and body to relax. It can:
- lessen feelings of anxiety and stress
- reduce depression
- decrease anger
- improve your mood and self-esteem
- increase your emotional resilience
One technique called “green space therapy” or “green time” involves spending time in areas with grass and trees, such as a park, yard, soccer field, or farm. Outdoor activities could include walking, backpacking, gardening, playing games, sports, or even tackling a backyard project.
I have even found that taking my work outside sometimes can make a big difference. I can sit at a desk or table and look out the window and see nature all around, but when I go outside, I can feel nature.
And somehow, it can lift my mood. Especially now that spring has popped, being in the yard or park watching the squirrels chase each other, hearing the birds chirp, and watching the bees and butterflies flit from flower to flower, somehow makes me feel more peaceful and contented inside.
And who can deny the calming effects of listening to the wind rustling through the trees? Or burying your toes in warm beach sand and listening to the waves breaking on the shore? (I know, there’s a sappy song in there somewhere!)
Nurture Yourself Through Nature
Depression can make you feel like you are in a dark place. And I don’t want to make light of it and imply that just going outside will take it away. However, what can it hurt to try and maybe help yourself in the midst of it? Someone expressed using ecotherapy this way, “I do ecotherapy to get sunlight onto my skin and into my mind. It shines light through the dark fog of depression.”
I thought that was awesome! It’s like the solar lights that you put in your yard, and all day, it soaks in the sunshine (to power up) and then takes that energy to shine through the darkness of night.
A study done by researchers at the University of Essex found that, of a group of people suffering from depression, 90 percent felt a higher level of self-esteem after a walk through a park in the country, and almost three-quarters felt less depressed. Another survey by the same research team found that 94% of people with mental illnesses believed that contact with nature put them in a more positive mood.
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature-the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” — Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
I encourage you to discover (or rediscover) the therapeutic effect nature offers. Exercising, playing, working, gardening, backyard projects, swimming, etc. In truth, the opportunities are endless out there. You just have to open the door and walk through it.
Working with a coach is an excellent way to learn and develop coping skills to help manage unhealthy emotions. Therefore, I’d love to hear from you if you suspect those emotions are hindering your success personally or even in the workplace.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. So I invite you to contact me or schedule your phone call today. And until we meet, if you’re able, step out into nature to energize your mind and body.
This article originally appeared on Counseling Solutions Of West Michigan.
Have you ever had a situation where only after some time had passed did you discover that someone had been upset with you? And when you finally found out, you were completely dumbfounded? You had no clue they were upset at the time. But later, something upended their cart, and all the pent-up emotions started gushing forth. Then, they start recalling some event in the past where you hurt them, and the details of their story do not line up with your recollection of the same event.
You don’t know whether to tell them you’re sorry or whether to tell them they’re completely nuts! You wonder how they have such a different memory of the event than you do. In fact, you recollect that they did something to hurt your feelings.
Sound familiar? I thought so. It happens all the time in personal, social, or work-related relationships. Each person carrying around hurt feelings about what the other person said or did to them. The interesting thing is, if there were a third party involved, they more than likely would have a somewhat different version altogether.
So why does this happen? It is called “Perceptions.” We all have them. But what creates them? Perception is individual. It is how you think about or understand someone or something through the senses (vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell). Heredity, culture, needs, peer group, interests, and expectations all influence our perceptions.
Not to get too deep, but perception is how we interpret the information we sense. The way we interpret the world in many ways dictates our sense of reality. Even if our senses are sharp, we will not understand the information we sense if our perception is skewed.
Let me give you an example. You disagree with a friend one day, and it’s not the first disagreement you and she have had. However, you decide to take the high road and apologize. And because in today’s world, everyone texts back and forth, you text her the following day and say, “You are sorry.” Expecting a response from her in short order, you’re surprised not to hear back from her. Yet, by evening, you still have not heard from her. What do you think your perception of this situation would be? It probably depends on your perception of that person and the relationship.
First scenario — You believe your friendship is in good standing. Therefore, you wait it out and give that person the benefit of the doubt, thinking they must have a good reason for not getting back to you yet.
Second scenario — You believe the relationship is on rocky ground. Hence, you start imagining that she is intentionally ignoring you, causing you to stew about it all day. You start thinking about other things you’ve experienced with this person. You then feed on your perceptions of this person, even creating a whole new argument in your mind with this person.
What is Reality?
Reality is the actual state of things. It’s how things are, whether we perceive them to be as such or not. Things in themselves are basically neutral. WE are the ones who supply the perceptions and our beliefs about them. Reality supersedes both our expectations and assumptions. How OUR reality appears to us says a lot about our perceptions.
So let’s go back to the two scenarios above. The reality of the delayed answer back from the friend is that she fell ill during the night and took some medicine to help her sleep. She had put her phone on silent so as not to be disturbed. She still didn’t feel well the next day, and because she didn’t feel well enough to call anyone, she forgot that her phone was on silent. It didn’t occur to her that anyone was trying to get a hold of her.
So if you put yourself in the first scenario, you go about your day as usual. You don’t even give it a second thought about why your friend has not answered you back. However, if you put yourself in the second scenario, you spend the whole day in turmoil. You probably work yourself right up into an unnecessary dither by incorrectly interpreting her delayed answer as a deliberate action on her part. Because of your already negative perception of your friend and relationship, the delayed response confirms your beliefs even though they are wrong.
Don’t confuse perception with reality
Can you see how your perceptions can influence your relationships? We get into trouble when we confuse perception with reality — we mistake how we understand something for the way that they really are. So even though our thoughts and feelings seem real to us, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are true.
Unfortunately, we do not often realize how our perceptions can cloud reality. They seem like the same to us. Yet, our perception is essential to recognize because it is the driving force behind our reactions to people and events in our lives.
It’s hard to change our perceptions because we see and feel things from our perspective and have difficulty seeing from another person’s perspective. Something that sticks in my mind is I remember popping over to my neighbor’s house one day, and as I was talking with her, I happened to look out her window. I stopped talking to her suddenly because I was so caught off guard to see my house from across the street. My house looked so different to me from that angle, and I remember thinking, “Oh wow, this is what my house looks like from over here; this is how she sees my house.”
We would do well if we could keep that analogy in our minds when relating with others. Depending on where you stand, you will see some things a certain way or see something that somebody else might not, and vice versa. So, knowing that we can change our perspective stands to reason that the perception can change along with it. Thus, perception is far from a fixed truth.
“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” – Wayne W. Dyer
If you suspect you might have formed some unhealthy perceptions in your life that are causing you to struggle with relationships and it is even hindering your success in the workplace, working with a coach is a great way to learn some techniques that can help you. I’d love to hear from you.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple adjustment of your thoughts and behavior to change a perception problem. If you want some personalized support, I invite you to contact me or schedule your phone call today. Together we can discover which strategy is likely to work best for you to work toward finding the peace of reality and not letting the wrong kind of perceptions stand in your way of success.
This article originally appeared at Counseling Solutions Of West Michigan
Grumpy, dreary, tired, depressed, unfocused, listless. No, these are not the names of Snow White’s new companions. Instead, they are emotions you might be experiencing as you deal with the winter blues because of the time of year.
It’s been a long winter (as always), so I thought it might be good to check in and see how everyone was doing and encourage you that we ARE getting nearer to turning the corner.
I’ll confess, I am dying for spring to come. At the beginning of winter, I just hunker down and resign myself to the fact that I have to get through the coming dark and colder months. However, I’m usually still riding on somewhat of a high from all the fun and festivities of the holidays. So I start out by saying, “All right, I can do this.” But by the time March rolls around, I’ve had MORE than enough, and my resignation turns into irritation. At the very least, I’m tired of having my car look like a giant salt lick and having to deal with the dirty and slushy snow.
Beating the winter blues
You have to make up your mind that you are going to beat the winter blues. If you can hold on just a little longer, that pinprick of light at the end of this cold tunnel will continue to get bigger and bigger. And soon, you will finally be into full-blown spring. Even as I’m writing this, we are just over a week away from “springing” ahead with Daylight Savings Time by turning our clocks forward. YES, one more hour of precious daylight!
Focus on something to look forward to
Looking ahead and focusing on something pleasant to look forward to is a great way to lift your spirits. As Michiganders, we, of all people, need to put the grey skies and cold weather behind us in anticipation of spring and the warmer months beyond. We eagerly await those crocuses and tulips poking through the ground and the robins making their nests. We can hardly wait to be sitting out at Lake Michigan, sinking our toes in that warm sand as we look out over that beautiful blue water as sailboats float along. Ahh, doesn’t that sound lovely? So take a moment right now and just think spring and the new beginnings it will bring.
Get out in the fresh air
Break out of the winter blues funk, and don’t let the weather keep you indoors with nothing to do but watch TV day after day mindlessly chowing down on unhealthy food. Instead, get outside as much as you can. I think (if we can believe the weather forecasters) we probably have put the most frigid weather behind us. Even if it is cold, bundle up and go for a walk, especially if it’s sunny. Trust me; you WILL feel more energetic.
Look for something new to do. Grab a friend and try a Yoga class, pick up a hobby, start planning your garden, or what do you think about this? Go roller skating, yes, I said roller skating. I have some friends who take their whole family, grandkids, and all every week, and they are in their 50’s. The main thing is to do something.
Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder?
For us Michiganders, the winter blues can be quite common as we deal with winter’s colder and darker days. But sometimes, you can feel so blue that you just can’t feel any excitement or find any motivation to break the cycle you are in. If so, that sounds more like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that can appear during the fall and winter months. It can come on gradually or all at once but usually fade away as the warmer months approach. However, you needn’t let it affect your ability to enjoy life right now because there are many ways of overcoming both.
“Bleak sky, winter bites, harsh winds, unforgiving rain… Well, the weather isn’t just going to change, but you can find your own sunshine. Chase your happiness.” ― Mystqx Skye
Working with a coach is an excellent way to learn and develop coping skills that can help manage unhealthy emotions. Therefore, I’d love to hear from you if you suspect those emotions are hindering your success personally or even in the workplace.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. So I invite you to contact me or schedule your phone call today. I believe you can rise above this and shake off the heaviness to live life from a more happy and balanced perspective.
This article originally appeared on Counseling Solutions Of West Michigan.
And just like that, here we are at the beginning of a new year — again. The older I get, the faster it seems a new year rolls around. Sometimes I feel nostalgic when I have to say goodbye to a particular year, but not this past year. Nope, I was more than ready to drop kick 2021 to the curb. For indeed, the past year dropped some stressful life transitions on my doorstep, and I have a hunch that I am not alone. Is anybody with me?
Life is full of changes. And stressful life transitions usually mean a shift or an adjustment that impacts your lifestyle. Now you only have to glance back at the last two years to see how much our lifestyles have changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And believe me, I don’t particularly appreciate giving it any more press than it already gets. But this is where we are. And like they say, “We’re all in this together.” UGH! Nevertheless, the pandemic and the lifestyle changes have brought about much anxiety.
Life transitions are nothing new
Truthfully, we as humans have dealt with stressful life transitions before the pandemic. And we will certainly walk through them again long after this pandemic dies down.
So putting aside the changes the pandemic has brought, let’s look at other transitions. They can be as simple as leaving work and driving home or preparing your kiddos for bed at night. Or, they can be exciting, such as getting married or starting a new career.
Others, of course, can be more challenging such as moving to another state, dealing with a severe illness, or trying to figure out how to live with the loss of a loved one.
Whether joyful or sad, planned or unplanned, transitions can be stressful and stir up mixed emotions. This then gives rise to the question of how can we cope with stressful life transitions successfully?
Tips for dealing with life’s transitions
1. Accept that change is inevitable
However, keep in mind it’s a normal part of life. Transitions also have positive aspects that allow us to grow and learn, leaving us stronger, more confident, and better prepared for the next curveball in life.
2. Whenever possible, prepare for your transition
Sometimes you know ahead of time there is going to be a transition. In that case, planning ahead can help make the experience a little smoother. Set some goals of what you want this new phase of life to look like. Then decide how you can achieve those goals.
3. Expect to feel uncomfortable
Changes from stressful life transitions can be be confusing, and perplexing. So don’t be surprised if you feel vulnerable and anxious. But not to worry, these feelings are all a part of the process and eventually will pass.
4. Rely on your support system.
Don’t go it alone. This is the time when you really need the support of friends and family members. They know you the best and will be able to encourage you without judging and allow you to express your true feelings.
5. Take it one step at a time
It can be overwhelming to feel like your life is in disarray. To regain a sense of control, find one small thing you can manage right away. Then, working out from there, break everything down into small, clear steps. Write them down, and one by one, cross off each step as you complete it.
6. Keep some consistency
Significant life transitions can make life feel topsy-turvy. Whenever you can, try to keep as much of your daily routine consistent as you can. Even as you walk through a transition, it helps establish a routine to help you adjust and provide a sense of consistency.
7. Give yourself time, care, and grace
As I’ve said before, transitions can be stressful, even in happy times. Sometimes you might not feel up to participating in your everyday activities. It’s okay. That’s why I say, give yourself some time. It takes time to adjust to your new situation. However, don’t neglect yourself in the meantime. Make an effort to take care of yourself every day by getting plenty of rest, eating well, and exercising. And it won’t hurt if you treat yourself to a fun or pampering activity occasionally while you manage this transition, either.
“Your life is a story of transition. You are always leaving one chapter behind while moving on to the next.” – Anonymous
Everyone experiences stressful life transitions. And most assuredly, some will be harder to navigate than others. But I believe using the above tips can help make the whole process easier. However, if you want to learn additional coping skills, working with a coach is a great way to do it. They can help you develop the skills and abilities you need to deal positively with whatever life puts in your path.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. If you want more personalized support, I invite to contact me or schedule your phone call today. Together, we can work on strategies to help you move forward through any transitions you may be going through right now as well as ones you may encounter in the future.
This article originally appeared at My Anxiety Link
“Why do I feel so overwhelmed?” If you are a caretaker of aging parents, you’ve probably asked yourself and others that question more than once. And even if you have the most loving parents and you love them to pieces, let’s face it. Switching roles with your parents and becoming their caretaker can be exhausting and overwhelming.
Why do I feel so overwhelmed?
Each individual’s experience will be different, but some common themes affect everyone. Here are just a few:
Watching your parent, who was once sharp, healthy, and robust, decline and become less able to care for themselves is very hard to watch. It raises the realization that they will not live forever to the forefront of your mind.
Watching a parent age also confronts you with the possibility of what might happen to you as you age. It can be scary to think, “One day, that could be me.”
Needs such as grocery shopping, helping with bills, doctor visits, and the like take time away from your family — spouses, children, etc. And when they get less of your time and attention, it can cause stress in the family.
It can cause conflicts within the family
Suppose there are brothers and sisters involved (or not involved) in making the caregiving decisions. In that case, it can turn into random battles. Some family members can be front and center to dole out advice but then seem to disappear when requested or needed help.
You end up doing things you never imagined
It’s one thing to go to the store to pick up a few things for your parent, but it raises to a whole new level when they require help with dressing, bathing, or bathroom needs. This role of caregiving becomes a whole lot more stressful.
You’re laden with guilt
More than likely, you started out being understanding and caring for your parent. However, as time goes on and the level of care increases, feelings of resentment and possibly anger start to creep in. And with that, feelings of guilt set in.
You remind yourself how many sacrifices your parent made on your behalf, but you still can’t rise above your feelings.
You feel like you’re caught in the middle
Sometimes caring for a parent become necessary when you’re in your thirties, forties, and even fifties. When this occurs, it means being responsible for bringing up your children and caring for your aging parents at the same time. Hence, the feeling of being caught in the middle. The term for this is the Sandwich Generation, and individuals who are a part of it experience a great deal of stress.
What can I do when I feel overwhelmed?
Caring for a parent can be an all-consuming and demanding job. Below are some tips to help you feel more in control and hopefully reduce any stress in the future.
Ask for and accept help from friends and family
By all means, if your family is offering to help, take them up on it!
But if your family does not jump in to help, you might have to ask them to help and then delegate some day-to-day responsibilities to them.
Or maybe ask for a friend if they would be willing to step in to give you some much-needed rest periodically.
Hire a parent sitter or professional help
I had a friend who used this tip when she had a parent living with her. She knew she had to have breaks to protect her sanity. So, she found reliable people who could sit with her parent providing her the opportunity to get some things done.
Or possibly, hire a professional caregiver. Here’s a link to a list of resources available.
Find a safe place to vent
Whether you become your parent’s caregiver gradually or suddenly because of a crisis, you know that many emotions rose to the surface— some right away while others took a while. Just know that all your good and bad feelings are normal, valid, and meaningful.
And like I said earlier, you might love your parent, but after a while the responsibility takes its toll. When you admit to your feelings, you can then look for productive ways to express and deal with them.
To help with this, look for safe places to share your feelings beyond other family members and friends. For example, try online private groups to find support from other caregivers.
Have freezer meals on hand
The friend I mentioned earlier found it overwhelming to provide three meals a day for her loved one. She lamented it was one thing when she was younger and in the habit of providing meals for her growing family. Yet, once she and her husband had become empty nesters, it was easier to just get something to eat on the fly many days. So to provide three square meals proved exasperating at times.
She found it helpful to have freezer meals on hand. So when she would make a meal, she tried to make extra to put some in the freezer for days she didn’t feel like cooking
Make it a priority to make time for yourself
Depending on how much care your loved one needs, it can be quite overwhelming not to have time and space to yourself. In my friend’s case, her mom wanted to be smack dab in the middle of whatever was going on.
This loss of privacy was too much for her, so she set some boundaries in place. For example, she would get her mother up and ready for the day an hour and a half after waking up herself. Thereby giving her an opportunity for some quiet time and morning coffee.
A nighttime routine of getting her mother settled in her room at a reasonable time each night left her time to relax with her husband before retiring for the night.
“There are four kinds of people in the world: People who have been caregivers, people who are caregivers now, people who will become caregivers in the future, and people who are going to need a caregiver.” — Unknown
All in all, it truly takes a plan and patience to figure out what works best for you and your loved one. Caregiving can be a blessing, but it is also challenging. These are just a few things you can do to help navigate through some of those challenges with less stress. If you want to learn some stress-reducing techniques that can help while taking care of your parent, working with a coach can be very beneficial to you.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. If you want more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or schedule your phone call today. Together we will work toward a better understanding of your relationship with your parents to promote a happy, healthy, and balanced relationship with less stress.
This article originally appeared at My Anxiety Link
You love your career and even knew beforehand it could be stressful at times. However, lately, the stress has seemed overwhelming. And to add to the pressure, you’re struggling to maintain your composure and professionalism while you work through it. Thankfully, there are many techniques on how to relieve stress at work that can have you not only surviving but thriving in your stressful role. So, let’s get to it.
What to do when stressed at work
Admit you’re stressed
Stressed workers are three times more likely to leave their jobs than their non-stressed counterparts. Yet, people often don’t want to accept they are stressed out until it’s too late. Waiting until you are ground down until you are almost coming apart at the seams makes it much harder to recover.
So be on the lookout for signs that you are getting emotionally exhausted and weary. And don’t underestimate how stress is affecting you.
Name your stressors
To get a handle on the problem, you have to identify what exactly is bothering you. Only then can you develop a strategy to either resolve it or learn how to manage and live with it. Try keeping a journal for a week or so. Record any stressful situations and your reactions to them. Then think of some ways you can resolve the issue.
Explore different ways to stay calm
At times, even the most mentally strong individuals run into mounting pressures that can readily turn into profound stress. Try a couple of the coping strategies below to stay emotionally grounded. The best part is they only take a few minutes a day, but the rewards can be long-lasting.
Take care of your body
Often, relieving stress at work starts the night before or before you even leave for work. Here are a few areas you can focus on:
- Using food for fuel
- Getting plenty of sleep but also paying attention to the quality of sleep
- Exercise regularly
When you stress your body with bad nutrition, sedentary lifestyles, and poor sleep hygiene, you can’t expect to be strong enough to handle the stress of modern-day work demands and lifestyles. On the other hand, successful people are intentional about taking care of themselves physically which, helps them to remain calm under pressure.
Fine-tune your time management skills
A significant cause of stress is poor time management. If you’re a busy executive, you know the feeling of having too much to do and not enough time to get things done.
Time management can be easy as long as you commit to taking action. Some simple steps to help you manage your time more effectively are:
- Setting a plan
- Delegating tasks to others
- Controlling your environment
Wisely managing your time helps you stay focused on the work you need to do. Otherwise, it’s easy to get sidelined by extraneous matters, things suddenly put in front of you, or reacting to demands by others rather than completing your plan.
Unplug from technological stressors
Some of us are so addicted to our electronics without realizing it. So the next time you are in a meeting, take note of how often you pull out or look at your device every time it beeps or vibrates.
Of course, this is unavoidable with some types of work, such as in the case of medical personnel verifying a medication for a patient or an administrator giving someone permission to leave work early because of an emergency. But, in many if not most cases, it is purely because of a compulsive behavioral habit that formed over time and social pressures.
Try this for a couple of hours each day, turn off all electronic devices you have become codependent on. Take notice of your surroundings, study the faces of the people you work with. What color of eyes do they have? Do they look happy or troubled? Is there something you can learn about them that would help you work with them better?
Decrease your reliance on electronics and increase your human connection, which will help you be more resilient to all of the other stressors in your work and lives.
Meet with your supervisor
Indeed, it’s a conversation you probably don’t want to have. But if you are struggling with stress, it’s vital to get help. So set up a convenient time for both of you and your boss to calmly discuss your feelings of being overwhelmed.
Be prepared to be completely honest about how the stress is affecting you at work as well as at home. However, keep in mind that you should approach the conversation with the objective of finding a solution and not just to list complaints about your job. If you do not have a good relationship with your boss, at least reach out to someone in your company’s human resources department.
“Stress is the trash of modern life – we all generate it, but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.” — Danzae Pace
There’s a lot to be learned about stress at work. And that includes learning how to manage it better and how it can affect your health. Therefore, if you are consistently feeling strained in your job, I’m so glad you are here looking for ways to relieve stress at work. Working with a coach is also an excellent way to learn additional ways to manage stress.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. If you want more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or schedule your phone call today. I’d love to offer you support and help you discover how to master anxiety and stress in the workplace, allowing you to have a happy and successful career.
What’s the first thought that comes to your mind when you think about the Thanksgiving holiday? For me, I think of family and food—lots and lots of food. Of course, I also think about what I am grateful for, but if I’m honest, I have to say that food comes to my mind pretty quickly. And not just any food but the mouth-watering spread that makes up the typical Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t know about you, but it’s not every day I’m eating turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and the rest of the fixings. So, I get excited. Okay? But honestly, the holiday is not just about the food. For it’s important to remember it’s about celebrating gratitude also. Now since you are here reading this blog, I’m going to assume you are looking for real answers to your question of “How do you calm down anxiety”? And I believe I have an answer for you, but first.
Brain food and your mood
Do you know how you feel sluggish and tired after eating all that food on Thanksgiving? Well, that’s because of what you put into your digestive system. If you can think of your mind the same way, you’ll realize that what you put into it impacts how you feel.
Feeding your mind a constant flow of things such as worry, fear, envy, self-criticism, and negative news is bound to impact your mental wellbeing negatively. So, let’s change that up and give your mind a healthy eating plan to help calm your anxiety. How can we do that? Well, one way is to practice gratitude.
Have you ever noticed how anxiety feels heavy and gratitude feels light? That’s because expressing gratitude causes your brain to release dopamine and serotonin—two hormones that make you feel lighter and happier inside.
Practicing gratitude is something we should all be practicing not just at Thanksgiving but all year long. And that’s because the benefits are so great. So, let’s look at some practical ways we can incorporate some gratitude into our lives.
Ways to find and practice gratitude
1. Look for goodness. Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean you stick your head in the sand and ignore your problems. Or that your life is not perfect. On the contrary, it means that despite your anxious thoughts, you actively look for the good things (big or small) in your life regardless of the bad.
2. Set gratitude reminders. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of life and focus only on what is going wrong during the day. So take some steps to remind yourself of things you can be grateful for. It can be as easy as setting the alarm on your phone to go off at regular intervals. When it goes off, take a moment and think of something that makes you feel thankful. Or visual reminders like post-it notes strategically placed in areas you frequent throughout the day, such as the kitchen, bathroom mirror, desk, nightstand, etc. Even though you are setting these alerts up ahead of time, you are training your brain (and heart) to express gratitude.
3. Keep a gratitude journal. Take a few moments in the morning and evening of each day to write down something you can be thankful for. It can be something as simple as “I feel grateful today that I have hot water for a shower.” Or “I’m grateful for the roof over my head.” No matter how hard life feels, there really is always something to be thankful for if you look for it.
4. Practice and don’t stop practicing. Practicing gratitude may start as a practice, but eventually, it will become more natural. It’s a skill, and just like any other skill, the more you practice, the better you become at it. However, it can also fade from non-use. So keep on practicing until it becomes a habit.
“Interrupt anxiety with gratitude.” — Danielle Laporte
Practicing gratitude isn’t going to calm your anxiety overnight, but it can be beneficial in lessening your anxiety. In fact, did you know it is scientifically impossible for your brain to feel stress and gratitude simultaneously? The two emotions may alternate, but you can’t feel them at the same time. So at the very least, by practicing gratitude, you’re putting your anxiety on pause. And at the most, by cultivating a more appreciative attitude in life, you’re telling yourself there’s a lot less to feel anxious about and a lot more to feel joyous about.
I believe it’s good practice to take the opportunity each day to express gratitude. If for nothing else but to guard ourselves against taking things for granted. And something else I like to keep in mind is that gratitude isn’t just about being grateful for what we have. But it can also mean being grateful for what we can give others.
After using the ways I shared above of finding and practicing gratitude, you would like to learn additional ways on how to calm down anxiety; working with a coach is a great way to do it. A coach can help you discover the best calming techniques that will work for you. They will also encourage you to keep practicing them until they becomes second nature when you start to feel anxious.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. xxxxxxxx If you want more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or schedule your phone call today. In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and find many things to be grateful for.
This article originally appeared on My Anxiety Link
I’m going to show my age here, but when I was growing up, “The Brady Bunch” was a popular show on TV. And oh, how I envied those kids in that family which looked nothing like my own. For example, they lived in a big house, the girls and the boys had their own bathrooms. They always wore “cool” clothes, and hey, they even had a live-in maid. Come on! Those kids had it made in the shade! And yet, even “The Brady’s”, had their fair share of stressful family life issues.
Now, I have to say I was blessed to grow up in a good family. But we, like every other “real” family out there, had our fair share of family issues. But, unlike “The Brady’s” issues which were fictional and always ended up resolved and in smiles, ours lasted more than a half-hour and definitely didn’t always end in smiles.
The myth of the perfect family
While there are healthy families, there is no such thing as a perfect family. And yes, even healthy families experience stressful family life. They have quarrels, uncooperative children, and sibling rivalries. And they also experience other challenging life events such as job losses, family member deaths, and financial struggles.
How to cope with stressful family life
Every family reacts to stress in different ways. And while there is no perfect way to manage stress, there are good coping strategies that can help guide you and your family when dealing with everyday stress and crises.
Here are a few ways that may work for you and your family:
- Keep the lines of communication open. It’s so important for family members to feel comfortable talking with one another about their feelings when they feel stressed.
- Check your behavior. Stressed-out parents without realizing it can set the tone for the rest of the family. So once again, this is where having an open line of communication can be beneficial. Tell your family you are having a difficult time and that you are working on finding a solution.
- Determine if some changes need to be made. For example, perhaps your family is getting overwhelmed by jam-packed activities, creating late bedtimes and crazy schedules. In that case, consider dropping an activity or two. Or maybe you are a single-parent family or you and your spouse both work. If so, it can be quite the challenge to keep the house clean, and you need more help from everyone. Have a family meeting and discuss some ways you can make changes to make everyone less stressed. However, keep in mind, most people don’t like changes, so start slowing and gradually make the changes your family needs.
- Set some family priorities. Family life is so different today than when I was growing up. It’s no wonder that parents and kids get stressed out while trying to squeeze so much into a too short period of time. It stresses me out just thinking about it. So, make some judgment calls on what is truly important for you and your family to be involved in. And don’t forget things such as family meals, playtime in the backyard with your kids, family movie or game nights, or just sitting on the porch and enjoying the fresh air or a good book.
- Develop and use a support system. As a parent, there are times when it is inappropriate for you to discuss particular concerns with your children. For those times, it is crucial to have a support system in place where you can share your feelings or turn to when you become overwhelmed.
- Laugh often. When stress levels are high, it’s pretty easy to worry, stress, and remain serious. Laughter, however, can help lighten the mood. And when your family hits a rough patch, there’s nothing like some light laughs or even a round of belly-busting guffaws to balance out the pressures of stressful family life. Laughter is contagious and truly is the best medicine. And though laughter can’t solve all your problems, it can help your family connect with one another, making it easier to work together and tackle any problems facing you.
“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.” ―Jill Botte Taylor
So, until someone invents a way to live our lives stress-free, the best we can do is learn how to recognize, accept and manage the stresses that life can bring. I’m certain if you lock these coping strategies in place, you’ll be well on your way. And here’s a bonus, by managing your stress, you’ll have more time to focus your energies more on the things in life that really count.
And lastly, if you want to explore additional strategies to cope with stressful family life, working with a coach can be very helpful. A coach can walk you through various techniques that can help you and your family live less stressed and happier together.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. If you want more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or schedule your phone call today. I’m looking forward to your call.
This article originally appeared on My Anxiety Link.