Posts tagged with ‘anxiety’

26 sep

Stressed Out? What’s in Your Coping Toolbox?

MaricleMariclePost25SeptHow Do You Cope with Stress?

Something my clients talk about a lot is how to cope with stress and anxiety. What does “coping” really mean? Coping is simply what we do, think, or feel that helps us deal with our feelings, without getting too overwhelmed. You already have a number of these skills that you use all the time, whether you think about it or not.

People who cope well with stress and change have a large “toolbox” of skills. Examples of skills might include:

• Telling yourself, “It’s not worth it,” instead of getting into an argument
• Seeking the positive in difficult situations (See a more detailed post here)
• Journaling
• Talking to a friend about your troubles
• Taking a walk to “cool off”

I like to think about having a coping toolbox. My toolbox is comprised of skills in two overlapping categories: self-care and coping skills.

Self-Care: Self-care is the time I dedicate to myself daily, whether alone or with someone else, in order to meet my basic needs, relax and have fun, or enrich or benefit myself in some way. I like to think about self-care as “useful selfishness.” Without taking care of myself, I have nothing to give.

Coping Skills: Coping skills are the techniques I use in the moment to relieve stress, anger, fear, or anxiety.

Taking Care of Myself

When I let my own self-care fall down on my priority list, it shows. I feel grumpy, snappy, and not my usual happy self. Self-care for me includes: running and exercise, talking with my husband, social time with friends and family, being goofy with my kids, making art or music, spending time with my dogs, cooking, and getting enough sleep.

Adequate coping skills also help me stay on an even-keel. Talking directly with someone about what is bothering me, looking for solutions to my problem, reframing a difficult situation in terms of the benefits it brings, running, making art, and journaling all help me deal with very difficult feelings.

Usually though, coping well with stress requires more than just good self-care or one good coping skill. We are complex and dynamic beings, and so our responses to our problems need to be too. Any one skill will probably help me feel a minimum of about 10% better, so I need to use a combination of good self-care and coping skills to cope effectively.

What’s in your toolbox?
Which tools work the best for you? Do you take a shower, go for a drive, dance, build things, or vent? What’s a sure sign that you are letting go of your self-care? Share your insights in the comments section. Thanks for reading and be well.

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Amy Maricle on September 26th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

14 dec

How to Beat the Holiday Blues

WEJMDIt is terribly ironic that the holidays, which is meant to be a time for celebration, joy, family, loved ones, connection, harmony and contentment, brings sadness and depression to so many people. Why is this the case? Perhaps because those who suffer from the holiday blues are seeing their world through the eyes of the past, focusing on the disappointments, the losses, the rejections, the abandonments of the past and bringing them into the present, and feeling their devastating emotional impact as if they happened yesterday.

Perhaps because those who suffer from the holiday blues look at their current life situation and perceive it as empty and lonely, lacking in loving, nurturing relationships, lacking in meaningful, supportive family bonds, lacking in personal fulfillment, lacking in health and happiness. Perhaps because those who suffer from the holiday blues fear the future will deliver them more of the same. More loneliness. More alienation. More frustration. More regret. More pain and suffering. So what do we do about it?

REFUSE THE BLUES

Best we not focus on the disappointments of the past. When thoughts of the past pop into our mind, we give them no power to terrorize us. We gently tell them to go away and haunt someone else. We don’t want those thoughts anymore. We don’t need them for our safety or protection. We don’t wish to victimize ourselves anymore with painful memories.

Best we not focus on the potential disappointments of the future. When anxious, fearful thoughts about the future pop into our mind, we give them no power to terrorize us. We gently tell them to go away and haunt someone else. We don’t want those thoughts anymore. We don’t need to dwell on all the horrible “what ifs” that might someday happen. We don’t need to fill our mind with anticipatory thoughts of failure, loneliness, pain and suffering possibly yet to come. We don’t wish to victimize ourselves anymore with the belief that we will not be able to handle what our life’s future has to offer.

BE HERE NOW. BE LOVE NOW.

The above subhead are two titles from books by Ram Dass, whose spiritual journeys he has distilled into these two phrases of powerful wisdom. The best way to overcome the holiday blues or any blues for that matter is to BE HERE NOW: Be in the present. Appreciate that in this present moment is massive potential for happiness and contentment. In this present moment we can look at the beauty of nature all around us. In this present moment we can marvel at the miracle of life in all its myriad forms, animal, vegetable and mineral. In this present moment we can BE LOVE NOW: We can help a stranger, hug a friend, ease someone else’s pain, share a laugh or a smile, see the love in everyone despite how they’re behaving, forgive others for they know not what they do, accept the Oneness of life despite the differences and diversity that sometimes can seem quite disorienting or frightening, appreciate the connection we have to the earth, to the wind and water, to all creatures big and small, and above all else, to each other.

ABOVE ALL ELSE: LOVE YE ONE ANOTHER

There is great joy to be had in this world, in our present moments despite not having the relationships, position and possessions we desire, by simply connecting with others. Making eye contact with others. Extending acceptance, tolerance, love and forgiveness to others. Do these things on a daily basis. What you give to others you can’t keep from yourself. What you give to others will come back to you.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Walter E Jacobson, MD on December 14th, 2011 in First30Days Book | No comments Read related posts in , , , ,

04 aug

Drop the Case

RickHansonWho are you prosecuting?
The Practice
Drop the case.
Why?

Lately I’ve been thinking about a kind of “case” that’s been running in my mind about someone in my extended family. The case is a combination of feeling hurt and mistreated, critique of the other person, irritation with others who haven’t supported me, views about what should happen that hasn’t, and implicit taking-things-personally.

In other words, the usual mess.

It’s not that I have not been mistreated – actually, I have been – nor that my analysis of things is inaccurate (others agree that what I see does in fact exist). The problem is that my case is saturated with negative emotions like anger, biased toward my own viewpoint, and full of me-me-me. Every time I think of it I start getting worked up, adding to the bad effects of chronic stress. It creates awkwardness with others, since even though they support me, they’re naturally leery of getting sucked into my strong feelings or into my conflict with the other person. It makes me look bad, too cranked up about things in the past. And it primes me for overreactions when I see the person in question. Yes, I practice with this stuff arising in my mind and generally don’t act it out, but it’s still a burden.

I think my own experience of case-making – and its costs – are true in general. In couples in trouble, one or both people usually have a detailed Bill of Particulars against the other person. At larger scales, different social or political groups have scathing indictments of the other side.

How about you? Think of someone you feel wronged by: can you find case against that person in your mind? What’s it feel like to go into that case? What does it cost you? And others?

The key – often not easy – is to be open to your feelings (e.g., hurt, anger), to see the truth of things, and to take appropriate action . . . while not getting caught up in your case about it all.

How?

Bring to awareness a case about someone – probably related to a grievance, resentment, or conflict. It could be from your present or your past, resolved or still grinding. Explore this case, including: the version of events in it, other beliefs and opinions, emotions, body sensations, and wants; notice how you see the other person, and yourself; notice what you want from others (sometimes their seeming failings are a related case). For a moment or two, in your mind or out loud, get into the case: really make it! Then notice what that’s like, to get revved up into your case.

Mentally or on paper, list some of the costs to you and others of making this particular case. Next, list the payoffs to you; on other words, what do you get out of making this case? For example, making a case typically makes us feel in the right, is energizing, and helps cover over softer vulnerable emotions like hurt or disappointment. Then ask yourself: are the payoffs worth the costs?

With this understanding, see if you can stay with the difficult feelings involved in the situation (the basis for the case) without slipping into a reproachful or righteous case about them. To do this, it could help to start by resourcing yourself by bringing to mind the felt sense of being cared about by others, and by opening to self-compassion. And try to hold those difficult feelings in a big space of awareness.

Open to a wider, more impersonal, big picture view of the situation – so it’s less about you and more about lots of swirling causes coming together in unfortunate ways. See if any kind of deeper insight about the other person, yourself, or the situation altogether comes to you.

Listen to your heart: are there any skillful actions to take? Including naming the truth of things, disengaging from tunnels with no cheese, or the action of there-is-nothing-that-can-be-done.

Watch how a case starts forming in your mind, trying to get its hooks into you. Then see if you can interrupt the process. Literally set down the case, like plopping down a heavy suitcase when you finally get home after a long trip. What a relief!

Enjoy the good feelings, the spaciousness of mind, the openness of heart, the inner freedom, and other rewards of dropping your case

* * *

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom. His work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Consumer Reports Health, U.S. News and World Report, and Huffington Post, and he is the author of the best-selling Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom. He writes a weekly newsletter – Just One Thing – that suggests a simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind and heart. If you wish, you can subscribe to Just One Thing here.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on August 4th, 2011 in General, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

30 jun

We Don’t Need to “Keep Fear Alive”

RickHansonJon Stewart and Stephen Colbert had dueling rallies in DC in October, 2010. Stewart’s was “Rally to Restore Sanity” and Colbert’s was “March to Keep Fear Alive!

Obviously, Colbert is a great satirist who was poking fun, since we sure don’t need a rally to keep fear alive. Alarming messages are all around us, like the news about global warming or the “Threat Level Orange” announcements every few minutes in the airport.

Some of those messages are true and worth heeding. For example, dumping carbon into the atmosphere must inevitably make the planet hotter; it’s basic physics.

But others are wildly exaggerated: the actual odds of a bad event on your airplane flight are “Threat Level Chartreuse” — a bucket of green paint with a drop of yellow.

How do we tell the difference between real threats and bogus ones? Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on June 30th, 2011 in General, Relationships, Things We Love | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , ,

14 nov

How to Move Through Your Fear

MikeRobbins96Fear is something that we all experience, especially on our journey toward deeper authenticity, fulfillment, and success in life. Being who we really are, expressing ourselves boldly, and going for what we want in life can cause a great deal of fear in us.

I get scared all the time – especially when I’m taking risks, doing new things, and putting myself out there. When I was younger I thought there was something really wrong with me because I would get so nervous – in sports, in school, in social settings, and more. I now understand that everyone else experiences their own version of the same basic fears I have (being judged, making mistakes, looking bad, failing, disappointing others, and more). It’s just part of being human.

Many of us run away or hide from our fears because they seem scary, uncomfortable, or embarrassing. We also erroneously think we “shouldn’t” have them or we’re somehow “wrong” for feeling scared. However, most things that mean a lot to us in life don’t show up without any fear at all. And as we strive to live with authenticity, it’s inevitable that we’ll get scared along the way.

The question isn’t whether or not we experience fear in our lives (because we all do and always will for as long as we live); the more important question for each of us to ask and answer is, how can I move through my fears in an honest way so they don’t stop me from being who I really am and going for what I truly want in life?

How to move through your fear in a positive way:

1) Admit it – Acknowledge your fear, tell the truth about it, and be real. When we feel scared and are willing to admit it with a sense of empathy and compassion for ourselves, it can often take the edge off and give us a little breathing room to begin with.

2) Own it – Take responsibility for your fear and own it as yours, not anyone else’s. We often have a tendency to blame others for doing or saying things that “scare” us. However, when we remember that no one else can “make” us scared – only we have that power – we take back the responsibility and the power of the fear and remember that it exists within us, so we are the only ones who can change it.

3) Feel it – Allow yourself to feel your fear, not just think about it or talk about it (something I often catch myself doing). Feel it in your body and allow yourself to go into the emotion of it, even if it is scary or uncomfortable. Like any emotion, when we feel our fear deeply and passionately, it has a way of dissipating.

4) Express it – Let it out. Speak, write, emote, move your body, yell, or do whatever you feel is necessary for you to do to express your fear. Similar to feeling any emotion with intensity, when we express emotions with intensity and passion, they move right through us. When we repress our emotions, they get stuck and can become debilitating and dangerous.

5) Let it go – This one is often easier said than done – for me and many people I work with. Letting go of our fear becomes much easier when we honestly admit, own, feel, and express it. Letting go of our fear is a conscious and deliberate choice, not a reactionary form of denial. Once you’ve allowed yourself the time to work through your fear, you can declare “I’m choosing to let go of my fear and use its energy in a positive way.”

6) Visualize the positive outcomes you desire – Think about, speak out loud, write down, or even close your eyes and visualize how you want things to be and, more important, how you want to feel. If your fear is focused on something specific like your work, a relationship, money, etc. – visualize it being how you want it to be and allow yourself to feel how to ultimately want to feel.

7) Take action – Be willing to take bold and courageous actions, even if you’re still feeling nervous. Your legs may shake, your voice might quiver, but that doesn”t have to stop you from saying what’s on your mind, taking a risk, making a request, trying something new, or being bold in a small or big way. Doing this is what builds confidence and allow us to move through our fear.

Fear can and does stop us in life – from being ourselves, speaking our truth, and going for what we really want. But, when we remember with compassion that there’s nothing wrong with us for getting scared and when we’re willing to lean into our fears with vulnerability and boldness – we can literally transform them into something that catapults our growth and fulfillment in life.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on November 14th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

22 mar

Changing Your Relationship with Anxiety

EmilyVanHornWe’ve probably all experienced anxiety at some point and have a well intentioned friend or relative who insisted we “calm down” or “take a deep breath.” Of course, this advice doesn’t usually help. When someone is in the grip of panic, it’s like the body is on auto-pilot and things feel out of control.

Anxiety many times is a symptom of unresolved trauma. Sometimes a person isn’t even consciously aware of the earlier trigger that causes the symptoms. Trauma is real. It can happen when the body’s innate response to threat is overwhelmed or incomplete. When there’s an event that our nervous system perceives as overwhelming, it may leave our bodies in an unfinished fight, flight, or freeze pattern, causing all kinds of symptoms.

One thing we notice with people who suffer from anxiety is that they tend to be extremely self critical. To change this, if you suffer from anxiety, you can start by acknowledging to yourself that you aren’t crazy and there isn’t anything wrong with you. Instead of blaming yourself for the negative feelings instead talk to your body. Let your body know you understand it’s just trying to protect itself because it feels threatened. Bodies are hard wired to survive. When something has been overwhelming the nervous system, the body reacts in the way it thinks will keep it safe usually by preparing to do something, such as fight, flight, freeze, and so on. Somehow that excess energy surging around has to be discharged before you can feel like yourself again.

Sensation is the language of the reptilian brain
Rather than using our cognitive abilities (trying to figure out or understand something), instead, by noticing sensations we will engage that deep part of our brain where our instinctual survival responses reside. This mild attention to sensation is what will help your body begin to discharge the held adrenaline that is causing your anxiety.

Tools for self help

When you start feeling anxious, take a moment to notice your physical sensations. Notice specific physical sensations, such as, a tightening in your chest, increased heart rate, foggy thoughts or the feeling that you want to run”. When we don’t try to make something go away or label it as fear, nervousness, etc, our curiosity is what starts to open the neural pathways that lead to the hind brain and incites a relaxation response.

*When healing from a traumatic experience, I always recommend working with a skilled and trained practitioner who understands how trauma affects the autonomic nervous system and can help guide you through the process of recovery.

Emily Van Horn helps clients heal from all types of trauma. She employs various modalities of healing techniques: Somatic Trauma Resolution therapy (STR) and several others. As a practitioner of the healing arts for nearly 20 years, she is an expert in assisting people in healing from both shock and developmental trauma. For clients who suffer from abuse, accidents, falls, violence, sexual trauma, PTSD, chronic stress or pain, she utilizes tools that help them change their lives in gentle and supported ways. STR is different from traditional talk therapy, because it focuses on healing the nervous system where trauma is stored. Trauma is not a disorder of the mind but a disregulation of the nervous system that comes into play after a person has felt threatened or overwhelmed. This modality is relatively short term and can save years of therapy or medication. Emily is available in person or over SKYPE and by phone for people out of her geographical area.

www.EmilyVanHorn.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Emily Van Horn on March 22nd, 2010 in Health | 7 comments Read related posts in

08 dec

The Best Gift of All

mike_robbinsDuring one of her shows a few years back, Oprah Winfrey made a profound and beautiful statement that I appreciated very much. She said, “We do shows about lots of ‘stuff’ and my ‘favorite things,’ but what people want more than anything else is to know that they’re appreciated…that’s the best gift of all.”

At this time of year it’s easy for us to get caught up in the stress of getting everything on our “list” crossed off, preparing for parties and events, and rushing around to buy gifts. And, with money tight for many of us this year, there’s added stress as we think about what gifts to get for our family members, friends, co-workers, and others.

Instead of just giving “stuff” for the holidays this year, what if we gave the people in our life the most meaningful gift of all; our appreciation? Let the people around you know what you appreciate about them and why.

What do you value most about your best friend? What is it about your kids that you really appreciate? What do you love best about your spouse? How does your co-worker or your boss make your job easier and more fun?

Expressing our heartfelt and genuine appreciation for the important people in our life is magical and it’s essential to our ability to create happiness, fulfillment, loving relationships, healthy families, successful teams, and productive communities. Appreciation is also an important element of effectively dealing with the stress of challenges and uncertainty that so many of us are facing these days.

This year, our holiday gifts can be expressions of true appreciation which will have real impact on our relationships and make our holiday season one to remember. And, with things the way they are financially for many people these days, taking time to appreciate others and life is so important this year.

Here are three simple suggestions to make your holiday gifts and your holiday season special and meaningful:

1) In addition to (or instead of) giving gifts, take time to write heartfelt thank you cards. Write cards of gratitude – letting the people around you know what you appreciate about them and how they have impacted your life in a positive way. Express your appreciation genuinely, specifically, and personally – in a heartfelt way.

2) Ask people what they really want. Giving something specific that someone really wants will have them feel appreciated and valued. It doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as it’s personal to them. And, if you ask them directly you may find out that what they really want is something simple that can’t be bought or doesn’t cost money.

3) Give the gift of your time or service. Make a list of a few important people in your life and instead of buying them something, call and ask each them if there is some project they’ve been putting off or procrastinating that you might be able to help them with. Schedule time to come over to their house or support them specifically in getting that task or project accomplished.

Remember what most people want, more than almost anything else, is to know that they are loved, valued, and appreciated. Appreciation truly is the best gift we can give to the people in our lives (for the holidays and at any time of the year).

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

Posted by Mike Robbins on December 8th, 2009 in Family, Finances, Global/Social Change, Relationships | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

01 dec

How to Stay Grounded During the Holidays

mike_robbinsThe holiday season is now in full swing. If you’re anything like me you probably have mixed feelings about the holidays. I love the excitement, parties, decorations, rituals, music, gifts, connections, and more. However, even these fun things can wear on me. And, the stress, drama, consumption, obligation, expense, and more that often come along with this time of year are not on my list of “favorite things.”

In addition, I often feel like I’m not doing enough, not on top of my “list,” and I sometimes worry that I won’t get everything done in time to make the people in my life happy the way I want to. Can you relate?

This year, especially with all that’s going on around us in the economy and the world, what if we each made a commitment to appreciate the holiday season and enjoy the whole experience – regardless of our circumstances or any external pressure we may feel? Appreciating the holiday season, as with anything in life, will make it much more enjoyable and much less stressful.

Instead of rushing around in a high state of anxiety and worry about crossing every item off of our never-ending to-do list, we could choose another way – one which will make this holiday season enjoyable, fun, and peaceful for us and those around us.

Here are a few things we can remember this holiday season to make things more fulfilling and less overwhelming:

1) Take Responsibility for Your Experience. It’s important to remember that the stress we experience during the holiday season does not come from the holidays themselves, but from us. We’re always the creators of our own experience and the more we can remember this and live our lives from this perspective, the more empowered we are. When we stop thinking, speaking, and acting as if we’re mere victims of holiday madness (or anything else in our lives for that matter), we can dramatically enhance our enjoyment and lower our stress.

2) Remember That You Are at Choice. We always have a choice about how we engage with anything. This holiday season we can choose to be annoyed by family members, obligations, forced work gatherings, crowds, prices, or anything else. Or, we can choose to enjoy the magic and fun of this time of year. We may not always get to choose the people and circumstances around us, but we always have a choice about how we relate to them. Our experience of the holidays (and of life) is up to us, as it always is.

3) Focus on What You Appreciate About the Holidays. Consciously choose to focus on the things that you appreciate about the holiday season the most. Tell the truth about this to yourself and to those around you. If at all possible, don’t participate in work or family gatherings out of obligation. But, regardless of where you are, what you do, or whom you are with – make a commitment to appreciate what’s happening, the people around you, and the many blessings of this season and in your life right now.

Even and especially when things are challenging, we always have so much to be grateful for. At this time of the year, we can take a step back, breathe deeply, and experience the gratitude we have for our lives, the people in it, and for ourselves. If not now, then when?

While there are always things for us to do, gifts to buy, gatherings to attend, and much more going on at this time of year; we can choose to have this holiday season be one that is filled with authentic peace, gratitude, and joy – if we’re willing to look for, find, and focus on what we appreciate.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

Posted by Mike Robbins on December 1st, 2009 in Family, Global/Social Change, Relationships, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,