Monday, November 12, 2018

Managing Your Grief

It’s often hard to manage grief in healthy ways. Here are 10 signs that you are on the right track.
·        You are using a resiliency that you weren’t aware of. You are equipped not only to endure loss but to move forward with your life.
·        You are using your own unique ways to heal grief. You aren’t following the script of other people.
·        You can talk about the loss. Talking about your loss and feelings is healthy and therapeutic.
·        You are stabilizing yourself on an emotional, mental and physical level. The powerful emotions that you initially felt, are easing up. It’s less of a “roller coaster” ride.
·        You are eating and sleeping better. When you work on grief, you let go of tension. This allows you to eat and sleep better.
·        You are enjoying the company of others.
·        You are comfortable when people don’t know what to say.
·        You realize that the “goal” is not to get over the loss but to heal it to the best of your ability.
·        You are reaching out to help others. This act indicates that you aren’t completely self-absorbed and have energy to help others.
·        You find reasons to be optimistic and look forward to the future.

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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Grief: 9 Myths

Grief is a roller coaster ride. It has ups and downs. Grieving patterns are unique. Here are 9 myths about it:

1.   People grieve the same way. Grieving is a highly individual experience. Grief depends upon a variety of factors (i.e. education, religion, life experiences etc.). No two people grieve the same way.

2.   Grief lasts 6 months to a year. Grief recovery takes two years or more before life feels “normal” again.

3.   Time heals the wound. Time alone isn’t enough. There is an old saying that tells that “time heals all wounds.” With the passage of time, the pangs of grief may become less sharp, less frequent. Healing doesn’t just simply “happen.” You must help it alone. Some ways to help include: grief support group, nurturing your spirit, taking care of your physical self with exercise and nutrition.

4.   Get over grief as soon as possible. Instead of focusing on getting over grief, focus on growing through it.

5.   Friends can help by avoiding talking about it. Grievers want and need to talk about their loss. Friends can facilitate the healing by being good listeners.

6.   Tears reveal weakness. Tears reflect a deep love and are a natural part of mourning. Many people associate tears of grief with inadequacy and weakness. Crying on the part of the mourner often generates feelings of helplessness in friends, family and caregivers. Crying is a natural way of releasing tension in the body. Crying makes people feel better. Tears are NOT a sign of weakness.

7.   Staying busy keeps the pain away. There is no way to avoid pain or loss. Burying yourself in a lot of activities delays the recovery process. The BEST approach is a balance of social interaction and solitude.

8.   Family and friends are your best support system. Some families have high dysfunction. Some friends have never had an experience with loss and may not know how to help. The best support comes from 2 sources: 1) People with high levels of compassion and sensitivity, 2) People who have experienced the death of a loved one.

9.   There will be closure. Closure is not some magical, mystical endpoint with a sudden ending to grief and life returns to normal. Closure is gradual. Each  person’s journey is different.

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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Staying Strong

Technology is NOT my strong suit. While I understand that it has a purpose, I’m overwhelmed in how/why things HAVE to continue to be “updated,” or evolve in the way that they do. I look at it this way, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

I’m also a visual learner. I have to see something work (many times) before I “get it.”

The above all came together when I had to learn some features about my android phone and music (for my zumba class).

I walked into a Best Buy to check out some adapters etc. I walked up to two “Mac Specialists” and asked for help. A young man (20ish) volunteered and led me to the devices I needed. As I began questioning him, he “took over” and spoke over me. The first time he did it, I gave him a “pass” and waited for him to take a breath. When he did, I interjected with more questions. He spoke over me again. I stopped him and said, “Sir, I’m a visual learner. In addition, I’m fearful of technology. I don’t understand it and want to learn this. I need to talk this out so I can feel comfortable with the product.”

Once again, he  spoke over me.
At this point, I broke eye-contact with him and looked at the floor. He enraged me to no end.

I wanted to swear at him. I chose not to. I wanted to punch him. I chose not.

I tried to interrupt. He said, “Listen, I know what you need. This device will work. I sell these things all the time.”
I reached my peak. I looked at him and said, “I’m done.” In addition, I told him he was a terrible listener. I walked out of the store. I would not give him the sale.

I felt good about the way I handled this. I stood strong in that I would NOT permit this young man to treat me disrespectfully.

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Focus: Limits, boundaries

Questions for you: 1) What situations/people repeatedly disrespect you and your boundaries? 2) How are you currently handling it? Are you letting it go or confronting it?

Saturday, October 20, 2018

General Behaviors of Anxiety or Depression

  • ·       Mind races
  • ·        Possible sleep disturbances
  • ·        Breathing is fast or shallow
  • ·        Nausea or lack of appetite
  • ·        Restless
  • ·        Jelly-like legs
  • ·        Dizzy or light headed
  • ·        Blurred vision
  • ·        Difficulty swallowing
  • ·        Heart palpitations
  • ·        Sweating or shivering
  • ·        Want to run away from the situation

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression  

·        Fear
·        Panic
·        Apprehension
·        Panic attacks
·        Digestive complaints
·        Excessive worry
·        Agitation
·        Difficulty concentrating
·        Sleep disturbance

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Saturday, October 6, 2018

6 Types of Anxiety Disorders

1.   Generalized Anxiety Disorder: This presents as a long lasting anxiety not specific to a situation or object.
2.   Panic Disorder: This presents as a quick hit of terror. It’s often followed by trembling or difficulty in breathing.
3.   Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: This condition presents repetitious obsessions and compulsions.
4.   Social Anxiety Disorder: Presents itself as intense fear and social interactions managed with avoidance.
5.   Specific Phobias: Fear of a specific situation or object (i.e. spiders).
6.   Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Anxiety from a traumatic experience.

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Sunday, September 30, 2018

9 Ways To Fight Fair

1.   Ask yourself why you’re upset. Take time to think about your feelings before you get into an argument.
2.   Discuss the issues 1 at a time: Resolve problems 1 at a time.
3.   Don’t use degrading language: Degrading language is an attempt to express negative feelings and make your partner feel bad. This just leads to more character attacks.
4.   Express your words with feelings: Be proactive and BOLD. Make sure you show your partner that you mean business WITHOUT being crude!
5.   Take turns: Each person needs to talk and each person needs to listen. Arguments are NOT resolved if this doesn’t happen!
6.   Don’t STONEWALL: If you refuse to speak, you are stonewalling. You might feel better temporarily but the issue will still be unresolved. If you can’t move forward, agree to resume the conversation a little bit later.
7.   Don’t yell: If you yell and think you’ll “win,” you’re fooling yourself. It’s a TERRIBLE idea, and shows the other person that you don’t respect them. The problem will only get worse.
8.   Take time outs: If things get too heated, take a time out to cool down and come back when you are not as upset.
9.   Compromise: Do your best to compromise. Relationships are about “give and take.”

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Being There

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a memorial service for a lady who worked at my local bank. Although I have not attended a funeral/memorial in decades, my conscience told me to make this a priority. I went, but with trepidation. I didn’t know what to expect.

The service was lovely and respectful. Many people came. I was concerned though that many of this lady’s colleagues didn’t show. It was on a Sunday afternoon. In the weeks leading to the service a number of them asked me if they’d see me there. I said yes and believed they’d show their support. They didn’t. This bothered me A LOT. How could they just not be there?

As I absorbed the moment. I pictured myself as the deceased. I know that sounds maudlin but at 61, you think of stuff like that. Over and over I thought, “In the past, people haven’t been there for me. I’ve supported them when they needed me; why not the reverse? Even in death, would they drop everything to remember me?” Each time I asked myself this, the response was the same. NO!

The service lasted an hour. I left in a hurry. I couldn’t breathe in the intensity of everything. The realization of the lack of people not in attendance bothered me (for this lady), and myself. I got to my car and sobbed at the behavior of people.

When I was younger and a person died, people showed up. It didn’t matter whether it was a family member, close friend or neighbor. People showed up. They showed respect and offered condolences. This behavior reflected integrity.

What has happened to society and our values?

Focus: Kindness, empathy, spirit, friendship, legacy
Question for you: 1) Are you showing up for people or are you making excuses?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Anger Warning Signs

Sometimes, anger can affect what you say or do before you even recognize how you’re feeling. You may become so used to the feeling of anger that you don’t notice it.
Even if you aren’t aware of anger, it influences your behavior. The first step to managing anger is learning to recognize your personal warning signs.
How do you react when you feel angry. Some of these warning signs start when you are only a little irritated. Which ones apply to you?

  • ·        Mind goes blank
  • ·        Body or hands shake
  • ·        Heavy or fast breathing
  • ·        Scream, yell  or raise your voice
  • ·        Punch walls
  • ·        Become argumentative
  • ·        Pace
  • ·        Insult the other person
  • ·        Start sweating
  • ·        Clench fists
  • ·        Feel hot
  • ·        Go “quiet” and shut down
  • ·        Headaches
  • ·        Face turns red
  • ·        Feel sick to your stomach
  • ·        Become aggressive
  • ·        Crying
  • ·        Can’t stop thinking about the problem

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Monday, September 10, 2018

4 Ways To Resolve Conflict

1.   Focus on the Problem: When a disagreement turns to insults, the conversation is no longer productive. Focus on the problem and don’t blame your partner. If a disagreement becomes personal, take a break from the conversation.
2.   Use “I” Statements: When sharing a concern, begin your sentences with “I” Here’s an example, I feel hurt when you don’t call and tell me  you’re going to be late for dinner. “I” statements show that you take responsibility for your behaviors.
3.   Take time outs: When you and your partner get argumentative, it’s good to take a break or a “time out.” When you’ve  both calmed down, come back to resolving the problem. Make sure that you come back to the conversation and get closure!
4.   Work toward a Resolution: Disagreements are a part of a relationship. Try to find a compromise that benefits the both of you.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Your Brain and PTSD

Here are some “tapes” that we tell ourselves when we’re in a post traumatic stress cycle:

·        “Sometimes, I wish I was dead.”
·        “I’m in pain a lot of the time.”
·        “I feel spacey and I can’t concentrate.”
·        “I have a lot of nightmares.”
·        “I can’t handle the simplest of tasks.”
·        “I’m a doormat.”
·        “I’m so depressed. What’s wrong with me?”
·        “I just want to be alone.”
·        “I can’t concentrate or sleep.”
·        “I feel angry and worthless.”

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Monday, August 27, 2018

The Longevity of Stupid Questions

Don’t ask stupid questions!

I heard that recently in church. A wife said that to her husband. I saw the effect that type of verbal abuse had on both of them – DEVASTATING.
The wife looked angry. The husband looked beaten down. I couldn’t help but think what they looked like “pre-marriage.”

In a way, they looked like my parents. In our home my mom was an “alpha-male” – calling ALL the shots, making ALL the decisions. My dad was emasculated every day. I never saw him argue or challenge her. I can’t imagine living in that oppressive environment for 18 years. Yet, they both did! Both of them were unfulfilled. Not a good example of LOVE or respect.

In counseling, I explored the idea of dating and sharing my life with someone. As a product of my parent’s divorce, I’m apprehensive in getting to know someone in a way that goes beyond sex. The sex part is something I know. I also know myself and the baggage I bring. That baggage carries a DEEP wound. I know that’s the case with the woman I am with. I don’t know whether our baggage can withstand a healthy relationship. I guess I won’t know that until I jump in and find out.

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Focus: Dating, Intimacy, Spirit

Questions for you: 1) What baggage (drugs, alcohol, bi-polar) are deal breakers for you? 2) What baggage prevents your self-disclosure/intimacy with others?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Exercise Your Heart: 6 Benefits

Physical activity is as beneficial to your heart as medication. Here are 6 benefits:

1.   Exercise lowers blood pressure. It works like beta-blocker medication to slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease.
2.   Exercise is key to weight control. Being physically active is an essential component for losing weight and keeping it off. Being overweight puts stress on the heart and is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
3.   Exercise helps strengthen muscles. A combination of aerobic workouts (i.e. walking, running, swimming) and strength training is considered best for heart health. This reduces the need for the heart to work harder to pump more blood to the muscles.
4.   Exercise helps you quit smoking. As smokers become fit, they often quit. People who are fit are less likely to ever start smoking.
5.   Exercise helps stop, or slow the development of diabetes. When combines with strength training, regular aerobic exercise such as biking or swimming can reduce the risk of diabetes by allowing the muscles to process glycogen, a fuel for energy.
6.   Exercise reduces stress. Stress hormones can put an extra burden on the heart. Exercise can help you relax and ease stress.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Exercise: Fit It In

How can you fit more exercise into your day? Begin with small steps. Here are some ideas:
  • ·        Park your car at the end of a parking lot so you have further to walk.
  • ·        Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • ·        Spend part of your lunch break walking.
  • ·        On bad weather days, walk indoors at the mall.
  • ·        Wake up earlier and exercise before you do anything else.
  • ·        Use a wearable fitness tracker to count your steps. Increase your daily steps by 500  each week with a goal of 10,000 steps per day.

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Exercise and Anxiety/Depression

1.   Start small >> Set achievable goals and build from there.
2.   Workout when you have HIGH energy >> Gauge your energy. When you are at your most focused (i.e. morning, afternoon, night).
3.   Activities that are FUN >> gardening, walking the dog.
4.   Be comfortable >> wear comfortable clothes.
5.   Reward your efforts >> treat yourself to something you enjoy.
6.   Exercise with a friend >> keep your goals consistent. Ask a friend to accompany you as you exercise.

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Overcoming Mental Health Obstacles to Exercise

1.   Feeling exhausted: When you’re tired or stressed you might feel like working out, will make you more exhausted. The truth is that exercise is a powerful source of energy. Studies show that regular exercise can dramatically reduce fatigue and increase your energy.

2.   Feeling overwhelmed: The idea of “one more thing” can clearly be a deal-breaker. Remember that exercise helps us do everything BETTER.  If you think of exercise as a priority, you WILL find a way to fit it into your schedule.

3.   Feeling hopeless: If you start at “ground zero” you can still be successful. Start slow with low-impact exercises and watch your progress.

4.   Feeling bad about yourself If you are critical of your body, it’s TIME to change the channel. Don’t think that you are alone, try surrounding yourself with people who are like you. Accomplishing even the smallest of goals will help you gain “body confidence.”

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Remembering Your Spirit

“I don’t know what my passion is.”

This is a common question/concern for people who’ve  lost themselves. They invested their energy into their spouse, family and career. In the process, they  lost themselves. With ALL the investments in others, they forgot about their own SELF-INVESTMENT or SELF-DEPOSIT.

Years ago, Oprah Winfrey took her talk show in another direction. Admittedly, she was a part of the “trash-talk” scene (embarrassing guests on camera for ratings). One day, she realized that God gave her the talk show as a platform for helping others. She realized that there was something more to her journey. It was to educate and empower her audience.

For one year, she developed a daily segment called Remembering Your Spirit. For 10-15 minutes she featured a guest who showed others how to “dig deep” and connect with their passions. The television critics were brutal. Oprah was hurt with the criticisms but moved forward with the segments. Very gradually, people saw the importance of them and “dug deep” to reclaim those activities that promoted spiritual wellness.

I had my own realization a couple of weeks ago. I let go of going to the beach in the summer. When I taught full time and had summers off, I hit the beach 2-3 times a week to work on my tan and reconnect with the water and sand. At the time, I didn’t realize that those moments were recharging my spiritual batteries. Every time I went to the beach, I invested in myself so that when I began a new school year, I was spiritually invested.

I let go of my “beach time” for 4 years. I rationalized that it cost too much in gas to go the 50 mile round trip. In addition, I was fearful that my car wouldn’t sustain the journey.

My circumstances changed and in counseling I made the commitment that I’d go to the beach 1x a week to enjoy and treat myself. The first revisit was overwhelming. When I got there, I was flooded with so much joy. I actually said aloud, Hello beach! I missed you!”

I was there for over an hour. I realized how (in the past), this sacred time filled me up and  sustained me to accomplish many challenges. That’s how important that time was.

After that first time, I re-committed myself to trekking to the beach 1x a week (usually Sunday) to replenish what I lost. (Right now, it feels odd to go there. I’m a different person and in a different stage of life. But I know I HAVE to do it for ME!)

As I remembered my spirit, I remembered a deep rooted passion – going to the beach to enjoy my life!

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Focus: Passion, spirit

Questions for you: 1) What passions bring you joy? 2) Are you currently engaged with your passions? Why? Why not? 3) If not, how can you ignite/incorporate them back into your life?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Exercise and PTSD/Trauma

Focusing on your body and how it feels when you exercise, can help your nervous system become “unstuck.” Outdoor activities like hiking, sailing and rock climbing have shown to reduce symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatric Stress Syndrome)
Other mental and emotional benefits of exercise:
  • ·        Sharper memory and thinking
  • ·        Higher self-esteem
  • ·        Better sleep
  • ·        More energy
  • ·        Stronger resilience

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Monday, July 9, 2018

Plan Your Day!

1. Make it realistic. Don’t work on impulse, and do more than you can handle.
2. Prioritize your work.
3. Know your distractions and take steps to control them (i.e., turn off your phone)
4. Start early, and keep on going.
5. Don’t waste your time on  pointless things
6. Switch between focused work and short breaks.
7. Be flexible  with obstacles.

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Monday, July 2, 2018

An Unexpected Turn of Events

I believe that the Universe is ALWAYS speaking to us. What we HAVE to do is pay attention. Events and situations are always speaking to us. Are we listening?

This happened to me recently. I had to have a routine colonoscopy as part of my wellness program. By nature, I’m not a procrastinator. In this case, I put it off  till the last minute. The reason? I had to have someone drive me to, and from,  the hospital. The procedure involves sedation. The hospital is FIRM on having someone be with you for the procedure.

Since I couldn’t get anyone to take me, I used the delivery service through my insurance plan. I was relieved that I had this option. I was also anxious as to how this would all play out. I tend  to control things and wanted this to be seamless.

The day arrived and my driver arrived on schedule. Things were going well until I mentioned that he’d have to walk me into the hospital and stay with me for fifteen minutes. This was the hospital policy. He refused. In his words, “I just drop people off and leave.” I was firm in that I couldn’t go through the procedure unless he respected  my wishes.

He walked me to my destination, albeit begrudgingly. His behavior alerted the hospital staff to contact the insurance company about how this would ALL play out.

In this moment, I witnessed a calamity of errors that pushed my anxiety button.
Things settled down and I was led to a pre-exam room. The blood pressure cup was attached and I lay there until it was time for the procedure. The nurses were concerned about my blood pressure. It’s usually high when I see the doctor. This time, it was off  the charts. Unbeknownst to me, the doctor cancelled that procedure and contacted the  E.R. staff. He believed that I was about to have a heart attack or stroke. The nurses came in to inform me about the procedure. I HAD to go to the ER to have the blood pressure addressed.

I was in the E.R. for a couple of hours to assess my blood pressure  and heart. Everything checked out and I was discharged.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well that night. I was so frustrated with the turn of events. I replayed the situation over and over again.

It took me a couple of days before reality hit. I was trying to control the situation. By nature, I’m a control freak. This was no exception. ALL the events were showing me something – I needed to slow down and stop controlling situations. If I continued to control events, the anxiety would get worse. Now, when I feel I want to control things, I remember what happened in the E.R. IN addition, I practice “breathing into my heart” and remembering that I am on a journey. Things WILL work out positively if I relinquish control!

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Focus: Anxiety, Flow with Life, Universe, Life lessons, Spirit 

Question for you: 1) What situations do you still want to control? Why? 2) What can you do to change this behavior?