Get Some Sun

sunshine

Social distancing does not prevent us from going outside. It just helps us not to congregate together. Going outside is essential to physical and mental health and even more so during this time.

Most of us are spending a lot of time at home right now. We are finding it difficult to keep on a schedule. We are consuming a lot of streaming shows and videos. We just are not getting out much in some cases.

Our bodies and minds need the outside and they need the sunshine and vitamin D. During this time of staying at home, it does not mean we cannot go outside and get some sun. There are many ways to do it and the benefits are invaluable.

In northern climates, it is even more important to get out and get some sun due to the fact that there is less exposure during the winter months. Increasing your intake of vitamin D can also be helpful, but being in the sun is still necessary.

Recently in Montana, we had some snow for a couple of days. It was cold and the sun wasn’t out and many people I talked to felt very down during those days. The sun is out now and it is beautiful outside, and we need to be outside too.

Even if it is just to go out into your own yard or on to your own porch for an hour or two. Going on walks on paths and trails or bike rides in the sunshine. Walking around the block of you neighborhood a few times. Or just getting a lawn chair and sitting in your driveway in the sun.

It does not matter how you get out and get sun just that you do. Your mind and body will feel so much better and brighter just like the sun itself. Even a few minutes can make a big difference.

Remember to keep your distance with others when you are out, but go outside. Staying in the house all the time during this crisis is not helpful. Social distancing does not mean complete isolation. We need to still be social in the ways that we can and we need to be outside as much as possible when the sun is out.

Go outside today. Get your family outside. Soak in some vitamin D and be mindful of the beauty of the coming spring and change of season.

Go outside and get some sun. Your mind and body will be grateful for it and your spirits will be lifted.

Until next time,
Deborah

The Importance Of Self-Care In Isolation

man standing beside window
Photo by Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez on Pexels.com

Self-care is an important practice at all times, but now even more so during these periods of isolation. With so many things on our minds during this time including care for others, worries about jobs and bills, children home from school, not being able to get supplies, our own self-care can fall by the wayside.

Isolation for those not used to it and even for those who are who feel even more isolated can result in an increase in mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

It is very important to keep up your self-care routine as much as possible or to start doing self-care on a more regular basis while isolated. Many of our self-care options are being limited by social distancing such as gyms, movies, massages, restaurants, etc. We can find that many of the things we did for self-care before are not available to us now.

That is when we have to find new ways to care for ourselves in the confines of our current situation. If we do not find these outlets for our anxiety and depression, we may find ourselves sinking further into despair and worry.

Here are some ways to practice self-care at home during this time:

1 – Writing. Starting or continuing a journal. Writing poetry. Writing short stories. Getting emotional transference through writing.

2 – Meditation. Continuing or starting a meditation practice. Calming your mind can go a long way to calming your life. Apps like Headspace, Calm, Worry Watch, and more can help you in this meditation process.

3- Art. Painting, drawing, crafting, creating and any other art related activity can inspire creativity, promote the release of dopamine and focus your thoughts on what you are doing.

4 – Games. Playing games can be very helpful during this time. If you have kids at home playing games with them or playing games by yourself on your phone, computer, or gaming system. I wouldn’t recommend doing it nonstop but every now and then offers a good break in the routine.

5 – Organizing. Taking a room of your house one at a time and organizing, managing clutter, and tidying up can not only help your home space but your mind space as well.

6 – Schedules. Having a set schedule for each day regardless of if you can go out of the house or not. A time to get up, make breakfast, work on tasks, do self-care, etc. If you have children, a schedule is necessary to continue providing structure and routine which they desperately need.

7 – Get Outside. Even if you cannot go to places you normally would, you can go outside your house. Even if it is just to sit outside in your yard in the sun, it will make a HUGE difference.

8 – Exercise. Do some kind of exercise. Even if it’s just stretching. Yoga, walking around your house, anything to get you moving and get those endorphins and dopamine going.

9 – Humor. Don’t get trapped in the gloom and doom of the news, social media, and your fellow man. Find some humor. Find ways to laugh, a lot. Funny videos, movies, comedians and things like this are all ways to have a good laugh.

10- Therapy. If you go to therapy already either keep going in to the office if possible or see if your therapist can offer telehealth (video sessions). If you feel you need to see a therapist do the same thing, go in or see if they offer video. Your mental health is important too.

These are just some of the things you can do during this time of isolation to take care of your self-care. Don’t stop taking care of you.

Because you matter.

Until next time,
Deborah

Responding To Fear

fear

The coronavirus is making it’s way through the world and the fear that accompanies it is overtaking many people’s minds. In many cases, the fear is far surpassing the actual virus and causing many to feel anxious and in some cases more anxious.

As I tell my clients, fear is the strongest emotion in the world. It is fear that drives almost every decision that people make. Fear pushes people to act and react in ways that they might not normally. And now fear is at the heart of this virus.

The way that fear spreads is by our response to it. If we respond to fear with fear, then the fear grows bigger. When many people are afraid and that fear is reinforced by media and government, the fear grows and spreads and then behaviors change and our anxiety increases.

So how do we manage our response to the fears of those around us, the fears coming from media and government? The same way we respond to any other fear that we encounter. In the present moment, what do we know as the truth in our own lives.

In this moment, what is happening in your life only. What is occurring in your own life, your own house, at the moment. Not what is happening to others. Not what the media or government say. But what are you actually experiencing in your own life at the present moment.

We cannot control the fears of others or their responses to it. We can only try to control our response. But that is not easy to do when we are surrounded by the fear of others.

This is why it is so important to stay focused on what you know to be true in your present moment. Not what other people are saying is true or how other people are responding to their own fears. But what is true for you, right now, this moment.

Fear is very contagious. It is spread when we accept other people’s fears as our own. We can be proactive during this virus by washing our hands, staying home if we are sick, staying hydrated, and getting enough rest. We do not have to panic or allow others panic to increase our fear.

Stay in the now with what you know to be true for yourself. Take precautions but avoid panic and the fear of others. Breathe in, breathe out. Let go of fear and doubt.

Until next time,
Deborah

Ways To Find The Good

photo of a woman standing on the sunflower field

Every day we are faced with a choice. The choice to look for the bad or to find the good. Whatever you look for it will be found.

Each day we can look for the things we want to find. Regardless of our circumstances, we can find the good. If we are going through difficult times, it can be hard for us to pull ourselves out of that space to look for the good. But it can be done, one thought at a time.

SLOW DOWN

The everyday stress we carry can sometimes be overwhelming. If you have added stress from relationships, physical or mental health issues, or unresolved past traumas, it can be even more overwhelming. Everything can seem to be moving at light speed. Slow your thoughts and emotions down. Practice deep breathing, just a few very big breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth can lower your heart rate and blood pressure and give you space to think more clearly. Once you have slowed things down a bit, you can look around you for the good.

SHARPEN YOUR SENSES

In the same way that you would use your senses for grounding yourself during periods of stress, you can do the same thing when looking for the good around you. What do you see that is beautiful, magical, uplifting, etc.? What can you touch that is comforting, warm, soft, etc.? What can you hear that is calming, beautiful, uplifting, etc.? What can you taste that is calming, comforting, filling, warm, etc.? What can you smell that is calming, comforting, etc.? Use your senses to find the good around you.

GRATITUDE

Turning your mind to what you are grateful for rather than what you are not can have a profound effect on your thoughts and emotions. Gratitude does not have to be something big. Even the smallest thing that you are thankful for, that makes you happy, that gives you even the smallest joy, is something to be grateful for. Everyone can find something to be grateful for and once you begin to think about it, your mind will help you find others. Find the good in your gratitude.

SELF-CARE

Even if the darkest of times, self-care is still important. When you are overwhelmed, find one moment, one thing that you can do for yourself. Five minutes of decompression before facing something difficult. A short hot shower. A few minutes of meditation or deep breathing. A piece of dark chocolate or a cup of herbal tea. A few minutes smelling essential oils. Self-care can help you recenter and find the good.

Every day, even every moment, offers an opportunity to find the good. There is something you can find if you slow down, use your senses, practice gratitude, and self-care. Find the good in every moment to help get you through stressful and overwhelming times.

We find whatever it is we are looking for. Look for the good. ~ Al Carraway

Go With The Flow

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“I just go with the flow.” How many times have you heard someone say that or have you said that to other people? Likely, it is more times than others have actually been going with the flow or that you have been going with the flow. It is a lot easier to say than to do on some days.

One can think they are going with the flow and just letting things happen. However, the moment you become distracted by or invested in surrounding events or emotions, you are not flowing. Any time you allow other people’s events or emotions to interfere in your emotions and thoughts, you are not flowing.

The definition of flow is a steady, continuous stream meaning uninterrupted and always moving. When we allow our negative emotions and thoughts to fill our daily lives, we are stopped with each one. We are not moving forward and we become stuck in sadness, in worry, in anger. We are unable to let these things pass and to keep moving. No matter how many times we say to ourselves and others that we just go with the flow, it is just words without action.

Another of the main reasons our flow is interrupted is that we cannot let go of the need for control. To be in control of ourselves and others. To be in control of events that surround us. To be in control of our traumas. It is a tremendous amount of work to maintain control all the time. It requires all of our focus and does not allow for flowing or moving.

So, how do we learn to flow more freely?

* Let go of the need for control
* Practice mindfulness, be aware
* Learn to breathe and pause more
* Practice letting go of negative thoughts and emotions
* Start with one thing at a time
* Increase your meditation time
* Accept change and imperfection

Breathe, pause, release, and flow.

Until next time,
Deborah

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Fear of Being Alone

alone

One of the things that comes up again and again when working with people is the fear of being alone. In many of these instances this fear can be traced back to childhood trauma with chaotic family dynamics and lack of self worth and feeling loved. As the child grows they continually seek out this self worth and love from both the family, who may or may not be able to provide that, and from relationships with others. And because people find themselves in damaged places emotionally they can often make poor choices in those relationships.

In these relationships people often gravitate towards partners who are emotionally unattached in some ways. Someone who really doesn’t show that they need them or want them. Someone who doesn’t want or accept any children they may have. Someone who can easily let them go or cheat on them. It provides a kind of constant chase or work to get these people to be invested in them much like they would have had to do with family who wasn’t emotionally invested in them. The other kind of relationship people who fear being alone gravitate to is one where the other person is extremely controlling and seemingly very invested in them. If the partner is constantly questioning what someone is doing, where they are going, who they are with, wanting them to be with them 24/7 then the person who feels alone will think they are getting all the attention (love) from their partner when it is actually abuse.

Once people become involved in these kinds of relationships, they may also have a tendency to excuse bad behaviors of their partners to hold on to the relationships. This is usually also a learned behavior from childhood trauma. Excusing family for bad behaviors so that the family might still love them and see them as valuable by their defense of them. Also, in order to try and hold on to those damaged family relationships people try to avoid conflict at all costs even accepting physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse in order not to lose this relationship. This translates to older relationships and the same patterns occur over and over.

Another byproduct of the fear of being alone is holding on to past relationships in order to have a back up if the current relationship ends. Because many people who fear being alone have no self worth or self esteem they feel they must have someone else to validate that in them even if it is negative validation, it is still someone whose attention is on them. Something they did not get in their childhood traumas and family relationship chaos. These past relationships become the fall back even if they are abusive, it is still someone to pay attention to them, someone for them to chase, someone to provide them with a false sense of self worth.

So, how does one avoid falling into these relationship patterns and fighting this fear of being alone. There is only one way – working through, processing, and accepting the childhood trauma so that there can be understanding of the choices they are now making in their relationships and to work on building their own self worth, self esteem, self love.

It is not an easy path to change. The fear of being alone and the childhood trauma have been a part of their lives for a very long time, years, and it has become an automatic behavior. It can take a very long time to rework and replace those thought and feelings and build a new way of thinking and feeling. It takes a lot to create a life for yourself that you do not need another person to make it okay for you.

Until next time,
Deborah

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Hold The Line

boundaries

Setting boundaries is one of the hardest things for people to do, especially people with trauma history. Many times, people do not feel that they can set boundaries as they want to do everything they can to make sure everyone else is okay and that everyone else is happy at the expense of their own feelings or needs or rights.

Also, the need to make other people okay or happy starts early, very early usually when people are still young children to win their parents love or attention. By the time most people realize that they are giving others everything and themselves nothing, the need to give up their needs and rights has become automatic. It is then very difficult to start setting those boundaries. It feels uncomfortable, even wrong. People react very badly to it. It is hard, very hard to do. But like anything else in life, it is repetition and reinforcement.

In order to start setting your boundaries you have to ask yourself what are your rights. What are your rights as a human being? The right to be respected as an individual, the right to make your own choices, the right to be find happiness for yourself, the right to manage your own life, the right to say no. Even these can be hard questions to answer for those who have not had boundaries most of their lives.

Start with one question that you answer, let’s say it is the right to make your own choices. Based on this, you then start making your own choices and then holding the line as you confront your own doubts that you can do it and the push back from others who are wondering why you are doing it now when you never have before. You will have to hold the line against opposition and against the negative thoughts in your own mind. And again, it is a daily, sometimes every minute repetition and reinforcement that this is your right and that it is okay for you to do it.

Most of the people who have known you a long time and have been able to treat you in certain ways all your life and have you respond to their needs and demands in certain ways all your life will not be happy that you are now setting these boundaries. They will in fact question why you are doing this. They will in fact look for reasons why so that they can blame this on someone or something else because you certainly cannot do this on your own. They will take it personally that you are not giving them what they want as you always have done and that it must because you don’t love them anymore. This will be your hardest task in holding the line.

Being healthy requires that you consider yourself, your needs, your rights, your emotions on the same level as you do for other people, maybe even more so. If you are not taking care of yourself helping others will drain you of your energy, your health, your emotions and there will be nothing left with which to support yourself. And as long as you are giving all to others they will continue to drain you dry and expect you to continue giving them what they need and want.

Define your rights. Be assertive. Learn to say no. Protect your space. Hold your line. By doing this you will find for yourself better self esteem, conserving your emotional energy, and be more independent. Hold your line.

Until next time,
Deborah

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