Survive the holidays with grace and peace
Are you ready for the holidays?
I know I am not! For some reason the holidays come the same time every year and every year I seem to be caught off guard. The Calendar even has it printed eleven months early, either the calendar printers are brave or there isn’t much guessing involved. Yet I still scramble every year, I hope I am not alone in this feeling.
So if this doesn’t stir some, there is more, the office parties, cookie swaps, birthday parties, school parties, shopping, wrapping, decorating, menu planning, cleaning, weight watching, cooking, traveling, (have you ever tried to get through O’Hare in winter?). I am sure you can add more to my list as I am not wanting to add more.
One thing I didn’t mention is family and friends. We love to visit, share and spend time with family. For the most part this is the one thing that causes the most anxiety. The family dinner with so many traditions, likes, dislikes, allergies, new diets, and so on. You want to do the traditions justice. What if you are mourning the loss of a loved one, or just the person in which the traditions meant the most to? Then there is the guilt of visiting one person over another. What about if you currently suffer from depression. If it is dark and cold outside, your depression might be worse. The holidays can act as a trigger for your depression.
Part of the problem with the holidays is Norman Rockwell, and Hallmark. Holidays are magical, joyful, and filled with wonderful memories. The problem is that the reality is far more complicated than the movies share. Relationships are far more complicated than that. The longer the history the more complicated the relationship.
The answer? Well you don’t get to just skip over the holidays. That’s too easy and it doesn’t lead to long term self-satisfaction. Here are some ideas to overcome some of the anxiety I reminded you about.
First, let’s identify what is causing your anxiety. What specifically about the holidays is causing your anxiety? Nope, you can’t just go to what I wrote and say, “That” Let’s explore some possible triggers that are identified and work on some solutions.
Going home for the holidays can bring back some bitter memories. If you associate the loss of a love one with the holidays then naturally you will be reminded of these times and people.
Toxic people and relatives:
Perhaps we have worked really hard at establishing boundaries and distancing you from toxic people now you have to break bread with them, maybe share the same sleeping space with them, may make you step back in your own progress in treatment.
What has changed? The holidays can really highlight what has changed. The death of a loved one and their absence can be more noticeable when everyone is together. A military deployment can cause heightened sense of stress. On the opposite side things staying the same can cause a similar sense of depression.
Are you feeling out of control?
Do you have traditions that you can’t stand?
Perhaps your uncle is and out of control alcoholic and is verbally abusive but it is a tradition to visit him on Christmas Eve. Why do you this? What about the trip across the country for a grave site visit to put flowers on the grave for a great aunt you met once? Those cookies that you make every year that taste terrible, but it is tradition to make them on Christmas Eve?
During the holidays is also time for colds, flus, and blues. If you’re stressed out then your immune system is compromised, meaning you are more susceptible to these illnesses.
Ask yourself why then make a list of reason why you take part in these activities and why you don’t want to. This will help you have a clear picture as to why do choose or not choose to do things.
Now that you have the whys ask yourself, what is the worst case scenario? What happens if you don’t travel to the grave site? What if you didn’t make those cookies? What if you didn’t go to your uncles’ house? What if you changed the celebrations and some of the traditions?
Remember at first you might think, “What a disaster!”, “people in the family would get angry!” Could you stay home and light a candle to honor the great aunt? Could you find a new cookie that is easier and tastes amazing?
Basically if you are stressed by the holiday tradition it might be time to change. If you are unhappy it might be time to change.
Some ideas to help you out:
If you need more help, call me or another professional for help!
First, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with those effected by Hurricane Matthew. Please let me know if I can be of any help during this time. I know that it is a trying time for many folks.
Recently I have come together with some folks that are grieving the loss of a loved one. I often will recommend that you attend a group. Sometimes the group will be a workout session like Zumba, maybe a church gathering, AA, NA, Alan on, or even a grief support group.
I often forget to tell you why. Tonight I was reminded of the importance of being with people on the same path you are. These people are “my people”, they don’t judge, they love unconditionally, they put words to feelings that didn’t have words before. They have a story to tell. If you are like me you have different groups of people for different parts of your life.
You have work people, kid’s friend’s people, religious people, monthly guys/girls night out people, workout people and so on. There is hardly any time for the healing people. These people are so important.
Tonight I was with my healing people and I healed a little more. Yes, I am in charge of the logistics but the benefits I gain from my healing people is tenfold. I can only hope they heal too. They provided me with wisdom beyond believe, unconditional positive regard, empathy, love, and attention.
They loved one another, listened to one another, gave each other honest stories of pain, love, rejoice, empathy, and a shoulder.
So if I have forgotten to tell you why the people on your path are so important, they are walking with you. They understand you even when you don’t understand you. They are unconditional and honest. Find your healing people. If you are wanting to lose weight then maybe a Zumba class will have your people, if you are grieving and are local come meet with our support group, if you are afraid of speaking in public maybe join a toastmasters group. If you need help finding your “people” let me know. We all need our people to help us navigate this incredibly complicated life while we are here.
Remember you are not alone, even when it is darkest.
When does change cause stress?
When does change effect your health?
Well first I must share with you that while change is about a sure thing as death and taxes, there is no real way to prepare for it. Life can be smooth sailing then before you know it SMACK change. As you know my husband is in the military. He has been for 21 years of his life, yesterday he came home and said, “Happy Anniversary, I retired today.” I looked at him and he said in his smiley voice, “Breathe”.
Those of you who know me know this is something I would tell him. For a refresher see this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mZbzDOpylA if you haven’t seen it, it will make you smile.
So as I began to work through an anxiety attack, I remembered that this is a change that I cannot control. There are parts of it I can control, such as begin the process of putting together a military retirement ceremony, finances (to an extent), and my reaction to the news. So I chose to control my reaction and said, wow babe, this is exciting, what is the plan? Well this required excellent communication skills, mostly on my part of patiently listening to his plan. Most of you know that we had a 4 year plan to retirement, this has come about 3.5 years earlier than expected. (Breathe)
So I thought about you guys and realized that there are times in our lives that are literally out of our control, sometimes we have to think about where we are going next. We have to employ all of the “Shannonisms” and use those tools we have practiced so hard.
To not have it affect my life too much, I have to consider how the news will affect my health, and perhaps his health :-). I choose to journal about my feelings surrounding this news, then process through the automatic thoughts, decide which thoughts were necessary to address as this process narrowed down the stressors. Then I remembered to meditate and of course breathe.
So I can’t wait to hear your updates over the next few weeks.
P.S. I want to apologize for the lack of communication the last few weeks. I have been busy training, working, and self-care practicing, and of course getting the fall cold. I will get back on track.
While worrying can be helpful, as it can make us actually do something about the problem(s) that exist, it can actually more often than not lead to anxiety. Anxiety kills. It makes us sick, bores holes in our stomachs, and increases the chemicals in our brains and bodies. If you are a worrier, make sure it is in control. If you are the president of the worrywart club you can step down and retrain your brain and have a happier and healthier body.
Here are some helpful hints to step down as president and worry about only the things that are important.
First instead of thinking about the worst case scenario, come up with best cases as well. This won’t delete your worst case, but what about the best case. It is said that we create our own destiny, wouldn’t it be nice to have the best case destiny?
I think about the idea of me getting my daughter onto her bike. I love bike riding, I really miss it in fact. I want her to learn as it will afford her more freedom, more travel flexibility, and who knows she might like it as much as I do. She starts off in the morning with I want to ride with you, so we get dressed, I tell her that a dress is not really appropriate for learning to ride. Then she stomps off and changes into shorts (okay the knees will get scraped but the best teacher in life is pain). Then I get my riding shoes on, she puts on flip flops, guess what, she had to change them (not taking a side trip to the ER). This time instead of changing she goes and does what works for her. She throws a major temper tantrum. If you have taken my parenting class, you know what this means, uh-oh you’re not happy into your room you go until you change your mood. After she does calm down (25 minutes later) she comes out of her room, all smiles and apologetic. Well this worked well on two maybe more levels. One she is worried about riding her bike because it is a bigger bike. She doesn’t feel safe yet. She is worried she will fall off, or worse her neighbor friends might laugh at her. See this went from having courage to ride her bike to a list of all the things that could go wrong. The other was she got away without having to do something else than ride a bike, such as cleaning her room.
Another way is to lower expectations. We all get a vision in our head of what perfect looks like. We all want people to love us, we all want life to be fair, we all want the money in our savings account to actually gain interest. But unfortunately, life is unfair, some people will just not like you, the car always breaks down as soon as you are able to save a little bit of money. By lowering our expectations to a reasonable level we can worry less. If you know that not all people are going to like you then this is great news, that means you don’t have to like everyone in return (no don’t be mean), you have less gifts to give, and most of all you will have time to yourself, but also you don’t have to worry about whether or not they will like you. Stuff breaks, the more stuff the more stuff that breaks. Things aren’t made like they used to be, therefore they won’t last as long either. Be kinder to yourself. Aswabi-sabi (beauty is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete)
When the kids leave the house for college or a job or gap year, don’t worry. You did a fine job at raising them. You had eighteen years to teach them how to live life. They will fall down, they will get hurt, but please remember pain is the greatest teacher. Don’t rescue as this will lead to worry, lend a hand, help them up, and follow their lead. You worrying will not save them from mistakes, but it might keep them from succeeding. So let them have a great time, and you have fun too, you deserve a vacation, you earned it!
Being angry is a fine emotion, it is very useful, but too much can lead to more worry. You lose control of your emotions and your surroundings. People begin to fear you and resent you. So get to the root of the anger and move from there.
Guilt is the leading cause of anxiety. Use it to keep your own moral compass honed in on where you want to be. Don’t use it as a weapon. When you do this it becomes a problem that you and the accusee have to deal with. Instead forgive, (this don’t not mean forget) and move on with a new lesson in your pocket. Then we need to look at how we use the shoulds, woulds, and coulds, These are distorted thought processes and do nothing but create worry.
Finally, don’t blame yourself or others when things go the wrong way. Just fix it. Sometimes just addressing the worry is enough to move on and do something about it. Maybe if you share what you are worried about the worry will be gone. You can perhaps brainstorm a way to solve the problem. Show gratitude as often as possible. Thus eliminating the worry.
If you want to learn to get your anxiety under control call me 484-515-6125 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Before you call to fire me, or freak out because I called you bipolar, let me explain.
We all have poles, we all have ups, downs, and in-betweens. This means you are human, and you are not a sociopath. So from one day to the next you may have a mood change from high to low, or vice versa. Some days you are on top of the world. Other days you feel beneath the earth. This is why I suggest we are all bipolar, not in a diagnostic, clinical way.
Unfortunately, bipolar is the word to describe a subset of people who experience a reaction that is not desired when going from one pole to the other. Some of you know that when we talk, it is about your normal, not society’s normal. You also know that I ask if you are hurting anyone, or getting hurt by the reactions. If not and nothing adverse is going on then you are good to go and normal. What happens at times is that people loose friends, jobs, spouses, children, and money, and so on due to the adverse reactions they experience when either high or low.
You are in dis-order when you are in danger. Contemplating suicide, homicide, abuse, or any other form of harm. If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder then you are aware of the Dis-Order stages, Crisis, Managed, and Recovery. One may find it difficult to manage their emotions, control the intensity of the feelings in the mind. Most of the bipolars spend the better part of their time in the managed stage. The recovery stage is a very unstable stage which just means it most likely will happen again. There is one study that really demonstrates this well, the STEP-BD study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health. In fact the medical model proves that the treatments that only recognize that bipolar is a disorder, disease.
SO LET’S GET IN-ORDER
There are many tools available to manage the dis-order. This is not easy because life is not two dimensional. But we can discuss that freedom happens when we decide to not be in a state of discomfort. We learn to become functional in intense manic and depressive states, in the end becoming comfortable and thrive in these situations. Stability is achieved when these manic and depressive moments are now part of our comfort zone, and finally we have self-mastery. A few of us have achieved it. The reason that this stage is occurred by so few people is because it requires a level of dedication and work to get beyond the levels of discomfort all together. I think of the Dali Lama as one who has achieved self-mastery.
So there it is, you must practice to get you bipolar dis-order in-order. This is not easy. This will take practice. Perhaps you will need some guidance along the way. Some of us just need to be reminded that you are not sick, abnormal, or even crazy, you are a normal person experiencing a great deal of discomfort.
Food Is Causing your Anxiety
"You are what you eat". I know you have heard this phrase, as it has been around for centuries. Though how we treat symptoms of the gut has been updated more recently. In the 19th century it was believed that one can suffer from auto-intoxication. Auto-intoxication was believed to be the result of poisons emanating from the gut. These poisons cause infections that were linked to depression, anxiety, and even psychosis.
2016 has brought some scientific evidence that pulls us right back to the 1800's without the horrific scientific procedures (thank goodness). Scientists are now more than convinced that the vast assemblage of macrofauna in our intestines may have a major impact on our state of mind. It is more profound than they originally thought. The brain and gut are bidirectional in the communication. The brain acts on gastrointestinal and immune functions that assist to form the gut's microbial makeup and gut microbes make neuroactive compounds including neurotransmitters and metabolites that also act on the brain. Bidirectional communication can occur in many ways, here are three of them.
The scientists are finding many links to human disorders and your gut. Disorders such as autism, depression, anxiety stress, ADD, ADHD. Today you can easily participate in an unsolicited study of probiotics in your yogurt and daily vitamins.
Have a great day and enjoy your yogurt.
This is my experience with Zolpidem (Ambien)
So most of you know that I am very honest and that I try to practice what I preach. You also may know that I have been working with a Rheumatologist and Oncology to get my medications straight. This is so I can be healthier and hopefully live a long life with my amazing family. The medication is doing it's job, there are side effects that cause me to be anxious and unable to sleep. So my doctor prescribed my Zolpidem. It is amazing! I could finally fall asleep! I get why all of the hype works. For the first time in months I fell asleep without pain. I must say it was pure bliss
THEN IT HAPPENED...
The Side Effects!
Pardon the language, but I became a bitch! This is not me. I am usually a nice person, (SHHHH) I am usually patient and accommodating. I may think things, but hardly ever say them. I began to have anxiety attacks. I know you know them well. You know the ones where you think you might die? Oh my it has been some time since I had some of those. Then I even snapped at my husband (on his birthday) poor guy. Sorry baby.
What is going on I thought.
What has changed?
Why am I sharing this with you? I know you are probably wondering.
Well first I want you to learn the process of elimination (at least the one I use)
What is new in my life? Did my diet change? Am I drinking enough water? Am I getting enough oxygen to the brain?
Ambien was the only change.
Second, I wanted you to know what I did about it.
I went straight to my training. I am trained in Psycho-pharmacology. Ambien is a drug that has been threatened to be removed from the market a few time due to the side effects and they can last up to 48 hours. Google it you would be shocked at the things people have done on Ambien.
I went to my physician and informed him of my experience and hopefully he will call back soon (this is another medication you can't just stop taking)
Lastly I wanted to remain transparent to you.
I am always honest with you. I want you to know that you are not ever alone in your daily struggles in strong mental and physical health. I want you to know that anyone can be affected by medications and their side effects. Just because a physician prescribes you a medication does not necessarily mean it is right for you. You must listen to your body and mind and communicate with your physician and therapist to continue down your path to mental, spiritual, and physical well being.
Have a great day!
A bad day!
Have you ever just had a bad day?
I don’t mean just a bla day, I am talking about one of those days where everything goes wrong. All of your efforts fail and never quite work out. I am sure you have, I know I have!
What do you do?
How do you react?
Do you yell at the kids?
Do you yell at your partner?
Do you binge eat?
Do you cut?
Do you do drugs or drink?
Almost always there is good news, there is a tomorrow. We can usually try again, but what if you can’t?
What if the next day is the same? What if you have another bad day or worse? What if you keep having more and more bad days? Then you are on a slippery slope to possible depression.
We all have bad days, but they typically pass and are outnumbered by the good days. When this is not true then you might consider making a change in your life. Maybe it is time to call a friend, go to the gym, take a walk, pick up a sport, eat better, journal, or even call a therapist.
If you are having such a bad day that you are thinking of hurting yourself or someone else, call 911 (or your local emergency) and seek professional help.
Here’s to better days on the horizon!
What is a good night’s sleep? Is 8 hours enough? Or is it too much? Do you wake up in the middle of the night? Do you feel sleepy all day? Are you keeping an eye out for the coffee IV system? If you have sleep issues read on……
There are sleep recommendations the CDC suggests adults should get about 8 hours, adolescents 9 hours, early adolescents 10 hours, and children is 11 hours.
Sleep is one of those things we all need, right along with food and water. In fact we need it to survive. Did you know that sleep deprivation is a technique used to get confessions and to torture prisoners?
Without sleep we begin to experience psychosis, paranoia, mood swings, and believe it or not financial issues.
Short term effects include:
If it can be used as a torture devise why would you use it against yourself?
Here are some ways to get you to improve your sleep:
Shannon Shadman, LPC, MSMHC, NCC, M.Ed.