Posts tagged ‘Stress’

The Importance of Taking Care ll By Rich Brodt

The Importance of Taking Care

By Rich Brodt for People House Blogs

Folks in the helping professions tend to have pretty good awareness of the idea of self-care. However, that does not always mean we put it into practice. I regularly hear of helping professionals slipping into substance abuse, bad habits and unhealthy relationship patterns regardless of the fact that they are regularly able to help other individuals though the same issues. It is likely that they even talk about self-care with their clients, yet have a difficult time applying the principles to themselves.

Most of us in the helping professions are self-employed and run our own businesses. We tend to identify with our business and genuinely feel the ups and downs, and financial pressures that can lead us to poor self-care.

We will not take time off, because we need to get those appointments in, and meet our year-end goals.

We agonize over a tough case instead of coming home and transitioning out of work mode. We skip a workout to return a call or do some other inane task that will have negligible effect on our business. These things do not help us feel good, and these things do not make us better at our jobs. When we start to lose control of how we take care of ourselves, things become disorganized, jumbled and stressful. We lose track of the borders between our personal and professional lives. This can lead to a state of both exhaustion constant stress.

I believe that exhaustion, stress and anxiety are all made much worse by a lack of boundaries. The boundaries may be absent in one’s work life, one’s home life, or both.

In my experience, if a person has poor boundaries, they usually apply those poor boundaries to all aspects of their lives.

By definition, boundaries are intended to mark limits. Without them, we constantly push past our limits and have little left for ourselves. Since most helping professionals have a tendency to be on the more empathic side, this can have really negative consequences. If we are constantly pushed past our limits, we have a very difficult time trying to regain our center.

When you mention boundaries to a client, they often react with fear at having to set and maintain boundaries. After all, it is not uncommon for the setting of limits to be met with conflict. When you mention them to other professionals they react in much the same way. They do not want to leave their clients high and dry during difficult times.

The desire to help comes from a good place, but often leaves the helper feeling exhausted.

When we lose track of our boundaries we have a hard time differentiating between our own feelings and the feelings of others. This can lead to some difficult situations if we are not careful. If we consistently maintained poor boundaries, we’d all run into an ethical problem eventually.

As far as I am concerned, the first step in taking care of oneself is identifying and setting boundaries. Once we gain more control over our time, we are able to focus on our own needs. My next entry will continue on this topic, focusing on ways to identify and meet our own needs.


 

I provide therapy and counseling for individuals. My style integrates various techniques, but I tailor my approach to each client’s unique needs. I am committed to helping people that experience anxiety resulting from trauma, work-related stress, legal issues or major life transitions. Together, we will work to calm your mind and create lasting change.

2727 Bryant Street Suite 550 Denver, CO 80211

People House Denver, 3035 W. 25th Ave, Denver, CO 80211

Breaking Point || Lora Cheadle

What to do When You Are at Your Breaking Point

How to Identify and Eliminate Stressors BEFORE They Break You

Have you heard the idiom, “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back?” This illustrates the point that while we can take a lot, at some point, we all reach our breaking point. Whether that means losing our temper, getting sick or sliding into depression, none of us want to reach our breaking point. Just like the camel, many of us are burdened slowly, adapting to our ever-increasing load, until one day when a seemingly innocuous little straw is placed on our back, and we break for what seems an insignificant reason.

The parable of the frog in pot of boiling water illustrates a similar point. Put a frog in a pot of boiling water and it will panic and struggle to get out. Put a frog in a pot of tepid water, slowly turn up the heat, and the frog will sit quietly, allowing itself to be cooked alive.

Our Emotional Warning System

As self-preserving organisms, we are equipped with our own built-in guidance system that allows us to identify when we are being pushed to our breaking point. When we experience feelings of overwhelm, frustration, anxiety or stress, it’s our body’s way of letting us know that we are reaching our breaking point. Contrary to what we may believe, it is not normal to experience chronic states of stress, overwhelm, frustration and anxiety. These emotions are danger signals, and it’s crucial for us to be aware of what these emotions are signaling, and to take action before we reach our breaking point. Before we find ourselves with broken backs. Before we find ourselves having been boiled alive.

Negative or stressful emotions are danger signals, signaling us that we need to make a change. If we don’t, we suffer the consequences. Even if we don’t have a full-blown breakdown, the resulting consequences can be mental problems, emotional outbursts, relationship problems, anger issues, impaired job performance, the inability to connect with others, a decreased capacity to feel joy, chronic inflammation, diabetes, unexplained pain, weight gain or worsening feelings of hopelessness.

Breakdown of the Emotional Guidance System and the Resulting Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

When we treat these emotional warning signals for what they are-signals warning us that we need to make changes – and then we make those changes – we recover. Our bodies, minds and spirits heal and we return to a natural, normal state of calm alertness. But when we fail to respond to these warning signals, when we keep-on keeping-on, fighting down panic and pushing ahead, we force our bodies to adapt in unhealthy ways. Forcing our bodies, minds and spirits to live in state of chronic hyper-stimulation and anxiety short-circuit all of our natural survival mechanisms. Like any machine forced to run beyond its capabilities, we eventually break down.

By forcing our bodies to integrate negative and stressful emotions into our everyday lives, without respite, we adapt. We forget what it’s like to feel peaceful, calm and centered. We believe it’s normal to live in a state of heightened anxiety, to feel stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated, and this becomes our new normal. A new baseline is set and suddenly we think we are feeling good when we are truly feeling stressed. We have changed our brains to believe that stress and anxiety are normal states of being, making our emotional warning system ineffective. By being stoic and brave we train ourselves to allow more negativity and stress, until one day – often without warning – we reach our breaking point. Our back breaks or we realize that we have been boiled alive.

Decreasing Stress and Anxiety in Four Steps

Fortunately, we can reverse course on this phenomenon and return our stress and anxiety baseline to a healthy, normal level. All it takes is self-awareness, dedication and a commitment to living in a life of joy, peace and harmony.

Step One

Identify a time when you felt calm, peaceful and centered. When you were alert, contented and neutral. Not elated, just neutral. A time when you simply felt good.

Step Two

Identify when you experience negative and stressful emotions. Don’t judge them or try to change them, just notice when you have them. Get a little notepad that you can carry with you. Keep it with your cell phone and every time you fiddle with your phone, write down how you feel mentally, physically and spiritually.

The notes might look something like this:

Irritated, pent-up, silent.

Frazzled, blob-like, vindictive.

Tired, sore, far-away.

Energetic, bouncy, filled with song.

Do not try to avoid having emotions, or deny what you are feeling, simply identify what you feel.

Step Three

Once you are aware of what you are feeling, consciously feel those emotions. Spend up to a minute consciously feeling the emotion that you have identified. How does this emotion feel in your head, your heart and your body? What is it like to be that emotion?

Step Four

After you have allowed your body, mind and spirit to experience these emotions, consciously return yourself to a place of neutrality. To a place of peace. Return to a neutral, natural, rational state of peace and then deal with whatever is causing your negative or stressful emotions, repeating the process of identifying and feeling any negative emotions that pop up in the process, and continuously and systematically returning yourself to a state of peace and neutrality.

 

Stress-free Living

We are the camel. We have to unburden ourselves every time we are burdened or risk running out of capacity and breaking. We are also the frog. We have to stay aware of our surroundings, of what is happening to us at all times, or we will be boiled alive without our knowledge. Our emotions and feelings are the tools that allow us to stay alert, aware, safe and happy. All capacity is finite. We are not weak, we are human and we have limits. Let’s learn to honor those limits before it’s too late.


To read more of Lora’s writing, visit her website.

About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here!

Fluid and Flawed – Monica Myers

The concept is a bit of an oxymoron. A flawed human being…and a saint?

 I recently watched the movie St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray.  Bill Murray plays a retired curmudgeon who befriends 12 year old Oliver, a lonely kid who gets bullied by a bigger classmate. As his single mom tries to make ends meet, Oliver spends more and more time with his “old man” neighbor and the two form an unlikely bond. Oliver begins to see in Vincent something that no one else is able to: a misunderstood man with a good heart. In the touching conclusion (spoiler alert!!), Oliver chooses Vincent as his subject for a school assignment on saints. The movie is a bit sentimental—it is Hollywood after all–but it is a sweet reminder of a potent lesson—we are all flawed human beings. And despite our flaws, we are good and loveable.

 As spiritual people, we often strive, mistakenly, for some sense of perfectionism.  We think that if we commit to leading a spiritual life that that should equate to an absence of more ‘profane’ experiences. If we are truly on the path, we tell ourselves, our life should be all bliss, and happiness, and peace, right? Certain emotional experiences, like anger, fear, irritation, distress, or depression, don’t look spiritual to us, and we don’t want to experience them. In fact, we go to great lengths to deny, hide, displace, ignore, medicate and reframe them. We berate ourselves for feeling them.  But are we really serving ourselves by labeling such emotional states as ‘negative’ and unhealthy? Is perfectionism really the true goal?

We grow up in a culture that teaches us to judge, label and categorize our emotional experiences as positive and negative. This discrimination has taught us to resist what doesn’t feel good. Recently, though, a deeper understanding of our emotional experience is beginning to reveal itself as we realize how intimately emotions are intertwined with our health and wellness.

Neuroscientists, therapists, psychiatrists, and the world’s leading health and wellness experts agree that unprocessed life experience and emotions are held in our nervous system as stress. In this sense, there is wisdom in emotions.  Matthew Hutson states the following in the January/February 2015 edition of Psychology Today:

We have the wrong idea about emotions. They’re very rational; they’re means to help us achieve goals important to us, tools carved by eons of human experience that work beyond conscious awareness to direct us where we need to go. They identify trouble or opportunity and suggest methods of repair or gain. They are instruments of survival; in fact, we would have vanished long ago without them.

Emotions are a record of our past experience; they constitute our subconscious speaking and are stored in the body when they build up and are denied expression. Trapped emotional energy will often result in physical dysfunction. Over time, when emotions are consistently suppressed, this affects our immune system, levels of anxiety, and our ability to be our best selves.

The American Medical Association (AMA) estimates that 80 percent of all health problems are stress related, and even the conservative Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that 85 percent of all diseases appear to have an emotional element. Our emotional baggage may literally sabotage our health.

The irony/paradox of the ‘perfection myth’ is that as we open spiritually, the emotional places that are still congealed or triggering will naturally arise more into our consciousness and demand our attention. The only way out is for us to look at, respect, sit with and embody these unprocessed experiences. So, the idea of achieving some kind of ‘perfection’ as a human being, free from uncomfortable emotion, can actually get in the way of our spiritual maturation and alienate us from ourselves and other people.

What would it be like to let go of this ideal of perfection, this striving to be something we are not and attempting to ‘fix’ ourselves? What would it look like to surrender to our “perfect imperfections” and… to just be ‘ourselves’? What would happen if we moved closer to these places we’ve been trying to overcome, and met them with an attitude of welcome friendliness? Yes, there would be discomfort and vulnerability. But ultimately, you might find that your life takes on a new quality of expansiveness, richness and vitality. When we stop striving, we start living. The truth is, there is beauty in sorrow and without it, how would we come to know joy?

 Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets, wrote:

 Someone I loved

once gave me

a box full of darkness.

 It took me years

To understand

that this, too

was a gift.

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 Personally, I am learning to give more space to my emotional expression in real time; I appreciate how embodying emotion reveals the truth about my lived experience and my relationship to others and the world.

Many of us are afraid of feelings, especially the so-called negative ones. We are afraid that if we allow ourselves to feel pain or loneliness that it will last forever. But, feelings are by nature impermanent and changeable; I see them as gifts from the heart. And I now understand more fully how experiencing the repressed ones is a necessary part of the healing process—how untangling and unwinding liberates us. The truth is, we are all frequently, fabulously flawed.

 

 

Monica Myers, MPH, MA, LPCC is a teacher and therapist currently accepting new clients. She has offices in Boulder, Denver and Golden. She invites your comments, questions and responses. Find out more about Monica and her practice online at the Boulder Art Therapy Collective.

 

Contact Monica:
monimyers69@gmail.com
720-378-6603. 

 

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth