20 posts categorized "Stress/Anxiety" Feed

Child, Do what's right or...

Someone once wrote that feelings cannot be disputed because they are experiences. Whereas beliefs can be disputed because they are how we interpret our experiences.

I completely agree with this sentiment. I believe its very important to understand the distinction before we try to understand life, we must first seek to understand how we make sense of life. Before we can understand that, we must our own thought processes. We must understand how our own thinking works.

Dr. Robert Lehman, a man who has been very influential in how I view these issues, once delineated three ways of thinking that I'd like to share with you here. I believe understanding these views will help us to better understand our thoughts and feelings.

  1. Reactive or emotional reasoning. Reflective or emotional reasoning is just pure reactions. I feel it so it must be true, whatever true is. So the wife caught in a marriage she doesn't like will convince herself that "it will always be this way." This person makes decisions based simply on how they feel about a situation. If a person is caught in this mode of thinking they are usually all over the place emotionally. Almost everything is about how they feel. They have very little impulse control and rarely think about the consequences of their actions beyond the short term.
  2. Reflective thinking. This person considers the consequences of their actions. They will consider what will happen from what they do. This person will even consider how their actions affect other people. They consider the consequences in the short term and the long term. Sometimes, this person will weigh the risk of the negative consequence against the potential positive of doing whatever they are considering. I knew a nine year old girl who would do this. When threatened with a vague "punishment" for not doing her room, she ask for specifics on the punishment. She was deciding if she was willing to pay the price or not. This is reflective thinking but it is incomplete.
  3. Moral Reasoning. Moral reasoning is when someone decides what they are doing based purely on what is right. Their moral compass is put into play with decisions. These people do the right thing because it is the right thing to do not necessarily because it will get them anything. It goes beyond reflective reasoning because it asks the question of "what is the right thing to do?" It is not only concerned with the outcome, it is actually concerned with the morality of a decision.

This is important because a person who is stuck in the first category of reasoning will not be able to debate their beliefs about their feelings. They will be ruled by their feelings. Relationships will be short or tumultuous or both. So many things happen that impact our feelings. Those feelings are real. Debating them is pointless. It's an experience that the person has lived. The person's beliefs about those feelings can be debated.

Think about marriage. Successful couples don't always feel like being faithful or kind or gentle but they can be all of those things all the time. They can chose to do something about their feelings.

Think about individuals. They don't have to be ruled by their feelings. They don't have to give up hope that life will always be the way it is today. They don't have to live the same bad story line over and over again. They can see change in their life.

Think about parenting. Think about how these three different levels of thinking affect parenting children. The techniques used to shape the child. Think about how often parenting is about instilling fear. Fear of the parent, fear of the consequences and about how rarely, in my opinion, it is about instilling the desire to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

Tomorrow I'm going to write about the woman who made her son wear a sandwich sign about being a drug dealer and making bad choices. If you haven't read that article yet, be sure to find me on Facebook and like my page. You can click to it on the right sidebar on my webpage.

Dealing with Holiday Stress

In my last post, I talked about the pressures and stress of the holidays. I would like to talk about how to handle the stress of the holiday expectations.

  1. It is what it is. Often our stress comes from unspoken and usually unmet expectations. Try just accepting that your holiday is what it is this year. If you have an expectation, express it and see if it can be met. If it can not be met, just try to let it be. Not everything has to be judged. Just allowing your holiday to happen can be liberating and freeing.
  2. Set Boundaries. Everyone has people in their life that is draining. Set boundaries for the times where you will be involved with these people. Boundaries keep everyone safe. They also allow you to enjoy your holiday.
  3. Don't push a rope. No one can make you angry. If someone is attacking you, remove yourself from their presence if you can. If you cannot, let them know that attacking you is not acceptable and ask them to change the subject. We cannot control how others react to us, only how we react to them. We don't have to get angry or "push a rope."
  4. Find meaningful time for you. Find a way to recharge your batteries. Read a book. Visit with someone who inspires you. Write  a journal entry. Express yourself.
  5. Give it away. Volunteer at a local charity. Give your time away. Helping others can be a very therapeutic endeavor. It can help us achieve calm.
  6. Relax. One of the hardest things to do over the holidays is to relax. The holidays will come and go every year. That is a constant. What is not constant is how we approach them.

Home for the holidays? Stress with those we love most

Christmas is six days away! My wife's birthday is tomorrow! My kids are on break. Life is good. Last Christmas, I worked at the hospital. This year, I have it off and even my school requirements are minimal.

But what about you? Chances are good that if there is more than a few people reading this post, they are actually more stressed right now, then they will be at any point in their life. The truth is that Christmas is a very stressful time for many people.

We say it's not about the gifts, but for too many that is exactly what it is about. They feel the pressure of having to buy gifts for extended family members, co-workers or others. Some people are feeling the pressure of being able to spend money on their immediate family. A few years ago my wife and I hit today (the 19th of December) with no real idea how we were going to pay for our kids gifts.

Then there's church. This past week I was told that I serve the devil (seriously) by a man who has never met me. We were on that wonderful communication medium known as Facebook. He was appalled that I have no intention of attending a church service on Christmas day (the fact that my church has a Christmas Eve but no Christmas day service didn't factor into the discussion much). Essentially, that person (who I am no longer connected to on Facebook) is exerting pressure on those around him that if they don't go to church on Christmas day, they are not good people and will most certainly face eternity in Hell.

Then there is the pressure of balancing work and the holidays. For instance, I do not work at the hospital this year but I would normally work the weekend of New Years. That means I will miss a day. That can cause pressure because now I have lost money I need to make up. 

There is no question that during the holiday season, pressures abound aplenty. Then there's family.

I recently had someone confide in me that she "just didn't really like her family." Another person told me that his wife's family "drove him crazy." I imagine that more family fights break out over the next three weeks than any other time of the year.

Why? Why is there stress with those we love most? Why do people seem so angry at a time of the year when it seems that we should be so happy. Well, of course, I have ideas about this but I want to know what you think. Tell me your ideas below. What is your story? How do you manage the stress of the holidays?

Points to Ponder (100 words or less)

Everyone has anxiety and stress. It is in how you have prepared for it and how you deal with that matters. Very rarely is the "event" actually an emergency or insurmountable obstacle. Our reactions to or lack of preparation for stressful situations are what we need to monitor.  It is important to be able to step back and evaluate what is really happening and what are the real results. Some of the most stress producing thoughts are the ones that are about things that haven't happened yet. (87)

Lessons from College | Psychology Today I Why are kids so depressed?

The overriding reason for the surge in serious problems on campus is that college is the age of depression. Depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and other serious mental conditions first rear their head in late adolescence.

Also, colleges are harvesting the first crop of kids who grew up on Prozac and other new-wave antidepressants. The drugs provided emotional energy that allowed cognitive abilities to prevail.

via www.psychologytoday.com

What do you think? Why do kids and adolescents seem to be so much more depressed today? Is it the prozac? The war? Disenfranchisment?

Mind Your Body: A Higher Road to Relaxation | Psychology Today

You're better off working through higher—and more direct—channels, like the brain. The most efficient stress-reducer might just be a smile. Engaging socially with others triggers neural circuits that calm the heart, relax the gut, and switch off fear, Porges says.

via www.psychologytoday.com

So good news. If you are struggling with stress, just go talk to some people and laugh. Of course if you're stressed about people...

nature? nurture? my life. Law and Order SVU Can a personality change?

I used to love the show Law and Order. It was a show I'd watch with my mom when I was younger. I've even written CBS to see if they would be willing to do a show called "Law and Order: Grand Rapids." Ok, I made that part up. I probably will not get as much done today as I could have because when I ate my lunch, I turned on the T.V and there was Law and Order SVU.

The show was a real emotional bender. The antagonist (bad guy) was  rapist and a murderer. But his attorney's defense was that it wasn't actually his fault because he inherited a gene from his father who raped his mother and she conceived him that pre-disposed him to anger and violence. On top of that, he was raised to a crack addict mom in the most violent of horrible situations. It was a social workers dream situation—his genes (nature) and his environment (nurture) were both against him.

The show ended with Detective Benson, incidentally, I recently hear that she is the highest paid female actor (Political correctness will not allow me to say actress and save a word) on T.V., leans into the sympathetic psychologist and says, "Did he really have a choice? Did he ever have a chance? Do any of us?"

*Freeze frame for a moment and allow me to wonder. I will bring it back I promise*

I recently had a conversation with a friend about how she experiences anxiety in her life during certain events. For instance, if a boss says that they want to have a meeting with her she will automatically assume the worst, and worries that she is going to get fired or in trouble of some sort. In a 25 minute conversation she said at least six times that I counted, "That's just my personality." I asked her if she was brought up that way. She said no, "that has just always been my personality." I asked her if her mom or dad was that way. She said, "Nope, that is just my personality...well, my mom is like that!"

Ah-ha! Her nature and her nurture had transpired to make her life an anxiety driven mess whenever she is up for a review or has to interact with someone in her life who is an authority.

So I asked a question. I asked her if she thought she could change her personality. This was essentially Detective Benson's question. I'm curious, what is your answer?

Can a personality change? Are you destined to have the same personality your whole life or can you change parts of it? Can you change all of it?

Stress as a Predictor of Adult Mood Disorders | Psych Central News

Emerging research suggests daily stress may be more dangerous to our health than previously believed.

via psychcentral.com

Great article talking about the relationship between stress and adult mood disorders. Depression in on the rise and what we are currently attempting to do doesn't seem to be working. What do you think? How do you handle stress?