Category Archives: Stress

Dealing With Loss

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photo-camera-219958_150In the past decade, Americans have endured such ruin and bereavement that it compares to the years of the Great Depression under the failed policies of Hoover¹. People have lost their jobs, their savings, their homes, their cars, plus in many cases, their self-confidence. And there’s still an additional one in three Americans on the verge of financial ruin.²

American author and Social Worker Virginia Satir wrote: Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is.

Well, unless you’re rich, the way it is sucks. It’s a good thing that we’re Americans because there are days that it’s only that spirit that has kept us going. It’s that tenacity found in our heritage that stirs the fight to endure. That and are own guts.

Psychologist and Business Consultant Dr. Kathryn D. Cramer says: People who suffer a loss must reinvent their lives.

Really? You think?

That reinvention isn’t a choice, it’s survival. It’s motivated by a resentment that isn’t often able to let go of the whys, the regrets, the anger, and the pressing sadness.

No one wants to grieve this crap. No one looks forward to Friday because they plan on grieving over the weekend. Grieving involves sadness, regret, heartbreak, weeping, suffering, and pain. Who wants to experience all that, at the same time, for a period of time?

It’s not only loss that requires change, it’s reality. It’s not optional. Something 793c70f5-805c-4b35-8655-785a91de8436-mediumisn’t the way it used to be and will never exist again. Something isn’t the way it should be and never will be again. The purpose of grieving is to adjust to the change in life that reality demands. It’s to bring us to the point of making necessary changes so we can adjust in healthy ways, even if we resent having to do so.

Think about it.

¹http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2007/12/bush200712

²http://www.marketwatch.com/story/1-in-3-americans-on-verge-of-financial-ruin-2015-02-23

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014 Dr. Sandy Nelson E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

Fear: The Upgrade of Worry

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IMG_1783

We all know what fear feels like: that burning, hot, paralyzing sensation that erupts in the tummy and flows through the veins like lava; that weak, jelly-like feeling in the limbs; that shaky heart-throbbing Oh my God emotion; that I can’t breathe dizziness episode, well, need I go on? No one escapes fear.

Fear is often like a stow-away…it jumps on every other emotion for the ride.

Are you bummed out? Chances are fear is one of the feelings responsible. Anger is always accompanied by fear, and so is guilt. Wondering about getting hurt in a relationship? Getting laid-off? Getting dumped? Losing a loved one? Fear is the main ingredient there, too. Fear has many other names: terror, worry, apprehension, alarm, concern, fret, uneasiness, anxiety, distress, dread, and panic.

Fear is probably the worst feeling, along with depression, to encounter because it’s experienced physically as well as emotionally.

Psychiatrist and author of Worry: Hope and Help for a Common Condition, Dr. IMG_0727Edward Hallowell thinks people worry when they feel vulnerable and powerless. Worrying is used as a means to restore some sort of control—an attempt to reverse vulnerability and powerlessness. If we’re busy worrying, we feel a sense of control over the problem, even if that’s all we do about the dilemma—worry.

A type of worry—the worry or fear of uncertainty—has been shown to cause a devastating result.

Uncertainty is not knowing. It’s a situation that is unpredictable so an individual can’t determine what to think or do. Over a period of time this causes feeling of helplessness. Mounting evidence published in The Complete Guide to Your Emotions and Health, by Emrika Padus, shows that:

Worry over life’s uncertainties—those future “what-ifs” and past “if-onlys” that can drive us crazy with speculation—creates a particularly devastating kind of stress response…It’s what we don’t know (and can’t do anything about) that can really hurt us.

IMG_0322Uncertainty keeps a person in a constant state of semi-arousal which places an extreme burden on the body’s adaptive resources and resistance systems. Not knowing when something is going to happen or what is going to happen means having to stay on guard—tensed.

 

When worry escalates, the result is fear.

Fear floods the body with epinephrine. It’s most powerful effect is felt on the heart—both the rate and strength of contractions increase. Blood pressure soars. If the fear is intense enough, all systems can fatally overload.

Individuals who experience an intruding level of fear have one thing in common: a need for control.

Anxiety is a future-focused state and control has to do with uncertainty. We IMG_0307seek control of people in efforts to influence or guarantee the outcomes to situations that we want. Worry is often viewed as an attempt to control the future. In some cases we can even think that if we worry enough, a dreaded event won’t happen. The amount of fear and anxiety that we experience is influenced by our perceived ability to cope with what we fear.

The minds of worriers become dominated by fear.

But worrying does not provide security or safety. There is no way to eliminate uncertainty.

Think about it.

 

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net
Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

Why Fun Is Important

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IMG_2316Do you think your childhood was packed away when you boxed up those Lego’s, Etch-A-Sketch, and coloring books? Do you think the kid you once were ceased to exist when you stopped using crayons? It’s a mistake to think that the kid you once were is part of your past along with Charlie Brown sheets and Play Mobile Sets. That young girl or boy is very much a part of your life today. He or she shows up at work every morning. In every relationship you experience, he or she is present. It’s not true that at some point you cease to be a kid because your body morphs into an adult.

If you’ve been working day and night, with no fun, you may be out of touch with your inner kid. He or she is that child-like part of you that is spontaneous, silly, playful, and comical. Adult sports, hobbies and interests are all expressions of play where fun and laughter surface.

Author and Life Coach, Martha Beck, writes: Having fun is not a diversion from a successful life; it is the pathway to it. http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Why-You-Need-More-Fun-in-Your-Life-Martha-Beck

Don’t feel guilty for having fun. The time you give to an activity that you enjoy is d5804b95c88b361a7bde79e79ebc2f78a solid investment in good health and success. There are well-documented benefits of fun and laughter. It relaxes the body, reduces stress and toxins, helps to relieve pain, improves the immune system and circulation, plus stimulates hormones that release feel-good endorphin’s. Research also shows that fun and laughter strengthens relationships and can help defuse quarrels. Wouldn’t you sign-up for this?

IMG_2353Even in the midst of difficulties, injecting some fun activities and laughter can go a long way towards reducing stress and providing a fresh perspective during tough times. Participating in anything that is fun helps to give the problem-solving and thinking part of the brain a break and cues the creative part where insights and imaginative ideas live.

Think about it.

 

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net
Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

What’s your worry?

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A man interviewing for a job found himself in the presence of a nervous, fidgety factory owner who looked anxious, gloomy, and grouchy. “The only vacancy here,” he told the applicant, “is a Vice President position; and the person who takes that job must shoulder all my cares.” “That’s a tough job,” said the applicant, “What’s the salary?” The factory owner replied, “I’ll pay you a million a year if you’ll take on all my worries.” “Done! I’ll take the job” the applicant said, “When will I get paid?” “That my boy,” answered the owner, “is your first worry.”

stress-441461_640With all the effort and energy needed to worry, it’s unfortunate that worry doesn’t work. I wish it did. For many of us worrying is like a second job. It would be nice to get some compensation for all those hours spent losing sleep. Regrettably, its benefits are zilch, nadda, zip. There are no benefits for worrying, but there are plenty of consequences to add to a worried soul: insomnia, panic attacks, anxiety, tummy disorders, cardiac conditions, increased illness, and a shortened life-span. Worry seems to keep our adrenaline churning and that’s not a good thing.

In confronting problems, worry is a dysfunctional strategy; not to mention a complete waste of time. When we worry, we’re not thinking, we’re feeling. We’re feeling fear from “what if’s.”  When we worry, we usually don’t make sense because our feelings are irrational and reactive. We’re not problem-solving or coping, we’re obsessing, we’re ruminating. It’s like the mouse frantically running on and on, faster and faster on its tread wheel–all strung out, frazzled and going nowhere.

IMG_0932 - Copy - Copy - CopyWorry starts to brew when efforts to maintain control of our lives are met with resistance, unexpected circumstances, or the on-going stress of employment. A need to stay in control creates a variety of worry because we fear our problems can’t be solved, and then what? Add to that any rigid thinking, unrealistic expectations, and impatience, and it’s no wonder we’re worry warts. Rather than respond to situations, worriers react with feelings that assume the worse case scenario.

The good news about worry is that it can be tamed. The first step is a willingness to let go of all that negative turmoil in your head. If you’re ready, this practice will remove worry from your life.

First, get a notebook–size 8×10″. Using the notebook forces you to look at your notepad-538870_640worries with a much more objective eye than you’re used to. It makes you an observer of your own life and you’re able to distance yourself from intrusive thoughts. On the first page write Worry #1 and give it a date. Now write down the worry. Example: I’m worried my car will not survive much longer. 

After writing Worry #1, in your notebook provide the answers to these questions: When do you worry about this situation? What scares you? Why does it make you nervous? Why is it a problem? What is out of your control about it? What are you afraid will happen? What will it mean if it did happen? It doesn’t matter whether your answer to each question fills several pages or half a line. What’s important is that you write it down.

brainstorming-413156_640Your next entry is Possibilities and Options, and represents what you think is possible action to resolve the problem and thus end the worry about the situation. Here is where you problem-solve, brainstorm, and get things in perspective. Here is where you THINK, not feel. Be objective. Be reasonable. Write down the facts.

The last entry is People To Consult and Outcome. Here you write down supportive individuals that you can contact to assist in sorting out your options. These people are not on the list to rescue you or fix the problem for you. Their assistance ought to be geared to keep you focused on the facts. Remember that something based on a “maybe” or a “might be” is a myth, not fact. Something based on an assumption is also a myth, not a fact. Problem-solving is seeking solutions based on the facts. Write down possible solutions or steps necessary to obtain more facts before making a decision. Sometimes the end result will be out of your control and will require you to “let it go.”

Every time you’re worried about something or mind-boggled about “what if’s” IMG_0186enter it in your Worry Book and complete the four entries. This will help you avoid the emotional worried state of “worst case scenario” where many worriers go first, and stay. If you really want to remove worry from your life, you’ll commit to using your Worry Book. It works! Sleep at last!

Think about it. In caring, Sandy

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

 




					

Divorce is a death, ready?

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Divorce is a death. It’s the death of a marriage and the death of a family union that impacts many relationships within the family core. Emotional pain, sadness, and uncertainties vibrate through every family member with rippling effects extending to the children.
divorce3Divorce is a crippling experience for adults, and a very, very long nightmare for children. Children do not possess the coping skills and problem-solving skills that even we, as adults, struggle to locate within us. Take the worry, fear, and hurt that an estranged husband or wife experience, and multiply that times 50–that”s the impact on children in a divorce situation. Even when children say they’re fine with it, they’re not fine. Children will think in some way they’re the reason mom and dad are divorcing–that’s it’s their fault.
The following info is a set of rules I’ve written for divorcing or separating parents to assist in healthy adult behavior and reduce the nightmare for their children.

THE DIVORCE BILL OF RIGHTS AND WRONGS

Do not tell the other what to do, or how to parent

Neither of you are in a position to expect or request the other to parent in a specific manner. Each of you have control over the parent you are only. You may not approve of the parenting style of the other, but unless the parenting method presents a physical or emotional harm to your children that can be substantiated in a court of law, you have no right to attempt to control the other’s method of parenting, or control the other’s life.

Do not fight in front of the children

Your children do not belong in your divorce. Upset feelings must be addressed divorceprivately with each other, alone. Never insult or bad mouth the mother or father of your children in their presence. It deeply hurts your children; it shames them. You will be tempted to do tell your children that their mother or father is a loser, or worse. DON’T DO IT. Your children love and need both their parent’s regardless of your opinion.

Do not place your children in a surrogate adult position

Adult responsibilities belong to adults. Don’t request your children to fill the role of your ex-spouse. Boys should never be expected or encouraged to be the man of the house. Girls should never be expected or encouraged to be the lady of the house. If your children are assuming adult responsibilities that your ex performed, stop them. It’s your job. You’re the adult.

Do not punish the children for the situation

If you think you’re worried, devastated, and upset, your children are 50 times more worried, devastated, and upset. Refrain from taking out your frustration on them. They need your reassurance and encouragement. Remember, they are living in a situation that resulted from their parent’s choices and decisions. They had no say or control over whether their parent’s would divorce or remain married.

Do not place your children in a position of having to choose one parent over the other

divorce2Children are not weapons or tools to use to get back at your ex; nor are they pawns for manipulating or punishing your ex. If you need your children to love you more than their other parent, that’s an unhealthy issue that your’s, not theirs. Your children love and need both of their parent’s. Encourage that and never interfere with the relationship with their other parent. Never ask or demand that your children side with or against a parent.

Do not lose self-control

If you feel compelled to yell, scream, rant and rave at your ex, do so where your children can’t hear or see you. Your children are learning from you, and you want them to learn self-control and healthy, correct ways to handle anger, right?

Do not dodge responsibility

Your thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and behavior are your responsibility; and belong to no one else. Stop blaming. Stop complaining. The situation may be unfair and not of your choosing, but it’s here. How you deal with it is your responsibility now. You own your life and your choices. Seek adult support. Wise people seek help. It takes about two years to recover from a broken relationship.

Do not get lost

Whether you want to be or not, you’re a role model and mentor to your children. They are watching you. Your children are learning from our words, divorce1moods, attitude, body language, behavior and priorities. They are learning whether a family has value, how to treat each other, how to resolve conflict, and how to handle disappointment, hurt, and frustration. They are learning how to, or how not to, endure and survive. They are learning what’s really important in life, about honor, and what self-respect is. They’re learning all this from watching you and listening to what you say. Keep your head up, remain in self-control, and display integrity.

Do not refuse to keep new rules

Follow any and all rulings of the court. New and appropriate boundaries need to be implemented and respected. There are privileges your ex no longer has and privileges you no longer have. You have no right to know or ask anything about the other unless its about your children. Honor new boundaries and treat your ex with courtesy regardless of how you are treated.
Feel free to contact me for any support and guidance you may need.
Think about it. In caring, Sandy
©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

What would you do in this situation?

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I could hear the distress seeping from her soft-spoken voice on the phone. Her husband, she intently explained, had been drinking for three days. She was watching him currently try to crawl to the bathroom to relieve himself. He was unable to stand and unsuccessful in his prior attempts to make it there before his kidneys insisted on ridding itself of toxic alcohol.

IMG_0128What could she do, she asked. She briefly shared the history of her attention on his alcoholism. She begged him, nagged him, helped him, and still her wishes were as empty as his bottle of whiskey. Call 911 immediately I said. He’ll then be taken to the ER where medical attention can be given, and on-call psych can do an assessment.

But if I call 911 he’ll be upset, she replied. It didn’t matter really what I recommended. or how much I explained he could be close to death, or how much I stressed the need to help herself and her two children. She still thought there was a sentence she could use that would make all of this better and turn his life around. She still believed that if she just tried harder and loved him more, he’d stop drinking.

If you believe that feeling bad or worrying long enough will change a fact, then you are residing on another planet with a different reality system.¹ We don’t IMG_0904 - Copy - Copyhave an addiction problem in our culture we have a denial problem. Once we stop denying reality and admit our dependence on a substance, or a person, then we can change and heal.

Do you feel unable to stop yourself today from taking part in an unhealthy relationship with a person or substance or both? If so, please reach out your hand so someone can grab it–someone trained in the profession of treating addictions and the family dynamics it creates. You can get referrals by calling your PCP or local hospital. Make the call, please.

You have to save yourself first. -In caring, Dr. Sandy

¹From Your Erroneous Zones by Wayne W. Dyer

How do you handle an angry person?

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What are the areas with people that you frequently disagree?
It can consume all self-will to withhold a reply to angry or rude people. Impulses of wanting to set the jerk straight or ask who they think they are talking to are very strong.
However, replying in anger to an angry person is really the worse reply possible. Acting rude to a rude person also is not a great idea. Standing still—remaining quiet with self-respect—is the best strategy and keeps you from becoming a jerk, too.
Arthur William Ward, author of Fountains of Faith, is one of America’s most quoted writers of inspirational maxims. He wrote, “It is wise to direct your anger towards problems — not people; to focus your energies on answers — not excuses.”
IMG_0481 - CopyThe harmful things anger can trigger us to do and the good things it keeps us from doing can be subtle and insensible, like putting up an emotional wall, or using the silent treatment. or worse yet assaulting a person. Anger can set off a chain reaction of outcomes that can ruin your health, reputation, career, and your relationships.
It is a fact that happiness can not occur without being able to control your anger, and handle someone’s anger toward you. Remain still in the face of anger. Then release that tension through exercise or even punching a pillow. Be a person that can show integrity in conflict. -Dr. Sandy

What causes anxiety attacks?

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There is no emotion more deadening than the anxiety that evolves out of the fears in life. Anxiety comes from many places within you. It arrests your life as it steals possibilities and deceives your competence. It would have you think little of yourself and even less of your potential.

Anxiety wants you in a corner, hiding in a heap of paralyzed stillness; not attempting, not pursuing, not deciding. Episodes of anxiety attacks can be mild or severe and are marked by trembling or shaking. You feel like you can’t breathe and your heart is pounding out of your chest. You feel dizzy or faint. You start to sweat and may feel nauseated. You fear a loss of control of yourself or that you will die, or both.

IMG_0884Although you think you will not survive these attacks, you will, you do. You must try to breathe through it, keep breathing as deeply as you can. It will pass. The attack will end.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The symptoms of anxiety are often the result of fears that possess you – fear of embarrassing yourself, fear of appearing stupid, fear of not being able to stand up for yourself. You may avoid situations you fear. Persistent anxiety may signal unresolved issues in the past or present. It can occur when new situations alter your current life.

Bryon Janis, the American Classical pianist said, “The first thing I had to conquer was fear. I realized what a debilitating thing fear is. It can render you absolutely helpless.” Fear can only dethrone you as the ruler of your life if you permit it. Don’t succumb to its deception that you’re weak and worthless. Promise to restore yourself, befriend yourself, and rally support. There are many successful treatments today for persistent anxiety and anxiety attacks that I can point you in the direction of, just ask.

If you have suggestions or aids that have helped you manage fears or anxiety, please share them. Your comments may help others. –Dr. Sandy

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

Where do most people who want to change their life get stuck?

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Where do most people who want to change their life tend to get stuck in the process? Choose the answer you believe is correct:
A. They get stuck because they don’t know how to change others so their own lives get better.
B. A snow-bank.
C. They get stuck because they don’t know another way to handle things or people.
D. They get stuck because some people in their life just don’t get it.

Correct answer is C.

Author E. E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” Many people desire to make positive changes in their lives but get stuck because they don’t know how to handle things differently. It’s scary to think of life any other way IMG_0211than how we’ve been living it, even though it’s been far from a picnic. It’s scary to examine what we learned in childhood surroundings that may be incorrect. It’s scary to take a look at what we assumed to be normal. It’s scary to face what’s wrong and not working for us.                                                                                                                           But when we blame other people for our unhappiness, keep doing things we firmly promised not to, fail to do what we decided to do, then we begin to understand that we don’t know how to fix the mess our lives are in. We realize that we’re no longer able to soothe our fears and hurts. There remains nothing left to pull out of our hats. And we’re left stuck because we know no other way to think, feel, and act.

We know we’re unhappy, but we don’t know what to do differently. With all we’ve done with our attempts to be in control, we can no longer control our own sadness, which has no doubt reached a miserable level. We focused on solving problems that couldn’t possibly be solved with the ways we were trying to solve them. And when we failed to fix these problems, feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and even anger multiplied. All our inadequacies and all our hurts joined our self-doubts which we spent an enormous amount of time hiding because we needed to appear competent and in control. Marriage and Family Therapist Robin Norwood writes, “Most of the insanity and despair you experience comes directly from trying to manage and control what you can’t.”

So what would you do? Please share your suggestions on improving situations and making positive changes. –Dr. Sandy

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

Are life’s unknowns knocking on your door?

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One summer night during a severe thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small son into bed. She was about to turn the light off when he asked in a trembling voice, “Mommy, will you stay with me all night?” Smiling, the mother gave him a warm, reassuring hug and said tenderly, “I can’t dear. I have to sleep in Daddy’s room.” A long silence followed. At last it was broken by the boy’s shaky voice saying, “The big sissy!”
IMG_0926Fears of the unknown can cause total havoc in life. As a rule, men worry more about what they can’t see than about what they can.¹ We have a need to know; a need to be prepared–a need to control. But reality tells us that we also have a need to learn to live with uncertainty. When life is sunny, we do not worry if we will be able to handle the happiness or get through the joyful experience. There are few frets when life unfolds as we planned. We feel in control of our lives.
Likewise, when the storms of life occur we need to believe that we will handle the havoc and get through the unplanned. We can not see what tomorrow will bring. In fact, there are oodles of things we can not see or have future knowledge of despite the control of details in the present.
Remind yourself that whether today is sunny or stormy, you will and can handle whatever knocks on your door and survive it.
If you have found this post helpful, please pass it on! -Dr. Sandy

¹ Julius Caesar, Roman General and Statesman, 100-4 B.C.

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net