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Tips to Stress Less

Tips to Stress Less

We recently completed our YouTube series on How to Manage Stress. After finishing the series, we wanted to follow it up with some practical takeaways for your action plan.

Stress, what can you do about it:

  • Pay attention to it – say something to your partner or someone around you about it. Expressing the stress can help it to lose its power.
  • Internal check-in – scan from the top of your head through your body (go part by part). Start at the top of your head and scan all the way down and focus on how things feel – if there is tension, and try to relax these parts to alleviate muscle tension.
  • Take 5 minutes and utilize progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Notice when the stress builds and wanes during the day. Keep track of this as it will help you to understand it and make necessary changes.
  • Take a minute to reset for 1-5 minutes: meditate, jumping jacks, squats, push up against the wall (engage large muscles).

Apps that can help:

  • Headspace – meditation programs that teach you to do progressive relaxation.
  • Calm & Brain.FM – both have music that is curated binaural beats. This helps you to relax and focus.
  • Insight timer – even as little as 60 seconds can help – diaphragmatic breathing.
  • CBT-i Coach – sleep app developed by the military for those with sleep difficulties.

Sleep:

  • Practice good sleep hygiene.
  • Try not having your cell phone next to the bed (unless there is a safety concern).
  • Taking a hot shower 90 minutes before bed.
  • Read a book before bed.
  • Going to bed or getting in bed at the same time every night (if possible).

Exercise:

Diet:

  • Eat/Snack/Drink water every 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Talk with a dietician and make a meal plan that works for you
  • HANGRY – Hunger can make you more likely to get angry — and yes, hangry is a real word.

What also helps:

  • Having clear goals
  • Empathetic care team (doctor, therapist, coach, dietician, etc)
  • Vocalizing your goals to those close to you
  • Keeping goals simple and focus on what you think is the easiest to start with.
  • Having a peer support partner

Need help with stress in your life? We offer personal growth counseling. Do not hesitate to contact us to make a counseling appointment! You can also read A Trio of Stress-Busting Tips and Let’s Talk About Stress for more resources on stress.

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

 

Tips To Make Moving Easier

Tips to Make Moving Easier

by Diana Schaefer, LCSW

Whether you are moving next door, across town, across the country, or moving in with your partner, moving is a stressful affair. Moving is considered one of the top life stressors and I agree. Moving means change and most people dislike change because it disrupts their life and routines. It also means separation from friends and family which can be particularly challenging. Moving can also cause stress on your relationship. No two people cope alike, and that can lead to conflicts. For example: although I came up with the idea of moving, I wanted to wait until my husband and I were ready to retire. He had an entirely different idea. Once we made the decision, he was ready to go, and that was not an easy negotiation. We finally agreed on a five-year plan and stuck with it.  Also, if you happen to be someone with anxiety, moving can be overwhelming. Even if you aren’t anxious by nature, moving can mean an exciting new beginning or a series of painful losses or both. I moved to Austin 2 1/2 months ago and have met numerous other “newbies” to the Austin area. Here are some ways that I found can make relocating less stressful.

  • Learn about the place you are moving to – Before moving to Austin, I visited many times. I took a tour of the city to find out more about the history and the different areas. I ventured out to different neighborhoods and talked to friends about who they knew in Austin so I could reach out to them. My niece, who happens to live here and moved from San Francisco, CA, had an excellent idea to have a “6 degrees of separation party” and invite all the people her friends knew here. Knowing I have family here and nearby has made the move less lonely then it would have been if I didn’t know anyone.
  • Plan and purge – Planning and purging the stuff you don’t need anymore is crucial to lessen the burden of packing and unpacking. A year before our move, I started putting together items for a garage sale, a pile of things to dispose of, and a stack of items to be donated. We learned that our temple was sponsoring a family from Iraq, so we donated much of our furniture to them. I had to give away my father’s baby grand piano because moving it would just be too costly. That was a hard one! But, instead of keeping things you aren’t going to use (no one plays piano anymore), I took several pictures of it and planned to make a collage to display to remember it by. It takes up a lot less room than the piano would have and still holds the sentiment.
  • Don’t forget self-care – As I said before, moving is demanding both physically and emotionally, therefore taking care of yourself is of particular importance at this time. Be sure to get enough rest, exercise and try to eat right (this can be a challenge when you are traveling across the country). For me, exercise is key to my reducing my stress. I’ve been going to yoga and spin classes to keep my anxiety in check. I also found it important to get emotional support and physical help from friends and family. I have a close friend who had worked at an antique shop and knew exactly how to wrap mirrors and framed pictures so they wouldn’t break in the move. I don’t know what I would have done without her! Keeping focused on your relationship and nurturing it as well is really important. I realized that with all the details I was trying to keep track of, it was easy to forget that my husband and I need to go out and just have fun!
  • Grieve your losses – Moving means leaving behind close friends and family. It also meant for me leaving behind a place where I had lived for over 30 years. I knew where everything was from grocery stores and restaurants, to dry cleaners and gyms. Moving to a new city meant not knowing where anything was! I also had established close relationships with my doctors, dentist, and beautician. All that changed. It’s okay to feel sad and grieve the loss (or change) in those relationships because they will be different considering the physical distance. The hardest part was moving away from my sons. I wasn’t going to be able to have lunch spontaneously with my older son or meet my younger son in the city for brunch or to see a movie. It’s important to allow yourself to feel those feelings and honor them. Each new step in the moving process has made me very sad. It has helped me to cry and talk it out with friends. I found it hard speak with my husband about those feelings because he copes by focussing on the positive and doesn’t want to be reminded of the losses.As I stated before, no two people cope alike so if the 2 of you start to feel disconnected, it’s especially important to communicate that and work on re- establishing your connection. After all, at a time like this, you need each other! It also helps to make plans to visit, so you know you will see your friends again soon. I’m returning to New York for a visit this month, and that made saying goodbye a little bit easier.
  • Meet new people and establish a new routine – Finally, I found it’s imperative to push yourself to meet new people. Knock on your neighbor’s doors to introduce yourself. Go to Meetup groups. Volunteer or find a job where you will meet new people. I have reconnected with old high school friends who happen to live in Austin. Also, establishing a new routine helps you not to feel so lonely. Establishing new relationship habits has been very important for me. My spouse and I relish our time together to explore Austin and have joined a Meetup Networking group that meets monthly. Doing these things together has helped bring us closer. Most important, give yourself time to adjust. It takes one to two years – sometimes longer – for people to adjust to such a huge change. I still at times think I’ll be going back “home” to my old house even though I sold it and now live halfway across the country!

If you would like support to help you deal with transition in life, whether it is moving related, divorce, making it through the holidays with difficult family, or something more general like learning about depression, do not hesitate to contact us to make a counseling appointment, as we offer several different types of types of therapies with excellent clinicians, such as dating and relationships counseling, family and parenting counseling, personal growth counseling, and depression counseling.

How Yoga Reduces Stress

How Yoga Reduces Stress

When it comes to anxiety and stress, yoga really can be magical. I have personally experienced radical changes in my life from practicing yoga daily. Anxiety can last for just a few moments when you experience a high level of stress, or it can be chronic and constant in your life. However, your anxiety manifests, it feels awful. You lose your focus and in this day and age, it is so easy to feel anxious and stressed out. So shouldn’t there also be an easy way to combat it? Well, that’s where the magic of yoga comes in.

Yoga comes with many powerful tools because the discipline focuses on three aspects of you; the mind, body, and soul. So regardless of what anxiety is for you, whether a temporary thing or a constant feeling, yoga can help you manage it. Stress is something that we experience naturally. It is attached to your fight or flight system. Adrenaline pours into the body when you stress about the smallest of things. This causes you to potentially make huge decisions based on a fleeting thought that invoked your stress sensors. Knowing how to calm down the nervous system quickly is essential in living a life where you get the most out of it.

Here’s how yoga reduces stress and manages these issues effectively.

Yoga and Meditation to Prevent Anxiety

If you begin your day feeling relaxed, it’s harder for life’s unforeseen events to stress you out. Do a session of yoga, followed by a brief meditation in the morning. Yoga will help you prepare for meditation and stretch out the kinks from your sleep. Slow poses that allow you to deeply stretch out the hips help ease any stress that has stuck around from the previous days. Anxiety likes to sit within your hip crease, so when you stretch them out, you release that unwanted stress.

The meditation is important because you learn to hone “mindfulness.” Yogic breathing throughout meditation will help you focus. Mindfulness is about being in the moment and thinking of nothing else. When you can master this sitting in peace, you can incorporate it into your day. Practice as often as you can throughout the day.

It’s challenging to find clarity and peace in crazy moments that you’re conditioned to stress over. When you can master mindfulness, you won’t need to worry about becoming anxious under unexpected challenges. When you stay calm, you are more capable of fixing the problem. It all starts with the yoga poses that promote the peace within.

Instant Yoga During Times of Stress

If you do get stressed, you can quickly do some breathing that will reduce stress in the nervous system. Studies have shown that yoga and its self-soothing techniques can prevent the onset of anxiety. It also reduces anxiety immediately, modulating the stress response system. When you feel anxious, your breath becomes shallow. It’s because your system is preparing to use all of its power to either fight or run away.

Any yoga pose will aid your breathing which will instantly relax you. Even if you just put both of your arms up over your head and do a side bend. Breath in as you look up, hold your breath in as you bend your arms to the right, slowly breath out as you come back to center. Do this on the other side. It will make you feel better immediately. It is believed that yoga, in general, helps the heart rate which also helps your body respond to stress more efficiently.

Yogic Breathing Eases Stress in the Body

When you feel extreme pressure, it may pass, but it will often usually manifest in the body. Doing yogic breathing will help release the stress from your shoulders, back, and neck. You should try to remember to breathe deeply throughout your day. As small stresses can build up, you can get rid of it little by little through the act of breathing. There are probably times you’ve noticed yourself sighing close to the end of your work day. This is your body doing some involuntary de-stressing.

Breathing in deeply will give you more oxygen to your heart, lungs, and brain. This activates the body’s relaxation response which will reduce any anxiety or stress you’re experiencing. When you are diligent enough about a breathing session at your desk, you decrease cortisol in your body. This is the natural chemical that causes stress in the body.

Stress and anxiety can prevent you from doing things you want to do. They get in the way of your ultimate success and meeting goals that matter to you. It takes more effort to continue allowing these feelings to control your life than it does to get on the mat and release the pressure. The great thing is, you don’t even have to get on your yoga mat. You can do yogic breathing exercises in an elevator or on public transit. You can do simple poses at your desk. The magic to dissipate negative stress immediately is yours.

If you feel that you or a loved one need any assistance managing stress in life, you can contact us to make a counseling appointment or read more about adult counseling or personal growth counseling.

Want to spend 30 days and get on track with free yoga? Here are two programs you might like:

Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes, and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential training in India (Rishikesh, Goa, and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)

Website:  https://www.siddhiyoga.com/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/siddhiyogaacademy

Instagram: https://instagram.com/siddhiyogainternational

Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/siddhiyogainter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/meerawatts

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/meerawatts

FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/siddhiyogateachertraining

 

So Much Commotion Over Emotion

So Much Commotion over Emotions

by Adam Maurer, LPC, LMFT, LGBT Therapist

When was the last time you hurled nasty words at your honeybun during a fight?  What vile words did you string together to really zing ’em?  What was it like after all the venom was spewed?  Tense? Quiet? Avoided?  It is a fascinating phenomenon to me. We choose to be with a person, possibly even going so far as to make a commitment to that person on the holy ground in front or friends and family, and BAM! One day we are sinking our fangs into them because they didn’t load the dishwasher correctly. So how did the dishwasher, or whatever dumb catalyst, get two people who once literally made vows to care for each other to suddenly treat one another so terribly?  I think part of the answer is: emotions.  Emotions can be tricky to understand ourselves, and adding another person to the equation can increase the likelihood of chaos.  When emotional escalation happens between two or more people the sparks can really fly.  So, to help keep from lashing out at loved ones let’s take a look at emotions to better understand how they work within us and how to express them in ways that build intimacy with the ones we love.

Emotions Are Typically Mixed

It is rare for us to feel one solo feeling at a time.  People are complex and we often feel a mixture of emotions at the same time, sometimes even contradictory ones.  To recognize all that you might be feeling at the moment think of your emotional makeup to be like a pie chart.  Try to recognize all the emotions you are experiencing and which ones take up the most space.  A part of you can feel sad while a larger part of you feels anxious.  Taking time to recognize your complex emotional state can help you better communicate with your partner.  Hearing that someone is angry with you can be challenging, so hearing the mixture of emotions happening within you might help your love-bug to hear you rather than become defensive.

Emotions Can Be Difficult to Identify

Sometimes identifying the emotions you’re feeling can seem impossible.  While some folks can easily identify their many feelings, others find that they get stuck.  Finding the right words can be a challenge, so take a gander at these resources that offer some organization to label your feelings.

Intensity of Feelings Chart

feeling-wheel

If you are unable to articulate your feelings with words you might try to describe how it feels in your body to a supportive person.  Mrs. White (played by Madeline Kahn) does a wonderful job of this in the movie “Clue.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92IkddsjtAA ) As you use curiosity to guide your exploration of your bodily sensations with a supportive listener, they can help you pinpoint what you might be experiencing.  As you identify your emotions you can ask yourself what the emotion is trying to do for you so that you can address the issue rather than becoming overwhelmed when the emotion fires off during a moment of conflict.

Emotional Intensity Does Not Last Forever

Emotions can be intense and fear of their intensity can lead to avoiding them.  Unfortunately, avoided emotions tend to find a way to be heard, whether we want them to or not.  So, take relief in the fact that emotional intensity does not remain at the same level after you begin to process your feelings.  Eventually, you’ll understand what your feeling and why; and the emotion will not have to bark so loud to be heard.  Before you blast your partner with a zinger, consider if you have fully processed your feelings or if you are simply at the peak of the intensity.

Difficult Emotions Can Help Us

Difficult emotions can actually help us feel better in a number of ways.  If your mood is lower than you ever want to feel, then imagine the bond that can be developed when a loved one reaches out to you with empathy.  Your sweetheart might not be able to alter your difficult mood, but a connection becomes formed.  To be loved and supported when we have nothing to offer, it lets us know that we are valued just as we are; which can actually help us feel better about ourselves and our relationships.  Also, when you express a challenging emotion you have about your partner and they are able to hear your complaint and meet it with compassion, you are not only heard but you have the opportunity to have an amends made; strengthening the relationship.  To help keep conversations about difficult emotions towards your sugar-bee from becoming a battle of who can say the most contemptuous hurtful thing remember these tips:

1) TOUCH!  Hold hands or hug for twenty or more seconds before the conversation (or anytime negative emotions try to take over your) and you will find it much more difficult to sour.

2) Remind yourself of your partner’s positive attributes and how they have supported you in the past.  Doing so will help you feel like you are on a team, fighting against whatever challenges you are facing.

3) If the conversation starts to get heated, STOP.  Talk about taking some time to soothe yourselves and coming back together to try again.

4) Remember HALT.  If you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired then address those needs before having a potential volatile conversation.  Doing so will help you better manage your emotions in the moment.Just ask my husband, if I’m hungry he knows this lady NEEDS to eat or the beast will be unleashed.

5) If you do erupt into a fight, wait for things to cool off and talk about it.  Take responsibility for your part and work together to avoid the same mistakes in communication.

Emotions can be tricky and with a little work, you can learn how to manage them within yourself and your relationship.  As you practice these tips give yourself permission to make mistakes, no one is flawless (except maybe Beyoncé).  If you or your partner (or partners) find it too challenging to work with emotion then a therapist can help.  The perspective of an expert offers a break from old patterns, allowing you to make emotions work for your life and your love.  So, give us a call today to make a counseling appointment and help your relationship grow. If you would like more information prior to making your decision, you can read about couples counseling on our dedicated page.

If you liked this, you might also like Relationship Lessons I Learned From My Dog, Solutions Aren’t Everything: Strengthening Relationships Through Reflecting and Feeling, and What To Expect From Marriage Counseling.