Categories
Depression Mental Health Recovery Self-Care Stress

New Study Talks About Stress and Teen Girls

Adolescents experience a lot of stress, more than we may even realize. Stress can come from the natural ups and downs at school because of academic pressure, or via social circles, or from an overwrought family system. For some kids, one thing leads to another, and they find themselves trying to process all of that at the same time. How often are these kids who are struggling in this way, boxed into the at-risk nomenclature? Naming the problem and doing something about it are very different things. Further, if we tell these kids they are at-risk, it evokes a negative connotation. These kids are, in reality, under-served and often ignored.

I teach a yoga class to tweens/teens, and I was warned that one of my new kids was a “problem.” I was told she would be a “nightmare” because she was caught smoking last year, implying that she was also a “bad” kid. I chose not to view her as a problem, or a nightmare, or bad. Instead, I approached her with compassion and kindness and boundaries. I recognized that this kid doesn’t need to be judged; she needs to be seen. She has become one of the most dedicated students in my class. She looks forward to being there. She is kind to her classmates and respectful to me, the teacher. This young lady has allowed herself to be vulnerable enough to allow the process of yoga and conscious breath to disassemble her stress–even if it’s in incremental amounts. The shift has been profound.

A new study talks about teenage girls being more prone to depression when they are exposed to a lot of stress. My class is comprised mostly of girls, most of whom share that they are under stress.  In this recent study, “Jessica Hamilton a doctoral student in the Mood and Cognition Laboratory of Lauren Alloy at Temple University hypothesized that life stressors, especially those related to adolescents’ interpersonal relationships and that adolescents themselves contribute to (such as a fight with a family member or friend), would facilitate these vulnerabilities and, ultimately, increase teens’ risk of depression.”

Researchers examined data from 382 Caucasion and African-American students in an ongoing study. Their findings corroborated Hamilton’s theory, showing increased levels of rumination, depression and emotional vulnerability. Seven months later, when they did follow-up testing, the girls showed higher levels of depressive systems than the boys did. The study also showed that the girls had been faced with more stressors than the boys had. The theory is that if boys and girls faced the same amount of stress, the results of the research would have reflected higher rates in depression regardless of sex.

Stress can be a direct result of consistently not having one’s needs met, feeling disconnected or alone, and from unmitigated change at home: divorce, job loss, violence, poverty, or chronic illness. Additionally, the new independence that comes with the teen years can also be stressful. As much as teens want to individuate, the reality that they have to suddenly do many things themselves can be overwhelming for some.

 

How can we de-stress? Try one or all of these on for size:

1: Time outs are a time in. They are an opportunity for us to reset our minds and bodies.

2: Ask for help.  You don’t have to do this alone.

3: Get some fresh air: go for a walk, or find a way to get outside!

4: Take a media time out: unplug for an hour, and dedicate that time to self-care. If you really want to challenge yourself, turn your phone off for the day!

5: Breathe: 10 deep breaths, extending the exhale each time. Do three or more cycles of this.

6: Say no. No is a complete sentence. Remember this!

Each of these tools encourages an emotional reset. They help turn that fight-or-flight response off and help your body engage its rest-and-digest system. Sometimes, we have to consciously remind our bodies to slow down, but we have to practice. Studies like the one above are a good reminder, a wake-up call, telling us that we have to slow down and process our emotions in a safe, reflective way. Teens need to know they will be ok.

Categories
Recovery Self-Care Service

Taking Care of Yourself While Being of Service in Recovery

We need to be of service in recovery. Getting out of ourselves and helping others is a time-tested component in the recovery puzzle. When we suffer, helping someone else can be liberating. Being of service acts as an unexpected and welcome emotional salve. Being of service shows us that we are not alone in our suffering; it shows us that relief is available. Being of service provides support, and it encourages community. Service work is a wise requirement.

 

There is a shadow side to service work, though, and it rears its head when we don’t take care ourselves. Sans self-care, we risk being overwhelmed, stressed out, tired, and depleted. If you are a gardener, and you tend to everyone else’s garden before your own, your garden will wilt. The same thing applies to taking care of ourselves–Being of service is also an inside job.

 

Where are YOU on your list of priorities?

 

On an airplane, we are told to give ourselves the oxygen first in case of an emergency; Similarly, we must apply this same ideology in our day-to-day lives. If we are depleted, we cannot effectively be of service.

 

Is ensuring someone else’s happiness more important than safeguarding your own?

 

The feelings that emerge when we are of service can be profoundly positive. It feels good to help others. However, we cannot sacrifice our own needs in order to do so.  It’s important not to lean toward people-pleasing behaviors — behaviors that inevitably feed resentment and drain our personal resources for self-care. When we people-please and neglect ourselves in the name of being of service, we risk resentment, which leaves us sitting miserably in silent rage and frustration.

 

Remember that sacrificing yourself is not tantamount to being of service. Pushing yourself to the point of emotional exhaustion will tap your nervous system and leave you overwhelmed, tired, depressed, and frustrated. We are no good to anyone when we are depleted.

 

Yes, you can take care of YOU and be of service!

 

1: Take care of your needs first: If that means taking a walk or going for a run or taking a nap BEFORE helping someone else, do it. Fill your well.

 

2:It’s okay to say NO: If you are exhausted, and tapped out, saying no is a way of being of service. You are no help to anyone if you are worn out.

 

3: Maintain healthy boundaries: If your go-t0 answer is always “yes,” then you are likely to end up overwhelmed. Are you overcommitted?  Practice saying “No.” Practice taking care of YOUR needs before taking care of the needs of others. You are just as important.

 

I love this Buddhist quote and share it often. It’s definitely apropos here:

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” 

Categories
Adolescence Feelings Mental Health Recovery Self-Care

Parenting Teenagers and Maintaining Our Self-Regulation

Teenagers are changeable creatures. Their moods shift rapidly, their bodies change non- stop, and it’s sometimes difficult to notice if something is really wrong or if the persistent eye-rolling, parental irritation is par for the course. In addition to the eye-rolling, teenagers are also not known for their critical thinking skills or wise decision-making. This might mean they will intentionally like/not like a person or situation you dislike, or they may do something just because you don’t approve. It’s frustrating for parents, but it may also be a subtle sign for us pause and look at the larger picture.

 

Sometimes, your child may align themselves with a friend or their family whom you view as undesirable. Perhaps you know something your teenager doesn’t know, but you have to keep it to yourself. Or perhaps you are relying on your parental intuition. Unfortunately, to a teenager, you’re just being annoying and reactive. This reactivity will only push your teen away from you and into the arms of that which you fear.

 

Parents are wise to take some steps to curb reactivity. As we encourage our teenagers to self-regulate, we have to self-regulate too! We have to mirror the behaviors we want.

 

Our reactions are often fueled by our experiences and the stories from the past. These stories inform our present, particularly when we are dysregulated. Bearing witness to our children’s difficulties is not easy when we haven’t been able to grapple with our own.

 

Understanding how to self-regulate allows us to tap into our internal resources so we can be less reactive.  The process of self-regulation requires us to tap into our mind and body connection. When a person is dysregulated, they are disconnected. A fundamental tool in learning to self-regulate is learning to connect with our physical sensations and our bodies. When we are dysregulated, we are reactive rather than responsive. Likewise, when we are self-regulated, we are responsive rather than reactive.

 

A dysregulated parent is an ineffective parent. Perpetual negative reactions propel our teens to become dysregulated as well. This is where parents need to take their own time out and get to a quiet space so they can begin to self-regulate.

 

1: Walk away from the situation so you can check in with yourself.

2: Bring your attention to your feet, and your hands and notice your surroundings.

3: Bring your attention to your belly and your heart: are you angry? Why? Are you scared? Why? What’s present for you?

4: Take 5-10 minutes to allow your breath to settle. Count to 10 slowly, paying close attention to your inhales and exhales.

5: SHAKE IT OUT! Literally: stand up and shake your legs and arms.

 

When we are regulated, we can come to wiser, more succinct means of communication. Perhaps we can even find a way to persuade our teenagers from doing something we don’t like, or perhaps this is an opportunity to revisit the difficult situation at hand with compassion, kindness and a willingness to listen. One thing that I know for a fact is this: Teenagers all want to be seen, heard, and respected.

Categories
Mental Health Recovery Self-Care Wellness

Asking for Help and Self-Care are for Everyone

Asking for help is a radical act of self-care.

Removing oneself from the isolation of overwhelm and exhaustion and stepping into vulnerability is part and parcel to taking care of our own needs. It’s not necessarily a sign of strength to strong-arm our way through our difficulties; however, we often get stuck in this idea that we have to “soldier on,” regardless of our own immediate needs.

 

Emotions come in waves. They can be placid waves or they can feel hurricane-like in their strength. It’s ok to fall apart and feel what we are feeling. It’s how we heal, how we lean into the shadow side, and how we traverse the difficult path of getting the help and support we need.

 

For some of us, we were taught early on that asking for help is a good thing. We were shown by example that it’s ok to take breaks to nourish our mind, body and spirit. We were shown that by engaging in acts of self-care, the ability to show up for others is greater.

 

Many of us have had different experiences and were shown that asking for help is a sign of weakness. The indication here is to place others first and do what we need to do for ourselves later.  In a worse case scenario, “later” ends up being in the ER with symptoms of hypertension, a heart attack, or a stroke. Not taking care of ourselves sends the wrong message to our loved ones.

 

Self-care, asking for help and developing resilience are healthy practices for everyone. They are not limited to someone in recovery or someone who has experienced difficulties. If we engage in these practices and teach our loved ones to do the same, self-care and asking for help become second nature.

 

What is resilience anyway?

 

Simply put, resilience is being able to recover quickly from difficulties—to “spring back into shape.” More definitively it is,

1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.

2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

Resilience isn’t something we are born with – it is cultivated through the development of self-regulatory and self-management skills. The more informed and aware we become around our feelings and needs, the more we cultivate and develop resilience.  We become skilled in the ways we work through our difficulties. The more we are fortified (by self-care and asking for help), the easier it becomes to “spring back.”

 

Resilience is fostered by:

  • Having healthy and close relationships with family and friends
  • Having a positive view on yourself and and confidence in your abilities – Yes, you are enough.
  • The ability to self-regulate
  • Wise communication skills
  • Asking for help when you need it, and seeking resources outside of yourself when necessary
  • Viewing yourself as resilient and not as a victim.
  • Healthy coping skills (instead of substance abuse)
  • Being of service and helping others
  • Being able to notice the good and the positive things that are happening around you.

 

Self-Care can include any of these things and many more:

  • Taking a bath
  • Getting a massage
  • Restorative yoga
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Taking a dip in the ocean
  • Going for a hike
  • Gardening
  • Playing with a dog
  • Going to a park
  • Walking

 

Remember to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength and self-preservation. You are worth it. You deserve to be supported.

Categories
Adolescence Alumni Guest Posts Bipolar Disorder Recovery Self-Care

Wise Words on Self-Care: A Guest Post from Alumni

Self-care is one of the most important things we learn to do in recovery. When we drink and use, or when we suffer from mental illness, we look for outside sources to self-soothe. Our internal resources are often verboten to us; they are either non-existent or significantly unsafe. The recovery process helps us cultivate that inner resource, where we become able to self-soothe, and take care of our own needs without sacrificing our well-being.

 

Occasionally, one of our alumni writes guest posts for us, sharing what it’s like to be a young adult in recovery from mental illness and addiction, and how she is learning to live fully. To every woman I work with, I encourage self-care. To every newcomer I meet and extend my hand, I encourage self-care. This young lady really breaks down some of the necessary components of finding and cultivating self-care. I’m honored to share her voice:

Personal or self-awareness is essential when acknowledging and learning about yourself. Recognition of your needs is the first step. Second would be to put those things into action. In dealing with physical needs you must first distinguish the basics.

Sleep is essential for all humans; it plays a major role in ones emotional state. Exercise also has a sizeable portion in a healthy life. Staying active is vital in maintaining ones physical health. Whether it be a lot or a little, it is incredibly important. Keep in mind that exercise of any kind releases endorphins in the brain, and this is equally significant in supporting and preserving a healthy emotional state of mind.

When it comes to both of these forms of self-care, moderation is imperative. Where sleep and exercise are helpful and quite necessary, too much or too little of each of these things are not. Too much sleep may indicate a person who is suffering from depression. Sleeping the day away could be a direct result of trying to hide or suppress feelings. Sleeping too little could also suggest that a person is overworked or even depressed.

On the other hand, exercise, while very important, should not become your main focus. If exercise becomes an obsession, this could be viewed as a type of disorder (specifically having to do with your health concerning your weight and appetite). And exercising too little may force you to become sluggish and will not help your healthfulness.

Hygiene and nutrition are two more exceedingly important factors to be aware of when handling self-care. Hygiene goes without saying, but nutrition is something that many either do not take into consideration at all, or become preoccupied with. Overall, physical needs transfer to emotional wellness when you begin to take your health and wellbeing into your own hands.

For emotional security, taking pride in yourself is crucial when working on self-care. Doing things for you should be your main priority. As my mom often says, “You cannot help someone else without first taking care of yourself.” Happiness comes from doing what you love, so pursue hobbies that you find joy in and take pleasure in. For me, that means going on a bike ride, playing the drums, taking photos, and writing. It took me a long time to find things I genuinely liked. For some people, they have known their whole life and even turn it into a profession. Others may pursue their passion as a hobby and many people have yet to find out what they love to do. Even if you don’t really pursue something, there are plenty of things that you can do to have fun and enjoy yourself.

Some other activities one can partake in are singing, dancing, taking a drive, or riding a train, taking a bath, going to the beach or for a swim, getting a massage, or even being of service to someone else in some way.

Doing kind things for other people is probably one of the most helpful things you can do for you. Helping others encourages you to get out of yourself.

Acknowledging my own specific difficulties and balancing love and patience for myself with gratitude and recognition for what I already have is a critical balance. For example, I personally struggle with manic-depression, or Bi-Polar disorder. This means that taking my medication for the mental illness that I face is a fundamental and key part of upholding and literally balancing my life.

Reaching out to others whether it is a friend, relative, or a therapist, is a productive way to take care of your mental state. Checking in with someone to not only talk about your struggles and/or triumphs, but also about theirs, is a great method when encouraging self-care for you and others. For those of us in 12-step programs, calling a sponsor and going to meetings is a positive way to turn your frown upside down. Relating to another person is almost always helpful when you are struggling with something. Going to a meeting can get you out of your head and into the open arms of a fellow 12-stepper.

Many people believe that spirituality plays a large role in turning one’s attitude around. I believe that no matter what religion you practice, faith you believe in, or Higher Power you trust and respect, you can find self-care in spirituality. My teacher, and someone that I look up to and greatly respect likes to approach every situation with a level of compassion that is almost unheard of. However you practice self-care, do it kindly, but whatever you do, get into action.

Categories
Holidays Recovery Self-Care

The Memorial Day Holiday Weekend and Self-Care

Memorial Day holiday weekend,  and holidays this time of year, tend to bring up an image of BBQs, beer and parties:  Lots of parties.

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is emblematic of the beginning of Summer, despite it being a about honoring those who died in active military service.  When you’re an addict or alcoholic, however, most holidays take on one meaning, and one meaning only: a means to getting high. But when you come into recovery, the meanings of holidays need to change. They need to evolve into opportunities for making healthier choices, sober fun, and creating positive memories.

In the newness of recovery, however, a holiday weekend can seem overwhelming, perhaps daunting. The thought of suddenly having to shift perspectives, change social circles, and ultimately change how we show up on our lives is tough. I challenge you to shift your perspective and begin to look at holidays as an opportunity for self-care.

Here are some helpful tips to help you stay on track on any holiday weekend and also take care of yourself in the process:

  • Go outside! Take a walk with a friend or go on a hike;
  • Go to extra meetings;
  • Call your sponsor;
  • Be of service some examples of being of service are:
    • Buy a coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks.
    • Give a homeless person a meal.
    • Volunteer at an animal shelter.
    • Offer to help an elderly neighbor with their groceries.
    • Take a commitment at a meeting
  • Host or attend a sober event. For example, have a BBQ at a park – do silly activities like 3-legged races, water balloon fights, or tug of war.
  • Practice meditation or yoga – both are a great means of self-care and they do wonders to regulate your nervous system;
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no.” If something doesn’t feel right to you, “no” is a perfectly acceptable answer. It’s a boundary and good practice in recovery.
  • Ask for help: One of the hardest lessons to learn when we get sober is that we cannot do this alone. Asking for help is a learned skill for a lot of us. If you are lonely, or overwhelmed, or emotionally triggered, reach out to someone.

And last but not least, Don’t forget to have fun. Find the joy in the little things: the light on a flower, the smell of the ocean, the sand between your toes, your friend’s laugh, a great cup of coffee, a beautiful sunset, or a great movie (or one so bad that it’s good!). Have a safe and sober weekend!

Categories
Adolescence Holidays Mental Health Mindfulness Recovery Self-Care Service Spirituality Teen Activism Wellness

Resolution, Schmesolution: Create a New Year Theme

© 2013 sarit z. rogers — all rights reserved

It’s that time: New Year’s Eve celebrations are upon us! For many, it’s the time of year often met with party plans and resolutions. Parties and resolutions together sound like a juxtaposition and affect some legitimate irony, but nevertheless, they go together for most people every 31st of December. However, if you are in recovery, have clearer eyes and hopefully a wiser mind, things might look a bit different during this time of year.

 

There are several articles offering tips and guidelines for setting up the “perfect” New Year resolutions, 0r embarking on a New Year cleanse, or signing up for a New Year workout plan. The one thing all of these have in common is the idea that you can and will actually commit to changing a bevy of major things just because it’s the New Year. Sadly, many fail or abandon those impassioned resolutions after a few weeks. One article in particular stuck out to me. This article suggests creating a theme for the New Year rather than a resolution. A New Year’s Theme! That is right in line with the New Year Intentions I have suggested in the past. Both of these, a theme or an intention, are something that can easily be created, worked with and maintained throughout the year. Rather than seeking perfection, or a grand, finite accomplishment, a theme or intention allows one to slowly change behaviors and invite the possibility of more long-term, sustainable changes.

 

What might your New Year’s Theme or Intention be for 2014?

 

Kindness: The wonderful quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. You can choose to practice random and not so random acts of kindness throughout the year. Make it a year of being kind when you might otherwise be gruff. Invite some personal curiosity and investigation about what it might be like to respond to difficulty with kindness instead of anger or fear. It’s an interesting one to work with, but everyone can be kind and deserves kindness in return.

 

Mindfulness: Also looked at as keen “awareness,” mindfulness is an astute awareness of reality and the present moment.  It is an acknowledgement that things are just as they are in that moment. If you make mindfulness your New Year theme, perhaps you will begin by investigating the contemplative practices of meditation and yoga. Or perhaps it might mean choosing not to use your cell phone when you are walking around and instead bringing your awareness to your surroundings and becoming more present. It might mean driving without the radio on, or not always having your cell phone nearby. It might mean eating dinner without the television on so you can be more present with your family. Remember, it is not about perfection; this is a practice.

 

Wellness: If you are desirous of changing your health or the way you eat or the amount of activity you engage in, this is a wonderful theme. You might do this by ruling out meat for one day a week, or by eating more greens. You may choose to limit your caffeine, or cut down on your cigarettes or vape pens: eventually you may even quit! You can increase your wellness, that healthy balance of mind, body and spirit, even if you start small. In fact, small changes over a long period of time have a longer lasting effect.

 

Movement: Increase your physicality in 2014. You can start with walking more or riding your bike. If you usually drive to the corner store or to a meeting that’s only a mile away, try riding a bike once a week! The more you do ride your bike or walk, the more it might become a habit. Honestly, there’s no concrete rule about how long habits take to form or break. Instead, look at this as small opportunities for personal change.

 

Service: Make 2014 your year of being of service! Take a commitment at a meeting and keep it for a year. Volunteer to feed the homeless. Volunteer at an animal shelter once a week. Find a cause you believe in and get involved in raising awareness about it. Being of service is the fulcrum of recovery; “We can’t keep it unless we give it away” is one of the most-often repeated sayings relating to being of service. Write it on something you can always see to remind you to get out of yourself and into action.

 

No matter your theme or plan, the New Year is a time of reflection and growth. It is an opportunity to reflect on the past year so we can grow into the new one. May you ring this New Year in with self-care, compassion, kindness, and great joy. We wish you a wonderful New Year celebration and look forward to celebrating and growing with you in 2014.

Categories
Adolescence Communication Mental Health Parenting Recovery Therapy Trauma

Healthy Boundaries Make for Healthy Teens

© sarit z rogers

What steps can you take to ensure that you aren’t in violation of someone’s boundaries? For example, not everyone enjoys being hugged, nor is it always appropriate to express that level of touch. From the perspective of a teacher or a therapist, one must understand the innate power differential that exists between teacher and student or therapist and client. One is looking to the other for advice and pedagogic elucidation, and one is holding the power to elicit such information. We therefore need to be thoughtful in our approach to employing touch in these situations.

 

In a therapeutic environment such as Visions, we address more than substance abuse and mental illness; we are facilitating the excavation of trauma and creating safe boundaries. It’s important to maintain awareness around our own sense of boundaries and how execute them. Asking ourselves these questions and contemplating the answers through talking to our peers and writing them out will help you discern where you may need some work, and where you are strongest:

 

  1. What does it mean to set boundaries?
  2. Is it hard to say “no”? If so, what does saying “no” feel like?
  3. How do I feel when my boundaries are crossed?
  4. What is my reaction internally and externally?
  5. Am I afraid to set boundaries? Why?
  6. What is my history around setting boundaries?

 

As clinicians and teachers, it’s imperative that we know and understand where our weak spots are so we can work on them. For some people, it’s not uncommon to wait until someone pushes us to our edge before we set a limit. The desire to please others or to be liked plays a part here, and our own backgrounds and upbringing will also effect how we interact with others. Perhaps we come from a family where hugging and touch is part of the norm. It may be natural for us to reach out and hug someone when they are suffering, but it’s not always appropriate.

 

Hugging a client may be a violation of a boundary, but if the client has been traumatized in some way, they may not know how to set that boundary. Likewise, if a client persistently tries to hug you, you have to maintain a firm boundary so they learn to understand what is and what is not appropriate. I was volunteering at my son’s school recently, and a kid came up and hugged me, not wanting to let go. It was a child I don’t know and it was a clear violation of my boundaries and the school’s rules. I gently moved away and held a boundary with this child until he moved on. Teens look to us as examples to learn from and to emulate. If we don’t show strong, safe boundaries, they won’t be able to either. Understand that the boundaries we create encourage freedom to be who you are while creating a safe container for healing and recovery.

Respecting boundaries applies to parents too. If the family dynamic has been compromised, parents have to work to rebuild a healthy and safe family structure. Creating solid boundaries is key in that process. Adolescents love to push buttons and stretch boundaries; they are smack dab in the center of their individuation process. That doesn’t mean you, the parent, have to give in. Remember: “No” is a complete sentence, and when it’s said with certainty and conviction, it makes all the difference. A wishy-washy, non-committal “no” may as well be a “maybe” or a “yes.” Poor limits leave room for negotiation where there shouldn’t be.

We all have a part to play in creating safe limits whether we are parents, teachers, or clinicians. Kids, in their infinite wisdom and testing behaviors, demand strong limits, whether they admit it or not. Boundaries create safety. They provide defined parameters in which to develop and grow. So as much as a teen may push, inside, they really do respect a firm “No” and a defined environment.

Categories
Mental Health Recovery Self-Care Stress

Stress: Take the Reins Back

Most of us have stress in our lives. It comes with being a human being in a busy world. As parents, we have the stress of running a home, working, and raising children. As teachers, we have the stress of providing safe, nurturing, educational forums for our students. As therapists and mental-health workers, we have the stress of the role of caretaker. All of these are wonderful and virtuous roles and the stress that comes with them is tolerable when there are outlets to discharge it and refuel. Where stress becomes intolerable is in situations where there is no relief. Long-term stress will eventually create larger issues like:

 

  • Headaches
  • Neck, Shoulder and Back Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Digestion issues (stomach aches, heartburn)
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Compromised immune system
  • Depression
  • Worry
  • Irritability and/or anger
  • Eating too much or not enough

 

There are many ways in which we can manage stress. We can:

 

Breathe. Our breath is one of the most magnificent tools we have. It is something we can do without effort, but it is also something that can be done with focused effort. When we practice controlling our breath, and raising our consciousness around it, it can greatly benefit our nervous systems. Taking deep, meaningful breaths nourishes and invokes our parasympathetic nervous systems, the part of our brains responsible for relaxation and calm. In fact, if our nervous system had a fire department, the parasympathetic nervous system is it. We have to engage in activities that support our parasympathetic nervous systems so we can learn to self-regulate.

 

Slow down. Do you really have to do everything RIGHT NOW?  Prioritize your to-do lists and figure out what needs to be done immediately and what can wait a little bit. Do one thing at a time. Multitasking, though it may seem efficient, can sometimes slow you down.

 

Exercise. Take more walks, do yoga, go surfing, jog. Do something that gets you into your body and allows your mind to rest.

 

Get enough sleep! 5 hours a night won’t cut it, folks. Your body and mind need time to recharge. Anything less than 6 and more than 8 hours of sleep increases inflammation in the body, which will increase your levels of stress, and decrease your ability to self-regulate.

 

Turn off your electronics and go outside! Vitamin Nature is a phenomenal way to get grounded and recharge.

 

Be silly. Laughter is magical. It really is. A good case of the giggles can be incredibly liberating.

 

Stay in the present moment. The more we can accept where we are and what we are dealing with, the better equipped we will be when it comes to managing our stress. My favorite quote from Ajahn Sumedo really illuminates present moment awareness: “Right now, it’s like this.”

 

When we are rigid around our issues, we resemble a stiff, inflexible tree with brittle branches that break with the least amount of pressure. But when we are grounded and our needs our met, those rigid branches become fluid and move with the rustle of the winds. We become simultaneously grounded and flexible. Stress is considered the “silent killer,” but it doesn’t have to be. We can actually restructure our brains by being kinder to our nervous systems with mindful practices of self-care.

As the Buddha said, “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”

Categories
Mental Health Prevention Recovery Self-Care

People Pleasing: It’s Time to Put Yourself First

Do you engage in people pleasing behaviors? Many people do, and they suffer as a result.  They have more stress, lower self-esteem, and less time for self-care and healing. Recovery is a breeding ground for people pleasing behaviors. The old tapes that tell you that you are not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, wise enough, pretty enough, or fill-in-the-blank begin to kick in, and people pleasing behaviors feed into it. Those tapes fuel your emotional demise.

 

Are you concerned that you won’t be liked if you disagree?

 

People pleasing behavior leads to a persistent need to keep the seas calm. People pleasers subconsciously want to be perceived as positive, generous, willing, and available. Agreeing with everyone around them doesn’t rock the boat. It also doesn’t honor one’s own perspective. This will lead to resentment, which leaves one sitting with silent rage and frustration. Internally disagreeing breeds resentment and ekes out as passive aggression: sarcasm, rude comments, or pleasantries with a side of salt.

 

The remedy? Use your voice! Speak up so you can be heard. As you find your voice, you will discover that more often than not, people will respect you for it. When our actions are determined by a false perception of the outcome, we create an environment of low self-esteem and resentment. Both are dangerous states in recovery. In other words, don’t please others at the expense of your well-being.

 

Do you rely on outside validation in order to make a decision?

 

If you find yourself saying yes because it will make you look “cool” to someone else, or “no” for the same reason, you are again creating grounds for low self-esteem, frustration, and resentment. What others say or think about you doesn’t matter; how you feel about you is most important.  Finding ways to honor yourself and your authenticity is going to be your biggest asset.

 

Boundaries? What boundaries?!

 

The desire to be liked often trumps the desire to be heard. Not having boundaries also puts you in a place to be taken advantage of. If your go-t0 answer is always “yes,” then you are setting yourself up to be overwhelmed. Do you often find yourself overcommitted? This creates stress, which can lead to other health problems like depression, heart trouble, high blood pressure, and headaches. The way to combat this is to slowly start setting some boundaries. Practice saying “No.” Practice taking care of YOUR needs before taking care of the needs of others. You are important!

 

Is “I’m sorry” your go-to response?

 

Someone bumps into you, but you say, “I’m sorry.” You trip over a crack in the ground, and you say, “I’m sorry.” This is a common phrase found amongst those who are prone to people pleasing and it stems from a couple of things: Low self-esteem, a desire to please others, and a disregard for oneself. I used to be guilty of overusing this phrase, and have since stopped. First I noticed when I would say it. Then I began to stop myself before I said it. And now, if it slips out, I audibly correct myself. “Actually, I am not sorry that you ran into me!” Creating firm boundaries does a couple of things: it is a way of protecting ourselves, it is a form of respect for others, and ourselves, and it is a form of self-care. Being human is messy; we don’t have to live our lives apologizing for it. A well-placed “excuse me” is sufficient.

 

Is someone else’s welfare always more important than your own?

 

Sacrificing yourself at the cost of helping someone else is par for the course for most folks who people please.  Pushing yourself to the point of too much stress compromises your nervous system and makes you feel overwhelmed, tired, depressed, and frustrated. Remember the analogy you are given on flights:
In case of an emergency, give yourself oxygen first, and THEN help those around you. We are no good to anyone when we are depleted.

21 Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser – PsychCentral

Are You a People Pleaser? – Psychology Today