Wind Down Wednesday : Recognizing 5 Stress Signals

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Our body can signal us when we are stressed.  Are you able to recognize them?  Learn how to recognize the top 5 stress signals and what you can do to work towards relieving your stress. 

1) Insomnia– If you go to bed thinking or worrying, the physiological response is adrenaline, which is activating and interferes with getting sleep or achieving restful sleep.  

How to wind down. Create a routine for winding down and putting your mind to rest.  Before bed, swim, walk, mediate, drink warm milk or herbal tea (no caffeine), take a hot bath or choose to think of peaceful, pleasant thoughts. 

2) Headaches and sore muscle – When your body is in high gear, you are continuously on alert to respond and body tension accumulates.  If tension is chronic, the results can be muscle soreness and rigidity.  A tight neck, upper back and shoulders can lead to an headache.  

How to wind down. Stretching and light exercise every couple of hours throughout the day may help relieve the symptoms. 

3) Stomach problems – When you are stressed, acid is secreted in the stomach, which can cause heartburn, stomach cramps or other digestive problems.  Over the counter antacid may alleviate the symptoms, but don’t ignore the real culprit of irritation : stress, caffeine, smoking, alcohol, poor nutrition, inadequate sleep and relaxation or spicy food. 

How to wind down.  Use physical activity, deep breathing and self-soothing activities to calm your digestive track.  Be sure not to ignore these symptoms and consult with your PCM. 

4) Addictive Behaviors – Efforts to escape chronic stress by drinking too much, increase smoking, overeating, overspending, gambling or other negative patterns that lead to increased stress.

How to wind down. Find helpful and healthful ways to deal with stress.  Seek a local qualified professionals therapist in your area. 

5) Low Sex Drive – While this can be a signal of stress of fatigue, a variety of other issues need to be explore with your PCM such as high blood pressure, decreased testosterone, excessive salt consumption, excessive alcohol use, certain drugs and disease that may cause hieghten blood pressure in some people.  

While there is no way to prevent stress, we can control how we respond and handle it.  Try not to let stress build up, deal with stress when it strikes, think positively, visualize yourself solving your stressors, set limits and time frame to when you will manage your stressor and lastly, be honest about what you have control over and what you do.  Take this Wednesday to wind down and move towards recognizing your stressors, physical stressors and make moves to manage the stress.   

Winding Down, 

Shayla Peterson, LCSW
Source : Therapist’s guide to clinical intervention : 1-2-3’s of treatment planning (2nd edition) by Sharon L. Johnson

Feel your Feelings Friday 

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Get unstuffed and stop sticking.  Let’s take Friday to address our feelings and being mindful of our emotions. The goals is to notice and experience our emotions and allow them to come and go naturally. That means sometimes experiencing painful emotions without turning the pain into suffering. Emotional Suffering can be created by stuffing or sticking to our emotions, and that’s out of BALANCE.  

When Stuffing our emotions, we bottle up l, ignore and reject your emotions. Emotional Stuffers try to push their emotions away. Just because we stuff or ignore our emotions does make them go away. It causes emotional build up, leading to feeling overwhelm and possible breakdown.  

On the opposite end of the spectrum, is Sticking. When we stick to our feelings, we hold on to emotions and try to keep them around. When we emotional stick, we replay stressful situations and experience the emotions over and over again. Sticking prevent are emotions to natural come and go and never provide them with the opportunity to fade. Thus leading emotions to Stick around longer than hey natural would.  

Create Balance by actually feeling your Feelings. Feeling your feelings serves as a middle group between stuffing and sticking. Trying noticing your feelings without holding on to them. Observe and describe your emotions, your sensations, thoughts and urges. Take note of how intensity comes and go. When a new emotions is ready to come in, let the emotion go and notice the new feeling.  

I hope that you find Feel your Feelings Friday helpful and beneficial to creating a balance to kick off your weekend.  Send me note let me know how “Feeling Friday” balanced you. 

Unstuffed and Not sticking, 

Shayla Peterson, LCSW



Source: DBT skills training by Jean Eich, Psy, LP

8 minutes to Serenity, Courage & Wisdom in 8 Steps

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You can reduce feelings of anxiety by using serenity, courage and wisdom.  This quick blog will allow you to step back and evaulate your situation, determine he difference between the things you can and cannot change, and then act on your knowledge.  

Step 1) Describe a situation that you have been feeling anxious about in your own life lately. 

Step 2) Think about the situation careful and realistically, then list the things that you can actually change about the situation. 

Step 3) List the things that you really cannot change.  

Step 4) How will it affect your life if you accept the things you cannot change.  

Step 5) Are you able to feel serene about? Ask yourself, why or why not.

Step 6) Do you have the courage to change the things you can change? Tell why or why not. 

Step 7) What might help you feel more courageous? 

Step 8) WRITE and READ aloud : “I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

Balanced in Serenity, Courage & Wisdom,

Shayla Peterson, LCSW 
Source : The anxiety workbook by Lisa M. Schab, LCSW (2008)

Depression and Anxiety 

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Major depression is the psychiatric diagnosis most commonly associated with suicide. Lifetime risk of suicide among patients with untreated depressive disorder is nearly 20% (Gotlib & Hammen, 2002)

•2/3 of people who complete suicide are depressed at the times of their deaths

•7 out of every 100 men and 1 out of every 100 women who have been diagnosed with depression in their lifetime will go on to complete suicide.

•People who have had a dependence on alcohol or drugs in addition to being depressed are at greater risk for suicide 

•Individuals who have multiple episode of depression are at greater risk for suicide than those who have had one episode

Source: http://www.suicideology.org #nspw16 #spsm #suicide #suicideprevention #wspd #depression #anxiety #substanceabuse

Becoming Fluent in I-messages 

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 Do you find yourself using you-messages when communicating with your partner and find yourself feeling frustration and disappointed with the outcome? When trying to effectively communication we often lack the skills to clearly get our feelings across. The use of You-messages focuses on what other person have done in a way that makes that feel as though they are being attacked. When we point fingers and make accusations, the person we are communicating with will mostly stop listening. And who could blame them? In return, they are focusing on what they are going to say in response to your attack. It is my hope that after reading this blog, you are able to transform your you-messages to I-messages so that you can become fluent in I-messages, not imessage (which is a texting app for iPhone user). 
I-messages tell what you feel, what the person has done to make you feel that way and why you feel the way that you do. By using I-messages versus you-statements, you can decrease tension and conflict. When there’s less tension and conflict, it makes it easier for you and the other person to create a solution. Let explore some an example of how to practice this communication skill.

Example:
You partner comes home 2 ½ hours late.

You-message:
You are always late and inconsiderate

I-message:
I’m worried when you are not home at your regular time because it makes think something happened to you.
It’s easier to listen to and respond to I-messages versus you-message. Practice using this I-message when communicating with someone that you care about and notice how they respond to you. Just in case you forgot how to use the technique here is the template. 
I feel…when you…because….

Additional I-messages sentence starter:

I want …
I would appreciate…
I think….
I expect….
I wish…
I understood you to say….
I thought you said…
It was understanding that…

5 More Myths about Emotions – Part 2

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I hope that you were able to start making some small changes after reading last week’s blog on 5 myths about emotions.  This week’s blog will reveal 5 more myths we have been told about our emotions.  It is my hope that we start to educate ourselves on our thoughts and feelings thus creating more of the actions that we would like to see in ourselves.

  1. If other don’t approve how you feel, you shouldn’t feel this way. As noted in myth number one, people will feel different about situation depending on their interpretation of the event and other factors. There is no right or wrong way to feel, ever. IF other seem to judge you for the feeling you are experiencing, remind yourself that the way you feel is just the way you feel, and it is okay.
  2. Painful emotions are bad and need to be fixed. Another myth. Painful emotions are painful, but that does not make them bad. Because all of our emotions serve a function, I could actually argue that all emotions are good. Granted, once you realize why emotion is there, you will likely don’t want that uncomfortable emotion hanging around. There are things you can do to help yourself with this but for now, simply recognized that no emotion needs to be fixed.
  3. Being emotional mean being out of control. Not necessarily true. Perhaps right nor, whenever you are emotional, you are out of control. We can learn to manage emotions more effectively so that we can remain in control even when you are experiencing strong emotions.
  4. It’s not healthy to express your emotions. Quite the opposite. It is not healthy if you do not express your emotions! Expressing your emotions in an assertive way is very healthy. Failing to express emotions, or expressing them in an aggressive or passive way is not effective and can even be harmful.
  5. Painful emotions will ever go away if you don’t act to make them go away. Another myth. The truth is that painful emotions often go away without us having to do anything about them. Trying to make them go away actually keeps them hanging around longer.

“Our Emotions need to be as educated as our intellect.  It is important to know how to feel, how to respond, and how to let life in so that it can touch you.”

Balancing Emotions,

Shayla Peterson, LCSW

Reference: Van Dijk,S. (2012) Calming the Emotional Storm: using DBT skills to manage your emotion and balance your life.