Tag Archives: Anxious

Forgiveness: Letting Go Of Grudges And Bitterness

When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward.

Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, your colleague sabotaged a project or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness or even vengeance — but if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

What is forgiveness?

Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:

• Healthier relationships
• Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
• Less anxiety, stress, and hostility
• Lower blood pressure
• Fewer symptoms of depression
• Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse

Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?

When you’re hurt by someone you love and trust, you might become angry, sad or confused. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.

What are the effects of holding a grudge?

If you’re unforgiving, you might pay the price repeatedly by bringing anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Your life might become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present. You might become depressed or anxious. You might feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs. You might lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.

How do I reach a state of forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. To begin, you might:

• Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time
• Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being
• When you’re ready, actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you
• Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life

As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.

What if I have to interact with the person who hurt me but I don’t want to?

If you haven’t reached a state of forgiveness, being near the person who hurts you might be tense and stressful. To handle these situations, remember that you can choose to attend or avoid specific functions and gatherings. Respect yourself and do what seems best. If you choose to attend, don’t be surprised by a certain amount of awkwardness and perhaps even more intense feelings. Do your best to keep an open heart and mind. You might find that the experience helps you to move forward with forgiveness.

What if the person I’m forgiving doesn’t change?

Getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.

What if I’m the one who needs forgiveness?

The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and how those wrongs have affected others. At the same time, avoid judging yourself too harshly. You’re human, and you’ll make mistakes. If you’re truly sorry for something you’ve said or done, consider admitting it to those you’ve harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and specifically, ask for forgiveness — without making excuses. Remember, however, you can’t force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever the outcome, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.

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Stress & Schizophrenia: How To Help Your Loved One & Yourself?

A common cause of relapse in schizophrenia is “difficulty managing high levels of stress,” according to Susan Gingerich, MSW, a psychotherapist who works with individuals with schizophrenia and their families.

Learning to manage stress isn’t just important for preventing relapse; it’s also important because stress is an inevitable part of facing new challenges and working to accomplish personal goals — “what recovery is all about,” write Gingerich and clinical psychologist Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D, in their book The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia.

Learning to navigate stress healthfully is key for family and friends, too. Having a loved one with schizophrenia can be stressful. Taking care of yourself enhances your well-being and daily functioning. And it means you’re in a better, healthier place to help your loved one.

In their comprehensive book, Mueser and Gingerich share excellent tips for helping your loved one and yourself cope with stress (along with valuable information on schizophrenia and how you can support your loved one).

Here are those suggestions and insights on managing and alleviating stress.

Recognizing Stress Signs

What one person finds enjoyable, another can find stressful. In the same way, how people respond to stress will differ. For instance, one person might exhibit changes in mood, such as becoming depressed and anxious, while another person will show physical signs, such as experiencing headaches and a heightened heart rate.

So it’s important to talk to your loved about their individual signs of stress. Talk about your personal signs, as well. Create separate lists for each of your reactions to stress.

Reducing Sources of Stress
The authors suggest thinking about what situations were stressful for your loved one in the past. Then try to avoid that situation or modify it. If your loved one had a tough time at Thanksgiving last year, it might help to shorten their stay or not go next year.

It’s also helpful to support your loved one in creating a stimulating environment with reasonable expectations. For instance, rather than attend a day program three times a week, one man preferred volunteering twice a week delivering meals to housebound seniors.

Plus, it’s important that you take care of yourself. Eat nutrient-rich foods, get enough sleep, participate in physical activities and engage in fun hobbies. Help your loved one identify what kinds of activities they’d like to do, too.

As the authors point out, because of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, individuals can have a hard time thinking of enjoyable activities. Talk with them about the activities they’ve enjoyed in the past.

Be sure to give yourself and your loved one credit. (Being self-critical just spikes your stress.)

Mueser and Gingerich note how one father acknowledges the positive things that happen on a daily basis: “I’m proud of how persistent my daughter has been in pursuing her art career in spite of the many difficulties she’s encountered. We both have a lot to learn about coping with this illness, but we’ve also come a long way.”

Learning to Cope with Stress

Emphasize the importance of your loved one communicating with others when they’re feeling stressed, since “these feelings can be an early warning sign of relapse,” according to the authors. Make sure you, too, are able to turn to individuals who understand your situation.

Have family meetings to talk openly about the stressor and brainstorm potential solutions. Learn to use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and visualization (such as imagining a serene beach scene).

Self-defeating thoughts only bolster stress for both of you. Try to practice positive self-talk and teach your loved one to do the same.

Mueser and Gingerich share the example of a father helping his daughter reframe her hospitalization, which made her feel like a failure: “I’m sorry you had to go through that, but I’m proud of you for getting help when you needed it and for being so strong in dealing with this illness. You’re a survivor.”

Don’t underestimate the power of humor. Try to find the lighter side of a stressful situation, according to the authors. It’s not always – or usually – easy, but it helps with stress. Plus, you and your loved one can enjoy a funny film or sitcom to lessen stress.

For some people, religious services and prayer can be very helpful. For others being in nature may feel like a spiritual experience and shrink stress.

Again, regular exercise — around three times a week — that you enjoy is important for both of you. Journaling can provide a great source of stress relief. “Many people with schizophrenia say that writing down what they experience, think, and feel is an important outlet.”

See if your loved one is interested in listening to music or making music themselves, such as singing or taking lessons; visiting art exhibits or creating their own art; playing games with family and friends, and pursuing other hobbies.

As the authors emphasize, people with schizophrenia are “more sensitive to the effects of stress because it can trigger symptom relapses and rehospitalizations.” Helping your loved one deal with stress in a healthy way helps them pursue their personal goals and improves their life.

Plus, working together to develop healthy coping strategies can strengthen your relationship and gives you plenty of opportunities for savoring quality time.

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Relationship Advice: Breaking Up Hurts For Real And How To Recover Faster

In studies of life’s most stressful events, being divorced or break up is the number two top life stressor, following right behind number one, being widowed. Both can plunge you into severe depression and health problems. Breakup of a significant relationship or marriage creates a panic response in the brain and such stress in the body that neuroscientists believe it can lead to a lowered immune system and illnesses. If you fall into either of these categories, you absolutely need to take care of yourself and do all the activities we discuss.

Women who hadn’t gotten over a relationship by 16 weeks after the breakup had decreased brain activity in the regions associated with emotion, motivation and attention. This is a physical change in the brain. That’s why it is so hard to concentrate on anything-so hard to get up and go. Do not let yourself go this length of time without intervention.

Researchers at UCLA have pinpointed the part of the brain that registers the pain of a break-up. Being rejected activates one of the same areas of the brain as physical pain! In the study, the more ignored the people felt, the more activity they had in the anterior cingulate, which also registers physical distress. So your pain is physiological.

Other researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found that a breakup can create physical heart pain and shortness of breath. They call it Broken Heart Syndrome and, of course, it affects more women than men. Emotional stress or rage can actually precipitate a heart attack, so on this one you need to get it medically checked out.

Relationship Advice: Getting Over the Heartbreak Faster

Getting over heartbreak isn’t easy but there are definitely some clinically proven methods to beat the blues. There are five recovery methods I recommend: sharing; meditation; sleep; exercise; and, having imaginary conversations with the ex. In one study, talking about their negative feelings lessened the participant’s activity in the pain-feeling part of the brain. Among the recommendations coming out of the UCLA study is that a good remedy for heartache is to spend time sharing with close friends, because this activity causes the brain to release natural opioids, which are like the painkillers found in opium. So make a beeline for your friends, a sponsor, a minister or someone else you confide in.

A second group of recovery methods recommended by the Johns Hopkins researchers emphasizes practicing relaxation techniques, including meditation, deep breathing or journaling out your feelings.

Sleep is very important to helping immune function but with the depressive reactions that many have, sleep may be hard to come by. This is another reason to consider starting a regular relaxation or meditation program-these have been shown to help people sleep better. Also, working out at the gym may help, because it releases opioids.

One final way to beat the blues comes from a study that showed that people who had imaginary conversations and then said goodbye to their partner had more relief from grief than those who didn’t. Here is one imaginary conversation that Darlene, had with her very narcissistic ex:

“You are so classically narcissistic! You only think of yourself. You sucked me in at first with all this generosity, but once you had me, you only took, took, took. And you were the one who abandoned the relationship, even though I bent over backward for you, you jerk! Withdrawing slowly from me to the point where there was nothing left. You stonewalling jerk! Even though you were the one withdrawing, you provoked me into ending it by actually going on Match and chatting online in the same room as me! How humiliating! And now I hear you are happy. It makes me so upset! You never deserved me and I hope in your next relationships you’ll get exactly what you dealt out–a lot of bullshit in a charming voice. You wasted my time and my life these past 2 years. I fell for it, I didn’t self-protect, I was too anxious to be in a relationship and I ignored the signs. I wanted someone else to do the hard work for me. Well, I have learned that I have to do it. I will watch out for myself. I will speak up for myself!”

Airing these pent-up issues and feelings helped Darlene let go and later she moved forward into a relationship with a terrific guy she met at church. Similarly allowing yourself to be with and process your own thoughts and feelings, no matter how painful they are will also allow you to move beyond them and the guy who triggered it all.

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Want To Get Happy? Detach From These Four Things.

Non-attachment is one of the most important skills you can master.
We easily get attached to things, people, situations, the past and the future.

However, these attachments are never healthy. Clinging onto anything is not a good habit to cultivate, although we all seem to go down that road at some point in our lives.

We often attach ourselves to the things that are making us happy at that moment, trying to hold onto them just so we can experience happiness longer. We worry about the odds of losing the happiness and we think that clinging to it would make it stay. And when things change – as they always do – we feel miserable and betrayed.

Knowingly or unknowingly, we attach ourselves to feelings of happiness and satisfaction, and identify ourselves with them. Because of this, we tend to dwell on the past or feel anxious about the future, failing to experience the joy of the present moment.

Once we stop clinging or trying to control the world around us, we allow the Universe to fulfill us in ways beyond our imagination. Letting go is necessary so we can allow the happiness to flood in.

Releasing attachments is not a one-time decision. It is a moment-to-moment choice and commitment, and it involves changing the way we interact with anyone and anything we used to get attached to in the past.

So how do you release your attachment? Here’s a few tips to set you free.

1) Releasing Attachment From People.

Quit depending on people when it comes to acknowledging your worth. Know your worthiness without needing other people’s approval. Don’t let others dictate how you feel about yourself.

Going alone sometimes is a good way of releasing your attachment from others. This will help you examine yourself as well as your passions and values.

Hold onto people lightly and understand that you, and just you, have the ability to feel loved, worthy and secure.

This can also be applied to romantic relationships. Understand that it takes two whole persons to be together, and you are never someone’s “other half”.

2) Releasing Attachment From The Past.

Whether you like it or not, you can never change what’s already happened – ever.

Holding onto what’s already gone is living your life based on fear. Instead of focusing on what has happened or what didn’t happen, focus on whatever is happening right now. At this very moment.

This is the only moment you have control over – the now. Make peace with your past and realize that whatever happened had to happen, so the you right now can emerge. When you look back, you’ll see that the sequence of events had unfolded perfectly, for your own personal growth.

3) Releasing Attachment From The Future.

You cannot find happiness and contentment in the future, because the only real thing is the present moment – and this is all you’re experiencing right now.

There is no need to know what the future will hold. The only thing you need to realize is that your future is hinged on how you will use the present moment.

4) Releasing Attachment From Feelings And Emotions.

This goes to both positive and negative emotions. Most of us are attached to feelings of happiness and the feelings of regret. We tend to forget that all of these are just passing emotions. Identifying ourselves with our feelings and emotions make us prisoners of our own minds.

To release your mind, notice when you’re overwhelmed with an emotion, and then take a pause. Observe your feelings and take a few deep breaths while telling yourself: “This is just an emotion, it does not define who I am.” You’ll notice the overwhelming feeling melting away.

The practice of releasing attachments may be difficult, but only because we have accepted our attachments as part of our lives, believing it is in accordance with the society.

You can break free from this notion and release whatever is binding you to all these dramas. Not getting attached to anyone or anything is important in order to bring harmony to our relationships with other people and most importantly, with ourselves.

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21 Tips To Stop Being A People – Pleaser.

People-pleasers want everyone around them to be happy and they will do whatever is asked of them to keep it that way. They put everyone else before themselves. For some, saying “yes” is a habit; for others, it’s almost an addiction that makes them feel like they need to be needed. This makes them feel important and like they’re contributing to someone else’s life. People-pleasers yearn for outside validation. Their personal feeling of security and self-confidence is based on getting the approval of others. Thus, at the core, people-pleasers lack confidence.

They worry how others will view them when they say no. People don’t want to be seen as lazy, uncaring, selfish or totally egocentric. They fear “they’ll be disliked and cut from the group,” whether it’s friends, family or co-workers.

What many people-pleasers don’t realize is that people-pleasing can have serious risks. Not only does it put a lot of pressure and stress on you, but essentially you can make yourself sick from doing too much. If you’re over-committed, you probably get less sleep and get more anxious and upset. You’re also depleting your energy resources. In the worst case scenario, you’ll wake up and find yourself depressed, because you’re on such overload because you possibly can’t do it all.

Here’s a slew of strategies to help you stop being a people-pleaser and finally say no.

1. Realize you have a choice.

People-pleasers often feel like they have to say yes when someone asks for their help. Remember that you always have a choice to say no.

2. Set your priorities.

Knowing your priorities and values helps you put the brakes on people-pleasing. You know when you feel comfortable saying no or saying yes.

3. Stall.

Whenever someone asks you for a favor, it’s perfectly OK to say that you’ll need to think about it. This gives you the opportunity to consider if you can commit to helping them. If the person needs an answer right away, your automatic answer can be no.

4. Set a time limit.

If you do agree to help out, limit your time frame.

5. Consider if you’re being manipulated.

Sometimes, people are clearly taking advantage of you, so it’s important to watch out for manipulators and flatterers.

6. Use an empathetic assertion.

Using an empathetic assertion means that you put yourself in the other person’s shoes as you assert yourself. So you let the person know that you understand where they’re coming from, but unfortunately, you can’t help. People need to feel heard and understood and this is a respectful way of asserting yourself and saying no.

7. Don’t give a litany of excuses.

It’s tempting to want to defend your decision to say no to someone so they understand your reasoning. But this actually backfires.

8. Don’t apologize — if it’s not your fault.

People-pleasers tend to be serial apologists. Pay attention to when you’re apologizing and consider if you’re really at fault. Ask yourself if you’re responsible for the situation. Usually, the answer is no.

9. Set clear boundaries — and follow through.

Ask yourself what you’re willing to do, and don’t go beyond these limits. Also, be clear in communicating your boundaries. Say what you’re thinking and what you want. Letting someone step over your boundaries without voicing your frustrations can lead you to bottle up this negative feeling about a person to the point when you have a blowup and really hurt someone’s feelings or end the relationship.

10. Don’t be scared of the fallout.

The fallout is never as bad as we think it is. In fact, it’s usually very insignificant.

11. Self-soothe.

Using positive self-talk is “like being a good mother to yourself”. You can use this to remind yourself of your priorities and boundaries.

12. Realize that you can’t be everything to everyone.

Again, people-pleasers want to make everyone happy. While you might make someone happy temporarily, it doesn’t work long term. And you can get hurt in the process. People who preserve their time and energy and don’t say yes to everyone also realize that they can’t make other people happy. People-pleasers must realize that the only thoughts and feelings they can change are their own.

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ANXIOUS ADDICTS: The Relationship Between Anxiety and Addiction.

Almost everyone at some point in their lives struggles with a form of anxiety. Feelings produced from anxiety can be misleading and are perpetuated by reinforcing thoughts. Most people do not recognize that they are anxious until they feel the physical symptoms of anxiety. Substance abuse is a quick remedy for uncomfortable feelings produced by anxiety. An addict who suffers from anxiety will often be reluctant to enter substance abuse treatment, fearful that his or her anxiety issue will not be addressed.

Anxiety Characteristics, Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors:

Anxiety consists of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Thoughts will perpetuate feelings which create a behavioral response in an individual. Anxiety is rooted in fear and not wanting to feel fearful creates an intense distressed behavioral response. An addict who suffers from anxiety will use substances to escape from feeling anxious. Addicts who also struggle with anxiety will appear irritable, pre-occupied and apprehensive. Four common characteristics of anxiety found in an individual are:

1. The excessive need for control.
2. Ignoring psychological and physical signs of stress.
3. The excessive need for approval.
4. Perfectionism.

These characteristics are an individual’s belief system which perpetuates anxiety. Thoughts that are identified as should, would or could statements reinforce the belief system of the addict. These statements reflect thinking in the past and desire to change the chain of events. Example statements are:

  • I could have set an alarm last night, before I started drinking, to wake me up for school. I’m so stupid.
  • It would have been better if I didn’t spend the holidays with my parents. They drive me to use drugs.

Other anxiety related thoughts are based on future events and create frequent worrying or obsessing. For example “If I get this job then I will stop using drugs.” Focusing on events that we cannot change (past) or that are not in our control (future) increases anxiety symptoms. This disturbance of mood contributes to the addict’s desire to escape through substance abuse.

Anxiety Symptoms and Addiction:

Anxiety produces strong intense reactions within the body and mind. Anxiety responses are not always recognizable and may go untreated. Anxiety will manifest in two ways, physical and psychological. 

The physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety are similar to withdrawal symptoms from drugs and alcohol. An addict will automatically look for substances to calm an anxious state. The avoidance of uncomfortable physical agitation and painful emotions are some of the components that maintain addiction and anxiety. Both anxiety and addiction will become stronger the more the addict continues using drugs and/or alcohol. Addiction enables the addict to avoid confronting and challenging anxious thoughts and feelings.

Exercises for Decreasing Anxiety:
Self-help techniques for mild anxiety management are:

  • Stay in the present. Don’t get stuck thinking about the past or future.
  • Recognize what you can control verses what you cannot.
  • Learn to be aware of your stress and incorporate relaxation exercises.
  • Don’t be so critical of yourself. Mistakes are not failures and nobody is perfect.
  • While these exercises are helpful, anxiety is made worse with drug and alcohol abuse. An addict that suffers from addiction and anxiety may not be able to resolve anxiety issues alone.

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Social And Mental Benefits Of Laughter.

• Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.

• Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.

• Humour shifts perspective , allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

• Humour and playful communication strengthen our relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection. When we laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. This bond acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointment.

• Laughing with others is more powerful than laughing alone. Create opportunities to laugh.
– Watch a funny movie or TV show.
– Go to a comedy club.
– Read the funny pages.
– Seek out funny people.
– Share a good joke or a funny story.
– Check out your bookstore’s humor section.
– Host game night with friends.
– Play with a pet.
– Go to a “laughter yoga” class.
– Goof around with children.
– Do something silly.
– Make time for fun activities (e.g. bowling, miniature golfing, karaoke).

• Shared laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. All emotional sharing builds strong and lasting relationship bonds, but sharing laughter and play also adds joy, vitality, and resilience. And humour is a powerful and effective way to heal resentments, disagreements, and hurts. Laughter unites people during difficult times.

• Incorporating more humor and play into your daily interactions can improve the quality of your love relationships— as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends. Using humor and laughter in relationships allows you to :

– Be more spontaneous.
Humour gets you out of your head and away from your troubles.

– Let go of defensiveness.
Laughter helps you forget judgments, criticisms, and doubts.

– Release inhibitions.
Your fear of holding back and holding on are set aside.

– Express your true feelings.
Deeply felt emotions are allowed to rise to the surface.

• Get a pet.
Most of us have experienced the joy of playing with a furry friend, and pets are a rewarding way to bring more laughter and joy into your life. But did you know that having a pet is also good for your mental and physical health? Studies show that pets can protect you depression, stress, and even heart disease.

• Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

• Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as you might with working out, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything you do.

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