Tag Archives: Tough

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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How To Ignore Pain And Feelings?

Pain and emotions are just thoughts triggered in your head that seem too strong to overcome. When confronted with these senses or thoughts, one usually has little control over his or her action in the following sequences. Many can suppress emotions and try to hide pain, but with a controlled thought and strong will, both can be ignored completely up to a certain level. It doesn’t make you invulnerable, but it makes you more durable or less fearful. The feeling is a cold one and shouldn’t be taken on by those with a weak mind, body, or soul.

  1. Know the pros. Everybody has natural (and necessary) mechanisms for ignoring pain and negative feelings. The harder thing to do is to let yourself feel the feelings fully, when you are ready, and deal with them. However, at times it can be important to ignore them for some time. For example, when they are too powerful for you to deal with, and you are not ready, when they interfere with a strong need, such as the need for survival, to work for money, to negotiate a tough situation with people who cannot support you with your feelings, or to protect yourself from temporary hazards.
  2. Know the cons. Read the warnings below. Hiding your feelings can delay your progress, can inhibit healthy communication and trust.
  3. Control your anger. Before anything else, the key is anger. As anger builds in you, it can be used to help block off thinking. Try to concentrate to be angry and to push it down.
  4. Stop feeling whatever it is If you wish to live with no sorrow, after you can control your anger well enough, begin to talk yourself out of sadness; to just not care. This is the next step in learning – to not lose yourself in emotions and feelings. Try to stop caring and say “I control my life.” Be bold, be strong. Try push it out of your head. Things wont bother you if you wont let them.
  5. Distract yourself. Just don’t sit alone thinking about it! Know that whatever you are feeling is silly compared to other things.
  6. Block out mental stresses and pain for physical pain. This system is a bit different because now you must endure before you can truly leave behind physical pain. This doesn’t mean you have to cut yourself. You just have to accept the feeling of pain when you’re hurt. Find a sparring partner, a close friend perhaps, preferably someone bigger.
  7. Focus. Now you must realize a truth in life. It’s a truth that you will need to focus on. All your feelings come from thoughts and impulses in your head that tell you something is wrong or right, like a burn or a tickle. What you must do is realize that with enough pushing and controlled thought, you can change wrong to right, sorrow into happiness, etc. With pain, all you do is tell yourself it doesn’t hurt. It seems simple, but is harder than one can truly imagine.
  8. Find help from inspirational quotes. Try to look up inspiring quotes on Google. Try listening to songs that have strong lyrics.
  9. Know that you won’t always be hurting. Sooner or later, you’ll find light at the end of the tunnel.

Tips:

  • Also, for the first and second steps, it might seem as though there isn’t a lot of description to it. That is because only your own mind and way of thinking can judge how long it takes and how you must go about following those steps.
  • Don’t be overconfident. Don’t try to breeze through such a drastic change in your life. Be safe about how you do this – no cutting, stabbing, or poking yourself intentionally. Life is full of pain and all you need to do is wait for it.
  • Remember: it’s only temporary. It will be over soon, as emotions don’t stick with you for your whole life.
  • Think of something great in your life. Like a lover or a great accomplishment. Feel the emotion you feel through such times and forget about the bad.

Warnings:

  • Your emotions will still be there, and will still affect you but in strange and unconscious ways, making it difficult for you to do anything about them. The psychological term for this is dissociation, and the consequences are serious. Read up on dissociation disorders before you even consider this.
  • Do not think only about yourself; think about the other people you will hurt, such as your loved ones.
  • Whatever you are suffering, whoever you are, there are people who care and who can help you, whether it is someone you know or a stranger at a crisis center. Reaching out to them for help and dealing with your problems will make you so much stronger than trying to ignore your pain.

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Five Steps For Fighting Stress

Everybody gets stressed from time to time. Different people feel stress in different ways. Some ways of dealing with stress — like screaming, hitting someone, or punching a wall — don’t solve much. But other ways, like talking to someone you trust, can start you on the road to solving your problem or at least feeling better.

Try taking these five steps the next time you are stressed:

1. Get support. 
When you need help, reach out to the people who care about you. Talk to a trusted adult, such as a parent, other relative, a school counselor, or a coach. And don’t forget about your friends. They might be worried about the same test or have had similar problems, such as dealing with a divorce or the death of a beloved pet.

2. Don’t freak out! 
It’s easy to let your feelings go wild when you’re upset. Notice your feelings, and name them — for example, “I am so angry!” And say or think about why you feel that way. Then, find a way to calm down and get past the upset feelings and find a way to express them. Do breathing exercises, listen to music, write in a journal, play with a pet, go for a walk or a bike ride, or do whatever helps you shift to a better mood.

3. Don’t take it out on yourself. 
Sometimes when kids are stressed and upset they take it out on themselves. Oh, dear, that’s not a good idea. Remember that there are always people to help you. Don’t take it out on yourself. Be kind to yourself and ask for the helping hand or pat on the back that you need — and deserve — to get you through the tough situation you’re facing.

4. Try to solve the problem. 
After you’re calm and you have support from adults and friends, it’s time to get down to business. You need to figure out what the problem is. Even if you can’t solve all of it, maybe you can begin by solving a piece of it.

5. Be positive — most stress is temporary. 
It may not seem like it when you’re in the middle a stressful situation, but stress does go away, often when you figure out the problem and start working on solving it.

These five steps aren’t magic — and you might have to do some steps more than once, but they do work. And if you can stay positive as you make your way through a tough time, you’ll help yourself feel better even faster. Ah . . . it feels so good when the stress is gone!

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The Best Ways To Deal With People Who Hurt You

Confronting someone who has hurt you can be a difficult and daunting task.

No matter what your position in life, reality star, politician, or one of us normal people, the actions of others can sometimes hurt you. Some people try to tough it out and will pretend the words roll right off them, but there is always a little something that gets into our heads and rattles our emotional cages.

When that happens, the first thing to do is to consider the source. If it is someone who is drunk, disgruntled, or disgusting, you can more easily disregard what was said or done. If the person is someone you work with or have a relationship with, then things become a little more complicated.

Letting someone know that they have hurt you may not be easy. Guys can have a harder time with this, because they’ve been told not to give into their feelings, and like most of us, may try to ignore idiotic comments. Sometimes that just isn’t possible, however, so before you react, check in with yourself and see if it’s worth the effort. In most cases, you’ll want to mention the offense before the offending party forgets it ever happened.

Confronting someone who has hurt you can be a difficult and daunting task for a lot of people. We become frightened that our intention (to end the hurt) will be misunderstood, and we will look like a fool. We may also fear that even a gentle confrontation may push our friend away or turn a coworker into an enemy. Hesitation is understandable, but something needs to be said, or the problem may continue.

Saying to another person, man or woman, “What you said hurt my feelings, please don’t do that again,” is absolutely appropriate. It’s just hard to get it out sometimes. Fear of being hurt further, or being embarrassed that you are feeling emotional, can keep you from protecting yourself. However, protecting yourself is necessary, especially if the problem persists.

After you have expressed your feelings, what you need is for the other person to acknowledge what you’ve said and agree to honor your wishes. Once you’ve received that acknowledgment, then you have to wait and see what happens.

Avoidance is another strategy, but if you are involved in a business or personal relationship with the person who has offended you, avoiding him or her will be difficult. Ending the relationship is always an option, but it may well be an overreaction.

Most people understand when they have crossed the line and are willing to pull back once they understand their transgression. If that doesn’t happen, you may need to be the one who withdraws, so you don’t have to deal with the negativity.

The less you feed the bully, the less often he or she will try and take your lunch. The other person is going to need your help at some point, and this is where you get to illustrate what being a kind and giving person is all about. As always, example is our best teacher.

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How To Make Your Break Up Easier?

What distinguishes strong, attractive, accomplished people in any area of life from the rest? One of these things is their ability to accept losses with grace and dignity. Dating and romantic relationships are not an exception to this rule. It’s easy to enjoy love when it’s reciprocated and everything is great in your relationship with whoever you are dating, but too many people act in not so honorable ways to their partners and to themselves when things get rough in that relationship. It is of course understandable how someone who has problems with or loses a person who they love, care and had long-term plans to be with would be angry and frustrated after their lover unexpectedly leaves them or even worse – leaves them for someone else, but it is very important to your emotional health and to your proper recovery after the break-up to not make certain mistakes motivated by that anger. It might sound counter-intuitive to you now, but the sooner you learn how to forgive or at least how to rise above the break-up and any associated drama that better you will feel about yourself and about the whole thing. Here is a short but important list of do’s and don’t’s for that difficult time in your life, shortly after you broke up with someone you really care about:

Dont’s.

* Don’t disparage your ex to your friends or co-workers or her friends or co-workers. Don’t blame him/her for the break up and don’t get into the details of why things didn’t work out when you talk about your relationship with anyone except perhaps your closest friends, if you really feel like you have to confide to them. It will not benefit you at all to say anything bad about your former partner, and it certainly won’t help you if your ex starts spreading bad rumors about you in reaction to what you say about them. You will sound especially silly if you were praising your partner throughout your entire relationship and you started criticizing him/her only now, when you are no longer together, as this will make you sound less than objective, to put it mildly.

* Resist the urge to contact your ex and check if there is any chance in the world that you can get back together if your ex was the one who broke up with you. The reason a reason why he/she left you and if anyone decides to make a move in the direction off getting back together, it should be the same person who initiated the decision to not be together anymore.

* Don’t waste any time “licking your wounds.” Do not try to imagine how many things you could have done together and how great it would if you could spend the coming weekend, week, month or year with your ex. It’s not going to happen, so why even bother and allow your rich imagination go in that direction. There is no need to go through your stuff and look for gifts, pictures and other items that might remind you of your ex. Stay away from those things for a while, and when you feel better and less angry, gather all that stuff and put it in a separate box. There is no need to return them and there is no need to destroy them, as you might just enjoy having these things months or years later. After all, these things that you want to throw away now are part of your life and your history. Whether it ended badly or not, you had some great times with your partner, while the relationship lasted, and those memories will likely stay with you for much longer than any anger or sadness associated with the break-up.

* Stop telling yourself that you are never going to meet anyone like that again. The undeniable truth is that everyone is special in their own way, and even though you will not meet your ex’s twin in the future, you will likely meet quite a few more people that will move you emotionally in different but equally potent ways. Surely they are not going to make you feel exactly the same like your ex did, but they will be special in their own way.

* Don’t hate your partner for hurting your feelings. No matter what happened, the reason that your partner didn’t want to be with you any longer is not because he/she wanted to intentionally hurt you, but because of their own selfish reasons. They did not feel like you were a good match from their perspective. Whether it’s good news or bad news for you has no bearing on how they feel about it, so they don’t deserve to be hated, but they probably deserve your good faith effort to understand them.

* Don’t keep talking about your split. Sharing news about your recent break-up and how you feel about it with the closest friends once and getting their perspective and support is very important, but there is no reason for you to do it more than once and to keep analyzing and over-analyzing what happened and why you weren’t able to make your relationship work. Tell your story one time and move on. It won’t make your day or your friend’s day to keep going over the same thing, and it certainly won’t restore your relationship.

Do’s.

* Stay busy and entertained. This is a common but true advice. It’s the wrong time to be alone and feel sorry for yourself. This is the time to connect with your friends, to perhaps share your problems and then let your social circle help you forget about your break-up and make it easier for you to move on by occupying your time and mind. Of course, this should be the right circle of friends – people who are positive and supportive and who “infect” you with strength and hope, rather than despair due to their own endless relationship and other problems. Being busy is not going to make the pain go away in an instant, but it is one factor that should help distract you and take your mind off your break-up at least to some extent.

* Meet other people. Some people believe that it’s important to fully recover after the break-up before meeting new people. However, the opposite is often true. Talking to others and going out on casual dates might just be one important element of taking your mind off of your recent break-up. You are likely not going to be able to madly fall in love with someone new right away, but that’s okay. Being swept off your feet is not your goal at this point. Entertaining yourself and keeping your mind open to meeting and getting to know other people is what you will be trying to accomplish. This also doesn’t mean that you have to go on a “rebound” and have sex with random strangers or that you have to use others by misleading them into believing that you are more interested in them than you really are. You can make small steps that won’t hurt anyone but would be fun and helpful to you.

* Use your recent relationship and the break-up as a valuable lesson. Step aside and look at your recent relationship and the break-up as objectively as you can as an outsider. It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort to try to apply logic and reason to what happened. Were there any mistakes on your part? Or perhaps you weren’t a good match in the first place, but you refused to recognize it and waiting till your partner made a move? What else could you have done or could have avoided doing that would have made your relationship work out better? These are very important questions, as your answers will directly and necessarily affect your future romantic relationships. That important lesson that you learn might be laying right in front of you, but you have to make that move and take the time to learn it carefully.

Break-ups are tough and painful, and, of course, the more special your ex was to you, the more difficult it will be getting over them. But it is your right and your duty to yourself to get the most good out of the seeming negative situation so that you become stronger, wiser and more attractive to your future partners, that will be undoubtedly coming into your life.

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Being Yourself; Knowing Who You Are.

It is quite a simple statement really, to say “Just be yourself” – but when faced with the tough situations in life you ask yourself

• Who am I?

• What does it involve being myself?

• How can I be myself if I really don’t know who I am right now?

• How do I find out who I really am? Who can tell me this?

The answer is YOU. You need to unveil what it is that “fulfills” you. When I say “fulfill” I mean what “completes you” as a person. What truly makes you happy and at peace with life? You were born totally unique and began growing up on the path devoted totally to you.

Then some time, some where we are influenced by the outside world and start becoming or trying to become somebody else. Society pushes us to have “her hair” or “her body” or “their marriage” or car or house or career.

We are bombarded with choices and fail to make decisions based on our best interests. We get confused and off track and suddenly we don’t know where to turn.

Don’t worry. The solutions are in “you”. Take stock of your personality. Write down all the positive things about yourself, about who you are. Note all the negative things that you could probably work on improving (don’t dwell too much on these points at the moment). But where I am headed with this is to acknowledge a few attributes about you that make you – You.

Ask a close friend, relative or colleague to also write down some positive things about you and some negative things that they believe you could change. Are you seeing the same qualities in yourself as how others see you? You don’t really have to do this activity to benefit from it – but just merely thinking about the outcome might give you the starting point for expressing who you truly are.

Identifying your strengths and weaknesses.

Are whether you are honest with yourself?

I say it’s a mental thing. An obsession. A control issue and a very deceiving condition. 

Lies. Lying to yourself, your husband, your mum, your friends. Everybody close to you. But mostly damaging yourself. When you lie to yourself you are breaking the biggest form of trust one can tamper with and that itself will destroy you.

For whatever you are facing right now, I want to assure you it’s okay. You don’t have to be a victim. Just because you’ve lied, or feel the need to lie, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person and should be banished. You simply need to forgive. Think of yourself as a small child looking for approval. All that child wants is some guidance, hope, encouragement, love and acceptance. If you deny a child those things they are going to feel scared. They are going to be frightened of the world and they are going to hold back on striving to be the best they can be because of self doubt. So forgive your mistakes, accept you have done wrong, learn the lesson being taught and move on with encouragement that things will get better.

You are only human, you are allowed to make mistakes. The true spirit comes from allowing these mistakes to act as stepping stones into the pathway of your success. You can leave them behind so long as you continue to keep paving that road ahead of you. With every situation you are faced in life, you can ask yourself “Am I being genuine, real, authentic, sincere and true to myself?”.

Making decisions in your life that choke you with the guilt are not in your best interests. You are only hurting yourself. Until you realize you are a total victim of yourself. You are your own worst enemy. You are abusing yourself in the highest form of abuse. You are sick of being treated this way and the only one who can change this is you. You have to learn to love yourself, appreciate yourself and accept yourself for all that you are. That makes you decide that you didn’t like the person you had become and you had to change.

We all have flaws. We all have battles. We all have room for improvement. Don’t see perfections around you. Not all are perfect. All misbehave in their own time. It takes a while, but accept who you are. Accept your journey as necessary to bring you where you are right now. Sure you have regrets – everybody has, but choose not to dwell on them because they are part of your past.

They are all necessary to bring you to where you are right now. You should look into your future and knowing that whatever obstacles are presented to you now – you have the strength to handle them. You might not get it at first go, you might not follow a direct line, but ultimately you will get there. And you will get there with honesty, optimism and a full heart – because being empty is nobody’s desire.

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How To Deal With People Who Take Advantage Of You?

I’m a big fan of giving. It’s one of the greatest joys in life.

But there comes a time when you give to the point where certain people begin to see that (or see from the get go) and take advantage of your generosity accordingly.

I think there’s one person like that in every social group. Common adjectives to describe this person range from moocher to leecher to stingy.

This is the person who always asks you to pick up the tab, who conveniently “forgets” their wallet, who gives you a sob story to further guilt you into giving them more as well.

By far the most powerful weapon in this person’s arsenal is guilt as its use is one of the easiest ways to manipulate somebody.

Before I go any further, let me just say I have no problem with helping a friend in need. If they’re having tough times, take them out. Buy them dinner.

Here’s where it starts to get bad.
When it becomes HABIT.

And you find it takes some time before you become fully consciously aware of it.

Once you let it get to habit, you’re in a catch 22.

You want to confront the person, but can’t seem to muster up the courage out of fear of losing the friendship. If you do, the person who takes advantage of your generosity has a slew of counter arguments ranging from guilt tripping to shaming in terms of accusing you of not sharing your good fortune, of questioning whether or not you truly are a friend to them. They’ll make you feel guilty for all the rewards you received for your hard work and will feel entitled to it. They’ll flip the tables and accuse YOU of all people, of being stingy.

So what do you do now?

First thing is to look back at the beginning.

If the person was manipulative from the get go but you didn’t realize it until now looking back, and somehow he/she became your “friend”, cut it off. You’re better off without them as they will only hold you back in life.

BUT, if that person wasn’t like that before, and just came into hard times, there’s still hope.

The thing is – this habit of you giving to them continuously has become habit – FOR THEM.

They EXPECT you to give to them.

They’ve become CONDITIONED to receiving from you because you do it all the time.

They’ve developed an unhealthy addiction of always receiving, but never giving.

Here’s what you have to realize.

By constantly giving to them, you’ve enabled their habit of dependency on others.

You need to explain to them that it’s not good for them, that every time you give and fulfill their requests, it reinforces the fact that they can’t do anything themselves.

This is a version of the old adage of how it’s better to teach a man to fish instead of giving him a fish everyday.

Instead of giving your friend “fish”, give him help on how he can “fish” for himself.

But if he refuses to take any action to “fish” for himself and seems content to always take advantage of others to meet his needs and wants, you shouldn’t feel the slightest bit guilty for not caving into his requests.

You have NO OBLIGATION to give to those who refuse to sow themselves.

They need to learn to sow themselves.

Tell them this and you’ll see they have nothing in their arsenal to rebut with because they know it’s true.

Knowing that, they will become desperate and throw a last hail mary pass.

They’ll tell you to give you them one last fish and that’s it. No more. They won’t ask you for anything else.

But that’s not how life works.

You don’t ask for one last cigarette to smoke if you want to quit.

You start quitting right then and there.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving but we live in a world where there are those who will take advantage of our good will, to the point where it becomes very harmful not only to you but to them as well.

Give because you want to.

Give to help people help themselves.

And you will be giving them one of the greatest gifts of all, even if they don’t realize it at first.

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