Good Stress Vs. Bad Stress

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With the abundance of self-help and self-improvement books and video’s, all the education and information on being mindful and removing the stress and negativity, it would be easy to just start cleaning house and completely getting rid of people who don’t make you feel absolute joy.  However, some stress in our lives is good.  In order to grow as individuals we need to be challenged.  So how do we determine when the ability to grow is lost and the stress is simply just unnecessary?

I have a select few people in my life that come to mind that I originally believed were challenges put in my path to help me grow.  I tried to connect more and leave myself open to their thoughts and ideas because I knew they were so vastly different from mine. I thought maybe I was missing something so I allowed myself to get involved in conversations and be challenged only to feel worse after the interaction.  After some time has passed I realize that any engagement with them just leaves me feeling frustrated and exhausted and not enlightened or joyful.  I realize, I do not feel I am learning or growing from the interactions, I am just walking away more stressed.  It has opened my eyes even more to how important it is to create boundaries and maintain balance.

You know when you have a found a person who says things that create an Ah Ha! moment within you.  These are the conversations you want to partake in because you feel like you could talk to them all night.  Their approach in how they explain their thoughts are just fascinating and you are eager to pick their brain and learn more. You walk away wanting to read and research more on the topic and feel inspired and joyful instead of drained.  This is how you know you are engaging with a person who is promoting positive growth.

Even some of our closest family members or coworkers will have vastly different beliefs.  I have found it is best to  just listen in the moment and not engage.  Then I can  research their words later to form my own informed opinion.  In the research process we learn that either we should adjust our perspective a little (or maybe a lot) or we become more confirmed in our own beliefs, either way we are learning and growing.  It is easier to come from a place of wanting to understand than a place of debate, and often we are so set in our own beliefs that we forget our original intent.  If someone does not ask my opinion I have decided not to give it.  This can be very hard, but if someone is spouting off their beliefs and never stopping to ask your thoughts and ideas I have found it is best to just let them talk.  You learn a lot more when you listen anyway, even if it’s just that the other person is full of it.

I have also found unfollowing certain individuals on social media is in my best interest when it comes to setting boundaries.  I enjoy getting on Facebook to see happy and funny things my friends post, but if I start getting an over abundance of negativity and confrontational information on my feed I will unfollow.  It is a simple solution that doesn’t completely remove the person from your circle, it just cuts out the stress for you.  If you don’t want to constantly see Sally’s relationship drama that you have advised her on numerous times, or Karen’s religious beliefs, or Tom’s political views or even Mandy’s cooking pics, or Gretchen’s gym pics… for whatever reason, then just unfollow.  You do not have to justify your reasons with anyone just click the button and go on about your life.

The good stress is learning to listen and not say a word, learning to research it later and form an educated opinion on the subject so that when someone does stop to take time and ask your opinion you can answer intelligently and confidently.  If you feel stress creeping in ask yourself if this is something worth stressing over?  Is it necessary to engage in that moment?  Are you stressing about something in the past or something in the future?  Stressing about things you cannot control is pointless and not productive unless you plan to take action in some way.  So ask yourself, in that moment when you feel your body reacting and your thoughts start to follow the stress path…Is this something I can take control of and if so, how?  Take steps to tackle the problem because action is the key.  Prepare yourself, if you know you are going to encounter a person who instigates stress within you at a party or gathering, then have a plan so you already know how to proceed.  Preparation is a form of taking action even if your plan is to do nothing more than smile, say hello and walk-away.

Creating healthy boundaries for yourself is a great way to fight stress.  We all have our own limits on different things.  Maybe you are struggling with weight so hearing about someones diet or seeing gym pics is not motivational for you right now.  Maybe you are strong in your faith with God and seeing posts or conversations from your atheist neighbor causes you stress.  Maybe you are strong in your political beliefs and seeing the opinion of the opposing party gives you stress.  Maybe you just went through a horrible break-up so seeing wedding pics or baby pics with a happy couple is just depressing for you.  This doesn’t make you a bad person if you struggle in a moment to be happy for others and it doesn’t make you a closed minded person if you have done your research on certain beliefs and already know where you stand. It is okay to set boundaries tailored specifically for your personal circumstances in that that moment.

Good stress gets your blood pumping because you are being motivated or pushed to be better, learn something new or tackle a project.  There should be some kind of positive outcome.  Bad stress is when your blood starts pumping and you feel frustrated, angry, or just exhausted at the thought, sometimes even anxiety, dread, sadness or a sense of panic will come over you.   Learn to be self aware, be gentle and honest with yourself.  As you clue in to how your body reacts and the thoughts going on inside your head, you will know which kind of stress is being activated.  What one person finds as good stress and bad stress may not be the same for you.  Nobody knows your mind-body connection better than you do.  Boundaries and balance is key in managing your stress levels so don’t be afraid to make the changes that work for you.

With love, happiness, health

Stacy

Genetic Trauma

 

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Recent psychological journal articles with great research findings by Rachel Yehuda, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and wonderful books like, It Didn’t Start With You, by Mark Wolynn, have opened the door to the idea of how inherited family trauma can effect us; not just through repeated cycles in our family environment, but genetically.  This idea has been floating around in my head for a while now and I am excited to see it being discussed more in psychology.

If we are able to find genetic markers for red hair or blue eyes, then is it really so far fetched to believe that we may be genetically marked with unique trauma that could cause certain individuals to be more likely to suffer from PTSD?  In Wolynn’s book it explains, your grandmother became pregnant with your mother and at 5 months pregnant your mother was already forming the genetic make-up for her ovaries and the number of eggs available for fertilization.  From the time your grandmother was 5 months pregnant that egg in your fetal mother is YOU, being affected by every bit of information filtered through your grandmother and mother until the day you are born.  The stress, trauma, good and bad, happy and sad, along with all the nutritional choices going through pregnant grandma and then mother will have an impact on you.

Not to bring this back to a hardcore religious point of view, but some could say this is what the Bible means when it says we will suffer the sins of our father.  All those health choices you are making and the environmental situations you allow to continue in your life will inevitably affect your grandchildren and generations after them.  Fathers will produce many sperm throughout life, but that one sperm released at the point of conception that actually seals the deal with the egg will also contain some genetic influences that go beyond physical traits.  Scientist are still researching and exploring just to what extent, but the findings so far have been pretty amazing.

Some of the research I have read has covered the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors and how such awful trauma in the family can reverberate throughout generations even though those generations never really suffered any actual trauma themselves.  The science goes further to research the rise in suicide rates and the possibility that many diagnosed with unexplained mental illness, depression and anxiety could be suffering from past family trauma showing up genetically.  This idea is controversial to some and still needs a lot more research, as I dig further the findings are pretty remarkable.  In the end the real question I ask is how it changes how we, as individuals, look at the world around us?  Maybe we think those nutritional choices, drugs, alcohol, smoking or lack of exercise, the abusive relationship we stay in or the stressful job we choose to return to day after day is really only effecting us.  The truth is, those choices could be affecting multiple generations after you in a much bigger way than we could have possibly imagined!  We already know stress is one of the number one causes of disease in the body.  If you knew your work stress would come back on your grandchildren would you continue to work the way you do now?  What changes can you make to live healthier and happier for you and the generations that come after you?

With health, happiness, love for you and future generations,

Stacy

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Psychological Warfare

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Watching the news, reading social media feeds, and internet headlines, realizing some of my family and friends have drastically different views on politics, religion and many other values, morals, and beliefs is enough to make a person just want to crawl in a hole and cover it with a rock.  As I navigate my day as the office manager of a busy private practice counseling center while completing my master degree in mental health counseling and working weekends as a bartender at a busy restaurant and doing my best to be a good single mom to a teenage daughter, I can tell you one thing….I have learned how important it is to know where you stand.  I am a researcher, a naturally curious person and pretty open minded when it comes to new thoughts, ideas and theories in the beginning and will allow myself time to learn more before coming to my own conclusion.  In that time I will process the views of others and take it all into consideration as I continue my research.  I like to believe that most people approach new information this way, but I am realistic enough and have seen and heard enough in the practice of counseling to know its not true in all cases.

The fact is we all will see, read and encounter thoughts and ideas that challenge us to our core.  I believe that in every situation there is a choice, the choice is really simple, to look at it from a positive opportunity for growth or to allow it to turn negative.  When I say growth, I don’t mean accept and learn from the actual information in front of you necessarily, because the fact is sometimes we just know the information will never align with our belief systems and research would be an absolute waste of time.  What I mean by an opportunity for growth, even in those obvious situations where you know you will not change your mind, is how you choose to proceed in the situation, how you mentally choose to process and deal with it?  Everything we consume through our senses in daily life effects our body on a deeper level, not just the food and drink, not just the physical activity, but what we read, watch, listen to and write out.  So ask yourself, how good are you being to your mind, body and soul when you take all of that into consideration?

We often hear about parents protecting their children from bad influences of social media, too much screen time, keeping them away from bad influences of other kids and encouraging them to eat right, exercise and don’t do drugs or smoke or drink.  Don’t you find it a bit ironic how many of those things we decide to bring in to our own lives after preaching the opposite to our kids.  The truth is, all of those things do not just stop being bad for you once you become an adult.  We learn we can’t punch Tommy in the face and call him a stupid liar on the playground at school just because he said there is no Santa Claus.  Yet, too many times I see adults calling each other names on social media or the news.  What kind of examples are we setting for our kids?  I understand it is impossible to protect our children from everything and honestly I have no desire to protect my child from it all, how else will she learn?  I want to help guide her and learn what it all means and how to process it in a logical and healthy way.

Shit happens….we lose games, we make bad grades, you get a speeding ticket, or someone you like doesn’t like you back, a friend may talk about you behind your back, families break-up, you didn’t get the part in the play, you may not get accepted into the college of your dreams, you may not have enough money to have, do and see all the things you wish you could in life….you know what this is called?  Life and we are all in it together.  Life is full of choices, maybe you are not responsible for exactly where you are right now, but maybe your parents are, or your grandparents.  The truth is we are all the result of life before us and the big world keeps on turning and producing the next generation.  The point is, there will be a point when you do get to decide for yourself.  How we choose to see the world around us is so important but even more important is how you see yourself in the world around you.  If you had to describe yourself in ten words what words would you choose?  Are they positive and strong or angry and negative.  Do you look at the life dealt to you and fully embrace it and look for the opportunities to be and do better or do you wallow in it and make excuses and blame others?  The mental part of life is the toughest part of life, it will make you or break you.

Negativity is like a cancer, and recent studies show it is actually linked to diseases within the body.  When you are feeling ill you need to consider not only changing what you eat and drink or how often you exercise, but also what you are choosing to read and watch and listen to and how you respond to the world around you.  Create a psychological health habit just like you would habits for diet and exercise.  Don’t allow yourself to consume junk mentally and when it does cross your path, make a choice to process it from a healthier perspective.  It is a proven fact that stress is one of the leading causes of disease in the body and most stress is caused by how we respond to the world around us.  It is time for a little psychological warfare on the negative vibes being put out into the world.  You can give to the needy, work at a soup kitchen, volunteer for great causes, but if you really want to give back to the greater good teach yourself and your children how to accept life as a gift, tackle it with excitement and be thankful every day for the little things in life and most of all learn to respond with love and kindness.  If you are about to respond ask yourself three important questions…. Is it true?  Is it necessary?  Is it kind?

With love, health, happiness and positive mental health,

Stacy

Your diet and Mental Health

I have recently joined Gaia which is this new age type website that covers all kind of topics from yoga and meditation, law off attraction, power of positive thinking, and nutrition and health among many other interesting topics.  After working many years in holistic healthcare with a chiropractic office I am obviously a big believer that you truly are what you eat.  This video is well worth watching because it not only addresses the problem with over-medicating our population but also gives hope with a safe alternative of orthomolecular therapy.

Mental Health

I believe we all have a certain degree of mental health issues.  Obviously some struggle more than others.  I would say that everyone hears voices in their head and initially you may want to argue with me, but let me explain.  Have you ever thought about a past conversation that may have frustrated or angered you?  Did you replay that conversation in your head and think about how you should have handled things differently or think of things you wish you would have said or not said?  These thoughts replaying a past event is like the brain on autopilot.  Do you ever wonder what triggered the old thoughts to even creep back in or why you still feel so emotional about the past event?  I believe this random thought process is your ego, the voice in our heads that keeps us replaying thoughts without being fully conscious.  Reliving old conversations from the past without any real purpose is a form of mental illness.  When this happens the ego is in control and never allows time for peace.

Let me give you an example, have you ever tried to lose weight?  When you decide you want to lose weight do you feel suddenly your mind is constantly thinking about food?  Do you feel a bit out of control?  Our mind is a tool meant to help complete tasks, analyze situations, and solve problems.   Our mind is not completely who we are, it is just a part of us, like our hands and feet are a part of us.  You don’t let your hands and feet go on autopilot and just take off without being aware, so why do we allow our mind?  I believe that we have lost control of our minds and in the process lost control of what it means to be at peace with ourselves.  We are a species that must medicate in order to relax whether it be with prescription pills, illegal drugs, or alcohol.  The biggest problem is not being able to shut off the constant thought process.

So what if we decided to take the control back from our ego?  What if we stopped allowing our thoughts to just constantly roll non-stop throughout the day and instead we just used our mind as needed?  Stop what you are doing right now, let your mind go silent and just intently feel your body sitting in the chair, feel yourself breathing, take a breath and smell what the air is really like, get quiet and listen intently to all the sounds around you, now look around you and really allow yourself to be aware of your surroundings and what is going on.  When you stop your mind from just being on auto-pilot and really bring yourself into the moment, THAT is the beginning of peace.  Many people talk about taking time to meditate for long periods of time but really you do not have to be in a super quiet room sitting cross legged with your hands placed in a certain position in order to find inner peace, you can do it anytime and anywhere.  Just stopping the random thought process and forcing yourself into the present moment completely, using all your senses is the best way to start the practice.

Once you start practicing the art of being in the moment a few times a day then you can progress to the next step of being aware of the ego.  When you feel your mind going to an old conversation that doesn’t really matter anymore just stop yourself. When you have those moments of riding in the car and do not really remember the last few miles, that is your mind on autopilot.  During that time your mind is probably going through a few important mental lists as well as a bunch of useless thoughts.  This is when you start really observing and being aware of what your thoughts consist of and putting a stop to the nonsense.  Having a few mental routines will help you practice being more in control of your mind instead of your mind controlling you.

I have a few that work for me, before I go to bed each night I think about the tasks that I need to complete the following day.  I plan out exactly where I need to go and what I need to do and the most efficient way to go about accomplishing everything.  I check my calendar and set any alarms or reminders. Once I run through the plan I then allow myself to relax completely by turning off my TV, and putting my phone and lap top on the charges away from my bed.

I often read a book to help my mind relax.  This is also a time to allow yourself to be very present by focusing on your breathing and starting with the toes and moving up through the legs and abdomen, chest, back, hands, arms, shoulders, neck and head being very aware of each part of the body;  maybe tightening the muscles in each area and holding for a count of three then releasing as you focus on each part of the body along with your breathing.  This is great relaxation routine and if you are having some particular health issues this a great time to focus on that part of the body as well.  If you are having digestive issues picture your stomach red and throbbing, looking inflamed and bubbling like a volcano.  Focus on the stomach and picture a light lavender color slowing melt over the stomach and dissolving the red inflammation with a cooling and calming sensation.  Picture the bubbling volcano settling into a peaceful cool lake very calm, relaxed and peaceful.  These visualizations are wonderful for focusing the mind on your body and using it as it is meant to be, as a tool to help instead of rehashing or creating more problems.

Taking control of your mind and the thoughts going through your mind can be very hard at first but as you become more aware it can be life changing.  As you get better at it you may decide to add a yoga and meditation practice to your routine.  Simply stopping to ask yourself what you are feeling can really bring you back into the present. Being aware of your body and your breathing is the best way to constantly put your mind in check and keep it from taking off without you.  The more you use your mind with a purpose and take control of your thoughts, the more efficient your life will become.  Stopping that voice in your head from reliving things from your past or worrying about your future will also be life changing.  The only difference that can truly be made is what you do right now in this moment anyway, so make it count!

Sincerely,

With love, health, happiness and awareness

Stacy