Friday, May 13, 2011

All I Wanted Was A Diet Mt. Dew!

I went to the 7-11 to get a Diet Mt. Dew. It had been a very long day at that point. The cashier asked if I would be interested in buying a snack, which I did. Then, upon leaving, and feeling great about my purchase (particularly the Mt. Dew), I heard a loud high-pitched voice. I turned to see a scene of a mother yelling at her toddler child for not sitting on the ground while she browsed the movie section. I saw two other children, who I assumed to be hers also walking around. She appeared distraught or frustrated or a combination of the two. As I opened my car door, I began to wonder what that mom had experienced that day. By no means was I judging her for her actions with her toddler. I can't imagine the toddler enjoyed being yelled at, but I've been in her shoes...a long day at the office, grading lots of school papers, and returning home to disgruntled children and me wanting to "blow up." The amount of stress and anxiousness she must have been feeling was apparent in her body movement, her facial expressions, her actions with her child, etc. I can imagine her body is being flooded with stress hormones and adrenaline at those times, and that over time it will wear down her body, her capacity to think and react in a rational and emotionally constructive manner. It sounds exhausting. I only say this, because I have felt it before, just as most of us do. Rather than focus on the moment, though, I would wonder what might help this woman to feel more calm generally, so that when stressful moments come her fuse is not shortened. Some thoughts come to mind with how to deal with day-to-day stressors. Most of them are behaviorally and cognitive in nature.

1. Organize and prioritize: I know that we all have many responsibilities. Organize them and prioritize them according to importance. Sometimes, even important things need to be put aside for a time. Trust me, the world will not stop turning if we can't get everything done NOW.

2. Ask for help: Life becomes overwhelmingly stressful when we feel alone. I wonder who that woman had to turn to for help. At times it requires a little bit of creativity to provide ourselves with respite, even if it is only at night when the kids are asleep. However, there is usually someone to turn to. Some examples are having friends to trade off with for babysitting when needed. Family members, church or club members, etc. Find someone.

3. Take time for yourself: This is something that is not done enough in society. Life is too busy. Give yourself time to slow things down and take a few moments to read a chapter in a book; call a friend; write in a journal; drink a soda (or something else you like--preferrably healthy); or write a blog!

4. Self-inventory: Make a list of the things that you say to yourself or mutter under your breath regarding yourself. What is positive and growth-promoting? What is not? Negative self-talk must be replaced.

If you have any other ideas, share them in the comments section.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Power of Music!

It is amazing what music can do to unite people from all over the world. Eric Whitacre, the renouned chorale composer developed the Virtual Choir where over 2000 individuals from all over the world recorded a chorale piece together. The music is moving and emotional. Check it out!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Late Night Mumblings...

It has been a long day, but I have a few thoughts. A colleague of mine, Dr. Gray Otis (President-elect of the American Mental Health Counselor Association) and I were discussing how the mental health of life changed with the industrial revolution. With the advent of technology, the advancements of science and education, etc. distance has been gapped and information availability is possible where it used to be scarce. It has made life "easier" in a sense. However, as we discussed one day, it has had its side-effects. There is less one-on-one socialization; less outdoor activities; less agricultural activities; and just less physical movement in general. Rather than experiencing a horrific catastrophe or natural disaster, what can we do to have a more balanced lifestyle? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Simplify: Make your days and routines more simple. Learn to say yes to the things that are important and no to the things that are not. Being assertive is not a crime.
2. Go outside: Adults and children have forgotten the joys of being outside. Don't "think" about it. Just do it. I remember the days when I would strap my fishing pole to my BMX bicycle and ride three miles outside of town to fish in the Bear Lake Canal with my brothers and cousin. I remember fishing for "crawdads" in the local creeks with rolled-up jeans and wading barefoot through the cold water. I remember marveling (and still do) at how the sky seems to glow when it snows at night.
3. Balance Needs and Wants: We all want our toys. Learn to balance what is important as to not overwhelm yourself with the newest and best things. Make sure the needs are truly needs and not wants. If you are not sure, take a look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs for a few ideas. ('s_hierarchy_of_needs)
4. Laugh: Learn to laugh at yourself and to not take life so seriously. If things feel overwhelming, as yourself if what you are worried about is bringing you joy. Most likely, it is not.

Come up with some of your own ideas. What are they? Post them in the comments section.