Thursday, December 10, 2015

Family Conflict and The Holidays.

When a holiday or special occasion comes roaming around, there are times where some of us can’t help but to be put in the position where we have to consider spending time with family members we don’t particularly care for. For me it’s my sister in law whom I rather not have to be in the company of.
During holiday's such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, Memorial day, and Easter my mother feels torn in between the decision of which one of her children's home will she visit. Quite often she will choose my brother's home and try to convince me to go over so that we could all celebrate as a family. Whenever she chooses my brother's home I kindly refuse and explain how grateful I am for the invite but I and my children have already made plans and are going to have friends over at our home.
That doesn’t fly over so well with mom and of course for at least a few seconds we express our views to one another with a bit of hostility. Before you know it, my brother is calling me to give his opinion on the topic, which is also, not very amusing. What I find interesting in all this is how unresolved issues from the past which have nothing to do with the present, suddenly rise to the surface during our heated conversations.
It is not uncommon to have some sort of stressful family interactions, especially during the holidays or special occasion. But, over the years and with practice, I have learned that there are things we can do to considerably change how we respond to these individuals who we care for very much and are in our lives for the long haul.

Rather than letting our unresolved family conflicts continue to eat away at our insides, there are some steps we can take to help guide us and not let things go overboard:
 Don’t go overboard with anger. Try and remember that this may also be stressful for the other person. Even if there is animosity, still try and not to make an enemy out of your family member. That is just going to disturb you inner peace, and put a damper on the occasion, as well as cause you emotional hurt in the long run.
Strengthen the connection you have with other siblings, cousins, in-laws and relatives who are sensible and caring, include them and your friends in your activities.
 Disagreements between you and your family members can be an opportunity to learn important lessons about patience, persistence, setting good limits, or it might be that you and this other person are both a little too stubborn and possibly this family conflict is a chance to work on finding a middle ground.
 Express awareness of them caring about you and let them know you care for them. Suggest making your next meeting more satisfying for both of you.
 If your relative has a personality that is self-absorbed, or stubborn, don’t set up an unrealistic expectation that this person is going to change. When it comes to difficult family members, it’s good to just keep your interactions civil, while remembering you do not need to change this person’s personality. You just need to stay healthy, calm and relaxed regardless of their behavior.

When I first wrote this post, well over 4 years ago, I was experiencing a lot of depression in my life as well as many unresolved family issues. I am happy to say that I have taken my own advice over the years and have indeed practiced what I so passionately preach. 

 In these recent years, holidays have been a lot smoother as well more peaceful and festive.  
If you are experiencing less than a festive feeling toward the holiday season, don’t be hard on yourself, you are not alone, know that there are those who understand and that you too can get through this. 

For others, who don’t share any similar feelings during the holidays; feel free to share any tips that might help those who still experience some challenges. 


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Free Feeling – Getting Things Done and Doing Away With Procrastination

Procrastination was a big character defect of mine; I mean things were literally falling apart in front of my eyes. Laundry was piled up everywhere in the corners of my home, dishes were not getting cleaned, important documents that came in the mail were not read and filled accordingly, my appointments of any kind were not being kept. 

Some would call it laziness and in some instances it probably was. Fear took a great part in it as well, fear of seeing things for what they were, which for the most part represented my life, messy, unmanageable and disorganized. Other times it was a bout of depression getting ready to set its course, make its mark and stay for a very long time.

For me procrastination pretty much meant my life being sent up into an uproar and in complete disarray and if I don’t watch out it can easily creep back in again. It is important for me to practice consistency along with having some form of healthy structure in my everyday living.

The one thing that is absolutely freighting about bad habits such as procrastination is when it gets a grip on you; it can be extremely difficult to break free. At least that’s how it can be for me. But the good news is it's not impossible.

Listed below are a few things that worked for me in breaking my procrastination habit.

If you look carefully and place trust in others you will realize that there are people near us that care about our well being and are ready to assist us in improving our lives. For me it was my best friend at the time. Every morning when I woke up, I would call her and she would give me a simple assignment. (We would called them assignments) At times it was as simple as cleaning a single kitchen cabinet, opening a few pieces envelopes that came in the mail or taking a small walk around the neighborhood to get some energy and get my body moving.

After I completed an assignment I would call her back and we would move on to another assignment. It really helped so much to know that I had someone to count on. I’m pretty sure that even if she was not available, a therapist or relative would have been just as helpful, even an online program or a self help book. I’m a firm believer in that if you want a change bad enough and you’re tired of being tired like I was, you will find the help if you seek for it. It may take several attempts and some days may be better than others. But it eventually becomes part of a daily routine.

Just do it! If it’s good and healthy for you, Just do it, don’t think twice or you just might think yourself back into procrastination mode. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy; we allow our stinking thinking to get the best of us. I was told long ago that when negative thought begins to creep in I should move a muscle, in other words change a thought move a muscle. That particular advice always stuck with me and has also always worked. Busy helps…….that is healthy busy, the ones you set boundaries around so we don’t wind up being so busy we get frustrated, yet we are busy enough getting things done.

If you have a setback that's okay just get back on track, stand firm and move forward. There are unlimited possibilities but often we limit ourselves to them because of our insecurities. Consistency is huge. Do it and be consistent. For me, at the end of the night or even at the end of the week, looking back and seeing all that I accomplished gave me a sense of freedom as well as freed up space in my head. My thoughts felt less tangled and I felt less anxious because I had one less thing to do or think about doing.

 When I really take the time to appreciate that feeling, I’ll call it “the free feeling,” I like it. I also like to remember it, that’s where self awareness takes place. Being aware of the free feeling and Identifying them with the completed task, enabled me to continue, simply because I feel good versus feeling anxious, not rocket science really, although it may seem like it when we are stuck in the procrastination zone. Something as simple as awareness, thought and productivity allowed me to move forward.

When completing a task, take your hand, reach out behind your shoulder and give yourself a few taps for a job well done, which would regularly be ignored and procrastinated over. If that seems silly to do, well then just say AWESOMEEEE….out loud.  Remember it does not have to be an all out “getting everything done today,” type of event. Especially if you are a notorious procrastinator like I was. Start small, remember it’s the little things that can be huge and before you know it, the big things won’t seem so big anymore.  

Friday, November 27, 2015

ME TIME - Dancing to the rhythm of the weather.

Running around trying to cross out everything on our “mental to do list” and sometimes even trying to get them all done simultaneously while also tending to loved ones and careers, can eventually put a toll on some of us.  FYI I call it a  “mental to do list” because even finding a pencil to write a list with, was a task in itself for me in my household when the children were small. So everything I had to do, was taken in through a mental note that at moments would catch up leaving me frazzled with anxiety and headaches.
Many of us are so busy taking care of others that we forget to care for ourselves, only to find out when we break down from physical or mental exhaustion, we become no good to others as well.
I have met people who are workaholics and not necessarily because of work related deadlines or pressures from superiors but, because they somehow feel empty if they are not producing or may have unfounded fears of losing their job.  Yet, even if valid the fears are valid, it is not healthy to work seven days a week, up to 12 hours a day on a weekly basis without some ME time.  And although such schedules sound utterly ridiculous, their are those that have them, Workaholics are all around us. For a sometime I use to be one. 
There is also the super mom and dad, they handle the household, children, their aging parents and countless of other responsibilities. I know parents with small children whose day go by and they never sit on a chair for even a moment, their downtime is in the evening at bedtime, that’s when they plop into bed, in a complete and utter exhaustion and wake up a few hours later to do it all over again day after day.
By all means, things need to get done, being responsible is essential and the parenting role needs to be top priority, I certainly applaud all parents. As a parent myself, I  recall many days when the highlight of my day was the plopping into bed, time for night, night, lights off….that was my ME time.  I also know these parents need a break sometimes, on special occasions such as birthdays; they should be given gift certificates to spas and offered free babysitting for a few hours a week so that they can rejuvenate.
How about the “I am busy, I am successful” Yup, I’ve done this one too.  You, know those who thrive from a demanding day, full of deadlines and a chaotic schedule. As a matter of fact if they are not experiencing over the limit activity they feel as if nothing is getting done and may even feel less successful.
For them I recommend at least one day out of the week to set all aside, and self indulge in relaxation, Netflix, nature walking, inner talent discovery, ball throwing, and all sorts of  unwinding pleasures.
Most will always have some kind of financial concern, especially in this economy. Many are even afraid of going on a vacation because of the fear of returning back to no job. But, that should not stop any one from regaining piece of mind or having leisure time.

There are instances where I wonder why some people wait for sunny days and warm weather to take a walk on a board walk, when a walk can be as soothing in any kind weather, with the exception of tornadoes and hurricanes during that kind, unless you have to flee for safety, I recommend sipping on your favorite beverage while listening to music, or just get up and dance to the music and the rhythm of weather, will ya…….

 And why not let your very own back yard serve as a getaway? Create your own oasis…..home depot and Lowes have fabulous items you can buy to turn your back yard into a vacation spot, but then again, most home owners already know this, and just need a reminder.:)

When was the last time you put on a pair of pajamas in the early afternoon, made a bowl of popcorn, sat back and enjoyed watching a good movie?
Our minds, bodies and spirits need tune ups, we need ME time. Too busy all the time, can easily cause us to ignore our bodies call for rejuvenation from exhaustion. That call usually comes in moodiness, depression, confusion, aches and pains. We can work toward muting the noise of those calls by engaging in healthy practices now.

When was the last time you had some “ME TIME”?


Friday, November 20, 2015

Lonely and Isolated - Apart from others and the world around.

Some of the most depressing times in my life were those when I was the loneliest. I specifically recall a time when I was in the midst of a dark depression and substance abuse, my days and nights came and went, with very little interaction with the world around me.
Substance abuse and depression often follow loneliness, but there are plenty of people on this earth whom are not experiencing those circumstances, that happen to be very lonely. This can be a delicate situation because visa versa, loneliness can very easily follow substance abuse and depression. Therefore, I believe it must be taken seriously and addressed appropriately.
Loneliness is a sad, especially if you do not want to be lonely, and I doubt many do. Most people feel lonely at some point or other in their life; it can be different for everyone. For instance, yes we certainly can appreciate “ME” time and an adequate amount of solitude can be rejuvenating, but for intense, long periods of loneliness accompanied with isolation well, that is bound to bring on emotional challenges. The good news is you don't have to feel that way if you decide to take a stand and make some changes
Loneliness it is a feeling that brings on separation and isolation. It can make a person feel out of touch with other human beings. Most people experience it when they do not have close family members, friends, or interaction with people on a regular basis.
There are other forms such as a person feeling lonely even when surrounded by crowds or where there is lack of intimacy in relationships. People may experience loneliness at different stages of their life such as when the kids are ready to leave the home for the first time or after a divorce. For a lonely person holidays and birthdays can be a more difficult to deal with because the feelings become more intensified.

You can learn to overcome loneliness by taking hands on approach. Here are some ideas that can help. Please, it is important to keep an open mind and be willing to make a choice for a difference in your life. The realization that only you can change the way you feel is an important factor.
Recognize your loneliness. Don’t be ashamed of it, we all at some point or another go through it. Acceptance is the beginning of a positive trip on the road of life.
Consider speaking with a therapist or attending a self help group. Remember you have choices today. So if you don’t feel comfortable with a particular therapist or group, you move on to the next one. The key thing to remember is never give up! This is your life, you only get one, and so you have the right to fight for it.
Engage in positive activities. In the beginning for me it was as simple as taking a small walk over to the public library and reading an inspirational book. Even if I didn’t know anyone at the library, at least I was surrounded by them instead of four walls in my bedroom.  In today’s world they have great coffee shops, go ahead get your frappe and surround yourself with other coffee lovers. Go online and research a local meet up group near you, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of them with a variety of activities and events to choose from.
Register for a continuing education class, art class, or the local gym. I find that while on the cross country machine or treadmill I tend to engage in small talk with the person on the machine next to me. Some community centers often offer free recreational activities. If you enter certain key words on the internet ex: free things to do in Michigan, you will find plenty to choose from. I believe we all have yet to discover some of our very own hidden talents pick up that paint brush, amaze yourself. Just go with the flow, you don’t have to be Picasso, just be you, have fun and share your discoveries.
Show interest in others. A smile goes a long way and can light up another person’s day that may also be lonely. A simple hello and a smile is a perfect icebreaker for small conversation.

Apply for a volunteer position.  At your local hospital, library, pet center, school, or home care facility. A few hours of your time will make a difference in your life as well as others. It is perfect for building and establishing relationships as well as healing a lonely heart.
Adopt a pet. If you have heard that pets make great companions, well you heard right. Not only do they keep you company, they make you laugh and engage in healthy activities. There are so many things you can do with your pet that also allows you to build new relationship with others. If you have a dog, taking them out for walks in the neighborhood and bumping into other dog, loving walkers. Going out to the dog park is lots of fun. And even while taking your pet to the vet for their routine checkups can be a great way to interact with other who share your interest. Remember, being a pet owner requires responsibility and a loving heart.

Loneliness for me accompanies social anxiety, isolation, depression and an array of other symptoms. Although I have tamed many of them, I continue to be involved in support groups where I can talk about it with others. They offer their suggestions and share their experiences with me. They remind me that I’m not alone if I choose not to be.
Just like with most things, practice makes perfect. It is no different with loneliness. There will be moments where you may become discouraged, that’s okay we all have set backs, just as long as you don’t allow it to take precedent over your goal.

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