Anxiety Grounding Exercise

Anxiety is internal terrorism. Whether you have generalized anxiety, social anxiety or full-blown panic attacks–it’s terrorizing. One of my favorite management tools is a DBT grounding exercise that helps me focus on the now, rather that the unknown fears.

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I can’t even…Self Care for Grief

This past week has been a tough one for me  and for the country.

July 4, 2016 July 5. 2016 July 6, 2016  July 7, 2016 ,  July 8, 2016  

Grief and trauma are difficult to discuss, but we must do so if we are to heal. Here are a few self-care tips for dealing with grief.

Be free.

Freeheart

Prince: The Touchstone

Prince died Thursday.  I thought it was a silly rumor at first, but when the Associated Press confirmed it well, you have to believe it then, right?  Aside from the standard tears, shock and disbelief, I felt like I had swallowed a millstone.  I slept most of the day.  Something was off. I just couldn’t deal.

The next morning, I threw up that millstone along with decades of memories, expectations, disappointment and shame.  Prince was more than a role model; he was the touchstone for my creative life.

I first encountered Prince in 1984, with the release of Purple Rain.  My brother and I went to see it at the shiny new mall in Aurora, Colorado. I’d heard his music before, but Purple Rain was…everything.

You see, I was an *unusual child* as they say.  Different.  Odd.  I was highly creative, my clothes never looked right, I understood things I shouldn’t have, talked to plants and animals, and I wrote strange stories that worried the adults on more than a few occasions.  These were aspects of my personality – not a phase or anything.  It was just who I was.

I first felt the weight of conformity in 1984 as I began my journey into womanhood at the age of 12.  It was now time to grow up and act right.  I had been indulged long enough. I didn’t understand it back then, but in hindsight, being a Black girl in America was challenging enough; adding oddness to the mix seemed dangerous.

But in that darkened theater in Colorado, when I saw Prince rolled up to First Avenue on that motorcycle, I saw possibilities that gave conformity the middle finger.

Let’s examine that more carefully:  a Black man wearing makeup, high-heeled boots, a fabulous press & curl, a silk suit and ruffled shirt pulls up to a nightclub on a purple motorcycle in 1984.

What?!?  He’s not supposed to do that.  That isn’t what boys do.  I was learning the grown-up rules, and THIS went against damn near all of them!

As the movie progressed, I saw people wearing underwear in public.  They had on masks, furs, and psychedelic makeup but more importantly, they were all making incredible music.

Then there was the puppet. Nestled in its velvet purple cone, popping up when Prince needed a confidant. What, he talked to non-people too?!?  I can’t tell you how badly I wanted that puppet!! Magic did exist in the world and that purple cone was the fount from which it poured.

If he didn’t have to follow the *supposed-to-be,* grown-up rules, then why did I? It gave me hope that there was a place in this world for someone like me after all. Prince MADE his own rules and transformed the world in the process.  He didn’t grind down his uniqueness to make others comfortable.  He provided them with an opportunity to examine their discomfort and grow from it.

Prince lived and died doing what he loved.  And in the end, isn’t that the only life worth living?

be free.

Freeheart

 

Stress: the Good, the Bad and the Burnt-Out: Part One

According to the American Psychological Association, there is good and bad stress, known respectively as Eustress (good) and Distress. Good stress stands alone while Distress can be Acute, Episodic, and Chronic. I’ll cover Distress in a separate post.

Stress is the body’s response to change

Positive  Stress

Eustress is what is referred to as positive stress. It is a short-term response that improves performance and is within the range of a person’s coping skills.

Symptoms

Excitement, Focus, Drive, Accomplishment, Kicking Ass, Taking Names.

Eustress Examples

  • Getting a puppy
  • Getting a promotion at work
  • Starting a new business
  • Falling in love
  • Going on a vacation
  • Starting a new project

Ok..so that’s it for positive stress.  Pretty easy right?  Distress or negative stress is much more complex and can lead to serious health problems. But we’ll discuss that in Part Two.

Be free.

Freeheart

 

 

The Taproot

So, I’ve been writing this blog for a couple of months now trying to document *un-stressing* my life as it were. I’ve written a few posts on the issue directly, but I’m sure you have noticed plenty of photographs, doodles and dog pics.  I assure you; however, there is much work going in real life.

I’m just trying to determine how to present what I am learning as I go and document any resulting personal discoveries.  I feel like there is so much I want to discuss, but there are a few things I must address first.

I’ve studied and used stress management techniques for many years. They have indeed helped me manage my stress-related symptoms, but I want to do something more with this site.

I want to find the taproot of my stress and pull it out. It’s a lofty goal I know, but that is my target. And I have to tell you; this is really hard work. Over the past few months, I’ve been researching stress; it impacts on the body and mind, and I’ve even completed a comprehensive stress assessment on myself. I’ll write a more detailed post about that later.

But I must say,  I’ve had to face some hard truths about myself and how much control I abdicate in my own life.  I needed some time to process that.  But this is a positive discovery. It stands to reason, if I am giving away my control, then I can take it back.

So here I sit, trying to muster up the courage to do what I promised: pull back the curtain and share my journey of self-discovery as I root out the underlying factors that keep bound in stress.

The next couple of posts may be a bit academic, but they will serve as a reference point for subsequent posts like my assessment results, and where I go from there.

Be free.

Freeheart

 

Yellow 

Today was lovely, and it was yellow. Vibrant, soft, electrifying, warm, and worn. The color yellow grabbed hold of me and didn’t let go. Taking pictures is a balm for my soul and is one of my favorite stress management techniques.

 

 

Stop Blowing Your Money Away

Hi,

I feel overwhelming shame about my relationship with money.  It is one of my big three stressors. Just thinking about it causes me incredible anxiety.  I feel incredibly stupid when I’m seeking help from others, and they say things like, “all you have to do…” Talk about stress!

But this video posted on the Be Like Water blog helped me understand why controlling my spending is such a challenge and how I can overcome it. It suggests using cash as my go-to method of payment, stop eating out, and eliminating purchases with no long-term benefit (Starbucks tea, pad thai, Ohh….what is that shiny new thing!!)

Baby Steps

I have started saving. I’ve signed up for Digit and Acorns, which help me save an invest automatically.  It’s very low stress and gives me confidence that I can really do this thing!

Digit is a pretty simple savings app.  It take a couple of dollars out of my account randomly throughout the month and puts it into a separate account. I love the regular text alerts as well as the option to save more or less. I can get it back if I need it of course, and they guarantee that they will not overdraft my account.  It actually made me pretty excited about saving.

Acorns, an investment tool, is a little different.  For each purchase I make, it takes the change and rounds it to the next dollar, and when it reaches five dollars, it pulls the money from my account and invests it.  Now, this app really helped me see how much money I was spending!  It seemed like every time I turned around; it was taking money out! But like Digit, you can withdraw money from it as well.

My goal, of course, is not to make any withdrawals.  Instead, I want to change my spending habits.  I AM changing my spending habits.

be free.

Freeheart

 

The psychological factors that encourage people to waste their hard earned wealth and a hidden (and enormous) benefit of precious metals ownership. This is a great video about how we all use our money and how advertising affects us on our decisions on purchasing goods or services. 

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Words of Wisdom…

I stumbled across this list this morning while I was inspecting the internet for leaks.  His Holiness the Dalai Lama offers some pretty awesome guidelines for living a fruitful life.  What a remarkable man.  The more I learn about him, the more I admire him.

be free.

Freeheart

Lama rules