8 Tips for Combatting SAD – Preserve your energy and spirit

Heather Edwards Coach Psychotherapist SADWelcome to daylight savings time! It’s that time of year when days get shorter, darkness grows longer, and your energy and spirit can be eclipsed. SAD abounds.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, “About 4 to 6 percent of people may have winter depression. Another 10 to 20 percent may have mild SAD. SAD is four times more common in women than in men. Although some children and teenagers get SAD, it usually doesn’t start in people younger than age 20.”

That equals a whopping up to 63,780,000 people in the U.S.A. with SAD and/or mild depression in the winter!

In case you’re wondering if you have S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) here are a few symptoms:

  1. decreased energy
  2. increased appetite (for sweets & starches)  
  3. weight gain
  4. reduced socialization
  5. increased sleep
  6. lower productivity
  7. less enthusiasm

Heather Edwards Psychotherapy Coach SADIt results from a lack of sunlight. The sun provides needed vitamin D which supports calcium metabolism and neuromuscular and immune system functioning. According to NIH (National Institute of Health), sunlight increases blood levels of natural opiates called endorphins, regulates melatonin production – the hormone responsible for sleep, and serotonin – a hormone and neurotransmitter responsible for mood, appetite, sleep, memory, and learning. It’s no wonder we don’t feel our best when the source of these vital functions is waning and real physiological changes are happening.

Here’s what you can do to keep feelin’ the summertime sunshine:

  1. Adjust Your Schedule – Wake up earlier. Go outside. Get more sunlight. The sun’s schedule has changed. Yours should, too! We are diurnal creatures. We need to be awake and active during the daytime. This is how our bodies were designed to thrive.
  2. Sleep in Complete Darkness – It increases melatonin which improves the quality of sleep. Your brain cleanses itself of toxic molecules during sleep by increasing the space between cells and flushing its pathways with cerebrospinal fluid. This helps focus, attention, and memory during the day. When you wake up to light, serotonin production takes over.
  3. Light Therapy – These are white fluorescent lights behind a plastic diffusing screen, which filters out ultraviolet rays. For 25 years, studies have demonstrated success in improving mood with light therapy. Reportedly, 30 minutes in the mornings seem to be optimal for light therapy – it kick starts uplifting serotonin and reduces sleepy melatonin.
  4. Exercise – It increases calming hormones, lowers stress hormones, and keeps your body strong. Go for walks. Take a yoga class. Enjoy winter sports like skiing or snowboarding. To boot, new studies are showing increased capacity for learning following only 4 minutes of increased heart rate prior to study.
  5. Be Social with Those Who Lift You Up – It’s healthy to surround yourself with people who inspire and support you. If you’re noticing your company bringing you down, then reconsider who you receives your valuable time. Your health depends on it.
  6. Stress Management – There are many ways to manage stress. Some of my favorites are reciting positive mantras, daily journaling, practicing gratitude, meridian tapping, and meditation. Anything you can do to shift your attention to the good, will improve your mood. So, slow down, practice positive self care, and honor your needs.
  7. Psychotherapy – If it feels too difficult to handle SAD on your own, find a Licensed Mental Health Counselor to help you through the dark season. The symptoms of S.A.D. can be as severe as Major Depressive Disorder. The only difference is that it lasts about 4 -5 months – the duration of winter and reduced sunlight.
  8. Medication – Consult with your Physician or Counselor if you want to consider an antidepressant. There’s no shame in taking medication for a condition. You wouldn’t think twice if you were medicating a blood, organ, or pain issue. The same applies to your mental health.

Heather Edwards Psychotherapy Coaching SADAwareness and a proactive plan will keep you functioning your best through the winter. Get ready to make adjustments to your routine and combat the dimming days ahead. You can and will preserve your mojo when you take action to keep your energy up.

It’s normal to get tired and go to bed a little earlier in the winter. Your body is programmed to sleep when it’s dark. Don’t fight it. It’s your body’s natural way of adjusting to the environmental changes. Get your 7-8 hours of brain cleansing and body restoring sleep and start fresh the next day. Remember, Spring is just around the corner. Longer days are only six weeks away.

Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by nenetus, podpad, nenetus.

3 Ways YOU are Like Your SMARTPHONE

Heather Edwards Oasis SmartphoneUnfinished business. Open loops. Running Apps. Depleted energy. Less productivity. Divided attention. Ugh. It’s downright overwhelming when you take a moment to realize how many tasks are competing for your time and focus every minute of every day. Ironically, ignoring them only creates more stress, and tackling them all at once creates overwhelm.

So how are you like your smartphone?

  1. You’re Multi-Talented  – After all, we are the creators of phones and apps. You can manage your homefront, a job and freelance work, your own business, self care, social commitments, romantic curiosities, attend that class at the gym, and learn an instrument in one fell swoop.
  2. You’re Uber Productive – You can do laundry while listening to a podcast and writing a blog, calling your mother, emailing your boss, launching your project, walking the dog, and leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Well, maybe not the last part.
  3. Your Battery Power (Energy) is Limited – Regretfully, you can run out of juice. 🙁 Welcome to the downside of your multi-talented, uber-productive self. Keep reading for tips on preserving your energy so you can take on the world.

According to David Allen (my new hero), author of Getting Things Done, every undone thing depletes your energy. Even when your attention is not focused on those open loops or unfinished business, it continues to live in the back of your mind draining your psychic battery. This is your subconscious mind continuously poking you. “Hey! What about that thing you you started? And that idea you had?”.

Heather Edwards Coach Oasis SmartphoneThink about that smartphone. What happens to the battery when multiple apps are running in the background? Yeah, the ones you forgot about when something more urgent popped into your conscience. That’s right. Your phone slowly but surely loses power, dies, and then you panic. The same thing happens to your energy.

If you’re like me, during the course of your day, you’re constantly multi-tasking. It seems like you’re uber-effective and staying atop the task mountain. But, in reality research shows that you lose at least 20% of your productivity when your attention is divided between multiple tasks.

It’s counterintuitive but, in order to maximize productivity – slow down, take a breath, and finish one task before beginning a new one. (click to tweet!)

Finish what you’ve started. Close the metaphorical mental Apps.  Here’s how:

  1. Take an inventory of your unfinished business. Brain dump it onto paper.
  2. Decide if it’s actionable, can be filed for another day, or trashed. Do it.
  3. Consider how much time each actionable item requires. Be realistic.
  4. Open your calendar. Designate uninterrupted blocks of time.
  5. Schedule it. Commit.

This might take an entire day, several days, or a portion of a few days to check them off your list and clear them from your subconscious mind. But when done, you’ll have a full bar of battery power.

Heather Edwards Psychotherapy Coaching OasisCheck your smart phone apps right now. Count the open apps – email, facebook, instagram, pinterest, safari, evernote, twitter, Game of War… they’re draining your battery. If this analogy mirrors your state of mind, then close the apps. Take a moment to pause and choose one thing to focus on. See it through. Enjoy a renewed clarity and actual sense of accomplishment. Now you can get started on the next item.

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by nenetus, nokhoog buchachon, artur84.

Start Your Day Right: 3 Tips for the Perfect Journal Entry

Heather Edwards JournalStart your morning right with a journal entry. They say the day is shaped by the tone of your morning ritual. So make it productive, uplifting, and grounding.

There are many benefits of journaling. It’s an emotional cleanse, a refocusing on the positive, and a reminder of your purpose and vision.  Try these tips to maximize the potential for your day and to keep you on target with your goals…

  1. How I’m feeling today: Take a moment to check yourself – emotionally, spiritually, physically.  What are you experiencing in this moment. This keeps you present and grounded in the moment – and real with yourself.
  2. What I’m grateful for: The power of gratitude is mind blowing – and expanding. Studies have shown that positive thinking changes your brain so that it becomes easier to naturally notice the good unfolding around you. Take stock of the many gifts you already possess.
  3. My intention for the day, week, next few months and years: This is where I sort out my to do’s, the nitty gritty, and indulge my dreams. It keeps me on track in a realistic way and allows me the mental space and freedom to explore something bigger.

Heather Edwards JournalJournaling gives you a safe place to express your feelings. We know that internalized emotions cause a variety of problems including inflammation in your body, aches and pains, high blood pressure, migraines, and exacerbation of current illnesses, just to name a few. It can also affect relationships, career, and mood. So release those emotions. Reflect on them objectively when you see them on the written page. Make needed adjustments.

Gratitude and hope affect the neural pathways responsible for a good mood. When we take a moment to reflect on what’s going right, we affect our chemistry in positive ways. It’s motivating, inspiring, and healthy. It distracts us of from focusing on disappointments and frustrations.  Give your brain a break.  Consider those moments of gratitude a stress holiday.

Revisiting your intention refreshes your vision and releases all the things you’ve committed to memory, to the page. The more information we store in our memory, the more stress we create. So free up your mental space and take action on your priorities. Begin closing “open loops”. Unfinished business slowly drains your energy and focus in a similar way open apps on your smartphone drain the battery.

Heather Edwards Journal WritingBeginning the day with a journal entry helps reduce the mind chatter. It sweeps the clutter from your seemingly endless to-do list. It sifts out the dust and presents the essence of what’s most important to you. It allows you time to reflect on what really matters. So grab a pen and paper. It can change your life.

 

photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by nuttakit, sira anamwong, tiramisustudio

5 Tips for a Juicy, Gorgeous Life

Heather Edwards Life Coach

Heather Edwards Life CoachLet’s face it! You’re bored with the status quo. You’re an adventure-seeker-happiness-freak-self-improvement-junkie.  (No offense intended. I’m one, too!) So, put the needle on the record. Let’s pump up the volume! Here are five tips you can start today to create the life you want…

  1. Shift your routine. The same ole only maintains what you already have.  Mix it up! Stir the pot. If you’re reading this blog, you’re ready for something new. Identify one action that could change the outcome of your day. Decide to get up 30 minutes earlier. Start your day with a journal entry, meditation, or work out. Unplug at a reasonable time. Whatever you choose to enact will change your trajectory.
  2. Embrace one goal that stretches you. See it through.  What area of your life do you most want to transform? Some want to advance their career. Others focus on relationships. Even more want to lose weight. Everyone wants to find their soulmate, if they haven’t already. Identify what you desire most. Decide to do something about it. You have the power to create a revolution in your life.
  3. Heather Edwards Life CoachSwear by the best case scenario. Believe it will happen.  According to metaphysics, the  type of energy we put out, is returned to us. If you’re affecting energy in a negative way then, negativity is what you receive. If you are projecting energy in a positive way, then relish it. It will create positivity around you and help move your life forward. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” -Henry David Thoreau
  4. Silence the mind chatter. Reframe negative thoughts into positive ones.  You are your biggest doubter and own worst critic. You notice more flaws and imperfections in yourself than anyone else. Shift your thoughts to the things you love about yourself. Notice the delicious possibilities for your future. Acknowledge your heart’s desire. 
  5. Abandon comparisons. Relish the goods that are you. There is no one else in the entire universe like you. That’s special. Most people fall into the trap of comparisons. For example, a lawyer might compare herself to a chef. A chef might compare himself to an athlete. An athlete might compare herself to a musician. A musician might compare himself to a doctor. …and all can feel less than worthy. Whatever the comparison, it equals self sabotage. Instead of looking for evidence of your shortcomings, (we all have them) practice gratitude. Imagine how much you would want the things you have now, if you didn’t already have them.

In the words of Fatboy Slim, “We’ve come a long, long way together, through the hard times and the good. I have to celebrate you, baby. I have to praise you like I should.”. Check out the video below for a lil’ pick me up.  Remember to celebrate you everyday!

 

photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by stockimages

Psychology Today: 4 Ways to Clear Your Mind

By Heather Edwards – Guest Blogger

As I sit down to write this blog, I’m struck by three common themes in conversations with clients, family, and friends. Most of us have clarity about how we want to feel – happy, free, grounded. But instead, we end up frustrated, overwhelmed, and burdened. We get stuck and confused about how to internalize fleeting positivity in an enduring way.

In the quest for the seemingly elusive states of calm and life satisfaction, several common toxins manifest. But you can change them! Or better, clear them out.

Take stock of your life and notice which ones prevent you from living fully. Here are thetop four culprits. It may be time for a cleanse.

Toxic Relationships:

Let’s face it: Relationships of all sorts – friendships, family, and colleagues – can become toxic. Judgments, opinions, and expectations can kill camaraderie. Is there someone in your life who limits you? Do you feel boxed in when you’re with them?

Mind you, this is their box, not yours. When you notice a constriction rather than expansion of your ideas and actions, you’re probably in a toxic relationship. Your gut feeling can be the purest read of your interactions.

Replace Negative With Positive:

Consider ways to shift the negative energy of unhealthy relationships by setting boundaries, saying what you want, or even cutting ties.

Be with the people who support you, believe in you, accept, and encourage you. Imagine what life would be like if nobody stood in your way.

Toxic Beliefs:

How are you getting in your own way? When you listen closely to your internal monologue you might hear, “I can’t do it. I might fail. It’s too hard. I’m not strong enough, smart enough, or pretty enough.” Move toward your power, not away from it.

Say hello to fear, doubt, and uncertainty. Challenge it.

Replace it with power thoughts. Be a bitch (or the equivalent) and kick it to the curb! You don’t deserve to fall prey to the negative thinking. You can do anything you want to do. It begins with believing you are capable, worthy, and enough.

Toxic Over-Commitment:

Guilty as charged!

I’ve experienced all four of these toxins in my life, but this is the one I struggle with most. We all complain that there’s too much on our plate. We’re over obligated and sometimes over responsible.

C’mon! When you already have a meat, grain, vegetable, fruit, and dash of dairy on your plate, you don’t need more potatoes!

So take a breath. Step back. Evaluate the big picture. Even at the risk of letting someone down, start removing the extra beans. Prioritize. When you’re overextended, you won’t be successful in any of your commitments. Instead, you’ll be bloated and tired.

How many of these four toxins exist in your life? When you mindfully notice the myriad of distractions, limitations, and influences in your life that get in your way, you can honestlyevaluate what serves you well and what doesn’t.

Give yourself permission to say “no”, set boundaries, and make room for change.

You’ll be happy you did.

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This piece was a contribution by guest blogger, Heather Edwards(link is external), MA, LMHC, who is a therapist and life coach located in New York City. She can be reached for consultation at: 347-515-3966

www.NewYorkPsychotherapyandLifeCoaching.com(link is external)

Follow me on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/nyctherapy(link is external)

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10 Tips for Gaining Clarity on ANYTHING

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist Coach

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist CoachIf you’re anything like me you struggle with staying on task.  In this immediate-gratification-digital-world it’s a challenge to sustain focus on anything for any uninterrupted amount of time.

The average attention span is estimated to be about five minutes long for a two year old child, and up to 20 minutes in older children and adults.

Just guessing – but it will probably take you longer than 20 minutes of focused attention to achieve your dreams.  Try out these 10 tips for clearing and clarifying your mind..

  1. Establish a Morning Ritual:  What you do in the morning sets the tone for the day. Begin each day with 10 minutes of nurturing self care.  Stretch, breathe, meditate, or read a few pages of a self improvement book.  See how that “me” time can refocus your mind.
  2. Complete Any Unfinished Business: I LOVE this concept from David Allen in his book Getting Things Done, the art of stress-free productivity.  It applies to any area of your life.  The idea is that “open loops” running in your subconscious mind drain your energy.  Close them by completing unfinished tasks and increase your energy!
  3. Sleep. Eat. Exercise. Repeat.  Yes, you know it!  Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Eat healthy, balanced meals. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day five days per week. Strengthen your body and mind.Heather Edwards Coach Psychotherapy
  4. Create a Peaceful Place in Your Home or Office That Inspires You: When your space is organized and inspired, so is your mind.  Start reducing the clutter and clean up your space.
  5. Try Mind Mapping: This works especially well with creative types. Tony Buzan describes this in his book, The Mind Map Book – How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain’s Untapped Potential. Using a combination of words, colors, diagrams, and pictures you can capture more of what’s on your mind and link it to actionable steps.
  6. Practice Gratitude Everyday: It strengthens the neural pathways responsible for positive thinking and an empowered attitude. Take 30 seconds a day to notice what you’re grateful for. Even better – write it down!
  7. Listen to Music:  A study at Penn State University demonstrated that listening to music improved mood, no matter what type of music was heard. Others have shown that upbeat music calms the heart rate, increases happiness, and reduces depression. A positive mood is a clearer one.
  8. Aromatherapy: Smells reportedly meet over 50,000,000 neural receptors located in the upper part of the nasal septum when inhaled.  They send messages to the limbic system via the olfactory bulb. This is the part of the brain that controls emotions, behavior, and basic thought processes. I use Lavender for relaxation and Wild Orange for feeling uplifted.Heather Edwards Coach Psychotherapy
  9. Structure Your Day: Having a schedule in your calendar reduces the amount of things you’re trying to remember.  The more you rely on your memory, the more psychological stress you create.  Once information is out of your brain and on paper, you can forget it until you need to deal with it. Now you can move onto other things.
  10. Manage Your Actions: Time management is a farce.  You can’t change time, but you can change your actions. Practice one or all of these tips and notice your clarity and productivity rise.  Make a choice each moment to engage with your world in an organized, productive way.  Own your choices.  Be empowered.

 

Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net – Stuart Miles, samuiblue, Stoonn

The Ripple Effect: Your Power Source

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and Coach

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and CoachAmong the hundreds of people I’ve coached and counseled, there’s a striking and honorable theme. It’s one that prompts people to seek support in becoming their best self.  It’s one that guides behavior, values, and wants. It motivates their reflection, desire for improvement, and a genuine regard for having a positive impact on the greater good.

So let’s give credit where credit is due.  After all, that’s what keeps us going.

The theme I’m referring to is the ripple effect. Regardless of the particulars that bring people to coaching or counseling, clients share a common concern about the imprint they leave on society – their family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, clients.

This collective consciousness about their personal effect on what extends beyond their immediate reach impresses me.  So much so that it inspired my book.

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and CoachImagine throwing a stone into a pond.  The impact of that first splash dramatically changes the surface of the water.  The point of contact immediately erupts. The stone sinks. Then, emerging upward is a driving force that defies the laws of gravity.

At first it creates one large ripple which cascades into other smaller ripples, softening as they extend out from the source.  Eventually they subside, homeostasis is achieved, and still water resumes.

That stone effected a broader area than just its entry point.  And so do you. You are the source of a ripple effect. That’s your power.

Whether you swim in a metaphorical pond, puddle, or ocean your imprint reaches further than what you see. – click to tweet!

Take a moment to imagine the ripple effect of any conversation you’ve had recently. Maybe you felt frustrated and annoyed when talking with a coworker. Your words were short and curt. That started a ripple.

You might not have seen it, but the receiver of those words felt it.  She may have carried it home to her daughter, husband, or cat who then passed the negative ripple onto others, random activities, and so on.

On the flip side, maybe you took a moment to take a deep breath, refocus, practice gratitude and instead expressed appreciation to your son, wife, or colleague.  That started a ripple.  What kind of cascade did that create?  That’s where you have immense power to create positive change.

When people feel positive vibes, support, and love they respond in kind.  They let their guard down.  They open up to conversation. They reciprocate the positivity.

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and CoachAs an example, what happened the last time you complimented someone on the style of their hair or shoes? You probably received a, “Thank you!” and then a compliment in return.  How nice!  Now everybody feels good. When we feel good we’re more motivated to work, love, and engage.

The ripple effect translates to all areas of your life.  If you’re a boss, what happened the last time you expressed appreciation to your team for their efforts?  You probably felt a renewed sense of ownership and productivity.  You may have noticed better cooperation and teamwork on projects and an overall lift in morale.  If you’re a parent, what happens when you compliment your child?

It’s way too easy to feel bogged down and become consumed by the endless demands of our 21st century lives.  So take a moment to create a positive ripple. Look for reasons to do it.  Observe what happens. You are more powerful than you realize.

 

 

Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by digidreamgrafix, Paul Brentnall, & aopsan

5 Tips to Reclaim Your Life.

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and Coach

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and CoachIs ego, fear, or someone else’s vision keeping you stuck?

You are the expert, master, and keeper of your life.

What are your guiding philosophies?  Are you functioning from a place of blame, entitlement, lack, fear, and greed? Or from a position of responsibility, abundance, wealth, courage, and charity? And I’m not talking about money – but rather about strength, purpose and meaning.

Maybe your mind is scattered and unfocused, or it seems too late to change course now.

Maybe you forgot to ask questions and push back a little along the way. Perhaps what you want seems unobtainable. Maybe you’ve never been a lucky person, or there’s too much burdening you to see the possibilities.

Our perspective is much like a camera lens.

Sometimes we need to stop to adjust the filter, focus, or breadth of what we see. When the inner critic speaks louder than the voice of reason, self doubt sounds like the gospel truth. When hopelessness reigns as the Queen of your mental castle, it’s time to step back and adjust the lens.

1. Focus. Adjust. Zoom.Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and Coach

Switch the lens.

If what you want is to be happy, focus your energy and attention on the people, places, and experiences that lead you to feeling happy.  Doing this for just 30 seconds, five times per day, can change your brain structure and chemistry so that it’s easier to see the bright side of things.

If what you want is to be free, adjust the expectations, to-do’s, and beliefs that imprison you. What can you take off your plate, delegate or reprioritize?

If it’s love you seek, look at the bigger picture. Reach for the wide lens. You could be missing something, or someone, who’s right in front of you.

2. When you hear your inner monologue sweetly sabotaging your dreams, question it and correct it.

Ask, “What evidence do I have to support the idea that I can’t do it?” Then, flip it around and ask, “What evidence do I have that I CAN do it?”.  And, “What information do I need to make that dream happen?”.

3. Start with a top ten list.

Name your top ten most enjoyable activities – where you get lost in the flow, 10 people who inspire you – who you’ve learned from or have felt something change in your life because of them, and 10 things you can do so naturally that you can complete them without even thinking about them.

4. Identify your hidden values.

Notice overlapping activities, skills, or interests in your lists.  Cherish this crucial information as the foundation for beginning to reclaim your life. Now you are building, growing, grounding, and changing. Set one micro-goal for each day to get closer to your dream.

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and Coach5. Remind yourself you can do this.  Commit to staying THIS course.

When you commit to daily actionable steps toward your dream, you steadily move toward achieving them.  Envision your best self.  Embrace your unique strengths. Trust you have the drive and wherewithal to see them through. Clarify your intentions daily. Watch your life evolve.

“Your field of focus determines what you find in life.” T. Harv Eker

4 Steps to Bump Up Your Life

Heather Edwards, Psychotherapist and CoachWhy is it so difficult, and so important, to know the difference between thoughts and feelings? Sometimes thoughts happen so fast that they go unnoticed.  

Instead, what we experience is a pit in the stomach, a racing heart and mind, or a sense of hopelessness that things will get better.

It’s true that negative emotions seem instantaneous. They’re automatic and natural consequences of events, right?

Wrong!  That’s just not the case!  

Although they can wash over us like a tidal wave, leaving us helplessly drowning in sorrow, fear, or numbnessthere is a choice you can make between stressful events and negative feelings.

Except for those real life fight or flight situations, where your safety or life is in actual danger, or in some post traumatic stress disorder symptoms, there is a thought process sandwiched in the middle. It comes before the overwhelming feelings, and can even be the cause of them!

1. Noticing that elusive thought pattern can change your life as you know it!

It requires slowing down, getting real about your feelings, and retracing the steps that got you where you are emotionally.  Here’s how…Heather Edwards, Psychotherapist and Coach

When you’re feeling angry, identify the situation or event which prompted it.  Then, the belief system attached to that event.

Since events can’t directly cause our feelings, what did you tell yourself about the event that negatively impacted you?

2. Question it.

How well is that belief or thought pattern serving you?  Is it benefiting you? Is it hurting you? Is it energizing you? Or is it inhibiting and alienating you?

When you hold onto idealist views, “should” statements, or perfectionism you keep yourself prisoner of those beliefs. They’re often the source of negative emotions like guilt, regret, and resentment.

Unlock the door to emotional freedom with a careful evaluation of your limiting beliefs.

3. Let go of ego and expectations.

Embrace flexibility, openness, and non-judgement.  Be present now, in the only moment in time you can affect. Focus on letting go of ideas that no longer serve you.  Here, you will find the wiggle room to grow, love, and live.

When I change my thought from, “He shouldn’t have done that!” to “It would be better if he did it a different way.” Or, “I can’t believe that happened, it’s horrible!” to “It’s not what I wanted but I’ll figure this out.” It reduces my emotional reaction significantly.

It reduces my physiological response, too – from a state of alarm including increased heart rate, tightening muscles, and lightheadedness to a generalized feeling of disappointment. It’s much easier to cope with. It keeps my body and mind healthy, and strengthens relationships through more flexibility and less rigidity, more openness and less judgment.

Heather Edwards, Psychotherapist and Coach4. And to boot – on the flip side of the emotional spectrum, when something rockin’ happens to you and you think, “It doesn’t really count ‘cuz I just got lucky.”, change it to “Whoa! I’m so psyched about that. How can I do it again?”.  Don’t rob yourself of positive experiences. Revel in them!

So what beliefs are you holding onto that are harming you? What would life be like without them? Open the door of possibilities and newness. Befriend your errors of judgement and let them go. Or reframe them into productive and supportive beliefs.

 

Notice. Question. Adjust. Reframe. Release. Rejoice.

Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Artur84, Master isolated images, & imagerymajestic.

Kung Fu Your Energy – Get Healthy with Open Awareness

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and Coach

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and CoachAs a kid, my sleeping imagination had no limits. My dreams were vibrant, colorful, moving, exciting, emotional, and physical. There were monsters, heroes, allies, and adventures. I could see, taste, touch, smell, and feel the twists and turns of events.  My unconscious mind was free to wander, explore, create, and fantasize.

The governor, censor, parental control, and filter of any sort was non-existent as far as I could tell.  In the morning, the sensations from the intensity of my dreams lingered for a moment, leaving me wondering about the truth of their reality.

Sometimes they scared me.  Sometimes they filled me with joy. Regardless of the theme, their dynamic, flowing, saturated richness left a lasting impression.

And then, KAPOW! Hello, reality. Time for school. That wild imagination was stifled. Even searching for animals and objects in the clouds seemed impossible.  What was happening??

You may have fallen prey to the same trap – even as a full grown adult.  Judgement. Expectations. Insecurity. Fear of failure. Preconceived notions. Ideas about how things should be done dominate. It was no longer about having fun with clouds, or dreaming.

Sure, having structure and frameworks help guide your actions and keep you on course. But what happens when staying the course leaves you stymied, stuck, limited, or confused?

Move with the dynamic interplay of people, circumstances, surroundings, and changing agendas, not against it. Allow room for imagination, change, flexibility, spontaneity, and dreaming. Kung Fu your energy.

Focus on movement, motion, and balance. Here is where you will find the perfect position of readiness. Practice open awareness. Observe your process without commitment to any judgement, expectations, or opinions. Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and Coach

Embrace your Chi – it’s in your body.  This is the source of your energy and endurance.

The experts in Energy Psychology (the mind-body connection) state that black and white thinking, or all or nothing thinking, creates an impasse in the flowing, changing, expanding experience of the moment. It can stop the flow of emotional energy in your body making it nearly impossible to change unwanted feelings.  It can affect all ares of your life – relationships, physical and mental health, and overall well-being. Spoiler alert – it can be downright threatening to the life you want to live.

Not surprisingly, this chaotic stuck energy can be caused by trauma. But extreme reactions to unmet expectations, judgements, and perfectionism can be connected to this, too. While trauma is typically unavoidable, our opinions and ideas about things are very malleable. Be willing to examine and adjust them.  It allows the body’s flow of energy to continue, freeing our emotional growth, imagination, and coping resources.

Fluid thoughts are healthy thoughts. They are imaginative and open.  They are expansive, explorative, and expressive. There’s no right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. Stop judging your thoughts and feelings. Instead, liberate your creative and tolerant mind. Speak kindly to yourself. Create wiggle room in your psyche through awareness, acceptance, and openness.  Refocus on your breath, your life force.

Release limiting beliefs. Release old messages.  Release ego. Release the inner critic who is masterful at self sabotage. Open your palm wide and unhand negativity, prejudice, and worst case scenarios. Embrace non-judgement. Embrace open awareness.  Embrace you in your entirety…

Back to the dreams and clouds – was that a mermaid, or a unicorn? Who were those heroes and allies? Keep dreaming – this time with your eyes open.

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Stuart Miles & njaj.