Archives for June, 2012
Anxiety needs calm, Depression needs energy, both in subtle ways. When the mind is suffering, it craves soothing remedies. Mindless distractions like computer games and wild roller coaster rides won't help. What is needed is gentle energy. Just like I said in my post about anxiety, this is not a to-do list. Pick only one thing at a time, and do not see it as a chore. It's intended to alleviate depression, not to make you feel burdened. It's also not meant as a quick read only to be forgotten. You will have to take action in order to get something out of it. 1. Nourish Depression means depletion. We don't have it in us to get up and make things happen. We need to nurture our mind and our senses. Read literature like "When Things Fall Apart" or listen to an audio book like "Getting Unstuck." 2. Movement Engage in subtle movements. Don't demand tough workouts of yourself. Do some stretching or slow dancing to get in touch with your body. Clap your hands or hit a drum. Take a walk. Movement is especially called for when you find yourself sleeping way too much. There's nothing wrong with taking a nap. But if you are overly sluggish, make your body move.
There are many ways how to calm yourself down when in the grip of fear. Depending on whether it's acute panic or ongoing lingering anxiety, read through the tools available and pick only one that seems right for that particular moment. Don't read the suggestions as a to-do list. Try each one at different occasions and settle for what works best for you. 1. Touch Babies want to be held when they are in distress. When that's not possible, they stick their thumb in their mouth. It's called self-soothing. Touch is healing. If no one is around who can provide a hug or hold your hand, be still and put your hands over your eyes. Or on your heart. Or your temples. Whatever feels right. Stay there for a little while and notice the tension going away.
Everybody has felt the positive impact of being out in nature: we feel the calming effect of sitting in a meadow or by the ocean. We feel energized by climbing a mountain or swimming in a lake. It doesn't take rocket science to know how good it is for us to get in touch with nature. But this is what is happening in Japan where a "new" form of therapy is on the rise: Shinrin-Yoku, which means forest bathing.
Anxiety disorders have gone through the roof in the past 30 years. While in 1980 only two to four percent of Americans were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at least one time in their life, it is nearly 30 percent today. A team of writers has now set out to examine what makes anxiety a disorder. They took a closer look at occurrences like social anxiety, phobias, fear of public speaking, generalized anxiety and so on. Among their findings: Anxiety has been around ever since we started walking. But it has only recently been called a disorder.
Our lives often feel burdensome. Too much to do. Too many self-imposed obligations. Too little or too much involvement with the world outside. We are stuck in front of our computers, with our to-do lists and with the stress we don't know how to get rid of. As a means to feel better, we try sitting in front of the TV, eat ice cream or potato chips and can't think of anything better than to "veg out." Sometimes physical rest is what's needed, but our psyches are much more in need of quiet and relaxation. Only, how do we go about that? There is the typical idea of the massage or the hot bubble bath, but sometimes even that won't stop the endless worry and the feelings of being tired and overwhelmed. What is needed is to recharge, to rejuvenate.
I was mesmerized the other day listening to a story on NPR’s Radiolab about a woman suffering from chronic pain. She had entered an experiment that hooked her up to an EEG where she could see her brain activity as it unfolded. The areas that showed her pain centers were visible in a flaming red. In the experiment, she tried to soothe herself by remembering and identifying with the fate of certain spiritual people she admired. As she was able to calm herself down, she saw with astonishment how some of the red spots in her brain were extinguished. Excited and motivated by what was unfolding right before her eyes, she continued her visualizations until all the red spots on the image were gone. For the first time in years she was pain free. The main thing that struck me when I heard the story was how powerful our beliefs are. Initially, the woman’s belief in her religion and spirituality made her calm down. Then, when she saw on the computer screen how it visibly helped her with the pain, her trust in science reinforced just how effective the method was until the pain was fully gone. As they say, faith will move mountains.
The most pervasive issue when couples don't get along is chronically looking at the other person as a separate entity. When two people don't see themselves as part of a unit, constantly pointing the finger at the other, that's when trouble is ahead. "You do..." and "you don't..." becomes the most used introduction to any conversation - or argument. We are constantly evaluating the other as to what's right and what's wrong with them, and it slowly but surely destroys the foundation of the partnership. I'm not talking about abusive relationships. When one or both partners are physically or verbally abusive, it's a whole different ball game. Other red flags are abandonment, financial irresponsibility and frequent affairs. I'm talking more about the average, less than perfect, weathered marriage that has seen better days and is under a lot of stress. And the newlyweds that are discovering that the other person is only human and isn't thinking about you twenty-four seven.