First Steps Toward Healthy Change

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Funny Stressed Cat

Funny Stressed Cat

There is no longer any question about the horrific impact varying degrees of stress can have on our all-to-fragile human system. There are experts such as Drs. Lyle H. Miller and Alma Dell Smith, two people who have dedicated their professional lives to the measurement, analysis, and treatment of stress and stress-related ailments and complaints and many others, who can vouch for both the subtle and not so subtle impact that various forms and degrees of stress can have on those most susceptible and overtaken by stress.

In most of these cases, references are made to the emotional/psychological effects of stress and talks about anxiety and how people who are under a lot of stress, physiologically suffer negative impact on blood pressure, aches and pains (very commonly head pain), heart palpitations (leading to heart problems), and possibly even more damaging long-term effects.

World of Stress

World of Stress

And it is very clear and quite easy to understand the direct correlation between change (especially quick changes) and stress. For almost all of us, whenever things happen to cause high degrees of change in short periods of time, the level of stress experienced increases dramatically. And, this makes sense and can be exhibited by the endless supply of advice we are given by those around us to ‘slow down’ and ‘not move too quickly’ through upsetting events. We are advised to ‘count to 10′ so that our feelings of anger and hurt don’t overtake us and we lose balance with rational thought and our over-burdened emotions.

Alternate View of Stress

Alternate View of Stress

We are taught repeatedly in our life lessons that it is smart to ‘give things time’ or to ‘sleep on it’ and ‘let it simmer’ before making any major decisions that will cause a major change. Very few of us go through life without being told by those closest to us ‘don’t rock the boat’ or ‘take your time’. We humans tend to avoid major change…especially when it occurs quickly. We avoid it and advise our loved ones to do the same.

Perhaps one of the most tumultuous times in our humans lives when things change very quickly (whether we want them to or not) is during the period of time we refer to as adolescence:

* Bodies grow and develop, for some practically overnight

* Hormones that we may never knew we possessed, run rampantly through our system – causing emotions to seem like an open mine field

* Social expectations and pressures play havoc even with those with even the most sturdy and consistent of upbringings

And that is just a brief introduction to some of the landscape of the adolescent portrait.

Parent to Teen

Parent to Teen

We can start by adding a dose of understanding to our teenagers. Knowing and realizing just how ‘at risk’ children in the 13-19 age range are can be a wonderful place to start in helping them (and you as the adult who cares the most about them) restore some extremely-needed balance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Sunday considerations of philosophy….on uncertainty, openmindedness, and independent thought…

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Originally posted on Rudy Oldeschulte:

cafe (2)

 …it will be well to consider…what is the value of philosophy and why it ought to be studied. It is the more necessary to consider this question, in view of the fact that many men, under the influence of science or of practical affairs, are inclined to doubt whether philosophy is anything better than innocent but useless trifling, hair-splitting distinctions, and controversies on matters concerning which knowledge is impossible.  

The value of philosophy is, in fact, to be sought largely in its very uncertainty. The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his deliberate reason. To such a man the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects rouse no questions…

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Belonging…

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Originally posted on Rudy Oldeschulte:

Alexander Artway - Parisian Café

“I’ve always tried to make a home for myself, but I have not felt at home in myself. I’ve worked hard at being the hero of my own life. But every time I checked the register of displaced persons, I was still on it. I didn’t know how to belong. Longing? Yes. Belonging? No.”

Jeanette Winterson Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Photo- A Artway

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Don’t Wallow

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I just read a great article by my favourite author, Donald Miller at his Storyline Blog.

It was about not giving into self-pity, and he gave the example of an Olympic ice skater who knew how to not wallow in his mistakes. You can’t wallow when you’re performing in a competition and make a mistake. You have to pick yourself up quick smart and keep going even when it feels so demoralizing to fall.

This lesson can be applied to life. We’re gonna make mistakes, we’re gonna fail and fall regularly. We’re gonna have cause to to feel self-pity and wallow. But don’t be consumed by it, because it stops you from getting on with what you’re supposed to be doing.

I know when I do something stupid, I can cut myself up about it for ages. This doesn’t help anything at all. So there’s no use wallowing in it and thinking I’m the worst of the worst.

No, I learn my lesson. I made a mistake, I learn from it, and then I move on.

When I don’t move on and I wallow, it cripples me. I beat myself up and I become ineffective because I feel like I’m no good and have nothing to offer. I get consumed by my wallowing thoughts.

There’s no point.

I know.

I’ve done both. I’ve wallowed over a mistake and felt terrible for ages; and I’ve controlled my mind to stop dwelling on it and move on with the lesson I learnt.

I can tell you it took a lot of effort to control my mind because it naturally wanted to wallow, but I was so much better for it when I didn’t give into it. I wasn’t crippled, I wasn’t wasting time worrying when there was nothing I could do, and I could continue on with life and focusing on things that did matter.

On Loss and Mourning….

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Originally posted on Rudy Oldeschulte:

Kew gardens

Excellent read…well worth the time to absorb…

EXCERPT: In The Long Goodbye(public library), her magnificent memoir of grieving her mother’s death, Meghan O’Rourke crafts a masterwork of remembrance and reflection woven of extraordinary emotional intelligence. A poet, essayist, literary critic, and one of the youngest editors the New Yorker has ever had, she tells a story that is deeply personal in its details yet richly resonant in its larger humanity, making tangible the messy and often ineffable complexities that anyone who has ever lost a loved one knows all too intimately, all too anguishingly. What makes her writing — her mind, really — particularly enchanting is that she brings to this paralyzingly difficult subject a poet’s emotional precision, an essayist’s intellectual expansiveness, and a voracious reader’s gift for apt, exquisitely placed allusions to such luminaries of language and life as Whitman, Longfellow, Tennyson, Swift, and Dickinson (“the supreme poet…

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On the Capacity to be Alone In the Presence of Another…

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Originally posted on Rudy Oldeschulte:

I’ve written about this concept by DW Winnicott on past posts – ‘the capacity to be alone in the presence of another’ –  one that underlies many aspects of our developmental journey – our capacity for solitude, for good reading and attention, love in relationships, and self respect, inter alia…

   This excerpt is from a write up that details an interview with Adam Phillips on this topic. Both links are included below: 

PHILLIPS: That idea was one of Winnicott’s most radical, because what he was saying was that solitude was prior to the wish to transgress. That there’s something deeply important about the early experience of being in the presence of somebody without being impinged upon by their demands, and without them needing you to make a demand on them. And that this creates a space internally into which one can be absorbed. In order to be…

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Thought and communication…

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Originally posted on Rudy Oldeschulte:

coffee mug

“There is something at the bottom of every new human thought, every thought of genius, or even every earnest thought that springs up in any brain, which can never be communicated to others, even if one were to write volumes about it and were explaining one’s idea for thirty-five years; there’s something left which cannot be induced to emerge from your brain, and remains with you forever; and with it you will die, without communicating to anyone perhaps the most important of your ideas.”

—        Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot

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Anxiety and Stress

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An article I wrote today for a local newspaper…

Stress and Anxiety – Why do I feel this way all the time?

             I feel so nervous at work and at home every day. I can’t seem to get it under control.  My boss might ask me to do something that I don’t know how to do, or my kids may get into trouble at school. These feelings are always there and I don’t know why…

            Many of us feel stress and anxiety during the day – yet we cope with it in different ways, and while we don’t always understand why we feel it, it is usually manageable.  However, an alarming number of Americans experience anxiety, frequently due to stress. Nearly 40 million people, or about 18% of Americans each year experience nervousness, uncertainty, fears, and restlessness. For these people, the feelings are not a normal reaction to stress, but instead may feel like panic, and it affects their daily life at work, at school, and at home.

            Feelings of anxiety may be felt most in the social situation, or plague us when we have to participate in a classroom experience or answer the teacher’s question. Often, it is not clear why we have the feelings – the anxiety may come up in a meeting, all of a sudden, with little warning. Anxiety, and the stress that we experience, is perhaps the most common of mental difficulties that people experience – and there are several different kinds or types of anxiety disorders.  In addition, anxiety can also be part of, or exist alongside, other disorders – such as depression, physical illness (headaches, stomach problems), sleeping difficulties – and may also trigger behaviors like substance or alcohol abuse. 

            Symptoms include:

  • Constant worrying
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nausea, sweating, rapid heartbeat
  • Concentration or focusing problems
  • Feeling easily startled or fearful
  • Avoiding social situations

Both adults and children may also exhibit other symptoms, such as striving for approval, needing constant reassurance about performance, lacking confidence, and needing to be perfectionistic.  

The stress that we feel in our work, at our home, or in the school situation can interfere with our daily activities to the point that we feel unable to function normally.  It is at this time that one needs to seek out some help,  and get some assistance in understanding why we are experiencing the difficulty, and how to find different or better ways of coping. 

Anxiety disorders are classified into 5 different types or areas, each of which has different symptoms, coping mechanisms, and treatment recommendations.  You may experience frequent panic attacks (Panic Disorder), or fear dirt and germs, and needing to wash their hands incessantly (Obsessive-compulsive Disorder). Alternatively, you may not want to go outside of your home or go to the school function because you’re frightened of the social situation (Social Anxiety or Phobia). Individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder have experienced trauma – often repeatedly, and need a safe environment to recall the events and reduce their fears.  (As I pointed out in a previous article, PTSD is common in soldiers, women and children that have experienced domestic violence, rape or sexual assault victims). 

The causes of anxiety disorders are complex, and there is no research that shows just one factor being involved. Rather, the causes may be environmental (domestic violence or reactions to disaster), genetic in nature, or due to psychological and developmental factors.  Most individuals that experience post-traumatic stress disorder have experienced some trauma in their life, and interestingly, genetics may play a role in whether someone then develops PTSD, or some other disorder as a way of coping with the trauma. 

Treatments are many, and are varied – depending on how the anxiety, or the reaction to stress is experienced. Different types of treatment are called for depending on the specifics of your difficulties.  Medications may be helpful, and may be recommended by your physician or mental health provider. However, an important point is that medication alone will not solve the difficulty – and psychotherapy, or a ‘talking therapy’ will be necessary.  Certain types of therapy are currently being researched (cognitive behavioral) for some of the anxiety disorders.  Many of the psychotherapies will include learning about relaxation approaches, such as breathing exercises or making changes in your lifestyle.  The therapeutic relationship with your mental health provider is of utmost importance, as this relationship will be the key to helping you cope differently with the stress and the anxiety.  

 Please email me with questions or comments.

  Rudy Oldeschulte, M.A., J.D. is a Del Rio psychotherapist, specializing in individual psychotherapy and parent guidance.  He has served on the faculty of the University of Arizona College of Medicine and taught at the British Association of Psychotherapists. Post- graduate training and education was done in London and at the University of Michigan.

Email address is: roldeschulte@gmail.com and his website is: http://www.rudyoldeschulte.com

Perspectives…

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Boys carrying spaghetti in a macaroni factory in Naples, Italy. 1929

Psychological and philosophical point of view, brought to you in plain language…

http://www.raptitude.com/2010/10/9-mind-bending-epiphanies-that-turned-my-world-upside-down

 

Recognizing beauty…

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Originally posted on Rudy Oldeschulte:

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Photo: Bill Brandt – England 1940

Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.”  Henry Miller

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