Mental Health

We Need to Create Our Positive Emotions, Not Hope for Them

Posted by on Sep 22, 2015 in Cognitive Therapy, Featured, Mental Health, Mindfulness & Meditation | 0 comments

We Need to Create Our Positive Emotions, Not Hope for Them

Science is showing that the way we perceive and interpret things has a *HUGE* effect on our emotions and overall levels of happiness and well-being.

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Why We Get Overwhelmed and What You Can Do

Posted by on Sep 7, 2015 in Cognitive Therapy, Mental Health, Mindfulness & Meditation | 0 comments

Why We Get Overwhelmed and What You Can Do

Let’s be real…feeling stressed and overwhelmed are not pleasant feelings.   And I don’t doubt that you have your share of stressors…today’s world requires plenty of responsibility, skills and multi-tasking. There’s also a societal expectation that us women are to be “jacks of all trades”, often causing us to put unrealistic expectations on ourselves and our lives.   Although challenges and stressors are a part of life, our minds tend to function on automatic reactions, usually turning what could be looked at as a challenge, into a stressor. This is what creates those awful feelings of overwhelm, exhaustion and defeat.   But why do our minds turn challenges into stressors?!   Let’s take a look at how overwhelm works… …   So we’re moseying along throughout our day and then BOOM… a situation or challenge occurs that triggers our stress response (i.e. we open that pile of bills, your child begins uncontrollably screaming, you look in the mirror and you’re not a fan 🙁 , you get jealous with your partner, etc…)   Once our stress response is triggered (a part of the brain called the amygdala)… we get a cascade of emotional and physical responses.    These emotional and physical responses are often unpleasant, signaling to the brain that we are in danger. This is when a challenge begins to turn into a stressor.   Because we experience stressors frequently, our brains have been conditioned to think automatic thoughts once our stress response is triggered.   These could include: “I can’t handle this”, “This is too much”, “My life is a mess”, “I’m a bad wife/girlfriend/partner/mother/daughter/sister/friend”, “I’m not smart enough”, “I’m not skilled enough”, “I’m not as good as…”, etc. etc. etc.   The problem is… that often, these automatic thoughts contain what are called cognitive distortions (i.e. distorted thinking that doesn’t represent reality 100%).   Some examples of these cognitive distortions include: Disqualifying the positives: We become only focused on the negatives and they cloud our perception of our lives Jumping to Conclusions: We start jumping to worst case scenarios and we begin fearing the future without adequate evidence Labeling: We label ourselves as bad or not good enough – without taking into consideration all the effort and all the good things we do on a daily basis   As you can see, cognitive distortions are quite harsh (and an FYI…I only named 3/12 distortions there…why brain, do you have so many distortions?!). Cognitive distortions are narrow perspectives and they usually contain quite a bit of putting ourselves down and self-attack 🙁   Cognitive distortions are dangerous because they often affect our moods and we begin acting and living from a place of stress and negativity.   And our actions affect…well, everything.   But remember…   Our brains are jumping to these thoughts because the pathways of these automatic thoughts have been well used. Our brains always resort to the pathways that are the best conditioned.    So what can we do to feel less stress and overwhelm?!   HERE ARE MY TIPS FOR CATCHING THE VICIOUS STRESS & OVERWHELM CYCLE AND TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR SITUATIONS:   1. Notice when you’ve been triggered – The first step is living more consciously so that we can become more aware of when we are triggered with challenges, stress and feelings of overwhelm. Catch yourself when you feel anxiety or stress – label it as a trigger.   2. Surrender to the situation – Surrendering means accepting that the challenge is occurring. A lot of the time we resist challenges. We wish they weren’t occurring and we curse when they happen. Resisting will never help us get...

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Practicing Radical Acceptance

Posted by on Sep 4, 2015 in Cognitive Therapy, Mental Health, Mindfulness & Meditation | 0 comments

Practicing Radical Acceptance

As humans we tend to resist reality. This means with any unpleasant emotions or feelings… we tend to naturally avert the situation.   Instead of addressing core issues, often we reach out and attach to things that provide immediate gratification.   Here are a few examples: You feel stressed or in a low mood so you reach out to junk food to provide comfort You feel lonely so you reach out to distraction ideas that provide quick reassurance You feel empty or lost so you reach out for a drink to ease the tension You feel overwhelmed and discouraged so you put your goals on hold and say, “tomorrow I’ll get back into it” As I said, we’re species that like to feel good so these are natural habits! The problem though is that these coping mechanisms rarely address the actual problem and they usually bring us further from our goals and desires. What’s an alternative then? Try practicing what is called RADICAL ACCEPTANCE. Radical acceptance involves surrendering and accepting reality exactly for what it is.  Instead of resisting and pushing feelings and situations away, try… Bringing awareness to what is happening and how you’re feeling Surrendering to the situation (this simply means to stop resisting and denying reality) Choosing to radically accept what is Working with the situation and your feelings instead of against. Embrace what is happening in the Now as that is what’s happening! Please take note that radically accepting does not mean you have to like or or enjoy it. It simply means we stop resisting what actually is and we start working withthe truths of our lives instead of pushing them away 🙂 Whatever unpleasant challenges and situations you are facing right now, try bringing these affirmations into your life: “I lovingly accept this situation as reality right now.” “I accept that this challenge is occurring and choose to work with it instead of against it.” “I surrender to the flow of life and choose not to deny or resist.” “I accept my feelings and emotions. It is ok to feel what I feel.” “I accept that this is present moment and choose not to focus on the past or the future.” Radical acceptance is highly effective at releasing stress, tension and resistance in the present moment.  I hope you can give it a try with whatever you are currently facing and that it eases any tension you may be feeling. If you have any struggles or want to discuss more deeply, don’t hesitate to ask 🙂     – – – – – Radical acceptance is an example of one of the skills covered in Be Free’s 6-Week Transformation Program. Other highly effective skills we’ll be discussing and practicing include: Uncovering cognitive distortions you use the most (proven thought patterns that cause suffering – we all use them!) Thought records to decrease cognitive distortions and broaden perspectives (this helps to lower emotions such as sadness, guilt, anxiety and anger/agitation) Guided mindfulness and meditation Sentence completion activities to raise self-esteem and help us follow through on our goals and desires (Sentence completion is the most effective practice in my opinion)   There’s still spots left in the program! CLICK HERE for more details and for registration.   Have a great long weekend!...

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5 Things I’ve Learnt in 2014

Posted by on Dec 31, 2014 in Cognitive Therapy, Energy Systems & Spirituality, Mental Health, Mindfulness & Meditation | 0 comments

5 Things I’ve Learnt in 2014

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone! Each year brings ups and downs, new experiences and new realizations. Some of them painful & sobering, others, exciting and refreshing.   It’s beneficial to take some time to think about lessons and viewpoints you’ve learnt and adopted throughout the year as it makes you aware of growth you’ve made and also solidifies new values and goals.   Here are the top 5 things I’ve learnt in 2015…   1. Take action over planning – Do you have a goal or dream for 2015? Choose one action that will initiate progress and do it! Choose actions that show direct results. Often, we get caught up with side tasks that aren’t immediately crucial for success because they’re easier to do and they often protect us from rejection. Ask, what is the very first, smallest accomplishment you’d like to make? Decide an action step that would directly show results and put yourself out there.   2. We must have love and non-judgement with ourselves – It’s you and yourself for the rest of your life. We have others that we love and are close to us but we will forever have to live with ourselves. Choose to love yourself, to accept yourself, to be kind and non-judgmental with yourself. Perfectionism, judgment, critical thinking all cause harm. It’s awesome to have goals and priorities but we must approach these with kindness. Listen to your body, stay in tune with emotions and moods and choose actions that are most beneficial to your wellbeing – but always in a loving way!   3. Go with the flow of your life – Life is always changing. We can’t predict what will happen tomorrow, next week, or next year. We make decisions based on the feelings, experiences & information we have that day. Then suddenly, you see things from a whole new perspective. This is change and it’s ok. Accept the decisions you’ve made, the challenges you’ve encountered, the things that haven’t gone so well and always accept and appreciate your past as it’s brought you to where you are today. Know that you can’t predict life and refrain from creating the future in your imagination. Live in the present moment, and go with the flow.   4. Feel it out – This year I’ve gotten SO MUCH BETTER at feeling out my emotions. I remember one day, not being in the greatest mood, and judging myself about it. I’d say, “This is ridiculous to be in such a low mood, I need to change it”. How silly is it to judge yourself for being sad/angry/jealous, etc. You’re feeling that way for a reason, and by judging it, you’re denying yourself the understanding of those feelings. After realizing it was silly to judge, I remember deciding right then and there that no, I was going to be sad and I was going to sit there and feel out how being sad felt.   So I sat there and let myself be sad. I accepted it. I said, “I’m sad and that’s ok”. Funny thing was, I felt it come, I let it come, and then I felt it pass. And then I was ok. I decided to let myself FEEL my emotions whenever they struck. Since I’ve allowed myself to do this, I’ve gotten over moods noticeably quicker and I’ve come to realizations and needed action steps noticeably quicker as well. I’ve made difficult decisions and difficult changes from a place of acceptance, ease, and certainty.   When you allow yourself to feel, you allow yourself to process emotions. When you accept...

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The Secrets Of Sticking To New Habits

Posted by on Oct 22, 2013 in Cognitive Therapy, Mental Health | 0 comments

The Secrets Of Sticking To New Habits

Sometimes I get to the end of a day and find myself saying “Crap…I didn’t do any of the things I should have done today.”   Or, I get to the end of the week feeling agitated, on edge, or mopey and I say, “Why am I feeling this way?”   Well, the answer is simple! …   The things I am missing in these days and weeks are my “priority habits”.   What are these habits and why are they important?   Priority habits are activities you choose to do for the greater good of yourself. While they may not be entirely enjoyable all of the time, implementing them consistently over time will better your health, mental well-being, motivation, self-esteem and productivity.   Priority habits can involve anything that you believe would, over time, make you a “greater” version of yourself. For example, my priority habits revolve around exercise/physical activity, healthy eating and stress reduction activities such as meditation, yoga or stretching.   By calling them priority habits, you’re consistently reminded that these activities should be at the top of your list each day and will significantly contribute to a better life. How can you create priority habits?   Start by creating one priority habit:   When you create more than one new habit to follow, it can become overwhelming. The key is to create one small change that is barely different from your usual routine, making it almost impossible to skip.   At first, make the habit less than 3 minutes long:   Again, by making it quick, it’s less painful and you’re more likely to stick with it.   If you’re adding in exercise, do a few pushups and sit ups everyday for 3 minutes.   If you’re trying to eat healthier, wake up and drink a full glass of water each morning.   If you’re adding in meditation, meditate each morning you wake up for 3 minutes.   Create triggers for your habits:   Do your habit at the same time each day (right when you wake up, right when you get home for work, right before bed, etc). This more strongly drills the habit into your routine.   After one week of sticking to your new habit, if you’re noticing changes in how you feel and the habit is important to you, add a few more minutes to your routine.   OR   Keep it at 3 minutes and try adding in another important habit.   If you fall off the wagon when stepping it up, take it back down for another week or two.   If you keep falling off the wagon…well, keep getting back on! You didn’t choose these habits for no reason!   **The key with habits is to start small and slowly build up. You want to make it feel like your routine is hardly changing. **Habits generally take one month to stick – try not to get discouraged if you’re finding the first few weeks difficult – your mind is still warming up to the idea.   Helping hint: When deciding if you should do your habit, don’t give your mind time to think about it.   Often, when deciding if we should do our healthy habits, we give our mind too much time to decide not to. Of course the couch looks comfier and of course you don’t have time….blah blah blah…don’t even let your mind go there. Right when you have your habit trigger say “yes” and don’t look back. It’ll only take 3 minutes right?!   Need ideas?…   Priority Habit Ideas For 3 minutes… Each morning:...

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Quite Simply, The Easiest Way To Stop Chasing and Be Happier (BONUS step-by-step acceptance meditation included)

Posted by on Oct 18, 2013 in Mental Health, Mindfulness & Meditation | 0 comments

Quite Simply, The Easiest Way To Stop Chasing and Be Happier  (BONUS step-by-step acceptance meditation included)

I have heard that a crucial component of moving forward and being happy in the future is accepting and being happy with where you are now.   It makes sense… why do we expect, hope and dream to be happy in the future if we’re not capable of being happy with how our life is right now?   Yes, we can improve, change, make accomplishments and grow but how beautiful would it be to simply be happy in the present without hoping that better things will come.   Think of the accomplishments you’ve tackled.   Think of the wonderful times you’ve had.   Think of your loved ones and how blessed you are to have them.   And then after that, be excited for what is to come.   Every night I try to do a quick meditation before bed. The meditation I have found the most helpful focuses on being accepting and happy with how my life is right now.   This doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams or goals for the future…I definitely do and I believe it’s important to.   But accepting my life as it is and all that I’ve done does help me slow down, enjoy the present moment more and stop the constant chasing that’s so easy to get caught up in.   An acceptance relaxation meditation is very simple and you can learn how to do it too.   Your Quick Guide to a Nighttime Acceptance Meditation Do your usual nighttime routine. Get all ready for bed. Turn off your phone. Relax into your bed. Feel your body get heavy and feel the warmth and comfort. You’re  lucky to have a warm bed and time to rest and rejuvenate. Put your hands on your belly. Start to take long, slow, comfortable breaths. Feel your tummy rise and fall. Repeat these affirmations while taking long breaths in and out: “I am happy with how my life is at this present moment.” “I have accomplished great things and I am proud of my life.” “I accept my path so far. Everything happens for a reason, this is my journey.” “I am relaxing my body. I feel relaxed and peaceful.” “I am happy in this moment.”   You can change up the affirmations to anything that speaks or connects to you.   Remember, you may have things you want to change in your life but true change starts when you can first accept yourself as you are.   If you fail to accept your current state, you may fall into a rat race of always wanting more and always needing change.   Taking 3 minutes per night to do this quick exercise can help you feel happier in your present situations.   A happier you now is a great starting point to a happier you in the future.   Have a peaceful night,   Shawna 🙂...

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