By Debbie Crinzi
For a driver, bright lights are helpful to illuminate the road so it stands out clearly on dark nights. Road debris can be avoided. You can see details much better with your brights. Use these lights when you don’t have a clear map for where you are going and when you sense anxiety rising. You also need them when feelings plummet and your body is tired—when emotions cloud your mind.
In the last blog we talked about turning the bright lights on. This involved relaxing your body and calming your mind. The truth is that our mind becomes our worst enemy. When problems arise, the mind creates a lot of chaos trying to out-think the problem. In order to hear even ourselves, we have to quiet the mind all the stories we are creating that increase anxiety and despair. We turn our lights on by relaxing our facial muscles, neck, shoulders, arms and hands. We concentrate on our breath – breathing in and out — until only the breathing in and out occupies our brain. When sneaky thoughts filter back, set them aside and go back to focused breath. After you are able to concentrate on your breath despite stray thoughts distracting you, it is time for the next step. Now bring into your thoughts something beautiful and meaningful.
Step Two involves switching lights into brighter lights by reminding yourself that you have much to appreciate and be thankful for. Your worries are just one piece of a whole life. Take your calmed mind and focus on something beautiful or peaceful. For some people it is the image of the object of religious worship; for others, it will be a close person or a pet who is special to them; for yet others, perhaps a place such as a personal garden, the ocean or the mountains – a place representing joy and beauty. For someone else it will be saying an inspirational chant, prayer, song, or poem.
Which is it for you? Take some time right now. Choose something that makes you happy. Relive the experience in your mind, dwelling upon the things that make you smile. Acknowledge these positive memories. Surround yourself with them. Again, you are in charge of your mind. If sneaky, anxious thoughts creep in, consciously set them aside and go back to these joyful memories.
Until you take charge of your thoughts, it is difficult to think rationally without strong emotion tearing you down. You need this time of calming, then of rejoicing, before you are ready to listen to yourself reflect and work out issues and concerns. So take the time. Remember, controlling your mind instead of allowing it to control you is a habit that only occurs through practice. You don’t need to wait for crises to rain down upon you to practice. Take a moment each day to relax yourself, focus your mind on breath, and then fill your mind with happy experiences.
by Denise Daub
For the last week I have been admiring the fall foliage. I live in the Northeast and right now it is at it’s peak. Everyday this past week I have been wanting to go for a walk before beginning my work day…never happened, too much to do. The weather this weekend promised to be beautiful, so again I said “I will walk this weekend”… Saturday came and went, nope, too much to do. “I will walk tomorrow for sure”.. Sunday having my coffee, checking my email and my “To Do List” and then… “I have …too much to do”. Does any of this sound familiar?
There will always be “too much to do” so I finally said no more.. and went for my walk on Sunday, a beautiful clear cool morning. I usually take my ipod on my walks/runs, but I realized that today wasn’t about exercise. Although, that would be a wonderful consequence, it wasn’t what this walk was about. I needed some time to just be. When I exercise with my music, it motivates, inspires me and helps me to visualize what I want. I didn’t want to think about the future and thankfully, I didn’t think about the past either. I didn’t think about what I was going to do with the rest of my day or about what my work week was going to be like. I just walked and admired my surroundings. Instead of taking my ipod I took my phone and took pictures. At the top of the hill, I always stop. Funny, there is a stop sign there and whether a car or a person, you need to stop to and take it all in. The view is spectacular anytime of the year, winter, spring, summer and especially the fall. These pictures really don’t do it justice.
I had a wonderful walk, I didn’t work up a sweat and that was OK, that’s for another day….today I was working on my mental health.
By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN
What best describes you? Do you run from the fire or reach for the stars?
When you spend your time running from the fire the energy propelling you is sourced from fear and pain. You are attempting to avoid getting burned, or alleviate the pain and fear of more pain. In order to keep going on this path you need to keep “re-fearing” yourself by reminding yourself of what can and may happen. It is stress, fear, and a whole lot of negative energy detracting from your Mental Health & Happiness that’s propelling your action.
When you reach for the stars the energy propelling you comes from inspiration. This means you’ve identified what you really want, what your quality world picture or pictures are. You are driven with inspired energy. This doesn’t mean life is stress free but it does mean the energy is uplifting and hopeful, filled with possibilities of dreams coming true. This energy keeps you going, enhancing your Mental Health & Happiness.
Some say when setting your goals you should ask yourself if your goal is realistic. Hmm, seems like that question contains not only realism but also doubt and potential fears.
Imagine if Columbus had asked himself if his dream of finding a shorter sea path to the Orient was realistic. Imagine what Martin Luther King might have done differently if he had asked if his dream was realistic. Imagine what might have happened if Rosa Parks asked if sitting in the white section of the bus was a realistic or good idea. Had any one of these people been driven by their fear instead of their dream to reach for the stars our world would be very different.
Imagine how your life could change if you reached for your star, inspired by what you want rather than what is realistic. If you are willing to let dreams inspire you rather than relying on an internal energy to avoid fear, not only will your Mental Health & Happiness improve, you just might change the world too.