Tag Archives: safety

The need to understand cause and effect

Dr. Ken Larsen

When I entered Dental School in 1961 the dental profession was not able to meet the needs of our population.  Dental disease (tooth decay and gum disease) were progressing more rapidly than the ability of the profession to repair the damage.

The lightbulb came on as many of us started to think about, talk about and work toward understanding the causes of dental disease so we could get ahead of the problem by preventing the disease.  How many dentists does it take to treat a disease that has been prevented?

As a profession, we shifted our focus from chasing the effects of disease, to understanding and dealing with the causes.

People still suffered from dental disease, but more and more people began to understand that disease was optional, not inevitable. 

cause-effectThe key, of course, was to understand and control the causes of the disease.  This required new learning and changing behavior.

As you may have noticed, changing habitual behavior patterns is not easy.  Our efforts have largely paid off for those of our patients who accept their responsibility to learn to control the causes of their disease.

You may wonder why I’m talking about dental health in a blog about mental health.

Many of us are undergoing the shift from chasing mental illness to promoting mental health.  This involves working to understand what causes the loss of mental health and learning to change our behavior to follow more healthy patterns of living.

Some are telling us that changes in brain chemistry are what causes mental illness.  Some are looking more at the kinds of things we each can do to stay healthy, including learning and practicing more effective ways to live, love, and relate to one another. The research for the causes of mental diseases and illnesses continues.

However, the good news is that there is no need to wait in order to take immediate action and receive an immediate pay off for your personal Mental Health & Happiness.

Just like with your dental health, if you will accept personal responsibilities NOW by meeting your genetic needs for love, power, fun, freedom and safety, you will experience an immediate improvement in your Mental Health & Happiness.

Happily, there are now lots of ideas and suggestions to this end. Please read any and all of our blogs. Sign up and start receiving Mental Health & Happiness challenges for support and help. And there is even more readily available now on the world wide web.

 

Routines: A Comfort and Mind-Numbing

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Presently my life is undergoing a complete change. I feel as though I’m living in a snow globe that has been turned upside-down. Much is getting turned upright again, but the snow is still swirling about me attempting to settle into new patterns and routines. I’m about to start a new job and move into a new home. As a result my everyday routines are now completely altered and upended.

What are your daily patterns and routines? Do you go to bed about the same time every night? Is your morning ritual consistent? Chances are your answer is “yes.” We humans tend to create then follow the same routines and rituals in many aspects of our lives. These routines and habits help us to meet our need for safety and security, the psychological component of the basic need for survival. And these habits allow our brain to go on automatic so we don’t have to spend a lot of focused energy making a thoughtful choice at every turn during our days.

For instance there are probably many more habits and routines in your life than you are even aware of. Ever take a class and discover that the same students sit in the same seats week after week? This same pattern is evident at church or temple services, company trainings, meeting and workshops, and other similar times and places where the same people gather in the same places on more than one occasion. Choosing the same seat without making any kind of a conscious thought about this decision is what most people do to feel safer and more secure.

You probably park in the same general area when you visit your usual grocery store. Both the store and the parking spot is a habit you developed that saves you time and energy. You probably travel the same route and roads to and from your job. It is very rare that you consult a map or choose a different route unless some new construction is slowing down your travel.

At the same time these habits and routines help you meet your need for safety and security, they can become tedious and monotonous. In fact the joy and delight of taking a vacation or trip is the opportunity for a great adventure. Now you must get out of your routines and habits. During these times you actually are more alert, awake and fully  present in your “now” because you have to be. You are taking new roads, choosing new seats in new restaurants and theaters. You can’t allow your mind to click into auto pilot. Since everything is new your full attention is required.

But having everything new for too long a period of time can become overwhelming and stressful. I am in this very spot now. I’m craving the mundane, routine and habitual. And I’m fully confident that a month from now I will have found the rhythm in my new job. It may take a bit longer to get unpacked and settled in my new home. But I trust my desire for safety and security will lead me to eventually create the home where I feel settled and safe.

If your Mental health & Happiness is not at a pleasing or satisfying level for you give one of these alternatives a try for improvement:

  • Create more regular routines and habits. Just as following the same patterns and rituals can help settle and calm a baby, the same can happen for you. It is routines, habits and regular patterns that can help meet your need for safety and security. Emphasize these habits now to see if that improves your feelings of safety and security leading to improved Mental Health & Happiness
  • Change your regular habits and routines. If you always travel the same route to and from work, go a different way. If you always shop at the same grocery store, visit the same library, regularly eat at your favorite restaurant, go in search of a new grocery store (perhaps of a different ethnicity) visit a local independently owned book store instead of your library, and go in search of one more restaurants to become your next favorite. Or go on vacation, someplace you have never been before! It may just be time to get out of your comfort zone, stretch your feelings of safety and security, expand your adventures to meet your need for fun and learning! See if this improves your level of satisfaction and Mental Health & Happiness.

Use it or lose it!

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN                                                          

Are you interested in keeping your mind and thinking sharp? Then use it. Recent research tells us that frequent participation in problem solving and thinking games and activities will help us ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Want to maintain your physical strength and abilities? Then start exercising and keep at it. Amazingly our muscles will grow stronger as long as we are using them. Using them can include strength building exercises, playing sports, or completing activities of daily living.

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Do you want to remain a sexual person? This same principle applies. Use it or lose it. Engaging in sexual activities keeps your sexual desire alive. And when the desire and urge are present chances are that acts of romance will follow.

Now lets consider your happiness muscles. Are you using them frequently and regularly? If not you are bound to slowly lose them. Use it or lose it applies to your Mental Health & Happiness too.

Do you know any grumpy people? Sadly there are more peevish older people than those of other ages. But being irritable and crotchety is not reserved exclusively for the elderly. Anyone who is not exercising, using and working out their happiness muscles is in great peril of becoming ill-tempered and churlish.

Rather than waiting for the research to confirm this idea, understand NOW that if you don’t practice strengthening, endurance and flexibility in developing your happiness muscles you will lose them.

Choose to meet your needs for safety, fun, love & belonging, power and freedom every day in responsible and respectful ways. Exercise your happiness muscles in the following ways:

smiling    producing    giving thanks   journaling   relaxing being mindful   creating       being in sunshine   exercising  physically   sleeping     healthy eating     socializing     volunteering   meditating                                                          

What do you do everyday to improve your personal well-being?

Remember if you don’t use it you’ll lose it!              

Fears and Courage

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Dance like nobody’s watching
Love like you’ve never been hurt
Sing like nobody’s listening
Live like it’s Heaven on earth

Chances are good that there is something in your life that you would love to do but you’re just too afraid. Perhaps you really want to go to the beach but are afraid to be seen in your swimsuit. Or maybe you want to finally pursue running for a political office but talk yourself out of this action, claiming your’e just being arrogant. Or maybe it’s something more modest, like asking the person you’d like to get to know better to join you for coffee, but you fear rejection.

One of the reasons the above is such a popular poster is because it speaks to the fear we all feel. There are very few among us who do not feel held back in one area or another in life because of fears.

Our fear is actually biologically based. The amygdala in an old part of our brain deve- loped to scare us into staying safe, avoiding risks, dangers or potential adventures. Why? The basic need for survival means we stay safe, secure and alive, at least long enough to procreate so the species will survive. (Remember we’re talking biology here.)

However, the need for freedom and fun/learning comes from the newer part of our brain. These drives contribute to learning, adventuring, and expanding beyond what is known and safe with amazing outcomes for the species and for each person individually. Leaving the comfort of your home enabled you to meet more and different people. You may have discovered how to fly without an airplane by risking down-hill skiing or sailing. And all of our technological advances resulted from brave and courageous people going beyond the boundary of what is safe, secure and known. (Remember the stories you learned about scientist whose ideas were/are criticized for pushing beyond what was/is known?)

Do you consider yourself a courageous person? Being courageous does not mean being fearless. Courage means taking action, stepping forward and speaking up in spite of feeling afraid!

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Whether you consider yourself courageous or not, the fact is that you are courageos!
How do I know? Because you could not be living as long as you are, changing, growing and developing to where you are now, without taking risks, accepting adventures and going beyond your previous boundaries. Yes, you may have been frightened. But despite the fear you did it anyway. Remember this the next time you feel too frightened to do something new. You are a successful, courageous adventurer already!

Start improving your Mental Health & Happiness today by taking a risk, accepting the next challenge, stepping into the unknown even though you feel afraid. Change the story in your head convincing you that:

you can’t do it, he/she/they won’t like you
you’re not good enough you might fail.

Start telling your self new stories like:

YOU CAN DO IT! YOU’LL LIKE YOU BETTER IF YOU TAKE A CHANCE!
FAILING ONLY COMES FROM NOT TRYING! GO FOR IT!
WHAT A GREAT ADVENTURE!

At first, you may need to counter balance your fearful thoughts with the new, bold thoughts. When you practice enough, you will start replacing the fearful with the courageous more automatically.

Improving your Mental Health & Happiness means you will be:

Dancing whether anyone is watching or not
Loving ferociously and fearlessly
Singing while you listen to your beauty
Living in Heaven here on Earth

Driving to Mental Health

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

At his point in my life, I figure I have been a passenger with at least 100 different drivers. Some are happy and entertaining while they maneuver through traffic. Some are conscientious, safe and good drivers. I only have to apply the imaginary brakes on my side of the passenger seat on rare occasions with very few.

canstockphoto0012473What I find the most astounding, however, is the large number of drivers who are outraged by other drivers. Without hesitation some drivers let fury, scorn and abuse fly at the other drivers sharing their road and route. I am amazed at their level of hostility, anger and scathing opinions they have of these other drivers. Most of these folks are family members or dear and close friends. This aspect of their personality only comes out when they are driving. I would wonder, How can this dear person allow other people’s driving to dictate her feelings, mood, and happiness? 

That is until I moved to a new region of the country. I have now become one of those unhappy, impatient, and screaming drivers. The common courtesy and rules of the road that I practiced in New England are not the same in the Rocky Mountains. Too often I find myself arriving at my destination furious and blustering about the other incompetent drivers on the road. “Don’t people know how to drive in this state?” I complain but no one seems to sympathize with me.

I also realized sound just like my brother-in-law did when he moved from New Jersey complaining about all of the incompetent drivers in Rhode Island. At the time I thought he was nuts. Now I’m becoming the same nut! And Jack has since moved to Georgia where he is complaining about how poorly people drive in that state too!

I have been recently reading my niece’s Facebook entries. She lives in South Carolina and has made the conscious choice not to drive a car but to use her bicycle instead. And she is bitterly complaining about the dangers and cavalier attitude of drivers toward bicyclists! This became my final straw.

In order to improve my own Mental Health & Happiness, I’m changing my ways. I know for sure that I cannot change the way other drivers drive, or cyclists ride, or pedestrians walk. I can only control myself. It is time I followed my own advice.

When I look for the other drivers who are driving cooperatively, safely, and considerately I always find them.

I’ve started a new habit. Every time I get behind the wheel, before I start driving, I thank my fellow drivers for driving cooperatively, safely and considerately. I vow to do the same. Let’s work together to arrive at our personal destinations safely and filled with love. 

So far I have been amazed how much more considerately, safely and cooperatively the other drivers have become!

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