Tag Archives: vacation

Transform from a worrier to a warrior!

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Do you have an upcoming vacation you’re looking forward to? As welcoming as this break may be are you also worrying about the work, planning, and organizing that must be done before you get to plunge deep into the fun and freedom a vacation promises?

Maybe your life is on the other side of this coin. Rather than looking forward to a good moment in life perhaps you’ve recently received some unwelcome news that has you on edge. Maybe you are worrying about the unfortunate change in your physical or financial health or a shift in an important relationship.

Whether you are presently in a good swing of life right now or facing some challenges that could send you spiraling down is worry a constant companion? Are you a worrier?

canstockphoto13026221For many people, worrying is one of the habits they use in an attempt to get the illusion of control in their lives. And if worry leads a person to take necessary and effective action, then by all means continue this  strategy.

But for many people worrying may not lead to further action. Instead the person is worrying, while simultaneously wishing and hoping for the best. Too often the result for this person is increased stress, upset and tension.

My mother was a champion worrier. She worried about her children all day long who walked to and from school (this was long before helicopter parenting). She worried about adequately preparing and packing for our family camping trips. She worried about the health and well being of every member of the family. In fact, she worried so much that I began to believe that her worry was a protective shield over me. This realization came to me after my mother died and I was aware I no longer had her worry to keep me safe. For Mom, worrying was one way she let us know she loved us.

If you are a worrier consider transforming into a warrior instead!  News flash: there is a great deal in life that is out of your control. This means there is a great deal that you could worry about. What if you decided to fully embrace those things in life over which you do have control?What if you decide to face life’s unknowns, including the potential disasters, chaos and hardships as a spiritual warrior? 

A spiritual warrior, according to one definition, is a person who gains mastery over oneself. Imagine waking up each day feeling fearless, strong, and ready to persevere with all the necessary and effective action you can take for the best outcome you desire. Now that you have done what you can, as a spiritual warrior you release the need to control the outcome.

If you are a worrier, let today be the day you experiment for improved Mental Health & Happiness. Just for today practice the actions, thoughts, and feelings of a Spiritual Warrior every time you face your well honed opponent: your habitual worry. The more you practice transforming from a worrier into a warrior, the easier this will become. Eventually your mental Health & Happiness will also improve.

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.

Frequency Not Intensity

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Did you know that the more frequently you notice and indulge in a positive experience you will have a greater sense of happiness and well being than if you wait for one big or intense experience?  At least that’s what psychologist Ed Deiner who has done extensive research on Subjective Well Being (SWB) has found.

This has interesting implications, don’t you think?

For those of you who may be keeping your “nose to the grind stone” while pushing, working and slaving away hoping to make up for the heavy duty focus during your annual week’s vacation, it may be time to rethink this strategy.

For parents or teachers who are insistent that your child (at what ever age) stop their foolishness and start concentrating on serious work, it may be time to start giving your child different advice.

And for those of you who may have learned about some of the seemingly silly games and distractions found at places like Google, perhaps we can all follow this different kind of a lead.

We can each increase our Mental Health & Happiness by planning for frequent moments of positive experiences throughout our day.

canstockphoto7428668Instead of working hard fifty weeks a year hoping to make up for it with your two week vacation, sprinkle in more joy, fun, and pleasure during the fifty weeks too.

Teachers and parents, schedule break times often during study hours. Include free dancing, juggling, water balloon battles and tongue twisters. Your child will have greater Mental Health & Happiness and will probably be more productive during the work and study time too.

And last but not least, start keeping track of all that you love, like, find fun and pleasurable. It’s hard to increase the frequency of pleasure and positive in your day and life if your only link is to positive is chocolate. I’m not saying don’t indulge your chocolate moments, but finding and making more positive and pleasure with more alternatives gives you more possibilities and greater chances of success.

Make today the day that includes many positive and pleasurable breaks! Watch how your Mental Health & Happiness increases.

My Conversion

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

It was going to be a glorious vacation starting by renting an RV in Phoenix, then traveling to the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park, we would camp, hike and experience the wide, wild western part of our country. Our plan was to head back to Phoenix and return home two weeks later.

Three weeks later my husband, 9-year old twin sons and I were safely back in Rhode Island. We had lots of glorious photographs and fantastic memories. The only problem was my vacation included utter terror and abject fear. Did you know that there are no guard rails on the winding, steep high ways through the glorious National Parks of the Grand Canyon and Zion? Did you know that sitting in the front passenger seat of an RV means you are sitting in an incredible tall place where you can look down into the sheer drop so easily visible? Did you know that I am a very imaginative person who spent too many hours visualizing the mis-calculations of my husband’s driving that would lead to the death and distraction of us all? I begged, pleaded, yelled and finally got on the floor of the RV pounding my fists and kicking my legs in a full blown temper tantrum asking him to PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE SLOW DOWN!!!!

Several years later we were planning another similar trip in and RV, this time to visit Glacier National Park in Montana. In addition to all the planning, organizing and arranging necessary for the trip, I was determined to change my terrorizing ways. After all, no one else experienced the same panic that I had. My challenge was to manage my fear without trying to manage my husband who was a perfectly safe and competent driver. But how? I considered medication, but did not want to feel foggy, dopey and out of it for our family vacation. Then I remembered what I knew about behavior, and total behavior.

Our behavior includes acting/thinking/feeling/physiology-ing. These four component work in harmony and simultaneously. I also knew from my nursing background that the physiology-ing of fear is the same as the physiology-ing of excitement. The difference between these two total behaviors is the thinking component. Yes! I needed to change the imaginative story I was telling myself.

I practiced for weeks before our flight west to Montana. We’re going on an exciting adventure that will include new experiences and sights! I’m so excited! This became my mantra whenever I thought of our trip, whether I was telling the story to someone else or thinking and planning on my own. Once we got into the RV and started driving on the first highway, I changed what I told myself slightly. We are on our great adventure. I can’t wait for all the new experiences and sights! This is exciting! Every evening I wrote all I had experienced, seen and been excited about in my gratitude journal. I repeated this mantra as many times as I got “nervous” instead of excited. I repeated this every time I say or did anything exciting. I repeated this mantra frequently and often. I was having a great adventure.

Success! Taking control of changing the story I told myself allowed me to convert my terror and panic. I genuinely enjoyed a family vacation which was a great adventure, filled with excitement, extraordinary sights and wonderful family fun and experiences.