by Keir Brady | Oct 27, 2022 | Individuals
Anxiety and panic can seem to happen out of the blue. A rush of adrenaline occurs and your thoughts take over. These thoughts can be very hard to stop, once they start. You can begin to feel disconnected from yourself and everything around you. In order to get out of your head and get back into the present moment, you can try a grounding technique.
Grounding techniques are strategies you can use to help bring you back into the present moment. These techniques can reconnect you to yourself, your body, and the current time and place. Grounding techniques are used to get you out of your head and the focus on the past or the future, and to bring you back to the here and now. These tools can lessen the fight, flight, or freeze response and enable you to calm down. Anything that allows you to focus on the present moment can be a grounding technique. Having several of these techniques to use can be beneficial in a variety of different situations.
When To Use Them
Any time you are in your head too much, is a good time to use a grounding technique. These strategies can be used to calm down anxiety and even stop a panic attack from becoming overwhelming. If you have symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and flashbacks or negative thoughts become problematic, grounding techniques can help you refocus your attention on what is going on around you instead. Grounding tools can be used to keep you attuned to the present situation if you are likely to dissociate. Below are some grounding techniques you can try if anxiety or PTSD are an issue.
The easiest way to practice mindfulness is to engage all of your senses with whatever you are currently doing. If you are washing the dishes, notice the temperature of the water and how it feels. Breathe in and notice what you smell. Pay attention to what the running water sounds like. When you eat dinner, notice the smells and savor the taste. If your mind begins to wander, gently bring your focus back to your senses. This helps you notice the external sensations, which can help quiet the internal thoughts.
Along with mindfulness, you can practice the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. This tool requires you to name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. It doesn’t matter what order you do it in. For instance, if you are eating dinner, you may want to start with 5 things you can taste, and 4 things you can smell. You can say these things out loud or in your head. This is another way to use mindfulness to ground yourself in the present moment.
Pay Attention To Your Breath
Paying attention to your breath is another way to ground yourself in the moment. You can start by simply noticing your breath and whether it is fast or slow, shallow or deep. When you start noticing your breath, it will most likely begin to slow down and regulate. You can also practice diaphragmatic breathing. To do this you want to breathe in for 3 and expand your stomach as you breathe in. On the exhale, contract your stomach and breath out for 7. You can exaggerate the out breath, as the out breath is what helps calm you down.
Exercising can help orient you to your body in the moment. You can walk, run, swim, ride your bike, take an exercise class, practice yoga, or simply do some light stretches. Moving your body helps get you out of your head and back into the present moment. If you are unable to exercise when you are feeling anxious, you can try to balance on one foot, or just stand up and notice how your legs and back are supporting you.
Some other grounding techniques you can try include, holding an ice cube and noticing what it is like and what is happening as it melts from the warmth of your hand. Drinking something really hot or very cold and paying attention to the sensation. Listening to your favorite music, coloring, playing a game, laughing with your friends, and cuddling your pet are all ways that you can ground yourself in the present moment.
If you are experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, or PTSD and are having a hard time feeling connected to the present, try some of the grounding techniques above. These techniques can be used to keep your thoughts from taking over. If you try these techniques and are still struggling, therapy can help. When you are able to ground yourself in the present moment, symptoms of anxiety and PTSD can decrease.
by Keir Brady | Jul 26, 2022 | Individuals
When struggling with depression, the simplest tasks can feel overwhelming. What was once easy to do, can now seem impossible. Motivation can be lacking and you may not even know where to begin. While increasing motivation when you are dealing with depression can seem difficult, there are things that you can do that can help.
Depression And Motivation
There is a link between experiencing symptoms of depression and a lack of motivation. Symptoms of depressionSymptoms of depression often include feeling down or sad, having low energy, feelings of hopelessness, and difficulty concentrating or making decisions. A common symptom of depression is losing interest in activities that you once enjoyed. If you experience depression, you may notice a sharp decrease in your motivation, as tasks that were once easy become nearly impossible to do. Below are some tips to help you increase your motivation when you are depressed.
Get Ready For The Day
Wake up at the same time every day and dress and get ready for the day. Even if you have nowhere to be. The simple act of dressing gets your brain out of sleep mode and into work mode. Instead of staying in your pajamas on Saturday morning, get up and get dressed. This can help increase your motivation as you will be ready to go and achieve.
Practice self-care on a daily basis to help increase motivation. Self-care includes eating well-balanced meals, getting the proper amount of sleep, exercising, and bathing and grooming. Create a daily routine that allows you to accomplish tasks and rest and relax. Take a walk around the lake, go for a bike ride, or snuggle with your pet. Taking care of yourself enables you to feel good, which can help you become more motivated to accomplish other things.
Practicing mindfulness can help increase motivation. Mindfulness refers to being present and engaged in the current moment without judgment. When you practice mindfulness, you can focus on what you are doing instead of overthinking things or judging yourself negatively. To practice mindfulness, pay attention to what you can see, smell, hear, touch, and taste. If your thoughts begin to wander, bring yourself back to your senses and what you are doing.
Spending time with others when you are experiencing depression, can help you feel less lonely and more supported, which can help improve your motivation. Doing things with others can make the task more enjoyable. As you socialize and interact with close friends and family members, accomplishing your goals becomes easier and more fun. Being with others can help you find the motivation you have been lacking to work towards your goals.
Change Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk can lead to a lack of motivation. If you are constantly telling yourself that you can’t do something, it will be hard to even try. Telling yourself that what you do doesn’t matter, or that it won’t be good enough can make you give up before you even start. Changing your negative self-talk to something that is accurate, but kind, can increase your motivation. For instance, If you are telling yourself you will never get it right, change it to, you can try your best and make adjustments as needed. Making your self-talk more positive can help improve your motivation.
Break Down Your Goals
When you are struggling with motivation, your goals can seem overwhelming. Breaking them down to the first smallest task that you can do towards meeting your goals can make them seem more manageable. If you want to find a new job, all the things that you have to do to get a new job can stop you from even beginning to look. Instead of worrying about everything this entails, perhaps you can set a goal to update your resume. Writing out a to-do list with smaller tasks, and crossing off the tasks when they are completed, can increase your motivation as you notice how much you are accomplishing.
Spend 5 minutes On A Task
If motivation has been lacking, it can be difficult to even start something. In order to get started, set a timer for 5 minutes and tell yourself that you can stop after the timer goes off. When the timer goes off, you can either stop, or you can continue to work for another 5 minutes. This way, the task only needs to be worked on for a short period of time. Once you start, it is often easier to continue. However, your brain is less likely to focus on how overwhelming it is, since you only have to work on it for a short period of time.
Rewarding yourself often and immediately following a task can help increase your motivation. It is better for your motivation to reward yourself after you accomplish each task, instead of waiting until you complete the entire goal. Rewarding yourself immediately after completing a task increases the positive experience of the task, making you more likely to want to continue. When you reward yourself, your brain releases dopamine, which increases feelings of pleasure and decreases symptoms of depression.
If you are depressed and experiencing a lack of motivation, try some of the suggestions above. A lack of motivation doesn’t have to keep you from working towards your goals. If you are still struggling, counseling can help. Once you are able to increase your motivation, symptoms of depression may decrease as well.
by Keir Brady | Apr 20, 2022 | Individuals
Engaging in meditation on a regular basis can help you decrease stress and increase focus. It is about calming your mind and can be defined as a mental exercise that involves focus, awareness, and relaxation. Meditation helps you to train your brain to be still and quiet and has been shown to have a positive effect on your psychological well-being. Below are seven meditation benefits that you can experience when you begin to meditate on a weekly basis.
1. Decreases Stress
The world you live in can be very stressful. It can seem as though you always have a lot to do, and not enough time to do it. Stress can have a negative effect on your physical health and emotional well-being. Practicing meditation can help you manage stress better. Mindfulness meditation, provides the space to acknowledge and prioritize the demands on your time so you can take care of what is important and let go of the rest. Without the space and clarity provided through this type of practice, stress can feel overwhelming. When you meditate, you are able to better organize your thoughts and emotions, so you can more effectively manage stress.
2. Decreases Anxiety
Meditation can also help decrease anxiety. Although anxiety and stress can share many physical and emotional symptoms, they are not the same. Stress is a response to an external cause, whereas anxiety is an internal reaction to stress. It is characterized by constant worry and a feeling of dread about the future. While stress and anxiety are both a part of the fight, flight, or freeze response, stress is a short-term issue, while anxiety can persist for some time. Meditation can help quiet the mind and relax the body. This helps ease both the emotional and physical symptoms of anxiety. Since mindfulness engages the parasympathetic nervous system, the central nervous system calms down and your body and mind begin to rest and digest.
3. Improves Focus
Meditation can help you improve your focus and your memory. Practicing focused meditation requires you to intently focus on one thing. This can be a word, sound, picture, or your breath. Instead of clearing your mind, you pay attention to what you are focusing on, ignoring other thoughts and distractions. Focused meditation can help improve your attention for longer periods of time. It then becomes easier to block out distractions and enhances short term memory.
4. Increases Compassion
Compassion can increase through the use of meditation. Loving kindness meditation is specifically designed to increase compassion, empathy, and sympathy to all who are suffering. It also increases the desire to want to ease this suffering. Loving kindness can increase positive feelings and decrease any negative emotions you may be experiencing. It can activate empathy and emotional processing in the brain and increase gray matter. The increased compassion that you experience for others using this type of meditation can also be directed toward yourself.
5. Improves Symptoms of Depression
Depression is a mood disorder that can cause a deep feeling of intense sadness and a loss of interest in activities, even those that used to bring you joy. Mindfulness can help improve symptoms of depression. By learning how to be present in the moment and aware of how you are feeling without becoming overly attached to negative emotions, feelings of depression can decrease and become less impactful. Meditation can help you change the way you think about sadness and other difficult emotions as well.
6. Enhances Relationships
Relationships can improve through a regular and consistent meditation practice. Meditation helps you regulate your mood and it can improve compassion and empathy. These things are helpful to relationships and can enable you to gain a deeper understanding and connection to your partner. The awareness that you gain through this practice can help you notice unhealthy patterns. This way you can choose to respond differently and change the unhealthy relationship pattern. Relationships also benefit from the increased levels of acceptance that a consistent meditation practice provides. It helps you better understand yourself, which then helps you better understand others.
7. Improves Self-Esteem
Not only does meditation help your relationship with others, it also helps improve your relationship with yourself, leading to increased self-esteem. Meditation enables you to notice your thoughts and feelings without attaching to them. This gives you the opportunity to observe how fleeting thoughts and feelings can be. You can then begin to know yourself on a deeper level. Loving kindness meditation can help increase self-compassion and decrease self-judgment. When it is practiced consistently, it becomes easier to ignore negative self-talk and focus on the positive instead.
These are just some of the benefits that you can expect from practicing meditation on a regular basis. While meditation may not be able to fix everything, it can help improve your overall emotional well-being. Once you start experiencing the benefits, you will want to include meditation in your weekly self-care routine.
by Keir Brady | Dec 17, 2021 | Individuals
The holidays are traditionally a time to spend with family and friends, and can be especially difficult for those who experienced the death of someone dear to them. While others are excited for the season to begin, if you experienced a loss, you may feel like avoiding the holidays instead of celebrating. This can be true whether your loss was more recent or a long time ago. Feelings of sadness and pain can be heightened during this time and memories of the loss of your loved one can be strong. Although the holidays can be difficult when you’ve lost someone close to you, there are some things that you can do to help you cope with grief during the holidays.
1. Ask For Help
The holidays can be a busy time. There is often a lot that needs to be done and it can feel overwhelming when you are grieving. This can be a good time to ask others for help. Reach out to family and friends and let them know you need help getting things done. Most people want to help, but just don’t know how. If you experienced a recent loss and it is too difficult to even figure out what you need, ask someone to be in charge of coordinating help. You don’t have to do everything alone. Reaching out to others also keeps you from isolating too much. Asking for help is one way to cope with grief during the holidays.
2. Say No
During the holidays, you probably have a busy social calendar and many obligations. Although others may expect you to do all of the things that you always do at this time of year, it will be important to say no. Grief is hard and requires a lot of time and energy. You never know when the intense feelings may surface and demand your attention. Saying no to things that you really don’t want to do will free up your time so you can focus on processing your grief. Self-care is not selfish, it is necessary.
3. Continue Important Traditions
Continuing meaningful traditions during the holidays can keep you connected to your loved one. These traditions allow you to recall happy times and fond memories of your loved one. You can make a dessert that they always made, or that was special to them. Listen to their favorite music, light a candle with one of their favorite scents, or read the holiday book that they would read. Continuing traditions that they enjoyed can be comforting to you, and can help you cope with your grief during the holidays.
4. Create New Traditions
While continuing important traditions can be helpful, creating new traditions can be meaningful as well. New traditions can help ease the pain of spending the holidays without your loved one. They can help you create a new normal that enables you to make new memories going forward. If some of your usual traditions are too painful this year, establish some new traditions to help you get through the holiday season. These new traditions may end up becoming just as important as the old ones.
5. Feel Your Feelings
With the focus on family and togetherness, the pain associated with your loss can be felt viscerally. You may be overcome with grief, even if your loved one has been gone for some time. When this happens, it is important to let yourself feel your feelings. Although it is normal to want to push them away so you can end the pain, your feelings need to be processed and you can’t do that unless you feel them. Find a quiet place, name the feeling you are experiencing, and notice where it is in your body. Then just sit with it and allow it to be. Feeling your feelings is a healthy way to cope with grief during the holidays.
6. Use Your Coping Skills
Effective coping skills will be very useful to you as you grieve during the holidays. Write out a list of coping skills that have helped you in the past and keep them with you. Breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing, box breathing, or just noticing your breath and breathing out longer than you breathe in, are naturally calming. Exercising, journaling, meditation, tapping and yoga are all good coping strategies. Have an exit plan for social gatherings and a code word you can use with a trusted friend for when you need some space.
7. Be Gentle With Yourself
Remember that you are grieving and be gentle with yourself. If you usually host the holiday festivities, but aren’t up for it this year, it is okay. Know your limits and respect them. Take a break if you need it. If you find yourself happy or laughing, it doesn’t mean that you don’t miss your loved one. Whether you find yourself feeling good or bad, be gentle and kind with yourself and your experience. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Being gentle with yourself can you cope with your grief during the holidays.
8. Honor Your Loved One
Find a way to honor your loved one during the holiday season. Honoring your loved one keeps them with you during the holidays. There are many ways that you can do this. You can set a place at the table that remains empty, as it is meant for your loved one. Volunteering in their name or giving gifts to those less fortunate from your loved one, are some other ways to honor them. Spreading holiday cheer through random acts of kindness in their memory can bring joy to others and help you feel good as well.
While the holidays are not easy when you are grieving, they can be more manageable. Try following the above tips if you are dealing with grief during this holiday season. If you are still struggling to get through, therapy can help. Remember, grief is a normal response to a significant loss that can be very strong during the holiday season.
by Keir Brady | Oct 13, 2021 | Individuals
Dissociation is quite common. Tuning out from boredom, or not remembering a conversation that was uninteresting, are some typical ways you might dissociate. However, sometimes it can occur often and become problematic, especially after experiencing a traumatic event. When this happens, you might develop a dissociative disorder that can have a negative impact on your daily life. Read on to learn more about dissociation and what you can do about it.
What Is Dissociation
Dissociation refers to someone disconnecting from their thoughts, emotions, memories, surroundings, or sense of self. Everyone dissociates at times. It can be described as zoning out, such as when you arrive home, but can’t remember the drive, or when you reread the same sentence over and over again because your mind was elsewhere. When you dissociate, you often lose your sense of person, time or place. There are mild forms of dissociation, like spacing out when you are bored, or more severe forms, such as emotional numbness that can occur after a traumatic experience. With complex or severe trauma, a dissociative disorder can develop requiring professional treatment.
Why Does Dissociation Occur
Dissociation is often linked to a traumatic event. When a situation overwhelms your capacity to cope, your brain protects you by enabling you to disconnect from this experience. This makes it easier to cope with the feelings of fear, helplessness, or pain. It is a part of the freeze response in the fight-flight-or freeze response system. The shut down helps protect you from the trauma you are going through so you can survive. Although dissociation can be helpful in times of increased stress, with experiences of trauma, the brain often remains on high alert. This can cause it to occur even in benign situations.
What Are The Common Types Of Dissociation
The most extreme form of dissociation, dissociative identity disorder, where someone experiences two or more distinct personalities, is extremely rare. Depersonalization, derealization and dissociative amnesia are more common types of dissociation. In dissociative amnesia, you are unable to remember things about yourself, a period of time, event, or even your own identity. Dissociative amnesia can last from a few minutes to several years. Depersonalization feels as though you are having an out of body experience. It is common to feel detached from yourself as if you are watching what is happening from outside of your body. With derealization, you may feel as though the things and people around you are not real.
What Are The Symptoms Of Dissociation
One of the most common symptoms of dissociation is zoning out. Feeling disconnected from your body or numb to your emotions is another common symptom. Memory loss, daydreaming, and having flashbacks are all symptoms of dissociation. A more extreme symptom is losing touch with reality. Most people will experience mild forms of dissociation at times. However, dissociation can become problematic if it interferes with your ability to function effectively in one or more areas of your life. If this happens, a dissociative disorder may have developed and treatment will be needed.
Treatments For Dissociation
A combination of medication and psychotherapy is used to treat dissociative disorders. There are also some techniques you can try. Grounding techniques can help you reconnect with your body and can bring you back to the present. To ground yourself, you want to engage your senses. Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. You can drink something hot or cold, or hold an ice cube in your hand and pay attention to the sensation as it slowly melts. A technique called box breathing can also be helpful. For this technique, you slowly breathe in through your nose for a count of 4. Next, you hold your breath for 4. Then you slowly exhale for 4. Finally, you hold your exhale for 4 and repeat the cycle over again.
While mild dissociation is very common and generally not an issue, dissociation related to trauma can be difficult to overcome on your own. If dissociation is interfering with your ability to function effectively, therapy can help. Then you can learn to manage it so it no longer has a negative impact on your life.
by Keir Brady | Aug 4, 2021 | Individuals
Practicing gratitude on a regular basis is good for you. Gratitude has been linked to better physical health, stronger interpersonal relationships, and improved self-esteem and emotional well-being. By focusing on the good, you not only decrease negative feelings, you also experience more positive emotions. If you want to increase feelings of happiness and joy, a regular gratitude practice such as keeping a gratitude journal is a good idea.
What Does Gratitude Mean
Gratitude refers to noticing and expressing appreciation for all the good in your life. Instead of focusing on the negative, and the things that you don’t like, practicing gratitude requires you to focus on the positive, and the things you appreciate. Since it is natural for your brain to assess every situation you are in for danger, and to dwell on the negative in order to keep you alive, purposely focusing on what is going well can have a number of noticeable benefits. In fact, practicing gratitude on a regular basis can be very good for you. It can have a positive effect on your relationships and your physical and emotional well-being.
Practicing Gratitude Improves Self-Esteem
Practicing gratitude can improve your self-esteem. When you practice gratitude on a regular basis, your focus shifts to what is good. Instead of noticing what isn’t going well, how you don’t measure up to others, or the things you dislike, you begin to notice what you like and enjoy. This positive outlook enables you to be more aware of your own positive qualities as well. It is harder to be unkind to yourself when you are paying attention to all of your blessings. By focusing on all of the good things in your own life, you are less likely to compare yourself negatively to others. Practicing gratitude creates a more positive mindset that can enhance your self-esteem and overall happiness.
Practicing Gratitude Strengthens Relationships
Relationships can strengthen when you sustain a regular gratitude practice. Practicing gratitude can help your relationships improve because it encourages you to focus on the positive traits of the people in your life. This includes your friends, family, and partner. Remembering what you appreciate about the important people in your life can decrease arguments and improve your emotional connection. If you practice gratitude, you are less likely to be critical of your family members, and more likely to thank them for their efforts. Since it feels good to both give and receive appreciation, when you share your gratitude in your relationships, your loved ones are more likely to reciprocate as well.
Practicing Gratitude Enhances Optimism
Engaging in a regular gratitude practice can make you more optimistic. This is due to the fact that gratitude is about looking for the positives in your life. As you notice all of the good in your life, you begin to anticipate more positives in your future. Practicing gratitude releases the feel good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. This helps you experience and sustain good feelings and creates a positive feedback loop. The more you practice gratitude, the better you feel and the more optimistic you become. This makes you want to continue to practice gratitude.
Practicing Gratitude Improves Physical Health
Gratitude can also improve your physical health. Some studies found that practicing gratitude can improve sleep, improve cardiovascular health, and decrease general aches and pains. People who practice gratitude report having a healthier lifestyle. They also report exercising regularly. Those who practice gratitude are also more likely to attend their yearly physicals and to follow the advice of their doctor.
Practicing Gratitude Improves Emotional Health
Along with your physical health, a regular gratitude practice can also improve your emotional well-being. When you are feeling stressed or worried, the stress hormone cortisol is released. Practicing gratitude not only releases the feel good hormones, but it also decreases the release of cortisol. While it is not enough to treat mental health issues, practicing gratitude can improve feelings of happiness and contentment. Those who consistently practice gratitude are less likely to compare themselves to others. This reduces negative emotions such as envy, resentment, and regret.
If you want to improve your overall emotional well-being, it’s a good idea to practice gratitude on a regular basis. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to do this. My new book, A Year of Gratitude Journal, will be released on August 10 and can be preordered on Amazon by following this link. The book provides 52 weeks of writing prompts, exercises, and quotes and affirmations to help you cultivate a weekly gratitude practice for a year of positivity and joy.