How to Break a Bad Habit

I am sure at some point in our lives we have all struggled with a habit that was difficult to overcome or let go. If you have been able to break up with your unwanted habit-congratulations! If you continue to struggle and cannot seem to let it go, check out this short TED Talk about a simple way of breaking a pattern. I like this talk in particular because it is a little different from what we usually do when we want to let go of an unwanted behavior or change a routine.

The psychiatrist, Judson Brewer, emphasizes the importance of mindfulness and how learning to be more in tune with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions can help you break your unwanted habit, addiction, or routine. I am sure you have heard about the benefits of mindfulness, such as learning to regulate your intense emotions, helping you overcome depression, anxiety, trauma, improve health and many other aspects in your life. What makes it even more worthwhile is that it also aims to help you break up with parts of your life that you are not completely satisfied with. 

If you have any questions or want to learn more about how to change your unwanted patterns, do not hesitate to contact one of us at The Centered Life! We will be more than happy to help you create a more mindful and meaningful life. 

Happy Monday, 

 

Aneta

How To Overcome Burnout

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I wanted to continue talking about burnout because I think it impacts all of us at some point in our lives. In my practice, I have seen many people trying to push through the exhaustion, which only causes them further emotional and physical damage. What is burnout once again? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” Now that we have a sense of what burnout is, I encourage you to assess if burnout could impact your life.

I put together a list of things that could help you in coping more effectively when feeling physically and mentally exhausted.

Seek social support. I cannot stress enough how important social support is when you feel that you are at your breaking point. When you are burned out, you may feel helpless and hopeless. Isolation will only make things worse, that is why I encourage you to seek support from others. I encourage you to find a person who can listen to you and be supportive. You may also work on developing friendships with your coworkers as those relations can serve as a buffer from your mental exhaustion.

Get exercise. I know doing something physically active could be the last thing on your mind when you are feeling spent, but getting at least 30 minutes of physical exercise per day can improve your mood. If you have difficulty getting yourself motivated to exercise, find someone, who will hold you accountable or cheer you on when you do exercise.

Improve your state of mind. Try to find something about your job that you like or value. I strongly encourage you to find some meaning in what you do. Focusing on those positive aspects of what you do that you actually enjoy. Those characteristic may change your attitude about work and help you find a sense of control, or a sense of purpose in what you do. That may also help you acquire balance in your life.

Focus on your priorities. What are your hopes, goals, values and dreams? Ask yourself if you have been neglecting any of those because of your high level of stress. After you do your homework evaluating your priorities, ask yourself if you need to slow down or change some of your patterns. Do you need to set appropriate boundaries with others? Maybe now is the time to learn when to say “no” at work. Do you need to allow yourself for more relaxation time?

Take time off. If possible, I encourage you to take a break from work if your feelings of mental and physical exhaustion are inevitable. Remove yourself from the work setting in order to recharge your batteries and be able to come back to work with a refreshed mind.

Take breaks. I also strongly encourage you to take regular breaks during work. If possible take a walk, stretch, have lunch away from your desk. This may help you get refreshed but also will allow you to increase your productivity. During those breaks, I also encourage you to put away your cell phone, laptop, etc. I want you to detach from work and other obligations when you are taking a break.

Focus on healthy eating habits. Reduce foods that negatively impact your mood, such as trans fats, high-carbohydrate foods, sugars, that quickly lead to “crash” in your energy level and mood. Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to boost your mood, such as fish and walnuts. Avoid nicotine, as nicotine is a stimulant and will lead to higher stress. Limit alcohol consumption as well, as alcohol is a depressant and can also cause anxiety after it wears off.

Find activities that you enjoy. I encourage you to find an activity that will take your attention away from the emotional and physical pain. Find activities that you look forward to because that will help you keep distracted from focusing on the negative events that are happening in your life. Force yourself to go for a walk, go hiking, go bike riding, go out to dinner, go to a movie, park etc. It is not easy to be active or involved in any activity, but doing something will make you feel more productive and most importantly, it will serve as a distraction!

 

Here are just a few things that you can do in order to work on improving your life. Dealing with burnout is not easy but it can be overcome with having adequate social support and taking appropriate steps to cope with it more effectively. I strongly encourage you to learn relaxation techniques in order to relieve stress and help regain your emotional balance. Work on setting priorities as those will aid you in making a list of all the areas in your life that you want to work on. I believe that every single person matters and everyone deserves to enjoy their lives and find meaning in what they do. I encourage you to work on being proactive, mindful, and take good care of yourself. As I mentioned previously, all of our therapists are fully committed to help you find ways to live a more fulfilling lives.

Sincerely,

 

Aneta

Why should we even bother to practice gratitude…

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I can speak for myself when I say I rarely have time to sit back and just be mindless, not think of all the tasks and chores and a to do list. I wanted to talk about gratitude because I realized that those of us, who are busy, rarely slow down and reflect upon things. We are often too occupied to sit back and reflect upon our lives. In those times when we actually have the chance to sit down and think back we have the chance to stop ourselves and realize that days, months, years have been irreversibly passing. Then, we often ask ourselves, where did the time go??

In my clinical experience, I often saw a positive shift in a client’s mindset when talking about gratitude. Expressing gratitude has changed the way I view things and how that allowed me to slow things down.

Gratitude, right? Sounds cheesy but here are some of the benefits of it. Those, who regularly practice gratitude by taking their time to notice or reflect upon the things they are thankful for, tend to feel more alive, have more positive emotions and express more compassion for others. It was even discovered that it boosts immune system and improves sleep. The fun thing about practicing gratitude is that you do not have to devote extensive periods of time to do it and you do not have to reserve time for momentous occasions. It can be done anywhere and at anytime.

Often times, we are grateful for a nice promo at work or for a nice house or car that we own. I want you to go even deeper and focus on those precious moments you have every morning when you wake up, even for the chance that you were given by just waking up and being healthy. I want you to challenge yourself even a step further and be thankful for the fact that you have food on your table and for all the hard work it took for that food to arrive on your table each day. Think about all the hard work it took for that food to appear in your fridge: the farmers that needed to harvest their fields, people who work in factories who were able to make your food and for those drivers who were able to deliver that food to your store. You can let your imagination take you anywhere you want to go with this but in those moments where you find yourself reflecting upon those things, you are also learning how to be mindful.

After reading this you would think that those benefits are compelling enough to motivate you into action. But if you are anything like me, this motivation lasts about a week until practicing gratitude is lost to watching new series of shows. I encourage you then to challenge yourself and consistently practice gratitude for 30 days. They say it takes 30 days to form a habit and 3 days to break it. So let’s maintain this good habit for the long haul. Here are some ways to practice gratitude:

Morning drink gratitude: While you are enjoying your morning cup of coffee/tea/juice, just spend a few minutes thinking of all the things you are grateful for. If that is a challenge, start with enjoying the warmth or coldness of the drink you are holding, the aroma of the drink, the first sip, and the beginning of a new day that may be full of promises

Things you take for granted: Let’s try to focus on all the things we do take for granted, our ability to walk, hear, see, hear or having anything that gives you comfort. Consider not having any of those things and then step by step practice being grateful for having all of our senses being fully functional

Questions to ask yourself: Anther great way to bring gratefulness to the forefront is by asking yourself those 4 questions:

  • Who or what inspired me today?
  • What touched me today?
  • Who or what put a smile on my face?
  • What is the best thing that happened to me today?

Gratitude inventory: Create a list of things you are grateful for. If you find that a bit challenging, you can divide that list into categories (but don’t limit yourself):

  • People (your relationships)
  • Assets (things that you have)
  • Experiences (thing’s you have done, places you have seen)
  • Personal qualities

Practice to put things in perspective: Life is challenging and things will not always go your way. In those moments when things go wrong you can use the power of gratitude to release some of those negative emotions that you may be feeling. After a negative experience, learn to put things in perspective by remembering that “every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit” – Napoleon Hill. When faced with a challenging moment, ask yourself:

  • What can I learn from this?
  • What’s good about this?
  • Is there something about this occurrence that I can be grateful for?
  • How can I benefit from this?

Gratitude journal: Before going to bed each night, write a list of three things about that day for which you are grateful. Some days you will have exciting things to write down and some days you will be talking about simple joys.

The key of practicing gratitude is to be consistent. Now that you know how to start practicing gratitude, I want to encourage you to start today. Why not begin by living a happier, more enjoyable life by using tools that we are capable of learning and setting a part of our routine. As Melody Beattie said, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

 

All the best,

Aneta

 

5 Things I Do To Cope Better With Daily Anxiety

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5 Things I Do to Cope Better With Daily Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal response to challenging or stressful situations. In fact, having anxiety can help people to push themselves to perform tasks better. However, it is when your worry and fear become so overwhelming it gets in the way of your daily life that it may be helpful to learn how to cope better day to day with it. According to the ADAA, there are close to 4 million people in America who are struggling with anxiety disorders and it is one of the most common issues that brings people into therapy.

I specialize in working with anxiety disorders and one of the reasons I have a passion for helping those with anxiety is because I myself, have anxiety. I always thought that it was stress induced but as I got older I realized it was actually anxiety that caused me to feel overwhelmed daily. I understand that it can be hard to describe to people what anxiety feels like and it seems easier to just act like it is not there. Distraction and avoidance will only make your anxiety worse. The minute I recognized it, it empowered me to implement skills that improved my coping. Here is list of 5 things I do to decrease my daily anxiety.

1. Give yourself a worry period. Set aside 15-30 minutes at the beginning of the day to allow yourself this time to process your worries. The more you try to ignore a thought, the more likely you are to focus on it. For example, try not to think about a pink elephant. Let me guess, you just pictured a pink elephant. Anxiety has a way of making people feel overwhelmed and gives the belief that if someone could control everything then the anxiety will subside. Trying to give in to your anxiety and believing you can control everything is an impossible task. What is possible? Organizing what you can and cannot control. Work on what you can control and accept what you cannot. At the end of the worry period tell yourself that whatever it is, you can handle it.

2. Stay present. Anxiety robs people of the ability to stay in the here and now due to fear and worry about all the “what-if’s” in the future. A way to calm anxiety in the moment is to notice you are beginning to feel anxious and identify it as just a thought, neither good nor bad. Do not judge your thoughts. Next, begin to focus on your breathing. Focus on your chest rising and falling, the sound and feel of the breath going in and out, and the slowing down of your heartbeat. It can be hard to just stop worrying and focus on the present. However, if you practice these skills it will get easier to bring yourself back to the here and now and you will see a significant decrease in your daily anxiety.

3. Practice deep breathing. When you become anxious your “fight or flight” is triggered in your brain which causes stress hormones to be released which is why people commonly feel physical symptoms of anxiety. During an anxious moment, take 10 deep breaths where your chest is rising and falling dramatically. Count your breath in for 5 seconds and your breath out for 5 seconds. Again, focus on your breath and your muscle relaxation while deep breathing. This useful skill will slow your anxious mind and body quickly.

4. Engage in physical activity. Anxiety can be paralyzing due to constant, intrusive thoughts of worry and fear. Due to its common physical manifestation, anxiety can make someone feel mentally and physically drained. However, if you can increase your physical activity it will not only give you a healthy coping skill, but it will also cause your brain to release more endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. These are also known as your “happy chemicals.”  An anxious brain will start to release stress chemicals more frequently so if you increase the amount of “happy chemicals,” your brain’s “fight or flight” response become less triggered. Start out by taking short walks a few times a week. Once you see the benefit of your mood improving, you can work up to adding more physical activities such as biking, going to a gym, or doing an exercise or yoga class. 

5. Improve diet and sleep hygiene. A big part of managing anxiety is looking at your food and sleep regimen. If you are having too much caffeine or sugar then it will exacerbate you feeling stimulated on top of feeling anxious. Furthermore, anxiety causes the brain to be hyper vigilant and without getting proper sleep, your mind is never getting the rest it needs. The Centered Life works closely with nutritionists and will also refer clients for a sleep study because it is important to have a healthy diet and sleep in order to improve anxiety. Anxiety makes you feel out of control and these are things you can control!

Anxiety is a normal response to stress and can become a learned reaction to such situations. It can be easy for worry and fear to become constantly internalized and then all of sudden it is overwhelming your daily life. But when you start to talk about it and take action to cope better with it, you will see relief. Try for just one day to implement the above skills and empower yourself that you can take control of your anxiety. If you are having a hard time handling your anxiety, please call one of our therapists for a free phone consultation to talk about it and receive support. We can help you figure out the rest!

All My Best,

Samantha