Category Archives: handout

Stressed?

I’ve been teaching a stress less/relaxation class for years and below is one the handouts that participants report is most helpful.:

Change the situation: Avoid – Alter. Change your reaction: Adapt – Accept

1. Avoid unnecessary stress

Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed.

Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them.

Avoid people who stress you out –Limit the amount of time you spend with people that cause you stress.

Take control of your environment – If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off.

Avoid hot-button topics –If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.

Pare down your to-do list –If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.”

2. Alter the situation

If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future.

Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way.
Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same.

Be more assertive. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them.

Manage your time better. Plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself.

3. Adapt to the stressor

If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.

Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective.

Look at the big picture. Will it matter in a month, or a year?

Adjust your standards. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”

Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts.

4. Accept what you can’t change

Some sources of stress are unavoidable, in such cases; the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.

Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.

Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth.

Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist.

Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes.

Relapse Stages

One of the hand outs I use with groups. This is a shorten version of Relapse Stages and just a starting off point for further discussion.

First stage – I am un aware. I don’t see it, and have no idea I am in trouble. (people around us may notice subtle changes in attitude and behavior).

Second Stage We become restless, incurable and discontent. Our focus shifts from internal to external, we stop focusing on ourselves and start focusing on other people around us. We start blaming; acting the victim, fear and anger start to become evident.

Third stage Unresolved feelings occur and they are not dealt with in a healthy manner. We go into the emotional and physical withdrawal, than start to isolate. Negative attitudes start to predominate such as compulsive behavior, we start discounting recovery, we may engage in magical thinking.

Fourth stage – A crisis in our life provides the excuse for us to start using it again, or we create a crisis that rationalizes are returned to use. In other words, we have made the decision to use, and are ready to light the fuse.

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As we move through the stages of relapse, a few different things are occurring. Firstly, the need to regain our ‘right’ to re-engage in our addiction seems to make sense. We talk ourselves into the false belief that this time we can control it.

There’s a gradual and progressive destabilization of our lifestyle. Lastly, Stress and Stressors will accelerate this process.

Wise, Reason, Emotional Mind

I have been practicing meditation since the mid-70’s and started a mindfulness meditation practice in the mid-90’s. Mindfulness has to do with the quality of awareness that we bring to what we are doing and experiencing, to being in the here and now.  It has to do with learning to focus on being in the present, to focusing our attention on what we are doing and what is happening in the present.
Many of us are distracted by images, thoughts and feelings of the past, perhaps dissociating, worrying about the future, negative moods and anxieties about the present.   It’s hard to put these thing away and concentrate on the task at hand.

I started teaching mindfulness to patients a few years ago and often used the following as a hand out:
Mindfulness has to do with states of mind. Reason Mind, Emotion Mind, and Wise Mind. Reason Mind is your rational, thinking, logical mind. It plans and evaluates things logically. It is your “cool” part. Reasonable Mind can be very beneficial. It is easier to be in Reasonable Mind when you feel good. It is much harder to be in Reasonable Mind when you don’t feel good.

You Would Use Your Reasonable Mind To:
Build a bridge
Figure out how to double a recipe
Balance your checkbook
Figure out the fastest way from point “A” to point “B”

Emotion Mind describes times when emotions are what influence or control your thinking and behavior. Emotional Mind can also be very beneficial. Emotions are what motivate us to action. Emotions are what keep us attached to others and building relationships.

Emotion Mind can be aggravated by:
Illness, Lack Of Sleep, Tiredness, Drugs, Alcohol, Hungry, Overeating, Poor nutrition and/or lack of exercise, Environmental stress and threats, not taking your meds.

Both Emotion and Reasonable Mind Are Equally Important And Valuable

Reasonable mind gives you a way to solve your problems.

Emotion mind gives you a reason (motivation) to want to solve them.

Wise Mind is the integration of emotional and reasonable mind. Wise mind is that part of each person that can know and experience truth. It is where the person knows something to be true or valid. It is where the person knows something in a centered (balanced) way. It is almost always quiet and calm in this part of the mind.

Everyone Has A Wise Mind!

Some people have simply never experienced it.

No one is in Wise Mind all of the time.

Wise Mind – An Analogy for Wise Mind is like a deep well in the ground. The water is at the bottom of the well. The entire underground is an ocean called Wise Mind. But on the way down, there are often trap doors that stop progress. Sometimes the trap doors are so cleverly built that you actually believe that there is no water at the bottom of the well. The trap door may look like the bottom of the well. Perhaps it is locked and you need a key. Perhaps it is nailed shut and you need a hammer. Perhaps it is glued shut and you need a chisel.