"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us." ~ Marianne Williamson

Monday, January 30, 2012

Don't Let Difficult Situations Get The Best Of You: What To Do, When You Don't Know What To Do.

Today's blog stems from several discussions I have had with others, regarding the topic of "crisis." The term crisis is defined as a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. Sometimes it is those overwhelming moments where a situation is out of control; words start spilling out of your mouth during a heated argument and before you know it you're giving them a piece of your mind and then some. Maybe you find yourself behind the worse driver on the planet and all of a sudden you're blaring the horn and giving a one finger salute, only to realize the eyes glaring back at you in complete shock belong to.....your boss! Eeeek! This my friends is a "moment of crisis," then what follows afterwards is the feeling of regret and wonder as to what came over you to act that way? How could we not see the consequences of our words or actions?

While we have no control over many situations in our lives, I hope to share with you a technique I learned to help stay in control of yourself during an intense situation. In a moment of crisis we become so overwhelmed that it causes our brain and body to begin releasing hormones and chemicals at rapid speeds. This relates to the part of the brain known as the, Limbic System, which is most responsible for our emotions (Clink here to Learn More).  This is also related to the "Fight or Flight" response, that ignites in a moment where we feel threatened and regardless of what happens, everything (and everyone) around us seems to be a threat. Our rational mind goes out the window and we are now living in the "survival" moment, and not thinking about the consequences of our words or actions. Your brain is only focused on survival, not thinking clearly, and could potentially set the tone for a regrettable situation. 

Moment of Crisis- 15 Minute Time Out Rule
Moment of crisis lasts about 15 minutes. This is the amount of time that it takes for your brain and body to realign itself and get your chemical and hormones back in balance. Giving yourself this time can help prevent you from lots of regrets. Whatever it is that gets your warning sensors blaring, try these three steps. The next time you find yourself in a situation of intensity, whether it's on the road, at work, in public, or even when you're home, give yourself a TIME OUT. Yes, that's right.

 15- Minute Time Out Rule
If you thought time outs were just for kids, think again. Sometimes we all need a little time to sit and think. Here are three simple steps to help overcome your moment of crisis. 

1. STOP: If you find yourself feeling emotionally overwhelmed, stop whatever you are doing. If you're in a heated discussion, ask for some time to gather your thoughts. Before responding to anything via e-mail or via Facebook or Twitter, give yourself a time out before hitting the send button. If you're on the road and about to get on edge, try pulling over to a safe location. 

2. SIT: Try to find a quiet and safe place, where you can just sit in silence and gather your thoughts. Remember to do this for a complete 15-minutes or however long it takes for you to calm down. 

3. BREATH: Getting some oxygen to your brain is a great way to start relaxing your mind and body during a moment of crisis. Try closing your eyes and visualizing something positive such as the words love, sunshine, or calm. 

This technique is something that I learned during my mental health training many years ago, and has still remained a popular piece of information I like to share with audiences. You would not know the numerous texts or calls I have received from friends letting me know that they used the 15 minute rule at some point in their life. I have also found this helpful when making big decisions, or even before making a large purchase. 
Life can be overwhelming at times, but we don't have to let out of control situations get the best of us. This is why knowing about mental health is critical to preparing us for the unknown and hopefully can help in making better decisions. Sometimes knowing when and how to take a step back during a tough time can make all the difference. 

Be well, 
Ane :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Kate Middleton Has New Title...

Last year, I joined the millions of viewers around the globe to watch the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. In all its spectacular glory, Kate's genuine nature never seemed to get overshadowed. This quickly made me think twice about just who Kate Middleton was and where the path ahead would lead her. Yet, I must confess that it didn't take much to make me a fan. I mean the affinity for all things girly and that sparkle lies within my DNA :). However, this week's announcement that her Royal Duchess would be using her status to champion the issue of addiction and recovery solidified my "groupie status." 

In some instances, mental illness and substance abuse are coexisting disorders. Many professionals within the field of addiction and recovery have recognized that mental health also plays an intricate role in recovery. To add to this, findings also show that over 50% of suicides in the U.S. were completed while under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of death. What some fail to recognize is that alcohol is a downer, meaning that it decreases brain activity and lowers ones ability to make clear decisions. To state it clearly, drugs and alcohol are NOT the answer to solving any problem, if anything they will only make things worse. Addiction and dependency on drugs and alcohol is an issue that comes with a stigma, just like that related to mental illness. This is why someone with star status, as Kate, should be applauded for her efforts to shed light on an issue that most certainly does not come with any fanfare. In fact, this is an issue that for too long has lived silently in the shadows, riddled with stigma. Taking on addiction and recovery, speaks volumes about her courage and sincere concern for others.

There was just something in reading the Los Angeles Times headline, "Kate Middleton's new cause: addiction and recovery" that made me sit up a little more straight and smile. Could it be true, Kate Middleton is truly one of us (mental health, addiction/recovery community)? Although she has yet to begin any work on this cause, there is no doubt about her ability to fulfill the task. If there is one thing I have found during my time working in the area of mental health advocacy, it's that it truly is a small world.    The mental health community may be few, but they are mighty and, boy do things get done! It is a community that I am very proud and honored to be apart of. It is a field where the path is often filled by naysayers, speed bumps, road blocks, re-routing, hills, potholes, and so on, but still they move forward to ensure that those without a voice are represented. So, in retrospect, it only makes sense for the Royal Dutchess to join the cause. After all, what other noble act is there than to genuinely and truly care about the life of another human being. To be motivated solely by the appreciation for life. To believe with every ounce of your being, that tomorrow is a better day and most importantly to have faith. That to me is a unique quality that shines brighter than any jewel at Kensigton Palace. 

So, it looks like England's future Queen has a new title, Kate Middleton, Addiction and Recovery Advocate. Sounds pretty darn good to me! I know the mental health, addiction, and recovery community welcomes her with open arms. Who would have ever thought working in mental health could look so fancy?

Hmmm...so, this is what really happens after the princess marries the the prince! Disney....please take note!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Best Way to Move Forward, is To Never Look Back!

Happy New Year Folks!

A new year is always a great reason to make some much needed changes and get a personal tune-up whether it be physically, mentally, emotionally, or maybe a little of all three. Whatever it is that you have planed for 2012, be sure to take it one step at a time. A New Year's resolution is a commitment and promise to yourself.  This year, instead of biting off more than I could handle in the "wish and hope" department, I actually thought about what I planned to change and created a game plan. Having a goal is important, but studies have shown that one is more likely to see the task through if they let others know of their plan and if they receive support from family and friends. So here we go...

Clutter Free: The thought of clearing out my closet could have brought on nightmares. This is why instead of thinking about it, I just did it.  That's right! The more time you have to think about a pesky project the more time you're wasting on not getting it done. With 80's music blaring from my speakers (Thanks Pandora Radio!) I got to sorting things out, but not before laying out the rules of the game, which were 1. Anything not worn in the past year ended up in a pile 2. Once the bag was knotted there was NO turning back. 3. All three bags immediately got loaded in my trunk and hauled off to a local donation bin in my community. The trick to completing this relies on how fast you get those bags out of your house and into those donation bins or your local Salvation Army. The best part is that not only is my closet clutter free, but so is my mind. One thing to check off my list for 2012! Go me! :)

Get Financially Fit: Losing weight is probably the #1 resolution made. However, this year I'm focusing more on getting financially fit. Getting finances in order can be overwhelming, especially given today's economic times. Where does one begin?

  • $ave,$ave, $ave: Setting money aside is important and it's never too late to start saving for the future. Even if it's just $5 or $10 here and there, it all adds up. Open a separate bank account, where money automatically gets deposited into savings. Having direct deposit ensures money gets put away. The trick is to limit access to this account, so either cut up your bank card linked to this account or keep it hidden at home. The less access you have, the less likely you are to use this account. 
  • Honesty: That's right. Being honest about the amount of debt you have is the best way to face your financial future head on. Pretending debts and bills don't exist, will only cause stress and possibly more expenses later on. This may take some time, but it is well worth it. What you'll need for this is a journal to list all your expenses, a calendar, and organizer or file folder. Start by listing all your bills and debts and the total amount owed and the date each bill/debt needs to be paid by (cue calendar). Paying bills on time is critical, since many companies will charge hefty late fees. Schedule time to review your finances (at least once a month). If possible call and see if you can have payment dates scheduled around your ability to pay them. For those of you on a busy schedule, set-up automatic bill pay linked to your account. Call creditors and request a lower interest. Most importantly do not hide from your bills or debts. If it feels a little too overwhelming, get help from a financial adviser. 
  • Just say NO:  Whatever you do, be honest about what you owe and STOP spending money you don't have. How many pairs of shoes can one human own anyway? If possible, cut out, or limit your time in places that cause you to spend money ie. malls, casinos, e-bay, expensive brunches with friends, and so forth. I have taken an oath to not spend money on things I do not absolutely need and to give myself at least 24-hours before making any big purchases. Stepping away from the situation gives you time to think about your purchase and having buyers remorse. 
  • Options are Awesome: Everyone loves a great deal, find ways to save money and do it! LivingSocial and Groupon are just a few ways to get amazing deals on the cheap. Magazine subscriptions are a great way to save money. I'm a huge fan of health and fitness magazines, but at almost $5 each, my reality check meter went off. I opted to get a subscription, thanks to a great LivingSocial deal, I received a 1-year subscription for ONLY $8.  I'm not a math wiz, but spending $8 opposed to $60 sounds like a good deal! 
  • Don't Let Food or Money Go to Waste: Depending on your family size, you may want to rethink buying in bulk. I use to shop in bulk, but soon found that there's only so much one person can eat in a week before it expires.So, Before setting out on your grocery trip DO NOT leave home without doing three things, which are 1. Make a menu for the week 2. After reviewing what you already have in your cabinets, make your grocery list 3. Don't shop on an empty stomach. This tip has really  helped me from over-buying and staying within healthy limits. These three tips have helped me to save money, plan my meals for the week, and make sure no food goes bad. Instead of shopping for the entire month, I go once a week (Sunday) and only shop for the week ahead.
  • Coffee Addicts Beware: Hello, my name is Ane, and I'm a coffee addict. I love coffee, but spending $4 a day adds up fast. A recent article I read helped put this habit into perspective, by revealing that buying a cup of coffee daily, for 10-years, would equal to buying a brand new car! Whoa mama! So, here's my new plan: 1. Get a coffee pot and store bought coffee creamer. 2. Make coffee at home at least four times a week. I love International Delight's Caramel Macchiato coffee creamer. In fact, here's a link for fifty-five cents off your next purchase Coffee Creamer Coupon (click on link). Now, this doesn't mean I'm giving up coffee shops. I'll just frequent them a little less. 
Get Up! Get Busy!: Let's face it, sometimes we know things need to get done, but it's just so much easier to put them off or hope someone else will do it.

 The best way to rid yourself of this is to never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today. If you have an issue to take care of, do it now. I too have been a victim of this illness, but we'll never get anything accomplished by sitting on our bum watching Tv or surfing through Facebook. That's right, I said it. So in the words of Technotronic (all my 90's music fans wave your hands in the air!) "Get up, get up, get busy, do it, get up and move that body!"

Stay Healthy: 

  • Physical Health: What would any resolution be without the want to be fit?  Being fit is essential to our physical, emotional, and mental health.  Getting to the gym is tough, especially at the end of a  long work day. This year I've made a plan to go at least 3-4 times a week for 45 minutes. If I can do this, then I will allow myself one cheat day each week. I've started packing a weeks worth of workout clothes in my trunk. I also make sure to include magazines/books and my headphones in there. This allows me to hit the gym before heading home without any excuses! 
    • Create a plan: It is not enough to say you're going to lose weight, but how do you actually plan on obtaining this goal? My overall goal is to not gain any weight this year. While my monthly goal is to lose at least 3 lbs a week. This may not sound like much right away, but in the long run comes out to almost 12 lbs lost in 4 months. This is a more realistic goal for me, rather than saying I want to just lose weight. And c'mon now, looking like a Victoria Secret model or my old Miss America swimsuit photo would be awesome, but I don't want to be a VS model, nor do I foresee walking on-stage in my swimsuit any time soon, so therefore I refuse to allow my personal goals to be clouded by ideals. Feeling good about myself and having the energy to keep up with everything going on in my life is what I'm focused on and what makes me happy. The key here is to take baby steps and not give up. While we're on the subject, there's nothing more annoying than reading about a celeb who had her baby and two weeks later is prancing around in a two-piece. Seriously? I'm convinced that these women must be half superhuman, because after a weekend of eating hot wings, I need another week just to recover, or so it seems :). Yes, I proudly once had uber rad abs, but then again it was during a different time in my life, which came equipped with two things 1. A personal trainer and 2. Knowing millions of people would be watching on Tv. Different situations call for different measures. :) 
  • Making healthy food choices makes me feel better physically and mentally.Yet, allowing myself to enjoy a Coca-Cola now also keeps me from depriving myself of things I like. It's all about moderation. Cooking at home and drinking more water are on my list. I'm proud to say that 2012 has started off without the fire alarm going off! I just may become a chef soon (don't hold your breath haha). 
  • Mental Health: Allowing myself at least 10-15 minutes every night to relax, read, or just reflect on my day. Preparing mentally for the day ahead allows me to focus on what I need to do and not feel so overwhelmed the next morning. Simple tools such as preparing my lunch for the next day and what I'm going to wear does a lot for my mental health. I now have time each morning to finish drinking my coffee. 
  • Emotional Health: Make time for what matters most and that which will help lead to your goals. Surround yourself with positive people who are uplifting and truly care about you as a person. Listen to your gut and stay true to yourself. Do not allow for anyone to rob you of your spirit and most importantly always believe in yourself. Know when to say no. Stand your ground and do not stray from what matters to you most. Do not allow for the words or actions of others to determine your future or emotions, this is your life! 
Remembering that Sky is the Limit Last year I spent my time preparing myself for a major life change, that I hope to share with you all by the end of 2012. As with any goal in life, you have to plan ahead, put in the work, and free yourself of any doubts or fears-whether they are from yourself or others. The sky is the limit and with faith and hard work, anything is possible. The new year is a great time to make a fresh start, but every single day is an opportunity to make ourselves better and start over if need be. Go get what you want!

Whatever plans you have for the new year, I wish you much success! Looking forward to all that 2012 has in store and of course submitting more posts! Peace, love, and joy to you.

Big hugs,
Ane :)