Stillness Meditation Calming Technique

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This is a calming exercise I created, borrowing ideas from Buddhism and stillness practice.

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1. Sit or lay comfortably.

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2. Relax your shoulders and neck by letting the muscles release themselves.

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3. Allow your shoulders to drop naturally and your neck to let you head rest comfortable,without forcing it into any particular position.

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4. Relax your face muscles and let your cheeks and lips completely relax and drop.

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5. Breath in relaxed, drawing the breath in  fully. Then breath out while closing the back of your throat just enough to control the breath as you expell it.

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6. Say this sentence in your mind…

“There is stillness between each word”

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7. Repeat the sentence in your mind…putting space between each word. Breath relaxed as you say them, and continue to relax your face and mouth.

“There…is…stillness…between…each…word.”

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8. Repeat the sentence several times slower each time. Allow the space between each word to get longer and more expansive each time you repeat the sentence.

“There……..is……..stillness……..between……each……..word.”

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9. Relax into the spaces between the words and feel that silent space expanding within you and beyond you.

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10. Allow any thoughts to go away during these silent spaces. Just fall into the quiet between the spaces between the words.

You can anticipate the next wotd…picture it….during the spaces….but allow the “running mental tapes” to be silent.

Sometimes images will arise but let them drift into the distance.

Fall into the arms of the ceasing of the constant words that usually run through your mind.

Just “be” and rest your mind. The mind needs a rest from the constant chatter.

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Single Mothers, Working Mothers Depression and Anxiety Disorders

It is no wonder that single mothers and working mothers become depressed. We are doing the jobs of too many people. We usually do not have enough help. The help that is offered is often more of a burden that it is helpful. People guess at what will be helpful rather than asking us.

It is hard for other women to understand the stress on single mothers. This is also true for working mothers that do not get enough support from their husbands.  

We cannot go out and spend time doing social things that other women do. They ask us to come along with them and they are offended when we keep telling them no. It becomes a burden on the relationship and we end up losing the friendships with our female friends. We become more alienated.

Our families may try to help but they do not know what would be helpful. If their effort to help us, they often create more anxiety for us. The teachers at the school expect us to be able to all the things that other mothers do, but we cannot keep up.

Our boss is demanding when we are at work. Being a single mother is no excuse for not living up to all the obligations of our job. We are exhausted when we get home from work, but there is no rest.

We are still working until  we drop from exhaustion.We fall into bed and have thoughts running through our heads about all the things we did not get done today and have to add onto tomorrow’s schedule, which was already overloaded.

We have little time to do anything for ourselves. We have little or no time to rest. There is no end to the endless responsibility and endless stream of chores, errands, workload, and unexpected problems.

On top of that, people are always complaining to us that we “should” be doing things in a different or “better” way.What they mean of course is that we should be doing things their way. But they have no concept of how our brains are suffering in torment.

Everyone had suggestions and criticism about how we should be doing things differently. My ex mother in law once told me that I should spend all Sunday afternoon making casseroles to freeze so that I would not have to cook during the week. “Then you just pop them out of the freezer and microwave them”, she said. She had decided that this was the answer for me because my “perfect” sister in law did that.

First of all, I tried to explain to her that my  kids and my husband (her son) hated casseroles and would never eat them. Then I tried to explain to her that I was entirely too exhausted by the weekend, from work, to stand in the kitchen and cook for five hours every Sunday. Nevertheless, the bought me the casserole book that my sister in law used and insisted that I try it.

My sister in law did not work and was maintained in a rich fashion be her husband. He ability and desire to make casseroles was completely different than mine. Come to think of it, I had no desire to eat frozen microwaved casseroles every night for dinner either!

Speaking of crying, we don’t even have time or any private space to do that. We don’t want to break down in front of the kids. We have no time for therapists or to go out with friends to vent. We cannot cry at work without  appearing incompetent. So that leaves us to cry in our car for 5 minutes when we get home from work, before we go into the house.

We worry about the kids while we are at work. We worry about work when we are home. We feel guilty about leaving the kids to go to work.If we cut back our hours to spend more time with the kids, then we feel guilty that we are not making enough money to take care of them.

No matter what we are doing or where we are, we feel like we should be doing or worrying about something else. We are happy we have children but at the same time we feel guilty that we have ended up in a position of being so overworked that we do not have enough energy for them.

The guilt leads to a lowering of our self esteem and we become depressed. The constant worrying turns into a severe anxiety condition that interferes with our ability to function as well as we used to.

We feel behind all the time. We have trouble keeping up with the kids doctor appointments and their homework. We feel more and more like we are getting sucked into a pit of quicksand.

Our own minds begin to work against us. Our brains begin to fill with obsessive thoughts that are fearful about the future and regretful about the past. Why did we end up here? How can we keep going like this? Who are we anymore?

We begin to lose touch with our own identity. We are not a whole person anymore. We are fragments of different people who wear different hats at different parts of the day.We keep changing hats from work, to mom, to nurse to the kids, to the person that has to talk to the teacher, to the bad friend who has said “NO” the last 5 times our girlfriend has asked us out for lunch.

We have little time to talk on the phone to a friend and even then we are interrupted. We crave a moment to ourselves, a moment of rest and peace. We feel guilty that we want to do something for ourselves. We want to be beautiful again and desirable to men. We want to be a woman who is allowed to have needs and desires.

But there is no time and if we make the time, we feel guilty the entire time we are out. Men have trouble understanding that we want to check in with out kids while we are on a date. They feel slighted because after all, men want our attention as much as the kids do.

We are more and more and more drug along by life and the schedule that we are not able to keep up with. We cannot continue without something having to give somewhere. We are headed for a breakdown.

We can become very depressed to the point where we have clinical depression. At this point we need help but we are still in the same boat of not having time to do anything for ourselves. We have no space during our week to schedule a therapy session or even a doctor appointment.

We put it off, We become filled with more and more anxiety and depression. We cannot continue.

This happens. It happened to me. We have to find a way to reach out and get help from someone, somewhere.We cannot just keep ignoring the feelings that our mental health is in jeopardy. Our feelings are trying to tell us something.

It does not get better without reaching out for help. Reach out to someone, whether is be a friend, a  paid service for chores and errands, a therapist for counseling, the church, or anyone who will be compassionate. You need to talk to someone who will listen.

Look through your schedule and find something that can wait, even if for a few weeks, so that you can use the time to help yourself. You have become conditioned to feel that all of those things you do for others are life and death. You might be surprised when you take a second look at your routine.   If you change your perspective, to seeing the situation as a personal mental health emergency, you might find something that can be put aside for a time.

Behavior that repeats over and over becomes imbedded in the brain. It feels like there is no other possible way to do things. Find someone else to take your kids to church for you every other week  and take a yoga class or sleep in. Have a niece help help you around the house and pay them by a barter. They may be glad just to get out of their own house for a change and spend time with you.

Think of anyplace that might have free counseling and also might offer assistance to you for a short time, like the church or a community organization. Be creative and barter for services, like laundry and making dinner.

Another parent from the school may be in the same boat as you are.  They may be happy to trade days driving the kids to school, so they can have a few mornings to themselves also. Or maybe to take turns one night per week, making the dinner for all of the kids.  This way each of you has one night off.

Seek out other single working mothers who might feel like they are drowning just like you are. Get ideas and help each other. Think outside the box a little and do not stay locked into your same schedule.

Every tiny difference you make, could make a difference to your mental health. Being locked into the same exact routine for too long is devastating to your mental well being. Humans are built for some variation in routine. It stimulates the creative centers of the brain and will help you to think of more ideas and to be less depressed.

The longer we go without help, the worse it gets. Make the time for yourself. Do not feel guilty. If you crash then what will happen? You are not superhuman, even though  other people may be relentless in their efforts to demand the world from you.

All the adults that are making demands of your time are only looking out for their own agenda. It is your turn to look out for yourself and your family.

Your kids will probably not mind a change in the routine, because they are probably stressed over the same day to day routine as well. Get help and be creative. The more you think outside the box, the better you will be able to make small alterations in order to preserve your sanity.

Take care of yourself.

Blessings,

Annie

Reasons Fruit is Good for You….to keep in your purse

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image from facebook  HERE

Self Love and Restoring Balance

Life needs balance. Our bodies are systems of balance. We need a balanced diet or we become sick.

We need balance between work and play, rest and activity, and focus vs. relaxaxing the mind.

We need balance between socializing and time to ourselves. Too much of any one thing throws off something else that is equally important.

Our physical and mental health are dependent upon this critical balance.

We should not negect nature for technology. Nor should we forget about our family and friends because we become too focused on work.

The reverse of any of these statements is also true. We should not neglect our work, our dreams and our vision for our family.

It is a constant struggle to keep things in balance. Every physical problem has to do with something being neglected for the sake of something else.

On-going, extreme imbalance will cause disease, illness, fatigue, and a lack of wellness.

Ancient Chinese medicine was based on the idea of sickness and disease being the result of imbalance. This was an entire system of trying to connect certain health problems with particular imbalances.

The ancient Chinese medicine developers believed that by identifying imbalances early, you can prevent serious illness and diseases.

There are entire health arts related to identifying imbalances, and restoring imbalance in the body. Acupressure, acupuncture, yoga are all about restoring and maintaining the fine balamces within the body.

These arts also restore balance between the mind and the body. It is clear that physical health is intimately intertwined with mental and emotional health.

At any given time, something is bound to be in an imbalance. Our goal should be to look at imbalances if we feel like something is wrong.

Moderate to severe mental health problems can be your body’s way of communicating to you that it needs something. It could be that something is in starvation.

We can become emotionally starved for love and compassion. We can become starved for physical touch.

Emotional starvation can cause every system in the body to suffer. The mind will suffer as well and cognitive processes will slow down.

We were also made to be able to think and create. Being stuck in a routine job and living on autopilot can cause imbalance in your life.

We were made to have a balance, which includes variety and change, as well as the comfort of some predictability.

Remembering the importance of balance will help you to be able to identify and restore balamce to yourself. It is also something useful to pass down to your children or teach others.

Whenever you feel like you are having trouble keeping up with something in your life, or that something is being neglected, see what might be drinking too much energy and time from you.

If something is being neglected, it is due to something else taking too much of your time and energy. We do not always want to admit what that something is.

Even if you are not ready to make a dramatic change, yoi may be able to make smaller ones. Without change we cannot move forward.

Staying stuck in the same unhealthy routine will slowly starve your body and your mind.

Accept your tre self and nurture yourself without judgement. Restoring balance is not about self judgement. It is about self love.

Retreating to the Bed During Depression

The desire to set up camp in your bed often goes along with depression.

Some people wonder if they are depressed or if they have an actual “disorder” of depression. A disorder is just what it sounds like. Your life has become disorderly…unmanageable.

You want to do things like set up camp in the bed.  and only come out of bed for necessities. The bed is familiar thus the brain perceives it as safe.

Your brain wants to keep you safe. Your subconscious brain leads you away from anything it associates with pain or danger. This could be any kind of danger incuding emotional trauma.

If you have mental illness then there are some things that are a threat to you but would not be a threat to other people. For example, if you have a severe anxiety disorder, depression or PTSD then going out to the mall can be riddled with possible threats.

An uncontrollable environment like a store, or driving in holiday traffic, can be triggering to those associations in your brain.

There are images, feelings and emotions associated with the sights, sounds and situations all around you. It feels safer in the bed, because it is a more controlled environment.

The holiday season makes it harder to go out and deal with the uncontrollable, unpredictable environments like the crowded stores.

The fear center of the brain is on high alert. It may even become too much to be in fight or flight mode and then your brain may throw you into a derealization/ depersonalization state.

This is that detached from reality state. You float through the motions as if you are watching a movie or you are in a dream. Your brain has become so overloaded with pain that it pulls your conscious state away from reality

The bed can feel like the only safe environment to be in. It is comforting and it is your personal space.

You are not alone if you ten to retreat to your bed when you are experiencing depression or severe anxiety. I have done it many times.

If you are stuck in the bed now, take time to get some nutritious food to eat. Just think about the food groups and eat a little something from each one.

The nutrition is critical for your brain function snd your physical strength. Your immune system needs to be supported by foods and perhaps vitamin supplements.

Be compassionate with yourself. You do not have to be judgemental of yourself. The inner tapes of negative thoughts about yourself were put there by others.

Show kindness to yourself. Offer self love and acceptance. The holiday season is very difficult for people with mental illness.

 

Mental Illness and Dealing with Holiday Pressure

Depression and anxiety disorders can become worse during the holidays.  If you suffer from depression the pressure of the holidays can make you feel overwhelmed and inadequate. It is hard to keep up with what seems to be expected. 

Keep in mind that you can rethink “expectation” and be flexible about how you do things. There are a few places where expectation is coming from and it can help to differentiate where you are feeling the pressure from. 

There are pressures that are created by the companies and perpetuated by the news and the other media. You do not have to live up to these expectations because it is just about the stores making money. 

Families force their own brand of expectation onto you. This has likely been being programmed into you for years. Use questions to see what is reasonable and what is not. Question the expectation that are in your mind. 

You do not have to adapt the expectations of others as expectations that you  have for yourself. Do what feels right to you. 

If you are feeling anxiety about having to do something then it is not something that supports your well being. See if there is another option. Different families have different expectations of their family members during the holidays and in general. 

If you have a history of depressive disorder then you need to make modifications to these “expectations.”  Just because you cannot (or do not want to) live up to the expectations of your family, does not mean that you are a bad …sister…daughter…brother…daughter in law,,,etc. 

Pressure from family can be draining and can lead to becoming more depressed. You have to take care of yourself. Your mental health matters. 

Try to remember that just because someone may tell you they are disappointed in you does not mean that you did anything wrong. People are usually upset because their own agenda has not been met. 

Do not lose yourself in other people’s perspective. You have the right to have your own perspective about yourself and about the expectations on you. Taking care of yourself is important, including being able to decide how you see yourself. 

If you struggle with mental illness then you have obstacles that other people in your family may not understand. If you need to do things (or not do things) in order to keep yourself okay then you have the right to do so. 

Adult Children from Dysfunctional Families Dealing with Emotions and C-PTSD

rain dance

This term “dysfunctional family” is a catch all basket term that includes a variety of types of malfunction within the family that can cause trauma and C-PTSD to the child.

Children of alcoholic parents fall into this category and even have their own phrase, which many of you have heard “Adult Children of Alcoholics.” Of course adult children of drug addicted parents, whether narcotic addicted or even prescription drug abusers also falls into this basket term.

The family can be dysfunctional when one or both of he parents are abusive in a physical, sexual, mental, emotional or any psychological way. Abuse can occur from other members of the family other than the parents. Even siblings and grandparents can cause the home to be unhealthy psychologically for the children growing up in it.

Some preteens ans teens are left alone most of the time due to a single parent work schedule and no other relative available. Having to parent yourself all the time can cause psychological dysfunction and important “brain software upgrades” can be missed at these ages. 

This may not be the parent’s fault and may be circumstantial but can be as devastating to the child than if it were intentional. The intention of the parent to be abusive or to create a psychologically damaging atmosphere to grow up in is not the main factor of whether or not the child is damaged.

If you were in any atmosphere that interfered with your normal social and psychological development them you may have C-PTSD from your childhood. C-PTSD is Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

C-PTSD is caused by years of being in various situations where you felt unsafe and you also felt trapped into the situation with no choice to leave it. 

As a child we are mostly sentenced to the life we are living in therefore there is a feeling of powerlessness about having to stay in the situation. It can feel like a prison.

If there was a divorce or other upheaval like moving a lot, then we may have been in multiple environments with different kinds of abuse, or trauma that happened at various ages and from various different people. This is the root cause of C-PTSD.

Complex trauma is built over time and compounded by one traumatic event or situation being piled on top of the next.

There can be years and years of traumatic experiences from emotional abuse by different relatives and non-relatives like babysitters and people that dated our parent. Moving and having to be the new kid at school and adjust to unfamiliar houses and neighborhoods can also be traumatic. 

Being different than the other kids at school who have more stable lives can lead to bullying at school, which further compounds the complex trauma.

As you were growing up you may have felt like there was something wrong with you because you never seemed to fit in with the other kids who did not share your trauma and inadequate support system.

The feeling that there was something wrong with you further compounded the trauma.

Love Yourself

As you got older the type of abuse you were exposed to probably changed. As a small child you may have been emotionally abused by being ignored and minimized. As a teenager the abuse may have increased to aggressive yelling. hitting, or being thrown out of the house for periods of time.

Layers of Abuse and Trauma

The combinations and layers of abuse, neglect, and trauma that can occur are endless. Each person has their own experience and each person’s past is unique. Your story won’t be just like anyone else’s.

If you feel like something is wrong with you and it feels like it goes back into your teenage years or your childhood, then you probably have complex post traumatic stress disorder. 

I am going to write a series of posts about C-PTSD because I feel that so many people are suffering from this and either do not know that they are, or have no where to turn to for help with it. The results of C-PTSD can be devastating. Most people with C-PTSD have mental illness of one kind or another or a co-morbid condition of more than one mental disorder. 

Depression is common with any kind post traumatic stress disorder. There will also be hyper vigilance about things that feel threatening.

The amygdala has become dysfunctional and the fight or flight mode is likely to turn itself on at the slightest trigger of a memory associated with earlier trauma, even of the trauma happened before your conscious memory can remember. 

Trauma and abuse can occur in infants and very small children.

The memory from this age cannot be stored in the conscious memory system. The memory will be stored in the subconscious as feelings of fear and being unsafe.

 There can be triggers that set of your fight or flight mode and you do not understand them because they are from when you were too young to remember. If you came from trauma that you do remember, it is very possible that there is also trauma that you do not remember that is from when you were an infant and in your toddler years. 

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Flashbacks are pictures, sights, sounds, feelings and other memories of a traumatic event or situation which come back to our brains like they are happening right now.

Emotional Flashbacks

Emotional flashbacks are a flooding of a negative feeling that overcomes you when something triggers a past trauma. Emotional flashbacks may come to you like anxiety attack or a wave of depression. They may come in form a sudden distrust of a person or situation that is triggering the memory of a past abuse.

Realizing that we may not remember all of the reasons why we experience floods of seemingly illogical emotions can help us to heal from our trauma.

We never feel things for no reason. People may tell you that you are overly sensitive or too thin skinned or that you tend to over-react to things, but you are none of those things.

If you are sensitive to people saying certain kinds of things to you, then it is a response to earlier wounds that were inflicted upon you. When old wounds are opened up and even pressed into, there is going to be an emotional response. This is no overreacting, it is simply reacting to someone throwing salt into an open wound.

Some of your wounds may have occurred too young for you to remember.

Some of your wounds may have caused during adulthood such as a partner being abusive. Even then this abuse was also probably opening older wounds that you already had.

Most people do not stay is abusive relationships unless they were trained to do that as a child. Abuse victims get that same feelings of being trapped into a cage that they had when they were growing up. 

Fight, Flight or Freeze

The fight or flight mode actually has one more possible part to it, which is the “freeze” mode. It is really “fight, flight or freeze.”

When we feel that we are in danger, especially if it triggers earlier trauma then the brain often goes into the freeze mode. This is a way of the brain trying to protect us although it may not serve us as adults. These post traumatic stress responses are very powerful because they are embedded in our subconscious. 

Our subconscious brain has a lot of power over our feelings and our reactions. In order to heal from complex trauma and post traumatic stress much of the work needs to be done at the level of the subconscious brain.

This can be done through meditation, certain NLP techniques, listening to audios designed for this that put us into a light hypnotic state. If you prefer you can go to someone who does hypnosis and specializes in C-PTSD and PTSD.

I will close for now because this is getting so long to read. I plan to write a few more articles about this topic. This was intended to the introductory article about this.

Blessings to all,

Annie

Links to Fantasy Coloring Pages – Anxiety and Depression Coloring for Therapy

fantasy coloring

fairy inspired blogspot .com fairyinspired.blogspot.com

Here is the LINK TO SOME beautiful free coloring pages with a fantasy these. I love these. They are from the blogspot blog called  Enchanted Designs Fairy and Mermaid Blog

Coloring is not just for kids. It can have a very therapeutic affect on adults suffering from anxiety disorders, depression and PTSD.

Coloring beautiful pictures can help with PTSD from narcissistic abuse and domestic abuse. It can help to calm down intrusive thoughts from OCD.

You can use colored pencils or colored markers. Markers can bleed through so I usually try to put a blank page between the coloring pages so as not to have colors bleeding through the design below.

fantasy coloring 2fantasy coloring 3

Insomnia meme couple part 1 :)

insomnia rcing

Your Heart Matters Meme

your heart matters

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