Showing 71 posts tagged counselling
Monday was National Cupcake Day in support of Canada’s SPCAs and Humane Societies.
Come out to the Concourse in support of the KW Humane Society this Thursday (February 27, 2014). Visit with the therapy dogs and buy a cupcake between 11:00 and 1:00.
Imagine for a moment that you are a caveman or cavewoman. Your cave is your safe place; a place to store a bit of food and be protected from the weather and wild animals. Since there are no grocery stores, you have to leave your cave to hunt and gather food. On one particular day, you exit your cave and find yourself face to face with a snarling, drooling sabre-toothed tiger. You don’t have time to stand there thinking, “Hmmm, I wonder if he’s a little bit hungry.” You want to react and react quickly – fight or run!
This fight or flight survival instinct is the biological root of anxiety. In order for your body to react quickly, physical changes happen. Your heart rate increases, your breathing becomes short, shallow and quick, your muscles go on alert, and your senses sharpen. There are other physical changes that happen that are also part of this same survival response. There is a shut-down of non-essential operations; for example, digestion secretions stop which is why your mouth feels dry. You may sweat in preparation for cooling the body, and blood is diverted from your extremities to your large muscles groups leaving you feeling shaky or light-headed.
These physical changes make sense when you can see the threat such as a hungry sabre-toothed tiger. But in this day and age, sabre-toothed tigers no longer exist; however, we can react to perceived threats as strongly as we would react to a real life threatening situation. We feel these physical symptoms but we don’t understand what’s happening to us because there doesn’t seem to be any threat. The rational part of our brain tries to understand, and sometimes we think we are losing control or even dying. The physical symptoms are so strong that we can’t think ourselves back to a calmer state.
In times of threat, the survival instinct takes over and shuts down our ability to think clearly, specifically our ability to concentrate, organize, prioritize, and motivate become impaired. The challenge for university students is that during times of high stress you are also required to think clearly in order to do your best work.
So, what can you do? If you think about the physical symptoms of anxiety, reducing them can be more effective than trying to think. There are only a few physical symptoms with which you can create change, but the effects can be powerful. The first thing you can try is to slow down and deepen your breathing. When you are experiencing high anxiety, you are breathing short, shallow and quick. If you really were facing a sabre-toothed tiger, once he was dead or gone home, your breathing would return to normal. If you slow down and deepen your breathing, you are effectively telling your body that the tiger has gone home and you are safe.
The other physical symptom you can change is the tension in your muscles. When you are facing a threat, real or perceived, your muscles go on alert. It might seem counterintuitive, but the best way to relax your muscles is to tense them to their fullest and then, while breathing deeply, slowly relax them. Do this exercise with all of the major muscle groups in your body. The idea is to focus on isolating individual muscle groups, tense them fully, and then slowly relax. You can also do this exercise to relax areas in your body where you notice tension. In particular, after hunching over your laptop or books when studying, you may want to try this exercise on your neck and shoulders.
Anxiety often feels overwhelming because we may think we have no way to control it. However, trying these strategies may help you feel more calm and confident so you can reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety so your ability to think clearly naturally returns.
BrenÃ© Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share. (Filmed at TEDxHouston.)
‘Ground’ Yourself ~ by Carrie Pollard-Jarrell and Tracey Watson
What is grounding?
These are simple strategies aimed at holding you in the present to help you cope with intense emotions, thoughts, urges or memories.
Grounding helps you gain control over your emotions by distracting you from negative thoughts and enhancing mindfulness of the here and now.
Grounding strategies are easily done and often go unnoticed by others. As with most coping strategies, they become more effective with practice.
Who benefits from grounding?
Anyone who feels overwhelmed by intense emotions or urges can benefit from grounding strategies. These strategies do not fix the problem or difficulty, but they allow you to ride out and decrease the intensity of your feelings, such as anxiety and stress, sadness, depression,anger, flashbacks of trauma or abuse, disordered eating, addictions or self-harm behaviours.
How do I ground myself?
These strategies can increase feelings of safety and stability. Physically you can ground yourself by progressively tightening and then relaxing each muscle group. You can also place your feet on the ground and imagine your feet taking root like a tree. To ground yourself mentally you can engage supportive or compassionate self-talk (for example, ‘This is hard, but I am okay and I will get through it’). Poetry and stories can also serve as a way of releasing feelings and provide hope, inspiration, validation or encouragement. For example, the poem ‘I am me’ by Virginia Satir.
Listed below are a few examples of how you can easily use grounding strategies to help you cope.
1) Five senses: Describe two to three things that you see (e.g., colour of the walls), feel (e.g., cool air on skin), hear (e.g., ticking of a clock), smell (e.g., alcohol scent of hand sanitizer), or taste (e.g., mint gum). This activity will occupy (or distract) your mind and will help you connect more to your immediate environment.
2) Five experiences: If you’re being triggered by a past event or trauma, try listing five (or more) things that have happened between the event and the present moment. For example, you may have learned to tie your shoes or drive, or it might be reviewing new friends you have made or school courses you have taken.
3) Grounding or safety objects: Choose a small object that has a pleasant or soothing texture, or has a positive memory associated with it. Carry this object with you and touch or hold onto it when you feel intense emotions. Pay attention to the way the object feels; for example, you might notice that it feels cool when you first hold it, but it gets progressively warmer. If there is a positive association, think about why this particular object makes you feel safe or happy. Examples include: rocks or stones, Playdoh/stick tack, a piece of a blanket, a small stuffed toy, stress ball, coin, piece of jewellery, or a photograph.
4) Mental vacation: Think of a place that has a memory of being a calm environment. A place where you felt at peace, calm and content. Close your eyes. Now complete the Five senses exercise (#1) as if you were in that location. What did you feel? See? Hear? Taste? Smell? Really allow yourself to be mentally transported to this location. You’ve just had a mental vacation.