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Back To Basics: 4 Ideas To Keep You Going Strong

How ‘ya holding up these days?

So many people are being hammered by negative stress, anxiety, anger, fear, depression, and a few other things. So much to think about to take care of yourself and those you love.

What are you doing to keep yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually uplifted? Feel free to share your ideas with me-I may even collate them and share them back with all of you (minus any identifying info of course!).

For many, it’s coming down to the basics:

1. Focus on what you can control. Worrying about something you can’t control only keeps any anxiety-igniting thoughts alive and well. There are some things you can control; decide on those and do them.

2. Reconnect with your body. Do a body scan, find any areas of tension, and then BEFORE you do your deep breathing, tighten the tense part even more, THEN, do your deep breathing to relax it.

3. Acknowledge any intrusive thoughts or strong feelings. Be gentle with yourself about this. If you have a mind, it’s gonna wander, so do your best to not dwell on these particular thoughts or feelings-that only keeps your amygdala activated, which keeps the body in a state of anxiety. You certainly don’t need that now.

4. Find ways to laugh. Whether it’s funny jokes shared online, silly videos, funny movies, or TV shows, find ways to laugh. There are several online sites that have some really funny jokes-laughter is great medicine to decrease negative stress and build resilience. Maybe even try laughter yoga.

5. Stay connected. We’re all in this together and we’ll get through it together, but right now, we have to remain physically apart. However, don’t let physical isolation turn into social isolation-stay in touch with family, friends, and neighbors. Now we can use technology as a force for good to stay connected.

As for me, I’m keeping a quote by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, very close:

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” 

I’m also keeping the exercise up to keep my immune system, especially my IgA and IgG up (thank my good friend and colleague, Ken Nedd, MD for this information).

We will get through this,

As always, I love helping women live happier lives. Whether you call it depression, anxiety, stress, or nerves, I’d like to help. I invite you to call me at 512.680.2874 for your free (up to) 15-minute phone consultation. Let’s discuss how I may be able to help.

And remember, TBC is completely online now, which frees up your time so you can enjoy your life more!

Looking forward to hearing your story and helping you feel better,

Stay healthy and connected,

Dr. B.

Ideas To Keep The Negative Stress At Bay During This “New Normal”

Wow-what a difference a week makes. Early last week I was making plans to give some community talks, but then, BAM-I don’t think they’re gonna happen in the time frame I thought.

There’s so much more I wish I could share with you in this particular short newsletter about ways to deal with any worry, anxiety, and fears, but I want to keep it very easy on you because I know you’ve got a lot to think about these days.

Here are 5 ideas to keep worry, anxiety, and fears (WAF’s) at bay:

1.  Recognize and get comfortable with uncertainty
Think about it-we all live with a lot of uncertainty on a daily basis. For example, any time you take a shower, you could fall in the tub and hurt yourself. But does that stop you from taking a shower? No, because you don’t dwell on that fact, which makes it a lot easier to take a shower.  When someone constantly focuses on uncertain situations, it keeps the amygdala activated, which is a recipe for more worrying, anxiety, and fear. It becomes a vicious cycle. You can choose differently, recognize that uncertainty is very common, thus enabling you to have more control over your thoughts.

2. Keep what’s happening in perspective
A quick way to keep from having WAF’s is to limit media time. Ask yourself how much time, how much of my precious life and energy, am I willing to give up to upsetting media coverage? Yes, stay informed (more on that later) however it’s important that you limit exposure to what you hear on TV and read online and re-focus on what’s good and positive in your life as well as the things you do have control over.

3. Keep in touch with those you care about and who you know care about you
Using CDC guidelines about social distancing, reach out to those important to you. Yes, I too believe in the power of hugs, but social distancing protects you and the ones you love. Use technology, if you have it – a simple phone call, text, or video call may increase feelings of connectedness, which can help keep you calmer.

4. Continue your health promoting routine
If you’ve ever worked with me, you may remember the encouragement to create a wellness lifestyle, which includes exercise or some type of movement. Exercise is a great way to decrease WAF’s because you have to really focus as you do it so you don’t hurt yourself. It’s also a way to integrate your body, mind, and spirit to keep the stress hormones at bay. Keep on moving!

5. Start or continue to make happiness or contentment your focus
As you focus on the good already in your life (from #2), consider intentionally taking it in. Dr. Rick Hanson*, a neuropsychologist offers us this suggestion through H.E.A.L.:

H: Have a positive experience. Notice or create it, like the sun coming up in the morning, a baby’s smile as they crawl towards you, or calling your bff and sharing your day.

E: Enrich it. Hold this new positive experience in you for 5 seconds or longer. Use all your senses to truly feel it.

A: Absorb it: Allow this really good experience to become part of you so that it feels as comfortable as your favorite pair of shoes.

L: Link positive and negative material. Even if you have something negative in the past, allow the positive experience you’ve been having to remain front and center. See if you can remain with the positive and let go or simply allow the past negative event to be present without focusing on it.

Last, it’s important to be concerned, stay informed, and not panic. Choosing credible information sources, such as CDC, can help and give you the information you need.

As always, I love helping women live happier lives. Whether you call it depression, anxiety, stress, or nerves, I’d like to help. I invite you to call me at 512.680.2874 for your free 15-minute phone consultation. Let’s discuss how I may be able to help.

And remember, TBC is completely online now offering video sessions, which frees up your time so you can enjoy your life more!

Looking forward to hearing your story and helping you feel better,

Dr. B.

*Hanson, R. (2013). Hardwiring Happiness: The Practical Science of Reshaping Your Brain-and Your Life. Random House.

Are You Postponing Happiness?: 3 Easy Ideas To Enjoy Your Now

We’re keeping it short and sweet this month!

Are You Postponing Happiness?: 3 Easy Ideas To Enjoy Your Now 

Are you the kind of woman who tells herself things like:

1. “I’ll be happy when I get that promotion”
2. “I’ll be happy when I get married”
3. “I’ll be happy when I get that BMW”
4. “I’ll be happy when ____________”

Notice anything about these statements?

They’re all future oriented and if you think about it, the future, while we all like to think it’s gonna be brighter, actually never comes. Bottom line folks, all we have is the eternal “now” moment. And since moments are fleeting, how can you ever be happy if you’re constantly waiting for a time that never really arrives?

How about enjoying your now? Here are 3 easy ideas that might help with that.

1. Take a walk 
This may sound simplistic but walking, especially in nature or with a friend, has a soothing effect such that your mind slows down, becomes calmer, and you forget to worry about when your “sweetie” will show up in your life.

2. Savor whatever you’re doing
This means notice which activities you usually rush through and begin to slow down as you do them. For example, preparing meals: observe the shape, smell, and texture of veggies as you chop them; listen to the sound of the sizzle as you put them in a skillet of hot oil; notice how the shape, smell and texture changes as you continue to cook them; then notice how they taste as you enjoy eating them.

3. Have an attitude of gentle acceptance
Gentle acceptance doesn’t mean resignation. It’s a choice you make when you notice, “yep, I don’t like this, but I can’t do anything about it” OR “yep, I don’t like this, but  here’s what I can do”.  Gentle acceptance means you can change how you feel and respond to a situation-hence, it’s a choice.

As always, I love helping women live happier lives. Whether you call it depression, anxiety, stress, or nerves, I’d like to help. I invite you to call me at 512.680.2874 for your free up to 15-minute phone consultation. Let’s discuss how I may be able to help.

And remember, TBC is completely online now, which frees up your time so you can enjoy your life more!

Looking forward to hearing your story and helping you feel better,

Dr. B.

 

March 1-7: Sleep Awareness Week

March 8: International Women’s Day

March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Self Harm Awareness Month

Stress and Your Heart: You Don’t Want This For Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hope you’ve said that to those you love and care about and they’ve said it back to you. It’s really good to know you have social support to surround, love, nurture, and have your back when stressors come your way.  Just knowing you have that social support, whether it’s close or far away, is one of the many ways you can keep the negative stress wolves from your door.

And even though Wear Red Day was February 7, to help your get even more benefit from having a strong support system, it’s time to think about how negative stress can affect your heart.

Think about it, when you’re at work and your boss imposes a new deadline or your 17 year-old again tells you, “you just don’t understand”, or someone cuts you off in traffic and barely misses hitting you, your stress response is probably gonna kick in.

What’s happening to your heart then?

As soon as you add your own meaning to any of the situations above, your breath quickens, epinephrine helps dilate your bronchial tubes in your lungs, cortisol ramps up, your blood gets thicker because the epinephrine releases fibrinogen to help clotting, and your blood pressure rises. Some blood vessels open up, but hey, the ones returning to your heart-they constrict. Yes, that means your blood is crashing back into your heart like water hitting the levees in New Awlins during Katrina-and look what happened to them.

And since the culture in which we live encourages a chronically activated stress response, the wear and tear on the heart can contribute to developing devastating consequences, like hypertension, heart attack, arrhythmias, damaging artery walls, and plaque buildup to name a few.

So today, if you haven’t already, reach out, spread the love and allow it to return back to you. Your heart and your health in general, and yes, this includes your emotional and spiritual health, will thank you for it.

As always, I love helping women live happier lives. Whether you call it depression, anxiety, stress, or nerves, I’d like to help. I invite you to call me at 512.680.2874 for your free 15-minute phone consultation. Let’s discuss how I may be able to help.

And remember, TBC is completely online now, offering video therapy and coaching, which frees up your time so you can enjoy your life more!

Looking forward to hearing your story and helping you feel better,

Dr. B.

 

 

2020-The Year of Intentions and Choices

To start the year off, let’s choose one thing, yes, only one thing, to focus on. By choosing only one thing, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed by January’s end and give up.

So, what could it be?

Choose one thing and it can be as simple as:

-Drink more water everyday day

-Smile at 5 or more people each day

-Save $20 each week

-Volunteer

-Read one book or more a month

-Park further and walk longer to get more steps in per day

You get the idea.

So choose only one thing and choose wisely,

As always, I love helping women lead happier, healthier, more resilient lives. Whether through individual therapy, coaching, customized programming, or free community presentations, I’m here to serve. When you’re ready, or even just a bit curious, give me a call-512.680.2874-let’s explore how I may be able to help. And since TBC now offers sessions online, connecting and working with me just got a whole lot easier.

Talk with you soon,

Dr. B.

 

What Are You Grateful For?

What a year! As we wind it down, all I can think of is gratitude-so many blessings in my life. I keep a gratitude journal that I try to update daily and will be starting a new one on January 1st.  This year, I’ve had a lot to be grateful for.

What about you?

Do you keep a gratitude journal? It might not seem important to do this, but being grateful and keeping a gratitude journal has many benefits. Here are 5 of them:

1. You may experience more empathy towards others, so you’re more likely to give someone the benefit of the doubt and not jump to conclusions about their behavior(s)

2. You’re more likely to feel happy. If you’re feeling depressed or a just a little down, gratitude can reduce some of your symptoms, which in turns allows you to feel a little (or a lot) happier

3. You may sleep better and longer and who doesn’t want or need that

4. You may feel more optimistic and have a lot more hope for your life (and the lives of those you care about)

5. You may experience a decrease in an elevated stress response. With this, you can begin to develop resilience-the belief and knowledge that you can effect positive change, that you are POWER-FULL, and you have or at least know where to go, to get the resources you need

So as we say good-bye to 2019, try acknowledging the good you have in your life instead of focusing on things you think you need and want, but don’t have.

As always, I love helping women lead happier, healthier, more resilient lives. Whether through individual therapy, coaching, customized programming, or free community presentations, I’m here to serve. When you’re ready or even just a little curious, give me a call-512.680.2874-let’s explore how I may be able to help. And since TBC now offers sessions online, connecting and working with me just got a whole lot easier.

Until next year,

Blessings to you and yours,

Dr. B.

Warning! Your Negative Thoughts Could Be Controlling Your Life.

I won the lottery last week!

Well, my winnings were $3.00.

At first I was happy, excited when I saw those numbers match-I hadn’t won anything literally in years. About 2 seconds later, I went headfirst into disappointment, sadness, anger, then grieving (yes, actual grief over this).

But then, because I’m me, I quickly became aware that I was starting to go down the pity potty road and so decided to take a major detour- I began to feel gratitude.

Why?

I was $3.00 richer than I was about 5 seconds ago.

The mind is like that with emotions to quickly follow. If you’re able to monitor, notice, and quickly transform the thoughts that don’t lead you to feel good about yourself and your life, depression, anxiety, imposter syndrome, and a host of other “ailments” can assault you.

For example, 2 of my thoughts were: D#&n, it’s only $3.00”, (a negative automatic thought) but I quickly countered that with a more truthful, reality bound thought, “Yippee, I won something”.

Which one do you think helped me feel better?

This month, as we begin to wind down the year with a lot of festivities, get-togethers, and good cheer, monitor your thoughts and where they’re taking you. Every day, ask yourself, how do you want to feel:

-Emotionally?

-Physically?

-Spiritually?

Decide this and it’ll tell you how to counter or transform any negative automatic thoughts you may have.

Last, depending on whom you read, we have about 50,000 (yikes!!!) thoughts a day and about 98% of those are the same ones we had yesterday. Monitor your thoughts and focus on those that propel you forward, instead of those that hold you back.

As always I love helping women lead healthier, happier lives. If you’d some support in doing this, call me at 512.680.2874 for your free consultation to see how I may be able to help. Remember, TBC is completely online now, which can free up some of your time to continue enjoying all the great things in life.

Talk with you soon,

Dr. B.

Ideas To Help You Stop Stress Eating At Work

(I was asked to reprise this article)

Does this sound familiar:

“I hate coming to work everyday. My boss is clueless and some of my co-workers are, well, they think they own the place. I don’t know what to do.  But I’m staring at this candy bar calling my name and I know I shouldn’t eat it. I don’t want to, but here it goes into my mouth. By the way, I’ve got 2 more in my desk drawer. Why is it always like this”?

This month let’s help you stress less at work so you don’t end up eating candy bars at your desk.

To get you started, what was going on before you pulled out the candy bar? Was it a situation where you weren’t the one in control, with someone else directing all the action? Or did someone say something to humiliate or chastise you?

Two, in either situation, did you take back control, stand up for yourself, or back down? I’m gonna bet you didn’t take back control and that you backed down. Am I right?

When you don’t stand your ground with firm boundaries, you can leave the office with footprints all over your back. You might feel unappreciated, disrespected, ignored, or manipulated. Add this to not having a sense of control, like too many time pressures or not being able to participate in any decision-making, and you’ve got a recipe for some serious work stress.

Both of these situations can set up, what Dr. Pamela Peeke calls, the “stew and chew” response.  Your stress response goes into overdrive, increasing your cortisol and adrenaline levels. The cortisol can lead to cravings for sweet, starchy, high fat foods. Research shows that about two-thirds of stressed out people will reach for food like that. Combining the cortisol with adrenaline gives you the fuel to help you run away from this source of stress.

But you don’t run away, you don’t do anything physical at all. You sit there, rehearse over and over in your mind what happened, swear it won’t happen again, and then, you down the candy bar, inhaling it so fast, you have no idea what it tastes like and you may not even really remember eating it. Plus you still don’t feel any better.

Then the same stress eating cycle repeats later in your day.

You need something to turn off and keep off this chronic response.

Next time, before that candy bar touches your lips, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What just happened? Identify the 5 W’s of the situation (who, what, when, where, why). You can even do this if you are ruminating about something in the past. Get very clear and specific on this.
  2. Do I have control over this situation? For example, if it’s a new time demand, maybe there’s room for negotiation. Or sometimes, you may have to say NO and mean it.
  3. What else can I do? Begin to brainstorm other ways you might handle the same or similar situation in the future. For example: be more assertive; do deep breathing; go for a walk or do some pushups (my personal favorite); or simply, don’t bring any more candy to work.

As always, I love helping women live happier, healthier lives. Whether you call it depression, anxiety, stress, or nerves, I’d like to help. I invite you to call me at 512.680.2874 for your free phone consultation. We can discuss if therapy or coaching could be what you’re looking for.

Looking forward to hearing your story and helping you feel better,

Dr. B.

Some Ideas On Why We Need To Laugh More Often

All good things…need a 2.0!

It’s August, it’s hot and I can’t take this heat. Time for a re-boot.

Re-boot in this case means a few things have changed at TBC. As of 7/31, the doors have closed and I’ve moved online, ready to serve more of you in a more convenient way.

I’m also taking a short break while I continue to get everything ready, so for this month, I want to reprise an article about laughter. With this heat, it may be hard to find something to laugh at but I’m doing my best to bring more belly laughs into my day to get through it all.

Some Ideas On Why We Need To Laugh More Often

Take a moment and think-when’s the last time you had a good laugh? Take your time. If you find it hard to remember, listen up.

I know it might sound cliché, but laughter really is great medicine to feed your soul and keep you on track.

Why? Laughter, whether it’s easy or deep in your belly, serves a great purpose. It immediately encourages a distance between a situation and your reaction to it. When you have that emotional distance, there’s less attention on you and the situation, so you might be able to see it and yourself a lot more clearly. It helps you gain perspective which in turn might allow you to come up with better ideas on how to handle a situation.

Besides reducing your stress hormones, what else does laughter do? It:

  • Stimulates your immune system (think Norman Cousins and Patch Adams)
  • Relaxes your muscles
  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • increases social bonding, keeping your relationships fresh and making them stronger

With all these great benefits, why aren’t more people laughing? Well, they may not know about the benefits. Also, the challenge is remembering to do it regularly. You have to make laughter important and create space for 
it. Another thing, even if you don’t laugh, according to Dr. Sonya Lyubormirsky, just the “expectation of laughter can increase beta-endorphins and human growth hormones’.

So, what can you do to laugh more? I’ve got a few ideas. 
Do what Norman Cousins did. He watched funny movies. I totally agree with his statement that

“laughter serves as a bulletproof vest that protects you against the ravages of negative thinking”. 

The spontaneous laughter you have when you watch funny movies can help you disconnect from your troubles.

If you teach or offer any kind of training, add levity to what you’re sharing. It not only benefits you but helps those attending gain a deeper, better grasp of the new information.

If you have small kids, release your inner child and join them playing on the swings (although it’s kinda hot now, so maybe find an inside place with a playset)

At family dinner or any time your family regularly gets together, create a new ritual of everyone sharing something funny or telling a new joke.

I love just about anything by Loretta LaRoche, for example: Life is Short, Wear Your Party Pants or Life is Not a Stress Rehearsal. I get them free at my local library.

My challenge to you this month is, everyday, make sure you get in at least 10 good belly laughs. Even if you have to put it on your schedule, make it important, and do it. And since laughter is contagious, you might create your own flashmob, make new friends, and just have a darn good time.

As always, I love empowering women to live happier, healthier lives. Whether you call it depression, anxiety, stress, or nerves, I’d like to help. I invite you to call me at 512.680.2874 for your free 15-minute phone consultation. Let’s discuss how I may be able to help.

Looking forward to hearing your story and helping you feel better,

Dr. B.

How Choosing One Thing (and One Thing Only) Can Have A Positive Domino Effect

It’s almost summer. To help me get through it I’m considering the options I have to stay cool and not lose my cool. Some of you have been sharing with me the many things you want to do to not lose your cool. Consider joining me this month as I suggest you choose one, yes only one, thing to do to achieve this. Focus on that and do it well-then the domino effect usually takes effect and several other aspects of your life seem to more easily fall into place.

Let’s choose one new health promoting behavior that we’ll practice regularly. And then let’s reward ourselves for sticking to it.

How Choosing One Thing (and One Thing Only) Can Have A Positive Domino Effect

When we say we want to see and experience positive changes in our lives, what are we really saying? Usually we’re saying we want a lot of changes and we want them yesterday. But is that really wise or beneficial? A person could become overwhelmed by too many changes such that it puts them back into the ‘stuck’ place they were before.

This month, if you’re considering any positive changes, choose one and one only to focus on. Select one that you can make specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and has a time span to it. Yes, I’m on my SMART soapbox again, but stick with me.

Do you know your one thing yet? Take a few moments and when you’re ready, read on.

Now that you have that SMART positive change in your mind, become more aware of how you’re feeling, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Feel free to do a body scan and then some deep breathing to help with this.

Example: Desired positive change: increase social connections

With this specific positive change in mind, you may already know someone or a few people you want to get to know better. Choose today to start reaching out, making plans to get together, and then actually getting together. In a world of e-communications, sometimes time is wasted with the back and forth of them.

Suggestion: old school phoning could work.

Yes, at first doing all the above may feel a little uncomfortable, but that’s what goals are for-to encourage us to move forward and accept the rug will be pulled from underneath us, but we keep on going knowing that we’re moving toward what we truly want. Looking back is not an option!

As this new behavior becomes second nature, now you’ve got double rewards; new friends, plus any thing you decide to treat yourself with to congratulate yourself for sticking with it.

Oh by the way, my one positive thing to keep me cool this summer:  a really wide-brimmed hat with SPF 50. I can wear it for gardening, with friends, while shopping or even when sitting on the deck watching the clouds go by. My reward: being able to enjoy more gorgeous sunsets at the end of a long day.

As always I love helping women live happier lives. Give me a call today at 512.680.2874 for your free 15 minute consultation. Or schedule a Calming ConversationTM for coaching at my website: brinkleycenter.com. Looking forward to talking with you.