Sometimes we are struggling and it can be hard to remember in the throws of it that there are small things that we can do to help ourselves out. These are a few things that I use with people in order to help them improve their mood and how they feel about themselves.
1) Pay attention to your body.
Have you noticed that sometimes when you’re not feeling so hot and totally stressed out that you can feel like a floating head? Particularly if you have lived with trauma it is easy to feel like you are floating head and not connected to the rest of your body. Sometimes it is simple things that can make us feel better. This includes things such as paying attention to what, when and how you eat. Often we can forget that mind/ body needs healthy food habits in order to remain balanced. A lof us to turn to food when we are stressed and often eat stuff that won’t help our bodies and brains function that well.
Getting exercise is part of paying attention our bodies. Try taking a walk in a park, or a quiet part of your neighborhood that you don't go to all of the time and you feel safe in. It is best to keep it simple and not get to worried about if you are doing right or not. Stretching and yoga have been shown to have good improvements in helping people over time to help them with their mental and emotional well being. I generally ask the people that I work with to do some simple regular exercise and with some people have walking therapy sessions. A few minutes of stretching and a 30 minute walk can be as good as taking antidepressants for some milder forms of depression.
Also, try caring for your body by getting good sleep and pamper yourself. Wear decent clothes that you like and make you feel confident. Not sleeping can increase your stress and is really hard on your system. Another thing that helps is to pay attention to your posture as our emotional bodies sometimes want to make us hide and slouch down a bit. If you can carry an open and upright posture it can help your mood and people will notice in a positive way.
2) Change your attitude about yourself and your life.
This is the one that is sometimes the hardest for people and is one of the biggest ways that I see that therapy can help. It is not so much that we need to feel that we have to be perfect but that we can learn some self acceptance and build toward loving ourselves and the world around us. This is challenging as we have strong habits and emotions about how we see ourselves. Sometimes the painful things that we have been through make it difficult to see ourselves in a positive lens.
Try this: One simple way that we can do this everyday is to develop loving kindness towards ourselves. Just simply look at your situation and what you have been through. Recognize that the challenges that have you have been through are not your essence like dirt on a tea cup. You CAN wipe it off and part of that includes developing empathy for yourself. It also includes developing a kind approach to those around you and how you relate to your world. Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves and then don't trust other around us either and actively learning to take a loving attitude can make a difference in our lives.
3) Learn to practice mindfulness in a simple everyday way.
Mindfulness is the simple practice of learning to stay present with ourselves and with what we perceive is happening in our lives. We don't have to try to be too perfect at it but whatever you are doing just try to tune in to what is happening around you and how you are feeling. I have used this a lot to help people with different types of difficulties and it is based making a habit of letting go of the constant chatter of doubt, anxiety and so forth and coming back to where you are at in this moment. It can be hard sometimes but having the skill to connect with where we are can make a big difference in how we see things.
Try this: 3 minutes meditation. Try going to a quiet place where you live and sitting in a chair or something comfortable. First sit upright and you can put your hands on your thighs. Keep your eyes in a relaxed focus in front of you. Begin by simply noticing your body sitting in the chair. Tune in to how you are breathing and feel the breath coming in and out of your body. If things come up in your mind don’t run after them just let them drift away. Just relax that is the main point here. Rest for about 3 minutes. You can do this just about anywhere for a mini break.
4) Work towards having a community and people you care about around you.
Humans are built to be together. One of the worst things for your health is being isolated. For a lot of people who are struggling with trauma and emotional pain this is a biggy. Sometimes when we have been through a lot or mistreated it can be hard to want to reach out to other people and have them in our world. You might have broken relationships with family of other important people in your life and some of the patterns that we learn in our lives make it hard for us to connect with others in a meaningful way. This is another area that having a therapist can help you with. A good therapy relationship should help you learn to trust other people and express yourself in a genuine way.
Try this: Spend time with someone you care about. Also, Try volunteering or doing some other activities with people who are into positive things that you are interested in. Sometimes it is easier to be involved in a group where there is an activity if you have a hard time introducing yourself to people.
5) Work on having small successes.
Sometimes we feel like we have to swallow the whole ocean at once and feel overwhelmed so we don’t do anything. Do you ever feel like that? Like you have to get everything right and then give up because it won’t be perfect. When we are not feeling so hot it is easy to feel overwhelmed by everything. Making sure the kids get off to school, paying bills, our boss, keeping up with every little thing. We sometimes end up feeling like a failure.
Having small successes can have some positive impact on our mood and how we view ourselves. Actively setting goals is not something that we tend to do when we are depressed or not feeling so hot and may take some getting used to. It is important to be be realistic in our approach to how we do things and what we are currently capable of.
Try this: Set small goals for ourselves. Maybe instead of spring cleaning the whole house today we just agree to take out the trash and wash our clothes. Or, maybe choose something fun that you have wanted to try like checking out that new place to ride your bike or see that band you’ve wanted to see for awhile. Perhaps finally calling to get some help with what has been troubling you. Pushing yourself into new habits and setting small goals for yourself that lead to small successes can be rewarding and make us feel better about ourselves.
Call me today for a consultation (503) 236-7094.