Category Archives: depression

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Make this an Action not Re-action Year in your life.

By Paula Randant,  LCSW  1/25/2011

Often we spend our life in reaction mode.  We react to the words of others.  We react to situations.  We react to opportunities.  When we react we put the presenter in charge of our life and our plans.  The original stimulus/action/thought are not ours, we are REACTING.  Taking action to plan what we want to participate in or achieve in life gives us control over our life.  Being in control requires dreaming, thinking, self evaluation, planning and then goal setting.  Reacting is often easier.  It requires no advance work but it denies us achievement under our own terms.  It also often leaves us not going after personal dreams.  To ‘shoot for the moon’ you have to dream of some achievement first.  Often we set aside our dreams because they seem far off, too difficult or others don’t agree with them.  There are many excuses:  it takes too long, it won’t pay enough, other’s are smarter, it costs too much, I don’t have the time to study, going to school is hard, I’m too old, I’m too young.  I’m sure you can think of even more excuses.

Dreaming is critical.  What do I want to be, to do, to experience or how do I want to live opens up our imagination and the scope of possibility.  Dreams can be personal.  Should I marry?  Do I want to have children? Should I buy a house? Should I go to college?  Where should I go to school?  What type of life style do I aspire to?  I want to play football.  I want to play golf.  I want to write a book.  I want to dance or sing.  I want to garden. I want to join a church.  Be a politician.  Be a Senator.  Have a good job.  Have a career.  Be the best attorney.  Be the best mom.  Be President of the PTA.  Travel the world.  Make home made bread.  Be an astronaut or be a professional athlete.  Our dreams can change over time.  As we become more mature and have more life experience we may change our dreams and expectations of life and ourselves.

Thinking is next.  When we think we are in the evaluation and gathering information phase.  We learn about our dream in practical terms.

Next we need to self evaluate.  What are our gifts, talents and personal resources that we bring to the table?  Am I intelligent, how hard am I willing to work to achieve my dream?  What will hinder me?  Not enough money, illness, and responsibilities that already exist in my life may play a factor in my success.  Can I overcome the challenges that could get in my way?  This phase is very important and needs honest methodical consideration and possibly some outside consultation.

On we go to planning and goal setting.  I want to become a baker and open my own business.  Goal stated now you need to plan and set interim goals.  What do I need?  A license, education, training, financial help to achieve my long term goal.  Steps that can be short term goals come next.  I need training, what is it, when would I start how much does it cost?  How much do I need to know to move forward to the next step?

Does achieving the goal of owning my own business as a baker mean that I am done?   Achieving my stated goal is just the beginning.  Now I live my dream and set knew short and long term goals.  Most of us have many goals not just one.   I’m now living my dream, my goal but now I have to work to get good at my dream.

The growth and excitement of life comes from setting goals, achieving goals and becoming better and better at what we do and at who we are as individuals.

Developing A Peaceful Home.

Developing a Peaceful Home.

By Paula Randant

What is a peaceful home environment?  I’m sure different families would have a variety of definitions.  I am going to attempt to establish a definition here so you know what we are trying to achieve.  A peaceful home starts the day with a gentle beginning.  Alarm clocks are good.  Gentle personal waking is ok.  Gentle waking would be opening doors to let other household sounds and light in, maybe a “wake up sleepy head kiss or touch”, snooze alarms with music are good.  Things to avoid to start a day off well, turning on bright lights when still sleeping, dumping someone out of bed, yelling, name calling, raised voices, cold water or any other abrasive action. Structure is important.  Make a schedule for each family member.  If they are adults let them take care of themselves.  Under 18 years of age a schedule and structure is effective.  On school or work days have a morning routine that includes time for wake up, dressing, breakfast, finishing homework, putting on coat and leaving on time without hurrying.   A peaceful home supports family members at school or work with good wishes, help in organizing, lunch and snacks ready to go.   On time transportation and pick up.  A peaceful home has an established routine for after school or after workChildren respond to structure which may be just a chart that records the usual routine or scheduled activities such as sports, music lessons, dance lessons, religious education etcetera.  Language is a large part of peace in the home and family.  Language to avoid when trying to have a  peaceful and loving household.  There should be no tolerance for swearing, vulgar language, yelling, name calling, put downs, bullying, and physical aggression of any kind.  The word of any day should be everyone no matter how young or how old deserves to be treated with respect.  Parents who swear or use vulgar language are teaching their children this language and modeling disrespect and verbal abuse.  There are so many words in our language that we should never run out of possible word choices to express ourselves.  A peaceful dinner or any meal time is very important.  When meal times are conflictual or stressful it becomes difficult to eat and digest food.  Tone at meal times is important.  Letting go of conflict or disagreement at meal times is important.   Topics of conflict or that criticize don’t belong at the dinner table.  They produce anxiety and stress and interfere with eating and digestion.  A peaceful bedtime is also important.  It is hard to fall asleep and stay asleep if your stomach is in knots or you’re angry and upset.  Bed time rituals are important to produce restful sleep.  Warm shower or bath, night time prayers or stories, a night light near by all help to set the stage for restful sleep.  Use soft voice tones, stay away from criticism or negative thoughts at bedtime.  Sometimes music is helpful to set a restful mood.  Peace can be illusive but it does not have to be.  If you find yourself angry and unable to be gentle it is time to look at your own demons.  Talk to a therapist or trusted friend or pastor for guidance and relief.

Stress! Stress! Stress!

 

HOW DO WE MANAGE STRESS?

Paula Randant, MSW

There are many stressors in life.  We need some stress.  It motivates us to eat, to work, to be active.  There are physical stressors such as hunger, cold or heat or illness.  There are emotional stressors such as death, loss, relationships, birth, marriage, buying a house, moving, conflict and criticism to name a few.  There are also cognitive stressors.  Cognitive stressors may come from work, school or home.  They present a challenge to solve a problem, develop a plan, understand a process or create something new.

Stress is not a bad thing until it tips the scale of balance in our lives.  When stressors are in balance in our lives we function at our most productive.  When the balance scales tip a little in one direction we will strive to rebalance.  Our bodies and neuro-chemical systems activate to return to balance.  Long term continuous stress or multiple stressors can begin to move our bodies and emotional and cognitive functioning out of balance and impede our optimum functioning.  The longer the stressor continues to overload ones system the more difficult to return to balance without assistance.

Our bodies are wonderfully designed.  Our bodies work automatically to return to stasis.  As stressors pile on or continue in an unrelenting fashion our systems can begin to break down.  We see the evidence of the break down with illness, depression, inability to manage daily life and loss of joy in living.  So what can one do to manage stress in our lives and maintain the balance necessary for optimum functioning.  Let us take the three realms of functioning I’ve mentioned physical, emotional and cognitive stressors.  All three areas benefit from physical exercise, appropriate levels of sleep and good nutrition.

Physical stressors are probably the easiest to remedy and return to balance.  Hunger, temperature/climate, and illness can be remedied directly.  Food, clothing, shelter and medical treatment can relieve and rebalance these stressors.

Emotional stressors may be the most difficult to remedy.  Stages of grief differ in length and duration for each individual.  Life events such as birth, marriage and buying a house may be positive but none the less  may produce stress reactions.  Conflict and criticism may result in interpsychic injury  that resists remedy.  Physical exercise, good nutrition and sleep are a start.  Talking to a trusted family member or friend can assist in working through emotional reactions.  Sharing feelings, discussing events and problem solving all may assist the return to balance.  If the individual begins to deteriorate  and has home life and work impacted it is probably time to seek professional help.  Counseling with a trained professional can help to assist in the return to balance.  If symptoms become more serious with daily living skills deteriorating or self destructive thoughts or actions occur it is time to combine counseling with the assistance of a Physician to consider medical interventions such as medication or hospitalization.

Cognitive stressors also respond to exercise, sleep and good nutrition.    Writers block is an example of cognitive distress.  Some suggestions for  restarting our creativity are quiet time, thinking time, change of activity or routine, social interaction, play and change of scenery.  Sharing ideas and feelings with family and friends may also be helpful.

Stress and it’s roots can often be complicated.  Finding ways to manage stress is important.

Back to School with Paula 2015

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It is that time of year when college students are getting ready to leave for school, high school students are getting ready to begin classes and fall sports such as football or activities such as Marching Band are starting.   Elementary and Middle School students are starting to bicker at home and Mom is getting ready for the kids to head back to school.  School produces a lot of anxiety in children.  The academic work load is significant for today’s students.  Even students in Kindergarten have homework.  Besides the work load children are often involved in sports or music lessons or religious education and more.   Though most of these activities are valuable they also increase stress and our children may have little down time.  Hours on video games don’t reduce stress.  How does a family organize life to lower stress and maintain achievement.

Here are some ideas.

College students: 

Students leaving home for the first time have the most difficulty.  They are leaving friends and family for the first time and though excited for new life experiences are fearful of the challenges and losses.   When someone is leaving anger may pop up as a way to cope with leaving.  Parents can manage this by being empathetic and responding to the underlying emotions rather than the anger.   Parents are often under stress at this impending change in their life as a loved child is growing up and leaving home for college.  Sharing thoughts and feelings of pride in a child’s growth and success in life is important as well as love and affection recognizing that being apart may make one sad.  Preparing together is a good thing.  Shopping, planning and discussing the excitement and challenges of college are important.  Encouraging and reinforcing your student and their abilities is helpful.  Planning parent visits to campus is also important.  It is better for a student to get connected with their new school and develop new friends and engage in the full experience of college life than to come home too often.  Holiday and extended breaks at school are better choices for visits home.

 Elementary and Middle School students:

K through 8th grade students face many stresses and challenges.  The school day is intense.  The academic work load is significant for today’s students.   Good sleep habits, good eating habits and exercise are important.  Most children benefit from structure.  A schedule chart at home can be useful and reduce conflict or tasks not completed.  A chart should include the morning (before school) routine and the evening (after school) routine.  Charts can be tied to a reward system that provides positive reinforcement for cooperative behavior.  Many students have sports, or classes like dancing or music after school and schedules can be tight.  It is important that children have play time to be active and unwind as well.  Homework can be a challenge.  Students should have a quiet place where parents can monitor homework progress or help when necessary such as the kitchen table.  TV time should be saved until homework and dinner are done.  As students reach 3rd or 4th grade assignment note books become important to manage school work.

Bedtime Difficulties:

When children have difficulty getting to sleep at a reasonable  time the following ideas might help.

Have a bedtime routine.  Schedule bedtimes by the child’s age and sleep needs.  An eight year old and a twelve year old should not have the same bedtime.   After dinner and homework, time should be monitored and baths, brushing teeth, quiet reading alone or with a parent and prayers are some of the activities to prepare for sleep.  A child should have their own bed.  Reduce stimulation by ending video games, TV or rough housing prior to the bedtime routine as they interfere with sleep.

High School students:

High school students are often stressed.  The academic and social challenges of high school are significant.   Adequate sleep, healthy eating habits and physical activity are important for high school students.   The use of cell phones, iPods, and computers and other media increase stress, reduce focus on academics and may interfere with sleep.  Parents should remove phones and other media at bedtime when your student is expected to sleep.  Peers often call each other during the night interfering with sleep.   Keep up with your teen’s life.  Try to find ways to meet their friends and learn about the social context of their life.  As they mature they will be exposed to activities that are risky such as alcohol use, drug use or sexual experimentation.   Parent involvement in their student’s life by frequent meals together, activities together, and religious activities are important ways to keep channels of communication open.  Let your teen put their music on the car radio, driving time with kids often is a door to what is going on in their life.  Knowing the influences in your teen’s life will help you to head off problems.

Comments on the topics discussed in this article or ideas you would like to share are welcome.