Sunday, April 28, 2013

More about Stress and Healing

For those of you who found the pervious tips for stress reduction helpful here are some more:

1. Learn some yoga It improves flexibility, it also helps you cope with stress and lower inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response that can be beneficial, such as when your body is fighting off infection, but chronically high levels of inflammation have been tied to health problems such as cardiovascular disease, asthma.

2. Make sure you get enough sleep. Getting adequate sleep doesn't just make you look better, it also improves your health and helps you stress less, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unfortunately, poor sleep and stress can be a vicious cycle: feeling stressed out during the day can cause you to toss and turn at night, then feel tired and even more stressed the follow morning. If you suffer from insomnia talk to your MD or to a psychologist.

3. Learn some Meditation. Numerous studies have shown the positive benefits of meditation, which include soothing stress, decreasing blood pressure, easing feelings of pain and even preventing relapses in patients with depression. For example, a 2008 study from Emory University in Atlanta showed that Zen meditation, which encourages mental awareness and control of one's thoughts while focusing on breathing, could treat disorders marked by distracting thoughts, such as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. There are many different meditation techniques, so don't think that you're required to sit cross-legged and hum a mantra to de-stress. Some meditation styles focus on clearing one's mind, while others encourage visualizing healing or calming imagery or thinking kind thoughts towards oneself and others. Those with physical limitations can also meditate while sitting in a chair or even lying.

4. Venting has its limits. Complaining about what's stressing you out may seem like a good idea, but a study published in July showed that unloading about your problems to a friend may not always be helpful. The study, which was conducted by researchers from the University of Kent in England, found that when people with traits of perfectionism faced daily setbacks, venting made them feel worse . These study participants felt less satisfied with their circumstances than before they talked to a friend about what was stressing them out.

5. Instead Keep a journal. Keeping a journal can lessen stress in several ways, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). When you're feeling frazzled, writing down your feelings makes you feel more in control, and may help you better analyze the situation. It can even give you a new perceptive or ways to address the problem. And by looking over past journal entries, you may begin to see a pattern of what stresses you out, according to the NIH. You can then decide what needs to change to prevent those stress triggers from affecting you in the future.

6. Even better: Talk to a psychologist. It is more than venting. It is healing and enlightening.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Healing the Trauma

For the survivors of the Boston massacre and all of us surviving the blows of life.
I hope the words of the Poet are as soothing to you as they are to me.

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, - act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sand of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solenm main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Saturday, April 20, 2013

We will endure. Six ways to handle trauma

The grueling images from the Boston massacre tore at my heart and haunted my dreams.
Tearful people sat in my office and talked about their shredded sense of security:
" I am afraid to go to my classes, the movies, the Mall". I heard it many times over this past week.

The fact is that "evil" has always existed in the world and our abilities to predict or stop it leave much to be desired. What is magnificent ,however, is our species' ability to persevere and thrive in spite of it. So here is what I would suggest:

  1. Turn off the TV and turn on music. Repeated exposure to traumatic news is retraumatizing  and   sets off negative thinking patterns. Music calms the emotional brain centers.
  2. Go out with friends or family and have a fun time. Laughter is a natural antidepressant.
  3. Do some exercise: walking, bicycle, yoga... Endorphins is another natural antidepressant.
  4. Be with nature: the ocean, the parks, your garden. Nature heals.
  5. Pick a task, no matter how big or small, from your To Do List and finish it today.
  6. Spoil yourself. The iPad, new phone, the manicure you had wanted, GO for it. Terrorists want to reduce us to miserable recluses and destroy our way of living because they are losers and jealous of our successes. Fight back. Reaffirm life.
We can not totally avoid evil or crisis, but we can control how we handle them. We have and we will endure.

And of course if trauma symptoms continue see a psychologist. We are here to help.