Four Ways to Keep a Positive Attitude During Illness

balloons

 

When you’re sick, it can be hard to stay positive. If it’s a cold or flu and passes quickly, things return to normal after a short time. If you have a chronic, long-term, or life-threatening illness, that can be a much different challenge.

With every illness, there are good and bad days. Sometimes you’ll feel better than at other times. Having good moments and staying positive overall, though, is possible even during illness.

Dealing with a Diagnosis

When you first receive a diagnosis of a serious illness, it can be very difficult to cope with the fear and anger. It’s natural to have these kinds of emotions, even if it’s counterproductive. Give yourself some time to be upset, and then start focusing on all the good that’s still in your life. There are many things to be thankful for, and staying positive can actually help you feeling better longer.

You’ll also have a lot of questions you’ll want to ask, once the diagnosis has had some time to sink in. When you ask questions, ensure you get the information you need from your doctor. If he seems indifferent, it may be time to get a second opinion or a doctor who has a better bedside manner so you feel more hopeful.

What If You’re Sick for a Long Time?

With serious illnesses, you may remain sick for some time. If you spend your time thinking of the good things that are still available to you, you’ll still experience happiness. Even small joys can keep you positive and peaceful when you allow yourself to feel the joy of the moment.

To help you stay joyful, consider these options:

    1. Spend time with loved ones. Use this time to get closer to those you care about. Rather than engaging in idle chitchat to pass the time, talk with them about things that really matter to both of you. Share your thoughts, feelings, and desires.
    2. What can you do? Focus on things you’re still able to do and enjoy, as opposed to the things you can’t.
    3. Help others. You’ll find that doing what you can to help others helps you as well. Focusing on the needs of other people can make you feel better about yourself. For everyone who is facing a serious illness, there are people who are worse off in some way. When you reach out to them, it puts your struggles in perspective and gives you someone to relate to.
    4. Use positive affirmations. Replace worry and negative thoughts with positive statements as soon as they appear. With repetition, you’ll begin to do this automatically. Soon, you’ll discover a more peaceful, positive, and joyful mindset, which can also help you physically.

You’ll still face challenging days and trying situations, but there’s happiness to be found even when you’re sick. Be willing to open your heart and mind so you can find that joy. Even with a serious illness, it’s still possible to laugh, love, and experience great joy if you only allow it to come into your life.

Self Harm

door in garden

In working with adolescents and families for a number of years, I have seen the various looks of a parent – the angry look, the disgusted look, the frustrated look, the look of disdain and disbelief.  By far, the most concerning has been the look of fear and utter helplessness that parents experience when they find out their child is self harming.  With many parents having little experience or information about this, they often react out of fear and protection, as well as relying on stereotypes and less-than-reliable resources to give them direction during this often frightening time.

Self  Harm is a clinical term that covers many different kinds of self injury.  Self Injury can start out as simply as scratching one’s arm or legs.  Some individuals may remove the small eraser at the end of a # 2 pencil, and push the round metal piece together to then be used as a sharp instrument.  Others begin their self injury using the blade from a pencil sharpener.  This can lead to using a razor, a kitchen knife, or an exacto-knife.  Many individuals can find many creative ways to develop, make or use every day objects to self injure.   These everyday objects are hard to eliminate from anyone’s life and make the tool used to self injure regularly accessible and easy to use.

One of the most puzzling looks of a parent often includes the word “WHY?”  For those who have no experience with this, understanding self injury seems impossible.  However, there are some basic concepts that may help you to understand, even if you do NOT agree with the behaviors.  Self injury can be addictive.  When self-injury is repeated it can become addictive.  And many times, I see this lead to self injury developing a life of its’ own.

The most common form of self-injury is cutting or burning oneself.   Other forms of self injury include: hair pulling, face picking, self-hitting, head banging, severe skin scratching, bone breaking, or interfering with wound healing.  Any of these behaviors can become addictive for the individual due to the the emotional release that occurs with the self injury.  The individual’s inability to emotionally regulate then leads to their repetitive pattern of self injury as it becomes a way to self regulate.  The perpetuating cycle is often very difficult to break without professional help.

If you have someone you love who is self harming, or simply want more information, there are a number of reliable and safe resources out there.  Below I have listed two quick links for you to connect to and in future posts, I will talk more about warning signs and ways to handle the initial discovery and what to do next.  Information is key and keeping the communication loving and open is crucial.

And as always, if you need professional help, we are here for you – please contact our Southlake Office at 704-896-7776 or go to our website – www.southlakecounseling.com

http://www.adolescentselfinjuryfoundation.com

http://www.selfinjury.bctr.cornell.edu/about-self-injury.html

6 Ways to Overcome Panic

horse and boy

 

Panic is an emotion that everyone has felt at one time or another. Feeling panic is normal, but if panic is taking over your daily life, it’s time to take action to reduce it.

Understanding what it is and what you can do about it can help immensely. Panic serves a clear purpose in life. It gets your adrenaline pumping and allows you to act quickly to save yourself when you’re faced with danger. Humans are complex creatures, however, and your mind may create panic in situations where it wouldn’t help you.

Also, if these situations continue to arise, you may be dealing with a serious panic disorder, so please consult with your physician.

Here are some strategies that can help you overcome panic:

  1. Breathe deeply. Deep breathing techniques can bring you a certain level of calm during any situation. When you start to feel panicked, you tense up and your breathing becomes quick or heavy.

Take a moment to find your breath and take deep breaths in and out. The deep breathing will relax you and help you focus on taking in oxygen, instead of the stressful situation.

  1. Watch your health. Your mental and physical health are all part of the same system. When you take care of yourself, many of your problems tend to right themselves. If you have a poor diet, lack exercise, or don’t sleep well, take action to correct these core problems. Doing this will often address your panic directly or indirectly.
  1. Seek professional help. Discuss treatment options with your physician and naturopath. There are natural treatments available as well as several well-studied prescription medications that can help with your anxiety and panic concerns. Your doctor will know best if you’re a good candidate for these medications.

Remember that you must always take a holistic approach that addresses the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of your health.

  1. Address the problem. Try to locate the source of your panic. Are you only panicking in certain situations, or do you feel anxious at all times? If you can figure out the source of your panic, you can address the problem by facing your fear directly.

Exercises to reduce your fears enable you to become more comfortable in situations that could set off a panic attack.

  1. Deal with your stress. Panic is more likely to arise in a stressed mind. If you study certain relaxation methods, you can keep your stress level down and make it less likely for you to experience a panic attack.

There are many relaxation methods for you to choose from that can keep you healthy and happy. Practicing yoga, daily meditation, prayer, and listening to soothing music are just a few ideas.

One of the best stress relievers is to make time for yourself each and every day. This time gives you a chance to relax, rejuvenate, and continue your day with renewed positive energy.

  1. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine can increase the frequency of panic attacks. To be on the safe side, avoid or limit their use. While this tip may not cure your symptoms, it can be an important factor for getting you back into a healthy mental state.

Getting Help

Panic and anxiety fears are quite common and there is no shame in getting help. Recognize the triggers and early signs of panic and start fighting it. When you do, you’ll feel free once again!

When a Flower Doesn’t Bloom…

When a Flower Doesn't Bloom...

As the seasons begin to change and my garden starts to bear it’s last vegetables, I often think about what gardening has taught me. With the recent start of school, I came upon this quote and realized how much gardening and children can have in common. How you ask? The quote above makes such sense to me – yet it is not typically how we address children who may learn differently.

We all know that children learn in many different ways. As parents, educators, professionals and other concerned adults, our question is often “How can we help them to be the best they can be?” We want children to be successful, we need them to blieve in themselves and to learn so that they can be our future. However, there are times when we fall short in our expecttions and how we may react to those children who learn differently.

When a child doesn’t learn like the rest, we say they are lazy, unmotivated or need to try harder. In these situations we usually look towards the child and insist that they need to change. We believe and often even say to the child these phrases that in fact, tear down and hurt the child. Think about it in terms of the gardening . . . This summer, my tomatos were not growing. The leaves were not as large, the fruits were smaller and not turning red, and the soil seemed hard. Did I yell at the tomatos? Tell them to perk up and insist it was all their fault? NO!!! I looked at the soil, the weather, the amount of water and more. I added fertilizer, water and weeded. I moved some peppers that were crowding these precious Roma tomatoes. And guess what? They started growing and blooming and producing more and more fruits. Not because I fussed at them, blamed them, or told them to get it together. Things improved because I changed the environment.

In taking this quote and comparison to gardneing into account, how can we tell a child they need to change? The sole responsibility of change is not with the child. We all play a part and the environment is part of that equation and solution. Instead, what we can do is help to change their environment and give them accommodations and modifications to foster their growth.

If you have a physical disability, you are given services. Learning disabilities can be harder to see than physical disabilities. However, it is just as important that learning disabilities are noted and appropriate services are provided to help support the child’s learning. So the next time a child is struggling in school don’t say, “the child need to change or try harder.” Instead, say “how can this learning environment change to better support and foster the child’s learning?” When we do this, we plant not only the seeds for tomorrow, we care for the fruits and flowers and watch them BLOOM.