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How Do You Deal With Your Mental Health Issues?

Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it— just as we have learned to live with storms. Paulo Coelho, Brazilian novelist

Recently, we’ve seen how mental health issues can affect elite athletes. But, as Coelho writes, “Anxiety was born in the same moment as mankind.” We all experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues from time to time. 

If you’re currently plagued by anxiety, Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Freeing Yourself, offers this suggestion. “Reel yourself back to the present. Panic attacks can often make you feel like you’re dying or having a heart attack. Remind yourself: ‘I’m having a panic attack, but it’s harmless, it’s temporary, and there’s nothing I need to do.’” 

In addition, fact check your thoughts, identify three things you see, hear, and parts of your body, exercise, stay away from sugar and stimulants, watch a funny video, talk to someone about your feelings. 

Affirmation: I care about my mental health and the mental health of others.

Coaching questions: How do you deal with your mental health issues? If you’re suffering from anxiety or depression, what’s one step you’ll take to address your issue?

Photo by Zoë Reeve on Unsplash 

Think Like An Olympic Athlete

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well. Pierre de Coubertin, primarily responsible for the revival of the Olympic Games in 1894

The 2020 Olympic Games, although a year late, are officially kicking off tomorrow. I love everything that happens on and off the “stage” at the Olympics—the competition, the stories, the drama, the excitement.

One thing I’ve learned from listening to world class athletics is not to wait to feel motivated in what I want to accomplish. “Just do what you do,” they say, “and the motivation will follow.” Drive to the gym, go to the walking trail, show up at the party, open your computer and start writing.

It’s a little like love—at first it’s a feeling but many days it’s a decision. You may feel motivated at times, but to emulate the Olympic athletes, sometimes you have to decide to do something whether you’re motivated or not. 

Affirmation: I just do what I do.

Coaching question: What do you want to accomplish?

What I Learned From Little Girls At Play

Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is his own personality. Erich Fromm, German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher

I’m having a wonderful summer spending time with my big kids and grands. Recently, I orchestrated painting projects for my younger granddaughters, ages 6-8. Some painted objects that were later glazed and baked in a kiln; others painted wooden birdhouses, one painted a bank.

This is what I learned:

  • Some charged ahead with confidence in their choices and looked forward to the final product
  • Some charged ahead, worried about their mistakes, then asked for help
  • Some planned carefully and worked with care
  • Some simply had fun, got it mostly done, then looked for other creative things to do
  • Some were neat, others—not so much

How do you “play?” There’s no right way. But, there are different styles according to personalities. Go ahead—plan, or not; make mistakes, or not; be messy, or not; have a short, sweet time or stick with it until it’s perfect. Give birth to yourself and embrace your “play personality.”

Affirmation: I like to play.

Coaching questions: What’s your play personality? What do you do for fun? 

Are You Balancing Purpose With Pleasure?

To be truly happy, you need to feel both pleasure and purpose. Paul Dolan, author of Happiness by Design

Hedonism is the pursuit of happiness via sensory pleasure and comforts. Eudaemonism is the pursuit of happiness through efforts to live a virtuous life and become a better person. There’s evidence to show that living well means balancing these two aims.

If we choose one to the exclusion of the other, we can end up feeling like we’re missing out which can cause anxiety, depression and even chronic disease. One way to obtain balance is to notice when experiences provide a sense of both pleasure and purpose then create more of these moments in our lives.

Affirmation: I have both pleasure and purpose in my life.

Coaching questions: Can you name a time when you experienced both pleasure and purpose? What helps you keep pleasure and purpose active in your life? What gives you pleasure? What gives you a sense of purpose?

Celebrating Life

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. Oprah Winfrey

Sunday, I celebrated my 75 plus one birthday. My husband had planned a big party for my 75th but, alas, there was a pandemic. So, we celebrated a year later with no less joy and fanfare. 

Someone recently said they didn’t celebrate any more—“I’m older than you are,” she said. I replied, “With a mother and grandmother dying in their thirties, I consider every year of my forties and beyond to be “gravy”–a sundae with a cherry on top, an extra blessing.” 

I’m thankful and proud to have lived this long. Grateful for the laugh lines and the extra weight around the middle (well, maybe not the extra weight) but for all those symbols of an aging life well-lived.

Affirmation: I’m grateful for birthdays.

Coaching questions: How do you celebrate your life? Your aging? Your birthdays? I challenge you to be proud of your age and celebrate your birthday with gusto. 

Celebrating my birthday with all eight grandchildren. 

Exercise For Your Heart

There is no better exercise for the heart than to reach down and lift people up. John Andrew Holmes, author

This morning I will be hitting the gym in an effort to keep my body strong. Aerobic exercise is good for the heart but I believe Holmes is on to something. Just as finding ways to physically exercise like parking in the back of the lot or taking the stairs, looking for opportunities to “lift people up” also strengthens the heart.

Sometimes you hear it in their hello and ask, “How are you really?” or you see it in the tension on their face. Watch for clues that will give you an opportunity to exercise your heart and make a difference in the life of another.

Affirmation: I lift people up.

Coaching questions: What have you done lately to lift another up? How did your heart feel? What will you do to create or be responsive to opportunities in the future?

Appreciate Your Moments of Bliss

Nothing is more important than reconnecting with your bliss. Nothing is as rich. Nothing is more real. Deepak Chopra, Indian-American author

Food manufacturers are constantly looking for the “bliss point” in new foods. That perfect balance of sugar, salt, and fat in a candy or other food item to make it delicious. Snickers bars and potato chips are two great examples. So satisfying!

But there can be a bliss factor in life also. Those special days when the weather is neither too hot, nor too cold; you are rested and feeling your best self; loved ones are with you, and the atmosphere is charged with that wonderful feeling we can’t always put our finger on. I call it bliss.

Affirmation: I appreciate blissful moments.

Coaching questions: What does bliss look like to you? When did you last enjoy a blissful moment? Do you take time to recognize, enjoy, and be grateful for bliss when you have it?

Photo by Joel Mott on Unsplash 

Surfside, We’re With You

There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow. Grison Swett Marden, MD

We have spent time this past week empathizing with families of the victims of the high rise building collapse in Florida. We watch as they hold out hope that their loved ones will be found alive. 

As Dr. Marden says, hope is a powerful medicine. But as the days turn into weeks, then what? How do we handle life when hope is gone? How do we learn how to live with our loss? 

We grieve, we take care of ourselves, we preform small daily tasks, we share stories with others who have similar losses, we seek help when we need it, we find creative outlets for our memories and our sadness.

In these next days, when hope in Surfside wanes, I pray that loved ones will find comfort as they celebrate the lives of those who were lost. I hope they know that people the world over are sharing in their sadness as we recall our own losses.

Affirmation: I share the grief of others.  

Coaching questions: How do you handle life when hope is gone? In the past, what helped you in your grief?

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash 

Take Care of Your Brain

Between 2000 and 2019, deaths from heart disease have decreased 7.3% while deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased 145%. 

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month — an opportunity to hold a conversation about the brain, and share the fact that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are a major public health issue. 

My understanding of the disease and it’s devastation increased when I interviewed daughters who lost their mothers to Alzheimer’s as part of my research for Mom’s Gone, Now What? I learned that everyone who has a brain is at risk to develop Alzheimer’s, the only leading cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. 

As dire as this sounds, however, there is growing evidence that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by regularly challenging their mind, engaging in physical exercise, eating a proper diet, limiting their use of alcohol, getting adequate sleep, and staying social. 

Affirmation: I am aware of the impact of Alzheimer’s. I support caregivers and family members. 

Coaching questions: What are you doing to keep your brain healthy? Will you go to www.alz.org to learn more?

The Bliss of Blamelessness

When you blame others, you give up your power to change. Robert Anthony

Even when we’re entitled to it, resentment consumes energy. Becoming curious about a hurtful experience instead of taking it personally can help diffuse blame toward another person. 

When you’re trying to break the habit of self-recrimination, focus on how you want to feel. Train your brain to experience joy by remembering how it felt to make the right decision.  

Motherless daughters occasionally blame their fathers, doctors, even themselves for the circumstances of their mother’s death. Break the hold of blame and experience the bliss of blamelessness. 

Affirmation: I will move away from blame.

Coaching questions: In what area of your life are you blaming others for your circumstances? What will you do to move away from the blame and experience joy again? 

Photo by Obie Fernandez on Unsplash