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JReisingerGuest Column...
Mad, Sad, Glad, Bad: Emotional Balance

     Did you know that one way of reaching balance in life can be found in your "emotional" wellness dimension? The meaning of this dimension is being true to your own needs while maintaining sensitivity to others' needs. It's keeping a positive attitude and checking in on what you are feeling and how you are managing your feelings.
     What are you feeling right now? Yes.... take a moment and write down one or two feelings you are having right now. Sometimes it can be a challenge just to put a word to what you are feeling, right? Knowing how to verbalize your feelings can be a first step to understanding how much balance you have in your emotional wellness dimension.
     To help you simplify the identification of your current feelings, let's start with the basics; mad, sad, glad and bad. Knowing how to name a deeper characterization of emotion can help you describe what your own feelings are. This will help you more easily evaluate if it's time to target change in your own life in the emotional wellness dimension.
     Keep in mind that our thinking drives our feelings and ultimately our actions. You have the power to choose your feelings and give positive change to your self. Here are some deeper feeling words for these four basic categories of feeling:
Mad - aggravated, angry, disgusted, frustrated, inflamed
Sad - depressed, crushed, blue, hopeless, hurt
Glad - happy, cheerful, bubbly, joyful, marvelous
Bad - embarrassed, deflated, downtrodden, ineffective, insecure
     If you find that your emotional wellness dimension is in need of a positive change, practice replacing your negative feelings with positive feelings.
    Instead of mad, choose: loving, peaceful, merciful, calm, accepting
    Instead of sad, choose: happy, cheerful, joyful, hopeful, honored
    Instead of Bad, choose: worthwhile, grounded, resilient, fearless, uplifted
     For example, when I feel frustrated by something in my life, I can start the wheel of change by choosing to say:
     I choose being loved. I feel loved, I am loved.
     I choose being calm. I feel calm. I am calm.
     I choose being peaceful. I feel peaceful. I am peaceful.
     By replacing the negative with the positive through choice, feeling and being, you are often able to find a more positive experience in balancing your emotional wellness dimension and living your BEST LIFE!!

~ Joni Reisinger, Guest Columnist, www.womansbestlife.com

JMcCasslin

Therapist's Corner...
Dear Parent: Take Care of Yourself 

     Having recently become a stay-at-home mom, I have to say "Dear former clients' parents , I more clearly feel your frustration." The summer months are upon us and I don't think I've even reached the halfway point yet but I need to ask "When do my kids start school again?"
     Raising children is difficult. Prior to becoming a parent, I was an "expert." After all, I was the oldest of five kids, I'd been a babysitter for years, and I went to school to be a therapist and learned how to deal with those naughty children we all hear about.
     I think my supervisor said it best when she told me "Right now, you know everything the books say about parenting, behaviors, and consequences. Once your first child is born, you'll learn that you know nothing. Remember that when you are working with parents who are frustrated and coming to you for help with their children."
     So I tried to be understanding. I took S.O.S. classes and Love & Logic classes. I made behavior plans, chore charts, and reward systems. I read up on the latest information about kids and relationships with them.
     And then I had children.
     Let me quantify this: I have 3 wonderful, loving, helpful, amazing, beautiful children. Except when they aren't, which is about 90% of the time. Okay, maybe 30% is more truthful and realistic. But that 30% of naughtiness feels like 90%.
     There are times when I feel like a failure as a parent, and I can empathize with those parents who came to my office, frustrated, tired, angry, and seemingly out of options.
     However, there are things you can do as a parent to help yourself and your children.
     First, take care of yourself. I know, it goes against the "parent cod." Take time to do something you love, like a hobby (remember what those are?). Secondly, exercise. Every little bit helps. It keeps you in shape, uses up some of that energy that could otherwise be converted to angry behaviors, and it's been shown to reduce depression levels. Next, create positive and healthy eating and sleeping habits. A tired parent is (usually) a short-tempered parent. Too many sugars in your diet can cause energy "highs" and "crashes."
     Finally, spend time WITH your kids. Not in front of a TV. Not on the computer or your phone. Play a game. Go for a walk. Go on a family outing. Do a summer project (or 10). Give them hugs and kisses. Eat a meal together, daily, without the TV being on or checking phone messages.
     Small changes can mean the world to your kids. Many times they act out because they aren't getting the attention they crave. When they get attention, they will be more willing to give you what you need, too - time for yourself.

~ Jessica McCaslin, Therapist

Lenz

From Our EAP...
Living and Thriving in Anxious Times

     Mix this sluggish economy, stubbornly high unemployment, uncertain politics, and foreign upheaval together and you’ve got a big bowl of stress stew. Add to it a heaping dose of the “do-more-with-less” workplace, along with a fast-paced, ever-changing, technology-driven world, and what you end up with is a perfect recipe for freak-out time!
     Can you still thrive in this environment? The answer is yes.
     There are no easy answers, but two things remain true: 1) it is not as bad as it seems, and 2) you have more control over your future than you think.
Power of Perspective
     If crime, dishonesty, rudeness, and all-around bad behavior seem at an all-time high, consider that what has changed is not society, but your ability to see it up close—the worst part of it—through modern media technology. You know only what you hear, see, and read.
     There’s an old saying in the news business—“If it bleeds, it leads.” Media outlets love doom and gloom because it’s generally cheap to cover and it draws eyeballs. And they are pushing the edge of the envelope.
     But it’s not just traditional media. Today anyone with access to the web can broadcast to the world through mediums like Facebook and YouTube where exhibitionism and outrageous behavior tend to crowd out restraint.
     The next time you find yourself wondering if the whole world has gone mad, remember that the stories and images on your TV, computer, and smartphone are distorted, “funhouse” representations of reality. If they are having a negative impact on your outlook, switch your consumption to something positive or simply unplug. You don’t have to participate in the circus.
Coping with Anxiety
     The world’s problems are too big for you to handle. You have little to no control over things like crime, poverty, oppression, terrorism, and world hunger. What you can control are your thoughts, actions, associations, and lifestyle. This is key to a happier life.
     With that in mind, here are some tips to help you manage stress and anxiety:
• Learn your triggers. Carefully note what sets off your anxiety, and limit your exposure to it.
• Spot and interrupt negative feedback loops with positive reinforcement. Anxiety often comes from playing out “what if” and doomsday scripts in your head. Keep motivational, spiritual, and affirming literature at hand, or even your own private “positivity hot link” on your computer—music, video, narrative, or images that instantly help you “reset” your mind.
• Cut yourself a break when you’re overwhelmed. Agree to do what you can, when you can. Let that be enough for the day.
• Let go of worst-case scenarios. Most of what we fear never comes to pass. When or if a crisis ever hits, options will appear at that time to help you deal with it.
• Realize that fretting is not productive. The world doesn’t change because you are concerned and unhappy. It’s OK to be cheerful even in the face of misfortune.
• Get moving. Worry is undirected energy. Put that energy to use on something positive and productive.
• Seek out positive, uplifting people. Your happiness is directly related to your influences.
• Learn relaxation techniques like yoga and deep breathing exercises.
• Exercise regularly. Seriously, for dozens of reasons that you have already been beaten over the head with, this is one of your most powerful “feel better” strategies.
• Accept that it takes time to change. Hint: Focus on lowering the intensity and length of worrying, rather than eradicating it completely.
     Finally, don’t beat yourself up for feeling anxious. A certain amount of stress is unavoidable.
     The key to managing it is changing your habitual reactions to it. Don’t hesitate to contact your HR department for assistance and information the next time you’re feeling stressed out, depressed, or overwhelmed. The Family Resources of Greater Nebraska, P.C. Employee Assistance Program has the knowledge, tools, and resources to help. 

~ Lana Lenz, EAP Administrator (resource: Daniel Feerst, LISW-CP, WorkExcel.com)

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