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Waddington TracyTherapist’s Corner…
Life Lessons Learned in Sports

      As a therapist who sees and works with so many young people in my office, as well as being a mother to two incredible sons, I am mesmerized by the power of the many life lessons that sports, or even just the “sport of life,” can teach at so many levels.
     Both of my sons are avid wrestlers and have been wrestling since they were 3 years old. The memories of what a sport can teach have captivated me. For many, sports can be about winning or losing, but the finer thing about sports is what it teaches about life—attitude, determination, not giving up, giving it your best, working together, listening to feedback, being able to compete with heart and soul even when things don’t seem to go our way, having a positive mindset and attitude, encouraging, and building one’s self up to be the best version of ourselves even in the midst of a loss or chaos is the pillar of what life is all about. Choosing to take the higher road even in troubled waters is crucial in the sport of life.
     I have watched my sons shed tears, feel angry, feel defeated, feel like it may not be worth it, question their abilities, and the list goes on. But what is special about all of that “icky” stuff is that it has been the glue to developing them into the young men they are becoming. They have learned to work harder for their goals, to compete with dignity, to grapple with defeat, and still work to take to the mat again and again to give it their all.
     Has it been easy to watch this? No! As a parent we want to feel that all for them, but in doing so, it is robbing them of learning the true value of LIFE. Life isn’t always fair, but it is our attitude in dealing with it that is crucial at every level. Watching them celebrate their victories from hard work and perseverance is the silver lining of what they have been learning! It all comes together!
     We live in a very competitive world where many feel it is a dog-eat-dog mentality. However, at a young or old age it is so important to learn from our mistakes, to not give up, to try and try again even when the going gets tough. Sometimes we want to give up, throw a fit, and allow anger to get in the way; instead, we can work to regain our composure and to look at several questions: WHAT IS THE ADVERSITY TRYING TO TEACH ME?? HOW CAN I USE THIS TO GROW ME AND TO STRETCH ME?
     That is what I challenge you to look at. What are the challenges I am going through in the Sport of Life trying to teach me in how to become a better me? It is our attitude and choices that are going to take us places in this world!! PLAY WITH HEART…. PLAY WITH SOUL… FOR EVERYONE WE MEET IS FIGHTING THEIR OWN BATTLES.
     It is up to us to decide how we choose to respond!! YOU CAN DO IT!!! YOU ARE IN CHARGE!

~ Tracy Waddington, Therapist

JMcCasslin

Therapist’s Corner…
The Battlefield of Forgiveness is Within Ourselves

      I don’t have a lot of time to read these days but when a friend handed a book to me and said “You have to read this. It’s an amazing story,” how could I resist? The book she gave me was Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust.
     I couldn’t put the book down. When I think of holocaust, I immediately think of the Jewish Holocaust during the World Wars. Even though I was alive during the Rwandan Massacres, I don’t recall much. I have one memory where I can recall hearing about something “bad” happening in Rwanda. I was barely a teenager and Africa was far away.
     Hatred is powerful and can cause fear and problems anywhere in our world. Even within our United States, we are often torn between two lines of thinking. All you need to do is read the recent headlines about school shootings, immigrant issues, and political affairs. I can’t imagine killing another person over ethnicity, religion, political views, etc., yet it happens time and time again.
     However, there’s a truth to this book that transcends location, religion, ethnicity, race, etc.: love, compassion, and forgiveness conquers all forms of hate. Sometimes we are not able to see the transformation these things have on other people when we offer them. In the book, the main character is privileged to see several miracles. Sometimes, when we offer love, compassion, and forgiveness, we must remember we may not see the end result like she did. Rather, we have planted a seed, something that will grow and foster hope for a new generation.
     Many times in therapy I have discussed forgiveness with my clients. I cannot force them to forgive, and it is not an easy task for anyone (myself included). However, I know that research supports the positive impact of forgiveness on both the victims’ lives and the perpetrators’ lives. Allowing revenge, hate, and negative emotions to fester within our hearts can negatively impact our emotions, mental health, and physical well-being. It will eat at a person from the inside-out. Like a wound that gets infected, it will not heal.
     Forgiveness is not easy. Oftentimes, it is a long process.  Sometimes it must be repeated because the anger and hurt resurface, having been triggered by something we don’t even realize would bother us. Forgiving also doesn’t mean we forget the wrong, or that we ignore our feelings. Rather, it frees us to feel the feelings, instead of being caged by anger. Justice and consequences aren’t discounted by forgiveness, but by offering it, we can keep ourselves from making decisions based in anger. I also hear “They don’t deserve forgiveness” as a reason to hold onto the hurt and anger. However, I pose this thought to them: no one deserves forgiveness—if they had not wronged us, we wouldn’t be asked to forgive them. Forgiveness is given in order to free ourselves of the bitterness, anger, hurt, and hatred so that we can move on to a fuller, more positive life.
     Forgiveness is an act of love. It is love for others and ourselves that helps us to forgive. Through love we find compassion for others. We can even learn to love those who have hurt us or wronged us in any way. It’s a war that is fought within ourselves, and there are many battlefields. It isn’t impossible to forgive because love really does conquer all.

~ Jessica McCaslin, Therapist

Lenz

Tips from Our  EAP...
Work-Life Balance

      For many people, the idea of a healthy work/life balance seems impossible. Many of us juggle work, relationships, and family, plus squeezing in outside interests, so it's no surprise that more than 25% of Americans describe themselves as “super stressed.” And that’s not balanced or healthy.
     In trying to do everything, it’s easy to forget as stress levels spike, productivity plummets. Stress can zap concentration, make us irritable or depressed, and harm personal and professional relationships.     Over time, stress weakens our immune systems, and makes us susceptible to a variety of ailments from colds to backaches to heart disease.
         While we all need a certain amount of stress to help us perform at our best, the key to managing stress lies in balance. Achieving a healthy work/life balance is an attainable goal, and workers and businesses alike see the rewards.
     When workers are balanced and happy, they are more productive, take fewer sick days, and more likely to stay in their jobs.
     Here are a few practical steps we can all take to loosen the grip that stress has on us and win back the balance in our lives:
At Work
- Set manageable goals. Meeting priorities helps us feel a sense of accomplishment and control. The more control we have, the less stressed we get. So be realistic about workloads and deadlines. Take care of important tasks first and eliminate unessential ones. Ask for help when necessary.
- Be efficient with your time at work. Divide big tasks into smaller tasks. Complete the first before moving on to the next. Give yourself small rewards upon each completion, even if it’s simply a five minute break. If you feel overwhelmed by routines that seem unnecessary, tell your boss. The less time you spend doing busy work or procrastinating, the more time you can spend productively.
- Ask for flexibility. Flex time and telecommuting are quickly becoming established as necessities in today’s business world, and many companies are drafting work/life policies. If you ask, they might allow you to work flexible hours or from home a day a week. Research shows that employees who work flexible schedules are more productive and loyal to their employers.
- Take five. Small breaks on any project helps clear your head, and improve your ability to deal with stress and make good decisions.
- Listen to your favorite music at work to foster concentration, reduce stress and anxiety, and stimulate creativity. Studies dating back more than 30 years show the benefits of music in everyday life, including lowered blood pressure. Be sure to wear headphones.
- Communicate effectively. Be honest with colleagues or your boss when you feel you’re in a bind. Suggest practical alternatives. Looking at a situation from someone else’s viewpoint can also reduce your stress. Make allowances for other opinions, and compromise. Retreat before you lose control, and allow time for all involved to cool off so you can handle the problem constructively later.
- Give yourself a break. No one’s perfect! Allow yourself to be human and just do the best you can.
‚ÄčAt Home
- Unplug. The technology that makes it easy for workers to do their jobs flexibly can also burn us out if we use them 24/7. Make yourself available—especially if you’ve earned the right to “flex” your hours—but recognize the need for personal time, too.
- Divide and conquer. Make sure responsibilities at home are evenly distributed and clearly outlined.
- Don't over commit. Do you feel stressed when you just glance at your calendar? If you’re overscheduled, learn to say, “no.” 
- Get support. Chatting with friends and family can be important to success at home—or at work—and can even improve your health. People with stronger support systems have more aggressive immune responses to illnesses than those who lack such support.
- Take advantage of your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Many organizations offer resources through an EAP.
- Stay active. Aside from its well-known physical benefits, regular exercise reduces stress, depression and anxiety, and enables people to better cope with adversity, according to researchers. It’ll also boost your immune system and keep you out of the doctor’s office. 
- Treat your body right. Being in good shape physically increases your tolerance to stress and reduces sick days. Eat right, exercise and get adequate rest. Don’t rely on drugs, alcohol or cigarettes to cope with stress; they only lead to more problems.
- Get help if you need it. Don’t let stress stand in the way of health and happiness. If you are persistently overwhelmed, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness—taking care of yourself is a sign of strength.

~ Lana Lenz, EAP Coordinator (adapted from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/work-life-balance)

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