I think happy thoughts

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A light in the darkness

The winter blues are difficult to beat.  How do you stay happy when it’s freezing out?! For many people the winter can be a very hard time. Finding something to get out of bed for in the mornings is hard.  This time of year makes me want to stay under the covers and stay in bed all day. I feel very much like an animal in hibernation. I don’t want to move or do much of anything and getting motivated is extremely hard. To combat this I make sure the house is warm in the mornings when I wake up.  Then I plan a few motivators into my morning routine as well. For me coffee is a nice warm treat that I reward myself with after getting up.  These are simple solutions and help me. This doesn’t mean that for everyone the solution is that easy.

For some people motivating themselves is an almost impossible task and if you are prone to depression this time of year can be a trigger. Noticing a change in your mood early can help you to try and combat the sad feelings.  If you really can’t find anything to get yourself out of the darkness of winter then it’s time to reach out for help. Talking to a family member or friend is the best place to start. Friends and family should also look for warning signs that someone is not just down because of the winter but possibly clinically depressed. Spending time with a loved one may be enough to combat the depressed mood. If not, there are many professionals that can help. The most important thing is to remember that you are not alone.  Many people suffer from depression and mood disorders.  Feeling alone leads people to isolate themselves even more which makes it hard to get help.  If you allow others to know what is going on you are able to start on your journey to recovery. It also helps people who might be feeling the same way but are afraid to speak up.   Taking the first step out of the darkness and onto the lighted path of recovery is hard but very worth the work.

If you have suffered from depression and are now in recovery please share your stories with others. This helps to bring a face to depression. It also gives hope that you can survive it. Please share your inspirational words and advice with others to help bring their suffering out of the dark and into the light.


What is the best way to calm anxiety in children?

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Calming anxiety is not always easy but the first place to start is yourself. Children often pick up on the anxieties of the adults around them.  Children feel uneasy and anxious if the adults around them are anxious, upset, or angry. They often don’t understand what your anxieties are about and generalize it to themselves. This is especially true for very young children who often don’t see themselves as separate from their parents. Any feelings and emotions you display they start to take on as their own.

One way to start curbing this anxiety is to limit your child’s exposure to adult conversations and outside media like the news. Limiting their exposure can drastically cut back on the things that they worry about. It doesn’t happen over night but over time they become less involved in the adult world and start to worry less about those things that were drifting into their consciousness at too early an age.

For children who are by nature worriers, anxiety sneaks up quickly. Acknowledging their worries is important but don’t let them or yourself dwell on it. Address the worry and move on. Don’t let the child get stuck ruminating on the same topic over and over.  If you know that certain things usually cause anxiety for your child, you can also bring up ideas for how to deal with it ahead of time.  Then later that day when you encounter the situation, you can quickly remind your child of how to cope and move them along.

One last thing to keep in mind: always model for your child how you want them to behave. If you see a big bug and start to scream and yell about it, guess what your child will probably develop a fear of bugs. “Teach by example.”  By tackling your own fears you are helping yourself and your child!

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Mindfulness and How it Works

Mindfulness is something that sounds easy at first but then takes a lot of practice once you truly understand what it is. It’s the purposeful observation and noticing of the environment without passing judgment. The reason this is so hard is because we as humans are trained to make judgments all the time. It is often helpful to us in making decisions. The problem is that sometimes our judgments can lead us to negative thinking instead of just taking in the information.

An example of this would be sitting in a chair. Your fist thought might be “this chair is uncomfortable.” That is a judgment and an example of mindfulness would be “this chair has a hard seat and a straight back.” Just noticing the qualities of the chair without determining if it’s good or bad. The same would go for taking a walk outside. “It’s a nasty day out” is a judgment and “It’s raining and the sky is a gray color” is using mindfulness. When you talk about the qualities of what you see you start to notice that making a judgment can lead your thinking to be either positive or negative.

By taking a step back and noticing the environment you allow yourself to be more present in it and take it in without it being good or bad. Allowing yourself this extra time to notice the environment helps you to gain control of your thoughts. It also helps to ground you. Sometimes thoughts take on a life of their own and seem to spiral out of control. In reality you do have the ability to control your thoughts. This is a great power and very helpful when you want more positivity in your life.

The challenge in gaining control over your thoughts is to catch yourself in the process of making a judgment and stop yourself. Then take a step back and think of how you could describe the situation in factual terms. Practicing this just a few minutes each day helps to provide more grounding in your life and a sense of control over the environment you live in.

The easiest way to practice is to start by the chair you are sitting in. Take a few minutes to describe everything about the chair and the room you are in. You will be surprised at how many judgments you try to make. Being able to notice this and practice moments without judgment (Mindfulness) puts you in a more powerful situation. The practice takes time but does become easier the more you do it. Working out your mind is the same as physical exercise the more you practice the better you become at it and the easier it is.