Learn To Respond, Not React

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Easier said than done, I know. Essentially what I am asking you to do is train your mind. Challenge yourself this week to break away from the cycle that is fueled through a stimulus that reinforces the cycle that we are trying to break. A reaction is a learned behavior reinforced in times of fear, anxiety, and stress. One of the hardest patterns to break is the behavioral response of reacting- when to and not to. This cycle can create our identity since we are creatures of habit and feel impossible to break. They have become systemic approaches to the way we access emotion and interact with other people in our environment. Reacting to situations can lead us feeling emotionally drained, from both the physical result of the reaction and the emotional toll afterwards when leveraging feelings of guilt and shame. Reactions are instant. We often immediately feel guilty for our actions following a reaction.  A reaction is instant. It is fueled by the unconscious. 

Reactions are rooted in stress. Reactions are rooted in suffering. Reactions are fear. Let us work to respond this week.

Positive Distraction of The Week

When you are caught in a stimulus reaction, pause. Do not believe your thoughts, pause. When the fight, flight, or freeze mode activates, pause. Remember the love, and pause. When you are triggered, transform and breathe.

The brain allows us to think and reason. You are stronger than your negative thoughts and you are fiercer than an unconscious physical instinct. Your brain allows you to be mindful. You have the ability to attune and invoke an empathetic self-soothing calm. Challenge yourself to integrate the senses you feel at first to pause in order to respond. Work to self-soothe during times of stress, fear, and anxiety. Challenge yourself to pause. Be disciplined. We thoughtlessly listen to our emotions as anxiety comes in which make us react. Take a deep breath, and put yourself and the other person in perspective. Work on responding this week. A response is slow and ecological. It allows you to build upon previous information and considerations. It allows you to weigh the differences between varying pieces of information.

Have the patience to wade through the primordial current. Maintain your self control. Hold on to your dignity. Learn how to respond.

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.

-Chinese proverb, author unknown

Let’s followup in a week. Best, Dr. Dyce

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Selfcare Tips For Travel

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Whether you’re a seasonal traveler or basically your crews own version of Magellan, you likely know what it’s like to hit a challenge or obstacle while traveling and know its impact on your overall wellness- both during and after the event. This week let’s nip that clean, and learn how to regulate your self-care strategies when you’re on the move.

Positive Distraction of the Week

1. Timelines and Irinterarys are flexible.

It is okay if you can’t fit everything in your pre-planned excel sheet. If you can be flexible with your timeline, you’re affording yourself alternative routes to destinations you may not have even imagined.

2. Create something.

Keep a running journal or log: food, sights, whatever! Create, create, create. Not only will this serve as a neat souvenir for you to have down the road, but it’s a good way to break up parts of the day that are more strenuous, providing slight structure to days what may be chaotic. Give yourself 15 minutes a day to create.

3. Keep your eyes and ears open.

Exactly what it says. Local radio, community activities, social groups. Immerse yourself in the culture of your surrounding. Struggle with a language and make memorable experiences along the way. Visiting countries with language barriers especially have a way humbling you by forcing you out of your comfort zone and making it all work. It usually does.

4. Allow yourself comfort.

Pack away the pressure and focus on what’s important. Lean on a minimalist packing list

As your frame of organization for the adventure.  Don’t let ‘things’ anchor you.

5. Mind your p’s and q’s.

We all plan to have big fun with the wretched-

But remember to freestyle in moderation and make sure your non negotiable as stay that way. You don’t want to head home with a deficit of what you’ve already worked so hard for. Remember your medication (vitamins, prescriptions, melatonin, packets, and sleep aids. For example, set a reminder in your phone if you think you’ll be too busy to remember your antidepressants. You didn’t work this hard to fall so short.

6. Sensory strategies

I’ve talked extensively on the power of sensory experiences on mental health wellness and here is a quick and dirty rundown list of travel friendly ideas to boost those food brain chemicals:

•Herbal shower tablets/portable diffusers

•Badger balm

•A rubber door stopper (light sleepers)

•Thick wool socks

•Meditation and hydration apps

•Noise cancelling headphones

•Tiny notebook

The possibilities are endless! Since you spend weeks plotting + scheming for the ultimate adventure- be sure you’re remembering to take care of self. Share with me your ideas and let me know what strategies you use while traveling to alleviate your stress. Thanks for following up with me this week friend. Talk soon!

     

How To Explain Your Mental Health Condition To Someone Who Doesn’t Have It

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Having a mental health condition can be very confusing. You can feel happy and empty at the same time. You want to tell others, but also feel like you need to keep them away. When you do get the “talk to me” vibe, do you even know how to explain how you’re feeling? It sucks. Sometimes you end up saying nothing which makes you feel even worse and more alone. Humans are naturally a mass of contradictions. You want to isolate, not wanting to be seen or talk to anyone, but at the same time we don’t want to be alone! Not to mention trying to appear okay to others. You may feel horrible on the inside yet don’t want to be a bother to others. Do they even get it? Do I? Ugh. All questions that need answers. This week, scroll in and find out how to explain your mental health condition to someone who doesn’t have it. 

Do your own research.

You’re probably having a hard time explaining and understanding the condition yourself so telling someone else only adds to the layers of complexity. Familiarize yourself with your symptoms and grab a stronghold of your presenting concerns.

Compare/Link it to physical symptoms.
Make the distinction between feeling normal and feeling unwell. What mental health conditions look like to one may differ from another. For instance, just because you’re able to manage your panic attacks does not mean it’s healthy or normal or likely someone else is able to function the same way. Since we are all conditioned to understand when physical ailments impact mobility, transform the dialogue surrounding mental health in the same way.

 Provide real examples.

Use concrete, definable examples to anchor you and your audience. For example: 

  1. “I’m late to everything”
  2. “I’m drinking more days than not”
  3. “I’m not caring about consequences”
  4. “I’m sleeping all day”

In addition linking symptoms with physical symptom, using concrete examples helps to boost your conversation and remove confusion. It’s a cause and effect language that’s easy to follow and navigate. “This is what’s happenging- This is how it’s effecting me- This is what I plan on doing about it .”

Understand the consequences and plan for potential outcomes.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t state this: who you tell is either going to be genuine, authentic, and comfortable. Uncomfortable. Or hit you with a slow fade. Which is why, you share when you’re ready to share.

Practice the Process.
Talk about the talking you’re about to do. Set the stage. “There’s something I want to talk about with you”. Tell the right people and provide ways that they can support you after the conversation. Remember, you don’t have to share everything and set boundaries for yourself. Do this when you’re ready. Also, choose a time when you’re feeling well & be clear. 

With anything in life. Once you’re comfortable with the details of the story, the rest fall into place. Tell when you’re ready, when you’re well, and when the information disclosed actually serves a purpose.  Sound off below and let me know what methods best serve you when discussing your mental health with others. Let’s follow 

What You Need To Remember When Managing Your Depression

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There are generally two types of depression. One that makes you hermit, “I just can’t get out of bed today” and one that is reactive, impacting your ability to cope “I’m very agitated, I can’t settle down”. Either happening to anyone who undergoes stress, a serious loss, or situational challenges.  Without getting too jargon-laden, I ultimately view depression as an unhealthy view of what to do with yourself and what to expect from yourself. You must except it without liking it. If you resist it, it will persist, all the more. This week let’s chat about what you need to remember when managing your depression. Why? Because using tapes and meditation techniques are great when we have the control over our emotions to use them. When our emotions are out of sort, these practices may be hard to accomplish, because the discipline simply isn’t there. In fact, it can make us feel more frustrated. Let’s get to it. 

Positive Distraction of The Week

1. Challenge any negative thought with a direct action. Work to externalize your thoughts and force yourself to combat any self doubt. 

2. Force yourself to sleep regular hours. Whether you are over or under sleeping- get yourself on an appropriate schedule and tidy up your sleep hygiene

3. Fight the fatigue. Depression exhaustion is real and destructive. Stop participating in experiences that slow you down.

4. Eat junk, become junk. Remember to stock up on nutrient rich foods. Set an alarm for yourself, to fuel up every 2-3 hours. Include water intake. 

5. Talk to me nice; Compassionate self talk is a requirement. What you say to yourself can strongly influence how you feel about yourself. Clean it up. 

6. Complete small, manageable, achievable tasks. There are so many things that we are involved in that don’t have complete endings. This impacts our emotional regulation and processing. Depression is literally a chemical imbalance, so we need to remember that in order to offset the negative, we need to combat it and gain a positive reward. Completing small tasks is a great way to feel accomplished and provide momentum to push forward, rejuvenating the spirit.

7. Adjust your expectations.  Set healthy, realistic ideas of what you want to do with yourself and what you expect from yourself. Practice self awareness and understand that you are dealing with a treatable condition that requires attention to your brain. Effective, strategic problem solving on the small and large scale decisions in your life will help you manage depression appropriately and healthily.

Anything to add? Sound off below. 

Thanks for stopping by. Let’s followup in one week.

Best, Dr. Dyce 

You Rock, Don’t Change, + Other Things We Write In Yearbooks

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I wrote this in March:

One of my childhood friends died this week. 

It’s wild because I feel like I had just reconnected with him- in millennial terms that is. We were  keeping in touch as we just added each other on Instagram a few years ago, routinely leaving comments and liking photos. I felt like I really had a glimpse in his life post high school.  As a late twenty something year old, (at the time) I was fascinated with how much he had changed, but for the most part, stayed exactly the same.

It was 5 am when my brother texted me that he died.

After the immediate shock and confusion, I automatically followed up with “I feel like I just spoke to him.” But that was a lie.

In reality I hadn’t spoken to him in years. I mean REALLY spoken to him.  Like how we used to in between making jokes and rolling our eyes at our social studies teacher. 

Senior yearbook day was probably the last meaningful conversation we had. 

I have no idea why or how he died. I hate that I don’t know.

I have no idea what thoughts kept him awake at 3am.

I do not know what made him sad, fearful, depressed, or anxious. 

I had no idea what his thirty something hopes were, any of his goals or new ambitions. 

Amber and memories keep us warm; and it was the nostalgia of what once was, that kept us falsely connected. 

June 2018:

One of the more difficult aspects of life that I am learning is that:

you can’t go home again.

You can sometimes return to the physical space, but never to the idea of what was  or used to be.  Eventually what you remember and how you remembered it won’t actually be anything. Home is something that I have found to be a feeling that we carry with us until we don’t. It’s an unrecoverable era that has shaped and formed our lives until it just didn’t any longer. This includes the people and spaces that belonged into the idea of what home used to be.

One of the most prominent and influential coming of age movies in my young adult formative years is Garden State (2005). It’s a movie about about a dude named Andrew Largeman and his return home after several years due to his mother’s death. He’s confronted by several aspects of his childhood in this movie, but also has this way of processing past experiences with new insights through deep conversations.  There’s a scene in the movie that I will always take with me. It’s where Andrew discusses his ideas of what home actually means:

“You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone. One day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it’s gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It’s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist. Maybe it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I don’t know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.”

Kinda hits you in the jugular; but still we get up and choose to participate. Time continues to march on and recreating the past is just not an option, because nostalgia is just too damn irrational.  As we work to navigate these new spaces, the best way we know how and juggle the non-shapeable feeling or idea of home, we must remember that change is the only constant variable we must embrace in all forms. 

You rock, don’t change.

Best, Dr. Dyce