Saturday, April 30, 2011

Achieving Psychological Wellness, Part 1

Psychological wellness allows you the freedom to live your life as free of self-imposed barriers as possible.  There are 14 factors that promote the type of wellness that helps us not only make habit and attitude changes but also give us the unencumbered feeling we all strive to have.  The closer you come to fulfilling these, the less difficult it will be to keep striving for your goals.

The most important factor is risk-takingTake intellectual risks.  Expand your mind by exposing yourself to new ideas.  The saying, “A mind expanded by a new idea never returns to its original size” is appropriate.  The result of learning is growth and an improved self-esteem.  Take spiritual risks.  If you are not at peace spiritually, find it through yoga, meditation, changing religions, etc.  Being at peace with oneself makes everything else easier.  Take physical risks by engaging in a sport where mind and body must work together, where concentration is mandatory.  By participating in a sport that involves some risk, you’ll get in touch with your body.  Take emotional risks.  Risk allowing intimacy into your life.  It is not unusual to close emotional doors after being hurt by someone.  But doing so will inhibit your ability to be happy.  By risking getting close to others you’ll find that although humans are flawed, do not always show caring the way we’d like, and cannot fulfill all our needs, they certainly are a wonderful addition to our lives.

Build a support group.  Find others who are experiencing what you are or who have similar interests.  It is always comforting to know there are those who have “lived to tell.”  When you are with people who are going through the same thing you are and those who have already gone through it, you discover you aren’t alone, you aren’t different, and that you will make it.

Next week we’ll continue with more factors that can enhance psychological wellness.

Copyright 2011 Lynn Borenius Brown

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stress, Part 3

Hope you chose to incorporate at least a few of the ideas represented last week to avoid stress in your life.

Now, let’s discuss reducing stress.  How can you reduce stress in your life?  Here are 14 important concepts that I hope you decide to think about and act on:

1.        Learn to accept what you cannot change.  Don’t waste your energy.
2.      Take one thing at a time.  That’s all you can do anyway.
3.      Be prepared to wait.  Bring something to read, play a game on your cell phone, close your eyes and relax, or people-watch (always an interesting experience).
4.      Relax your standards.  Everything doesn’t have to be perfect (feel free to refer to earlier postings on this subject).
5.      Get enough rest and sleep.  Lack of sleep lessens your ability to deal with stress.
6.      Balance work and play.  Schedule time for relaxation.  After all, the word “recreation” comes from re-create.
7.      Talk out your worries. Share them with someone you respect and trust.  Another person may help you see a different side to your problem and, therefore, a solution.
8.     Avoid self-medication.  Alcohol and food only mask symptoms of stress.
9.      Establish a serene place of your own.  Use it to have time when there are no demands placed on you.
10.  Blow off steam, physically.  Physical activity helps to reduce the tension your body absorbs.
11.   Do something for someone else.  Get your mind off yourself for a while.  It will change your perspective.
12.  Find humor in the situation.
13.  Get help with the jobs you hate.
14.  Give in one in a while.  It’s a good way to start the give-and-take process.

For an informal assessment of your stress level, go to my website ( to take the “How Stress-Prone Are You” quiz.  You’ll find the link on the left side of the homepage.

Copyright 2011 Lynn Borenius Brown

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stress, Part 2

Hope this last week wasn't too stressful for you!  However, if it was, let’s talk about how you can avoid stress in your life.

Here is a list of 15 practical ideas to help you avoid being stressed in our fast-paced world:

Get up fifteen minutes earlier than you usually do.

Prepare for morning the night before by laying out your clothes, getting the coffee ready to brew, taking a shower, making your list of things to do the next day, etc.

Never wear ill-fitting clothing.  Wearing clothes that are too small don’t make you appear thinner.  Always dress neatly and comfortably.

Set appointments ahead of time.  Schedule regular appointments by setting up the next one while still at the current one.  This way you’ll never have to remember to call to make the next appointment.

Don’t rely on your memory.  Write down everything you need to remember and use the “notepad” function on your cell phone.

Practice preventive maintenance on yourself and your possessions.  This will reduce the amount of time and money spent on repairs.

Make duplicates of all keys.

Rearrange your work hours.

Practice in front of a mirror if necessary.

Use off hours for shopping and banking and do more of both online.

Rearrange mealtimes.

Keep an emergency supply of all necessities.

Make copies of all important documents and keep originals in a safe place.

Don’t tolerate anything that doesn’t work properly.

Allow extra time for everything.

This week, incorporate as many of these ideas as possible into your life.  You’ll find your stress level diminishing.

Copyright 2011 Lynn Borenius Brown

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Stress, Part 1

Stress is any action or situation that places certain physical and/or psychological demands upon you. Stress is necessary to well-being. A lack of it may be harmful. But, stress causes some serious ailments. And research has determined that the stressors we find in modern life are more harmful than those found in the days gone by.

There are three responses to stress. There is an emotional response that reveals itself in annoyance, fear, etc. The second response is behavioral that causes a change in performance. The third is physiological. This results in changes in body functioning and psychologically-induced illnesses. However, the brain influences the nature of stress by its ability to control environmental events and our ability to look ahead.

Some people are less susceptible than others to the influences of change because they interpret their environment as less threatening, challenging, or demanding. They have certain personality traits in common. They are flexible in their attachments to other people, groups, and goals. They easily shift to other relationships when established ones are disrupted. These individuals are aware of their psychological limitations. The healthiest people show little psychological reaction to events and situations that cause extreme reactions in others.

What are the signs of stress? The visible signs of stress include: increased breathing rate, frowning, clenching of jaw and/or fist, muscle tension, and perspiration. The invisible signs are: increased heart rate, redistribution of blood from internal organs to large muscles, decreased perception of fatigue, breakdown of fat stores, increased coagulation of blood, decreased blood clotting time, urge to urinate, increased cardiac output, increased blood pressure, and increased sympathetic nervous system activity.

Take time to notice the signs of stress within yourself as well as when, how often and how severe they are. Learning how to avoid and reduce stress are our next two tasks.

Copyright 2011 Lynn Borenius Brown

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Perfectionism, Part 3

Hope you took some time this last week to notice if you use any of the three mental distortions.

Now, let’s talk about how you can begin changing this perfectionist habit.  The best way is to use the mental distortions. 

Start by examining your all-or-nothing thinking.  Spend time investigating whether or not the world can be meaningfully evaluated by using this way of thinking.  Decide if certain walls are totally clean, if people are totally handsome/beautiful or ugly, etc.  After doing this for a while, you’ll see how irrational it is to assume that anything is all one way or another.  Then you can begin substituting them with more realistic “gray” thoughts.  Instead of perceiving yourself as a failure because you didn’t do something perfectly, you’ll notice that you did fine.  It will take time to remember to substitute the reasonable thought for the extreme.  But, eventually you’ll catch yourself and make the change.

Next, start working on over-generalizing.  Stop yourself whenever you hear yourself use the word “always” or “never” when describing yourself and/or your behavior.   Little in life is forever, so there is no need to worry that you’ll always do whatever it is you are concerned about.  However, it will happen if you determine it should be so and make a concentrated effort to be sure it does.  Just because you chose to behave in a certain way yesterday doesn’t mean you will always make that choice.  Choose not to let your past become your future.  It doesn’t have to.

Third are the “should” statements. Get rid of all the “shoulds” and “ought tos” in your life.  Very few are valid and they do not take all the pertinent factors into consideration.  You do the best you can with the circumstances you find yourself in.  Learn from each experience and move forward!

One way to effectively make these changes is to keep a daily written record of these self-critical cognitions, pinpoint the form of mental distortion each contains, and substitute a more objective, self-enhancing thought.

Copyright 2011 Lynn Borenius Brown