Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

Best, Worst, and Most Likely 

One of the reasons many of us experience anxiety is because our imagination create worst-case scenarios. When our brain creates a movie that contains scenes featuring our life AND those scenes HAVE NOT happened and MAY NEVER happen, our imagination is playing with us. When our imagination is allowed to run rampant, our stress response can be triggered. The “soul” purpose of the brain is to predict and anticipate any possible stressor, any possible threat to our physical and emotional safety, and prevent that from happening by preparing us, making us alert to the situation. So, when we allow our imagination to run wild, creating fantasies about the future that lead to a potential threat for our physical and emotional safety, we feel it. And it’s mighty unpleasant.

When you find yourself in this trap, use this psychological fitness skill to reduce your overall anxiety and improve your general mental wellness. Using this psychological fitness skill takes planning and practice. You must be determined to plan and practice this technique. Good mental wellness takes effort.  

When you find yourself focused on and fixated upon the worst-case scenario, stop yourself.

Say to yourself, “Time to look at other possible outcomes”.

Then, deliberately and intentionally, consider the best-case scenario and outcome of the situational stressor that currently has your attention.

For a lot of us this is difficult. For several reasons. First, the natural reaction of the brain is to prepare for the worst. So, when you are faced with a situation where there are multiple outcomes your brain will automatically fixate and focus on the worst-case scenario in an effort to prepare you for that undesired outcome. This of course creates stress and anxiety and loads of unpleasant and unwanted physical and emotional reactions and even some behavioral choices we’d prefer not to make.

The second reason it’s difficult to think of the best-case scenario is that most of us have had setbacks and disappointments in our life. These setbacks and disappointments become “material” for our brain. Our brain uses this “material” and historical information from our past to influence the “creation of that imagination “worst-case scenario” that plagues our existence.

So, thinking of a best-case scenario, which by the way will change your emotional experience, takes work and effort. It doesn’t come easy. But it can be done. So, when you’re thinking about how your world will fall apart, collapse, that the sky will fall, and so on, stop yourself. Start to imagine yourself in the best-case scenario, the most ideal and wonderful outcome of the situational stressor that you currently face. 

After considering the best-case scenario for a while (give it 5 minutes) and resetting your stress response, balance the best- and worst-case scenarios. Think of a most likely scenario.

What is the most likely outcome of the situational stressor that you currently face?

Nearly all of the time the worst- and best-case scenarios don’t play out yet we give the worst-case scenario far more screen time than it deserves.

Focusing on the most likely scenario allows you to predict and anticipate the outcome of the situational stressor you face for the purpose of improving your coping, problem solving, and communication skill sets.

Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

Fun at the Right Pace

One psychological fitness strategy that a lot of people over look is the ability to have FUN at the right pace. Sounds easy, yet most people have difficulty scheduling and then taking time to focus on FUN for the sake of FUN at a PACE that is just right for relaxation to set in and stress to melt away.

Being Recreational means that you are engaging in an activity that you “do” for the “soul” purpose of having fun and because you enjoy that activity.

Being Leisurely means that you are moving at a pace that ushers in relaxation and cleanses your soul of toxic stress.

So, a stroll on the beach or in a park is both recreational in that it is an activity that you may engage in for FUN and tends to be at a leisurely or slower pace then when you are trying to catch a plan, train or bus because you are late for a meeting.

Having fun at the right pace is vital for your overall mental wellness. Developing the psychological fitness skills to have fun at the right pace takes planning and practice. Oh, and some determination. And grace for yourself in that you allow yourself to have FUN at the RIGHT PACE.

Make a list of all of the things that you LOVE to do. Give yourself a good 15 minutes to create the list. Don’t filter and/or edit yourself. Just write.

After 15 minutes (the list is NEVER really complete as you will add new activities over the course of your life) next to each activity write a “S” for a slow paced activity like walking, laying on the beach, fishing, reading, attending a ball game, etc, a “M” for moderately paced for kayaking, jogging, tennis, hiking, boating, etc and a “F” for Fast paced for biking, skydiving, playing basketball, etc.

Look at your list.

Then look at your daily schedule.

Add at least ONE FUN item from your “I love to do this” list to each of the days on your schedule – hint: there should be seven (7) days. When you have more open time, add a second FUN item yet make sure that you mix up the pace of the activities if you are recreational twice in one day.

For good overall mental wellness, we need recreational activities daily. And we also need the variety of pace on given days and through out the week. So….get busy.

Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

Change of Pace

For the last several weeks I’ve been taking a lot of meetings. Trying to achieve a goal of getting a certain amount of hours completed for the purpose of collecting a bonus. Having goals can be good.

After achieving a goal, after obtaining a certain level or reaching a certain Plateau, I find it’s good to step back and take a break. Sit down. Reflect. Look around. Give yourself a different perspective. Allow the information, data, experience, did you just completed to Suttle. Like a snow globe oh, let the dust settle a little bit before you move on.

So today, after a two-month hard push, I’ve decided to reward Myself by attending a conference. Going to a little continuing education seminar so to speak. Yeah it’s still screen time, but it’s a completely different type of cognitive process. Shifting things up for my brain and my mind is good. It’s good for my mental wellness. It’s good for my overall physical health. It’s good for me.

I didn’t do things like that in the recent past. I had to learn to give myself permission to shift gears, change Focus, give myself a chance to really improve my overall mental Wellness.

Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

Imagination Holiday

Halloween is an imagination holiday.

You can be whatever or whomever you want. The only limit is your imagination.

As a kid we are Cinderella or a Pirate. As adults we are sexy nurse or a zombie stumbling though a lost, dead world. Fitting ‘eah?

As kids, our imagination is set loose and a world of possibilities opens. As we become adults and record all of the risks and fails life serves up, the outcomes of our imagination shift. New masks go on. Horror stories replace fairytales and fantasies.

Kids allow their Imagination to run wild creating endless possibilities of success and joy. Sdult imaginations create horror stories of failure and loss. These mind-based narratives fuel anxiety, panic, peril, procrastination and a lack of living.

Kid’s imaginations create narratives of impossibilities, drive hope and lead to triumph.

Try being a kid today and imagine all of possibilities life can bring and create hope in your world. If only for a single day.

Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

How to prioritize more efficiently

Many of us believe that the key to good mental wellness is having the psychological fitness skill of being able to prioritize. And I agree. Having the skill set of being able to prioritize creates a sense of balance. Balance create stability. Stability reduces anxiety and depression and increases and uplift our sense of confidence leading to improved overall mental wellness.

One of the reasons people struggle finding stability and security when attempting to prioritize is it they have the wrong orientation. Most people think of prioritization as a totem pole, a ranking, a hierarchy. Prioritization isn’t vertical. It’s horizontal. Being able to prioritize and create balance isn’t about ranking things top to bottom or bottom to top it’s about rotating that access 90 degrees and finding a horizontal balance.

In order to find stability and balance we must first understand that prioritization isn’t about agreeing that my job is more important than my marriage or that my kids are more important than my job or that my self-care is more important than my kids and my marriage but not more important than my job.

Prioritization isn’t about ranking. It’s about finding balance. Balance comes when we are able to recognize that our job, kids, marriage and self-care are all important.

Prioritization is about finding the right portion sizes so that we create balance in our world. Portion sizes may change outside of our control yet we have the control then to adjust the portion sizes to other key areas of our lives in an effort to create ballet. It’s all about creating balance. It’s all about adjusting the portion sizes for the purpose of creating balance.

As an example, if I have a big project due at work then the portion of time I dedicate to work may need to increase. This means then that portions that I devote to my family, my self-care, my friends, my hobbies, my marriage, and so on may need to be decreased in order to create balance. Being an active alchemist by deciding on the portion sizes brings about a sense of control. I’m deciding, then sometimes negotiating with my partner or my children or my co-workers or my boss or whomever, what portion sizes I believe will lead to proper balance.

If due to an illness one of the children in my family develops now demands more of my attention, obviously the family domain portion will increase requiring me to strategically decrease portions in either my work, marriage, self-care, friends, hobbies, or any other domain that sits on my scale. Again, when I make the decisions on the portion sizes because I believe this will bring about the best balance, I’m in control. And again I may need to negotiate the portion sizes that I’m determining with others for the purpose of ensuring relational health and functioning with others in my life so that my attempts to create balance and stability don’t create tensions in other relationships.

So what’s review, prioritization is horizontal not vertical. It’s about determining the portion size of time, energy and focus that I give to any particular domain. I may need to communicate and negotiate with others so that my prioritization, my portion sizing, doesn’t create tension in other relationships that’s making this whole prioritization exercise futile.