Establishing Healthy Relationship Boundaries

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Do you find saying no hard? Do you feel guilty for changing set plans? Do you keep your feelings to yourself to keep from “make waves”? These thoughts are common for many people in their relationships. Fortunately, putting proper boundaries in place can alleviate these uncomfortable feelings. A boundary can be defined as the ability to know where you end and someone else begins.

We all have personal boundaries that govern our lives. Our boundaries are broken into physical, mental, and emotional components that help shape the way we interact with others. Establishing healthy boundaries makes it easier to set limits for yourself and others. Consequently, having unhealthy bounadaries in relationships may lead to overly connected relationships which are called, enmeshed or co-dependent. In a healthy relationship you know that you both are separate entities and that you cannot change or fix the other.

Knowing what healthy boundaries are and learning to be assertive can be tough for some. It is difficult to set healthy boundaries if you grew up in an environment where unhealthy boundaries were in place. Each person’s boundaries are mainly determined and shaped by the family of origin as a child. Whatever boundaries that were modeled to you in your environment during childhood will be carried along into your adult life. However, it’s never to late to learn and implement healthy boundaries in relationships.

Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries:

Placing the needs of others above your own.

Frequently offering unsolicited advice to help others.

Doing things that others should be doing for themselves.

Overcommiting yourself to things.

Taking advantage of others.

Expecting others to know what you need without saying anything or “mind read”.

Feeling guilty after saying no.

Keeping your feelings to yourself.

Being overly involved in anothers problems.

Touching someone without their permission.

Trying to fix or change someone else.

Feeling unappreciated, resentful or exhausted in your relationship.

Allowing yourself to be define by others.

Disregarding your beliefs/feelings simply to not offend another.

Accepting unwanted sexual advances or touching.

Ways to communicate boundaries effectively:

Be open to discuss when someone has violated your boundary. Make sure you are being assertive in your message. You can do this by maintaining eye contact and speak in a direct and clear manner.

Have clear and firm boundaries in place. Furthermore, have clear and firm consequences for violations. If there is no consequence for a boundary being violated the boundary will loose it’s meaning.

Do not be apologetic for your feelings. “No” is a complete sentence. You don’t have to feel bad for your feelings or give excuses to why you are saying no.

Use “I” messages instead of “you” messages. Remove blame and take responsibility for your emotions by using “I” statements.

Actively engage in problem solving. Have solution talk rather than problem talk. Do not simply complain about the problem. Be sure to find a way to resolve the issue.

Check and balance. Ensure that others are receiving the message you intended by asking for feedback.

Having proper boundaries also has to do with the ability to effectively set limits with others who have poor boundaries. Model the behaviors you want to see in others. When proper boundaries are in place you no longer have to feel guilty or that you have to please others. You will know what is best for you and what your willing to do in relationships with others. Having firm boundaries makes it easier to know when a line has been crossed. Being able to effectively communicate your needs will lead to increased feelings of empowerment. As a result, you will have increased self esteem, intimacy, and stability within your relationships.

How to cope with loss

received_10105162298534247Each of us will face some sort of loss during our lifetime. Loss can include the passing away of a loved one, the loss of a job, divorce, decrease in mobility or body functions, and the loss of self after a life transition. There are many reactions to loss and each varies in severity based on coping skills, temperament, and social support.
Some ways to deal with grief are as follows:
Find a support group: This can be family, friends, or people at work or Church. It is helpful to have people that you can reach out to for guidance and a listening ear. Feeling alone and withdrawing from others can lead to depression. Find someone you trust to share your feelings with.
Express yourself : Artistic expression is a great way to cope. This can be done by drawing, journaling, and getting creative.
Spirituality: Meditating, deep breathing, paryer/fasting, and being in nature are ways you can feel more connected.
Keeping your routine: Make sure your sleep, excercise, and eating habits are in tact. Structure helps decrease chaos and stress. If you begin to slack off in one area it is easier to let the other areas of your life go.
Counseling: If you find yourself unable to cope more effectively 6 months after yoir loss it may be time to seek outside help. This can be a sign of what is called complicated grief. When left unchecked this can lead to substance abuse, major depression, and/or post traumatic stress. EMDR Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy helps with trauma, PTSD, and depression.
Untreated complicated grief can lead to the use of negative coping skills such as drugs, alcohol, and self harming behaviors. You want to avoid things that “numb out pain”. Implement healthy coping skills early on when the loss first occurs. When proper coping skills are put to use loss becomes easier to manage.

Thinking errors of an anxious mind.

An anxious mind processes things differently. When anxious the brain becomes hypervigilent and begins operating out of the fight or flight mode in the brain. In this fight or flight state the brain is more likely to make critical thinking errors. These thinking errors can be broken into four different categories.

1.Biased. Biased thoughts are one-sided. For example, if someone you have had an issues with before walks by and does not say hello you automatically assume that they don’t like you. However, there could be multiple explanations for their behavior.

2. Dysfunctional. Dysfunctional thoughts do not serve you well. For example, ” I shouldn’t even try.” Dysfunctional thoughts only set you up to fail.

3.Irrational thoughts fundamentally do not make sense when you thoroughly examine them. For example thinking, “everyone is talking about me” when you see people whispering.
4. Distorted. Distorted thoughts don’t accurately reflect reality. Using extreme terms such as, “always,” “never,” and “nobody” are inaccurate. For example, You may assume that, “I am never going to have friends” after one friend treats you in an unkind manner.

You can train your brain to challenge your thinking errors. Begin to change your perspective and find alternatives to your thoughts. Look at evidence for and against your thoughts. Become more mindful, and use coping skills such as deep breathinh to get your brain to move from the fight or flight to more rational processing.

Tips to manage anxiety

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I feel like I can’t escape my thoughts”. “My chest feels like it’s about to cave in and my heart starts racing”. “I want to stop overthinking things”. “I tend to overanalyze things”. These are common concerns for those who suffer from anxiety.

Anxiety can swoop upon before you know it and it feels like a heavy cloud on your mind. Anxiety gives you a restless and distracted feeling.

Here are 6 ways to manage anxiety:

1. COMBAT NEGATIVE THOUGHTS. When you are anxious your thoughts fall into a negative pattern. You want to combat your negative beliefs to see if they are rational. You can combat your thoughts by comparing evidence for and against your negative thoughts. Many times after doing this activity you will find that there is not reasonable evidence for your negative thought which helps you reach a calmer state and thought behind an event.

2. ENGAGE IN DEEP BREATHING. A great way to deep breathe is the 4/7/8 technique. In this excercise, you breathe in deep for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7, and exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat this as many times as needed to reach a calm point.

3. TAKE A COLD SHOWER/ USE A COLD TOWEL ON YOUR NECK. The cold temperature acts as a “shock to the system” that is able to ground you back to the present moment.

4. GET ACTIVE. Find a form of the exercise that you can do daily. Exercise has been shown to increase endorphins and the “feel good hormone” serotonin.

5. TAKE A TIMEOUT. Whenever you begin to start feeling overwhelmed you want to enlist your coping skills. TAKE time to do yoga, listen to music, journal, get a massage or anything that allows you to gather your thoughts.

6. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. It is essential to get enough sleep and maintain a balanced diet. Self care is an essential component to being able to manage stressors more effectively.

Knowing your triggers and body reactions is key to managing your anxiety. You want to use the anxiety managment tips before you reach your “boiling point”. On a 10 point scale where 0 is no disturbance and 10 is the most disturbed you can be, you want to start using management techniques when you feel yourself getting to a 4. It’s easier to alleviate the effects of anxiety when you tune into your body and begin using your management techniques early on. Everyone has anxiety from time to time, however if these feelings begin to consume you and affect daily functioning it may be time to seek out some help.

Mental Health Awareness Month 2017

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Mental health awareness month has been held in May since 1949. The purpose of this movement is to bring awareness to mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia. It also aims to bring awareness to suicidaility. The goal is to promote ways to implement positive coping skills into everyday life.

Each year has a different theme for the mental health awareness month. May 2017 is themed “risky business”. The goal is to educate the public on the precipitating factors that can lead to or enhance mental illness. Furthermore, the theme aims to help the public identify the signs of specific illnesses. The awareness website has a “tool kit” of resources that includes assessments, coping skills, and videos.

Mental health has a stigma that needs to be alleviated. Many people forgo seeking out help because of negative attitudes that have been held against counseling and mental health issues. Do not be afraid to reach out for help if you find yourself not handling stress in an affective manner. If you feel that you or someone you know is engaging in risky behaviors learn more by visiting http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net.

 

The first year of motherhood.

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My lovely daughter, little Miss London, turned one on April 2nd! Looking back, the time has flown and she has grown so much into her personality! I have learned so much in this time. I have found it very important to have a group of moms in my life for support! We mom’s need to support one another not compare or tear each other down!

As a new mom, you have new expectations, needs, and emotions. You may feel like a total wreck and have yet to gather your footing. You may feel like, “Who am I?”, “Will I get back the the old me?”, or “When will I get it together?”. Your motherhood journey may be rocky, smooth, or curvy. However, in the end, you will make it to your final destination. Give yourself grace in this time. Raising a child who knows they are loved, safe, and cared for is what matters.

There are articles that are polarizing and confusing, “Reason to let babies cry it out” “Reasons why you should not let babies cry it out”. Which may leave you screaming, “What do I do”?

A special gifting we develop as a mom is “mother’s intuition”. Do what you feel is best for your little one. We don’t need to fall into the “comparison trap”. Everyone has struggles and looking to the left or right around you can breed depression, confusion, anger or anxiety. It is okay to seek guidance, but don’t let that bleed into comparison. Mom’s may compare when their child starts walking, talking, and so on. Mom’s also may compare parenting styles. However, Theodore Roosevelt said it best, “Comparison is the thief of joy”.

What I have found in this first year of London’s life is that nothing else matters around me except my husband and her. Life and time are such precious commodities and can’t be spent on fleeting things. I have learned to enjoy the moment, do what I feel is best and let God handle the rest. I have been able to cherish life, laugh at my mistakes and take things a little less seriously. I don’t ask “who am I?” I am Whitney, a wife, mother, and a child of God! I know, accept, and love who I am in this season and I know that change is ever constant. In each season of life, we change and change can be hard. Don’t compare yourself to the “old you” because that is defeating as well. Sometimes you maybe crying, laughing, or feeling angry/defeated/not enough. Just know this to shall pass, you are enough, and these ups and downs are normal!

How did you learn to accept your new identity when you became a mom?

Beating the chatter of the mind.

I have been reading a book by Pastor Steven Furtick called, Crash the Chatterbox. The chatterbox is that small voice in your head that whispers, “I will never be good enough”, “that was a dumb decision”, or “Why can’t I control my emotions?”. The voice knows how to nag you and to the point of anxiety, depression, or anger if you allow it. We all have times in our lives where the negative chatter gets the best of us. However, we hold the key to the door of the chatterbox. We can choose to ignore the knocks or let it in.

When we open the door and let the chatter in we tend to repeatedly go over the negative thought in our head. This process is called rumination. When left unchecked rumination leads to anxiety, depression, and a sense of helplessness.

You can combat rumination and the negative enotions that come with it. A way to defend against the chatter is to work through the rational of the chatter. Once the negative chatter starts question whether your chatter is rational or not. Once you are able to pinpoint your negative self-talk it will be easier to dispute your chatter. Don’t allow your chatter to rule your life. Take control of the chatter and come up with alternatives that disprove your thoughts.

There is an ongoing battlefield in the mind. Therefore, you must become more mindful of your thoughts so you can replace the chatter with God’s truth. Once you feel a negative shift in your emotions take time to check in with your thoughts. Also, be mindful of implementing good self care, go on a walk, talk to a peer, pray, or journal. You are capable of winning the battle!