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    In reply to: Introduction to Week 1

    I don’t have a sleep disorder than I know of, but I’m a big-time night owl as well. My natural rhythms for sleeping and eating are off from what the typical social and work schedule allows. I’ve often wondered what it would be like if were able to schedule my routine around what feels right instead of what’s expected.
     
    I’m a slow waker as well! I usually feel a little dizzy when I first wake up. Even on mornings that I have to get up to an early alarm, I find that when I have a chance to lay awake for 30-45 minutes after my alarm before I get up, my body feels better throughout the whole day! I have less pain and my digestion is more regular.
    #sleepdigestionconnection #rhythmscheduleshift #slowwaker


    Rachel Carriere
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    In reply to: Resilience

    In 2014 I had to make a big decision. I had planned to retire in several years at the social security retirement age of 66+. But I began struggling with constant fatigue and an intermittent acute lower abdominal pain with an undetermined cause.
     
    I learned that I could use my bank of sick leave to take a partial medical leave from work. I thought that by working fewer hours I would be more rested and revived. When that proved not to be true, I knew I needed a chunk of time without working to try to find the cause of the randomly recurring sharp pain and regain my energy. I came to the conclusion that I would be better off retiring earlier than later.
     
    At the end of six months of part-time medical leave I retired from my employer and moved to another city with a lower cost of living. I figured I would take a month to set up my new household and recover from the stress of the transition, and take another month of rest to fully recuperate and figure out how to earn a living. It sounded like a plan.
     
    I did not recuperate in two months. I stayed close to home, spending most days in the bed or on the bed. Another month went by. And another. After five months I was still struggling to get out of bed each day and the pain had become more frequent. I could see that taking a job to bring in needed income would not be an option.
     
    One day I happened upon the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s website and found that they had an artist’s open studio. I knew that art was a way for me to express myself and tune into both my emotional and physical intuition, and I had dreamed of finding a space where I could create large, messy work. I got myself together and went to see if this place could work for me. While I was there I was asked to submit a proposal for a course on expressive and intuitive art for the fall semester. I submitted the course proposal and it was accepted. I helped the students express themselves through art, and as the weeks went by I could see the impact that having a safe space to make this kind of art was having on them.
     
    But the person who benefited most was me! It gave me “a new lease on life”. I understand now that this is my purpose, this is why I am here. I call myself the “Art Doula”, and I create expressive art experiences for freeing the artist within. I assist people in the gestation and birthing of their artist selves, and in bringing their creative genius into the world.
     
    The expressive artmaking experiences I create just seem like something fun to do; but done over time and on a regular basis, they have helped some of my students in their healing process. Something is happening on a deeper level. Making art gives voice to ideas and emotions that we would otherwise not be able to articulate.
     
    Best of all, when I am sharing the experience of art I am quickened with a spirit that feels like a fire that starts in me and envelops the room. Spontaneously, I dance and sing (and so do the students). At those moments I do not feel the fatigue or the pain. It is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. This is something I can do for the rest of my life! And I love it. :-)
     
    #resilience #stillstanding #freeingtheartistwithin
     


    Gail Moser
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    Have you recovered after a physical, mental, emotional, or social disruption in your life? How are you progressing from surviving, to thriving? Have you experienced personal growth after a misfortune or a major change in your life?
     
    #resilience #fromsurvivingtothriving


    Gail Moser

    Hello Everyone,
     
    The final week of the Body Listening Project is all about how this can be a springboard for personal growth. We will explore various components:
     

    • Monday: Perspective – Can you see your growth when you look back over your journey?
    • Tuesday: Re-framing – Are you seeing your body’s experiences in another light?
    • Wednesday: Resilience – Are you recovering and thriving after physical, mental, emotional, and/or social disruption?
    • Thursday: Transformation – Have you experienced physical and/or emotional change through flashes of intuition, insight, or vision?
    • Friday: Acceptance – What does acceptance mean to you, and how has it affected your health and life?
    • Saturday: Gratitude – How has being thankful improved your sense of well-being?

     
    If listening to your body has fueled your quest for personal growth, or if your self-development efforts have had an impact on your ability to listen to your body, come and join in the discussion this week. We are looking forward to sharing this part of our body listening journey!
     


    Gail Moser

    My questions for you related to this topic are about how practicing mindfulness has affected your relationship with yourself and others. Has your attitude towards yourself been impacted? Have your relationships/interactions with others been impacted by your mindfulness practice? Has mindfulness increased your awareness of your input into social relationships or increased your acceptance of help from others?
     
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    From reflecting on my own experiences, I’ve realized that mindfulness, and particularly the mindful therapies I’ve been working with, have had a really positive impact on my relationships. Firstly with myself. Acceptance and compassion are two of the things that have led me to feel gentler with myself and my limitations. I think this, in turn, has affected my relationships with others in a couple of ways. It was hard for me to feel like I had anything to offer in a friendship when I was stuck at home having a hard time getting around, and constantly stressed out from the pain. I was no fun to be around at all, I thought. For a long time I didn’t work on my friendships or relationships at all. I focused solely on myself, thinking “once I kick this pain then I’ll go back to having a life and being with other people.” What this ended up doing was disconnecting myself from my social network and looking back I realize I was wasting time by putting my life on hold. I’ve been searching for more balance now, in focusing on myself and my relationships with others. I think acceptance and compassion have enabled me to feel more comfortable with myself in my relationships with others, which I think has also made me more pleasant to be around – bonus!
     
    Another aspect of my relationships that have really improved through acceptance and compassion is asking for and accepting help from others. I hate to ask for help! I value my independence, and even though I love to help other people it feels like such a burden and imposition to ask for help from others. At the peak of my pain, I was relying on friends and family for everything – grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, and even help caring for my pets. It was really difficult for me to accept that I was in a position where I could not repay the favors being done for me, and social norms taught me that I needed to reciprocate! I think therapy really helped me deal with this, and humbled me to the fact sometimes this is what it means to be human.
    #mindfulrelationships #compassion #acceptance #connection
     
    Have any of you noticed any aspect of your relationships that has changed through mindful practices?


    Rachel Carriere

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    Welcome to our discussion of mindful therapies and how developing emotional coping mechanisms may also have a positive impact on our physical wellbeing!
     
    A few months ago I read this scholarly article about how different mindfulness models can be integrated into the medical treatment of chronic pain. I found it fascinating, even though much of what it said wasn’t new to me. I know that the ideas it discusses aren’t unique to this article, but I am sharing it since it was meaningful for me.
    Day MA, Jensen MP, Ehde DM, Thorn BE. Toward a Theoretical Model for Mindfulness-Based Pain Management. The Journal of Pain 15(7), 691–703 (2014).
    It just all made so much sense, and seeing the mind-body connection described in this way was really satisfying for me. What I liked reading about the most was how mindful therapies have been shown to improve our pain experience. I realized the many different ways in which this has been true for me.
     
    Two years ago, when I realized that I was having serious issues with stress and coping, I sought help from a behavioral therapist that employs many of the mindful techniques discussed in this article. I continue to see her today and find that maintaining my mental health has been just as helpful for managing my pain as treating my physical health. I learned that this is called Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), a kind of counterpart to MBSR. Its approach is to teach patients how to examine the links between our thoughts and our stress, our emotions and our physical sensations. Through reading this article and breaking down my experience, I have picked out several ways in which this therapy has helped me.
     
    It has helped me separate myself from my pain and analyze it in a nonjudgmental way. I learned that this is called emotional decoupling. It also helps create some distance between my sense of self and this pain, which has been a useful way to reperceive my experiences. It has helped me accepted my experience and my pain, as I’ve mentioned in other discussions. Instead of focusing so closely on the pain itself, I’m working to shift focus to my emotional response to the pain. Therapy is helping me to stop catastrophizing my pain, though I still fall back to this in particularly tough periods (that downward spiral!) by helping me build tools that I believe I can call on to manage this pain. This is called self-efficacy (and expecation management, which we will talk about tomorrow!). The last thing I’ll mention is fear. Therapy has helped me acknowledge and work through the fears I have developed alongside my pain. For me specifically, this means the fear of an activity that might cause me pain. I was avoiding certain movements and exercises, as well as avoiding social activities that might be difficult. I still have a lot of work to do, but I think using all the tools I’m developing has helped me approach pain differently and reduced fear as an impediment to my actions.
     
    The article discusses other ways for how mindful cognitive therapy can make an impact in reducing people’s experience of pain. Mindful therapies don’t have to include the traditional behavioral therapy model that I chose, but any method that promotes training our minds to examine the link between our thoughts and our physical being. I am interested in hearing more about how you may have practiced therapies, and specifically how you have developed coping mechanisms for yourself. If any of this resonates with you, please share your experience!
     
    Have you found that mindfulness practices increase your emotional coping mechanisms for dealing with chronic illness or pain? Which practices have the greatest therapeutic effect for you?

    #mindfulnessforcoping #mindfulnessbasedcognitivetherapy #retrainthebrain #distancethepain


    Rachel Carriere
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    Some of the sources I use include:

    • Health care providers including massage practitioners, acupuncturists, chiropractirs, naturopaths, physicians, and physical therapists.
    • Friends and family
    • My professional community of #massage# practitioners (local, state and national)
    • My spiritual/social community
    • My respected #elders# – First nation teachers
    • Various websites
    • Library (including Heal-WA), textbooks and periodicals
    • Community centers for self care activities and movement courses
    • Self as source

    Windrider
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    In reply to: Hitting your limit

    Fibromyalgia has been very isolating experience for me.  The “adrenaline rush” kicks in and I gain a lot of energy and enthusiasm being around others. Fun activities help me to distract me my pain and focus on an exciting & enjoyable experience. I still have my limits even during the most fun activity. If the lights are too bright or music is playing too loud I can get a migraine. I am not shy about asking to have lights and music turned down.

    Last weekend I took a two hour art class using the ZenTangle technique for drawing artistic doodles using specific patterns and techniques. I find art and craft activities to be very therapeutic & fun. I enjoy any excuse to get out of my house & be social. Isolation only triggers depression.

    I also enjoy photography. I am just an amateur but it brings me great joy to capture natures beauty or take a great photograph of an individual.I find I get lost in the moments and am not aware of the strain I am putting on my arms and wrists until after a long photography session. I need to be better about setting time limits and wearing a watch. I should set the alarm on my cell phone so that I do not overdue. I can be very stubborn and I often fight through the pain because I want to continue doing activities that bring me a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment.

    Although I know my body will need a full day to recover from even a few hours of activity I find the trade of worth it. I purposely try to not schedule Dr. Appointments on Mondays because I am my most active on weekends having fun  with my husband.

    #Setting limits #Scheduling downtime#pain triggers#Adrenaline rush#Isolation and depression#Art is therapeutic

    #Social activities # distraction from pain

    # set time limits #cell phone alarm

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    Boboo
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    I have read that our body will crave the thing that contains the nutrient we need. For example, when the body needs potassium, we will crave bananas or potatoes. I just heard this affirmed in a food podcast I was listening to yesterday (was it the Splendid Table? or the BBC Food Program? I can’t remember) – but they were saying that when children who have not been exposed to many foods are then introduced to a wide variety of foods without any cultural/social overlays, they tend towards the nutrients their body needs. I found this very interesting – so much of our food behaviors are imprinted on us because of our culture.

    Sorry, that was a bit of a tangent. Back to #whatthebodywantstoeat , I find that as I am training for this half marathon, I need to increase my caloric intake (a fine predicament to be in!) and in particular, my body craves protein. I love vegetables and fruit, I have no problem laying off the carbs, but there are times when I just need to get some protein in me – whether that be a handful of nuts, meat, a protein shake, an ounce or two of cheese or even a glass of soy milk.

    I have also noticed especially on long road trips (I have moved across this continent twice) that when we are eating at restaurants and gas stations, my body cries out for something fresh, fruits and vegetables please! Good salads are hard to come by at Interstate highway rest stops, let me tell you.


    AppleStrudel

    I don’t know about other people but 95% of the time I fail to recognize/accept when I am exhausted. There are always a million more things to do before I go to bed or let myself take a rest. I find that I get to a place where I am just running around in circles, not actually doing anything (like I could do laundry, clean the kitchen, respond to email, weed the garden, any number of things) so I sit and look at social media on my phone until too much time passes and then I realize I should have just given myself permission to take a nap because that is really what I needed.  A nap or a bath. I forget sometimes we are in human bodies and need rest (we could learn from cats!) more than we allow in our busy lives. #mitigatingexhaustion #permissiontonap


    AppleStrudel
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