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Self-care Habits to Remember

Self-care Habits to Remember

Resolutions are common in January.  So many of us want to start out the new year with resolve to do things better.  When it comes to resolutions, make your own self-care important and a part of your daily life.  You don't have to do it all at once, but make sure you are doing something on a regular basis to prioritize your health and well being.  Here are some ideas to start with:

  1. Don’t feel guilty when you take time to take care of yourself, and remember that your needs matter too.  

by Gretchen Flores

Why Women Stay

Why do women stay in less than satisfactory relationships?

It’s an age old question, why?  Why on earth would a woman stay in a relationship with someone who is mean, controlling, manipulative or straight out abusive?   There might be as many reasons as there are women (and yes, men can be in bad relationships too).

Possibly;

  • She has low self-esteem. 
  • She doesn’t value herself or see that she can do better. 
  • She has an unhealthy attraction to the wrong kind of guy.
  • She is desensitized to the poor treatment from being in it so long. 

by Gretchen Flores

Trauma at the Dark Knight Theatre Premier

Trauma at the Dark Knight Theatre Premier

In light of the movie theater shooting I thought I would write about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  Initially we have our response to the deaths and visible injuries of the people who went to the opening night of The Dark Knight Rises.  I have been brought to tears several times thinking about what the victims went through and what their families are going through now.  It is just heartbreaking and so difficult to grasp why this would happen.  

Then there are the invisible wounds.  The wounds that are under the surface.  The scars that trauma leaves behind and that alter the lives of the people who were there.  Many people may have an acute stress reaction that will last only a few weeks or months.  Others may develop PTSD symptoms.  

I, myself, have PTSD.  I wish I didn’t, but I do.  I could describe to you several of my various traumatic experiences.  I have had, at least, a handful.  I could describe each one but then this blog post would be way too long.  Let’s see, I’ll choose the time I was held up at gun point. 

It’s an interesting story but I am not writing to talk about myself but to talk about how PTSD can affect you for a lifetime.  Those who were at the theater in Aurora, and survived, are forever changed.  They are deeply affected by trauma and it will be something that doesn’t just go away, but it may be something that they can learn to live with.  

For me it started on

by Gretchen Flores

What I Learned From Adrenal Fatigue; A Faith Perspective (part 2)


Overachiever
Before I experienced burn out 10 years ago, I thought I was super spiritual.  I never ever missed church.  Even a Chicago blizzard couldn't keep me away from Sunday am church. I arose early to shovel my way out and brave the snow covered streets to get to church on time.  Truth was, I loved going to church.  I rarely missed my small group bible study and I always kept my commitments.  If I said yes to something (and I said yes to most things) I showed up.  I showed up even if I had a splitting headache, a stomach ache, or little sleep.

I never said it, but I looked down on people who only showed up to church occasionally thinking they were lazy.  I took great pride in my faith and my works oriented approach.  Very dutifully I went above and beyond what was expected of me and I thrived on it.   Sometimes, I got a rush out of it.  Little did I know I was soon headed for a downfall.  God was going to allow me to experience severe burnout (see also previous post on Adrenal Fatigue). 

After I burned out, I could no longer keep up with my own pace even if I tried.  Exhausted and depleted, I was forced to become what I had looked down upon.   I was forced to be the person who missed church, who stopped going to bible study, who said no to everyone who asked me to do something.  Or worse, just didn't show.  The life I had thrived on was gone. 

The Shift
Something important shifted in me and I became a more gracious person toward those I had failed to understand.  Pride was replaced with understanding, and arrogance with compassion.  Where I had  failed to comprehend what kept people out of church I now understood.  I became less judgmental toward the occasional church goer...shoot, I became one.

God had taught me an important spiritual lesson that his love and acceptance doesn't come from works.  It truly is his free gift.  He had allowed me to come to the end of myself to find him there ready to hold my weary body in his loving arms.   In his arms, just resting, I found relief and restoration.  The biggest surprise was acceptance and love from the one I thought would tell me to get up and do more.  I gained a new perspective and learned how to receive God's grace.

Verses for Consideration
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  Lamentations 3:22

Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10a

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.  Ephesians 2:4-9 (from http://www.biblegateway.com)

by Gretchen Flores

When Life Drains You: Adrenal Fatigue

Do you find yourself wondering, "What happened to the days when I had tons of endless energy?" Do you drag yourself out of bed with no motivation for the day?
Do you feel dread has replaced enthusiasm? Possibly you have adrenal fatigue.

I developed an interest in adrenal fatigue when I completely ran out of steam.  After years of taking on too much and not getting enough sleep I finally crashed and couldn't rebound.  I wondered how I had rebounded so well in the past and why suddenly I wasn't able to any more.  I started researching.

At first, my research was focused on how I could recover so I could start pushing myself hard again and be as productive as I used to be.  I soon realized that if I was going to recover, I needed to learn how to slow down and pace myself.  No more two and three hour sleep nights so I could do more than humanly possible.   No more taking on a full time job, a full time ministry, and saying yes to everyone who asked me to do something for them.  I was at the end of my rope and realized that if I kept up my insane pace I was in serious trouble. 

Recognizing why I pushed myself so hard was critical.  What drove me to push myself so hard? What was I trying to prove? What would my identity be once I learned to say no? Would people still like me?  A good hard look inward is a critical part of the process.  Unless you figure those things out, it will not matter what you learn about recovery from adrenal fatigue.  You will certainly fall back into old habits. 

What is Adrenal Fatigue Anyway?

Adrenal fatigue is when you have drained your adrenal system of it's reserves and you no longer have adrenalin or other similar hormones to keep you going.  Your body does a pretty good job of regulating itself on it's own when we pace ourselves reasonably.  It's when we push our body past it's own capacities over and over again that they system becomes taxed. 

If you push yourself past your limits of fatigue to accomplish more then your adrenals release powerful hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline; God given hormones to help us arise to a stressful situation if needed.  I'm glad for such a system in case I need to outrun a bear someday.  However, what research is showing is that modern day bombardments of work related stress and demands of an over-scheduled life tax our adrenals constantly.  It's like we are trying to out run a bear everyday.  As a result, a system that is supposed to help us out "in case of emergencies only" becomes a daily factor in our lives. 

Eventually, the adrenals will announce "I've had enough" and will shut down.  To keep up with my commitments I used to function on two or three hours of sleep, and then I would crash by going to bed at 6:00 pm and sleep 12-14 hours and then start over again.  Each time I was able to rebound with new energy to press ahead, at least until I couldn't anymore. 

Why are you reading this article?

Possibly you are reading this because you too are tired beyond belief and you are wondering how you can possibly keep up with the demands.  Or, possibly you are wondering how you can continue to be be Superman or Wonder Woman and want to make sure nothing stops you.  Or, maybe you see yourself on the path to self destruction and you realize at some point you need to stop but you just don't know how. 
Whatever your reasons are, I hope you learn something important to apply to your life to make it more fulfilling and not more demanding. 


Tips For Keeping a Better Balance

  • Get enough sleep! Do not skimp on sleep.  When you do it forces your adrenals to produce more stress hormones to keep you going.  Eventually you will run out and a taxed adrenal system will leave you vulnerable to a variety of health problems.
  • Take vitamin C and eat foods rich in vitamin C.  This will help your body recover from stressful events or lifestyle habits that tax the adrenals by lowering oxidative damage.
  • Take a vitamin B complex to help you recover.  Your adrenals need vitamin B especially B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), and B6 (pyridoxine) to function.
  • Eat a well balanced diet with whole grains, fish, legumes, meats, and veggies. Processed foods will not help your body recover.  In fact they will tear it down. 
  • If you feel a need to pump your body with caffeine take a nap instead.  Fatigue means you need sleep.  If you consistently push yourself past your limits, you will tax the adrenals causing greater and greater levels of fatigue later on.
  • Eat breakfast.  This helps stabilize your blood sugar and supplies your body with nutrition so it doesn't have to draw from stress hormones that can be toxic at higher levels.  Go for whole grains and protein for breakfast. 
  • Give up the notion that you have to accomplish it all perfectly. My dad once asked me how I manage to get blogs done with a family and a job.  My answer; if I get a blog out then I am probably behind on laundry (and a few other things).  It’s okay to prioritize.
  • Learn how to say “no.”  For some of us this is a frightening proposal.  Your need to please others and attain approval is so high you cannot fathom saying no.  Well, it’s time to learn.  Go ahead...practice.  Say it out loud several times.  Say “no” to yourself in the mirror.  Start saying no to people who ask you to do things.  Realize that the world doesn’t come to an end and you are still liked and appreciated. 
  • Honor your limits.  Learn to tune into your body and when you reach a threshold don't ignore it.  Take a break, put your head down on your desk and take a power nap, go home on time.  To honor your limits you need to tune into yourself and learn when you start to go beyond what is necessary. 
  • Prioritize.  If you need to take some things out of your busy lifestyle then do it.  Tell yourself you can fit in in later.  If you are adding things take other things out.  You cannot do it all at the same time.  Tame the over-achiever in you and slow down.
  • Keep fulfilling things in on your priority list. What fulfills you?  Time with friends? Family? Golf? Jogging?  Don't skimp on those....life is not just about being productive.  It is about having some fun too!


Truthfully, if you learn these important skills then you will be more satisfied with the things that you do choose to do.  You will have more energy for your family and less dread when you head to the office.  I hope you can find some of this useful.   Depending on how far along your adrenal fatigue is it may take time to recover.  Start implementing a few things and don’t give up if you don’t see results immediately.  For me it took a good year to start to feel better.  Then, each year after that just got better. 

Best wishes to you! 

Gretchen


great resources:

http://www.adrenalfatigue.org   

http://www.womentowomen.com/adrenalfatigue/default.aspx

by Gretchen Flores

Your Mood and Diet: Eat These Foods and Feel Better Naturally

You may not realize that your diet may be to blame for suffering mood swings. Diet can affect your moods very quickly. Once you learn to follow these principles you will start to feel more emotionally stable throughout the day.

Mood swings can be caused by shifts in blood sugar levels even if you don’t have diabetes. Eating too many simple carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta or white rice can metabolize into sugar and doesn’t really have what your body needs. These simple fillers can be culprits for irritability or mood swings. Allergies or food sensitivities can also be to blame for irritability.

Not getting enough important vitamins, minerals and fatty acids can also affect mood negatively. Do you wonder why you feel so lethargic and moody? Do you wish you could just “snap out of it?” Do you lose your temper sometimes and wish you hadn’t? Check your diet.

 

Foods that help you to reduce stress:

Turkey- L-Tryptophan is notorious for everyone wanting a long nap after Thanksgiving dinner because of it’s relaxing properties. It also helps your body release serotonin an important brain chemical lacking in people with anxiety or depression. So eat more turkey to increase your serotonin levels and to relax a little. Bananas and dark chocolate also have some Tryptophan as well.

Spinach and green veggies- Has lots of Magnesium in it, which has been known to help combat fatigue and reduce migraines. Fresh spinach is best to avoid cooking out some of the best nutrients with heat. Vegetables are important for your body to function well and have a wide variety of vitamins and minerals needed for energy. Keep your veggie diet diverse and experimental. You might be surprised what you like. I like to add lots of seasonings and herbs to make them flavorful.

Salmon and other fish with omega 3’s- Omega 3 fatty acids are good for you for several reasons. When combating stress, these valuable nutrients help reduce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. This will help your body return to normal after a stressful event. Also, your brain cells rely on fatty acids to maintain optimal functioning.

Sweet Potatoes- Sweet potatoes not only satisfy your craving for carbs they are full of good for you nutrients; beta-carotene, vitamins, and fiber. Their sweet flavor may also satisfy a sweet-tooth (Even the hard-core sweet tooth should try it).

Oranges- The vitamin C in oranges and other similar fruits can stabilize your blood pressure and also lower the stress hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol can lead to weight gain and fatigue. Vitamin C can also strengthen your immune system. Kiwi fruit, red bell peppers and many other fruits and veggies can also provide vitamin C.

Avocados- This delicious food has loads of potassium and healthy fats to help your body. Go ahead and indulge in some yummy guacamole sometimes! I personally like to spread a little bit on my turkey sandwich with a pinch of salt. Yummy.

Nuts- Nuts are usually packed full of nutrients such as vitamin E or B and help your body stay at it’s best. Nuts also contain Omega 3 fatty acids that are important for brain functioning. Small handfuls are best since they do pack a lot of calories.

Whole Grains- Grains offer many beneficial properties but one is to aide in digestion of the foods mentioned above. Fiber helps your body’s digestive system work well.

Protein- If you find that you have had too many simple carbohydrates and your energy and mood starts to tank then quickly eat some protein. Protein is important to give your body the energy it needs.

It is important to eat a balanced diet. I know, I know, you have heard that so many times before that now it just goes in one ear and out the other. If you are having mood troubles it is important to pay attention this time. Ask yourself what you are eating and how much. Have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies around for snacks. Try really hard not to binge snack on simple carbs (anything with refined sugar and white flour). Graham crackers have been a favorite of mine but I started to notice that I became grouchy about a ½ hour after I had indulged. Sometimes I even felt angry. Now if I have clients who tell me they feel angry and don’t know why, I often start with diet.

If you want to make sure you are getting enough good stuff then you may need to supplement your diet. Here are some supplement suggestions:

Vitamin B Complex- There are several B vitamins that are important. A deficiency in B vitamins has been implicated in individuals with depression. Research by Schimelpfening noted that vitamin B1 (thiamine) is a primary vitamin needed to treat depression symptoms. There are 6 B vitamins, so supplementing with a B Complex is a good way to cover your bases.

Calcium- Calcium is an important mineral not just for your bone health. It also helps you to sleep at night, which is also important to function at your best.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids- Fish oil tablets or Flax seed can provide this important fat to help your brain function at it’s best. Some research has shown that a lack of Omega 3’s is to blame for an increase in depression and bipolar disorder. Taking Omega 3’s will help increase the neurotransmitter Serotonin needed to relieve mood disorders.

If you don’t take fish oil because of the unpleasant phenomenon known as “fish burps” then stick with flax seed tablets or ground flax seed. I put mine in yogurt and spaghetti sauce (that way my family gets some too). I have also found fish oil tablets made to dissolve in your intestine so you won’t experience the flavor later. Don’t miss out on the benefits of Omega 3’s in your diet! Even if you don’t have depression it is an important nutrient for your body.

Green Tea- This herb has several beneficial properties. For this article it is important to note that it helps with easing anxiety symptoms. If you need caffeine Green Tea can be a better option than coffee because it is less likely to make you jittery.

Cinnamon- This delicious spice can help your body metabolize sugar. You can take it in pill form or just shake some on your oatmeal or put some in your coffee.

Fruits and Veggies- Believe it or not you can take your veggies in a pill. For those of you who just can’t seem to get your veggies into your diet take them in a pill or powder. A company called Juice+ has these supplements, whole foods or other health food markets have them as well.

So hopefully this helps to improve your mental health and lead to better moods. If we are all in a better mood than this place is a more pleasant place to live. Take better care of yourself and your family and friends will thank you.

Blessings to you, Gretchen

 

Resources:

http://personalitymooddisorders.suite101.com/article.cfm/nutrition_and_mental_health?sms_ss=email

http://nutrition.suite101.com/article.cfm/how-to-avoid-mood-swings-using-food-and-diet

http://depressiongrief.suite101.com/article.cfm/treat-depression-with-fish-oil

by Gretchen Flores

How to Battle Anxiety and Panic

Never Alone

 

Since fear and dread and worry

Cannot help in any way,

It’s much healthier and happier

To be cheerful every day—

And if we’ll only try it

We will find, without a doubt,

A cheerful attitude’s something

No one should be without—

For when the heart is cheerful

It cannot be filled with fear,

And without fear the way ahead

Seems more distinct and clear—

And we realize there’s nothing

We need to face alone,

For our heavenly Father loves us

And our problems are His own.

Helen Steiner Rice

 

Once you have anxiety or trauma has triggered panic attacks, it can be very distressing and difficult to overcome. Once anxiety starts it is hard to squelch it. It has a life of it’s own. Trauma and abuse can change the chemistry in the brain and set into motion automatic responses to triggers and reminders of the trauma. Once you have had panic attacks, pathways have been set in the brain that leave you vulnerable to more panic attacks.

Friends and family may be puzzled or tell you it is all in your head. But you know it’s more than that; it’s in your brain, it’s in your body, and you can’t seem to run away from it because wherever you go-there you are. Once the response starts a surreal experience occurs and you feel unable to calm down.

God seemed to know we would struggle with anxiety because scripture often addresses it. He reminds us of his loving care and assures us not to feel anxious or to worry, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7-8). Still, we worry about our kids, our future, our job, making the mortgage payment, our parents, to name only a few.

Worry and Panic are separate entities, but the treatment for each can be related.  

1. Learn to manage your self-talk or inner dialogue.


Name Calling: I am aware that many of us spend a lot of time abusing ourselves verbally in our thought life. We may call ourselves names or put pressure on ourselves to do things “just so”. When we fall short of our (excessive) expectations we may call ourselves a “loser”, “stupid” or any other variety of names. If you call yourself names then it is important to catch yourself and then tell yourself, “I am not a loser!” This will help you change your habits. Take labeling yourself out and focus on the situation, “I am not stupid, I just made a mistake.”

 

Catastrophizing: Assuming that a negative outcome will occur and that it will be catastrophic. This is usually where we live in “What if” land. What if______________ happens? It would be horrible! If you use the words horrible, awful, terrible or other extreme word to describe everyday occurrences then you need to stop! Without realizing the magnitude of words and our thought life we set ourselves up for anxiety.

Change your thoughts to reflect minor disappointments rather then “end of the world” scenarios. If you are late to practice it is not the end of the world…it is just a disappointment, for example.

Underestimating your ability to cope: While you may overestimate the gravity of the situation, you may also underestimate your inner strength. You might feel that you will die of embarrassment, people will think less of you, or you don’t have what it takes. It is important to recognize your own resilience. Remind yourself of past successes, or tell yourself “I can do this”, instead of “I can’t do this.” Or, “If it isn’t perfect then it is okay.” Work hard to reassure yourself instead of assuming your own failure.

2. Meditate on Scripture


Christians don’t panic! Meditation has long been a Christian practice. As long as the meditative time is focused on the Lord, Scripture, and His presence meditation can be fulfilling and life changing.

 

“The Bible is full of reflective or meditative passages and calls us to open our private worlds to them. Among the most popular are those passages out of the Psalms where the writer fixes his mind upon certain aspects of God’s being and consistent care for His children” (P. 214, Ordering your Private World, Gordon MacDonald).

If you struggle from anxiety do a search on http://www.biblegateway.com to find some verses that speak to you. You can search by word or phrase. Type in anxiety or worry and see what comes up. Write those verses down and meditate on them. Ask God to reveal to you what He wants you to know about His character. Sit in a quiet place and let the verses sink into your soul. Let your soul be like a sponge and the verses a drink. As they sink in you will feel your perspective changing.

Verses that stand out to you can be written on note cards or paper and taped on your bathroom mirror, or your kitchen cabinets. This way you can read them daily as you allow God’s spirit and love to minister to your soul.

Another quote from Gordon MacDonald clarifies; “The act of meditation is like tuning the spirit to heavenly frequencies. One takes a portion of scripture and simply allows it to enter into the deepest recesses of self. There are often several different results: cleansing, reassurance, the desire to praise and give thanksgiving” (p. 214, Ordering Your Private World).

Life is harried, busy and we normally have too much on our plates to stop and do this. I find that when I do, I gain perspective on what I need to be focused on and somehow the capacity to do it comes along with it. We think we are wasting precious time to slow down enough to find a quiet place to mediate on scripture, but it helps us more than frantically chasing our own schedule. I challenge you to make this a habit and see what happens.

3. Visualize a peaceful scene


Sometimes during those quiet times the Holy Spirit can give you an image of something to bring fresh perspective. I shared before how I pictured a bungee cord holding me up on top of a skyscraper when I had panic attacks 12 years ago when I was held up at gunpoint in my office. That helped but as I continued to pray the cord was replaced with an image of the Lord or and angel holding me up and carrying me to safety. My sense of security improved and my anxiety started to subside.

 

For those of you who can’t sleep due to excessive worry you can pray and ask God to give you an image of a peaceful scene. You can select a favorite place to visualize to take your mind off of your worries. I personally choose the beach and overlooking the water. Some of my early quiet times were done at the beach and I grew up near the lake. Others of you may choose a mountain scene or something else. Whatever it is, use it to deter your thoughts off of your anxiety.

4. Deep Breathing


This is a very simple exercise. It involves changing your breathing habits. It is not meditation. When you are stressed or anxious most of us will start to breath short shallow breaths from our chest. We usually don’t realize we are doing this. Most of us live high paced lives and rapid shallow breathing becomes habitual. When we are relaxed we should be breathing deep slow breath’s from our gut.

 

The way to test your breathing is place one hand on your shoulder and one on your stomach and breath in. Either your hand on your shoulder will go up or the one on your stomach will go out. If your shoulder goes up then you are breathing improperly. You will get less oxygen to your brain and muscles, which will increase your stress level.

Practice until the hand on your shoulder stays down and your stomach pushes your hand on your stomach out. Once you get it (it’s okay to chuckle while you are learning) then do several slow breaths in and out counting slowly to 4 or 5.

In…2…3…4… Out…2…3…4… In…2…3…4… Out…2…3…4… In…2…3…4… and so on.

I practice in the car, grocery isle and any time I remember to switch my breathing back to a calmer state. If you are a singer this breathing will give you more breath support and for the rest of us it will help us be less anxious. Keep practicing until it becomes habit.

5. Stay away from stimulants


Too much caffeine, ginseng, or decongestants can trigger panic or create anxiety attacks. If you have anxiety it is probably not a good idea to drink Starbucks double shots, Red Bull, or other energy drinks. They will jazz you up only to perpetuate the cycle and dependence on them to keep you going.

 

6. Medication


Some people shy away from anti-depressants because it implies you don’t have enough faith or you are not strong enough to handle it on your own.  Would a diabetic not take insulin to treat an imbalance in the body? Would that mean a diabetic didn’t have faith? What about someone with a thyroid condition? Thyroid medications are among those most prescribed in the nation. So why then would we say to someone who has a deficiency of Serotonin in the brain to not take medication to treat it?

 

Severe Depression and Anxiety can be debilitating and very real. If you or someone you know is suffering the ill effects of debilitating anxiety you may want to consult with your doctor. I know of few people who would take medication just to take medication. If you are considering it then I assume you may need it. Try other things in addition to the medication. Exercise is a natural way to improve Serotonin imbalances in the brain (although, It may not be enough for severe depression). Don’t feel ashamed, but be responsible for your own well-being.

 

I hope that is enough to get you started. Hang in there because sometimes these things work and other times they don’t. Do not get discouraged and do not give up. It is a life long process and sometimes life throws a bunch of stressors at us at once. Just keep going forward and remember that you are not alone. God is nearby for you to call out to for help. Here are some good verses to start with:

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:25-26)

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8)

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27b)

 

Best wishes to you and keep the faith!--Gretchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Gretchen Flores

The Different Types of Anxiety

Anxiety comes in several different forms. If you suffer from anxiety you may know that you are anxious, but lack the discernment to know what type of anxiety you have. Treatment of anxiety involves first diagnosing your anxiety type, and then treating it specifically.

Here is a list of various clinical anxiety disorders:  

 


  • Panic Disorder- A Panic Disorder sufferer will have intense episodes of panic that come on suddenly often without apparent cause or warning. The individual may experience a racing heartbeat, sweating, shaking, chest pain, shortness of breath, and a variety of other panic symptoms.

  • Agoraphobia- Primarily understood as a fear of open spaces, it is often more related to a fear of having a panic attack in a location that would be difficult escape from for relief. Commonly the fears are brought on by crowded places such as grocery stores, subways, airplanes, or other similar locations.

  • Social Phobia- This anxiety disorder involves an intense fear of social situations. It can involve any situation in which embarrassment or humiliation is feared.

  • Specific Phobia- This phobia typically brings about avoidance of specific things or situations. The thing or situation is stagnant in that it doesn’t tend to change. For example, someone may have an intense fear of dogs but not fear other small animals.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder- This type of anxiety is much less specific than other types of anxiety. Often the individual feels a chronic sense of anxiety over life circumstances that are stressful, such as finances. The symptoms are ongoing and last for 6 months or longer.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder- While tidiness is often an admirable trait; individuals with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder take it to an extreme. They will become preoccupied by obsessive thoughts that lead to obsessive actions. An example would be someone who cleans the kitchen sink 5 – 10 times during each day. If the person were prevented from following through on their task, obsessive thoughts about the ritual of sink washing would then cause debilitating anxiety.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder- Disabling symptoms often develop for a person who experiences a traumatic event. A variety of acute anxiety symptoms surface surrounding memories of the event. Veterans of war, rape victims, and victims of severe catastrophic events can suffer from this disorder.

  • Acute Stress Disorder- This disorder is similar to Post Traumatic Stress although the symptoms subside within a month of the event.

  • Anxiety Disorder due to a General Medical Condition- There are a large number of medical disorders that can cause anxiety symptoms. Some examples are hyper- and hypothyroidism, a vitamin B-12 deficiency, or encephalitis. It is good medical practice to test for thyroid conditions when addressing anxiety symptoms.

  • Substance–Induced Anxiety Disorder- A number of ingestible substances can trigger anxiety. Some common stimulants such as caffeine, ginseng, decongestants, or diet pills can trigger symptoms of anxiety. On of the first questions that should be asked when addressing anxiety is what substances are being used and when did the symptoms begin?


In order to treat your anxiety with impact and efficacy you must first define which type you are affected by. Once you are aware of your specific set of symptoms you can begin to treat the anxiety disorder. Any of the above listed anxiety disorders can range in severity from mild to severe.

 

In upcoming blog posts I will discuss individual anxiety disorders under a closer lens and discuss methods for combating and treating the anxiety. Stay tuned for more.

 

Blessings, Gretchen

 

 

 

by Gretchen Flores

Today is a New Day!

Today is a New Day!

I love the fresh start of a new day. Each morning signals a new beginning. It means that yesterday is completed and today is new. Yet, often as we face the morning we feel bogged down by yesterdays' troubles and tomorrows' worries. In doing so we forget to enjoy the present moment of our lives. Wearily we reach for the cup of strong hot coffee, hoping it will revive our bleary eyes and jump start us with fresh motivation. Still, desire can evade us as we press forward through the day.

Some of us are bogged down by financial stress, relational stress, and others of us face challenges at work with a difficult boss, or in looking for a job. Many women are juggling career and kids. The list of stressor's can be long. How do we get a new perspective for a new day? How do we get past that dreaded feeling that we will never break out of the rut we are in?

Prioritize: Take time to write a list of what is important to you. Not just what you need to do. I have a policy; "People before tasks." Time with friends or family can revive you and make life fulfilling. Forget the dishes and schedule coffee, forget less important "To Do" items and spend time with the people you love. I have a long current "To Do" list and I added one item; "-don't freak out" is on there to remind me to stay calm and keep perspective.

Simplify: If you are overloaded with too much to do, it may be time to eliminate some things. I know it can be difficult to say "no" but it is an important skill to learn. Us overly responsible types will say yes to just about anything and then wonder why we are so stressed out. Practice saying no and stop feeling so guilty about it. It really is okay to simplify your life so your mental and emotional well-being is intact. Your friends and family will thank you for it.

Slow down: Slow down and enjoy the beautiful moments of life. Savor them. Cherish them. Sometimes stress is so prominent that we fail to enjoy the good things in our life. Breathe deeply and look around you. Listen to the sounds. Stretch your arms and legs and even sit down for 5 minutes to pray or think or just be. It will help you.

Gratefulness: Take a moment to thank God for what you are blessed with. It can be as simple as; "Thank you God that I can walk," or "Thank you that I have a car that gets me places." It calms me when I think of the basic things I appreciate. The problems are still there but I am reminded of the problems I don't have and am glad. It may spur me to pray for others and get me out of my own self absorption.

Bite sized pieces: I know when I look at the whole problem or many problems at once I tend to freeze. I don't know where to start. Sometimes it helps to stay in the present moment and ask yourself; "What can I do right now?" A favorite verse of mine helps me to remember not to worry too far ahead; "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own." (Matthew 6: 34)

Finally, We also have a bigger perspective when we remember that our struggles are temporary and that one day we will be free from our troubles; "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16: 33) We all will have our fair share of struggles to face in this life but one day we can rejoice that it has been completely overcome and we are free. Hang in there and enjoy the parts of life that make it truly meaningful.

Blessings to you! Gretchen

 

 

by Gretchen Flores