Tag Archives: Coping

Balancing Fitness and Self-Care

Fitness training. Muscular man holding weights in one armed plank positionpushing up

Are you balancing fitness with self-care?

Is your New Year’s resolution still going strong? Are you still spending every spare moment improving your health and fitness? If so, congratulations to you. It’s hard to keep up the progress toward self-improvement long-term. For many of us, there comes a point where we push a little too hard and become burnt out.  Even if you feel like you could keep at this rate for weeks to come, your progress may stall. If you don’t have enough self-care, you will more likely decide you want to give up.

Developing a fitness routine has become a cornerstone in the lives of many. For some, exercise has been a saving grace—a way of coping for those suffering from depression, anxiety or addiction. It can help refocus their lives as they strive for recovery. But as with anything in life, the benefit is limited if we start to overdo it.

How We Burn Out on Fitness

In our efforts to become better people, we may push our minds and bodies to their limits. Self-improvement requires insight into ourselves to see if there is something wrong. Maybe it’s that we are overweight, can’t run as far as we’d like, or that we rely too heavily on an addictive substance that’s ruining our lives. When we see room for improvement, we set goals and start an action plan of what we think would help us meet those goals. We may spend more time at the gym, improve our diets, or change our lifestyles, all in the name of personal fitness.

Over time, as we see improvements, it fuels us to push a little harder. We push and push until one day we notice that for some unknown reason the scale begins to tick in the wrong direction, or something happens to cause discomfort. Even something small that could be gut-wrenching and upsetting. Suddenly, we may realize how much time and energy we’ve spent focused on losing weight or gaining muscle mass. That tired feeling we’ve been pushing off is back and we decide to maybe skip the gym today. This is what burning out can feel like. It can mark the end of our progress for better fitness and self-improvement.

Importance of Balancing Fitness with Self-Care

So how do we avoid burn out and sustain a fitness routine for the rest of our lives? The answer lies ultimately in our ability to love ourselves and care for our needs. Self-care is about taking a moment to pause. Start by appreciating who we are and what we’ve acheived. Instead of always striving for self-improvement and always pushing to be better, we can decide to reward ourselves for simply being who we are. Personal acts of self-care may include taking a day to get a massage, lounge in the spa, sleep in on a weekend, or meditate. If you enjoy meditating, consider finding a quiet space in your home where you can create your own meditation room. These acts of treating ourselves reward us with rest and relaxation can be just as motivating as “sticking your nose to the grindstone” with your fitness routine.

Make Time for Fitness and Self-care

The key to finding the right balance between your fitness routine and self-care activities is by setting aside time for both. Perhaps you’ve already discovered your physical and mental limitations when you pushed yourself to be fit. Decide to never push yourself to do more than you can handle. Whenever you feel strained or discouraged, allow yourself a day or even a weekend to indulge in self-care.

By scheduling some self-care days throughout your calendar, you give yourself small pauses in your procession of self-improvement to reflect and catch your breath. Knowing that you have an upcoming day for self-care will help motivate you to keep pushing yourself in your fitness routine and prevent you from burning out along the way.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Posted 10-5-18 Blog article by Guest Contributer Shiela Olson.

Shiela has been a personal trainer for five years. She believes the best way to achieve physical fitness and good health is to set and tackle small goals. She encourages her clients to stay positive and incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions.  FitSheila.com was created to spread the word about her fitness philosophy.

Updated for readability 5-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Additional link suggestion:  https://faithcenteredfitness.com/

The Power of Self-Expression: Art and Music Therapy in Recovery

Woman expressing herself through painting

If you are someone you know is recovering from addiction, you may need a way to stop the cycle of negative thoughts and self-destructive behaviors. Music and art therapy  can be part of successful treatment plan.  Creative expression has been used for years in either individual or group counseling. Art therapy is used in rehab centers, hospitals, schools, and other settings for recovery. Many people who do not respond well to more traditional treatments have success with music and art therapy.

Self-expression

Communication and self-expression issues are common among people with substance abuse problems. Creative communication can help people in recovery process their thoughts and feelings in a positive way. Often, those who suffer from addiction have trouble making sense of their emotions. And,  they struggle with how people respond to them. Creativity opens new avenues of understanding and helps people learn new thoughts, responses, and behavior patterns.

Art benefits for recovery

People often deny the need for help and may resist treatment.  Art therapy can help overcome this because art therapy can motivate people. They may want to achieve a healthier lifestyle, gain more self-confidence, and improve communication skills. Music is often used to help overcome depression, stress, anxiety and anger or rage issues. Those emotional responses often produce unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

Music as therapy

Listening to and playing music creates a certain response in the brain. It stimulates the neurotransmitter dopamine which causes an overall sense of well-being. Music can help people be more likely to seek treatment, and more likely to continue toward recovery. Also, music therapy can increase positive feelings and self-awareness. Then, people can cope better with temptations and frustrations that come from addictions.

When listening to their favorite music, people experience a stimulation of the auditory cortex in anticipation of their favorite musical passages. And then, the feeling of exultation at its peak has a powerfully healing impact. Sometimes our brain helps us experience music even when we’re not actually listening to it or performing it.

Self-discovery

Art and music therapy help you get in touch with your feelings. They also help you learn to accept yourself, and decrease feelings of guilt and shame. The goal is to create a sense of happiness and hope through painting, sculpting, coloring, drawing, collages, or other artwork. Be very creative as you express every aspect of your emotions, both positive and negative.

Art in recovery

For the best results, continue art and music therapy even after formal treatment is done.  As they help to relieve stress, they can help you cope with depression, and fend off the temptation to use again.

At your home, choose art and music that expresses your emotions and helps your mood. According to HomeAdvisor, “Everyone deserves to have their own space for their passion project, be it a crafting station or simply a place to journal. Look around your home with a creative eye, and you’ll realize that much of what you need to create your ideal hobby workshop is already nearby and can be easily converted.” Staying sober or free of addictions is an ongoing struggle. It’s important to find a way to cope with the emotional chaos and pressures that make recovery so difficult.

Guest article by Kim Thomas of US Health Corps posted 8-12-18.

Updated for readability 5-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Suggested links:  https://healthvista.net/inspirational-music/
or https://healthvista.net/inspirational-music-for-teens/

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

Emotions and Eating

angry toast
Person holding a piece of burnt toast in front of his face with a sad smiley face cut out of it

Emotional Eating during the Holidays and beyond:

After the holiday season many of us find our pants fitting a little tighter and our bellies looking a little rounder. The holidays are an amazing time filled with family, fun, friends and of course food (especially the kind that we try to avoid all the other times of the year). Emotions and eating can be connected, making it difficult to avoid overeating during emotional times. Either good or bad emotions can contribute to emotional eating.

Once the holidays are over and reality kicks back in we can take a step back and work harder to avoid overeating. Then, start fresh as you leave behind the holidays and the emotions that they bring. But it can be difficult to avoid emotional eating all year long.

Connections between emotions and eating:

Food and feelings go together. We tend to link food with enjoyment, affection, and nurturing. Food is usually part of emotion-filled events, either happy or unhappy ones. Eating for comfort is a common behavior that comes from a deep connection within us. However, many people eat in response to emotions rather than hunger. If you are overweight, ask yourself if emotional eating is an issue for you.

How to improve control of emotions and eating:

Mindfulness and other cognitive skills (the way that you think) can help limit emotional eating. It can help a lot if you learn to cope better with the ups and downs of daily life, and don’t think that everything needs to be perfect.

Learn how to eat healthier to improve your well-being and your mood. Recognize and avoid any “triggers” you have. A trigger food can set off a “binge” of eating, no matter what your mood is. Examples include ice cream, cookies, nuts, potato chips.

Eat when physically hungry and stop when you are full:

We often respond to the sight of food with the impulse to devour it – whether or not we are actually hungry. We miss the subtle feelings of hunger and fullness if we don’t slow down to finish chewing and swallowing before we pick up the next bite. It takes 20 minutes for your body to signal its fullness. By eating fast, you are likely to overeat.

Try eating mindfully by savoring the sight, smell, texture, and color of the food. Think about the connection to the outside world, the taste and feel of the food as you eat it slowly.  Stop eating when you are satisfied, even if you haven’t finished what is on your plate. You can put it away and eat it later when you are hungry again,

Work to understand the connection between emotions and eating, to help you succeed in maintaining healthy habits and a healthy weight.

Blog #9 by Mary B. Knutson of Health Vista, Inc.

Updated  5-25-20

Coping with the Holidays

Old-fashioned Christmas Holiday tree

The holidays can be a stressful and hectic time of year.  It is important to find ways of coping and surviving the holidays. They seem to come so fast and it can seem like a letdown when they are over.

Ways of Coping

I have been trying to manage during the holiday season by being more mindful and grateful.  So far, it is helping. I also realize that I am not perfect and my family gatherings won’t be either. I have been using candles and scents more. Making efforts to add relaxation to my days or evenings has also been helpful for me.

More Resources for Coping:

On my website, www.healthvista.net,  I have several engaging Powerpoints written by Shari Cavadini, a registered nurse I used to work with.

One of those presentations can be helpful this time of year. It is called 12 Ways to Cope with the Holidays.  You can find it on the website or at the link below.

https://healthvista.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/12WaystoCopewiththeHolidays.pdf

The Coping and Relaxation Workbook can also help you cope with the Holiday, or at any time of the year.

As you use your own (both old and new) ways of coping, I hope you can feel the peace and joy of the season!

 

Blog #8 12/10/15 by Mary Knutson of Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-25-20

Inspirational Music for Coping

Musical notes of a song written on paper

Music can help with coping:

I developed a list of old and new songs from many different kinds of music. Some of these songs and their lyrics could be helpful inspirational music for coping or healing during recovery.

Getting started:

First, try to find all of these songs from the Inspirational Music List on www.YouTube.com and chose the versions that have lyrics on the screen so you can follow the words. The songs are appropriate for adults, but there is another list available for teens at Inspirational Music for Teens. Avoid any that have upsetting images (if you watch the music videos). Play the ones you like as often as you want to, as one of your ways of coping.

  • A Little Bit Stronger – by Sara Evans
  • Alive Again – by Matt Maher
  • Anyway – by Martina McBride
  • Breakaway – by Kelly Clarkson
  • Coming Out of the Dark – by Gloria Estefan
  • Count on Me – by Default
  • Dare You to Move – by Switchfoot
  • Dear Prudence – by Beatles
  • Ever Since the World Began – by Survivor
  • Eye of the Tiger – by Survivor
  • Fix You – by Coldplay
  • If You Just Believe (from The Polar Express soundtrack) – by Josh Groban
  • Invincible – by Muse
  • Hero – by Mariah Carey
  • I Believe I Can Fly (from Space Jam soundtrack) – by R. Kelly
  • I Hope You Dance – by Lee Ann Womack
  • I Want to Live – by John Denver
  • I Will Survive – by Gloria Gaynor
  • I Won’t Let Go – by Rascal Flatts
  • Keep Your Mind Wide Open (from Bridge to Teribithia soundtrack) – Anna Sophia Robb
  • It’s My Life – by Bon Jovi
  • Landslide – by Fleetwood Mac
  • Let Me Be Myself – by 3 Doors Down
  • Little Wonders (From Meet the Robinsons soundtrack) – by Rob Thomas
  • Never Surrender – by Corey Hart
  • One Step at a Time – by Jordin Sparks
  • Peace Train – by Cat Stevens
  • Reach – by Gloria Estefan
  • Simple Man – by Lynyrd Skynard
  • The Circle of Life (from The Lion King soundtrack) – by Elton John
  • The Climb – by Miley Cyrus
  • The Rose – by Bette Midler
  • Times Like These – by Foo Fighters
  • Unwritten – by Natasha Bedingfield
  • You Raise Me Up (from Secret Garden soundtrack) – by Brian Kennedy and Josh Grobin
  • Win – by Brian McKnight

Enjoy the Music!

Reflection:

What other songs have been inspirational, healing, or comforting to you?

Are there some other songs that you think should be added to this list?

Feel free to contact Mary Knutson to recommend more songs.

 

The songs above were recommended by Mary Knutson RN, Joyce Clark RN, and the following websites or blogs:

http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/forum/f34/songs-that-inspire-you-to-overcome-adversity-96939/

http://able2know.org/topic/151427-1

http://celestinechua.com/blog/inspirational-songs/

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/what-recovery/28260-songs-about-addiction-recovery-post-your-recommendations.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/substance-abuse/159830-inspirational-songs.html

 

Blog #5  10-28-15 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN of Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-25-20

Inspirational Music for Teens

Musical notes for song written on paper

Music can help with coping:

I developed a list of old and new songs  for teenagers from many different kinds of music. Some of these songs and their lyrics could be helpful inspirational music for teens who need.  Music can help with coping and healing during recovery.

Sometimes the music that teen choose to listen too can be edgy or dark and brooding because it matches their mood.  It may feel like the music “understands” their anxiety, depression, or anger. But, music with a positive message would be more effective in the long run.  The following songs on YouTube.com were chosen by other teens.

Getting started with inspirational music:

First, try to find all of these songs from the Inspirational Music for Teens on www.YouTube.com and chose the versions that have lyrics on the screen so you can follow the words. The songs are appropriate for adults, but avoid any that have upsetting images (if you watch the music videos). Play the ones you like as often as you want to, as one of your ways of coping.

Dare You to Move by Switchfoot

Breathe by He is We

Fix You by Coldplay

Never Let Go by David Chowder Band

There is a Way by Newworldson

Everything by Lifehouse

Behind These Hazel Eyes by Kelly Clarkson

You Are More by Tenth Avenue North

Blackbird by the Beatles

Stand by Rascal Flatts

I Won’t Let Go by Rascal Flatts

Beautiful by Christina Aguilera

Anyway by Martina McBride

Skyscraper by Demi Lovato

Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift

A River Flows in You by Yiruma

Vanilla Twilight by Owl City

I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz

K’Naan Wavin’ Flag (Celebration Mix)

Brand New Me by Alicia Keyes

Hall of Fame by The Script

Enjoy the music!

Reflection:

What other songs have been inspirational, healing, or comforting to you?

Are there some other songs that you think should be added to this list?

Feel free to contact Mary Knutson to recommend more songs.

Blog #4 written 10-28-15 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN of Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-26-20

Forgiveness and the Heart

This heart shaped potato was found in my garden.
This heart shaped potato was found in my garden!

A Heart-Shaped Surprise:

A surprise from my garden helped me reflect on forgiveness and the heart. I was divorced and lonely, not yet ready to forgive. Gardening was something I enjoyed.  It helped me to relax and heal. 

While digging up some potatoes in the Fall, I found a little heart-shaped potato ! I was planning to show it to my  daughter. But, then I forgot about it for several days.  There was plenty of “hustle and bustle” because my daughter’s wedding was coming up soon.

Attending a stressful event:

I was not looking forward to seeing my ex-husband and his second wife at the wedding and the reception. I had resented them for over 7 years because of their part in ending our marriage. But, during the time of the wedding celebration, I was finally able to forgive them and move on. After that, I had more peace in my heart even though there was no conversation about forgiveness with them.

Forgiveness and the heart:

The next day, I saw the heart-shaped potato again. It helped me to realize how much lighter my heart felt after forgiving them. I felt healthier and more at peace. The heart-shaped symbol of love is more that – It is also a symbol of healing. You can read more about forgiving and forgetting below:

What does “forgiving” mean?

  • Forgiving means understanding that making mistakes is part of being human. Remember that when you hear people say things that hurt your feelings, often they weren’t meant the way they sounded.
  • Accept an apology (If you get one) – Believe people if they say they’re “sorry.”
  • Forgiving is a way to reopen and heal the channels of communication.
  • It helps calm the fears of rejection, failure, or guilt.
  • Forgiveness can be an act of compassion, humanity, and gentleness – It can let someone know that she/he is valued as a person with potential for goodness.
  • But you don’t actually have to tell someone that they are forgiven. You can forgive someone in your heart (to make yourself feel better), without even telling them.
  • Forgiving can be done for your sake rather than for another person. But talking about it can be helpful to mend relationships.

What does “forgetting” mean?

  • You don’t really “forget” what happened, but you can put the issues behind you, and not bring them up again and again.
  • You “clear the air” and let go of anger, hurt, and pain over what happened.
  • Forgetting encourages and helps the other person to rebuild, reconnect, and re-establish caring, healthy relationships.
  • Forgetting doesn’t mean that you return to an abusive or unhealthy relationship. You can continue to avoid people who are toxic to you, while you wish them well in their future without you.
  • Understand that some people do not know how or are not able to love others enough to be in a healthy relationship with you. If you think of it that way, you may be able to feel sorry for them because “it’s their loss.”

What can happen if you don’t forgive?

  • Without forgiveness, the pain and hurt will stay with you.
  • Guilt and sadness continue, along with more problems in relationships.

Which of the following do you do?

  • Seek revenge and payback
  • Become angry and bitter
  • Feel defensive, self-protective, or distant
  • Blame each other
  • Have negative thinking or unhealthy behaviors
  • Feel lost or afraid – Avoid sharing or showing your feelings
  • Have fear of making mistakes, or low self-esteem
  • Fear failure, rejection, or conflict
  • Have high stress in relationships

What do people think when they refuse to forgive?

  • “You don’t deserve any kindness, concern, or forgiveness for what you did.”
  • “It hurt so much that I’ll never be able to forgive you.”
  • “I’ll never let you forget what you did, no matter how sorry you are.”
  • “People who hurt other people deserve the worst that life has to offer.”
  • “I resent everyone who has hurt me – I will make sure I’m never hurt again.”

What can help us to forgive and forget?

  • Let go of past hurt and pain.
  • Letting go and letting [God or your other spiritual beliefs] leads you during hurtful times.
  • Let go of fears for the future and allow yourself to take a risk.
  • Letting go of anger, hostility and resentment can give you more peace.
  • Overlook slight relapses or steps backward.
  • Develop an openness to the belief that people can change (but only if they want to) and realize that we can’t make other people change. The only thing we can change is ourselves.
  • Be open and honest with others about how you have been hurt.
  • Seek professional help when necessary for unhealthy, distant or cold relationships.
  • Recognize your part in what happened because “It takes two to fight”.
  • Identify and replace irrational beliefs that make it harder to forgive.

Ask Yourself:  How do you forgive others?

List something that you have been unable to forgive someone for.

How much energy, is sapped from you when you think about the hurt you went through?

What do I gain from blaming others for my feelings?

How can you put the past behind you and learn to trust again?

 

Revised from Messina, J. & Messina, C. (2009). Handling forgiving and forgetting. Retrieved from http://www.jamesjmessina.com/improvingrelationships/forgivingforgetting.html

 

Blog # 1 by Mary Knutson RN, MSN for Health Vista, Inc. 10-26-15

Updated 5-27-20

Resources for Recovery

Recovery Resources:

Many of the recovery resources were written while working with psychiatric patients. However, they were made to be helpful for recovery from other kinds of illness, or for general wellness or well-being. Many presentations and learning activities are shared in Health Vista’s resources for recovery.  They are organized under the seven elements of recovery, the same framework used for Recovery Education lessons.

Elements of Recovery:

  • Hope
  • Security
  • Support/Managing Symptoms
  • Empowerment
  • Relationships
  • Coping
  • Finding Meaning

Find resources for recovery from Health Vista

When I was working in Inpatient Behavioral Health, I started developing and writing simple but engaging and effective patient education and learning activities.

Through the years, I also collected a wide variety of free resources for recovery include Powerpoints and many other links for health education and motivation. I wanted to make them available for others to use. Although not all of the Recovery Education lessons are posted online, many of them are.  More may be added in the future, so check back often. Here are some examples:

You can find the Hopelessness to Hope Lesson handout here.

Click to see the Finding Hope Pathfinder. That recovery lesson was made into a video YouTube to help you toward the first step to recovery.  You can also use the Positive Words Discussion Guide.

Finding Hope Pathfinder narrated video

Click the title to watch another learning activity for Finding Your Way to Recovery

Recovery Workbooks:

I wrote many simple, clear, and short workbooks to share. I have donated some to community groups, but the cost of printing is too high to make them all free.  The workbooks have a cost, but they are on the healthvista.net website. Topics include Managing Pain,  Managing Long-term Pain, Managing Depression,  Managing Anger, Managing Addiction, Managing Illness, Managing Mental Illness, and Coping with Trauma.

Contact me by e-mail if you want to ask if some prices can be changed.  The following coping workbook is available free of charge:

Your Recovery Workbook: Coping and Relaxation  [.pdf] can be downloaded free and printed out. 

As you will see, my website contains many free, but very valuable resources,  Please browse and explore the lessons, handouts, learning activities, and links at https://healthvista.net/health-resources/recovery-resources/

I suggest that you start by Exploring Mindfulness . Then, begin  Taking Recovery Steps:

  • Ups and downs are to be expected – It is best to handle them as calmly as possible, using help and support to get back on track
  • Take small steps – You will get to where you are going (no matter how long it takes) if you go in the right direction
  • You feel more in control when you take the recovery steps at your own pace
  • In life, there is always hope, but sometimes you have to change what you are hoping for.
  • Be open to learning and change as you start your recovery journey

“I am not interested in the past. I am interested in the future, for that is where I expect to spend the rest of my life.”  – Charles F. Kettering

Updated 5-27-20 by Mary Knutson