Concrete vs Abstract responsibility for teenagers

Many Teenagers are struggling to complete the tasks that they are responsible for… often times their achievement is interrupted due to the fact that they view the tasks as meaningless or irrelevant to their life.
The “meaningless and irrelevant” assertion is often […]

Addiction, Self-determination, Flow, Mindfulness, Culture, Emotional Intelligence, and Human Bonding

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Addiction, Self-determination, Flow, Mindfulness, Culture, Emotional Intelligence, and Human Bonding

What are the components of addiction? why is addiction less desirable? and what aptitudes help us to avoid addiction?

“Let’s Turn the conversation towards Efficiency and Away from Morals”

The Psychobiological and Relational causes of undesired, addictive, and compulsory behavior:

Flow (peak experience) – Humans are most fulfilled when: Goals are clear, there is regular feedback concerning progress towards the goal, and you have the aptitudes necessary to make the challenge at the sweet spot between too hard (anxiety) and too easy (boredom).

  • Implications – Many electronic devices contain software that was developed to create a sense of flow. This creates a radical craving to engage with the software.

 

  • Solution – We need to ensure public access to ‘flow’ promoting activities that increase biological, relational, and existential wellness. Historically this includes extracurricular activities such as the arts and sport. Self-discipline with also be necessary – such as not having your cell phone at dinner or while on hikes etc.

Implicit System Conditioning – Most human emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are controlled by the implicit system. Our implicit system is evolutionarily older and significantly faster (more intelligent) then our intentional and rational explicit system. This system is adaptive – ex. you couldn’t drive a car with you explicit system.

It is very important to note that most interventions in the past have focused entirely on an explicit override of the implicit system – for example, we attempt to ‘rationalize’ away from a person’s automatic emotional response to stimuli. Unfortunately, this is not how the brain works (If I give you a rational explanation for why something ‘isn’t’ disgusting this will have no impact on your automatic disgust response).

  • Implication – Most of us have been primed to have automatic behavioral responses (towards a vice) in response to various emotions or environmental stimuli. example of stimuli that often lead to drinking: anxiety (emotion) or watching a sporting event (environmental).

 

  • Solution – We can set up our environments which allow a mindful reflection on our emotional and somatic realities so that we can our observe our desired impulses, emotions, and sensations with calm attention and without action. We then can learn to feel our feelings without reacting automatically to them. Increasing our ability to tolerate intense emotional experiences will have a positive impact on our ability to avoid the compulsory behavior.

Brain wiring and neurotransmitters – there is some overlap here with the implicit system. “What fires together wires together” Experiences that happen together can wire together – this creates predictable emotional reactions to stimuli and can create associates that are not necessarily rational. 

Neurotransmitters help to control our psychological wellness – deficits and surpluses create issues ranging from depression to mania to attention issues to psychosis etc. Adding substances to a developing mind (or a developed mind) can have unpredictable effects on our neural chemistry. Additionally, substances can impact the brain’s ability to properly uptake, release, and create neurotransmitters – which then leads to deficits or surpluses.

  • Implications – Substances such as ecstasy have been shown to dramatically impact the production of important neurotransmitters.
  • Solutions – Modeling and appropriate structure – We can ensure that we are modeling healthy relationships (including abstinence when necessary) with behaviors that can be unhealthy for our biology. We also should have regular access to nutritional items that promote a healthy biology and a sense of enjoyment.

Human Bonding and Attachment – Many vices (especially substances) impact or interact with the brain area responsible for human bonding and attachment. This means that instead of seeking out a secure relationship with another human – the substance is used (ineffectively) as the relational surrogate. This often leads to isolating behaviors – which leads to dysregulation and depression – which leads to more substance use.

  • Implications – Many people will use pot or alcohol as a means of feeling less lonely and dysregulated – though this can feel helpful in the start – the process can create a feedback loop which leads to exacerbated feelings of loneliness and dysregulation without the substance.
  • Solution – Emotionally significant/vulnerable and authentic connection. It is easier to use electronics or to engage in a substance than it is to be vulnerable enough to share your true self with another person. It is hard to remain open, empathetic and compassionate in front of a person who is suffering or who is offering their authentic self in a way that we don’t yet understand (Our impulse is generally to fix or to categorize). When we grow in our ability to stay present, honest, openminded, and compassionate, we naturally dissipate feeling of loneliness… in turn we gain a felt sense of regulation (and we, therefore, are not in need of the vice to mitigate our fears).

Anthropological Importance of Inclusion – We are a tribal animal. Our cortex developed to its’ current sophisticated state in response to the need to track an ever-increasing amount of social information (currently we max out at about 200 people). Exclusion from the group generally resulted in death for the vast majority of human existence – we tracked information to ensure inclusion (and to track ‘unsafe’ people). This reality has created a substantial fear response related to exclusion – this fear will propel us to make poor decisions to mitigate our fear.

  • Implications – We will often compromise our beliefs, emotional needs, intuition, and ration in order to protect ourselves from the fear associated with exclusion – this can mean that it feels terrifying to be without social media or to ‘just say no’ when the dominant group is engaging in unsafe behavior.

 

  • Solutions – Create emotionally intelligent communities that promote acceptance of differences and encourage open-minded and vulnerable communication. Through a compassionate dialogue, we can create a sense of culture which is best suited to the needs of the individual and the collective. Within this space of openness and acceptance, we reduce judgment and make it safe to express differences (therefore the culture will be inclusive of people who avoid behaviors that are harmful, though ‘normal’.

Faced paced society with ever increasing stimuli, social dynamics, and expectations with a corresponding reduction of health-promoting options – Currently, our society is not set up to be optimal for our psychological health. We are over inundated with stimuli, we lack sleep, we are responsible for monitoring more social dynamics than is possible, we lack access to nature, there is less access to arts and athletics, we are constantly encouraged to think about the future as opposed to the present moment, and we are often held to unrealistic expectations (such as the average workweek for an adult).

  • Implications – Often it can feel like the only way to ‘deal’ with our life is to disassociate from it, avoid it, repress it, or escape from it. Many electronics help us to completely leave (disassociate) from our current reality. Many substances produce a feeling similar to a state of mindfulness – you are absorbed in the present moment and free from the suffering found by attending to the past or the future. Lastly, many substances give us the permission to be who we want to be – inhibition. Both electronics and substances help us to deal with our anxiety resulting from feelings overstimulated, unrested, unfulfilled, and over-extended.
  • Solution – Intentionality and authentic prioritizing our life choices and values. We can enact intentionality and discipline so as to live within a set of values that promote our well-being.  health diet, appropriate boundaries, authentic expression, secure relationships, exercise, and access to nature are vital for our psychological well-being – these should not be compromised if we have the privilege to not be oppressed from accessing them (many, if not most, people in our world are oppressed from access to these variables).

Variables Impacted by Addiction

Freedom and Self-Determination. Reduced Intentionality – Increased automaticity

  • Remember Pavlov and the salivating dog (rang a bell every time the dog was fed – led to the dog salivating by the bell – even when no food was present)? As humans, we are constantly conditioned to have predictable and automatic responses to certain stimuli (this is adaptive). We can, therefore, develop automatic (and often unconscious) emotional, biological, cognitive and behavioral responses to substances, electronics, and other vices.
  • Conditioning Targets the implicit system to create unconscious associations with the vice (drugs, electronics, alcohol, shopping etc).

Experience: you have a huge problem and there is nothing that you can do about it in the moment – what vice do you want?(sibling lost all their money and they are on their way to your house to live with you)

  • Anxiety = conditioned to have a strong desire (sensation and emotion) for vice – often followed by an automatic behavior to engage in vice
  • The teenage brain is already in a state of re-structuring – pre-frontal cortex (executive control center) is less integrated into brain functioning. (this is an important time for the development of intentionality and good habits).
  • Solutions –
    • Mindfulness – focused attention on the present moment. The ability to notice without judgment and without automatic reaction. With mindfulness, we can observe the stimulus and our mind and body’s desired reaction to the stimulus. With practice, the pre-frontal cortex can override the automatic behavior (though the automatic emotion will likely stay mostly the same).
    • Willpower to engage in life intentionally despite a strong impulse to avoid or otherwise retract from discomfort. (without self-determination we are controlled by the external world and our urges)

Emotions and Body Awareness. reduction of sensory and emotional experience along with a reduced ability to tolerate emotions or sensory experiences.

  • What sensations are experienced in an elevator with a stranger (what does it feel like in your body)What emotions do you have as a result? What behaviors are we likely to engage in?
    • Now imagine all the experiences that a teen is going through – Away from home, love interests, making friends, meeting expectations, and figuring out who they are
  • After you have looked at a screen for 5 minutes where is your consciousness?
    •       What effect might this have on emotional aptitudes such as empathy?
    • Electronics and substances often disassociate us from our body (and relationships).
  • We must learn to continually be aware of and to tolerate our emotional and somatic experiences to achieve our ambitions – substances and electronics can rob us of the ability to develop this capacity.

What normal aspects of everyday life require a high level of emotional awareness and tolerance? Public Speaking 😉 Creating an emotionally intimate relationship.

Attachment and inter-regulation through Human bonding

  • New research is finding that substances and electronics target the same area of our brain used for human attachment and bonding (bonding is a primary need like water (orphanage example & cast away example)— the pull is extreme)
  • We are a social animal, and through millions of years of evolution we have developed a very sophisticated system of bonding with other humans that radically improves our ability to survive – Human connection is the #1 predictor of happiness (slope of a hill appears less steep, reduced amygdala activation in FMRIs when shocked)
  • We need to help our teens to bond with each other, with us, with the community
  • Electronics and substances mimic the feeling we get from positive human connection BUT they do not lead to lasting happiness and they do no facilitate regulation (human bonding is the cure for stress).

Conclusion – Our goal is to mentor our community towards becoming Self-determined, Emotionally intelligent, and Relationally able people. This doesn’t need to be a moral argument – Drugs and Electronics are not intrinsically bad or good… Instead, let’s change the discussion to efficiency – what are the most efficient means of developing the above Aptitudes?

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

The Depression Bubble

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The Depression Bubble – a metaphor for understanding a loved-one’s depression – and compassion

and suggestions for the healer…

Depression can be like a bubble blocking the person inside from receiving positive influence from the outside world.

Inside the depression bubble the person is left to deal with their hopelessness, apathy, sadness, meaninglessness, lethargy and despair all by themselves… we try to pull them out of the bubble or to push them into positive activities, but the bubble prevails.

Left to their own devices, the person in the bubble attempts to make their life more bearable by engaging in behaviors that lesson the burden… Substance use, TV watching, empty calorie eating, responsibility avoidance, video gaming, indifference, self-sabotage, lashing out, and sedative behaviors ensue in an attempt to bring a moment of relief.

We get frustrated with the bubble… and eventually, we get frustrated with the person in the bubble. Our thoughts attack us… telling us that the bubble is the person’s fault. “the Bubble will go away if you exercise, stop watching tv, stop smoking pot, start eating better, make plans with friends, go to therapy, get on meds, dedicate yourself to school/work, and find a hobby”

Our frustration leads to desperation and we forget the impossible truth… the bubble is stronger than our coaching… the bubble does not allow our positive influence to reach the encapsulated person.

humbled we find that no amount concrete action is having any impact. There is no force which is effective at budging the immovable object… strength is irrelevant… behavioral techniques consisting of consequences and rewards seem to only strengthen the bubble – thereby reducing our potential influence.

But it feels impossible to let go of control and we often resort to punishing the person for engaging in the behaviors which are a symptom of being trapped in a depression bubble. We punish them for not doing their school work, constantly critique their substance use, and take away their electronics while at the same time bribing them to exercise.

how do you move an immovable object… how to you impact something that is not receptive to behavioral conditioning?

This is where the healers’ job becomes impossibly hard… we must love unconditionally past the disruptive behaviors. We must not condone and yet accept fully at the same time. We must see the person despite the bubble.

We have only one tool – Love

and one mechanism of intervention – Connection

The strategy of connection takes patients and perseverance… but perhaps more challenging than those attributes is our own growth towards a more honest perception of reality. Past cognitive reprogramming, we have the opportunity to spiritually transcend into an acceptance of that which is beyond our control.

We want to believe that life is controllable and through our actions we can create predictability and permanence. We are so tied to this belief system that we, the potential healer, find ourselves in a bubble of rigid repetition – endlessly engaging in the same feudal behavioral interventions – endlessly upping the consequences set on the person trapped in the depression bubble. Without connection we have no positive influence (other than fear – which works very poorly on an apathetic person) … and as we move into the role of punisher we unintentionally remove our ability to help.

Connection

Through connection a person may gain the resilience necessary to allow their own self-determination to emancipate the self from the bubble.

Through connection we might keep hope just a little stronger than despair until time affords a quantum shift and the bubble pops in response to any one of an infinite number unpredictable catalysts. (ex. a developmental shift, a change in environment, hormonal/biological changes, entrance of a romantic partner, finding of purpose, a significant event etc.)

through connection a ‘we’ identity is formed and positive influence can permeate the bubble leading the trapped person to potentially make movement towards those behaviors which destroy depression bubbles (exercise, relationships, sleep, purposeful activities, art etc.)

Sometimes connection just slightly reduced the symptoms of being trapped in the depression bubble.

And finally, sometimes connection doesn’t seem to do anything and we are left with our acceptance and faith in the way things are. We gain in our own spirituality and in energy saved from engaging in the impossible. Because when we spend all our energy physically controlling the depression bubble we weaken our self and allow the potential for the depression bubble to encapsulate us.

We offer connection while offering compassion to the self for engaging in such a trying task. Love is intrinsically wonderful, and it is best for us to remember that not even love has the ability to control reality.

 

 

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

The Evolution of CBT = Mindfulness – moving from changing projections to eliminating projections

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Quick summary: I am going to propose that we can use mindfulness interventions to increase our ability avoid projecting our beliefs onto a stimulus. I am also going to suggest that we can use mindfulness to increase our reflective ability so that we can become aware of our projections before we react emotionally or behaviorally to that projection (knowledge, judgment, belief, opinion etc). CBT offers an intervention which helps a person to change a belief that they are projecting onto a stimulus. This is effective as unhelpful beliefs encourage us to experience unwanted emotional reactions and they encourage us to engage in behaviors which are against our best interests… the replacement belief (the helpful belief) encourages more desirable emotions and behaviors. I am suggesting that mindfulness is the next step in the evolution of psychotherapy (even though mindfulness is thousands of years older than CBT – misuse of the word ‘evolution’ has been noted) as mindfulness can teach a person to notice and/or stop projection altogether or at least can help a person to manage his/her reactivity to the projection.

Simple version –

  • We unknowing put beliefs and opinions onto things that we look at or touch or smell etc and then we are automatically and unknowing affected by those beliefs and opinions…
  • We then feel a certain way or do a certain behavior for reason that we cannot always explain or understand…
  • We seem to be acting and emoting without any control… we feel controlled by our environment…
  • Mindfulness may be the way to learn how to stop ‘putting beliefs and opinions onto things.’
  • CBT may be unintentionally encouraging our habit of projecting.

 

Perhaps you are not truly being controlled by your environment… perhaps you are being controlled by your own projections (knowledge, judgments, beliefs, opinions etc).

I propose this question: We are a country of immense privilege and resource… why are so many so depressed and anxious… what is the common source of our suffering?

When a person interacts with something (a person, an idea, a place, an object etc) with any of their five senses they unconsciously place their beliefs, knowledge, opinions, history etc onto that something which is the focus of their attention… people engage in behaviors and experience emotions related to that very projection.

In this piece when I say that people “project there beliefs onto a stimulus” I mean that we unconsciously put knowledge and judgments onto whatever is holding our attention…

We therefore do not solely attend to reality; we attend to a reality influenced by our subjective perceptions.

  • Example 1, if you look at a snake you might place the following beliefs on it: dangerous, evil, annoying, scary, useless, must be avoided, must be killed, the snake is going to try and kill me, snakes attack people for no reason, that is an immoral object.
  • Example 2, if you saw a person with a sticker that labeled them as being in support of a political party that you dislike you may project the following beliefs onto him/her: dangerous, evil, annoying, scary, useless, must be avoided, must be changed, the person is going to hurt our country, He/she attacks people for no reason, that is an immoral object.
  • How might your projected beliefs influence your actions and emotions?

 

What’s the point? Why should I care about negative projections?

  • The emotional and behavioral reaction that you have to the stimulus is automatically affected by your projections… you can’t feel or behave differently until you alter your projections.
  • CBT then helps people to have different emotional reactions and to engage in different behaviors by helping a person to change what they project onto certain stimuli.

 

I was Reading Dan Siegel’s ‘The mindful Brain’ and I was in the middle of one of his more scientifically mind-bending chapters (neurologically complex and specific) that was explaining the current research surrounding the part of the brain that places or projects ‘knowledge’ onto a stimulus and the part of the brain that encourages reflection (which would be your ability to notice that your mind is projecting beliefs) and attention without projection (which would be your ability to see a stimulus without placing judgments, ‘truths’, opinions, analysis etc on to it).

  • For more about Dan’s work please visit – http://www.drdansiegel.com/ – I cannot say enough about this professional… his work is absolutely fantastic. I would say that his scientific ability is respected to be at the highest caliber… what I was pleasantly surprised to find was how engaging and artistic his personal narratives are… wonderful, intelligent, inspiring, revolutionary books.

 

It then hit me that from a neurological perspective CBT is calling on the same part of the brain to simply offer a different and “better” projection onto a stimulus.

In short, if projection is the problem, than CBT might be strengthening the part of the brain which was ‘responsible’ for the problem. Excuse my oversimplification – again this is just a theory.

CBT encourages a client to isolate negative or hurtful thoughts and beliefs. The client is then asked to replace those ‘disruptive’ beliefs with positive or helpful thoughts and beliefs.

  • Research seems to be suggesting that projections primarily come from a specific part of the brain.
  • The physical and functional qualities of the many different brain parts are affected by use. To dramatically oversimplify this concept this would mean that increasing the use of a part of the brain will increase that part both physically and functionally (just like your bicep).
  • CBT might (this is just a theory) be increasing (in size and function) the part of the brain responsible for projections – which is the source of the ‘problem’.

 

Again, what is the point?

  • ‘Negative’ projections cause suffering and CBT helps people to begin projecting more ‘positive’ thoughts and beliefs onto the relevant stimuli.

 

  • Some philosophies suggest that projections cause suffering despite whether the projection is positive or negative.

 

How suffering is caused by Positive Projections.

  • The suffering arises as projection eliminated the novelty of life… instead of living life we begin to live within our projections

 

  • These projections are known and understood and therefore do not require sustained attention or interest…

 

  • Everything then becomes very boring…

 

  • We loose our curiosity and our passion…

 

  • We require the novelty of ‘new’ things or activities such as material items to elicit excitement… but this does not seem to help our suffering.

 

Common Example of projections making life boring

 

  • Think about when you first met your partner or best friend etc… what did you feel? Were you curious about him/her?  of course this person has changed – did your partner become less interesting, exciting, attractive, intricate, or did you become less interested in him or her… is it possible that you lost your curiosity as opposed to her/him losing anything to be curious about? What would happen if you stopped judging your partner? What would happen if you stopped convincing yourself that you had all the knowledge necessary about your partner? What if you removed all of the beliefs and knowledge that you have about your partner and then you met them again ‘for the first time’… what would be different?

 

  • Remember the first time that you saw your house? What did you experience… what do you experience now?

 

  • How about your first time seeing the leaves change… the first time it snowed… the first time you saw the ocean… the first time you experienced a thunderstorm or saw a rainbow…

 

  • You may still have very positive beliefs about all these things, but for some reason they are not able to elicit the same excitement and curiosity out of you…

 

  • These things are just as exciting and inspiring as they once were but your projections are keeping you from experiencing them… this causes suffering.

 

Mindfulness encourages a client to strengthen there ability to reflect upon the thoughts, emotions and sensations which the mind and body experience without taking automatic action.

  • Mindfulness reduces automatic reaction to projections.
  • this increases control and freedom.

 

Mindfulness also teaches a client how to pay attention to a stimulus without placing a projection (judgment, belief, knowledge) onto that stimulus…

  • You learn to see the stimulus as novel as apposed to understood, quantified, known, defined, labeled, categorized etc.
  • This makes everything interesting, exciting, and inspiring.

 

Children tend to be more mindful then adults… they can look at a leaf falling from a tree with complete amazement and glee… through mindfulness an adult can grow to have a similarly novel experience with such a stimulus.

In conclusion

  • CBT teaches us how to change or alter our projections

 

  • mindfulness teaches us how to stop projecting or to stop reacting automatically to projections

 

  • Research is suggesting that mindfulness increases the mass and function of the part of the brain responsible for reflection and for attending without projection.

 

  • I theorize that CBT may be increasing the mass and function of the part of the brain responsible for projections (both ‘helpful’ and ‘unhelpful’ projections seem to come for the same part of the brain).

 

  • I am suggesting that CBT will evolve into mindfulness as mindfulness reduces the unwanted affects of both positive and negative projections where as CBT is designed to reduce the unwanted affects of negative projections alone.

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

Problems sleeping? 10 Tips to help you sleep

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Quick summary: I am giving you 10 tips that will lead you to create and maintain a healthy sleep cycle. Sleep is vital for optimal health… you owe it to yourself to dedicate yourself to a good night of sleep. If you can stay dedicated you should be able to create a stable sleep cycle with these 10 tips in just under a month with improvements surfacing in about 10 days. This is not solely based on the sleep studies that are widely circulated… this worked for me when nothing else did. Change often requires a degree of sacrifice… try this for a month and then do a cost benefit analysis… I would suggest that the benefits will greatly surpass your expectations.

1.) Create a reasonable and intelligent plan with a set bedtime and a set time to wake up (you should be going to bed and waking up at about the same time every day)… make sure that you are giving yourself around 8 hours of sleep.

  • People who have a difficult time sleeping tend to not have the luxury of being able to operate on a variable sleep schedule. With peoples busy lives it can be truly difficult to set a schedule especially when you have a job with differing hours… for most people the benefits of a healthy sleep cycle with greatly out way the sacrifices that must be made while sticking to a schedule.
  • To be reasonable you must accept that improvements will require dedication and you should accept that exceptions to the plan might work for other people, but they don’t seem to work for you.

 

2.) Start by waking up at the same time every morning even if you cannot fall asleep at your set bedtime.  

  • It is beneficial to set your internal clock and doing so at night is obviously difficult for you (or perhaps you wouldn’t be reading this). Waking up at the same time in the morning with help you to create a stable sleeping routine. If you need to catch up on sleep, go to bed earlier… it is important that you don’t make exceptions concerning the time that you wake up each morning.

 

3.) When it is your ‘bedtime’ give your self one very relaxing activity if you cannot go to sleep such as an ‘easy to read’ and ‘light’ book.

  • Avoid books that cause extreme emotional arousal such as fear, anger, suspicion, or anxiety. I like to read books about mindfulness before bed… they have no real plot or conflict and they offer very light and comforting life lessons.   
  • Never watch TV or engage in any stimulating activity after your ‘bed time’.

 

4.) Stop ingesting added sugar, caffeine, or any other stimulant for at least 6 hours before you plan on going to bed.

  • The idea is to get your body to go along with a desired rhythm… stimulants and depressants can have a negative impact on your body’s natural ability to create and to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. For many it would be best to avoid stimulants and depressants (such as alcohol and prescription narcotics) all together.

 

5.) Control your substance intake and make sure that you are ‘buzz’ free for a least an hour before your bedtime.

  • This generally means that if you are going to have a drink you should finish that drink 2-3 hours before your bedtime. Substances impact your ability to go to sleep and the quality of your sleep.
  • Drinking herbal (caffeine free) tea can be a great way of helping people who benefit from satiating an oral fixation (which otherwise encourages them to drink or smoke).
  • If a rare social event leads you to drink until close to bedtime make sure that you still wake up at the same set time.

 

6.) Do not watch any screen – Television – computer – video game etc – for at least a half an hour before bed (the more time away from this stimulus the better).

  • There are so many reasons why these electronic devises disrupt our ability to go to sleep… flashy lights, blue light, emotional content, cognitively invigorating content etc (the list could go on forever).
  • They produce a myriad of measurable biological responses in your body which will inhibit your ability to go to sleep. Having a TV in your room is not a good idea for your sleep (or sexual) needs.

 

7.) Exercise is the best way to reduce anxiety and the health benefits of exercise will directly impact your ability to create a healthy sleep cycle.

 

8.) Seek assistance to resolve any issues that are negatively impacting your personal or relational health. Engage in activities that will help you to manage stress and anxiety.

  • Problems in our life can be so significant that they inhibit us from getting sleep… if you need help in overcoming a trauma or if you have a relationship that needs repair it is a good idea to seek the assistance of a mentor, therapist, or some other trustworthy person.
  • Certain people have too much stress and anxiety in their lives. Too much stress has a measurable impact on your brain and will greatly impact your ability to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. 
  • Supportive relationships, rest, vacation, exercise, art, hobbies, music etc can all be used to counter the effects of stress.
  • You can also ask people to help you to stick with your sleeping plan.

 

9.) Prioritize your life and set boundaries to ensure that you are healthy… many people are giving too much of themselves and working too hard.

  • You must take care of your own needs if you are going to truly be able to meet the needs of others… selfishness is needed to be selfless.
  • What activities or responsibilities, which give you minimal satisfaction, can be cut out of your schedule?
  • There are many choices that we make that have benefits (such as financial) that are horrible for our emotional, relational, and physical health… sometimes the best way to help your sleep is to leave the setting which is most disruptive to your health. Can you do your current job and be healthy? Can you be healthy with your current boundaries related to your friends and family?
  • Create a boundary with people in your life surrounding your sleep cycle… let them know that you need to keep a schedule for your health.

 

10.) Spend at least 15 minutes a day engaged in mindful breathing or meditation. You can also engage in breathing exercises right before bed for added benefits.

  • A simple technique is to breathe in for five second and breathe out for five seconds… place all your attention on the breath as it moves from your nose down your throat to your abdomen and then back up and out your mouth… thoughts will arrive – notice them gently and return your focus to the breath.
  • Mindful breathing teaches us how to observe our thoughts and impulses as opposed to being controlled by them. Many people cannot go to sleep at night because their brain is racing and ruminating… mindfulness practice greatly reduces people’s tendency to act or think ‘automatically’.
  • Mindfulness practice is also inherently relaxing and can significantly reduce stress, anxiety, and suffering. Mindfulness teaches people how to live in the moment… most suffering, stress, and anxiety is not in the moment… when we worry about the past or the future we bring the experience suffering into the moment.
  • With mindfulness you can learn to live in the moment and you will be better able to not allow the past or the future to impact your sleep.
  • for more on mindfulness and for suggested practices simply click mindfulness in the category section of this blog -(http://www.thoughtsfromatherapist.com/category/mindfulness/) or look at the post – http://www.thoughtsfromatherapist.com/2010/03/23/mindfulness-%e2%80%93-why-it-is-helpful-and-what-being-in-the-present-moment-means/

 

Try this for one month… you should expect little to no changes (it could even get worse) for the first week or so.

Doing these 10 steps will work for most people… you have the plan now it is your responsibility to stay dedicated.

Hope impacts outcome… it will be of benefit to you to change the negative thoughts and labels that you have concerning your sleep cycle which impact your ability to be hopeful… you were made to have a healthy sleep cycle… you can absolutely have one.

If you believe… you can

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.