Is YouTube Considered Self-Care?

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selfcare, self care, self-care

A spa day can do wonders!

I’m sitting at the computer, sucked in to video after video on YouTube, when my wife comes in and says, “Honey, you’ve been on the computer for hours.”

“Sorry,” I say, “I was just engaging in some self-care.”

YouTube as self care?

Self-care is a phrase you may have heard. While the meaning may seem straightforward, in my opinion it is often ill-defined.

Self-care is not just egocentric behavior and gluttonous consumption of items and behaviors that make us “happy”(my thoughts on happiness are coming soon, stay tuned).

Self-care is purposeful action to do what we know is good for our mind, body, and spirit. These actions may or may not be things we want to do or gain enjoyment from doing.

For example: (On a personal note), I know that I feel better, both mentally and physically, when I lay off the Twizzlers and oatmeal cream pies. Now, do I want to do this? Simple answer: no. I love Twizzlers! They’re a low-fat candy (or at least that’s what the package tells me), but the sugar and empty calories can send my mind and body into a tailspin.

I also know that I need a certain amount of sunlight per day to keep my mood up. Not something I always enjoy doing, but I know I need to.

That being said, self-care may also include things that bring us joy and contentment, such as: spending time with family, engaging in a hobby, chatting with a good friend, or playing our favorite game. These are double dippers, they are both enjoyable and provide self-care.

The overall key is that these behaviors are purposeful, we acknowledge that our body, mind, or spirit is in need of something and we take action to try to meet that need. It is focused and meaningful. Remember, self-care is great and can be a buffer against many of life’s challenges, but it is not a license to self-indulge, rather it is a plan to recharge and maintain the health of our body, mind, and spirit.

That’s my two cents! Thanks for reading, and be well!

(Below you will find an example of my self-care – watching Kawhi Leonard dunk on the Heat! Well…okay…maybe not a great example of self-care, but I couldn’t resist!) I guess it’s up to you to decide: is YouTube considered self-care?

I’m not okay, but I will be okay”

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depression, anxiety, communicationThis phrase has saved me many awkward moments. As an introvert, I prefer to work through my pain on my own first, and then if necessary, reach out to others. But my countenance and attitude gives evidence to others of my internal turmoil.

By saying, “I’m not okay, but I will be okay.”, I reassure those that care about me that I am working through something difficult at the moment, but will come out on the other side.

This phrase can be used in all manner of relationships and in a variety of situations. It allows us a way out of that quandary of choosing to either lie about our internal state, or be truthful and then spend 30 minutes reassuring others that it’s nothing serious or warding off well intentioned, but often counter productive, words of advice and suggestions.

That was often my internal battle, until I ran across this phrase: “I’m not okay, but I will be okay.” It’s both honest and reassuring. It lets the other person know that, while we are suffering in the moment, the moment will pass and we will feel better.

It is effective in allowing us to give others feedback on our internal state, yet also letting them know (and reminding ourselves) that the feelings are temporary and that we will, eventually, feel better.

I wish I could take credit for the creation of the phrase itself, but I cannot. I also wish I could remember where I ran across it, but once again my memory fails me. Suffice it to say that, while it is not of my creation, I use it as though it were.

Thanks for reading, and be well!

Breathing Room

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Expansion v. Depression – Round 2

ACT, expansion, depression, anxiety, mindfulnessIn a previous post, we explored how expansion can indicate an exercise in which we expand our internal experience to include the world around us, thus allowing us to get out of our emotional tunnel vision.

In this post we will explore a meaning of expansion that aligns itself with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). From this perspective, expansion means opening up and making room  for painful emotions and experiences. It allows us to stop struggling with the painful emotions/experiences and gives them some room to breath.

Essentially, we give them the room they need to simply “be”. We do not engage with them per se, nor do we allow them to overwhelm us. We give them the space they need, and nothing more. We open up to experiencing the emotion in its totality (body, mind, spirit).

This does a couple of things for us. First, it allows us to redirect the energy that was consumed by trying to control our emotions to other areas of our life that are more value focused. Second, it makes it easier for the emotions and feelings to come and go, to move about, and even dissipate.

The purpose of expansion is not, however, to eliminate negative emotions or sensations, but to allow them to “be” which then allows us to re-engage with our life and what we find important. A great question to ask during expansion is, “Can I still ___________(insert a value driven activity), while I am feeling __________ (the emotion or sensation).

Example: Can I still go to work while I am feeling depressed.

We cannot pack down our emotions, nor can  we allow them to overwhelm us. Expansion allows us to feel what we feel, but without getting overwhelmed or ignoring our painful emotions/experiences.

Thanks for reading, and be well!

What a Wonderful World

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                           Expansion v. Depression – Round 1

8038136One of the most powerful tools that depression uses against us is its ability to narrow our vision and life experiences. We begin to feel that the moment we are currently experiencing is the only moment that exists. We forget all about other people, our past, our future, and the world as it continues to move on around us.

This is a very powerful tactic. It limits our experiences and quickly eliminates any sense of hope, as it disallows us future oriented thinking. It keeps us stuck in a depressive rut, incapable of seeing any good behind us or any good that is yet to be.

But it is not invincible. This tactic that depression uses has it’s own achilles heel.

That achilles heel is known as the process of expansion.

Expansion is the practice of allowing our mind to expand itself from noticing our internal experiences, to noticing and encountering the external world. It connects back to the reality of the world around us and that our suffering is not only momentary, but also a small piece in the grand scheme of the universe.

Expansion may not work for everyone (or in every situation), but it can be a powerful tool to use when we feel depression closing in around us and we begin to see life through a narrow lens.

Below is a song that really epitomizes the process of expansion. It is one of the greatest songs (in my opinion) ever written, as it takes the listener on a journey through mindful, in the moment, experiences.  It provides a great example of how we can do the same thing when we are feeling depressed. We can bring forward out attention to the outward world and begin to notice what we see, feel, smell, hear, and feel.  The song is “What a Wonderful World”  by Louis Armstrong.

Thanks for reading, and be well!

Stop It!

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Dodepression, anxiety, purpose driven life you ever get annoyed at stop signs? I do. And often. They become especially irritating when they present themselves on every corner of a vacant street. Stopping at each one becomes a Herculean task. 

I stop nonetheless. Well, mostly. 

But my “slow rolling” is besides the point. The point is that while stopping can be an annoyance, it is also essential. And as goes the roads, so goes life. 

In life, sometimes what matters the most is not what we begin, but what we put and end to. Our progress often hinges not on our speed, but on our ability to stop and release ourselves of excess baggage. It’s the baggage the weighs us down, it’s the set of behaviors or beliefs that keep up stuck and reliving a piece of our life that we would like to move on from. 

Below I have complied a quick list of things that we might consider stopping from having a place in our lives. 

1. Stop harboring hatred. 
2. Stop engaging in self-sabotage 
3. Stop looking for completeness from others. 
4. Stop defining ourselves and our relationships by past mistakes. 
5. Stop ruminating on past injuries. 
6. Stop worry about future events that we cannot control. 
7. Stop judging ourselves by our mood states. 
8. Stop chasing momentary happiness.*
9. Stop listening to the voices that tell us we can’t. 
10. Stop giving up on our dreams. 

I could expound on each of these, but for the sake of brevity, I will resist the temptation. And in conclusion, I have a video to share from the great Bob Newhart! Enjoy!

Thanks for reading, and be well!

*I have nothing against happiness (in fact, I love to be happy!), but I believe living a purposeful life is a much greater reward than chasing that elusive and slippery state we call happiness.  

 

“Acting in spite of”

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Act the OppositeWhen we are struggling to muddle through a depressive state, activities that once where full of joy and peace, are now arduous chores that drain our energy and may even exacerbate our depression. This puts us between the proverbial rock and a hard place. A cure for our depression (spending time outside, with others, involved in activities that have meaning and purpose), become our poison as well.

So, how do we get out of this bind?

One answer is to try “acting in spite of”. “Acting in spite of” employs both a mindfulness and behavioral approach. Essentially, we become aware of our depressive thoughts and emotions. We do not judge them and we do not engage them. We acknowledge them and accept them as part of our momentary experience.

We then determine to take action and behave “in spite” of those depressive thoughts and emotions. We behave as if our choices were not being controlled by our depressive feelings and thinking. We think to ourselves, “If I felt ‘normal’, what would I be doing?” And then we begin to do it. Notice that we are not denying or trying to change our thoughts or emotions. We are simply acting in a manner that is not guided by them.

Sometimes it’s helpful to just try it as an experiment. Choose an activity or period of time that you will “act in spite of” your depressive thoughts and feelings. Be mindful and aware of your thoughts and emotions. Notice them, and let them pass (like words scrolling through a news ticker on T.V.), and continue to engage in the activities that you find value in.

Remember, the purpose of “acting in spite of” is not to change our thoughts or emotions, but to get us back engaged in purposeful living.

Thanks for reading, and be well!

Demons on the Boat

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depression, anxiety, Italy, demons, ACT

Gondola in Venice, Italy.

There are times in life when the demons just will not go away.

Not matter how much medication, therapy, self-care, or vacations, they just refuse to leave the premises.

For some, the demons never leave. The continue to make their presence felt throughout life, sometimes in the background, but often in the foreground, being loud, obnoxious, and even scary.

These demons can consist of depression, anxiety, past abuse, self-doubt, manic episodes, family or relationship conflict, past trauma, and even voices from people in our lives who try to tear us down.

And we will, and often do, try anything to get the demons to go away, to be quite, or even just to give us momentary peace. And sometimes they do, but often times they do not.

There are many things we can do about the demons, but I want to suggest just one for now. Accept them. Accept their presence on your boat, but do not give them control. In reality, the demons have limited control over us. They can yell and scream and threaten, but they really cannot do anything to physically harm us.

And that’s the key. Once we know that secret, we take their power away from them. They no longer can control the direction of our boat. Yes, they will yell and scream and rant and rave, but they can do us no harm.

We are in control. And get to choose where to steer our boat.

This is just a quick overview of the concept of acceptance, check out the YouTube video for a great explanation as well.

Thanks for reading, and be well!