13-05-2019 03:20 PM - edited 13-05-2019 03:25 PM
Moving on to the second to last suggestion we come to Tip 6: Build social connections
Caring for someone with mental illness can be socially isolating for many reasons including time demands, stigma and misunderstanding of our loved one’s behaviours, our own mental exhaustion, not feeling brave enough to venture out on our own, not having a hobby, not wanting to leave our loved one’s home alone and the list goes on. All of a sudden we can find ourselves bereft of friendships and feeling housebound.
There are many studies that show the mental and physical health benefits of having meaningful connections within groups. Loss of social connections has been identified as a public health issue and a notable example of the health benefits of being connected provides is well documented in relation to the Men’s shed movement which was started here in Australia for blokes to meet each other and chat whilst working on various projects.1
There are so many social groups available even in the small country town where I live including various sports, a pony club, walking club, bowls, line dancing, gardening and craft groups (quilting, take your own). There are plenty of churches and opportunity to volunteer with service groups (Rotary/Lions), the SES, CFA, two op shops. museums and more. There is a community house and regional health service who put on low cost/no cost classes and weekly talks one can attend, the library also has free classes on various topics such as using electronic tablets, mobile phones etc. Being connected does not necessarily mean joining an organised community group per se, where I lived many years ago, I got together fortnightly with a few friends and we chatted as we worked on our own craft projects, mine was knitting and at that stage I used to knit myself a new jumper each year. When we moved from there, in our new location, I made a friend and we would meet on my rostered day off once a month and would head out for the day, visiting places of interest, sometimes joining a bus trip, occasionally it would be just lunch out, often trying out different cafes.
Whilst online connections are helpful, I believe they are not a substitute for face to face and group connections and that we should not neglect the latter which, if I am reading correctly, appear to confer the greatest benefit.
In a recently published article by Saeri et al found that “Social connectedness was found to be a stronger and more consistent predictor of mental health year-on-year than mental health was of social connectedness.” They found social connectedness to be both a protective and curative factor in mental health, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.2 Given that as carers we are at risk of depression, building and maintaining connections is so very important.
16-05-2019 01:56 AM
@Ali11 Thanks for noticing.
Since I posted I have written about negative things in an email and in a structured mental health recovery booklet. I am doing a 10 wk course atm.
I also attended a community consultation around mental health and was invited to write a submission. Permission to be detailed and negative was given. So I have structured it into my life for next couple months.
@Darcy I agree with you about face time, but it simply has been very very very slow in coming available to me. I have found that I put a lot of energy into various clubs, churches etc etc. My story must be scarier than I realised and my attachment style more damaged even though I try and look at things in a normal human framework. It has taken so long to develop social support and friends. To be able to see someone every 3 weeks to talk about likfe has never been an option for me. Not as a child. Not as a teen, adult or young or middle aged mother. About 2 years ago, after I met you @Darcy here on forum, Neami assessed and sent someone to my house every fortnight. I also see gp every 3 weeks. I have been struggling and reaching out since the mid 1980s. A lot of the time, I thought I was lucky if I had 6-10 sessions per year that were helpful. As the years pass the accumulation of issues grows. The first suicide in my family happened in 1986. In the end I made sure I had face time by being in charities, opshops etc, and helping others, that was better than nothing, but I was NOT getting adequate time for ME. I try not to over rely on the forum, but it has helped in many ways as I post about here and there ...
Now I realise I am very damaged and so resilience is layered on top.
16-05-2019 08:25 AM
It is interesting how you ensured you had social connection by volunteering @Appleblossom. It is well documented that those who volunteer are generally healthier than those who do not. In a talk I listened to it mentioned that this is in tune with a design law of nature, that in order to thrive, any living being needs not only to receive but also to give and bring meaning to our lives. It does give social connection, particularly if tasks require teamwork and acquaintances are made with the potential but no guarantee of stronger friendships.
Are you finding more connection with choir members?
Coincidentally, in the last couple of days I have become aware that at present I am not volunteering and am presently considering options.
16-05-2019 10:34 AM
I can certainly see the value in what you are saying re helping others @Darcy as I am definitely boosted emotionally when I am able to successfully help someone. That is why I have done so much volunteering at the university which as a bonus resulted in paid work and why I enjoy that paid work so much. For me at least in our present chapter and for as long as that lasts it balances out some of the deficit of being so emotionally needy.
16-05-2019 01:01 PM
Was talking with vollies yesterday who applied for paid work. @Determined It can be great if it leads to it, but I Was glad I was happy with my limit, that I did not even want to go there, but accept this vollie role as a stressfree and healthful ongoing way of life.
Re volunteering. I have always done it. @Darcy Shook tins collecting for childrens hospital as kid, always aware there were people who had it hard. Collected for starving kids in India etc ...part of that was a positive about religion that I do not regret. Also I always lived in high density environments ... lots of people around and in my space. I now strugggle with many middle class assumptions about normal ways of feeling ... that is ongoing challenge ... it is hard as I have similar education but not life experiences ... and find it hard to connect to rougher bogan type people, tho used to meet lots, but not really snobby ... just shy ... and now physical neck disability, so I just cant be around them if aggression is flying. Forum really helped as I felt safe around my neck issues.
@Darcy Hope you find some vollie work that is rewarding. I am pleased with the zoo as I learn a lot and have lots warm fuzzy feelings around animals and helping people ... I dont see it as an upgrade to get paid. I think it is important to maintain that people have complex motivations and that making money is not the only one ... it matters ... but so do other things ...
18-05-2019 07:35 PM - edited 18-05-2019 07:36 PM
Moving on to the second to last suggestion we come to Tip 6: Build social connections
and when I finally get out to socialized , I feel strange like I have nothing to talk about
with being self employed , with our jobs , lots of time we don`t see our customers at all
with mum in hospital , I tend to have more interaction socially with the doctors and patients
being on the forum, Facebook and messager has helped a lot , but I find that I have to do the interacting
if I don``t I would get no phone calls, no messages at all
19-05-2019 01:24 PM
The choir stuff is layered and varied with me. @Darcy
Most people in my choirs are fairly educated and well heeled and housed. They have much more resources than I will ever have or had, so that can lead to misunderstandings, but many appreciate the work I have put in to develop my musicality so I can be a musical rock ...lol ... others periodically decide to take against me, because I dont fit the norm. So it is actually hard work, as there are a lot of people out there, who think they know, and they are usually women who are willing to confront and have a go at me ... not the men ...
At last concert a lady had a go, telling me I was wrong in my parenting, without the slightest interest in listening and just continually butting in and over riding me. She had no right, nor reason and I became very distressed then later angry and stood my ground telling her off and "not to do it again" ... she also gossips, whispering in my ear nasty things about others which I do not want to hear ... she is often a "concertmaster" .. which is a specific role, that does not take professionalism just bossiness ... so nothing is a given ... it has gone to the committee so we will see how it is managed .... I have backed away from that on for a while and joined something diff and local ... others are really beautiful and just give out warmth and revel in the music. I dont think the conductor would like to hear what happened ... they are all going on big European tour, which I am will abstain from ...for lots of different reasons ... it is what it is ...Darcy. They have money and will spend it to please themselves.
21-05-2019 10:04 AM
To summarise our thoughts on the last tip of building social connections:
@Appleblossom mentioned how that making social connections was difficult and that she volunteering was a way to address this, but did not equate to making meaningful friendships.
@Darcy mentioned how studies showed that people who volunteer are happier
@Determined echoed the thought that when he is boosted emotionally after helping someone out successfully.
@Shaz51 finds that when she does get to socialise, she feels she does not have much to talk about and she finds that she is the one who needs to make the effort to connect.
@Appleblossom also mentioned socialising can be hard work.
21-05-2019 10:11 AM
We come to the last of the 7 tips today and that is to Be present:
I tend not ruminate so much on the past or what might have been perhaps because I stopped thinking that there was no guarantee that life would have turned out better if different decisions had been made. However, I know I like to feel that I am emotionally prepared for what lies ahead and can justify overthinking with the need to consider any concerns that I have but as Lolly Daskal puts it…
“Overthinking doesn't sound so bad on the surface-thinking is good, right?
But overthinking can cause problems.
When you overthink, your judgments get cloudy and your stress gets elevated. You spend too much time in the negative. It can become difficult to act.”
I have followed this post with the full article from Lolly Daskal as it gives practical tips in relation to overthinking.
Fear is often in the driver’s seat when we overthink in relation to the future. It can rob us of potential joys and stop us from even trying. How often is it we are thankful that we made an effort to get up and do something and found that we enjoyed it despite any reservations we had. Brene Brown says that our fear of the dark casts joy into the shadows.
When it comes to the past, we are often ashamed and we worry and about what people would think and perhaps afraid that they would no longer want to be our friend if they knew the whole story. We are uncomfortable with vulnerability. Researcher Brene Brown found that the antidote to shame was empathy and that in owning our stories and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we will ever do. She says that shame erodes our courage and fuels disengagement but that if we share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame cannot survive.
Meditation/mindfulness is something that I have difficulty with and it has been suggested that it can be in the form of something that requires concentration and takes your attention away from your problems such as:
I find that working on a jigsaw or weeding the garden are two activities that work for me.
These are simple tips in relation to what can be a lot more complex and again I remind you that while self- help is effective for some, assistance from a trained professional such as a psychologist or counsellor is often warranted.
21-05-2019 10:13 AM
10 Simple Ways You Can Stop Yourself from Overthinking
By Lolly Daskal
Overthinking doesn’t sound so bad on the surface–thinking is good, right?
But overthinking can cause problems.
When you overthink, your judgments get cloudy and your stress gets elevated. You spend too much time in the negative. It can become difficult to act.
If this feels like familiar territory to you, here are 10 simple ideas to free yourself from overthinking.
1. Awareness is the beginning of change.
Before you can begin to address or cope with your habit of overthinking, you need to learn to be aware of it when it's happening. Any time you find yourself doubting or feeling stressed or anxious, step back and look at the situation and how you're responding. In that moment of awareness is the seed of the change you want to make.
2. Don't think of what can go wrong, but what can go right.
In many cases, overthinking is caused by a single emotion: fear. When you focus on all the negative things that might happen, it's easy to become paralysed. Next time you sense that you starting to spiral in that direction, stop. Visualize all the things that can go right and keep those thoughts present and up front.
3. Distract yourself into happiness.
Sometimes it's helpful to have a way to distract yourself with happy, positive, healthy alternatives. Things like mediation, dancing, exercise, learning an instrument, knitting, drawing, and painting can distance you from the issues enough to shut down the over-analysis.
4. Put things into perspective.
It's always easy to make things bigger and more negative than they need to be. The next time you catch yourself making a mountain out of a molehill, ask yourself how much it will matter in five years. Or, for that matter, next month. Just this simple question, changing up the time frame, can help shut down overthinking.
5. Stop waiting for perfection.
This is a big one. For all of us who are waiting for perfection, we can stop waiting right now. Being ambitious is great but aiming for perfection is unrealistic, impractical, and debilitating. The moment you start thinking "This needs to be perfect" is the moment you need to remind yourself, "Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress."
6. Change your view of fear.
Whether you're afraid because you've failed in the past, or you're fearful of trying or overgeneralizing some other failure, remember that just because things did not work out before does not mean that has to be the outcome every time. Remember, every opportunity is a new beginning, a place to start again.
7. Put a timer to work.
Give yourself a boundary. Set a timer for five minutes and give yourself that time to think, worry, and analyse. Once the timer goes off, spend 10 minutes with a pen and paper, writing down all the things that are worrying you, stressing you, or giving you anxiety. Let it rip. When the 10 minutes is up, throw the paper out and move on--preferably to something fun.
8. Realize you can't predict the future.
No one can predict the future; all we have is now. If you spend the present moment worrying about the future, you are robbing yourself of your time now. Spending time on the future is simply not productive. Spend that time instead on things that give you joy.
9. Accept your best.
The fear that grounds overthinking is often based in feeling that you aren't good enough--not smart enough or hardworking enough or dedicated enough. Once you've given an effort your best, accept it as such and know that, while success may depend in part on some things you can't control, you've done what you could do.
10. Be grateful.
You can't have a regretful thought and a grateful thought at the same time, so why not spend the time positively? Every morning and every evening, make a list of what you are grateful for. Get a gratitude buddy and exchange lists so you have a witness to the good things that are around you.
Overthinking is something that can happen to anyone. But if you have a great system for dealing with it you can at least ward off some of the negative, anxious, stressful thinking and turn it into something useful, productive, and effective.
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