Z88.3 FM: Safe For The Little Ears®

Ellis and Tyler

Mornings with Ellis, Tyler and Tracy…A positive way to start your day!


Today’s Positive Thoughts

Give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.
Psalm 107:31 NIV

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 NIV

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Hebrews10:24 NIV

Today’s Positive Thoughts

October 13, 2017

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1 NIV

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5 NIV

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:7-8

God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.
2 Peter 1:3 NLT

Morning Show Links

Friday, October 13:

Thursday, October 12:

Wednesday, October 11:

Tuesday, October 10:

Friday, October 6:

Wednesday, October 4:

Tuesday, October 3:

Monday, October 2:

Thursday, September 28:

Wednesday, September 27:

Tuesday, September 26:

Monday, September 25:

Friday, September 22:

Thursday, September 21:

Monday, September 18:

Got Hurricane Brain? Post-Hurricane Irma Recovery Guide

What is “Hurricane Brain”?

Post Hurricane Stress affects everyone however; it becomes dangerous if it goes on for an extended period of time. “Hurricane Brain”, resulting from STS, (Secondary Traumatic Stress), can affect adults, children, the elderly and even pets, so it is important to be alert to watch for the danger signs.

In natural disasters like hurricanes or tornadoes the rapid build-up of these psychological symptoms are commonly called “Hurricane Brain”.These symptoms include any dramatic change in emotions, behavior, thought patterns or physical symptoms over the next few days, weeks or perhaps even months, based on the level of traumatic exposure. Natural disasters are a terribly stressful time for everyone, both during and after the Hurricane, and there are a number of factors to be aware of to keep yourself and those who you care about safe.

Hurricane Brain Warning Signs

These signs are indicators that the intense stress from the critical incident is beginning to overwhelm the individual. The longer the stress symptoms occur-the greater the severity of the traumatic event on the individual. This does not imply craziness or personal weakness; rather, it simply indicates that the stress levels from the Hurricane were too powerful for the person to manage and their body is reacting to the abnormal situation of having survived a major trauma.

It’s normal to feel completely overwhelmed by a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado; however there are danger signs to watch for in yourself or others that may indicate psychological trauma. Adults or children who display any of the following stress symptoms may need additional emotional support dealing with the events of the crisis. It is strongly recommended you seek the appropriate medical or psychological assistance if you see many of the physical, emotional, cognitive or behavioral symptoms listed below in yourself, your coworkers, or someone in your family or home, especially if these symptoms were not present before the Hurricane.

Physical Symptoms:

Chills, thirst, fatigue, nausea, fainting, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, chest pain, headaches, sleep loss, elevated blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and muscle tremors, difficulty breathing, major changes to appetite or shock symptoms

Emotional Symptoms:

Fear, guilt, grief, panic, denial, anxiety, rage, irritability, depression, apprehension, emotional shock, feeling overwhelmed, or a loss of emotional control

Cognitive Symptoms:

Confusion, nightmares, uncertainty, hyper-vigilance, suspiciousness, intrusive images, poor problem solving, poor abstract thinking, poor attention/memory and concentration, disorientation of time, places or people, difficulty identifying objects or people along with heightened or lowered alertness

Behavioral Symptoms:

Withdrawal, antisocial acts, inability to rest, intensified pacing, erratic movements, changes in social activity, changes in speech patterns, increased caffeine or sugar intake, increased appetite or increased alcohol consumption

 

If you are in doubt about these symptoms in your life, or someone you care about, it is wise to seek the care of a physician or certified mental health professional. Better to actively deal with the stressful emotions directly to help yourself and your loved ones to immediately cope with this crisis because these emotions tend to worsen and get more intense if left untreated.

Remember there are many experienced professionals who can help you recover during a time of crisis. You do not have to go through crisis recovery alone.

Take action now to prevent stress after the Hurricane from continuing to overwhelm you or the people you care about. Call a trusted friend to talk through it, reach out to your family doctor, the clergy or a counselor. If you don’t know someone to call about these emotional issues, you can reach out for assistance by calling telephone hotlines which are offered at no cost to you.

These numbers are often posted by local media, hospitals, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army or FEMA. If you, or someone you care about are feeling overwhelmed by stress, anxiety, guilt or grief it’s important to make the call for professional assistance now to learn how to get past the pressure to begin to feel ‘normal’ again.

How can I help my family get back to “normal” after a major disaster?

Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods and earthquakes are often the most destructive events a person will experience in a lifetime. Hurricanes like Irma, Harvey or Maria are also among the most expensive disasters to recover from financially because of being out of work or not having enough insurance coverage to replace what the Hurricane destroyed.

It may take months to perhaps even a year for everyone to feel that things are back to “normal.”  (Which many experts refer to as the “New Normal”)

The actual psychological impact of the Hurricane will vary widely between people based on factors like- age, their previous experiences with natural disaster recovery and most significantly how much stress they already had in their life before the Hurricane made landfall.

The more stress someone had in their life prior to the Hurricane, the longer it takes to recover, and with the additional stress of daily life coupled with the rise in prices that often come after a natural disaster, stress levels can quickly increase.

Here are some immediate ways to restore order back into your life after the chaos and confusion that can follow a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado.

1)  Reconnect in relationships

You can’t get through a crisis alone. Since everyone is impacted differently, it is vitally important to talk about the stress and pressures you experienced with the people closest to you. Reach out to friends and family as soon as possible, and call people you haven’t heard from in a while. Checking in to ask if they are okay will take a few minutes, but it will empower and help both of you. Talk about what each of you experienced through the disaster and how you got through the Hurricane. Tremendous connection can occur when you go through a crisis with someone, so this is an especially good time to reach out to friends or family who may have drifted away from your closest circle of relationships. Take action to reach out to people with words of encouragement and support, but don’t wait for someone else to text, call or email you- because their phone may not work! Seek them out if you don’t hear back then reconnect the relationship while encouraging each other during the rebuilding process.

2) Rebuild your routines

This is one of the most important factors to rapidly get life back on track because we draw strength and security from a structured daily routine. Bed time, dinner time, getting up to go to school, or work, or your house of faith or the gym. To regain strength quickly, identify what normal routines you had before the Hurricane- then get back to them as soon as possible. Even if you are staying in a hotel, shelter or with family members, stick with the rituals you typically followed before the Hurricane that made up your daily lifestyle. This way you can feel the predictability of previous patterns and routines regardless of the stress of the changes happening around you.

3) Reach out for faith

In times of major crisis many people turn to the spiritual power of prayer. Spiritual resilience is built during the toughest of times because there is tremendous strength in knowing what you believe and living in harmony with those beliefs. Plugging into a faith system after the Hurricane will allow you to release anxiety over the things you feel like you can’t control. Dedicate a few minutes each day to quiet mediation and reflection on what matters most. This is especially important when you or your children may feel lost, alone or afraid. Plus, many houses of faith have disaster and recovery teams, support services and even financial assistance available to help people cope with crisis. People of many faith systems believe in helping their neighbors, so avoid the tendency of being “too proud” to ask for assistance. Having a committed personal faith combined with the connection of a local house of worship can give you a tremendous sense of community to get through this Hurricane as well as the ones to come.

4) Retell your story

Young and old alike will benefit from hearing about how other people survived what may be the worst natural disaster they will ever experience. There is tremendous power in telling your story; healing power for you and helpful power for others who will gain insight and strength by hearing how creative people can become through the crisis. As you speak up about what happened, it will make it easier for other family members or coworkers to talk about their feelings of loss as well. Things will never be the same as before, but life will go on and we can rebuild and get through it better together. Telling your story now will give you additional strength as well as connect you to the neighbors and friends as they share their story with you.

Remember: “If you talk through it, you can get through it.”  

Dealing directly with your emotions will reduce the tension and stress on you, which allows you to have more energy to deal with a difficult situation. However, if you stuff your fears and frustrations in a major disaster, your emotions can quickly blow up without warning. Exploding in rage on your children, your marriage partner or a volunteer at a water station will only make a difficult situation worse. It’s not their fault, and it’s not yours.

Natural disasters can be a terrible time full of loss and difficulty for everyone. By taking action now you can move beyond feeling overwhelmed by intense stress, anger or confusion. As you follow the insight from this psychological recovery guide, you will be taking positive steps to rebuild with the focused energy of an even stronger life for you and your family after the Hurricane.

To best survive after a killer Hurricane, you need a combination of 3 key elements

  1. Healthy coping skills
  2. Healthy supports and a
  3. Healthy perspective

While things may never be exactly the same as they were before the Hurricane; the following guidelines will give you the key elements needed to get past the overwhelming stress to find even greater strength on the other side.

The most important thing to focus on in a crisis situation is:  “DON’T MAKE A BAD SITUATION WORSE”

Keep this single thought in mind as you begin to sort through the process of stabilizing yourself and those you care about who have been impacted by the Hurricane. During the storm the goal is to stay safe while surviving your house being torn apart from gale force winds and rain. After the disaster is over and the Hurricane passes, the goal is to quickly rebuild the normal life routines you had in your personal and professional life before the Hurricane hit. If you get focused on rebuilding, you will be able to spend your energy in positive ways instead of being in a mental fog of confusion, mingled with panic or regret.

How does a critical incident like this affect kids? 

It depends on the age of the child. The younger the child, the more they look to their parents for emotional security and strength. If a Mom or Dad are “shell-shocked” or “numb” and not able to manage their own emotions or responsibilities; the child will feel extra pressure and become very confused and further stressed. Remember, it’s normal to be overwhelmed by a major disaster and the loss to your home, or community. That is why it’s so important to take care of yourself in order to take care of your children and others under your care through the sometimes lengthy period of recovery and rebuilding after the Hurricane.

Think about the advice given on commercial airliners to parents traveling with small children. “Should there be an unexpected cabin de-pressurization; oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. Place the mask over your nose and mouth like this and then place the mask over the mouth and nose of those around you needing assistance.”

Take care of your own emotional needs first, and then you will be in a stronger position to help those around you. If you feel overwhelmed in giving your children or others who may depend on you for support, please ask for help.

It’s okay to be tired, worn out and overly stressed. That’s normal after a natural disaster. However, it’s not okay to ignore caring for the needs of those counting on you like children, the elderly or pets.

Sometimes a parent may need to make adjustments at work or change their own schedules for a while by delegating some tasks in order to have time and energy to help their children avoid feeling more pressure from the difficult experience that surviving a major disaster brings. If you feel that your ‘caregiver tank’ is empty, let someone else help you for a while until you get your strength back. That’s best for you and for those that you care about.

Dedicate attention to understanding the needs of young children, notice what they are saying, drawing or doing to determine if they are still feeling overly stressed from the Hurricane.

School age kids

need to talk, draw pictures or take positive action, (like creating crafts to raise money for kids just like them who are now Hurricane victims because their homes were destroyed), so if you give them something to do to help, they can take positive action and sort through their emotions immediately.

High school age kids

may try to act “cool or tough” about everything, but often are more scared about the changes, losses and confusion than any other group. If they are willing to talk to their siblings, other family members, clergy or counselors it often doesn’t take very long before they can grow strong enough to deal with their emotions and get back to feeling like themselves again.

The greatest danger sign to be alert and aware of is by noticing any dramatic changes in behavior. If a child was always happy-go-lucky before the Hurricane and now sits all day to watch video footage of the world’s disasters on the news or weather channels- then you may want to figure out why they made such a dramatic shift in personality. Watch for other major changes in sleep patterns, school patterns, school performance, peer relations and so on. If you see major changes that concern you, it’s time to seek professional attention for the child with their pediatrician or with a child behavioral specialist

What are some ways to help our kids talk about Hurricane stress?

You can reach out to children in many ways to help them deal with this stressful time of rebuilding after the Hurricane. Talking, writing, drawing, even making up a song about your families experience with the disaster will make the time pass more quickly, and may even lighten someone else’s load of emotional pain and difficulty while helping you back through the process. Some families describe playing board games like the “worst case scenario,” (which is based on actual survival information from a book by the same name). Many of the issues discussed in the game aren’t likely to happen to the majority of people on the planet, (such as how to survive a shark attack), however, talking about any crisis event in life can help kids learn the basics of moving from the panic of basic survival to building strengths through problem solving.

Are there any “hidden dangers” in media that parents should be concerned about that might make the Hurricane stress worse?

Too much media exposure is dangerous for kids. It is better to get a media “news update” once or perhaps at the most, twice a day to avoid the danger of media over-exposure. Leaving the news on all the time might depress the mood of the person who hears it; since deep down inside trauma victims learn to go “numb” to the normal emotions of the stressful event. This is a common trauma reaction to reserve psychological energy after a disaster. If your child didn’t watch the morning news programs before the hurricane or tornadoes hit, be cautious about allowing them to watch TV news alone or having long blocks of unaccounted time with too much isolation.

Best is to sort through media outlets-like television, Internet, radio or newspapers, which may contain content could be overly stressful or just too depressing for a child to manage. Then set boundaries to protect them from additional stress in media stories, since it is important to protect their home environment and mental state by managing the media exposure around them.

It’s wise to move from negatives to positives in highly charged and difficult situations like natural disaster recovery. You may have seen enough negative images to last a lifetime yet some media outlets play scenes from a disaster over again and again. Better is to focus on rebuilding and recovery images.

Also, parents and kids can sit down and discuss how much negative media they need in their homes. After previous disasters some families found not having Internet, cable television or loud music while being without electricity after the Hurricane allowed them to reconnect as a family with much greater communication.

By sitting down and discussing these issues your home can be a more positive place, by creating more positive energy to manage the stress of recovering after this crisis.

Since watching crisis events in other parts of the country might cause more stress in an already stressful situation it’s better to focus on your responsibilities today, right in your own community. When things in your life are strong again, you and your family won’t be as affected by the images of crisis from other places. But that’s another day, so for now as you recover, it’s better to focus on getting you and your kids though the day that you have been handed without making it harder because of the hidden stress of media overexposure from other national or global disasters.

Also, the same principles apply for the aged as for anyone else. Seniors often can spend a tremendous amount of time absorbing negative media images which can be harmful to their well being. Better to get involved in helping others, volunteering or praying for those affected or perhaps donating to help; than to become overwhelmed with the stressors of others by becoming desensitized from dangerous negative media over-exposure.

What can people expect in the weeks ahead? 

“Hurry up and wait,” will be the motto some people will think about in the days ahead. This is because the daily life activities like filling up a gas tank, taking a warm shower, or driving through a busy intersection with working traffic lights, could have been dramatically disrupted. Life is usually out of balance for weeks sometimes even months after a major disaster, and while no one likes it, we all have to get through it.

There may be long lines for many of the basic products or services necessary to survive or care for our loved ones; so prepare now for the fact that may be difficult at times. Major Hurricanes can kill hundreds of people, shatter billboards, rip traffic lights from their poles, splinter trees, shred awnings or screen rooms, rip apart electric-cable-phone-Internet transmission lines, snap off traffic signs, seriously damage thousands of homes and cause billions of dollars in damage where they hit, (like Hurricane Katrina did to the Gulf coast affecting hundreds of thousands of people).

The more damage in a community, the longer it takes for some things to even be evaluated for repair and significantly longer than that for them to be replaced. It is wise to mentally prepare for the fact that the damage from a major Hurricane could take weeks to clean up and months to perhaps even up to a year to rebuild.

Know this will be hard on everyone involved but people get through it with a lot less stress when they work together. Here’s a formula to help victims recover from this type of crisis event faster. It spells out the word “P.A.T.” which stands for

Patience

Things are going to take a lot longer than normal. Focus on the reality of why things are disorganized or confusing after the Hurricane, instead of getting angry at everything that doesn’t go your way. The more you let your anger build, the more likely you will dump it on the people you are closest to at home. That is irresponsible and hurtful, so don’t do it! Deal directly with the pressure of this recovery time by building a deeper understanding of the situation and what you can actually do about it, instead of feeling angry and helpless about what you can’t do anything about during this time of disaster recovery. Being moody and continually irritated will not make things better for anyone, but it can make a bad situation worse for everyone involved. Why add more stress to an already over-stressed situation?

Attitude

In a crisis situation you can’t afford to waste even a drop of valuable resources like water or gasoline-and you should be equally cautious about wasting emotional energy by worrying about things you can’t change. It’s time to go with the flow of difficult situations, instead of trying to fight against it. You can’t control the fact that this difficult situation has happened, and if you try it hyper-control something as big as a natural disaster it will only lead to greater levels of anxiety and stress for you. Better to keep focused on positive things like counting your blessings instead of counting your problems. Anxiety, stress, worry and chronic sleep loss can take a bad situation like this one and turn it into an abusive, or out of control one in a matter of days. Protect your attitude and you will significantly protect your ability to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.

Trust

This can be hard because people tend to feel angry and resentful in the days or weeks after a critical incident. However, it is essential to know the utility, construction and recovery crews responsible to take action to repair the daily life activities we tend to take for granted, (like electricity, water, sewage, gas, phone, Internet and cable services), are already working 24/7 shifts to accomplish that important goal of rebuilding basic services disrupted by the disaster.

This includes staff from the power company, phone company, tree services, cell phone providers, cable television workers, Internet providers, insurance adjusters, FEMA workers, the department of transportation workers replacing signs and traffic lights, fire fighters, police officers, doctors, nurses, school board officials, grocery store workers, gas station attendants, yard debris collectors and on and on.

Trust everyone is doing the best that they can to get things back on track. Emergency repair crews often work double time to get our homes, schools and businesses back on track. Even better, stop and thank them with your kids if you have a chance. A kind word of “thanks” goes a long way to reduce the stress and frustration these professionals feel in rebuilding and maintaining essential services in our community.

Is it wise to involve kids in the cleanup and recovery process?

Yes, if it is physically safe, **

(**IMPORTANT NOTICE! *  Think about the term, “childproofed home” as you determine what environment would be safe for your youngest children or grandchildren to be walking through or around. If they normally aren’t around power tools or gas powered construction equipment like generators or chain-saws, this is not the time to introduce them to it. Be safe and don’t make a stressful situation worse by risking physical injury to yourself, your children or those you care about.)

So, if it is physically safe, the entire family might visit their damaged home together. It is okay to do clean up and recovery work together as well, since this Hurricane is bigger than any one person could clean up. Stressful events like this often make a marriage or family stronger, because instead of just one person dealing with the loss, the entire family joins in to deal with it together. It’s very unhealthy to play the “hero” and try to do everything by yourself as a parent or legal guardian because it models being a lone ranger during a crisis.

The lone ranger’ mentality eventually leads to someone becoming the ‘lonely ranger’ because you can’t get through a crisis alone, nor should you try. We need each other more than ever to successfully manage crisis events like natural disasters. Another reason this is so important is that viewing the destruction firsthand, (obviously in age appropriate ways), can be one of the most effective ways to allow children to see how dangerous Hurricanes can be. And the most important reason to model this behavior to our younger kids is because they learn from earliest childhood that families who stick together through the entire recovery process can get through it better and faster than those who go it alone.

On another note, keep your repair work in perspective with your life priorities. Remember it is impossible to fix everything destroyed in a single day, so to risk emotional injury to your children or spouse by yelling, screaming or shouting during the cleanup process simply isn’t worth it. By pacing yourself and working at the rebuilding process together as a family, you can grow closer on the other side of the Hurricane.

Blow up with rage at the people you are closest to and you risk damaging a relationship far more valuable than your roof

Is it okay to talk about what happened to our family with others? 

Silence is not golden in a critical incident, rather, it’s dangerous. One of the best things you can do to help yourself and help others is to tell your story. Talk about where you were when the Hurricane came through. Talk about how you and your loved ones made it through the crisis to the other side. Keep talking and make it a point to listen carefully as you hear the stories of others who survived the disaster. This is important for everyone involved, kids, grandparents, moms, dads, employees, employers, firefighters, police officers, nurses, teachers, students and on and on.

Everyone has a story about how they got through the disaster and telling it helps them heal and may give you a new chance to connect with your family, neighbors and coworkers in a powerful way. Also, don’t miss asking your personal priest, rabbi, cleric, pastor or spiritual caregiver to share their story; since many times these professionals are so busy listening to the needs of others, they neglect to take time to reduce the stress that they feel.

Why do some people seem to become bitter after a crisis instead of just being grateful to be alive?

A major disaster “dumps out” whatever is inside a person, so you will see the best and the worst of behavior happening in the days ahead. A critical incident or natural disaster which overwhelms an entire community creates an equal sized emotional reaction in people, so be prepared for some unusual reactions in yourself and the people around you.

Sometimes people who were the most hurting before the Hurricane will act wonderful and kind on the other side of recovering from this type of traumatic event. It’s like they find a hidden strength in a crisis and reach out to others in a new way. Others just go numb and will seem to act like robots for a while. Some people will get loud – others will become unusually quiet.

There are many reasons for the wide range of emotional response; with a common factor being how many difficult and traumatic experiences they may have already witnessed in their lives.

Hopefully, some people may have already sorted through these deep hurts and strong emotions before a killer Hurricane hits. If so, they may have a deeper understanding of the need for compassion to others in a crisis. They understand about the Hurricanes in life and react with kindness, sometimes it may even seem to come automatically for them to reach out with positive emotions instead of being critical.

Other people might become completely hateful and mean in everything that they say and do, even if they didn’t act that way before the Hurricane. They may even try to chase you off with a broom if you are trying to help them clean up broken limbs in their yard! Don’t panic, they probably aren’t having a breakdown, rather it’s likely a behavior some people call being ‘hardhearted.’ This often comes from years’ worth of unresolved past hurts being piled up and never addressed or resolved. Try not to take it personally if the criticism comes your way.

Remember the rule that “hurt people- hurt people” and take their negative comments with a ‘grain of salt’ while still attempting to maintain integrity in caring for others who may be able to receive the offer of a helping hand to get through this difficult time.

What is survivor guilt and how does it negatively impact people?

Thousands of people who didn’t lose power, have their homes damaged or lose basic services often feel uncomfortable because they didn’t experience much difficulty or hardship during the Hurricane. Sometimes it is because others experienced it much worse so they abandon the issues at their home to rush and help others. Remember to manage your affairs at home and work in a responsible way, and to pace yourself through the process.

Doing too much/too soon for others can exhaust you and limit your ability to live out your priorities with your immediate family. Helping others at the expense of protecting and helping your own family may feel appropriate after a disaster, but it misplaces the important priority of caring for those closest to you first, (there are emergency exceptions to this principle at times). Best is to pace yourself in the process of recovering and rebuilding. Hurricane or floods come to an end, but if you over do-things you may end up hurting yourself and make your own future worse. If your home is stable and you can get to work, be grateful, and don’t allow the inconveniences of daily life, like having to do without hot water, wi/fi, air conditioning or cable for a while, get you down and remember, if you can talk through it, you really can get through it.

So many people are worse off than me- how can I decide who to help?

Help others when you can, but not at the expense of making your situation worse. A simple way to decide who to help and when it might be wrong to offer assistance is to consider these three key elements.

  • Evaluate Relationship

First determine your level of relationship to the people in need. Begin with ‘self-care’ and practice the steps to keep yourself safe in the recovery and rebuilding process. If you get seriously hurt trying to help someone else, you haven’t really helped anyone and in fact may make a bad situation much worse for everyone. Once you know you are safe and stable, then reach out to offer help your closest relationships, which are usually the people you live with or around. This includes your family, children, partner, elder adults who may live with or near you and your friends. Not everyone outside of your closest ‘circle’ may need your help or assistance, but it’s wise to ask them just in case.

Once you get past those closest to you, then you can reach out to offer assistance to those in need you may know of in your neighborhood, community or workplace. After you are able to help the people at that level of relationship, then you can reach out to those you may be less connected to in your community, state or region of the country. Everyone has needs, and it is for certain everyone affected by the disaster will need some level of help to get through this Hurricane recovery process. ‘Lone rangers’ wear out fast and eventually can’t help anyone, so help others when you can and allow them to help you as the level of relationship might offer. Allowing them to help you creates a greater sense of relationship and connection which makes you both stronger now and in the years to come.

  • Measure Resources

If you are attempting to reach out to help others, you need to first evaluate what resources you have to work with. These are the very limited supplies of time, energy people and money. Most people need to maintain responsibility to the important elements of their jobs no matter what the Hurricane damage may have done to their place of business. If you are in a situation that requires a 40 hour week commitment during the Hurricane rebuilding process, you will may very limited supplies of time and energy at the end of the day to help others in need. Wise financial planning may have given you a financial nest egg, but no one has enough money to solve all the crisis events in our world. If you don’t have the resources of time, energy, people and money to responsibly care for you and those who depend on you, it is not wise to spend those limited resources on strangers. Don’t let the crisis events of others in desperate situations you may see in a television commercial get in the way of caring for those closest to you. As you wisely manage your home resources in connection to your circle of closest friends and family members – everyone can grow stronger after the Hurricane.

  • Do the Right Thing

After you have determined the level of relationship and then measured the resources available to help, you are ready to apply these three questions to wisely help others impacted by the Hurricane.

1)   Is there a Rule?

Consider if this situation falls under the guidelines of an accepted standard in our society, such as a law, statue, spiritual principle or guideline.

For instance, if I’m in a hurry and racing to get to a store to buy Hurricane supplies and cause an automobile accident it’s clearly my fault and I have to pay for the damages. However, many issues that arise out of a disaster aren’t very easy to understand and don’t fit into commonly known laws, statutes or principles. When that happens, ask yourself the next question.

2)   Is it Responsible?

Does the situation you are considering getting involved with make common sense or seem to be a wise use of time, energy or money as discussed earlier?

If it seems impulsive or poorly thought out, wisdom would suggest that waiting until a better plan could be developed would bring better and longer lasting results. This approach also helps prevent accidents after a disaster because considering the responsible path may prevent bad decisions that could have been well meaning, but brought more problems than solutions. Like when a well-meaning person buys a chainsaw to cut a tree off of a neighbor’s house and hasn’t stopped to realize they have never used a chain saw! There are often more accidents or deaths in the days after a major disaster because of irresponsible or impulsive decisions. Prevent that by taking time to seriously think through what your involvement will actually accomplish. As a wise carpenter once said, “measure twice-cut once.”

3)   Is it Reasonable?

Consider the real reasons that led you to believe you are the best person to jump in to help others in this situation. Do you have the skill set, the experience or training to perform certain tasks that you are considering?

An example of this would be well meaning people who show up to help after an accident, but don’t have the medical training to even know what to do, or people who really want to help with patching holes in roofs or removing tree limbs tangled up in power lines.

It is unreasonable and irresponsible to place yourself into a dangerous situation you aren’t prepared to deal with. A better approach is to assess what you reasonably can do right now and then do it. (Some examples would be calling 911 to get medical help, or waiting in line for ice and bottled water for a neighbor, or doing five loads of laundry for someone who doesn’t have electricity, or letting someone use your cell phone to call their family members and let them know they are safe after the Hurricane, or offering to buy lunch at a fast-food restaurant for a tired mother with small children who just need to get out of a hot house for a few hours to take a break until the air conditioning is repaired).There are countless things you can do to add value in a crisis situation without being in the wrong place at the wrong time; which creates problems for others. Taking reasonable action brings positive results.

Following these steps will allow you to grow stronger through the Hurricane, while helping others to grow along with you on the journey of rebuilding a community after the Hurricane.

What should people consider when first returning to their homes after being evacuated?

You need to mentally prepare for the loss by remembering that things in this life can be damaged by wind, water, fire and falling trees. Our lives and the lives of those we love are much more valuable than anything in our homes. Whatever the destruction looks like now, remember that it can and eventually will be repaired in time.

Keep repeating to yourself phrases like, It’s just stuff,” or “our family is safe-and that’s all that matters since the rest is just a house that can be replaced.”

Changing your mind about things will allow you to control your most powerful asset, your own mental drives, personal beliefs and choices, which is the emotional “grid”: all other emotions go through. Change that, and you will be able to make even more positive changes in your daily life.

What other strategies can encourage people through the recovery?

Stress can lead you to a greater level of strength; which is the primary focus to grow through a difficult situation. You can make it through the crisis and survive when you take action to connect to your supports, use positive coping skills and develop the mind set of looking for strength beyond the Hurricane.

No matter the size of crisis event, you can find strength after the Hurricane. Following the practical applications in this disaster recovery guide will allow you to begin building strength back into your personal and professional life. As you grow stronger you can tell others, which will encourage them to press on as they rebuild their lives right next to yours. Stronger people create stronger communities which is the journey you have already begun. I encourage you to stay with it as you build an even stronger life, family and community after the Hurricane.

 

NOTE: You can freely redistribute this crisis management resource, digitally, electronically or in print to help in the psychological recovery efforts provided you leave the authors information intact below.

 

About the Author:  Dwight Bain helps people rewrite their story, especially during times of major crisis or change. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor and Nationally Certified Trauma and Crisis Management Instructor in practice since 1984. Dwight has spoken to over 3,000 groups and partners with media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference. Access more counseling and life coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by visiting his counseling blog with over 800 complimentary articles and special reports at www.LifeWorksGroup.org or follow his research on creating positive growth and change across all social media platforms. @DwightBain

Is your Smart Phone Stealing away your Soul?

Brain hacking is what they call it; the engineering of behavioral code into an app or website to program you into getting “addicted” by the psychological process of continually checking a smart phone.

Is this real? Yes.

Is this legal? Yes.

Is this going to stop? No.

How is this possible you may wonder? 60 Minutes journalist Anderson Cooper found experts to answer that question in a very revealing TV special about the programming process that is commonly used to make you check your smart phone at least 150 times per day, with some people checking their phones over 1,000 times per day!

You can watch the television interview to research this for yourself, but may not need to. Simply watch people around you in a restaurant, at church, in the car next to you in traffic or standing in line at the market.  People young and old are acting like addicts with their phones or tablets and if you try to take it away from them they get mad, if you point out they might be addicted they deny it or get very, very mad… just like any addict would react.

The experts interviewed openly talked about how Facebook and Instagram are programming code to make you and your children addicted to social media. Yes, I said Addicted. In the same television special it was revealed that Google does the same thing. (You can watch a rebroadcast of the special here, but be warned, it might make you mad). http://www.cbsnews.com/news/brain-hacking-tech-insiders-60-minutes/

Tristan Harris is a former Google Product manager who openly questions the long-term consequences of brain hacking said, “Whenever you check your phone, is one way they hijack people’s minds and create a habit, to form a habit. This design technique can be embedded inside of all these products”. (Like Facebook, Instagram or SnapChat)

When Anderson Cooper asked if Silicon Valley was programming apps or are programming people; Tristan said, “they are shaping the thoughts and feelings and actions of people. They are programming people. There’s always this narrative that technology’s neutral. And it’s up to us to choose how we use it. This is just not true. Technology’s not neutral- It’s not neutral. They want you to use it in particular ways and for long periods of time. Because that’s how they make their money. Look, never before in history have a handful of people at a handful of technology companies shaped how a billion people think and feel every day with the choices they make about these screens.”

So what can you do when multi-million dollar corporations are programming code that makes you and your children addicted to technology? Simple.

Unplug the technology.

How? NRT.

The process of unplugging is what I call “NRT” which stands for doing the “Next Right Thing”. For some people that is to turn off the technology completely. For others the next right thing is to read a book or play Legos with the kids, or go to the gym, or listen to music, or journal, or adult-coloring book, or any other creative activity that stimulates and open the brain, instead of being locked into a particular website or app.

You could take the dog for a walk, or volunteer with your favorite charity. Spending time with a sick family member, or going to visit an aged loved one. There are a million things you could do that won’t get you mentally addicted, and in fact will mentally refresh you; while there are just a few that guarantee you will be drawn to your phone like a drug addict wandering back to a dealer. (try taking a smart phone away from someone playing Candy Crush  trying to level up and you will see what I mean).

Anything you do that does not involve technology helps you break free of the brain-hacking programs designed to stimulate addiction, and that will protect your thoughts, and those of your kids. Think of the popular scripture King David wrote in Psalm 23 that simply says, “He Restores my Soul,” and select activities that quietly renew your spirit.

Here’s the challenge.

Put down your smart phone or tablet for 24 hours. See what you can do to fill the time with activities that matter and that lead you to a better place without technology. Re-evaluate what you learned with your family and then make some positive changes.

You may not be in the loop to instantly know what your former high school friends posted on Facebook about their dog, but you will be well on your way to experiencing greater freedom and emotional peace. That’s a good trade for now, and a better investment in forever.

 

About the Author – Dwight Bain helps people rewrite their story through the power of positive change. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor and Certified Executive Coach in Orlando. Follow him across all social media platforms @DwightBain

Student Crisis Response

“If you can talk through it – you can get through it”

4 TYPES OF NORMAL REACTIONS TO CRISIS

TRAUMA –

Any event outside the usual realm of human experience that is markedly distressing, (which creates horror, helplessness or terror.) Such traumatic stressors usually involve the perceived threat to one’s physical integrity or to the physical integrity of someone in close proximity. This is the very intense psychological reaction to feeling highly threatened, which is normal. Children experience Traumatic Stress differently based on age and maturity level as this recovery guide will outline as a tool for parents and teachers.

SECONDARY TRAUMATIC STRESS

Traumatic stress overwhelms coping mechanisms leaving students feeling out of control and helpless. Continual exposure to the trauma create the normal reaction of being depleted, exhausted, or worse, self-destructive

STS Symptoms in Students:
· Intrusive fearful thoughts
· Sadness or continual waves of grief
· Poor concentration or difficult remembering the most basic of tasks
· Second guessing every decision
· Detachment or emotional numbness
· Hyper-vigilance of danger
· Hopelessness
· Inability to embrace complex concepts
· Inability to listen
· Anger or continual irritation
· Sleeplessness or disturbing dreams
· Fear, anxiety or panic
· Chronic exhaustion or energy loss
· Physical aches or muscle pain, (usually unidentified source)
· Minimizing the severity of the situation, especially among teenagers

How to Help Students or Teachers after a Shooting Lock-Down

· Listen carefully and compassionately
· Spend time with the traumatized student, it’s better to be together than alone after a major trauma
· Offer your assistance and a listening ear if they have not asked for help; consider reaching out to text or call friends you haven’t heard from since the incident
· Reassure they are safe once stability can be assured
· Help them with everyday tasks
· Don’t take their anger or other feelings personally; Crisis brings out the best or the worst in students, parents and staff
· Don’t tell people they are “lucky it wasn’t worse” at their school – Instead, tell them that you are sorry such an event has occurred and you want to understand and assist as you are able
· Connect with compassion and empathy instead of trying to ‘fix’ them
· Help peers as much as possible by sharing feelings and asking about their wellbeing
· Utilize Grief counselors, self-care groups or counseling support groups available to the school
· Encouraging all students and staff to be aware of stress overload, or STS and to keep the conversation moving forward toward resiliency
· We can get through this together, but no one gets through crisis alone.
· Remind students or staff the emotions of STS are normal reactions to an abnormal situation
· Talking through the elevated stress is essential; remember if you can talk through it, you can get through it

Signs of stress in children who are affected by Traumatic Stress

Sometimes parents need help identifying stress in children or teens. Here are some typical experiences and signs of stress in children of different ages who have experienced major crisis.

INFANTS AND TODDLERS

· Regression of sleeping, toilet training or eating; slowing down in the mastery of new skills
· Sleep disturbances (difficulty going to sleep; frequently waking)
· Difficulty leaving parent, extreme clinginess
· General crankiness, temper tantrums, crying

3-5 YEARS

· Regression-returning to security blankets/discarded toys, lapses in toilet training, thumb sucking or other age inappropriate behavior
· Immature grasp of what has happened; bewildered; making up fantasy stories
· Blaming themselves and feeling guilty about how the crisis affected their family
· Bedtime anxiety; fitful/fretful sleep; frequent waking or chronic worrying
· Fear of being abandoned by both parents; clinginess increases as child feels unsafe
· Greater irritability, aggression, or temper tantrums, especially from previously quiet children

6-8 YEARS

· Pervasive sadness; especially when perceived feelings of being abandoned or rejected
· Crying and sobbing can be a common reaction, and sometimes a healing one
· Afraid of their worst fears coming true, this is sometimes called “catastrophizing”
· Fantasies that the stressful event didn’t happen and things will ‘just go back to normal’
· May become overactive or over-involved to avoid thinking about stressful issues
· Feel ashamed of the crisis; or feel they are different from other children because of the crisis

ADOLESCENTS:

· Fear of being isolated and lonely, separation anxiety increases in kids with other major losses.
· Fear loss of stability and security from parents leaving them or parents not available to them
· Feel hurried to achieve independence, partly to escape the crisis situation
· May tend to over-achieve academically or in sports to try and forget the crisis
· Worry about their own future; preoccupied with the survival of any stable situation
· Chronic fatigue; difficulty concentrating, physical complaints may indicate stuffed emotions
· Mourn the loss caused by the crisis or begin to understand that life can be a dangerous place

(Created by Kathleen O’Connell and Dwight Bain to help kids in crisis)

Strategies to help children after a Traumatic Event

Children look to their parents for support and encouragement during any crisis.
The following is a guide to help parents and teachers manage the flood of emotions that may come up because of the community shootings that led to school lock-down.

Ages birth to 6

It is recommended that children under the age of six not be given exposure to major traumatic events. Children of this age draw their support from their parents, so if the parents or guardians feel safe and secure, the children will as well. Parents should speak calmly around children about bad things that happen in the world, and that “we will remember the students that were hurt in our prayers.” If the parents are able to maintain a sense of calmness, children will feel safe.

Ages 6 to 12

Children this age are more aware of the world around them, yet still need moms and dads to shield them from most of the bad news in our world. Very limited exposure to the media is recommended at this stage, with more open discussions about any fears or insecurities that the child is feeling. Talking is encouraged for this age group, or write letters to emergency workers to thank them for helping the victims. Drawing pictures allows for healthy emotional expression, and something everyone needs is just being held close. A hug can help bring security to a child. Also remember to have special times of prayer. These steps help children better deal with their fears about bad things that happen in the world.

Ages 12 to 18
Young students have their own impressions of traumatic events. The older they are, the more likely they will have strong opinions, and it is normal for them to process their feelings with friends. This should be balanced with family, teachers, clergy or counselors. They need time to verbally process how they feel about what happened ten years ago.

Special emphasis should be placed on helping this age group talk through the issues and how it impacted them and not stay isolated.

Silence is a warning sign that the crisis events of the past have been internalized. Strict limits on over exposure of media is essential to prevent anxiety or panic levels from rising.

Dangerous Warning Signs

Stress signs of overexposure to painful memories from the past may occur immediately after the trauma or even a few years later. These signs are indicators that stress is beginning to overwhelm the individual. The longer the stress symptoms occur, the greater the severity of the traumatic event on the individual. This does not imply craziness or weakness rather it indicates that the memories are too powerful for the person to manage by themselves.

Students or staff who display more than a few of the following stress symptoms may need additional help dealing with the events of the crisis. They should seek the appropriate medical or psychological assistance.

Physical: Chills, thirst, fatigue, nausea, fainting, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, chest pain, headaches, elevated Blood Pressure, rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, difficulty breathing, shock symptoms, etc.

Emotional: Fear, guilt, grief, panic, denial, anxiety, irritability, depression, apprehension, emotional shock, feeling overwhelmed, loss of emotional control, etc.

Cognitive: Confusion, nightmares, uncertainty, hyper-vigilance, suspiciousness, intrusive images, poor problem solving, poor abstract thinking, poor attention/memory and concentration, disorientation of time, places or people, difficulty identifying objects or students, heightened or lowered alertness, etc.

Behavioral: Withdrawal, antisocial acts, inability to rest, intensified pacing, erratic movements, changes in social activity, changes in speech patterns, loss of or increase of appetite, increased alcohol consumption, etc.

When in doubt, contact a trusted family member, a physician or certified mental health professional. It is important to actively deal with any painful past emotions to find strength to cope with issues in the present. Remember there are caring people who can help you and your children. You never have to go through a crisis alone.

Family Discussion Topics – Think about and discuss these issues with your children

· What are you worried about or afraid of since the community shooting?

· How is our family affected by the community shooting?

· Talk about what was important to you (Core Values)

Warning Signs of Dangerous Trauma in Adults or Children

Below are the warning signs and symptoms that become noticeable in an individual who has been negatively impacted by dangerous levels of psychological trauma.

This includes concentrated exposure to high conflict situations like domestic violence or repetitive and stressful situations, which could include overload from repeated viewing of traumatic events on Social Media or the Internet.

PHYSICAL

Fatigue
Sweating
Shortness of breath
Loss or increase of appetite
Nausea or Diarrhea
Elevated blood pressure
Tight chest or chest pain
Muscle fatigue or weakness
Insomnia or Hyper-somnia
Increased cold or flu symptoms
Pacing
Heart Palpitations
Shallow breathing
Fainting
Abdominal pain

EMOTIONAL

Anger
Stress
Anxiety
Tension
Apathy
Fear
Panic
Guilt
Uneasiness
Alarm
Numb inside
Impatience
Depression
Shame
Nervousness
Grief
Loss
Irritability
Apprehension
Overwhelmed

BEHAVIORAL

Restlessness
Impulsive
Avoidance
Edgy
Rapid speech
Tense muscles/neck
Easily startled or jumpy
Hyper-vigilance
Withdrawal from others
Accident proneness
Anti-social acts
Inability to rest
Intensified pacing
Increased use of alcohol
Increased use of caffeine

COGNITIVE

Easily Distracted
Poor concentration
Forgetfulness
Errors in judgment
Mental Fog
Decreased decision making
Reduced creativity or mental focus
Diminished productivity
Loss of objectivity
Self-consciousness
Confusion
Fear of losing control
Frightening visual images
Fear of injury, death, pain
Flashbacks-nightmares

The more warning indicators identified in a single category or across multiple categories, the more that person may be over-exposed to dangerous levels of psychological trauma.

Some of these stress-related conditions are quite common after a traumatic incident, so when only one or two symptoms are present, it is not usually a cause for alarm. However, when in doubt it’s best to review any symptoms that concern you or someone you care about with an experienced counselor or physician.

60 Critical Incident Coping Skills to reduce traumatic stress in parents, caregivers, faculty or staff

Physical:

· Sleep, (7-9 hours)
· Sleep rituals- Same time to wake up and go to bed
· Predictable daily schedule
· Healthy Diet with Regular mealtimes
· Hydration throughout day
· Nutritional supplements
· Low impact exercise
· Yoga/Pilates/Stretching
· Deep breathing
· Relaxation routines/massage or energizing naps
· Regular physical checkups, including blood work
· Medication, (as prescribed by your physician)

Emotional:

· Esteem building exercises, especially with photos or images
· Laughter/Fun/Playtime
· Face anger, anxiety and apathy directly
· Journal out negative emotions
· Let go of painful past memories
· Say “NO” to bad habits
· Talk through issues to get through issues
· Identify and process hurtful emotions
· Write letters to vent out disappointment, (then tear them up)

Relational:

· Face relationship issues
· Voice your needs to others
· Confront conflict directly
· Connect with friends/family
· Share your burdens with others
· Join a support group
· Utilize counseling supports
· Join a hobby group which involves others
· Say “NO” to manipulative behavior
· Hugs/affection, (from pets or students)
· Learn the love language of those close to you

Behavioral:

· Daily planning time
· Utilize organizational planners
· Short term goals
· Daily hobbies for enjoyment
· Creative activities for relaxation
· Develop victory list of accomplishments
· Create a bucket list of lifetime goals
· Reading for personal development
· “Pay it forward” to do good for others
· Learn something new everyday
· Take on new challenges
· Leave work stress at work
· Take a training course to gain a new skill

Spiritual:

· Meditation
· Volunteer to help others
· Reading for inspiration
· Forgive those who have wronged you and forgive yourself
· Listen to inspirational music
· Attend spiritual development classes
· Attend inspirational services
· Make prayer a regular part of your day
· Observe a day of rest
· Find a way to get in touch with nature by visiting a state park, lake or beach
· Memorize scripture to develop your soul
· Remember, “Things come to pass – not stay”
· Re-create spiritual peace in quiet places
· Build spiritual strength through meaningful experiences
· Attend prayer vigils to experience greater spiritual and community connection

Dwight Bain is an author and leading critical incident trauma therapist who leads people through crisis. He is a certified Critical Incident Stress Instructor with the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation in Baltimore and based in Orlando, FL.

Follow his blog at www.DwightBain.com or follow online for updates to manage stress in daily life across all social media platforms @DwightBain

Surviving Post-Election Stress

by Dwight Bain

 

A major election leads to major mental change. No matter who wins an election, the unexpected emotional letdown or explosive reaction after the ballots are counted can be overwhelming to many, especially the aged or over-involved who can be set up for crushing amounts of what I call Post-Election Stress Syndrome.

This election has likely been the most negative of any during our lifetime because of numbing news fatigue and continual media over-exposure with hostile attacks, yet the real problems are yet to come.

Personal anxiety, Professional panic and poorly thought out decisions are on the horizon regardless of your political persuasion.   Why such a gloomy projection?

It’s based on how this election process has been overwhelming much of the time with months of negative news, never ending data to process and confusing choices to make on complex issues while partisan experts are shouting every half-hour on news/talk stations that our country and freedoms are doomed if their candidate doesn’t win.

Not to mention the huge challenge on who is trustworthy, since you often don’t know who will say something inappropriate on YouTube to crash their credibility, leaving you feeling very alone to make some major decisions without leaders who lack the strength of character to stand on their convictions instead of popular opinion polls.

Mountain top experiences guarantee the next step is always down in the valley

Think of a major campaign like climbing a major mountain range. You prepare for years and then climb for months to finally reach the top. Once there the view is great. You take some pictures, but you can’t stay on a mountain top, so no matter which path you take next it will be downhill in any direction. After the mountain top comes the valley, which isn’t a negative view, it’s just a normal part of life.

The danger for many people is that the downward slide of mood and emotion can come as quite unexpected. Most actual mountain climbing accidents happen on the way down, so it is likely there will be millions of people who are unprepared for the emotional upheaval they are about to experience after this national election is over.

Everyone may feel some degree of emotional letdown once the issues have been decided and the acceptance speeches are given. That’s normal, however for some the removal of posters, signs, balloons and banners will lead to a free fall of crushing or depressing emotions.  It will be especially stressful and difficult for those who have been on ‘political news overload’ the last few months. These post-election stress symptoms will come out in several ways.

Possible Reactions to Post-election Stress

1)    Anger –

This can lead to violence or impulsive decisions. People who feel violated by the election process may turn to dumping volcanic levels of anger at someone or something to find relief for the pressure inside. This can lead to devastating decisions, impulsive rage or using the wrong words in front of the wrong people and losing credibility or worse a job. This can happen in men or women, young or old, but is most commonly seen in more extroverted personalities and it tends to blow-up. Worse is when an angry group of people get together to express their anger because all that rage doesn’t lead to constructive actions. Angry people will go and do angry things.

 

2)   Anxiety or Apathy–

This is a more serious reaction, since it can lead from distress to the early stages of depression or panic. Stuffing emotions inside is like burying them alive, so they just keep building up, yet instead of blowing up and out, they blow in. This leads a person to feel emotionally numb, and often can cause an individual to commit a series of very quiet, yet very harmful self-destructive acts. Eating for comfort, drinking to numb the pain, hooking up with the wrong partner to try and forget about their fears of the future or just refusing to answer the phone, closing the mini-blinds and checking out on life like a hermit hiding in a dark cave. Darkness won’t make the fear go away, but it may lead to feeling like an emotional prisoner with no hope of escape.

 

3)   Acceptance –

The best choice after an election is acceptance. It’s over and now it’s time to move on with whatever leaders and issues the majority of voters selected. You can’t change the outcome of an election, but you can freak yourself out with fears about the future apocalypse predicted by many. Don’t do that! Life will go on, and your world can continue to move forward when you trust in the process instead of placing your confidence in political opinion polls.

God is bigger than any politician and God isn’t in a panic, so trust in heaven’s agenda and not that of Washington which will lead to a deeper level of peace.

What happens in your house is way more important than what happens in the White House since you can’t control what political leaders do, but you can control your mood and reactions to circumstances.

Let this journey walking down off the political ‘mountain’ be one of a growing sense of perspective as you remember that after the valley there will be another mountain to climb. There will be another day to vote on national issues and when the dust settles your life will usually be about as good as you choose to make it.

This approach takes the power to control your mood away from the politicians or the news media so you can build a better life without losing sleep or energy from the dangers of post-election stress syndrome.

 

About the Author – Dwight Bain guides people through major change as a counselor and executive coach based in Orlando where he lives with his wife and two adult children. Follow him across all social media platforms @DwightBain

Moving Passed Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Did you know this is the hap-happiest time of the year for some people, but also the saddest time for others? That is because the holiday season is literally like a magnifying glass to expand the emotions a person is already experiencing. If your year has gone well, this is an incredible time of rejoicing and celebration. However, if your year has gone like it has for many people you have magnified grief, loss or loneliness. Feeling down over the holidays is normal, but can become overwhelming very quickly. The continual exposure to people who seem to be having the best time of their lives, or the television specials with picture perfect families having the best time ever can leave a person feeling empty inside.
If you, or someone you love is missing the Christmas Spirit, know you are not alone. Relationship loss, job changes, or business downturns can leave someone feeling intense negative emotions. Here are five ways to move from the stress of Ugly Christmas Sweater weather to find a place of greater significance.
1. Volunteer more
There are wonderful charities who reach out to the most desperate in our community every day of the year. However it’s easy to forget the fact they need high levels of volunteer hours to function. Want to find more joy? Get involved in groups that make a difference by volunteering with wonderful groups like the Christian Service Center, http://www.christianservicecenter.org/ or Christian Help http://www.christianhelp.org/
2. Give more
You may have seen the bell-ringers of the Salvation Army in front of your local grocery store, and if so I hope you dug deep to drop in a few dollars for one of my favorite charities that helps people after crisis events in their lives. http://salvationarmyorlando.org/ to find out more and how you can get involved.
3. Connect more
There are groups to support just about every possible loss or change in a persons life. In fact over two thousand are listed at Resource Point, http://www.resourcepoint.org/ so you can find places to grow through challenging times together with the support of trained professionals who have time and resources to help.
4. Talk more
If you or someone you care for is hurting and feeling deep loss, it is so very important to let other people know. Consider reaching out to people in your family, friends, coworkers or neighbors so you aren’t going through this season alone. Simply answering honestly when someone asks “how are you doing?’ can spark a conversation to open up the dialogue between you and people who may be more interested in helping you than you could imagine.
5. Write more
If you don’t have money for presents and are feeling sad about it, there is a more powerful way to move past Ugly Christmas Sweaters to powerful Christmas letters is to write down how you feel about someone and then print it out to read and give to that person in your life. Reading your deepest feelings to someone you care about will change you and change them. It is a very sentimental way to open the hearts between two people and is worth far more than money.
I hope you are counting more blessings than problems this Christmas season, but if there is more sadness than celebration try each of these options to replace the sadness with joy. Finding the real meaning of Christmas through generous living, will always lead to generous giving and that is a gift that will last the whole year long.
About the Author – Dwight Bain helps people rewrite their story through creative change as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Life Coach. Follow him across all social platforms @DwightBain

Solve morning stress with the “Daily 5”

Does your morning ritual start calmly with peaceful conversations, or it is a mad rush full of conflict and chaos?

For most of us it’s a time of panic, rushing and even yelling at each other, (which never makes it better by the way). So, how can you move from a morning rush to a healthy morning routine? The answer is found in a series of daily disciplines my friend John Maxwell taught me which I call the “Daily 5”.

These are a series of healthy rituals that are practiced every day, no matter what. The secret isn’t in listing a healthy pattern to start your day rather the real strength comes from practicing them every day.

Dr. Maxwell explains it this way, “Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing. It doesn’t matter how talented you are. It doesn’t matter how many opportunities you receive. If you want to grow, consistency is key.” John goes on to share that his five disciplines are, reading, writing, thinking, asking questions and filing what he has learned. Watching how effectively these daily disciplines added value to my friend led to developing my own daily list. They are:

  1. Pray, (usually while walking in the morning)
  2. Scriptures, or an inspirational devotional
  3. Read/Research cultural trends in personal development and change
  4. Write about those trends to add value to others
  5. Encourage friends and family

Many years ago my lovely wife Sheila taught me the simplicity of laying out clothes and shoes the night before and placing car keys and cellphone chargers near the front door to prevent morning chaos. It works and solves tremendous conflict, yet a more organized morning will not create the lasting results of changed behavior over time.

“Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.” – Dr. John C. Maxwell

 

To solve the morning chaos and feel peaceful as you launch into your day, ask yourself what are your “Daily 5” Disciplines which could make a huge difference in your life?

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

Once you know what your daily 5 are, and begin to put them into practice, ask your children what their “Daily 5” Disciplines might be.

Remember, it’s important for them to select their own tasks, not yours as a parent. If they don’t know ask them what is important to make their morning function better. It might be simple, but be encouraging so your children feel empowered to take on a task, instead of waiting helplessly for you as the parent to tackle it for them.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

The Daily 5 can change your home, but only if it starts with you. The way you start your day will set the tone for the entire day, so when the sun comes up tomorrow morning try a new path and watch how much better you and those you care about feel.

 

About the Author: Dwight Bain is a change author, believer, husband, father, reader & Jazz Music lover who adds value with transformational Counseling & Coaching. Follow him across social media platforms @DwightBain

Creative Arts as a way to Reduce Childhood Anxiety

This has been a challenging time in our community, complicated by bad news coming from some part of our country every day. Children are aware of emotions, even if they can’t express them in a way their parents can hear or understand. So how can you tell if your son or daughter has experienced high levels of traumatic stress, leading to the dangerous symptoms of acute stress syndrome that affects emotional and physical health?

Look for the following symptoms to determine if your child is affected.

  • “I feel dizzy”
  • “I feel tired”
  • “I have a stomach ache”
  • “I don’t feel good”
  • “I feel pain in my arms and legs”
  • “I feel pain in my joints”
  • “I feel weak in my body”
  • “I don’t feel well”
  • “I have a headache”
  • “I feel sick”
  • “I feel shaky inside, (or outside)”
  • “I feel like throwing up”

(For a longer list check out the European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 1, 31-47).

 

While it is normal for children to feel any of these physical symptoms at times, (like the first day of school or after a pet has died), the combination of multiple physical symptoms after a community crisis could be an indication of dangerous stressoverload being internalized, which can lead to harmful symptoms that might hurt your child.

Start by checking out your child’s physical health symptom with your pediatrician, that’s smart and if you have a relationship with a trusted child therapist you might schedule an appointment for a specific fearful event, (like parents who are divorcing or a grandparent with cancer).  There is peace in knowing that a professional has checked out your child’s symptoms to see if there is something else going on.

However, for many of the unspecified symptoms listed perhaps use creative arts to reduce the stress or worry your child may be feeling inside to teach them how to express and manage the scary emotions they may be experiencing.

Artistic and emotional expression is a powerful way to release pain. Try any of the following to help your child develop coping skills to identify and process their own emotions during scary situations.

  • Finger painting
  • Coloring books
  • Free drawing
  • Writing Poetry
  • Cutting out paper
  • Creating a mobile
  • Creating a craft
  • Working with clay
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Playing with blocks/Legos
  • Singing or learning new songs
  • Planting flowers or gardening
  • Painting on paper or canvas

You may not think of these simple creative arts as a powerful form of reducing dangerous stress and anxiety; however research shows when you are totally immersed in creativity that your blood pressure and heart rate go down.

It is peaceful for your brain to move from chaos to calm through creativity – and the best part is you can enjoy the creative calm along with your child. Try it!

 

About the Author – Dwight Bain helps people rewrite their stories with transformational counseling and coaching from his hometown of Orlando. Follow him online atwww.DwightBain.com or on social @DwightBain

Managing Angry Moods of Children with Greater Compassion

A 2005 study of psychiatric disorders estimated 1 in 5 children will have temperamental mood disorders which can be expressed in many ways. It can feel overwhelming for parents, especially when it can be so hard to determine what triggers it. When you can identify the triggers, it is easier to identify the source. Psychologists have created a common list of angry warning signs. As you read through them think of your child, and what might trigger their angry moods.

Which of these sounds like your son or daughter?

___  Easily Irritable

___ Frequently loses temper

___ Highly Impatient

___ Easily Annoyed

___ Verbally Defensive or Verbally Aggressive

___ Sulks, Pouts and acts out in a passive-aggressive way

___ Often ends up expressing frustration

___ Starts quarrels, arguments in a defiant manner

___ Pushes for conflict in an overly aggressive manner Overly aggressive

___ Violent and hostile language including swearing or name calling

___ Violent threats, spiteful, vindictive actions- including rage episodes

___ Violent acts against people, animals or property, or violent acts against oneself

Once you identify the triggers, then consider the root factors. Which of these sounds like your child? (circle)

Selfishness, rejection from friends or siblings, modeling anger seen in parents marriage relationship, low self-esteem, loneliness, grief or sadness over parents divorce, shattered trust, poverty, body image issues, insecurities, academic failures, poverty, disappointments and the resentment cycle.

Resentment cycle – 

Hurt of some kind, (often from misunderstanding)

Deep Disappointment

Resentment

Bitterness

Hatred

Rage

Revenge

These temperamental emotions are common, but highly destructive. When you discover your child facing these symptoms please take action to create positive change and one of the most positive steps you can take is to model forgiveness. When a parent is able to say “I was wrong” it sets the child free to do the same. Trying to use talking, listing words, writing or art to draw out the root issues in your child allows her to learn to process emotions, instead of stuff them. Begin to use this philosophy in your home,  “If we can talk through it – we can get through it.”Because the greater your ability to keep the conversation moving forward instead of simmering in resentful silence, the greater you will experience deep peace in your home.

Home should be the safest and happiest place. Sparking the conversations to let the temperamental moods out to be discussed is a major step to move forward to make that happen. Breaking the angry cycle will change your home forever, so please take bold action to set your family free and do it today. You will never regret reclaiming peace and stability your home.

About the Author –

Dwight Bain is an author, counselor and certified life coach who helps people manage major change. Follow his daily posts for wisdom on Twitter or Instagram @DwightBain orwww.Facebook.com/DwightBain or www.LinkedIn.com/DwightBainor www.YouTube.com/DwightBain or at this blog with over 800 special reports accessible at www.LifeworksGroup.org

0