“World peace begins with inner peace.”
This is Dana Rubin-Winkelman, the social worker. I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.
This was a difficult week to write Touch Points. I was planning on a different, much lighter, topic. But, with so much pain, I wanted to find my own, small way, to embrace our community. The world is aching with anger and sadness, and we are all hurting too. Each of us has been touched in some way by the pandemic and the senseless and tragic killing of George Floyd. With so much unrest in our world and our communities, we feel a range of emotions. My heart and prayers are with George Floyd’s family and with the other victims of racial violence.
What can we do? As a society, we need to strive to uphold the ideals that “all men are created equal.” Let us come together and find peaceful ways to have all our voices heard, to support each other and to strive for equality. On a micro-level, we need to take better care of ourselves and our loved-ones. The emotional and psychological stress can be very damaging. So, in attempt to put my arms around our community, this week’s “Touch Points” email will be focused on ways to minimize stress.
As always, I am also thinking about those families caring for someone with memory loss. As caregivers, you may be depleted. I hope these small ideas, will make everyone’s day a little easier.
WAYS TO MINIMIZE STRESS:
- Turn Off or Limit Your News Consumption- There is a reason I put this first. I must admit, this is the number one thing I do to keep my stress level down. TV, social media, internet and newspapers spend much of their coverage on the pandemic and unrest. While it is important to be informed, it may be very upsetting. So consuming less media can decrease worry and agitation. Some experts have said to limit to one hour each day. But, everyone is different, and for me, some days, that is way too much. So, my advice is simple- notice how you are feeling when you watch, and reduce the time until it feels good to you. For cognitively impaired individuals, listening and watching disturbing images can increase fear and agitation. It may be important to adjust the environment to your loved-one’s changing abilities and emotions.
- Get the Facts From a Good Source – We all want to be informed, so please find credible sources. Choose a news source that will provide accurate information. Some sources editorialize with political views; this may add additional angst and worry.
- Switch Your Attention to Something Else– Do you find you are thinking about something and it’s making you anxious? You can reduce your worry by redirecting your attention to another topic. In a similar way, someone caring for an individual with memory loss, can divert negative attention from a tense event to something more agreeable. This is technique can be quite calming.
- Stop Speculating or Ruminating– I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… stop with the “what if’s.” Be informed so you can make good decisions. But, try not to think “what if this happens or that happens.” And, please put down your phone! Cell phones have news, social media and email. These can also trigger additional worry and rumination. But, if you find yourself thinking about a subject for a long time, take charge of your thoughts. After all, they are yours! Why not try an effective therapeutic technique called “thought stopping.” This interrupts the thought and gives the person a few moments to think things through. So, when you find your worries are heavy, think or say “stop” or “not now.” It will force you to pause and quiet your mind.
- Slow Down Your Breath and Breathe Deeply– Diaphragmatic breathing can decrease stress by using your breath. Breathe in deeply through your nose and fill your belly with air completely. Then, exhale- relax and release all the air through your nose. This type of breathing can lower the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body, and help you relax. If you aren’t used to this type of breathing, only do this three times. (It may make your dizzy.)
- Muscle Isolation– Worry and anxiety can makes us “stuck in our heads.” By focusing on our body and the sensations we feel with muscle isolation, we move attention from our thoughts to our body. Sit in a comfy chair and close your eyes or divert them to the floor. Start squeezing your toes and hold it for five seconds. Then release the muscles and feel the relaxation. Repeat this process working from your toes all the way up your head and through your arms, hands and fingers. This will release tension and change your focus. For those of you helping a loved-one, you can try this process or modify it, if need. It can also be a nice way to relax together at the end of the day or before bedtime.
I am sending prayers of comfort and peace. I am here for you. Email me: DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org
Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,