Protecting My Peace And Joy

love joy and peaceThe past few weeks have been full of joy. I was on a natural high from everything that was happening and lining up in my life. There was a peace that filled my heart, letting me know that I am where I need to be right now. I gave up the stress of worrying about my future while consciously making day to day decisions to live the life I desire. So what happened?

The reality of the world we live in hit me like a ton of bricks. I awaited for the news of Darren Wilson’s indictment for the murder of Mike Brown like most of the world. I would like to say I was surprised by the announcement that there would be no indictment, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t. And that’s what hurts. Because if I were surprised then there would be more hope than fear for the lives of my 4 boys that will one day be young men.

I haven’t made many comments about the outcome or even the current protest. I had a long conversation with a friend of mine about how I was feeling. My faith was tested, my peace was not still and my joy hadn’t come in the morning. I couldn’t understand the thoughts of Darren Wilson’s supporters. I said, “They can’t believe in and pray to the same God that I do. And how much longer do we [African Americans] have to keep praying before things change? Surely someone’s prayer was answered and they were given some mandate or instructions as to what to do.” His response was, “All we can do is make sure that we do what we were sent here to do”. And while I want to do and be all that I was sent here for, his response still wasn’t enough. But the more I began to dwell on it, the more I was robbed of my peace and joy.

One thing is for sure, you have to protect your peace and joy. I understand now more than ever the importance of a daily spiritual practice. The power of meditation and visualizing your peaace, joy and happiness and literally pulling it into your day. And sometimes you just have to still away, shut down and silence all the noise until your sould is replenished. So while I hold my peace, please know that I am striving to do all that I know to do in my corner of this world to bring change.

I show my scars so that others know they can heal.” Someone needs to see your scars!

Have you liked the Showing Our Scars Facebook Page? We are “Showing Our Scars”!

https://www.facebook.com/ShowingOurScarsMovement

You can also order your “My Scars” Tee!

http://www.rnbranddesign.bigcartel.com

Find out more about the story behind “My Scars”

Sunday Mourning

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I’m Good: Not Because Everything Is Okay

i'm good logo with slogan - printI am so happy to support one of my fellow bloggers and friends Jenee Darden (Cocoa Fly) with a new campaign she is working on I’m Good.  I’m Good is a blog campaign that encourages people to take care of their emotional and mental health, as well as their wellness. It’s also a celebration of those who are working to, or have, overcome obstacles to wellness through support from family, friends, peers, loved ones and the community.

Mental health is a topic that is not often discussed but is important to all of our health and well-being.  It is important to take out time for you.  If you or a family member has a mental health challenge, reach out for support and get access to information.  I went through one of the most traumatic experiences in my life 4 years ago.  Instead of isolating myself, I shared my story with those I was comfortable with sharing.  During that time, I also discovered that music and writing were great stress relievers/outlets for me.  I share my story often and show my scars proudly.  I wasn’t always “good” and I am not ashamed to admit that truth.

I’m Good, not because everything is okay and going the way I would like it to but because I have a support system that listens, encourages and keeps me uplifted.  I also know when I have reached my limit and who I can reach out to.  I’m Good because I am making  the best decisions for my children and I, putting our needs first.

If you would like to get involved with the I’m Good Campaign, there are plenty of ways to do so:

Write a blog post. About 500 words will do, but feel free to make it shorter or longer.

Record a video or podcast. Tell us your story or someone else’s.

Post art and photos online. Express yourself through a visual medium.

Post the I’m Good campaign badge on your website. Show your participation in the movement and inspire others to follow.

Share. Post your work and re-post others’ works on social networks. When you post on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, use the hashtag #imgood.

For more information visit the official I’m Good website

I show my scars so that others know they can heal.” Someone needs to see your scars!

Have you liked the Showing Our Scars Facebook Page? We are “Showing Our Scars”!

https://www.facebook.com/ShowingOurScarsMovement

You can also order your “My Scars” Tee!

http://www.christiantees.storenvy.com

Find out more about the story behind “My Scars”

Sunday Mourning

Information: My Scars Chat

My Scars Chat(s) are a series of panel discussions surrounding sensitive topics that have either been swept under the carpet or not discussed enough. The panel(s) is/are made up of both professional men and women from various backgrounds and professions who are well informed on the topics and/or work in the field.

My Scars Panel

My Scars Chat was inspired by Rhachelle Nicol’s quote: “I show my scars so that others know they can heal”. The My Scars Chat platform was created to increase awareness and provide a healthy environment/setting for discussions. An environment in which attendees feel comfortable to share their experiences as well as receive tips and advice that can be applied to their life.

SCARS are those lessons that we learn in life that seem unbearable and come at a greater cost. But the scars let us know that we survived it and healing is possible.

Topics:

  • Domestic Violence – the impacts on families, children and the communities and the various types of domestic violence defined
  • Love – Understanding what love is and what love is not
  • Mental Health – seeking help and understanding
  • Bullying
  • Single Parenting
  • Self-Esteem – understanding one’s self-worth
  • More topics being added regularly

If you are interested in having a My Scars Chat hosted in your area, please complete the contact form with your information.

My Scars Chat discussion

 

Let me just say that this was a GREAT experience. I learned so much. I would love to help in any way I can. Great meeting some new influential people right here in Vegas.. (I thought didn’t exist). Make this a movement and a resource, reaching out to those whom are to afraid to take the first step. ~ Kee

I am so glad I took the time out to come & support this event. All I have to say is POWERFUL! Thank you for spreading awareness of domestic violence; there is a generation that must hear these life changing stories. ~ Kym

I had such a busy day today and was feeling under the weather but I pushed through and attended this event and was blessed! I encourage people daily, it’s who I am. Yet I was broken! I never really shared my story publicly until today and I thank you Author Rhachelle Nicol’ and Jess Flo along with the many other women and men who made this event possible and who shared their stories and knowledge with us today. Today I shared my story, cried publicly (lol) and was healed. From now on I will SHOW MY SCARS SO THAT OTHERS KNOW THEY CAN HEAL! Thank you again and God bless you all. ~Eboni

“I show my scars so that others know they can heal.” Someone needs to see your scars!

Have you liked the Showing Our Scars Facebook Page? We are “Showing Our Scars”!

https://www.facebook.com/ShowingOurScarsMovement

You can also order your “My Scars” Tee!

www.christiantees.storenvy.com

Find out more about the story behind “My Scars”

Sunday Mourning

Dear Blogalicious

Dear Blogalicious,

Wow, has the time passed at a speed that I am still trying to catch up to. I still remember last year’s Blogalicious’12 Conference as if it were yesterday. Blogalicious’12 took place right here in Las Vegas, NV. I was a last minute attendee but like the saying goes “better late than never”. I was so eager to learn and take in as much information as possible.

I remember telling my friend, “I’m going to be on that stage next year speaking”. When you set a goal and follow through with it anything can happen. I am excited to be sitting on a panel with 3 phenomenal women at this year’s #Blogalicious5, discussing “Spreading a Message, Sharing a Mission: A Conversation About Awareness Blogging.” The topic alone is very dear to my heart and the opportunity to share with others is priceless. We all write about sensitive topics while bringing awareness. Jenee Darden, whom I got the pleasure of meeting at last year’s conference, will be the facilitator. She is an award-winning journalist from the Bay Area, being from my home State quite naturally it was like we had known each other forever. She writes about mental health and also works as a mental health advocate. Lisa Quinones-Fontanez is the founder of AutismWonderland, an award winning blog, that Lisa uses to chronicle her families journey with autism and share resources. Christine Koh is the founder and editor of Boston Mamas, a lifestyle parenting portal and wears many hats. She has been featured on multiple media platforms, The New York Times, ABC News and Fox 25 just to name a few. So I guess it is safe to say I am in good hands. These ladies rock!

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I walked away from last year’s conference inspired beyond belief. I am now counting down the hours until I clock out from my day job and board my flight headed to Atlanta. I think I actually clocked out on Monday because all I have been able to think about is #Blogalicioius5. I can’t wait to share with you all upon my return. But until then, you all keep showing your scars!

Have you liked the Showing Our Scars Facebook Page? We are “Showing Our Scars”!

https://www.facebook.com/ShowingOurScarsMovement

You can also order your “My Scars” Tee!

www.rnbranddesign.bigcartel.com

Find out more about the story behind “My Scars”

Sunday Mourning

Wellness Wednesday: When a Physical Ailment Leads to a Mental Health Scare

C0004P0073

C0004P0073 (Photo credit: Nottingham Vet School)

May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness month.  For the past few months, rhachellenicol.com has dedicated Wellness Wednesday to increasing the awareness of mental health, the importance of maintaining one’s physical health and the impact that both have on each other.  So far we have covered stress, depression, grieving and more.

Today, I had my mental health scare to kick off Mental Health Awareness month.  I took the day off from work and spent the morning running errand.  After eating lunch, I was relaxing on my couch watching some court television.  Out of nowhere, my heart started racing.  I had already planned to schedule a regular check-up with my primary doctor but while I was on the phone, I noticed that my heart was still racing.  I let them know my concerns, my appointment was schedule and I was immediately transferred to the advice nurse.  The advice nurse suggested that I go to urgent care immediately.  I think in both of our minds, I was having an anxiety attack.

I immediately drove myself to urgent care and got checked-in.  Because of the concerns, the wait was not long at all.  The initial doctor that I saw, immediately wanted to prescribed anxiety medication even before any blood was drawn for labs.  Fortunately, at the time of shift change, I was seen by a different doctor.  I had to have an EKG and also blood drawn.  The results of my blood work showed that my iron and potassium levels were low.  Here is the kicker, both of these low results are related to heart palpitations.  I have dealt with anemia my entire life and never knew this.  The doctor started off by telling me that I would not need a blood transfusion (I have had one before due to anemia) but I would have to start taking iron supplements three times per day.   I have also been referred to a cardiologist.  I will have to wear a heart monitor for 24 hours for the final diagnosis to be made.  I say all this to say, make sure that you are full aware of your physical health.  If you notice something out of the ordinary, contact you primary care doctor, make an appointment and ask questions.

I have always considered myself  healthy eater but even now it is necessary that I step things up a bit.  Being thin doesn’t mean I’m healthy any more than walking to my car means that I am exercising.  So I will be going back over my diet and making sure that I am eating iron rich foods as well as taking in the proper amount of folic acid for absorption.

Some of my favorite Iron rich foods:

Spinach

Oysters

Chicken

Kale

Greens

Beets

Beans

What are some of your favorites that made the list?

Wellness Wednesdays:  is a weekly addition.  Wellness Wednesdays will focus on various mental health issues, healthy ways to deal with stress, change and transitions and also where to seek help or advice if you suffer from a mental illness.  If you would be interested in contributing, email rn @ rhachellenicol (dot) com with your topic of interest.

Wellness Wednesday: Seeking Happiness In The Shadows of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Awareness

Fibromyalgia Awareness (Photo credit: Kindreds Page)

I am so happy to be back with a new post for Wellness Wednesday and on such a great topic.  Though I do not suffer from Fibromyalgia, I was diagnosed with the Epstein Barr Syndrome 8 years ago.  It too is a disesase that is hard to explain to family and friends.  It causes chronic fatigue and at times a lot of pain.  I have to often take breaks from my writing and other things I enjoy doing when my body is telling me to rest in order to prevent a pain spell from coming on.  Janiera Eldridge shares with us today some helpful tips for dealing with Fibromyalgia as well as informing family and friends.

As I go into my 3rd year of dealing with Fibromyalgia it still amazes me when people ask, “What is that?” It’s a disorder with physical and mental symptoms that affect nearly 8 million people and it is still a hush, hush topic.  Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that can be developed from a viral infection or trauma. It leads to widespread muscle pain that causes the sufferer to experience muscle ache, extended fatigue, and irritable bowel syndrome. Dealing with all of these symptoms can wreak havoc on one’s mental state causing loneliness, isolation and ultimately leading to depression.

I can’t be shy and say I haven’t experienced all of this and more during my struggles with Fibromyalgia. It can take years for people to be diagnosed since it is a syndrome people often don’t know a lot about. However, when one does get a diagnoses there are things you can do to keep your mental state as strong as possible. Keeping a strong mental state can help a sufferer with pain management and deal with the debilitating effects of constant fatigue.

One of the most important steps to take when first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia is to sit down with your family and friends and explain to them what this syndrome is.   It breaks my heart every time I hear someone say that their love ones think their lazy or just making it up. Part of this problem is lack of empathy; the other half is people not being educated on the mental effects Fibromyalgia can have on their love one. Explain to your family that missing a family day at the park is not because you don’t care to be with them but because the pain would be overwhelming and they may not be too happy around you either.  Let them know that it is hard enough not being able to do the things you used to do so any love and support they show you is great appreciated. Make clear that when you can do, you will!

Do something every day for you! Just keeping up with everyday life can feel like you’re in a rat race….of pain. I’ve learned to take at least 30 minutes a day to do something for me. Whether it was watch a favorite TV show, read a book or take a long hot shower. It would come in handy at the end of the day and at times help me to sleep better at night. It’s so important to help clear your mind and raise your positive, spiritual energy when you’re fighting against Fibro.

Last but certainly not least, live as healthy a lifestyle as possible. One of the hardest things to do with Fibro is to workout. However, it can really help to do minor exercising that can be as simple as walking! Talk with your doctor about workouts that can help to eliminate some stiffness and lessen your pain. Eating well is also extremely important. Drinking plenty of water is important. Leaving out caffeine, sugar and gluten can help to decrease fibro fog (problems in your memory caused by fatigue) and increase your positive emotions!  I find on days where I’m able to drink a lot of ice cold water my muscles don’t ache quite as much.

There is no way to cure Fibromyalgia and it is a reality that those who suffer from it are at a much higher risk of depression. If you think you’re depressed then please, talk to someone, preferably a professional. They can help step out from under the Fibro shadows and cope with your new life. Every life is precious and you still have yours to live to the fullest.

9016_1048197421837_1732740364_91005_7263899_nAbout the author:  Janiera enjoys feeding her book addiction when she not writing. Writing is therapeutic to her during her struggles with Fibromyalgia. Being unable to work a normal 9-5 is what encouraged her to write full time. She is also a book blogger at Beauty and Books where she mixes being a book nerd with keeping things chic. When not reading or writing she is freelance writing in the entertainment industry.When trying to relax she likes a huge yard sale on a Saturday morning, rainy days to read by and nacho cheese is her kryptonite. Soul Sisters is her debut novel and her books can be found on Amazon.com.
Feel free to visit her book blog where she loves reviewing books and doing author interview at Books & Beauty- http://janieraeldridge.blogspot.com. She loves feedback and welcomes any questions or comments to her email: prettyhaydengurl@yahoo.com and FB Page: http://www.facebook.com/authorjanieraeldridge

Wellness Wednesday: Even Strong Women Have Depression

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Depression may be one of the most trivial and common mental health issues that people struggle to understand and ultimately seek help for.  Depression is a medical condition that can affect many aspects of a person’s life.  It can be caused by imbalances in brain chemistry. But it can also be triggered by stress, poor nutrition, physical illness, personal loss, and school or relationship difficulties.  Today’s Wellness Wednesday post is brought to you by Jenee Darden aka Cocoafly

I remember my early battles with depression began around 14 years old. The years of enduring bullying for being smart, nerdy and having darker skin started to get to me. And I fell into a deep, deep sadness. People told me to “cheer up,” ignore those hating on you and be strong. I mentally beat myself up for not being strong enough. I was a talented, young black woman from East Oakland with a very bright future. But I thought depression was hindering me from becoming the strong black woman that is expected of women in my community.

When depression hit me hard in college, I still saw myself as weak. Which in turn made me feel less authentic as a black woman. The family issues I tried to brush under my mental rug were weighing me down. The stress from academics and attending one of the least diverse schools in the University of California system didn’t help either. I was hard on myself for being tearful and feeling hurt when relatives or friends intentionally tried to hurt me. I was supposed to have the “forget you” attitude, and feelings of steel when people attacked.  I was supposed to just let it go and cheer up. But depression takes more than just cheering up. And while I struggled to get out of that abyss for a number of years, I kept putting myself down for actually having feelings. Sounds silly doesn’t it?  Somehow I forgot I was human.

We’ve equated being a strong woman as not breaking when life hurls its worst at you. That ideology keeps some of us from getting counseling. That ideology keeps us from feeling our feelings, and in turn we suppress our pain with drugs, alcohol, food or bad relationships.  I remember taking a mindfulness class in the psychiatry department at Kaiser and the instructor told us when we have a feeling, just feel it. It may be tough, but it will pass. However she mentioned the key is to be mindful of how we react to our feelings. For instance, if you’re angry and hurt because of a failed relationship, let those feelings run through your body. Recognize those feelings, have compassion for yourself.  But don’t go out and do a Jazmine Sullivan on his car.

Luckily I had great therapists who helped me to be less critical. Through a lot of self-reflection, reading books by people like Iyanla Vanzant, watching Oprah shows on spirituality, mindfulness, prayer, journaling and talking to others, I learned to have compassion for myself.  Then I saw the strong woman in me.

I realized it takes a strong woman to ask for help. It takes a strong woman to feel her feelings, even when it hurts like hell. It takes a strong woman to accept she has a mental health challenge and to love herself. It takes a strong woman to excel in higher education and her media career while living with a mental health challenge.  It takes a strong woman to take care of both her physical and mental health.

I’ve worked in mental health advocacy for a few years now. I’m blessed to host a radio podcast called “Mental Health and Wellness Radio.” I’ve interviewed people living with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. They are some of the strongest people I’ve ever met.  They’ve been through a lot, but they still keep LIVING and THRIVING. Sharing their personal stories and message of hope for others facing mental health challenges makes them strong. And my advocacy work helped erase the shame I had about my depression.  My work and the show allowed me to see I’m not alone in my struggles and triumphs with mental health challenges.

I know society has its expectations of what it takes to be a strong woman, or in my case, a strong black woman.  But those expectations weren’t good for my wellness. I hope if you are struggling with any mental health challenge, that you get help. Or even if you’re depression stems from a bad event in your life (i.e. a death, an injury, financial problems, torn relationship), I hope you talk to someone. One in four Americans have a mental health challenge. So trust when I say you’re not alone. And trust when I say there’s probably someone in your life with a mental health problem. You may not even know it.

Getting help doesn’t make you weak. It help makes you feel better. Getting help makes you stronger.

Jenee Darden Bio Photo

About The Writer:

Jeneé Darden holds a BA from UC San Diego and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern California. She is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. and the National Association of Black Journalists. Jenee loves creative writing as well. The National Book Foundation awarded her a summer writing fellowship in 2003. She is the host of the award-winning podcast Mental Health and Wellness Radio.  In 2005, she contributed reporting on the London transit bombings for Time magazine’s Europe edition. Ms. Darden is the 2012 recipient of the New America Media Award for Outstanding Community Reporting-Radio.  Jeneé Darden is available for interviews and speaking engagements.

Wellness Wednesdays: will focus on various mental health issues, healthy ways to deal with stress, change and transitions and also where to seek help or advice if you suffer from a mental illness.  If you would be interested in contributing or sharing your story, email rn (at) rhachellenicol (dot) com with your topic of interest.

Wellness Wednesday: Demystifying PTSD

We all go through different life experiences, some more traumatic than others which leave a lasting impact if left unresolved.  The term PTSD is often associated with soldiers that have returned from war or a child that may have witnessed or suffered abuse.  Unfortunately, most of us have experienced some form of trauma or another.  The way in which a traumatic account is dealt with can make a world of difference iwith how a person moves forward and heals.  In today’s Wellness Wednesday post, we discuss Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW.

What is Trauma?

“Trauma” is the medical term for serious injury. Psychological trauma happens when a person witnesses or experiences a harmful or threatening event. This harm, or threat of harm, may be directed towards the sufferer or another individual. Some common traumas are: living as a civilian or soldier in a war zone, sexual and physical abuse, natural disaster, severe illness, accidents, acts of violence, and sexual assault.

People who have a history of trauma can feel sad, suicidal, anxious, angry, disoriented, have chronic pain, nightmares, and difficulty in relationships. Sometimes, they can have flashbacks, which is when a memory is triggered by a smell, sound, or event that brings the person back into a traumatic memory like they are experiencing it in real time.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is an emotional response to a person’s experience of trauma. In the recent past PTSD has been considered a weakness, but I often wonder what “normal” human being is unaffected by horror?

To add insult to stigma-injury PTSD is commonly misdiagnosed. This is because the symptoms of PTSD may be similar to many other mental health disorders listed in the DSM manual. These include but are not limited to ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder, OCD, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

People are often mistakenly assigned more than one of these labels, which, in my opinion, in no way helps their already low view of themselves.

The trauma problem:

Often people who have experienced trauma, experience a half memory of what happened–the memory of the horror. In other words, what happened to them. People feel helpless, vulnerable, worthless, stupid, and most disturbing–guilty for what happened. Trying to make sense of this, sufferers often conclude that it somehow must have been their fault.

The stories that they tell themselves about the trauma can unfortunately lead to negative identity conclusions: I am crazy. I deserve nothing. I am fat and ugly. I am unloveable. These identity conclusions have deep and lasting consequences.  It is unfortunate that their response to the event gets lost in the remembering.

Treatment for Trauma:

In treatment, if a person’s response (i.e., how they survived) is uncovered (i.e., kept her values, protected someone, saved a sibling from getting hurt, worked hard in school), this can be highlighted and brought forth. The story of it can grow.  And from there, it provides opportunity for new self view: I am thoughtful. I am a survivor. I stopped the legacy of abuse. I care. This makes the memory a whole memory.

It is helpful to keep in mind, that there is always a response. In every oppression, there is some kind of protest–no matter how small it is, it is always there. Unfortunately, this protest is often subjugated by the abuse itself, so is rendered invisible. A counselor helps bring it out. And this can be very powerful.

It is not necessarily “talking about the abuse” that heals, it is talking about the response to the abuse that re-stories the traumatic memories, releasing their painful grip on people’s lives.  A person’s active response during or following trauma, always suggest what is given value by him or her. It tells what is precious in his or her life. It provides a place to stand–a place where the person is an agent in her life rather than a passive recipient of it. This is empowering to one who has, since the trauma, felt disempowered.

Gathering an audience for these uncovered skills and values is an integral part in creating the new identity and exponentially fast-forwards the healing process. Witnesses reflect back the goodness, giving the person a robust sense of self, where before she had felt empty and alone. Once actions and values are made visible and witnessed, the many symptoms of PTSD (depression, anxiety, flashbacks, insomnia, low self esteem, OCD) are significantly decreased.

By Jodi Lobozzo Aman of Heal Now and Forever Be In Peace

Jodi is hosting a Reclaiming Your Soul: Healing from Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Retreat April 12-14, 2013 in Ithaca NY.

Experience a structured program using movement, meditation, writing, and time with nature. Take back your life from the devastating effects of sexual abuse and assault. Re-story your life and minimize fear, doubt, and shame. Find peace of mind. Feel validated and less alone. Recover your spirituality. Empower your self. Embrace joy.

Cost $264 Program, vegetarian meals Saturday and Sunday, private rooms, and bedding are provided.

Download registration form in PDF and mail it in:

Reclaiming Your Soul Retreat

Or Register Online

smilingJodi is a practicing therapist, author, and teacher. She works primarily with people who have lived through trauma. Her workshops and retreats jump start healing by inspiring self-love.  With over two decades of experience helping children, families, and individuals eliminate suffering, she has dedicated her life to assist in healing physically, emotionally, mentally, and spirituality. Read Jodi’s bio. 

Find Jodi on the web…

She blogs here: Heal Now and Forever Be In Peace,

and here: Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog,

shares here: Twitter@JodiAman,

inspires here: Facebook: Heal Now and Forever Be in Peace,

counsels here: www.heal-here.com.

Call for an appointment 585-544-5342.

Get her free E-book: What Is UP In Your DOWN? Being Grateful in 7 Easy Steps.

Wellness Wednesdays: will focus on various mental health issues, healthy ways to deal with stress, change and transitions and also where to seek help or advice if you suffer from a mental illness.  If you would be interested in contributing or sharing your story, email rn (at) rhachellenicol (dot) com with your topic of interest.

Wellness Wednesday: The Process of Grieving

Grief

Grief (Photo credit: tombellart)

We all grieve and transition through difficult stages in life in different ways.   The most important thing is to acknowledge the pain that we are experiencing and release it in a healthy way.  Last Thursday, I lost a good friend of mine unexpectedly.  I could barely get through the phone call when I got the news to rush to the hospital.  As I was getting dressed, I thought to myself, “When I get there, everything will be fine”.  I wish that had been the news that greeted me.  But she was gone and all I could do was stand next to the bed and say my final goodbyes.

I have never been one to handle death well.  It hurts and it never gives an explanation.  I have been going through so much these past few months and now this.  I knew I had to process it but staying in bed for three days was not going to bring her back.  The longer I stayed in bed the harder it was to get up.  I am trying to shake it off the best that I can but I am going to allow myself time to grieve.

5 Stages of Grieving:

Denial is the first stage of the grieving process.  We don’t want to accept what we have loss. Denial makes it easier to cope.  It doesn’t change the situation but it gives us time to process it.  Anger allows us to feel the pain of the loss.  “Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal.” Bargaining is the third stage of grieving.  We make promises and vow to do something if our reality can only change.  If we can only bring what/who has been loss back or make the pain go away.  Depression for many is considered taboo.  But it is a natural progression of grief.  We may withdraw from others and it seems like life will never be as it once was.  Does it mean that we are suffering from mental illness?  No, it means that we are on the path to healing and depression is part of the process to get there.  Prolonged bouts of depression should be followed up with a doctor.  Acceptance is the final stage of grieving.  We are able to accept our reality, embracing the changes that will come with the absence of our loved one.  We start new routines, make new friendship and we understand that we can’t replace what was lost but we can move forward and make new memories.  Though these are the stages of grieving the loss of someone through death, some of these same stages are experienced when we deal with the loss of a relationship, opportunity, etc.  The important thing is that we allow ourselves the time and space to go through the process and heal from it.

I have seen the effects of not going through the grieving process.  It can hit you like a ton of bricks years after experiencing the loss.  One’s mental health and physical health can suffer.  Cry and get upset if you have to but what is not okay is ignoring those emotions and allowing them to fester and turn into something more than what they started off being.  If you have suffered a loss or trauma and are having a difficult time reach out to someone, sometimes the best medicine is conversation.

 

Wellness Wednesday: How Are You Managing Stress?

English: Jump! Deutsch: Spring!

English: Jump! Deutsch: Spring! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stress can manifest itself in the body in various forms.  Whether you suffer from frequent headaches, anxiety, neck and shoulder stiffness, fatigue or are easily irritated, the goal should be to alleviate stress before we even begin to feel the physical effects of it.  Stress usually arises due to something unexpected happening or when we have prolonged addressing an ongoing issue.  We call these stressors or sources of stress.  We all experience stress differently but it is very important that we are aware of it source(s).

Stress can be defined as “a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way.”  Some of us feel the stress of procrastination which subsequently pushes us to finish a task or obligation.  In sports, athletes may feel the stress of taking the final shot or scoring the winning touchdown.  An athlete either gains a greater sense of focus to achieve the goal or cracks under pressure and loses focus.  Stress also triggers the body’s natural response of “fight or flight”.  However, when we reach a point that stress begins to cause us to lose focus, creates constant feeling of frustration, helplessness or even depression we should be greatly concerned.  Because of the positive and negative aspects of stress, it is important that we pay attention to our stress levels and do what is necessary to keep it at a minimal.

One way in which I try to keep stress at a minimum is by putting things into perspective.  Sometimes you just have to stop, take a deep breath, think things through and then respond or adjust accordingly.  As individuals, sometimes we try to take on so much instead of asking for help and support from family and friends.  When you put things into perspective, you get a realistic idea of what you can take on, what is in your control, the best way to tackle it and where you will need help.  Sometimes having to ask for assistance is God’s way of telling us or showing us how he will provide for our needs. Philippians 4:19

Exercise is another great way to manage stress.  Exercise assist the body with the production of endorphins that help reduce stress.  Exercise also helps to boost the immune system which can also suffer as a result of stress.  My goal this year is to incorporate yoga into my routine.  Yoga helps restore balance in the body and has been said to help rid the body of toxins when done in extreme temperatures.  I will cover yoga and the benefits more in a future post.  Running is another exercise that is a good stress reliever, just not for me. Lol

Mental Health deals with so many aspects of the body, lifestyle and day to day routines.  Stress can interfere with one’s mental health and lead to issues with one’s physical health and vice versa.  It is extremely important that you take time out for you and incorporate activities into your life that help reduce stress.  If you are experiencing constant and persistent issues associated with stress you may want to reach out to a professional, whether it be your primary doctor or a counselor.

Wellness Wednesdays:  is a new weekly addition.  Wellness Wednesdays will focus on various mental health issues, healthy ways to deal with stress, change and transitions and also where to seek help or advice if you suffer from a mental illness.  If you would be interested in contributing, email rn @ rhachellenicol (dot) com with your topic of interest.