Boundaries: Types of Boundary Crossers

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“Boundaries are personal property lines that define who you are and who you are not, and influence all areas of your life.”
(Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, front flap, 1992).

boundaries crossingWhen we think about those who cross boundaries we tend to think about those people who won’t take “no” for an answer or maybe don’t think about how they are imposing themselves upon others emotionally or verbally or even physically.

When we think about those who have trouble maintaining their own boundaries, we tend to think of those people who can’t seem to say “no”.

But these aren’t the only types of “boundary crossers”.  Here are a few categories of those who have boundary problems:

1. Compliants: Saying “Yes” to the Bad

Compliants tend to give into and go along with the needs and demands of others.  A hallmark illustration is pretending to like the same things as another person simply to “get along” and avoid conflict.  Compliants tend to be like chameleons, blending into their social surroundings so that you do not really know who they really are as an individual.  A dangerous pattern among compliants is the inability to say “no” to bad things and even not recognizing evil.  “Many compliant people realize too late that they’re in a dangerous or abusive relationship.  Their spiritual and emotional “radar” is broken” (p 51).  Often driving the inability to establish healthy boundaries is fear – usually irrational fear.

2. Avoidants: Saying “No” to the Good

Avoidants have the “inability to ask for help, to recognize one’s own needs, to let others in.  Avoidants withdraw when they are in need; they do not ask for the support of others” (p 52).  The main problem in regards to boundaries with avoidants is that they are hiding themselves not only from unhealthy situations but also from healthy and safe relationships – often when the need the latter the most.  Avoidants tend to see their struggles and wants as something shameful, thus self-justifying their hiding behind their walls from help.

3. Compliant Avoidants: Saying “Yes” to the Bad and “No” to the Good

“Compliant avoidants suffer from what is called ‘reversed boundaries’.  They have no boundaries where they need them, and they have boundaries where they shouldn’t have them” (p 53).

4. Controllers: Not Respecting Others’ Boundaries

“Controllers can’t respect others’ limits.  They resist taking responsibility for their own lives, so they need to control others…They tend to project responsibility for their lives onto others” (p 54).  These people are often seen as manipulative and bullies as they seek to get others to carry their responsibilities, burdens, and personal boundaries (see the previous post).  “If they’r honest, controllers rarely feel loved…Because in their heart of hearts, they know that the only reason people spend time with them is because they are pulling the strings” (p 57).

Aggressive controllers make it obvious that they do not and will not respect the boundaries of others – sometimes resorting to verbal or physical violence.  Manipulative controllers try to talk others out of keeping their boundaries and when confronted will often “deny their desires to control others…[and] brush aside their own self-centeredness” (p 55).

5. Nonresponsives: Not Hearing the Needs of Others

Nonresponsives demonstrate the inability to respond to the needs of others, within the context of healthy boundaries.  They tend to “have a critical spirit toward others’ needs” (due to a hatred of their own needs) and/or are “those who are so absorbed in their own desires and needs they exclude others (a form of narcissim)” (p 58).

6. Controlling Nonresponsives

These boundary crossers “see others as responsible for their struggles and are on the lookout for someone to take care of them.  They gravitate towards someone with blurry boundaries, who will naturally take on too many responsibilities in the relationship and won’t complain about it” (p 59).

7. Functional and Relational Boundary Issues

Functional boundaries refer to the ability to complete a task.  Relational boundaries refer to the ability to engage another person in an honest manner.  Some people can complete tasks quite well (functional) but cannot confront a friend about a bad habit (relational).  Others have the ability to engage others in healthy relationships but cannot seem to complete their daily duties in a proper fashion.

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If you would like help in taking responsibility for your own boundary crossing &/or help in dealing with others who are crossing boundaries, please call CornerStone Family Services at 614-459.3003. 

Boundaries: What Falls Within Our Boundaries?

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“Boundaries are personal property lines that define who you are and who you are not, and influence all areas of your life.”
(Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, front flap, 1992).

internal boundariesOne of the big areas of learning healthy boundaries (besides establishing consequences that we will enforce if someone trespasses our personal boundaries) is learning and owning what falls within our boundaries.  In other words, we must take stock of what we are responsible for in regards to boundaries.

1. Feelings

Feelings are not to be dismissed, nor are feelings to rule our lives.  We need to be aware of our feelings and own our our feelings.  Awareness of feelings can help us pause and look at the thoughts driving our feelings. Feelings can also be a good gauge of the status of our relationships.  “But the point is, your feelings are your responsibility and you must own them and see them as your problem so you can begin to find an answer to whatever issue they are pointing to” (p 40).

2. Attitudes and Beliefs

“Attitudes have to do with your orientation toward something…Beliefs are anything that you accept as true” (p 40).  We often blame others for our attitudes, but we need to own them ourselves because we are the ones who feel the impact of our attitudes and beliefs and we are the ones who can change them.  “People with boundary problems usually have distorted attitudes about responsibility” (p 41). One such distortion is the belief that to hold others responsible for their own attitudes and beliefs is mean.

3. Behaviors

“Behaviors have consequences…To rescue people from the natural consequences of their behavior is to render them powerless” (p 41).  How we behave results in certain consequences – if we are loving towards others, we have closer relationships; if we are caustic towards others our relationships suffer.  We must own our own behaviors and not blame-shift responsibility for our actions onto others.

4. Choices

“We need to realize that we are in control of our choices no matter how we feel” (p 42).  To say that someone “made us” do something is to live in the illusion that we are not in control of our decisions.  Others may influence our choices, but ultimately we make the decisions and are the ones who must live with the consequences.  Establishing boundaries means owning our choices.

5. Values

“What we value is what we love and assign importance to” (p 43).  One big area where boundaries are crossed in the area of values is when we seek the approval of others, thus compromising our values, or when we value things that are temporary and don’t have a lasting value.  Boundaries help us to own our healthy values and see our harmful values so that the latter can be changed.

6. Limits

We can set limits on how much we expose ourselves to people who are behaving poorly (since we cannot make someone change).  For example, you can say, “You can be that way if you choose, but you cannot come into my house” (p 43).  We can also set internal limits that allow us to think, feel, and desire certain things without acting upon those impulses.  “Internal structure is a very important component of boundaries and identity, as well as ownership, responsibility, and self-control” (p 44).

7. Talents

Our particular talents are within our boundaries and are our responsibility to cultivate.

8. Thoughts

“We must own our own thoughts…We must grown in knowledge and expand our minds…We must clarify distorted thinking” (p 45).  Since our thoughts dictate our feelings, are our thoughts are often colored and distorted by past experiences and unhealthy patterns, we must learn to own our thoughts and challenge the reality of our thoughts.  Healthy thinking in relationships means taking the initiative to check to see if our thoughts may be wrong and then collect new information to readjust our thinking in line with reality.  Healthy boundaries in thinking also means that we should not expect others to read our minds nor assume that we can read the minds of others; rather, we work on healthy communication skills.

9. Desires

Our desires are within our personal boundary lines.  Often our desires are distortions or masks of what we are truly seeking – so we must do the hard work of digging deeper.  For example, some people follow destructive sexual desires because they do not realize that their true desire is love and affection – something their destructive actions will never give them in the long run.  Other times we desire something that we want but do not need resulting in disappointment, envy, or anger.  Owning our desires allows us to see what is healthy and what is unhealthy.

10. Love 

“Many people have difficulty giving and receiving love because of hurt and fear…Our loving heart, like our physical one, needs and inflow as well as an outflow of lifeblood...We need to take responsibility four this loving function of ourselves and use it.  Love concealed or love rejected can both kill us” (pp 47-48).

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If you would like help in taking responsibility for your own internal boundaries &/or help in allowing others to take responsibility for their own internal boundaries, please call CornerStone Family Services at 614-459.3003. 

 

Have You Ever Tried Going a Day Without Complaining?

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Have you ever taken the time to count how many times you have complained in a day?

We seem to find something to complain about – the weather, the traffic, the coworkers, the amount of work to do, the amount of sitting around doing nothing, the family, the pains in your body, and on and on and on.

What if we realized that what we say, how we say it, and how often we say something actually does impact our outlook on life, others and ourselves?  (Because it does.  A lot.)  What would change?

Try an experiment. Go about your day without complaining.  Every time you think about complaining, give thanks for something (but not in a complaining thanksgiving kind of way).  It will likely be very difficult at first, but as you change your self-talk, and talk about others and things, you will, over time, begin to change for the better from the inside out.

For help with your self-talk, view of others, and view of the world, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003.

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Peter Pan Syndrome and Wendy Syndrome

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Overprotecting Parents Can Lead Children To Develop ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’

The ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ affects people who do not want or feel unable to grow up, people with the body of an adult but the mind of a child. They don’t know how to or don’t want to stop being children and start being mothers or fathers.

Peter PanThe syndrome is not currently considered a psychopathology, given the World Health Organization has not recognized it as a psychological disorder. However, an increasingly larger number of adults are presenting emotionally immature behaviors in Western society. They are unable to grow up and take on adult responsibilities, and even dress up and enjoy themselves as teenagers when they are over 30 years old.

Humbelina Robles Ortega, professor of the Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment of the University of Granada and an expert in emotional disorders, warns that the overprotection of parents can lead children to develop the Peter Pan Syndrome, given “it usually affects dependent people who have been overprotected by their families and haven’t developed the necessary skills to confront life.” The ‘Peter Pans’ of present society “see the adult world as very problematic and glorify adolescence, which is why they want to stay in that state of privilege.”

More men than women affected

Peter Pan Syndrome can affect both sexes, but it appears more often among men. Some characteristics of the disorder are the inability of individuals to take on responsibilities, to commit themselves or to keep promises, excessive care about the way they look and personal well-being and their lack of self-confidence, even though they don’t seem to show it and actually come across as exactly the opposite.

The UGR professor declares that these people are usually scared of loneliness, which is why they try to surround themselves with people who can meet their needs. “They become anxious when they are evaluated by their work colleagues or their superiors, given they are completely intolerant towards any criticism. Sometimes they can have serious adaptation problems at work or in personal relationships.”

Another characteristic of people suffering from the ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ is that they are constantly changing partners and looking for younger ones. “Whenever the relationship starts to ask for a high level of commitment and responsibility, they become afraid and break it up. Relationships with younger women have the advantage of being able to live by the day without any worries, and they also involve less future plans, therefore less responsibilities.”

The Wendy behind Peter Pan

Psychologist Dan Kiley, who defined ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ in 1983, also used the term ‘Wendy Syndrome’ to describe women who act like mothers with their partners or people close to them. Humbelina Robles stresses that “Wendy is the woman behind Peter Pan. There must be someone who deals with the things Peter Pan doesn’t do in order for Peter Pan to exist.”

The researcher from the UGR states that Wendy “makes every decision and takes on the responsibilities of her partner, thus justifying his unreliability. We can find Wendy people even within the immediate family: the overprotecting mothers.”

The professor declares that the biggest disadvantage of both disorders (Peter Pan and Wendy Syndromes) is usually that the person who suffers from them doesn’t feel as though they are part of the problem, they are not aware of it. Robles points out that the only solution for this disease is the right psychological treatment, not only centered on the person who suffers from the disorder but also on his/her partner and family.

University of Granada. “Overprotecting Parents Can Lead Children To Develop ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070501112023.htm>.

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If you believe that you are struggling with Peter Pan Syndrome or Wendy Syndrom, please contact CornerStone Family Services for assistance at 614.459.3003.

8 Foods That Boost Your Mood

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Food mood

8 Foods That Boost Your Mood

By Eat This, Not That!

It’s getting darker outside. For a lot of us, it seems like it’s getting darker inside, as well.

Since the clocks fell back, and the sun started going down right after lunch, a lot of people have been complaining about SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s one of those conditions that comes with an acronym so perfect, you wonder if it’s even real. But doctors insist it is—and that it can even run in families.

SAD is a type of depression that sets in from fall to winter, and can make you feel like you’re trapped in the beginning of a Nicholas Sparks novel. The reduced level of sunlight we get after Daylight Savings Time creates a drop in the mood-boosting brain chemical serotonin and an imbalance in melatonin, another brain chemical regulating sleep and mood.

Fortunately, Eat This, Not That! has uncovered a handful of food swaps that hack your brain’s chemicals and reset your mood from foul to fair. In fact, just making a handful of tweaks to your diet as the days grow shorter can put a spring in your step long before spring is in the air. (And keep the good mood going by signing up for our newsletter and avoiding the winter weight with 5 Daily Habits That Blast Belly Fat.)

1. Best Get-Happy Vegetable Swap

EAT THIS

Red Bell Peppers

3 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0.1 g protein, 0.5 g sugar

1 tbsp

NOT THAT!

Green Bell Pepper

3 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0.1 g protein, 0.4 g sugar

1 tbsp

Why red? Aren’t all peppers the same? In fact, red bell peppers—which have been allowed to ripen on the vine and not picked when still green—have considerably higher nutrient scores than their underdeveloped brethren—more than double the vitamin C and up to 8 times as much vitamin A. In a recent survey of nutrient density, researchers at William Patterson University ranked red peppers as second only to leafy greens as the most potent of vegetables. The higher concentration of vitamins helps to not only improve your mood directly, but to also boost your immune system and lessen cold syptoms. Stir-fry or roast them if you’re not down with nibbling them raw to get the most of theirvitamins and nutrients. (And find out why color also matters when choosing the Best Fruits for Fat Loss.)

2. Best Get-Happy Condiment Swap

EAT THIS

French’s mustard

0 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 0 g sugar

1 tbsp

NOT THAT!

Hellmann’s Mayonnaise

90 calories, 10 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 0 g sugar

1 tbsp

Swap omega-6-heavy mayo for omega-3-loaded mustard and get an instant mental health boost. While essential, omega-6s are also inflammatory, and are linked to obesity, diabetes and depression. Mayonnaise, made from grain and seed oils, provides a whopping 11,359 mg of omega-6 per ounce. The humble yellow mustard, on the other hand, is among the top dozen or so sources of omega-3 acids, with nearly half as much, ounce per ounce, as canned tuna. A 2013 study in theJournal of Nutrition found that higher levels of omega-3s relative to omega-6s were linked to lower risks of depression.

3. Best Get-Happy Snack Swap

EAT THIS

Pumpkin Seeds

142 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 6 g protein, .3 g sugar

1/2 cup

NOT THAT!

Chex Mix Bold Party Blend

120 calories, 3.5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 2 g protein, 1.8 g sugar

1/2 cup

Pumpkin seeds are like crunchy little nuggets of Prozac Helper. They’re one of the best food sources of an amino acid known as tryptophan, which helps the production ofserotonin in your brain. Antidepressants help the brain to circulate serotonin, so if you’re taking them now, these little pumpkin pick-me-ups may make them even more effective. Spice them up and swap them in now for Chex Mix, which is made from wheat, corn, and vegetable oil, all of which are high in omega-6 fatty acids. A study found that those with the highest intake of omega-6 fatty acids have twice the risk of becoming depressed.

4. Best Get-Happy Candy Swap

EAT THIS

Lindt 85% Cocoa Bar

230 calories, 18 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 5 g protein, 5 g sugar

One serving (4 squares)

NOT THAT!

Hershey’s Special Dark

190 calories, 12 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 2 g protein, 21 g sugar

One serving (one bar)

Dark chocolate perks up your brain in four different ways; it boosts serotonin and endorphins, the feel-good hormones; it’s rich in B vitamins and magnesium, which are noted cognitive boosters; it contains small amounts of caffeine, which helps with short-term concentration; and it contains theobromine, a stimulant that delivers a different sort of buzz, minus the espresso shakes. As if that’s not enough, it’s also one of our 10 Libido-Lifting Foods (go ahead and click, no one’s watching and it’s SFW).

The catch: most treats labeled “dark chocolate” have had the healthy nutrients processed out of them. A product like Hershey’s Special Dark is made with alkalized, or “Dutch” chocolate, which destroys up to 75% of the healthy ingredients in the chocolate. Look for a bar that’s labeled “72% cacao” or above, even if the calorie count is a bit higher.

5. Best Get-Happy Drink Swap

DRINK THIS

Chamomile Tea

2 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 0 g sugar

1 cup (8 oz)

NOT THAT!

Diet Soda

0 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 0 g sugar
1 cup (8 oz)

In summer, your body clock is like Dr. Dre—perfect beats. Once winter hits, the music gets all discombobulated. Your circadian rhythm is thrown off by the decrease of (natural) light, making it harder to sleep at night and to stay on top of your game during the day. Research shows that chamomile tea not only brings on better sleep, but actually improves your cognitive functioning during the day. Meanwhile, astudy last year linked soft drinks to depression, particularly the diet variety—those who drank more than four cans a day were 30% more likely to have had depression, due partly to the artificial sweetener aspartame. (For more cola shockers, click on our eye-popping Surprising Reasons to Finally Give Up Soda.)

6. Best Get-Happy Juice Swap

DRINK THIS

R.W. Knudsen Just Blueberry Juice

100 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 18 g sugar

1 cup (8 oz)

NOT THAT!

V8 Splash Berry Blend

70 calories, 0g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 18g sugar

1 cup (8 oz)

Darkly-colored berries lead to weight loss, decreasing the formation of fat cells by up to 73%—that alone will improve your mood. But berries also carry heavy doses of vitamin C. Too little C—a possibility when you’re hunkering down on comfort foods and no longer enjoying a summer bounty of tomatoes, peppers and fruit salads—can lead to fatigue, depression, low motivation, and the general feeling that you’re sloshing around in wet snowboots 24/7. Avoid the imposter “juices”—V8 Splash is a pathetic 10 percent juice—and power up with R.W. Knudsen Just Blueberry. Add a glass in the AM, along with these 6 Morning Rituals That Guarantee a Great Day.

7. Best Get-Happy Appetizer Swap

EAT THIS

Outback Steakhouse Crab and Avocado Stack

547 calories, 31 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 17 g protein, 6 g sugar

NOT THAT!

Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Onion

1,959 calories, 161 g fat, 48 g saturated fat, 18 g protein, 28 g sugar

One platter of the Bloomin’ Onion has 113 grams of downer-inducing omega-6s. You could rename the appetizer the Wiltin’ Onion for its—no kidding—2 ½ shot glasses worth of vegetable oils. The Crab and Avocado Stack, on the other hand, provides mood-boosting omega-3s from the crab and cravings-crushing monounsaturated fats from the avocado. Astudy in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. (Avocado is also one of our 10 Foods for a Longer Life; click to see the other nine.)

8. Best Get-Happy Salad Swap

EAT THIS

Romaine salad with Vinaigrette

45 calories, 4.1 g fat, .6 g saturated fat, 1 g protein, 1 g sugar
1 cup

NOT THAT!

Traditional Romaine Ceasar salad

184 calories, 15.3 g fat, 2.8 g saturated fat, 5g protein, 1.3 g sugar
1 cup

Kale gets all the green-market glory, and everyone knows what spinach has done for Popeye, but humble Romaine lettuce tops them both in nutrient density, according to William Patterson University researchers. One of the main nutrients in Romaine and other leafy greens is the B vitamin folate. Recent Finnish research showed that low folate levels were found in depressed members of the population.

Unfortunately, proud Romaine is often downgraded to a veritable junk food when it’s paired up with commercial Caesar salad dressing, an oil-based bastardization of the traditional Italian recipe that’s one of the foods highest in depression-causing omega-6 acids. Lift your spirits by topping your salad with an olive oil vinaigrette, which boasts both heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and mood-boosting mustard seed.

Exercise is Good for Children’s Brains

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Exercise is Good for Children’s Brains, Too

By  W. Douglas Tynan, director of integrated health care for the American Psychological Association.

We all know exercise generally benefits children, and another study to confirm that was recently published in Pediatrics. Though this finding may yield a yawn or two, the latest research goes well beyond quantifying what most of us think is true.

child exercise

Charles Hillman from the University of Illinois and colleagues found kids who took part in regular physical activity enhanced their cognitive performance and brain function. His group looked at the impact of a little more than an hour of vigorous exercise followed by 45 minutes of a less-vigorous skills game for a total of two hours every day after school during 150 days of a school year.

On measures of concentration, attention, flexible thinking, controlling impulses, and actual brain activity measured by scalp electrodes, the exercise group of these 8- and 9-year-old children did much better overall.

“The message is, get kids to be physically active” for the sake of their brains, as well as their health, Hillman told the New York Times. After-school programs like the one he and his colleagues developed require little additional equipment or expense for most schools, he said, although a qualified physical education instructor should be involved.

The Atlantic magazine cited the results and suggested this might be a treatment for impulsive and overly active children.

What makes these results so extraordinary is they are not unusual. Three years ago, Catherine Davis at the University of Georgia did another study of slightly older children who were overweight and did low-level (20 minutes per day) and higher-level (40 minutes per day) exercise versus a control group. They did only about 15 weeks, or half a school year, and found the same results. In a small group of subjects examined with a functional MRI of the brain, Davis found changes in brain activity that can be seen on the visual image of brain function, along with better scores in math, organization, and control of impulses.

In science, replication is key, and here we have two groups, working independently, getting the same benefit from vigorous exercise, and the same test results and brain activity changes. Other studies of school exercise in Delaware have shown 30 minutes of physical activity raises test scores and lowers absences.

If there were a medicine that showed this benefit, there would be full-page advertisements in this newspaper. If there were a curriculum that showed this benefit, it would be snapped up by your local school district.

But it is not a product; it is a lifestyle to be taught in school and at home. Just an hour of vigorous activity, either through games or other play, enhances academic, cognitive, and executive skills of planning and self-control. Schools and families that limit or eliminate these opportunities impede children’s progress.

The science is clear. To advance academically and in terms of self-control, children’s bodies need to move. An extra hour of instruction may help, but if it comes at the cost of reducing active play, it will probably hurt.

Forgive People in Your Life

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It has been said that when we do not forgive people, it is like we are drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  Another similar saying is that anger corrodes the vessel in which it is held.

Both of these sayings encourage us to not hold onto to anger and to forgive, lest we suffer the consequences. Some people dismiss these saying as just another way of saying, “be nice,” but studies have shown the truth behind them – when we do not forgive and when we hold onto anger, we are the ones most hurt.

If you would like help on learning how to healthily forgive and deal with your anger, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614.459.3003 to set up an appointment with one of our coaches or counselors.

Forgive People

No Need to Sit on a Cactus

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being negative

There is no need to be controlled by negative thoughts, feelings, or situations.  If you would like help avoiding the pain of the “negative cactus” or cacti in your life, give CornerStone Family Services a call at 614.459.3003.

Coping with Stress at Work

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Coping with Stress at Work

by APA

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Everyone who has ever held a job has, at some point, felt the pressure of work-related stress. Any job can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do. In the short-term, you may experience pressure to meet a deadline or to fulfill a challenging obligation. But when work stress becomes chronic, it can be overwhelming — and harmful to both physical and emotional health.

Unfortunately such long-term stress is all too common. In 2012, 65 percent of Americans cited work as a top source of stress, according to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Stress in America Survey. Only 37 percent of Americans surveyed said they were doing an excellent or very good job managing stress.

A 2013 survey by APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence also found that job-related stress is a serious issue. More than one-third of working Americans reported experiencing chronic work stress and just 36 percent said their organizations provide sufficient resources to help them manage that stress.

You can’t always avoid the tensions that occur on the job. Yet you can take steps to manage work-related stress.

Common Sources of Work Stress

Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. Some common workplace stressors are:

  • Low salaries.
  • Excessive workloads.
  • Few opportunities for growth or advancement.
  • Work that isn’t engaging or challenging.
  • Lack of social support.
  • Not having enough control over job-related decisions.
  • Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations.

Effects of Uncontrolled Stress

Unfortunately, work-related stress doesn’t just disappear when you head home for the day. When stress persists, it can take a toll on your health and well-being.

In the short term, a stressful work environment can contribute to problems such as headache, stomachache, sleep disturbances, short temper and difficulty concentrating. Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. It can also contribute to health conditions such as depression, obesity and heart disease. Compounding the problem, people who experience excessive stress often deal with it in unhealthy ways such as overeating, eating unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes or abusing drugs and alcohol.

Taking Steps to Manage Stress

  • Track your stressors. Keep a journal for a week or two to identify which situations create the most stress and how you respond to them. Record your thoughts, feelings and information about the environment, including the people and circumstances involved, the physical setting and how you reacted. Did you raise your voice? Get a snack from the vending machine? Go for a walk? Taking notes can help you find patterns among your stressors and your reactions to them.
  • Develop healthy responses. Instead of attempting to fight stress with fast food or alcohol, do your best to make healthy choices when you feel the tension rise. Exercise is a great stress-buster. Yoga can be an excellent choice, but any form of physical activity is beneficial. Also make time for hobbies and favorite activities. Whether it’s reading a novel, going to concerts or playing games with your family, make sure to set aside time for the things that bring you pleasure. Getting enough good-quality sleep is also important for effective stress management. Build healthy sleep habits by limiting your caffeine intake late in the day and minimizing stimulating activities, such as computer and television use, at night.
  • Establish boundaries. In today’s digital world, it’s easy to feel pressure to be available 24 hours a day. Establish some work-life boundaries for yourself. That might mean making a rule not to check email from home in the evening, or not answering the phone during dinner. Although people have different preferences when it comes to how much they blend their work and home life, creating some clear boundaries between these realms can reduce the potential for work-life conflict and the stress that goes with it.
  • Take time to recharge. To avoid the negative effects of chronic stress and burnout, we need time to replenish and return to our pre-stress level of functioning. This recovery process requires “switching off” from work by having periods of time when you are neither engaging in work-related activities, nor thinking about work. That’s why it’s critical that you disconnect from time to time, in a way that fits your needs and preferences. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste. When possible, take time off to relax and unwind, so you come back to work feeling reinvigorated and ready to perform at your best. When you’re not able to take time off, get a quick boost by turning off your smartphone and focusing your attention on non-work activities for a while.
  • Learn how to relax. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness (a state in which you actively observe present experiences and thoughts without judging them) can help melt away stress. Start by taking a few minutes each day to focus on a simple activity like breathing, walking or enjoying a meal. The skill of being able to focus purposefully on a single activity without distraction will get stronger with practice and you’ll find that you can apply it to many different aspects of your life.
  • Talk to your supervisor. Healthy employees are typically more productive, so your boss has an incentive to create a work environment that promotes employee well-being. Start by having an open conversation with your supervisor. The purpose of this isn’t to lay out a list of complaints, but rather to come up with an effective plan for managing the stressors you’ve identified, so you can perform at your best on the job. While some parts of the plan may be designed to help you improve your skills in areas such as time management, other elements might include identifying employer-sponsored wellness resources you can tap into, clarifying what’s expected of you, getting necessary resources or support from colleagues, enriching your job to include more challenging or meaningful tasks, or making changes to your physical workspace to make it more comfortable and reduce strain.
  • Get some support. Accepting help from trusted friends and family members can improve your ability to manage stress. Your employer may also have stress management resources available through an employee assistance program (EAP), including online information, available counseling and referral to mental health professionals, if needed. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by work stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist, who can help you better manage stress and change unhealthy behavior.

 

What is Mental Health?

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What does it mean when someone talks about “mental health”?  How is “mental health” defined?  What are some key characteristics that are considered when considering is someone is mentally healthy or struggling in regards to their mental health?

This helpful video by Dr. Mike Condra gives an short answer to the question, “What is mental health”?

Contact CornerStone Family Services for more information about mental health.  If you or someone you know would like to strengthen their mental health or get help in improving areas of struggle, please call CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003.