A Safe Place for Cutters Blog


An Uplifting Movie for Cutters
August 24, 2009, 05:00
Filed under: Uncategorized

moviesA friend of mine James Dye, who is a member of my private group on Facebook for cutters* created a movie that is meant to be uplifting for cutters. He also wrote the music. This is an excellent example of channeling emotion something I wrote about in an earlier blog as a way of taking potentially destructive emotions and turning them into something positive, that helps to make the world a better place.

You can check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYsuRvBLeVY. I think he did a great job. Let me know what you think.

If you have a creative outlet for your destructive emotions; such as writing a book or poetry, art, making movies, writing music photography, etc. Let me know, I would love to have you share it with me.

To A Life Worth Living,

Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!

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Five Little Senses
August 21, 2009, 05:00
Filed under: Coping Skills | Tags: , ,

In my last few blogs I have been discussing the importance of focusing what is going on with your five senses in order to aid you being present and thus mindful which goes a long way in helping you to relax and reduce anxiety. The following is a little child’s poem that reminds us how important it is to get back to basics.

Five little senses are what I need,
To use when things are near.

I use my eyes to look and see.

Eye
I use my ears to hear.

ear

I use my nose to smell things.

Smell

I use my hands to touch.

Touch

I use my mouth to taste
The things I love to eat so much.

Taste

Five little senses standing in a row,
To see, hear, smell, touch and taste
The things I need to know.

To A Life Worth Living,
Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!



Technique for Breathing Correctly
August 19, 2009, 05:00
Filed under: Uncategorized

breathingSome people have eliminated their anxiety symptoms simply by changing the way they breathe. A proper breathing technique is very important and requires practice. A proper technique can be learned for taking breaths in and letting breaths out – without making yourself feel dizzy. And, once made a part of one’s natural body rhythm, those feelings of the onset of an attack become less frequent, and in some cases, disappear. Some people use a breathing reminder to stay focused when a panic attack is coming on.

There is a whole science behind breathing which goes back thousands of years. The mechanics of all this is discussed on a separate page, but the recommended breathing method and some practice tips are shown here.

  1. breathe into your diaphragm, not shallow “chest” breathing
  2. inhale through the nose,
  3. exhale through the mouth,
  4. take longer to exhale than to inhale,
  5. slow down! (reduce your breaths-per-minute)
  6. practice until it becomes your natural breathing pattern.

Note: When breathing correctly into the diaphragm  your stomach will rise more than your chest.
First, test your current breathing pattern

  1. Begin by lying flat on your back or standing up straight. You may also sit up straight in a chair, if that is more comfortable.
  2. Place one hand on your stomach area and one hand on your chest.
  3. Breathe as you normally would and notice whether your “stomach” hand rises or your “chest” hand rises.
  4. To breathe properly, your stomach area must rise more than your chest as your diaphragm expands.

Second, Learn proper breathing technique:

  1. To learn to breathe correctly, begin by slowly breathing in through your nose through the count of 4.
  2. Hold the breath for a count of 7.
  3. Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. (Some call this 4-7-8 breathing.) When you exhale, try to make a soft “whoosh” sound by holding the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth (or lightly clench your teeth) as you exhale slowly.
  4. Repeat this process for three more times (for a total of four breaths.) Do not do more than four breaths at first – with practice, you can work your way up to eight breaths. Do this twice each day.
  5. If the process causes you to begin panicking, only do it for as long as you are able.

10.  Increase the number of breaths each day until you can do the exercise for at least eight breaths twice per day.

11.  If you continue to practice breathing this way, you will soon be doing it naturally throughout the day.

12.  An additional benefit will be that once you are familiar with the exercise, you can do it while experiencing anxiety or the beginning of a panic attack, and you will feel relief.

Now, change your breathing throughout the day:

Follow the steps above with one important twist: rather than practicing twice per day, practice throughout the day. . .it is more effective. Think about it: you breathe all day, right? So you should breathe correctly all day.

Practice taking a full breath through your nose, hold briefly, and then “whoosh” your exhale slowly as described – but do that at least every 15 minutes all day long. This has two immediate benefits, you are practicing more total “breaths” during the day, and you are making proper breathing a routine throughout your day.

Tips:

Do not be angry with yourself or give up if you cannot do this exercise correctly right away. It takes practice. Give yourself time.

  • Do not be afraid of the exercise causing panic. Remember: you are in control and can stop at any time.
  • Take it as slowly as needed. Work your way up to every 15 minutes – don’t try to rush into this.
  • and, most importantly, start out seated as you may feel light-headed the first few times you breathe “correctly.”
  • Remember to breathe! Our lives are filled with distractions and a task or hobby can be so absorbing, you forget to breathe. Use a timer or an on-screen reminder to make sure you breathe at regular intervals.

To A Life Worth Living,
Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!



How To Practice Being Mindful
August 17, 2009, 05:00
Filed under: Tools | Tags: , ,

FiveSensesI run a group therapy for individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. We always start the group off with a mindfulness exercise that I will elaborate on later on in this post. Many of these individuals have also been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to early childhood trauma such as physical or sexual abuse. .Using mindfulness for PTSD may be a good way of coping. Mindfulness has been around for ages. Mindfulness benefits for people suffering from difficulties such as anxiety and depression.

In a nutshell, mindfulness is about being completely in-touch with the present moment. So often in our lives, we are stuck in our heads, caught up in the anxiety and worries of daily life. This exercise will introduce you to mindfulness and may be helpful getting you “out of your head” and in touch with the present moment. The following story will highlight how powerful this exercise is.

A couple of weeks ago, I had missed a group session when I was on vacation. In my absence my co-providers, a psychiatrist and a social worker were left in charge. At the next group meeting, I was informed that the group had erupted in chaos. That stuff doesn’t happen when I am there so what took place? I found that they hadn’t started with the mindfulness exercise. I start the group off by telling them to focus on their five senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing and vision. When you are centered on your senses you are in the present.  Your five senses will tell you what is happening right now, not in the future, not in the past but in the moment. After the exercise, which lasts for about one to two minutes, everyone shares what they experienced during the exercise. It is amazing how this exercise calms everyone down and prepares them for participating in the group process.

Here’s How You Can Do This at Home:

1. Find a comfortable position either lying on your back or sitting. If you are sitting down, make sure that you keep your back straight and release the tension in your shoulders. Let them drop.

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Focus your attention on your breathing. Simply pay attention to what it feels like in your body to slowly breathe in and out.
  3. Now bring your attention to your belly. Feel your belly rise and expand everytime you breathe in. Feel your belly fall everytime you breathe out.
  4. Continue to focus your attention on the full experience of breathing. Immerse yourself completely in this experience. Imagine you are “riding the waves” of your own breathing.
  5. Anytime that you notice your mind has wandered away from your breath (it likely will and this is completely normal!), simply notice what it was that took your attention away and then gently bring your attention back to the present moment – your breathing.
  6. As you experience the awareness of your breathing, start to notice what you are experiencing with your five senses. You probably have your eyes close so you won’t to notice what you are seeing. What do you hear? Are there people chatting nearby? Traffice sounds? Birds singing? Do you notice any smells? Perhaps you smell someone cooking or a person’s  perfume. What does the couch you are sitting on feel like? Notice the texture of the leather or nappiness of the upholstery. Are both your feet on the floor so that you feel grounded? Do you discern a taste in your mouth? Sometimes people can taste their breakfast or their morning medication.
  7. Continue for as short or as long as you would like!

Tips:

  1. Before you try this exercise, it may be useful to first simply practice breathing. This may sound silly, but many people don’t breathe properly, which can fuel stress and anxiety (more on this later).
  2. Make this a habit. Practice this exercise at least once a day.
  3. At first, it may be important to practice this exercise at times when you are not overly stressed-out or anxious. When you were first learning to drive a car, you likely didn’t start out on the highway during a thunderstorm. The same goes for mindfulness.
  4. Remember, it is normal for your mind to wander during this exercise. That’s what it does. Don’t get discouraged. Instead, at times like this, it may be useful to think of mindfulness in this way: If your mind wanders away from the breath a thousand times, mindfulness is about bringing your attention back to the present moment a thousand and one times.

Next: How to Breath Properly

To A Life Worth Living,
Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!



Avoid Toxic People

Toxic People 2Now that you are practicing gratefulness in your life and have made a list of 200 things in your life that you are thankful for you have found that not everyone shares your new attitude that there is always something to be thankful for. You’ll say something pleasant like, “Isn’t the sky a pretty blue?” and they will sneeringly retort, “No it isn’t. It’s a sickly hue of gray.” So what do you do?

Please heed this important advice: avoid toxic people! Unfortunately, there are a few people out there who see the world as one big problem, and in their eyes you’re part of it. No matter how well things are going, they focus on the nitpicking little negative details. And they do it constantly. It’s a habit that totally destroys relationships.

You may be thinking at this point, “Easier said than done. Do you mean if a friend I’ve known for years talks like this, should I just turn and walk away?” No, RUN! His or her constant negativity will drain the life out of you. Now please understand, I am not talking about someone who has a genuine challenge and needs real help. I am referring to those chronic whiners who take great pleasure in dumping all their negative garbage on your plate at every opportunity. It’s the highlight of their day. Don’t put up with it anymore.

To A Life Worth Living,
Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!



How Can I Be Grateful When Nothing is Going Right?

In my last post I discussed the importance of being grateful. Have you ever noticed how pleasant it is to be around people who are grateful for you or what you have done for them? That’s how you will know the following exercise works.

gratitude2

Something that will help you in practicing gratitude in your life and thus being present and in the moment (also known as mindfulness) is to make a list of 200 things that you are thankful for. Take 20 3×5 index cards and write 10 things from your list on each card. Carry these around with you and focus on one card each day.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out how much is really going right in your life.

To A Life Worth Living,

Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!



When Everything Seems to be Going Wrong

The economy is in the toilet, your so called friends have disappointed you, your family doesn’t understand you, you’re worried about finding a job. Your grades are suffering- and God knows what else. Sometimes life is like that. We feel overworked and underpaid, and the stress takes a toll on our health and happiness.

Take a notice that all of your problems keep you focused on the past by dwelling by what went wrong and beating yourself up over it or worried about what may or may not happen in the future. All of this keeps you from being in the present. You cannot grow or move forward unless you are living in the moment. One of the most essential ways to stay present is to live with an attitude of gratitude.

When you arise in the morning, be grateful to be alive, be grateful for your health, for your job, and children. Be grateful for the country you live in, for the friends you have, and the family you enjoy. Literally, count your blessings every day. Sometimes a patient may tell me, “I have nothing to be thankful for. I hate this place.” I will then work with them to come up with something no matter how small. I will say something like, “Look at what a nice day it is!. It is not too hot or too cold. The sky is blue and clear” or “Hey, you’re talking to me right now. I could be off doing something else instead.” Then I get a response like, “Oh, yeah…I didn’t think about that.”

gratitude

Three amazing things will happen when you are grateful. The first is that you will actually become more grateful. You will start to realize that, despite the trials of everyday life, you are, in fact, blessed. The irony is that the more things you realize you have to be grateful for, the more grateful you become for other things. It is like a snowball rolling down a hill. The gratitude becomes overwhelming.

The second thing that will happen is that more good fortune and opportunities will begin to come your way. I don’t pretend to understand why this happens, I just know it does. Those who are grateful just seem to attract more and more good things.

And the third thing that will happen is that you will feel great – healthier and more energetic than you have in years!

The stressors in our life are not likely to go away. What we need to do is learn to control our response to them by living with an attitude of gratitude. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn has often said, “The same wind blows on us all; it is the set of our sail that makes us who we are.” 

 

To A Life Worth Living,

 

Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

 

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. facebook.com/foresteen.forbes