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The Sensitive Personality

Posted on 27 February, 2015 at 8:00 Comments comments (5208)

Chances are, you probably know someone who is sensitive. Or maybe it's you who is sensitive. Many of my clients are "the sensitive type." They tell me others have encouraged or commanded them to "suck it up," or "just stop being so sensitive." They wish they could, too, because it might make life a little easier for them, but they don't know how to go about it. If this describes you, you may be a more sensitive person. If this makes you think of someone you know and love, maybe it will give you some insight into what life is like for her.


Sensitive people relate stories of friends or siblings who experienced a similar situation to theirs, but reacted in a different way, such as laughing off the incident, confronting the offender, or forgetting about it. But, someone who is sensitive is a strong feeler. This person has trouble just letting something go. This person has a tendency to take things personally, or to perceive a personal attack where one doesn't exist. She may overanalyze a situation or repeatedly replay it in her mind, considering what she said and did and what she should have done instead. She also may be inclined to cry easily when others don't. Sad or poignant stories affect her deeply, and she has difficulty putting them out of her mind. This person may also experience sensitivity in other ways. She may have sensitive skin, or a sensitive stomach. She may tend to react more intensely to medication or to get sick more often. She may have more allergies. She may tire faster than others.


Sensitivity doesn't have to be a bad thing. We need all types of people in the world. The sensitive type tends to be perceptive and intuitive. This person often can tell when someone is having a hard time or a bad day, and is likely to be empathetic. She tends to be tuned in to others. She is more aware of her surroundings. She is extremely considerate, usually putting others before herself, sometimes to a fault. She may say that she feels disrespected or like people walk all over her.


So, how do you deal with sensitivity? How do you let things just roll off your back? Check out my next blog to find out.



Simple Tips for Better Sleep

Posted on 1 February, 2015 at 23:35 Comments comments (5531)

Sleep is essential to our well-being. You know how you feel the day after staying out too late. It might even take a few days to get back on schedule. Where you used to regularly pull all-nighters with few consequences, you now have serious functioning problems when you miss out on your beauty sleep. You feel tired and cranky. You're sluggish. Your brain is in a fog. It's difficult to process information, hard to focus on the task at hand.


For some people, a poor night's sleep is a rare event, and easily traced to the previous evening's activities. For others, bad sleep is the norm. You long to get more than an hour or two at a time, but are plagued by the dreaded insomnia. This can be due to various reasons, such as a medical or mental health issue, or possibly because of poor "sleep hygiene." Below are some suggestions for improving your sleep.



1. If insomnia is a persistent problem for you, consulting your physician is a wise choice. There may be a physical or medication issue that could be dealt with that would promote better sleep.


2. Avoid caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, soda) at least six hours before bedtime. You might even include chocolate in this list, since it has caffeine in it as well.


3. Do not drink alcohol to help you fall asleep. While it seems like alcohol helps you relax, it actually inhibits REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This is the sleep stage in which we dream, and the one considered to be mentally restorative. When you disrupt your REM sleep, you feel drowsy the next day and have poor concentration, which is exactly what you are trying to avoid.


4. Avoid taking naps during the day, even if you missed sleep the night before. As delicious as naps are, they can really interfere with nighttime sleep, making you anxious when you have difficulty falling asleep that night, which only keeps you awake longer.


5. Develop a relaxing before bed routine. This could include things like turning off screens (television, computer, smart phone) at least an hour before bedtime, taking a shower or bath, drinking a warm cup of milk, or reading a book. Choose things that are relaxing to you, and start winding down before your head hits the pillow.


6. Make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable. A quiet room, comfortable room temperature, and comfortable bed are essential to good sleep.


7. Do not try to sleep with the television on at night. This is extremely disruptive to sleep. If you feel like you can't sleep without noise, get a fan or white noise machine that produces a steady sound, instead of the lights and distracting sounds of the T.V.


8. Relax your body when you go to bed. Practice deep breathing or try tightening and releasing your muscles from head to toe.


9. When you are in bed is not the time to worry about problems. This only makes you feel anxious and makes sleep even more elusive. Keep a pad of paper on your nightstand and write down any worries or tasks for the next day so you can turn them loose for the night. Have a positive attitude about sleep and expect to go to sleep when you lie down in bed.


10. Exercise early in the day, or at least three hours before bedtime. Heavy exercise right before bed can make it difficult to fall asleep due to the endorphins you just released. Your body is stimulated and is no longer ready to sleep.



Sleep is so important to being a functional human. Many of us give it short shrift, not realizing we are walking (and driving!) around like zombies, not fully aware of our actions. If you have ever driven somewhere and not remembered how you got there, you know what I mean. That is scary.

Prioritize your sleep at night and notice what a difference it makes in how you feel during the day.

Five Ways to Respect Your Teen

Posted on 11 November, 2014 at 10:45 Comments comments (2054)

It's easy to look at a teenager and see a child, especially if you are that child's parent. You have raised this child and built into her life since before she could take care of herself. It can be a rocky transition from providing all of your child's care to allowing her more independence, and believing she can handle it.


Maybe you're fearful your teen will practice physically self-destructive behavior, such as drinking, smoking, or doing drugs. Or you may think your child will do something to ruin her future: stop going to class, not turn in homework, get pregnant. Maybe she will get in with "the wrong crowd." It's normal for you to worry about your child, but at some point the letting go process must begin, and you must start to see her as a young adult. This can be a gradual thing, allowing more freedoms as they are earned, taking away freedoms when rules are broken.


Here are some ways to treat your teen less like a young child and more like a young adult. They all work together, although I have listed them separately.


Treat your teen with respect. Start to see her as an individual who is separate from you. Remember she may have different thoughts, ideas, feelings, and opinions than you do. That's okay. This is a safe time to formulate those. She is a real person, not a baby anymore. Show her you understand this by treating her respectfully, like you would treat another adult.


Ask for your teen's opinion. Ask what she thinks about anything and everything: particular news stories, a book you are both reading, a school policy, a movie or a band she likes, a new fashion trend, or whatever is on your mind at the moment. You may be surprised when she agrees with you or doesn't, and you will definitely learn more about her. Listen to what she says and don't blow her off because "she's a kid." Let her tell you why she thinks the way she does.


Include your teen in decisions and plans. Children and teens often feel left out of planning because parents usually are the ones making the decisions. This is completely normal, of course, because you're not going to tell your five year old to call the doctor and make an appointment for herself, but the situation changes as children age. I often hear them say they don't know what the family plans are or that they only find out at the last minute what's happening. I think this adds to a feeling of hurt and disrespect, like the teen wasn't important enough to be told in advance. One way to handle this is to have a family calendar on a wall where everyone can see it and add to it as events come up. This may make for fewer last minute surprises, especially for teens who need more time to get used to an idea or plan before it actually takes place.


Let your teen be the one to pick the activity sometimes. It's okay to do what she wants to do sometimes, even if it's not what you would have picked. It's okay to consult your teen and find out her preference. You wouldn't make another adult always do what you wanted to do, so don't force that on your child either. This is another way to show respect.


Finally, let your teen experience the consequences of her actions. Don't rescue her from situations of her own making. If she didn't do her homework, you don't need to nag her death about it: allow her to see what happens when she doesn't have anything to turn in. Yes, there is a place for parental reminders, but teens also need to learn about cause and effect, actions and consequences, especially when they can experience it on a smaller, safer scale. Rescuing behavior doesn't do any good for anyone involved: Your teen doesn't learn how to stand alone, make decisions for herself, and accept the fall-out for them, and you wind up feeling annoyed, exhausted, desperate, and hurt when she blows you off and does what she wants to, anyway.


Show your teen some respect, and notice how your relationship with her changes.

It's Okay to Grieve in Your Own Way

Posted on 20 October, 2014 at 11:00 Comments comments (4548)

There are many kinds of loss. The death of a friend or loved one may be one of the most common, but some other losses include:

 

Job loss

Death of a dream

Loss of a beloved pet

Divorce

Loss of a relationship

Change in life circumstances

Less ability to do what you used to be able to do

 


Loss is a personal, painful thing. You may feel like you will never recover from it, like things will never be the same. You may feel sad, depressed, angry, scared, confused, or even relieved. All those feelings are okay. Actually, whatever you are feeling is okay. You grieve in your own, unique way. No one can tell you it's the wrong way because it's your way. It's what you need to do to process your loss.

 


But you can find healing. No, things won't be the same, but you can find your new way to live. You can go on with your life, remembering and honoring the loss, but not letting it continue to devastate you. Life really is for the living, and at some point, you will be ready to rejoin it. Don't rush to get there. Don't let anyone push you into it before you're ready. Take your time and feel your feelings. Let yourself feel numb, or angry, or sad, or relieved. Realize that others may not understand your process. That's okay. They don't have to "get it." They will probably go back to their regular routine while you are still reeling, and let that be okay, too. It's different for you than it is for them. You need more time. That's normal.

 


One day, you'll laugh again, when you thought you never would. It might surprise you; you might even feel guilty about it! Laughing is a good sign, though. Enjoying something you used to like means you are dealing with your loss. It means you are starting to live again. You're starting to accept your new normal, whether that means life without a special person or pet, a new job or lack of a job, the limits on your health you now have to deal with, or any of a number of things. Loss is hard. Grief is hard. But it doesn't have to be the end of your world. You can get through this. And it is about getting through it, not around it or avoiding it in some way. You must wade into it, let it surround you, plod on, and come out the other side. And you will come out the other side. In your own time. When you are ready.

 


Until that happens, let it be okay to take the time you need to process what you need to process. When you're ready to go on, do what you need to do: rejoin slowly; jump all in; reevaluate your commitments; start something new; pick up something old; make a new friend; eliminate someone toxic from your life. Do what's healthy for you, and don't feel guilty about it.

 


Remember, life is for the living. Remember the loss. Honor it. But keep living life. That's why you're still here.