Tag Archives: counseling

Help End the Barriers to Mental Health Treatment

How can we end barriers to mental health treatment and reduce the stigma associated with it?

An article published on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website states that “In 2010, the Affordable Care Act extended health insurance coverage to individuals aged 19 to 25 whose parents had employer-sponsored private insurance. Thanks to this extended coverage, more young adults have access to mental health and substance abuse treatment services through their parents’ employer-sponsored health insurance.”

The article goes on to say that from 2004-2012, average yearly treatment costs for 19-25-year-olds who received mental and substance use treatment remained constant at approximately $1,600. However, the source of those payments changed significantly. Private insurance took on a much larger share, increasing from $520 to $822 annually, while treatment paid by Medicaid and other public sources (such as Medicare, Veterans Affairs/Civilian Health and Medicaid Program for Uniform Services) declined from $698 to $417. (February 16, 2016) Retrieved from http://blog.samhsa.gov/2016/02/18/more-young-adults-use-private-insurance-for-behavioral-health-treatment-following-the-acas-dependent-coverage-mandate/#.VsspKPkrI5c. February 22, 2016.

Although this data indicates that private insurance is covering more of the cost for those seeking treatment, there is not a corresponding statistic that shows an increase in young adults seeking mental health care. Is that because there aren’t more young adults who need mental health or substance abuse care? Are there significant barriers for those who seek mental health treatment?

Joel L. Young M.D. in Addressing Mental Health Treatment Barriers  (January 29, 2014) https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/when-your-adult-child-breaks-your-heart/201401/addressing-mental-health-treatment-barriers published on Psychology Today’s blog page lists the following barriers to seeking mental health treatment for people of any age:

  • Refusing Treatment – I don’t want/need help.
  • Balancing Life and Treatment – I don’t have time.
  • Financial Issues – I can’t afford it.
  • Family Support – I’m the screw up of my family. My family doesn’t want to admit I have a mental illness.
  • Geographic Barriers – There isn’t any place to receive treatment that I can get to.
  • Finding the Right Treatment – I can’t find a therapist that I can work with.

Another barrier to seeking treatment must not be overlooked. Stigma. Refusing treatment, balancing life and treatment, a lack of family support are frequently the result of the stigma of mental illness, and the “Black Sheep” point of view are informed by that stigma. It seems incredible that in this age of enlightenment, of ready access to the internet, and of celebrity espousal of the cause, the stigma of mental illness and substance abuse is still so prevalent. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/when-your-adult-child-breaks-your-heart/201401/addressing-mental-health-treatment-barriers. February 22, 2016.

Here are some suggestions of how to help from an article found on Shatter the Stigma Mend the Mind found at http://www.mendthemind.ca/stigma/seven-important-things-we-can-do-reduce-stigma-and-discrimination, on February 22, 2016.

1. Know the facts.

Educate yourself about mental health problems. Learn the facts (“Top 11 Myths about Mental Illness”) instead of the myths. Visiting our website is a great place to start!

2. Be aware of your attitudes and behaviour

We’ve all grown up with prejudices and judgmental thinking. But we can change the way we think! See people as unique human beings, not as labels or stereotypes. See the person beyond their mental illness; they have many other personal attributes that do not disappear just because they also have a mental illness.

3. Choose your words carefully

The way we speak can affect the way other people think and speak. Don’t use hurtful or derogatory language.

4. Educate others

Find opportunities to pass on facts and positive attitudes about people with mental health problems. If your friends, family, co-workers or even the media present information that is not true, challenge their myths and stereotypes. Let them know how their negative words and incorrect descriptions affect people with mental health problems by keeping alive the false ideas.

5. Focus on the positive

People with mental health and substance use problems make valuable contributions to society. Their health problems are just one part of who they are. We’ve all heard the negative stories. Let’s recognize and applaud the positive ones.

6. Support people

Treat people who have mental health problems with dignity and respect. Think about how you’d like others to act toward you if you were in the same situation. If you have family members, friends or co-workers with substance use or mental health problems, support their choices and encourage their efforts to get well.

7. Include everyone

In Canada and the US, it is against the law for employers and people who provide services to discriminate against people with mental health and substance use problems. Denying people access to things such as jobs, housing and health care, which the rest of us take for granted, violates human rights.

Speak up when you hear someone using stereotypical statements and/or making derogatory remarks about folks with mental illness. Keeping quiet is tacitly agreeing to what is being said. Sometimes it takes courage to speak up, but it is your duty to do so.

Click here to go to the National Alliance of Mental Health’s graphic describing how children and teens are affected by mental health issues.

Check out these websites. They offer great information and ideas for stamping out the stigma of mental illness.


Animal Assisted Therapy – How Animals Help Humans Heal

Animal Assisted Therapy Works!

My dog at work

Those of us who own pets know they make us happy. But a growing body of scientific research is showing that our pets can also make us healthy, or healthier. Animal assisted therapy is gaining more impetus every day.

That helps explain the increasing use of animals — dogs and cats mostly, but also birds, fish and even horses — in settings ranging from hospitals and nursing homes to schools, jails and mental institutions.

What, exactly, is animal therapy? According to the Mayo Clinic,  “Animal assisted therapy is a broad term that includes animal assisted therapy and other animal assisted activities.” Animal assisted therapy can significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue in people with a range of health problems:

  • Children having dental procedures
  • People receiving cancer treatment
  • People in long-term care facilities
  • People hospitalized with chronic heart failure
  • Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder

And it’s not only the ill person who reaps the benefits. Family members and friends who sit in on animal visits say they feel better, too. Animals also can be taught to reinforce rehabilitative behaviors in patients, such as throwing a ball or walking. (From Mayo Clinic Consumer Health Retrieved 2-10-2016 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/pet-therapy/art-20046342?pg=2.)

Take Viola, or Vi for short. The NPR website tells us her story  in an article entitled “Pet Therapy: How Animals And Humans Heal Each Other” by Julie Rovner: (Julie is now with Kaiser Health News.)

The retired guide dog is the resident canine at the Children’s Innhttp://www.aubreyhfine.com/faithful-companion/ on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. Families stay there when their children are undergoing experimental therapies at NIH.

Vi, a chunky yellow Labrador retriever with a perpetually wagging tail, greets families as they come downstairs in the morning and as they return from treatment in the afternoon. She can even be “checked out” for a walk around the bucolic NIH grounds.

Thelma Balmaceda, age, 4, [loves to] pet Viola, the resident canine at the Children’s Inn on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. Families stay at the inn when their children are undergoing experimental therapies at NIH.

“There really isn’t a day when she (Vi) doesn’t brighten the spirits of a kid at the Inn. And an adult. And a staff member,” says Meredith Daly, the inn’s spokeswoman.

But Vi may well be doing more than just bringing smiles to the faces of stressed-out parents and children. Dogs like Vi have helped launch an entirely new field of medical research over the past three decades.

Aubrey Fine, a clinical psychologist and professor at California State Polytechnic University says that use of animals in medicine dates back to Egyptian times where dogs and serpents were often symbols of powerful healers.  “One could even look at Florence Nightingale recognizing that animals provided a level of social support in the institutional care of the mentally ill,” says Fine, who has written several books on the human-animal bond, including his latest  “Our Faithful Companions: Exploring the Essence of Our Kinship with Animals.”

But it was only in the late 1970s at a conference in Dundee, Scotland researchers started to uncover the scientific underpinnings for that bond. In a study published in October of 1988 authors Vormbrock and Grossberg reported “Results revealed that (a) subjects’ BP levels were lowest during dog petting, higher while talking to the dog, and highest while talking to the experimenter and (b) subjects’ heart rates were lower while talking or touching the dog and higher while both touching and talking to the dog.”

Rebecca Johnson, a nurse who heads the Research Center for Human/Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, explains that interaction with animals can increase our level of oxytocin, the renowned “feel good” hormone.

“That is very beneficial for us,” Johnson said. “Oxytocin helps us feel happy and trusting. Oxytocin has some powerful effects for us in the body’s ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells, so it predisposes us to an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier.”

But Johnson says it may also have longer-term human health benefits. “Oxytocin has some powerful effects for us in the body’s ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells, so it predisposes us to an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier.” From an article by Laurel Johnson to downloaded on Feb. 9, 2016 from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/07/29/pets-as-therapy/.

Johnson is now working on a new project with likely benefits for dogs and humans. Military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are providing shelter dogs with basic obedience training.

And while it’s still early in the research, she says, one thing is pretty clear: “Helping the animals is helping the veterans to readjust to being at home.”

Animals act as therapists themselves or facilitate therapy — even when they’re not dogs or cats. For example, psychologist Fine, who works with troubled children, uses dogs in his practice — and also a cockatoo and even a bearded dragon named Tweedle.

“One of the things that we have always know is that the animals help a clinician go under the radar of a child’s consciousness, because the child is much more at ease and seems to be much more willing to reveal,” he says.

Horses have also become popular therapists for people with disabilities. “The beauty of the horse is that it can be therapeutic in so many different ways,” says Breeanna Bornhorst, executive director of the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program in Clifton, Va. “Some of our riders might benefit from the connection and the relationship-building with the horse and with their environment. Other riders maybe will benefit physically, from the movements, and build that core strength, and body awareness and muscle memory.”

Card Decks for Therapy Sessions

Using Card Decks in Therapy Sessions

Ester Leutenbergby Ester Leutenberg

Liven up your groups and teach by doing: use cards decks with open-ended questions. Integrating knowledge while playing a card game! WPA’s cards correspond with our teen or adult mental health books.

These unique cards can be used in a variety of ways with groups exploring one or all of the corresponding books’ topics or on their own. Specific cards can be used in conjunction with identified pages, groups of cards can be used to address the theme of a section in the book or all the cards can be used to explore the overall concept of the topic. Individual cards can be selected to begin a specific session or used as an activity during a predetermined intervention.  The group facilitator may wish to pre-select cards on a specific subject choosing those that are most appropriate for the members within that particular group session.  The facilitator can also encourage participants to select the topic of discussion and then select the appropriate cards.

Group Arrangement – Group members can be seated in a circle with group facilitator holding the cards or around a table with cards placed in the middle of table.  If group members have a difficult time with verbal communication offer options like writing answers on paper prior to sharing.  You can be creative in establishing a safe environment for sharing.

Number of Participants – Recommended group size is 4-14 to allow all members the opportunity to share and interact with each other.  If there is a larger group you may consider breaking into smaller groups for sharing.  Upon returning to the larger group ask each small group to share what they learned from their small group discussion.

Format of the Cards – The cards are written to address each of the sections of the corresponding book.  While some cards could be used to address a specific concept on a given page, the majority are written to initiate conversation around thMental Health and Life Skills Card Deckse concept of the section.  Numbers on the bottom right corner of the cards correspond to the corresponding section of the book.

Activity Suggestions – The use of the cards is limited only by the creativity of the group leader.  The unique quality of the corresponding cards is you may use a section of cards to discuss a specific topic or all of the cards to discuss the topic of each book  as a larger concept. The follow is the most traditional manner using cards for group facilitation.  Group interaction and personal disclosure can be enhanced by using cards to begin a group session, tackle a difficult subject in the core of group process or to create a thoughtful closure.

Prior to using the cards set the group framework. To maintain a safe atmosphere highly encourage participants to share but to not force them to respond.  Options may be to ask the participant if they would like to select another card or tell them you will give them more time to think and you will come back to them later.

  1. Introduce the subject of the group, (example: “Relationships”) and discuss the predetermined goals for the group session.
  2. Pass the deck of cards to your left or right and ask the group participant to select a card from the pile, read the card silently, and think about their answer.  Then ask participant to read the card out loud and share their answer with the group.
  3. Continue passing the deck, repeating the process until all members have had a chance to respond to a card.
  4. Some of the cards might lend themselves to being passed around with everyone responding or reading it out loud and asking for volunteers.
  5. It is often beneficial for the facilitator to be part of the group and also select a card.  It may be helpful if they select first to set the example and expectation that everyone can share or just be intermingled within the group sharing.

Process – The magic of card decks is that processing happens through the answering of the questions so a formal processing session after using the cards is often unnecessary.  However, if ensuring that the group intent is being communicated asking a few general questions to the group may be beneficial.

  1. What is one thing you learned about_____(the topic identified -example: Stress)
  2. What is one thing you learned from another group member about…(coping with Stress)?
  3. What is something you learned about yourself?
  4. What is a topic you would like to explore?
  5. What is a goal you could set for yourself that reflects something discussed in this session?


  • While the cards are most often used for group facilitation keep in mind they can also be extremely helpful in individual sessions when establishing a therapeutic relationship or initiating conversation.
  • The cards can be used as great journal questions or a Theme-for-the-Day.

Cards encourage thinking, getting in touch with feelings and communications.

Children can overcome abuse, deal with trauma

Victims of sexual assault struggle

In recent articles (http://stressforsuccess.blogspot.com) I’ve covered how vulnerable children are lured into sex-trafficking due to their desperation. S/he’s:
· Likely running away from an abusive home, therefore homeless;
· Alone and frightened;
· Just a kid.
A seemingly protective man, and sometimes a woman, offers to protect them. What would you do?

Beyond predatory traffickers/pimps who are preying on vulnerable kids, there’s a sad reality that makes them more vulnerable to this nightmare: early and repetitive childhood sexual trauma.

Sexual abuse harms victims’ mental, emotional, spiritual and physical development. The following description is adapted from “Childhood and Adult Sexual Victimization” by Parson, Brett and Brett.

A victim of repetitive childhood sexual abuse undergoes damage to her still-developing personality. The abuse shatters her very spirit, which is much more difficult to heal than mental and physical damage.

“Mind, body, and spirit” implies that spirit is part of the total self. Rather, spirit permeates all. It represents her essence. It holds the fabric of the self together. Spirit:
· Provides her with a healthy self-centeredness: a sense of her unique self;
· Is the natural belief that her self is her priceless, personal possession, worthy of protection and respect;

Sexual assaults devastate his spirit and self-respect. His natural social tendencies are haunted by constant vulnerability, resulting in blameless availability for adult abuse. The child goes from being spirit-filled and alive to essence-defused and empty. The degraded self may be drained of most traces of feeling human.

Contributing immeasurably to the child’s helplessness is the blaming the child for the incest while the adult denies responsibility. The abuse is committed on someone who is least able to protect himself from immoral adult power.

After repetitive abuse the child’s changed view of self is the essence of his stress. He’s robbed of his free will, spontaneity, and autonomy. His patterns of perceiving, trusting, and acting are drastically altered based on many secrets too terrible to face. He’s forced into secrecy with threats of exposure, abandonment, fear of repeated sexual injuries, and further humiliation. He’s constantly wary around adults.

He’s forced to grow up fast, learning how to survive. To survive he navigates his dangerous terrain through hyper-vigilance to adult mood and behavioral cues of impending abuse. He maneuvers around them. He de-activates the mines before they explode through good behavior and an appeasing manner to avert adult depravity. Running away becomes a viable option.

His spirit dims; her laughter is extinguished. Their environment is a place where no joy, hope, and love are allowed to flourish. There’s only emotional and spiritual darkness, helplessness, and buried rage to be resurrected at a later time, and unleashed suddenly on unsuspecting targets, including the self.

They live in a persistent state of stress-induced burnout due to near-constant paranoid expectations of attacks. Being chronically revved-up is akin to living in an internal police state.

What’s profoundly remarkable is that these children find a way to survive. Their strength and ingenuity are integral parts of trauma therapy, which can help. To find trauma therapists in our area go to http://www.mhaswfl.org/.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple, at https://wholeperson.com/x-selfhelp/selfhelp.html#Anchor-Let-11481.

Stress: A Matter of Perception

Stress can be caused by events, which will produce different reactions in each of us. Events are not good or bad within themselves, but our needs and experiences add context to them. The personal lens that we see events through can make them stressful.

Every day you face events that you either see as threatening or non-threatening. Which one it is depends on the perception habits you’ve learned.  These are learned from a young age; you absorb them from people around you. If your parents fought about money, you’re likely to feel finances are stressful. There are many factors that change your perceptions growing up, like your peers, your geographic location, economic status, etc. If you judge an event as threatening, you’ll feel distress. Your unique perceptions change the amount of threat from an event; seeing a large dog may not threaten you at all, but may cause distress for your friend who was bitten by a dog. The amount of distress from an event will change, depending on the level of value you place on what’s being threatened. Maybe you don’t feel threatened by having to miss going out with friends for a work function. But if it were your best friend’s birthday you were missing for work, you would probably feel bad. Perception habits are hard to change, but being aware of them can help you reduce your distress.

  • What kind of perception habits do you have?

Kicking Your Stress Habits

Assess your emotions before a confrontation

Let Your Body WinYou swear you’re prepared to speak calmly and professionally to a coworker you believe is intentionally sabotaging you. But the second you open your mouth to say something, BAM! you’re practically yelling at him! The first moments of an encounter set the stage for the entire conversation and you know you’ve blown it. But how can you control your aggression?

Use advice from the great book, “Crucial Conversations” by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler (McGraw-Hill, 2002.)

Defensive emotions once engaged are difficult to turn off. And the more defensive you are the more convinced you are that you’re right, giving more fuel to your emotions. If you’ve blown it you may want to apologize and arrange to talk later after you privately take responsibility for your emotions. Here’s how.

Last week I wrote about the book’s advice to identify the other person’s behavior and ask yourself why s/he is behaving that way. Your answer is what actually causes your emotions, not the other person’s behavior. It’s vital to understand this so you can move beyond your defensiveness.

For example, you and I are working on a project together. I discover that you’ve met privately with our boss. Plus, when we both attend meetings you “hog” the time, making it seem like you’re in charge of the project, which you’re not.

“Why” do I think you’re hogging the limelight and excluding me from meetings? My answer: “Because you want all of the credit.” Doesn’t this assumption fuel my anger and resentment?

But just because I believe this doesn’t make it true. If my “why” answer is defensive and judgmental, which it is, I need to identify your behaviors and the facts of the situation before speaking to you.
* Fact/behavior: you had two meetings with the boss that I wasn’t notified of so couldn’t attend. You didn’t inform me later either.
* Fact/behavior: when we presented our idea together you spoke for several minutes while I spoke far less.

Separating the facts and your behaviors from my assumption that you want all of the credit balances me emotionally. I feel more in the driver’s seat of my own life, which decreases my stress therefore my defensiveness. I can assertively speak to you by using this formula:
1. State the facts from my point of view;
2. My interpretation of their meaning;
3. How I feel about it;
4. Ask if I understand correctly.

E.g., “Tom, you didn’t inform me of the meetings you had privately with the boss. This makes me think excluding me was intentional. I felt resentment and was hurt by this. Was I purposefully excluded and if so, why?”

Substituting my assumptions (“hogging” and “wanting all the credit”) with the facts of the situation including your behavior plus using this formula to address my concerns can help balance me so I’m less likely to become instantly defensive.

Next week we’ll look at additional ideas to improve your ability to handle your “crucial conversations.”

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.

Anger may be an emotional castle built on sand

The Importance of Crucial Conversations
Jacquelyn Ferguson, MS

Do you avoid difficult workplace (or personal) conversations where you fear the outcome will be uncomfortable? If so, read “Crucial Conversations” by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler (McGraw-Hill, 2002.)

According to these authors an organization’s effectiveness is strongly determined by its employees’ willingness to have crucial conversations. They found in the worst organizations poor performers are ignored then transferred. In good organizations supervisors eventually handle problem situations. In high performing organizations’ employees willingly and effectively speak to someone who fails to deliver on promises. Everyone is held accountable regardless of their level.

Difficult conversations usually trigger your stress cycle; therefore defensive behavior (my words not theirs,) bring out your worst behavior (their words). What’s your worst behavior? It’s not pretty, is it? You’d probably be as embarrassed as I to have people you respect see you behave that way.

To move beyond your automatic, defensive reactions and your worst behavior determine what – or whom – is actually causing your problem. Is it really that co-worker who aggravates you so, or might it your own interpretation of that person?

I’ve frequently written about how negative judgments of others trigger your worst behavior. These authors approach this formula differently, which may help you see that your own interpretations determine your emotional reactions and behavior.

Their advice is to ask yourself why the other person is behaving as he is. A simple example from a program I recently presented, “Collaborative Communication.” During our lunch break an attendee had to wait a long time at a Subway shop where there was only one employee working. He was doing his best and actually, according to my attendee, was doing quite well. He waited on four people at a time, taking each sandwich through the same steps together. All four customers had to wait for all four sandwiches to be made together.

Upon his return to our classroom, my attendee explained his own impatience was because the employee was disorganized (negative judgment). In my attendee’s mind, it was the employee’s disorganization that made the attendee impatient. Another attendee offered a different perspective. She suggested that the Subway employee probably didn’t want to take off and put on his plastic gloves repeatedly, so he made multiple sandwiches together. My attendee thought this seemed a likely explanation and said he probably wouldn’t have been impatient if he’d looked at it that way.

In other words, the label “disorganized” is what caused the attendee to become impatient, not the Subway employee’s system.

Who drives you the most nuts? Why is that person doing what he’s doing? Your explanation, your “why,” triggers your emotions therefore you reaction. The other person doesn’t make you feel as you do, therefore cannot be responsible for your reaction.

To have an important conversation that you’re now avoiding, prepare for it by asking yourself, “What’s your problem person’s behavior and why is he acting that way?” Next week I’ll address how to handle your negative why.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.

To be happy consider strengths

Live, appreciate your strong suits
By Jacquelyn Ferguson, MSJacquelyn Ferguson

Dr. Martin Seligman, University of PA author of “Authentic Happiness” and a Positive Psychology pioneer, says happiness is strongly enhanced by three factors:
* Feeling better about your past;
* Thinking more optimistically about your future;
* Experiencing more contentment in the present.

To be happier in the moment Seligman advises you to avoid shortcuts to happiness: sensory experiences accompanied by strong emotions (ecstasy, orgasm, thrills, delight,) like eating hot fudge sundaes, having sex, or watching spectator sports. These pleasures give you upticks in happiness but fade quickly.

It’s much better to seek gratifications, which are activities you do for the sake of doing them. They involve thinking and require stretching your skills to improve.

Gratifications will bring you greater ongoing happiness when they are an expression of your signature strengths. (Take Seligman’s VIA Strengths Survey @ www.authentichappiness.org to discover your own.) All of these strengths are very positive. Living your life expressing your top five or so makes you much happier – so much so that you can stop focusing on fixing what’s supposedly wrong with you. Wouldn’t that be refreshing? These strengths include:

Wisdom and Knowledge: Courage:

Curiosity Valor
Love of learning Perseverance
Judgment Integrity
Social intelligence

Humanity and Love: Justice:

Kindness Citizenship
Loving Fairness

Temperance: Transcendence:

Self-control Appreciation of beauty
Prudence Gratitude
Humility Hope

For example, my top five strengths identified by taking his assessment two years ago and again recently, are:
* Integrity;
* Curiosity;
* Zest;
* Loving;
* Gratitude;

These strengths have strongly influenced my choices, thereby my happiness.

  • Integrity: Hopefully those who know me well would say that I have integrity. Just a small example is that lying is virtually impossible for me. I also deliver what I promise, etc.
  • Curiosity: I love my work and have great curiosity in all the workshop and speech topics I present (not to mention this column.) In fact, I won’t present topics that don’t interest me.
    * Zest: Researching areas that fascinate me gives me great zest or energy and passion for presenting information to others.
  • Loving: I’m fortunate to have a wonderful husband and great friends and family. Throughout my entire life I’ve had abundant loving relationships.
  • Gratitude: All of my life I’ve been a very grateful person, which is an effective buffer against depression, according to Seligman.
  • I truly have a great life; and not because of money or possessions nor quick pleasures – although I do love watching MN Vikings’ games. My happiness and contentment come from living what is to me an interesting life; one of my own choosing and designing, therefore authentic.

Identify your own signature strengths by taking Seligman’s assessment, then figure out how you already live these and consciously appreciate that. Seek even greater happiness by looking for additional ways to express your strengths. If authentic happiness is your goal, living your strengths is your strategy.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.

How to become more optimistic about future

Can I learn to be Optimistic?
By Jacquelyn Ferguson MS

Would more money, a nicer house or better health make you more content? Are these the same things that satisfy happier people, too? If not, what can we learn from them to become happier ourselves?

The Positive Psychology movement finds that you’ll get the most bang for your happiness buck by changing how you:
* Feel about your past
* Think about your future
* Experience your present

So let’s look to your future.

Future-oriented positive emotions include:
* Optimism
* Faith
* Hope
* Trust

You must be fairly optimistic for these emotions to augment your happiness. Optimism is hope about your prospects. In these tough times it’s more difficult to remain hopeful, yet many do.

Dr. Martin Seligman, the University of PA pioneer of Positive Psychology, author of “Learned Optimism” and “Authentic Happiness,” and world renown optimism/pessimism researcher, has shown through extensive research that optimists and pessimists interpret events very differently. Pessimists are more realistic but optimists are more resilient, healthier and may live longer, and are better at work and in sports.

Seligman has narrowed down becoming more optimistic to changing how you explain why good and bad things happen to you through two dimensions of your “Explanatory Style:”
* Permanence versus temporary: for how long do you give up?
* Pervasiveness – universal versus specific: how much of your life is affected by events?

Permanence vs. temporary: Pessimists see causes of bad events as permanent, such as not getting a job interviewed for – “I’m all washed up.”

Optimists use temporary terminology to explain “I wasn’t on for that interview.”

Whose stress lasts longer? Who’s going to give up more easily? Being washed up sounds very permanent.

Pessimists also use expansive and exaggerated words like “always” and “never” such as “I’ll never get a job.”

Optimists use “sometimes” and “lately” such as “I’ve had some bad interviews lately.”

Opposite terminology is used when something good happens.

Pessimists use temporary terminology to explain why something good happened – “I’m lucky to get this job.”

Optimist use permanent causes for good events – “I’m the best candidate for this job.”

The second dimension of your Explanatory Style is Pervasive: how much of your life is affected by an event?

For bad events pessimists explain with universal terms and may feel helpless in multiple areas of their lives, like not getting the job:
* “I’m such a loser.”

Optimists use specific explanations and limit any helplessness to the bad event – “I wasn’t feeling well that day.”
Who is more resilient for the next interview?

Pessimists use specific reasons to explain why something good happened – “I got the job because I’m good at math.”

Optimists use universal reasons – “I got the job because I’m smart.”

So, to become more optimistic and happier about your future explain bad events with temporary and specific causes and good events with permanent and universal ones.
Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.LetYourBodyWin.gif

Relabeling – Another Angle on Stress

Relabeling – A positive coping skill
From Kicking Your Stress Habits
By Donald A. Tubesing, PhD, MDiv.

You wake up. You’re in a good mood for a Monday. You get ready for work and head out the door. Three hours later, your head is on your desk and you want to go back to bed. What went wrong?  You may not realize you assigned an event a good or bad value until you find yourself stressed and wondering that very question. What did go wrong? Thinking back, you see that you started feeling stressed when a friend you work with walked by without saying hello. After that, you started feeling gloomy.

So, you’re feeling threatened because you fear that you’ve lost the respect of a friend. In this situation, you can try relabeling—looking at an event from another, more positive point of view. Rather than instantly jump to the conclusion she was ignoring you, think about other reasons she may not have noticed you. Maybe she was on the phone, or had a headache. When you’ve calmed down, you can asked her about it. Most likely, there was no actual threat, and relabeling can help you calm down enough to see that.

Relabeling is not always right. While you can relabel some situations, don’t relabel getting mugged as meeting someone new.  When you identify a threat, you will know it; use the adrenaline boost from the stress to get out of the situation, or fix it.

Kicking Your Stress Habits Cover

Negative Coping Skills

Negative Coping Skills
From Kicking Your Stress Habits
By Donald A. Tubesing, PhD, MDiv

How do you handle stress? The different ways we tackle stress are called coping skills. There are two kinds of these skills. Positive skills are ones that energize you, like exercising or laughing with a friend. The other set are negative skills that leave you feeling worse, like drinking or ignoring your stress.

Say you react to stress by turning a blind eye to it. You will end up drained from all the effort you’re putting into ignoring your stress. This only makes you feel worse, leaving you with even less energy. See the pattern? You have less energy and you still haven’t solved your problem. The drained feeling you get from stress can lead to illness—up to 90% are caused by stress alone! Can you imagine being sick 90% less? Consistent stress can cause peptic ulcers, chronic headaches, anxiety, high blood pressure, and even heart disease. Thinking about that alone is downright stressful!  On the other hand, if you choose a positive coping skill, you will regain energy rather than just spending it. Then you have more energy to put into things you enjoy, which will help you relax even more. This is also a pattern, but an infinitely better one.

  • What kind of coping skills do you have?
  • Are they positive or negative?
  • Have they changed over the years?

~For more information on this subject, click here.

Kicking Your Stress Habits Cover

Depression more common now

Effort-driven rewards are more meaningful than short-term pleasures
By Jacquelyn Ferguson, MS

Isn’t it odd that depression in America increased along with our affluence? Shouldn’t it work the other way around? Is there something in our relatively prosperous lifestyle that’s an actual cause of depression?

The pioneer of Positive Psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of PA, described two studies conducted in the 1970s in which people of different generations reported on their lifetime episodes of depression.

One might assume that the older generation would have more incidents of depression because of experiencing far more hardships from the Great Depression and two world wars, not to mention having lived longer.

But the opposite was true. Younger people were much more likely to have experienced depression. In fact, one study found that those born in the middle third of the 20th century were ten times more likely to suffer from major depression than those born in the first third of the century.

Here are two reasons that may help explain.

Lifestyle differences: older generations were far more physically active than younger ones. Think about some differences:

  •  Today it’s throw-away diapers; yesterday it was cloth diapers that were soaked and washed;
  •  Today you buy microwavable, ready-to-eat meals; yesterday, they grew, hunted, and prepared their own food;
  •  Etc.

Why might modern life along with its hi-tech gizmos, cars and microwaves be part of the soaring rate of depression? What might we have lost when we went from labor-intensive lifestyles to our sedentary ones?

“Our brains are programmed to derive deep satisfaction and pleasure when our physical effort produces something tangible,” says neuroscientist and psychologist Kelly Lambert, writing in Scientific American Mind (and author of “Lifting Depression: A Neuroscientist’s Hands-on Approach to Activating Your Brain’s Healing Power, 2008.) She calls our ancestors’ hard work “effort-driven rewards.” They had greater appreciation of their efforts producing their necessities, which very importantly gave them a greater perception of control, more positive emotions and maybe protection against depression.

Other social scientists have suggested a contributor to the greater affluence/higher depression formula has to do with modern humans taking short-cuts to happiness. With increased disposable income and leisure time we bought more things (note the past tense) that brought us pleasure. But pleasures are short term enjoyments. They are sensory experiences accompanied by strong emotions (ecstasy, orgasm, thrills, delight,) like eating your favorite foods, sex or watching spectator sports. Investing more energy into pleasures gives you frequent upticks in happiness, but they fade quickly.

It turns out that we’re happier and less depressed when we seek gratifications. These are activities you do for the sake of doing them. They:

  • Involve thinking;
  • Are an expression of your strengths;
  • Stretch your skills to improve;
  • Are often considered “flow” activities;
  • Gratifications also lead to an increase in important, positive emotion boosting neurochemical releases which improves mood.

Consider fighting the blues and depression by seeking fewer short-term pleasures and more meaningful gratifications. Next week I’ll address identifying your strengths that are at the core of these gratifications.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book by clicking here. 

Let Your Body Win

What is Stress?

What is Stress
From Kicking Your Stress Habits
By Donald A. Tubesing, PhD. MDiv.

When you think of stress, what comes to mind? A deadline, some bad news, a hectic schedule? What about a party, a promotion or a holiday with family? These events are stressors that create the physical and mental feelings we all know too well — the anxious grinding in the pit of your stomach, the headaches, the moments of panic. Stress is more than a negative force. In fact, good stress can be a boost to help you overcome challengers and meet goals. Positive stress, called eustress, can add some excitement to your day and help you focus.

While life would be pretty dull without any stress, too much bad stress is destructive. This is distress — what you’re feeling when you’re stretched too thin or something traumatic happens. Both good and bad stresses are part of daily life. As Donald Tubesing puts it in his book, Kicking Your Stress Habits, we are all like violin strings; each of us needs a little tension to make music, but not so much that we snap. Each of us has to find a balance to be happy and healthy. What kind of stress adds zest to your life? What bogs you down? And how do you know when it’s too much? These are questions you can find out for yourself with just a little thought and time.

Kicking Your Stress Habits Cover

Intrinsic motivators feed your success

Motivators Feed Your Success
By Jacquelyn Ferguson

Losing weight, getting out of bed some days, not screaming at a customer; the list of responsibilities and tasks that require motivation to accomplish is a long one.

But what is motivation? Where can we get some?

The thesaurus says that it’s incentive, inspiration, drive, enthusiasm, impetus, stimulus and impulse.

You may lack these for something you don’t want to do but you’re full of them for what you love to do. Think about:
* Something you dread doing;
* Something you love to do;
What motivates you to do each?

For what you dread it may be an external force that’s pressuring you to complete it. Like the threat of losing your house if you mess up on your job or the perceived or actual disapproval of family members if you somehow fail to tow the line.

Consider the vast difference in what motivates you to do what you love. Maybe it’s caring for your grand-kids on a weekend. You love those kids so much that there’s no real motivation that you have to work up; it’s just there. Or perhaps it’s your favorite hobby that you dive into after the work day that exhausts you. Your energy miraculously returns because your hobby captivates and challenges you.

An important difference is that you’re probably intrinsically motivated by what you love to do and have to depend upon extrinsic motivation (threats, pressure, guilt, money, etc.) to force you to do what doesn’t excite you.

The trick to creating motivation for tasks that you don’t feel like doing is to look for and create intrinsic rewards for finishing them.

Intrinsic motivators represent who you are at your core. They’re associated with better mental health and lead you to greater persistence, creativity and life success. They include:
* Your positive values, which are natural motivators;
* Making a contribution;
* Pride in your work;
* Personal and professional growth;
* Meaningful relationships;

Extrinsic motivators and rewards come from outside the self and are associated with poorer mental health, even depression, and create a façade that you must then invest energy into to carrying on. These include:
* Wealth and the stuff it can buy;
* Beauty;
* Fame and adulation;

Self-esteem works in the same manner as motivation: if your perceived value is dependent upon external things like a hot car or a big house, your self-worth will be fleeting. What happens to your confidence if you lose these things? Intrinsic self-esteem based on positive values like love, connection, growth, giving, etc., gives you meaning. These values don’t leave you in hard times like your income and your looks can.

So, what is something you procrastinate doing? Or dread? Or a task that bores you? Which intrinsic motivators could help you accomplish these? Sometimes your only motivator will be a threat, money or other external rewards or punishments. Just know that mental health and success are nourished when intrinsic motivators significantly outnumber your extrinsic ones – more on this next week.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.

Let Your Body Win

You can control your instinct to be controlling

Control Freak?
By Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S.

Are you a control freak? If so, what do you think drives your behavior?
* Fear of loss of control so you compensate by exerting excessive control? Like micromanaging employees (next week’s topic).
* See your spouse and kids as a reflection on you so you demand perfection from them by telling them how to act and look?
* Or you’re convinced that you’re the best person to be in charge because you know the most (which can include the first two, also)?

You may be quick to let others know how to better handle their emotions or their life in general. You find fault in others and you’re convinced their lives would improve if they’d just take your well-informed advice. After all, you wouldn’t give advice about things you’re uninformed about now would you?

Can you tell when someone doesn’t appreciate your superior knowledge and competence? Do you dish out your advice anyway? Can you just not help yourself?

To add insult to injury you’re probably frustratingly right so often! Darn!

Instead of attempting to completely stop advising others you might have greater success by mitigating your usual approach. Rather than blurting out your counsel, preface it by saying, “I have some information that can help you, if you’re interested.” This gives the other person the control to say yes or no.

You could also light-heartedly admit to those who are typically on the receiving end of your unsolicited guidance that you know you have this tendency and your intent is truly to help. Develop an agreed upon word or better yet a nonverbal signal that the other person gives you that says “stop,” to which you agree to stop immediately.

Here are some other ways you can temper your controlling tendency:
* Consider: if someone were to give you unsolicited and excessive advice how would you react? Defensively? If so, what makes you think others enjoy yours? Try saying nothing for a couple of weeks and notice if some don’t come to you asking for your opinion! They want to be in control, too.
* Before criticizing or giving advice deep breathe a couple of times while asking yourself, “Is my advice important enough to risk any potential relationship fall-out?”
* Identify your area of expertise and who would benefit from it. Perhaps a volunteer program needs your know-how. Share your knowledge with them.

If you’re on the receiving end of a control freak you can also diminish the negative impact. Instead of reacting with automatic hostility and resistance channel your control freak’s energy. If he sticks his nose into something you’re working on invite him to help with part of it. Or head him off at the pass. Invite his input before he offers it. At least it gives you some control.

Whatever the control freak’s motivation, consider giving her a break. She can’t bother you if you don’t allow her to. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Nor can a control freak stress you without your consent.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach.

Let Your Body Win

Let go of need to control and you’ll let go of stress

Let Go of the Need to Control
By Jacquelyn Ferguson

Believing you have insufficient control is one definition of stress, like the office worker whose knuckle cracking colleague drives her nuts or the parent who becomes angry over the children’s messy rooms.

The employee blames her colleague for keeping her from concentrating thereby assumes he’s causing her stress. The paradox is that the bulk of her stress is her fixation on wanting him to stop his irritating habit.

We all tend to want to control those who bother us. But that’s our stress. Get it? Instead, for example, the parents must stop wasting their time wishing their kids were tidier and change their approach. They could impose logical consequences if their rooms remain messy, which is within the parents’ control.

Given this, then, control freaks must live highly stressful lives! They often attempt to control people and situations that are inherently beyond their control, thus the paradox.

But we’re all control freaks one degree to another. Like passive people who loathe taking the initiative and exercise their control by associating with those who are more than happy to take charge.

Who’s your control freak? Someone who tells you how to live your life or spend your money? These unwanted authorities can be irritating to those on the receiving end if not downright intimidating.

Could these control freaks be acting out their own fear of the unknown, as Pasadena psychologist Ryan Howes contends? Their unsolicited advice is an attempt to combat their feelings of powerlessness like not being able to prevent an accident if the driver does something wrong. Psychologist Steven Reiss of Ohio State University says, “The backseat driver is an individual who has a strong need to feel influence, and they’re always looking for ways to express that need.”

Where does this need for control come from? “If you grew up in an environment that was kind of chaotic, it’s almost a defensive sort of reaction,” says Jerry Burger, Santa Clara University social psychologist. “We’ve seen this in homes where a parent has an alcohol problem, for example – those children develop a need for control themselves.”

Other control freaks can trace their tendency to a specific, traumatizing life event, like mine: eye surgery at the tender age of 2 ½ after which I was tied to the crib 24 hours a day minus the 15 minutes of relief when my parents were allowed to visit. At some level of awareness I made an unconscious decision to never be out of control again!

Decades ago I worked very hard to diminish my need to control others. What helped was accepting and acknowledging what’s within my control and what’s beyond. Everything about everybody – their personalities, tendencies, habits – are beyond my control. If I want a different outcome with someone I must change my approach. For example, I could assertively ask the person to change. Or I could tolerate what they’re doing. But if my goal in changing me is to get them to change I’m still barking up a stressful tree; more on this next week.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.

Entitlements don’t come without responsibilities

Entitlements = Responsibilities
By Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S.

In the 1980’s two young people we knew had baffling work expectations. One, an office worker, was upset because she didn’t get a raise when a colleague did. The other, an electrician, became indignant when his boss, the owner of the business, dropped him off at a job but didn’t stay to do the work herself.

Does their sense of entitlement seem off-base to you?

Some say today’s Millenial generation has a too-strong sense of entitlement. An example is college counselors who cite struggling students blaming their professors for being boring; like boring instructors cause bad grades.

Having a sense of entitlement, often representing unrealistic expectations, manifests itself in many ways. Aggressive drivers feel entitled to intimidate you out of their way. Some hurricane survivors expect an immediate government rescue. Older siblings feel entitled to greater respect from younger ones. Some poor people feel entitled to unending benefits. Some affluent people expect the best opportunities. The list goes on and on.

What do you feel entitled to? Are your expectations realistic?

A sense of entitlement carries a serious risk: the possible shirking of personal responsibility. The office worker blames the boss for not giving her a raise versus wondering, “What are my options?” in securing a raise. The students could ask the same question about getting better grades.

Instead, all are focused on how the other person is interfering with them getting what they want. As I’ve stated many times before, wanting the other person to change increases the stress of a situation because the other person is always beyond your control.

What’s within your control is figuring out your options. The students could study more, get tutoring, figure out how to pay attention even when bored.

No doubt everyone has certain rights and entitlements but for each one we must also accept their inherent responsibilities. You have the right to be respected. Your responsibility is to behave in ways that earns others’ respect; being reliable, honorable, respectful of others, etc.

In the above examples which responsibilities are being ignored?
* The office employee had the responsibility to figure out what’s rewarded in her job and what isn’t. Did her attitude inhibit her from getting the additional responsibilities that would have justified a raise? Did her very sense of entitlement grate on her boss?
* The electrician had the responsibility to know what he was hired to do and to do it; to understand his job responsibilities versus his boss’s. Plus, he needed to accept that the owner of a business can do pretty much what she wants. It’s her company.
* The students need to figure out how to learn and pass. Period.

Too frequently in our rights-oriented society we demand our entitlements with little thought to their corresponding responsibilities. This almost always leads to more anxiety if we passively wait for what we want. To increase success and lower stress, it’s important to identify and pursue the options that are within your control that can lead you toward your realistic expectations.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.

Beware of emotional autopilot

Are you on Emotional Autopilot?
By Jacquelyn Ferguson, MS

It’s easy to block out painful emotions and operate emotionally on autopilot. Addictive behavior may be a warning sign that this is occurring habitually. To notice some emotions they might have to become extreme. But mindfulness stress management can allow you to face your emotions and not feel like you have to run from them.

According to Ronald Alexander, Ph.D. and author of “Wise Mind, Open Mind: Finding Purpose and Meaning in Times of Crisis, Loss and Change” handling stress mindfully helps you to be less reactive focusing on the big picture of a stressor. When automatically reacting to stressors you’re reacting out of your unconscious, which is largely programmed from early childhood. In other words, automatic, defensive reactions tend to be coming from your inner child. You’re also probably focusing on the details of the situation.

Alexander says, “The key to dealing with stressful situations, especially for those who take things personally, is to develop a deeply grounded core rudder so that no matter what size of wave one encounters they can recover quickly and proceed with more focus.” To remain grounded he recommends developing “mindstrength” through mindfulness meditation practice. “Mindstrength is the ability to easily and quickly shift from a reactive mode to becoming fully present in the moment, experiencing the full force of your emotions even as you recognize that they are temporary and will soon dissipate.”

He says mindfulness practices affect your brain’s amygdala, the area responsible for regulating emotions. When the amygdala is relaxed, your stress response is more balanced. Your:
* Heart rate lowers;
* Breathing deepens and slows;
* Body stops releasing cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream, decreasing the potential damage chronic stress places on your body;

Over time, mindfulness meditation, Alexander says, “thickens the region of the brain responsible for optimism and a sense of well-being. This area is also associated with creativity and an increased sense of curiosity, as well as the ability to be reflective and observe how your mind works.”

When in stressful situations he encourages you to answer these questions, taking your pulse of the here and now:
What do I feel right now?
Do these feelings benefit me in any way? If I feel anxious and fearful, do these emotions lead me to insights, or do they cause conflict, hold me back, and distract or weaken me?
If what I’m experiencing is in response to another person’s behavior, what’s the evidence that that person’s actions have little or nothing to do with me and are, instead, the result of what’s going on inside his/her own mind?
Can I depersonalize the situation?
How can I nourish myself at this difficult time?

Finally, Alexander says, “Mindfulness meditation and other disciplines such as martial arts, tai chi, and yoga are excellent ways of quieting the rational mind and opening up to the intuitive mind and its link to the spiritual creative force. Through this connection you can build “mindstrength,” stop reactivity, and focus on the big picture.” (www.ronaldalexander.com)

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.

Are You in Love with Stress?

Stressed Out and Like It?
By Leigh Anne Jasheway

It’s tough not to be overstressed these days. With all the roles we play every day – parent, employee, caregiver, interior decorator, organizational expert, chauffeur, medical consultant, CEO of everything – it’s only logical that we’d feel overworked and overwhelmed most of the time.

Have you ever thought about the possibility that you might actually like being stressed out?  That in fact, you might get the same kind of giddy high from having too much to do that you get when you fall IN LOVE?  There’s a bumper sticker that would be funnier if it weren’t so true for so many of us: “Don’t tell me to relax – stress is the glue that holds my life together.”  If you’re measuring your value and purpose by a full calendar or the fact that your cell phone never stops ringing, you’ve formed an unhealthy love relationship with your stress. Take this quiz to see how in love you are with the stressors in your life.

1.         When it comes to multitasking, do you:
a.         Try to never do more than one or two things at a time.
b.         Juggle as much as you need to in order to make it through your day.
c.         Hope it becomes an Olympic event because you know you’re a shoo-in for
the gold medal.

2.         When you open your calendar, which of the following would make you feel best?
a.                   Lots of blank space.
b.                  A good balance of scheduled and unscheduled time.
c.                   So many scheduled activities you need a magnifying glass to be able to read what’s there.

3.         Speaking of blank space in your organizer, if you had a full day open, what
would be your first thought?
a.         I wonder if I have time to go to the gym.
b.         What have I forgotten?
c.         I’d better scribble something down in case anyone peeks inside so they’ll
see how busy I really am.

4.         When someone asks you to do something for them and you really are too busy, do
a.                   Thank them for asking and turn them down nicely.
b.                  Agree to help out this once, but chide yourself for caving in.
c.                   Say “I’m really overbooked, but I’ll try to squeeze you in,” then make a point of showing them how crowded your calendar is.

5.         As you go through your day which of the following phrases is most likely to run
through your head?
a.         Wow, this is fun!
b.         Slow down, you move too fast!
c.         I feel the need for speed!

6.         When a friend or co-worker tells you how busy she is lately, what would be your
first response?
a.                   Helpfully suggesting she take some time off.
b.                  Saying you know how she feels.
c.                   One-upping her with anecdotes about your even-busier life.

7.         If you were stuck at the airport for an extra hour, would you be most likely to:
a.                   Enjoy a conversation with a stranger.
b.                  Call and check on the office, then if there’s time, your family.
c.                   Pull out your laptop and happily disappear into your own little world.

8.         When your kids see you at the end of the day, do they:
a.                   Excitedly tell you about their day.
b.                  Give you a few minutes to yourself.
c.                   Avoid you like you’re a low-fat snack food item.

9.         Which cartoon character best reflects your life?
a.         Sleeping Beauty – I know the importance of rest and rejuvenation.
b.         Snow White – I’d really like to delegate things to the dwarfs, but I usually
end up doing everything myself.
c.         The Tasmanian Devil – I’m more comfortable spinning around as fast as

10.       When you lie in bed at night right before falling asleep, do you:
a.         Give thanks for all the wonderful people and things in your life.
b.         Plan out your next day.
c.         Lie awake restlessly, looking forward to the next day so you can get back
to being busy again. After all, sleep is for sissies!

SCORING:  Give yourself one point for every “a” answer, two for every “b,” and three for every “c”.

1-10     You’ve got a healthy relationship with stress and busyness. You understand that there is more to life than increasing its speed and that your family doesn’t come with a rewind button.

11-20     Although you think you’ve got a handle on things, when the chips are down, you tend to “Just say yes” to stress. Follow some of the tips below to make sure you keep things under control.

21-30   You’re not just over-stressed, you’re in love with the feeling it gives you. Being crazy busy gives you a sense of power and makes you feel better than your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. But your body and mind (not to mention your family and friends) are probably already suffering the consequences of your choices. You should pay attention to every tip listed below to try to end your relationship stress.

Read about Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant!

Are you Playing With MeDon't get mad get funny

Ben Franklin Award Winner!

Welcome Them Home coverWelcome Them Home Help Them Heal Wins Prestigious Ben Franklin Award
By:  John Sippola, Chaplain, LTC, ret.

Welcome Them Home Help Them Heal: Pastoral Care and Ministry with Service Members Returning from War by John Sippola, Chaplain, LTC, ret., MDiv, Amy Blumenshine, MSW, MA, Donald A Tubesing, PhD, MDiv, and Valerie Yancey, PhD, RN has been named a winner in the 22nd annual Benjamin Franklin Awards ™ from IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association in recognition of excellence in independent publishing.

IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association, recently honored the best books in 50 categories at the Benjamin Franklin Awards™ in New York City on May 24, 2010, prior to the BookExpo America tradeshow. Welcome Them Home Help Them Heal won first place in the Religion category. Judged by a panel of book industry experts including buyers at wholesale and retail levels, librarians, book critics, design experts, and independent publishing consultants, these books have been scrutinized by individuals involved in the very markets in which the books are competing.

Welcome Them Home was written to equip the growing number of pastors, parish nurses, counselors, and caregivers in churches across the country to support and advocate for veterans and their loved ones. It expands the reader’s knowledge of how to provide physical, mental, and spiritual care for veterans and sparks a spirit of willingness and hope. A practical guide for ministering to veterans offering an understanding of the nature of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, the challenges soldiers face when returning home, and the physical, psychological, and spiritual wounds of war. It defines the role of the church, discussing the basic principles for outreach, guidelines for creating a welcoming and safe environment, and presenting ideas for activating the healing rituals of the church year. It provides a wealth of resources: agencies that serve veterans, tips for making effective referrals, quick screening tools for PTSD, depression, and traumatic brain injury, and a comprehensive Wounds of War assessment. The Ben Franklin Award recognized that Welcome Them Home Help Them Heal was the most successful book in achieving its purpose and meeting its audience’s needs.

Named in honor of America’s cherished publisher and printer, the Benjamin Franklin Award recognizes excellence in independent publishing. Books are grouped by genre and are judged on editorial and design merit by top practitioners in each field. A panel of 150 judges from throughout the publishing industry weighed and evaluated close to 1,300 submissions in 50 categories to create the list of more than 150 finalists for the 2009 publishing year. Publishers large and small competed for the coveted Benjamin Franklin Awards.

IBPA, with more than 3,200 members, is the largest trade association representing independent publishers. Founded in 1983, its mission is to advance the professional interests of independent publishers

For more information, contact Carlene Sippola (800-247-6789) at Whole Person Associates. For a complete listing of finalists and to view the award winners in each of the 50 categories, check out the IBPA website at www.IBPA-online.org.

Welcome Them Home Help Them Heal:
Pastoral Care and Ministry with Service Members Returning from War

Written by: John Sippola, Chaplain, LTC, ret., MDiv; Amy Blumenshine, MSW, MA; Donald A Tubesing, PhD, MDiv; Valerie Yancey, PhD, RN
No. of pages: 112
Softcover:  Price $12.00
ISBN: 978-1-57025-246-4
Publication date: 2009

Click Here for more information.