#STRESSTOJOY

How Gratitude Changes Your Brain.

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Research at UC Berkeley found that a gratitude practice can help you and your brain heal faster!

That may be no surprise to anyone who’s studied all the benefits of practicing gratitude.

But there was one thing I read in their research that was shocking which few people know about yet… 

Changes in Brain:

It turns out; a gratitude practice creates changes in the brain- the medial prefrontal cortex. This area is associated with social cognition and behavior. The most surprising part is that these changes lasted even three months after the study period.

Fascinating!

Indeed, many studies over the past decade have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed. 

The finding of changes in the brain means a gratitude practice could potentially have long-lasting benefits for our brain and mental health.

Ways to Heal Faster:

With the pressure of our fast-paced world, we are always looking for ways to heal faster and derive the greatest possible benefit from treatment in the shortest amount of time.

Therefore, many healthcare providers, especially in the mental health, are using research-backed approaches to complement psychological counseling with additional activities that are not too taxing for our clients but yield high results, and gratitude practice is one such activity.

My Experience:

Over the years I have used this technique to complement treatment for many of my clients and seen its power. I have also seen its benefits in my own life as I have practiced gratitude journaling for more than 14 years. I started after I broke my right hand and realized the importance of my left hand. (Read more about my story in the book Stress to Joy“.)

Now, to help more people get educated, motivated and guided to start, resume or deepen their gratitude practice, I have developed this tool; “Stress to Joy Guided Gratitude Journal.”

Would you like to get a copy for yourself, your colleagues, and your clients?

It is now available at Amazon.com. I have also arranged for special discounts on bulk order (5 or more) for my friends at https://stresstojoy.com/order-gratitude-journal-special

If you would like to learn more about what is inside this journal or get a free sample PDF, I would be happy to share it with you. The more we spread happiness, the better for all.

 

Thank you for spreading joy in the world.

 

Dedicated to your health and happiness

Dr. Rozina Lakhani Psychiatrist, Transformation Speaker, and Author of the #1 Bestseller; “Stress to Joy.   Quick links to Stress to Joy Programs:

Print book: https://stresstojoy.com/book-offer

Kindle E-Book: Amazon.com/ Audiobook: Audible.com/pd/Stress-to-Joy-audiobook

Guided Gratitude Journal: https://stresstojoy.com/gratitude-journal-special Video Online Course: https://stresstojoy.com/online-course

Author site: amazon.com/author/drrozina Blogs and programs: www.drrozina.com

Clinic: www.shifahealth.org

Phone: 425-742-4600

suicide prevention

Suicide and Stress; How to Cope with a Suicide in the Community.

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How to Cope with a Suicide in the Community.

Has your heart ever ached when you heard about somebody committing suicide? How do you cope with such a loss, especially when it is a youth in the community? The chances of getting affected by such news are increasing as there are approximately 123 suicides per day in the US. According to CDC data, suicide is currently one of the 10 leading causes of death overall and within each age group 10–64. Hearing stats is hard but hearing about someone you know committing suicide is harder. Let me share with you my recent experience and, hopefully, some of the tools that helped me may help you too.

Recently, I went to my daughter’s parent-teacher conference, and the teacher told me a young high schooler, one of her student’s brother, had committed suicide. She told me how hard it was for her to keep herself together. This boy was a ninth grader, a soccer player, a choir member and overall a very good student. He was also her student a few years back. She was feeling grief herself and was trying to figure out how to share the news with her students that their classmate had lost her brother.

As I was seeing patients that day, it was hard to keep my feelings under control. But I just focused on my patient’s needs and that helped me get through my day. I just wanted to go home and hug my kids as soon as possible. When I picked the phone to send a condolence text to the mother of this boy, I saw her last message about taking her son to a soccer game. I felt miserable and could not stop my tears. If I was feeling this way, I couldn’t imagine how that mother must be feeling.

I needed to use some of the tools I teach in the Stress to Joy program.

I acknowledged that; “I am feeling grief. I am a human being, and it is ok to feel sad upon hearing such news. I am a mother and felt for this mother.”

Gradually, I calmed down by letting my emotions flow, and bringing attention to what I was doing. I was driving home, so I started driving mindfully, bringing my attention to the moment. I became aware of my experience of both external and internal environment. I observed the sights, the sounds, and the smells. I noticed how I felt in my body as my hands were maneuvered the steering wheel, and my feet were automatically shifted pressure between the accelerator and brakes.

Once I calmed down, I started reflecting, initially in my head, then calling a friend and later in my journal. My friend said that when she heard about a suicide like that, she felt horrified. She started appreciating what she had in her life and stopped complaining about small day to day issues with her kids. I also started appreciating.

As I reflected, I realized that in our individualistic society, people might think that their life is their own, and their actions don’t affect others. In fact, we are social beings and our actions affect many people, even those that we may not know.

I wondered, what could have been the stressors that surpassed this boy’s capacity to cope that he reverted to such a drastic action? How can we prevent things like this from happening?

I know that there is a misconception that only people with a diagnosed mental illness will commit suicide. Although the rate of suicide is higher in people with mental illness, there are many people who are superficially doing fine in their day-to-day is life, but, when the stressors increase more than their capacity to cope, they break.

 

So what can we do?

Like in case of an infection, it is important to get antibiotics when infection occurs, and at the same time, it is also important to develop healthy habits like hand-washing to prevent more infections.

As in the case of a heart attack, it is critical that the person gets immediate care, and at the same time, it is very important to develop heart-healthy habits to prevent another heart attack.

Similarly, in case of suicide, it is critical to get treatment for someone having suicidal thoughts, and at the same time, it is also very important to think about developing mind healthy habits to prevent the suicidal thoughts from occurring.

But, do you have to wait till you develop an infection in order to start building healthy habits like hand washing? Or do you have to wait for a heart attack to happen in order to start developing heart-healthy habits? Similarly, you don’t have to wait for suicidal thoughts to occur before strengthening mind healthy habits.

When you develop mind healthy habits and get early treatment if necessary, you increase your resilience and joy which helps you cope with stress without breaking down and taking such drastic actions. The stress that leads up to suicide is temporary, but suicide is permanent. When a person takes his/her own life, in their mind, they think it is a solution; they don’t think that it could be a bigger problem. Who knows what happens after death?  What if there is more pain or what if you have to come back and relive all the pain and still complete your life cycle?

I asked myself, what can I do to prevent suicides in the community?

I recognized that stopping that boy from killing himself was not in my control, but I can help some people from doing something like that in future. it is in my circle of influence to teach the mind training tools to as many people as possible so they can manage their stress before it manages them and prevent unnecessary suffering and possibly suicide.

Therefore, I have been working on prevention education wherever and whenever possible in form of individual teaching, group, and writing. I have collected many mind training tools from my life and practice as a psychiatrist for the last 17 years in form of the Stress to Joy program. My mission is to help at least a million people minimize their stress and prevent unnecessary suffering while maximizing their joy.

Many people who have done a lot of work in this area and this is my contribution to that work. What can you do?

Train your mind. Learn to dance with your stress instead of fighting with it. Adapt to your life challenges and see them as opportunities for growth and develop happiness and resilience to be able to face stress in your life.

Join me and share these tools with other people in your circle of influence.

Contribute your skills, knowledge and time in improving the society as a whole so we decrease the overall stress we create for everyone including our youth.

Please, join me in spreading these mind training tools and resources. Who knows how many lives you would be able to save. Remember, you may not know who is suffering because people can hide their distress until it is too late. I have also attached info about the suicide prevention line below.

SAVE; Suicide Awareness and Voices of Education: https://save.org/

After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools: https://afsp.org/our-work/education/after-a-suicide-a-toolkit-for-schools/

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

Use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat.

Both are free and confidential.  You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.

 

If you like to learn more mind training tools, I share many in my blogs, book, and course that you can access at www.drrozina.com. If you haven’t already signed up to receive my updates, you can still do that and get a free audio download “Relaxation for busy people” at www.stresstojoy.com

Dedicated to your health and happiness,

 

Dr. Rozina

Psychiatrist, Author, and Public Speaker

 

 

All comments will appear after moderator review. The tools and techniques I teach have proven to be highly successful for improving emotional, mental, and physical balance, but they are not intended to replace treatments prescribed by licensed medical or mental health professional.

how to let go of negative thoughts

Reflect How to use effective tools to think through your issues.

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Reflect

How to use effective tools to think through your issues.

Stress to Joy – Chapter Three Sneak Peek

 

“Stress to Joy – Your Toolkit for Peace of Mind in Minutes”  is set to come out March 21st! As a special “thank you” for reading my blog, I am going to post some of the content you will find in my book. Check back frequently to see what is new.

Excerpt from Stress to Joy; Chapter 3:

…You have calmed down your mind and body with mindfulness, meditation, and other relaxation exercises. Now what? Your problems have not completely resolved. The problems that were caused by a tense body and overwhelmed mind are starting to decrease, yet you still need to take further steps to resolve your problem. Your clear mind can now help you focus on possible solutions instead of feeling overwhelmed by the problems. Before calming down, your mind was so overwhelmed with emotions that it was hard to think logically. As your mind settles, you can reflect on your situation. In this chapter, let’s review some tools and techniques to help you do that.

Sam

As Sam calmed her frustration by practicing mindful driving, her mind cleared. So, she started reflecting on her situation and brainstorming her options with friends and family.

Rene

As Rene calmed down, she began listing all of the stuff she had to do, so she could reflect on her priorities.

Natasha

As Natasha calmed her mind and body, she reflected on what was working for her that she wanted to continue and what was not working for her that she wanted to change.As they started to calm their minds and bodies, these women were able to reflect on their situations. The third step in this transformative journey from stress to joy is to Reflect—represented by R in the acronym ACR

Natasha

When Natasha was having some difficulty reflecting and I suggested writing, she had several reservations, like, “I am afraid someone will read it,” or “I don’t write well.” “Last time I tried to write, I felt more negative, since it brought out so many negative thoughts.”

If you are afraid someone will read it, there’s a simple solution. Tear the paper up after writing.

If you are not writing to show anyone, does it matter if you write well? All that matters is that you offload your mind and clear your mental space of mental garbage.

Do you find that you feel more negative when writing because it brings about negative thoughts? That happens to people since they may have kept the negative thoughts suppressed for too long. Some people initially feel bad, but then feel better after letting out the negative thoughts in the form of writing. If you are able to bring the negative thoughts out of your mind and let them go, you can clear your mental space. Wouldn’t it be better if they were released instead of staying inside of you? When they stay inside, they get lodged in your body and cause problems.

You don’t have to do anything that makes you feel bad. If bringing those negative thoughts to your consciousness adversely affects you, it may not be the right tool for you, it may not be the right time for you, or you may need additional help working with a therapist before you can use this tool. Write only if you feel it is right.

Natasha felt it was right for her, so she scheduled a daily 15-minute time slot in her planner. She made a routine of starting a timer and putting her pen on a notepad. She wrote whatever came to her mind. As soon as the time was over, she put the pen down, tore the pages of the notepad into small pieces, and threw them into her wastebasket. It felt good to get rid of that garbage.

This technique is called “Therapeutic Writing.”

Therapeutic writing helps many chronic pain patients get rid of their pain. How is that possible? When I first heard about it from a spine surgeon in Seattle named Dr. Hanscom, I was intrigued. I scheduled a meeting with him to learn more. He graciously gave me his time and shared how he uses this technique in a rehab program before his patients get spine surgery. He said that this technique even helped him when he suffered from chronic pain for more than 13 years. When he got better, he developed a program and wrote a book called Back in Control. You can learn more about this program and get a lot of helpful tools from his website: http://backincontrol.com.

 

Dr. Hanscom told me that about 75% of the people who come to him with the intention of having surgery for their back pain end up not needing the surgery when they participate in this program, where therapeutic writing is one of the major techniques. When I talked to him in 2016, he said that more than 800 people were able to get rid of their chronic back pain without surgery using this program. Amazing!

 

Why do you think this technique helps so many people with chronic pain? I think that many people carry a lot of anger and hurt in their bodies. Writing the thoughts down is like clearing the mind’s space from rotting garbage. Putting the thoughts on paper tells the mind that those thoughts are just thoughts, not you. They are separate from you. Most of all, the act of tearing and ritualistically throwing away the paper tells the mind that you can get rid of those negative thoughts. The bonus is that by throwing the paper away, you don’t have to worry about someone reading it!…..

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I can’t put all of chapter three here because that would be a very long article, but the book is coming out soon so you can read the rest when you get your copy! In the rest of Chapter Three, you will learn more about a few techniques to shift your focus and feel joy no matter what.

So excited! The wait will be over on March 21st, 2018. Meanwhile, are you practicing the tools I have shared earlier? If you haven’t yet, sign up for the FREE audio,  Relaxation for Busy People

 

Did you enjoy this “sneak peek” of Chapter three? Please let me know if any of this is helpful to you or someone you know!

 

To your health and happiness,

 

Dr. Rozina

All comments will appear after moderator review. The tools and techniques I teach have proven to be highly successful for improving emotional, mental, and physical balance, but they are not intended to replace treatments prescribed by licensed medical or mental health professionals.

 

meditation

Calm: How to relax your mind when there is so much going on.

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Stress to Joy – Chapter Two Sneak Peek

“Stress to Joy – Your Toolkit for Peace of Mind in Minutes”  is set to come out March 21st! As a special “thank you” for reading my blog, I am going to post some of the content you will find in my book. Check back every day until the 21st to see what I have shared.

 Calm: How to relax your mind when there is so much going on.

….   When your thoughts are not going to ten thousand other things, and when you are experiencing what is happening at the moment, you become mindful. When you are present-minded—besides avoiding accidents—you can feel more relaxed, and you can enjoy your life. You can focus better and become more productive. When your mind is present, you can think clearly and solve any problems that come your way.

Being mindful also helps to lower your blood pressure and your body’s inflammatory reactions, thus improving many health conditions.

You may ask, “If it is good for us, why do people have difficulty staying mindful?”

There are a few reasons for not being able to stay mindful. Most people can focus on a specific task or project when it is unique, challenging, or novel, but their minds start wandering when they are doing something that is routine. Do you ever notice that you arrive at a destination and have no recollection of the path you took or what beautiful scenes you passed, especially when you are driving on familiar routes? Your mind tends to go on autopilot.

A mechanism that was initially meant to help you decrease the work, stops helping when used without awareness. Instead of staying focused on the task of driving, your mind starts rewinding and reviewing the mental videos of past events or imagining future events, which is what happened when I got into that accident.

This wandering mind is natural, and scientists call it default thinking (I call Mindlessness). In this default thinking mode, your thoughts are automatic, undirected, and superficial. These thoughts are sometimes useful, but they are generally irrelevant to what you are doing at the moment. You are looking outside, but not paying attention to anything. Most people spend half their lives in this default thinking mode. It is not necessarily bad…the problem is how much time they spend in that mode versus the time they spend in a focused, sensing mode.

One of my friends said that she is always thinking, even when observing. She has a tendency to observe all the things that are going wrong and that causes more problems for her. If mindfulness is helpful and if it is thinking about what is around you, why is it causing a problem for her? Is she practicing mindfulness? No.

Mindfulness is not thinking or finding faults in everything. Mindfulness is experiencing the moment. Although thinking and experiencing are occurring together, becoming aware and giving attention to your experience, including your thoughts, without judgment, is mindfulness. Let’s take the example of observing a sunset.

Scenario One: You are sensing (seeing), appreciating the colors, and enjoying the experience. The thoughts are still there about the colors and how much you are appreciating them, but they are not dominant. They are in the background. You are aware of them, but your focus is mostly on the experience of the sunset.

Scenario Two: You notice the sunset and the very next moment you start thinking about it, judging, or comparing it to some other experience you had in the past. Or, you start thinking about something different. Before you know it, the sun is gone and the moment has passed. You missed enjoying the experience because you were lost in your thoughts. You were not mindful. What happened?

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In chapter two, you will learn:

 

  • Mindfulness to improve calm and focus
  • Mindful Driving to calm and decrease driving stress.
  • Meditation different types to calm busy mind
  • Feet to Floor – 1-minute relaxation exercise for busy people
  • Active Meditation to calm active minds
  • Art Meditation to calm creative minds

 

 

Do you already have the audio for “Relaxation for Busy People” and “Mindful Driving”? If not, you can get the audio Feet to Floor here, and you can get the audio for Mindful Driving in the article Holiday Stress Relief – Decrease Driving Stress

 

Did you enjoy this “sneak peek” of Chapter Two? Please let me know what you think in the comments!

To your health and happiness,

Dr. Rozina

 

All comments will appear after moderator review. The tools and techniques I teach have proven to be highly successful for improving emotional, mental and physical balance, but they are not intended to replace treatments prescribed by licensed medical or health professionals.

 

how to reduce stress

Acknowledge How to figure out where you are so you can get where you want to go.

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Acknowledge

How to figure out where you are so you can get where you want to go.

 

Stress to Joy – Sneak Peek

 

“Stress to Joy – Your Toolkit for Peace of Mind in Minutes”  is set to come out March 21st! As a special “thank you” for reading my blog, I am going to post some of the content you will find in my book. Check back frequently to see what I have shared.

Excerpt from Stress to Joy; Chapter 1:

Do you find that theoretical concepts make more sense when you see how someone is able to apply them in her real life? Let me introduce you to my friends. Sam, Rene, and Natasha share how they were able to apply these tools on their journeys from stress to joy. The steps will be evident within the acronym ACR. What is A? It’s the first step.

Sam

Sam is a single woman in her thirties. She works as a director of finance for a midsize company. She acknowledged one day, when we met at a community gathering, that she was feeling stressed and overwhelmed due to her extra-long commute. She was spending 90 minutes each way, 5 days a week, in addition to more than 10 hours a day at work (a total of more than 65 hours a week). She didn’t have time for exercise or art, which were her usual outlets, and the stress was making her skin condition worse. She wanted to feel happy and stress-free so she could enjoy time with her family.

 

Rene

Rene is a married woman in her fifties. She works as a mortgage broker. She acknowledged one day on the phone that she was feeling stressed and overwhelmed due to the demands of her many clients. She was meticulous about completing all the paperwork needed to close the mortgages on time. Feeling overwhelmed was affecting her productivity and her frustration tolerance. She was getting irritated with her family. She was stuck in a cycle of emotional eating. When I asked her what she would be doing differently if she was less stressed, she said that she would feel relaxed, work with focus, eat healthily, and enjoy her loved ones. She wanted to change because she valued her work and her family.

 

Natasha

Natasha is another very good friend of mine. She is a married woman in her forties with three kids, a husband, a highly demanding job in the IT industry, and a very involved community life. On top of those, she is a perfectionist. She acknowledged one day that the stress was causing her back pain and sleep difficulties as her mind kept spinning with issues that worried or angered her. She noticed that she was getting easily irritated with her family and coworkers. She wanted to feel calm again and improve her relationships. She valued her health and her family’s happiness.

These three women were able to start their journeys from stress to joy once they acknowledged where they were, where they wanted to be, and why. Therefore, the journey of transformation from stress to joy starts with acknowledgment.

 

It seems obvious that you’d need to acknowledge the issue before you can solve it? But you would be surprised how many people go through life without acknowledging their body’s signals. Somehow, we get trained to behave like machines while competing in this meritocratic society. We learn to suppress our feelings.

 

Many people think that acknowledging the fact that they are feeling overwhelmed or worried is acknowledging that they are weak and cannot handle the pressure. Really? Is it weaker to acknowledge your feelings so you can take steps to improve, or to suppress the feelings until you break down?

 

Notice, observe, and become aware, so you can acknowledge how you feel. Name your feeling, as these feelings are an indicator of the balance in your Emotional Coping Account.

What is an Emotional Coping Account (ECA)? It is an internal, emotional account that we all have. Your feelings are the alert system for this account. You get alerts from your bank when your bank balance goes below a certain amount. Similarly, when the balance in your ECA drops, you get stress signals in the form of negative feelings. If you don’t attend to it, it starts manifesting in the form of body symptoms. The higher the balance in ECA, the better you feel—the lower the balance, the worse you feel.

 

You need to respond by taking action. If you are feeling stress and overwhelmed, they are your signals that you may have a low balance in your Emotional Coping Account. Acknowledge them. Tell yourself that it is okay to feel the feelings. You just need to take some steps to bring the balance back to positive.

 

Question 1: What are your feelings now? Are they indicating a positive or negative balance in your emotional coping account?

 

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Like any bank account, the balance in this Emotional Coping Account is affected by the amounts of withdrawals and deposits. Everything that makes you feel bad is a withdrawal from this account. This includes all of the outside stressful situations and your reactions that drain you and make you feel stressed. Everything that makes you feel good is your deposit. That includes good things that may happen to you or your internal response in the form of what you feel, say, and do that energize you and make you feel joy.

Withdrawals

Sam’s withdrawals (stressors) were her commuting hours, not eating/drinking/sleeping at the right time, and how she was reacting to her work demands. Rene’s withdrawals were her need to meet the timelines for multiple clients and how she was prioritizing or not prioritizing her time. Natasha’s withdrawals were her multiple demands and her need for perfection leading to a difficult relationship with coworkers and family. These are some of the common stressors most people face.

In research done by the American Psychological Association, American Institute of Stress, NY, published 7/8/2014; people identified the following seven most common stressors:

 

  1. Job Pressures (tension with coworkers, bosses, and work overload
  2. Money (loss of job, reduced retirement, medical expenses)
  3. Health (health crisis, terminal or chronic illness)
  4. Relationships (divorce, death of spouse, arguments with friends, loneliness)
  5. Poor Nutrition (inadequate nutrition, caffeine, processed foods, refined sugars)
  6. Media Overload (television, radio, the Internet, email, social networking)
  7. Sleep Deprivation (inability to release adrenaline and other stress hormones)

Question 2: What are your withdrawals?

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Deposits

For your bank account balance to stay positive, your deposits have to be higher than your withdrawals. You know what happens if your withdrawals increase more than your balance and your deposits don’t grow to match. Your account becomes negative, right? Your checks bounce and you have to pay the penalty. So, what do prudent people do? They make regular deposits and keep a reserve as an emergency fund. For situations when there are unexpected withdrawals, the reserve can save them from going into the negative.

When there is so much happening to us from the outside that’s not in our control, sometimes we forget what is still in our control. Although some of the withdrawals may not be in our control, many deposits are.

Sam identified that art and exercise were her deposits. Rene identified listening to music, writing in her journal, and taking a tub bath as her deposits. Natasha identified that taking some quiet time sitting by her window, meditation, and socializing with her friends were her deposits. She had to be selective about how she socialized since some of her friends consider alcohol as one of their deposits. She knows that although alcohol may temporarily numb her feelings, it also blurs her thinking, causes disinhibition and makes people do things that they regret. Therefore, alcohol is a withdrawal, and not a deposit, in the long run.

 

Question 3: What are your deposits?

Make a list and keep it in an accessible place, because when you are feeling down it can be hard to remember.

 

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I can’t put all of chapter one here because that would be a very long article, but the book is coming out soon so you can read the rest when you get your copy!

 

In this chapter, you will also learn a technique to make your affirmations and visualization work for you without having your rational mind interference.

 

If you haven’t already, it is not too late to Sign Up to get a free copy of the audio “Relaxation exercise for busy people”, receive notifications of new free gifts, and receive notification when “Stress to Joy” is available for free! Don’t forget to check out my other articles for more tips and tools for stress reduction. 

 

I would love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment below and let me know what you think. All comments will appear after mediator review.

how to manage stress

Introduction Why Choose Stress to Joy™

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Stress to Joy™ – Sneak Peek

 

“Stress to Joy™ – Your Toolkit for Peace of Mind in Minutes”  is set to come out March 21st! As a special “thank you” for reading my blog, I am going to post some of the content you will find in my book. Check back frequently to see what I have shared.

Excerpt from Chapter; Introduction

Hello. How are you?  

Did you answer, “I am fine” and mean it, or did your mind say, “You have no idea how stressed I feel?”

Of course, I cannot feel how stressed you feel because your feelings are unique to you. But I can still help. I can help by sharing what I have learned from my life and the lives of the people I’ve had the privilege of helping, in my psychiatry practice, my seminars, or within my community.

I have seen that everyone faces stressful life situations. Some can cope very well and turn that stress into an opportunity. They feel joy, peace, and happiness. But many are unable. They suffer from stress, and it morphs into various types of illnesses. For almost two decades in my psychiatry practice, I have observed lives being damaged by stress.

In this book, I can share what I have seen in my work to try to help you minimize the stress and maximize the joy in your life.

Since I specialize in the treatment of severe depression, many people come to me after suffering for a long time and trying numerous treatments. My heart aches when I see a patient like Marla.  

Marla is a tall and healthy-looking woman in her 40s. A few years before she came to see me, she had a happy but very busy and stressful life with her job, kids, family, and social commitments. She was too busy to attend to herself, and the stress started manifesting in the form of headaches, insomnia, and irritability. She did not even realize that her stress had progressed into clinical depression.

She started getting so emotional and irritable that her marriage was on the verge of collapse, and she almost lost her job.

She finally realized it when she started having suicidal thoughts. She loved her family and did not want to die. She felt scared and finally came for treatment. Because her symptoms were already severe, we had to use advanced treatment methods.

It’s impossible to simply eliminate stress. It is best to teach people how to harness their stress to positive ends. For this reason, we had to also work on Marla’s mental training. This training helped her change the way she faced the stressful situations in her life so she could prevent getting sick again and fully enjoy her life. She understood that some causes of ill health are not in her control (e.g., genetics and environment), but some are (e.g., how she responds to various challenges/stressors in her life).

She learned that the way she coped with stress made a huge difference in both causing the illness and healing from it. Do you think Marla would have suffered less if she had an opportunity to get this training before her stress got out of control?  

I see patients like Marla day in and day out. I see the havoc caused by uncontrolled stress: broken marriages, suffering kids, depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug addiction, heart attacks, strokes, and more. Therefore, I feel a responsibility to save people from reaching those severe stages as much as possible. My hope is that everyone can be the very best versions of themselves. It would not only help them suffer less and enjoy more, but it would also impact the people around them, and that ripple effect can spread peace and happiness.

When I realize how simple practices, techniques, and shifts in mindsets can make a huge difference in someone’s ability to overcome illness and be healthy and happy, I feel the calling to bring this training to people before they get sick and suffer….

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I can’t put all of the Introduction Chapter here because that would be a very long article, but the book is coming out soon so you can read the rest when you get your copy!

If you haven’t already, it is not too late to Sign Up to get a free copy of the audio “Relaxation for Busy People”, receive notifications of new free gifts, and receive notification when “Stress to Joy™” is available for free! Don’t forget to check out my other articles for more stress reduction techniques. 

 

I would love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment below and let me know what you think. All comments will appear after mediator review.

 

Stress relief for older adults

Stress Relief for Older Adults: How to Shift Negative Thoughts.

4666 3111 Dr. Rozina

Stress Relief for Older Adults: How to Shift Negative Thoughts.

Do you find it hard to adjust to change as you get older? Change can be stressful for most people, but the longer you have lived in a certain manner the harder it gets to adapt to change. Especially when you are not ready for it and/or you did not choose it. Sometimes this change triggers negative thinking, which may add to your emotional stress and suffering. How can you shift these negative thoughts to positive thoughts, feel some relief from this emotional stress, and enjoy your life? In this article, let’s learn from Fatima’s example. How to shift your perspective from negative to positive when you feel that someone is behaving differently towards you.

Fatima is a 65 yr old female, a retired housewife with two sons and 5 grandchildren who are also grown up.  She was feeling emotionally stressed due to her tendency for negative thoughts. When a friend did not greet her in the community center, she thought; “This person must not like me because she did not greet me.” When her grandkids didn’t call her often, she would think; “My grandkids do not care.” When her sons were not asking her for favors, she thought; “Nobody  needs me because they can earn their own money.” When she was not able to go for a long trip, she thought; “I can’t do anything due to pain.”

Do you have similar thoughts?  Your challenges may be different and your thoughts may be different. So, ask yourself, what are the challenges, you are facing and how do you interpret them?

Most people identify the changes associated with growing older as changes in health, work, responsibilities, loneliness, grandchildren, relationships, too much or too little to do, mobility, independence, grief etc. You may long for your glorious past or have difficulty letting go of past hurt. You may worry about future.

As you think about the changes that you have to adapt to, you may notice that most of the time your mind jumps to the negatives of life changes. But aren’t there always two sides of the coin? With negatives, there are also positives. What are the positives of growing older that you are experiencing?

With changes in responsibilities, you may find that there is more time to do what you want to do. Perhaps you have more flexibility in your schedule. You can wake up whatever time you want to. You might qualify for senior discounts and benefits. Maybe you have more time to enjoy your grandkids and focus on your physical and spiritual growth. You develop wisdom. As you think about the changes life has brought you, do you notice that the same changes that have some negative sides to them also have some positive sides?

The facts remain as they are, but when you focus more on negative aspects, it makes you feel bad. When you focus more on positive aspects, you feel good.

So how do you shift focus so your mind sees more of the positive in any situation?

There are three basic steps of dealing with any stressful situation.

Acknowledge: Unless you become aware of a problem, you won’t solve it. You don’t have to be jumping with joy if you are hurting, but becoming aware of and acknowledging your feelings help you to deal with it. You can also acknowledge your desire to change.  

Calm: When your mind is worked up and full of negative thoughts, there is no space left for positive thoughts. Therefore you need to calm down so your mind can think.

Reflect: Thinking situations through allows you to see what is in your control and what is not; so you can focus on what you can change. You can’t change things outside you but you can change your thoughts.

If I try to explain it all here, it will make this article too long, so I will refer you to my upcoming book; Stress to Joy for many tools and techniques that can help you make your thoughts your friends instead of your enemies. For now, let’s go through the three steps briefly to help Fatima change her thoughts.

Acknowledge: She acknowledged that her negative thoughts were causing her to feel bad and she wanted to feel good.

Calm: She started practicing a one minute calming technique to calm her mind and body; which helped her open some space for changing her thoughts.

Reflect: She started analyzing her negative feelings by thinking, talking to a friend, and writing in her journal. She was able to realize that it is not only the external event that is causing her to feel bad but also how she is thinking about it.

When her kids or grand kids are not asking her favors, instead of thinking about “My children don’t need me” she told herself “I have raised my children well, now they can take are of themselves and I don’t have to worry about them”.

When she thought “This person must not like me because she did not greet me “ she changed it to “She seems to be in her own thoughts and may be having some issues. I will greet her and see if I can help.”

When she thought; “I can’t do anything due to my pain.” She shifted to “There are certain things I can’t do but there are other things I can. I can breathe, talk, listen to music, draw, and a lot more that I take for granted.”

She decided to focus more on things she liked and could do than things she used to like but couldn’t do.

So when her kids called or visited, she shared her excitement in 5 sentences. “I am so happy to see you. You bring smile to my face. I enjoy talking with you. You are such a great blessing in my life. I love you.”

When she did not like that they didn’t visit, she would just say it in only one sentence; “I wish I could visit with you more often.” and let it go. She would focus on other things that she would like to do.

Can you apply the similar techniques in your life to change your focus from negative to positive thoughts?

If you don’t change your focus from negative to positive, you may feel more negative feelings. If you change, you will be able to enjoy the gifts of life more fully. So remain aware of your feeling, practicing calming techniques regularly so you can change your thought from negative to positive.

This is only one technique. I will be sharing more techniques you can use in future blogs. Please share with me, in the comment box below, what you were able to related to and what other question you have so I could respond better in future blogs.

If you would like to get the guided audio for a one minute relaxation exercise that Fatima, and so many others, benefited from  you can do so here

If the technique in this article helps you, click ‘like’ button, share it with people you care about, and leave a comment. It motivates me to produce more valuable articles like this to help further you and others like you.

You can learn many more similar techniques in my blogs and my upcoming book; ‘Stress to Joy, Your Toolkit to Restore Peace of mind in Minutes’ ( coming out very soon!!!). Meanwhile, you can download and enjoy a short and effective relaxation exercise to use during your busy commute! You don’t have to sit down for a long time to feel the calm. You can do this exercise while rushing between your activities and still feel relaxed and mindful.

To your health and happiness,

 

Dr. Rozina

Auther, Psychiatrist, and Public Speaker

 

All comments will appear after moderator review. The tools and techniques I teach have proven to be highly successful for improving emotional, mental and physical balance, but they are not intended to replace treatments prescribed by licensed medical or health professionals.

stress relief for caregivers

Stress Relief for Caring Professionals

3888 2591 Dr. Rozina

Stress Relief for Caring Professionals

Are you a caring professional struggling to keep a balance between caring for yourself and caring for others?

Is your schedule so tight that there is no time to take care of yourself despite feeling burnt out?

Do you feel guilty when you try to take care of yourself because of your value of self-sacrifice?

Many professionals like healthcare providers, teachers, and other service providers including family caretakers feel that way. They feel stressed and overwhelmed facing their own challenges while trying to meet the needs of people they care for. Being a healthcare professional, a volunteer, and a mother myself; I too face many of these challenges.

I have shared many personal stories of how I struggle and the solutions that have helped me to deal with these challenges in my upcoming book; “Stress to Joy”. In this article, let me share one of those techniques that have helped me, and many I have shared it with, overcome the feeling of being stuck. I call this technique the “Self-Dialogue Journal.”

A few years ago, I had a realization while talking to one of my patients, who was a nurse by profession. One day, she was sharing how she was feeling stuck and overwhelmed due to multiple demands in her life. She was not able to find time for her self-care. We brainstormed options. She kept on saying, “Yes, but I can’t do that because—” Finally, we identified a few solutions that could work for her.

After the session, I realized that I was going through the same stuck feeling. My back hurt, and I knew that going for a chiropractic adjustment could help me as it had in the past. I just could not find the time to schedule an appointment. Like many caretakers, I felt guilty when I had to cancel my patients’ appointments to take care of myself on a workday. I realized that I am a great adviser when it comes to others. I could brainstorm so many ways that my patient could make time to take care of herself, but I was not able to see those options for myself. That gave me an idea and I decided to help myself.

The following weekend, I opened my journal and started writing a dialogue between a patient and a doctor where I was both the patient and the doctor. I focused on the issue, the options, and the best action plan (IOP). I was complaining about how I felt helpless and stuck in a web of my own creation (the way I had scheduled my life). Whenever I came up with a suggestion, my mind kept repeating the argument, “Yes, but I can’t do that because…” I wrote for an hour and a half that day, and finally, a plausible solution popped up in my writing that had not come to my mind before.

At that time, I worked Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm with a one-hour break for lunch. But what if I could change one Friday per month to 9am-2pm, without a lunch break, freeing up three hours for personal appointments? At that time, my financial situation did not allow me to take a full day off, but I could decrease my patient scheduling by two hours per month. That was plausible. Once I reached that option, I said aloud to myself, “Now follow your advice.”

Although I was not able to implement the change for another month (as my schedule mostly gets booked weeks to months in advance), I still felt immediate relief since I felt that I could do something about the situation. I felt like a big burden was lifted from my shoulders. No longer was I a helpless victim, I was an empowered victor!

 

Since I first did this exercise to help myself several years ago, I have seen it serve many friends, patients, and seminar attendees. A teacher used the technique successfully when she wrote the dialogue between a teacher and a student and then followed her advice. A mother used a mother/daughter dialogue, and a friend used a friend/friend dialogue. You can use whatever works for you to see the power of stepping out of your way.

I think the reason this exercise works so well is that you get out of your victim role and become the helper or well-wisher for yourself. It is hard to think about solutions when you are so entrenched in the role of a victim. You are usually much kinder to someone else than you are to yourself. When you write like this and step out of your role, your inner wisdom comes out, and you can take on the victor role.

If you don’t do something like this, you may continue to feel stressed and overwhelmed leading to stress-related symptoms like irritability, insomnia, or emotional eating. You know that unaddressed stress can lead to many physical and mental diseases. On the other hand, if you train your brain to change your perspective by using techniques like this and break your stress cycle regularly with different mindfulness techniques, you can enjoy your life of health and happiness. So go ahead and try writing your self-dialogue journal today and get out of that stuck feeling.

If the technique in this article helps you, click ‘like’ button, share it with people you care about, and leave a comment. It motivates me to produce more valuable contents like this to help further you and others like you.

You can learn many more similar techniques in my blogs and my upcoming book; ‘Stress to Joy, Your Toolkit to Restore Peace of mind in Minutes’ ( coming out very soon!!!). Meanwhile, you can download and enjoy a short and effective relaxation exercise to use during your busy commute! You don’t have to sit down for a long time to feel the calm. You can do this exercise while rushing between your activities and still feel relaxed and mindful.

To your health and happiness.

Dr. Rozina

Author, Speaker, and Psychiatrist

http://www.drrozina.com

 

All comments will appear after moderator review. The tools and techniques I teach have proven to be highly successful for improving emotional, mental and physical balance, but they are not intended to replace treatments prescribed by licensed medical or health professionals.

Stress Relief for New Parents

4961 3307 Dr. Rozina

Enhance Your Joy of Parenting Despite the Stress of Other Demands in Life.

Are you a busy parent struggling to balance between the needs of your kids and responsibilities of your adult life? Are you a parent trying to manage life, while adjusting to your new routine? Are you a new mom who is trying to breastfeed while balancing housework, outside work, and other demands?

Most parents, especially new mothers, go through a lot of stress, fear, pain, sleep disturbance, and other issues that go with being a new parent and learning new parenting skills. How do you manage that stress so you could enjoy your baby and the beautiful experience of being a parent?

In this article you will learn one of the powerful ways to enhance your joy of parenting despite all the pressures of the adult life. 

I remember my experience of learning the power of this technique many years back when I was a first time, stressed out, mother trying to balance the needs of my baby, my work, and other responsibilities. I was working full time at the hospital in those days and trying to exclusively breastfeed my baby as he had a severe allergy to baby formula and cow milk. It was my routine to pump during work hours and breastfeed when I was home. One particular day, I came home tired from work and was trying to feed him fast so I could do my other work. Although my body was there, my mind was going in hundreds of other directions, including paying some bills online before the deadline. As I was trying to get done feeding him, my baby was getting more clingy. The more I tried to rush him and move on to the next task, the more he held me. As I realized that I was feeling frustrated, the million dollar question popped into my head;

“Why? What is more important at this moment?”

“Why am I trying to rush him? Why do I want him to stop holding me and let me go?” He was away from me the whole day.  He just wants my attention. I was worried about missing the deadline for my bills. I asked; “What is the worst thing that would happen if I miss that deadline?” Well, the bills would be late, and I would be charged the late fee of 5 dollars. “Is that 5 dollars more important than my baby?” The answer was evident. I just needed to ask that question. Without realizing, I forgot what was more important. I resolved internally to deal with the late fees if it happens and when it happens. There was even a chance that it may not happen but my mind was just focusing on the worst possible scenario.

I took a deep breath and looked at my baby mindfully. I was looking at the baby before, but my mind was somewhere else. I was not enjoying the experience. After my internal decision, I saw my baby with the full presence of mind. I noticed his little fingers holding my finger. I heard the sound of his breathing and suckling. I felt the touch of his body, and it all brought a smile on my face. I realized how beautiful, pure and innocent this baby is. I actually connected with him. The joy that I felt in my heart at that moment is indescribable. I could still feel that joy in my heart as I write this some 16 years later. I had such a beautiful gift, and I was losing it because I was worried about something so small as paying a bill?

As I became more mindful of the experience of being with the baby, my body also relaxed in addition to my mind. My baby felt it and became less clingy. He started playing and happily went into his rocking chair after a few minutes. After all, I was able to do my bills on time, and there were no late fees. I realized that I was worried for no reason. (Later I called this technique of coping with worrying, “Cross Road Technique” that you can learn further in my upcoming book; Stress to Joy).

Although I learned this technique when I was breastfeeding, you can use it in many other parenting situations. I don’t claim that I am always this mindful, but whenever I can ask myself the million dollar question, shift my focus and become mindful, it decreases my stress and increases my joy. Your mind may object that all the stress will not disappear with this simple perspective shift, but wouldn’t you still like it if your stress decreases even a little bit and your joy increases a little bit?

So weather you are a new parent or experienced, breastfeeding or not, next time you find yourself getting frustrated with conflicting demands between being with your child and other demands of adulthood, ask yourself the million dollar question, ”Why? What is more important at this moment?” Become aware of the experience of what you are doing at the time with all your senses and enjoy the process with full presence of mind. When other thoughts come, park them on the side and focus on where you are at the moment. See your child as if you are seeing him/her for the first time. Hear him/her, feel the touch as you hug or cuddle or feed him/her. Bring a smile on your face and let go of the tension in your shoulders. Breath deeper and observe your posture. Enjoy the beautiful gift you have in front of you. As you will relax, you will notice that you feel a little less stressed and are able to enjoy the process of parenting a little more. As a bonus, you will be able to do other important things with better focus and presence of mind also as you will develop your mindfulness.  

If you continue to have your mind go all over the place while you’re trying to connect with your children, you may lose out on the beautiful gift that you have, and the worries will build your stress level, robbing you of your joy. If you do keep bringing your focus to what you are doing at the moment that is important, you will feel happy and will be able to enjoy each experience fully.

If you find this technique helpful, remember to click like and leave a comment to help others. You can learn more tips and techniques like this in my blogs, book, and courses. Sign Up, and I will send you a one-minute mindfulness exercise for busy people that you can do anywhere, anytime while doing anything or going between any activities. You can also download it for free when you sign up.

Dedicated to your health and happiness.

Dr. Rozina

 

All comments will appear after moderator review. The tools and techniques I teach have proven to be highly successful for improving emotional, mental and physical balance, but they are not intended to replace treatments prescribed by licensed medical or health professionals.

New Year's Resolutions

New Year Resolutions; Why It Is Hard To Keep Resolutions and How To Establish New Habits

4000 2929 Dr. Rozina

New Year Resolutions;

Why It Is Hard To Keep Resolutions and How To Establish New Habits

Do you get excited to set your new year’s resolutions, only to have them “go out the window” after a short time? In this article, you will learn a simple technique that can increase your chances of changing a habit and successfully follow thru with your New Year’s resolution.

In my upcoming book; “Stress to Joy”, I have shared many techniques to establish new habits to minimize stress and maximize joy. In this article, let me share one of those simple ways that can motivate you and increase your chances of keeping your resolutions and goals.

As adults, you may know the importance of recognizing and appreciating good behavior in pets, children and other people. Reinforcing good behavior by appreciating, not only after completion of a major goal but, after each small step. You don’t wait for a dog to completely follow your instruction and sit when you ask it to sit. You give treats even if it makes a slight movement towards the sitting position and continue to reinforce with rewards to gradually train it. Right? Do you appreciate yourself after each small achievement?

I did not until I had an Aha! moment one day while talking with my daughter. I used to play Sudoku with her, and every time she completed a puzzle, I gave her a star or wrote, “Good job!” One time, I forgot to give her a star. She said, “Mom, you haven’t given me a star.” I suggested, “Why don’t you give yourself a star?” She started doing that after solving each puzzle and felt very proud of herself.

I wondered why I didn’t appreciate myself like that. Adults tend to complain when they don’t get appreciated yet they forget that they can appreciate themselves. When you are in a leadership position—a supervisor, employer, teacher, parent, etc.—you are expected to appreciate your employees, your students, and your kids, but you rarely get recognized. You don’t have to wait for others to recognize you. You can do it yourself. When I realized that, I started appreciating myself. The days when I finish all of my chartings on time, I write on my day sheet, “Good job, Rozina!”

I feel like a child, but it makes me feel good and motivates me to continue pursuing my goal of completion on time.

Good Job

You can also reinforce your resolutions and goals with rewards after small movement towards your goal and celebrate small wins, even if you feel too old. Everyone has a child inside. Nurture your inner child by rewarding yourself for good behavior.

It has taken years to establish your old habits, to change to a new habit, just making a resolution and doing it few times may not be enough. You need to reinforce your new habit. If you don’t reinforce your new behavior, you may not have the desire to practice, your practice may wither, and as a result, the old habits may come back. On the other hand, if you appropriately reinforce your behavior with simple rewards like appreciating yourself after each smaller step, you will feel more motivated to continue. You can learn more about this technique and more in my upcoming book and course, “Stress to Joy”. ( coming out soon)

What will you do to reinforce your resolutions? Declare your choice by leaving it in the comment section. (comments will appear after approval by the mediator)

For more tips like this visit, www.DrRozina.com to sign up for the newsletter, and receive a free audio guide for a relaxation exercise for busy people. It will help you calm your mind and body rapidly while transitioning between activities. Claim it today at https://stresstojoy.com/feet-to-floor

To your health and happiness.

Dr. Rozina

The tools and techniques I teach have proven to be highly successful for improving health and happiness for many but they are not intended to replace treatment. I cannot take any liability, as engaging with me online is for empowering you with education only and does not establish a treatment relationship. Please consult your personal healthcare provider for specific treatment recommendations.

Comments will appear after approval by the mediator.


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DR ROZINA

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STRESS TO JOY by DR ROZINA


21 DAYS of STRESS TO JOY