Friday, May 1, 2009

Slow down!

How wonderful that you are taking the time to read this blog and to stop and think about yourself right now. Forget what you have done in the past. You can in an instant transform yourself and your life if you choose to. While transforming yourself may seem impossible, even though desirable, you really can. You will need to slow down, however, and then begin to implement the following suggestions:

1. Stop, Look, and Listen
2. Consider Your Choices

Today I will address these:

Step 1. Stop, Look, and Listen

Pause long enough to notice your surroundings. Notice the colors, the scents, the sounds, and all the details. Allow yourself to tune in to the full experience of just being wherever you are at the moment. Then quiet your mind with some deep breaths and begin to notice what feelings are percolating around inside of you at that time. You are likely experiencing a number of things. Try to identify some of the most powerful feelings. (It may help to write them down.) Then as you acknowledge these feelings to yourseIf, you can tune in fully to the experience you are having at the moment.

For example you might say, “I notice I feel tired and overwhelmed. I didn’t sleep well last night because I have been worrying a lot about my job [or relationship or money or health or something else]. Also notice how you feel physically. For example, I feel tension in my neck and shoulders, and I am cranky and short tempered this morning.”

Step 2. Consider Your Choices

As you notice what you are feeling, you position yourself to decide what you truly need to do to take the best care of yourself in that moment. In the past you have most likely used food to dull these important feeling messages and you have missed the chance to identify your real needs. You may find you are tempted to grab a few pastries or some candy when you do this exercise. Your reaction is natural as it has become the primary way you have been meeting your needs. But perhaps you can defer that automatic response of food abuse and instead think of something else that might better meet your needs.

Remind yourself that although your energy is low and life feels particularly difficult in this moment that you do have options. Have a conversation with yourself. For example, you might say, “Yes, I notice I am tired and discouraged and fearful right now. What would be the very best, most effective and gentle way to take care of my true needs at this particular time? Perhaps I can call my friend and talk awhile or take a walk with my dog or a nap. Maybe I just need a little quiet time to regroup, meditate, pray, or cry. What is it I am really craving if I bypass my usual, mind-numbing sugar or carbohydrate fix? Do I need stimulation or relaxation, isolation or socialization? Do I need protein or more water or a little sunshine? Do I need to attend to some unfinished business or do I need to let someone know how I feel?”

These suggestions may seem elementary and indeed they are. However, I find that most of the people whom I speak with do not take the time to tune into themselves very often, and quite possibly never do. This is primary and this is a central piece of the mindless overeating puzzle. So spend a little time thinking about it and noticing how you may be mindlessly darting around all day reacting to whatever experiences you encounter along your path. Pause and check in with yourself today from time to time and see how things change. You will become more active, less reactive and feel less overwhelmed and helpless.

I hope we have seen the last of this bitter cold weather and remember, you can reach me at anytime. I’d love to hear from you with feedback, questions, or suggestions for future topics you’d like to see addressed in this blog.

Meanwhile, make today absolutely fantastic!

Dr Denise

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