Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Fighting addiction can be a daunting, overwhelming and depressing battle. And, at the end of it all- only the addict themselves can, indeed, be in control. But that doesn't mean that you, as a loved family member or friend, can't help.
Interventionist Brad Lamm offers this advice to families who may be waiting for a loved one to hit rock bottom before they step in to help.
People who change rarely do so in a vacuum. They change with the support of others. Add to the mix a compulsive behavior that has a real physiological jolt to it—a rush, a high or a numbing out—and it's even that much harder again to begin change.
When it comes to facing a family member's addiction, like frogs, we come to accept greater and greater compromises until it becomes the easy way to live. We lull ourselves into thinking: "Tiger's okay. It's better lately." That thinking must stop and be replaced by this truth: "We will wait no longer nor try to beat the heat. We will act now in love, with purpose and a plan."
In Lamm's How to Change Someone You Love, his purpose was to turn the whole idea of change on its head and help Frogs jump and Tigers talk. Whether teaching or intervening, Lamm challenges families to start this process of change by jumping out of the increasingly costly situations they find themselves in.
The next step is that they throw out the myths that have kept them stuck in indecision in the first place:
Myth 1: He Has to Hit Bottom - The notion of hitting bottom is a lie. One compulsive addict Lamm had worked with described his urge to engage in his addictive behavior as all consuming. "I don't think straight for days at a time; it's like I'm crazy." He's in an altered state from it- a common occurrence- whatever the behavior. Why would we wait for him to think his way out of the problem? We don't need to. With some behavior, a "bottom" that people wait to hit is often someone, perhaps a spouse, or even a stranger, to get hurt. You can decide where the bottom is. You need not sink any further.
Myth 2: You Can't Change Someone - We are wonderful, adaptable, changeable creatures—and love is the greatest motivation of all for change. More than fear or danger. Love.
When Lamm takes an initial call from someone struggling to help a loved one, he all-too-often also hears the fear surrounding the myth that you can't change someone. It becomes his work to blow that lie out of the water. Lamm states, "If you care about someone who has a self-destructive problem, you are not powerless. In fact, the greatest power you have is the connectedness you have with your loved one. The human brain behaves like a 2-year old—tell it what to do, and it pushes back."
Instead, Lamm advises, invite your loved one into a family meeting. Combat the denial, the confusion and pain with love and your eyewitness accounts of the situation, and you're off to a strong start. Secrets and fear suck the oxygen out of the room when trying to enable change.
Fall into hope and love. It will serve you best.
Myth 3: You Can't Help Someone Unless He's Ready - Finally, Lamm challenges the myth that you cannot help someone begin change unless he's ready as nonsense. Through a loving invitation to change and family intervention, an addict can be helped to get ready.
While we may not agree with everything Lamm says, it at least challenges us to do something now.
Take More Restroom Breaks - There's a reason it's called the restroom: It's the one place — at work or at home — where no one will bother you. If you're overwhelmed, steal away for a five-minute meditation break. Inhale deeply into your belly and try to focus on your breathing. You'll emerge calmer, and maybe even more productive. Research shows that meditation can improve your ability to concentrate.
Show Up Five Minutes Early - Everyone knows the feeling: You're running late, stuck in traffic, glancing at your watch every 30 seconds in frustration. Give yourself extra time to get wherever you need to go. Being an early bird will kill stress by giving you more control over your day and your commitments.
Change Your Stress Eating - The best stress-quashing foods are made by Mother Nature, not Baskin-Robbins. Berries are naturally rich in vitamin C, which helps fight increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. A handful of pistachios can lower your blood pressure, which means less of a spike when you get that next rush of adrenaline.
Quit Stress Drinking - Yes, a few cocktails can relax you, but alcohol also prevents your brain from entering stages of deep sleep. And sleep and stress are bound together: Chronic stress can keep you up at night, and a lack of sleep can also lead to further stress. Limit yourself to no more than one drink a night.
Get Your Heart Pumping - Stress makes your body spew out two hormones: cortisol and adrenaline. These chemicals put your body into fight-or-flight mode, ratcheting up your energy level and causing your heart to pound and your muscles to tense. Exercise gives you an outlet to release some of that tension. A good workout also increases your levels of "feel-good" chemicals called endorphins.
Make It a Comedy Night - Researchers say that merely anticipating a laugh can jump-start healthy changes in the body by reducing levels of stress hormones, which have been linked to conditions like obesity, heart disease, and memory impairment, to name just a few.
Enjoy the Company of Friends - Socializing releases oxytocin, a chemical that can help combat stress hormones and lower your blood pressure. Whether it's spending time with dog lovers, book club buddies, or siblings — whatever group you like — just knowing you're not alone can go a long way toward coping with stress.
[research by the John Tesh staff]
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Anxiety zappers that can rescue you from daily stresses:
1. Walk Away - Know your triggers. If a conversation about global warming, consumerism, or the trash crisis in the U.S. is overwhelming you, simply excuse yourself. If you're noise-sensitive and the scene at Toys-R-Us makes you want to throw whistling Elmo and his buddies across the store, tell your kids you need a time-out. (Bring along your husband or a friend so you can leave them safely, if need be.)
2. Close Your Eyes - Gently let the world disappear, and go within to regain your equilibrium.
3. Find Some Solitude - This can be challenging if you are at work, or at home with kids as creative and energetic as mine. But we all need some private time to let the nervous system regenerate.
4. Go Outside - Experience the wind and the sun.
5. Find some water - Water helps in many ways. When over-aroused, keep drinking it – a big glass of it once an hour. Walk beside some water, look at it, listen to it. Get into some if you can, for a bath or a swim. Hot tubs and hot springs are popular for good reasons.
6. Breathe Deeply - Breathing is the foundation of sanity, because it is the way we provide our brain and every other vital organ in our body with the oxygen needed for us to survive. Breathing also eliminates toxins from our systems.
7. Listen to Music - Across the ages, music has been used to soothe and relax. "Softly, deftly, music shall caress you, Feel it, hear it, secretly possess you...."
[By Therese J. Borchard, Beliefnet]