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Recognizing a Key Benefit to Summer:

Sunshine! 🌞 Comes with many benefits that protect us both mentally and physically.

Mentally: provides us increase in energy, increase in ability to step into motivation, boosts your mood (through the natural increase to serotonin), increases your ability to regulate (and stabilize emotions, increases a prolong state of calm, and increase to focus). Provides stabilization properties to several mental health diagnosis’. Increases alertness. Increases a persons ability to connect with others.

Physically: lowers blood pressure, heals inflammation, prevents some risk factors to certain cancers (important to note while using the protective qualities of sunscreen and shade). Also promotes increase to sleep. Boosts immune system. Helps wounds heal. Helps relieve pain (not a direct relief with chronic pain).

The natural state of sunshine does so much for us as humans. It’s important to give ourselves permission to get more of what we need.

Things to consider throughout this season before it passes us by:
-How can I obtain sunshine/sunlight first thing in the morning? How can I develop this into my morning routine?
-How can I ensure I get outdoors daily?
-Can I take anytime off this summer to ensure I give myself additional time outdoors?
-How can I make time for connection with others while outdoors?

Understanding the Connection Opportunities within Conflict

Learning some effective ways to readdress how we look at and interact with conflict. Conflict is not an enjoyable human interaction for us. But it is something we need to learn how to interact with, communication effectively within it, and grow our capacity towards security and safety within it.

Its important to first look at the ways we currently cycle through conflict and the loops we can fall into. Often a mindset we lean into is hyper-critical, defensiveness, trying to be heard at their expense (sometimes trying to win the argument), and not focusing on how to hear the other person.

Let’s start there. Setting our ego aside, and genuinely trying to hear and understand the other person. Before we can often be successful in this, we need to refocus our minds to find connection points (especially with our partners) of looking for ways they are showing up for you and trying to connect with you (Successes and Bids for Connections, Gottman’s). Once we establish connection, we can create very effective conflict where we are open minded, looking to understand, and are heard and valued.

In connection we set down our shields of defensiveness and hyper-critical focuses. While looking to be heard and hear them. Turning our shields into possibilities.

Leaning into Uncomfortable Conversations…

At times in all relationships, we need to confront and address uncomfortable topics. It’s often very challenging to know how to approach it and what to say. Leading people to avoid it all together and patterns of behaviour and cycles develop and continue. These patterns/cycles are preventable.

It’s important to first validate that challenging conversations are not easy, they’re uncomfortable and we are often worried about doing it right. Give ourselves that understanding.

Then it can be very helpful to write out our thoughts, feelings, and examples of what we’re wanting to address. This gives you time to process what the problems or concerns you’re having truly are. **Its often not the one time of a partner/or roommate leaving the dishes in the sink for too long. Its likely the feeling of being unseen, unheard, or not valued. This writing out process allows you to get to the root of the emotion.

From here to would be inviting the person to have a conversation, things to consider:
1. Should I ask ahead of time to have the conversation giving the other person some time to prepare for this?
2. Can I set the stage for the conversation by asking to read out your processed thoughts first before they reply, and the full dialogue can start?
3. Any rules needed to be set for the conversation?
4. Any expectations you have that need to be addressed by yourself first?
5. How can you make your intentions of the conversation known upfront?

Shifting our Thinking: Grief is Learning

Grief is a type of learning. We process new information, and develop new neuro-pathways.

The reality that we accept in life is often our learning is never ending we continue to grow and evolve. The exact same thing needs to be accepted for grief. Be gentle with ourselves and our loved ones the same way we would try to be with a child learning to tie their shoes for the first time, or spell their name.

Inspired by the work of: Mary Frances O’Connor —- The Grieving Brain

Sharing Expectations and Developing ‘Enoughness’

Give yourself permission to share your expectations with those you are spending the Christmas and Holiday Season with. Having vulnerable conversations create such a depth of safety. Ponder these question and picture how you could raise them with your important people.

Do we need to give gifts? Is there value in gift giving for us this year? What monetary value are we putting towards it?

How do you feel most seen, heard, and valued this season?

What amount of time are you able to give each relationship this season?

By having these conversations, we set ourselves up for success. We give ourselves the language of being enough— ultimately developing the sense of ‘enoughness’

Finding Your Voice: The Embodiment of Silence.

Whether that’s setting boundaries, limits, or voicing your concern, your voice is a powerful source of action. The realities of using our voices that often isn’t seen as a strength is silence. Try to challenge yourself to notice the moments you are stepping into silence (as this is an action, it’s a choice) and question:
Why am I choosing this response?
What message does this silence send?
What are my true intentions with my silence?

Time and Grief

When you have experienced sufficient grief a common saying is “give it time, time heals all wounds.” This saying often leaves individuals feeling dismissed, not understood, and hurt.

Time only moves forward. The reflection of the pain, the hurt, and of the absence is important in pulling the meaning of the loss. The meaning in the life they lived (or the role that was, etc); depending on the type of grief you’re faced with a different focus.

Time is nothing but a measurement of space between two points. Grief doesn’t get smaller in that. Grief’s focus can switch many times, it can get heavier and lighter to carry, it can be more confusing and more understanding can be pulled. The idea grief goes away—- is damaging to those that have dealt with sufficient grief in their lives!

Understanding that when you’re wanting to show up in someone else’s grief story. Showing up and saying less is often more supportive than saying “give it time, you’ll heal soon”. Just show up and witness their pain. Being present.

Importance of Sleep

We continuously hear about how important sleep is to our overall well-being. It’s great to acknowledge its importance but also important to develop a plan of action of practical ways to enhance the experience to avoid defeating yourself. Somethings to consider in developing your Sleep Routine: Time windows and Setting expectations/“stories of three”

Bedtime—- Setting the same window of time daily to be physically in bed (only rare social exceptions to this). This window of time should be only 30 minutes —i.e. 9-9:30pm.
*What three things are you required to do just prior to getting into bed? While keeping in mind that, ideally you haven’t touched a screen for 2 hours prior to bed, however even going with 15-30 minutes would be a huge start. Is this: brushing your teeth, having some sips of water, reading some of a book, journaling (it’s ideal to get out all the stressful thoughts and place them somewhere prior to sleep), etc.

Wake time—- Set an alarm everyday for the same time window. This should also be a 30-minute range as well for the weekdays and try to only shift by increasing to a 60-minute time window on weekends.
*What three things are required prior to you touching a screen? Not including shutting off your alarm. Is this: brushing your teeth, showering, 5 min stretches, 5 min mediation, work-out, gratitude acknowledgments, etc.

When in sleep mode some things to consider: Redirect mind when negative/ intrusive thoughts come in. Acknowledge the thought, validate it (all thoughts are a story—- not all rooted in fact or truth, and all have a beginning and end), if it’s a thought of a task that needs to be addressed/task completed have a paper and pen (not your phone) next to the bed to quickly write it down for you to address at a future date. A lot of our intrusive thoughts will get more powerful due to their fear you won’t remember to do the task/thought. Therefore, the brain kicks it into a survival response (and engages the amygdala), creating a new priority level and you can’t let it go.

Codependency Loops—-

One of the aspects of the experience of codependency is connected to the attempts of trying to gain control over something (or the entire relationship) as it feels unhealthy, and up to you to “fix it.” It becomes the narrative “if they’d just listen to me, if they’d just get help, etc.” the idea of everything would be better comes to the forefront. This aspect often starts from a place of trying to show love and fix the circumstances. That is however a false narrative.

Melody Beattie in her book ‘Codependent No More’ says it beautifully: “We cannot change people. Any attempts to control them are a delusion as well as an illusion.”

The places where control is being attempted in the relationship, are the areas you are feeling most out of control. Those are the areas where boundaries are needed to be set.

It starts with dealing with your emotions, including your fear of losing control. This will allow you to tap into your control over your self. You set the other person free to be the person they are showing you that they are and letting yourself become the person you are trying to be through them.

Often a helpful first step in the processing work is writing it all out. This opens your perspective and starts pulling you into your logic—processing mind. Why are you feeling out of control? When were you last feeling in control of your own circumstance? What would it look like to not control the next event with your partner? How can you establish safety in this?