Hanna's Helpful Hints

Identifying What is Within Your Control or Sphere of Influence

 

Connor Jones

When we are juggling multiple responsibilities, competing priorities and care about matters of importance in our larger community, It can be easy to become overwhelmed with anxiety and worry. For some, it may often feel like they have a internal monologue or list of worries playing on repeat in their head. One way to cope with this anxiety and overwhelm is to work to identify what is within your control or influence vs. what is completely out of your control or influence to change. Worries that you have at least some control or influence over can be turned into concrete actions to take, while worries you have no control or influence over can be set aside, at least temporarily. A focus on what you have impact and influence on, can help disrupt the anxiety cycle and help you feel empowered over your life.

For example, something completely out of the control or influence of any one individual might be COVID 19 and when it will be under control locally, nationally and globally. That might be something that is weighing on you and causing a lot of stress and anxiety. However, If you were to ask yourself the following question: is there anything I can do to directly control or influence this issue? you might find that you do have control over some parts of the worry. Some examples of ways you can influence this worry would be controlling your individual behavior, washing your hands, keeping your distance, becoming vaccinated etc. 

Another example might be around school stress. You might worry that you will fail a class or an important task you have coming up. When you ask yourself the question " is there anything I can do to directly control or influence this issue?" you would likely be able to think of lots of things that you do have control or influence over, such as reaching out for support through the tutoring center, talking to your instructors, delegating or reducing outside responsibilities, reaching out for emotional support from a friend or professional etc.

If you are deeply worried about some large social issue in the world effecting many people, instead of becoming overwhelmed with anxiety and hopelessness about the largeness of issue you could ask yourself the same question, about what things small or large you can do to impact the issue. Some example might be getting involved in a community organization, joining a taskforce at work or school, registering to vote, talking to people in your personal and professional life about the issue and more. 

Taking the approach of identifying and focusing on those actions you can take, however small, to create positive change in your life and the world around you, can help you have strong personal boundaries and self care, help you remember what is your responsibility and what is outside your sphere of influence, help reduce your overall anxiety and can help remind you of the power you do have to make positive change in your life and your communities, despite all those things outside of your control or influence. Over the last year there has been so many changes and transitions, grief and trauma surrounding COVID, wildfires, large scale social justice movements, political unrest, massive shifts in the way we learn, work, socialize and exist. It is easy to be overwhelmed with all the stuff that feels outside our control. Amidst all of this, it can be extremely helpful and empowering to focus on the things we do have control over, and can make a positive impact on. 

The next time you are worried or anxious about something ask yourself the following questions: "Is there anything I can do to directly control or influence this issue?" If the answer is yes, make a list of the things you can do to impact the thing you are worried about. If the answer is no, try to release yourself from responsibility to solve that problem or reach out to someone who can help. 

For other ideas for positive coping and wellness for every day in the month of April see Action for Happiness' ACTIVE APRIL CALENDAR

Contact

Hanna Culbertson - Contact
MSW CSWA, UCC Life Coach, Student Services
Phone: 541-440-7896

Mindful March Daily Tips

mindful march

Action for Happiness's March Theme is Mindful March 2021. On their website, they say, "Let's take the time to pause, breathe and really take in what's all around us. This month we're encouraging you to take some time to look within. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life - like the way we eat, the things we notice or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future - so we get more out of the day-to-day. It can also help us identify what we're grateful for, which has been proven to help boost your happiness levels!"

Visit their website each month to see a monthly calendar with new tips and daily suggestions!

Contact

Hanna Culbertson - Contact
MSW CSWA, UCC Life Coach, Student Services
Phone: 541-440-7896

 

Gratitude

Gratitude

According to Dr. Brene Brown, Gratitude is one of the key ingredients to joy. She found in her largescale research on what makes people joyful or happy, that those who are joyful have an intentional practice of gratitude. See her speak about it here.

Practicing Gratitude does not mean denying the difficult times or only focusing on the positive; In fact it is important to be self-compassionate and allow ourselves to feel sadness and other negative emotions when they come.  However, finding moments to notice what we can enjoy and be grateful for, alongside feelings of sadness, help us build up a reservoir of resilience, and allows us to feel moments of joy amidst the hardest of times, and helps us maintain hope. 

There are many ways to practice gratitude, but it is important that it is intentional and practiced as an activity. Some ideas are:

  • Take a deep breathe in your nose to the count of 4, and out your mouth to the count of 8 and say in your mind or out loud “I am grateful for the air coming into my lungs. I am grateful for this moment.” Set a time in the day to do this.
  • Make a list of things you have to be grateful for. Nothing is too small to include. Examples could be the air you breathe, the food you eat that sustains your body, the taste of coffee in the morning, the softness of the sheets on your bed, the love and support of friend and/or family, the way the sun looks in the sky, the opportunity to go to school and learn, the opportunity to teach others a new skill, having a source of income to support you, laughter, a sunny day etc. etc.
  • Writing out what you are grateful for at the end or the beginning of the day can be a good way to make a habit of it.
  • Use a gratitude app to list enter things you are grateful for in the moment.
  • Gratitude journals – have a journal set aside to write in regularly what you are grateful for.
  • Start a gratitude jar. This can be a fun activity for the whole family, if you have small children as well. You find a jar (mason jar or others) and decorate it. On small pieces of paper, you write something you are grateful for. Set a goal to put one gratitude paper in the jar a day, or a different goal that works for you.
  • Set a gratitude meditation practice. Set 10-15 minutes aside in a day to practice focusing and meditating on the things you have to be grateful for.

It is my belief that one of the most precious gifts of being human, is that even in the hardest times, we can cultivate purpose, meaning and hope. Practicing gratitude is one way of doing that. 

Contact

Hanna Culbertson - Contact
MSW CSWA, UCC Life Coach, Student Services
Phone: 541-440-7896

Mindfulness Strategies - Meditation

Guided Meditation

Meditation is a practice that can be very beneficial for your mental, physical and overall health. While meditation has been utilized for thousands of years, it is now utilized regularly, and recognized as a research based stress reduction technique. There are many kinds of meditation, but most of them involve spending time tuning in to yourself, your thoughts, physical sensations and emotions and observing them without judgement, or tuning in mindfully to the present moment. In our busy society, it may often feel like we don't have time to meditate or to slow down, but even taking 5-10 minutes out of your day to meditate, has been found to lower stress levels. Meditation can also boost self awareness, promote relaxation, offer a balanced perspectives on stressful situations, help focus on the present, reduce negative emotions, increase patience, tolerance and productivity overall. It has been found to be effective in managing symptoms of an array of mental, emotional and physical ailments. It may not feel natural or easy at first, since we are often used to moving quickly from task to task, and our minds are often full of scattered thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, but over time, and with practice, it often leads to very positive results. There are some very simple forms of meditation that can be practiced day to day. Some examples are:

  • Deep Breathing - A good place to start for meditation beginners. Sit for 1-2 minutes (setting a timer can be helpful) and focus all your attention of your breathing. Setting an intention to breath in through your nose to the count of 4, and out of your mouth to the count of 6-8. Focus all your attention on the way the air feels going in our nose and out your mouth. Whenever you have wandering thoughts or sensations, you gently set your focus back on your breathing. As you get used to this practice, increase the amount of time spent focusing on your breathing.
  • Body Scan - This meditation involves focusing in on your breathe, and intentionally relaxing muscles in your body, bringing awareness to your whole body.
  • Walk and Meditate -This is a practice in which you intentionally meditate on the act of walking.
  • Guided Meditation/Visualization Exercises - Guided Meditations are those that are done with a guide, whether it is an in person facilitator or a recorded voice. Guided meditations often direct individuals to turn inward and meditate on their breathe, thoughts or physical sensations, or sometimes visualizing a calming relaxing image or scene.
    • Leaves on a Stream Meditation - This is a guided meditation exercise that promotes cognitive diffusion, or creating separation between ourselves and our thoughts, to help them have less hold over us and cause us less stress. This can be a very helpful exercise to help with racing thoughts through out the day or at night time.
    • Peaceful Place Meditation/VisualizationThis is a guided meditation exercise that walks you through imagining your own personal "peaceful place," a place that feels relaxing, peaceful and calm. This is a practice that you can utilize daily or when needed to promote calm, relaxation and stress relief.

Free Meditation Apps can be found here

Contact

Hanna Culbertson - Contact
MSW CSWA, UCC Life Coach, Student Services
Phone: 541-440-7896