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This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Game Plan

Posts related to this one:  Wise words From A Long-Term Patient, Stress-Reducing Methods, and a Little Lottery Win Each Day 

 How about helping yourself by preparing for the inevitable.  The inevitable being, there will be times that are not the best.  You may just feel down in the dumps one day, for no apparent reason.  The stressors in your life may reach a point where you feel overwhelmed.  Or, perhaps, you do not feel well for a specific reason---something has gone wrong, you have a thorny problem, or you've sustained a loss.
In any case, doesn't it make sense to put a plan in place in advance of something going awry in you or in your life?  This means that you have things ready to go to when you feel bad.  Once you already feel bad, it is much more difficult to figure out how to help yourself.
So, how do you begin to make this source of sustenance for yourself?  First, just begin  noticing the things that are particularly nourishing (psychologically) for you.  This will be quite individual.  No two people find the same things to be sustaining.  We have discussed the difference between introversion and extroversion, as defined by Carl Jung, in earlier posts; it's an easy example of a sort of broad-brushstroke-difference.  Some people will find it relaxing and encouraging to be with others, in a social situation, or, at the very least, out in the public, at a coffee shop or wherever there is activity and people.  On the other hand, some will find time to themselves a relief and a way to recuperate.  This is a basic propensity you will want to know about yourself.  (which way is your natural inclination)
~But, what else?  What can you do?
  • Does music help you?  Make a CD of happy music---music that makes you feel especially good.
  • Do words inspire you?  I have a list of words that put me in a positive frame of mind; it is ever-changing, but here are a few of those on my current list:  health, beauty, spirituality, counseling, personal growth, insight, light, rested.
  • Most people find that physical activity raises the levels of good-feeling chemicals in their brain, so a work-out, (probably when you least feel like it!), would be very helpful.
  • Robert Sapolsky,PhD,  who has been studying stress for many years, has recently found that the affiliative individual in a group (work?  family?  board position? etc.) has lower levels of stress hormones in their system than those who behave in an "alpha" manner.
  • Pay attention to your body signals, just to be sure something is not amiss physically.
  • Have you found certain books that really ring true for you?  I have.  I keep them in a special stack, for comfort if I need it.
  • Some people find that a practice of meditation works as a balancing factor and serves to prevent or reduce the incidence of feeling down.  "A regular practice of meditation affects everything in your life for the better."  Tom Clark, LCSW
  • Listen to your self-talk:  Are you repeating, automatically, in your own mind, self-denigrating thoughts?  Stop them.  Use kind words when you speak to yourself.
  • Do you have a life plan?  Review it; get yourself back on track.
  • "Stop paying attention to something no good or not right.  Pay attention to things that are good or right."  Tom Clark
  • When good things happen, it is worth taking the time to record them---in your calendar, as I mentioned I do (see the post titled, Reverse Charting), or in a journal, or even make a special log that you keep along with your other items that are set up for you to help yourself when things get tough.
  • Take a long, slow, deep, breath---it always helps.
  • Review your accomplishments.  Why not?  You worked for them---reflect on them to give yourself a boost.
  • Dress up.  Some people find they feel better when they look well. 
Whatever works for you, as long as it doesn't detract from anyone else; find those things.  Have them at the ready.  You know there'll be a time when you need some support.  Live with the reassurance that your personal retreat with your uniquely helpful items is there, at the ready.
Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, Third Edition


  1. I do keep up on your blog, but rarely comment. However, this was just too good to pass up. Your recent entry was exactly what I was talking about, except for being prepared for a natural disaster rather than a psychological one. Your last sentence expressed my desire perfectly. I know I'll feel better, and that it will, in fact, help me psychologically, when I have those supplies there waiting for me and hopefully will never have to use them. I think I'm going to get a bag of water/snacks etc in the car too because Murphy's Law is alive and thriving. I'd probably be in Emeryville at work and not even be able to get home to use those supplies! Maybe this will be my first project and the one outlined here will be next.

  2. Good plan, Anonymous! Go for it!