Collectively we made it through another difficult year.

Dr. Harriet Phelps

We have been challenged with many shifts in our lives. Life lends itself to shifts and changes, though usually not as much as these past few years.

The best response is to protect ourselves from negative fallout around our mental and physical well being.

It is a relief to see that wellness care has begun to move into addressing more of our mental health care. Depression and anxiety are primary issues today. It is not easy asking for help, but it is worth it.

We may have taken for granted the way we think cannot be changed. Our self image was established when we were very young by our environment and circumstances. Through repetition, we developed an automatic response to events as we learned in childhood and life experiences. Mindfulness means becoming aware of how much we think and respond.

A simple thought can bring us down into depression, trigger anxiety or other reactions.

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.” This statement is so comprehensive it encompasses conditions and circumstances of our lives. Henry Ford said, “If you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.” Thoughts acted upon without mindfulness will trigger the emotional reaction, positive or negative.

Choose the positive. Change your thoughts, change your life. Develop a solution response.

When working with clients and attempting to develop a more-positive approach to problem solutions or thinking solutions, I would ask, “Where’s the saber-toothed tiger?” Many times, we are simply reacting by throwing an old pattern at it without seeing if the tiger really was in the room or if we just thought it was.

A traumatic event can have us developing an extreme response to prevent the pain. Is the tiger in the room? In an emergency, we are going to react with the old tools we have used in the past. Check your toolbox: thoughts, feelings and behaviors are interconnected.

Develop a healthy response before an emergency.

Ask: Is this a thought or is this really happening? Is this an emergency? We will react. If not a risk, take time to respond by relaxing.

Ask: Can I do something about this? If yes, do it. If no, I cannot do anything, then accept.

Relax: Check your breathing and bodily reaction. Pause. Slow breathe to slow heart rate.

Anchor: Anchor your mental presence by visualizing a root going into the earth and anchoring your body. Slowly breathe to regain calm.

Self talk to soothe: Check your thinking and what you are telling yourself: I’m OK, there is no danger, I can take time to plan or accomplish this situation. I can do this.

Take time: Where appropriate to meditate: breathe, positive thought, mindfulness and calm.

Meditate: When home, find an appropriate place to relax and take a few minutes to utilize meditation music on social streaming. Select guided imagery and the author will give instructions during meditation.

As you learn these methods, your negative thoughts and impressions will diminish, more-realistic thinking will take place and you will begin to feel better emotionally.
Have a very Happy New Year.

Harriet Phelps is a retired psychologist and a volunteer at Be Awesome Youth Coalition and Maricopa Senior Center.