Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Brain Health in Women

I just wanted to pop in to write a quick post before I go to bed. 

I realized today January, 2016 has gone very well for me.  Last year, 2014 had ended with challenges making January, 2015 difficult. 

My husband had lost his job (done in a very rude way) just a few days before he was scheduled for surgery (how uncaring that was). He was in recovery while I fielded his calls and helped him get to the lawyer's office on pain killers. That was our November double-whammy. 

Then, two days before Christmas, our cat of 13 years died. There were a couple of other fairly serious issues added to all this and Christmas thrown in. All the incidents that occurred had long-lasting emotional and mental effects for some time.

A Woman's Brain and Stress  

I read recently an article by Dr. Amen that talks about the biology of the female brain.  I really can't explain it as well as the article so please read it on the link above.  What I do know is that it has confirmed some of my own deductions.  

I've had times where I've had low tolerance for dealing with issues. Especially in perimenopause it seemed worse at times (although mothering young children was pretty hard too.) 

In one of these periods of stress I feel overwhelmed, stuck in overthinking and ruminating, am physically exhausted, and sometimes my brain just plain hurts with a headache. Sometimes I've felt depressed.  

Dr. Amen points out that a woman's prefrontal cortex is very active.  The benefits are that it makes women more empathetic, discerning, and so on.  The risk is that sometimes a woman's prefrontal cortex reaches overload causing her to stall. Dr. Amen describes it as being like a parking break that's stuck. 

That was me last January. My parking break was stuck. When it gets stuck my mind goes places it need not. Bleak winter weather often makes it more difficult.

Solutions for Brain Care

The solution is self-care and prevention. We need to learn skills that will help us set protective boundaries so we pull back before we reach our limit. 

We need our vitamins, exercise, meditation, healthy diet, and so on. And when our brake gets stuck, in my opinion, we need to stop and let our brain rest. That might mean watching mindless TV, taking a walk, or going to sleep. 

The next time you're edgy, mouthy, or stuck in a foul mood, you have my permission to say, "My prefrontal cortex made me do it." 

That may be true.  But my bigger wish is that this post awakens you to what's really going on so you can take effective steps. 

You're not a bad person. You're not weak. You're just over-stimulated.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Set Personal Boundaries to Stop You From Meddling

Maybe it's just part of my personality makeup, but I often feel another's pain.  I can be so empathetic that I too become troubled. 

My hairstylist shared with me something similar.  He gets to hear a lot of his customers' problems.  Because he's sensitive, he sometimes goes home troubled.  He chocks it up to being over-empathetic while at the same time unable to do anything to help the person. 

I wish now I'd told him he had done his part--listening. Being heard is what we all long for. It is very therapeutic, in fact, so just listening may have helped his customer. 

What I did tell him was to say to himself, "Not my circus, not my monkeys."  It's a great word picture for setting emotional boundaries.  It means, it's that person's problem and they need to handle it on their own.

Empathetic Personalities Struggle the Most

Personality tests have shown I'm the feeling compassionate type. I often feel another's pain. Coaching clients has sometimes been hard for me because from the outside solutions are often easy to see but I can't push a client to make the changes I imagine. When a client takes a step backward or seems unable to move forward, I feel ineffective. But like the hair stylist, I've done my part by listening and asking prompting questions. 

Dealing with Burdensome Friends 

Have you ever had the following scenario happen to you?

An acquaintance pours out their troubles and you begin to offer advice.  Or, you start researching possible solutions.  You want to email or message them thinking your idea will be well received and encouraging.  But instead, you discover your friend doesn't want advice or solutions.  They merely wanted to vent, I suppose.

It's all too easy to take on another's problems. It's all to easy to feel another job has been added to our to-do list--to figure out life for someone else.  We end up unnecessarily stressed and our feelings might be hurt when our advice is rebuffed. We surely feel we've wasted our time and energy.  

I found guidance for this problem when reading Chapter 13 of Susan Day's   Divine And Perfect Order, A Companion Journal: 52 Simple Truths, Simple Tools & Simple Words of Wisdom for Your Life (Hardcover)

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In this chapter we are urged to not spend time on things that aren't our business. Yes, God does call us to lift each other up and help each other, but we should only take action when asked or are given permission.  

Symptoms of getting into another's business might include: wanting to control an outcome, finding ourselves digging for details, gossiping, or interfering with things that are someone else's business.

When find ourselves getting caught up in meddling, Day invites us to write the issues on paper and throw them into our None-of-My-Business-Bucket. 

I've created a little bucket myself from an old tea can.  Whether I use it or not remains to be seen but for now it is a visible reminder of this principle.

"Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears
    is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own" Prov. 26:17 (NIV).

You're invited to check out the DAPO Facebook Group. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

More Thoughts on the DAPO (Divine and Perfect Order) Movement Journal

It's been over a week since my last post on the book Divine And Perfect Order, A Companion Journal, by Susan Day.

Continuing on from my previous post, all I can say is "Wow."  I have approached the chapters in the book with deep reflection.  I'm asking myself the questions and using them as my gauge for life.

The lessons have hit home more than once. I won't go into detail, but an issue came up at home and the basis of it was very related to one of the chapter topics. 

I've read up to Chapter 20 now, but each time I sit down I start at number one again and work forward stopping at the points that haven't quite sunk in yet. They really are words of wisdom for living.

Change Needs Work 

I "chatted" with the author Susan Day recently. She mentioned that a lot of Christian women say they want to change, but few are willing to put in the work.  This book is such a simple way to understand the work that is needed. It gets straight to the point. 

I heard another story recently where a woman was asked to fill out a questionnaire in her doctor's office.  The receptionist said, "I know you've filled this out before, but we need you to indicate any changes there may have been."  

The patient replied, "Honey, the only changes in my life for the last 10 years have been new wrinkles and new aches and pains."

That indeed is a sad commentary on life.  This simple self-coaching tool offers simple challenges designed to help correct, develop, and renew people and transform the way they deal with others. It's all about positive change. 

DAPO Moments  

I read passages of several books a day as well as posts in social media and articles online. There have been many DAPO moments as passages have communicated similar messages as the chapters I've read in the DAPO book.  

The first chapter talked about God wanting to answer our questions, and since I read it, I've been writing out simple questions to God. Then, yesterday, I came across promotional material for Tony Stoltzfus' book Questions for Jesus.   When two thoughts concur about the same topic in the same week, to me, that is a DAPO moment.