Archive for Depression

10 Hot Tips for Surviving (and Enjoying) Being Single on Valentine’s Day

Pink rose in the shape of a heart to represent Keeping Love Alive relationship workshop

If you are recent­ly divorced, not in a sig­nif­i­cant love rela­tion­ship, or have been sin­gle for a while, Valentine’s Day may bring up feel­ings of lone­li­ness, empti­ness, and feel­ings of self-doubt.

If this is your expe­ri­ence, you are cer­tain­ly not alone. Honoring these feel­ings and avoid­ing activ­i­ties that trig­ger them is impor­tant. The good news is there is anoth­er way to look at this day ded­i­cat­ed to love that can give you a whole new perspective.

Here are some tips for enjoying Valentine’s Day as a single person:

  1. Don’t com­pare your­self to oth­ers who are cou­pled up. Just because a cou­ple is out cel­e­brat­ing doesn’t mean they are expe­ri­enc­ing the “bliss” of romance on Valentine’s Day. They may be expe­ri­enc­ing as much dis­ap­point­ment as you for dif­fer­ent reasons.
  1. Catch up on past friend­ships. Go out with a friend of your choice, com­mis­er­ate, eat, drink, and do what­ev­er you want.
  1. This year, you get to dress for your­self. Wear your most out­ra­geous or most casu­al outfit.
  1. Have a par­ty with oth­er sin­gles or look for com­mu­ni­ty gath­er­ings. There are many activ­i­ties list­ed in the news­pa­per and online.
  1. Take a dance les­son or go danc­ing. It’s a great way to meet oth­ers, revive your mind and body, get in touch with your sen­su­al­i­ty, and just have fun.
  1. Honor your own feel­ings in ways oth­ers may not have. Let your­self feel how­ev­er you do and not have to jus­ti­fy them to anyone.
  1. Stay home and watch a great DVD of your choice with­out hav­ing to check to see if some­one else likes or has seen it.
  1. Get out of your head and into your heart by vol­un­teer­ing. There is a huge drop off in vol­un­teers, but not of those in need, after the hol­i­days. Soup kitchens and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions still need your help.
  1. Devote the time, car­ing, and mon­ey you might oth­er­wise spend on some­one else on your­self. Buy your­self gourmet choco­lates of your choice, get a mas­sage, take a bub­ble bath, go for a walk in nature, or go to the coast alone or with a friend, whichev­er makes you feel good.
  1. Rediscover and spend the day with the hottest, smartest, and most inter­est­ing per­son you know — you!

See Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends for details on my sup­port group.

The Physiology of Belly Breathing

Physiology of Belly Breathing

How Diaphragmatic Breathing Activates Our Relaxation System

Why “belly” breathing calms us down and keeps our brain from being emotionally reactive:

Research has shown that just 20 min­utes of diaphrag­mat­ic breath­ing is all that’s need­ed to acti­vate and oxy­genate the mind­ful and think­ing part of the brain (the pre­frontal cortex).

  1. A bel­ly breath caus­es the lungs to press on the diaphrag­mat­ic wall.
  1. The diaphrag­mat­ic wall push­es down on the abdom­i­nal cav­i­ty (like a bal­loon being squeezed).
  1. The squeezed abdomen spreads out­ward in the front of the abdomen and the back where it press­es on the spine.
  1. This caus­es the abdom­i­nal cav­i­ty to put pres­sure on the longest cra­nial nerve, the vagus nerve, which runs all the way downs from the brain stem and the spine.
  1. When pressed on, the vagus nerve qui­ets down and turns on the body’s relax­ation sys­tem and reg­u­lates the parasym­pa­thet­ic ner­vous sys­tem (in con­trast to the instant grat­i­fi­ca­tion nerve).

What happens when the vagus nerve gets quieted down:

  1. Blood pres­sure, pulse rate, and res­pi­ra­tion become lower.
  1. Lactate (which increas­es feel­ings of anx­i­ety) gets cleansed from the blood.
  1. Alpha brain waves (calm and alert) are increased.
  1. The neu­ro­trans­mit­ter sero­tonin is released, gets into the blood­stream and up to the brain in about 20 – 30 sec­onds. About 95 per­cent of this feel-good neu­ro­trans­mit­ter is stored in the stom­ach lin­ing and intestines (our gut). 

No wonder breathing blocks reactivity and unhealthy emotions, helps you feel better, and think more clearly!

Thanks to Donald Altman, author of The Mindfulness Toolbook for these tools.