How Being at the Beach Surprisingly Encouraged My Health

I found myself at a familiar place this morning, one of our local beaches. Remembering all the times a beach, pond, river or lake has supported me emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally, I felt at ease. Growing up in Massachusetts, we often went to Wollaston beach in Quincy or Nantasket beach in Hull. I loved playing in the sand and the surf. As I grew older, we went to White Horse beach in Plymouth. My preference was to bake in the sun and hang out with the teenagers my age. As an adult, I find the most solace in walking the beach, when it is off season.

The beach saved my life

Once in my twenties, I had suicidal thoughts. Rather than acting on them, I got in my car and drove to the beach. This was a dark time of uncovering past abuse and facing the fact that some people I thought I could trust, denied the reality I lived through. My world was broken and my sense of self was shaken. I remember standing out at the water’s edge, praying to God for help. It was a slow road but I was supported and guided away from these thoughts, to health. I am grateful to not have acted on these thoughts and have a career that has helped many others, in their healing journey.

The beach helped me grieve

The summer after my brother-in- law died, I was fifteen years old. I often went to the beach with my sister, nephew and niece. It was nice to have a sense of normalcy and be around people without having to talk to them. Despite my sadness and loss, I could reconnect to the present moment through my five senses. I felt the warmth of the sun, sand and water on my body. I heard the seagulls and surf. I saw the beautiful blue sky, waves and brown sand. I smelled the salty air, coconut oil and suntan lotions. I tasted the salty air and sandwiches we brought for lunch. I found myself again at the beach every month for a year, after my Mom’s death.

The beach is my church and home

I found a special connection to God and my soul at the beach. This place calms and grounds me. As soon as I walk out on the sand, I am received, held and supported. Slowing down, I receive guidance and marvel in the beauty of this life.

I find myself being drawn back to the beach because of the ongoing pandemic, political divides, worldly issues and even my own uprising within, known as perimenopause. All of these instances, hold a grief but on a different level. l know without a doubt, the beach supports all of this and me too. I am truly grateful to live so close to a variety of water bodies.

For Empaths: A Special Section

Water in any form is highly healing for empaths. I know many of you may not live near natural bodies of water, but you can incorporate water into your daily energy routine. These practices help you clear others’ energies, hydrate, ground and release what you no longer need.

How has water or a body of water helped you heal?

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

How to Boost Your Energy Vibration while Social Distancing

One of the biggest challenges for sensitive people is maintaining their energy in uncertain times. Living during a pandemic is incredibly stressful. In order to slow the spread or flatten the curve of the Coronavirus, we have been instructed to practice social distancing and stay at home.

Social distancing is a new word and practice for our consciousness in 2020. It is the practice of standing at least six feet apart from others, who are not your household members, when you have to perform essential travel outside of the home. This necessary practice has cancelled in person meetings and events.

Why it is essential to boost your vibration

An empath’s energetic system, when not properly maintained and protected, is porous, like a sponge. This makes it easy to absorb anxiety, outrage and depression from the people, places and things around you, leaving you feeling fatigued and your immune system vulnerable.

When you vibrate at a higher frequency of energy, you will feel healthier, calmer and happier. Those who take care of their personal energy, report more satisfying interpersonal relationships, a sense of belonging and feeling connected to the Divine or something bigger than themselves. When you boost your energy vibration, this helps you create a world you want to live in. One sign you are on the right track is an awareness of synchronicity because you are connected to Divine not societal energy.

How to Boost Your Energy Vibration while Social Distancing

You cannot control what happens outside of yourself, but you can choose to give your energy vibration a lift with these strategies.

  • Recognize and let go of your draining thoughts, emotions and images

Too much anxiety, guilt, depression and anger will impact your mood and energy in a negative way. Affective therapy (connecting to your feelings) and expressive art techniques can help you, along with other treatments to feel, release and shift your feelings.

Sensitive people can be more at risk to experience trauma through disturbing images and the news. With this information age, it is easy to encounter videos and social media posts you would rather not see. These pictures can remain in your mental field long after the viewing has taken place. If you are struggling with this, here are two blogs about the impact of trauma: We are Living in a Time of Trauma  and How Trauma Gets in the Way of Relationship Success

Faulty thoughts such as; I am not good enough, I should or I must do this, restrict your joy and lower your vibration. Cognitive distortions can be difficult to identify. If you find yourself stuck in thoughts, emotions or images, reach out to a licensed psychotherapist, who can help restructure these thoughts and specializes in post traumatic stress disorder. You can receive therapy from the comfort of your home via phone or computer.

  • Move on from the past

We are living in a new time which requires new habits. I know you miss traveling and hanging out with friends, I do too. At this time, we need let go of the old ways and embrace new habits.

Your mind can get stuck in positive or negative memories. We all have a tendency to remember the negative, this is known as a negativity bias. This bias fuels depressive disorders. Although people and places change, sometimes it is difficult to accept and see a new reality. When you hold on too tight, you miss out on the joys happening right now.  Forgiveness, mindfulness (the practice of being in the present moment), gratefulness and healing old relationship patterns will shift your energy for yourself and with others.

  • Let go of other people’s energy

As a sensitive person, you can pick up on other people’s moods or pain, in addition to your own feelings. When you help others during this pandemic, you may experience stress or trauma, making it difficult to separate what is your energy and what is others. Recognize the signs of emotion overload (compassion fatigue or burnout), identify what is your energy and what is other people’s. My publication I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers can help you identify these kind of energy drains and gives you some helpful information to replenish your vitality.

  • Release clutter in your physical space. 

Let go of old papers, clothes, books and other objects you no longer resonate with. Each item you bring into your home has an energy attached to it. This force can originate from the person who created it, packed it, unpacked it, delivered it or even the cashier.

When you bring something new into your home, disinfect and energetically clear it. Lite a sage or smudge stick to clear the energy.  Open a window and allow the smoke to carry the excess energy away from you and your home. If you have client sessions by phone or computer, clear the house as you end the work day.

Be well. I am here for you by phone or computer, if you are looking for a compassionate therapist during this stressful time.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC  is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net

 

We are Living in a Time of Trauma

Trauma can have a deep and lasting impact not only on the person who directly experiences it, but also for those around them. As a psychotherapist, I have worked with numerous clients processing and releasing trauma, for over seventeen years. The silver lining is, you can heal from trauma but you have to seek treatment for it.

We are Living in Times of Trauma (2)

We are living in traumatic times. No, I did not mean dramatic but traumatic. You may see some people acting out dramatically after experiencing unresolved trauma. In these instances, the body is saying “pay attention to me, something is not in balance.” An important distinction to remember is, drama is not always trauma.

Our current lives have the potential to expose you to trauma on a daily basis. You can witness a trauma simply by being on social media or scrolling through the news on your phone. How many times have you encountered a disturbing image which was difficult to let go of? It is challenging being a sensitive person in today’s world. This is why self-care, boundaries and support are essential.

Trauma symptoms- how many do you currently have?

Physically and Emotionally Reactive (Arousal symptoms)

  • On guard for danger (hyper vigilance)
  • Self-destructive or reckless behaviors
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Concentration problems
  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Exaggerated startle response

Intrusive memories (intrusive symptoms)

  • Flashbacks- you see pictures of the traumatic event replay in your mind throughout the day, long after the trauma experience occurred.
  • Nightmares

Avoidance

  • Make efforts to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Avoid the places, activities or people that remind you of the event

Changes in your thoughts and mood

  • Feel distrustful of yourself, other people or the world
  • Hopelessness about the future, or feel you will not live long (a foreshortened future)
  • Not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Difficulty enjoying life or connecting with positive emotions
  • Feeling disconnected from others/life and numb

You may say, I have a lot of these symptoms but have never had a trauma event directly happen to me. Next, I will discuss three types of trauma. Out of these three types, two trauma reactions arise when you an outside of the direct trauma.

1.) Directly involved in a Trauma-  You are exposed to a catastrophic event. Some types of trauma involve being in combat, childhood physical, sexual or emotional abuse, sexual violence as an adult, physical assault, an accident, natural disasters, fires, sex trafficking, robbery, terrorist attacks, a shooting or an illness. 

2.)Vicarious Trauma also known as Compassion Fatigue- This type of trauma is the result of hearing other’s trauma stories and witnessing the pain, fear, and terror of the survivor. This can happen to counselors but also coaches who work with trauma. Self- care, awareness and professional support are critical tools for this line of work.

3.) Witness to Trauma- You saw or were in close proximity to a traumatic event happening to someone else. My husband and I witnessed a dating/domestic violence incident, while on vacation, to which we called 911. After the altercation, the woman followed the man as he walked away. This left me feeling unsettled. As we drove down a couple of streets, we saw a female officer talking to the woman involved. I don’t know if she pressed charges, if the couple will change or what will happen.

This uncertainty stayed with me for days until I processed it and decided to let it go. As a sensitive person, I felt many emotions attached to this event. I felt the danger in my own body, to which the man and woman were numbed to. I also felt their helplessness and stuck feelings. I acknowledged these feelings as not my own and released them. I know we did something in response and that is enough. The rest is now up to them.

When should you seek professional help from a licensed counselor? 

If you feel these symptoms are interfering with your daily life, seek help immediately, why wait? If your symptoms last beyond a month, acute stress disorder can become post traumatic stress disorder. Do not hesitate to reach out today, if you have thoughts of  suicide or of harming someone else. Treatment is available in every community.

You may also find this blog helpful: How Trauma Gets in the Way of Relationship Success

Pick up Lisa’s FREE gift 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!  at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist, writing coach and the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals.  She helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways Expressive Arts Heal Unexpressed Pain

 “Art can permeate the very deepest part of us, where no words exist.” 
― Eileen Miller, The Girl Who Spoke with Pictures: Autism Through Art

5 Ways Expressive Arts Heal Unexpressed Pain

Expressive art therapy combines creativity with psychotherapy. It feels fun, yet is a deep form of healing for people who can’t put their emotional pain into the spoken word. Creative methods help people process post traumatic stress, grief, and terminal or chronic medical conditions. It can help anyone decrease depression and anxiety. Expressive art therapy is most effective when the client has an interest in creativity and you work with a licensed psychotherapist, who has knowledge of expressive art therapy techniques.

What is expressive art?

Expressive art is any type of creative activity (painting, writing, singing, dancing) in which you experience a decrease in symptoms, such as anxiety or depression. Its purpose is to shift emotions, in order to process them. Unlike traditional art, expressive art it is not about making a pretty picture. Although, you can end up with a beautiful piece of art in the end. Here your focus is on the process, not the finished product.

5 Ways Expressive Arts Heal Unexpressed Pain

Art holds a space for transformation to take place. You are in control of how much you express and when. If the process feels too overwhelming, put the art aside. Together, with your therapist, you decide when to re-enter the work. The page, paper or room where art is created, holds the space for you without judgment, as a therapist does in any talk psychotherapy session. This safe place for healing, allows you to open up, connect, and accept the pain inside. When you allow yourself the space and freedom to express creatively, healing takes place no matter what type of art modality you choose.

Relaxes and opens you to new possibilities. Play is important for everyone, not just young kids. Expressive art gives you a chance to have fun and let go. Think back to a time, when you were caught up in the moment of creation. You experienced a sense of timelessness or an expanded sense of time. Afterwards, many of you asked, “Where did the time go?” You returned to this moment, renewed and refreshed. This type of surrendering to spirit is when the most healing happens.

Helps you process terminal and chronic illnesses. It is difficult to connect with emotions when you are in physical pain. No matter how ill you are, you have the power of your imagination. It is common to experience anxiety and depression with any form of illness, including chronic pain. “The Expressive Arts, including painting, sculpture, music, dance, and literature, can bring joy, pleasure, and laughter to patients and staff in medical settings, qualities often in short supply. Making art or hearing music reminds us that no matter how ill or busy we are, we can always tap into the magic of our imagination. This frees patients from being just “the cancer patient in bed 4,” passive with no power, to the person who has cancer who still also has an imagination, a creative spark. This spark can be utilized to tell her story, imagine her healing, aid in her recovery” (Heath, 2005).

Heals Trauma. After a tragic event, people feel overwhelmed. Their nervous system reacts in one of three ways; fight, flight or freeze mode, releasing various stress hormones. When these chemicals don’t reset after a trauma, it changes the actual physical structures in the brain. The good news is with treatment these structures can be restored. Creative arts helps clients who have adversity, process these unspeakable experiences and organize them within the brain. Art helps contain these emotions and break them down into mentally digestible pieces. People find healing by telling their story in a different way, which reduces trauma symptoms.

Contains the Devastation of Grief and Loss. Often after a death, it is difficult to put your experience into words. Art gives you a safe place to express all of your feelings after a loss; whether it is anger, sadness, bargaining, depression, or acceptance. This process is also helpful when facing denial, as it helps you take in a small portion of the pain to work through at a time. There is no judgement with art; no one tells you to get over your loss or move on. Often through art, one not only heals but also finds a way to keep their loved one’s memory alive.

Reference: Creating Connections between Nursing Care and the Creative Arts Therapies: Expanding the Concept of Holistic Care by Carole-Lynne Le Navenec, Laurel Bridges (2005)   Chapter 7 The Spark of Creativity: Expressive Arts in a Hospital Setting by Wende Heath. 

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist with over fifteen years experience in counseling and nine years of experience using expressive art techniques. She specializes in working with professionals who often get drained from their helping efforts, giving them the tools and support to recharge and rejuvenate their energies. Get her free gift here a 10 page E-book: 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!  

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How Trauma Gets in the Way of Relationship Success

 

How Trauma Gets in the Way of Relationship Success

Under stress, the human mind is vulnerable to unresolved trauma. When you or someone you know feels reminded of a traumatic event, you either freeze (become detached), fight (verbally or physically) or take flight (avoid and leave). Often you don’t know what happened inside of your own mind or someone else’s; what you see is a change in behavior which causes your relationship to suffer.

What is a trigger? 

A trigger is something that someone says or does that reminds your subconscious mind of a past trauma. Some people experience flashbacks or a reliving of the event after being triggered. These flashbacks happen a lot for people who have post traumatic stress.

Trauma Reactions

You can experience a trauma reaction from war, sexual assault, death, or any type of abusive relationship in which you felt your life was or is in danger.  Being a witness to other’s experiencing trauma can be traumatizing for some people. Empaths may be more susceptible to trauma reactions because of their sensitivity.

An example

Veterans who hear fireworks may feel as if they are back in the war. In that moment and time, their mind is occupied with a trauma image. As a result, they appear tense, angry, anxious or detached from the present moment.

When you do not heal past trauma it continues to be an energy that gets expressed. It often comes out in one of these three ways in relationships. 

3 Trauma Behaviors that Cause Relationship Difficulty 

Chaos-  Your relationships are unstable and chaotic. This energy is acted out and seen as dramatic arguments in relationships. For others who repress chaos within, the energy causes illness and chronic pain. Since your mind is overstimulated, you find it hard to focus and are easily distracted, similar to people who experience attention deficit disorders. You may turn to substances or have addictions.

Avoidance–  You feel fearful, overwhelmed or frozen. Another reason why you avoid is due to feeling numb. When you cut yourself off from feeling, you disconnect from the painful traumatic emotions but also the happy, pleasurable emotions of life. Since you find no joy in life, you stop maintaining connections. If you are in a relationship, you appear detached and don’t know why you can’t connect with others even when you are together. You may turn to substances and have addictions.

Over-reactive to life – You feel angry. You and others notice you have a short fuse and react impulsively. You feel jumpy and on edge because your brain believes it is under a threat, in psychology this is known as hypervigilance. This super reactivity is good in times of crisis, it is not useful in everyday life. Your outbursts can lead to arrests and legal difficulties. You may turn to substances and have addictions.

To Wrap It All Up

If you are experiencing these trauma behaviors you and your relationships do not need to suffer, seek out a qualified therapist who works with trauma. The good news is, trauma can be healed and you can have successful relationships.

Remember everyone is coming from their own perception and experiences. When someone is overly reactive, avoiding you or stuck in their own drama, it is not personal. It may be a sign of past unresolved trauma they have not healed yet.

Some people stay in these reactions their entire lives while others seek therapy. My advice to you is lovingly detach from them and heal your own wounds. With time and space, you will know how to respond to these types of relationships.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach for empaths and artists. Unresolved trauma is one of the many ways your energy becomes depleted overtime. Lisa specializes in working for professionals who often get drained from their helping efforts, refill and rejuvenate their energies, Visit www.lisahutchison.net and get  FREE – 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!