Stop Beating Yourself Up: 8 Tips to Overcoming Remorse

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Photo by Tyler Lastovich/Unsplash

Endlessly revisiting what happened in the past, beating yourself up for the bad things that you’ve done won’t change anything.

It certainly won’t make the events or actions go away. Yet the pattern of wallowing in remorse, guilt, shame and self-loathing doesn’t have to continue. Here are some tips on overcoming remorse that may help.

  1. Work on becoming healthier

Flooded with toxic thoughts and emotions takes a toll on your body. Before you can begin to heal from the effects of remorse, you need to act to restore your health. If you used drugs and alcohol as a crutch to deal with the pain, these also contributed to your current poor physical and mental state.

If you sincerely desire to make positive changes, the first step is to detoxify your body. Go into drug rehab if the need is severe and you can’t do it on your own. Otherwise, make it a point to eat nutritious foods, get sufficient sleep, hydrate often with water, and engage in regular vigorous physical exercise. It may take a few weeks or longer to get back to health, but a healthier body will greatly improve your ability to get past remorse.

  1. Develop new habits.

Analyze how you’ve spent your days with emphasis on what you’ve done to numb the ache of remorse. Facing up to the reality that you’ve used unhealthy coping mechanisms isn’t easy, but it is necessary to get to the point where you recognize that you need new and healthier habits to replace them. Part of this process may require training from a professional and include behavior modification, individual and group treatment, outpatient counseling and self-help groups and manuals.

  1. Restore your spirit.

After being battered by long months of struggling with remorse, your spirit is likely at its lowest ebb. The unfortunate correlation of drug and alcohol abuse with engaging in illegal, unethical and immoral acts also contributes to tremendous guilt and shame.

Learning how to heal from the damaging effects of remorse is best accomplished with the help of a professional counselor or therapist. You need to learn not only that it’s fruitless to beat yourself up over the past, but also that you can choose a path toward spiritual renewal. In this, you don’t need to be religious. What is necessary is a realization that it’s vital to rebuild your spirit to cope with remorse.

  1. Activate your sense of self-discovery.

Remorse doesn’t only sap your physical body. It also wreaks havoc on your emotional state. Instead of looking forward to daily activities and learning new things, you spend most of your time in a state of stagnation. There is no joy, no self-discovery, no excitement about much of anything. A trained therapist can help guide you in the process of rehabilitation and self-discovery.

  1. Commit to a change in lifestyle.

To successfully cope with and overcome feelings of remorse, you’ll have to consider the fact that certain people, places, times and events trigger those negative emotions. Most likely, you’ll need to find new friends, avoid the situations and locations that remind you of painful memories and fill you with remorse.

  1. Join a group with similar goals.

If you’re in treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, or compulsive gambling, compulsive shopping or another process addiction, or have a diagnosis of co-occurring mental health and substance abuse, a big part of your recovery will involve participation in recovery groups. This will continue long after your formal treatment program concludes.

But group participation is also highly recommended for anyone who’s working to overcome remorse. It doesn’t have to be a recovery group, however. Any group that shares similar goals or helps you pursue an activity or interest will benefit your desire to get past remorse.

  1. Pay special attention to family.

Often, it’s the people who know you the best and care for you most that can really jumpstart the healing process. They’re often also the ones you tend to shy away from, fearing criticism, negativity and dredging up the past. It’s important to make full use of your loved ones and family members, as they are instrumental in helping to affirm your commitment to living a healthier and happier life. Just because some issues and memories are painful doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile working through them with the help of your family.

  1. Seek to embrace life.

Along with a concerted effort to work on becoming healthier, beginning new habits, replenishing your spirit, allowing yourself to discover what’s good and interesting to pursue, committing to lifestyle changes, joining groups with similar interests and being mindful of the importance of family, there’s one final tip that can help you move past remorse. To achieve a purposeful life, filled with opportunities and self-fulfillment, you must seek to embrace life.

After working on creating positive steps and taking the actions necessary to achieve them, life starts to look different. It’s no longer bleak and monotonous. Instead, life-affirming thoughts, dreams and plans will replace the self-destructive ones you’ve lived with so long. With a commitment and enthusiasm to embrace life, your path forward will lead you in directions you will find unexpected and delightful.

As for how long it will take to successfully overcome remorse, bear in mind that each day is another opportunity to make progress toward healthy change. Live in the present. Put forth your best effort in whatever you do. Surround yourself with people who are positive and share your values. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Above all, be grateful that you have this day to make all the choices you want.

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This article was originally published on PsychCentral https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2016/08/18/stop-beating-yourself-up-8-tips-to-overcoming-remorse/

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My 10 Favorite Ways to Relax

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Photo by Joshua Earle/Unsplash

It’s a stressful world out there. No wonder we need a break. While I’m not particularly stressed most days, having stumbled upon and adopted several effective stress-busting techniques, I still find that it’s sometimes difficult to unwind and relax. Fortunately, I’ve come up with some relaxation techniques that work wonderfully for me. Maybe they’ll help you, too.

Being With My Loved One

To me, there’s nothing more relaxing than spending time with my loved one. I consider him to be my best friend, so what could be better than being together, sharing conversation, cooking, discussing every subject under the sun, planning trips, going out to dinner or for coffee or shopping, even driving on vacation with no set destination in mind. When you have this level of comfort with someone else, it’s an instant pick-me-up. This is not to say there aren’t the occasional disagreements, but we treat each other with respect and dignity.

Enjoying a Professional Massage

If you want to have all the kinks worked out after a brisk exercise or physical therapy regimen, or if you just want to lay on the massage table and let an expert masseuse go to work, there’s nothing that comes close to a professional massage to help you unwind and relax. All those tight muscles, sore from workout, sleeping in the wrong position, hunched over the computer, doing exacting work of any kind – benefit immensely from massage. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend 50 minutes, or an hour and a half if I’m on an island at a resort where longer sessions are available. Besides, who wouldn’t want to splurge on something that makes you feel so great?

Hiking in the Woods or Nearby Trails

I’m fortunate to live close to a series of mountain trails. By close, I mean a few blocks away. No need to drive to the trailhead. A quick walk get me there. I love hiking and walking in all the seasons. Being in California, there’s not snow where we live, but it does get cold. Springtime, however, is my favorite for trail adventures, though. Everything is fresh and beginning to bloom. How wonderfully restorative.

Reading a Good Book

I’ve always been a voracious reader. When I was a kid, I’d borrow seven books from the library each week. Don’t ask me why it was seven. Maybe it was all I could carry. I made it a point to learn as much as I could from those books, often reading under the covers with the aid of a flashlight until my parents reminded me to get to sleep. I love mysteries, thrillers, the occasional love story, biographies and more. Diving into a good book is a guilty little pleasure that I’ll never tire of.

Luxuriating in a Hot Bath

If you have a Jacuzzi tub or a large tub with therapeutic jets, take advantage of how relaxing a soak in this tub can be. If my back aches or I’ve got pain between my shoulder blades from being too long at the computer, or hours spent behind the wheel, nothing eases the ache or melts my stress away like luxuriating in a hot bath. I like to use lavender-scented bubble bath or essential oils, but even Epsom salts will do in a pinch.

Taking Photographs

I’ve never taken a professional photography class, although I’ve perused several books on how to take great pictures. Over the years, however, I’ve bought a number of cameras that help idiot-proof my picture-taking to the point where I can be fairly certain I’ll come out with a few respectable shots. I love scenic photos, as well as pictures of various flowers and plants. The more unusual and unique, the better. I also like taking impromptu shots of loved ones and friends. Capturing someone’s raw emotions when they’re not posing generally results in some extraordinary pictures. I can lose myself on a trail shooting photo after photo, or spend some time setting up just the right perspective and angle. At any rate, taking photographs is always relaxing to me. With digital cameras, there’s no need to go to the expense of having them printed. Digital is so much easier to immediately share with others, too.

Watching an Exciting Movie

I grew up going to the movies as a means of relaxation. My brother and I used to go to the Saturday matinees to see the double features plus cartoons. It’s all different now, when the price of a single movie approaches the cost of a meal out. Still, whether it’s at the cinema, a rental movie from a kiosk, a new release out on VOD or an old favorite on TV, I get a thrill out of watching all kinds of movies. To me, it’s exciting, entertaining, and allows me to put aside any problems or worries for an hour or so.

Getting Creative in the Garden

All my life I’ve loved to work in the garden. Actually, work isn’t the appropriate word. It’s more a labor of love. I’ve pored through gardening books looking for color schemes and layouts I think might look good in the various yards I’ve been privileged to own (or rent). No matter how small the area, I can always find a way to beautify it through gardening. Not only that, but I love cutting flowers to create tabletop centerpieces. The fragrance in the house reminds me that this is the result of my creativity in the garden. It’s extraordinarily relaxing – although not the weeding part.

Practicing Culinary Skills

Thinking about cooking reminds me of the time when I was a young girl and I found a cookbook with 101 recipes for chicken in my mother’s kitchen credenza. She worked a lot and didn’t have time to spend a lot of time making dinner. Sometimes, my dad was the chef (he really had been a chef in his 20s), while more often it fell to me to whip up a meal. You guessed it. I made excellent use of those 101 chicken recipes. To this day, I love a good chicken dinner. But I also love following a recipe and getting good enough at practicing it that I can add some creative touches to make it unique. The family loves my skills in the kitchen as well. Besides, when you’re cooking, you must pay attention. Talk about being present. To me, it’s a form of mindfulness meditation.

Getting My Hair Done

Some might consider this just a girl thing, but when it comes to letting my hair down (literally) and having my hair stylist do a thorough wash, condition, blow-dry and style, there’s nothing like this kind of instant tension-reliever. It helps that she does a deep scalp massage during the wash and rinse. When her expert fingers exert pressure, I can feel the tension melt away. Granted, I can’t afford to get my hair done every week, but that means it’s even more of a treat on the occasions when I do. My partner likes when I cut his hair, probably for the same reason. I know what feels good on my head and neck, so I give him that gift as well.

 

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How I Learned to Overcome Stress

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Photo by Andrew Pons/Unsplash

Friends often ask me my secret to being free from stress. I’m no expert, but I know what works for me. It didn’t come naturally, though, and it wasn’t easy at first.

When I was younger, I did it all wrong. Like a lot of young adults, back then and still, I seemed to constantly get involved in activities and pursuits that created a perfect petri dish for the development of stress.

  • As the old saying goes, I burned the candle at both ends.
  • Not only that, but I also engaged in risky behaviors.
  • To add more complicating factors, I hung out with questionable friends.
  • Naturally, I had poor self-care because of my bad habits.

Over the years, however, I learned that I control my actions and – vitally important – that my actions have consequences.

So, how did I go from being a veritable poster child for how to build stress to learning to live as close to stress-free as possible? Here are my go-to techniques to vanquish stress. Maybe they can work for you.

Stop trying to be perfect.

I used to think that I had to be the best in everything I did. I had to do it better, faster and smarter than anyone else or it didn’t count. Part of that had to do with being the younger sibling to a very competitive brother. Perhaps part of it was trying to please my parents, although I think every child wants that.

The downside of accepting only perfection is that perfection is an elusive target. There’s never going to be a perfect outcome. Improvement is always possible. What’s considered success today may be failure tomorrow.

My therapist helped me recognize this self-defeating tendency and gave me wise counsel: You don’t have to be perfect. Just do the best you can.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But when the advice finally sunk in, a lot of stress disappeared. Striving to do my best was not only enough, it was life-affirming, motivating and made me feel better about myself.

Create a schedule.

When too many conflicting demands began to intrude on my daily life, with a consequent dramatic uptick in stress, my therapist recommended I create a schedule. I didn’t want to do this, since I felt schedules were too confining. But I agreed to try it out. After all, with kids and school and work demands, I needed help keeping everything organized. If a schedule could accomplish that, I’d become a convert.

To my surprise, creating a schedule did help me put some breathing room into my life. It cut down some avoidable stress and gave me the self-confidence I needed to tackle other projects. In other words, to put different items into my schedule. All in good time, of course. I had to get comfortable with my schedule before I began to alter it.

That’s the other thing I learned about creating schedules. Like prioritizing tasks and creating lists of goals, schedules must be able to evolve and adapt.

It’s OK to ask for help.

I never liked asking for help. I thought it made me seem weak. But after several tragedies, unfortunate experiences and a lot of heartache, I gradually accepted the fact that there’s nothing wrong in asking for assistance. If I was willing to help others in need, asking for help when I needed it was OK.

In fact, for me, being able to ask others for help turned out to be a lifesaver. There was a time when I was so despondent, I didn’t know what to do. My therapist offered some consolation, but I needed more. He encouraged me to talk with a trusted friend, which I did. Just having another person listen nonjudgmentally was instrumental in lifting a crushing weight of stress. That we could laugh and do things together, like go to a movie or out for a pizza, helped as well.

Today, while I don’t make a practice of asking others to help, if I really am in need, I won’t hesitate to do so. And, I firmly commit to being there for others when they request my assistance. This is all part of being genuine, living up to commitments, wanting to help when it matters.

Do what you love.

It took me a long time to be able to love what I do. I went to school at night to earn several degrees, each with an emphasis on what I consider my strength: writing. Like millions of people, I had to work at jobs that weren’t necessarily gold standard, didn’t match my goals and dreams, but they did help me put food on the table and clothes on my kids, pay the car payment and rent.

I held firm to my dream of working in a field that allowed me to make use of my talents. I was fortunate to work in public relations for a major automaker and then become a freelance writer once I retired. Capitalizing on both my studies and my love of writing was incredibly beneficial. Every day brought new challenges, new opportunities to do what I love.

Here’s a secret I learned about doing what you love. It crushes stress.

Make time for play.

Part of why people get stressed is they grind endlessly without a break. Or, the only downtime is when they fall exhausted into bed. I know. I’ve been there. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that any human being will reach a point of no return if they fail to insert time to relax and recharge into their life.

I love going to movies. I also love reading, walking the nearby nature trails, gardening, cooking and travel. Any one of these I consider play. And they work wonders for dissipating stress.

After breaking for play – doing what you enjoy for leisure, recreation or educational pursuit – you can come back and take on the next item on the schedule, today’s to-do list, or address a pressing or unexpected problem. You’ve put harmony and balance back into your life. Stress doesn’t have a chance against this dynamic duo.

Exercise gratitude daily.

I’m lucky to have learned how to rid myself of stress. In fact, I consider myself extraordinarily grateful. The concept of expressing gratitude for all that I have and all that I have learned is so strong that I recommend doing it daily. There’s a lot to be grateful for, no matter what the personal situation or circumstance. For one, you’re alive. For another, you have friends and allies. You have another day to receive the blessings and gifts today brings.

These tips aren’t all-inclusive. A few more I’ve found helpful include:

  • Know when to say no. It isn’t necessary or conducive to well-being to take on more than you can handle.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat regular, well-balanced meals. Avoid excessive intake of sugar, fats and salt.
  • Drink lots of fluids, especially water.
  • Cut down (or cut out) alcoholic beverages.
  • If you smoke, quit. Nicotine is addictive. While it may create initial calming or soothing, once cravings set, the stress increases until the urge is again satisfied.
  • Tap into spiritual renewal through prayer, meditation, yoga, self-reflection.
  • Nurture a positive attitude.
  • Follow your dreams.
  • Love wholeheartedly, deeply and without reservation.

 

This article was originally published on PsychCentral.com https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-i-learned-to-overcome-stress/

 

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8 Healthy Reasons to Ditch Your Bad Habits

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Photo by Christian Sterk/Unsplash

There comes a time of self-reckoning in everyone’s life. After months and possibly years of indulging in known vices and allowing yourself to slip into bad habits, you realize that this isn’t what your life is supposed to be. While you’re not quite sure where to begin, you know that you need to do something different. Consider these reasons for changing things up.

Feel better about yourself.

The decision to change is never easy. The pros and cons for doing so will occupy a lot of time at first. But once you commit to a decision to make a change, you will start to feel better about yourself. The fact that you’re taking proactive steps is reinforcement that only builds over time. When you start seeing improvement because of the actions you take, your mood lifts and your perspective changes. It’s no longer a corner you’re backed into, but a wide-open path that beckons.

Regain your self-esteem.

Feeling like a failure is probably nothing new. After so much self-indulgence, ignoring the needs of others and pursuing only that which made you feel good at the time, your self-esteem is likely at an all-time low. Even being rich and successful doesn’t protect self-esteem when you constantly undermine it with unhealthy behavior. Yet rebuilding self-esteem is possible. It just takes time. As you commit to finding new and healthier ways of living, each step you take is one step closer to stronger self-esteem.

Be respected again.

Somewhere along the line, your word didn’t mean anything anymore. You couldn’t be counted on. You didn’t show up. People lost respect for you and you lost respect for yourself. Facing up to what you’ve done in the past is no easy task, but it is the first step on the road to changing your behavior today. If you want others to respect you, you must demonstrate by your actions that you’re worthy of respect.

Reconnect with friends.

Feel that twinge of regret that you no longer spend time with friends you’ve known for a long time? While you were bent on pursuing your habit of choice, most of those friends didn’t fit in your selfish lifestyle. Whether you pushed them away or they chose to leave doesn’t change the reality that they’re gone. You can, however, take steps to rekindle friendships once you’ve made the break with your self-destructive vices and habits. If they’re true friends, they’ll welcome you back.

Mend important family relationships.

No doubt some of your errant behavior has wrought havoc in the family dynamic. It may have come to the point of complete estrangement. But your family is one of the most important elements in your life, so why would you walk away from that? Granted, it’s tough to mend fractured bonds, but it’s certainly worth every effort you make. Besides, once you’re no longer consumed by self-indulgent habits, you’ll have more time to focus on being with those who know you best and care about you most.

Remember what you did.

Memory loss is a damaging consequence of excessive drinking and certain drugs. Binge drinking often leads to blackouts, the inability to remember what you did when you wake up after a night of heavy drinking or drugging. Researchers now believe that cognitive impairment in longtime drinkers can improve after a year of abstinence. If you’re fed up with all the lost yesterdays, making the decision to change your ways can help ensure you can cherish the new memories you make.

Be inspired to change.

The more you get out of your self-absorbed bubble and rejoin the world, the more you will be exposed to opportunities to broaden and enrich your life. One success can be the spark that fans a blaze of inspiration to follow your dreams, pursue goals and be the best you can be. Instead of the inward-looking fixation on vices and bad habits, you’re ready to look outward and ahead.

Find joy in living.

Life is more than mere existence. At least it can be. Now that you’ve embarked on a journey of change, the reasons why you did so will continue to encourage you to keep moving forward. With renewed self-esteem, feeling better about yourself, enjoying newfound respect, reconnecting with friends and mending important relationships, you’re making exciting memories. You will find that the more you are open to new experiences, to learning and discovery, the more joy you’ll find in living.

Every day offers some new opportunity. Those bad habits you held onto for so long? They’ll have no claim over you now that you’ve embraced healthier behaviors, committed to live life in the present with zest and optimism, and opened yourself up to enriching relationships and growth experiences.

 

This article was originally published on PsychCentral.com https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2016/07/22/8-healthy-reasons-to-ditch-your-bad-habits/

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