Affect Regulation · Mindfulness

Simple Skills for Big Emotions

Get ready to learn more about Live Calm Kids – the Online Version!livecalmkidsad

The year 2020 has certainly thrown us some unexpected twists! It sure has been challenging to stay on-top of all the latest news and rules. And balance in life – what is that?? I can’t remember the last time life felt balanced! Many of us have had to learn new ways of working, relating with partners and extended family, parenting, and yes – learning to spend time alone. It has been a tricky few months!

There are many ways we humans react to situations that feel out of control. Perhaps you have found yourself sleeping more, or indulging in vices more. Some folks jumped at their new-found free-time for home projects, health & fitness, academic supports for their kids, or their own educational/work-related pursuits. Change can stir up anxiety within us, even when the change is good. I have a formula for that:

Change = uncertainty = perceived inability to prepare = anxiety

Did you find yourself leaning into a new project or endeavour? To quote my favourite witty little snowman, “We’re calling this ‘controlling what you can when things feel out of control’.” (Olaf, Frozen 2). Whatever it is that you took on most likely helped anchor you. It gave your attention a focus and your mind a goal, which is a powerful way to settle anxiety during times of uncertainty.

So just like all of you – when things became uncertain and my work hours came to an abrupt halt, I funnelled my energy into a new project. Okay, there was an ulterior motive: my heart ached for all the people who were struggling with the pandemic, who were fearful, or anxious, or feeling isolated and alone. And I wanted to play a small role in brightening someone’s day. So, I took the content from my children’s group (Live Calm Kids) and turned it into a free YouTube series for kids on emotion regulation.

We are 6 episodes in, and I have been having so much fun sharing this content with everyone. Check out the links below, and feel free to share them with anyone you think might benefit from it. New videos will be posted each week!

Subscribe to the channel on YouTube, and get updates whenever a new video is posted.  Find it at: Live Happy Counselling with Susan Guttridge

Here are links to each episode:

I hope the videos helpful to the children in your life, and I would love to hear their questions or comments. If your children have any questions while watching, please feel free comment here (the videos are marked “for children” and therefore YouTube disables commenting).

All the best to you! 🙂

Affect Regulation · The Process of Therapy · Trauma Therapy

Calm in the Storm – The New Book on Settling Strong Emotion!

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Before we can heal from trauma, we need to develop the ability to be with the strong emotions associated with trauma memories. These skills are taught in counselling, but what about all the folks that haven’t yet started up counselling? I have been working on that resource, and I am so pleased to tell you that it is now available!

Calm in the Storm is collection of simple emotion regulation strategies that can be used by anyone who experiences anxiety, panic, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress – to shift them out of intense emotion and back into a place of internal safety. The book is written in a way that can help folks develop a new relationship with emotion, one that lets them off that roller-coaster ride of emotional ups-and-downs, that enables them to feel more in control.  

When it comes to symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress, we need to know how to regulate emotion – those are all those grounding and containment skills designed to bring us back to the present moment and enabling us to shift out of high motion. Healing the trauma or underlying reasons that spike us into anxiety is important, but folks need a starting point. This book is that starting point. It will ignite hope and spark a renewed belief in one’s inner potential. It isn’t meant to replace counselling, but the book is a great starting point for folks who need to develop some basic regulation skills before delving into trauma work with a therapist.

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“Once we discover the ability to settle strong emotion, the emotion itself becomes less frightening” – Susan Guttridge

Pick up your copy of Calm in the Storm today, and please check back and let me know which strategies worked best for you.

For sale now at the following locations:

 

 

Mindful Parenting

Think Stop

Portrait of a young boy crossing guard standing on the road holding a stop signTonight was my daughter’s first school dance. It was a fabulous evening: She danced with friends, she watched the band, she ate pizza, and she decorated herself with glow sticks! She had wanted to stay right until the very end, which meant that we didn’t pull into our drive-way until after 8pm. Once home, I found myself rushing her through the steps of her bedtime routine. She was up past her bedtime and looked very tired! I noticed that the more she dawdled, the more my frustration mounted. Iwantedto finish cleaning the kitchen. I wanted to read in bed. I wanted to get to sleep early… and so went my inner dialog. Each statement to myself triggered the added thought that the longer my daughter took to get ready for bed, the longer it would take before I could have “alone time” – and that thought served only to exacerbate the frustration I was feeling.

And there is where I had to pause. My self-talk wasn’t matching my over-arching values when it comes to raising children. I don’t want to be the grouchy parent. I want to be present (physically and emotionally). My daughter was on an adrenaline high from dancing with her friends; she wanted to dance around her room and tell me about her evening!  I want my daughter to know that she can approach me about anything, no matter the time of day. That is one of my parenting goals. But, when I was feeling frustrated this evening, and rushing my daughter to bed, and getting short in my communication, was I really doing justice to that goal? Was my behaviour helping our relationship at all?

I don’t think so. I sat back on the edge of her bed, and took a pause. I took some deep breaths. I took in the beauty of her smile and her after-glow from dancing. So what if I was 30 minutes later to have some alone time. In the grand scheme of things in this world, what is an extra 30 minutes, really? And so, I had to just stop.

Just STOP is exactly the strategy that I would like to share with you. Sometimes we need to stop the thoughts that escalate our negative feelings and fuel our inappropriate reactions. Try visualizing an actual stop sign. This is a great technique because we are so conditioned to stop when we see a stop sign (or at least slow to a “rolling stop”…ha ha!). But the point is this: whenever we see a stop sign, we come to a stop and cautiously look around.

In your parenting and in your day-to-day life, when you notice signs that frustration or anger is mounting in you, follow those exact same rules. Stop and cautiously look around (inwardly): tune in to what you are saying to yourself. If your inner voice is negative, if you are making accusations, ascribing malicious intentions to your child, if you are self-downing, or engaging in self-limiting beliefs, try visualizing a stop sign. Visualize the octagon shape of it. The bright red colour. The retro-reflective lettering. And just STOP.

If you have trouble with visualization, you can still use this strategy – just modify it a little! Print out a picture of a stop sign. Then, keep it with you and look at it often or as needed.

Keep focusing on the stop sign, and the underlying meaning for you, until you are able to clear your mind and get centered. Our kids need us to get out of our heads and into the moment with them. Good luck!

Idea From:
The Affect Regulation Toolbox, by Carolyn Daitch (2007)

This article was originally posted on April 15, 2011, to Happy Parents = Happy Kids (focusedonparenting.wordpress.com) by Susan Guttridge