This Winter - How to Keep Yourself Safe, Happy, and Well
As we enter the cloudy days and long, dark nights of winter, it is more important than ever that we take excellent care of ourselves and our loved ones - physically, mentally, and emotionally. And after a year of stresses, losses, and life-changing surprises, there has perhaps never been a more important time for us to wake up to the power we have to impact, protect, and nurture the physical and emotional wellbeing of ourselves, and of others around us.
Look Up and Move Forward
Last summer, I was contacted by a dear friend, Seth Adam Smith. Seth is a best-selling author, gifted videographer, caring husband, and father of 4 little kids. Seth and I had blended our talents previously on a number of writing and video projects.
Seth is also an individual who in an earlier stage of life attempted suicide - and lived to tell about it. Many of his writings, talks, and videos have emerged from what he's learned over the years from his personal struggle with depression, and his ongoing process of emotional recovery.
Seth left me a rather urgent message, asking for my assistance. He shared that he was really struggling emotionally - this time, with anxiety stirred up by the pandemic, and by the civil unrest, rioting, and violence that were being featured daily in the news during that time. As a young father, he wondered, "How can I keep myself stable, and my family safe during such troubled times?"
As we counseled together that day as friends, I shared a number of ideas I had found to be helpful over the years in shoring up emotional wellness, even in challenging times. We talked about how these ideas were even more relevant and needed now, in this complex and troubled Covid-impacted world.
As we spoke, Seth got more and more excited. He recognized the usefulness of these ideas, and how they could pull him out of the anxiety he'd been struggling with, helping him be more cheerful and effective at work and at home. But even beyond that, he observed, "I'm sure I'm not the only one struggling with these concerns right now. What if we recorded these conversations, and then shared them with others, in the form of a podcast?"
So over these past few months, that's exactly what we've done. So far we've recorded and released 6 episodes of a new podcast called "Look Up and Move Forward." In each episode, we discuss strategies for building and maintaining our emotional and physical health. The podcast is now widely available, including on BuzzSprout, iTunes, and YouTube.
Yesterday, as we were recording Episode 7 of this podcast, it occurred to me that this labor of love - gathering, recording, and posting these strategies - has been like gathering logs for a fire, or filling up a pantry, before a long cold winter. Since the beginning of human history, wise communities have spent time in the warm seasons gathering and storing resources to sustain themselves and their loved ones through the winter. Yesterday, I realized - that's what we've been doing these past few months! And now, it's time to share this gift of hope, strength, and love with you.
6 Episodes to Help You and Your Loved Ones - Starting Today!
In these first 6 episodes, we cover a lot of ground, discussing powerful insights and strategies that can help us find joy and stay well - even in difficult times. Here's a quick overview of what is available so far:
Episode 1 : Seeing the Whole Picture (27:19)
In this episode we introduce ourselves, the podcast, and why we created it, sharing the backstory of how the podcast came to be. We talk about the current challenge of "Covid Impact" - the massive emotional, financial, educational, and social disruptions triggered by the pandemic. We talk about the increased negative impact for those already struggling with depression, anxiety, and other emotional challenges. We discuss why "Healing is work," and why it's more important than ever for us to learn to build and maintain emotional wellness. Finally, we discuss how the media often shows us a dark and fearful version of the world - but that we can learn to keep our spirits high by keeping a Gratitude Journal, intentionally focusing on the positive in our lives.
Episode 2 : The Best Response to Adversity (22:25)
In this episode we talk about how challenging times in our lives can often trigger emotional breakdown through the "ADASA Response" (Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Stress, Addiction).
Or, our challenges can trigger expanded growth and accelerated learning - even positive transformation - through the "Emotional Wellness Response" - a process we can intentionally learn and apply for ourselves. We talk about how we can actively learn to increase our resilience and strength through our adversities and trials - including the challenges we face with the current pandemic and its many consequences. We talk about how our trials can be used to transform and strengthen us in new ways; and how "The end of the world as you've known it, is the beginning of the world that's yet to be."
Episode 3 : A Jagged Rock or a Diamond? (47:17)
In this episode we explore "The Diamond" - a useful model to help us understand and overcome our emotional struggles. We talk about 1-Triggers: Challenging life experiences, that stress us beyond our normal limits; 2-Thoughts: Attitudes and beliefs we adopt about our trigger experiences 3-Behavior: Actions and lifestyle patterns we set in motion to deal with our triggers and thoughts; 4-Spirituality: Impact on our sense of meaning and spiritual connection; and 5-Relationships: Effect on our relationships, and how it can set off a secondary cycle of impact (positive or negative) in ourselves and others. We talk about how these areas can be affected currently by "Covid Impact," and how we can intentionally use these challenging elements in our lives to strengthen us, rather than weaken us.
Episode 4 : The ONE Thing You Can Control (39:56)
In this episode we discuss the difference between our Circle of Concern (things in our life that we can't control) versus our Circle of Influence (things that we can direclty control.) We talk about how our emotional wellnes and positive impact on others can be expanded, as we focus on and increase our "Circle of Influence." We also talk about "positive contagion," in which our personal wellbeing and and joy can positively affect others, particularly our children and those closest to us. We discuss epigenetics - the newly-discovered power that each of us has to positively affect our own genetic material, through the daily choices we make. We discuss stages of learning - by which we can continually increase our power, knowledge, and capacity over time, in a process of continuous transformation and growth.
Episode 5 : Look Up in Gratitude and Service (29:47)
In this episode, we talk about two particulary powerful but simple strategies that can expand our joy and emotional wellbeing, while increasing our positive infliuence on others. The first is gratitude - developing our capacity to see and appreciate the good in our lives, in all the various seasons of our lives. The second is service - the willingness to reach out in kindness and support to others, even when we're facing our our challenges. We discuss the concept of "Love's Umbrella," particularly in the environment of a universal pandemic where everyone is struggling in some way - the willingness to look beyond our own pain and struggle, to reach out to help others - which is ironically one of the most powerful things we can do to improve our own emotional wellbeing, as well as that of others.
Episode 6: A Full Spectrum of Life (36:13)
In this episode, we talk about seeing beyond the dark and fear-inducing picture of life we are often shown by the media, to embrace the full spectrum of life, with all its ups and downs, bright spots and dark spots. We talk about reducing our media intake, and trading it in for more powerful living in our real lives, with real people, in the real world. We also talk about the usefulness of adversity - how "the best in life often follows the worst in life," and how we can hold on to hope even in dark times. Finally, we discuss Spectrum Scheduling - a powerful new time management strategy that allows us to creatively balance and fill our time for maximum productivity, joy, and wellbeing.
Lots More to Come!
Over the coming weeks, we'll be posting more episodes, and sharing more of these ideas and strategies. We don't have to be scared of the future, for ourselves or for our families, if we know how to face it with courage, strength, and joyful wellbeing.
So explore these current episodes, and subscribe on your favorite channel to be notified when additional episodes become available.
You can find and subscribe to the podcast here:
-- Carrie M. Wrigley, LCSW
Counselor, Speaker, and Author of
Your Happiness Toolkit: 16 Strategies for Overcoming Depression, and Building a Joyful, Fulfilling Life
> Available as a paperbook, ebook, or audiobook.