Protect Your Pineapples – Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Whatever size fruit you have in your basket – Remember to perform a self-exam once a month.

October is breast cancer awareness month, that doesn’t just mean turning half your wardrobe pink, changing your company logo (oh the irony) and proudly pinning a pink ribbon to every outfit.

Breast cancer awareness is about remembering to give yourself a self-exam once a month, it means supporting women affected by it and it means being grateful for your own health.

Each year 1.4 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer, that includes 1 in every 8 women in the USA. But early detection can make a huge difference to beating breast cancer and we think that’s something worth raising awareness about!

So whether your mammaries are like melons or your chesticles are more like cherries we would like to help you get to know your breasts and detect if there is a possible problem.

 

 

To show your support and raise awareness we would like to ask you to join our competition. After your self-exam, take a photograph of yourself , covering your credentials with your choice of fruit and post in on social media. Remembering to tag @PineappleYSW #ProtectYourPineapples and link back to this blog to ensure as many women as possible join us and protect their pineapples. Three winners will be chosen at random to win some super cool Pineapple Support swag.

Breast cancer is not always detectable by a lump or hard mass, sometimes the symptoms are visual.

Some changes in your breasts are perfectly normal, but if you are worried, it is always best to visit your doctor.

What is it that you are feeling for?

When feeling for a lump, check from your armpit, to your collarbone, down to the bottom of your rib cage. A cancerous lump feels different from a normal breast lump, it often feels hard and immovable and can be any shape or size.

Getting to know your breasts is really important and the best time to give yourself a self-exam is just after your period when things are most normal.

Remember, when breast cancer is found early, survival rates are incredibly high.

Be proactive in caring for our health, self-exam once a month, eat well, exercise regularly and help raise awareness #ProtectYourPineapples

Five ways to work with a social comedown

If you haven’t read the last post, you might want to start there, since it has a much longer definition of what a social comedown is. In brief, social comedowns consist of difficult thoughts, sensations, feelings and urges arising after socialising that often include ruminating over past distress and judging yourself for having a hard time. They can include deep-seated feelings of shame, inadequacy, sadness, guilt, dread and embarrassment.

There are a huge range of ways to work with social comedowns; if they are having a big impact on your life, I’d recommend talking to a coach or therapist about how to find the best way for you. People are really individual, and because we each have our own histories and preferences no single option is going to work for everyone. Nevertheless, here are 5 ways that you could try to see if they fit for you:

  1. Focus on the sensations

Many people experience emotions in their bodies. If you are a person that can feel emotions in this way it can be a wonderful way of just being with one aspect of your emotional experience. Rather than doing things to avoid the sensations in your body, approach them with a sense of curiosity. Find a comfortable position to sit or lie in for 5 minutes, and just scan your body for sensations. When you find a sensation in your body that is related to your emotions be curious about it. Notice whether it is hot or cold, its density, whether it is staying still or moving. Notice its size and shape, and whether there is a colour or texture to it. Is there any tension to it? Just allow it to be exactly what it is in your body without trying to change it or move it. Notice what it is like to accept that you are experiencing this sensation. When your thoughts drift as they inevitably will, just bring yourself back and allow yourself to notice whether anything is different about the sensation.

This practice can help you to be with emotional experiences without ruminating or avoiding – which both usually make emotional experiences more intense and difficult to manage. It can help you to accept your emotions and allow you to move on from them. This is an exercise that you can practice in advance so that it is easier to remember when you are experiencing distress – and don’t be afraid to use it when you’re having nice sensations in your body as well as more difficult ones.

2) Mindfulness of thoughts

Creating space between you and your thoughts can be a hugely helpful alternative to ruminating. My favourite way of doing this is to imagine tiny boats going down a river, and then as I notice thoughts come up, I put them onto one of the boats and letting them go as they float off. Sometimes I can’t help jumping on the boat with the thought, and I have to ‘unhook’ myself by jumping off the boat back to the shore. That’s OK too. People often get caught by a thought and feel really compelled to follow it to its conclusion. Noticing that happen is a really important part of this technique, because it allows you to find the moment to decide not to follow the thought further, ideally without having further judgemental thoughts about yourself! Different people have different preferred ways to visualise their thoughts. While I prefer boats, others like leaves on a stream; trains on a track or balloons floating their thoughts away. Whatever your preference, noticing the thought is happening, and letting it come and go through your mind is a hugely powerful way to remind yourself that no matter how much a thought feels like your whole world, you can let it go.

Some examples of audio files to help you with mindfulness of thoughts are here:

3) Urge surfing

We all have urges to do and not to do things all the time. The urge may be to hide in bed all day or to lash out at someone or get really drunk. Sometimes it is helpful to notice what we really want to do, and just sit with that desire. You may notice the desire is located in a part of your body – and this process may be very similar to the first suggestion of sensation watching. Alternatively, urges may be a really different kind of experience for you than other sensations. Here are a couple of audio files to use for sitting with your urges:

4) Do intense exercise

People that know me will know that intense exercises isn’t something I’m usually keen on. Nevertheless, increasing your heart rate and keeping it above 120 beats per minute for 10-15 minutes helps a lot of people to manage distress. Some people think that it is because you get to complete the stress response cycle by using up some of the energy boost that you get when you’re facing a stressful or distressing situation. Some think it is an intense form of distraction that is helpful because it allows you to shift your attention to something else happening in your body. I think it is a mix of these things, and that it works really well for some people. If you want to try it, jumping, skipping or running can be a good way of getting your heart rate into that zone and holding it there.

5) Do a paired muscle relaxation exercise

This exercise can help because you’re both distracting from the distressing thoughts, feelings, sensations and urges that you’re feeling, and you’re doing something to physiologically relax your body and give it the message that you’re safe.  We know that tensing and then relaxing muscles helps them to relax more fully than trying to relax them without tensing first. If you want to do this you can find exercises here:

If you’d like to do more work on how to cope with social come downs and other mental health challenges think about joining one of my DBT groups. We work on psychological skill building to help you to manage interpersonal relationships, distress and emotions. You can find more information here.

3 STEPS FOR LETTING GO OF NEGATIVE THOUGHTS

Feeling depressed or anxious is never pleasant but this unpleasantness is what makes negative emotions useful. Our brains are hardwired to attend to that which may harm us. Similar to how hunger motivates us to seek food, negative emotions motivate us to seek safety and comfort (and to take better care of ourselves).

Bad days and bad moods are a normal and healthy part of the human experience. But prolonged negative thinking can result in negative thinking habits, which alter our neural structure over time. However, we can lessen the impact that negative thoughts, emotions, and experiences have on our brains.

Psychologist Steve Hayes suggests that we allow ourselves to feel bad in order to feel better. This may seem counterintuitive, especially to Western cultures where we try to control and rid ourselves of our anxiety, depression, and frustration. But Tibetan Buddhists believe that this attempted control is the problem and not the solution.

An increasingly popular new treatment called Acceptance Commitment Therapy is based on this assumption. ACT proposes that when we stop fighting our emotional pain and focus on the things that are important to us, we actually suffer less.

Accepting negative emotions can free up mental energy to focus on other more important things in our lives.
ACT’s founder, Steve Hayes, suggests that when we judge a thought or feeling, we give it more power. For example, the more time and energy that we spend trying to control our anxious thoughts, the more anxious we become.

Beating ourselves up about feeling down just adds more negative feelings to the collection we’re already coping with. So we become depressed about being depressed. We may not be able to shift our unwanted mood but we can change how we feel about the mood itself.

The less attention we give to our negative thoughts and feelings, the less impact they have on our neural structure.
We have thousands of thoughts and feelings a day. We can’t possibly attend to all of them. When negative thoughts arise, don’t ignore them, judge them, or try to stop them. Acknowledge them and let them pass. Here is how.

1. Let your negative thoughts and feelings flow. Neurologist Rick Hall suggests that we think of our thoughts as flowing through our mind like a river. If we attach to a thought, then we can ‘let it go and let it flow.’ Here is an example.

Attaching negative thoughts and feelings:

Thought: I feel like such a failure.

Reaction: I am doing it again. I am beating myself up. Every time I try to be positive, I fail. See, I am a failure. Stop it. Stop it. But I can’t even do this right. Ugh.

Accepting negative thoughts and feelings and letting go:

Thought: I feel like such a failure.

Reaction. Hmmm. There is that thought again. What should I have for dinner?

2. Meditate ten minutes a day to get better at it. Apps such as Headspace offer short (some are only 1-2 minutes) exercises that you can do anywhere. The Acceptance exercise teaches how to accept our own thoughts and feelings as well as other people’s difficulties. There are also short exercises on patience, pain management, and happiness.

3. Practice self-compassion. I say ‘practice’ because self-compassion is a skill. We will inevitably get stuck on negative thoughts and feelings and it easy to get disheartened. With Kristen Neff’s collection of self-compassion meditations, you can learn to compassionately let thoughts and feelings flow. The less palatable it sounds to you, the more you may need it.

Accepting our negative thoughts and feelings does not mean that we should not take steps to better our lives. “Letting our thoughts flow” is useful when we have done what we can to remedy our negative mood but it still persists. We don’t have to be carried away by our thoughts and emotions. And letting go frees up the mental space so we can focus more on the positive experiences in our lives.

Warm regards,

Jena

HOW TO CATCH DEPRESSION BEFORE IT CATCHES YOU

When we think of depression, we may imagine being permanently pyjama-clad, lying in bed or on the sofa in a dark room, unable to move. Clinical depression (or major depressive disorder) can look this way and the Internet and media often paint this picture.

If we research depression symptoms online, it usually brings up Clinical depression information, leaving some of us thinking that, it feels bad but it’s not as bad as all that.

But some depressive symptoms are less recognizable. Most of us are busy. We might feel down but we can’t afford to stop. Even when a situation (like a breakup) triggers deep sadness in us, we have to keep going. So the symptoms are subtler, more gradual, and easier to disregard. They sneak up on us and if unaddressed they can become debilitating.

Recognise any of these?

– A sense of heaviness you can’t shake
– Impatience, irritability, quickly losing your temper over little things
– Growing intolerance of others, our surroundings, or ourselves
– Heightened awareness of negative things
– An emboldened inner critic, bullying ourselves or self-loathing
– Incessant worrying (going over the same thing again and again) or catastrophizing (using words like always and never)
– Wanting to hide from the world and avoiding things that make us feel better (friends, exercise, nature)

Our brain activity is habit forming; the more we think and feel certain ways, the more likely we will think and feel that way in the future. A persistent low mood can spiral into depression and the lower we spiral, the harder it is to pick ourselves back up.

We all have low moods but when feelings of depression seem unshakeable, it is time to start paying attention to them. One of the best ways to deal with depression is to catch it early.

Here is how:

– Become mindful of how you talk to yourself. Would you lose friends if you talked to them the way you talk to yourself? Your inner critic may have pushed you to do better but it can push you down that depression spiral too.
Get blood tests from your doctor. Low mood can be a side-effect of any number of physical ailments: nutritional deficiencies, bacterial imbalances in your gut, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, fibromyalgia, hormonal imbalance, food allergies, infections, and medications.

– Create exercise accountability. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve our mood. We may have the best intentions to exercise regularly, but low mood can sap our motivation. When depressed, we are far more likely to put it off.

So instead of beating yourself up for not exercising, put measures into place that hold you accountable. For example, book a boutique exercise class, schedule workouts with a friend, or join a beginner’s club team (your Fris team depends on you). If you have no problem skipping those type activities, then hire a trainer for 30 minutes twice a week. (Hire a really cute one for added motivation!) Tell her/him to follow up with you if you miss a session.

– Forgive yourself for feeling this way and for setbacks that may have triggered these feelings. Low mood often increases our critical self-talk. We feel down so we beat ourselves up, which makes us feel even lower. Interrupt the self-critical spiral with self-compassion. If this sounds too difficult, read or listen to The Self-Compassion Skills Workbook by Tim Desmond.

– Listen to what thoughts are driving your emotions. There is no such thing as a ‘negative’ emotion. Even depression serves to protect us. Our low mood is a red flag. Sometimes it is telling us to slow down, to reconnect with loved ones, or to disconnect from unhealthy situations. Or to get help.

– The app Thought Record app from Moodnotes helps you uncover the situations and thinking patterns that may trigger your low mood. And to find alternative, more helpful perspectives.

Everyone feels low, drained, or worn-out occasionally. Many of the symptoms of major depressive disorder – irritability, lethargy, and hopelessness – can be normal reactions to stressful life events.

‘Sometimes, depression is a perfectly reasonable response to trouble in your life.’ Karla McLaren

However, if your low mood is cyclical or doesn’t respond to the healing changes you make, talk to your doctor or a professional therapist.

If you think you might be clinically depressed, you can take this test.  Depression Self Assessment

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition.
Tim Desmond. (2017). The Self-Compassion Skills Workbook. A 14-Day Plan to Transform Your Relationship with Yourself
Rick Hanson. (2013). Hardwiring Happiness. The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence.
Karla McLaren. (2010). The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You.
Robert Plutchik. (1980). Theories of Emotion (Volume 1).
Dan Siegel. (2010). Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation.
Bessel van der Kolk. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.

Warm regards,

Jena

Pineapple Support Combats CyberBullying with #BullyBusters Campaign

Anti Bullying week 2018 is November 12-16th and Pineapple Support is launching an online campaign to help tackle cyber bullying, combating negativity with positivity.

“Being bullied is oftentimes thought of as simply having to put up with unpleasant behavior. A more realistic perspective is thinking of bullying as a traumatic, torturous, and systematic destruction of a person’s self-worth and self-belief. The damage inflicted can be devastating.”

Social media plays a huge part in the life of every person working in the adult industry; twitter in particular is one of the most popular sites as it is the only mainstream platform without censorship. When a performer opens a Twitter account it allows their fans and any one of Twitter’s millions of users, to interact with them, they become instantly accessible.
Small thoughts are published often without due consideration and once out for the world to see, it is too late to retract a statement possibly said in anger or with a few too many wines in the system. Public reactions to single posts have resulted in textual attacks from strangers, fans and peers. These attacks can get personal and incessant.

In this TED talk Monika Lewinsky speaks of her experience with cyberbullying and how compassion helped to combat shame – The video is 20 minutes but a wonderful watch.

The recent examples of cyber bullying have been in short, disturbing, with young men and women taking their own lives due to the way in which both the public and other industry performers have treated them. We should never underestimate the power of words and the effect they can have, particularly if a person is already feeling vulnerable.

This effect works both ways and Pineapple Support is starting a revolution of kindness and compassion. The #BullyBusters campaign combats the negative remarks of cyberbullies by encouraging others to leave positive comments, to reach out to individuals and show support. This should be done without engaging in any conversation with the bully or with any reference to the bully’s comments.
If you see someone being bullied, simply write something nice about that person and #bullybusters to encourage others to do the same.

 

 

While researching for Bullying Awareness Week we came across some useful blogs about what to do if you or someone else is being bullied on social media, the links are below.

https://help.twitter.com/en/safety-and-security/cyber-bullying-and-online-abuse

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/twitter-harassment-cyberbullying

 

Road Rage Much

“Did you see how that jerk just cut me off?! This is my lane, why did he have to pull out right in front of me?!”

Do your passengers grind their teeth when you drive? Do you get so angry behind the wheel that you want to do something uncharacteristic to you, such as follow the other driver? Do you or others fear that your behavior behind the wheel may get you hurt?

If so, chances are that you may have road rage. This is not something that’s easy to change. Remember, you can’t change the other driver or what they do, you can only change what you do and your perceptions of the event.

Joe had problems with road rage that had been going on for years. He sometimes followed people who cut him off and once that led to him getting threatened at gun point, but still he found it hard to stop his behavior. He came to me when he realized it was becoming worse and worse of a problem as the days went by.

He had the perception that the other driver purposefully did these things to him and he took their actions personally. He felt disrespected, angry, and wanted the other driver to know how he felt. His actions became so dangerous that his wife refused to drive with him.
Joey and I looked at what his thoughts were that led him to road rage. He didn’t really know why he felt the way he did or why he got so angry. I asked him to tweak his thinking about how other’s behaved on the road and to not take it personally. I explained that the other drivers didn’t know him from Adam and had nothing against him personally. That there was a very good possibility that these other drivers may have been so wrapped up in whatever they were doing or thinking that they may not have even noticed him there. Or perhaps, they were having a bad day and acting out in relation to that and not him. Maybe there was some type of emergency and they were just focused on getting where they needed to go as soon as possible. Or maybe they were just jerks and bad drivers.
Joey was able to see how these scenarios could be possible and doing so helped him to not take others’ actions personally. We worked on this for some months and little by little his road rage began to improve. He had been thinking this way for 50 some years and it was not a thought process that could be undone overnight. He had some slips in the process with his road rage, but he used that to motivate himself to do better and not to give up.

“This isn’t about me,” is a great mantra. So often the things that drive us nuts are not about us at all. They’re about us interpreting things incorrectly. Someone may do something that you take personally, but they weren’t aware of you at all. Again, it’s that monkey mind playing tricks with us and our desire to be in control of things. Remember the Serenity Prayer and the fact that the only thing you can control is yourself.

Wishing you happiness, logical thinking, and serenity,
Mechele

Stop and Smell the Flowers.

In a past struggle with depression a friend who enjoyed gardening told me to, “Stop and smell the flowers.” My first thought was, “I barely have the time to do everything I need to do. Where am I going to find time to stop and smell the flowers? (I want to assure you TWD fans that it was not a, “Lizzie go smell the flowers,” type of thing.)

I didn’t do it.

There were other things that were more important. I would look stupid smelling the flowers on my way out the door. It would make me late for work. What if a bee stung my nose?  I had soo many excuses.

One day I was running late for work. I couldn’t have breakfast and so I was hangry. I tripped on the cat and stubbed my toe. The cat was ok. I ripped my skirt on the door and stumbled down the stairs. I got in the car, started it up and then realized my purse was in the house. I became angry at myself and went back in, saying not so nice things to myself through clenched teeth.

On my way back to the car I noticed a gorgeous butterfly. It was drinking out of a rose. When I went up to it, it flew away. I smelled something delicious and took a deep whiff of the rose. I was transported back in time to a place when life was simple. I was a little girl at Balboa Park smelling the fragrant roses, not a care in the world.  Time stopped for just a little bit as I enjoyed my memory. I thanked the flower and later that day I thanked my gardening friend.

When we are grateful we open the doors up to possibilities.  Possibilities of good memories, of joy, of laughter and silliness. We get out of our negative mindset. We can tie our Monkey Mind to the pole and stop the negative voices in our head.

Gratitude can do so many positive things for us and yet we fight it tooth and nail. Why not stop and smell that flower?

Tolerance and Acceptance

Bob’s son Fred came out to him the other day. Bob did not hug Fred. He did not say anything. He made a distasteful face, turned his back on Fred and walked away. The family still eats meals together at the table, but Bob ignores his son for the most part.

Bob is at the low end of the tolerance scale when it comes to his son. He doesn’t go out of his way to be mean, but they don’t talk anymore unless it’s absolutely necessary. They no longer go out together to fish or to watch baseball.

Fred is crushed. He knows it could be worse though, his friend, Roy,  was outed to his dad and came to school the next day with a black eye saying he needed to find someplace else to live as his dad kicked him out.

Roy’s dad is not tolerant and is a long way from accepting.

Fred’s mom, Flaca, feels angry with her husband for giving their son the cold shoulder. Flaca loves her son unconditionally.  At one time she had dreams of Fred marrying a woman and having a bunch of kids. Flaca realizes that it is Fred’s life to live on his own terms.

“Love is love,” she says to Fred and his boyfriend Rog as she ruffles their hair, “And now I have two sons.”

Flaca accepts her son. She is happy for him because he is happy. She prays that one day her son will get the chance to love whomever he loves without the fears of small minded people.

A few weeks ago a woman called me and we talked about whether or not I could help her, but she sounded tense. At the end of the conversation she said to me, “I’m a lesbian, it that ok? Would I be able to talk about that part of my life with you?”

It kills me that we still live in a world where people have to ask these questions; have to hide chunks of their lives for fear that they will not be accepted or even worse. We should all be free to love who we love.

Self-Soothing Through Visualisation

Self-soothing is a wonderful coping skill to possess.  It helps to calm us when we are anxious, afraid, or angry.  It can help lower our blood pressure and helps us focus. People who have experienced trauma may get a special benefit from these visualizations, but you don’t have to have experienced trauma to benefit from them.

These three self-soothing exercises focus on breathing and visualization (imagining images that are soothing) and are found in the workbook, “101 Trauma Informed Interventions,” by Linda Curran.

Not every visualization is for everyone, so if you try one and it doesn’t work for you, take what you like and leave the rest and try the other visualizations.  Visualizations aren’t the only way to self-soothe, but what we will focus on here. When people with anxiety come to see me I teach them the following exercises to self-soothe.

In the Roots visualization you will visualize having roots that ground you and go deep into the earth.  Some of my clients say that this one helps their mind stop racing and helps them fall asleep at night.

In the Container Visualization you will imagine making a strong container that can hold anything that you don’t want to think about right now.  You can put thoughts or feelings into this container and pull them out when you are ready to work on them.

In the Comfortable Place visualization you will create a beautiful and relaxing scene that you can go to whenever you feel upset and need help calming yourself.

The key to making visualization work is to use it every day so that it gets stronger and easier to use.  Try these first when you’re not upset so that you can master them and they will be more effective when you do need to use them.

Want to learn more? Schedule an appointment and let me teach you.

Much happiness,

Mechele

Laughter Is the Best Medicine

Some of you may be old enough to remember Reader’s Digest. When I was little I was so excited to be able to read the Laughter Is the Best Medicine pages; they always made me smile.

What can laughter do?

  • Release good endorphins that make you feel happy.
  • Relax your muscles- a good bout of laughter can relax your muscles for almost an hour!
  • Laughter boosts your immune system.
  • It decreases stress hormones.
  • It diffuses anger.
  • It may help you live longer.
  • It helps you put things into perspective and not take things so seriously.

Have you seen that Twizzlers ad that’s been running on TV for about a year? In it the people are very serious and cranky looking, but once the Twizzler comes from offstage and starts poking them in the face they can’t help but laugh. I love that commercial because it reminds me not to take myself too seriously.

I really don’t feel like laughing.

Come on, it’s good for you! Here are some things you can try to put more laughter in your life:

  • Watch a comedy.
  • Listen to or watch a comedian.
  • Talk to a funny friend.
  • Watch silly videos on You Tube.
  • Watch videos of people telling their kids that they ate all of their kid’s candy.
  • Watch baby animal videos.
  • Watch little kids play.
  • Tickle someone (with their permission).
  • Read a joke book or joke page on the internet.
  • Play weird or funny songs (anything by Weird Al Yankovic for me!).
  • Dance like a two year old.
  • Ask people to tell you their favorite jokes.
  • Ask little kids to tell you a joke.
  • Look at photos online from the 1980s.
  • Try Laughter Yoga.
  • Think about one of the silliest things you’ve ever done.

I hope that something on this list works. If you can think of anything that helps you to remember to laugh why don’t you send me an email about it? If I get enough responses I will revisit this topic. Let’s try to keep it fairly g-rated though, ok? MecheleEvans@hushmail.com.

Wishing you laughter, love, and serenity,

Mechele