Thriving in the midst of uncertainty using positive advantages

Healthy Minds:

Optimizing mental health and wellbeing using positive psychology, neuroscience informed interventions and evidence based research for families with children and teens.

Thriving in the midst of uncertainty using positive advantages:

The landscape of daily living and adjusting to change takes skill not just will.   Although our nation has experienced difficult losses and hardships, research indicates that predictive levels of change and happiness comes from within.  Here’s a roadmap to emerge stronger with less anxiety to meet the demands in our relationships, academics and adjusting to change.

Understanding 5 Executive Function skillsets can help with flexible thinking, tolerating distress, initiate, planning, organizing and concentration.

  1. Cognitive Flexibility; to handle transitions, ambiguity and uncertainty you must become a detective about your feelings.  Stressful thoughts can be tolerated if we are mindful in noticing cognitive distortions or automatic negative thinking (ANTS).  We have over 60,000 thoughts a day and 85% are negative.  Measuring how big the problem is can reduce overwhelm.  One being not a big feeling, 10 being catastrophic.  Throughout the day, look for the good, report back to each other daily.  Neuroplasticity is when the brain can change and form new neuropathways through changing the way we think so that the things we think about change.  Gratitude is the new attitude.
  2. Self regulation requires our brain to regulate before it can reason and reconnect.  Feelings come and go and if we can name it, we can tame it.  Co-regulating and not reacting, use deep breathing, imagine you the witness to the overwhelm or emotion.  Use distracting technique of the senses.  Find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and one thing that brings you joy.
  3. Language/Communication asking for what you need not what you don’t want.  Expressive language deficits habitually can be called complaining.  Requiring others to figure out what we want.  Keep it simple, use language that is kind.
  4. Social thinking and taking perspective of others, look for cues to find solutions.  Ask yourself, does this thought contribute to my stress.  What motivates others in the moment.    
  5. Working Memory & Attention make lists, start a plan but set an arbitrary date of completion.  Don’t worry what it will take or look like to finish.  Leaders do things before they know what to do.  Tolerate distress through body sensation awareness.  Stress balls to keep busy hands and processing brains active.  Take brain breaks and check for understanding.  Simon says games and Cogmed brain training, a working memory software program that is helpful with math and reading that is perfect for summer enrichment.

Having a growth mindset and learning through mistakes, praising effort and teaching executive functioning skills builds assets for a lifetime of successes.

Debra Sussman, MA, LMFT – Licensed Marriage Family Therapist for Adults, Adolescents & Families