Recovery For Life

How to live a healthier life one day at a time.

Some Fall Thoughts

Autumn is a Great Time to Breathe and Reboot

I have a famous saying that my daughter and wife and patients can quote by heart: "Never use a univariate approach to solve a multivariate problem." Put into English, I am simply saying, things are complicated when it comes to our psychological well-being - there is no one answer.

This time of year when the summer winds down and the days grow short, people sometimes complain about feeling blue. It's similar to the feeling that some folks have when it is Sunday evening and they know that school or work is the next day.

There are myriad activities that take place at this time of year - a starting up of things if you will - that can make one feel exhausted just thinking about them. Add to this the fact that we are biological creatures who experience physical reactions to changes in the weather regardless of where we live, as well as the reality that perhaps with schedule changes we will not be able to focus on exercise as much or just take the time to take the time to relax. And well, you can start to see that so many things converge to make us feel a sense of anxiety, and perhaps slight sadness - an agitated sense of reactive depression.

Recently, with the marking of September 11th, I thought to myself there is yet another psychosocial stressor that adds to our burden. This seemed to be particularly true for people I saw walking around in New York this past weekend - there was a sense of sadness and well - at the risk of placing feelings on individuals - a sense that people were psychologically waiting for "the other shoe to drop."

For folks with addiction issues, this fall season can be a tremendous trigger to relapse - or add an additional strain onto trying to stop using substances. The world looks overwhelming and people want to medicate their feelings away with a drink or a drug or perhaps both.

As a psychologist with a cognitive bent I do have some good news at the end of the arguably depressing picture I have painted. All of us have the good fortune to change the way we think and shift our emphasis of what is important - to place things in their proper perspective.

First of all, if you are reading this blog then chances are you have gone through these feelings before and survived. Lord knows, there are plenty of places where you can go and talk with someone, but before you even get to that stage, begin by talking to yourself.

I know for myself, Autumn in New York is lovely. The trees light up the streets with wonderful colors, the air seems fresh and one can smell a fireplace burning somewhere... There are wonderful holidays that come about that celebrate our bounty and it is always cozy in one's home or apartment. More hugs are warranted and soon around the corner there will be holidays and a new year.

Instead of focusing on the negatives just try (I reiterate) just try to focus on the positives as you breathe in the crisp, clean air and realize that if you go with the flow, all in all, as the summer winds down there is another exciting season around the corner!

For those of you who may be saying that's easy for you to say - realize it is easy for all of us to say but change does indeed require action. Remember, if you are not satisfied with your current state of affairs you have the power to change and if you struggle with that concept there are so many people out there to help guide you.

In my next blog I will go into some of the actual cognitive restructuring steps you can take.

 

Harris Stratyner, Ph.D., CASAC, is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine; he is also with Caron Treatment Centers.

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