Peace of Mind – Help to Change a Stressful, Unfulfilling Life

By Dawn Zurlinden – Nov 16, 2008 – ( – Imagine that you can be completely happy, all the time. If you already are, you know it’s possible. If not, have you told yourself it’s not possible? If you could believe it’s possible, would you then be willing to take your life into your own hands and begin to transform it? The truth is you don’t even have to believe it’s possible. You only have to be willing to try some changes.

See the Problem

It may be hard to imagine complete happiness, but it’s not as hard to imagine what is getting in the way of it. Many things may be obvious, such as stress from responsibilities and worry about the future. Perhaps the ailing economy, job security, or the health and welfare of your children has you on the edge of your seat. Add to that, current issues, such as your overly burdened schedule, lack of self-care, or even worse, a growing or full-blown addiction. And perhaps you’re lugging along the weight of the past: resentments that play over and over in your head that interfere with current relationships; incomplete acceptance of the death of a loved one, broken dreams or relationships. And then there are the more obscure specters from the past – imprints from unresolved events of abuse and trauma.

What all these obstacles to happiness have in common is that they create anxiety. You can get so used to worry, resentment or a hectic lifestyle that you may not even recognize that you are no longer all that happy. One of the most common symptoms of anxiety is feeling emotionally disconnected. How can you tell you’re disconnected? Recall fully, for a moment, how you felt during the best part of your life. If it doesn’t match today, there’s a good chance you’re emotionally shut down – not feeling. This is only being half alive!

It’s clear to professionals that trauma or loss causes us to create some sort of emotional coping strategy. Often the strategy is to emotionally or mentally shut off. This makes it even harder to recognize that trauma happened. Did you know that witnessing abuse causes trauma? So do losses such as an absentee parent. Sometimes more obvious symptoms of anxiety emerge, such as nervousness, poor concentration, irritability, insomnia, physical illnesses, even ragefulness. It only stands to reason that heavy artillery would be applied to such an uncomfortable state, such as drugs, alcohol, food, or compulsive behaviors such as exercise, overly focusing on the future, shopping, reading, overly focusing on helping others, you name it! There’s also resignation and re-doubled emotional shut-down.

Anxiety or emotional disconnection is truly illness. It’s illness to your physical body, your relationships, your lifestyle, and your sense of spirituality. If you want true health and happiness there are some fantastic methods to achieve this. All that’s required is a willingness to try something – to take an action. Not blaming others, circumstances or fate for your current problems makes action possible.

See the Solutions

Well, it looks like you’re already taking an action – you’re reading about solutions. There are many “home remedies” below. If you haven’t tried one (with real effort) within three days of reading this, move on to “assisted remedies”!

Home Remedies:

Learn meditation and relaxation techniques. Take two minutes to sit and breathe each hour. This one thing can change your life.

Eat healthily, drink plenty of water, get 7-8 hours of sleep and 30 minutes of exercise daily.

Practice emotional housekeeping – Don’t sweep emotions under the rug. Feel them through, or plan a time to return to them for resolution. Then calmly create an action plan to address the internal or external source.

Set healthy boundaries, live in the present and have realistic expectations.

Stay connected to a supportive group of friends.

Find things that tickle you and have a good laugh!

Assisted Remedies:

First get a full assessment by a licensed social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist or pastoral counselor. Then consider the following options:

Comprehensive residential healing programs such as those provided by The Ranch in Tennessee. These integrate treatment for body, mind and Spirit. They address core issues, especially trauma and grief using state-of-the-art techniques such as EMDR and Brainspotting. They address current issues such as compulsivity, anxiety and depression. They teach a full range of coping skills and ways to change thinking, to provide for emotional and spiritual connectedness.

Short intensive therapy programs such as those provided by Onsite, in Tennessee.

Spiritual retreat programs.

Individual, family or group therapy.

Twelve-Step programs.

Massage, cranial-sacral therapy, or medical treatment for chronic physical symptoms.

Yoga, dance, Tai Chi and other martial arts.

Peace of mind is possible. Desire it and be willing to take an action!

Dawn Zurlinden, LCSW, is a Clinical Specialist at The Ranch outside Nashville, TN. Copyright 2008

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