Bert’s therapy: Balls

bert 1

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How are you?

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Overwhelmed.

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By what?

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The usual.  Work.  Bills.

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therapist-3

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The marriage.  The kids.  The house.

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therapist-4

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Plus a hundred other things.

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therapist-5

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The leak under my sink.  The hole in my roof.  The racoon in my attic.

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therapist-6

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My car needs a tuneup.  My lawn needs reseeding.  My dog needs a vet. 

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therapist-7

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I’m fat and should exercise.  I’m anxious and should meditate.  I eat crap and not enough vegetables.

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therapist-7

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And on and on and…

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You do seem to be juggling a lot right now.

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bert-9

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How have you handled this is the past?

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I try to keep all the balls in the air.

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How’s that work? 

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I exhaust myself.  The balls drop.  I get depressed.

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I see.  Want a suggestion?

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Please.

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Drop the balls now.

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Deliberately?

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Yes.  For today.  Drop all but two.

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Which two?

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First, get more rest.  Second, lean on someone. 

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Lean how?  On who?

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Someone who’ll give you permission to be selfish.  

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Isn’t selfish bad?

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No, selfish is essential.  Selfless is bad.  Depression’s worse.

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Can I lean on you?

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Sure.  

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bert

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Now go take a nap.

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* * *

Relax much? 

A body is not a machine

It can’t chug along endlessly. 

It needs down time. 

So relaxation is essential to self-care.

Luckily, relaxation is a skill that can be learned.

Here’s one way — simple and effective — to learn it.

 

A deep muscle relaxation drill

1. Find a quiet environment.  Lie on your back or sit comfortably.  Close your eyes.

2. If you’re right handed, begin by tensing your right hand for a count of ten.  (If you’re a lefty, tense your left hand.)  Tell it to be heavy and warm. 

3. Then continue up the right side of your body, focusing in turn on each part and telling it the same thing, as follows:

~ Wrist:   Heavy and warm.

~ Forearm: Heavy and warm.

~ Elbow: Heavy and warm.

~ Upper arm: Heavy and warm.

~ Shoulder: Heavy and warm.

4. Then move down to your foot and continue:

~ Foot: Heavy and warm.

~ Ankle: Heavy and warm.

~ Lower leg: Heavy and warm.

~ Knee: Heavy and warm.

~ Upper leg: Heavy and warm.

The entire right side of your body should now feel heavy and warm.  Wait for these feelings.  

5. Now repeat steps 2-4 on the opposite side of your body.

6. Next relax the muscles of your hips.  Let a wave of relaxation move up from your stomach to your chest.  Tell these muscles to be heavy and warm.  Your breathing should slow and start to come from your diaphragm.  Wait for this breathing change.

7. Next let the wave of relaxation move into your shoulders, neck, jaw and face.   Pay special attention to the muscles controlling your eyes and forehead.  Tell all these muscles to be heavy and warm.

8. Finish by telling your forehead to feel cool.

Practice this drill twice daily.   Fifteen to twenty minutes is ideal, but even three minutes is better than nothing if that’s all you have time for.   With practice you should be able to attain deep muscle relaxation in as short a time as two minutes.

~ Adapted from Burnout: The cost of caring by Christina Maslach (Prentice-Hall, 1982).

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4 responses to “Bert’s therapy: Balls

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