Tuesday, June 30, 2015

 Women for Sobriety, Inc.
Exercise  *  Sunlight  *  Laughter


“Today it is clear that major depression and often some lesser kinds are caused by a decrease in neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that contribute to hope and optimism.  Antidepressants raise levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which get depleted by emotional and physical stress.  Whatever treatment for depression you choose, hope amplifies it by fortifying your neurotransmitters.  Hope reprograms your biology and keeps you positive.  By being positive you increase serotonin and reduce stress hormones.  Hope acts as a natural stress reducer, relaxing your gut, blood vessels, and bronchioles.  Plus, science suggests that hope lessens pain by increasing levels of endorphins.

Try these techniques to improve your emotional state and transform depression.

1.  Exercise, don’t ruminate.  Rather than staying home with your head full of negative thoughts, get your body moving.  There’s something magical about just putting one foot in front of the other.  It increases serotonin and energy, enhances self-image, and improves sleep.  Start with gentle walking.  Don’t think you’re going too slowly or doing too little.  Even ten minutes daily gets your body used to the idea that it’s coming alive again.

2.  Get sufficient sunlight.  Don’t hole up in your office or home.  Exposure to sunlight elevates your mood by stimulating your brain to produce serotonin.  If you’re prone to depression, remember to maximize the natural antidepressant effect of sunlight.

3.  Laughter is good medicine.  Laughter is emotional freedom.  It raises your spirits, increases levels of endorphins, relieves pressure, and reverses learned seriousness.  Humor seems to compete with negative thoughts by inserting positive ones.  Try to surround yourself with humorous, upbeat people.  Also, watch hilarious movies, listen to comedy routines, or read books that make you smile.  Laughter will take the bite out of depression.” –Emotional Repair Kit: 50 Tools to Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions by Judith Orloff, M.D.

Statement #2, “Negative thoughts destroy only myself.”
My first conscious sober act must be to remove negativity from my life.

Karen’s Perspective +
     “Learned seriousness.”  Newly sober, I felt so serious.  I was suddenly becoming aware of my life and my disease and I was reacting to life with such seriousness.  Laughter was nowhere to be found.  I knew I could not “fake” laughter so I decided to relearn how to giggle.
     Depression is one of the hallmarks of women in addiction.  I suffered greatly from it.  Before sobriety and my New Life, I ruminated on the negative.  I sought out dramas and disasters.  I needed to feel alive since I was slowly dying.
     By first acknowledging that I was quite serious, I set out to change that.  I began to watch those television shows where they showed funny videos and gave a large money prize at the end.  I did this daily.  I recorded as many as I could and began to watch.  Some days I could not even muster a smirk, but I kept watching.  I needed to liven up and tickle my funny bone.
     Soon I found myself smiling, then laughing, then rolling on the floor laughing.  OK, I really didn’t roll on the floor but I laughed, a real belly laugh.  Genuine, raw, snorting laughter.  I was kicking my depression to the curb.
     I also got on my treadmill.  I began to walk and listen to music.  I began to feel better, head to toe.  My thoughts were becoming less serious and some days I even felt like dancing!
     Statement #2 helps me to move through my depression, understand it and learn from that pain.  I learned that I have to be ever vigilant with my thoughts, for I almost destroyed myself under the influence.  Whenever I feel a sad darkness beginning to rise, I slow down and examine where I am.  What needs changing?  What do I need to let go of?  What do I need to hold onto? Hugzzz, Karen

  • Where is your level of laughter?
  • Are you stuck in seriousness or do you feel alive again?

+  Dee’s Insights  +
     Hi 4C Women, I, too, felt very serious about my sobriety in the beginning as I was so focused on uncovering why I was drinking to cope.  Fortunately I had been in therapy for a while, so I had an idea of the “why” but not the “how” to cope differently until I found the WFS program.  In therapy, I learned to explore my history and was surprised at what I learned about my coping mechanisms from a very early age.  As I child, I was submissive/obedient to the point that I struggled with finding my own voice for a very long time, even as an adult.  I gave parts of my soul and body in order to be loved and, of course, that didn’t fill the empty space I was trying to fill.  In other words, I became a #1 people pleaser and left myself, my needs, out of the equation entirely.
     Once I learned to love myself, I found my voice.  As I am aging, I find myself expressing even more of what is in my heart.  Add to that, the authentic laughter.  Oh my goodness, it is like a huge weight being lifted off my chest to actually “feel” and express laughter and joy.
     I was watching Brain Games last night and one of the episodes was on positive thinking.  They said that there is a scientific chemical reaction in the brain when listening to certain music and posing/dancing.  I was reminded of the joy I felt at the Yogic (yes, that’s the right spelling) workshop at the WFS Conference when the music started playing and we were dancing with abandonment; and, one of the workshops Nina and I presented a few years ago.  I played a song “Lighten Up” by Karen Drucker because the words were perfect for our topic and, rather than the women listening to the words, there was this spontaneous dancing that took place.  I can still feel the pure joy in that moment.
     My New Life now is filled with both laughter and seriousness in a more balanced way.  Life is filled with challenges and I have had a few this past year; yet, it is empowering to know that I can still feel the joy, the laughter of moments, of being with friends, sharing and being supported through it all.  So when negative thoughts begin to destroy only yourself, what coping tools do you have in place to handle those feelings in order to heal and replace with positive thinking? -Dee
Thank you, Karen and Dee, for your words of encouragement and inspiration to start off our week!  ~Becky Fenner, WFS Director
Email:  contact@womenforsobriety.org   *   Tel215-536-8026   *   Fax:  215-538-9026
http://www.womenforsobriety.org   *   http://www.wfscatalog.org

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