Isaac Farin Therapy Featured in Aced Magazine
Many people look forward to the summertime for various reasons. Some people like to bake in the sun, others like to take vacations and the rest of us may just be happy to get away from the cold weather for a little while. Not everyone loves this fun-in-the-sun season however. Some people really do experience the summertime blues. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can strike anyone in any season for different reasons. The cause may be as simple as an anxiety centering around how one might look in a swimsuit down at the beach … self esteem issues are really not that simple however.
Isaac Farin, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, suggests focusing on other things rather than your phsyique. “Believe it or not, outward appearance is not everything. Who we are on the inside is of greater importance. Therefore, if you can carry yourself with confidence and focus on your good points, this can go a long way in reducing these anxieties.
“Often times we are more judgmental of ourselves than anyone else. Naturally, we perceive ourselves differently. So, practicing more positive self-talk and building inner confidence can go a long way in the summertime (and throughout the year).”
Of course, for those that have to spend hours shopping for a swimsuit that fits without fulfilling their worst nightmare, focusing on the inner self might not be so easy. Due to rising stress and anxiety in general, whether stemming from economic strife or other increasing hardships, many people are on the edge already — and it doesn’t take much to tip the pot over. All that time spent plugged into smart phones, tablets and laptops doesn’t help. It tends to overstimulate, and in effect, increase stress and anxiety. What can you do to help decrease the mental load?
Aside from an in-person visit with a therapist, there are few things you can do at home yourself to lift your mood. First, why not take a day off and make it a “Me” day? Relax, enjoy a hobby you’ve not had time to indulge in, spend some time with people you are close to, or just have some fun goofing off and letting loose with no plans, schedule or structure at all!
You’ve heard this before, but mindfulness really is a good way to decompress and destress. Farin says, “Being mindful means that you are paying attention to what you are doing in the moment, with awareness and without judgment.” This is not the same as knowing you are sitting in a chair or vaguely paying attention as you drive home on autopilot.
“To incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine, begin by paying attention with full awareness to whatever you are doing in that particular moment. There are many things to pay attention to with more mindfulness; drinking, eating, talking, washing, driving, spending time with a loved one, etc. This slows you down and you are more in tune with what you are doing. Also, this brings about more curiosity since you are practicing being without judgment and you are actually beginning to see things with what the Zen Buddhists call a ‘beginner’s mind’. There is much research out there on the benefits of practicing mindfulness,” says Farin.
walk with flowersHere’s an example: Let’s say you are taking a walk on a summer’s day. You are surrounded by green grass, tall green tree tops; orange, yellow, red, purple and white petals from flowers swaying to the cool, light breeze passing by. Most people never really see or feel any of those things when they are walking. Instead they are thinking about dinner that night, what meetings they have tomorrow and will Billy pass his math class … The only way to truly be mindful is to empty your mind of all thought except the experience you feel and witness surrounding you at any given moment.
Is it logical to think you can do this every minute of the day? No. But you can pick certain times of the day to really enjoy the moment. When you do that, all the futuristic worrying seems to be much smaller in its importance.
Another thing that can be helpful in stress reduction is meditation. “Many people think meditation means you must sit in a lotus position in complete silence somewhere. However, the true definition of meditation is being consciously aware of a full breathe — a full inhale and full exhale. Meditation can really be done anywhere!
“To incorporate meditation into your daily routine practice paying attention to your breathing more often. Take a few minutes to sit down in a comfortable position and begin noticing the rhythm of your breathing. While doing so, if your mind begins to wander then gently bring your attention back to your breathing. Doing this over and over will allow a meditative state to occur,” reveals Farin.
Of course with anything, practice makes perfect. When you direct your focus to your breath and really try to feel it — is it cool or warm … what color is it? Is it fast or slow? Try to slow it down … Focusing on those seemingly insignificant details can make all the difference between you and unmanaged stress.
If these exercises don’t work for you, and you really don’t want to go in to see a therapist (or can’t), you could also try online counseling. “As long as these other avenues are HIPAA compliant and confidentiality is viewed as highest priority, then I am all for people receiving assistance or support in any way they choose or need,” says Farin. Those two points he mentions are very important. HIPPA compliant and confidentiality.
So – what is the key to happiness? Farin reflects, “I believe that gratitude, empathy, kindness and happiness are all closely linked. Happiness is a state of being, and being grateful is a part of this state, as is being empathic and kind. The more grateful you are the more happy you can become. The less angry and critical you are the more kind and empathic you can be.”
It is true — if you focus your attention more on the things you have to be grateful for, you will spend less time focusing on the negative … thus making you “happier”. I keep a gratitude journal. Every day I write down five things I am thankful for … whether it is a roof over my head, food in my stomach or people I love … whatever it is you are grateful for today will keep you going tomorrow.
So, is summer so bad — aside from the incredible heat, hurricanes, tornados and sand that just never seems to get out of your hair the more you go to the beach? Nah. It’s not so bad.
Isaac Farin is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a certified clinical hypnotherapist, a medical meditation consultant, stress management consultant and a mental health clinician. He is also the co-developer of Longboard TherapyTM, in which he uses longboarding (riding a longboard skateboard) as an intervention while working with clients in an outdoor environment. Longboard TherapyTM is a dynamic and action-oriented psychotherapeutic environment and it is also a metaphor to creating positive change in one’s life.