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How to Say No: Respecting Boundaries

Are you tired of constantly saying yes to others, even at the expense of your well-being? Learning to say no is a crucial skill that can help you maintain a healthy balance in your relationships and life.

Setting Boundaries

Boundaries act as invisible fences that define our personal space and emotional limits. They allow us to maintain a sense of self while connecting with others. Without boundaries, we may feel overwhelmed, burnt out, or resentful, leading to unfulfilling relationships.

The Benefits of Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries is an act of self-love and self-respect. It communicates to others that you value your well-being and have a clear understanding of your own needs. Moreover, boundaries create clear expectations, which help relationships function smoothly. Healthy connections are built on mutual support and acknowledging each other’s limitations.

Why We Feel Guilty When We Say No

Feelings of guilt often hinder us from setting boundaries. Saying no can be especially challenging if you grew up in a dysfunctional family or have codependent tendencies, as these environments often prioritize others’ needs over your own.

Overcoming Guilt When Setting Boundaries

To reduce feelings of guilt, remember that saying no isn’t about rejecting others but prioritizing oneself. Try expressing gratitude and appreciation, being clear and concise in your refusal, offering alternatives or compromises, focusing on your own needs and priorities and practicing setting boundaries without guilt.

Feeling Good About Setting Boundaries

Boundaries empower you to navigate life on your terms, allowing you to take care of yourself and feel good about it. Consider boundaries a win-win situation. You gain more time and energy for things that bring you joy, and your relationships benefit because honoring your limits helps build genuine connections based on mutual respect.

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Strategies for Renewed Energy and Balance

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Are you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and emotionally drained? You might be experiencing burnout. Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress and often affects individuals who are passionate about their work or responsibilities. However, it’s essential to recognize the signs of burnout and take proactive steps to manage it before it affects your overall well-being.

Manage Your Daily Productive Window:

Identify your most productive hours during the day and prioritize your tasks accordingly. By aligning your most demanding tasks with your peak productivity times, you can optimize your performance and reduce the risk of burnout. Remember to schedule regular breaks to rest and recharge.

Minimize Daily Stressors and Hassles:

Take inventory of your daily stressors and identify areas where you can make positive changes. Whether it’s setting boundaries with work or prioritizing self-care activities, find ways to reduce unnecessary stress in your life. Practice mindfulness techniques such as meditation or yoga to help you stay grounded and centered amidst life’s challenges.

Place It in Perspective:

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day stressors and lose sight of the bigger picture. Take a step back and evaluate your priorities and goals. Are you overcommitting yourself? Are there areas where you can delegate or ask for help? By placing your current situation in perspective, you can gain clarity and make informed decisions to prevent burnout.

Do Not Force Yourself Through It:

Recognize when you need to take a step back and prioritize your well-being. Pushing yourself to the brink of exhaustion will only exacerbate burnout. Allow yourself to rest and recharge, whether it’s taking a mental health day or engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Remember, self-care is not selfish; it’s essential for your overall health and well-being.

Remember, managing burnout is a journey, not a destination. By implementing these strategies and seeking support when needed, you can overcome burnout and cultivate a life of health, happiness, and fulfillment.

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Mastering the Art of Not Overreacting

Do you find yourself getting upset over minor inconveniences or small issues? It’s a common experience, but it doesn’t have to control your reactions. Here are three steps to help you stop overreacting to the small stuff:

Take a Moment to Notice Your Reaction: When you feel yourself starting to overreact, take a moment to pause and notice what’s happening in your body. Are you feeling tension in your neck, heat in your cheeks, or an elevated heart rate? Take a few deep breaths and try to calm down.

Rationalize The Situation: Once you’ve calmed down, try to think about what happened rationally. Instead of focusing on your subjective experience, try to see the situation from an objective point of view. Ask yourself if your reaction is proportionate to what happened. Try to be compassionate and avoid personalizing the situation.

Take Constructive Action: Depending on the situation, you can express yourself using “I” statements to communicate your feelings calmly. If you’re still upset, consider removing yourself from the situation temporarily. Find a way to re-channel your emotions, whether it’s through physical activity, journaling, or talking to a friend.

Remember, it’s okay to feel emotions, but it’s important to manage them in a healthy way. By taking these steps, you can learn to respond to small issues more calmly and avoid overreacting.

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Elevate Your Well-Being With Random Acts of Kindness

By: Jen Champion

Random acts of kindness are spontaneous expressions of care and compassion that profoundly impact the giver and the receiver. These acts can range from small gestures, like holding the door open for someone, to more significant acts of service, such as volunteering in a soup kitchen. Regardless of the size of the act, research shows that random acts of kindness can have several positive benefits for our health and well-being. 

How have you expressed and received kindness?

Our actions go beyond improving mood. They contribute to overall well-being. The science of kindness informs us there are neurological benefits when we are on the giving and receiving sides. Just thinking about being kind, our body receives signals like we are in the act of it. Positive thoughts associated with expressing kindness release serotonin, the feel-good hormone, and oxytocin the love hormone. These hormones enhance our comfort, safety, and joy and support our minds, emotions, bodies, and spirits.

Kindness also provides emotional support and can help us relieve stress. We can build resilience to stressful conditions. When relaxed, we have space to explore and secure personal, authentic happiness, which grows towards graciously offering kindness to others. There are many techniques and resources for cultivating and replenishing individual reservoirs of vitality. You will find a few listed at the end of this article. In addition to personal benefits, acts of kindness significantly impact our social connections—acts of kindness foster social, familial, community, and workplace relationships. Experiencing and sharing kindness strengthens areas of human commonality and potential. We support each other with acts of kindness when we inspire, share, and try new things. In our shared existence, strength and happiness weave unity and community.

Kindness is an integral exploration in my life and yoga practice. I like to blend movements, meditations, and philosophies to encourage insight into the self as a human and divine source of kindness. I offer these opportunities in my classes with the intention that we will carry ourselves with peace and joy, on and off the yoga mat.

The Yoga Sutras is an ancient text describing the path to a fulfilling and happy life. In the Secret of the Yoga Sutra, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait translates Sutra 1:33: Transparency of mind comes by embracing an attitude of friendliness, compassion, happiness, and non-judgment toward those who are happy, miserable, virtuous, and non-virtuous.

The purpose of cultivating the four positive attitudes (friendliness, compassion, happiness, and non-judgment) is to instill higher virtues in our minds. These virtues allow our mind to reclaim its natural, pristine, joyful state. 

Random acts of kindness are simple and powerful ways to positively persuade our world. By performing acts of kindness, we improve our health and well-being, strengthen social connections, foster compassionate and caring communities, and have more fun! Consider your time and dedication to actively contributing to the collective benefit of kindness. Learn what it is and how to become a Raktivist. Random Acts of Kindness 2024 is a worldwide celebration held during the week of February 11-17. Join me at the Vista Wellness Center on February 15 at 11:15 am. I will spread kindness and share yoga tips around our neighborhood, 15th and Pearl. Hope to see you there!

Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

TED Talk: How Acts of Kindness Sparked a Global Movement

Practice Random Acts of Kindness

Guided Meditation: Embodied Metta with Tara Brach

 

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What’s the Difference Between Disordered Eating and an Eating Disorder?

By: Jondra Pennington, LPC

You’re out to lunch with a friend and they tell you they are no longer eating carbs.In a group chat, your best friend says she is going to hit the gym so she can “earn” the brunch you’re having later. At a family dinner, you notice your cousin quietly entering information about the meal into a dieting app on his phone. These scenarios are not at all uncommon and we’ve pretty much normalized them. However, they have attracted the attention of professionals who have identified them as habits of disordered eating or of someone on their way to developing an eating disorder.

What is Disordered Eating?

On the spectrum of eating disorders, disordered eating sits in the middle between normal eating and eating disorders (ED). The term “disordered eating” is a descriptive phrase that refers to a range of irregular eating behaviors that may or may not warrant a diagnosis of an eating disorder. Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia are diagnosed using a specific and narrow set of criteria that is the product of years of psychological and medical research and study. Not so with disordered eating. Since disordered eating is not a diagnosis let’s take a look at what kinds of behaviors can be identified as disordered eating.

Disordered eating habits may include:

  • Avoiding entire food groups, certain macronutrients, or foods with specific extures or colors without a medical reason.
  • Binge-eating
  • Engaging in compensatory behaviors, such as exercising to “make up for” food you’ve consumed
  • Exercising compulsively
  • Cutting food into small pieces, slowing down the pace of eating, or otherwise attempting to trick yourself into feeling fuller from less food
  • Fasting to lose weight
  • Feeling guilt, disgust, or anxiety before or after eating
  • Following strict food rules or rituals
  • Intentionally skipping meals or restricting food intake — including skipping meals before or after you’ve consumed a large meal, food you consider unhealthy, or alcohol
  • Opting to eat only foods you consider “clean” or healthy
  • Participating in fad diets to lose weight
  • Engaging in purging behaviors, such as using laxatives or making yourself vomit to control your weight
  • Tracking calories to the point of preoccupation
  • Weighing yourself or taking body measurements often

(Source: https://www.healthline.com/)

Looking at this list, it’s reasonable to assume that you’re looking at a list of behaviors that describes an eating disorder. And, you’d be right. So, what is the difference between an ED and disordered eating? Its frequency, severity, and impact.

How Do They Differ?

Let’s compare them by examining a compensatory activity like exercise, to make up for what you’ve eaten. With disordered eating, you may feel like you need to exercise for a period of time every day to minimize the impact of food intake, or you consider an hour at the gym 5 times a week sufficient. But, for someone with an eating disorder, compensatory activities are chronic and obsessive. They become obsessed with “getting rid of” what they’ve eaten, moving exercise from a wellness activity to a method of torture. They will go to the gym every day, sometimes twice a day for four or five hours at a time with a 10-mile run added in on the weekends. Severe food restriction may follow for several days after eating.

Consequences

Detrimental consequences for someone with disordered eating patterns include: A greater risk of developing an eating disorder, bone loss, gastrointestinal disturbances, electrolyte and fluid imbalances, low heart rate and blood pressure, increased anxiety, depression, and social isolation. In addition, a person can experience significant physical, emotional, and mental stress. While both situations have consequences, the severity differs dramatically with an eating disorder because of its impact on nearly every aspect of life particularly physiologically:

  • Cardiovascular (muscle loss, low or irregular heartbeat)
  • Gastrointestinal (bloating, nausea, constipation)
  • Neurological (difficulty concentrating, sleep apnea)
  • Endocrine (hormonal changes – estrogen, testosterone, thyroid)
  • Premature death

(Source: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org)

Next Steps

Recovery from an eating disorder or effectively putting an end to disordered eating patterns are possible, which makes getting treatment so important. If you think you might have an eating disorder, talk to your doctor or mental health professional. You can also contact one of the following organizations for more information and support:

  • National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
  • National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorder (ANAD)
  • The Eating Disorder Foundation
  • Eating Disorders Resource Center (EDRC)

If you or a loved one are coping with an eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Helpline for support at 1-800-931-2237.

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Understanding and Coping With Grief

By: Tanya Kramer, LPC, CADC-I

Grief and Loss can and will affect everyone. Sometimes when we grieve, we might start to compare ourselves to others around us with thoughts such as:

  • “Why am I not crying”
  • “Everyone else seems to be OK”
  • “How come I can’t just move on”
  • “Why can’t I stop thinking about this when everyone else is not talking about it”
  • “One day I am fine and then I am back to feeling angry or sad”

Comparing how we grieve to others is not helpful for your grieving process, and can trigger the thought, “What is wrong with me”. However, it is important to know that everyone grieves differently, on different timelines, and in different ways. So, if you take anything from this article, it is to hold yourself with grace and kindness as you move through your OWN grief process.

What can trigger Grief and Loss?

Anything that is a change, a transition, a loss, or an unplanned event. Here are some examples of what could trigger Grief and Loss:

  • Someone passes away
  • Moving
  • Miscarriage
  • Changing a job, school, or an experience in your normal routine
  • Loss of a pet
  • Someone else moving away
  • A relationship or friendship ending
  • Seasons changing
  • Retirement
  • Change in financial stability
  • When plans such as a vacation get canceled
  • Loss of health
  • A loved one having an illness
  • An item of value being broken
  • Loss of a cherished dream
  • Loss of safety after a trauma
  • This is not an exhaustive list!

What to expect when experiencing grief? A person can experience any or all of this list:

  • Crying
  • Worry / Anxiety / Frustration / Anger / Stress
  • Guilt
  • Confusion
  • Numbness
  • Isolation from others
  • Difficulty sleeping or eating
  • Fatigue
  • Body symptoms, such as headaches, stomach pain, nausea, tight chest, body aches and pains, etc.
  • Questioning life or spiritual beliefs
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Abnormal behavior

What are the Five Stages of Grief and Loss?

A Swiss psychiatrist named Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote a book called “On Death and Dying” where she gathered information from terminally ill patients which led her to define the Five Stages of Grief and Loss:

  1. Denial – “This can’t be happening” or “I don’t believe it”
  2. Anger – “Why is this happening to me”
  3. Bargaining – “I will do anything to change this” or thoughts of “If I only had done _____ , then this would not be happening”
  4. Depression – “What is the point” or “I won’t ever get through this”
  5. Acceptance – “It’s going to be OK” or “This is hard, but I can accept it”

It is important to note that these Five Stages are listed in an order that they can occur in, but they don’t have to. Some people skip or never experience one or more stages. Often people move through the stages and then re-experience certain stages when triggered by a memory or a situation.

Here are some examples of how someone could move through the Stages of Grief and Loss:

  • Denial – Anger – Depression – Anger – Acceptance
  • Anger – Bargaining – Depression – Acceptance
  • Denial – Depression – Acceptance
  • Denial – Bargaining – Anger – Bargaining – Depression – Anger – Acceptance – Depression –Acceptance
  • Anger – Denial – Depression – Anger – Depression – Acceptance – Anger – Depression –     Anger

Specifically notice from these examples that the last two showed someone getting to Acceptance, then experiencing other stages of grief and loss before returning to Acceptance. Just because we get to Acceptance does not always mean we stay there. We can be triggered by a song, picture, or a reminder, which can slip us out of Acceptance into one of the other Stages of Grief and Loss…which is a common experience. What is helpful to know is that if we experience Acceptance, even if we get triggered into one of the previous stages, we are more likely to return to it again sooner since we have already been there. Let’s take a deeper dive into each stage to better understand what happens in each of the Stages.

Denial

This stage can literally help us survive or cope with the loss. It can sometimes cause emotional numbness, shock, not believing something has happened, or result in our belief system leaning into a “preferable” reality. Denial and shock help individuals cope and survive the grief event by slowing down the event to the pace that your emotional self can take it in. It is the body’s natural defense when the mind might be thinking, “I can only handle so much at once”.

Anger

If anger comes up, then let yourself feel it. In many situations, anger is a necessary experience that helps move through the emotions that are overwhelming the system. Most people learn ways to manage their anger, but when faced with a significant event, feeling anger can be healthy and cathartic. Sometimes anger helps motivate people to take necessary action in a difficult situation. Anger can help individuals face the reality of the situation and attach to others who are also dealing with the situation.

Bargaining

In this stage, people try to cope by making deals with themselves, God, or others. This type of negotiation can give false hope. Bargaining can sometimes lead to feelings of guilt. When people have thoughts such as “What if I had only done this ______ differently, then they would still be OK” The problem is bargaining thoughts are rarely helpful, and can do more harm than good  to yourself. Understanding what bargaining is so you can notice when you are in this stage is helpful because then you can use positive self-talk to be kinder to yourself. You might need to tell yourself that you are not the cause of the incident. You might need to ask yourself the question, knowing what you know now, what you might you do differently in the future. You should be extra kind to yourself when in this stage.

Depression

Depression is the result of feeling empty, alone, lost, fearful, or other disregulating emotions when you realize something has ended or changed. In this stage, you might feel withdrawn from life, numb, emotional and cognitive fogginess, low motivation to do basic self-care, and feelings of being overwhelmed or hopeless. You might want to be alone and have space. Some people might have thoughts of self-harm or suicide with thoughts of, “What’s the point of going on?” This stage may be necessary as an outlet to feel the deep emotions that are coming up, so healing from these emotions can begin.

Acceptance

In this stage, individuals start to feel a sense of stabilization. It is not necessarily a feeling that everything is going to be okay, but more that in the midst of everything, you can be okay. This is when some people report they fully started to re-enter reality. The new situation may not be “good”, but you are able to start to figure out how to live in this new reality. Individuals go through a process of learning how to be adaptable, adjust their perspective, and often re-adjust as they get used to the change in their life. In this stage, you start to experience emotional and cognitive clarity, you are engaging more in social relationships, and you feel like you are ready to start making forward movement in life. Just because you make it to Acceptance does not necessarily mean you stay here, but each time you come here, you often get to stay longer.

The Stages of Grief and Loss can provide a sense of knowing that you are in a normal process that many people have and will experience.

What are the different kinds of Grief?

  1. Anticipatory Grief – This type of grief happens before the loss is actually experienced, such as having an aging pet, or witnessing a loved one who is terminally ill. You have not technically experienced the loss but you are experiencing the coming loss.
  2. Disenfranchised Grief – This type of grief happens when you experience a loss that is not recognized by others, it is stigmatized, minimized, or you can’t openly mourn your loss.
  1. Complicated Grief – This type of grief can result in a person feeling stuck in a state of bereavement due to an ongoing situation. An example is living in a house where the other person used to live with you and you see their stuff or have memories you shared with them in this space many times a day.

How to cope with the pain when grieving?

  1. Acknowledge your pain (to yourself and a trusted person)
  2. Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions
  3. Feel your feelings
  4. Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you
  5. Seek out face-to-face support from people who care about you
  6. Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically (eating, sleeping, hygiene)
  7. Try to maintain your hobbies and interests
  8. Don’t let anyone tell you how you feel and don’t tell yourself how to feel either

How to seek support for your grief?

  • Lean on your friends and family
  • Work with a therapist or counselor
  • Draw comfort from your faith or spirituality
  • Join a Support Group that focuses on grief and loss
  • Talk to others who have experienced a similar loss
  • Process your feelings through listening to music, journaling, making art, poetry, etc.
  • Read books or listen to podcasts about grief
  • Plan ahead.  When you know you have grief triggers such as special dates, or important milestones that might awaken the grief, be sure to engage your support system around grief triggers.

Everyone experiences grief so when you are the one grieving, reach out to others as you are not alone in your experience. Be kind to yourself. Hold yourself with grace and understanding. If you find yourself with limited support, then reach out to your local crisis lines for support.

Elizabeth Dubler-Ross Foundation

HelpGuide.org – “Coping with Grief and Loss

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City Club of Eugene – Press Release – January 30, 2024

YouthLine: Bringing Peer-to-Peer Support to Every Youth

Speakers: Dwight Holton, CEO Lines for Life, Emily Moser, YouthLine Program Director Craig Leets, YouthLine Deputy Director

Forum Sponsor: Vista Counseling and Wellness Center

Date: Friday, February 23, 2024, at noon

Location: Maple Room, Inn at the 5th, 205 East 6th Ave., Eugene, OR

Livestream: City Club of Eugene YouTube Channel

Coordinators: Betsy Pownall, Joel Korin

Content warning: This program includes discussion about suicide and its impact on the individual and the community Suicide rates in Lane County increased by 80% from 2000 to 2020, according to a report from Lane County Public Health. In 2020, the suicide rate in Lane County was 65% greater than the US average, and 21% greater than the rest of Oregon. In the small communities of Junction City, Florence, and Cottage Grove, suicide rates were twice that for all Lane County. In May 2022, it was reported that suicide rates among youth under the age of 24 had nearly doubled in Lane County. In 2021, 42% of high school students reported persistent feelings of sadness or helplessness. This crisis is especially evident in communities of color and among LGBTQ youth, where rates are rapidly increasing, there is hope. While suicide continues to be the second leading cause of death among youth in Oregon, there has been an overall reduction in youth suicide over the last three years. 

This reduction reflects Oregon’s commitment and funding to expand youth mental health and intervention programs, such as YouthLine and Lines for Life. Suicide is a public health issue, and this is a call to action. These numbers affect everyone, and everyone can help. It starts with listening. YouthLine, a service of Lines for Life, provides a peer-to-peer help, support, and crisis line for youth ages 10-24 every day of the year, with options to call, text, or chat. With call centers in Portland, Bend, and Warm Springs, YouthLine recruits upwards of 200 volunteers and interns each year to serve youth all over the country. In this program, we will cover the three core components of YouthLine: the help, support, and crisis line; youth and workforce development; and education and outreach. Additionally, speakers will discuss the top issues for which young people seek support from YouthLine and provide some tips and resources for supporting youth. Finally, our presenters will share a brief history of Lines for Life and describe the important work the organization has been doing throughout Oregon for over 30 years.

Dwight Holton is the CEO of Lines for Life, the leading suicide and substance abuse prevention non-profit in the Northwest. Lines for Life helps over 170,000 families a year with its crisis intervention and prevention services, including mental wellness promotion, advocacy, and public policy development. Mr. Holton took the reins at Lines for Life after 15 years as a federal prosecutor, most recently as United States Attorney for Oregon. He prosecuted hundreds of federal criminal cases in Oregon and Brooklyn, New York, including terrorism and violent crime, narcotics trafficking, fraud, and environmental crimes. Through his work as a prosecutor, Mr. Holton learned the importance of early intervention and prevention strategies – and as U.S. Attorney, he launched efforts to improve access to addiction treatment and better mental health services.

Mr. Holton has worked to carry Lines for Life programs and initiatives to diverse communities throughout Oregon – including a satellite YouthLine office that opened in Central Oregon in 2019. Mr. Holton has also led efforts to expand cultural engagement at Lines for Life, supporting neighborhood empowerment to build better access to mental wellness and crisis intervention services in communities of color. He serves on the boards of Salmon Safe and the Basic Rights Oregon PAC, and the Oregon Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission. 

Since 2002, he has taught classes at Lewis and Clark Northwestern School of Law in Portland. Mr. Holton lives in Southeast Portland with his wife, Mary Ellen Glynn, and their children. Emily Moser is a member of the Leadership Team for Lines for Life.  She directs YouthLine Programs and oversees the agency’s youth-related services. These include mental health education, training, and outreach; youth development and mentoring for more than 150 youth volunteers; statewide school suicide prevention; and a pilot program for online crisis support via social media. She has been on staff at Lines for Life for over a decade, with a primary focus on youth. 

Ms. Moser is a trainer in several evidence-based mental health and suicide-related programs, such as safeTALK, Youth Mental Health First Aid, and the Olweus  Bullying Prevention Program. She has also provided Crisis Intervention Training to law enforcement agencies throughout Oregon. Ms. Moser has actively participated in statewide youth development via the Oregon Alliance to Prevent Suicide and Southwest Portland Boards for youth athletics. She earned a BA from the University of Oregon in business and dance, and MAT from Lewis and Clark College, and an MPA from Portland State University. Ms. Moser spends much of her free time outdoors with the family, which includes her husband Greg, two children, three dogs, and a cat.

Craig Leets began in January 2022 as the first YouthLine Deputy Director at Lines for Life, after spending a short stint at the Oregon State Treasury and almost a decade in Higher Education, where he led LGBTQ resource centers. Much of his career has focused on advocating for minoritized communities and facilitating organizational development to create more welcoming environments for all people. 

Outside of work, Mr. Leets has served on boards for local nonprofits supporting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. He earned an MA in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland and a BA in Communication Studies from Chapman University. Outside of work, Mr. Leets enjoys spending time with friends and family, taking long walks, sampling localvegan food, and drinking decaf coffee from shops across Portland.

Program Sponsor:

Vista Counseling and Wellness Center is our featured sponsor for this forum, YouthLine: Bringing Peer-to-Peer Support to Every Youth. Vista Counseling strives to provide the highest level of care and service to our clients and community, helping them to remove barriers in order to reach their full potential.

About the City Club of Eugene:

The mission of the City Club of Eugene is to build community vision through open inquiry. The Club explores a wide range of significant local, state, and national issues and helps to formulate new approaches and solutions to problems. Membership is open to all, and Club members have a direct influence on public policy by discussing issues of concern with elected officials and other policymakers. The City Club mailing address is PO Box 12084, Eugene, OR 97440, and its website is cityclubofeugene.org.

Video and Broadcast:

This program will be live-streamed and will be available on the City Club of Eugene’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Rebroadcasts and recordings will be available the Monday immediately following the program at 7:00 pm, on KLCC 89.7 FM and available later as an episode on City Club’s podcast. Visit cityclubofeugene.org for links and details.

Contact: Betsy Pownall, betsy327@comcast.net, Joel Korin, joelkorin@gmail.com

Mending the Broken

By: Betsy Pownall

There is a 2,000 year old text buried in the Mishnah, or the oral Torah, a book of Jewish oral traditions, that includes an ancient practice of dealing with grief and loss. In her New York Times essay, “Two Lessons from an Ancient Text that Changed My Life”, Sharon Brous describes a pilgrimage ritual where “hundreds of thousands of Jews would ascend to Jerusalem,” climb the steps of the Temple Mount, enter the plaza and turn to the right, circling counterclockwise, as a group of thousands. 

Meanwhile, “the brokenhearted, the mourners (and the lonely and sick) would make this same ritual walk but they would turn to the left, and circle in the opposite direction: Every step against the current”.

As the mourners walked clockwise, they would meet the eyes of those walking counterclockwise, who would ask, “Why does your heart ache?” and the mourners would answer. “My son is sick” they might say. “My father died and I never got to say these last words to him”. Those walking on the right side would offer a spiritual blessing that includes the words “You are not alone”.

When one is in pain the world is eclipsed, and felt experience is telescoped into a tiny pinprick of feeling of pain. The world surrounding this pinprick is dark. Nothing else seems to matter, and the feeling of loneliness can feel interminable. This ancient exercise allows the person feeling broken to be seen, felt, and held by others, as they pass. Everyone acknowledges that while today I might be walking on the right side of the plaza, offering a blessing, next time I could be walking on the left, needing the blessing to stay afloat. None of us are immune.

Ms. Bouse offers two insights she has taken away from this text. First, she says, if you are mourning a broken heart, don’t isolate yourself. Move toward people and communities who can support you, and hold you in this time. And, when you feel strong, show up for those in pain. She writes that when we see someone who is emotionally struggling, “asking, with an open heart ‘Tell me about your sorrow’ may be the deepest affirmation of our humanity, even in terribly inhumane times.” While we cannot make another’s pain disappear, we can connect and support the other so that they are not alone in their grief. Approaching another when they are grieving means “training ourselves to approach, even when our instinct tells us to withdraw”. Calling, reaching out, going to the funeral, the wedding, the birthday, “err on the side of presence”.

Ms. Bouse’s second insight is that while human beings generally gravitate toward what they know, this tribal instinct “can be perilous”. She suggests that “one of the greatest casualties of tribalism is curiosity”. When we do not try to understand or imagine what another person may be experiencing, “our hearts begin to narrow”. We become less compassionate, more assured in our own existence, and less humble in the face of the other. 

As a society, she asks, wouldn’t it be transformative if we learn not to be afraid of the other? That we learn to hold each other “with curiosity and care…we learn to see one another in pain, to ask one another “What happened to you?” These “sincere, tender encounters” remind us we are all connected. It is in our connection we can heal our broken hearts.

Rabbi Brous is the founding and senior rabbi of Ikar, a Jewish community-based in Los Angeles, and the author of “The Amen Effect.”

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Ways to Increase Dopamine and Stay Motivated

In the intricate dance of brain chemicals, dopamine takes center stage, orchestrating our motivation and pleasure. 

Often hailed as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, it’s important to maintain optimal dopamine levels, which is key to embracing life’s challenges with enthusiasm. This can generate a sense of pleasure and satisfaction, creating a feedback loop that reinforces certain behaviors. 

On the flip side, insufficient dopamine levels can cast a shadow on your motivation, leaving you with reduced enthusiasm for once-exciting experiences.

Here are some straightforward ways to boost your dopamine levels naturally and stay motivated.

Embrace Sunlight

Ready for a bright idea to boost your focus and mood? Step into the sunlight for 10 to 30 minutes each morning sans sunglasses. 

Basking in natural sunlight can do wonders for your mood as the exposure stimulates the production of vitamin D, which, in turn, supports dopamine synthesis.  

Let the light in during the day for heightened focus, and dim it down at night for a restful sleep!

Celebrate the Journey

Celebrate the journey toward your goals rather than fixating solely on the outcome. 

The prime time for optimal dopamine production is during goal pursuit. To boost your dopamine levels you can shift your focus to relishing the learning process, celebrating achievements, and acknowledging your performance along the way. 

Employing techniques like planning, positive self-talk, and affirmations, can also train your mind to find excitement in the steps you take toward your goals.

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Healthy Closure – Do We Need it? What Does Healthy Closure Mean Anyway?

By: Tanya Kramer

In the words of Taylor Swift: “You don’t have to forgive, and you don’t have to forget to move on. You can move on without any of those things happening. You just become indifferent and then you move on”. For the record, Taylor goes on to say that forgiveness is important for people who have enriched your life. 

You can find the full interview from 4 years ago on CBS’s Sunday Morning program here. See minute 8:10 about forgiveness at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-nv6HWXvVM

As the new year has come and gone, it is helpful to think about how to move forward past difficult things from the last year or in the past. One might ask, how do I “move on” as Taylor Swift suggests? Well, the first thing to explore is assessing what we have (or had) control over versus what we don’t have control over.

When the Situation is (or was) in Your Control

If the situation that is happening is something you have some control over, then there are some ways to help increase the chances of healthy closure by how you handle it. If it is something from your past, there are options to go back and repair or heal through specific actions.

What are some examples of situations where we have (or had) control and we desire to explore options for healthy closure?

• Knowing we need to end a romantic, friend, or family relationship (or did in the past)

• Knowing we or someone we care about is moving away (or moved away in the past)

• Knowing we or someone we know are dying from an illness

• Knowing it is time to change a job (or left a job in the past)

• Knowing there is transition in our life or someone else that will impact us (present or past)

• There are other examples….but if there is space for you to control something, then this category fits what do we do?

There are lots of ways to navigate these types of situations, and here are just a few ideas to consider to help increase the chances of healthy closure when you have some level of control.

Communication – If you know something is happening, think about how you want to communicate with the person how you feel about the situation. You might want to consider sharing feelings, worries, hopes, and fears with the person. It also might be very important to hear how the other person is feeling and thinking. Communication helps people feel connected, even if the communication is about something ending.

Repairing – If something has happened in the past and you realize now that you wish you had approached the situation differently, then you can go back and communicate what you learned to the people impacted. This is often called “repairing” or if the harm was significant it can sometimes be called “restorative justice”.

Celebrating or Honoring the relationship or experience – Depending on the situation, it might be appropriate to celebrate or honor what has been true, even if there is a change happening. This can be through honoring a relationship, honoring the work, or celebrating the experiences that have been shared.

Grief and Loss – Embracing the normal grief and loss process of any difficult situation, which may include feelings of denial, anger, bargaining, depression / sadness, and acceptance.

Share – Talking to a close friend, family member, or therapist can be a helpful outlet to process emotions and thoughts about a change that is happening.

Boundaries – You might realize there are some specific boundaries you need to set in order to take care of yourself due to this change. You should take some time to identify what these boundaries are, and then communicate them to the people / person who needs to know these boundaries.

Lessons Learned – Something ending can be very difficult and even painful. But one way to move toward acceptance is to think about what you learned from this experience.

Think about what you might do differently or what boundaries you would have set sooner. A difficult experience is only a waste of time if we don’t learn something from it (of course, only if this applies to your situation).

Make Amends – In some situations, we might realize that we caused harm. In these situations, it may be important to make amends if that does not cause further harm to anyone else.

Self Forgiveness – Sometimes we later regret how we handled a situation. When this happens, you can use many of the suggestions on this list, but at the end of the day forgiving yourself will be important. A resource to work through self forgiveness can be found in the book “Forgiving Yourself” by Beverly Flanigan, M.S.S.W.

Lack of Control: When things happen that we don’t have control over, there are ways to lean into healthy closure. Closure does not mean control. Closure means honoring the experience or transition with intention and then moving forward in life, sometimes this means “letting go”.

What are some examples of situations that “happen to us” where we might need to explore options for healthy closure?

• Death of a person or pet

• Someone close moving away

• Illness

• Relationship (romantic, friend, or family) ending, even if you don’t want it to

• Jobs ending

• Responding to an unplanned situation

• Important plans getting changed

• Trauma (there are many things that fall under this category)

• There are so many other examples – but if you did not have control…then this fits what do we do?

The answer to this can vary depending on the situation, but her are a few suggestions to consider…and only you trying them will determine which exercise will have the best impact for you.

• Write a letter to yourself, to the person, to the illness, the pet, etc – When writing a letter, you can choose to send it (if this is an option), hold onto it like a journal where you processed your feelings, or through a ritual let it go (Examples are burning it, shredding it, tearing it up, painting over it, etc.). This is helpful because it give a space for you to express the emotions and thoughts that you might be holding inside. This exercise helps the emotion move out of your body which aids in emotional healing.

• Create a ritual – If the thing you can’t control is the loss of someone or a pet, then find a way to honor them. You could create a shrine with pictures and memories. You could decide to celebrate them on an important date such as their birthday, or do something they loved regularly in your life like listen to their favorite music or hike in a favorite spot of theirs.

• Journaling – Journaling about your experience is a private way to help clear out your thoughts and feelings about what happened. Over time you will find that you might have less to journal about as you heal from the loss that happened to you. If you enjoy art, then you could do the same process only through art journaling using pictures.

• Give yourself permission to feel and experience the Grief and Loss Cycle which often includes tears or intense emotions – This cycle includes in no specific order: denial, anger, bargaining, anger / sadness, and acceptance. Everybody grieves differently on their own timeline. Give yourself permission to grieve on your terms.

• Understanding Anger – Understanding that anger is a secondary emotion, meaning under the anger there are often more intimate feelings such as sadness, hurt, loneliness, etc. Understanding anger more as a protective emotion, and then finding a trusted person to process your more intimate feelings. A famous quote by Buddha is “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

• Acceptance – Understand that you might not get answers to all your questions. Sometimes the phrase “Radical Acceptance” can be helpful. We can lean into knowing we don’t know why, and we can just radically accept it as truth. If you want to explore this further, you can look into the book called “Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha” by Tara Brach.

• Consider a Larger Picture – Sometimes what we “want” is not what we “need”. Thinking about the bigger picture sometimes helps us see that what we had could be improved upon when given the space to do so.

• Therapy / Someone you Trust – You do not need to walk this path of grief alone. Ask for support from someone you trust or a therapist / counselor. When we can share our thoughts and feelings with someone we trust who can have empathy for our experience, it can significantly change how we are holding our hurt and pain.

• Healthy Distraction – We don’t want to distract all the time and completely avoid our emotions. But it is OK to find a healthy distraction to fill the void of the change, loss, or transition. Some people find a new interest or hobby. Some people put more energy into things they already enjoy in their life. But it is OK to take breaks from feeling the big emotions because it gives your whole system a break.’

• Solitude – Sometimes doing things on your own can be a reminder that you can survive difficult changes in your life.

• Get Perspective – Sometimes the reason we feel so impacted by something in the present is because it reminds us of prior experiences in life from our past. These experiences can be linked in the brain, so when they happen, they can have a lot more energy which can be hard to let go of. If this is happening for you, then you might want to consider working with a counselor to help you navigate these complex experiences.

• Focus on your Strengths – Sometimes in the midst of loss, we forget who we are. Reflect on your strengths and the character traits you have that you are proud of. This is a reminder that you are not lost in the midst of a great loss.

• Find Moments of Joy / Happiness – Do things that in the past have brought you joy or happiness. Be sure to hold no judgment as you play with puppies, ride a roller coaster, explore a new restaurant, etc.

• Plan for your Future – Decide on one thing you will do that is intentionally you focusing on your future. This could be taking a class, planning a trip, completing a task, visiting a dear friend that you have not seen, etc.

Recognize that at the end of the day, Closure Comes from You, Not Anyone Else

You are the best source of knowing what you need in any situation. So be sure to slow down and ask yourself this question. You might need to talk to someone, get better sleep, exercise, do something new, or focus on something that has nothing to do with the change. Be kind to yourself as it is a process to healing might “ebb and flow” depending on triggers or reminders.

But also know you are not alone in this experience, so reach out to your support system as needed. True closure is about facing negative emotions and finding a way to honor them, and then move past them. As Taylor Swift said “You just become indifferent, and then you just move on”.

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Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

By: Betsy Pownall

As Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is coming up in February, here are some statistics to keep in mind:

  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
  • 1 in 3 girls in the US is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.
  • 1 in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • Only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.
  • 81% of parents believe dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know it’s an issue. (From loveisrespect.org)
  • 1 in 3 young people will be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship.
  • 33% of adolescents in America are victims of sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional dating abuse.
  • 50% of young people who experience rape or physicalcal or sexual abuse will attempt suicide. (From dosomething.org)

Some teens are at greater risk than others. Sexual minority groups as well as racial/ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by many types of violence. (From www.cdc.gov)

Dating can mean something different to each person. No matter who the people are, or what their age is, it is important, when two people make a decision to date, that each one is aware of their ‘dating bill of rights’. Below is the Dating Bill of Rights for Teens (as well as anyone else):

Dating Bill of Rights

I have the right:

  • To ask for a date.
  • To refuse a date.
  • To suggest activities.
  • To refuse any activities, even if my date is excited about them.
  • To have my own feelings and be able to express them.
  • To say I think my partner’s information is wrong or his/her actions are unfair or inappropriate.
  • To tell someone not to interrupt me.
  • To have my limits and values respected.
  • To tell my partner when I need affection.
  • To be heard.
  • To refuse to lend money.
  • To refuse affection.
  • To refuse affection.
  • To refuse sex with anyone for any reason.
  • To refuse sex anytime for any reason.
  • To have friends and space outside from my partner.

I have the responsibility:

  • To determine my limits and values.
  • To respect the limits and values of others.
  • To communicate clearly and honestly.
  • To ask for help when I need it.
  • To be considerate.
  • To check my actions/decisions to determine if they are good for me or bad for me; to set high goals.

(From Dating Violence: An Anti-Victimization Program, Texas Council on Family Violence and The Bridge Over Troubled Waters.)

Some Regional Resources For Adolescents

ABC House

1054 29th Ave; Albany, OR (visit by appointment)

541.926.2203

 https://www.abchouse.org/

Hope & Safety Alliance

1577 Pearl St STE 200; Eugene, OR

Hotline: 541.485.6513 (local Eugene); 1.800.281.2800

https://www.hopesafetyalliance.org/

Call to Safety 24/7 crisis line

Hotline: 503.235.5333 (local Portland)

1.888.235.5333

https://calltosafety.org/

Raphael House of Portland

4110 SE Hawthorne Blvd. #503, Portland

503.222.6507

https://raphaelhouse.com/teen-dating-violence/

The Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services

Portland based; does not accept walk-ins. Call for one-one support to create a safety plan and get connected to other services

503.988.6400

Center for Hope and Safety

605 Center St NE; Salem, OR

Hotline: 503.399.7722 (local Salem) 1.866.399.7722

https://hopeandsafety.org/

 

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The Healing Power of Hugs: National Hugging Day on January 21

By: Jen Champion 

In a world that often prioritizes virtual connections over physical touch, National Hugging Day on January 21 is a gentle reminder of the profound impact a simple embrace can have on our well-being. Hugging is not just a universal gesture but a timeless expression of care and support that transcends cultural boundaries.

Hugging is an ancient practice deeply rooted in our human experience. It is a straightforward yet powerful gesture that our bodies can naturally and effortlessly engage in, fostering a sense of connection and understanding. 

However, it’s crucial to approach hugging with sensitivity, acknowledging that not everyone may be comfortable with this form of physical contact. 

Always seek consent and respect personal boundaries, ensuring that your intentions align with the comfort level of the person you wish to hug. Scientifically, the benefits of hugs extend beyond the emotional realm. Research indicates that even the thought of a hug can trigger hormonal responses similar to those experienced during an actual embrace. This phenomenon also applies to self-hugging, emphasizing the importance of self-compassion and care.

One of the primary advantages of hugs is their ability to reduce stress and elevate mood. The warmth and comfort provided by a hug stimulate the release of oxytocin, commonly known as the love hormone, promoting relaxation and a sense of security. 

Moreover, the physical act of hugging can ease tension in the shoulders, chest, and upper back, offering a quick and effective way to unwind.

Group hugs, in particular, create a unique sense of unity and support. The collective energy shared in a group hug fosters a feeling of belonging and strengthens social bonds. In a world increasingly dominated by digital interactions, embracing the simplicity of physical touch becomes even more significant.

As our daily lives become more fast-paced and technology-driven, personal connections often

take a backseat. The prevalence of phones and earbuds has led to decreased eye-to-eye contact and genuine friendliness. 

National Hugging Day encourages us to break through these barriers, promoting the reconnection of hearts through the timeless act of hugging. Incorporating hugs into your daily routine doesn’t have to be limited to human interactions. 

Hug your pet, use a yoga strap, or wrap yourself in a cozy shawl. Engage in self-hugging in front of a mirror, accompanied by a warm smile, or share an extended hug with a friend. These simple yet meaningful practices can contribute to a more compassionate and connected world.

This January 21, let’s celebrate National Hugging Day by embracing the healing power of hugs.

Whether with a friend, a family member, or even yourself, take a moment to share the warmth and positive energy that a hug can bring. After all, in a world that sometimes feels disconnected, a heartfelt embrace can bridge the gaps and nurture the human spirit.

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