Conversations with Myself: Anger – why is everyone so enraged?

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Anger – why is the world so angry? Everywhere we go, people are angry.

Domestic and gender based violence, violence against women and children, children bullying and stabbing friends and peers, drivers forcing you out of their way on the roads, refusing to wait one second longer than they need to – the list is endless.

Why are people so angry? Why are they not able to control their anger?

Is it my imagination or my sheltered childhood that has created this illusion of a more calm society many years ago while I was growing up? What has changed? Why is it necessary for everyone to be so impatient and angry with everyone?

Anger is a normal and even healthy emotion — but it’s important to deal with it in a positive way. Uncontrolled anger can take a toll on both your health and your relationships. How do you deal with your anger?

Here are 10 anger management tips to help you along:

No. 1: Take a timeout
Counting to 10 isn’t just for kids. Before reacting to a tense situation, take a few moments to breathe deeply and count to 10. Slowing down can help defuse your temper. If necessary, take a break from the person or situation until your frustration subsides a bit.

No. 2: Once you’re calm, express your anger
As soon as you’re thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but non confrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.

No. 3: Get some exercise
Physical activity can provide an outlet for your emotions, especially if you’re about to erupt. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other favorite physical activities. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out.

No. 4: Think before you speak
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something you’ll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything — and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.

No. 5: Identify possible solutions
Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child’s messy room drive you crazy? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening — or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Remind yourself that anger won’t fix anything, and might only make it worse.

No. 6: Stick with ‘I’ statements
To avoid criticizing or placing blame — which might only increase tension — use “I” statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, “I’m upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes,” instead of, “You never do any housework.”

No. 7: Don’t hold a grudge
Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want at all times.

No. 8: Use humour to release tension
Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Don’t use sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.

No. 9: Practice relaxation skillsWhen your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as, “Take it easy.” You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.

No. 10: Know when to seek help
Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Consider seeking help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you. You might explore local anger management classes or anger management counselling. With professional help, you can:
• Learn what anger is
• Identify what triggers your anger
• Recognize signs that you’re becoming angry
• Learn to respond to frustration and anger in a controlled, healthy way
• Explore underlying feelings, such as sadness or depression

Anger management classes and counselling can be done individually, with your partner or other family members, or in a group. Request a referral from your doctor to a counsellor specializing in anger management, or ask family members, friends or other contacts for recommendations. Your health insurer, employee assistance program (EAP), clergy, or state or local agencies also might offer recommendations.
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/anger-management/MH00102

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Conversations with Myself: Muscle Atrophy

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A few years ago I started noticing a loss of muscle function. Numerous trips to the doctor (GP) yielded no results. After a fall down a few stairs and spending a week in hospital having three bone scans and an MRI still yielded no results. Not being able to attach a label to my problem, I was made to believe (by the medical profession) that it was all in my head.

I eventually sort the help of an excellent Physiotherapist who has been helping me to regain the use of my muscles but even when I mentioned the possibility of muscle atrophy to her, she immediately assumed I was referring to muscular dystrophy and dismissed my question because she said muscular dystrophy would have been picked up a lot earlier in life. The possibility of muscular atrophy still bugged me and has been sitting at the back of my mind for a long time.

Today, I decided to Google Muscle Atrophy and this is what I found:
• Muscle atrophy is the wasting or loss of muscle tissue (turns out my assumption was not that far off track)
• There are two types of muscle atrophy: Disuse atrophy occurs from lack of physical activity (which is why I suspected I had it – but of course, I was told it was all in my head). According to Google: in most people, muscle atrophy is caused by not using the muscles enough (true in every sense of the word in my case – hence my suspicion). People with seated jobs, medical conditions that limit their movement, or decreased activity levels can lose muscle tone and develop atrophy (all true in my case hence the reason for my suspicion).
• This type of atrophy can be reversed with exercise and better nutrition (which is exactly what I am trying to do right now).
• The most severe type of muscle atrophy is neurogenic atrophy – I will not go into this because this does not apply in my case.
• Although people can adapt to muscle atrophy, even minor muscle atrophy usually causes some loss of movement or strength.
• Causes – some muscle atrophy occurs normally with aging – other causes may include (among others) not moving (immobilization), Osteoarthritis (I’m only mentioning these because they are the only ones which apply to my situation).
• Home care – an exercise programme (under the direction of a therapist or doctor) is recommended to help treat muscle atrophy.

This may include exercises in water to reduce the muscle workload, and other types of rehabilitation. (my programme consists of water therapy twice per week and a Personal Trainer three times per week).

So all this was not just “in my head” after all. I was experiencing real problems which actually had a name. Just because the people I consulted did not know what it was did not mean it does not exist.

Listen to your body and don’t give up until you find the answers you are looking for. Somewhere out there you will find answers. Just don’t give up until you find them.
References: Chinnery PF. Muscle Diseases. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine . 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011: chap 429.http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/symptoms/muscle-atrophy/overview.html

Conversations with myself: Finding time to think?

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I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel that our lives become so “busy” with things to do, places to go, people to see, it is often difficult to find the time to just be quiet and allow yourself time to think.

Often we rush to get to work after sitting in traffic, it’s a mad rush from the time we walk into the office until we leave, we rush to get through the traffic to get home and as soon as we open the front door to the house, more demands are made on us by those waiting for us at home – a crisis to sort out, dinner/children’s homework or maybe just someone waiting to tell us what they have done or where they have been for the day. By the time we have a few minutes to ourselves, it is usually very late (after everyone else has gone to bed), we are able to take a deep breath and just sit . . . breathe . . . and relax.

How can we make use of these few minutes before bed to get the maximum out of our day?

Directed thinking activities:
Write: you don’t know what you’re thinking till you write it down. Writing is not always about the written output; it’s about the thinking that happens as you attempt to communicate. You do not have to share your writing with others for it to be time well spent.

You could start a journal (diary), a blog post or just keep a book at your bedside exclusively to jot down your thoughts for the day. You could even start a Gratitude Journal if you like.

Read a book: It’s not about the content of what you’re reading – it’s about the quiet time you’re spending by yourself. Reading is not about reading: it’s about thinking. It’s about hearing yourself think.

When last have you read a book? What book are you reading right now?

Undirected thinking activities:
Drive to and from the office/take a dog for a walk/take extra long shower or bath: you’re free from distraction, engaged in a monotonous activity that does not require active focus, and you’re in a different environment. A perfect place for creative thought.

What works for me is I have a little spiral notebook with a pen stuck into the spine of the book which I keep in my handbag to jot down any thoughts I have while driving (I wait until I’m standing at a traffic light to jot down what I’m thinking) or while I’m waiting for someone travelling with me. I find this is also perfect for jotting down a website address printed on a vehicle that I’m interested in finding out more about.

Stare out of aeroplane windows: Introspective reflections helped along by the flow of the landscape. When travelling I do the best I can to ensure that I get a window seat so I can be “alone with my thoughts” while travelling.

Organise your office/room/house: Tidy up documents, pick up around the floor, re-arrange books, it’s an excellent start to serious thinking. This one does not prompt serious thinking for me but it usually gives me new ideas to try out either prompted by a piece of paper which needs to be filed or thrown away.

What works for you? What gets your thinking/creative juices flowing?

Conversations with myself: When I grow up, I want to be a Community Paralegal

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I’m thinking of becoming a Community Paralegal. Why, I hear you asking?

Paralegals who are less expensive and more accessible than lawyers are able to empower the poor and marginalised in their interactions with Police, Prosecutors and the Courts.

Paralegals are able to deliver a critical service, particularly in the early stages of the criminal justice process. They are able to provide primary legal aid services which no one else is providing, which, in turn, can eliminate unnecessary pre-trial detention, the speedy processing of cases, diversion of young offenders, and reduce case backlogs.

Paralegals can play a valuable role in reducing prison overcrowding by locating the family members of pre-trial detainees and facilitating bail hearings.

AT THE POLICE STATION:
Using their knowledge of the law and the circumstances of their client, Paralegals can identify individuals who are eligible and suitable for release from the Police Station, and assist them accordingly. In doing so, they gather and provide information to the Police about whether those arrested fulfil legal criteria for pre-trial release.

Paralegals who work at Police Stations can assist in verifying the identities and location of relatives and others who may assist the one arrested. The regular presence of a Paralegal at a Police Station is also likely to moderate any tendency of Police Officers to mistreat those arrested or to demand a bribe. Police Stations are also the most effective points for identifying and diverting juvenile suspects who might otherwise be classified and processed as adults.

AT COURT:
A trained Paralegal who has interviewed an unrepresented detainee before a court hearing is able to advise the person being detained about the right to apply for bail (if applicable) and to gather facts that are relevant to such an application, i.e. the names of relatives who may be able to raise bail or act as sureties. Paralegals may even speak for those arrested at pre-trial hearings or be allowed to speak for an indigent defendant on matters of bail.

Paralegals can improve the quality of self-representation among defendants, especially during the pre-trial phase of the criminal justice process. This can be done through awareness raising and education on self-representation, demystifying the court process through role playing on what to expect in court, and providing guidance on the bail process and the grounds on which judicial officers typically base their pre-trial release/detention decisions.

This could result in accused persons becoming more active players and partners in the administration of justice, resulting in more successful bail applications at court.

AT PRISON:
Where the accused has not been given or offered bail and are in pre-trial detention awaiting the next court hearing, Paralegals can assist them in preparing and lodging bail applications. Paralegals who work in prisons can either train prisoners individually or offer group workshops in preparing bail applications, court procedures in general, court etiquette and other options for getting representation by a lawyer for themselves.

In addition to this advisory service, Paralegals can also search for relatives of those detained to inform them of where the detained person is and to establish who will be able to assist the detainee in being released on bail.

As part of their prison-based work, Paralegals could also identify pre-trial detainees whose warrants of arrest have expired, who have been in pre-trial detention longer than the statutory maximum allowed, who wish to plead guilty and those who are terminally ill. The Paralegals can bring these detainees to the attention of the relevant Investigating Officers, Prosecutors and Magistrates.

Paralegals can play an increasingly important role in enhancing access to justice for accused persons and criminal suspects.