Reflection on Grad school Anxieties

IMG_4668.JPGI like to post different topics here and it was time to post about ABA and the past few days I have been brainstorming and trying  to come up with what to post and then tonight happened. In class we were vulnerable and trusted each other.

I am beginning my last year of grad school. This year we are focusing on intensive practicum and capstone project. I am adjusting to the rigor of juggling multiple classes at once on top of work (ABA & YL) and personal life.

This is the second week of the semester and already getting to know my “cohort” was very eye opening. I go to Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) and it is an online program. So we were video chatting and getting to know each other and our backgrounds. I am so thankful to have my professor (actually many of professors and instructors are wonderful!) for the capstone project and intensive practicum because he keeps it real. Tonight while introducing ourselves a few of us talked about our feelings and one that popped up multiple times was anxiety.

He dug a little deeper and wanted to talk to us more about this. It was eye opening and inspiring, the stories I heard tonight from colleagues. My professor wanted to define anxiety in terms of ABA- it was amazing. He said that Anxiety is the fear of the unknown- that Skinner classifies this as a conditioned response and that it has antecedent functions and a history of punishing consequences (what happens immediately after the behavior that either decreases or increase the behavior occurring in the future) for the behavior/ emotion. Basically what this means is that we feel anxious because of the unknown and in the past the unknown had negative consequences that decreased the behavior. (I will get a blog post on ABA Basics soon!)

He wanted us to  think about new functions(the why a behavior) to the antecedent (what happens immediately before the behavior)  and gave us an example of a rock climber. And how the unknown of rock climbing can lead to anxiety but can also be humors and fun. It’s true- I’ve indoor rock climbed before and the first time I was anxious because of the unknown but I was still able to have fun and keep trying and figuring out new ways to try and make it to the top. He talked about inviting in the discomfort and laughing through the process. Who I am changes depending on the contingencies. Learning contingency of reinforcement-  Skinner calls this the hot learning. Basically meaning that you learn from experiencing the stove is hot by touching it. ouch! haha

I know this year will be challenging and a lot of work but I am sure it will bring new perspectives for me in the field and I will grow to be a better person/ Professional Behavior Analyst throughout it.

He talked about being gentle with ourselves, to admit when we need help. He talked about turning fear into curiosity. It was such an inspiring space where we were able to really reflect inward and be vulnerable with each other. Something else mentioned was thinking about “where do I go to hide from fear.” This I will need to reflect more deeply upon.

So much of tonights conversations resonated with me and was truly synchronicity. Time to up my self care game! Posted is a photo from todays visit to the beach. I love to go to parks and beaches in between seeing clients. I make sure to add time to meditate, unwind during this time as well as be productive with studying or working on other things.

Positive Coping Skills

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It is so important to learn positive coping skills. As a child I do not remember explicitly learning these positive coping skills but I’m sure I learned the basics “breathe” and “take a break” these are things that everyone can benefit from- no matter how old or how young. Currently I use my background in behavior and essential oils to help supplement and support my coping skills.

Life is full of ups and downs- both joys and growing pains. For myself I feel like my early college years (it took my 12 years to complete my B.A in Human Development but thats a story for another time about resilience) were a time where I was fully exposed to labeling and identifying these coping skills. Sure, we’ve been told to breathe when we are mad or to take a break but I never really understood the importance of finding coping skills that worked for me. I began going to therapy and was given some tools (coping skills) to use during stressful and overwhelming times. I felt like there was much for me to explore to help me cope. I learned to not be discouraged if you feel like something is not working for you, it takes practice and if you do feel like after some time you still aren’t feeling it then try and explore something else.

I am thankful that my dear friend has allowed me to share this info graphic with you. Please take a look at it and then follow along as I give examples of what I do for each.

Distraction: I allow myself a time frame to give myself a break this is so that I don’t go overboard and have my distraction become avoidance behaviors.  A great distraction for me is playing with my dog, walking my dog(really anything with my dog he is truly my emotional support animal), watching a light hearted or funny show, or cleaning (I feel so much better when my space is not cluttered and dirty).

A young living essential oil (YL EO): Lemon, Stress Away or Peace and Calming I or II

A behavioral tip: is using priming or using a timer to a lot myself the time and prompt myself when it is over.

Grounding: Something that works for me is practicing yoga- I follow youtube videos because they can be done at anytime from home, guided meditations from apps or online or going right outside my home or out in nature like to the park or beach.

A young living essential oil (YL EO): Grounding, or Frankincense, or Lavender

A behavioral tip: is using a visual prompt for the meditation or a reminder on my phone as a prompt to remember, environmental arrangements: placing my yoga mat out for easy access.

Emotional Release: Let’s be real. I’m a cryer. always have been and always will be. I found that after a good cry in the shower I feel sooooo much better. Something about the water washing away my tears and the sound and feel of the water is soothing. When I am feeling upset or down or basically anything besides happy I look for things that make me laugh whether it is from watching a show or looking up memes and funny shorts online. I just need a good laugh. Hugs! i love hugs! getting a nice long hug can be so beneficial to me.

A young living essential oil (YL EO): Surrender or Orange

A behavioral tip: Prime yourself- allow yourself a time frame to let it all out this could be a half hour, a day, a week, etc. be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to feel these emotions and then let them go when they no longer serve you.

Access your higher self: Meditating, praying, sending out loving kindness, and doing random acts of kindness. This is something I don’t feel as confident about writing about because I am exploring this still.

A young living essential oil (YL EO): Frankincense, Gratitude or Humility, or Highest Potential

A behavioral tip: Environmental arrangement: place these oils in a easy access spot for you to notice them and be prompted to use them.

Thought Challenge: I work on identifying negative self talk and reframe it or repeat affirmations to myself. An example of some negative talk that rotates is that “I am not good enough” when this comes up I immediately try to change it to “yes! I am good enough, I am enough.”

A young living essential oil (YL EO): Palo Santo, or Sage, or Grapefruit

A behavioral tip: Place post its all over your home with affirmations that you can read.

Self-love: YESSSSSS, I honor myself during times of stress and have learned to say “no” or “i can’t” when I just need time to myself to rest and recharge. This still becomes difficult for me because I have FOMO (fear of missing out) but I get over it because I need to honor what my body and self needs.

A young living essential oil (YL EO): Joy, or Lavender

A behavioral tip: Set up a jar where you can reinforcer yourself when you practice these positive coping skills use a dollar or how ever much you want at a time and when you accumulate enough you can use that money as an extra special Treat yo self fund- get a mani pedi, get a massage do something for your physical, emotional and spiritual self!

Hope this gives you ideas for moving forward with positive coping skills! Remember it takes time and practice to build these healthy habits. ❤

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