Brian Zirngible - Boob Ross inspired painting

How watching Bob Ross can help ease your Anxiety

Bob Ross had his own TV show, The Joy of Painting on PBS in the 80s and 90s in which he taught painting techniques. His show is currently streaming on and of course you can always visit his youtube channel to watch episodes.

Here is why Bob is so awesome:

  1. Calming and Soothing Voice
    Most people point to the calm and soothing voice of Bob Ross that helps them relax. When engaging in relaxation exercises calm and soothing noises are essential to help us relax which is why nature sounds are often played in relaxation videos and soft instrumental music. By nature we respond positively to these types of noises which is why mothers and fathers “shhhhh” their babies to sleep or just to calm down.
  2.  Empowerment
    Bob Ross encourages creativity.  Your decision is the best and it is good. “Whatever you feel to be right is right.” Bob Ross encourages you to make your own decisions and to flow with the techniques he teaches. This helps you to feel empowered and in control. Gaining control is what people with anxiety feel they are lacking. When you are encouraged and empowered you feel in control of your decisions and your life which allows anxiety to dissipate.
  3. Personification of Nature
    “Happy” trees…. “tired” branches. Trees have friends and babies and he talks to the trees.
    Personification helps to promote connectedness with nature that is calming. Personification strikes our empathy bone and as we relate to the “happy” trees and bushes we embody to that happy feeling and feel it as our own.
  4. Reminder to be mindful
    Bob Ross’s attention to detail reminds us to practice mindfulness by noticing the mountains, the leaves, the colors, the water, the ripples and the stillness…. Just sit back and notice without judgement. These are great grounding techniques that help us to feel calm and safe.
  5. “Being” in nature
    Even though you may be in your living room watching him paint nature, the TV show simulates a natural experience of how peaceful and relaxing nature can be. This can put your mind in a positive place as if you were in nature and have similar relaxing effects. It also helps us to remind ourselves to be in nature more and recognize the magic of how we feel being a part of it.
    6. He reminds us the joy of simplicity
    The painting techniques that are taught on this how are simple and “doable” for anyone to learn, practice, and become proficient in. Anxiety has a way to complicate things but going into complicated “what if” worries, worst case scenarios, and negative assumptions and outcomes. Therefore the best medicine to combat complicated anxious thoughts are to bring in the opposite by focusing on the simple and carefree techniques. This can be generalized to life and not just paintings. Instead of being anal about creating a perfect tree you “let the brush do the work.” This can be generalized to stop worrying about every detail, but enjoy the overall product when your done rather than focusing on making “a perfect leaf.”
    7. The purpose is to be happy
    Bob Ross reminds us to be happy in whatever we do (and not just painting). He reminds us to enjoy the process and every aspect of the journey rather than focusing just on the goal. He encourages us not to be consumed with “doing it right” but doing it your way and whatever way that is that makes you happy. He reminds us to put life into perspective, be joyful, and enjoy the little moments.

So if you’re feeling anxious, need some grounding, or practice relaxation, watch Bob Ross and let your anxiety melt away!

You don't HAVE to be happy ALL the time. A blog about feelings

You don’t HAVE to be happy ALL the time

I am an advocate for re-framing negative thinking, use of positive affirmations, self-compassion and all the wonderful strategies to eliminate the negative and bring in the positive.  I see SO MANY positive memes out there on social media encouraging us to be grateful, thankful and happy.  In many ways this is a great reminder to put life into perspective and challenge that negative demon inside our brains.

The problem is that sometimes people take this to mean that they “shouldn’t be sad” or angry, disappointed, anxious, etc… So what do you do when you believe that you shouldn’t feel a certain way?  Stuff the feeling and replace it with the recommended feelings – happiness, gratitude, joy, love, etc. It is healthy to NOT become STUCK in negative emotions, but what happens when we don’t allow ourselves to feel them… or even worse, feel guilt or shame about feeling them!?!

The outcome of stuffed feelings can look different on different people and I can tell you it usually doesn’t turn out well.  Sometimes people stuff their feelings so that when the cup overflows they take it out on someone else. Other times they take it out on themselves and even a surge of uncontrollable symptoms appear (like a panic attack).  When done over and over again people can show signs of depression, anxiety, relationship problems, and other issues.

People can stuff for days, months, years, decades… I’ve seen a lot of stuffing in my therapy sessions.

So my goal of this post is to say….  Stop Stuffing and Start Feeling!

EWWWW Feeling!!!! Yuck.

I hear you.  Feeling isn’t the best thing in the world… good stuff maybe.. bad stuff not so much.  Feeling feelings is hard work, exhausting and downright UNCOMFORTABLE!

So How do I even begin to feel feelings?

Start small!  I’m a supporter of small steps as learned about in “What about Bob?

Allow yourself to feel a little bit and when it gets just outside your comfort zone engage yourself in some relaxation and calm down again.  Then feel some more outside your comfort zone and calm yourself down again. Every time a feeling arises and you allow yourself to feel just past the comfort zone before relaxing, you slowly increasing your tolerance for emotion!

Now, there is no need to work yourself up and make yourself uncomfortable.  Life is good about giving us plenty of opportunities to feel shitty.  So when an opportunity comes your way, feel the feels and then go to your “calm place.” Slowly build that window.

When the feelings come in, the healing can begin.
Use affirmations, be compassionate to yourself, change your negative thoughts, but don’t let these skills stop you from feeling your feelings. Ignored feelings fester and turn into bigger problems.  Go past your comfort zone and allow the wave of emotion to ebb and flow.  Ride the uncomfortable roller coaster toward healing.

stop shoulding on yourself

Stop Shoulding on Yourself

Are you tired of scrolling facebook and seeing countless articles about how you SHOULD or SHOULDN’T be living your life?  I know I was and actually stopped following major blogging sites as a result.  I noticed I was feeling worse and the culprit wasn’t facebook envy.

I have a pet peeve with blog posts that contain the word “should.”  Especially posts that are intended to HELP people, but using the word should only passes negative judgment.  In starting my blogging adventure I vowed to myself to never use the word should in a title…. except for this fun variation ;-)

Should is a nasty word

It’s filled with negative judgement and shame.

“I should have done this/that” or “I shouldn’t have done this/that”

“Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda but didn’t”

I’m not exactly sure where this quote originates from other than from my brother.  He used to say it every time I stared “shoulding” on myself when I was younger.  I suppose it was the brotherly way to say, “What’s done is done, learn from your mistakes and move on.”

Now I’m NOT saying that no one makes mistakes…. it’s just that we can phrase things slightly differently and by doing so it has a surprising effect on our mood…..

What sounds better?

1. “I shouldn’t have eaten that bag of chips”

2. “I don’t feel good about eating that bag of chips.  Next time I will eat less to avoid feeling this way”

The first one is a JUDGEMENT on yourself.  Whereas the second sentence is not judgmental but yet an observation of the consequence of eating the bag of chips.  By observing the situation we can better LEARN from the mistake and work on acting differently to CHANGE the emotional response.

It might sound silly to some people, but by working to cut out or reduce these negative/judgmental words, depression symptoms will lessen and you will begin to feel better about yourself.

Try This:

Talk to yourself as if you were talking to a friend

We don’t should on our friends…. (sometimes we do) but often times when we are trying to be kind and compassionate to our friend who is shoulding on themselves, we help them see the positive, or help them reword their mistake to be less judgmental.

Therefore most people already possess the skill to change their thought patterns and negative self talk as demonstrated by doing it with others.  We just need to start practicing it on ourselves.

Next time you hear your voice shoulding on yourself, stop and think for a minute.  How can I reword this?  Is shoulding on myself helping me?

Answer: No it isn’t.  It is only make me feel WORSE.  How can I learn from my mistake? Move forward… and be happy :)