Identifying & Preventing Vulnerabilities
Presented by: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes  Executive Director, AllCEUs
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox & Happiness isn’t Brain Surgery
Author: Journey to Recovery (2015) & Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery (2017)

The video version of this presentation as well as worksheets are available at DocSnipes.com

Objectives
•    Define vulnerabilities
•    Identify some of the most common vulnerabilities
•    Their effects
•    Ways to prevent them

~    Note: Each of the vulnerabilities has its own presentation.  This section is designed to give you an overview and get you thinking about possible small changes that might have  a big impact.
Why I Care/How It Impacts Recovery
~    Vulnerabilities are situations or things that
~    Make it more difficult to deal with life on life’s terms leading to depression, anxiety or “stress”
~    Make it easier for you to over-react or get stuck
~    Depression occurs if you feel helpless or hopeless
~    Anxiety occurs if you feel powerless or out of control
~    Addictive behaviors increase when you feel a need to escape because of stress, anxiety, depression or pain
Individual Vulnerabilities: Physical
~    Pain
~    Effects
~    Sleep problems
~    Difficulty concentrating
~    Irritable mood
~    Medications are depressants and can worsen all of the above
~    Interventions
~    Talk with your doctor
~    Explore nonpharmacological interventions
Individual Vulnerabilities: Physical
~    Poor nutrition
~    Your body needs the building blocks to
~    Recover from injury
~    Keep you from getting sick
~    Make happy chemicals
~    Interventions
~    Water…. 60 ounces per day
~    Have three colors on your plate at each meal (condiments don’t count)
~    Try to eat smaller meals every few hours
Individual Vulnerabilities: Physical
~    Lack of sufficient, quality sleep
~    Drug/alcohol induced sleep is rarely good quality
~    Lack of Sleep Effects
~    Fogginess
~    Difficulty concentrating
~    Irritability
~    Over eating
~    Interventions
~    Develop a sleep routine
~    Cut back on caffeine 6-12 hours before bed.
Individual Vulnerabilities: Physical
~    Illness
~    Effects
~    Sleep disruption
~    Exhaustion
~    Foggy head/difficulty concentrating
~    Irritability
~    Interventions
~    Compassion
~    Good nutrition

Individual Vulnerabilities: Physical
~    Brain changes
~    Brain changes can be
~    Hereditary
~    From an accident
~    As a result of addictive behaviors
~    Effects
~    Changes in the structure of the brain have all kinds of effects including memory, concentration, and mood.
~    Intervention
~    Eat a good diet to give the body the necessary building blocks
~    Get adequate quality rest
~    Medication

Individual Vunerabilities: Emotional
~    Anger
~    Anxiety
~    Depression
~    Grief
~    Guilt
~    Jealousy
~    Resentment
~    Inability to self-soothe

Individual Vunerabilities: Emotional
~    When you are feeling negative emotions
~    Effects
~    It causes the brain to keep the fight-or-flight reaction going (which takes energy)
~    It lacks or prevents the happy, calming neurotransmitters from being excreted
~    Interventions
~    Develop coping skills to deal with them
~    Insert positive/rewarding experiences
~    Get plenty of rest
~    Eat a healthy diet
~    Exercise

Individual Vulnerabilities: Mental/Cognitive
~    Global, internal, stable attributional style
~    Effects
~    When everything is always it adds extra stress
~    When anything that happens reflects on you as a person, it adds extra stress
~    Interventions
~    Focus on things being specific and alterable
~    Identify what is good about you as a person
~    Explore the difference between what makes you a good person vs your skills
Individual Vulnerabilities: Mental/Cognitive
~    Extremely external or internal locus of control
~    Both situations add stress
~    Effects
~    External locus of control means you feel you have no control over anything
~    Internal locus of control means you feel like you should be able to control everything.
~    Interventions
~    Identify what things you can control and use your energy for them
~    Figure out how you are going to cope with things you cannot control
Individual Vulnerabilities: Mental/Cognitive
~    Low Self-esteem
~    Self esteem is how you feel about who you are compared with who you think you should be
~    Effects
~    Low self-esteem can cause people to feel helpless or not deserving of love or success
~    Interventions
~    Explore what characteristics you think you should have but do not
~    Decide if they are important.
~    Decide what to do about it.

Individual Vulnerabilities: Mental/Cognitive
~    Negative perceptions/cognitive style
~    Effects
~    Seeing the world as negative, depressing, out of control or scary makes life more stressful
~    If you see everything as negative (not rewarding) you will not want to do anything
~    Interventions
~    Look for the silver lining:  When you start to think about something as negative, find the positive
~    Look for exceptions
Individual Vulnerabilities: Mental/Cognitive
~    Poor organization/time management
~    Poor time management effects
~    It can lead to being over committed
~    It cause people to feel rushed/harried
~    It can cause people to forget to do things leading to conflict
~    Interventions
~    Make a list of must-dos at the beginning of every week
~    Stop saying yes right away
~    Identify and address time sucks

Individual Vulnerabilities: Social
~    Poor communication skills
~    Effects
~    Impedes you from stating your needs
~    May cause misunderstandings
~    Can hurt your relationships
~    Interventions
~    Learn about effective verbal and nonverbal communication
~    Don’t assume you understand what the other person is talking about

Individual Vulnerabilities: Social
~    Weak emotional boundaries
~    Effects
~    You may have difficulty feeling happy unless those around you are happy
~    You may take everyone else’s bad mood personally
~    Interventions
~    Examine why it is not safe to feel how you feel
~    Start paying attention to your wants, needs and feelings

Individual Vulnerabilities: Social
~    Need for external validation
~    Effects
~    Not feeling okay unless you are constantly surrounded by people who tell you you are okay
~    Interventions
~    Identify why you are okay
~    Look at why you need other people to validate you and work on that.
Apply It
~    Identify 3 ways you could have used this information in the past week.
~    What vulnerabilities did you have in the last week?
~    What impact did it have on you?
~    If you would have had this new information, what could you have done differently?
~    How would that have changed the outcome?
~    How can you start integrating this knowledge into your routine
Summary
~    Addressing vulnerabilities frees up energy so you can deal with other “stuff” that comes your way
~    Eliminating vulnerabilities can help you feel less stressed, exhausted and overwhelmed all the time
~    Persistent vulnerabilities are the first relapse warning sign (HALT)
~    Being mindful of when you are vulnerable and taking positive steps to address it are crucial to recovery success.
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