Living life, paying bills, raising kids, navigating work issues, and so much more are the things that make our lives challenging and stressful. When faced with all this, it becomes clear why we need a break from time to time. Taking time to indulge our hobbies or activities to reduce our stress is wonderful, but also requires a chunk of time that we may only be able to carve out once a day or even less. The drudgery of life would become virtually unbearable if we didn’t have some quick fixes along the way. One of the best and easiest is laughter. Our amazing brains have evolved to see and appreciate all the ironies, foibles, and follies that make us human. Whether it is recognizing the absurd, appreciating the silly, or enjoying the hyperbole; these are the things that bring smiles to our faces and cause us to expel joyous laughter. It’s important that we do not take ourselves or life too seriously. We need only to watch a few old episodes of Star Trek and watch Mr. Spock to see how sterile, bland, and joyless life is when we are too pragmatic and logical. Laughter is part of what brings color and brightness to our life experiences. Laughter also has countless positive health benefits. Laughter has been found to boost our immune system, relax muscles, improve circulation, and prevent heart disease. Laughter is also great for our mental health in that it can reduce anxiety, re read more
Part Three: Proactive Tools for Anxiety
In the last two articles, we talked about the physiological chain reaction that occurs with anxiety and some of the reactive tools that we can employ to mitigate the escalation of anxiety at a physiological level and keep that anxiety from building or culminating into a full-blown panic attack. In this article, we are going to discuss how we go about keeping the anxiety from ever manifesting in the first place.
Principles of Proactive Tools
The primary goal with proactive tools is to intervene at the source of the anxiety where it is originating. As we alluded to in the previous articles about anxiety, most anxiety is originating at the cognitive level. By this, we mean, that it starts with our thinking, perceptions, and interpretations. When we arrive at conclusions that are anxiety-provoking interpretations, this triggers the emotions of anxiety, and from there activates a physiological response and drives our behaviors. When we teach people how to control and check their thinking and conclusions, they end up of having far less anxiety over time.
The Brain is a Noisy Place
Most people will agree that our minds are filled with a running stream of consciousness that some of us refer to as our inner dialogue. Most people feel like they are simply along for the ride when it comes to their thinking. The brain just read more
Even during the best of times life is full of stressors and challenges. It is difficult dealing with the competing demands of work, finances, relationships, kids, parents, and trying to do a little something for yourself. Nearly 20% of American’s will be faced with a clinical depression or anxiety disorder at sometime in their lives. read more
The COVID-19 crisis has affected life as we all know it. The entire world is hunkering down to do their best to slow the spread and impact of COVID-19. As a result of these extreme measures, everyone’s world and sense of normalcy has evaporated. Everyone is struggling to stay informed, engage in safe practices, figures out logistics of work and schedules, remain calm, and still try to be a good parent. Parenting is a difficult job under the best of circumstances, with these added stressors many parents are finding themselves with very little fuel left in the tank for parenting demands. Children and adolescents, just like adults, thrive on routine and schedules. Just as our lives have been upended, so has our kids. They are struggling to adapt as best they can, and some are doing it with more grace than others. Many parents are finding that they are at a loss for words when it comes to trying to explain this crisis to their children. It might not be quite as bad as talking to your kids about sex and drugs, but it is not much easier. What follows are some tips and suggestions for handling and talking to your kids about the COVID crisis.
- Normalize Feelings: It’s important to have our feelings validated by others. We all seek this out and it holds true for your children as well. Regardless of age, your children need to hear that it is normal and
For decades we have heard about the hardships and tragedies around the globe from the relative safety and calm of our own personal lives. For the first time ever all of humankind is faced with a very real and serious threat all at one time. The whole world is hunkering down in an effort to escape this coronavirus. We are faced with a whole new stress that threatens our physical wellbeing and that of the people we love. Although humans are adaptable as we have all demonstrated over the last several weeks, it is not without its toll. We are all wrestling with the stress and worry about contracting this virus and have made great changes to our lifestyles to keep ourselves healthy. As a social creature keeping our distance from friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even family limits the comfort and support we naturally derive from being with each other. We are isolating and alienating ourselves from the people we very much want to be with for our own mental and emotional needs. In short, we are struggling to cope with the possibility of contracting the coronavirus and at the same time trying to cope with the lack of connection and support we would usually seek to cope with this type of stressful situation. On top of feeling scared and lonely most of us have been forced to deal with a lot of change on top of the stress of isolation. Our children are no longer going to school or daycar read more
What is Burn Out?
Burn out is no longer a trendy descriptor for how you might feel, it has now been classified as a legitimate condition by the World Health Organization (WHO). Burn out is categorically different than the usual stress that we all feel. Stress produces feelings of frustration and anxiety but is often short-lived and tied to a specific event or circumstance that resolves in a short period of time. Burn out, on the other hand, is a longer-term state of mental, emotional and sometimes physical exhaustion. This often evolves from prolonged or repeated stressors. People are often left feeling overwhelmed and struggle to meet life’s demands and can develop a negative or cynical outlook toward their stressors. There are three types of burn out:
- Organizational Burn Out: This occurs when there is a mismatch between the person and their job or work environment. For some people, this could be hours that are too long, work that is monotonous, or work that is not aligned with your sense of purpose.
- Interpersonal Burn Out: This can evolve from difficult relationships at work, with family, or a romantic partner. Burn out could manifest from dealing with a difficult coworker, a strained and dysfunctional marriage, unhealthy family relations, or even the taxing impact of caring for others such as elderly parents, oft
Antidepressants have been around since the 1950’s and have a number of applications. Most people assume they are simply used for depression, but many people don’t realize how often they are used to treat anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and social anxiety. They have also been shown to have some success with issues like anorexia and trichotillomania, which is a hair pulling disorder. According to results from the National Center for Health Statistics 12% of the U.S. population used antidepressants in the past month. With the stigma surrounding mental health declining over the past 20 years, more people are seeking help for their issues and this has resulted in a 64% increase in people using antidepressants since 1999. Research says 20% of the population (1 in 5 people) will struggle with some kind of depression or anxiety at some time in their lives. For this reason, it is important to know how these medications work and how effective they are.
What are the different types of anti-depressants?
There are three different types of antidepressants, which all work differently. The Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA’s) are the oldest and first generation of antidepressants. These were commonly prescribed up through the 1980s. Although they help with depression and anxiety, the side effects are difficult for a lot of people to tolerate. The TCA’s of read more
Many of you have heard the name Maslow and may have a vague recollection of his Hierarchy of Needs theory and model. It is a concept put forth by a psychologist named Abraham Maslow. He introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” and detailed his idea in his subsequent 1954 book Motivation and Personality. His theory states that we have a set of needs that drive our behavior as humans. As the needs at each level are met or achieved, we become driven by the next set of needs in the hierarchy. Those needs at the bottom of the hierarchy are fundamental to survival and then evolve to become more social and psychological in nature as they progress through the model (Maslow, 1943). Let’s go over the different needs in the hierarchy depicted below.
Figure 1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Physiological Needs -The first and most primal needs are those at the bottom of the hierarchy, which is imminent to our survivread more
Can You Use Will Power to Get Rid of Depression or Addiction?
Will power, or what others would refer to as self-control, is the ability to control and subdue our impulses, emotions, and behaviors. It is one of the critical skills that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. When it comes to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, or behavioral compulsions like drinking and gambling, many people believed it was a character weakness of will power. Not even 10 years ago, we routinely heard many clients struggling with great amounts of guilt and shame for even showing up in our offices for help. They assumed they should be able to exert some power of will and simply stop being depressed or stop drinking compulsively. This notion has been rather old fashioned and outdated for some time, yet the number of people who still think this way is shocking. Baby boomers and the generation before them grew up in an era where you “pulled yourself up by your bootstraps” and “let things roll off your back”. Those generations propelled our society forward in many ways with the idea that dedication and hard work could accomplish anything.
Fortunately, research and education of the public at large has helped most people rearead more
Impact of Caregivers Stress
It is estimated that 34 million Americans are providing unpaid care to an adult that is 50 or more years old. 66% of caregivers are women. Being a caregiver might include tasks such as shopping, providing transportation, or help with cleaning, or could be much more involved and include grooming, bathing, managing finances, feeding, or assistance with dressing and toileting. Although most people willingly become caregivers and find much reward in being able to help care for the ones they love, it does not come without a price. The toll is physical, mental, and emotional for most caregivers, sometimes to the point of exhaustion. They often feel like they are on call 24/7 and end up neglecting themselves in the process of being a caregiver. Compounding this stress for many is the sad reality of watching loved ones slowly deteriorate despite all your efforts.
It is vital to get the physical and emotional support you need as a caregiver, or you run the risk of becoming susceptible to any number of problems. Some of the common signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout include: feeling anxious, depressed, irritable, fatigued, troubled sleep, poor concentration, feelings of resentment, neglecting your own responsibilities, low energy, increased drinking or smoking, and less eread more