the healing journey counseling fl

healing, anxiety, loss, grief, depression, ptsd, self-care, suicide prevention, post partum depression

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Your Body on Anxiety

Our Daily Lives

Our lives matter and each day it becomes difficult to grasp our daily struggle. Our silence may be taken for-granted, but know that you are not alone.  Anxiety takes a toll on our body which seriously affects our health.  Let’s take some time to recognize what happens to our body when we are anxious.

When you first encounter anxiety:

  1. Throat- This becomes dry and the throat muscles tightens.
  2. Liver- There is a spike in your blood sugar levels that can be reabsorbed in the body.
  3. Skin reactions-  Our blood flow increases which causes some people to become more paler while others may be flush.
  4. Active Spleen- Your spleen discharges more red and white blood cells.
  5. Tense Muscles- Muscle immediately seize as a reflex action.

Long-term Anxiety

When you are dealing with anxiety for awhile it can affect the following:

  1. Heart- cardiovascular issues.
  2. Lungs- Weaker respiratory functions
  3. Brain- overworked nervous system and problems falling asleep.
  4. Immune system- Weakened immune system.
  5. Stomach and Digestive tract-  Digestion issues and changes in the metabolism.

Managing Anxiety

  1. Take some time for yourself- listen to music, journal, go for a walk, yoga, exercise, color, paint or learn an relaxation technique(My favorite go to is Meditation)
  2. Eat well-balanced meals- Do not skip  meals
  3. Limit alcohol and caffeine- Alcohol and caffeine can affect anxiety and triggers panic attacks. (Drink lots of water)
  4. Exercise daily- Exercising makes you feel good and overall it helps to release stress.
  5. Slowly count to 10
  6. Accept that you cant control everything.
  7. Volunteer and give back to your community.
  8. Get enough sleep- at least 8 hours per night.
  9. Be gentle with yourself
  10. Maintain a good attitude regardless of the situation.
  11. Learn what triggers your anxiety- work, family, school etc.
  12. Talk to someone

Links for mobile apps for anxiety:




American Psychological Association, The New York Times Health Guide. University of Maryland Medical Center, National Institute of Health, Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved on 9/21/17 from







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Our Mental Health Matters

Parenting and Self-care

Parenting can be very challenging and rewarding at the same time. How do you take time for yourself? Self-care is not selfish, but it’s one of the best things that you can do as a mother or father. Taking a break from the normal routine helps us to reflect and re-energize you so that you can take care of everyone else. Maintaining day to day activities often leaves very little time for mother or fathers to be able to relax, have fun and rest.

Parent must be ready at all times for their children which often causes burnout and makes things that could be everyday treasures feel like everyday chores. It is so important that parent start taking time for themselves which can be difficult if you cannot afford to do so. Parent may need to ask a family member to watch the kids etc. Whatever you need to do, make it happen.

In my home, I do have a hectic schedule which is flexible at times. After taking my daughter to high school, I take some time to schedule some me time which may include going to the nail shop, reading, meditation and simply listening to nature. My husband who is retired from the army often was away for weeks at a time and that we didn’t even see each other due to his demands at work.

It’s not self-fish to take some time for yourself, know that parents need self-care the most. Parents push themselves to the limit and often have no more energy for anything which causes a variety of issues that includes depression, anxiety and insomnia. So before you take a day off focus on sleeping, eating well and moving your body. At times, I would just schedule lunch with myself, yes by yourself and read in the coffee shop. Sometimes, we go the beach and just enjoy ourselves. It’s all about reconnecting yourself with nature and its various healing properties. Give yourselves permission to get away from the kids because kids will wear you out.

Some suggestion on how replenish your energy

  • Know your limits- It is okay to say no without feeling guilty. Set your boundaries and say no to things that are not important. Say yes to things that are rewarding and replenishing. For example, it’s okay to say no to another volunteer opportunity. (Yes, I am guilty of saying yes.) But, say yes to a lunch or dinner with a friend.
  • Get therapy- For me, I felt overwhelmed close to christmas and I just had to talk to someone to keep my sanity. I made the effort to get counseling while helped me to overcome my anxiety.
  • Find a new hobby – For me, I took up loom knitting with was fun at first or simple attending a cooking class. I also love to paint and color.
  • Set a firm goals Instead of setting a short-term goal why don’t you think about competing in a walk-a-thon that forces you to practice every week.
  • Ask for alone time in the house –  Yes, this may seem to be difficult, but just lock the door and let everyone know that you are taking sometime for yourself with no interruptions. (Side note- this worked for me for sometime and then I had several interruptions)
  • Take some time to be with your spouse-  Previous in the past, every Friday I would schedule a dinner date with my husband  without the kids. Of course, in my situation my children are older, but get a sitter and go out and enjoy yourselves.  This will force you to focus on each other which can be challenging for me at times. But, this is so important for your marriage. Remember, your kids need it, and you need it as well.

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Mindfulness and Motorcycling

There’s nothing like driving the open road with your engine roaring and wind blowing while viewing the amazing scenery as you accelerate your motorcycle. I heard that the rush that you get while on the motorcycle is very fulfilling and you rev the engine and the machine takes off. How is it that a motorcycle that looks so dangerous to me can also take you to a place of blissfulness. Many motorcycle riders keep on coming back to a place of pure enjoyment. With a sense of heightened awareness of the present moment, you can release all your attachment and surrender yourself to things that you cannot control. Mindful meditation is the act of noticing your thoughts, your body, your mind and your breath. Have you ever notice how you feel after someone gets you angry.  Did you ever stop, think and choose? Or did you just release the anger that you felt.

Riding motorcycle can be very dangerous and as a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern, I come to realize that mindfulness and riding a motorcycle are similar to each other. In our everyday life, we are feel anxious due to the fear that attached to us. We do not perform well at work, nor is our thinking clear, and we are not happy with ourselves. Rather, we become insecure, guarded or obsessed with our day-to-day issues that are smaller than the attention we feed them. We constantly judge ourselves and worry obsessively about often results in nothing. There is an alternative solution for  the way how we think.

Stop, Take a breath, Be Mindful..

Wait, what does that mean? We are so much involved in the day-to-day activities going through each moment and not recognizing the beauty of observing each moment. Paying attention to the amount of control that you have over your thoughts rather than focusing on the endless blow up your anxiety. Let go of thoughts that do you no justice but rob you of joy and happiness. Return your attention to your breath; inhale peace and exhale frustration. Feel the sensation of your breathing while placing your hands on your belly. Your mind may wander with a bunch of worrisome thoughts that tumbles around your head. But, the good things is it will stop …so take a deep breath, notice how your body feels and be mindful.

I didn’t say that it was easy to be stop, take a breath and be mindful. It takes a lot of practice and patience to learn how to get a hold of your mind wandering with anxious thoughts and feelings which will return. But you have a choose to choose what you will do with those thoughts, paying attention to what is going on around you rather than what is going on in your head. When we judge ourselves, we only substitute one anxious frame of thought with another. The brain learns nothing new.

When we practice mindfulness, we change the way how our brain interacts. Whenever you are riding a motorcycle, holding on to these fears can get you killed. The brain goes into panic and the body overreact. The solution to this is to stop the mental process, and take a deep breath. Be mindful. Check in with yourselves and remember that you are alive, breathing at this very moment and that you are okay.

Whenever you are riding, pay attention. Listen, notice your thoughts. Are they serving you? Do they reflect your reality? Take the opportunity to change your anxious autopilot and into mindful being. It takes a lot of repetition to let go and take the responsibility for your thoughts right now, in this present moment. Stop, Breathe Be mindful.

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Things Someone Should Have Told Me

Good read. Please share with other therapists

Go With That

I started seeing my first community mental health clients three years ago. On the day that I met my first clients at my internship, I was immediately aware that no part of my graduate education (or my life) prepared me to work with clients this unwell. My fellow interns were similarly shocked. My internship was an exercise in endurance. I survived, but the way I survived cost me something. Despite the fact that several prior generations of therapist have made this journey, I struggled to find resources to help me make sense of what I was seeing and experiencing. Is it this severe everywhere? When will I start to feel like I know what I’m doing? Wait, what am I doing? How can my clients get better? Is “better” even the right word? I feel like I am going crazy… is this normal? I resolved that if I ever found…

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Self care Tips for Counselors/Psychotherapist

The practice of psychotherapy can be very rewarding and psychotherapist spend several years making a positive impact on lives of  whom they work. However, this field can be very demanding and difficult at times due to the challenges that are presented.  It is very important that we attend to the our own mental health so that we can be effective professionals.

Feelings of Distress

As stated in the Merriam-Webster , the definition of distressed is ” unhappiness or pain: suffering that affects the mind or body.” We all experience distress, but when it goes unchecked overtime this leads to burnout.

While attending grad school it was very concerning to me that several of the professors clearly needed to attend to themselves.  I have become very sensitive to this topic every since completing my masters degree. It is very important to become self aware  of ourselves and monitor our reactions. At times our body is giving us a signal to take a step back and take care of ourselves. Some of us take actions while others simply just pour themselves in whatever task is at hand.

Therapist Burnout

As therapist we must be aware of the signs of burnout which often goes unnoticed or pushed aside. If we do not attend to our own mental health, how effective can we be while assisting clients.  It is important to take a step back and rejuvenate your mind and body.

Vicarious Traumatization

When we are assisting clients that are victims of trauma, counselors may be traumatized  by the information that is stated to them during the session. This leads to several symptoms of vicarious traumatization such as intrusive thoughts, avoidant responses, psychologic arousal,  somatic complaints, distressing emotions,and addictive or compulsive behaviors  that will affect one’s competence.

9 Tips for Self-care

  1. Listen to your body. At times we have so much to do and often forget about ourselves so identify what activities are best for you to do. For example, I take time out for myself which includes a quiet time reading.
  2. Put a reminder on the calendar. Even if it is 5 mins per day put aside some time to do some art activity, painting or journaling.
  3. Whenever you can do something for you in between session close your eyes and do some breathing exercise. In addition, you can listen to some music.
  4. Exercise if so important for you so take the time to do some light activity such as riding the bike for 30 min and increase it by 5 mins every week.
  5. If you don’t know how to say no then this will burn you out very quickly. Know your boundaries and weakness.
  6. Make an effort to ask yourself is you are working too much.
  7. Make sure to surround yourselves with people who will encourage you to take some time for you.
  8. Minimize your time and don’t surf the internet for several hours.
  9. It’s up to you to make the effort for your health, therefore, do not bargain with yourself. Just do it!





Distressed.(n.d.). Retrieved July 29,2016 from

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Defining a Community: Most Veterans Don’t “Snap” Because of PTSD

Great article written by a friend and colleague.

Branching Out

The headlines are all too familiar to military and veteran families. It’s gotten to the point where the moment you hear that the shooter is former military the connections start to be made immediately: “Shooter suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from his military service.” Boom. There it is.

Both the shooters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Dallas, Texas were military veterans. Both, according to news reports, potentially have PTSD. Our community is once again in the spotlight, furthering societal perceptions that our service members are all damaged, broken and ready to snap at any moment.

This is far from accurate.

I’m a clinical psychologist. My specialty is trauma and PTSD. I have worked in that space for over a decade now with both military and civilian populations. Given my experience, I can tell you that by and large, the majority of veterans who suffer from PTSD do not “snap.”…

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Breaking Down Barriers for Military Spouse Mental Health Providers

Breaking down barriers for military spouse mental health providers

Branching Out

Military life isn’t always easy on a spouse’s career. Heck, it’s rarely easy. No matter what you choose to do, you have to contend with the changes that this life brings to the table. We know what this military life brings, we adjust, we change, we move forward, even with those challenges. It certainly doesn’t make it any easier to maintain a career we love, but we find ways to make it work somehow.

For those of us who are in the mental health field, trying to find the right school, internship, supervision, getting licensed (or re-licensed) and finding a job can be a significant challenge. Add to this already difficult situation, a few PCS moves, deployments, and shifting licensing requirements from state to state and it becomes nearly impossible. When you realize we have spouses who are dealing with barriers to becoming mental health professionals, you have to…

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