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: https://adaa.org/finding-help/mobile-apps

 

 

References:

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 https://adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

References:

Distressed.(n.d.). Retrieved July 29,2016 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distressed


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Healing the Inner Child

When you look back at your childhood, we may notice that we got hurt very easily. It may be hearing mom shouting all the time or our father giving us the stern look. As children, we find that it is not easy to express yourself, but we try and try. At times, we find that adults don’t listen, too busy and interrupt us every time. Its time for us to listen to our children and respond directly to them. It may also be time for us to listen to our own inner child, that have been neglected for sometime. We must come back and comfort, love and care for the child within us.

Listening to your Inner Child

We must go back and take care of the child in our past that has been wounded. Embrace him or her and be gentle with ourselves. It takes a lot of courage to face the hurt inside of us and it okay to give yourselves permission to heal that child right now. The tears may come and that is fine as well. Let it flow and embrace that child. There are so many people who are suffering because they have buried those emotions for decades. But, if we continue to practice being more aware of that wounded child, comfort him or her so that we can see more peace and mover forward.

Talking to you Inner Child

Yes, this may sound unrealistic; however, your inner child influence you in a mighty way. The inner child has become an adult who has come from a very difficult life. Thich Nhat Hanh suggested that “if we have the tendency to go back to the past and live the painful memories of the past, we have to be aware that we and our inner child are going back to the past to live that experience again, that fear, and that desire'” (Hanh, p.71). This will become a regular habit which hinder us to move forward.

Reference

Hanh, Thich N. (2010). Reconciliation~ healing the inner child. Parallax Press. Berkeley, California 94707.


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How to Protect and Center Yourself

“Whoever can see through all fear will always be safe. ~Tao the Chang “(Orloff, 2000, p.155)

Everyday we must make the decision to use our intuition in order to help ourselves. One way of accessing our intuition is to be centered which means “finding the still point inside, no matter what is happening” ( Orloff, 2000) p. 156). We must also protect ourselves from any negativity or threat such as dealing with an angry boss, annoying mother-in law, manipulative spouse etc. We have seen this played over and over again and we know exactly what is going to happen. How do you protect yourselves from people who drain your energy? Wouldn’t it feel good to arm yourself with tools to help you block this energy?

For many years, we experience so many emotional,physical, spiritual challenges that knocks us out. For some time, we realize that these emotions such as depression, anxiety, and envy take over our lives.  You didn’t  get any respect from your boundaries and yes it took some time for you to get back on your feet. Now let’s get some help for you to protect yourself now.

Step 1.

Notice Your Beliefs

Begin to ask yourselves what are my triggers? When life steals your joy, how do you deal with this? How could you protect yourself? We need to call on our inner self for guidance, by connecting with this part of yourself so that you can feel more confident. Resilience is the key to get through these feelings so that you can keep all negativity away.

The following are some common beliefs that deplete your energy:

  1. I’m not strong enough This is a lie that we tell ourselves every day and we need to believe in ourselves. When was the last time you actually looked in the mirror and said ” I love you?”
  2. Other people’s negative thought destroys me.- Yes, this is an area that we all need to be aware of when someone’s negative energy take over. We must know how to deflect this energy and ask it to leave. Avoid dwelling on what was said and do not pay any attention to negativity. The more you feed into negativity the more it destroys you. Focus on your strength within yourself and block it.
  3. I’m so sensitive Well, aren’t we all sensitive? If we realize that we have a thin skin, then make sure to run when it get to be too much. If we stick around, we will become overwhelmed and we need “to teach ourselves how to remain vulnerable and feel safe. And this doesn’t mean that we shut our sensitivity off but to develop it as a creative resource.” (Orloff,2000, p. 159).
  4. We often take on the pain of others If you are a very compassionate person, you are deeply affected by the pain of others. But we need to realize that we can’t help everyone. It’s natural to want to help a homeless person, a hurt child etc. We must be a supportive person that will not take on the pain of others. Yes, it hard to see others suffering, but we need to respect the fact that they need to go through this process. No matter how much we feel we can do for others, but just the act of doing too much hinder us. We can be caring, thoughtful and honest with our feelings. Lastly, don’t get carried away, preserve your energy so that you can have some balance in your life.

 

Step 2. Be in your Body

We need to be aware of our body and how it is affected when we are experiencing various emotions. Sometime we feel tension or pain in our back, a headache etc. We need to center our body at all times such as “exercise, hiking, dancing, yoga, pedicure, long bubble bath etc. Getting a massage, going for a walk,spending some time with your pets, gardening and listening to nature are great ways to help. Here are some suggestions by Dr Orloff:

Techniques for centering

Watch your diet- I know we hear this over and over again. But it’s true, we need to watch what we put into our mouths. For instance, today I wanted to get a subway tuna sandwich, but instead I made salad with grapes and strawberries.

Do mundane tasks- For instance, if you are shopping concentrate on the task at hand.

Practice anonymous service-  Helping a neighbor, hold the door for an elderly person, Let someone go ahead of you. Volunteer at an homeless shelter and serve food etc.

Spend time in nature- This is one of my favorite activities which include just going to the part, walking by the lake, listening to the birds while on the porch, go to the beach, listen to the waves etc. Water is a great source to soothe you and purify yourself.

Mediate- Yes, we all hear about this and yes it was not easy to mediate the first time, but with practice we need to sit still and focus on our breath. If you are cramp for time, I would suggest just sit back, close your eyes and inhale peace and exhale frustrations etc. Complete a body scan that include focusing on your feet and work yourself all the way up to the crown of your head.

 

Step 3. Sense your Body’s Subtle energy

When we were younger, we find ourselves enjoying going to the mall, parties, etc, but we may realize that we didn’t really want to do this. After sometime, we begin to feel overwhelm and exhausted around groups and we begin to ask what is wrong with me? If you are like me, I suspect that we soak up the energy of the people around us. I also began to realize that I can feel what someone else is feeling both physically and emotionally. Dr Orloff stated that ” the more people per square foot, the more our energy fields intersect–thus the tendency to become overloaded in high-density areas. This aspect of intuition is the most neglected and misunderstood.” (Orloff, 2000, p. 163).

Four ways to avoid absorbing other’s people energy

  1. Walk away This may seem rude at first, but with practice we need to walk away when we realize that this situation is taking away our energy.
  2. Shield yourself Yes, it is important to protect yourself such as if someone is upset, you need to take a deep breath and center yourself. No, this is not being selfish, but it helps to place yourself in  bubble so that we don’t absorb their energy.
  3. Practice vulnerability – “Too often we are taught to equate vulnerability with weakness. Not so, I like being vulnerable and also strong. This disarms people.” (Orloff,2000, p. 166).
  4. mediate Practice daily mediation which helps you to connect with yourself.

Step 4. Ask for Inner Guidance

At times no matter what we do, we first need to ask for guidance for everything. So take a breath, center yourself and ask for guidance from the Lord. Set aside the excuses that we often lets us missed a great opportunity to receive guidance. Give it a try to see what happens. It takes a lot of practice and patience so don’t give up on yourself.

Step 5. Listen to your Dreams

We often go to sleep at night and wake up to some nightmare or we can’t seem to shut off our thoughts. Dreams are way of telling you something that may help you in your life. Don’t be troubled my your dreams. Continue “to cultivate inner peace and resolve, strengths that come forth invisibly. There’s nothing like a little centeredness to

counteract even the biggest, baddest, most unsettling calamity. Have confidence in your own power.” (Orloff, 2000, p. 175).

Reference

Orloff, J. (2000). Guide to Intuitive Healing. 5 Steps to Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Awareness.


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Depression and Loss

In honor of suicide prevention awareness month, I wanted to share about Depression and how it affects us all. Yes, there are several people who are suffering in silence due to not wanting to burden their loved ones which their problems. But, I wanted you to know that you are not alone and together we can cope and live a better life.

Did you know that “suicide is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. among young people and the there are a variety of mental health conditions that affect people who are very vulnerable” (NAMI, 2015).

Lets review some of the warning signs of suicide

  • Mood swings
  • talking, writing or thinking about death
  • increase in alcohol and drug use
  • aggressive behavior
  • isolate from friends, family and community
  • impulsive behavior

Let’s review if there is an imminent danger?

  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Mood shifts from despair to calm
  • planning to borrow, steal or buy tools to commit suicide

Mental health professionals such as your primary care physician, psychiatrists,psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioners are trained to assess if you are at risk. The first step is to acknowledge that you cannot do this by yourself and give yourself permission to get the help that you need. We may believe that we can handle this, but a therapist will be able to help you understand so that you can cope with your thoughts and feelings.

This blog was inspired after reading a guest post on a blog that you can find here at this link http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/blog/ . A husband (Brandon) shared a story about his wife Naomi who had a long history of troubles. In any marriage there are good times as well as bad times and Brandon got engaged to his wife after knowing her for 3 to 4 months. The story begins with the loss of their baby boy who had down syndrome. This loss was very devastating for his wife and Brandon wanted to share the story of his wife so that it can help others.  Patience is not easily acquired, but with persistence we need to encourage one another to talk to someone if they are experiencing depression. Yes, it’s easy to say, I don’t feel like they understand. But,  know that you haven’t given yourselves the chance to let someone hear your story. Yes, it may be painful, but when we hold unto our thoughts this will do nothing for us but bring us downhill. My plea as Brandon mentioned in his blog post is for you to talk to someone about whatever is going on with you. If you are depressed, grieving, sad, lonely….please call someone. There is hope for you and me so ask and you shall receive it.

If you need to talk to someone please call  the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255

Here’s a link to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention where I am a field advocate in the state of Kansas.

https://www.afsp.org/. This organization has a variety of events and I will be participating in a Community walk in Kansas to raise funds for suicide prevention.

References:

Hibbert, C. (2015). Depression, Loss & A Grieving Husband’s Plea:  “Too Short a Fairy Tale, by Brandon Gerdes.” Retrieved on September 20, 2015 from http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/blog/

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).(2015). Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.  Retrieved on September 20, 2015 from https://www.nami.org/suicideawarenessmonth/hp


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Postpartum Depression (May is Mental Health Awareness)

Postpartum Depression(PPD)  – What is this?

The birth of a baby can trigger a variety of emotions that includes excitement, joy, anxiety and fear. However, it can also trigger depression. For new moms who experience baby blues after a childbirth that includes feeling moody and crying a lot which subsides very quickly. There is also a more severe form of depression known as Postpartum Depression which develops after childbirth.

The Postpartum depression (PPD) includes the appearance of baby blues at first, but the feeling intensifies and last for a while that interferes with your ability to care for your child. Some of the symptoms of PPD includes lack of appetite, lack of sleep, getting angry easily, very overwhelmed, loss of sexual desire, sadness, feeling ashamed and guilty, severe mood swings,  and a hard time connecting with your baby. If PPD isn’t treated it can last for several months. Whenever you are feeling depressed after a delivery, do not be ashamed. Reach out to your doctor or connect with a mental health professional that knows about PPD. If you feel as if you are getting worse and finding it hard to take care of your baby, hard to keep up with your activities and having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, please seek medical attention.

Some of the treatment of PPD includes four categories such as Self-help, Psychotherapy, mediation and alternative treatment. There are several new moms who are suffering in silence, but there is hope for them. According to Dr. Hibbert who quoted from the Postpartum Support International, “You are not alone. You are not to blame. With help, you will be well.” (Hibbert, C,2015).

Get the facts about Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Overview

Are you feeling depressed, worried, anxious or panicky, trouble eating or sleeping, having upsetting thoughts that you can get rid of in your mind, worried about hurting your baby? If you believe you have any of these symptoms, this could indicate that you have Perinatal Mood or Anxiety Disorder such as Postpartum Depression. It is best to inform yourself while you are pregnant so that you can get the help you need.

Tools for Moms

The following is a list of tool that is helpful for moms that includes:

  1. The Edinburgh  Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) see link here http://www.beyondblue.org.au/resources/for-me/pregnancy-and-early-parenthood/edinburgh-postnatal-depression-scale

  2. The Online PPD Support Group  which provides peer support, chat rooms, posting boards etc follow the link here http://postpartumdepression.yuku.com/

  3. Text4Baby is a free text messaging tool that pregnant and new moms can use. Each week new moms gets a free text message to assist you through your pregnancy and the first year of the birth of your baby. In order to sign up, please TEXT …BABY to 511411 or Envia….BEBE al 511411  para Espanol.

References:

Hibbert, C. (2015). Postpartum Depression Treatment. Retrieved from http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/postpartum-depression-treatment/

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Postpartum Depression:Definition. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/basics/definition/con-20029130

Postpartum Support International. (2015). Pregnancy and Postpartum Mental Health. Retrieved from http://www.postpartum.com/Get-the-Facts.aspx

Postpartum Support International. (2015). Tools for Moms. Retrieved from http://www.postpartum.com/Get-the-Facts/Tools-for-Moms.aspx

 

 

 


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Interview with Dr. Christina Hibbert, Author of Who Am I Without You? 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup

WhoAmIWIthoutYouCFX

I have been reading several of Dr. Christina Hibbert’s books and her writing is valuable for all women both young and old. She is a clinical psychologist who has a vast amount of experience on Women’s Mental Health, Grief & Loss, Motherhood, Parenting, Perinatal Mental Health, Self-Esteem, & Personal Growth. Link to purchase book and learn more about the author: http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/

I am so thrilled to share my interview with the Award Winning Author of This is How We Grow. The following questions were asked:

Annmarie: Question 1. What do you fun?

Christina:   Answer:  I love to write, read, love outdoors activities and travel a lot with my family. I  also loves music and currently working on a new song. I play the guitar and piano.

Annmarie: Question 2. Do you experience writers block?

Christina:  Answer:  Yes, I do experience writers block. For instance, while writing “This is How We Grow” this was a long process. I had to rewrite it and I was stuck for months. In addition, life got the best of me due to loss of a dear friend and son heading to college for the first time. I wrote the 3rd book within two months though I don’t recommend doing this.

Annmarie: Question 3. Where do you get your ideas?

Christina:  Answer:  Most of my ideas comes from personal experiences and I am always reading and sharing with others through my books. For instance, “Who Am I Without You?” was written to exam yourself and how to get through hard time.

Annmarie: Question 4. What’s the favorite part of this book?

Christina:  Answer: My favorite part is the 2nd part of the book that talks about “Building Unwavering Self-Esteem, Moving On and Uncovering The Real You.

Annmarie: Question 5. Any advice to give aspiring writers?

Christina: Answer:  I attend writing conferences which has helped me a lot. It’s hard to write a book when it is a personal story, but one advice I would like to tell you is that writing is a long process. For example, I started in 2008 and some of my writings comes from my journals. I also set a timer for 10 min after the kids are asleep and write. I also increase this to 20 minutes a night and I develop a writing process.

Annmarie: Question 6. Anything you would like to say to readers and fans?

Christina: Answer:  I am truly grateful for everyone that reads and does the work in the books. I like to share what I learn and I am a real person who goes through stuff too. I am grateful to you can flourish and its a gradual process.  Finally, know that “you are not alone.”

 

 

Enjoy a book trailer created by the author’s daughter Kennedy and see what this book is all about. Here is the link :