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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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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June is Post- Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month

Each year we recognize PTSD in the month of June and as we enter a new month, I would like to focus on understanding PTSD.

The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs provides a definition of PTSD  that occurs “when a person experience a traumatic event such as combat, assault or disaster which most people have some stress reactions after trauma that lingers for some time” (U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, 2015).  There are several types of trauma that includes war, terrorism,violence and abuse and disasters.

Effects of PTSD and the Family

It can be very difficult to live with someone who has been diagnosed with PTSD and often your daily life is disrupted  by nightmares, avoiding crowds, and  difficulty driving. The children at times have a lot of trouble in schools and PTSD affects the relationship with their spouse, family members and friends. There is also a list of common reactions of family members of a person with PTSD that includes sympathy, negative feelings, avoidance, depression, anger and guilt, variety of health problems.

At times family members neglect themselves and spend a lot of time taking care of their loved ones with PTSD which is a set up for failure.  It is important to seek help and surround yourself with others who understand what you are going through.

What can providers do to support family members?

Family members often neglect themselves and are confused about what to do when they find out that their loved one has PTSD.  As a clinician, we must educate the family members and let them learn more about trauma and its effects. It will take some time to learn about PTSD which can be overwhelming, but if you are not aware of what PTSD is and its effects then you will be lost. It also takes a lot of patience to help someone who is affected by PTSD and in time they will heal.  There also various classes that are offered to help the family which includes stress and anger management, addiction, couples communication or parenting (Carlson,E & Ruzek, J,2014).

Help to spread the awareness of PTSD by printing this PDF flyer: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/about/ptsd-awareness/RaisePTSD_Awareness.pdf

Follow this link for a About Face PTSD videos on Youtube: 

Follow this link provided by the Defense Centers for Excellence – PTSD Fact Sheet. http://www.dcoe.mil/Libraries/Documents/DCoE_PTSDFactSheet_20140410.pdf

References

Carlson,E.B (PhD), & Ruzek, J.(PhD). (2014) PTSD and The Family. Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treatment/family/ptsd-and-the-family.asp

Defense Centers of Excellence. (2015) PTSD Treatment Options.  Retrieved from http://www.dcoe.mil/PsychologicalHealth/PTSD_Treatment_Options.aspx

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.(2015). Promotional Materials and Tips to Raise Awareness. Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/about/ptsd-awareness/promo_materials_awareness.asp


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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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Stress Awareness- Meditation

Mediation helps you to relax and focus on your mind, body and spirit. Here are some tips on getting started with mediation.

  1. Relaxed yourself and bring yourself to a comfortable position which can include sitting in a chair, on the floor or lying on your back.
  2. Release – Exhale completely. Please mentally be aware that you are releasing your frustration, anger, etc.
  3. Release- Make sure to inhale slowly and you can mentally say ” one” while doing this. Allow yourself a slight pause then begin to exhale again. Mentally know that you are allowing peace back into your body.
  4. Exhale and release- Continue to do this cycle for about 5 mins and continue to say inhale “peace” exhale “frustration”.
  5. Added bonus ~ Music can also help you as well as listening to nature. For example, you can go outside and sit and listen to the wind blowing, the birds chirping etc. It is also beneficial when you can go to the beach and listen to the waves.

inner peace

Here are a list of activities that you can do for self-care:

Outdoors-  hiking, running, biking, bonfires, walking, camping, canoeing, visit a park with trails, roller skating, painting, swinging on the porch, listening to the wind, listening to the wind chimes, pulling weeds, gardening,

Fire- smores and bonfire with ice cream, light some  vanilla and lavender candles at the end of the day to balance yourself.  getting a massage with candles, bubble bath with candles.

Bubbles or feathers  bubble bath, blowing bubbles,  deep breathing while using bubbles, running fingers over the feathers

Wood-  Listening to the crackling of the fire, playing jenga, rocking in a rocking chair, creating things with blocks. sauna, tree hugging, play a guitar, walking on a trail and noticing the trees all around you, sitting on the porch and making inspirational signs from wood.

Water- Listening to the ocean, swimming, exercise in the water, drinking at least 64 oz of water, kayaking, going to the beach, shower mediation, small water fountain for home or office,  fish tank, water balloon fight, snorkeling, water-color painting, water massage,  dance in the rain, scuba diving,  and a warm Jacuzzi.

My final thoughts

I love to mediate at times, paint, pull weeds, go for long walks, visit the ocean, listen to nature. But most of all, I love to mediate on God’s words and remind myself of how grateful I am because God loves us unconditionally and we must learn to trust him. When stress takes over, we are not trusting God and we end up feeling sad, upset, worried, troubled etc. It takes time, patience and practice to begin to trust God. Be gentle with yourself and begin to let go of all the frustrations that comes our way.

“Never Give up or Give In” ~ Trust God to work it out.

 

 

 

 

National Stress Awareness Month Flyer