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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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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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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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


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5 Lessons as a Military Spouse

I was inspired to write about my own lessons learned while being a military spouse. The following 5 lessons can be helpful for others to be aware of what really goes on in a military life.

  1.  Be careful of what you say about a military spouse and never underestimate them.

(a) We may never have a stable career, but over the years I have volunteered, assistant teacher and counseled others. My main job is a stay-at-home mom with 3 children 2 boys ages 20, 16 and 13-year-old daughter who has downsyndrome. During the first couple of years of marriage, we have been separated three occasions which is a rare for those familiar with the military.

After we relocated overseas, I actively participated in spouse clubs et. My family always come first and I did everything by myself. If you saw me in action, you will be amazed so don’t judge someone for what you see on the outside, you will run the risk of never learning about their inner character and strength.

  1. Things are still the same

(a) Deployments haven’t changed for a very long time and it’s still a short notice, long and frequent. The time spent away from your loved one is very painful and lonely. I realized that I had to take on 2 roles of a mother and father and we missed our wedding anniversary which was not spent by myself, but with family. Being a mom is a very important job, but when you are raising your military children through a war this is challenging. Overseas assignments reminded me of the absence of family such as your parents who missed the growth and celebration of their grandchildren.

  1. Acceptance you didn’t marry a banker.

(a) Let’s be clear, when we said “I Do” that also took into account the to roll with the punches regardless of what career move my husband had. I would support him and at time he would work long hours or several weeks at a time which meant that he would miss school activities, sports etc. But he deserved a pass and its unfair to blame him due to the frequent moves every 3 years or so. We are almost near our retirement so until then, i will just let it flow.

  1. Expect the unexpected

(a) Oh yes, we do have a number of unexpected events, but there are sacrifices that come with the life of a military spouse. One thing that I have done when we relocate from one place to another is to plug into the community and reach out for some encouragement as I face these challenges. I also plug into a group of other military spouse who are family and we support each other. With that said, there may be some drama, but when women are together what else do you expect. Just make the best of it and move on.

  1. Make the best of life

(a) Life is what you make of it and with that it helps to keep your attitude in check. Life is an adventure, never a dull moment, but it is worth it. The life of a military is challenging, but we travel to various places around the world and we meet people who enrich our lives. Take full advantage of your life because no one is promised tomorrow. So surprise a military spouse the next time that you see her/him.


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Self-care challenge: The Process of Forgiveness and Mindfulness

Today I enjoyed listening to a fellow colleague who talked about forgiveness and mindfulness. Forgiveness is something that takes some time and practice. But we need to allow ourselves the opportunity to choose to forgive others so that we can release the burden of hurt. I worked with several clients who came to therapy seeking help for the anger that they felt. We choose to either do two things forgive them or hold on to the hurt. The following are are some exercises to try so that you can process forgiveness into your everyday life.

  1. The Power of Breath and Visualization- This basically consists of conscious breathing that allows us to be present with our body. It helps to move the hurt, anger, frustration away from our body or shuts it down. First, close your eyes then envision a ball of white cloud or golden light at the base of your spine. Begin counting  very slowly to 108 as you visualize the ball traveling up your spine. Hold the light or ball at each area of your back for 5-6 counts then slowly imagine the ball or light moving all the way to your head and extend it in front of you. Visualize the person that hurt you whom you wish to forgive surrounded by the light or ball. Breathe deeply and silently repeat the name of the person then say, ” I choose to let go of what happened. May you be surrounded and filled with this light.” Keep breathing through whatever emotions may surface or arise as a result. Hold the vision, repeat the statement, breathe through it until you feel a sense of calm and then gently open your eyes.
  1. Bilateral Stimulation: Swing those arms!- Bilateral Stimulation is a tool that change the brain chemistry. Walk briskly, swinging your arms (right, left, right, left) while feeling and thinking about the hurt. This creates a new pathway in our brain that allows access to more positive emotions, memories and beliefs. This practice also helps to lessen the impact of negative emotions. Notice how much calmer you feel while continuing to walk briskly and swing the arms. Be sure to breathe deeply and rhythmically as you are walking, feeling, and noticing.
  2. Sit in Silence and Stillness- Dedicate 15 minutes every day to sit with your spine straight, eyes closed and focus on the natural flow of your breath. Observe the silence and stillness which helps you to be present with what is without actively doing, changing, or fixing. As thoughts and emotion occur return your mind to focus on your breath and the sensation of your sitting. This helps the mind to be okay with what is rather than being hooked by memories and emotions.

The following is an excerpt for the above activity by Lynn Louise Wonders.