the healing journey counseling fl

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


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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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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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Emotional Overreactions and Depression

At times we do not feel as if the day is going well and we don’t feel like getting up. We don’t feel like doing anything. What is really happening to me? It’s cloudy and dreary and I just don’t feel like doing anything today. Have you ever felt this way before?  It’s just a feeling that we can’t seem to shake. We know that this affects many of us on a daily basis, but we need to fight to get up and move around. It may seem as if its the end of the world, but don’t never give in.

 

Depression

Here we go again with that dreaded word “depression”. Lately, many people have been affected with this disorder that tricks our minds to think about things that are not true. At times, we feel lonely, unloved, disliked and the list continues which simply tears you down. It’s unfortunate how much when life events seems to distracts us and we begin to conform to these false beliefs.

 

It’s about me?

We blame ourselves for so many things and begin to sink in misery. It’s our fault. It’s true that you are crazy and no one loves you now or in the future.

 

Well, it’s not really about me.

You can be the most loveable person in the world, but still bad things happen. Indeed, bad things do happen to everyone. We simply must be mindful of how we react to situations that gets us so angry. It can be a simple little thing that sets us off and instead of walking away, we explode.

 

Emotional Overreactions and Depression

 

We find ourselves overreacting so much that affects our entire week and at times we drag it out to several months. You find yourself tearing up for several days upon weeks and your energy is not there. You are not sleeping well and you have not drive to do anything. Your self-confidence has vanish and self-doubt lingers. It takes a toll on your body and it takes a while to get back on track.


Avoiding Depression and Overreaction

It’s time for us to realize that this is a vicious cycle that continues every day. It takes a lot of practice and patience to stop overreacting. First, we need to become aware of what you are doing and put a stop to it.

 

Here are some suggestions for avoiding an emotional overreactions thanks to depression.

 

  • Life events comes and goes.
  • Stop overreacting!
  • Practice a lot of self-talk. Watch your breathing and inhale (peace) exhale (frustration).
  • Do a reality check? Check in with someone who knows you.
  • Distract yourself and do something else.
  • Believe in yourself and know that you are not alone.
  • Quiet your thoughts and mediate.


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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.