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Do You Have Summer Depression?

Date: July 9th, 2020

Filed under: Relationships

woman in summertime hugging bear depressed

Most people have heard of SAD (seasonal affective disorder), which usually causes increased depression as the days get shorter and colder. But some people who experience SAD have worse symptoms in the summer months. If you find that your mood dips as the weather climbs, realize that you’re not alone. Many people have depression that increases in the summertime. If this is you, here are a few of the reasons you might be having a hard time, and ideas for how to cope.

Lack of Routine

Schedules tend to go out the window in the summer. It’s a time to relax and have fun, right? But lack of routine can sometimes be more disruptive than relaxing. Try to go to bed and get up at a consistent time so you get enough sleep and have some structure to the day.

Body Image Issues

If you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin, wearing shorts or swimming suits can feel embarrassing or lead to critical self-talk. While keeping up with exercise and healthy eating is a good idea year-round, it’s easy to overdo it in the summer. Set reasonable goals and boundaries for yourself, and practice positive self-talk and gratitude for all your body allows you to do.

Financial Concerns

Vacations, day trips, summer camps…expenses can add up. As summertime gets underway, it can be helpful to look at your finances and budget accordingly. As you plan expenditures like vacations or summer camps, ask yourself if this is something you want and something you feel will relieve your stress. If you’re doing it out of obligation or feel burdened by it, you might want to consider alternatives.

Heat

Some people love the heat, but for others, it can be oppressive, sapping your energy and decreasing motivation. Do your best to keep cool, but go easy on yourself if you decide to order takeout instead of heating up the kitchen by cooking a meal.

Summer depression is real, and while there are things you can do to help yourself feel better, don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. Just because you know things will improve come September doesn’t mean you should have to struggle through the entire summer. Talk to your doctor about short-term medication adjustments to get you through the season, or schedule a few sessions with a therapist for added support if you think you’re experiencing summer depression.

Changing How You Feel About Your Circumstances

Date: June 25th, 2020

Filed under: Mental Health

woman looking at sunset through hand heart sign

We don’t always feel in control of our circumstances, and that can make it especially hard when our circumstances seem to control our emotions. But the truth is, in many cases, your situation doesn't have to dictate your feelings—even though it doesn’t always seem that way. Changing how you feel about your circumstances comes down to realizing that, barring trauma, oppression, abuse and neglect; many situations are neutral, and that emotions are often driven by thoughts, not circumstances.

Circumstances are Neutral

First of all, it’s important to remember that circumstances can’t define you or make you feel a certain way. It’s a natural human tendency to give our circumstances greater prominence than they have in reality. But thinking that you’ll be happy when: you make more money, you’re in a different relationship, you move to a bigger house, etc. is misguided. Happiness is a choice, and it’s a choice you can make regardless of the situation you’re in.

Feelings Spring from Thoughts

The second major point to keep in mind is that emotions spring from what you think about a situation, not from the circumstance itself. Since circumstances trigger thoughts, which then trigger emotions, the key to changing how you feel about your circumstances is to focus on what you’re thinking.

Trauma is Another Story

We want to be clear, however, that when it comes to trauma, oppression, abuse and neglect; those are not neutral events. Oppression for instance, by its very nature, is designed to burden the survivor with blame, and that is why the theory behind this post falls short when it comes to traumatic circumstances. It is true that even in the case of trauma, we have some control over our cognitive/thought responses, but it is important not to be dismissive of the circumstances. True healing in this case is best developed in the safety afforded by time and as well as self-acceptance. As historian Howard Zinn wrote, "You can't be neutral on a moving train.”

But for many everyday experiences, changing our focus and our attention, can provide a dramatic change to how we feel. For example, if you’re feeling frustrated about your home, figure out what you’re thinking about it. Notice where you are placing your attention and practice (1) giving yourself a break about that tendency and (2) try paying attention to the things you appreciate. Maybe you think the neighbors are noisy. Maybe you're unhappy with your roommates cleaning habits. Whatever it is, find something positive that you can focus on when your thoughts start to drift toward what you don’t like about your home. Focus on the small yard where the kids like to play, the sunny windowsill where you can grow a few plants, or just the fact that you have a roof over your head.

Changing your attention and your thoughts is a process, particularly if you’ve developed a habit of thinking in a certain way. Changing how you feel about your circumstances won’t happen overnight. But as you adjust your thought patterns, you might find that feelings of irritation dissipate and are replaced by more pleasant emotions, and that you really can be content regardless of your circumstances.

For more about changing your internal focus even in trying circumstances, check out Viktor Frankl's seminal book, Man's Search for Meaning.

3 Easy Ways to Develop an Appreciation for Differences

Date: June 11th, 2020

Filed under: Relationships

3 hearts 2 the same 1 different to illustrate appreciating differences

The world is filled with diversity, and it’s a richer place when we learn how to appreciate the differences that make it so interesting and colorful. If you—like most of us—tend to hang on to what you know best, try these 3 easy ways to develop an appreciation for differences.

Try Something New

We’re automatically drawn toward sameness and familiarity. To develop an appreciation for differences, sometimes you have to try something new. Change where you go for your morning walk, cook a familiar meal using some else’s recipe, read a book you wouldn’t normally pick up, or say hello to a stranger.

Ask Questions

The more you learn about why people act, talk, think, and live differently from you, the more you’ll understand and appreciate those differences. So ask questions, put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and keep an open mind and an attitude of curiosity.

Say Thank You

Sometimes you have to actively teach yourself just how good differences can be. One way you can do this is to draw positive attention by saying thank you. If you’ve identified someone else’s strength in an area where you’re weak, thank them for how they contribute in that area. Thank the people who answer those questions you asked, and the person who gave you that recipe or book recommendation. Saying thank you is a way to teach yourself that you really do appreciate differences.

Appreciating differences doesn’t just give you a richer outlook on life. It can increase your happiness, boost your self-esteem, and improve your relationships, your studies, and your work. Developing an appreciation for differences is a way to embrace the complexity of an increasingly global world, and foster strong relationships within that world.

How to Talk with Kids about Racism

Date: June 8th, 2020

Filed under: Kids

white girl and black girl holding hands

Racism is a tough topic, but it’s an important one to address with your kids in order to raise racially aware children who will identify with others and help to create a better world. Silence is often the norm when it comes to conversations about race—especially among white families. Often this stems from a well-meaning attempt to promote a “colorblind” society—one where the color of a person’s skin is completely irrelevant. But as recent events have shown us, we’re not there yet. Because of this, it’s important to help children identify racism, understand that it’s wrong, and know how to combat it.

Early

The conversation about racism is one that should happen early—as soon as your child starts to notice differences between themselves and others, or as soon as they start hearing about or being exposed to racism at school or through the media. Children often pick up on racial differences before parents start thinking about it, so be proactive in addressing this issue with your child.

And Often

Realize that this conversation isn’t a one-off. Racism keeps coming up in the world, so it needs to keep coming up in your conversations with your children. Talk about racism regularly to help them identify what ideas they’re being exposed to and learn how to think critically about those ideas.

Age-Appropriate

Adjust how you talk about race and racism depending on your child’s age and developmental stage of life.

• Books and toys are a great way to introduce the topic to toddlers, as are discussions about fairness, a concept that’s understandable and relevant to kids at this age.

• As kids move into elementary school, ask them what they’re hearing on the playground and encourage them to articulate what they feel about it. Conversations at this age don’t need to be long or complex. Simple language and keeping it relevant to their experiences is still best.

• When kids reach middle and high school, they might be ready for more in-depth conversations, and be able to think more abstractly—extrapolating their own experiences to those they hear about in the larger community and the world. At this age, you can also encourage them to take the lead in the discussion.

Talking with kids about racism isn’t always easy or comfortable, but doing so is needed to show them that racism is a real and important issue, and that they have the power to fight it. As you talk with your kids about racism, know that you’re giving them the tools they need to navigate a biased world and make it a better place.

Want to learn more? Here are some resources to help you learn more about racism yourself and help you know what to say to your kids about this topic:

8 Everyday Ways to Fight Racism

4 Ways the Scientists and Academics Can Effectively Combat Racism

5 Ways to Fight Racism and Xenophobia

How to Talk to your Children about Protests and Racism

Ways to Avoid COVID Anger Displacement

Date: June 4th, 2020

Filed under: Relationships

Human fist representing anger displacement

Stress and lack of control over COVID-19 is causing many emotions—including anger. One of the most common ways to deal with anger about something we can’t control is to fall back on anger displacement: taking out our emotions about one thing on something or someone else. Unfortunately, this is also one of the most destructive ways of dealing with anger. You can avoid falling into the trap of anger displacement by using these tools:

Identify

Ask yourself some questions to figure out exactly what you’re angry about:

• What are you feeling? Anger runs the gamut from mild irritation to outright rage. Is the level of anger you’re feeling proportionate to the experience, or are you feeling more frustrated than the situation warrants?

• What are you angry about? Are you angry that your partner went over-budget on groceries, that your boss is being hard on you, or that the government isn’t responding to this crisis in the way you’d like? Figure out what exactly it is that you’re angry about so you can avoid taking it out on someone or something that has nothing to do with the situation.

• Why are you angry? If you’re angry that your partner went over-budget on the groceries, ask yourself why. Is the root cause of your anger actually worry about finances? Digging down the root of the matter can give you clarity and help you problem-solve the real issue.

Write it Down

Writing things down can put them in perspective. When you feel angry, write down exactly what you’re feeling, make a list of what you’re angry about, or write a letter to the person or situation that your anger is directed towards. Don’t send it. The act of writing is simply to give you an outlet for your emotions.

Exercise

Physical movement allows you to work out pent-up emotions, provides a distraction from anger, and boosts your mood. Channeling your anger into something productive like exercise is a healthy way of harnessing your emotions and making them work for you.

Take a Timeout

Give yourself some space and take 15 minutes to be alone and cool down. Taking a step back from the situation can help you to see it more clearly, and giving yourself time to think can help you to deal with your anger in a more calm and reasonable way.

Anger is a natural emotion during this stressful time, but it doesn’t have to control you, or hurt your relationship with others. By taking charge of your emotions and avoiding anger displacement, you can develop greater self-control and handle your anger in ways that can boost your mental health.

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Contact Oregon Counseling

To request an appointment please complete the form below. Next, an intake coordinator will email you a link with a questionnaire for you to complete regarding your goals for treatment. After that questionnaire is completed, you will be contacted via phone to schedule an appointment. Please note we do not accept Trillium/OHP, Medicare or Tricare/Triwest insurance.

If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please consider these emergency options:

  • Call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
  • Text HOME to 741741
  • call 911
  • Go to your nearest emergency room.

Please note: Until further notice all appointments will be secure video telehealth sessions. Please read this Coronavirus Update link.

  1. To request an appointment please click the 'Request an Appointment' button below.
  2. Next, a new window will open with a questionnaire for you to complete regarding your goals for treatment.
  3. After that questionnaire is completed, you will be contacted via phone to schedule.

If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please consider the following resources:

  • Call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
  • Text HOME to 741741
  • Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room

Please note we do not accept Trillium/OHP, Medicare or Tricare/Triwest insurance.

Please note: Until further notice all appointments will be secure video telehealth sessions. Please read this Coronavirus Update link.

  1. To request an appointment please click the 'Request an Appointment' button below.
  2. Next, a new window will open with a questionnaire for you to complete regarding your goals for treatment.
  3. After that questionnaire is completed, you will be contacted via phone to schedule.

If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please consider the following resources:

  • Call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
  • Text HOME to 741741
  • Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room

Please note we do not accept Trillium/OHP, Medicare or Tricare/Triwest insurance.

Please note: Until further notice all appointments will be secure video telehealth sessions. Please read this Coronavirus Update link.

  1. To request an appointment please click the 'Request an Appointment' button below.
  2. Next, a new window will open with a questionnaire for you to complete regarding your goals for treatment.
  3. After that questionnaire is completed, you will be contacted via phone to schedule.

If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please consider the following resources:

  • Call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
  • Text HOME to 741741
  • Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room

Please note we do not accept Trillium/OHP, Medicare or Tricare/Triwest insurance.

Please note: Until further notice all appointments will be secure video telehealth sessions. Please read this Coronavirus Update link.

  1. To request an appointment please click the 'Request an Appointment' button below.
  2. Next, a new window will open with a questionnaire for you to complete regarding your goals for treatment.
  3. After that questionnaire is completed, you will be contacted via phone to schedule.

If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please consider the following resources:

  • Call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
  • Text HOME to 741741
  • Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room

Please note we do not accept Trillium/OHP, Medicare or Tricare/Triwest insurance.



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