How to Tell the Difference Between Stress and an Anxiety Disorder

Date: June 10th, 2019

Filed under: Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are closely related issues, and both can take a toll on your mental and physical health. But how can you tell when you’re experiencing stress and when you might need to seek help for an anxiety disorder? Because stress and anxiety are so closely related and produce such similar symptoms, it can be tricky to tell the difference between them. A good rule of thumb to determine whether what you’re experiencing qualifies as stress or an anxiety disorder is to look at what is causing negative emotions in your life.

Stress is generally caused by external factors—homework piling up, financial difficulties, trouble at work, etc. It’s the natural response of the body to a perceived threat, and can be expected to dissipate once the problem is resolved. If you can identify a specific reason for your symptoms, the likelihood is that you’re dealing with stress.

Anxiety, on the other hand, has different root causes. Although it can be triggered by stress, the worries and fears caused by anxiety are often unreasonable or blown out of proportion. Because anxiety isn’t caused by external factors, it doesn’t go away when your circumstances change. If you have feelings of dread or apprehension that won’t go away and don’t have an identifiable cause, it may be a signal that you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Stress and anxiety disorders, while similar in many ways, are different, but both can be hard to deal with. The good news is that they are both very susceptible to treatment. If you can’t determine if you have stress or an anxiety disorder, or if negative emotions are making it difficult for you to function in day-to-day life, it’s a good idea to see a professional. They can help you to tell the difference between stress and an anxiety disorder, and suggest a course of treatment that can put your life back on track.

Four Tips to Forge Family Connections

Date: May 22nd, 2019

Filed under: Relationships

Family is the most important thing in the world for most of us, but in today’s busy culture it’s not uncommon for families to feel disconnected sometimes. Here are four tips you can use to help your family grow closer together.

Have a Family Night

Set aside one evening a week or month exclusively for family. Put it on the calendar so everyone knows it’s happening, and plan something fun or relaxing that everyone can enjoy. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive: A card game and some snacks is a low-key way to spend some quality time together. You can even have kids take turns planning the evening’s activities, with guidance from a parent or older sibling if needed.

Eat Meals Together

Eating meals together as a family provides a wonderful opportunity to relax and chat with one another. Studies have shown that sharing meals around the table strengthens family bonds, heightens self-esteem, and can even improve health and academic performance. Set regular mealtimes and use that time to laugh, re-connect with each other, and have genuine conversations.

Establish Tech-Free Time

Figure out boundaries for technology. Although smartphones and iPads can be great tools, teach your family that electronics have a time and a place, and set aside tech-free time when family members can be truly present. You and your family can decide what is reasonable, but some ideas for tech-free times and places might include no tech at mealtimes, no tech in the bedroom, or no tech after a certain time, such as 7 p.m.

Limit Outside Commitments

School, work, and extracurricular activities take a significant amount of time and energy. Although all of these activities are important, it’s equally important to prioritize family time. This may require you to limit outside commitments and say no to certain activities so you can allow your family the time they need to connect with each other and nurture their relationships.

Making family time a priority is one of the best things you can do to help your family forge connections with each other and develop close relationships that will last a lifetime. With some planning and organization, you can create a positive environment that will benefit the whole family.

Marriage and Money: Managing Finances Together

Date: May 7th, 2019

Filed under: Relationships

There’s no question that finances can put a strain on more than just your budget: money can affect your marriage and family life too. In fact, it's the number one issue that couples argue about. Consequently, financial stress is frequently cited as a cause of relationship difficulties. Many couples feel that if they only had a higher income, they wouldn’t have to deal with money problems in their relationship. But the truth is that financial disagreements between couples happen at every income level and often mirror other disagreements in the relationship. The issue isn’t the amount of money you have, it’s about how the two of you work together to manage that money.

Communication is one of the most important tools you can employ to ensure that your marriage is proof against financial difficulty. It’s important for you and your spouse to be open with each other about your financial goals, how you feel about money, and your motives for earning, spending, or saving. When discussing money matters, it's tempting to move into 'business mode' and dig your heels in. But successful relationships involve talking about money with the same care and kindness one might apply to any other conversation. In a relationship, you should be able to say anything, but the WAY you say it matters most of all. Consider softening your approach and using kind and considerate language as much as possible.

Although it can be tempting to have only one person manage the finances, there are many benefits to working together on money matters. Sit down together and look at your income and spending habits. Discuss where you feel your expenses are reasonable and where you feel like you’re spending too much or too little until you come to an agreement about how much should be spent in each category.

Based on your discussion, create a budget. This can be weekly or monthly—whatever the two of you feel is best for your financial situation. Make sure you include savings in your budget. It doesn’t matter if it’s a percentage or dollar amount, but setting aside money on a regular basis can help alleviate financial stress in the future.

The hardest part can be sticking to the budget and goals you’ve set—so stay accountable to each other. Keep getting together regularly to assess how your plan is working and if you need to make adjustments.

Although money can be a tricky subject, you can alleviate much of the financial strain on your marriage by communicating, working together, and setting goals. Making a commitment to each other that you will work together to manage financial challenges can make your relationship stronger and more meaningful, regardless of your income or financial circumstances.

Easy Tips for Managing Test Anxiety

Date: April 25th, 2019

Filed under: Anxiety

While the end of the school year carries with it the promise of summer, it also heralds a stressful season of looming deadlines and exams. If you or your child suffer from test anxiety, try these tips to finish off the school year on a positive note.

First, recognize that some level of test anxiety can be a good thing. Feeling anxious about a test can motivate you to study hard, stay focused, and do your best. While anxiety isn’t pleasant, recognizing that it has a role to play can help you to harness its benefits.

Second, do what you can to prepare yourself. Study and review your materials well in advance. Let the teacher know about your test anxiety (or that of your child) and ask if they can give you as much information about the test as possible. Knowing something about the test’s subject matter, length, or format can help you feel more prepared.

Although you want to study thoroughly, be sure to pace yourself. Studying for too long a stretch, or trying to cover too much material, can result in fatigue, make you forgetful, and increase your test anxiety. Study strategically by focusing on where you feel you need it most and taking frequent breaks. Reviewing material you feel comfortable with at the beginning and/or end of a study session can help boost your confidence as well.

Third, use positive self-talk as a tool to help you combat test anxiety. As the test draws closer, you may find yourself almost unconsciously talking negatively to yourself about it. Your inner voice may say things like, “I’m going to fail,” or “I never do well at tests.” Pay attention to that internal self-talk, and change it to reflect positively on yourself and your efforts. Tell yourself, “I’ve prepared really well for this test,” “I feel confident that I can succeed in this exam,” and “I have demonstrated resilience under pressure in the past. I can do this.”

No matter what your test results look like, commit to focusing on what you did well and learning what you can from where you struggled. You may want to plan a reward for yourself or your child after a test. This can give you something to look forward to. Be sure to follow through with your planned reward regardless of the test results or your feelings about how the test went. Even if the test did not go as well as you’d hoped, you can celebrate your efforts, the way you handled your preparations and managed your anxiety, and the fact that a test is behind you!

Expressing Feelings in a Relationship

Date: April 3rd, 2019

Filed under: Relationships

Trusting one another and feeling comfortable expressing our feelings is an important part of a healthy relationship. Emotion is an integral part of being human, and expressing feelings appropriately can deepen and strengthen the relationship you have with your partner or spouse.

Share Positive Feelings Often

Positive feelings like love, appreciation, and happiness are what we all want from a relationship. Sharing these types of feelings with your partner can strengthen your relationship and increase the love and loyalty you feel for one another. Make a habit of sharing these types of emotions frequently. You can thank your partner for a particular nice thing they did, or just express gratitude for the good things they bring to your relationship. Learn to tell each other, “I love you” often. Share moments that make you happy and express how glad you are that you get to experience them together.

Share Negative Feelings Carefully

Of course, no relationship is a bed of roses all the time. Negative emotions will come up, and when they do it’s important that you are sensitive to your partner when you share them. If possible, try to let your emotions cool down a little before you give them expression. When you do have to express negative feelings, be specific, and try to phrase them as “I” statements. For example, rather than saying, “You always push me away when anything bad happens,” rephrase it as “I feel so isolated when things like this come up. When you don’t confide in me, I feel like you don’t trust me.” Although you’re expressing the same feelings, a “You” statement can sound accusatory and is likely to provoke a defensive reaction, while an “I” statement focuses on how you feel and invites your partner to respond openly and honestly.

While the benefits of expressing positive feelings are clear, negative feelings can also provide a great opportunity for the two of you to work through issues together. Although you may feel that expressing negative feelings will drive you apart, the truth is that appropriately expressing negative feelings can open the door for you and your partner to understand each other better. Once those feelings are out in the open, you can work together towards solving problems. By expressing positive emotions often and appropriately expressing negative feelings when needed, you and your partner can build each other up and grow in your relationship together.

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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.

To request an appointment please call us at 541-714-5620 for a free, confidential consult with our intake coordinator who will help you find the best therapist for your needs or fill out the form below.

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

To request an appointment please call us at 503-928-3998 for a free, confidential consult with our intake coordinator who will help you find the best therapist for your needs or fill out the form below.

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

To request an appointment please call us at 514-868-2004 for a free, confidential consult with our intake coordinator who will help you find the best therapist for your needs or fill out the form below.

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

  • Call the Whitebird Crisis Center at 541-687-4000
  • Call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
  • Text HOME to 741741
  • Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room
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