Seasonal Depression

Date: September 24th, 2017

Filed under: Tips

In the last week we have experienced a sharp contrast in weather, from hot and smoky to cool and damp, indicating an abrupt entrance into autumn. This means the days will be getting shorter and the skies grayer – something that can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), often referred to as seasonal depression.

The change in weather may also mean a necessary change in personal care if you experience seasonal depression. While there are actions you can take to diminish your symptoms on your own, seeking professional advice is a good step.

What does SAD look like?

Seasonal depression feels much like year-round depression and include feelings of anxiety and dejectedness, loss of energy, sleep problems, and mood changes. SAD symptoms can be just as strong as other forms of depression and should not be overlooked.

What can you do?

  1. Seek Light The short days of the winter months means less sunlight. Less sunlight means less serotonin, which means higher risk of depression. Some therapies encourage using a sun-simulating bright light to help regulate hormone levels, but any exposure to sunlight you can give yourself may be beneficial.

  2. Exercise Endorphins released during exercise can help counteract the lack of serotonin and can increase levels of happiness, confidence, and feelings of accomplishments.

  3. Talk to a Therapist While there are many things you can do to take care of your body and your mind, seeking help from a professional can let you target the specifics of your experience. Not all treatments are suitable for every person, and a therapist can help you determine the best route forward. ¬

Relationship Tips for Parents with Young Children

Date: May 18th, 2017

Filed under: Kids

Parenting young children can be a joyous experience, but there’s no denying that it’s a lot of work. Done right, though, it doesn’t have to take a toll on your marriage.

Date Each Other

A weekly date night can be a lifesaver. It doesn’t have to break the bank: Cheap and simple dates are easy to maintain over the long run, so find a sitter you trust, and take time to just be with your partner. Don’t be afraid to try new things during your date nights. Some couples find that the routine of daily life can sap energy and enthusiasm, and doing new things together adds an element of fun, excitement, and yes, even romance.

Check In Daily

Check in with each other every day. Take five minutes to share your high and low point from the day, so you can celebrate and/or offer support. Some couples find that an early bedtime for the kids helps with this, but whenever you choose to do it, make sure it happens. Doing so will ensure that the two of you connect at least once during the day, and that you share something meaningful and personal—not just talk about who needs to pick up the kids from preschool.

Work Together

Studies have shown that most tensions between parents of young children arise from disagreements about the work load. One or both parents may become tired or feel that they have the hardest job and their partner doesn’t understand everything they do. Oddly enough, taking a few minutes to work together, even it’s just doing the dishes or folding laundry, can ease resentment over who does the most work.

It’s a balancing act, but by focusing on your partner and making your relationship a priority, you can make it stronger than ever, and grow closer through the ups and downs of family life.

Mindfulness for Managing Stress

Date: May 18th, 2017

Filed under: Anxiety

Mindfulness is a technique that combines awareness of mind and body with control of mind and body. It involves being in the moment and accepting the existing state of things without judgment. With a little research and self-discipline, you can train yourself to practice mindfulness to help you manage stress.

Although it can take a while to train yourself to be fully mindful, getting started is easy, and mindfulness will come more naturally with consistent practice. The great thing about mindfulness is that you can do it anytime, anywhere. Ready to get started? Put yourself in a position in which you are both comfortable and alert, and focus on your breathing.

Do a mental scan of your body. Start at your head and move down to your toes. Focus on each body part, paying attention to how they feel.

Now that you’re aware of your body, put it in the moment by focusing on your senses. Be aware of what your body is seeing, smelling, etc., and accept those things for what they are.

Focus on your thoughts. Don’t think about anything in particular, just allow the thoughts to flow through your mind. Acknowledge them and any emotions that come, but don’t follow them. If you find yourself getting carried away with a thought, refocus on your breathing. The idea is to separate yourself from your thoughts and emotions: to be aware of them, but in an impartial way, so you can also separate yourself from their stress.

As you continue to practice, you will become more comfortable with mindfulness, and will be able to be mindful even when you’re active: at work, eating a meal, taking a walk, etc. Taking time each day to be fully in the moment and to be aware of what’s going on in your mind without judging it can put things in perspective, help you slow down, and reduce stress both temporarily and long-term.

Trauma and Healing

Date: March 21st, 2017

Filed under: Trauma

Healing from emotional or psychological trauma is just as important—and doable—as healing from physical trauma. It can be a confusing journey though, so here are some important steps you can take to facilitate the healing process:

Take it one day at a time. Recovery of any kind is a big job, and can feel overwhelming if you are focused only on the enormity of the task. Zero in on small things you can do each day—walking, expressing yourself through art or journaling, or reading an inspiring book—to help you find happiness. If a day goes badly—and some days will—recognize that you have a fresh start tomorrow.

Make and maintain connections with people. Good relationships help us combat the tendencies towards isolation that can come with trauma, and are a great source of strength. Let people you trust in on your feelings so they can better understand what you’re going through and what you need. Take time to play, work, laugh, and find common interests with others.

Lastly, look outwards. It sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes healing takes place when we concentrate on helping others. You may want to do something formal, like volunteering with an organization that supports a cause you feel strongly about; or you might want to do something with more flexibility, like calling someone who could use a boost.

Whatever you choose to focus on, have faith in yourself and know that your mind and heart have the ability to heal, just as your body does.

How CBT Can Help You Manage Worry

Date: March 9th, 2017

Filed under: Anxiety

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that examines both how you think and what you do. It draws on the belief that our thoughts and feelings are connected to our behaviors.

CBT can help you manage worry by helping you to identify the emotion you’re feeling and connect it to your thought patterns and behaviors. For example, when you feel worried or anxious, you may create a thought pattern of, “I can’t do this,” and reflect this in your behaviors by avoiding situations that cause you to feel worry.

Your therapist can use CBT to help you identify the ways in which your emotions are governing your thoughts and actions, and help you change the pattern. When you feel worry, you can recognize it for what it is, and practice thinking something like, “Even though I feel worried, I am stronger than my emotions. I can do this.” Pair this positive new thought pattern with courageous new behavior, like putting yourself in an anxiety-inducing situation for a short period of time, and you change your outlook on life. With consistent practice, you will find that your worry dissipates, and you can do more things with less anxiety.

CBT can be used to manage worry in a wide variety of applications. Whether your worry stems from an anxiety disorder, depression, or trauma, working with a therapist to change your thinking and behavior can have a powerful effect on your emotions, and help you manage worry effectively without letting it control your life.

See more articles →