I hear you.

Posted By Elana Klemm, MA, LPC, NCC 03-26-2020

During these unprecedented times, fear, anxiety, isolation, and depressive episodes are prevalent within mental health. These are now pressing matters within an entire globe of humans, ourselves included. In a globalized state of uncertainty, how can we help? How can we make these uncertain times more settling? I know that this question has been circulating my thought process and understanding of the challenges being faced, and for some of my patients, situations such as isolated quarantine could heighten their symptoms to a crippling state.

I hear you.

I hear my patients’ concerns and thoughts.

I hear my colleagues’ who are searching for solutions

I can’t say I have the answers, but I can tell you the practices and reflections that I know are helpful during these hard times. Just like we approach all thought processes, we must observe the situation and realize what is entirely out of our control AND acknowledge that we are indeed in control of how we respond.

We all have the power to refocus and reboot! 

Even in times of uncertainty, it presents us opportunity! Now it is a wonderful time to practice being in the moment. Hours could come and go if we focus too much on the news and constant updates. We all have been presented an opportunity to put our phones away, log off our computers, and hide the TV remote, and, indeed, be present. Whether they are members that live in your households, your pets, yourself, allow yourself to be completely in the moment. 

The ever-changing news of Covid-19 and the media surrounding the situation can be a constant buzz, if you let it. Now is a good time to limit our screen time and decipher what is essential news and what news is that is just reporting on Covid-19 because it’s a hot topic. Important news would be information that is provided by trusted professionals in the field, direct information from government officials, and updates from the World Health Organization. To ease our minds from the constant ring of media, allow yourself to designate times to check the news and times to walk away from it all completely. We must remember that the information being released is ongoing and consistent. Find truth and block the noise.

Yes, we are stuck in our homes, but we get the opportunity to be with our families and slow down. Instead of letting negative energy consume our thoughts, we have been granted the spaces to practice making a mindset shift!

Businesses are closing their doors, but you have what we need and when you don’t, in due diligence, you can go shopping for those items. 

Social distancing feels like isolation, but it makes contacting the people we love most more often and more creatively! 

There is a lot of uncertainty right now, but you know what is in your control and what is out of your control. You have the power to make this situation amazing.

If we change our mindset to be positive, then opportunities for growth are endless. There are two kinds of anxiety: productive anxiety and unproductive anxiety. We can turn our anxiety into something productive. Moments like this also bring greif. That’s right, greif. Greif requires us to feel a kind of sadness that makes many of us so uncomfortable that we try to get rid of it. As much as there is collective anxiety surrounding Covid-19, but there’s also collective loss. Cognitive approaches for mindfulness will be vital in finding a balance in your life. You’ve been given an opportunity to focus on activities that you love, regardless of the things you may be losing. 

Take a moment to stop and think about the passions in your life you may have neglected due to busy schedules. These are the tasks that you wish you could invest more time in and feel accomplished when you do pursue these passions wholeheartedly! Remember that book you wanted to dive into? Do you have a jigsaw puzzle laying around the house? Maybe this spring is the spring you start your garden back up? Fueling your joys can lead to positive emotions that keep the anxiousness away. Allow yourself to pour energy into yourself and hobbies, without the stress/obligations you may have otherwise had. 

I also am a big encourager of trying a practice that is way outside your comfort zone. These are practices that you may have tried in the past or just figured it “wouldn’t be your thing.” It turns out, with more free time, you can try something new, and that is focused solely on bettering yourself! Even if they sound silly, or maybe uncomfortable at first, there is no harm in trying something new.  If you open your mind and embrace the challenge, you might find a new practice that enhances your headspace. Here are some fun ideas to consider: 

  • In recent years, adult coloring books, paint by numbers, or even diamond by numbers have grown in popularity! They stimulate creativity and focus, but can be relaxing and meditative. Don’t have access to a bookstore? Apps like Colorfy allow you to be artistic on any device. 
  • Jogging/walking. Physical activity is allowed and encouraged during these times. Start with a lap around the block and increase each day. 
  • Meditation is a great practice for slowing down racing thoughts and being present. If you are new to meditation, apps such as Calm and Headspace, can guide you through the process. 

What’s great about being home and trying something new is that you are in a low stakes situation. You have control over the energy and effort. If you do try something new, give it a change and allow yourself to feel a little uncomfortable outside of your comfort zone. It’s ok if it doesn’t go to plan or you draw something messy. You are simply trying to better yourself and that is admirable! 

As great as these practices can work for an at-home activity, remember that mental health professionals are still available for our patients. We have not left you and can accommodate. Virtual meeting programs can be scheduled for your convenience. To anyone that has paused their sessions or hasn’t yet scheduled an initial appointment, this might be the perfect time to move forward in your mental health journey.

For my colleagues, this is the time to be encouraging more and more patients to connect with you, even if it is not in person. It has been our duty to protect and serve those struggling with their mental health, and COVID-19 cannot take that spirit to save others away from us. 

This is a great time to adapt, promote, and destigmatize the taboo around mental health because we know that globalized fear and uncertainty are affecting more than just our patients. Together we can make a push to encourage those in need to seek mental health professionals through social media, advertisements, and newsletters.

In times like these, we are reminded of the things that we have taken for granted: the people in our lives we love, our careers, going grocery shopping after work, and so forth. We can stand together and find creative solutions to the responses that are in our control. The pandemic canceling my father’s 90th birthday party, after months of organizing and planning? Out of my control. But my family members all attending our virtual, online video conference to celebrate made me realize that this pandemic cannot take away our ability to love and lean on those who make us feel safe and secure. Never could we have thought that a moment like this would encourage us all to reevaluate our priorities, be mindful of what matters most for the greater good, or lay rest our ability to be a provider of service that is needed more than ever. We all have moments of surprise, that catch us off guard and throw a wrench in plans, but a pandemic? We’ve all got this. We can do this together with love, kindness, and support from one another.

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What Is the 333 Rule for Anxiety?

If you regularly experience anxiety, you may have researched ways to relieve your symptoms and come across a coping mechanism known as the “333 rule.” But how does it work? The next time you’re feeling anxious, try:

  1. Naming three things you see
  2. Naming three sounds you hear
  3. Moving three body parts

How Does the 333 Rule Reduce Anxiety?

Although the 333 rule doesn’t work in every situation, many therapists recommend it to patients living with anxiety because it helps to ground them. By concentrating on sights, sounds, and movements, patients can stop fixating on their worries and instead focus on the present moment. One of the benefits of the 333 rule is that it doesn’t require someone to be in a certain place or have access to a certain object—instead, they can use it virtually anytime and from almost anywhere. Patients can even practice the 333 rule when they’re not feeling anxious to start establishing it as a habit.

For More Information

If you’d like to know more about how the 333 rule can help combat anxiety, contact us today. Our therapists have experience using the 333 rule and various other techniques to treat anxiety, and we can develop a care approach that’s customized to your specific needs. When you reach out, we’ll tell you more about our practice, answer your questions, and arrange a time for you to attend an initial therapy session. We look forward to meeting with you and helping you take the next step toward an anxiety-free life.

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Can a Narcissist Be Cured?

Narcissistic personality disorder—a mental health condition characterized by an excessive need to feel important and impress others—often causes narcissists to have an inflated sense of self-worth, lack empathy, and fantasize about possessing success, power, intelligence, and beauty. Narcissism differs from self-confidence in that it causes narcissists to view others with disdain rather than recognizing that they also have value.

Unfortunately, there’s currently no cure for narcissistic personality disorder, but certain treatments can help manage symptoms. These include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – This form of psychotherapy focuses on identifying and addressing unhelpful thoughts and behaviors.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) – DBT is a derivative of CBT that focuses on experiencing, accepting, and coping with emotions.
  • Metacognitive therapy (MCT) – This approach to psychotherapy focuses on controlling thinking processes (e.g., rumination) rather than on the content of thoughts.

While there’s currently no medication available to treat narcissistic personality disorder, certain medications can be used to treat related conditions, including anxiety and depression. When a narcissist seeks treatment, their provider will develop a customized care approach that’s specially designed to serve their individual needs. 

Learn More About Narcissism

If you think that a friend, family member, or coworker is a narcissist—or if you’re concerned that you might be a narcissist yourself—we can help. Our team is highly experienced in treating narcissism, and we’ll be happy to speak with you about this condition. Contact us today to schedule a therapy appointment at the date and time of your choosing.

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What Are the 5 Stages of PTSD?

You’ve likely heard of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental health condition that can cause someone to experience anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms after living through a traumatic event. But did you know that the mental health community commonly divides PTSD into five stages? They are:

  1. Impact – This stage occurs immediately after someone experiences a traumatic event. The person may feel shocked, overwhelmed, powerless, guilty, anxious, or afraid.
  2. Denial – Because the brain naturally blocks out traumatic experiences to protect itself, some people may go through a stage where they deny that the traumatic event occurred in the first place.
  3. Rescue – During the rescue stage, someone begins coming to terms with the traumatic event, possibly returning to the site where it occurred or ruminating about what happened. Many people experience confusion, despair, hopelessness, and anger during this phase.
  4. Acceptance – Once someone regains their sense of safety and begins to look at the traumatic event in a new light, they may recognize the impact that the experience had on their life and accept that they need help to move on from what happened. Anxiety and insomnia are common at this stage.
  5. Recovery – During this final stage, someone takes affirmative steps (such as seeking professional help) to heal from their traumatic experience and implement coping mechanisms.

Your Top Choice for PTSD Treatment

No matter what stage of PTSD you’re in right now, we can help. Our therapists regularly work with individuals who are living with PTSD, and we understand that each patient requires a unique approach to care. After learning about your background and how PTSD affects you, we’ll work with you to overcome your symptoms and achieve an improved quality of life. Contact us today to learn more about our practice and schedule your first therapy session.

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Cultivating Mindfulness in Daily Life

Have you heard about the concept of mindfulness? It involves being aware of the thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations that you’re experiencing at any given time (this is commonly referred to as “present moment awareness”). Practicing mindfulness offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Increased sense of well-being
  • Enhanced cognitive abilities
  • Slowed brain aging
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved sleep
  • Pain management
  • Improved quality of life for individuals with chronic conditions

Practicing Mindfulness Every Day

Many people meditate by focusing on their breath—pay attention to how it feels as you inhale and exhale, and whenever you notice that your mind has wandered, acknowledge the distraction as a passing thought and then refocus your attention on your breathing. When you first begin practicing mindfulness, you may be able to do this for only a few minutes, but your sessions will likely get longer over time.

You can incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily life by practicing present moment awareness when you’re:

  • Eating a meal
  • Taking a walk
  • Commuting to and from work
  • Coloring
  • Gardening
  • Showering
  • Lying in bed

If you’re having trouble, you may want to consider downloading an app that will guide you through the meditation process. Or, set some alarms on your phone that will remind you to meditate at certain times throughout the day.

Start Practicing Mindfulness

If you’d like to know more about mindfulness techniques and the benefits of present-moment awareness, contact us today. We’ll be happy to schedule a therapy session at a date and time that works for you.

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Understanding Panic Disorder

If you’ve had at least four panic attacks and you regularly worry that you’ll experience another one, you may have panic disorder. In some cases, this type of anxiety can make it difficult for people to leave their home, since they may worry about when and where their next panic attack will occur.

What Does a Panic Attack Feel Like?

Panic attacks cause someone to feel an overwhelming sense of fear. During one of these attacks, you may experience:

  • Trembling and shaking
  • Numbness
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • A pounding heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • A choking sensation
  • Nausea and stomach pain
  • Fear of losing control, going crazy, or dying
  • A sensation of being disconnected or unreal

While some panic attacks subside within just a few minutes, others last for more than an hour. Depending on the frequency, duration, and severity of panic attacks, panic disorder can sometimes become disabling, preventing someone from holding a job and engaging in other regular activities.

How Is Panic Disorder Treated?

Treatment for panic disorder varies from one person to another, and a trained provider can recommend the approach that’s most appropriate for your specific needs. With that said, panic disorder treatment often involves:

  • Taking medication (e.g., anti-anxiety medication or antidepressant medication)
  • Attending counseling
  • Learning coping skills and relaxation techniques

Offering Help With Anxiety Disorders

Our team has extensive experience treating various types of anxiety, including panic disorder, so if you need assistance, contact us today. We’ll be glad to schedule a therapy session at a date and time of your choosing. We look forward to helping you take the first step toward managing your anxiety.

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Understanding CBT: What It Is & How It Works

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on identifying inaccurate or negative thinking, viewing difficult situations more clearly, and responding to those situations more effectively. CBT can be administered on an individual basis or in a group setting, and in some cases, it may be combined with another form of treatment (for example, medication). When compared to many other types of therapy, CBT often requires fewer sessions.

What Can CBT Be Used to Treat?

CBT has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sleep disorders
  • Substance use disorders

With that said, CBT isn’t just useful for individuals with mental illnesses—it can benefit anyone who’s dealing with a stressful situation. For example, CBT can also be used to help people cope with loss, resolve conflicts, and improve their communication skills.

Does CBT Sound Like the Right Choice for You?

If you think you could benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, contact us today. Our friendly team can tell you more about our practice and how we incorporate CBT into our therapy sessions. And if we seem like a good fit for your needs, we can schedule a therapy appointment at a date and time that fits into your schedule. We look forward to speaking with you and helping you work toward your treatment goals.

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5 Realistic New Year’s Resolutions

Do you find yourself setting New Year’s resolutions each year, only to forget about them months, weeks, or even days later? If so, you’re not alone. According to statistics published by Forbes, the average resolution lasts only 3.74 months. In fact, so many people abandon their resolutions that January 17 has been declared by many sources as “Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day.”

If you want to stay committed to your New Year’s resolutions this year, you may want to consider setting more realistic goals. Rather than attempting lofty resolutions that will require you to overhaul your entire life, decide to slowly incorporate smaller habits and routines. For example:

  1. If you want to start exercising more, resolve to take walks three or four times a week (rather than saying you’ll hit the gym every day).
  2. If you want to get more organized, resolve to clean each room one by one (rather than tackling your whole house all at once).
  3. If you want to save money, resolve to eat out only once or twice a week (rather than saying that you’ll cut out restaurants entirely).
  4. If you want to read more, resolve to finish one book each month (rather than one each week).
  5. If you want to get more sleep, resolve to start going to bed a half hour earlier each evening (rather than saying you’ll go to bed at 9 p.m. every night).

Notably, action-oriented resolutions tend to be more successful than avoidance-oriented resolutions. So, if your goal is to eat healthier this year, you may want to resolve to cook one new nutritious meal each week rather than saying that you’re going to stop eating sweets.

Bonus Resolution: Start Attending Therapy

Everyone can benefit from speaking to a therapist, so if you don’t already attend therapy, now’s the perfect time to start doing so. The therapists on our team can help you identify areas where you may have room for improvement, show you how to set realistic goals, and guide you toward achieving those objectives. Contact us today to schedule your first therapy session.

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How to Navigate Infertility

Films and television shows would have us believe that conceiving a child is the easiest thing in the world. For some this may be true. But for many couples, getting pregnant seems almost impossible.

And so we seek the help and guidance from fertility specialists, convinced modern technology will help us create the family we’ve been dreaming of. We begin treatments with the hope that one of them will finally take.

Along the way, we feel a multitude of emotions, from shame and guilt to fear and sadness. Oh, and let’s not forget the unmitigated mental exhaustion.

If you are going through your own infertility journey and can relate to all of this, here are some tips to help you navigate:

You’re Not Alone

If all of your friends are having babies, your relatives have had babies, and it seems like the whole world (but you) is having babies, understand that you are not alone. In fact, according to the CDC, one in eight couples in America struggles to get pregnant or sustain a pregnancy.

Do Your Homework

Before beginning infertility treatments, be sure you do some solid research. You want to look for not only a clinic with a track record of live birth outcomes that is attached to excellent labs, you also want to find a doctor that you connect with and feel comfortable with. Ask your OBGYN to connect you with someone. You may also want to ask around your group of friends to find a personal recommendation.

Self-Care

The healthier you are, the better your chances of becoming pregnant. It’s easy to let stress build-up, and then give in to those comfort food cravings. But now is the time to take optimal care of your mind, body and spirit. Eat whole foods, drink plenty of filtered water and get plenty of rest. Stay away from toxic people and situations and prioritize your well-being.

You may also find it helpful to speak with a therapist who can help you navigate the powerful emotions you and your partner are feeling. I help couples who are struggling with infertility stay positive and mentally healthy. I’d love to help you, too.

SOURCES:

https://www.premamawellness.com/blogs/blog/what-i-learned-to-expect-from-not-expecting-6-tips-on-how-to-navigate-infertility-and-find-community

Even Miracles Take a Little Time: How to Navigate Infertility the Smart Way

How to Navigate the Emotions of Infertility

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5 Ways to Stop Panic Attacks

If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know firsthand the name is apropos. Within seconds you can go from feeling quite well and “ordinary” to experiencing absolute dread and fear. And often with no obvious trigger. It’s a horrible way to live.

But you don’t have to live feeling like a helpless victim of these attacks. Here are some powerful ways you can stop panic attacks in their tracks:

1. Recognize What’s Happening

If, in the moment, you can recognize that you are having a panic attack and not a heart attack, you can begin to instantly calm yourself at the realization this is temporary. It will pass and you will be okay. And once you gain a little bit of calm, you can employ further techniques.

2. Deep Breathing

Hyperventilating is a common symptoms of a panic attack. Breathing in an erratic pattern tends to make the attack intensify.

Conversely, deep breathing can reduce the symptoms of a panic attack and bring you back to a state of calm. Breathing slowly and deeply signals to the rest of your body that the “threat” is gone and you can get out of “fight or flight” mode.

3. Close Your Eyes

Some people can become triggered by things in their environment. If this happens to you and you find yourself in a fast-paced environment with too much stimuli becoming overwhelmed, close your eyes while taking some deep, slow, full breaths.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Panic attacks tend to cause a feeling of detachment or separation from reality. Mindfulness meditation is powerful because it can help you stay fully present in the here and now. In addition, the practice of meditation has been shown to relieve stress and anxiety.

5. Get Help

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other mental health treatments have been shown to help people suffering with panic attacks. CBT sessions can happen in private, in groups, and even online.

If you are interested in exploring treatment options, please get in touch with me. I’m here to help and answer any questions you may have.

SOURCES:

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-stop-a-panic-attack

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321510

https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-stop-a-panic-attack-5202930

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How Counseling Can Help With Big Life Changes

They say there are only two things in life you can count on: death and taxes. I would add a third: changes. Every person goes through changes in life. And some of those changes can be significant.

Whether you are graduating, starting a new job, moving to a new city, or ending a relationship, you may find dealing with change to be stressful. But there is good news. Counseling can absolutely help you navigate these big life changes so you can make the absolute best decision for you.

Here are some ways counseling can help with big life changes:

Managing Expectations

There’s the change itself, and then there’s what we expect life to be during and after the change. Often we can feel stress when reality does not align with our expectations of reality. Counseling can help you manage your expectations so that the transition is peaceful and realistic.

A Positive Framework

Change means one door closes as another one opens. But many people put all of their focus and attention on that closing door. Focusing on an ending can make us feel depressed and anxious.

A counselor can help you focus on the new opportunities ahead of you. This can improve your state of mind, which will ultimately help you make the most of the current situation.

Self-Care

For many of us, change means burning the candle at both ends and not taking care of ourselves. Counseling can remind us (as many times as needed) that we need to make our physical and mental health a priority during this transition.

Now that you see some of the ways counseling can help you through the biggest changes in your life, it’s time to find a counselor who can help you find insight and fresh perspective. If you’d like to explore counseling further, please reach out to me. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

SOURCES:

https://onlinedegrees.bradley.edu/blog/six-ways-counselors-can-help-clients-dealing-with-major-change/

http://creativeresolutionsinc.com/2021/07/20/how-counseling-can-help-you-through-life-changes/

Adjusting to Big Life Changes