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.

44839e7a-4d47-43bd-aee4-5446ff8cdfd1

How Narcissistic Parents Affect Mental Health in Children

For many children, childhood is a time of wonder, play, and discovery. These children have parents who give them the safety and security to explore the world around them and grow to reach their full potential. 

But some children have one or more parents who lack the right skills or behavior to allow their children to feel safe, secure, and unconditionally loved. Those children who are raised by someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) often experience prolonged trauma, and the effects of this trauma can linger into adulthood.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

When we hear the word narcissist, we often think of certain politicians or celebrities who are known for their boastful and arrogant behavior. And while these traits are definitely annoying, narcissism is far more complex and destructive to those in the relationship with the narcissist, particularly children.

The main characteristics of narcissism are a lack of empathy and the inability to recognize the emotional needs of others. Narcissistic parents also tend to view their offspring as competition while simultaneously denying them independent personhood. 

Some other key characteristics of narcissistic parents include:

  • Codependency
  • Inflexible
  • Liars
  • Manipulators
  • Superficial
  • Self-involved
  • Superior

How Does a Narcissistic Parent Affect a Child’s Mental Health?

The following are some common ways kids, and adult children of narcissists, feel about themselves and life in general:

Low Self-Worth

You grow up feeling unseen and unheard. Your emotional needs never really mattered.

Codependency

Narcissistic parents make sure it’s ALWAYS about them. Children grow up feeling 100% responsible for making sure their parent’s needs (financial, emotional, and otherwise) are taken care of. They do not learn how to form healthy boundaries, only how to please others.

Crippling Self-Doubt

Narcissists are liars and manipulators. They will “gaslight” their children into believing a false reality. As a result, children grow up with crippling self-doubt, never believing they can trust their own feelings.

If you believe one or both of your parents was a narcissist and you are suffering from any of these aftereffects, you CAN heal. Working with a therapist who specializes in recovery from narcissistic abuse can put you on the path to self-love, self-compassion, and greater joy and intimacy with others.

If you’d like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me.

RESOURCES:

0fcc83d1-ffb2-46d2-9414-1492c2023eec

What is Mindful Eating?

In recent decades, mindfulness meditation has taken the West by storm. As a result, more and more people are experiencing less stress and more fulfillment in their life by “staying in the moment.” Well, mindfulness can be applied to any area of your life, including eating!

You may have heard of mindful eating before and assumed it had something to do with eating more slowly and chewing your food longer. And while these two considerations are part of the practice, they only scratch the surface.

Guidelines for Mindful Eating

You may be wondering why you should even begin to explore mindful eating. Well, the main reason is that the practice can help you to lose weight and easily maintain a healthy weight. This of course helps you to prevent the development of certain chronic diseases such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Health benefits aside, mindful eating also puts a lot of joy in your life. Most people no longer savor their meals but instead wolf them down while mindlessly watching TV or surfing the Internet. Mindful eating reminds you to savor your food and, in reality, savor every moment of this delicious life!

If you’re interested in mindful eating, here are some guidelines to help get you started:

  • Refrain from eating because “it’s time” or because you are feeling intense emotions. Instead, become aware of hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions on when to eat.
  • Be mindful when creating a shopping list, choosing those items that have real health value.
  • Start with a small portion, you can always have second helpings if needed. But you may be surprised how often those second helpings aren’t needed when you eat slowly.
  • Enjoy each bite of your food. Taste all the flavors and feel the different textures of your food. Eating this way not only adds joy and sensuality to your life, but it helps you to eat more slowly so you don’t overeat.

Mindful eating makes dieting a thing of the past and empowers people to make better food choices through common sense and enjoying the experience of eating. I encourage you to give mindful eating a try and see if it can’t benefit your health and overall well-being.

SOURCES:

a0056aaf-92cf-4e33-b18d-9d1a9e0ce951

3 Ways Teens Can Benefit from Therapy

Not many of us remember our teenage years as walks in the park. That’s because this time in our life is punctuated by uncertainties, social pressure, and a surge of hormones. Because of this perfect storm, many teens act out, which can cause a lot of chaos and disruption in the home and family.

Here are 3 reasons why teens can benefit from therapy:

Self-Worth Issues

Most teens have a certain level of self-worth issues growing through this awkward phase. But there are those teens that really suffer from low self-esteem. Therapy can help adolescence build their self-esteem.

Stress

Dealing with school, friendships, work, choosing a college… are all major stressors in a young person’s life. And many teens find it hard to speak with their parents. Therapy offers teens a way to communicate and let go of some steam and pressure that is building up.

Grief and Loss

There should be a rule that no young person should suffer the loss of a close friend or family member. Sadly, many teens do experience loss and the grief that accompanies it. This can be incredibly difficult for the teen and their parents to navigate. A therapist has been trained to know exactly how to guide a young person through the stages of grief.

Anxiety Disorders

It’s perfectly normal for teens to feel worried and anxious at times. But some teens experience such severe anxiety, it negatively impacts their life, schoolwork and relationships. Therapy can help teens learn to manage their symptoms.

Substance Abuse Issues

Unfortunately, many teens learn to cope with the intensity of life by using drugs and alcohol. A therapist can assess a teen’s substance use and determine the best course of action.

These are just some of the benefits teens can gain from working with a therapist. If you or a loved one would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me.

SOURCES:

22a4d58a-fc69-4165-8543-efde6cd0b918

Benefits of Co-Parenting (And How to Do It)

When two people decide to separate or divorce, the first question they usually must answer is, “What’s best for the children?” Well, according to the Third International Conference on Shared Parenting, co-sponsored by the National Parents Organization and the International Council on Shared Parenting, children need both parents in their life, no matter how those two adults feel about each other. It is for this reason that most child health experts agree that co-parenting is in the best interests of children of divorce.

The latest research indicates that children of divorce, who have parents who agree to co-parent, can grow up just as well and adjusted as those children from homes where parents had successful marriages. They may actually fair a little better and have a lower divorce rate themselves and be more successful in their careers. Why is this?

Children that come from co-parenting learn how to proactively create good situations. They also see their parents working together for THEIR benefit, which gives them a healthy sense of self-worth. And, seeing parents successfully communicating with one another teaches them how to have good relationships with others.

Tips for Co-Parenting

Co-parenting will take some practice to get it right. Here are some tips for you and your parenting partner:

Make a Commitment

This journey will be bumpy. Make a commitment to your children and promise to have open and honest communication where their well-being is concerned.

Have Rules

Rules for each household should be agreed upon at the very beginning. Your children will test you both. Rules will help to ensure routine and structure, which they need greatly.

Avoid Negative Talk

While you may have issues with your ex, that is still your child’s parent. Refrain from “trash talking” the other around your children.

Seek Counsel

If you need help with lines of communication or help putting in place a comprehensive co-parenting plan, I encourage you to seek the guidance of a trained family therapist. He or she can navigate these choppy waters so everything is done with your child’s best interests in mind.

If you’d like to work with a family therapist who is caring, nurturing, and never judgmental, please reach out to my office.

SOURCES:

2c5b59a9-bfe9-42dd-b1c1-b1b82e2428c9

Self-Care: Holding Onto Good Mental Health After The Seasonal Depression

Seasonal depression, also referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), refers to a type of depression that relates to changes in the seasons. Most people with SAD feel symptoms come on in the fall and generally feel them all through the winter. Symptoms, which include lethargy, sadness, and general depression, usually dissipate once spring arrives. 

With the warmer months here, it’s a great time to get into some healthy mental habits, so you’ll be ready to fight the blues come fall. Here are some ways you can hold onto your good mental health all year long: 

Stay Physically Active 

Inactivity can definitely worsen depression symptoms. And several recent studies suggest people who exercise regularly have better mental health than those who do not. One of the best habits to get into is to ensure you move your body every day, even if that means going for a walk around the neighborhood. 

If you live in an area of the country that experiences cold, snowy winters, think about taking up a fun activity like skiing or snowshoeing. If that’s just not your thing, consider getting a treadmill, stationary bike or mini trampoline for your home. 

Reduce Social Media Use 

Social media is fun once in a while and a way for us to stay connected to others. But too much social media use has been shown to cause mental health issues. Be sure to limit your social media use to only 30 – 60 minutes a day. 

Take Up a Hobby 

Doing something you really enjoy is obviously great for your mental health. But so many people feel they are too busy with work and family responsibilities. Make time! Learn to paint or play an instrument. Take salsa lessons or start writing that novel you’ve always dreamed about. 

Relax More Often 

Chronic stress is a killer. It can cause the development of diseases such as heart disease and cancer. At the very least, chronic stress will dysregulate your nervous system, which will then cause a depression. 

Take time every week to check out and destress. Get a massage, take a long hot bath, sit in a sauna, or just lie in the hammock in your backyard. 

You may also want to consider working with a mental health specialist so you always have someone to freely talk with about whatever’s bothering you. If you find your therapist now, you will have formed a relationship come fall when the blues tend to settle back in. 

If you’d like to learn more about treatment options, please feel free to reach out to me. 

SOURCES: 

1b828de7-0365-4f29-b26f-b45ec7c7832a

What is the Gottman Method?

When we fall in love with our spouses or partners, we never imagine that someday the honeymoon phase might end. We want to believe those Hollywood romantic comedies that make us believe we will “live happily ever after.”

The truth is, all couples have their fair share of ups and downs. That’s natural. Healthy relationships require a lot of work. But sometimes it can be difficult to do this work when communication has completely broken down and when there is a blatant lack of respect. Enter the Gottman Method.

What Exactly is the Gottman Method?

As a family and relationship counselor, I am always looking for tools and strategies that will help me help my clients. A few years ago, I was introduced to the Gottman Method, and it has changed my entire practice for the better.

Simply put, the goal of the Gottman Method, created by husband and wife therapists Drs. John and Julie Gottman, improve communication and ultimately increases trust, respect, and intimacy. This specific approach to couples counseling integrates research-based interventions and includes a thorough assessment of the couple’s relationship. This assessment is what allows counselors like myself to develop a personalized therapeutic framework to bring about lasting change. 

What Can You Expect?

The assessment will show us what your relational strengths and challenges are. From there, I design a special counseling framework that will help you replace negative relationship patterns with positive ones. The work we do together will help you both increase your intimacy and deepen your emotional connection. 

Is the Gottman Method Right for You?

The Gottman Method has been successful for couples who are dealing with the following:

  • Frequent arguing
  • Problems with communication
  • Lack of emotional connection
  • Lack of trust and intimacy

If you and your partner have become aware of some big challenges in the relationship, and you’d like some guidance in overcoming those challenges, then please reach out to me.

SOURCES:

8f905e4a-bbfc-4748-a243-f798e3c5377f

How Your Self-Esteem Affects Your Mental Health

Having a low self-esteem is something many people of all ages deal with. While a low self-esteem is not considered a mental health condition itself, the way we think about ourselves directly impacts our mental health and overall well-being.

What is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem refers to the way people feel about themselves. Someone with a healthy or high self-esteem thinks positively about themselves and their abilities. They believe they are deserving of respect and have no problems setting healthy boundaries.

Individuals with low self-esteems do not feel very good about themselves. They constantly measure themselves against others and always come up short. They may not think they are worthy of love and respect and will typically not set healthy boundaries, allowing others to take advantage of them.

How Does a Low Self-Esteem Affect Mental Health?

The following are some ways a low self-esteem can impact a person’s mental health:

Poor Relationships 

Human beings are wired for connections. But when we have low self-esteem, we tend to not put ourselves “out there” socially and even tend to isolate, which can lead to poor relationships and loneliness.

Addiction

Studies have indicated low self-esteem in childhood can lead to addictions later in life. Mandy addicts use alcohol and other substances as a way to cope with negative feelings about themselves.

Depression and Anxiety

Living with low self-esteem day after day, week after week, can very much take its toll and eventually lead to the development of depression and anxiety.

How to Build Your Self-Esteem

Building self-esteem is important for mental health and to live a happy life. But it’s not necessarily easy to do it. It’s not like losing weight where you can say I am going to eat less and move more.

That is why I recommend working with a trained therapist who specializes in helping people build their self-esteem. A therapist can help you identify your core negative beliefs and determine where they came from. He or she can then help you develop a new, realistic self-esteem that reflects who you truly are.

If you or someone you know is suffering with low self-esteem and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me.

SOURCES:

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/July-2016/Why-Self-Esteem-Is-Important-for-Mental-Health

https://www.hormona.io/why-self-esteem-affects-your-mental-health/

https://fherehab.com/learning/self-esteem-mental-health

5 Amazing Health Benefits of Garlic

National Garlic Day is April 19th. While many of us enjoy the taste of garlic, much to our loved ones’ chagrin (hey, that’s why God invented breath mints), not a lot of people know that garlic is really good for you!

With this in mind, here are 5 reasons to start eating more garlic:

1. It Boosts Your Immune System

Studies have shown that garlic supplements have the capacity to boost the immune system. One specific study found that daily garlic supplementation reduced the number of colds by a whopping 63%! As an added bonus, the length and symptoms of colds also decreased by 70%. Adding garlic to your diet may be a great way to stay healthy during cold and flu season.

2. Garlic May Reduce Blood Pressure

Heart disease and stroke are two of the world’s leading causes of death. And high blood pressure is one of the biggest drivers of these diseases.

Human studies have found that garlic supplements are able to significantly reduce a person’s blood pressure. In fact, some studies have found that aged garlic extract was just as effective at lowering blood pressure as one commonly prescribed medication!

3. Garlic Improves Cholesterol Levels

Lowering your blood pressure is one way to keep your heart healthy. Another important way is to reduce your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. Garlic supplements have also been shown to reduce LDL levels by as much as 15%, according to some studies.

4. Garlic May Prevent Cognitive Diseases

We know that oxidative stress and free radicals are what cause our body, including our brain, to age. Garlic contains powerful antioxidants that may protect against common brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

5. Garlic May Improve Bone Health

Rodent studies have shown that garlic may have the ability to increase estrogen levels in females, thereby decreasing the risk of developing bone loss. While no human studies have happened yet, the results so far are very promising.

It’s no wonder that for thousands of years, garlic has been used by people around the world for its medicinal properties. As our modern studies are now confirming what our ancestors knew, it’s time we all started eating more of the delicious and stinky vegetables.

 

RESOURCES:

How Family Therapy Can Help During This Lingering Covid Crisis

It has been almost a year since the world changed with the Covid-19 virus. After months and months of being locked down, many families are experiencing burnout from being forced to be home together so much.

While the vaccines are being rolled out, we are still getting mixed reports and messages from the media as to when life might return to normal. Some schools have opened, but many have not, and parents are still scrambling to figure out how to make a living while homeschooling their children.

All of this has caused many families to feel fatigued and a real strain on their relationships.

Family Therapy: Ensuring Your Family’s Health

Over the past year, many families have taken necessary measures to ensure they remain physically healthy during this time. Making healthy meals (instead of ordering pizza 3 nights a week) and getting the family involved in regular exercise has been a big help. But how can parents ensure they and their children protect their mental health at this time?

Family therapy offers each member of your family a safe space to discuss any issues they may be having. A trained therapist can guide your family, helping all of you to understand and utilize the healthiest communication strategies. He or she can also help to validate your feelings and offer helpful stress management techniques.

And, for anyone concerned with the safety of visiting a therapist in person during this time, family therapy can be just as effective when received through telehealth, or online therapy.

If you and your family are struggling right now and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

SOURCES:

Tips for Staying Healthy While Working from Home

For some people, working from home is a normal routine. This is, after all, the gig economy, and many people have been freelancing, making a living from their home office for many years now. But for others, working from home is a completely new phenomenon brought about by the global pandemic.

For this second group of people, working from home has completely changed their day-to-day lives, and many have found their overall health has taken a toll. With lockdowns and social distancing still mandated in many areas of the country, it’s a good idea to discuss some things you can do to stay healthy while you continue to work from home:

Keep Your Routine

We’ve all heard the stories of people admitting they aren’t showering as often and are staying in their PJs all day. While this was fun and novel at the beginning of the pandemic, allowing this to continue can negatively impact your mental and physical health.

It’s important to keep a daily routine. This means setting an alarm, showering, dressing, etc.

Get Exercise

You may not even realize how much more you used to move around at your office or place of work. The office kitchen and bathroom were probably farther away, and you took breaks just to chat with coworkers. It’s important that you get up from time to time and move around at home as well.

Stock Up on Healthy Food

It will be FAR TOO EASY to put on weight when working from home unless you make sure to get rid of most junk food and instead, stock up on healthy food and snacks.

Stay Connected

Not everyone is cut out for working from home as it can be isolating. If you’re used to being around a lot of people and are feeling lonely, be sure to check in with friends and coworkers throughout the day.

None of us really know when life will return to normal. If you are forced to work from home at this time, be sure to follow these tips so you can stay healthy!

 

SOURCES: