Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’

Can your Love Relationship be Saved?

Written by sharon on . Posted in Blog

Couples - trackDoes it feel like you and your partner are competitors instead of allies? Have the small kindnesses vanished from your daily interactions? Are you walking on egg shells for fear of saying something that will cause conflict, anger, or hurt? Do you avoid each other more than seek one another out?

When couples come for counseling because their relationship is in trouble, as a therapist my main goal is to watch for and understand the patterns that inevitably show up in a couple’s interactions, so together we can understand what is going wrong despite their best efforts. It is incredibly helpful to examine arguments because they are never about what they appear to be. That bears repeating: while couples get caught up in the details, the argument is almost never about what it appears to be. There is an important theme playing out as that conflict and BOTH partners are engaged in the dance that fuels it. Identifying the theme is the critical factor.

I believe we are always doing our best in the moment with the tools we have, but many of us didn’t witness healthy relationships in our parents’ interactions, and our awareness and skills need improvement. To be emotionally close to someone as we are in the early days or years of a relationship is a magical thing. To be in conflict with the person who we deeply love causes us immense anxiety, pain, and sadness—so why would we purposely inflict those feelings on ourselves if we knew how to avoid them.

Love relationships are amazing structures that can teach us about what we didn’t get growing up. We need to figure out what that is or we’re destined to seek it, unconsciously, in this relationship, and the next, and the next—usually in ways that leave us feeling alone, misunderstood, and end up sabotaging the partnership.

The First Step

Effective counseling requires that couples come out of their corners in the boxing ring and embrace a new position with regard to the relationship—a united front of honesty, curiosity, and collaboration. Yes, I know … much more difficult than it sounds. That’s why an objective and caring intermediary—pastor, therapist or counselor—can be vital. When couples are trying to fix their problems from a place of fear—which is the source of all conflict—solutions are extremely difficult to recognize. I support clients to identify that fear and investigate it with deep compassion.

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” ~ Einstein

To sleep or not to sleep — 3 Myths & Tips to leverage your chances of a good night’s sleep

Written by sharon on . Posted in Blog

sleep-clock-sleeping-woman

3 Myths and Tips to Improve our Sleep:

As a psychotherapist, I am amazed by how many folks today are coming in with sleep issues. They have problems falling asleep, staying asleep, and falling back to sleep if they wake up in the middle of the night. During the day, this translates to increased anxiety, difficulty focusing, and lack of energy.

Sound familiar?

Sleep is a tricky thing. And it’s become trickier in our fast paced, high achieving, high tech world that is a recipe for anxiety – sleep’s enemy. The following are some tips to improve your “sleep hygiene.” That’s right. Sleep has become a huge area of study with its own fancy nomenclature.

Myth #1: I can catch up on my sleep if I don’t get much tonight.

Sorry — wrong. The body’s Circadian Rhythms work like a personal, internal 24-hour “clock.” These rhythms regulate the body’s temperature, appetite, hormonal changes, and sleep cycles. The body wants the sleep rhythm to be reasonably constant. When we miss a night’s sleep, the circadian rhythm is thrown off and we pay for it by feeling drowsy, tired, and grumpy the next day. Most likely our anxiety will be higher, too. Sadly, there is no “catching up,” rather, the body has to regulate the rhythm again which takes a few days.
Tip #1:
Schedule your Sleep. Try to go to bed and get up around the same time every night.

Myth #2: It’s so comfy that it makes sense to use my bed as a sleeping area, office area, eating area, studying area, and TV/Computer station.

Wrong, again. Psychologically, it is extremely helpful to our ability to transition to a state of deep relaxation and sleep well if our mind associates our bed with sleeping, and ONLY sleeping.
Tip #2:
Create a sacred space. Your bed and, if possible, your bedroom, should be a warm, welcoming, comfy place that is associated with nothing but rest and relaxation.

Myth #3: If I’m tired, my brain should be able to shut off the stimulation of the day and just go to sleep.

You can probably guess the answer. Yep, sorry, wrong again. It would be great if this were true, but unfortunately it’s not.
Tip #3:
Unplug. We cannot stimulate our brains with vigorous exercise, loud music, video games, television, computer trolling, and texting and think we can just turn it off and go to sleep. Our brain is highly activated by the stimulation and light involved in these activities. We need to stop these activities an hour or two before bedtime.

 

Anything else that will promote better sleep?

1. Keep your room dark when you sleep.
2. Turn your clock away from you and resist the temptation to look at the time if you wake up.
3. If you wake easily, consider getting a white noise machine.
4. Keep a notepad and pencil by your bed. If you wake up and feel you MUST remember something, write it down and “let it go” to be dealt with in the morning.
5. Make sure cold or other prescription medications aren’t interfering with your sleep.
6. Make sure caffeinated beverages are drunk several hours before you go to bed.
7. Prepare mind and body to relax. A warm bath or shower will help your body relax before sleep and soft music will nurture this state, too.
8. A glass of warm milk is helpful because it contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps induce sleep.
9. Once in bed, practice focusing on scenes or memories that are joyful/calming for you. If your attention wanders to something anxiety provoking, take 3/4 deep breaths and patiently return to those happy thoughts. You may have to practice this a lot if you’ve gotten into the habit of focusing on difficulties when you go to bed.
10. Create awareness of YOUR body’s need for sleep. It may be less or much more than someone else’s.

NOTE: Severe lack of sleep can be seriously debilitating, and we can become very depressed, suicidal at worst. If you or someone you know is dealing with severe insomnia, consult a doctor or clinician who has expertise dealing with sleep issues.

This Thing Called Therapy

Written by sharon on . Posted in Blog

Counselor Advising Couple On Relationship Difficulties

Perhaps you’ve been thinking about therapy for a while but continue to find a reason not to take action:

– your husband, wife, partner won’t like it
– finances are tight
– what will you do with the kids?
– your job is taking everything out of you
– if you just wait, things will probably get better
– it’s too difficult to find a “good” therapist
– you can figure the problem out yourself
– you just don’t have the time–maybe next month, next year, when you finish …..

Sound familiar?

If you have little experience with therapy–or to be exact, psychotherapy–the idea can be scary, even overwhelming, so much so that rather than reach out for help, we can spend years living a life that is far from filled with the happiness and fulfillment we deserve. If our lives are chaotic, the evidence of something wrong is staring us in the face. However, often we have no idea of the cause of our sense of being stuck, sad, anxious or depressed; life may look fine on the outside; but inside we know something is wrong. Poor or absent parenting, trauma, and losses can undermine our ability to establish healthy boundaries for ourselves, set goals for our wellbeing and growth, and enter relationships that nurture us. Instead, we may develop self defeating behaviors that trap us in a never ending cycle that damages our sense of self and inhibits our confidence and ability to attract healthy partners, maintain loving relationships, and parent well.

The truth is that a ‘good” therapist is one that makes you feel comfortable, welcome, and safe to open up to. There are dozens of theories that therapists will draw on and perhaps one or more that they will specialize in, but the truth of the matter is that we sense when we have found the right therapist for that moment in time.  It may take several sessions for us to be able to share very vulnerable parts of ourselves, but usually if we follow our intuition in the first meeting, we know if we’ve found a good fit.

Therapists come in all shapes and sizes. Some are more formal, some more relaxed, more serious or less serious, listening oriented or action oriented, more directive or less directive, give assignments, don’t give assignments. Some therapists will have a fixed approach or style and others will have an eclectic style and adapt their expertise to best fit the client needs or wants. If you talk or meet with a therapist for the first time, you should get a really good feeling and want to go back. If this isn’t the case, don’t worry; call the next one on your list.

Helpful tips when looking for a therapist ….

1.  If you have insurance, call your plan to find out what your mental health benefits cover. Every insurance is different. Establish if you have an HMO or a PPO. Some have deductibles before the insurance will start paying for therapy.

2.  Ask your doctor, other health professionals, or consult community resources (your church or local associations) for referrals to therapists.

3.  On the Web search for therapists in your area or cross-reference referrals you receive to see if there is information about therapists in your area. Many post bios and may have websites.

4.  See how quickly the therapist calls you back. Ideally, you should receive a return call within 24 hours; if it’s longer than that, this may be an indication that the therapist has a heavy client load and may not be the optimal choice.

5.  Does he or she sound warm, friendly, and compassionate?

6.   If utilizing insurance, availability or financial considerations are a deal breaker for you, be up front about your needs or limitations. Better to find out at the start that something will or won’t work. If a therapist does not take your insurance, they may be open to a reduced fee that aligns with your budget.

7.  Keep in mind that good therapists will have your best interests at heart. If they don’t feel they are a fit for your situation or can’t work within your limitations, they will be honest and try to direct you elsewhere.

8.  Keep in mind that therapists have specialty areas such as individual therapy, family therapy, child therapy, working with adolescents, etc.  Don’t’ be shy about asking the therapist to talk about themselves, their experience, strengths and preferences. You are the consumer of their services and this is an investment of your time, energy and money.