(717) 373-1743

Archive for the ‘Life Changes/Transitions’ Category

Stress…The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Posted on: November 15th, 2019

I recently left a stable full-time job to embark in private practice.  The amount of decisions and tasks required to get started felt enormous.  There were times my mind was spinning in different directions just thinking about the things I needed to do, how best to keep up, and get ahead.  Painting, getting paneled with insurance companies, moving, learning new systems, working full time, attending trainings…all happened at the same time.  Then, I got a sinus infection.  The consequence of being overworked and run down.  I did it to myself and I knew better!

Stress is a feeling people experience when struggling with life challenges.  From feeling rushed or pressured at work, to financial worries, disorganization, or having too many demands.  It can be a real or imagined, or a threat affecting one’s well-being.  It can be brief, or long-lasting.

Stress can be impacted by reactive thinking and negative thoughts about situations or events.  It is commonly found in those having Type A personalities and those who are chronic worriers. Under stress, workplace environments can become burdensome.  Burnout is common.  Relationships among co-workers and family members often deteriorate.  Illness, cold/flu, are more frequent.  

Signs of stress can include:

  • Anger, irritability
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Muscle tension- headaches, back, neck, or jaw pain
  • Stomach, gut, and bowel problems
  • Hyperarousal symptoms- increased blood pressure, heart rate, sweaty palms, dizziness, cold hands or feet, shortness of breath, sleep problems, and chest pain

Stress left untreated, that becomes chronic, can significantly damage physical and mental health. Other factors include aversive experiences in childhood (i.e. poverty, abuse, family dysfunction, unemployment, substance abuse, etc) or traumatic experiences later in life.  Chronic stress can also lead to feelings of hopelessness.  

Reducing stress takes lifestyle changes, attitude adjustments, healthy boundaries, attention to self-care, and accountability for our choices.  Ready to manage your stress more productively? Contact me at SHCS.

Grief…why does it hurt so much?

Posted on: September 17th, 2019

Divorce, a broken friendship, the death of a loved one, being layed off from work, a significant health change….Loss, no matter the circumstance, comes in different sizes, and with it a variety of painful emotions.  It is a normal part of the human experience, something all of us encounter at one time or another.  

Grief is deeply personal, produces feelings of intense heartache, and while it changes over time, it can bubble up randomly throughout our lives, and never really goes completely away.  It is a long journey that can be triggered by an array of reminders, such as a place, photo, memory, other people, holiday, song, smell, or even taste, that causes the emotions to intensify once again.

I recently learned about a wonderful metaphor describing grief on twitter.  A patient received this metaphor to cope with the loss of her mother from her doctor.  You may have already heard about it, “The ball in the box.”  https://www.indy100.com/article/grief-viral-thread-lauren-herschel-ball-in-box-analogy-death-8792541

Essentially, the metaphor suggests that grief is like a box containing a ball and a pain button on one side.  In early stages, the ball is so big that it hits the pain button all the time.  Over time the ball gets smaller, and there is more time to recover between hits, but the ball still hits the pain button at unexpected times.  While time may heal grief, the ball never really goes completely away. So, how do we cope with it?  

Acknowledge the loss.

In the beginning, our brains protect us from feeling everything at once.  It’s important to acknowledge the loss and  talk about it with someone you trust.

Feel the loss.

It’s true.  You have to face it, and feel it to heal it.  Anger, guilt, and sadness are the most frequent emotions that are experienced following a loss.  The ball is big during this time and that pain button will get hit often.

Take care of yourself.

Distract yourself when you need to.  Create a list of pleasurable activities, do something for someone else, practice gratefulness, make a mood-buster play-list (bright songs) for down days, push away thoughts that distress you, consider meditation, tasks, chores, or puzzles to change your thoughts, self-soothe with strategies that are meaningful and healthy for you (i.e. focus on your breath, take a hot shower, get a massage, exercise, eat something comforting, listen to music, practice mindfulness, journal, get outside in nature, go for a walk, etc.) 

Make meaning of the loss.

What is your new normal now that you have more perspective?  No one can tell you how to do this part.  It’s unique to you, like your own fingerprint. Take things slowly.  One day at a time.  

Give back.

After some time has passed, consider sharing your experience with others, or give back to a cause that your loved one would have found meaningful.  

Need someone to talk to about your loss?  Contact me at Sound Health Counseling Solutions.

Creating a Cheerful Back to School Mindset

Posted on: August 30th, 2019

Summer is ending and school for many has already begun.  Parents are in a whirlwind purchasing school supplies buying clothes for school, attending meetings, filling out paperwork, shuttling kids to school and community activities, and trying to establish and manage routines.  I should know.  I’m one of them!

Though I love summer and will miss the long days, one of the things I do look forward to when school returns are structure and routine.  I like a schedule, and so do my kids.

Here are 10 tips that can help families plan ahead and get organized for the school year.

  1. Prepare kids to return to their “school time” bedtime about 1-2 weeks before school begins.  You can do this gradually by setting back bedtime by 30 minutes a night until you reach the desired bedtime.  (Most kids need 9-11 hours of sleep a night.)
  2. At home, create and review house rules.  (We use “The three B’s,” Be respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Safe.)
  3. Establish routines (checklists, songs) and distraction-free environments for hygiene, getting dressed, homework, breaks, chores, after school or evening activities, and sleep.  Revisit timers/alarms for starting/completing tasks or remembering medications.  Designate a “launch spot” for bookbags, lunch boxes, and school materials.
  4. Find ways to keep your child active during the school year (music lessons, social groups, clubs, or sports).  Activities build your child’s confidence, helps with time management skills, and academic achievement.   (Be aware though that too much of a good thing, including screens, can increase poor behavior in children.  Kids still need downtime and 1:1 time with parents.)
  5. Create a family calendar to see everyone’s activities.  Meet weekly to review it.  Incorporate rewards, special time, and family time for honoring commitments and respecting house rules.
  6. Encourage your child to use a planner, organizer, and the school’s homework tools to help with remembering assignments.  Discuss expectations for school ahead of time. Post a school lunch calendar if desired and discuss days in which your child will eat at school.
  7. Have a positive attitude about school and model that for your child.
  8. Visit the school ahead of time.  For kids with 504 plans or IEP’s, consider scheduling a meeting with your child’s teacher, team, or counselor prior to the start of school.
  9. For younger kids, review your child’s HW daily and check the agenda for any missed assignments.  For older kids, use your school system’s tools to monitor grades and assignment completion each week.  Communicate regularly with teachers.
  10. Last…do something fun!  Take a breath, go to a museum, park, or any place as a family to unwind and de-stress.  

For other tips on managing change, visit my blog#1- Embracing Change with Confidence.  And if the school year is still overwhelming and you or your child need some assistance, contact me at SHCS!