4 Unexpected Behaviors You May See in an Anxious Child

4 Unexpected Behaviors You May See in an Anxious Child

Anxiety is a preoccupation of worry that interferes with functioning. It gets in the way of daily routine and causes a tremendous amount of stress that leaves one feeling overwhelmed, uneasy, scared, and worried

With adults, it can be easier to diagnose anxiety because of adults’ ability to describe in more accuracy how they feel and what they’re experiencing. In children, however, they may not have the verbal acquisition, insight or life experience to describe accurately what they’re feeling.

Here are 4 behaviors that could indicate your child is experiencing anxiety:

1) Headaches and bellyaches. Some kids may describe physical ailments when actually they’re feeling emotionally dysregulated; this experience is called a psychosomatic complaint. A parent or caregiver might use medication but find that medication does little to ease the pain or is ineffective. Parents often feel confused because their child’s “pain” either continues or seems to get worse.

What to keep an eye out for? Kiddos who often seek out the nursing office at school or say they feel sick frequently.

2) So many emotions! There may be times you notice your child goes through a quick round of intense feelings in a short amount of time. They may go from feeling worried to suddenly getting angry and grumpy all because you mentioned you would be getting home late from work.

What to keep an eye out for? Tantrum throwing or being overly sensitive.

3) Loss of appetite. Although your child may be a finicky eater to start, loss of appetite is different. It suggests a child does not feel hungry, not that they don’t want to eat what you made. With anxiety, your mind may be going a million miles an hour, and your body and its needs can sometimes go by the wayside. It is not simply missing a meal or two, loss of appetite is usually detected over multiple days during the week for weeks on end.

What to keep an eye out for? Kids not eating at school because they “don’t like the food” or returning home with most of their food in their lunchbox.

4) Chicloso. Spanish for “sticky”; derived from “chicle” which means chewing gum; your child aka “the sticky one.” If your child is acting chicloso they don’t want to leave your side and are unusually clingy. They don’t want you to drop them off anywhere and may grow difficult to manage if plans change. In essence, they want to be with you rather than go with friends, go to school, sometimes even reverting to developmental milestones they have already passed (ex: wanting to co-sleep with you). This behavior goes beyond them not wanting to go to places. They may feel genuinely worried or even fearful of being separated from you.

What to keep an eye out for? Clinginess and regressing to behaviors you thought they grew out of (ex: bedwetting, sucking of thumb, wanting to be carried, etc)

Each of these symptoms alone can be common for kiddos who are going through normal development. However, when these symptoms are combined and/or occur over weeks and into months, I urge you to take heed. Pay attention to these behaviors and attempt to have a conversation with your child about it. When in doubt, share your concerns with their pediatrician or have a consult with one of our counselors.

Trauma and How it Affects People

Trauma and How it Affects People

Ever hear people throwing around the word “trauma” or “traumatic” and wonder what that is. This article will give you a better understanding of what trauma is and how it impacts people in the long and short run.

There are some who have gone through traumatic experiences and assume everyone goes through things like that. So for many years, they don’t realize they have gone through trauma at all. 

Trauma is the exposure to seriously stressful and often life threatening situations. Many people who have experienced trauma have an overwhelming thought that something is very, very, wrong but have no ability, capacity, or understanding of how to stop it.

During the traumatic experience, the body’s internal response kicks off (sympathetic nervous system). Their brain becomes hyper focused to sensory level things like sights, sounds, smells, or sensations. Some who have gone through trauma remember fine details like the color of clothes they were wearing, the sounds that were around, and the smell of where they were. On the other hand, some completely shut down these experiences and have a hard time remembering anything at all.

Symptoms of trauma can leave a person feeling disconnected from others, easily irritable, emotional, hot tempered, withdrawn, distrusting, hopeless and even shameful. Some experience behavior like having a hard time sleeping, increased or decreased appetite, nightmares, avoiding certain places, situations or people.

While none of the above is helpful, these reactions are completely NORMAL to an abnormal experience. If anything in this article sounds like you, you’re not alone.

La Luz Counseling specializes in helping people who have gone through traumatic experiences in a slow and gentle way. It can be scary to look back to these moments when you’re alone and left to your own thoughts. Remember, the mind can be a dangerous neighborhood to be in alone– so at La Luz we promise to go with you back to and through these tough times. 

What is Anxiety?

What is Anxiety?

What is anxiety? Does everyone have it? Will it ever go away?

This blog will cover some of these questions about anxiety, what it is and how it works.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness suggests over 40 million Americans have an anxiety disorder– which is likely a gross underestimation. There are many who have struggled with anxiety and have presumed everyone goes through it, have never been formally diagnosed, or have no idea there is a name for what they are feeling. If you’re not sure if you worry is anxiety or just plain stress, here’s a blog to learn more. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or Anxiety as it is commonly called, is a mental health disorder. While it originates in the brain, the body often feels it too. Anxiety is a fear the mind creates that doesn’t seem to slow down or let up. It can be related to one topic or many and is based in something bad that could happen now or in the future. Here are some common symptoms of anxiety:

  • Constant worrisome thoughts that won’t seem to stop
  • Difficulty making decisions or concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping or staying asleep
  • Irregular breathing like your heart is beating way too fast
  • Sweating
  • Shaky hands or legs
  • Fear of something bad happening
  • Hard time controlling feelings (ex: lashing out on others, uncontrollable sobbing)
  • Don’t feel like yourself.

While we may feel these symptoms at different times of our life- for example when feeling stressed out or going through something difficult- anxiety is different. It is known to effect people for weeks, months, or even years and can be difficult to control despite our best efforts.

If you or someone you love is experiencing anxious symptoms, talk about it. Clinical anxiety will not ever truly go away, rather it can be controlled and minimized depending on different factors. Not everyone with anxiety will require medication although many times this can help. Counseling can be a great resource to help you feel like you’re not in it alone.

Don’t wait for things to get worse, start by contacting us today.

 

Why Counseling Kinda Sucks Pt. 3

Why Counseling Kinda Sucks Pt. 3

Counseling is difficult. It’s like an intense exercise of the brain, very similar to an intense physical workout- think Iron Man or Triathlon. It’s not easy; it pushes beyond your own mental limits and makes you question things that have always been your truth. It can be intense, heavy, and sometimes overwhelming- but worth it.

Let’s pretend you and I decide to get into the best shape of our entire lives. We decide to get a trainer and we push ourselves in and out of the gym. On day one, you and I are running further than we have in a long time and naturally start to feel uncomfortable. Our hearts are beating faster and our legs start burning and soon feel like giving up. But our trainer says “Push it! Push it! You can do it.” So we knock it out- tired but accomplished.

Now let’s consider the same scenario, we’re running more than we have in a long time and start to feel a pain scorching through our knees and into the hamstring area. Our trainer then tells us to “Stop.” Pain is a signal for the body to stop. Discomfort, on the other hand, is a different kind of signal- it says you could be on the verge of growth.

Knowing your body is the most important thing when working out. It’s important to know when to pull back and when to push further because your body is on the verge of growth– even though it’s uncomfortable.

Counseling is a lot like this. It will never be intended to cause you pain. That’s not the point. If counseling is causing you pain, something is not right. This isn’t to say that you won’t feel tough emotions, or taken to the point of discomfort. Feeling emotionally uncomfortable can happen in counseling- you may start feelings you’ve been pushing down for awhile or maybe have feelings you didn’t think you had in you.

Honestly, counseling can be quite difficult, especially in the beginning. It’s not easy to push beyond your own mental limits and then wait to see results that seem to take forever. But rest assured dear friend, when things in counseling get a bit uncomfortable, you’re on the verge of growth.

One of the hardest parts of counseling is endurance. Counseling is a marathon race not a sprint. As a result of pushing yourself and trusting your “trainer”/counselor, you can begin to feel different, create an outlook that’s different, and live a life that’s different.  

Why Grief Sucks So Bad

Why Grief Sucks So Bad

By Laura Kotlowski, LPC

Loss and the grief that comes with it, are among the most difficult situations humans have to face.  Hands down.  I tell people close to me, “I don’t do grief well.”  It is my truth, and I have learned over time, that it is the truth of many other people as well. However, I have ALSO learned that what I choose to face I grow stronger in…grief doesn’t have to suck so bad – let’s take a deeper look.

Limiting our views of “loss” sucks.

Let’s define “loss.”  Sometimes we have a hard time handling grief because we only give ourselves permission to feel it if someone close to us dies.  Death is a major type of loss, though it isn’t the only one.  Loss can also be the ending of a relationship, not accomplishing a goal, moving, getting married, getting divorced, having a child, a medical diagnosis, the death of a pet, graduating, starting a new job, etc.  Essentially any experience that brings about change to “life as we know it” can be a loss.  For instance, grief can really suck when your best friend has a child and you feel bad that you feel sad – even while feeling happy for them.  Your relationship with that person will be forever changed because of life circumstances – it isn’t bad or good – it just is.  Can we feel joy and grief at the same time?  Yes.  And when we let ourselves do so, well, that doesn’t suck.

Expectations suck.

How many of you have experienced a loss and then expected yourselves to handle it in a way that was different than what came naturally to you?  Were you angry and felt bad for that?  Were you questioning the details of the loss and others told you to stop?  Were you sad for “too long” or “too short” a time-period?  Here’s the secret:  there is no “right” way to grieve.  You can let yourself off the hook.  We will never experience two losses in the exact same way, nor will two different people handle the same loss in the exact same way.  You know what doesn’t suck?  Grace.  When we give ourselves and others permission to experience grief naturally, with compassion, understanding, and patience – that’s a gift to ourselves in an already difficult time. 

Grief sucks, yes.  Grief is also meaningful. 

Grief is a form of love.  We feel it because our connection to who (or what) we have lost means something to us.  A mantra that brought me great comfort when my dad died, and I have repeated to myself since is “The pain is so great because the love was so grand.”  Meaning, I was hurting so badly because our relationship and love for one another was so special.  The only way it could possibly hurt less, is if the connection between us was not as special.  This logic brought me comfort, and I began to honor the grief as meaningful instead of fighting it.

Grief is good.

The most common theme I have found is that people want to avoid grief altogether.  Who wants to be in pain?  However, the only way to avoid loss is to never put our heart and souls into other people, projects, goals, pets, etc.  We would not be hurt by losses, because we would never allow ourselves to “care” that much.  The world would lack intimacy, vulnerability, and love.  The only constant in life is change…so in order to protect ourselves from pain, we would have to guard our hearts at all times.  The downside of that is when we guard ourselves to keep pain out, we are also guarding ourselves to keep all the good things out as well.

Grief is painful, yes.  Grief is difficult, yes.  Grief is ALSO purposeful, and meaningful, and GOOD.  Facing grief alone can most definitely suck, but the good news is – we don’t have to.  We have one another to get through the difficult times and to share in the joyous times. 

You might read other material that tells you “time heals the pain.”  I find that to be untrue.  Grief sucks now, and it will suck later.  It just looks & feels a little different as time passes.

Keep on loving one another and don’t forget to dabble in self-love too.  Love doesn’t suck.