5 Ways to Know if your Stress is actually Anxiety

5 Ways to Know if your Stress is actually Anxiety

Everyone experiences stress and worry from time to time. The difference between feeling stressed versus having clinical anxiety is very specific. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for if you’re wondering if your worry is becoming a problem.

Feeling anxious can stem from stressful situations so mix kids, marriage, traffic, COVID-19, and BAM! You’ve got stress. Anxiety, however, is different. It’s a mindset that isn’t a feeling. It comes when we don’t want it and keeps us from being able to stay present in the moment. Here are a few ways to know if you worried feelings may be turning into anxiety.

  • You’ve tried tons of different things to control the worry but nothing seems to help. You’ve read different articles and blogs and tried all of the different tips you’ve heard from others. Still nothing seems to be working? Anxiety is a constant and pervasive experience. It happens with the largest and smallest of things. It often plagues your day-to-day mind, making it hard to concentrate on anything other than what you’re worried about. If you’ve tried different things and nothing seems to be working, this may be a sign to get extra help.
  • Your day-to-day routine is suffering. You find yourself avoiding certain places in an effort to avoid the anxiety. Others have noticed you’re starting to become MIA more often and are worried about you. Things you used to be able to enjoy aren’t fun anymore and you don’t feel like yourself.
  • Your eating and sleeping patterns are unstable. Eating and sleeping are part of our basic needs- we need these to survive. With preoccupations of the mind, your body may respond too. There are times anxiety will make you miss meals without realizing it, or seek different comfort foods to try and cope. You may find yourself getting restless at night despite being really tired. The mind has a hard time just “shutting off” which makes for late nights trying to get to sleep. Just remember, unintentional disruptions of eating or sleeping patterns are never good.
  • Other people notice. Despite your best attempts to keep things under control and away from the social eye, those around you are noticing. They see you getting anxious more often and might say you seem “different “or “off.” Remember a lot of times those around us who love us and spend a lot of time with us can notice these things before we do. If someone is noticing it, it may be worth seeking extra help.
  • Anxiety attacks. A lot of times with anxiety, comes panic which can create panic or anxiety attacks. Shortness of breath, feeling as though you will pass out, rapid heart rate, sweatiness, feeling out of control, feeling chills or really hot? This may be your body’s response to feeling emotionally and mentally dysregulated. You don’t feel calm and steady emotionally so your body is “off” too.

If you have experienced, or are experiencing, any of the above, don’t hesitate to reach out for extra support. You don’t need to have all of the criteria in order to be in counseling or get help from a doctor. Although you may not have clinical anxiety, if this article sounds like you, it’s clear you’re feeling stressed or anxious about something. Don’t wait until problems get worse. Keep your health as number one, and when in doubt ask. Here are a few tips to managing anxiety.

Send us a message if you’re not sure what else to do. We guarantee a response within 12 hours, including evenings, holidays, and weekends.

4 Questions to Answer BEFORE Starting Counseling

So you’ve decided it’s time to get counseling, but you’re not sure where to start?

Here are the 4 questions you must answer before choosing a counselor:

  1. Will I use my insurance or go the private pay route?
  2. What is the problem I’m facing?
  3. What are their office hours?
  4. How quickly do I want to start?

INSURANCE OR PRIVATE PAY?

 If you want to use your insurance, call the member services line on the back of your insurance card and ask them to send you a list of “MENTAL HEALTH/BEHAVIORAL HEALTH providers” in your network. From this list, do your research online and see if you can find a good match.

Contrary to what some may think, not every counselor takes your insurance

Be sure to call your insurance to see if they will cover counseling sessions [like phone or virtual counseling, couples counseling or group counseling]. 

If you are using the private pay, take a look at your finances. Many private pay counseling sessions can run you anywhere between $90-$160 per one-hour session. There are, however, other options such as sliding scale fees, hardship options, or lowered rates with clinicians. 

PRESENTING PROBLEM

If you had to sum up the problem you’re facing in 1 to 3 words, what would it be? Anxiety? Family problems? Marital issues? Child’s behavior? Whatever it is, try to narrow it down. Don’t diagnose yourself, but gain an idea so you can explain it to the person on the other end of the line. It’s important your counselor has experience with your issue. Counselors have specialties or niches; so again, contrary to what you may think, not every counselor has experience or works with your presenting problem. 

Also VERY important, if the person needing counseling is a child (under 18), specifically ask if the counselor has experience working with their age group (preschoolers/elementary aged/tweens/teens).

OFFICE HOURS

Counseling can be hard enough, don’t make things more complicated by having someone whose office location or hours are inconvenient for your life situation. If you live in a large city, there are actually more counselors than you may think. Check into different office locations, hours and days open during the week and make sure it compliments your life schedule. If needed, ask about virtual counseling as this could also help take the hassle out of a weekly drive to an appointment.

WAIT TIME?

Lastly, and perhaps most important, how quick is their turnaround time? How long will it take to set up an initial appointment? Some counselors have availability to see a new client asap, others have a wait list and some aren’t taking new clients at all. This is a tough trade off because some counselors are worth the wait. However, if you’re issue is urgent and pressing, the sooner the better.

I hope this list helps! Happy hunting!

 

Barely Adjusting or Well Adjusted?

Barely Adjusting or Well Adjusted?

Does staying at home make you feel like your mind is going a little crazy? Have you noticed how many people seem to be adjusting, baking, crafting, completed DIY projects and being stellar home school teachers? Do you feel the exact opposite?

You’re not alone. Over the course of the past 6 weeks, people and communities nationwide have felt the implications of “adjusting” at home. I have heard story after story of their so-called adjustment, or lack thereof. While some are sharing how their increased time at home has been a “blessing to spend more time with family” others have secretly cried and wondered if something must be “wrong” if all they wish for is to “escape” their family for only 20 minutes.

Don’t be alarmed. Many are wondering when the whole “adjusting” will kick in instead of barely making it through each day. The reality is we don’t know the answer to that. What we do know, is adjustment takes time, consistency and applying some source of routine for emotions and thoughts to begin to chill out.

Think about an elementary aged kiddo who goes to school. There is a start and end time to school, he/she hypothetically has the same teacher, is in the same class, with the same general schedule, with the same kids, and eating lunch at the same time. Why? Because people, not just children, do well with routine, structure and predictability.

So let’s think about that, why have the effects of COVID 19 been so hard to adjust to? No predictability, not enough time since initial impact, and lack of structure or routine.

How to begin adjusting:

  • Create structure as best you can. Wake up at the same time each day, eat meals around the same time, brush your teeth, change your clothes, and develop a bedtime routine for all in the family.
  • Give it time. Yes, time. Natural adjustments take months, and contrary to popular belief, you aren’t creating a habit at 28 days or even 40.
  • Focus only on things you can control. There are three things and three things only you have ANY control over – your thoughts, your feelings and your actions.
  • Social connection- find others you can facetime with, look into support groups to join virtually, call people you haven’t in awhile, wave to your neighbors.
  • Go outside. Change your scenery and get back in touch with nature. Stretch your legs and go for a walk, drink your coffee on your balcony. Even a few minutes goes a long way.
  • Social media detox. Look at the total amount of time spent on social media per week. Imagine that amount of hours invested into something else… (mind blowing)
  • Silence your mind. Don’t fill your mind with too many thoughts at one time. Try and focus only on the things that are unfolding to you in this moment. Engage all of your senses and demand of your mind to stay here. No thinking of the past or future, just the now.

Whether you’re rocking a sparkling clean home, a pinterest-looking office and thinking about a future as a school teacher, or wearing yoga pants, sneaking out during the day to “water the grass” to have a moment of silence, or counting down the moments until things go back to “normal”- you’re not the only one. This goes out to the well-adjusted and barely adjusting, you’re not alone. Hang in there champ.

What is this Telehealth Business?

What is this Telehealth Business?

Telehealth has been called “distance counseling,” “telecounseling,” “virtual counseling,” “online therapy” and the like. We’re all talking about the same thing- counseling that happens virtually through a tech device. The American Counseling Association defines it as the following:

“Telebehavioral health, or distance counseling, is the use of a digital platform that provides secure, encrypted, audio-video conferencing to communicate with a client in real time.”

Since the arrival of the global pandemic we call COVID-19, you have probably seen more and more people transfer services to digital or virtual mediums. Counseling is no different. But lucky for us, telehealth counseling services have been around for decades (check out more about that on the International Conference on Computer Communications).

The benefits of Telehealth Counseling?

  • Convenience– You can have counseling from your house, office or even car (not moving of course!)- all in the comfort of gym shorts.
  • Saving time– You don’t have to drive to your counselor’s office, get stuck in traffic, or have to wait three lights to get through that busy intersection. Some even have their session during their lunch hour… not that I recommend that.
  • You’ve already got what you need– No need to purchase any new or fancy equipment. Chances are you already have a cellphone, computer or ipad- any of these will do.
  • Validity– Telehealth counseling with a professional is legit. Not only has it been around awhile but there are ethics and rights that protect you. Only secure platforms are used and privacy is still a priority.
  • Continuity of care– There is less chance of breaking the momentum of counseling. Car problems? Sick kiddo at home? Out of town conference? Counseling can still take place.

The flip side?

  • Bad connection– Although you’re connected virtually, you’re obviously disconnected physically. It can be hard to read nonverbal communication and sometimes slow internet speed can make things choppy. Boo.
  • Too “new school”– Technology can bring people together to communicate. While it has its perks, some feel it “gets in the way” of human connection. We get it- it can be kinda weird staring at a computer screen.
  • Issues with technology– “Can you hear me now?” “Can you see me?” “Can you repeat that?” “Your face is frozen.” “Let’s hang up and try again.” Potential phrases you or your counselor could say.

So, what are my thoughts on the matter?

Telehealth isn’t my first option, but I’m glad it’s an option at all. Through the use of technology, I have been able to remain connected with clients despite global pandemics, unexpected family situations, and times their kid throws up in the car on the way to school. It has helped to bring people together and has helped to provide hope and emotional support through technology, even when things seem bleak. Thank you Mr. Technology, I’m glad you’re here.

How to Deal with Sadness During the Winter Season #whysoglumchum

How to Deal with Sadness During the Winter Season #whysoglumchum

Not feeling the holiday spirit? Do the holidays have you feeling glum? If so, you’re not the only one. Did you know holidays have a tendency of making those who feel happy, happier? and those who feel sad, sadder?

Maybe you’re grieving a breakup, divorce, death of a loved one or even the diagnosis of a medical condition. Perhaps you fall into the category where the winter season causes you to feel more depressed or anxious. Whatever the case, I need you to know you’re not the only one.

If you fall into any of these categories, here are 6 things you can try to boost your spirit:

Volunteer– humans are social creatures so doing something with, around or for others in an act of service or fellowship can enhance connection. Community and service can give one a feeling of satisfaction, accomplishment and fulfillment.

Attitude of gratitude– Finding things to be thankful for can increase overall feelings of happiness while decreasing feelings of depression. You can shift your mental lens of seeing life as a joyful experience rather than disappointment. Think of three things you’re grateful for before you even get out of bed. Then dwell on these things throughout the day. Train your brain to be more appreciative.

Be in nature– over the holidays if you’re feeling disconnected from others, it’s important to feel connected to something. Take a walk in the park, watch the sun set or see what new birds may be in your area.

Include natural light– During the winter, daylight is shorter; with less sun, we use more artificial light which can throw our internal rhythms off.  So do your best to have natural light around you during the day. Light exposure can help regulate hormones and chemicals in your brain that affect your overall sleep and mood. So, if you work in a cubicle or windowless area, go outside during your break. When at home, open up curtains and blinds (not the actual windows) to let natural light inside.

Step out of routine– Do something you enjoy that you don’t normally do. Bring an air of excitement or unpredictability. Instead of watching a movie, read a book. Reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Clean out that junk drawer. Cook a new meal.

Have a Staycation– If you’re unable to meet or travel to see your loved ones, enjoy the city you’re in. When was the last time you went to the library or to the nearest farmers market? See what tourists enjoy doing in your area and do it!

If you’re feeling low during the holidays or wintertime, just know you’re not alone. Countless people feel discouraged or down during times they “should” feel otherwise. If there has been a common theme of anxiety or depression for some time, there are people who can help. Look up local counselors, therapists or emotional support groups- if you’re not sure where to start, send me an email and I would be happy to help you or point you in the right direction.

What to Say when your Kid Says This #whentolisten #whentoignore

What to Say when your Kid Says This #whentolisten #whentoignore

“You never let me do anything!”

Welcome to one of many childhood explosions! Chances are you let your child do TONS of things. A few things are likely to be going on here: they are upset, are attempting to hit you where it hurts, and it has become clear there is a communication breakdown. At this point, it is likely your child, and perhaps you, are feeling a lot of emotion.

Now is not the time to try the rational and logical route, because it’s likely not to work (yet). Give them a few minutes. From there, revisit this topic. Your child needs to know a couple of things:

  • they are always free to share their opinions or feelings.
  • they are not allowed to be disrespectful to others [or to themselves].
  • You are willing to hear them out.

Then empathize with their feeling: “I can understand how you could feel different from the rest of the group because you’re the only one who [can’t go eat after the dance]“, attempt to compromise (when able) “I’d be ok with you grabbing dinner with them another day,” and remember you are the parent and they are the child “but staying out after 11pm is out of the question.” What mom or dad says is the law.

“I don’t want to go to school.”

Sounds like a typical expression, and quite honestly, I think we’re all notorious for saying responses like: “Well I don’t want to go to work today but I still am,” “It’s called responsibility,” or “I don’t care.” Ask yourself a few questions. Is this the first time your are hearing your child say this? Is this typical behavior? Could there be something going on? Do they say this before school or after school? Is your child pending a big test or project? Are they only saying this on certain days? How did they sleep the night before? Take a look at the context of these statements.  The answers to these questions could give you the insight you need to be able to judge when to ignore or when to listen.

“(S)he makes me feel creepy.”

Listen up. Ask more questions. “What do you mean by creepy?,” “Have they ever done or said anything to make you feel uncomfortable?,” “Do you know who they are?,” etc. Aire on the side of caution. While we want our kids to be polite, intuition/gut feeling can go a long way. Kids are incredibly perceptive and may be picking up on something before we do. In situations like this, your supervision can go a long way. Sometimes this means actually keeping eyes on your child when this person is around. In cases where your child is in a different location, find the “adult in charge” and touch base with them. Also, follow up with your child and do some quick practice scenarios “What would you do if they got into your space and it makes you uncomfortable?” Encourage them to create distance by taking a step back, create a nonverbal barrier by picking up an arm or hand [in a non-aggressive way], and commit to strong eye contact with this person when stating “Please step back.” Also encourage them to always know the nearest exit and to have a buddy go with them behind closed doors when with this person. Lastly, validate. Let them know you are glad they told you how they were feeling and they can always trust you to share when they’re “not feeling right” about something.

“I’m Tired.”

Unless your kid is trying to get out of an undesirable chore, listen. Here’s what the National Sleep Foundation had to say:

  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours

Unfortunately, children aren’t getting enough hours of sleep and tend to fall into the minimum number of sleep recommended for their age. Remember, the time your child actually goes to bed, is likely not the time they are actually going to sleep- big difference. Throw in a growth spurt and sporting practice and they need even more sleep- your child may need to fall closer to the middle and maximum number of sleep recommended. They aren’t going to like the adjusted bed time, but they’ll appreciate it in the morning.

“Can I go over to [person you don’t know]s house?”

No. All together now, “No.” They will proceed to rave how you never let them do anything- if they’re teens, you may hear how unfair you are and how So-and-So’s mom/dad let’s them. You would proceed to tell them “I don’t know that person, but he/she is welcome to come over here after I’ve talked with their parents so that I can get to know them. Get their number tomorrow at school so I can call them.” Your child will likely not back down easily, and that’s ok. Being angry or frustrated is normal, but remember disrespect is not. My parents did a great job making our house-THE house to be at. We had newly released DVDs (rented), junk food, and the tastiest meals (shout out mom!). We had enough space to feel independent, and enough check-ins for my parents to have an idea of what was going on. Make your house the IT house.