Using Your Faith to Practice Mindful Gratitude

It’s a familiar memory for a lot of Americans: sitting around the table for Thanksgiving dinner, each person taking a moment to mention the things they’re grateful for. Unfortunately, being grateful seems to be something we’re reminded of only once on a year on the holiday.

When it comes to practicing gratitude, many of us fall short. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, with the difficulties that life throws to us on a regular basis. We start to focus on our troubles, then wonder why we’re often so tired or unhappy.

Practicing mindful gratitude, and being thankful for things all year long, will improve your life in several ways: it will improve your physical health, your mental health and your relationships. If you’re a person of faith, you can use your faith to improve your gratitude in the following ways.

Improved Physical Health
Gratitude helps improve your physical health in numerous ways. According to a 2013 study published by the journal Personality and Individual Differences, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains, and were more likely to take care of their health. Improved self-care will have a positive impact on your willpower and mood, and help you sleep better.

Improved Mental Health
Regularly practicing gratitude can help you learn to appreciate yourself more. By being grateful for your blessings, you’ll look less enviously on the special trips and occasions of your friends in your social media feed. Avoiding negative thoughts will help bolster your self-esteem and keep your mood lifted. Gratitude can also help ease depression as you stay mindful of reasons to be happy and appreciate the positive things in your life.

Improved Relationships
Saying please and thank you shows good manners, but it also exhibits a positive attitude that can attract new people into your life. Showing appreciation will not only lead to new friendships, but will also help improve existing ones. As you practice gratitude on a regular basis, recognizing the positive in the people in your life and letting them know, you’ll create loving, long-lasting bonds.

Finding reasons to be and stay grateful can sometimes be challenging. Life can often test us in ways we feel we’re not quite prepared to handle. But leaning on your faith in times of trial can give you the edge you need to practice gratitude regularly. The benefits to mindful gratitude are so numerous, it’s well worth the time and effort to make practicing mindful gratitude a priority in your life.

 

If you’re looking for guidance and direction on how to practice mindful gratitude, give our office a call today. One of our specially trained staff will be more than happy to help.

How to Address Your Partner’s Sexist Behavior or Comments

One of the serious issues women face in life is sexism; sadly, we’re not taught how to see it, react to it, or correct it. For heterosexual women, sexism is a problem they will likely face throughout their relationships. Being raised in a patriarchal society, women are taught that they are inferior to men through countless direct and indirect cultural and societal cues.

Even if you were raised in a feminist household, you still grew up in a society where men are predominantly the ones in power; they are even largely in control of what you can and can’t do with your own body.

As a heterosexual woman, you may sometimes feel unease with your partner’s comments or behavior, and you may wonder how to address these issues without driving a wedge between the two of you.

First, it’s important to note that your partner also grew up in a patriarchal society. More than likely, your partner is not purposely trying to oppress, control, or offend you. For him, this is just “how things are,” it’s neither good nor bad. It’s up to you to identify the specific problems, and articulate how it affects you and your relationship with your partner.

There are several issues in relationships that must be navigated, such as sex, finances, housework, meals, and disagreements, among others. When problems surface that you believe are rooted in antiquated gender roles, for example you are always expected to prepare meals, challenge those expectations. Let them know that cooking and meal preparation needs to be equally divided.

When addressing sexist comments and discussing the issue of sexism, it’s important use a tone and language that your partner will respond best to. You know your partner well, so do your best to remain factual and sincere while being diplomatic. It will be awkward to discuss, but keep in mind that your relationship needs to be a strong and equal partnership. You should both feel comfortable talking to each other about problems in order for your relationship to succeed.

While these discussions are never easy, how your partner reacts to these difficult topics will tell you everything you need to know about their character. It’s vital to the success of your relationship, and to your mental health, that you’re able to negotiate mutual respect and understanding with your partner.

 

Are you in a relationship and having trouble communicating with your partner? Our specially trained staff can help you find ways to improve communication and better your relationship. Call our office today to set up a time to talk.

5 Empowering Mantras for Women Dealing with Workplace Disenfranchisement

As spiritual exercises like meditation and yoga rise in popularity, the concept of mantras has become more familiar. A mantra is a phrase you use in meditation to help you focus and create an intent that will be a positive driving force in your life. As you repeat the mantra during meditation, either out loud or in quiet thought, you’re planting a seed in your mind that will grow as you continue to nurture it through consistent meditation practices. Mantras can be very powerful tools used to help you gain confidence and calm anxieties in all areas of your life.

For many women, the workplace continues to be a stressful, complicated arena. Women continue to face discrimination and gender bias, struggling to get ahead while maintaining a pay gap of 24 cents on the dollar compared to men. Pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and many other issues plague the working woman on a daily basis. While you may be unable to change your workplace, you can change how you perceive and react to challenging circumstances.

This is where you can use mantras to ignite your personal power, and give yourself confidence and peace of mind at work. You can use the mantras in this article, tailor them to suit you personally, or create ones of your own. Use the mantras during meditation in the morning before work.

First, find a quiet place to sit with your arms resting at your side, your palms face up on your lap; make sure you don’t lie down. Give yourself 10 to 15 minutes to meditate. If you’re very busy or pressed for time, even five minutes is sufficient. If you’re unfamiliar with how to meditate, there are apps you can download for your smartphone or tablet to help guide you through different meditations; just search for “meditation” in the App Store. You can also search YouTube for “meditations” and try the guided meditations available there for free.

Here are examples of mantras you can use to help you feel empowered in the workplace:

• I am strong, I am intelligent, I am capable.
• I am worthy.
• Taking care of myself is my top priority.
• I am capable of achieving anything I set my mind to.
• I am focused on doing my best.

It’s important to recognize that our internal dialogue must always be under control. Negative thoughts about others, our situation, or ourselves can make a bad situation much worse. By using mantras to enforce positive thoughts, you can maintain a positive attitude at work in the face of adversity, and keep negative self-talk at bay.

 

Are you struggling in the workplace, and in need of support and guidance to help you advance in your career? We can help. Call our office today to set up an appointment with one of our specially trained staff.

 

Contemplative Spaces: The Connection Between Mindfulness and Prayer

In the frenetic, fast-paced world we live in, mindfulness has become increasingly important. When we talk about being mindful, we’re talking about the ability to be fully in the present moment, aware of our surroundings; where we are, whom we’re with, and what we’re doing. Mindfulness keeps us grounded, keeping us from overreacting or becoming overwhelmed.

By its nature, prayer helps us become and stay more mindful. By connecting in quiet reflection to something deeply spiritual and meaningful, we’re able to see our life and experiences from a broader perspective.

Increases Focus
Studies have shown that prayer, a type of meditation, helps to increase your focus. Prayer makes you better equipped to quiet your mind and avoid becoming lost in thought. With increased focus, you’re able to control mind wandering and stay in the moment.

Controls Impulses
According to a 2009 study on religion, self-regulation, and self-control by the University of Miami’s Department of Psychology, being a religious follower can promote self-control and self-monitoring.

Additionally, when studying the effects of meditation on the brain, brain-imaging studies have shown that meditation increases frontal cortex activity. The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for, among other things, emotional expression, problem solving, and judgement.

More Gratitude
Gratitude is a feeling of gratefulness for gifts and blessings. By practicing gratitude, we’re sharpening our attention towards the good in our lives. We see and appreciate everything around us that’s positive.

Prayer helps you maximize gratitude by helping you reform your thoughts, much in the way that mindfulness does. We can surmise that regular prayer for religious followers may help them feel more clear-minded and able to concentrate on what’s positive.

Gratitude is also a feeling that we choose; we can choose to be grateful, or we can choose to be ungrateful. By utilizing prayer to concentrate on blessings or mindfulness to concentrate on the good in our lives, we help keep our mind distracted from negative thoughts. Both techniques help you appreciate the moment in which you’re living.

When your life is busy with work and family, it can feel impossible to make time for either mindfulness meditation or prayer. But even five minutes a day will make a difference over time, as your steady practice of quiet contemplation will help you learn to redirect your thoughts and focus your attention.

 

If you’re looking for guidance and direction on how to become more mindful through prayer, give our office a call today. One of our specially trained staff will be more than happy to help.

 

 

What’s the Difference Between Tic Disorder and Tourette Syndrome?

Many people confuse a tic disorder with Tourette syndrome. While both have a connection to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and while treating OCD can have a profound effect on symptoms of tic and Tourette’s, each disorder has its own unique set of symptoms and treatment modalities.

Diagnosing Tics

Tics are sudden repetitive twitches, movements or sounds that happen relatively involuntarily. I say relatively because they are not like a reflex, but more like a deep urge or desire that cannot be ignored. So for example, someone presenting with a motor tic might blink there eyes repeatedly, someone else may shrug their shoulders repeatedly. A person with a vocal tic may clear their throat or grunt.

To be diagnosed with a tic a person will have had these symptoms for less than a year. They will have either one or more motor tics or vocal tics but not both. The tics will not be a result of another disease or medications or illegal drugs.

Diagnosing Tourette’s

People with Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) have both motor and vocal tics that have been persistent for at least 1 year. TS patients typically have two or more motor tics (blinking, shrugging) and at least one vocal tic (humming, grunting). These tics may or may not happen at the same time.

In TS, people have bouts of tics throughout the day, nearly every day. The tics have started generally before the age of 18 and, like a tic disorder, are not a result of any other medical condition (i.e. seizures, Huntington disease), drugs, or medications.

Treatment for Tics and Tourette’s Syndrome

Many people live with tics and TS without much difficulty. They can go about their days without their symptoms getting in the way of work/personal life. For those who find their symptoms do negatively impact their life, medications and behavioral therapy are available.

While medications will help to reduce severity of the tics, behavioral therapy teaches people how to manage their own symptoms. Therapy can help reduce the number of tics and severity of tics, the impact of tics, or a combination of all of these.

If you or a loved one are living with tics or Tourette’s Syndrome and would like to discuss treatment options, please be in touch. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

 

SOURCES

https://psychcentral.com/lib/ocd-tics-and-tourette-syndrome/

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/tourette/diagnosis.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mental-wealth/201203/got-tics-environmental-adjustments-can-help-0

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/tourette/treatments.html

More Than a Twitch: # Signs That Your Child May Have Tic Disorder

Many children have their own unique methods of coping with the stresses of life. Come to think of it, many adults have their own coping strategies as well. Unlike adults, who often turn to things like alcohol and drugs to cope with stressful situations, children often use their body to self-soothe. Sometimes these motions are intentional, like rocking back and forth, and sometimes these movement are involuntary, as when a tic develops.

What Exactly is a Tic?

Tics are a form of abnormal, repetitive, unintentional movements or vocalizations that do not necessarily follow a rhythm or pattern like rocking does. There is usually a strong, uncontrollable urge to tic, followed by the movement, which releases tension in the child. While adults can have tics, they usually present in childhood.

What Causes Tics?

The exact cause of tics is not known, though it is believed a combination of genetics and brain abnormalities play a role. Tic disorders often run in families and can be worsened by environmental factors such as low birth weight and maternal smoking during pregnancy. Stress and lack of sleep can definitely exacerbate symptoms.

Signs of Tic Disorder

• Your child is under the age of 18.

• Symptoms present usually before the age of puberty.

• While female children can develop a tic, boys are twice as likely.

• Common tics include eye blinking, facial grimaces, shoulder shrugging, repetitive touching, or straightening the arms or legs.

• Simple vocal tics include throat clearing, sniffing, and grunting.

Tics can worsen when you child is stressed or tired and will often diminish when they are calm and rested. You may notice your child’s tics change over time, and they may also have tic-free periods that can last weeks or even months, only to have the same tic or a new tic appear.

Treatments for Tic Disorder

Many times a tic disorder won’t disrupt a child’s life and in time will end on its own. However, there are those times when the symptoms are severe enough that they cause the child stress and interferer with their schooling and social life. In these instances medication or behavioral therapy can reduce the severity of the symptoms. Relaxation techniques are also commonly used to decrease the frequency of the tics.

If your child is showing signs of tic disorder and you’d like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

 

SOURCES

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/provisional-tic-disorder

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/persistent-chronic-motor-or-vocal-tic-disorder

https://psychcentral.com/disorders/transient-tic-disorder-symptoms/

5 Personal Techniques to Work Through Flashbacks

Flashbacks are our brain’s way of processing traumatic events that we’ve experienced. But what tends to happen is, our subconscious goes to our storage cabinet to access some important memories regarding the event, and everything sort of tumbles out of the cabinet all at once. This falling out or flashback experience can feel almost as traumatic as the initial event.

Flashbacks usually happen without warning. Most result from a “triggering” that occurs by an external experience. Triggers are typically sensory-based experiences that manifest via smells, sounds, tastes, textures that remind the person of the traumatic event. The smell of cologne can remind someone of their perpetrator. The sound of fireworks or a car backfiring can remind a soldier of gunfire.

Living with flashbacks is very difficult, but there are some ways you can work through these disturbing events:

1. Remember

Remind yourself that you are safe and having a flashback. Tell yourself as many times as necessary that these are only memories, the event is in the past, until you can feel yourself begin to calm.

2. Empower Yourself

Sometimes using your five senses can help you to be in the present moment. If one sense it causing the flashback – your sense of smell for example – use your other senses to place yourself in the actual current environment. The tactile experience of stamping your feet on the ground can remind yourself that you are free to get away from any situation that has become uncomfortable for you.

3. Breathe

As soon as we become fearful or panicked, our breathing becomes shallow and erratic. This only exacerbates the stress we feel in that moment because our body is literally panicking from a lack of oxygen. In these fearful moments, when we slow our breathing and take deeper and deeper breaths, we actually signal to our brain and body that everything is okay.

4. Honor the Experience

The initial trauma was awful, so it’s perfectly reasonable for you to want to move on “NOW!” However, you should understand that the body needs to go through this process and experience a full range of emotions. Honor the experience and yourself for having gotten through it.

5. Find Support

It’s important that you let loved ones know about your flashbacks so they can help you through the process. You may also want to seek the guidance of a professional mental health therapist who can offer coping strategies.

 

If you or a loved one is suffering from flashbacks and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch, I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

 

SOURCES

https://psychcentral.com/lib/coping-with-flashbacks/

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/after-trauma/2013/11/why-do-flashbacks-happen/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/healing-trauma-s-wounds/201506/understanding-and-working-flashbacks-part-one

How to Help Your Young Child Get Ready for the School Year [After Summer Break]

It’s that time of year again when big yellow buses can be seen driving around the neighborhood and school bells begin ringing. Going back to school can definitely be an exciting time for parents and children.

But for some kids, especially younger ones, going back to school after a summer break can feel overwhelming and scary. While this can be fairly common, there are some things parents can do to help their child prepare for the new school year ahead:

Check Your own Emotions

Parents of young children may also find it a bit sad to send their child off to the first day of kindergarten or first grade. Your child will pick up on your emotions so be sure to put on a good face and show them good energy.

Shop and Talk

Young children that are very nervous about starting school may not want to talk about it. It’s a good idea to take your child shopping for their school supplies and clothes and use this time to try and discuss their feelings about things. Having an activity to do can often help a child express themselves better. Also, while you want your child to be able to express their fears and worries, try and steer the conversation towards things they may be looking forward to as well. Encourage them to recognize that although change is scary, it can also be really great and fun!

Practice

Summer was most likely filled with days and nights that did not fit a tight schedule. Your child may have been able to stay up longer and sleep in later. It will be a shock for them to suddenly have to go to bed early and get up to an alarm clock. Practice getting back into the proper sleep routine before the first week of school.

Connect with Future Classmates

If your child will not know anyone in their class, try to see if you can have a playdate before the school year begins so they can meet some new friends. This will make it much easier come that first day of school when they see a friendly and familiar face or two.

Get Guidance

If you feel the stress of starting a new school year is overwhelming and your youngster and you are having a hard time handling things on your own, seek expert advice from a mental health professional who can help both of you cope.

If you’d like some help with your child’s anxiety, please be in touch. I’d be more than happy to discuss treatment options.

 

SOURCES

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-soup/2018/08/get-ready-for-back-to-school-useful-advice-from-around-the-web/

https://psychcentral.com/news/2006/08/07/control-back-to-school-anxiety/160.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-race-good-health/201308/helping-your-child-transition-school

What Is Trauma and What Causes It?

Most of us won’t get through life without our own fair share of stress and heartache. But some people experience not just stress, sadness or grief, but actual trauma. This can be from events like being involved in a bad car accident, rape, a natural disaster, or war.

The result of experiencing such events is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition where the mind is unable to process the event as it processes ordinary life events. The result is a brain that misfires information, causing the person to live much of their life distressed, as if the event were still happening to them.

Symptoms of PTSD

There are many symptoms associated with PTSD, but the most common ones are:

• Nightmares
• Flashbacks
• Psychological and physiological distress at reminders
• Avoidance of internal and external reminders
• Dissociative amnesia
• Negative beliefs about oneself and the world
• Distorted blaming of oneself
• Negative persistent emotional states
• Loss of interests
• Detachment from loved ones
• Hyper vigilance
• Exaggerated startle response
• Difficulty concentrating
• Difficulty sleeping
• Irritability or outbursts of anger
• Self-destructive or reckless behavior

Causes of PTSD

Researchers are not altogether clear on why some people experience PTSD and others don’t. What makes one soldier come home from war with PTSD and another one not develop the disorder?

The best we can guess is that development of PTSD is likely from a combination of complex factors such as neurological, stress, life experiences, personality, and genetics. It is also worth mentioning that pre-traumatic psychological factors (low self-esteem, for example) may increase the risk factor for developing PTSD.

How Can Trauma be Treated?

The most common form of treatment for PTSD is something called cognitive behavioral therapy. This kind of therapy involves meeting with a specially-trained therapist over a number of sessions to learn strategies and techniques that will reduce and/or eliminate symptoms of PTSD such as recurring thoughts, emotional numbness, sleep issues, and concentration problems. Beyond finding a trained therapist, it’s important to find one you and your family feel comfortable with, so make sure to interview a few candidates to see who might help you on your journey to wellness.

If you or a loved one are suffering from PTSD and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. I would be more than happy to see how I may be able to help.