5 Daily Self-Care Exercises for Abuse Survivors

Unfortunately, being a survivor of trauma or abuse is exceedingly common. According to the National Children’s Alliance, nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S. annually. And according to the Center for Disease Control’s 2017 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, nearly 1 in 4 adult women and approximately 1 in 7 adult men report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.

While it is challenging to be a survivor of abuse, the journey to a place of peace and acceptance can be an empowering one. No matter if the abuse you endured was recent or long ago, a daily self-care regimen will help you cope with what still affects you today.

1. Quality Sleep

Ensuring you have adequate sleep on a nightly basis is an essential component of maintaining optimum physical, mental, and emotional health. Fundamentally, your body needs regular rest to operate properly. A good night’s sleep will uplift your mood and energy, improve your memory and help keep stress levels at a minimum.

2. Meditate

Setting aside just five to ten minutes a day for some quiet reflection can help boost your immune system, manage stress, help you focus, and boost your mood, to name just a few of the many health benefits. Find an easy or beginner meditation to follow with a Google search, smartphone app, or the free meditation exercises available on YouTube.

3. Exercise

Finding some forms of enjoyable exercise will help you feel more energized. Exercise is also a great physical outlet to release pent-up emotions you likely have as a result of your abuse or trauma. Try taking up walking, jogging, yoga or anything you enjoy. Don’t force yourself to do anything wholly unpleasant or push yourself too hard; exercise is an act of self-care, not a punishment.

4. Positive Affirmations

It’s all too common for abuse survivors to feel shame about it and blame themselves; for that reason, it’s important to program yourself with positive thoughts and beliefs. You can tell yourself, for example: “I am valuable,” “I am worthy,” “I am capable,” “I am strong,” “I am intelligent.” Pinpoint negative self-talk and counter those thoughts with positive affirmations.

5. Support

Engage your support system by calling a friend or family member, joining a support group and/or finding a therapist. If your support system is lacking, use a smartphone app or the Meetup website to find a local, like-minded group and make some new friends. Sharing your struggles with people who understand and care about your well-being is an important aspect of your healing journey.

 

Are you a survivor of trauma or abuse? A licensed mental health professional can help you so you don’t have to go through this alone. Give our office a call today so we can set up a time to talk.

 

SOURCES

National Statistics on Child Abuse

Are They an Online Pest, or an Online Stalker? Knowing When to Get Help

Online stalking and harassment is becoming more common. According to the Pew Research Center’s 2017 Online Harassment survey, 41% of Americans have been personally subjected to harassing behavior online, and an even larger number (66%) has witnessed these behaviors directed at others.

The incredible popularity of social media sites and apps make it all too easy for people to stalk others online. If you’re being harassed by someone online, you might wonder: are they just a pest, or are you being stalked?

There is some less sincere online pestering that can be shrugged off or ignored. Sometimes name calling or attempts to embarrass you can be stopped by simply reporting the individual’s behavior, blocking them, or both. However, if you feel like it’s more than annoyance and is starting to cross the line, trust your gut. Here are some signs that your online bully is taking things way too far.

Follows Your Social Media

Stalkers will want to watch everything you’re saying and doing online. They might reply to comments, share your tweets, or like your posts. Pay close attention to see if there’s anyone in particular who spends too much time following your every move.

Unwanted Repeated Contact

Someone who’s stalking you may send repeated emails, messages, calls, or texts that are notably more frequent or numerous than what would be normal. This could also include calls that disconnect when you answer or other ways of forcing you to act or respond, whether or not the person explicitly communicates with you during the event. Repeated contact from someone you don’t see or talk to on a regular basis, or who you don’t know very well, is a classic red flag.

Unwanted Gifts

If someone you don’t know well or are not interested in is sending you unwanted flowers or gifts despite the fact you’ve made it clear the gifts and attention are unwanted, this is a sure sign that they’ve developed an unhealthy interest in you.

Finds Your Private Information

Stalkers will be obsessed with finding out more about you, and can find personal information on you by paid searches on the internet or searching public records.

Shows Up in Public Places

If your online pest suspiciously keeps turning up at places you’re going to, this is a very possible sign that you’re being stalked. They could be scrutinizing you or your family or friend’s social media accounts in order to learn where you’re going and what you’re doing.

Threatens You

A stalker may threaten you, your loved ones, your property and/or your pets if you fail to give them the attention or affection they desire. However, even stalkers who do not make any threats or seem to be an obvious sort of danger are, in fact, incredibly dangerous. Because a stalking situation can turn ugly in the blink of an eye and when you least expect it, it’s important to take every stalking situation seriously.

 

If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you feel you’re being stalked, don’t communicate with your stalker. Keep all evidence and maintain a log showing the date, time and how you were harassed. Notify police and consider getting a court order to keep the stalker away from you if necessary. Remember, you should always take threats or stalking of any kind seriously; inform authorities as well as your family, loved ones, and anyone else that may be in the stalker’s line of sight so appropriate precautions can be taken.

Are you being stalked or harassed, and need the advice and support of a licensed mental health professional? Call my office today, and let’s schedule a time to talk.

 

SOURCES

Online Harassment 2017

How Focusing on Your Faith Can Help with Depression & Anxiety

It has long been believed that having faith is key to getting through some of life’s greatest challenges. A spiritual practice can often give people the strength and confidence to push through obstacles and make positive changes.

But can faith have a positive effect on depression and anxiety? According to new research, it can.

Your Brain on Spirituality

According to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, meditation or any other form of regular spiritual practice (such as prayer or religious contemplation) has been linked to a thickening of the brain cortex. The study, which was the first to investigate whether there is any physical evidence in the brain linked to the protective effects of faith against depression, looked at 103 adults at either high or low risk of depression, based on family history.

At the end of the study, magnetic resonance was used to view participants’ brains, and the images clearly showed thicker cortices in those participants who placed a high importance on religion or spirituality than those who did not.

But even more significant was the fact that the thicker cortex was found in exactly the same regions of the brain that had shown thinning in people with a high risk for depression.

3 Ways Faith Can Help You Fight Depression and Anxiety

Every individual requires unique treatment methods to combat their symptoms of depression. While cognitive behavioral therapy and prescription medications work well for many people, many others may be helped by embracing a spiritual practice.

If you are suffering with depression, here are three reasons why you may want to focus more on your faith:

1. Faith Offers Hope

A belief in a loving power greater than ourselves can help us feel hopeful, even in our darkest hours. Faith turns wishful thinking into great expectations. And when we start to expect goodness in our lives, we naturally feel hopeful for our future.

2. Your Behaviors Evolve

Whether it’s through praying, meditating, or attending some sort of spiritual service or gathering, faith-filled people tend to experience positive changes in their attitudes and behaviors. Where once you may have had a knee-jerk emotional reaction to a situation, you might now be able to center yourself instead and face situations with calmness and clarity.

3. Your Perception Changes

Faith has a way of helping us see ourselves and our lives differently. Problems turn into opportunities, enemies into friends, and impossibilities into possibilities.

 

While it may take some time before you feel relief from your depression or anxiety, by embracing faith, you will be better able to cope with the symptoms.

If you or a loved one are suffering from depression or anxiety and would also like to explore treatment options, please reach out. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

 

SOURCES

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-the-questions/201603/4-powerful-ways-spirituality-can-ease-anxiety-and-depression

https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/07/31/for-many-with-severe-mental-illness-spirituality-plays-role-in-well-being/137462.html

https://psychcentral.com/news/2014/01/19/how-spirituality-protects-the-brain-against-depression/64698.html

Why Meditation Works Well with Faith

A decade ago, you would be hard-pressed to find many people who knew anything about meditation, let alone practiced it. But today, meditation has become wildly popular in the United States. Books, Youtube channels, and smartphone apps are dedicated to the study of it, and everyone from college students to senior citizens are reaping some pretty great benefits (I’ll get to those in a minute).

Of course, there are still some people who are unsure if meditation is right for them. Some are concerned meditation is a form of religion, and as such won’t “jive” with their current faith. But the practice of meditation is not inherently religious anymore than yoga or Tai Chi are.

Perhaps Deepak Chopra explains it best when he says, “Meditation is, first of all, part of every spiritual tradition…in the world. There are breathing meditations in every tradition. There are body-awareness meditations in every tradition. And there are variations of mantra meditation. It has nothing to do with belief or ideology or doctrine. It’s a simple mental technique to go to the source of thought.”

Meditation, or mindful meditation as some call it, is simply the practice of training your mind to be present in the moment. You don’t judge the moment or analyze the moment, you simply be present and aware in the moment.

While that concept seems like hogwash to some, modern science has shown through numerous studies that meditation has many real benefits. Here are some of the top ones:

Alleviate Symptoms of Stress

Most of us are living with some amount of stress. Chronic stress can lead to a host of health issues. But meditation has been shown to lessen the effects of stress. For instance, meditation has been shown to reduce the levels of cortisol. Prolonged and elevated levels of cortisol have been linked to the development of insulin resistance, hypertensions, and suppressed immunity.

Manage Chronic Pain

Mindful meditation, in conjunction with yoga, has been shown to decrease pain levels and increase a sense of well-being.

Fights Depression

According to a growing body of research, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) may be very beneficial in reducing depressive symptoms and preventing a relapse.

A Better Night’s rest

A lack of sleep can make life feel miserable. And chronic insomnia can lead to a suppressed immune system and other health issues. Research has shown that a meditation practice can help improve the quality of sleep.

 

If you’ve been curious about meditation but were concerned it wouldn’t mix with your particular faith, I encourage you to give it a try. It just might change your life for the better!

 

SOURCES

The Benefits Of Meditation For Depression

https://psychcentral.com/blog/10-surprising-health-benefits-of-mindfulness-meditation/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/05/meditation-deepak-chopra_n_2600707.html

https://www.beliefnet.com/wellness/meditation/is-meditation-a-religious-practice.aspx

5 Replacements for Your Old Smoking Habit

The decision to quit smoking is not an easy one – but it is one that will help you live longer. The toxic chemicals in cigarettes, including nicotine and carbon monoxide, are not only responsible for causing high blood pressure and heart disease but they’re also the number one cause for lung cancer, as well as cancer of the larynx, oral cavity, and esophagus. Not to mention, secondhand smoke puts your loved ones at risk for developing cancer and other diseases.

“But everyone needs a vice. What will I do if I quit smoking?” you might be asking. Well, what if instead of smoking, you formed some new habits; ones that were good for you?

Here are 5 great replacements for your old smoking habit.

1. Exercise

Instead of taking a 15-minute smoke break at work, spend 15 minutes walking around the block. It’ll be much better for your lungs, and the money you’ll save from not buying cigarettes can go toward something that’s actually good for your health, like a new gym membership.

2. Meditate

Meditation is an easy and enjoyable way to center yourself and recharge your batteries. And you can do it in only a few minutes. There are many different ways to meditate so do some research and pick a technique that gels with your personality. You may want to try using a meditation app since there are quite a few good ones now.

3. Get Organized

Take those five or ten minutes you’d use to smoke a cigarette and work on your to-do list. Staying organized will help you accomplish more in your day and feel great about yourself.

4. Listen to Music

Listening to calming music has been shown to lower a person’s blood pressure. While classical music tends to be the best for putting a person into a calm state, any soothing music will do.

5. Think Positively

Why not take a think break instead of a smoke break? Spend a few minutes thinking about all the things in your life that make you happy and that you are grateful for. If you do this multiple times throughout the day, you should notice your overall perspective of things begins to change.

 

Quitting cigarettes won’t be easy, but it is truly the best thing you can do for yourself. And your loved ones will be so thankful.

If you’d like to explore cognitive behavioral therapy as a way to finally kick the habit, please reach out. I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

 

SOURCES

https://psychcentral.com/lib/help-for-quit-smoking-now/

https://www.nicotinell.co.uk/how-to-quit-smoking/succeeding-at-quitting-smoking/smoking-at-lunch.html

https://www.verywellmind.com/things-to-do-instead-of-smoking-2824746

Do Fidget Spinners Actually Help ADHD?

They are beloved by children everywhere and the bane of existence for many teachers and parents. Fidget spinners have been flying off store shelves in recent years, touted as a gadget that can help reduce anxiety and treat symptoms of ADHD in young children. But are fidget spinners everything they’re cracked up to be?

So do fidget spinners really offer any value in helping children with behavioral disorders? Many child psychologists feel there isn’t an easy answer, including Dr. David Anderson, a clinical psychologist and senior director of the ADHD and Behavioral Disorders Center at the New York-based nonprofit Child Mind Institute, who has said, “The most frequent thing we say to parents with an unfortunately disheartened tone is that if something appears like it’s an easy fix for mental health difficulties, it’s probably too good to be true.”

Admittedly, the toy is so new that not many studies have been conducted regarding its efficacy. But one child psychologist, Paulo Graziano, set up a study with colleagues after his own daughter became enamored with the toy.

What were his findings?

While they can be entertaining, fidget spinners do not help children focus or do better in school. In fact, Graziano cautions parents that fidget spinners can do more harm than good, because they can distract kids more than help them.

During the study, Graziano and his team found that interaction with fidget spinners actually caused children with ADHD to violate more rules. Children payed less attention to the teacher, had more trouble staying on task, and were less able to answer questions when called on.

Where Did the Idea That Fidget Spinners Help ADHD Symptoms Originate?

If fidget spinners seem to do the exact opposite of what the marketing campaigns suggest, where did the idea even come from they could be some sort of learning aid?

There are theories that in kids with ADHD, excessive movements – their bodily fidgeting, rocking, leg shaking etc. – increases their prefrontal cortex arousal and alertness, thereby helping them engage in some academic tasks. While the theory that natural movements may assist in this way, the fact is, fidget spinners don’t really inspire kids to move more than their thumb.

So, the theory is nice, and the makers and marketers might have meant well, but no, it appears that fidget spinners do not actually help children with ADHD focus better.

Other Ways to Help Your Child Focus

Parents tend to focus on the negative behaviors of children with ADHD, but studies have shown these children do much better with positive reinforcement. Give your child lots of praise and attention for good behavior, speak with teachers regularly about their progress, and get help from a trained psychologist who can offer developmental strategies.

If you are the parent of a child with ADHD and would like to discuss treatment options, please reach out to me. I would be more than happy to talk about how I may help.

 

SOURCES

http://time.com/money/4774133/fidget-spinners-adhd-anxiety-stress/

Do fidget spinners help children with ADHD focus?

https://www.brainfacts.org/Diseases-and-Disorders/Childhood-Disorders/2018/Do-Fidget-Spinners-Help-Kids-Focus-071818