Mother’s Day, When Grief Gets in the Way

Mother’s Day, When Grief Gets in the Way



Mother’s Day is a celebration of mothers and motherhood. It is a time that I look forward to each year as a mother and daughter; however, I recognize that Mother’s Day can bring mixed emotions to both children and mothers impacted by social distancing and other challenging circumstances related to trauma, grief and loss.
Children who have experienced abuse or neglect at the hands of their mother or mother-figure often struggle as Mother’s Day may trigger painful emotions. For children whose maternal bonds have been disrupted within the early years of life, foster mothers, autines, grandmothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, step-mothers may take the role of mother. Adoptive, foster, and kinship mothers play such an important, yet difficult job to help children who may be experiencing grief or displaying  emotional dysregulation or behavioral issues.
Mother’s Day can be a painful reminder to women who struggle with infertility or who have lost children for various reason including miscarriage, stillbirth, termination of pregnancy, loss of parental rights, or custody issues. Rather than experiencing joy, mothers who have lost children may struggle with grief, anger, and loneliness. According to the American Pregnancy Association, Infertility often creates one of the most distressing life crises for couples.
“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”  -Unknown
For children who have experienced the death of a mother, grandmother or mother-figure, it can be difficult to just get through the day with emotions that may come. Loss of significant people in our lives is difficult, especially when the loss is of a parent or child. Caring for someone with chronic illness can also trigger grief reactions (https://www.caregiver.org/grief-and-loss) due to ambiguous loss which is common when a parent is displaying cognitive impairments or anticipatory grief.
While it it normal to experience a variety of emotions with loss, symptoms that indicate that mental health counseling would be beneficial include the following–
  • Persistent feelings of depression
  • Decreased interest and pleasure in normal activities
  • Changes in sleep, appetite, or weight
  • Difficulties concentrating, focusing, or completing tasks
  • Often feeling anxious or often worrying
  • Persistent feelings of anger, irritability, or negativity
  • Feelings of guilt, self-blame, shame, or worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Use of drugs or alcohol to cope with emotional pain
  • Tension in interpersonal relationships
  • Social Isolation and withdrawal from others
This Mother’s Day I encourage you to reach out to someone who may need some extra love and support. Express love and appreciation for the mother in your life. Remind her of your love. Show appreciation in a meaningful way. Continue to carry out traditions, while being creative to make accommodations during a time of social distancing. While this year, you may not be taking mom out to her favorite restaurant, there are still great options with takeout and carry out. We can encourage mom with words of affirmation, express our love and encouragement or send a token of appreciation with a heartfelt gift. We can also still stay connected to mothers and women who symbolize motherhood with phone calls and video chat.
I encourage any women reading this to reach out and seek support if you are struggling. There is hope and healing. Listed is just a sample of some of the excellent support resources available.  Know that you are not alone and that other mothers and professionals are there to help.

Infant & Pregnancy Loss Supports:

Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Inc. http://nationalshare.org/
Pregnancy & Postpartum Support Minnesota https://ppsupportmn.org/loss/
Postpartum Support International https://www.postpartum.net
Exhale After-Abortion Hotline https://exhaleprovoice.org/ 1-866-439-4253

Outpatient Clinic (telehealth) Counseling Support for Grief & Loss

Hospital | Clinic Based Grief & Loss Resources

Support group for adoptive, foster or kinship parents

Comforts of Home for College Students

Comforts of Home for College Students


Last summer, my daughter was thrilled to turn 18 and become an “adult.” Several months later she was off to her first year of college, living in the dorms with her seven roommates and enjoying college life. With COVID-19, staying on campus was no longer an option after the start of all on-campus classes were suspended and all instruction was moving online. Classes were originally planned to resume on Monday, April 6th. Now all classes are online at least through the summer.

Just months after moving into her own space, my daughter and other college students are now living back at home. In addition to college students, young adults have also moved back home for various reasons including lack of temporary housing options, financial reasons, sense of safety and security, or to help combat loneliness. With colleges closed, many students are without housing options during the school year and have moved back home. Young adults sharing spaces with others on a month to month lease basis may suddenly find themselves without a roommate or struggling to pay rent due to rapidly changing situations that may impact financial stability. Being furloughed, having hours cut, or being laid off makes it difficult to maintain housing among other responsibilities during this time of uncertainty.

Safety and security is a major factor that has impacted young adults choice to move back home at the onset of COVID-19. For young adults who are immune-compromised, having access to a parent can be comforting although the decision may have not been easy due to concern of possible exposure to a parent during the transition home. Taking necessary precautions during “shelter in place” and having open conversations about things such as expectations have helped each feel more at ease in a shared space. As a parent, creating a space for privacy and allowing for autonomy while balancing responsibilities as an adult has helped our arrangement work quite well.

While moving back home after college is quite common, estimated at 50% [Source] a majority of parents welcome their children back home and many parents and young adults have found living together at this time to be mutually beneficial in many ways. I know that I have enjoyed my daughter back home and having the accountability as we do daily exercise. In turn, she has enjoyed having someone to talk to and home-cooked meals. Despite some of the jokes in social media about fighting and conflict during quarantine, spending time together during social distancing has brought quite a few families closer together as they re-connect and experience the parent-child relationship through a new lens. 




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Weekly Intervention Ideas : April 6th Edition

Weekly Intervention Ideas : April 6th Edition


Kid strategy of the week:

  • Emotions in the body: Have your client draw a basic outline of their body, or draw it together using the screen share function. Ask your client to color in the parts of the body where they feel different emotions.

physical emotional blank image

Physical Emotional Connection in Children

Couples strategy of the week:

Link to take the Love Languages quiz:

https://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/couples/

Write down the order of your love languages here:

Partner 1 Partner 2
1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.
4. 4.
5. 5.

Compare your lists. What’s the same? What’s different?

Now I want each of you to make a list of things that would make you feel loved, using your top two love languages. This is a way for you to explore the things that you really value, and it’s a way for your partner to get some ideas for ways to make you feel loved.

Ways that Partner 1 Feels Loved
Top Love Language: Second Love Language:
1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.
Ways that Partner 2 Feels Loved
Top Love Language: Second Love Language:
1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.

Adult strategy of the week:

  • Self-care Wheel: During a pandemic
    • Many of us have used the self-care wheel with clients before in therapy. However, this may be a good time to re-evaluate self-care since people can’t go to the gym, get together with friends, etc. Additionally, there is a lot of pressure to accomplish big goals during this time.
    • Instead, help client identify small, realistic self-care goals focused on this stage of life we’re in. Some examples might be:
      • Facetime friends
      • Take a break from social media/the news
      • Feed myself with the food I have available (without guilt)
      • Taking regular showers
      • Sticking with sleep hygiene or a bedtime routine
      • Reaching out to an elderly relative to help

Self Care Wheel

Mindfulness/Meditation of the week:

Body Scan

Begin by bringing your attention into your body.

You can close your eyes if that’s comfortable for you.

You can notice your body seated wherever you’re seated, feeling the weight of your body on the chair, on the floor.

Take a few deep breaths.

And as you take a deep breath, bring in more oxygen enlivening the body. And as you exhale, have a sense of relaxing more deeply.

You can notice your feet on the floor, notice the sensations of your feet touching the floor. The weight and pressure, vibration, heat.

You can notice your legs against the chair, pressure, pulsing, heaviness, lightness.

Notice your back against the chair.

Bring your attention into your stomach area. If your stomach is tense or tight, let it soften. Take a breath.

Notice your hands. Are your hands tense or tight. See if you can allow them to soften.

Notice your arms. Feel any sensation in your arms. Let your shoulders be soft.

Notice your neck and throat. Let them be soft. Relax.

Soften your jaw. Let your face and facial muscles be soft.

Then notice your whole body present. Take one more breath.

Be aware of your whole body as best you can. Take a breath. And then when you’re ready, you can open your eyes.

Creating Social Connections through Quarantine

Creating Social Connections through Quarantine



Our need for human connection is so powerful that it is essential to our physical and mental well-being. In fact, there is a neurobiological link in which we are “hard-wired” for connection. Now more than ever we need friendship. Not only does it help deter from social isolation, it helps boost mood, has physical health benefits, aids in positive coping, provides emotional support and encouragement, and can motivate us towards success. 
 
Many people are finding some creative ways to create social connections through quarantine. Check out these ideas on ways to connect (or-reconnect) with others. 
 
Ideas to Form New Social Connections
  • Identify areas of interest and possible opportunities for connection. Check out opportunities online or ask others for ideas or invites to existing groups. If no group exists, consider starting your own!
  • Strike up a conversation and develop friendships with fellow online gamers.
  • Join a support connection group. NAMI offers connection groups, LGBTQ+ connection groups, young adult connection groups, and parent groups.
  • Find a way to make a difference in your community by giving back to local businesses. Get to know the names of those you encounter from a safe distance.  
  • Let others you newly “meet” know you listen and care. Pay attention to details of their lives such as children’s names, pet’s names, hobbies, and interests.
 
Ideas to Maintain Current Social Connections or Reconnect
  • Check in with friends and family, especially those who may be more prone to social isolation through phone calls or virtual meetings.
  • Mail a letter or care package that includes a note of gratitude or personalized gifts such as a handmade craft.
  • Create fun things to share on social media that can help boost mood and provide some comedic relief.
  • Maintain participation in groups such as educational groups, business networking, faith and community-based groups, physical, and social activities in a virtual environment.
  • Set up a virtual coffee hour, lunch hour meeting, date, or happy hour with friends, family, or colleagues. Get creative with virtual backgrounds to create a fun environment that matches the meeting.
  • Arrange to walk at the same place at the same time. Smile and wave at each other from afar while talking on the phone.
  • Go through your contact list. Don’t be afraid to take the initiative to let your friends, family, co-workers, and contacts know that you are thinking of them.
  • Follow up with those who reach out to you.
Ideas to Connect with Others at Home
  • Take advantage of more time at home you may have with family or roommates and invest in those relationships.
  • Develop a deeper emotional bond with your partner by being available and curious about their thoughts and feelings. Share your hopes and dreams.
  • Set aside time in your daily schedule opportunities to connect. Creating fun rituals within mealtime such as “Taco Tuesdays” or a “Family Potluck” where each person draws an item to make (e.g. appetizer, soup, salad, entree, dessert) can make these times feel more fun and encourage interaction.
  • With so many of our connections online, try tech-free options at home to bring others closer without distractions such as family game night or scavenger hunt challenge. Take time to just sit and talk. Laugh together.
 
Some final thoughts…
Professional counseling help may be beneficial if barriers such as social anxiety/ fear of judgment or decreased interest or pleasure impacted by depression are present and impacting the ability to connect.
For those of you who find yourselves as the person that everyone seeks for support but may be experiencing emotional exhaustion, take time to take care of yourself and create boundaries while balancing home, work/ school, and interpersonal relationships.
If you are enjoying your time on quarantine but feel guilty about this, know that it is OK to hold space for conflicting feelings.
For those of you who struggle with seeking out support or asking for help, now is a good time to practice! Just knowing that we have a need for connection and that many are struggling with social isolation can help.

Talking with Children about COVID-19

Being a parent is an ever-winding ride. Just when you think you have it “all together” (I guess some people feel that, right?), life inevitably twists and you are left trying to figure it out all over again.  The recent coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Many of us parents are trying to figure out how to adjust to the impact on our jobs, school/daycare, social connection, spring break, society, getting essentials (e.g., diapers, milk, mac-n-cheese, etc) and other every day routines. Let alone figuring out if or how to share the news with our children. Many of our first instincts is to protect our children from the frightening news and we worry about increasing fear in our children by sharing information about the virus; however, research demonstrates that the more we keep children out of the loop in these situations, the more they actually worry.  

Our brains are complex meaning making machines working on hyper-speed. They are constantly piecing information together, trying to connect dots, and filling in the blanks to better understand the world around us. When we do not give our brains a word bank (aka context, facts, etc), it automatically fills in the blank on it’s own and often times with things that are even more frightening than reality. Have you ever seen a shadow in your room in the middle of the night and your mind tried to convince you it was a danger, but really it was the laundry you have not put away? That is your brain filling in the blanks. 

Here are some helpful tips and considerations to use when providing that word bank to your children in these challenging times:

  • Manage your own fears and anxiety. Many of us parents have our own emotional reactions to the pandemic. Of course we do, we are humans and these are stressful times. Be mindful of how yours is coming across to those around you. For me, my irritability increases and my patience decreases. When our brains are activated (think fight/flight/freeze), our meaning making machine goes on the fritz and we are not as able to think logically or help our children co-regulate. Try practicing grounding or mindfulness exercises, self-soothe with your 5 senses, use deep breathing. Once you are in a calmer state, then approach the conversation with your child. 
  • Lean into the discomfort and talk about coronavirus. Most children have already heard or seen something regarding the virus. Our instinct might be to avoid talking about it, but that can conversely increase their own worries and reinforce anxiety in the long run. As parents/caregivers, we can act as the filters and provide them with developmentally appropriate information and facts.  This can help them feel informed by someone they trust and reassure them.  Keep the facts short and sweet, as it might be overwhelming for them. Do your best to be honest, clear, and calm. Remember children react not only to what you say, but also how you say it.  You may not know every answer, and that is okay, own it. Having them know you are there for them is what matters most in frightening times. 
  • Follow your child’s lead and cues. Make time to talk and space for your child to share their experience. Follow their lead. Some children might not want to talk too much about it, while others might want to spend longer. Encourage your child to share with you what they have heard about the virus, how they are feeling about it (be careful not to lead them – “Are you worried about coronavirus?”) and any questions they might have. Work to reassure and correct faulty information with facts. Remember our brains are trying to fill in the blanks and often get it wrong, assign incorrect blame, or catastrophize. This is a time to ‘check the facts’.  
  • Focus on what you/they can do to stay safe. Shifting the conversation from what is out of our control to what is in our control can be helpful in these times. Focus on empowering your child to act in ways that keep themselves safe (e.g., washing hands with soap for the ABCs – 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer, covering their coughs (we call them ‘vampire coughs’ in our house), practicing physical distancing from others, and other CDC recommendations). Additionally, you could include their help around the house to set up stations for Kleenex and hand sanitizer.  Giving children a sense of control and input, can help shift the anxiety rather than avoiding and reinforce it. 
  • Keep communication going. Open communication is important, especially in stressful times. Share with children that you will keep sharing important updates as they occur and that they can come to you with their feelings and questions. 

Other helpful resources: 

https://www.flipsnack.com/KeshetChicago/coronavirus-social-story/full-view.html  E-story about explaining COVID-19 to young children. 

https://www.brainpop.com/health/diseasesinjuriesandconditions/coronavirus/ Animated video for children about Coronavirus. 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/talking-with-children.html for specific facts and language about explaining COVID-19 to children. 

https://higherlogicdownload.s3.amazonaws.com/NASN/3870c72d-fff9-4ed7-833f-215de278d256/UploadedImages/PDFs/02292020_NASP_NASN_COVID-19_parent_handout.pdf  Parent resource from the National Association of School Nurses. 

https://www.cdc.gov/childrenindisasters/helping-children-cope.html  CDC on helping children cope in a disaster. 

Talking with Children about COVID-19






Stay-at-Home, Work-from-Home: Too Much to Soon?

Stay-at-Home, Work-from-Home: Too Much to Soon?



In my lifetime I’ve had to make many difficult decisions but often had time to think about my options carefully and then make a choice. Like choosing whether to be a stay-at-home parent or a working parent. There are many pros and cons to consider in each scenario. With COVID-19, I did not have to make a choice. The decision was made for me…
As a working parent, my children had their routine and I had mine. We each had a schedule to follow. When to get up in the morning to be ready for school and work… What time to catch the bus and when to leave for the morning commute… Mid-year school year is not any easy time to change. Friendships and activities are established. Important learning is happening, big assignments are due, and testing is taking place.
This year many parents are feeling the pressure as they transition to being a stay-at-home parent while also maintaining other work-related responsibilities and trying to create balance. It can feel like a literal balancing act!
If you are starting to feel alone in the struggle, know that many other parents are there too.
Common experiences include:
  • Demands Balancing Work and Home Responsibilities
  • Feelings of Social Isolation
  • Increased Toll on Physical and Mental Health
One of the things that a lot of parents are navigating right now is how to separate (or integrate) work and home. As a parent, it may seem that you are “always on call” and depending on your outside responsibilities, it can be challenging to find the time, space, and energy to balance multiple roles and responsibilities with the transition to stay-at-home.
Some helpful strategies include:
  • Define parent and child work and school spaces
  • Set boundaries with use of time and space
  • Create a routine together
  • Communicate expectations and enforce limits
  • Reinforce positive behavior
It can also be more challenging to take a break and utilize social and self-care outlets such as getting a coffee with friends, working out at the gym, or getting a massage which can lead to feelings of isolation. If possible, rotate breaks with a co-parent while working together to tackle household tasks. The idea of the “good enough” parent comes to mind as striving to become a good parent while also being kind to yourself (and others) despite a desire for perfection.
Ways to help reduce social isolation include:
  • Schedule a virtual social outing with friends
  • Use apps for physical activities
  • Take breaks throughout the day
  • Engage in meaningful activities and hobbies at home
Finally, as caregivers, we often focus on our children and neglect to care for ourselves. Maintaining good physical and emotional health is so important, especially during times of increased stress. Strategies to keep ourselves and our families healthy and strong such as exercise, eating healthy, and maintaining health and wellness goals are vital. Many ideas can be integrated with children. Ideas include:

How to Respond to Self Harm

Have you ever looked at someone and noticed a series of scars on their wrists? Did you make a face or pass judgement about that person without knowing who they are or what they’re going through? Likely.

Of the many symptoms of mental health conditions, self-harm is one of the least understood and least sympathized. It’s also one of the few physically visible symptoms. Therefore, it’s often responded to in a way that’s derogatory and potentially harmful. For example:

“That’s just teenage angst.”

“Why would anyone do that to themselves?”

“You’re just trying to get attention.”

These reactions grossly undermine how serious self-harm is. Self-Harm is usually a sign that a person is struggling emotionally and isn’t sure how to cope. It’s a sign that a person needs support, understanding and professional help. Most importantly, it’s a sign that shouldn’t be ignored or judged.

Your Initial Response

It can be shocking to notice a person’s self-harm scars. Your instinct may be to stare or immediately express shock. But self-harm is a sensitive topic that should be approached in a certain way.

Whether you know the person or not, it is essential not to display shock or horror even if that’s how you feel. Don’t say anything that could shame them or make them feel judged or foolish. You don’t want to draw attention to their scars, especially in public.

If the person is a close friend or family member, don’t ignore what you’ve seen. Wait until you are with them in private, and then talk to them about what you noticed.

Having A Meaningful Conversation

The most important part of talking to someone about self-harm is to frame the conversation in a supportive and empathetic way. Show concern for their well-being and be persistent if they don’t open up right away. When having a conversation about self-harm, consider the following do’s and don’ts:

Do:

  • Show compassion
  • Respect what the person is telling you, even if you don’t understand it
  • Stay emotionally neutral
  • Listen, even if it makes you uncomfortable
  • Encourage them to use their voice, rather than their body as a means of self-expression
  • Encourage them to seek mental health care

Don’t:

  • Pity them
  • Joke about it
  • Guilt them about how their actions affect others
  • Give ultimatums
  • Remind them how it looks or what people will think
  • Make assumptions

Continuing Support

After that first conversation, it’s important to follow-up with your loved one to show your ongoing support. If they have not sought out care, continue to ask about it and offer to help them find a mental health professional.

You can also offer to help identify their self-harm triggers. You can do this by asking questions like: “What were you doing beforehand?” “Was there anything that upset you or stressed you out that day?” If a person is more aware of their triggers, it could help prevent future self-injury. Assisting your loved one find and practice healthier coping mechanisms is also a great way to help.

Self-harm is a serious issue that should be addressed as soon as you find out it’s happening. Keep in mind that one of the best things you can instill in a person who is self-harming is that you are there for them and that you care about them. You can always be helpful to someone even if you don’t understand what they’re going through.

 

Source

Unconventional Grieving: Grieving someone Alive

Grieving someone alive is not a conventional form of grief that is often talked about, but is a real issue that is faced by the living. Death is often viewed as the base requirement for grief but mourning the deceased is only one facet of death. If you have never experienced this, you likely do not understand what we’re talking about. How can you grieve for someone that you haven’t lost? If you have experience this sort of grief, you probably are cheering inside your head that someone has finally put to words what you’re feeling.

Grieving for someone alive, is not the same as anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is the type of grief that comes about when you know that you will soon be experiencing a loss, such as when a loved one is dying or in the hospital. If you are experiencing anticipatory grief or looking for resources on it, please visit the following link: http://www.whatsyourgrief.com/anticipatory-grief/.

WHY UNCONVENTIONAL GRIEF HAPPENS

If you’re not familiar with this form of grief, you may be unsure how this is possible or what often triggers this form of grief in people. Often, this form of grief is caused by a loved one becoming someone that you no longer know or recognize.

COMMON CAUSES OF UNCONVENTIONAL GRIEF

• Mental Illness
• Drug or Substance Addiction
• Dementia or Alzheimer’s
• Brain Injury
• Family Trauma

The unfortunate truth of grieving someone alive is that they are still there as the person you once knew but psychologically are a different person than they were before. Also, many of these factors are outside of the control of the person experiencing them or the person who is watching their loved one suffer. It can be hard for either party to recognize because the person does not always look like they are sick.

Don’t look at these causes and think that they mean that you love this person any less though. This form of grief, just like grieving someone who is deceased, does not change the level of attachment to the person. Simply, this person is no longer acting how they were before and have had a dramatic shift in personality. If your brother is suffering from a drug addiction, his behavior may become erratic and he might start stealing from yourself or other family members. Some will grieve the life that he is not living as he focuses living for his addiction. If someone is dealing with a mental illness, they may now be dealing with depression so badly that they are unable to go on living their life or they may be experiencing delusions or hallucinations.

A person will experience many emotions while grieving someone alive. These emotions may be more powerful and more confusing than the grieving process for someone who has recently passed. Anger is a prominent emotion that shows up. The grieving individual could feel anger towards their loved one for the issues they are dealing with and have a hard time understanding that they may not be able to change, such as in the case of mental illness. While experiencing anger, you may feel guilty as well that you are experiencing anger or guilty that you cannot control or change the situation.

Unlike when someone dies, you are unlikely to experience positive emotions while grieving someone alive. When someone passes, you are surrounded by the comfort of their loved ones and are often able to look at the joy of their life. This rarely happens with unconventional or ambiguous grief. Just like when someone dies, you are likely to be overcome with sadness. However, the reminder of your sadness is constant every time you think of this person or hear about them.

How to Grieve Someone Alive

• Let yourself grieve. Don’t attempt to hide or suppress your grief for this situation just because society or your loved ones don’t understand or acknowledge what you’re going through. Be open to sharing how your feeling to close family and friends and don’t push yourself to be someone you’re not at this time.
• Find other people in the same situation. Connecting with other people who are experiencing the same kind of personal loss as you is an invaluable resource. This can come in the form of a support group or finding an individual to speak with. Having someone understand what it is like to be grieving someone  alive will help to put your situation in perspective and help you to gain insight on the validity of your feelings.
• Don’t forget your memories or the past. When you are experiencing ambiguous or unconventional grief, it is easy to forget why and how you previously loved someone in the midst of their hurtful behavior. Remind yourself of the good times that you had and why you originally loved them. It is okay to cherish old moments and mourn that they are gone. Remember that that person is still here though, just not at the moment.
• Open yourself up to change. One of the hardest parts of grieving someone alive is that you are forced to accept a changed relationship that you do not want. It may be difficult for you to look on a loved one in a different life, but you may be able to experience a rewarding relationship with them in new ways than before. Focusing on finding joy in your new relationship will help keep your mental state positive rather than gloomy.
• Always remember that the illness is not the person. For many people, this is the hardest mental hurdle to overcome while grieving someone alive. Stop yourself from thinking of your loved one as the disease they’re dealing with, whether it be addiction, Alzheimer’s, or depression. You will still likely feel angry towards the person but understanding what they’re actually dealing with can help you process some of those feeling.

Unconventional Grief, Ambiguous Grief, or grieving someone alive are all very real and pertinent forms of grief that need to be treated, understood and addressed. Become a member of The American Academy of Bereavement today to find more resources on grief.

 

Source

March is Self Harm Awareness

Anxiety Training Tips

By: Bridget Eickhoff

Anxiety, worry, and panic are felt by many of us at some point in our lives. After attending a training by David Carbonell, Ph.D. on chronic anxiety, I picked up some helpful tools that I would like to share.

The more you oppose unwanted thoughts, feelings, and sensations the worse they can become

A big reason behind anxiety symptoms is self-protection. People often interpreted anxiety as a signal for danger, meaning fight, flight, or freeze; but what if that was a false signal. What if this feeling is intense discomfort that will eventually pass if it is not forced to be silence. Next time you are experiencing anxiety check-in with yourself and if you indeed are in danger or is this discomfort? If it turns out to be discomfort allow yourself 5-10 minutes to worry, you may be surprised how different it feels to allow the worry to have its time rather than continue to suppress it.

 

The Rule of Opposites

Think of yourself swimming and trying to avoid a large wave coming your way. You may ask yourself “what is the best way for me to avoid this wave?” Your instincts may say to swim away from the wave and hope you can be faster, but in reality the easiest way to avoid the wave is to swim under it. The same can apply to feelings of anxiety and worry. During a panic attack your gut may tell you to hold your breath or take in more breaths at a time, when what is shown to help is taking deep belly breaths. Next time you find yourself beginning to feel anxiety or panic, try to recognize how your gut tells you to react and think about what the opposite might be.

 

The next time you are experiencing high anxiety or a panic attack be AWARE

Acknowledge and accept the feelings

Wait and Watch – recognize what the sensations in your body and your thoughts (this could be a good time to try doing the opposite of your usual)

Action – make yourself comfortable while waiting for it too pass

Repeat – go through steps a-c and try to think to yourself it will end no matter what I do

End of intense anxiety or panic attack

 

Our therapists at CARE Counseling are trained and competent in working with those experiencing symptoms of anxiety. Your counselor will be able to help explore with you common patterns of negative thinking, help you develop successful coping skills, and teach calming strategies.

 

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For more helpful information on anxiety click here

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