Ladies Night Out: Yoga Mindfullness and Self Care

What a great turnout! Thank you for everyone who attended! Our therapist Valerie Spiropoulos created a space to have a candid and supportive discussion about self care and taught us the use of mindfulness when coping with stress. Chantel Gutierrez led a Restorative Yoga practice in the dark to help us find our center and relax.

Women, supporting women to grow and prioritize themselves!

 

Our Dedication to the Naperville Community – In response to the tragic string of teen suicides

We are so honored to have worked on this survey with KidsMatter and North Central College to help identify the biggest stress triggers for our teens. With the data of the survey, we as a community will be able to implement preventative services and resources for teens and families! 

CHECK OUT THE ARTICLE HERE!

 

3 Lightning Fast Ways to Deal with Feeling Overwhelmed

We have all been there, “the day that never ends” the one that has you asking yourself “are you kidding me right now? What else could go wrong?” Maybe its work or maybe its family or maybe it’s both!

Feeling overwhelmed, stressed and unable to cope with these feelings is a normal response when we are pushed past our capacity to manage. Here are 3 ways to begin coping and feel relief instantly.

 

  1. Change your Thoughts

Begin to notice your thinking. Are there themes to your thoughts? Are your thoughts stressful in nature and perpetuate feeling overwhelmed? Here is an example:

“This is too much”
“This is a terrible day”
“I can’t handle it”

Next, make a choice to argue your thoughts. Generalizing your experience is the biggest culprit of continuing the cycle of feeling overwhelmed!  Try asking yourself: Is this true 100% of the time? Another trick is, think the opposite. Here is an example:

“This is a lot of stress for the moment. I can handle everything I am given”
“This moment is tough for me and I will get through it”
“I can get through this, as I have before”

 

  1. Change Your Behavior

Evaluate what actions (behaviors) you are choosing, in the moment,  that maintain you feeling overwhelmed. Are you saying yes to too many people? Is your body/mind overstimulated by your environment? Then make an active choice to change your behavior. Here are some ways to practice this:

Give yourself a 5 minute break. NO EXCUSES ! Anyone can step away from anything for 5 minutes!
(Hint: Find a Bathroom, it’s the perfect excuse)
Practice saying No to tasks/responsibilities that will create addition stress
Breathe long, deep, slow breaths

 

  1. Practice Kindness

One of the most important ways to cope with stress and feeling overwhelmed is to practice kindness to yourself and others. People forget this often and it can make a huge difference in the ways we cope with stress. First, give yourself the gift of kindness- be patient with yourself and stop holding yourself to impossible standards! Give yourself credit and cut yourself a break!

Next, practice kindness towards others. Remember, everyone has their own journey in life and we often don’t know where others come from or their experiences- Chose to give people the benefit of the doubt-it will give you more peace.

Okay so this wasn’t as “Lightning Fast” as promised, but managing emotions is not always as logical and neat as we would like it to be! Remember the steps above when you are feeling overwhelmed or having a rough day. If these feelings become too difficult to bear, please seek professional help- we are here to help you improve your psychological well-being!

 

With Kindness,

Valerie Spiropoulos, LCPC

www.TheCenteredLifeTherapy.com

 

 

 

 

4 Ways Divorce Can Impact Your Kids as Adults

It’s a known truth these days that close to 50% of marriages end in divorce; a common phenomenon that impacts many kids and young adults. As a therapist who specializes in work with young adults and women’s issues, I’ve witnessed firsthand, the impacts divorce can have in adulthood. Sure, it’s common to see kids and teens in my practice to help them cope with the instability and stress divorce brings in the moment, but I’ve come to find that the impact of divorce is much more longstanding and manifests in many ways long after; as kids have become adults and started families of their own.

Here are 4 common ways that kids of divorce can struggle in adulthood:

  1. Control

Kids who witness the unpredictability and emotional chaos of divorce seek stability and control. As adults, the need for control can manifest in unhealthy ways such as the need to control others. Extreme discomfort or anxiety occurs when the inevitable happens- we cannot control others and everything around us.

Likely, the need for control can arise from the fear of failure, something which can be created from witnessing failure of a marriage. In efforts to alleviate this fear, adults overcompensate by having rigid expectations for themselves and others around them. This often leads to disappointment, low self-worth and unrealistic expectations for relationships.

  1. Interpersonal Relationships

 As adults, kids who experienced divorce may have trouble with emotional intimacy and have difficulty expressing emotions. Vulnerability can be a scary concept to someone who has witnessed betrayal and the breakdown of trust that divorce can sometimes cause.

  1. Self-Esteem

Kids who get dragged in the middle of their parent’s divorce are more likely to internalize the blame or insults parents trade during divorce. This can have a detrimental impact on self-esteem as an adult.

As well, self-blame can create feelings of guilt and a low sense of self-worth in adults who developed the misconception that divorce was their fault, as kids.

  1. Skewed Expectations of Marriage

Adult children of divorce can develop skewed world views about relationships and marriage. Having  an expectation of “perfection” in intimate relationships (one without conflict) can lead to short-lived and unstable relationships.  These adults will often be disappointed and let down when these unrealistic expectations are unmet by their partner.

It’s important to remember that the ways each individual experiences a loss such as divorce is different, and that generally, kids are extremely resilient. With this said, if you or someone you know are struggling with any of these issues, it might be beneficial to explore them further with a therapist. Therapy can help you gain insight as to how your past has shaped you in the present and to empower you to shift your life in a healthier direction.

“Say This…Not That,” How To Support a Loved One Going Through Emotional Distress

 

It is beyond difficult to go through mental and emotional distress. It can feel impossible to formulate what you are going through, let alone express to a loved one how they can help. So many people experience feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, grief, and loss due to struggling with a mental illness or enduring a period of pain. However, everyone goes through different experiences and struggles so it can feel helpless to explain your pain and it can feel helpless to be a loved one trying to help heal that pain. I understand how loved ones then can feel at a loss as to how to give their support. It is normal to not know what to say, how to say it, what to do, or know if you are being helpful in any way.

Being a family therapist at The Centered Life, I believe it is an essential piece to therapy to aid my clients to learn how to conceptualize and express what they are experiencing in order to work through it. But I think it is equally as important in therapy to bring in clients’ support systems so they can learn how to be helpful in a healthy way. It is hard to be vulnerable and ask for help. And if that help is received in a negative way, it will only set up a dynamic of little communication about emotional needs and can negatively affect the relationship as well. Which then creates more distress on both ends. Here is a list of  some ways that may help people express what kind of help they need and help support systems navigate how to be helpful.

Say This: “I may not understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help”

Not That: “We all go through times like this”

Say This: “You may not believe it now, but the way you are feeling will change”

Not That: “Just snap out of it, look on the bright side”

Say This: “You are not alone in this. I’m here for you. We will get through this together”

Not That: “You’ll be fine. Stop worrying. Shouldn’t you be better right now?”

Say This: “Talk to me, I’m listening.”

Not That: “Here is my advice.”

Say This: “I know you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed right now, what can I do to help?”

Not That: “You are freaking out, you just need to calm down.”

Say This: “You are not alone in this”

Not That: “There is always someone worse off than you.”

Say This: “You are important to me and I want to help.”

Not That: “No one said life is fair.”

Say This: “Do you need a hug?”

Not That: “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

Say This: “I can not completely understand what you are struggling with, but I can offer my love and compassion.”

Not That: “Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed/anxious for a few days”

Say This: “I’m not going to leave you or abandon you.”

Not This: “Your moods are bringing everyone around you down.”

Say This: “When these feelings subside, I will still be here and so will you.”

Not That: “Stop being so sensitive, cheer up.”

It can feel helpless for both the person enduring the emotional distress and the people who are trying to help, but it does NOT have to be. The above statements are some helpful outlines to enhance healthy and empowering support. If we can open up a dialogue about these topics and help each other understand from both sides, then there is so much more of a chance of coping better. It is important to offer support with an open mind, open heart, and with an open-ended approach because it only leaves room for open healthy communication and learning amongst support systems. All of us at The Centered Life are here to help people that are going through a hard time. Please call us if you are needing any kind of guidance and extra support!

All my best,

    Samantha

The Healing Power of Dogs

I am a dog-mom. Yes, that’s right; I am the one that overshares about my dog. Countless pictures/videos and cute stories about “OMG, you’ll never believe what Cutler did yesterday…” – followed by a ridiculously detailed account of our daily walk.  My friends lovingly joke that I try to incorporate a story about my Frenchie into most conversations.

Naturally then, it’s no surprise that I incorporate my Frenchie into my work as a psychotherapist!

If you are a pet parent, I am certain you’ve been lucky enough to experience the amazing benefits animals can have.

I’d like to share with you some of the benefits animals have on our psychological well-being as well as how I incorporate this into my practice as a therapist.

  • Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is currently a widely used complimentary model to traditional medical and psychological interventions.
  • Research shows that dogs and cats have the ability to lower heart rate and decrease stress and anxiety.
  • Caring for a pet helps create a sense of purpose, teaches responsibility and helps us express emotion such as love and compassion.
  • Research shows that pets help children develop greater empathy, higher self-esteem, and increased participation in social and physical activities.
  • Having a dog can promote and motivate you to lead a healthier lifestyle

As a psychotherapist, I recognize the importance of complimentary approaches to traditional psychological interventions. This has been the foundation of our approach at The Centered Life and we hold great value in being able to treat our clients from multiple dimensions. Working with my dog Cutler, has shown me how animals can elevate the therapeutic experience for both the therapist and the client.

Here is what I have learned:

  • Kids may refuse to talk to you… but they will seldom refuse a Frenchie with a big tongue and warm smile. Using animals in therapy helps build rapport and make clients feel more at ease in the therapeutic setting
  • As a therapist, I often (psychologically) “hold” my client’s pain in session. Having an animal to help with physical touch and comfort is a profound way to help my clients feel momentary relief.
  • Sometimes, clients aren’t ready to verbalize their trauma or grief to another person. Animals allow open communication without fear of judgement or rejection.
  • Dogs are extremely instinctual and perceptive creatures. As a therapist, those are very important skills to have. I often depend on Cutler to help me see things about my clients I normally would need more cues to pick up on.

I feel privileged to be able to help others health through the power of the human (and animal) connection.

PS: Don’t think I wouldn’t end without sharing a snapshot of my co-author and co-therapist, Cutler

cutler

 

Stay Well,

Valerie Spiropoulos, LCPC