How to Break a Bad Habit

I am sure at some point in our lives we have all struggled with a habit that was difficult to overcome or let go. If you have been able to break up with your unwanted habit-congratulations! If you continue to struggle and cannot seem to let it go, check out this short TED Talk about a simple way of breaking a pattern. I like this talk in particular because it is a little different from what we usually do when we want to let go of an unwanted behavior or change a routine.

The psychiatrist, Judson Brewer, emphasizes the importance of mindfulness and how learning to be more in tune with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions can help you break your unwanted habit, addiction, or routine. I am sure you have heard about the benefits of mindfulness, such as learning to regulate your intense emotions, helping you overcome depression, anxiety, trauma, improve health and many other aspects in your life. What makes it even more worthwhile is that it also aims to help you break up with parts of your life that you are not completely satisfied with. 

If you have any questions or want to learn more about how to change your unwanted patterns, do not hesitate to contact one of us at The Centered Life! We will be more than happy to help you create a more mindful and meaningful life. 

Happy Monday, 

 

Aneta

How To Overcome Burnout

FullSizeRender (6)

I wanted to continue talking about burnout because I think it impacts all of us at some point in our lives. In my practice, I have seen many people trying to push through the exhaustion, which only causes them further emotional and physical damage. What is burnout once again? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” Now that we have a sense of what burnout is, I encourage you to assess if burnout could impact your life.

I put together a list of things that could help you in coping more effectively when feeling physically and mentally exhausted.

Seek social support. I cannot stress enough how important social support is when you feel that you are at your breaking point. When you are burned out, you may feel helpless and hopeless. Isolation will only make things worse, that is why I encourage you to seek support from others. I encourage you to find a person who can listen to you and be supportive. You may also work on developing friendships with your coworkers as those relations can serve as a buffer from your mental exhaustion.

Get exercise. I know doing something physically active could be the last thing on your mind when you are feeling spent, but getting at least 30 minutes of physical exercise per day can improve your mood. If you have difficulty getting yourself motivated to exercise, find someone, who will hold you accountable or cheer you on when you do exercise.

Improve your state of mind. Try to find something about your job that you like or value. I strongly encourage you to find some meaning in what you do. Focusing on those positive aspects of what you do that you actually enjoy. Those characteristic may change your attitude about work and help you find a sense of control, or a sense of purpose in what you do. That may also help you acquire balance in your life.

Focus on your priorities. What are your hopes, goals, values and dreams? Ask yourself if you have been neglecting any of those because of your high level of stress. After you do your homework evaluating your priorities, ask yourself if you need to slow down or change some of your patterns. Do you need to set appropriate boundaries with others? Maybe now is the time to learn when to say “no” at work. Do you need to allow yourself for more relaxation time?

Take time off. If possible, I encourage you to take a break from work if your feelings of mental and physical exhaustion are inevitable. Remove yourself from the work setting in order to recharge your batteries and be able to come back to work with a refreshed mind.

Take breaks. I also strongly encourage you to take regular breaks during work. If possible take a walk, stretch, have lunch away from your desk. This may help you get refreshed but also will allow you to increase your productivity. During those breaks, I also encourage you to put away your cell phone, laptop, etc. I want you to detach from work and other obligations when you are taking a break.

Focus on healthy eating habits. Reduce foods that negatively impact your mood, such as trans fats, high-carbohydrate foods, sugars, that quickly lead to “crash” in your energy level and mood. Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to boost your mood, such as fish and walnuts. Avoid nicotine, as nicotine is a stimulant and will lead to higher stress. Limit alcohol consumption as well, as alcohol is a depressant and can also cause anxiety after it wears off.

Find activities that you enjoy. I encourage you to find an activity that will take your attention away from the emotional and physical pain. Find activities that you look forward to because that will help you keep distracted from focusing on the negative events that are happening in your life. Force yourself to go for a walk, go hiking, go bike riding, go out to dinner, go to a movie, park etc. It is not easy to be active or involved in any activity, but doing something will make you feel more productive and most importantly, it will serve as a distraction!

 

Here are just a few things that you can do in order to work on improving your life. Dealing with burnout is not easy but it can be overcome with having adequate social support and taking appropriate steps to cope with it more effectively. I strongly encourage you to learn relaxation techniques in order to relieve stress and help regain your emotional balance. Work on setting priorities as those will aid you in making a list of all the areas in your life that you want to work on. I believe that every single person matters and everyone deserves to enjoy their lives and find meaning in what they do. I encourage you to work on being proactive, mindful, and take good care of yourself. As I mentioned previously, all of our therapists are fully committed to help you find ways to live a more fulfilling lives.

Sincerely,

 

Aneta

Burnout

Over time, I have learned that burnout is one of those hazards in life that does not discriminate against anyone. In my practice, I have not only seen clients who have experienced burnout in their careers, students who have pushed themselves to their limits, and caregivers who cared so deeply about their loved ones that they forgot to take care of themselves. Before we dive into exploring warning signs, let’s talk about what it is first. Burnout is chronic stress that often times leads to not only physical but emotional exhaustion, feeling of detachment from others,  sarcasm, feeling ineffective, and often times feeling discouraged. The nature of a burnout is difficult to predict and recognize because it creeps up on us over time.

Although it may be difficult to recognize, let’s talk about the warning signs that our bodies send us before we begin to experience the full blown power of a burn out.

 

Sleep difficulties. In the early stages of a burnout, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep though the night. At first it may be just one or two days per week, but the number of sleepless nights starts going up and you may find yourself having difficulty getting a full night sleep.

Fatigue. With lack of sleep comes another warning sign, which is having lack of energy and feeling tired most of the day. After that battle continues for a while, you may experience feeling not only physically but emotionally exhausted and every day seems to be a dread.

Difficulty concentrating. With inability to sleep and feeling fatigued, you may start to notice that your concentration and ability to remember things begin to interfere with your daily tasks.

Making mistakes. With all the above factors playing a major role in your performance, you begin to lose attention to those small details you used to pay attention to. That is simply because you have enough energy to focus on one task only-to get though the day. As a result, it is easy to make a small mistake that begins to add up to other mistakes that you did not realized you have made in the first place. You may be working longer hours but due to feeing stressed you may be less productive and began to notice the never ending pile of things that still need to get done.

Decreased immune system. Have you noticed that you have been getting headaches, feeling sick more often, or that cold simply does not want to go away? Due to the fact that your body is depleted of a good sleep, your immune system gets compromised making you become more vulnerable to colds, flu, infections and other medical problems.

Anger. At first you may feel more tense, irritable or experiencing more conflicts with others. If those feelings continue to stay present in your life you may begin to experience irritability and tension turning into anger outbursts and serious arguments with others.

Anxiety. With difficulty concentrating, missing deadlines, and decreased productivity, comes stress, tension and worry. With increased tasks and lesser time to get things accomplished you may find yourself feeling more and more anxious and unable to complete the usual tasks.

Depression. Often times than not, anxiety is accompanied with feeling hopeless and sad about the current situation which can lead to feelings of worthlessness and guilt. With feeling depressed we begin to experience loss of enjoyment, pessimism, isolation, and detachment. You may begin to emotionally and physically remove yourself from activities that you used to enjoy. As those feelings progress, you may find yourself more immobilized.

With anxiety and depression comes loss of appetite. At the beginning you may simply just not feel hungry due to all the things that you have to do, but with time you may actually lose appetite altogether and experience weight loss.

Unhealthy coping. With already feeling and experiencing all of the above factors, you may begin to cope with them by using unhealthy substances, such as alcohol or drugs or find comfort in food.

 

I would encourage you to take some time and focus on some of the warning signs of a burnout that I listed above. I encourage you to keep this list in mind remembering that burnout does not discriminate against anyone. If you are experiencing any of those symptoms, please know that you are not alone and that there are people than can help you get back on track. All of our therapists at The Centered Life are fully committed to help you not only recognize the signs of a burnout, but also help you find healthy coping skills to balance life.

 

All my best,

 

 

Aneta

“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

Am I Depressed?

fields sitting balloons children_www.wall321.com_2

Many people ask themselves this question every day.  You notice a change in yourself, or maybe your loved ones point it out to you; could it be depression?

Our society likes throw around clinical terms such as “depression” in everyday language to describe someone or characteristics of themselves. The reality is, that this term is very real, psychiatric diagnosis.

So… how can you determine if you are suffering from depression? Here are some symptoms to consider:

  1. Depression is a word to describe your mood. Are you feeling down, sad, lonely or irritable?
  2. When our mood changes, we tend to lose interest in parts of our lives we used to find joy in.
  3. Changes in our sleep, appetite, activity levels, attention span and weight may also indicate depression.
  4. Feelings of guilt, low self-esteem and worthlessness are common in people who struggle with depression.
  5. Suicidality or thoughts about self-harm or death can also be experienced by someone with depression..

 

If you read the above tips and found any one of them to be true, you would probably not be alone. As humans, we experience emotion on a continuum- and just because we experience sadness or changes in our sleep, does not mean we suffer from depression.

It is important to consider that when the above symptoms become difficult to handle and are impacting different aspects of your life, you should seek out a professional’s support.

Any licensed mental health professional can help you determine if you struggle with depression. As it is the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorder, there are plenty of options for treatment and support.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thinking, please contact your local emergency services or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at :  1-800-273-8255

 

Be Well,

Valerie Spiropoulos, LCPC

 

 

The Self Appointed “SuperWoman”

AFG_Superman_Pink_Shield_Sticker1_POP

We all know that one woman- the one who is always willing, always ready to help out.

– “My babysitter quit and I have 30 minutes to get to a meeting, can you please help me? –“sure”

– “My car broke down, can you help me shop for another one?” –“yes”

– “Can you help me with my taxes?” – “yes”

Sometimes we call these women mom, and sometimes they’re our besties- I like to call them self-appointed Superwomen.

Self-Appointed Superwomen are amazing, strong and we are lucky to have them- But just like every superhero, even Superwomen have their kryptonite. Saying “yes” in excess can often lead to increased stress, anxiety, resentment and unhealthy relationships.

Self-appointed Superwomen often feel guilt when they say “no”. They may falsely believe that if they don’t help, no one else will. They may have unrealistic expectations of themselves; feeling responsible for the happiness or wellbeing of others. Some may lack the self-worth to prioritize themselves.

Here are some ways to practice saying “no” and to begin to prioritize yourself:

  1. Increase Self-Care- When we begin to prioritize ourselves, we practice self-love and begin to understand that we “can’t pour from an empty cup.” Self Care can be taking a 15 min walk or watching your favorite show- as long as it is something that fills you up.

 

  1. Take the “S” off your Chest (Props Danielle Langford)- Give yourself permission to let go of the responsibility to solve other’s problems. You are not responsible for other people’s happiness or wellbeing.

 

  1. Give yourself time- Instead of saying “yes”; ask “can I think about it?” Then, evaluate if the request is something you can manage. Ask yourself how you feel about completing this task. If you’re feeling resentful or angry- it’s time to say “no”

 

  1. Create healthy and strong boundaries- The toughest people to say “no” to, are the ones we love. Be open about how you’re feeling, let your loved ones know if you feel stressed or overworked. Helpo empower others to resolve their issues instead of relying on you.

 

  1. Be Firm, Be clear and remember, No excuses needed when you say no!

Saying “no” has benefits such as feeling empowered; it can lead to higher levels of self-worth, increase productivity and can help manage stress and anxiety.

Check out The Centered Life Women’s Empowerment Workshop which goes into greater detain on the importance of learning to say no.

Valerie Spiropoulos, LCPC

www.thecenteredlifetherapy.com