Less Anxious & More Confident: School Edition

School is officially in session! It’s been a few weeks, perhaps even a month. Classes are in full swing —but are you having a hard time adjusting or feeling motivated? Feeling overwhelmed? Still have summer on your brain?

Here are 5 tips to help you feel less anxious and more confident starting off the school year right!

  1. PLAN AHEAD: Have you heard of that saying: “fail to plan, plan to fail”? It’s true! There are simple tools that you can do to help you plan ahead. Planning ahead and setting a routine (with room for some “me-time” and flexibility) can be helpful in feeling less anxious.

  1. STAY ORGANIZED: Use tools to help you stay organized. There are so many apps (more than I can keep up with) that do the work to help you stay organized and on task. Here are a few: 

The Homework App: Easy way to view and manage your student life across all of your devices.

Pocket Schedule Planner: View all your classes at a glance, easy tracking with a calendar, personalized timetable, and manage your assignments.

Egenda: School planner and assistant all in one.

My Study Life: A free cross platform planner app for students, teachers and lecturers designed to make your study life easier to manage.

Homework Pal: Easy way to view and manage all of your upcoming assignments.

Don’t like apps? There is always the good ‘ol paper/pencil planner. Use highlighters or different colored pens to help you differentiate subjects, extra activities, work, and important events like scheduling time for self-care!

  1. PREPARE A STUDY AREA: It is so important to have a designated study area. I encourage a comfortable and quiet place with minimal to no distractions. This sets the tone for a productive environment.
  2. PRIORITIZE YOUR HEALTH: Take care of your body and mind. Take care of your health! It is so easy to put yourself at the bottom of the priority list when school, work, activities, friends, family, and your significant other all demand your time. Purposefully schedule time for yourself, whether it is 15 minutes or 3 hours, each and every day. You will thank yourself later!
  3. SUPPORT SYSTEM: Line up a support system. Starting classes again can be challenging, especially if you have been in a groove that does not involve school.
    Reachout for help. Ask your professor for that extra help on a topic you don’t quite understand. Talk to your parents. Laugh with your friends. Hug your dog! It is healthy to have an outlet that can listen and offer support and/or feedback.

To a healthy, happy, and successful school year!

If implementing these tips feel overwhelming and you feel you could use some additional support, please schedule a time to talk with me for a free consultation. I would love to help you!

Click here to schedule!

Is My Teen Okay?

Yes, and no.  That’s a complicated question, and one that most parents of teens wonder.  Parents often suddenly feel disconnected from their teen. They have no idea what is going on in their mind or their lives and it’s often hard to tell from the surface if the teen is ok.  Honestly, your teen isn’t even sure if they are ok.

Your teen is going through a lot of physical and emotional changes that can make it seem like they are completely out of control and irrational.  Their bodies and brains are growing at an incredible rate.  School demands are increasing each year with a strong and pressuring emphasis on getting into THE BEST college.  Friends are coming and going. And, I often find that teens are constantly working through competing needs that they don’t know how to share because they can’t always put words to them, and aren’t willing to be vulnerable enough to share them.  They are simultaneously trying to meet the needs for independence and nurturing. They want to feel, and be seen as, independent.  They are coming into adulthood and are very aware of that.  At the same time, they want to be nurtured, taken care of.  But they will never be caught dead telling you that they need you.  In their minds they are grown and need to show that.

Here’s where you, trusted adult, come in. ( I say trusted adult, because this really applies to all of the adults in a teens life, not just parents)  The best ways you can support your teen is to first keep these needs in mind.  Remind yourself that they are figuring a lot out, and just because they say they don’t say it, they need you.  So ask how they’re doing, set aside time for them, nurture them in those ways you always have.   I know what you are thinking – they don’t let me.  Don’t stop trying.  Don’t let it be an option.  Ignore the negative response (easier said than done), including the eye roll, complaint, and attitude.  Deep down they really need you, they just don’t know how to say that.

And give them space to fail.  I’m not talking anything monumental, like failing high school, or getting injured.  Let them miss that assignment deadline.  Let them be sleep through their alarm and miss first period.  Let them say the wrong thing, wear the wrong thing, do the wrong thing.  Because they need to learn how to fix their mistakes.  They need to learn to feel what it’s like to make a mistake.  They need to learn what it means to be grown, but in small ways.  I like to think of parents and the school system as a safety net.  Allow teens to make the mistakes they need to make in order to learn, with you and their support system as a safety net.  Then when they are actually grown, they have some tools in their belt to be able to handle what life brings them.

I want to clarify that there are some things to look for that are outside of reasonable mistakes.  If your child is demonstrating any unsafe behaviors or thoughts, intervene immediately.

Parenting teens is hard work.  I’d love to join you on that journey of supporting your teen through critical years, while maintaining your sanity, because it is possible.

-Stephanie Samudio, LCSW

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

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

 

 

 

 

How To Overcome Burnout

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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

Spring Cleaning: Emotions Edition

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Spring brings the urge to clean, purge and get rid of the excess junk piling up in that corner of the room. You know exactly which one I am talking about 😉 However, I encourage you to think about a different type of cleaning. Spring brings the craving to refresh and have a sense of renewal.  It is an opportunity to let go of what is getting in the way, mentally or emotionally. It is difficult to get rid of that mental clutter. How does one simply get rid of something that has been around forever? In this instance, how does someone rid an old belief that is perhaps negative? Or something that has been occupying you for quite some time?

 

We start by releasing those negative thoughts. And with that we must really begin to identify and clarify our wants. Is it that easy? Not really. It is challenging because we are constantly evolving in our thoughts from our to do lists to things that are not that urgent. How do we become more connected to ourselves and our wants? Allow yourself to truly relax and just be. Stillness allows connection with our deeper selves. Meditation can help you with this.

 

As a therapist, I am preaching on a mountaintop about how important self-care is. No, I am not going to tell you to join a yoga class or go get your nails done. Don’t get me wrong, that is considered self-care. What I am really challenging you to do is give your mind some mental clarity by allowing yourself to sit and do nothing. I call this my “stare at the wall time”. Sometimes, you just need to sit back and really allow yourself to be present in that moment and refine your thoughts. Inhale the positive and exhale the negative.

 

With that being said, when stillness is present, we see more clearly how we want to live.  We can then set our intentions for how we want to live: having more positive relationships, focusing on your health, surrounding yourself around good energy and people, etc. Essentially, we are creating the life desired to live.

 

Happy Spring Cleaning,

Jennifer

Why should we even bother to practice gratitude…

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I can speak for myself when I say I rarely have time to sit back and just be mindless, not think of all the tasks and chores and a to do list. I wanted to talk about gratitude because I realized that those of us, who are busy, rarely slow down and reflect upon things. We are often too occupied to sit back and reflect upon our lives. In those times when we actually have the chance to sit down and think back we have the chance to stop ourselves and realize that days, months, years have been irreversibly passing. Then, we often ask ourselves, where did the time go??

In my clinical experience, I often saw a positive shift in a client’s mindset when talking about gratitude. Expressing gratitude has changed the way I view things and how that allowed me to slow things down.

Gratitude, right? Sounds cheesy but here are some of the benefits of it. Those, who regularly practice gratitude by taking their time to notice or reflect upon the things they are thankful for, tend to feel more alive, have more positive emotions and express more compassion for others. It was even discovered that it boosts immune system and improves sleep. The fun thing about practicing gratitude is that you do not have to devote extensive periods of time to do it and you do not have to reserve time for momentous occasions. It can be done anywhere and at anytime.

Often times, we are grateful for a nice promo at work or for a nice house or car that we own. I want you to go even deeper and focus on those precious moments you have every morning when you wake up, even for the chance that you were given by just waking up and being healthy. I want you to challenge yourself even a step further and be thankful for the fact that you have food on your table and for all the hard work it took for that food to arrive on your table each day. Think about all the hard work it took for that food to appear in your fridge: the farmers that needed to harvest their fields, people who work in factories who were able to make your food and for those drivers who were able to deliver that food to your store. You can let your imagination take you anywhere you want to go with this but in those moments where you find yourself reflecting upon those things, you are also learning how to be mindful.

After reading this you would think that those benefits are compelling enough to motivate you into action. But if you are anything like me, this motivation lasts about a week until practicing gratitude is lost to watching new series of shows. I encourage you then to challenge yourself and consistently practice gratitude for 30 days. They say it takes 30 days to form a habit and 3 days to break it. So let’s maintain this good habit for the long haul. Here are some ways to practice gratitude:

Morning drink gratitude: While you are enjoying your morning cup of coffee/tea/juice, just spend a few minutes thinking of all the things you are grateful for. If that is a challenge, start with enjoying the warmth or coldness of the drink you are holding, the aroma of the drink, the first sip, and the beginning of a new day that may be full of promises

Things you take for granted: Let’s try to focus on all the things we do take for granted, our ability to walk, hear, see, hear or having anything that gives you comfort. Consider not having any of those things and then step by step practice being grateful for having all of our senses being fully functional

Questions to ask yourself: Anther great way to bring gratefulness to the forefront is by asking yourself those 4 questions:

  • Who or what inspired me today?
  • What touched me today?
  • Who or what put a smile on my face?
  • What is the best thing that happened to me today?

Gratitude inventory: Create a list of things you are grateful for. If you find that a bit challenging, you can divide that list into categories (but don’t limit yourself):

  • People (your relationships)
  • Assets (things that you have)
  • Experiences (thing’s you have done, places you have seen)
  • Personal qualities

Practice to put things in perspective: Life is challenging and things will not always go your way. In those moments when things go wrong you can use the power of gratitude to release some of those negative emotions that you may be feeling. After a negative experience, learn to put things in perspective by remembering that “every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit” – Napoleon Hill. When faced with a challenging moment, ask yourself:

  • What can I learn from this?
  • What’s good about this?
  • Is there something about this occurrence that I can be grateful for?
  • How can I benefit from this?

Gratitude journal: Before going to bed each night, write a list of three things about that day for which you are grateful. Some days you will have exciting things to write down and some days you will be talking about simple joys.

The key of practicing gratitude is to be consistent. Now that you know how to start practicing gratitude, I want to encourage you to start today. Why not begin by living a happier, more enjoyable life by using tools that we are capable of learning and setting a part of our routine. As Melody Beattie said, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

 

All the best,

Aneta

 

The Self Appointed “SuperWoman”

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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