Spring Cleaning: Time to Clear Your Head

Spring Cleaning: Time to Clear Your Head

Have you done any spring cleaning, this year? Whether it’s dusting baseboards or cleaning out closets, a deep spring cleaning not only leaves the house fresher, it can also lift your spirits and help clear your head. Let’s take that a step further and look at why it might be a good idea to do some figurative spring cleaning “in your head.” What’s in Your Head and How Did it Get There? Let’s first take a look at where all of the thoughts in our head come from. Basically, we learn to have a relationship with the world (“the world” being people, money, family, friends, etc.) from our family of origin. As we grow, all of the voices we hear (teachers, parents, siblings, friends) combine to form the voices we hear in our head. What is the most important relationship? It’s our relationship with ourselves, which helps determines what our “self-talk” is. Self-talk. It’s that little voice inside our heads that either speaks to us positively or negatively, or sometimes a bit of both. From, “I did a great job” or “I look good today” to “What is wrong with me?” and “Why is everything so hard?” – those voices can come from experiences we’ve had in the past and can influence how we form judgements about the future. Negative self-talk can be indicative of a negative self-concept, which can leave us feeling defeated and helpless. “Why bother?” we may ask ourselves. Another thing that can pile up in our heads is old defense mechanisms. Any past experiences where we felt physically or emotionally threatened caused us to defend ourselves. The problem is, that while those defense mechanisms may have protected us at...
Listen to the Signs

Listen to the Signs

On February 13, 2016, Sue Klebold, mother of Columbine High School shooter Dylan Klebold, gave her first television interview to ABC 60 minutes. In this interview, Sue Klebold stated she “did not recognize the signs” of her son displaying his internal emotions and mental distress. She described and discussed her concerns regarding his changes in personality and demeanor, but stated she felt he was “simply being a teenager.” As the interview continued, several professionals, including Clinical Psychologists and Child Psychologists, discussed the signs of Depression and Suicide. Sue Klebold has now released her memoirs (A Mother’s Reckoning) regarding this situation and her thoughts along with her views, continuing to state she feels there was more she could have done. Throughout this interview and the book, it was obvious the warning signs were not viewed nor were they taken seriously, by his mother or other family members. As parents, friends, and family members, it is important that we ask questions and notice changes in other individuals. I understand, we all have our own lives to live and it is difficult at times to communicate effectively with others who are not willing to communicate back, but that is when we seek help from a professional. Please know that it is okay to ask. Please ask your friend or family member if they are suicidal or depressed, because it could save their life. Below is a list of warning signs to be mindful of:   Signs and symptoms of depression include: Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness Loss of interest in daily activities Appetite or weight changes Sleep changes Anger or irritability Loss of...

Half Full

You are special. You are worthy. Your life has a purpose. Although, you do not hear this every day, it is all true. Sometimes life can start to take a toll on us and we can get depressed or overwhelmed. Every day is not as happy and fulfilling as we would like; however, the most important thing to do is to see the Bigger Picture and know all things come to an end. It is hard to be positive all the time, however, negativity weighs heavily on us and can began to take a toll on our thoughts, emotions, and even our actions. Depression, anxiety, or possible thoughts of suicide impact individuals daily. It’s important that we work to recognize our emotions and be willing to communicate with others in an effort to regain control over our lives. I understand the stigma and stereotype associated with counseling or seeking help; however, we all have a need to communicate and engage with one another. There are individuals who are trained to aid in different areas of our life. Be willing to get the help you need and seek treatment through therapy. Statistics have shown us that Major Depressive Disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population; and there is one death by suicide in the US every 12.3 minutes. With facts like these, it is essential to...
Adolescence – Growing Up is Hard Enough

Adolescence – Growing Up is Hard Enough

Being a teenager has never been easy. Maybe you are facing puberty and changing hormones, having difficulty with social acceptance or rejection. Maybe you are learning who you are and who you want to be. Mix in social media and technology and you are now adding new difficulties to what was already a challenging time. Did you know that approx 1 in 5 adolescents have been impacted by or are currently dealing with a mental illness? Here are some of the common mental health issues that impact adolescents: • ADHD • Anxiety • Depression • Disruptive Behaviors (Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder) • Eating Disorders • Grief • PTSD • Self-Harm • Substance Abuse So, 1 in 5. That’s about 20% of our adolescent population. In a classroom of let’s say 30 kids, 6 of them are currently dealing with a mental illness. Then, according to the Office of Adolescent Health (part of the US Department of Health and Human Services) only half of kids with a mental illness are getting the help and care that they need. Half. Why are these youth not getting the help they need? One piece of the puzzle is that ugly word we keep hearing – stigma. Being a teen can be hard enough without “labels” that make kids feel different from those around them. Both teens and their family members can fear this stigma. Another large piece of that puzzle is that we don’t always recognize the symptoms of mental illness in our adolescents. Common symptoms can include irritability, anger, withdrawing or isolating, changes in appetite or sleep, risky behaviors, substance...
Mindfulness

Mindfulness

A client recently asked me: “What is involved in mindfulness and how do you implement?” “Mindfulness is a state of consciousness…a quality of being,” I said helpfully. My client stared at me blankly. Okay, let me try again. “My favorite definition of mindfulness comes from Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. He says that mindfulness is, ‘paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.’ Now do you understand?” I said expectantly. This time, I was met with a slow shake of the head, a furrowed brow and a slight glazing over in the eyes. I took a deep breath. Okay, let’s break it down. “When you are practicing Mindfulness (I’ll explain ‘practicing ‘in a minute, I thought) you are: non-conceptual, present-centered, nonjudgmental, and intentional. Non-conceptual means that you can be aware of a thought, feeling or behavior without becoming absorbed in the thought, feeling, or behavior. In other words, you can be aware of the ride without going on it. Present centered is pretty straightforward. You are in the present moment and work at staying in the present moment. The nonjudgmental part is my personal favorite. There is no need to try to make it anything other than what it is. There is no need for judgment…good or bad. And finally, the intentional part means that you have made a decision to place your attention where you want it to go, not where that hijacking amygdala might want it to go. (Oh great! Now, I’m going to have to explain the amygdala! How much time do we...