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Archive for May, 2012

Identifying Causes of Anger, Coping with Anger, and Managing Anger

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Anger is a normal human emotion we all experience at times. It can be motivational, help us move towards positive change, and assist us in meeting short and long-term goals. Anger can also be destructive and devastating, destroying relationships, careers, and lives. Individuals must take responsibility. Being aware of the causes of anger, learning effective skills for coping with anger, and all times managing anger is important to ensure it is constructive rather than destructive.

Becoming aware of the causes of anger may seem easy because it is one of the easiest emotions to express. Because destructive anger tends to progress so rapidly, however, individuals must be intentional and practice in order achieve awareness before damage is done. Awareness starts by paying attention to physical changes. Anger causes an increase in heart rate; tightness in areas of the body such as the chest, jaw, and neck; color changes to the skin especially on the face; and feeling as if the temperature has gotten hotter.

Once an individual recognizes her own physical responses to anger-provoking situations, she can be taught techniques that are effective for coping with anger. Relaxation techniques can assist in deescalating the anger and the situation.  For example, slowing and deepening breathing allows the body to re-oxygenate and diffuse the ‘fight or flight’ response. Once the body has returned to a ‘low-stress’ state, the mind is able to identify external and internal triggers and formulate alternative responses.

When anger is experienced too frequently, is too intense, or is expressed inappropriately, it becomes a problem. Effectively managing anger requires one to become aware of body changes before anger escalates. Employing strategies to mitigate the fight or flight response can help individuals identify and diffuse internal and external triggers. Sometimes these strategies alone, however, are not enough. If that is the case, a licensed professional counselor can walk individuals through the steps of mitigating their anger, and modifying their angry behavior.

Tia Parsley is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor in Texas and Arkansas. She has over ten years of counseling individuals and families, improving relationships, working with parents, and helping individuals with emotional issues such as anger management and bereavement.

Coping Strategies for Stress: The Consequences of Stress and How to Overcome Stress

Monday, May 14th, 2012

I’d like you to imagine an adorable two year old. Now imagine that two year old poking your arm because she wants a cookie. Think to yourself, ‘it’s not so bad, she’ll stop soon,’ or something like that. The poking goes on and on for days. Then weeks. Then years.

Ridiculous, isn’t it? Most of us would manage the little darling’s behavior right away. Whether she got a cookie or a time out, I bet you wouldn’t just allow her to keep poking you!

Stress, like the terrible twos, can’t just be ignored. When you don’t take an active role in managing your stress, the hormones secreted in conjunction with the stress reaction never really subside. While the exact link between stress and illness isn’t always clear, we can say with confidence that stress is a factor in many common illnesses.

What are the consequences of stress and its impact on a body? The first things you might notice are the physical symptoms. You experience stomach aches, your shoulders are tight, or you have more migraine headaches. Perhaps you’re tired all the time, you have trouble sleeping, your appetite changes, or you’re just not as active as you used to be. You might even have unexplained pain.

Whether you are ‘marrying someone or burying someone’ your body interprets any change as stress. The goal is not to eliminate stress, but rather to develop coping strategies for stress manage and cope with the stress that is an inevitable part of life, and avoid stressors like toxic relationships and work environments. If you are having trouble with how to overcome stress or how to eliminate stress from your life, and you are already noticing the physical and emotional changes, it may be time to ask for help.

Some good resources are the Mayo Clinic’s guide to coping with work stress http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/coping-with-stress/SR00030 and the Centers for Disease Control’s guide to coping with stress due to violence and injury http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/coping_with_stress_tips.html.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of achievebalance.org found in The Woodlands TX. 

How Parents Can Help Relieve Test Taking Anxiety

Monday, May 7th, 2012

It is safe to say that high stakes testing in public education has become a prevalent issue for students and parents alike. While facing a standardized test is stress-producing for most children, there are some youngsters for whom it is an overwhelming monster that evokes feelings of depression, anxiety, and outright fear. If your child suffers from test taking anxiety, there are things you can do to help her cope.

First, make a list of things that trigger test taking anxiety for your child. Some good questions to ask include, “What is it about taking the test that makes you feel scared?”  “What do you think will happen when you get actually sit down to take the test?”  “What do you think will help you do your best on the test?”  Talk with your child about each answer. You may be able to help her change some false beliefs about testing, which will be a great agent to relieve anxiety in and of itself.

Second, without minimizing the importance of the test, help her understand that testing is a part of life. While important, tests are not what will define her as a person. Assure her of her strengths and talents and that you know she will be able to do her very best. This may help to relieve general school anxiety, to give her confidence that her competence in the school setting is broader than any individual test.

Finally, the night before the test, relieve anxiety that your child may be feeling by ensuring a calm evening and a reasonable bedtime. Prepare a healthy breakfast the morning of the test and check to see if your child’s school allows a snack. Encourage your child with positive statements that instill confidence. Be prepared with a special activity after the test that will allow your child to unwind, such as a special movie time together.

If you have tried helping your child and she continues to experience test anxiety, contact a licensed professional counselor who can provide further assistance, or talk with your child’s school guidance counselor.

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