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Archive for the ‘Stress and Anxiety’ Category

What is a Boundary Anyway?

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

 

 

 

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Good boundaries are a part of any good relationship. In fact, a relationship without boundaries will almost always have other symptoms: violence, emotional arguments, infidelity, addiction, emotional cutoffs, or debilitating enabling. The problem with boundaries? They can be hard on a relationship. The boundary-setter finds it hard because he dreads retaliation from the boundary-receiver. The boundary-receiver finds it hard because, well, no one really LIKES to receive a boundary. Here are three things everyone in a relationship needs to know about boundaries:

  1. Boundaries are designed to protect the boundary-setter, not the boundary receiver. Let’s say you love your neighbor, you love your neighbor’s cows, and you love your yard. You do not, however, love your neighbor’s cows IN your yard. In fact, you are starting to lose your serenity because of it. Since you value your yard and your serenity, you decide to build a fence. The cows are a little miffed because they can’t get to your grass and your neighbor is a little miffed because his view is now marred by your fence. You, on the other hand, feel pretty good because you have your serenity and your yard. Maybe your neighbor will realize your serenity helps the relationship and grow to appreciate your fence. Maybe he will harbor hurt feelings over your fence and never speak to you again.

Lesson: You built a fence because you started valuing your peace more than your neighbor’s peace. There is a possibility the relationship with your neighbor will suffer because of this shift. There is also a possibility the relationship will become better than ever.

  1. Boundaries are not the same as telling someone what to do. Let’s say you have the same neighbor, the same cows, the same yard, and the same budding resentment. You realize that a fence might hurt your neighbor’s feelings so you are going to try some things that are ‘less offending’ than a fence. Here’s what you try:
    1. You try to talk to your neighbor and tell him that if he cared about you he’d keep his cows on his own side.
    2. You tell your neighbor that it’s just common sense to keep his cows under control and if had any common sense, he would do that.
    3. You repeat 1. and 2. at all social gatherings, barbecues, and kids’ birthday parties until eventually he goes the other way when he sees you coming.
    4. You file a restraining order against your neighbor and his cows.
    5. You shoot the cows when they come in your yard.

Lesson: Nagging, guilt trips, threats, and acts of violence are attempts to change or control another person. Unlike boundaries they rarely protect your yard or your serenity and they always damage relationships.

  1. Boundaries will always require a change in your behavior, not your neighbor’s. Did the neighbor have a right to graze his cows on your grass? No. Did you have a right to be angry? Sure. Is it fair that you had to spend money and time and energy to build the fence when his cows are the problem? Yes. After all, you care more about your serenity (and your yard) than your neighbor does. Lesson: If you value it, then it’s up to you to protect it.

So the next time you are considering action because of a partner (or a neighbor) remember the difference between boundary setting and controlling. Boundaries are uncomfortable, sometimes costly, strategies designed to protect you. Controlling strategies are designed to change someone else’s behavior so you are more comfortable. Boundaries have the added benefit of improving a relationship. Controlling almost always results in relationship damage.

Kate Walker Ph.D., LPC, LMFT

Adjusting to a New School: Anxiety and Making Friends

Monday, August 31st, 2015

In this uncertain economy, relocating is usually accepted by the grateful job hunter as just a part of the job description. The impact on the children cannot be minimized, however, and children will process the event in their own way depending on their age, the number of past moves they can recall, and the distance that will be traveled. Important questions are: Will there be an acculturation issue?  Will there be a language barrier?  Has your child ever visited the area in which you intend to relocate? Guarding against new school anxiety is all about learning the landscape.

Here are some things the experts recommend when adjusting to a new school and town:

1. Make choosing a school a team effort.  If you’re choosing between a few schools, talk with your child about what each one has to offer. After you choose the school, allow your child to visit and take a tour. This will greatly reduce new school anxiety.

2. Take time to say goodbye to the old school. Make a scrapbook, or ask all the kids in the class sign a T-shirt, picture frame, or an autograph book. Make sure you also give old friends and teachers information about how to stay in touch with your child.

3. Keep a positive focus! Present the new school as a place where they will learn new things and make friends.

4. Encourage school involvement. Your child is more likely to engage academically if he/she feels connected through a school activity, club or sport. Ask:

  • What are your goals for the school year?
  • How are you going to get involved in school outside of the classroom?
  • What is your favorite thing to do right now and how might you find others like you?

5. If you are moving your family to a location where a different language is spoken, think about learning the language and culture together. Conversing at the dinner table only in the new language can lead to lots of laughs.

Some good resources are:

For younger children:

The Berenstain Bears Go to School, by Stan and Jan Berenstain (Random House, 1978)
Arthur’s Teacher Trouble, by Marc Brown (Trumpet, 1986)

This was originally published in 2012 but it is still a great resource!

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

 

How to Stop Anxiety Attacks and How to Control Anxiety Through Natural Anxiety Relief

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Anxiety can be frustrating, devitalizing, and even paralyzing. For the individual that struggles with sustained anxiety, it is actually a bugger. My hat goes off to those who is able to get up everyday and do what they have to do while managing to keep the anxiety in check. For those among us who fight with anxiety, it’s important to be aware of how to control anxiety so it doesn’t control you.

An anxiety management plan needs to be multifaceted. Individuals seeking to create such a plan must analyze medical causes, an advantage of utilizing care, and possibly medication management with a psychiatric professional when necessary. In the meantime, I’ve listed 2 natural anxiety relief practices that can help.

First, focus on the moment. Disconcerting thoughts usually take us into the future and cause us to worry about what could happen. Teaching yourself to focus on the here and now will lower anxiety by shifting your perception into the present and decreasing the ruminating thoughts about situations out of control. Try it! As you eat, become aware of what you are eating and how it tastes. As you work, feel the weight of the pen in your hand or your back against your chair.

A second practice is to break down a project or goal into tiny steps. Those with foreboding sometimes get overwhelmed when facing a cut off point. In this case, the goal feels so great that procrastination happens due to the uneasiness. To cope, try this: write down one thing you would like to attain. Now set down the steps wanted to complete it. Take each “main” step and break it down into one or two smaller steps. Keep the list with you and as you complete each small step, check it off. Let yourself be conscious of your success for that moment and be ecstatic that you’re heading towards your goal.

Anxiety can be a real game-stopper. To those fo you with nervousness, these two practices can be a game-changer so you’ll know how to stop anxiety attacks in the future. Try either or both today!

Compassion Fatigue: Seeking a Caregiver Support Group and PTSD Support

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

What does a caregiver have in common with a soldier, firefighter, and doctor? Compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue (CF) stems from the daily sustained amount of compassion and energy required when caring for an individual with special needs or a chronic health condition.

Symptoms of CF can be similar to the signs of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and may erupt as caregivers begin to absorb pain from the individuals they are caring for. Mental health symptoms such as anger, fatigue, depression, anxiety, loss of joy, and hopelessness are common. This is detrimental to both parties and ultimately deteriorates the quality of care being provided. Ultimately the caregivers may need the same kind of PTSD support.

We know self-care benefits caregivers but many times caregivers neglect their health and ignore the early warning signs of CF. As they push themselves to maintain the strength to forever care for their loved one, a superhuman mentality prevails and self care takes a backseat. This may lead not only to the symptoms of CF but also relationships issues.

As the mother of a young child with special needs, I know first-hand self care is critical in maintaining longevity as a caretaker. The first step is awareness. If you are uninformed about CF you may not understand the behaviors you must change and the ramifications if you do not. The second step is to re-train your thoughts about self-care. It is not selfish to refuel yourself as you care for your child. Think about the flight attendant telling you to put your oxygen mask on first – if you are not OK you cannot help your child.

The third step is to retrain your behavior as you retrain your thoughts. Simply stated one must exercise, connect with other grown-ups, talk, cry, journal, meditate, dance, eat healthy, sing, take a warm bath, pick flowers, doodle, pray, and most importantly, laugh out loud. A caregiver support group may be a good outlet for sharing your experience with others. If you find you are doing these things and not gaining any pleasure or benefit, talking with a professional can help.

Achieve Balance: Balancing Life and Work

Friday, September 28th, 2012

In today’s fast paced world, at times it may seem impossible to balance your life. Many people feel they must wake up with their feet on the ground running in order to meet the demands of the day.

Whether it is taking care of the household duties, meeting the needs of a demanding job, or pleasing the spouse and children, balancing your life without being struck down by physical or emotional issues can be challenging at times. When an event, task, relationship, or thought is overpowering, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and out of control.

Managing tasks, emotions, relationships, and retain self-respect is essential to a healthy and balanced life. It is important to not be too one sided about anything, and balancing life and work is key. In fact, combining opposites is the key to staying in balance. For example, all work and no play is just as unhealthy as all play and no work. Being too invested in self-interests and having no interest in others will cause an imbalance just as too much time invested in others and not enough time in self.

While it is important to strive to enhance and make ourselves better, self-acceptance is essential to balance. Know the difference between dieting to combat obesity or diabetes and dieting to look like the swimsuit models you saw in last month’s People Magazine. Accept your body shape and your genetic makeup while dedicating yourself to a healthy lifestyle.

Do you feel like your life is out of balance? A therapist utilizing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) can help you move away from extremes and attain balance again by helping you learn mindfulness, distress tolerance skills, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills. Finding balance in life and achieving balance can lead to healthier relationships, greater self-confidence, and a more fulfilling life. If you are struggling, why not call a therapist today?

Tia Parsley, MEd, LPC, LCDC has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management.

 

Mothers Who Work

Friday, September 14th, 2012

From PTO boardrooms to corporate boardrooms everywhere, the debate rages on. What is better for kids, a mom who works full time outside the home or a stay at home mom who works as a full time parent and homemaker? Just as important, what is better for the mom? First we must be clear that both types of moms are working moms and there is no such thing as a mom who doesn’t work.

If we look back in history we find mothers who work in fields while older and younger women in the village worked to nurse and care for the children. During the industrial revolution we saw both moms and children working to earn money for the family. Children with working mothers in this instance were likely to accompany their mom to work.

Today in third-world cultures women work from dusk till dawn securing sustenance for the family. There is no such thing as a mom who doesn’t work, and moms that get enough sleep may be hard to come by too!

Today, it appears deciding to work outside the home versus inside may affect a mother’s health. A recent Akron University study found that mothers who worked full time steadily before and after the birth of their first child had better mental and physical health. The study by Dr. Frech and her co-author, Sarah Demaske considered nearly 30 years of data provided by 2,540 mothers as participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth.

Far from being a ‘call to work’ for stay at home mothers or a condemnation of personal choices made by women based on advantages and disadvantages, the study hopes to illuminate that choosing to work full time outside the home as a mom is not a bad thing. Those mothers dealing with the guilt of leaving children with caregivers to work outside the home can perhaps feel a little better knowing first, mothers have been doing the same thing for millennia, and second, they may be doing something positive for their own health and wellbeing. The best careers for moms are the ones that they choose be it staying home going to work or a balance of both.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D., LPC, LMFT  has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management.

 

Getting Ready for School

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

About this time of year the talk amongst parents of school age children turns to bedtime rituals, earth-friendly lunch containers, and shopping for school supplies. Not to be outdone, we at achievebalance.org decided to dedicate an article to the top 10 ways parents can smooth the transition from summer to fall. Supporting your child from a youth mental health standpoint is all about making sure your child is equipped with knowing the ropes Here is the top ten countdown for mentally getting ready for school this fall:

10. If you are transitioning your child to a new school, take time to visit the campus and ask for a tour.

9. Find out what kind of food is served in the cafeteria and allowed for snacks. Many schools have a policy against nuts and foods of minimal value (FMV).

8. Call the bus facility if your child is a bus rider to see what the commute time is in the morning and afternoon. Help your child prepare if the commute is long and the weather is extreme.

7. Create your list of emergency contacts. Schools always ask for them and its good for your child to know who may pick them up if you can’t. Teach your child never to go with anyone who is not on this list.

6. Donate to the local backpack/school supply drive while you are picking up your own supplies.

5. Talk to other parents about age-appropriate bedtimes. Everyone doesn’t have to be the same but it will be much easier to get your kids to go to bed on time if everyone in their group of friends has close to the same bedtime.

4. Check the school handbook before you go clothes shopping. Most schools without uniforms have rules about school clothes.

3. Get your child’s input on school lunch ideas.

2. If your child is having anxiety about the start of school or has trouble separating from you, check your own attitude and make sure you don’t seem fearful too.

1. Celebrate the end of summer and the start of school by doing something fun! Make it a new tradition you and your child can look forward to.

Parent, child, school…success!

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

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. 

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