The Wave…

Picture Property of Trampas J Rowden, PhD, CMHC :: 2018 All Rights Reserved

What follows… a lesson from earlier this year that may just be ‘good stuff’ for a great holiday.

May 26th 2018: The picture above? Here’s the skinny… The last couple weeks I’ve decided to “catch” our son Sterling in his simple signature move when we drop him off at school each morning… Didn’t think that much of it at first. But I began to notice how consistently it has happened. Over time. Every. Single. Time.

On good & great mornings, rough & “I’m mad as a hornet and can’t stand you guys” mornings. Happy, sad, super, sucky, and all mornings in between – especially the “I don’t want to go to school and you’re still making me go” mornings (sometimes accompanied by those mad-sad tears). No matter what…

He turns & waves.

I’ve come to see this no-biggie gesture as a BIGGIE! A great example of son to Dad.

In my work, I lose count of the number of times where some form of “I did/didn’t [fill in the blank] because I was mad, or sad, etc.” In short – “because I was feeling…, I…”

And most often the conversations center around some form of rough behavior justified by hard emotions. Yes, we have had a fair share of just such moments in our home & family life.

Yet, Sterling’s Wave reminds me – and I believe all of us – of how possible it is to still do those little things with loved ones to care for the relationship. Even when we don’t want to. And perhaps especially then. In essence,

‘I may not like you right now, but I love us.’

So here’s to my son and a lesson I think he unknowingly offers to all of us. Thanks buddy… I love us too.

A Note to Parents…

A Holiday “Hang In There” Reminder, by Jen Dickson, MSW, LCSW

With more use of social media, it seems we place ourselves under the microscope of the world. With that, comes unsolicited advice, opinions, and judgement that range from meh to SERIOUSLY? It seems that behind a screen, some people lose their humanity and forget they are communicating with real people. It takes bravery to put yourself and your parenting out there for all to see. Yes, I’m  referring to dududunnnnnn!: PARENT SHAMING!!

I cringe when I see people make comments about other peoples’ parenting decisions. Honestly, no child comes with a manual that explains what, of the plethora of options and strategies, will work with your own, individual, quirky, sometimes confusing tyke. 

Parenthood is an ideal that rarely matches the ideas we dream about when expecting.

We are all trying to do our best. If you are worried that you aren’t, that is a good sign! It means you are trying to successfully take on the awesome responsibility of raising a young person. It is important to realize you may mess some things up, you may gets things spot on. Either way, you are not a bad parent, you may have made a bad parenting decisions.

My oldest son was 2 years old (before social media) when we were at a home show. He was in his stroller and cranky. He was whining and hungry so we parked the stroller and got him something to eat. There was an older woman there who became agitated by his whining and stated loudly, “He just needs a good spanking, that’ll quiet him down.”

I felt offended and that she was threatening my child. If I could rewind that scenario and make it be a helpful situation, the woman would look at me and smile, maybe even give me a “hang in there”, then go on her way.   This is what I hope for everyone going through this wild adventure, remember we are all trying and support each other rather than make judgmental comments about our worth as a parent.

Hang in there, parents!

“I don’t know what’s more exhausting about parenting: the getting up early or acting like you know what you’re doing.” -Jim Gaffigan

College: A Generation at Risk

A College diploma is a goal for millions of Americans, yet graduation rates have never been lower and those who do graduate take 6 years on average compared to the 4 years of previous generations.  Recent research has helped us understand that these dismal outcomes are not because students cannot handle the coursework, because the vast majority of students can grasp the academic content; rather mental health issues are now the prominent struggle in College.   

The statistics tell a rather grim story at first glance.  A study by the APA in 2017 found 

86% of students with psychological and learning challenges left school without a diploma. The CDC discovered that suicide is currently the 2nd leading cause of death among college students and this year, WHO found that 1 in 20 full-time college students have seriously considered suicide. 

There is one statistic, however, that gives hope to these startling facts.  94% of high school students with emotional and learning differences receive some form of assistance. In contrast, only 17% of college students with the same challenges do so.  The remaining 74% still need assistance in navigating the new world of College life, but faced with logistical and financial constraints, Colleges will have to adapt quickly when it comes to providing services for the mental health of its students.  Currently, there is a nation-wide average of 2,500 students for every one counselor and this clearly isn’t enough. 

The good news, if you or someone you know needs help while in school, there are a couple of private and non-profit companies filling the gap in the state of Utah so please reach out for hope, healing, and help. 

Originally published on http://utvalleywellness.com/

Get Your Home Spring Ready in 4 Easy Steps: By Jasmin Barrantes

Article published in the Bay Area Health & Wellness Magazine, Houston. Visit us at txhwmagazines.com

Raising Awareness on Psychological Distress and Suicide by Dr. Michael Olson, Ph.D, LMFT

Published in the Bay Area Health & Wellness Magazine, Houston,  Visit us at txhwmagazines.com

Simple Ways to Improve Mood by Alberto Souza, MSN, APRN, FNP-C

We all have those days when it feels like we woke up on the wrong side of the bed. For whatever reason we are just in a bad mood. Often times these bad mood feelings are associated with difficult or stressful events in our lives such as trouble at work, financial problems or disappointment. Sometimes these bad mood feelings last for only a few hours, but sometimes they might linger for days at a time. There are many simple strategies to improve one’s mood in spite of what it is that might be bringing us down.

Be With People

Often times when we are feeling low just being with a trusted friend or family member and talking about our feelings can make all the difference. Having a sympathetic listener or someone that can get us laughing or looking at the bright side of things can make all the difference. We shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about our mood or admit that we need help. In fact, many times isolating ourselves can be one of the biggest culprits in a lingering bad mood.

Get Out

Whether its a brisk walk through the neighborhood or a trip to the grocery store, getting out of the house can do wonders for improving our mood. Sometimes we just need a little sunshine or to breathe in some fresh air. The sights and sounds of everyday life can get our mind off of things and be a beautiful distraction.

Enjoy Yourself

When a bad mood strikes we might find ourselves not even wanting to do the things we normally enjoy, but doing them anyways can take our minds off of negative thoughts and often times will help us feel better overall. Think of simple pleasures like reading, exercising, cooking or baking, shopping or just watching a funny movie or show.

Talk to a Professional

Feeling sad or moody are normal human emotions that we all experience from time to time.  Depression is different from these emotions primarily because depression is a pervasive feeling of sadness that impacts our entire life and doesn’t just go away even when things in our lives are good. We should not hesitate to reach out to a professional to help us understand our feelings and deal with them appropriately.

Source: Psychology Today

About the Author:  Alberto has worked in healthcare for over 10 years. He began as a CNA and then worked as a registered nurse until completing his Master’s Degree in Nursing.  Alberto has been been working as a Nurse Practitioner since April of 2013.  In addition to his work as a Nurse Practitioner, he also teaches online classes for the Dixie State University Nursing Program.  He is currently working at the St. George Center For Couples & Families.

Utah Valley Health and Wellness magazine September/October 2017

Check out articles on health and wellness from our therapists!

 

Just Breathe! Reduce Anxiety With This Simple Exercise

 

It might seize you in the middle of the night, or perhaps at the beginning of a work meeting, or maybe while driving your kids to soccer practice. Wherever it happens, it can overwhelm you. Your mind won’t stop running. Your body is tense. Your heart is racing. You can’t breathe! You can’t relax and enjoy yourself. If you have ever felt a combination of these sensations, you have probably felt anxiety—a common experience among adults and adolescents. Whether you accept it or not, anxiety is part of a normal, healthy life. Diagnosable anxiety disorders, however, are different than normal, everyday anxieties. A hallmark characteristic of an anxiety disorder is excessive fear or anxiety about a real or perceived threat (DSM-V).

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly 40 million people in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder in a given year. That’s 18 percent of the population! Specific anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, selective mutism (failure to speak in social situations even when able to speak in other situations), specific phobias (fear of animals, objects, etc.), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or agoraphobia (fear of having a panic attack or other embarrassing symptoms in locations such as public transportation, standing in a line, etc.). Some anxiety disorders, such as phobias and generalized anxiety disorder, most often begin in childhood around 11 years old and can continue into adulthood if left untreated. These two disorders are the most common anxiety disorders in adulthood according to SAMHSA.

Because of their belief that things will not change, or that they just need to get over it, many suffering with an anxiety disorder do not seek treatment. The good news is that anxiety is treatable! Your biology has a lot to do with an anxiety disorder; therefore, a first step in reducing anxiety includes dealing with the body’s physical response to stress.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Your body’s internal organ regulator, your autonomic nervous system (ANS), has two applicable parts of the solution. First is the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is in charge of your fight-or-flight responses. This part, for example, pumps up the mailman’s body so she can outrun that dog hiding in the bushes. Second is the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which aids in calming your body. This part helps her body deescalate after she has escaped that dog so she can return to delivering the mail as usual.

When you feel anxious, your SNS is engaged. To help calm your body in these moments, the key is to activate your PNS. The exercise outlined below (partially adopted from The Anxious Brain: The Neurobiological Basis of Anxiety Disorders and How to Effectively Treat Them) triggers this part of your ANS.

How to do it:

  1. Lie down, stand, or sit in a comfortable position. Make sure you are “grounded” by creating an open posture with both feet on the floor and your back against a chair or bed. If you are crying, in the fetal position, or hunched over, this technique is difficult to do.
  2. Breathe in deeply. Picture a water balloon being filled with water as you first fill up your abdomen with air and then your chest. Feel the warmth and the weight of the air as you breathe in.
  3. Breathe out with an elongated breath—longer than it took you to breathe in. Purse your lips as you breathe out. This will slow your breathing. Breathing out slowly will help activate the PNS, which helps calm your body—the whole purpose of this breathing technique.
  4. As you breathe in and out, focus on the physical sensations you experience. Focus on your feet touching the ground, your abdomen and lungs expanding and contracting, the feel of air rushing over your tongue and through your pursed lips. Notice how your head, arms and hands feel. Doing this will help you be present and in-the-moment.
  5. Practice! This is a skill that must be developed. Try doing it while you are at work, stopped at a traffic light, or at home. Do each cycle (breathing in and breathing out) ten times or more, as you learn to engage your PNS.
  6. If you feel dizzy, light headed or out of breath, do not continue this technique. If your breathing is restricted or obstructed there may be other issues to consider. Speak with a therapist or doctor about the appropriateness of this exercise for you. This technique is a good start to help reduce anxiety in the moment, but is most successful when done in conjunction with therapy.

Anxiety disorders affect millions. Those who suffer with anxiety often feel there is no solution. But basic biology tells us differently. Activating our PNS through breathing techniques really does work—give it a try next time you feel anxiety creeping in. You might be surprised at how effective these simple breathing techniques can be!

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness Magazine

Written by Dr. Triston Morgan