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End of the School Year Stress

Posted by on May 5, 2018 in Hot Topics | 0 comments

It is all too familiar the feelings of nervousness and panic students feel as they are wrapping up their school year. It can seem almost impossible to avoid the extra stress. Here are some ways to let go of that stress to be more productive, and overall happier during the final months of school.

Starting off, one thing to remember during this time is to be kind to yourself. You are very busy right now and may not feel like yourself, but don’t forget to be caring towards your needs. Studying or worrying about studying can seem like your top priority right now, but take a few hours to do something you enjoy. Unrealistic expectations can really set you back, so know your limits. Exercising is supposed to be a great way to relieve stress, so if you are into that, maybe try it out during a study break.

Something that will help immensely is creating a to-do list. At first, it can be difficult to keep track and follow, but once you get the hang of it, it is life changing. You will easily be able to stay on track and see what is ahead. Also, something about getting to check things off a list give you a great sense of accomplishment and pride. Try to plan out your day as much as possible, because the more prepared you are, the more at ease you will feel.

A big component of relieving stress during the end of the school year it to remember to snap out of the mindset that “I am going to fail all my finals” or “I just hate school so much.” Thinking negatively can actually make stress much worse. Try to remind yourself that if you plan out and prepare, the end of the year will be here before you know it and you will be ready for any finals.

Understanding Eating Disorders

Posted by on Apr 28, 2018 in Hot Topics | 0 comments

In  the United States, about 30 million people (all genders and ages) have an eating disorder. Some commonly known eating disorders include: anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. An unfortunate stigma that comes with these can make it difficult for people to talk about. Pushing off something like this can make it extremely difficult for those who need it to seek help.

Genetics, environmental factors, and personality traits all combine to create risk for an eating disorder. It is difficult to know exactly what you should do if you start noticing behaviors that might be associated with an eating disorder. It is important to remember to be open and honest about what you are seeing, and do not try to be a therapist, but be supportive.

Signs of a Possible Eating Disorder (according to NEDA):

Emotional and behavioral

  • In general, behaviors and attitudes that indicate that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns
  • Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, carbohydrates, fat grams, and dieting
  • Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g., no carbohydrates, etc.)
  • Appears uncomfortable eating around others
  • Food rituals (e.g. eats only a particular food or food group [e.g. condiments], excessive chewing, doesn’t allow foods to touch)
  • Skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals
  • Any new practices with food or fad diets, including cutting out entire food groups
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities
  • Frequent dieting
  • Extreme concern with body size and shape
  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws in appearance
  • Extreme mood swings

Physical 

  • Noticeable fluctuations in weight, both up and down
  • Stomach cramps, other non-specific gastrointestinal complaints (constipation, acid reflux, etc.)
  • Menstrual irregularities — missing periods or only having a period while on hormonal contraceptives (this is not considered a “true” period)
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Abnormal laboratory findings (anemia, low thyroid and hormone levels, low potassium, low white and red blood cell counts)
  • Dizziness, especially upon standing
  • Fainting/syncope
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Sleep problems
  • Cuts and calluses across the top of finger joints (a result of inducing vomiting)
  • Dental problems, such as enamel erosion, cavities, and tooth sensitivity
  • Dry skin and hair, and brittle nails
  • Swelling around area of salivary glands
  • Fine hair on body (lanugo)
  • Cavities, or discoloration of teeth, from vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Yellow skin (in context of eating large amounts of carrots)
  • Cold, mottled hands and feet or swelling of feet
  • Poor wound healing
  • Impaired immune functioning

 

A very important thing to remember is to be patient with whoever is going through the healing process, whether it is yourself or a loved one. Recovery can take a long time, and there are bound to be many ups and downs. Also, the person in recovery has to want it for themselves. You are never going to force someone to recover just because you want them to be better. Knowing your own limits and being respectful can make the process a lot easier.

 

How Art Therapy Can Help Teens

Posted by on Apr 21, 2018 in Hot Topics | 0 comments

We all know the infamous time of teenage years. Some say it is even worse than having a toddler. Since during teen years, our brains are still developing, humans tend to be a bit impulsive and emotional. It can be extremely difficult at that time to express new emotions we are feeling. It is easy to fall into a depression and feel completely alone.

Introducing a way to nonviolently express teen emotions can make a huge difference in teaching your child coping mechanisms, and how to deal with day to day life. Art therapy is one way to express yourself and give peace to your mind. It is so effective in teens, according to www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, because “Art as an expressive language provides an entrée into a relationship with teenagers by tapping into their creativity and offering a form of communication that is nonthreatening and over which the adolescent has control. When teens enter the art therapy room, they find drawing materials and other forms of media on a table. They are invited to draw anything they choose and even to make a statement in images that represent their feelings about being in the therapeutic setting.”

For anyone not wanting to try it alone, there are group settings in which art therapy is available as well. If you do not want to try it out because you assume you are bad at art, just know that is not what the idea is about. You do not have to be skilled or have any experience. One of the best things about art therapy is how inclusive it is.

Staying Productive During Summer

Posted by on Apr 14, 2018 in Hot Topics | 0 comments

Summer is quickly approaching us, and especially for students, deadlines are approaching. Regardless of if you are a student, there is a certain kind of relaxation that comes with the summer months for most, at least in the beginning. The thing is, it is necessary and great to have this time to slow down, but it also could allow the stop of productivity.

Parents might have a different perspective on all of  this, such as a stay at home parent. Having the kids home all summer can be a bit overwhelming when you are used to the days being quiet. This is where keeping the whole bunch busy can be beneficial for you.

The key is finding the balance between productivity, and stressing yourself out by putting too much on your shoulders. For teens, maybe try getting a job. If you already have one, great! If you think you are not filling up your time wisely, ask for more hours. The summer can be a great time to build up income. Another option would be to split up your time. Especially if you are not someone who needs a lot of extra money, try working part time, then spending the rest of the time doing things you enjoy.

Something to not forget about is the nice weather during the summer. The warmth is not always here, so spend some time outside. Even if you are not an “outdoors person” making an effort to spend time outside can be very beneficial. Also, be sure to spend time with the people who are close to you. Summers are the best time to catch up and have a great time with friends and family. Make an effort and reach out to those close to you, someday they may not be there.

If you are a student, explore the option of online classes to get ahead. A lot of times, classes are only around 7 weeks long. This is a great way to stay on track, catch up, or even get ahead!

 

The Value of Your Privacy

Posted by on Apr 7, 2018 in Hot Topics | 1 comment

Whether or not you were born into the technology generation, it is hard to deny the use of it everywhere we go. Technology can be a very useful resource, when it is used properly. For the most part, companies will respect your personal information. However, it is hard to tell who we can trust, especially with everything surrounding the Facebook scandal.

To start off, let’s cover the basics as to why your privacy should be important to you. Without even going into your personal data, such as what you would post on social media, your medial data is also something people don’t normally think about, but is equally important. Even if you are an open book and generally don’t mind if people know your medical data and history, someone who it could matter to is insurance companies. To the knowledge of the general public, insurance companies have not started buying data about their customers’ medical history. This would most definitely be unethical. Imagine finding out that your insurance rates went up or you were denied because of a service you trusted to keep your information private.

Your first question may be, how do I avoid this happening to me? First off, be wary of what website you trust with your data. Services to find out your ancestry are something that can be tempting, but you have to keep in mind that your genetic makeup is a very personal and specific thing about you. If you give this away, what is really private after that? Stay cautious and skeptical of services like these. If they can’t guarantee they will not sell your information, do not use them.

Another thing is to not panic about this topic either. As long as you are careful, chances are you will be fine. Just keep a lookout and remain cautious as to what you share with others online.

Avenues of Counseling has not and will not ever share your personal information with any third party. The only times we would, we get your consent first, and these are in cases where it is necessary, such as coordinating with another doctor, and these times are always used solely for medical treatment. Our privacy consent form posted here on our website, or you can read it any time you come to one of our offices. It is very straightforward and not misleading in any way so that you know you are in good hands with us, and we are someone you can trust.

Please be careful with your private information. It is your right, not just a privilege.

Tired of Hearing About Mindfulness?

Posted by on Mar 31, 2018 in Hot Topics | 0 comments

The mindfulness revolution can seem a bit overwhelming to people because it seems like a huge fad. It seems like every site you go on has some sort of tips for “being mindful” or “being the best version of yourself.” The overuse of the word can really kill what is a great practice. It is such a shame because the general public, rightfully so, will dismiss anything they think to be a gimmick.

The problem is, the word is thrown around without much meaning towards it. The definition of mindfulness is, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” There are a lot of ways to practice this. If you want to give it a try, doing things like meditation, yoga, or simply eating well can all help.

If you want to ditch the term all together, do it! Many people practice these self-care things, and still don’t like to use the word. This helps especially if you are going to try and recruit a friend to join you. They may be opposed to “mindfulness training” but may be open to trying yoga.

The message of self-care and nurturing is not a fad and has been around for hundreds of years, we as a society are just now catching back up to what is important.

Staying Active During “Cold” Spring

Posted by on Mar 17, 2018 in Hot Topics | 0 comments

As people who live in a state where the weather can change mid day, we are used to the early parts of a season changing weather frequently. By the time Spring starts to roll around, people tend to become anxious from having to be inside all winter. Spring fever can hit hard around March and April. There are always those few teaser days where the weather is nice and warm, then the next day it snows.

If you are someone who is active, or especially if you are someone starting off new with an active lifestyle, it can be difficult to stay indoors. Here are some ways to help keep yourself moving. The first idea would be to try and get outside when you can. This means keep an eye on the weather for the day and week. If you notice a day where the weather has the chance of being warm enough to go outside, take advantage of it. Even if you only get one day out of twenty where you enjoyed the fresh air, it is better than nothing.

If there are days where you are unable to go outside because it is too cold, plan an indoor activity. Working out at home can save you a lot of time and money. There are many great resources to find at-home workouts on sites like YouTube. Planning ahead of time what exercises you’re going to do will ensure you will push yourself and not just stop when you are tired.

Lastly, even if it is cold outside, consider still going for a walk or run. Wear layers and pack a small bag to bring along. Getting yourself to go out in the cold when you probably don’t really feel like it can be rewarding afterwards. It proves to yourself you are capable of doing more than you thought you would or could. Obviously if it is too cold, don’t go out. However, if it is around 40-50 degrees, it is perfectly fine to enjoy time outside.

Spring Cleaning

Posted by on Mar 10, 2018 in Hot Topics | 0 comments

In honor of Daylight Saving Time this upcoming Sunday, here are some ways you can really improve this upcoming Spring season.

 

Physical and Mental Spring Cleaning

Physically speaking, spring cleaning is something a lot of people already do. It is something that can really help you reset for the coming months. However, mental spring cleaning is something that is equally beneficial. We tend to get antsy being inside all winter, and it can be really hard on our mental health. By getting outside and just enjoying the fresh air and sunshine as soon as you can is really relieving of these stressors.

 

Getting Active

According to Harvard Medical School:

“Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.

Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.”

 

If you are someone who has never been very active in their life, start by doing simple things. Take a walk, ride a bike, or simply enjoy the nature around you. Getting out of the house is key to a healthy brain.

 

Nature for Non-Nature People

Hiking and mountain climbing is just not something that is for everyone. If you find yourself in this category, but still want to enjoy the Spring air, try out these things:

  • Plant a Small Garden
    • Makes a minimal mess and you get beautiful plants in return
  • Swim Outdoors
    • Even if it is not in a pond, an outdoor pool will get you out and about, plus some exercise
  • Play an Outdoor Sport
  • Host Cookouts
  • Sunbathe
    • With caution, of course
  • Dog Walks
  • Bird Feeding/Watching

 

If you make it a priority in your life to be an active and outdoorsy person, you will do it and stay consistent as well. It is possible to become the person you always thought you would be, physically and mentally, you just have to stick with your healthier lifestyle and educate yourself on things that will help you along the way.

Nourishing a Long Term Relationship

Posted by on Feb 24, 2018 in Hot Topics | 0 comments

Many people who are single envy those in a seemingly perfect relationship. However, anyone who has had a romantic relationship know they are never perfect and are quite a bit of work.

 

Relationships are a commitment. This means that you will eventually find yourself with days where you quite literally cannot stand your significant other. You will have thoughts begging the question why you thought it was a good idea to be in a relationship. The truth that no one wants to admit is that this is a messy commitment. Yes, it is important to know the difference between typical relationship behaviors and abuse, but assuming everything is within healthy boundaries, it will still be messy.

The main thing to accept is that everyone in life is going to hurt your feelings in one way or another, and in various ways with various impacts. We are all human. We all want to be forgiven, but do not like to forgive. The best thing you can do in this situation is take a step back from your own feelings (take yourself out of the equation) and see why they are doing what they are doing. This can help you understand your significant other in ways you never thought you would.

Be sure to always communicate your feelings about these things and how they make you feel. Even if you think it is obvious, sometimes hearing these things calmly out loud can really make an impact. Being kind and honest when you are hurt will get you a lot closer to peace than yelling and screaming.

The main thing to remember for the rainy days is why you fell in love with that person in the first place. Going back to the happy memories can make you feel rejuvenated. Celebrate each other when you can, and pick each other up when you can’t. Remember that as much as you try, a long term relationship is not always going to be 50-50. Being there for each other will make for a very rewarding life in the long run.

Trichotillomania

Posted by on Feb 17, 2018 in Ask The Therapist | 0 comments

Trichotillomania is a lesser known, but not uncommon disorder affecting both males and females of all ages. It is characterized by repetitive pulling out of one’s hair. Trichotillomania is classified as a body-focused repetitive behavior. Research indicates that 2-4% of individuals experience “trich” in their lifetime. Onset is typically in early puberty. By adulthood, trich is more common in females. It is a “cousin” of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

 

Treatment for trichotillomania typically includes a combination of therapy, education, and medication. Often times, hair pulling can occur as a focused, deliberate behavior in response to an urge. At times it is described as mindless and automatic, as the individual is less aware of the behavior.

 

This disorder offers many challenges as it is often embarrassing for the individual. They may try to conceal missing hair which can result in avoiding sports or other activities which would “expose” the missing hair (ex: swimming, sleepovers, intimacy).

 

Help is available! bfrb.org (body focused repetitive behaviors) is a website with support/education/research. Find a therapist educated and experienced for help with trichotillomania.

 

Thank you Judith Zaher, M.A.Ed., LPCC, LSW for writing this post!