My Coping Skills Aren’t Helping

Have you ever been having a great day and then all of the sudden felt sick to stomach? You start feel nauseous. Your heart feels like it is going to pound out of your chest!

There you are just trying to go on with your day and you literally feel like your body is attacking itself. You might if think “I am having a heart attack?”

You are feeling dizzy, lightheaded, and your vision is blurry.

You can’t focus on your thoughts that are cycling through your head on repeat.

You wonder if this is anxiety or a sign or symptom of something much worse. Should you go to the hospital or doctors?

Eventually, things get better, but you still fell unsettled. You don’t know exactly why this happened and you feel like you are walking on eggshells just waiting for it to happen again. The fear of having a panic attack becomes its own constant anxiety.

The problem with panic is the level of intensity. No amount of journaling, thinking of something positive, or listening to music is going to bring you out of your panic attack.

Let’s be real here! These coping skill just don’t work for panic. The reality is that coping skills don’t mean that we don’t feel our difficult or distressing feelings. Coping skills teach us to cope with them…how to feel them without going into crisis. They can help decrease the frequency and intensity of distressing feelings.

So how do you cope with panic you ask?

Great question? A huge part is accepting your anxiety. The more we avoid something the bigger it gets. Buried feelings never die. So acknowledging your anxiety and panic is the step. Then creating some space from it by being the observer.

Acknowledge your anxiety and panic. Focus on what’s happening and acknowledge that physical sensations and try to shift out of the thoughts. Similar to going for a jog, your heart-rate is high, breathing deeply, muscles might be sore (especially me). Your body will need time to return to status quo.

Shift your mind to the physical aspects of your panic and remember that your body needs some time to return to status quo.

When you learn to identify your anxiety, accept it, focus on it as an observer you will feel better able to cope. If you or someone you know needs help developing coping skills for anxiety and/or panic we are here to help.

What is EMDR and Can It Really Help?

To be fully transparent, I thought Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) was a load of crap for a really long time. I mean, just look at the name, Eye Movement Desensitization, what the heck does that even mean? How is moving my eye’s around going to heal my panic or trauma? Let’s get real here! Sounded like another fast fix promise meant to prey on people in pain.

BUT…One year, close to my birthday (that’s when all our yearly training requirements are due) I realized I still needed to take more training courses to meet my annual requirements. The only course that fit my schedule was an introduction to Mindfulness and EMDR. “Ugh,” I thought.

Turns out, everything is always as it should be. I got to experience first-hand the fast and immediate benefits of EMDR. We did a simple practice exercise in the training. Going through the protocol on an insignificant frustration allowed me to let go of a frustration and wound I didn’t even know existed, least of all how significantly it was impacting my daily life! Each day after that was brighter, easier, and more peaceful for me. I literally felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders (and for those of you who know me, know I not the rainbows and optimistic type). This was truly an amazing experience.

So, naturally I sought out my own EMDR therapist to see if it really worked or if it was a fluke. I needed to know I didn’t drink the EMDR Kool-Aid. “Had to be a fluke, right?” “Eyes moving, still sounded silly to me.” But low and behold, it was not. Next thing I did, was sign up to become an EMDR therapist. Extensive training later, I can officially say I drank the Kool-Aid and am honored to be part of the club.

So you are still probably wondering…

WHAT THE HECK IS EMDR?

EMDR is a form of therapy that allows you to deeply heal from symptoms of emotional distress. This type of deep healing is often believed to take years of processing and talk therapy. Repeated studies have shown that by using EMDR therapy you can have the same benefits as years of other forms of treatment.

EMDR was originally used to treat clients suffering from trauma and has proven to be the most effective method of treating PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). It has since been proven to be an effective treatment for anyone with anxiety, eating disorders, phobias, relationship issues, depression, grief, addiction, and more.

During EMDR sessions, the therapist uses bilateral stimulation (right/left eye movement) to stimulate both sides of the brain. The theory is that this continual movement releases traumatic or emotional experiences that reside in the nervous system. This then taps into the mind/body connection, allowing you to heal both emotional and physical symptoms simultaneously.

Many people like EMDR because they can begin to process experiences or feelings they aren’t able to easily talk about.

WHAT ABOUT SKILLS? DON’T I STILL NEED THEM?

Absolutely! EMDR is a therapy that allows clients to heal from past negative experiences and core belief systems that are holding them back, similar to CBT. However, it often is combined with other forms of therapy to meet your individual needs as the client. For example, EMDR can be combined with CBT or DBT. Many times panic, depression, anxiety, or PTSD can prevent you from learning the day to day coping skills and interpersonal skills that are needed to be effective in your daily life.

If this sounds like something that would benefit you or you want to learn more contact us today to schedule your free consultation!

How Can Observing Something Help Me?

Observation as a coping skill, sounds ridiculous, right? For many people this can be one of the most basic, yet challenging skills. In DBT Core Mindfulness Skills are the foundation of all skills training. Observation skills teach us to take-hold of our mind. Observing is sensing ourselves and our environment without labeling or judging it. It allows our mind to be quiet!

Watch this video to learn more about DBT Observe Mindfulness Skill, the benefits, and how to build and use it!!

If you or someone you know could benefit from DBT skills click here to learn more about DBT at Mindful Healing!

Does Therapy Really Need To Be Weekly?

Wouldn’t less therapy be just as good? After all, I’d have more time to work on things between sessions, right?

One of the problems with going to therapy is that it’s a weekly commitment. Which, let’s be honest, can be a real pain. This is a large time commitment. Not to mention a considerable cost.

Yet, why do the majority of therapists and counselors recommend weekly sessions? Why not every two weeks?

Why Have Weekly Therapy Sessions?

Attachment and Emotional Safety

One of the main reasons that, I, and many other therapists recommend weekly therapy is that it helps make that work deeper. Weekly sessions allow for you to build the healing relationship necessary for trust, emotional safety, and vulnerability deep clinical work.

Reinforcement for Learning

One week is just enough time to review skills or try out a homework assignment if you use one.

“Use it or Lose It”

Long gaps in therapy can mean forgetting important themes, trends, and what you were working on. It can allow for defense mechanisms to take hold and lead to longer term therapy.

Builds Trust and Openness

It takes a lot to start therapy and open up. Having too much time between sessions can make your inner self less accessible for change.

Less to Catch Up On

Having longer gaps between session can keep the focus on catching up rather than diving into the deeper work.

Slippery Slop

Two-week sessions can easily become monthly or less, if you are sick or away and miss an appointment. If you miss another now it becomes weeks before you are in session.

Practice and Repeat

Making changes involves repetition and in the moment feedback. Weekly sessions allow clients to practice what they are learning and insights they are gaining and process them soon after.

Avoiding Relapses

Change is hard. We naturally like consistency. When things get stressful, old behaviors arise. Longer gaps between sessions make it easier to fall into old habits and behaviors.

Provides a Sense of Consistency

Between sessions is when a lot of therapy work is done. Thoughts, feelings, and insights can arise. This can be overwhelming. Knowing your next session is right around the corner and on a consistent basis can provide a sense of security.

Therapy is a commitment and if “you work it works.” When you or your teen is feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious weekly therapy is fastest most effective way to develop long-lasting coping skills and heal underlying triggers so you can live a life you love!

If you want to learn more about therapy options that might be right for you contact us today!

SMART PHONES: FRIEND OR FOE?

Teens today are growing up in a different world than any of the generations before them. They are the first generation to be born with Smart technology already completely in existence. Even the millennials to some extent grew up as the technology advanced. Though tech is always advancing, for the iGens internet, apps, FaceTime, and more have been at their fingertips from birth. I have watched my 2-year-old niece know how to unlock a cell phone and by 3 know how to use YouTube for kids.

There is a growing mountain of research that shows a correlation between the rise of smartphone usage and rates of depression, suicidality, and anxiety in teens. The pressure of always being connected to your social life doesn’t allow teens time to relax and decompress after school. Not to mention that social media is not an accurate representation of a teens social world. The pressure to “fit in” or be “perfect” is unrealistic (but I could probably fill a page on social media alone). So the downside of smartphones/technology seems overwhelming apparent:

  • Social media pressures
  • Seemingly unavoidable access to damaging or dangerous apps
  • Argument inducer between teen and parent
  • Increases rates of depression and anxiety/decreases ability to cope
  • Can be addictive

However, nothing is ever one-sided, there are positive aspects of smartphones. There are apps that help with mental health issues and teach coping skills. Many of them are FREE: Calm, Moodpath, SuperBetter, and Happify for example. There are also apps that help you as parents organize your life, which can make things less stressful. As a parent of a teen this can make a big difference. I personally use apps tracking grocery lists and weekly recipes, such as Yummly or Anylist. Taking as much work out of chores as possible is a lifesaver in any busy household. Teens often feel the same way, they use apps to help them study and organize their school/homework.

Sometimes, I think to myself, I wish there was app to make me want to work-out or stop me from eating sweets late at night. However, that is some of the downside again. Smartphones can do so much for us we stop practicing doing things for ourselves. That is where parenting comes in. Not only do the iGens, your teens, have it harder now than ever, as parents so do you. You have to set limits around screen time. You have to teach them how to wait and be patient; how to feel distress, how to fail and how to succeed. You have to teach them how to be in the moment not just take pictures of the moment, how to have a conversation not IM in code, how to enjoy activities and relax not just engage screen time to distract.

I was talking to one of the parents I work with the other day who stated that she feels that kids shouldn’t have phones until at least 7th grade. I don’t know that would ever happen. Kids today often have smartphones in elementary school. Then I heard about this school cell phone pilot program in Boston:

At the City on a Hill Circuit Street charter school in Boston, students entering school in the morning are met by administrators fanned out at the front door with their hands out. One by one, they take students’ phones, slip them into a soft pouch, and lock them closed with a snap that works like the security tags you find on clothing at department stores. Students take their pouched phones back, but can only unlock them with a special device at dismissal time, nearly eight hours later. 

Naturally, the students were outraged. How could this be happening? How can they live without their phones? How will they socialize? Connect? Communicate?

However, much to their surprise it turned out to freeing for them. Forced freedom!

One student reported that” she doesn’t reach for her phone as much anymore because if you don’t feed the habit; the habit eventually slows.” Students reported having more conversations and paying attention more in class.

Smartphones are a part of our lives. There is no way around that. As parents you can help your teen learn to not feel tethered to their phone. Ironically, there are apps that help limit screen time.

If you need help support your teen with screen time or other parenting issues I can help. Contact us to schedule your parent screening today!

DBT: FOR MORE THAN BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER

A key component of DBT is skills training. DBT has 4 modules of skills, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. Each module helps individuals develops skills to manage their emotions more effectively and develop improved quality of life. The skills training and treatment of DBT is applicable to people with a wide range of mental health conditions to improve overall well-being, emotion management, and decrease negative emotions and distress. Therefore, DBT treatment or DBT informed therapy may be beneficial for individuals with depressionanxiety, eating disorders, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Read the full article on Psych Central