Five Reasons Every Professional Must be Serious About Continuing Education Units
1. Exposure to new and updated professional education increases effectiveness with both clients and interdisciplinary team members. Everyone wins when you have upgraded professional skills.
2. Career potential is improved by having a current portfolio of Continuing Education Units.
3. Most state licensing boards for professionals require a specific number of annual or bi-annual Continuing Education Units. Keeping your license current is essential for job security and professional liability.
4. Interacting with fellow professionals allows you to become informed about trends, concerns and how others are adapting to new regulations and procedures.
5 Stimulates and invigorates your professional interests. Renewed knowledge tends to increase both motivation and professional creativity. When you apply newly learn skills, there is a strong likelihood it lead to further discovery and professional development. Nothing succeeds like success!
It’s up to you:
It is easy to see why all professionals need to take Continuing Education Units seriously. Explore and plan your Continuing Education carefully. When you invest in professional education you are not only working to improve your your skills, you are also making sure your profession works for you!
Information on CEUs for Illinois Nursing Home Administrators, Social Workers and Nurses
An NPR story
How Millennials Cope? Are millennials depressed, stressed, have resilience in difficult times? Millennials are young people who have grown up in turbulent and fast moving times. Mental health professionals and the general population wonder how they have faired in this very difficult period. I invite you to read the linked article and/or listen to the broadcast at the link below:
NPR's story: Reilience of Millennials
Improve Your Mood with Exercise
Many of us equate exercise with physical well-being. And it is true that keeping fit does help your body. However, the connection between exercise and stress to anyone who experiences depression or anxiety is very important. The bottom line is stress makes you more venerable to being depressed and or anxious. Studies have shown that your ability to cope effectively with life's stressors will determine your mental well-being. Those who are sedentary are more likely to become stressed out by day to day hassles. Folks who do not exercise have depression 50% more than those who even exercise moderately. Every cell in your body is connected to your brain. When you physically stimulate your cells you are simultaneously boosting your brain.
Exercise alone has shown to significantly reduce sadness and anxiousness. Outcome studies demonstrated that subjects exercising improved mood as much as those on antidepressant medication. An interesting side effect of exercise is that it improves both your sleep cycle and can actually control appetite. Poor eating and disrupted sleeping are significant symptoms of depression. Another added advantage of exercise is increased positive thinking, self confidence and reaching personal goals.
Just walking minutes a day will help your mood. Anyone can become more physically active. Simply taking the stairs instead of an elevator is exercise. Many people avoid exercise because it can cause discomfort. The secret to a successful exercise program is only do as much as you can tolerate. Walk for a few minutes each day and gradually increase the time. It is essential to make time in your daily schedule for exercise. Stick with your exercise routine and notice how your mood improves. As our former First Lady, Michelle Obama has said, “Let’s Move!”. Start exercising today and feel better.
Chronic Illness and Your Emotions
Chronic Illness: How it Impacts Your Emotions
Is your chronic illness hiding the real you? The you that used to laugh, be adventurous and enjoy life to the hilt. Did you know that your emotions may be affecting your illness? Many individuals diagnosed with a chronic illness have great difficulty adjusting to this fact and may develop long-standing emotional problems, mostly consisting of depression and anxiety. These same individuals often make the mistake of not seeking treatment for their emotional symptoms believing it is a ‘normal reaction’ given their medical situation. Depression and anxiety can sabotage adjustment to their illness, lower tolerance for pain and even worsen their medical condition. Emotions, thoughts and medical problems can affect each other. Here are two examples of people with chronic illnesses and untreated depression and anxiety.
An individual does not consistently follow up on his treatment recommendations because he feels hopeless about his life ever improving. Without routine treatments his ability to get around declines due to lack of exercise and weakening muscles As a result he gets more depressed and anxious about his illness. He finally discontinues all help much to the regrets of his family.
Pain – Emotion – Pain Cycle
Another individual has been missing work because of avoiding pain when he walks despite his physician telling him, “Don’t give in to it.” Fearful of not being able to pay his bills, he develops panic attacks, his perception of pain increases and he misses even more time at work. This cycle of pain – anxiety – more pain caused him to quit his job.
You can stop the formation of these cycles and find the real you. Enjoy your life again! Get help.
When you go to a party do you sit in the corner and not speak to others?
Are you afraid to get into a discussion because others may disagree with you?
Shy individuals are best described as feeling awkwardness or anxious in social situations. This stems from the concern that others may think negatively of them. There may also be physical signs such as a pounding heart, blushing, sweating and stomach problems.
Signs of shyness can include: low-self esteem, passivity, social isolation, being excessively self-conscious and self-critical. Because they avoid social situations shy people may suffer from loneliness and depression. Yet many people who are shy are able to hide it and get by at the workplace and social events. Shyness can have it’s consequences at all ages. As a child there is fear of classroom participation leading others to think they are not intelligent. They may feel alienated during adolescence and avoid dating. Shy individuals are frequently singled out by peers for bullying. In the workplace they are prone to set lower goal expectations for themselves causing inner frustration and conflict. It has been theorized that the causes of shyness are partially genetic, environmental (how the child is raised) and due to life experiences such as trauma or abuse.
If you think your shyness is holding you back from living your life you can get help. For an initial no charge consultation call us at 847--227-8323
It’s up to you
Mood is the way you perceive and respond to both internal and external events. Sadness, anger and frustration are quite normal mood reactions to life’s daily episodes. Everyone will feel down from time to time. However, when unhappy emotions cause you to withdraw from life’s happenings, it could be a sign you may be suffering from symptoms of depression. Poor sleep and unhealthy eating patterns are other significant signs that your sad mood has surpassed normal limits. If the above mentioned conditions have been persistent for more than two weeks it is strongly recommended you be evaluated by your physician or a mental health professional.
Measure Your Mood
Everyone experiences moods differently. Joy and grief will be sensed differently by each individual. Some people will be quite distressed by mild depression, while others will tolerate significant adversity and not feel upset. Mood is highly personal.
Determine your mood and if you have any real signs of depression by completing the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale
PDF at bottom of blog
Five Ways to Address Mood Issues
Engage in treatment with a qualified professional and make life changes to increase happiness and learn patterns to maintain a healthy mood.
Exercise: Physical activity such as working out, walking, biking, swimming, lifting weights and other physical activities has been proven to improve mood and reduce depression. Start small and do as much as you can tolerate. Whatever you do is better none!
Identify healthy/productive life experiences which you associate a positive mood. Schedule these events daily and note even slight improvements in mood. Rate each experience on a one to ten scale. One = Sadist, Ten = Happiest & Five = Average mood.
Healthy sleep: Go to bed and wake up the same time each day. Stay off your bed if you are not sleeping for the night.
Meditate daily: Spend five to ten minutes daily quietly focused on one thought or image. Be accepting and non-judgmental about your experience. Be mindful by trying to fully experience your meditative state. Meditation will help you to be accepting of self and your various emotional states.
Depression is considered one of the most responsive conditions to clinical interventions.
Associated Behavioral Consultants offers an initial no charge consultation. If you desire to find out more about mood issues or recovering from depression please contact us.
I Love Surgery!
Thinking About Surgery?
You are so excited you need surgery you can hardly wait for the day to arrive. This is an unlikely scenario. Probably for the first time in our lives we feel we are no longer in control of our destiny, we’re overwhelmed with all the medical information given to us and are confused by differing opinions from physicians and family members. We then respond with strong emotional reactions such as depression, anxiety, irritability or anger that can also have a detrimental effect on our post-surgery recovery? Psychological Preparation for Surgery Programs are known to reduce the amount of stress surgery candidates experience. The programs use research proven techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, relaxation, assertiveness and problem solving training. Patients are also taught to navigate the complex healthcare system and gather pertinent information that can impact their medical decision making.
Benefits to the patient are:
- fewer complaints of pain/discomfort
- greater satisfaction with the outcome of the surgical procedure
- better compliance with post-surgery follow-up
- greater motivation for recovery
- increased relaxation and optimistic outlook
Gain a sense of control and self-confidence by learning as much as you need to know about psychologically preparing for your upcoming procedure.
Mindfulness-What is it All About?
What is Mindfulness?
It is not a new-age trend or a mystical trance. It’s a simple, easy to learn, scientifically proven meditation technique to relax, recharge and improve brain functioning. Mindfulness is recommended by the medical and mental health establishment to reduce stress, emotional and physical pain.
Why is it becoming so popular?
Although based on Buddhist meditation techniques centuries ago it has been transformed into a potent tool for helping people increase their self-awareness and inner peace. Over 1900 scientific studies have shown that mindfulness can:
▸ Reduce pain
▸ Improve depression and anxiety
▸ Increase a sense of well-being
▸ Bring about mental and physical relaxation
▸ Improve the structure of the brain
How is it practiced?
Mindfulness combines breathing exercises, mental focus on breathing sensations and monitoring of thoughts. The aim is to be in the present without any interfering thoughts. This brings about an increased awareness of everyday experiences, calmness and emotional regulation. No special skills are necessary to start.
Benefits of Mindfulness Training:
▸ Decreases depression, anxiety and pain
▸ No negative side effects
▸ Creates mental distancing from negative thoughts
▸ Helps create feelings of well-being and relaxation
▸ May reduce need for pain medication
What do you have to lose? Be Mindful! For an initial no-charge consultation call us at 847-227-8323.
A young, pregnant woman repeatedly wakes up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night after dreaming she is being buried in a mountain of diapers that need to be washed every week.
A man in his fifties avoids looking in the mirror because he can’t believe how much he has aged. So he shuns dating.
Could these be signs of life transitions? It is quite normal to go through many transitions in our life-time. Transition simply means change whether it be positive like graduating from college and looking for work or negative like being diagnosed with a chronic illness. Facing these events can be stressful and challenge our ability to cope with them. If we succeed it can leave us feeling confident, more mature and better prepared to take on more difficult life changes. On the other hand, the inability to navigate them can leave us feeling out of control of our lives leading to substance abuse, depression, anxiety and fearful of life itself. Most things in life are not static – they are in perpetual change.
The inability to surmount changes successfully will leave you feeling like you are living on a roller coaster. Learning how to deal with change is a valuable skill. If you are having difficulty facing a life transition please give us a call. For an initial no-charge consultation call us at 847-227-8323.
Me, My Chronic Illness and I
Who is in Charge?
Are you taking charge of your chronic illness or is it taking charge of you? There are many different chronic illnesses. They can develop at any age as well as when we get older. Some can have a minimal impact on us and others can be life threatening. Yet each can have an irreversible effect on our lives in terms of emotional functioning and the tasks of facing daily challenges to our way of life.
By definition a chronic illness is a condition that does not go away – there is no cure. Modern medicine can only offer treatment to control the medical condition, slow it’s progress and prevent it from getting worse. One common denominator of all the chronic illnesses is the fact that you are left with the task of learning the skills to live successfully with it.
Guidelines for coping successfully with a chronic illness:.
1. Keep active by having a fixed schedule every day. This can keep you
involved in purposeful activities and prevent negative ruminations and
feelings of worthlessness.
2. Build a network of people in your life for emotional support. Isolating
yourself is not productive and can cause an increase in depression.
3. Learn what situations trigger your symptoms, e.g., pain, and try ways of avoiding them.
4. Find relaxing, pleasurable activities that build your confidence and pride in yourself.
5. Learn to recognize negative thoughts that can increase anxiety and
There are many more guidelines and recommendations. The good news is that learning to cope with a chronic illness can be accomplished with research-proven forms of treatment.
When you decide to work with a therapist it is because you have decided that some type of change is needed. So right from the beginning you need to prepare yourself to accept the reality of change. In order to make a meaningful change you need to identify both old patterns which did not work for you and new ways of addressing people and situations differently. Here are some ways you can work with a therapist to make the changes you desire:
1. Make an effort to be honest with yourself and the therapist about areas you need to change. Explore thoughts, feelings and behaviors related to your situation with the therapist.
2. Expect probing and sometime personal questions from the therapist. Be open, however, if you are not ready to discuss an area tell the therapist and re-visit the area when you are ready.
3. Discuss both your issues which require change and your strengths. If you have made successful changes in the past let the therapist know. Discuss the personal and social conditions which led to past changes. Your strengths and past achievements are very important to the change process.
4. Together with the therapist try to identify the very first practical steps you can take to initiate the change process. Make these steps obtainable. In fact, it is best to identify steps you can accomplish between sessions. The idea of SMART goals may facilitate this process:
Realistic or Relevant
5. Understand that change is an evolving process and that it can evoke some discomfort and confusion. Your perceptions of self and others may shift as you proceed. This is a normal part of psychotherapy and life itself. So your initial goals may go through revisions and your course of therapy may also be altered.
Getting the Most Out of Therapy:
1. Visualize success: Imagine yourself being at a different place and time. See yourself actualizing your desired changes. Most people do benefit from psychotherapy. By seeing yourself actively different you will promote growth and change.
2. Speak up: Let the therapist know what you want out of therapy. If you are not comfortable with an approach or something the therapist has said or done tell him/her. An effective therapist will adjust his/her approach for each client.
3. Be prepared: Before coming to the session review in your mind what you want to work on. Focus more on seeking solutions to personal situations then solely discussing problems. Written agenda for the session will help keep you focused on your goals.
4. Write it down: When you identify both successes and difficulties write it down with some detail. Record thoughts, feelings, behaviors and the desired outcome. This written record will help you track progress and discuss situations in detail with the therapist. A written record is often more accurate then memory. Also consider taking notes during the therapy session. This can help you recall key areas you are working on and ways to promote goal related behavior.
5. Do your homework: Most progress and positive changes occur between therapy sessions. Be determined to actively work on the change process between therapy sessions. Many experienced and effective therapist will provide clients with actual “homework” to be completed between sessions. You will get the most “bang for your buck” by actively completing your homework. A written record of home-work completion will promote change.
6. Don’t miss sessions: Ideally, psychotherapy should be time limited with a proposed date of completion. So if you stay focused and attend each session, it is more likely you will reach your goal for change. Missing sessions will delay completion and slow down progress. It is O.K. to plan to miss a session. However, a pattern of missed appointments will simply delay you reaching your personal goals.
7. Stay motivated: Some patterns of behavior may take a bit longer to change. You may feel you are running out of patience. Nevertheless, change can and will occur. Focus on any and all small successes. Even the desire to change is a meaningful stepping stone. Celebrate your progress by simply being mindful of even the most minor changes you have made. Think about and appreciate these changes. Motivation is often mind over matter!
8. Be creative: Clients can contribute to the therapy process by suggesting new and different ways of addressing a problem. Stop and think for a second... “what if I change the order or look at the problem from another vantage point”. Often times it is much easier to change how you view a stressful situation then actually change the stressful situation. One innovation often leads to another.
9. Be accepting: Often people want more and don’t appreciate what they have. Yes, things could be better. Nevertheless, by appreciating what you have, you may discover inner resources which will help you reach your goals. You may realize through your experiences at work or home you have already accomplished much that can help you make changes. Also accepting yourself may boost self-confidence and motivation. Explore ways of self-acceptance with your therapist. Your therapist may help you identify abilities and personal attributes you have taken for granted.
10. Be aware and acknowledge change/progress: The final and most important stage of psychotherapy is identifying and appreciating changes that you have made. You may be a bit calmer at work or less anxious in interpersonal relationships. Your mood may be slightly brighter, but you may still wonder if you are really happier. These gains are important, but may not seem as significant as you expected when entering psychotherapy. Keep in mind that most importantly you have experienced the desired changes. Progress and change can and will occur even after you stop seeing your therapist. With effort and use of skills learned in therapy, you can continue to build on these changes.
Track your continued progress and set new goals as needed. At some point you may need to return to psychotherapy for a new problem or a relapse. Working together with your psychotherapist you may tackle new challenges with greater ease. Remember to focus on your past gains to continue growing and reaching new goals.
Pain is inevitable – suffering is optional! This quote from an unknown source has been going viral on the internet. Some think it’s ridiculous, “Well if that idiot ever had_______ (you fill in the ailment) he’d know how stupid this sounds. Are you saying it is all in my head?” Please hear me out.
In the past it was believed that only the physical factors were seen as causing chronic pain. Today the view of medicine is broadening to also include the psychological and social aspects of one’s life. Major lifestyle changes due to a chronic illness often brings distressing emotions that can lower one’s tolerance for pain causing even more suffering. Understanding and intervening in the psychosocial factors that are affecting your pain perception gives you a choice in how to react to your illness.
What are the some of the psychosocial factors influencing chronic pain/suffering?
- social isolation
- frequent scanning of painful site
- loss of independence
- depression and anxiety (fearfulness and hopelessness)
- inability to work or cut backs at work
- unsatisfying interactions with significant others due to your chronic illness
Our role is to help you sort out the aspects of your life that are contributing to your pain and suffering. You can learn to change the thoughts that are prolonging your discomfort. Take the first step in taking control and regaining your quality of life.
Identifying Work Related Stress
Our body and mind lets us know when we are stressed. Feeling angry and overwhelmed is a sign that the daily stress of work is becoming distress. Having frequent colds, headaches and muscle pains are signals that you may be moving toward worksite burnout. Another symptom of burnout is negative thoughts about co-workers, customers and the job in general. General feelings of resentment and resistance are additional signs of burnout. Fortunately, there some not so difficult steps you can take to move from burnout to effective coping. Please read on and choose the steps you can take to increase your resilience job related challenges.
Making Changes to Become Resilient
Reducing stress is more related to personal decisions than to changing the world around you. You have more ability to change how you respond to work place difficulties than changing the conditions related to causes of distress. Here are ten steps you can take to become hardy and feel more comfortable at work:
1. Early in the work day tell yourself you can and will accept what comes your way. By having these thoughts you are developing a belief system that will allow you go with the flow. When difficult situations arise they will not be a surprise, but just part and parcel of fabric of your work day.
2. Monitor your thoughts. When someone treats you poorly, emote coping thoughts; “he must be having a bad day”, rather than thinking “why is he such a jerk”. Coping thoughts improve your ability to deal with work related adversity..
3. Enhance your communication by listening more than talking. Extend understanding and empathy to others. Avoid negative and/or sarcastic words. What you say should demonstrate you support and appreciate your co-workers.
4. Manage time effectively by prioritizing tasks and not multitasking. To do lists with time lines can be an effective gateway to controlling work and time. Be realistic and not a hero.
5. When you take a break. Relax and don't try to compete with relaxation by doing other things such as checking e-mails. Focus and appreciate the sensations realized while you relax. Being mindful of calming down will restore energy for the next challenge.
6. Formulate realistic plans and clearly explain your expectations to others. When a change is needed or a deadline cannot be met, communicate this information openly and as soon as possible.
7 .Allow flexibility to guide both your relationships and work style. Small changes sometimes make a big difference. It is much better to bend than break!
8. Optimism is contagious. When faced with adversity do your best to think and say things which look at the any positive side of the situation. This is the glass half full or half empty concept. Positive ideas may lead to a solution!
9. Build effective relationships across the board. The most difficult people
are the most important ones to develop a positive working relationship. These relationships can be a game changer. Teamwork trumps being “right”..
10. End the day by celebrating even small victories. Make plans for tomorrow.
The feeling of accomplishment is a constructive and pleasant way to exit the work p[ace. Go home and do your best to leave work at work.
You can be resilient or be burned out. You will make the decision. Just keep in mind that it is in your power to respond to work site stress effectively or moving toward burnout. If you want to be resilient you can decide to cope and function effectively. Make your decision today!
Like alcohol, aggressive thinking and behavior often causes traffic tragedies. The streets and highways lay claim to excess of 38,000 deaths annually. Over one hundred Americans die on the roads daily.
Yelling, tailgating and hostile actions behind the wheel are simply life threatening. You can never tell how a confrontation will turn out. Think about it. A moment of rage can lead to a life of regret! As the saying goes; "better safe than sorry". Road rage is the reason many people end up in trouble with the law and are mandated to take anger management treatment.
Avoid hassles while arriving to your destination by staying calm and composed. Here is the GPS for safe and anger free driving:
1. Expect problems on the road. Impolite drivers and careless motorist are the norm out there.Be emotionally prepared to cope with driving related problems.
2. Leave yourself extra time for the trip. Late? Being uptight about being late doesn't change anything except stresses you out.
3. Even if others don't, follow all the rules of the road. Traffic laws exist to protect everyone.
4. Have coping thoughts such as "He must be having a bad day, I will avoid him" or "stay calm: getting angry will not change a thing". Poor coping is personalizing the mistakes of others.
5. Courtesy and kindness lead to calmness and cooperation. Acts of kindness are known to reduce stress and increase feelings of well-being. By helping others you're helping yourself.
6..Forget about conflicts and disappointments. During the trip be mindful of your driving and focus on the road ahead.
7. Avoid distractions of cell phones and other gadgets.
8. Stuck in traffic? Take long deep breaths and focus on sensations of these soothing breaths. Try deep breathing and see how your stress level will drop almost immediately.
9. Be grateful for any positive experiences. Enjoy the scenery or appreciate when traffic is moving smoothly. Mindfulness of positive experiences will make the trip more pleasant
10. Avoid drivers who act aggressive. Pull over and let the aggressive driver pass. Then calmly go on your way.
Follow these directions and arrive at your destination calm and composed. If you continue to get uptight while driving, contact us to discuss how you can make the changes to stay calm each time you drive.
Depression in the Elderly
Do you have an elderly family member who you think is depressed but are not sure?
This is common because depressive symptoms in the elderly may be different from those in a younger adult. Here are some of the following reasons:
How is depression in the elderly different?
▸ fewer symptoms (may not meet all criteria for the disorder)
▸ depression may be accompanied or caused by medical illness
▸ depression may be due to side effects of prescribed drugs
▸ older individuals may be resistant to talking about depression
▸ depressive complaints may be couched in physical not emotional terms
Who is at more risk for developing depression?
▸ being female
▸ being single, divorced or widowed
▸ socially isolated
▸ family history of depression and/or suicide
▸ major life changes such as financial loss, death of family member or retirement
How is depression treated in the elderly?
▸ Cognitive and Behavioral Activation Psychotherapies
▸ medically oriented treatments - Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or Electrocon-
▸ meditation and physical exercise
What can I do to help my elderly family member?
▸ get them to verbalize their feelings and reasons for being depressed
▸ don’t tell them it’s all in their head, or pull themselves up by their bootstraps
▸ break up difficult tasks into small, easy steps for them
▸ try to get them involved in support groups or social activities
▸ support daily involvement in activities they enjoy
▸ encourage and discuss advantages of getting professional help
If you are not sure whether your loved one is depressed we can help. Contact us at (847) 227-8323.
Five Signs Your Anger is a Problem
Experiencing anger is a normal reaction. Expressing anger in a constructive fashion can be helpful to both yourself and others. However, when an expression of anger causes extreme emotions and unhealthy behavior it is important to determine if you have an anger management problem.
Five Anger Warning Signs:
1. Losing Control:
Responding with physical and verbal aggression that causes others to fear you. When you look back you regret what you said and did.
2. Regular Occurrence:
Frustrating circumstances are resulting in almost daily outbursts of anger. The more often you become angry, the more likely anger has become an unhealthy personal habit.
3. Relationships Hurt:
If others avoid confronting you with important issues as a result of past heated exchanges, Your anger has harmed essential relationships.
4. Long Periods of Rage:
Thinking and talking about a frustrating experience. If you find yourself preoccupied with thoughts of vengeance and hate, You are not controlling your anger. Your anger is controlling you!
5. Physical Symptoms:
After angry outburst you have headaches, stomach problems and intense physical tension. These are symptoms of stress and can result in serious medical problems.
Experiencing these anger warning signs is an indication you may very well have an anger management problem. Anger is learned. Everyone can develop skills to respond to provocation calmly.
Brief anger management therapy will improve the quality of your life.
Origins of Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal part of life. We are hardwired to experience anxiety. If you are unable to be anxious, you would not respond to an emergency appropriately. Consider a child running in to the street or smelling smoke in your home. These situations require quick and deliberate responses.
Researchers believe that our reaction to emergencies is the “fight or flight” response that helped our ancestors to survive while hunting for food. In those days either you captured your food or your food captured you! So becoming alarmed and reacting quickly was and still is essential to human survival. Like it or not anxiety is built in and can be a lifesaver. So why are so many people troubled by anxious feelings and behavior?
Anxiety: From Survival Instinct to Distressing Disorder
The plot thickens. If anxiety is normal, why is anxiety disorders the most commonly diagnosed mental health problem? There are estimates that upwards of 15%-20% of Americans have anxiety disorders. Rapid breathing, heart palpitations, trembling, sweating, fears of losing control; or dying are some of the symptoms of anxiety. These physical symptoms can lead to thoughts of dread and excessive fear. These highly undesirable symptoms, feelings and thoughts can cause distress which disrupts life in many ways.
One way of looking at anxiety problems is a “learning mistake”. We learn to respond to situations which are not life threatening as if these situations threaten our very existence. At some point these distressful responses occur automatically during common daily experiences. What is even more troublesome, anxiety symptoms will intensify and increase in frequency even if our life experiences have not become worse.
The “fear of fear” syndrome drives and increases the frequency and intensity of anxiety. This cycle can lead to avoidance, panic attacks and disabling responses. Anxiety, a relatively normal human emotion becomes stifling. People with anxiety problems are viewed as having a mild to moderate level of psychological disorders even though the anxiety can actually be disabling.
Categories of Common Anxiety Disorders:
The American Psychiatric Association has developed classifications for anxiety disorders. However, because of the complex nature of human emotions the way you experience anxiety may not neatly fit in to these categories. You need not be concerned. The most essential issue is your anxiety can be addressed and become manageable.
Rapid breathing, fast heart beat, sweating and fears of losing control. Attacks occur unexpectedly and spontaneously, can be related to medical condition
Excessive fear of places such as stores, office, crowded areas, buses, cars, hotel rooms, being alone at home, bathrooms and other spaces which become associated anxiety. This disorder may be associated with panic attacks.
Fear of public speaking, fear of blushing in public, fear of being watched, fear of using public toilets, fear of crowds and an ongoing fear of typical social situations. Includes strong concerns of being humiliated in public.
Avoidance and excessive worry related to an object, animal or place. Typical phobias are blood, dirt, heights, doctors/medical tests, needles, cars, airplanes, buses and other common experiences and objects. Discomfort occurs when you are in proximity of the feared object or situation.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
Excessive worry about typical daily situations. Feelings of restlessness, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension and difficulty sleeping. Free floating and recurrent anxiety must be present for a period of six months and not be related to a medical condition.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:
Frequent worrying thoughts which are addressed by ritualistic behaviors such as fear of germs resulting in frequent hand washing or fear of leaving doors unlocked followed by frequent and repeated checking of the same door. The ritual or compulsive behavior temporarily relieves the fear, but only for a short time. This disorder is less common then the other types of anxiety, but can be quite disabling.
Acute Stress Disorder:
Similar symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, but last less than a month.
Substance Induced Anxiety Disorder:
Anxiety or panic attacks related to use of street drugs and alcohol. Can also occur when stopping use of a particular medication or undesirable side effect of a medication.
The severity and frequency of symptoms can vary greatly for different individuals. If you sense you have any of the above symptoms it is best to be evaluated by a qualified professional.
Recovery from Anxiety
The good news is that during the last twenty years many effective treatments for anxiety have developed and can be effective. Many of these approaches help you to re-learn healthy ways to respond the conditions which may have caused the anxiety. Physical, emotional and behavioral responses to daily life experiences are reviewed and new ways of reacting are developed.
If you are experiencing anxiety which disrupts your life, it is advisable to be evaluated by qualified professional.
By working together with a therapist who uses anxiety specific treatment techniques you can experience relief and learn to live a healthier and more productive life. It does require some investment in time and effort to resolve an anxiety problem. There may also be a need to make some lifestyle changes. Please note that worrying about your anxiety will not resolve it !
Nevertheless, a significant percentage of individuals seeking treatment do experience relief and learn to live a life which is not hampered by unhealthy anxiety. The choice is yours.
Need help with anxiety? Contact Us
It’s up to you
Don’t think twice! You can do it. If others have reached their personal goals so can you. It is not as difficult as you think. So stop worrying about how you can do it. Rather sit down and plan your change and then make it happen.
The following are ten methods from scientific research on behavior which have helped people like you reach personal goals:
1. Build on Strengths:
Identify past attempts at change or reaching goals that have worked. Identify what you did that helped you reach your goal. Repeat the steps which were successful and abandon habits that hampered change. Write down the methods that worked and review them regularly (weekly).
2. Realistic Goals:
Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Time Limited GOALS. Examples: Save an extra $10.00 per month, Walk around the block three times weekly, Read one new book once a month. As you reach these goals you can gradually increase frequencies of goal related behavior. It is much more satisfying to reach an easy goal then fail at a difficult goal. Success builds on success.
3.Write it Down:
Look at your goal each day. Think of the steps you must take. Avoid procrastination-do it! Reseach has shown you have a 300% greater likelihood of do it if you write down with a date and time!
4. Identify Personal Resistance:
Think carefully about what is making it difficult to reach your goal. Then problem solve by brainstorming ideas to overcome your personal road blocks. That’s how the Wright Brothers got off the ground. If needed, revise goal by making it easier and simpler. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
5. Monitor Thoughts, Behaviors, & Feelings Related to Goal:
Convert negative to positive. Positive thinking, behavior and feelings markedly increase motivation for change. A) Reframe thinking from “this is impossible“ to “this may not be easy, but I know I can work at it and make progress”. B) Make efforts to change behavior, skip Star Bucks today. C) Modify feelings by meditating, relaxing and focusing on the positive sensations related to reaching goal related behaviors.
Have a friend or relative work on the same goal. Communicate and support each other. Share both victories and struggles. Discuss methods that helped you move toward your goal.
7. Slipped-Get Up and Try Again:
Don’t stop as soon as you have a relapse. Enjoy that extra large hot fudge sundae and then get back to work. Tomorrow is a new day offering endless possibilities.
8. Use Knowledge:
Information is power. Stopping smoking, check out the Quitline or losing weight find out about Weight Watchers or related groups.
9. Imagine Success:
Everyday, take a few minutes and actually see yourself reaching your goal. Personal imagery is quite powerful and will result in the imagined behavior. Pro athletes and entertainers regularly employ imagery to reach their desired performance. You can do it too!
10. Brag Loudly:
Celebrate minor and major successes with family, friends and co-workers. Telling others will help you maintain motivation and continuing reaching your goal.
These ten steps can propel you towards your goal and help you continue to formulate and reach future goals. What are you waiting for? Do it!!