SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER – IT’S NOT JUST FOR WINTERTIME

We’re more than halfway through summer now, and a lot of therapists I know find that they have fewer clients this time of year. That’s to be expected, right? Summer is the season of long sunny days, of fun and relaxation. Historically, I don’t have that same pattern of summer slowing. A lot of people come through that really struggle in the summer with a variety of concerns.

So, I got curious and decided to see what’s being said about summer-specific mental health problems. As it turns out, my experience isn’t all that unusual. The attached article discusses how summer can be especially challenging for many, and can precipitate depression and or anxiety. The article names five specific factors the author sees as related to summertime mental health problems: schedule changes, vacations, psychosocial issues, daylight patterns, and social events. It’s easy to see how the loss of work structure in the summer could cause some to feel untethered. Some of these other factors involve the high cost of having fun, grieving from losses that have taken place, and excess drinking.

I would like to add a couple other factors that I see. One is the pressure to smile and feel good , which is hard on those who are already depressed. For a person who is already in the midst of a depressive episode when summer starts, it can be especially daunting to see people enjoying themselves and not be able to do the same. Other factors I have seen are the need to wear less clothing when one doesn’t feel good about their body, or increased feelings of isolation when one’s family or support system goes away for extended time, or when one notices others having fun but they don’t have strong networks or time off.

If you’re feeling especially down in this summer, remember you’re not alone. If you’re feeling depressed or anxious you can always make an appointment to see a counselor or therapist. At Compatible Counseling Solutions we’re here and would be happy to help.

http://mentalhealth.fitness/5-triggers-seasonal-affective-disorder-summer/

TACKLING CHRONIC WORRY WITH COGNITIVE THERAPY AND INTUITIVE LISTENING

For most of my life I’ve been a chronic worrier and perfectionist. I come by it honestly. My mother is the champion of worrying and she taught me well. I learned from a lifetime of being told to BE CAREFUL! that to make a mistake would be a catastrophe, so I over-think every move before I make it. A lot of us are like this, but know how dysfunctional it is and how much it limits our capacity to experience joy and richness in our lives.

The attached article asserts that analytical thinking is the primary tool of chronic worriers. It describes that worriers and perfectionists have a lack of confidence in their decision making, and use systematic processing and analysis to check and double check themselves. I’ve seen this process acted out repeatedly in many of the clients that come to me for help. They want to make changes in their lives but are frozen by fear that others will not approve and keep looking for that perfect moment or that sign of approval that’s missing.

The article poses that by using cognitive-behavioral therapy one can learn another way to manage thoughts without over-analyzing. I agree that cognitive-behavioral strategies are extremely useful. But the article starts out also talking about gut instincts, stating that chronic worriers are people who don’t listen to their gut. I had hoped that the article would say more about intuitive thinking and the value of trusting your gut instincts. Unfortunately, howeverit never got back to talking about intuition after that first statement.

Cognitive Therapy is an excellent option for the worrier. I recommend, however, balancing cognitive work with work on learning to sense and trust intuition. Listening to intuition means listening to the heart and following your internal “knowing”. This is a skill we are all born with but squash out of ourselves as we learn that over-analysis is more highly regarded. If you want to rid yourself of that pesky voice that keeps you from trying out new ways of being I recommend finding a therapist that will help you to trust your intuition as well as challenge your negative thought patterns.

http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/08/31/chronic-worriers-tend-to-rely-on-analysis-not-gut-feelings/59057.html

CELEBRATING THE QUIET GIFTS OF INTROVERSION

The article that is cited and linked below was originally posted several years ago. I got a lot of positive feedback from the post I wrote to accompany the article, and in re-reading the article see that it’s still very relevant and full of good information and help for the introvert who’s having trouble accepting themselves in a world that values extraversion.

In my own practice, I see a lot of introverts. Most have trouble getting ahead in the workplace, and believe there’s something wrong with them when they’re looked over for promotions and disregarded in meetings. It’s true that extroverts often have an easier time getting ahead. They tend to be more assertive with their ideas and find it easy to build a coalition around what they want.  While introverts are in the background thinking through the pros and cons to their ideas and trying to figure out what factors need to be overcome to make them work, the extroverts are out there promoting the first idea that has come to their mind, whether thought through or not.

The article below reminds us of the quiet strength of the introvert, their natural tendency toward independence, their creativity and their innate leadership potential.  It also gives examples of great practices that remind introverts of their strengths and get them in touch with their most authentic selves.

Our fast-paced world that values assertiveness and crowd pleasing behaviors sometimes sees introverts as too private but really, their thoughtful pensiveness can be amongst their greatest strengths.  If you struggle with being introverted in an extraverted world, please read the article below.

http://psychcentral.com/lib/2012/introverts-and-the-quest-for-quiet/

THE SIMPLICITY AND BENEFITS OF A MEDITATION PRACTICE

Last week I wrote about the importance of incorporating relaxation into your daily routine. I mentioned meditation as one practice that can bring relaxation and renewal into ones’ life, and I thought I’d spend a bit more time on meditation in this post.

Meditation is very helpful to my clients that struggle with a variety of concerns ranging from anxiety, to basic life dissatisfaction, to struggles with relationships. I see meditation as both a life practice, and as a tool to increase therapy’s effectiveness by improving one’s awareness. For example, meditation is useful when one is trying to identify a feeling and locate it in their body, or when one is trying to keep themselves from pushing feelings down and away. It allows people to give their feelings compassionate attention so they can feel better. It also helps them become aware of how they’re feeling throughout the day outside of meditation time.

The biggest obstacle to meditation I’ve seen is a common belief that meditation requires special skills. People are always telling me they’ve tried meditation but can’t do it right. They, like so many others, have a misconception that meditation is only successful when one can silence their mind and rest in emptiness. I envy people who can do that, but if that were the only way to be successful at meditation I would have quit a long time ago. My mind is very active and I find it very difficult to tame. I know, however, that the practice of meditation builds my awareness, and that’s a process. My mind wanders a great deal but I know that the more I practice, the more present I am to my life.

So, here are a few steps to get you started if you’d like to try simple, mindfulness meditation

  1. Sit comfortably, with your back straight and your eyes closed or slightly open and looking down. If you can sit on the floor with a meditation cushion that’s great, but it’s ok to sit in a chair if you need the back support.
  2. Notice your breath entering and leaving through your nose. If you’re congested you can breathe through your mouth but breathing through the nose will feel less forced.
  3. Try to hold your focus on your breath. Your mind will likely wander, but when it does, just notice that and bring your attention back to your breath.
  4. If you notice discomfort, place your attention on the part of your body that is uncomfortable and keep breathing. If you feel emotions rising and falling, just notice them. Attend to any uncomfortable feeling until it passes if you can.
  5. Continue for at least 10-15 minutes and try to go longer with each session.
  6. Don’t give up if your mind wanders a lot. Even with a lot of wandering you’ll begin to notice your thoughts and feelings throughout the day more readily over time.

RELAX! HOW TO TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF IN A HIGH PRESSURED WORLD

Summer’s here, and the pressure is on to RELAX! You can see the irony in that sentence right away. Summer is a time when people expect to be able to kick back, take off their shoes, and just enjoy themselves. Yet how often do we actually do that? We might be lucky enough to get some time off to go out of town on a nice vacation. But even then, a lot of people report that they spend so much time planning and fretting over the vacation, that it almost doesn’t seem worth it once the actual vacation finally comes.

So how do we find the time to relax in this high-pressured world? The attached article contends that the most common excuse for not relaxing is “I don’t have the time”. That sounds exactly right to me. We’re so busy with our to do lists, trying to figure out how to cram all the things we need to do at home or with our families into the few hours we have each week when we’re not at work that we never actually take the time to relax.

I like this article because it gives you ideas on how to relax that almost anyone can find time for.  I especially love the idea that when you can’t take a “real” vacation you can take a mental and emotional vacation where you commit to getting away from negative thinking and stress for a few minutes each day just by taking a walk or a bath, for example. A simple meditation or listening to calming music can also refresh you and take you away from the stresses of everyday life.

Take a look at the article and see what works for you. Then make sure to find a few minutes every day to implement some of these tools. If you’re chronically stressed and/or running around all the time I think you’ll find it’ll make everything else start to feel a little easier to manage.

http://psychcentral.com/lib/2013/relaxation-make-time-and-take-time-for-self-care/

 

 

WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO SEEK HELP FROM A COUNSELOR?

The attached article provides a nice framework for those deciding whether to seek help or not.  There are very few articles out there about when it’s the right time to seek help, so it’s a nice addition. The decision to seek counseling or therapy is difficult because one is deciding whether to make themselves vulnerable to a stranger or not.  For this reason, as well as the high cost of therapy and anxiety about what is going to happen in counseling, a lot of people put it off and hope that their problems will resolve themselves.  And sometimes they do, but often they don’t.  Also, many people have had bad experiences with therapy in the past and don’t want to invest their time and money again on a on a risky venture. So, they wait until they’ve run out of options before making that leap of faith again.  I understand all these concerns very well. They’re why I started Compatible Counseling Solutions in the first place.  I hate to see people make themselves vulnerable to someone that’s not going to help them, and I’ve seen it happen time and again.

If you are at the point where you’re wondering if now is the time, I urge you to read the attached article and see if any of the scenarios that are described fit you.  If you’re not sure of exactly what you need I hope you’ll consider contacting me. I can help you sort through whether, and what kind of counseling will be most helpful to you and I can help you find an effective therapist that meets your needs and maintains a focus on your goals without keeping you in services indefinitely.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-practice/201301/do-i-need-help

IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO GET $100 OFF YOUR REGISTRATION FOR THE NOVEMBER 11-13 DARING WAY™ INTENSIVE RETREAT

 

wholeheartedbadgeExperiencing Brene´Brown’s, The Daring Way™ in an intensive retreat is a powerful way to explore vulnerability and develop an authenticity practice in the safety of a small group setting.  The Daring Way™ will give you the tools you need to move bravely into new territory in relationships, at work, and with yourself. For more information: www.compatiblecounseling.com/daring-way/

JOIN US FOR THE DARING WAY™ INTENSIVE GROUP RETREAT, NOVEMBER 11-13, 2016

daringgreatlybadge1The Daring Way™ is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to live life more fully but is bogged down by the pressure to be perfect, by fear of judgment, or by self-judgments. If you long to create more satisfying connections with others but are afraid to try for any reason then this group is for you. For more information: www.compatiblecounseling.com/daring-way/

 

 

ANNOUNCING THE DARING WAY™ INTENSIVE WEEKEND RETREAT-COMING IN NOVEMBER, 2016

DW November 16 flyer2To all interested in participating in a Daring Way™ group, here in Chicago I’m planning ahead for the next weekend intensive of The Daring Way™, Dr. Brene´ Brown’s acclaimed curriculum that teaches us all how to Show Up, Be Seen, and Live Brave in our lives. The Intensive Retreat will be held Friday, November 11, 2016 through Sunday, November 13, 2016 right here at Compatible Counseling Solutions.

I know it’s hard to find a three-day stretch of time to accommodate personal development work, but my experience is that doing this work intensively over a few days with a small group of individuals is an especially powerful way of experiencing the material so that it can be integrated back into our lives with the people who matter most to us. If you’ve been wanting to bring more authenticity to your relationships, have wanted to show up bravely in your work environment, or have wanted to embrace vulnerability or become more resilient to shame with your family then this is the group you’ve been waiting for.

A flyer of the group with contact information and all the details is attached to this post (click on the picture). The cost of the group is only $700 for 14 hours of group time – (lunch and breaks bring the total time up to 17 hours). For those registering before October 15 the cost will be reduced to $600. All materials and snacks are included in the cost. Lunch on Saturday is on your own.  For your convenience a registration form is available on my website at wwwcompatiblecounseling.com. Hope to see you there!

 

Daring Way™ Intensive Retreat To Be Held June 25-26

Short Flyer June 16

I’m excited to facilitate the upcoming Daring Way™ group this month right here in Chicago. This group will be held in a weekend format, to make it more busy people who have a hard time setting aside a couple of hours each week for 8-weeks. I will be holding this group at my office, located at 3047 N. Lincoln Avenue on Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26. The group is slightly condensed to allow it to be held for two days only. Normally when we facilitate a weekend group we start on Friday afternoon and run through Sunday. I’ve had a lot of feedback that the Friday afternoon is difficult for people, so I’ve been able to bring it down to 2-days only, which has also reduced the cost to only $600 per person (Less than $50 per hour, since cost also goes to supplies and snacks).

The flyer for the group is attached to this entry (click on the picture). If you are interested in joining the group or know someone who is, please let me know right away. (773 372-4111 or sfrau@compatiblecounseling.com.) Spaces are limited and the group is only a couple of weeks away, so please contact us as soon as you can. For your convenience a registration form is available on my website at www.compatiblecounseling.com.

Although I have discussed the Daring Way in previous entries, for those who are not familiar with the program, The Daring Way™ is a highly experiential methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. The method was designed for work with individuals, couples, families, work teams, and organizational leaders. It can be facilitated in clinical, educational, and professional settings. During the process we explore topics such as vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness. We examine the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are holding us back and we identify the new choices and practices that will move us toward more authentic and wholehearted living. The primary focus is on developing shame resilience skills and developing daily practices that transform the way we live, love, parent, and lead.

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past twelve years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Her groundbreaking research has been featured on PBS, NPR, CNN, and Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday. Further information is available at www.brenebrown.com.