5 Awesome Apps to Use Between Sessions

In today’s world, you can use your phone for literally ANYTHING. From posting pictures with your friends faces swapped that your other friends can laugh at for only 24 hours to beating level 236 on your favorite game during your lunch break - the possibilities are endless! Why not use your phone to help you calm down when you’re feeling an anxiety attack coming on or when you need that extra boost to get you out of bed in the morning!?

There are TONS of mental health apps out there - trying them all might cause an anxiety attack rather than prevent one! So we’ve made it easy for you! While these apps are GREAT, keep in mind they aren’t meant to replace therapy! These apps are great tools to use between your weekly sessions, when you’re out of town or when you’re just feeling a little more anxious than usual!

Here are 5, therapist tried and approved, apps worth downloading!
All 5 are available for free in both the App Store and Google Play.

1.      Stop, Breathe & Think

 

Stop, Breathe & Think has you ‘check-in’ for 10 seconds. After your check in, you’ll choose how you’re feeling mentally and physically, then you’ll pick up to 5 emotions - ranging from enthusiastic to resentful. After you pick the magic words, a list of guided meditations appropriate for your mood will appear. The guided meditations range from 2 minutes to about 15 minutes. This app is perfect when you’re feeling overwhelmed but time is of the essence. Close your office door or run to your car, pick out those emotions and allow the guided meditation to bring you back to a sense of calm. You can take as little or as long of time as you want! It also has different badges to keep you motivated to do the meditations regularly and share your progress with friends!

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3 Tips to Positive Parenting

There is no mistaking it, sometimes parenting is a tough job! It feels hard to balance the desire to lift your child up and make them feel good with setting clear limits and expectations of their behaviors. Positive and effective discipline techniques allow you as a parent to instill a sense of responsibility in your child while still nurturing self-esteem and your parent-child relationship.

Try these 3 simple tips to increase the effectiveness of your positive parenting skills:

1. Be as specific as possible. 

Whenever you are giving feedback to your child, whether complimenting a positive behavior or giving a consequence, BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE. Refrain from statements such as “I like when you’re a good girl,” or “You are being bad.” Focus on ONE specific behavior instead, for example “I like how you are using your inside voice” or “It’s not okay to hit your brother.” When you focus on behavior rather than character, you help your child feel less shame. Remember, guilt is what you feel after you DO something bad, shame is what you feel when you think ARE something bad. We want children to learn limits without feeling ashamed and we cultivate that by focusing on the specific behavior we want to change.

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I Feel Stuck, Now What

We all can feel stuck from time to time and for various reasons. But it is important to note that just because you are feeling stuck right now doesn’t mean that this is how it has to continue to be. Here are (5) things to keep in mind when feeling “stuck”, seems like the only option.

  • ONLY FOCUS ON THE THINGS THAT YOU CAN CONTROL. You may find that you have a tendency to take on all of the world’s problems, and not even realize it until you feel stressed, overwhelmed, and even depressed.  You have to get into a place where you only allow yourself to focus on what you have the power to control, for that particular day and nothing else. If you think about the things that you currently are struggling with I bet you will realize that half of those things are beyond your control? Therefore, if you change your thought process to the things that you have the power to control you will find your stress and feelings of being overwhelmed lightened.
  • YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN HAPPINESS. This can sometimes be a hard pill to swallow. Sometimes we have the tendency to allow external things to get in the way of our own happiness. We have to take accountability for ourselves, and understand that happiness is a choice, and if we are choosing to be happy then we will be. It is also important to accept the fact that you are your own expert, and that you must advocate for yourself, because you deserve to be happy.
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Boundaries, Integrity, Generosity

Do you sometimes feel that you are running on empty, over committed and stretched too thin? Do you feel like you are exhausted just by looking at your schedule and losing your balance from giving too much? Research published Dr. Brene Brown in her book, Rising Strong, identifies a strategy called “Living BIG” which can be used to help us experience more feelings of compassion in our daily lives by setting boundaries. This concept helps us look at our lives and ask the tough question: What boundaries will help me live a life filled with both integrity and generosity to others?

Boundaries: A boundary is a limit that we set to define what behaviors are okay and what is not. We often worry that we will disappoint others if we get clear and set boundaries, which can lead to stretching ourselves thin, committing to too many practices or carpools, too many after school activities or business meetings. We might find we are helping so often that we forget to take care of ourselves, setting us up for exhaustion and in turn, feelings of resentment and discomfort. Setting boundaries means getting clear on what you can or cannot do each day and on what you will allow yourself and others to bring to your life. It is not selfish to say ‘no’ to a request when you know, deep down that you cannot truly commit. Setting boundaries and saying no when necessary allows us to live a more compassionate life.

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Older and Wiser: Our Elderly and Geriatric Population

It often seems like in our society we have forgotten about a very important population, our elderly and geriatric folks. Now that the holidays are over with and winter is finally here, many people retreat back into their homes and get back to business as usual. But what happens when we have an elderly neighbor who doesn’t have family members around or someone in a nursing home, who would do anything to have a visitor or someone to talk too? What are somethings that we should know about or be aware of when it comes to our elderly or geriatric population?

DO NOT TREAT AN ELDERLY OR GERIATRIC PERSON LIKE THEY ARE CHILDREN. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in thinking that because this population may need a little bit more help in certain areas that it is essentially like taking care of a child, wrong answer. This is probably one of the worst things that we can do. The elderly should be treated with respect and their values should always be at the forefront. We should take the time to listen to what their personal needs are and go from there.

RESPECT AN ELDERLY OR GERIATRIC PERSON’S WISDOM. We have to remember that our geriatric and elderly population has so much to offer others. I don’t know about you, but anyone who has ever sat down with an elderly relative is bound to hear an awesome story from them or something interesting about their childhood and how things are completely different nowadays. Always respect what they can bring to the table that is one of the benefits of getting older, they have experienced so many things and most love to share it.

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How Mindfulness Is Revolutionalizing Mental Health Care

Recently I read an article, “How Mindfulness Is Revolutionizing Mental Health Care.” It highlights the rise in mental health disorders, how mindfulness works, and the neurology when mindful versus mindless. As a therapist, I have found myself integrating it into my sessions with various types of clients of all ages. When I introduce the term and the concept, I tend to get strange looks from my clients. (Maybe they think I’m a hippy or I am trying to convert  them to some religious sect.)

I explain that mindfulness is a simple practice, but it takes continual, daily practice for it to become effective.

Then in the therapy session, I guide them through a mindfulness exercise. The exercise will last between one and three minutes, and some reactions I get range from, “it was too hard to focus” to “I feel more relaxed now” and “I think I can do this everyday”.

Before I send my clients home with written exercises to practice at least for 3-5 minutes once a day, I remind them that they can use mindfulness anywhere. It can be used while waiting in line at the store, before falling asleep, during the morning routine, or during mealtime. The important part is that some time each day is spent slowing down, focusing on the present, and becoming more aware of the inner workings of you.

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I Hear You But I Am Not Listening

When it comes to communicating with others, we all usually have one thing in common: we all want to be heard. But what happens when we are talking to someone and they cut us off or we ask them a follow up question about what we were just talking about and realize that they weren’t even listening? Part of the reason why there may be a communication breakdown is that “most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply”. So what are some things that we can do so that we can better be able to effectively communicate with someone? Below you will find some tips that can help bring about more effective communication.

SHOW A GENUINE INTEREST IN WHAT THE PERSON IS SAYING- When people are communicating they want to know that the person on the receiving end of the conversation is actually interested and engaged in what they are saying. When we don’t fully feel heard that can lead to another set of problems. It is important to show that you are genuinely interested in a conversation by doing things like nodding your head, giving good eye contact or even paraphrasing what the other person just said so they know that you are listening. What’s also important during this time is your body language. Sometimes a person’s body language can tell you more about what a person may be really feeling or thinking more than actual words can.

DON’T DOMINATE THE CONVERSATION- Everyone has that one friend, family member or co-worker, who loves to dominate the conversation! There is nothing more frustrating than this. A conversation is a two way street. Sometimes people who dominate the conversation don’t even realize that they are doing it. But if you are one of those people, try asking yourself at the end of the conversation what the other person talked about during that “one way conversation” and see if you can remember? If you cannot chances are because they didn’t have the opportunity to add much to it. Also, if you find yourself one of those people who dominate conversations, maybe try allowing the other person to start the conversation or give their opinions and viewpoints first, and then chime in after. The key to this though is that, while you are “listening” to what they are saying, do not generate in your mind what you think your next response will be, and simply listen to what is being stated.

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Life After the Break Up

Breaking up with someone can be one of the most devastating experiences that a person can go through. To make matters even worse, it can raise countless questions that we often times don’t have the answers for. We can even find ourselves experiencing a rollercoaster ride of different emotions. One second we may be sad and crying, and then the next happy and relieved, to downright angry and resentful. But what is most important to remember about a break up is being able to find positive coping strategies that can make moving forward a little bit easier.

MY EMOTIONS ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE: After a break up, whether it was mutual or not, it is normal to experience a plethora of different thoughts, feelings, and reactions. After all any new major experiences that we go through, in the beginning there always seems to be a time where we are trying to figure out what our next step should be and are uncertain about what our future will now look like. Being able to experience different feelings and emotions is a necessary part of the process because without them we could find ourselves not fully trying to come to terms with what our “new” reality really is. Also, it is only through experiencing different feelings and emotions that we are able to pinpoint why we may be feeling the way that we are.

SELF REFLECTION IS IMPERATIVE: Self-reflection is a key piece to being able to fully process the break up and to acknowledge what our role was in it. Self-reflection can also help us to have a better understanding on how our choices and decisions impacted the relationship, may it be good or bad.

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