Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's too early to give up. Always.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Please prevent the heartache of divorce.




Marriage is a big deal. No really, marriage is a BIG deal. It has the power to lift a person to their highest highs but it also has the power to break someone to a dark and heavy low. I have worked with a number of couples that tell me, “I have been unhappy for years and tried to tell him/her and they just didn’t get it, so now I want a divorce.”  Some of these couples have tried for 3 years, some for 20 and some for more. When you get to a point where you feel like you are not being heard, and you have tried many things, it is natural and easy to feel like giving up. I am writing to tell you that giving up will not solve your problem.

Divorce will not get rid of your pain.

Giving up leads to a pile of heartache and pain.  A common myth about divorce is that you are leaving them to end the pain and rejection. THIS IS NOT TRUE! Divorce is not an event that you mourn and get over.  In the event of a divorce you mourn the initial divorce, but there is so much more. There are difficult and confusing holidays, you start to see the effects on your children, then your spouse starts dating, and you often have less money.  Wallerstein’s research on divorce and children, call divorce a psychological trauma.  Often times individuals feel like a failure, unlovable or destined to be alone after a divorce. At times their children become distant or angry at them for the choice they made.  

You might be thinking, “But Katie you don’t understand how hard I have tried. She/he wont go to counseling. I have told him/her 1000 times I am unhappy. He/she doesn’t care and wont ever change.”  If this what you are thinking, start by loving your spouse. Shower them with love and affection despite the hurt and rejection you feel. Their hearts are hard to you, and if you want that to change you need to help them soften it. Maybe they do not want to change because they don’t know specifically what to change, maybe they never had the skills in the first place, or maybe you were mean about how you asked. Either way minds are not changed with a fist, but rather with love. One person can change the direction of a marriage.

Be that champion for your marriage, for your spouse and for your children.

It is never too late to save a marriage, even when the divorce papers are filed. If you are unhappy in your marriage try a new strategy to get your spouse to hear you. Do it with love so they do not become defensive. See a counselor, write them a letter, spell out to them what you need changed. Be open to finding a middle ground. Divorce does not affect just you and it does not get rid of the pain you are feeling.

Fight for your marriage like your life depends on it. There is not another battle that will be more worth it. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sugar in our Foods

Here is a visual for how much sugar is in our foods from  http://iwastesomuchtime.com/on/?i=24126 . I have no idea on the credibility of this source but it's still a good reminder because of how much sugar can effect our mood for the worse. 


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Food and Mood


Have you ever gotten too hungry and suddenly became very irritable? This happens to me if I am not careful.  Just ask my husband. ;) Food can affect our moods quite significantly. Different foods can cause you to get jittery, lose focus, and become irritable or tired. Other healthier foods can cause just the opposite!  If you struggle with depression or anxiety it could significantly reduce your symptoms if you cut back on caffeine, sugar, alcohol and chocolate. Eating more vegetables, drinking more water, and including more whole grains can help stabilize your mood.


If you are not sure what foods effect you most keep a food diary. Simply write down what you eat and then how you felt afterwards. Looking at food from the perspective of how does this affect me, rather than how does this taste can drastically change your health. Food is meant to increase our strength and focus, but too often we use it as comfort food or go for convenient fast food.  Instead food becomes something that hurts us. 

Chart from: http://www.heb.com/




Monday, February 20, 2012

Grief- helpguide.org


Tips about grief from www.helpguide.org a trusted non profit resource. 

What is Grief?

Grief can be any kind of loss. 
  • A romantic relationship ending
  • Illness
  • Losing a job/career
  • Loss of financial security
  • A miscarriage
  • Death of a pet
  • Loss of a dream
  • A loved one’s serious illness
  • Loss of a friendship
  • Loss of safety after a trauma

What are the five stages of grief?

  • Denial: “This isn't happening to me.” or "This doesn't seem real. It hasn't set in yet."
  • Anger: “Why is this happening to me? Who can I blame?”
  • Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  • Depression: “I’m too sad to be motivated.”
  • Acceptance: “I’m okay with what happened.”

What are common myths about grief?
MYTH: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
MYTH: It’s important to be “be strong” in the face of loss.
Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.
MYTH: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.
Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.
MYTH: Grief should last about a year.
Fact: There is no right or wrong time frame for grieving. How long it takes can differ from person to person.

What can I do about grief?
Face your feelings. You can try to suppress your grief, but you can’t avoid it forever. In order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain. Trying to avoid feelings of sadness and loss only prolongs the grieving process. Unresolved grief can also lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems.

Look after your physical health. The mind and body are connected. When you feel good physically, you’ll also feel better emotionally. Combat stress and fatigue by getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising. Don’t use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief or lift your mood artificially.

Plan ahead for grief “triggers.” Anniversaries, holidays, and milestones can reawaken memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional wallop, and know that it’s completely normal. If you’re sharing a holiday or lifecycle event with other relatives, talk to them ahead of time about their expectations and agree on strategies to honor the person you loved

Turn to friends and family members – Now is the time to lean on the people who care about you, even if you take pride in being strong and self-sufficient. Draw loved ones close, rather than avoiding them, and accept the assistance that’s offered. Oftentimes, people want to help but don’t know how, so tell them what you need – whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or help with funeral arrangement

Draw comfort from your faith – If you follow a religious tradition, embrace the comfort its mourning rituals can provide. Spiritual activities that are meaningful to you – such as praying, meditating, or going to church – can offer solace. If you’re questioning your faith in the wake of the loss, talk to a clergy member or others in your religious community

Talk to a therapist or grief counselor – If your grief feels like too much to bear, call a mental health professional with experience in grief counseling. An experienced therapist can help you work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to your grieving.

Friday, February 17, 2012

You mean I have to do something to improve my life?


So today I was with my counselor, yes counselors see counselors, and she was encouraging me to do “stuff” to better my situation. In the moment I was annoyed and a bit frustrated because I didn’t want to have to change to better my situation. I just want her to say magical words and for me to feel better about my situation. I would tell her how I felt and then I wouldn’t be scared about my dad’s increasing health problems, or whatever the next problem on my list was. Being a counselor, having similar conversations with my clients, this shouldn’t have been a surprise to me, but it was. I needed to realize the parts of my life that I actually did have control over and then make a plan to change it.   

As people, we often fall into this rut. We become victim of our circumstances and forget that we actually can do something to better the situation. In my case I just needed to have a conversation and make a plan about how we would handle if my fear, that I had no control over, happened. That simple piece melted a lot of my worries. Sometimes it’s as simple as a conversation, other times it means making a life change. Maybe your drinking problem is tearing your family apart, or maybe how you spend money is leading you to financial ruin.

A bad situation is rarely the end of the road. How we respond to it determines how bad it actually is. There are many small ways we can improve our lives if we look for them. So this message is really to me. Get off the couch and do something about what is bothering you. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Being Intentional Can Radically Change Your Life





Many of you have heard the saying, “life is what you make it”. Well as it turns out that saying is true.  Do you feel like you live a boring life? Well do you do boring things? If so I think the solution is clear. BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT CHANGING THAT. Do interesting and fun things. 

For a while my husband and I got in what I refer to as a boring stretch. Every date we went on was simply going out to eat, nothing more exciting than that. I started to not even look forward to the dates. Why spend the money, we could hang out at home. This was contrasted by our dating career where we explored old buildings, went to parks, went to lakes and rivers and found secret passage ways at our old college.  At one point we hid under a table, trying not to get caught in the building after hours, while a woman practiced piano for a whole hour. We enjoyed each other’s company and we did exciting things. So did we quit doing exciting things because we grew up and we matured? Maybe, but I think life got busy and we had kids, and we put adventure on the back burner. We quit being intentional about it.

We decided we wanted adventure back. We did not conclude that we fell out of love or lost the excitement for each other. No, we concluded we had to be intentional about making an adventure out of life.  Our dates now include in home camping (for winter), go carting, swimming, parks, kayaking, and more. The excitement is back. We are silly again with each other and our time together. 

The results of us being INTENTIONAL: our excitement and passion for each other is back in full action.

Life is what you make it. What do you want your story to be? Are you making your life meaningful? If not, make a plan to change that. Some inspirational friends of mine went extra lengths to make sure they were making memories together. They painted a wall with chalkboard paint and wrote out a list of dates they intended to go on during that season. When they went on the date they would check the box, until all of the boxes were gone. This couple knew the importance of being intentional about shaping their life.
We are all capable of living meaningful lives, so let’s make it happen. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Side Effects of Stress


Stress doesn’t always come out as an emotion. We often stuff the emotions and then it finds a way to surface elsewhere. Dealing with our stress in a healthy manner is vital to our health. Talking about it, drawing pictures, journaling, eating healthy and exercising can help reduce stress.  If you aren’t sure whether or not you are processing your stressors look at the signs and symptoms below.

50 common signs and symptoms of stress according to the American Institute of Stress.

1.  Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or
     pain

26. Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing
      dreams
2.  Gritting, grinding teeth
27. Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts
3.  Stuttering or stammering
28. Trouble learning new information
4.  Tremors, trembling of lips, hands
29. Forgetfulness, disorganization,
      confusion
5.  Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms 
30. Difficulty in making decisions.
6.  Light headedness, faintness, dizziness
31. Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed.
7.  Ringing, buzzing or "popping sounds 
32. Frequent crying spells or suicidal
      thoughts
8.  Frequent blushing, sweating 
33. Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness
9.  Cold or sweaty hands, feet
34. Little interest in appearance,
      punctuality 
10. Dry mouth, problems swallowing 
35. Nervous habits, fidgeting, feet tapping
11. Frequent colds, infections, herpes sores 
36. Increased frustration, irritability,
      edginess
12. Rashes, itching, hives, "goose bumps"
37. Overreaction to petty annoyances
13. Unexplained or frequent "allergy"
      attacks
38. Increased number of minor accidents 
14. Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea
39. Obsessive or compulsive behavior
15. Excess belching, flatulence
40. Reduced work efficiency or productivity 
16. Constipation, diarrhea
41. Lies or excuses to cover up poor work
17. Difficulty breathing, sighing
42. Rapid or mumbled speech
18. Sudden attacks of panic
43. Excessive defensiveness or
      suspiciousness
19. Chest pain, palpitations
44. Problems in communication, sharing
20. Frequent urination
45. Social withdrawal and isolation
21. Poor sexual desire or performance
46. Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue
22. Excess anxiety, worry, guilt,
      nervousness
47. Frequent use of over-the-counter drugs
23. Increased anger, frustration, hostility
48. Weight gain or loss without diet 
24. Depression, frequent or wild mood
      swings  
49. Increased smoking, alcohol or drug use 
25. Increased or decreased appetite
50. Excessive gambling or impulse buying 


Monday, February 6, 2012

Psychological Tool for Permanently Getting Rid of Cravings



The imagination is stronger than your will power. Using your imagination is a much more effective way to change your behavior, especially when it comes to food. Have you been trying and trying to give up a certain food but have not succeeded yet? For me it was Mt Dew. I only had one Mt Dew a day but I couldn’t give it up! This tool isn’t limited to food but for today’s purposes, that is what we are going to talk about.

So here is how the tool works:

Choose the item you want to give up. Make sure it’s something you are ok with not consuming ever again.

Picture yourself consuming that item as vividly as possible. Picture how it looks, how it tastes, and how it smells. Picture the texture of it on your tongue, and how it feels going down your throat. Imagine yourself consuming this until it is completely gone.  

Now picture something nasty to eat. I used human hair. In this case, as gross as you can get is best. Picture yourself eating this as vividly as you can. Picture how it looks, how it tastes, and how it smells. Picture the texture of it on your tongue, and how it feels going down your throat. Imagine yourself consuming this until it is completely gone.

The next step is to picture those items combined. In my case I pictured stuffing the hair into my Mt Dew can. Picture whatever you want to give up completely mixed in with the gross item you pictured.  Now like before picture eating this as vividly as you can. Picture how it looks, how it tastes, and how it smells. Picture the texture of it on your tongue, and how it feels going down your throat. Imagine yourself consuming this until it is completely gone. You may feel nauseous or gage during this activity. That is ok and actually good for the intended goal of never eating your picked item again.

Some people have to do this exercise a couple times but for some people it works immediately.  My Mt. Dew cravings ended the minute I completed this exercise. In fact I now get nauseous when I see any soda can.

If you want help getting through this exercise or ideas for how else this can be applied please contact me.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Top 3 Reasons for Marital Conflict



Money- Money can be an extremely big source of stress. If you and your spouse have different spending habits this can cause a lot of conflict. Perhaps one of you is a spender and the other one is a saver. Until you sit down and decide where your money is going and how you are going to use it, money will continue to be a big source of stress for you. Setting a budget gives you the freedom to not worry about your money because you have made a plan and told your money what to do, rather than it telling you what to do! It’s important both you and your spouse agree on how you set your budget.
A simple way to make is budget is to calculate what you make each month, what your total bills are, and what you spend on discretionary stuff, like fun money, going out to eat, groceries and gas. Total those three categories and see if what you make each month is more than the bills and discretionary spending.
Total Monthly Income – Bills - Discretionary Spending = ________

Example:

Sue makes $2000 a month
Bob makes $4000 a month

Bills Include:                                       Discretionary Spending Includes:
$1500 Mortgage                                $500 Grocery    
$1000 Credit Card                             $300 Out to Eat
$100 Loans                                        $200 Investments
$150 Gas                                           $200 Bob Fun Money
$150 Electric                                      $200 Sue Fun Money
$50 Internet                                        $300 Gas
$100 Cable                                        $100 Clothes
$100 Phone                                        $300 Savings
 Total=$3150                                       Total=$2100

Total Income $6000 – Bills $3150 – Discretionary $2100 = Profit$750
Based on this formula Bob and Sue can have peace of mind that if they stick to this budget they have plenty of money left over, and money does not have to be a source of conflict for them.

Sex- Sex tends to be a big source of stress in relationships due to unmet expectations and lack of communication. One partner might expect or demand to have sex every day, and the other might not want that but doesn’t voice their concern. When there is underling resentment sex will prove to be unsatisfying. Communicating about your wants and needs, and finding a middle ground that you both can agree on will facilitate rich and satisfying sex. This must be an ongoing conversation.

In Laws- In laws often are a source of stress in relationships. There is a verse from the bible that says one must leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. There are some very practical ramifications of this. If you are still dependent on your parents to make decision for you and you are going to your parents before your spouse, this will cause conflict. To cleave means to split, sever or leave, and then to stick fast to something. So that means your parents are no longer number one and your spouse now has take that primary spot. If you and your spouse can present at a team to both of your parent, and can set boundaries that you both agree on, this will significantly reduce the stress and conflict around this topic.

All three of these conflicts come back to communication. It is important to your marriage to utilize your best communication skills to discuss difficult topics. For more information on conflict resolution please see my post from December 2011 on that topic. If you can communicate with your spouse effectively, you will be able to navigate the most difficult obstacles in your marriage. If you and your spouse have trouble communicating don’t hesitate to contact a counselor to help build those skills. Deep marital satisfaction is on the other side of effective communication.