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07

How Therapy Strengthens Love

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
love

The Valentine’s Day season is around the corner, and so is the pressure to celebrate it. During this time of year, there is no shortage of candy brands reminding us that the best way to express love is through treats. The fact of the matter is that love is a daily choice that requires much more than chocolate. 

Oftentimes we can get caught up in the overwhelming stress of life’s commitments. Therapy is a tool that helps us process our feelings and open our minds to giving and receiving love, thereby strengthening our relationship with others. 

Therapy teaches us to love ourselves with…

Compassion

Maybe you’re familiar with the phrase “You are your own worst critic”. 

Unfortunately, this phrase holds more truth than we want to believe. Psychology Today’s article discusses the negative impact that self-criticism can have on our mental health. Therapy creates a safe space where we can process the internal disapproval that we allow ourselves to be burdened with. By reducing some of these burdens, we can free our minds to make room for more positive mindfulness and self-love. 

Recognition

When we’ve learned to exercise compassion, there will then be space for recognition. The thought of having to be mindful and vulnerable is scary, but breaking down our internal barriers empowers us to see our strengths. All too often, we do not give ourselves enough credit for the good qualities that we have. We have a tendency to break ourselves down, instead of building ourselves up. By doing the opposite, and recognizing our strengths, we can master the art of loving who we are. 

Development

One way we can learn to love ourselves is by taking steps to help us meet our potential. Therapy creates a safe space where we can discover what we need to grow. This can be hard to do, as sometimes we are forced to acknowledge parts of ourselves that we hope not to. But, by managing bad habits or negative mindsets, we can develop into the thriving person we hope to be.

Therapy teaches us to love others with…

Communication

Communication is an important part of every relationship. If you google synonyms for “communication” you might find words like “give” or “deliver”. Very rarely do we equivocate communication with “receiving”. It’s important to remember that communication between two people goes both ways. While this practice requires speaking with calm tones and kind words, it also requires active listening. Therapy not only teaches us the techniques to be heard, but also the ability to hear others. This can be hard to put into practice, but, when done correctly, allows us to build a greater connection. 

If you’re looking for active ways that you can practice better communication with your partner, check out our blog on 10 Communication Tips for Couples

Recognition

When we interact with others, we tend to get caught up in the moment. It’s easy to forget that the other person has a different perspective from our own. Therapy teaches us to take a step back and recognize the kinds of burdens that others might be carrying. Check out Psychology Today’s article on the 5 Ways Empathy is Good for Your Health. By practicing empathy, we will find that we can build stronger connections with others. 

Compassion

Just like we should work to be less critical of ourselves, therapy helps us to be less critical of each other. It can be hard to let go of the things that hurt us, but the practice of compassion can help us move forward. Therapy creates a safe environment where we can learn this skill, together, and strengthen our connections.

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26

Simple Self Care

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Photo by Dmitriy Frantsev on Unsplash

As we wind down from the holidays and settle back into our routines, we may find ourselves already dreading the season of cold and day-to-day living that awaits us. At times like these, it is important to actively engage in self-care. Some days, taking care of ourselves can come naturally. However, there are some days when it just feels like we don’t have enough time or energy to devote to proper care for our minds and bodies. 

Here are 5 simple methods of self-care that will have a big impact on how you feel with a small impact on your schedule.

Hydrate

We tend to associate being dehydrated with extreme physical symptoms. We forget that it can be a mild, everyday, occurrence resulting in a profound impact on our mental health. Drinking water throughout the day can help boost your energy and your mood, reducing overall feelings of depression and anxiety. If you struggle to keep up with your water intake, start with small goals. For example, drink a glass of water when you wake up, and at every meal. There are also great resources, and apps to help you track how much water you drink a day. Find a system that works for you, and start small. Remember to set achievable goals, and build as you go. 

Listen to Music

Listening to some good beats can be an excellent way to add simple self-care to your routine. It can help you gear up for your day, or wind down for the evening. You might have 5 minutes to sit and meditate, or have a day packed full of activities. Luckily, listening to music is an easy self-care method that can fit into any schedule. 

How does science link music to mental health? The University of Central Florida has a great tool that helps us understand how music positively impacts each area of the brain. Check it out here: https://www.ucf.edu/pegasus/your-brain-on-music/

Take a Warm Shower (or bath)

When we experience extreme emotions like stress or anxiety, our muscles can get very tense. We might start to feel like we are stuck, or that our bodies have locked up. Taking 10 minutes for a hot shower can help relieve a lot of that tension, and allow us to relax. If you find that you have some extra time, try taking a warm bath right before bed to get a good night’s sleep. 

Take a Hike!

…Actually, even a short walk around the block will do some good. A study done in 2013 found that people who suffered from depression experienced a positive mood shift after walking outside for 50 minutes. In addition to a mental boost, a walk around the neighborhood is a simple and free way to add a little exercise to the day. 

Check our our blog post on what happens when you spend time outside.

Breathe

This last act of simple self-care requires little effort but will have mighty results. Deep breathing sessions are a great way to help the mind and body find a space to relax. If you’re experiencing anxiety, it can also slow your heart rate, and help to regain control. This exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Some smartwatches and phones come with guided breathing applications that make the process easy and convenient.  

If you want to give it a try, you can also check out this 3-minute guided breathing exercise video

These 5 acts of Simple Self-Care are a great way to boost your mood, and they only take 30 minutes or less. Consider adding just one to your daily routine, and you will find that even the slightest change can make a big difference. 

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12

The New Year is Finally Here

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
New Year's Sparkler

Amidst all the joy and excitement surrounding the holiday celebrations, we often find ourselves overwhelmed by all that the New Year has to offer. We get worn out by all of the holiday parties, or we put too much pressure on ourselves to live our next year better than the last. Here are a few small things that we can do to have a big impact on how we find joy in the new year:

Set some time to recharge

We can remember to charge our phone’s low battery, but how often do we pay attention to our own energy? Giving ourselves permission to relax physically, emotionally, and socially is important. It gives us the power we need to keep doing the things that we love to do. This doesn’t have to be something that is a big-time commitment – even taking a break for 30 minutes can make a huge difference. 

Once we’ve designated some time to recharge, we can choose any activity like:

  • reading 
  • listening to music 
  • exploring the outdoors
  • baking 
  • or snuggling our pets. 

Remember, pick an activity that draws you away from the hustle and bustle. Your mind and body need an appropriate amount of time and space to relax. 

If you find that you are still struggling to manage stress, check out our 5 Tips for Managing Stress

Celebrate Your Successes

Oftentimes, we get caught up in all the ways we can make the next year “better”. We get so focused on meeting future goals, that we forget to celebrate our past accomplishments. This year, take a moment to reflect on all of the things that you achieved in 2021. Perhaps there is a new habit that you developed that you hadn’t even noticed – rinsing your dishes, journaling, listening to a podcast, or drinking more water. Perhaps there were new chapters that you started like joining a league, owning a car, changing careers, or moving homes. Every time we accomplish something new, no matter how easy or hard, we deserve to give ourselves a little credit. 

Try Something New, But Simple

Around this time, we tend to start hearing more about trying new goals. We hear phrases like “saving 15% more of my income” or “biking an extra 200 miles”. While these big goals might be exciting for some, they can be daunting to others. There are plenty of ways to celebrate the “new” in New Year, without getting overwhelmed. 

Try picking one new thing to try that you’ve never thought of doing before. Maybe it’s visiting a museum, exploring a new park, or trying new food. New experiences can be exciting, without being big or expensive! Get out there and try something new

Apply Your Passions

One way we can try new things is to volunteer. Sometimes we tend to steer clear from “volunteering” because we associate the word with a high requirement of commitment and a low expectation of satisfaction. We forget that many times, there are opportunities to give back in ways that we know we’ll enjoy. 

For example:

  • Do you have a love of animals? Consider volunteering to walk dogs, or foster kittens. 
  • Are you an athlete? Consider volunteering to coach a little league. 
  • Are you passionate about history? Ask about volunteering as a local tour guide. 

There are plenty of ways to find opportunities that align with your interests and help the needs of others. 

Want to take these ideas and run with them? PsychologyToday.com’s article, “Rebooting 2022 for Fresh Awakenings”, has a list of ideas on where you can start.

Happy New Year!

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30

Embracing Change This Spring

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

With all that has happened in the past year, we know life may feel monotonous, repetitive and dreary at times. You are navigating life through a pandemic! Life is hard and there is no question that it has been even more difficult these last 12 months.

Spring is a wonderful time to consider ways to grow and bring to life the things you love! There are gentle reminders all around us in springtime that nudge us in the direction of healing and growth. Here are some things that may be tools for you this spring to help foster a season of change and redirection if you are feeling stuck in your ways.

1. Cook a new meal from fresh herbs

It may be too soon to grow your own, but until that day comes, fresh herbs from the grocery store may do the trick! Try a chicken pesto pasta with fresh basil, or a Greek gyro with fresh dill.

2. Spend time outside on walks through a park

While this is a very common spring activity with Midwesterners who are itching to get outside, find a way to switch it up every week! Find a new local park or grab an afternoon tea on your way to a park for your evening walk.

3. Plant seeds or fresh flowers

Planting annuals is a great way to switch up your landscaping outside! Go to your local greenhouse, Lowe’s, Home Depot or Menards and choose from a selection of annuals to add to a flower box or landscaping around your home. The bright colors in these floral arrangements will surely bring a smile to your face!

4. Stop and smell the roses

Quite literally! If you notice a bright beautiful tree or a large bush of lilacs, take five seconds and soak it in! The aroma of spring and the flowers from the trees only lasts for a few weeks a year, so don’t miss it when you see it.

5. Try a new local coffee shop or small business

Beautiful weather makes for a great afternoon of sitting outside a local coffee shop or leisurely checking out a new local store. It is fun to see what hidden gems are right in your neighborhood!


We hope that these ideas give you a boost of creativity or a sense of renewal this spring. Embracing change can be hard, and it can also be so fun to find something new you love with new experiences.

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13

Six ways to reduce anxiety

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

According to the ADAA, anxiety disorders affect 40 million American adults every year. In addition, we are living in a very anxious time with all that is happening with COVID-19. While it is common to experience anxiety on a daily basis, there are also small steps to take to reduce the anxiety in our lives.

Here are six simple ways to fight the stress in your life.

1. Meditation and breathing

There are many ways to engage in mindful breathing and meditation, but one way in particular is yoga practice.  Yoga helps you connect your mind and body. According to one study, researchers found that yoga practice shows a decrease in anxious and depressive symptoms in a variety of populations. 

2. Grounding

This is a technique that connects you to the present moment. Use the 3-3-3 rule in time of anxiousness. Name 3 things you see, 3 things you hear and move 3 body parts. Doing this will bring you back to the present moment and help you focus on what is happening around you.

3. Put stress in perspective

Take a step back and view your stress as part of a bigger picture. Try to maintain a positive attitude, and keep doing your best with the situation in front of you. Laugh often!

4. Food and drink

Limit alcohol consumption and stick to healthy, well-balanced meals. Avoid skipping meals, plan ahead and always have a healthy snack option on hand.

5. Reframe

Rethink your thoughts and fears. Often times when we are anxious, we think of worst-case scenarios. Each time a worry comes into your mind, reframe the thought and speak what you know is true about the situation. 

6. Practice saying no

Saying no to requests that others ask of you isn’t always selfish. By saying no to some things, you allow yourself to give more time and energy to the tasks that are already on your plate.

For some people, it can be very difficult to turn other’s requests down. To find more information about when and how to say no, check out this resource: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044494  

These techniques can be a small step in reducing the anxiety in your life. If you or someone you know is looking to set up an appointment with a counselor, our therapists at Collaborative Counseling are open to scheduling new clients through the Telehealth platform, so don’t hesitate to reach out today.

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14

Summer in The Twin Cities

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

We know this summer will not feel the same as usual, but many businesses are putting together creative ways to stay busy, social and active in this unprecedented time. Here is a list of activities to do with friends and family both indoor and out, all while supporting small businesses and staying safe! Make sure to check out businesses near you for ways to get involved there too.

Activities with kids

Outdoor activities

  • Minnesota Zoo
    • The Minnesota Zoo is now open! For tickets and information, click here.
  • Como Conservatory
    • In addition to the reopening of the Como Zoo, the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is open by reservation!
    • The Como Zoo is also offering “Camp in a Box”, where kids are given supplies for 5 days of camp activities, such as crafts and scavenger hunts. Find information here!
  • Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
    • The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is open for driving and walking access, but tickets and reservations are needed ahead of time. Check out this link for more information!

Food and Restaurant activities

  • Bummed about the canceled Minnesota State Fair? Here are some ways you can fill those state fair food cravings from those vendors but in a different location!
  • Eat Drink Dish MPLS and Twin Cities Eater are great resources for finding local restaurants to support during this time.
    • Eat Drink Dish MPLS allows you to search for restaurants that are doing curbside pickup, delivery, and are categorized into neighborhood communities. This makes it easy to find new places right in your backyard!
    • Twin Cities Eater compiled a list of places you can order “Take and Bake” meals from your favorite Minneapolis and St. Paul restaurants!
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08

Trauma Informed Therapy

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Individual Therapy for PTSD Treatment

If you are beginning your search for therapy, it can be hard to know where to start. It can be overwhelming to understand the types of therapy that are offered by therapists, and which one might be a good fit for you. Here we will cover the basics of trauma informed therapy and how this type of therapy may be helpful for you.

What is trauma?

Trauma is any distressing experience. Anyone can deal with trauma and we can experience trauma in varying degrees. 

Karen Onderko, the Director of Research and Education at Integrated Listening Systems describes different levels of trauma through large “t” and little “t” trauma. 

We often ignore or disregard little trauma, because these are things that do not completely disrupt our daily life. As Onderko puts it, small “t” trauma “seem(s) surmountable”. Life changes, relationship conflict or financial troubles can be trauma. The internalization of these events may be interpreted differently for everyone, so for some, they may not be as distressing.

On the other hand, large trauma sends us into deep distress or helplessness. These tend to be larger experiences, including things like traumatic events or ongoing stressors, such as emotional or physical abuse.  These are things that most people think of when they hear the word, “trauma”.

It’s important to acknowledge and understand that we can all experience trauma in many different forms and at different levels. Everyone internalizes life events differently.

What does trauma informed therapy mean?

Trauma informed therapy aims to understand how trauma affects one’s life. This type of therapy is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which sees to identify our thoughts about how we view our current life situation or issue. CBT helps us learn how to change the way we view or think of ourselves.

Trauma informed therapy helps us process events that have happened in our past, how that may be triggering to us, and the effect it may take in our life.

How can it help?

The effectiveness of therapy increases when we discuss and recognize our trauma. It searches to identify and understand the root of our pain or anxiety, and then helps us understand ourselves from that perspective. 

This type of therapy is beneficial to anyone who experiences trauma—large or small. Through these traumas, we can see how that may influence our behavior. Understanding our behavior from this perspective may also help us grow into healthier behaviors sooner.

Overall, trauma informed therapy may be a good option for therapy for some, but there are plenty of types of therapy that are beneficial to those seeking help.

To find a list of therapy types, click here.

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14

How to create a healthy work environment from home

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
unique gifts

If you are making the transition to work at home, it can be difficult to navigate working and living in the same place. It is helpful to make small changes that will make your work-at-home experience a positive one.

Here are a few things you can do to create a healthy work environment:

1. Designate an office space for yourself

Set up an office area with reliable connectivity and the essentials. Then add some color or décor to make it an enjoyable place to spend your day. Face a window or add some green!

2. Keep a routine

Set a routine that will help you start your day off on the right foot. Do you look forward to your morning coffee? Get up a few minutes earlier, find a sunny seat in your house and enjoy a few quiet moments. Plan out your meals and move and take stretch breaks throughout the day. 

Small things like this can set your day on the right track! 

3. Give your eyes a break

Blink often, wear blue-light glasses, adjust your monitor and take eye breaks. Use the 20-20-20 rule by looking at something 20 yards away for at least 20 seconds, every 20 minutes.

4. Dress the part

It is easy to wear lounge clothes while working from home, but challenge yourself to act like you are getting ready to head into the office. Doing this helps to create a more professional work environment, limits distraction and promotes productivity!

5. Plan for times out of the office

Whether this is a walk around the neighborhood, or doing something productive around the house on your break, make sure you have a moment to step away from your desk.

Woman Practicing Being Present and Mindful
Take a moment each day to spend time outside or in the sun.

Take a small step today to create a warm and welcoming work environment from home!

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07
Understanding PTSD Through Individual Counseling Services

We live in a day and age where technology can be consuming, but during this time of “social distancing” there are many ways that we can use technology to stay connected from a distance.

You can use apps such as Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Zoom, and Houseparty to connect with family and friends!

1. Share with friends

Reach out to friends and family and keep them updated on how you are doing with all of your time spent at home. Share what books you are reading, shows you are watching, or small things you have accomplished throughout the day. 

2. Snail mail

Go old school, find a pen pal and write them a letter. Document what you are experiencing in this time of quarantine, then you will have these letters to look back on in years to come.

3. Virtual game night

Looking for something to do with friends while all staying in your own homes? Virtual game night! You can play charades, Heads Up, Pictionary, Drawful and many other games with a group of friends or family all through a video chat platform.

4. Cook-off

Share your favorite recipe with friends, and make each other’s favorite dishes. Video chat your meal with each other and share how your meal turned out!

Make it a little more exciting by leading your friends in a “follow-along” recipe night, and teach them how to make your favorite dish while they follow along in their own kitchen.

5. Create a virtual event

Make a Facebook event and invite some friends to join you for a virtual party. Create a virtual spa night, or “host” video game tournaments with friends. Plan to all watch the same movie or documentary together and discuss it after!

We all know that actually engaging with others face-to-face is the best type of interaction, but talking through these technological platforms allow us to stay connected in any situation.

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25

How to Live Your Best Life: Tips for Quarantine

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

We know that this is a stressful and overwhelming time in everyone’s life and we believe that setting aside some time for yourself helps you so you can help others around you. We have compiled a list of resources and tips for quarantine to help you make the most of this time quarantined at home.

Here are 8 ways you can make a small change in your daily life to live your best quarantined life:

1. Get up and move!

Many athletic and fitness clubs are offering free resources, so be sure to look around for tools to get moving and boost your immunity. For example, LifeTime Fitness is offering free on-demand exercise videos: https://my.lifetime.life/lp/video-workouts/strength.html. You can always go on a walk around your neighborhood to get some fresh air!

2. Internet

If you need access to internet, Comcast is offering 2 months of free internet to low-income households. The deadline to apply is April 30. https://internetessentials.com/covid19

3. Breathe

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, helps give you a basis for meditation and also has many health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Take some time today to consciously breathe and re-center yourself.

4. Meditation and mindfulness

In addition to deep breathing, there are several resources that can help you take a step back and relax. Calm.com, Headspace.com and VirusAnxiety.com provide tips to reduce anxiety and bring awareness to your breath.

5. Set screen time limits

It is easy to lose track of time when you are home all day. Most phones offer settings that allow you to set a limit of time for social media and overall screen time. Setting these boundaries can help you stay productive throughout your day.

6. Healthy eating

Food choices can make a huge difference in your life. Do your research, plan your meals, and make sure you are getting enough vegetables and fruits. Here are some ideas for immune boosting foods: https://www.pcrm.org/news/blog/foods-boost-immune-system

7. Learn something new

Take a break from your home office and tour hundreds of museums—virtually! Google is offering tours of many museums, and you can find more information here: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner?hl=en

8. Working from home tips

There are many tips and tricks to make working from home a great experience for you, and NPR outlines some of them here: https://www.npr.org/2020/03/15/815549926/8-tips-to-make-working-from-home-work-for-you

In addition to these at-home tips and tricks, Telehealth or online therapy is a beneficial tool that is accessible from your computer or smart device.

Our providers at Collaborative Counseling are set up to provide Telehealth services that can help you navigate this unprecedented time. Accessing therapy from the comfort and privacy of your own home or space is a great way to stay connected and our providers would be happy to help you. Make sure to check back for more tips for quarantine life!

Call our office today to get scheduled at 763-210-9966!

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