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How to Cope With Holiday Stress

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
stress

While the holidays can bring plenty of joy, for many people it can be a very stressful time of year. Almost a quarter of American’s report feeling “extreme stress” around the holiday season. Even if you are not someone who experiences a great amount of stress around this time of year, here are some coping skills you can use yourself or share with others who may be struggling with the stress of the holiday season.

Let Go of Expectations

We often become fixated on our expectations and become upset when reality does not match those expectations, especially when it comes to the holidays and traditions. Remember that things may not go perfectly or exactly as planned but that is not what really matters. The holidays are an opportunity to surround ourselves with friends and family and to share in experiences that bring us closer together.

Be Present and Mindful

The holidays are obviously a very busy and fast-paced time of year for many people. While it can be easy to fall into this pattern of go, go, go, be mindful of when you are experiencing stress or anxiety and when it may be time to take a break. Around this time of year, we tend to be focused on the needs of others and let our own needs fall by the wayside. It is important to make time for self-care, whatever that means for you.

Set Boundaries

Know your limits and know when to say “no” to things. Stress and anxiety can often arise from taking on too much at once. Part of good self-care is knowing when you have reached your capacity and setting boundaries around the use of your time (including who you spend time with and when). Know that you do not have to attend every holiday event you are invited to or spend time with people who do not make you feel your best.

Maintain Your Routine

With the holidays come plenty of fun events and delicious treats to enjoy. However, trying to maintain most of your daily routine can help greatly when it comes to coping with stress. Exercise, diet and sleep are key components to both mental and physical health. Most people do not get enough sleep and holiday stress can exacerbate that problem. Taking a daily walk, setting a “bed-time” for yourself and/or starting your day with a healthy breakfast can help you to feel and stay on track and maintain healthy habits during a time when schedules tend to fluctuate.

The holidays don’t have to be a time of extreme stress! Try to focus on the things that fill you up rather than the things that drain you. Spend more time doing things and spending time with the people who lift you up and make you feel your best. Most of all, remember that the holidays are what you make them, no more and no less.

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13

Understanding Depression

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
hope for depression

There is a common misconception that depression is a choice. The truth is that depression is a common yet serious mood disorder that has to do with a chemical imbalance in the brain. People experience depression in a number of ways and symptoms can range from mild to severe. Depression can affect how someone feels and thinks as well their daily activities such as work and sleeping. There are a variety of factors that can put someone at-risk for developing depression such as:

  • Genetics: Depression can be hereditary and runs in families.
  • Environmental Factors: exposure to neglect, abuse and violence can be risk factors for depression.
  • Personality: Traits such as low self-esteem and being easily overwhelmed by stress can make people more vulnerable to depression.
  • Gender: Women are more likely than men to develop depression.

It should be noted that depression can look different for everyone. Some common symptoms of depression include.

  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest in hobbies/activities
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability

Treatments for Depression

There are several therapeutic treatment options for depression. Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based CBT and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) have all been shown to help reduce depressive symptoms and increasing coping skills.

Many courses of treatment for depression will include medications such as anti-depressants in combination with psychotherapy to treat depression. Remember, no two people are alike and therefore, neither are their treatments. What worked for one person may not work for you.

Additionally, activities such as yoga and exercise in general as well as meditation and healthy eating can all have an impact on our overall mood and help to decrease depressive symptoms.

If you are struggling with depression the first step is reaching out for help. Visit our website at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/  to learn more about the services we offer and the people who can help.

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11

Antidepressants Versus Placebo

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
learn about antidepressants

There has long been a debate over the use of antidepressant medications to treat depression. Recent research indicates that antidepressants may be just as effective as using a placebo medication.

What is a Placebo?

A placebo medication is essentially a sugar pill many studies use to compare true medications to. Those taking the placebo believe they are getting better because they think that they have been given the true medication.

It is important to remember that antidepressant medications have helped millions of people. Therefore, this study doesn’t mean you should stop taking your medication. It does however indicate that they may not be the best first option for treating depression.

Alternative Options

Psychotherapy and counseling are proven to be effective treatments for depression. In fact, they are as effective as medication in the treatment of moderate, severe and even very severe depression. For some patients, the combination of psychotherapy with an initial course of antidepressants can work even better. However, the question now is – how do the drugs work? One possibility is that medication with therapy works best because people believe that it will.

Many people are hesitant to go on medication. This research indicates psychotherapy as an equally effective alternative to antidepressants.

If you or someone you know may be depressed, it is recommended to seek out medical and therapeutic advice to determine the best approach to help yourself or your loved one in overcoming their depression.

Learn more about psychotherapy at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/individual-therapy/

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27

Be Open to Outcome, Not Attached to It

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Open to outcome

Reflect for a Moment

Do you often find yourself wanting to be in control? Do you end up in a job or relationship for too long because you really want things to work out, even though it causes you unhappiness? Have you ever found yourself continually trying to make something work that just clearly isn’t working? If you answered yes or maybe to any of these questions, this article holds a critical lesson.

Be Open to Outcome, Not Attached to Outcome

This lesson is embedded in the practices of Buddhism. This tends to be a very difficult way of life for people of Western cultures. One of the biggest obstacles is our sense of security in believing things will work out the way we want them to. It seems as though this is a common illusion we often have. A Yiddish proverb tells us “We plan, god laughs.”

Being attached to outcome has many negative consequences as well. If you are attached to an outcome you won’t hear things that are inconsistent with the way you want things to be. In addition, you may end up with unnecessary unhappiness trying to make something work that no matter what you do just isn’t going to work.

Begin paying attention in your own life to whether you are being attached or open to outcome. Furthermore, observe yourself with open-minded curiosity. It is always good to hope for the best. However, it is never wise to expect the best. Remember: be open to outcome, not attached to outcome.

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26

How To Help Someone Struggling With Thoughts of Suicide

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
stress

According to the CDC, more than 38,000 Americans commit suicide each year. While we often think of suicide in relation to teens or the younger population, middle-aged males make up the majority of suicides in the U.S.

Suicide can be the result of any number of issues that someone is facing. However, an estimated 90% of people who committed suicide were suffering from substance abuse issues or a mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorder or PTSD. Suicide can be the tragic answer that some turn to when they feel they have no other options.

Warning Signs

Suicide can be difficult to prevent. However, if you are aware of the warning signs you may be able to help a person who is struggling. Some warning signs of suicide are:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being a burden to others
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Depression
  • Loss of interest or withdrawing from activities

Keep in mind this is not a complete list of the warning signs of suicide. Therefore, if you suspect that someone you care about may be contemplating suicide, read on to find out what you can do to help them.

What to do if you suspect someone may be suicidal

  • Be open to talking with them and listening to what they have to say.
  • Try not to discredit their feelings or minimize their problems. Focus on validating them for how they feel.
  • Let someone else know.
  • If the person doesn’t seem to be in immediate danger: encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional or doctor.
  • If the person seems to be in immediate danger: stay with them and contact a suicide prevention resource or accompany them to the emergency room or to mental health services.

Furthermore, if you or someone you know think they may be suffering from a mental illness, it is key to begin treatment as soon as possible. As a result, this can help to prevent the symptoms from worsening and lessen the likelihood of them resorting to suicide.

Resources For Suicide

Some additional resources that may be helpful for someone who is thinking about suicide or someone looking to help are:

Those who are suicidal often times will not reach out for help. Sometimes the simplest things like letting someone know that you are there for them can give them the hope they need to open up to someone and potentially save their life.

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18

Teens and Self Harm

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Teen Stress

Being A Teen Today

Teenage years are a very volatile and unpredictable time in a person’s life. They are too old to be considered children but still too young and immature to be considered adults. Frankly many parents are not fundamentally aware of the inherent distinction between the two stages, nor do they realise that the progression from child to adulthood is gradual. At this stage of life their hormones begin to go haywire as they prepare to cruise into adulthood. Often things such as peer pressure, bullying, disagreements, abuse and just plain ignorance can derail this delicate progression for teens.

At this stage of life teens require lots of understanding and patience. Teen counseling is very important to ensure that the chosen path into adulthood is navigated effectively. So many things can derail their progress that it’s a constant battle to make sure your words don’t fall on deaf ears. When teens find themselves in untenable situations sometimes they resort to self harm.

What Does Self Harm Look Like?

Self harm may include taking legal and illegal drugs, cutting themselves or engaging in high risk activities. Self harm can be a coping mechanism for dealing with pain, disappointment, neglect or abuse. When a teen is self harming it is very seldom that they will share this information with parents or guardians. This is when you know the situation has become indefensible and has pushed that teen to this extreme. Teens usually cut themselves in places that will not be easily visible like the arm and upper thighs that can be covered by long sleeves and pants.

How To Help Your Teen

It is paramount these at-risk teens get counseling before their actions lead to a more serious situation like them seriously or permanently hurting themselves or others. Listening is the most important step when counseling teens. Most often teens will continue to self harm when they feel that parents are judgemental and hypocritical towards them or lay blame squarely on their shoulders for any and all situations.

Reassuring your teen that help is available and things can improve is important. Some teens engaging in self harm feel a sense of hopelessness about things getting better and you want to reassure them that things can get better. Teens need to know someone is listening and that they have an outlet to air their frustrations and disappointment. They also need to know that there is always a different side, a better side to every situation.

To learn more about our services for teens visit: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/teen-counseling

 

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13

What is the Difference Between Depression and Mourning?

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Depression & Alzheimer's

Depression Versus Mourning

Depression and mourning hold a lot of similarities. However, depression is different from mourning. Mourning is viewed as a longer, ongoing sadness that impacts the person’s ability to function effectively in life. Everyone mourns differently. Therefore, someone in mourning could potentially meet the criteria for a Major Depressive Episode. With this in mind, maybe we haven’t given enough thought to whether some people who are depressed are grieving a loss of some kind.

One In the Same?

In a recent conversation with a friend, she posed the question: Is depression a type of mourning? Maybe some people with depression are grieving the way they wish things were. We do know that depressed people tend to view the world in more negative ways. However, maybe it goes deeper than that.

Maybe, the negativity we see in the thinking of depressed people is about their grief and loss of relationships or career dreams. Maybe, even family ideals or visions of success they saw for themselves.

Of course, by no means do I suggest everyone who is depressed is grieving or in mourning. However, I do believe that some people may be.

Ultimately, depression varies in how it develops and presents for each individual. I think the thoughts above remind us to treat each person as an individual. By better understanding those in mourning and in depression, we can undoubtedly better help them to overcome their struggles.

Learn more at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/individual-counseling

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