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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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20

What Leads People to Cutting?

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Teen Stress

Research estimates that 80% of cutters and those who self harm are trying to regain their emotional balance. There are a couple of factors commonly seen in those who cut:

1) They tend to be more sensitive and emotionally reactive.

2) They often feel invalidated by their environment.

Let’s break these two apart to make them more understandable.

Sensitive and Emotionally Reactive

People who cut seem to be more sensitive than others and they tend to have much stronger reactions to the feelings they experience. They also seem to take longer to recover from strong emotions than most. Others will often describe them as a “drama queen”, “overemotional” or “overly sensitive”. This strong emotional reaction makes them vulnerable to acting in a way that is either impulsive or can be desperate to soothe him or herself.

Invalidated by the Environment

This means they do not feel understood or heard. Validation involves using empathy to make sure the other person feels heard and understood. To validate, we accept the other person’s experience as they state it without judging or helping problem solve. Often with emotionally reactive people we can get reactive ourselves instead of  trying to make them feel better or helping them to solve the problem.

These two factors combined will often leave the person struggling to find a way to feel in control, particularly of strong negative emotions. Cutting thus becomes a tool to manage painful emotions because it soothes just as drugs and alcohol can.

For more information on how to help someone who cuts, visit http://collaborativemn.com/dialectical-behavior-therapy/

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10

Teen Stress

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Teen Stress

The teen years involve a lot of stress. Some studies have indicated that teen stress is on the rise, yet many of the stressors of teens are the same as those faced by teens throughout the yesteryears. Furthermore, counseling for teen stress can help them to work on the many struggles particular to being an adolescent.

The teen years involve many unique challenges from other phases of life. Let us count the ways teen stress exists:

  • First, most teens want to fit in. An important phase of the teen years is finding a sense of acceptance. Teens seek a sense of this through friends, family and community culture. This is easy for some and very difficult for others and the social hierarchy is always at the forefront of teens attention.
  • Second, hormones are on the rise! Teen years involve many changes biologically which for some happen right on time, for others too slow and for others far too fast.
  • Also, brain development is rapid. In the teen years the frontal lobe begins to develop. Thus allowing teens to plan more and sometimes making them feel they know it all!
  • In addition, peer pressure kicks in to full gear. Teens begin to feel more pressures to fit in to social expectations, to take risks and to try new things, some of which include alcohol, drugs and sexual behaviors.
  • Last, teens are grappling with questions like, “What are you going to do with your life?” Increasingly teens are feeling the pressure to figure out what they will be “when I grow up”.

As a result of our society, there are many competing demands from parents, peers, teachers, employers, coaches and more. The goal of the teen years is to develop positive ways. It is also to cope with the stress of the increasing demands of life. As parents it is important to be a listening ear for your child. You want to pay attention to their friends and life dramas. Ultimately to foster a sense that your child has the ability to make positive choices for themselves.

Since teen stress will always exist, it’s important we learn to support our children through these years. To learn more about how to support your teen in developing the skills to navigate the teen years visit our website here.

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13

What are the different types of therapies you offer?

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

It is important as a consumer to know what different types of therapies are available. There are many different theories our therapists pull from to make sure to target the concerns you bring to therapy. We encourage you to talk with your therapist about your treatment and to ask questions about what therapeutic approach is being taken. Below is some information on commonly used therapeutic approaches:

Cognitive Therapy

First, lets learn about cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapies focus on changing one’s attitude, perceptions and perspectives towards both oneself and situations to healthier and more positive ones. Many people develop cognitive distortions that require examination. Examples of cognitive distortions include: mind reading, over generalizing, exaggeration or minimization, self-fulfilling prophecies and more.

(more…)

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