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20

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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16

Mental Health IS Health

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
hope for depression

When we think of being healthy, often it is physical health that comes to mind. Too often, we put our mental health on the back burner in life.  However, our mental and physical health are one in the same. It’s what we call the mind-body connection.

What is the Mind-Body Connection?

According to the University of Minnesota, the mind-body connection refers to the relationship between our attitudes, thoughts, feelings and actions and our biological functioning. Basically, our minds can affect how healthy our bodies are and vice versa. This affect can be negative or positive. It is important to note that when talking about the mind, we are not referring to the brain. Rather, the mind is made up of our mental states which can be both conscious and unconscious and include thoughts, feelings, emotions. A perfect example of the mind-body connection is anxiety. When we are anxious our body releases stress hormones which affect our overall biological functioning. For example, some people report that when they are anxious they experience tension in their shoulders, back or abdomen.

How to Strengthen Your Mind-Body Connection

There are several ways to promote a healthy mind-body connection. Self-care activities such as exercise, yoga, and meditation can promote a healthy body which in turn, promotes a mental state. There are several different therapies that also emphasize the mind-body connection and can help to promote a healthy mental state which encourages a healthy body. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based therapies and art therapy.

Try to incorporate some time for intentional movement in your day. This can be as small as a walk on your lunch break or using an app to help you meditate for a few minutes a day. Being aware of our thoughts, attitudes and feelings as well as taking the time to take care of and move our bodies is key to a positive mind-body connection.

To learn more about the mind-body connection visit: https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-is-the-mind-body-connection

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18

Embrace Your Mistakes

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
New thinking

Some may find this a shock but I make mistakes. Seriously! Okay, well now that you are over the shock of it all, let’s talk about how to embrace your mistakes and love your imperfect self.

How Do I Embrace My Mistakes?

It is inevitable that you will make mistakes. While making a mistake may feel discouraging or may cause you negative thoughts, they can be useful opportunities to help us improve ourselves.

When you discover you have made a mistake, embrace it by acknowledging any consequences or damage done. Apologize if necessary and take ownership for your mistake. Then identify what you can learn from the situation and move on knowing you will do better next time!

See mistakes as wonderful opportunities to learn. When we accept our mistakes, and ourselves we can learn and realize how our imperfections can help us grow.

It may take some time to adapt to this new style of thinking about mistakes, but there are little things that you can do to incorporate this kind of thinking into your everyday life. If you have a family, make it a practice to create an environment of acceptance towards mistakes. For example, at dinnertime have everyone share a mistake and what he or she learned from it. When we model for our children that we can be imperfect, it gives them the space to feel positively about themselves in spite of the lessons learned through mistakes.

More than anything ~ have the courage to be imperfect, because we all are! Learn more about how we can help you be your best self at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/individual-counseling

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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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20

Count Your Blessings

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
blessings

It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. All to often this causes us to become grumpy or irritable and we don’t take time to think about all of the things that make our lives good. So, how can we combat this negativity and remind ourselves of all the things that make our lives wonderful?

Take a Moment to Reflect

Every time something doesn’t go like we planned, or someone annoys us, or needs our time unexpectedly, let’s think of something that’s going right. Let’s think of all the good people in our lives. Moreover, how lucky we are to have things in our lives that sometimes need attention. How does that sound? I once counted my blessings for ten days straight, and have accumulated so many of them that they should last me a long time to come!

I admit, it does sound a bit more simple than it is. However, when negativity appears, it can help us to put things in perspective and neutralize them a bit. The next time you are feeling pessimistic, remember to take a time out and think about one thing that you are grateful for or that brings you happiness.

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05

Be Conscious and Present

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Present and Mindful

Multitasking vs. Presence

Often our attention is in too many places. When we try to do too many things at once, it increasingly distracts us from being present in any one thing. Our mind can be fractured into many pieces, decreasing our effectiveness. Think of the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi and Mother Theresa. A lot goes right when people are conscious and present. All of these leaders showed up for hard decisions, courageous conversations, and to care for themselves and others. They showed up for the good, the bad and the ugly. It quickly becomes clear when we think of these leaders that being conscious and intentional makes a world of difference in how effective someone is when they are focused and present.

Choosing To Be Present

You might be wondering what does this have to do with me? We propose your presence or lack thereof, has everything to do with how effective you are being in both your professional and personal life. A French Proverb reminds us, “The one not ruled by the rudder, will be ruled by the rocks.”.  Those who keep the rudder in the water by staying focused on their intention, values and mission tend to reach their goals. If you don’t have a sense of these things it’s easy to get knocked off course by life’s everyday rocks.

Make The Change

Our challenge to you is to start being intentional and present in each interaction with others and as you work on each task throughout the day. Start noticing the difference in the outcomes of communication when you are present versus times when you are multi-tasking. Observe the difference in your energy when you are acting out of intention and presence.

It’s not always easy to be present and focused but the benefits are life changing. What difference do you notice in yourself when you are being present and in the moment versus distracted and fragmented?

Learn more about how we can help you to become your best self at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/meet-our-team

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02

Moving Towards Change

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Move towards Change

Change Is Difficult

As almost all people know, it can be really hard to change! When we think about ways to move towards change, some ideas work well and others not so much. Here is a list of routes to change from least effective to most effective (according to Ann Betz, coach and poet).

Some Ways We Try to Make A Change

  • Ignore the problem – pretend everything is okay, push the feeling aside… This is NOT effective
  • Control the environment – make sure you don’t encounter stress. Helps a little but most stressors are unavoidable at some point
  • Name emotion – short venting. It’s great to name the emotion, however we still haven’t gotten to problem solving.

Effective Ways to Make A Change

  • Put attention on what’s important – explore what fulfills you. Here we get clear on our intent for ourselves and for our lives, this is important groundwork for the next steps!
  • Reframing – learn to look at things from a new angle. Now we are able to look at problems with a bit more objectivity and find new, healthier ways of thinking.
  • Mindfulness – learn to be in the here and now, get present. Often with depression, anxiety and other issues we are living in the past or the future. Learning to be mindful involves staying present to what’s going on right now. Until we learn to stay present, change can be hard to come by.

We are all guilty of trying to use the first few methods to make changes in our lives, even when we are aware that they are ineffective. Instead of utilizing these ineffective methods, think about the above routes to change and how you can move yourself towards the bottom few ideas. Using these tools will certainly move you closer to the change you desire. If you are seeking more guidance on changing your thinking visit our website to learn how we can help https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/individual-counseling

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31

Stress and Relaxation

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

Stress and Relaxation is a balancing act for sure.  Because everyone gets overwhelmed and stressed sometimes. A lot of people struggle to manage stress in life. It is important to have balance in your life, so here are some ideas to consider trying to help reduce your stress by taking the time to relax.

Here are 10 easy ways to practice relaxation:

  1. Read a book or magazine. Reading can help take us out of our present worries and into a new frame of mind.
  2. Any type of exercise can help to burn of stress – run, walk, take a yoga class or lift weights.
  3. Take a moment to just focus on your breath. Try to breathe in counting your inhale and breathe out counting the exhale. Try to exhale for twice as long as you breathe in. For example, breathe in, two three; breathe out, two, three, four, five, six.
  4. Hang out with a friend.
  5. Have a cup of tea or go out for your favorite coffee drink. Then enjoy drinking it while being in the moment.
  6. Do whatever you may be doing one-mindfully. One mindfully is when you focus all of your attention on whatever it is you are doing, if your mind wanders, you notice the thought and then go back to whatever you were focusing on. You can do this while doing homework, while cleaning, while doing the dishes or while moving your body.
  7. Do a craft or hobby that you enjoy. Whatever you enjoy – take time to do what you love most!
  8. Take a nap. You may be amazed what taking a 15-20 minutes snooze can do to your mood.
  9. Take a bath or hot shower. Try doing it one mindfully (see #6).
  10. Change your mindset. Focus on thinking about all of the good things in your life. If you feel grouchy, take time to make a list of all the good in your life.

 

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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.

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