Depression

hperbole

Those who have experienced depression know how difficult the struggle can be.  Some have likened depression as “watching everyone around you breathe while you are drowning.”  This family of disorders goes far beyond just feelings of sadness, disrupting your life and the lives of those around you.  Sometimes it can be comforting to know that you are not alone in your battle, that others are having similar experiences.

Today I would love the opportunity to share with you all a wonderful blog entitled “Hyperbole and a Half.”  This blog written by Allie Brosh sheds a new light on what it can be like to struggle with depression.  While she beautifully captures the darkness and frustration associated with this disorder, she does so in a way that elicits smiles and laughter.  She bravely shares her journey so that others do not feel so alone.

Even if you have not experienced depression, I would recommend reading these two posts as they can help to deepen your understanding of how depression can truly impact a life.

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.html

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/05/depression-part-two.html

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression please contact Center for Healing and Change to set up an appointment!

Wishing you a peaceful day,
Barbie

Image copyright Allie Brosh

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Catching some Zzz’s

sleepy kittyLast week we talked about why sleep is so important and some of the negative impacts the lack of it can have.  We’ve all been there, after a long day we lie in bed and wait to fall asleep…and wait…and wait.  But alas, the minutes and hours tick by to no avail.  With that in mind we often engage in habits (or lack thereof!) that can make falling asleep incredibly difficult.  Below are some tips that can help you to capture the elusive creature of sleep.

*Your bed should only be for sleep
We’re all guilty of this.  We read in bed, use our computers in bed, watch t.v. in bed, eat in bed, we use our beds for everything and so when it comes time to actually use our beds to sleep our bodies get confused.  Having our beds just be for sleep allows our body to make a simple association rather than trying to differentiate which of the six or seven activities we might be engaging in.  This means that when we lie down, our bodies know that it is for the purpose of rest, and not trying to beat that next level on Candy Crush.

*The harder you try the harder it is to fall asleep
Staring at the clock, checking our phones, sighing loudly and turning over.  These are all common things that happen when we are trying our best to fall asleep.  But the more you focus on sleep itself the more anxious you can become which only serves to drive sleep away.  Rather than focusing on forcing yourself to fall asleep try to focus on your breathing instead.  Slowly draw in deep breaths and center your mind around the this process.  This is commonly used in meditation to draw the consciousness away from the external.

*Have a bedtime routine
Having a routine that you do every night before bed can help signal to your mind and body that it’s time to start winding down.  This can also mean not having caffeinated drinks or other stimulants, and avoiding rousing music or intense t.v. shows right before bed.

*Atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere
Atmosphere!  This cannot be stressed enough.  Making sure that your body has the most helpful environment to facilitate sleep is huge.  A dark, cool, quite room is the ideal setting to induce sleep.  “But I have to fall asleep with my t.v. on!”  We all know someone (or are someone!) that says this.  The truth is t.v. is a distraction, even if the volume is off the screen being on means that the light in the room is constantly fluctuating.  You may find it difficult to fall asleep without the tv on for the first few nights but once you are able to do this your body will thank you.  The more peaceful and welcoming your room is, the more likely you will be able to fall into a deeper sleep.

If you are struggling with lack of sleep and fatigue contact the Center for Healing and Change to schedule an appointment.  Our counselors can help you to develop healthier habits in order to achieve a good night’s rest!

Wishing you sweet dreams,
Barbie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sweet Sleep

 

With the stress of daily life and the pressure to go-go-go, sleep is often an area in our lives puppy sleepingwhich becomes neglected.  Either stress, worry, or anxiety keep us awake at night, or we simply are unable to get enough sleep because there is “just so much to do.”  Unfortunately, missing out on valuable sleep can do damage to our bodies and our minds.  Some of the negative consequences of sleep deprivation include:

*Lowered stress threshold
*Impaired memory
*Difficulties concentrating
*Decreased socialness and creativity
*Increased appetite
*Blood pressure and cardiac issues

Our brain and body needs sleep to be able to rejuvenate, heal, and re-energize itself.  Without sleep these processes become difficult or are even halted.  So to avoid, or even help reverse, some of the difficulties listed above take care in making sure that your body is getting the zzz’s it needs!

If live in the Denver/Aurora area and you or someone you know is struggling with sleep problems related to stress or anxiety contact Center for Healing and Change today to speak with a counselor!

Wishing you peaceful nights,
Barbie

puppy sleeping

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Winter Blues

 

winterbluesGiven that we are in the middle of winter, and that we live in a state infamous for its snowfalls it seemed appropriate to take a look at the impact that weather can have on our mood.  Seasonal affective disorder (sometimes referred to as SAD) is a type of depression that occurs in anticipation of and response to the cold weather months.  The main difference between SAD and other depressions is the pattern in which it occurs.  Seasonal depressions are exactly that, they occur during a specific time of year and will subside following a change in the season.  There is a marked depression in mood, noticeable lowering of energy, a perceived need to sleep more, and a loss of interest in activities.  Also, there may be difficulty concentrating, weight gain, and isolation.  It is important to note that because everyone likely experiences some of these during the winter, the symptoms must be severe enough to disrupt daily functioning.  If you think that the weather is having a negative impact on your mood here are some things that you can do to help combat it!

1.  Shed some light:  One of the benefits of sunlight is that it plays a role in boosting our mood.  Sunlight triggers the release of chemicals in the brain which create a sense of happiness.  So whether it is taking a short walk or sitting a little closer to the window, try to expose yourself to some natural light.
2.  Move your body:  It’s no secret that exercise does wonderful things for the body and mind.  Moving your body increases the production of endorphins which in turn helps to fight depression.
3.  Spend some time being social:  Interaction with friends and family can help brighten your mood and lift your spirits.  Being around people who are supportive and caring is both good for your soul and an important part in the treatment of any mood disorder.
4:  Consider counseling:  If you think that you may need experienced support, then reach out to a counselor.  They can help you explore and understand the feelings you may be having as well as work with you to come up with helpful ways of coping.

If you live in the Denver/Aurora area and have noticed that the “winter blues” are creating a rough time for you please contact the Center for Healing and Change to schedule an appointment.

Wishing you warmth!
Barbie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Premarital Counseling

Welcome Back Readers!  It is our most sincere hope that the holidays found you and yours well.  We’re excited to kick off some new blogs starting with the importance and benefits of premarital counseling.  Happy Reading!

marriage

Yay you’re getting married!…Now what? So much time, effort, and money is invested into planning the wedding day that often the focus of the wedding itself, the relationship, is lost in the shuffle. Putting time and energy into making sure your marriage is built on the solidest foundation possible is important too. It might even be right up there with choosing cake flavors! But most people don’t think of marriage counseling until they are already experiencing trouble in their relationship years (or sometimes even months) down the line. But attending premarital counseling can help to address smaller or hidden issues that can become big problems later on. Think of it as “preventative care” for your relationship! It can also help you and your partner develop skills that will be helpful throughout the entirety of the marriage. Communication, conflict-resolution, assertiveness, support, and expectation setting skills are just a few of the tools that a couple can gain from premarital counseling. Typically a couple will begin premarital counseling 6 to 10 months before their wedding, and sometimes continue to go even after they are wed. Premarital counseling is one of the best gifts you and your future spouse can give each other. If you or someone you know is interested in premarital counseling and live in the Denver/Aurora area, give the counselors at Center for Healing and Change a call today!

Wishing you warmth,
Barbie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eating Disorders

eating disorder

Eating disorders are a serious, complex mental health disorder and like many psychological issues, are quite misunderstood.  Eating disorders, or ED’s, impact tons of Americans each year with estimates placing it’s prevalence between 7 and 15 million.  Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and eating disorders “not otherwise specified” affect both females and males of varying ages, races, and cultural backgrounds.  No one is “immune” to an eating disorder, and many may not even realize that their eating habits are maladaptive.  While each individual disorder has its own set of symptoms, there are several commonalities found across them all.  All ED’s include extreme attitudes surrounding food and body image issues.  These extreme attitudes often result in equally extreme behaviors and emotions about weight and food.  These behaviors manifest themselves differently depending on the specific disorder.

Anorexia is characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss.  Food restriction is taken to the extreme in this disorder.
Bulimia is characterized by a dangerous cycle of episodes of excessive eating followed by extreme compensatory methods.  These methods can include self-induced vomiting, inappropriate laxative use, and even over-excessive exercise to “make up” for the large amount of food they consumed.
Binge eating disorder is similar to bulimia but does not feature the compensatory behaviors.
ED not otherwise specified is a diagnosis used when a person does not meet all of the criteria for a specific disorder but still shows several symptoms, or their symptoms are a mix of different disorders.

Eating disorders are considered to be one of the most dangerous mental health ailments.  An estimated 10% of those affected will likely die from complications due to their ED.  This includes starvation or malnutrition, cardiac complications, cancer, and suicide.  It is important to remember that ED’s are not simply about “being skinny,” so banish this myth from your mind right now!  Rather, they are pervasive and often are the result of trauma or extreme stress.  People often turn to their food intake as a way of feeling in control of their lives.  Control is they key word here.  When we undergo extreme stress or traumatic events we lose our sense of control.  For millions regulating their food intake and output is an easy way to regain that control, even though it may not be adaptive.

For those suffering with an eating disorder, there is hope.  Treatment has been proven successful and should be sought as soon as possible.  Below is a list of signs that you or someone you love may be at risk for an eating disorder:

  • Thoughts about “feeling fat”
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Feelings of loss of control when eating
  • Making excuses to avoid family meals
  • Staying away from social situations that involve eating
  • Weight determines self-esteem
  • Body image obsession
  • Counting calories and fat grams when you eat
  • Feelings of guilt and shame that follow eating
  • Habitual dieting
  • Consuming large quantities of food in short intervals of time
  • Self-consciousness or embarrassment about eating
  • Sneaking food
  • Lying about eating habits
  • Restrictive eating
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Laxative abuse
  • Diuretic abuse
  • Use of diet pills
  • Compulsive exercise
  • Exercising because you feel you have to, not because you want to
  • Eating to relieve stress or depression
  • Perfectionism
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Eating sensibly in front of others and then making up for it when alone
  • Depression
  • Low body weight
  • Embarrassment about body weight
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty identifying or expressing feelings
  • Strict dieting
  • Fasting
  • Menstrual irregularities

While individually these signs may not seem like a big deal, when several of them are combined together, it can place a person in dangerous territory.  Furthermore it is likely that an eating disorder occurs alongside other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

If you think you or someone you care about may have an eating disorder, we urge you to seek support.  We cannot stress enough how hazardous they can be to both your mental and physical health.  And if you live in the Denver or Aurora area and would like to talk to someone about an eating disorder please contact the Center for Healing and Change, we are here to assist you.

Wishing you blue skies,
Barbie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Agression vs. Assertiveness

anger         Anger is a natural emotion.  Let me repeat that:  anger is completely natural.  Even though anger is an emotion that we all feel, that we all experience, it still gets a bad rap.  Anger is a secondary emotion, that means it is often a mix of several other emotions that we are feeling.  These can include sadness, fear, frustration, exhaustion, worry, and embarrassment.  These are not fun emotions by any means and dealing with them is difficult.  Anger however can be much easier to let ourselves experiences than sadness or worry.  When we’re angry we’re strong and powerful.  When we’re tired or embarrassed we are weak.  Who wants to be weak?  This is why anger is a go to, even if we may not realize it.
Rather than trying to stifle your anger, or worse yet, let it explode on the people around you, try redirecting it in a way that can be constructive and rewarding.  Using assertiveness techniques in lieu of aggression when you are angry is a widely recognized method.  Assertiveness allows you to communicate your message effectively and in a way that will promote positive response from others.

Here are some assertiveness techniques that you might find helpful:

Identify your needs and wants, and ask for them to be satisfied:

Don’t wait for someone to recognize what you need (you might wait forever!)

Understand that to perform to your full potential, your needs must be met.

Find ways to get your needs met without sacrificing others’ needs in the process.

Express negative thoughts and feelings in a healthy and positive manner:

Allow yourself to be angry, but always be respectful.

Do say what’s on your mind, but do it in a way that protects the other person’s feelings.

Control your emotions.

Stand up for yourself and confront people who challenge you and/or your rights.

Receive criticism and compliments positively:

Accept compliments graciously.

Allow yourself to make mistakes and ask for help.

Accept feedback positively – be prepared to say you don’t agree but do not get defensive or angry.

I statements

Use “I want.”, “I need.” or “I feel.” to convey basic assertions.

I feel strongly that we need to bring in a third party to mediate this disagreement.

Empathic Assertion

First, recognize how the other person views the situation:

I understand you are having trouble working with Arlene.

Then, express what you need:

...however, this project needs to be completed by Friday. Let’s all sit down and come up with a plan to get it done.

Ask For More Time

Sometimes, you just need to put off saying anything. You might be too emotional or you might really not know what you want. Be honest and tell the person you need a few minutes to compose your thoughts.

Dave, your request has caught me off guard. I’ll get back to you within the half hour.

Change Your Verbs

Use ‘won’t’ instead of can’t’

Use ‘want’ instead of ‘need’

Use ‘choose to’ instead of ‘have to’

Use ‘could’ instead of ‘should’.
With anything, these skills take practice but the incentives will be well worth it.
Remember!  Anger is ok, aggression is not.

If you or someone you know would like help working through anger management and live in the Denver/Aurora area we invite you to contact the Center for Healing and Change!
If anger management classes are something you are interested in, please check out the “Groups” section of our home page.

Wishing you blue skies,
Barbie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Know thyself…and all that fancy stuff.

journal

 How well do you know yourself?  On the surface that sounds like a pretty simple question, but it can actually be a more complicated process than you may think.  As humans, we are constantly growing, experiencing, adapting, changing.  It can be startlingly easy to lose track of who we are over time.  Keeping a journal can be a great way to take inventory of yourself!  It does not have to be intensive or serious, you don’t have to write pages upon pages of “Dear Diaries.”  Rather it can just be a simple place to track your thoughts about yourself and the world around you.  Below you will find some simple tips to help along the process.

1.  Set a timer.  Allow yourself 5-10 minutes to just write down whatever comes to mind, no matter how random or silly it may seem.  This is called stream of consciousness and being aware of it helps bring light to just how much thinking you do in a single day!

2.  Write from the view of a past, or even future, self.  Consider what you thought your life would be like, or what you would want it to look like 20 or 30 years down the road.  This can highlight just how far you have come, and where you might like to go.

3.  Make a list of things that you love about yourself.  Are you an 80’s movie buff?  Do you make a mean cheese dip?  Are you always there for your friends?  Name some things about yourself that you are proud of.  This allows us to connect with the parts of ourselves that we have worked hard to cultivate.

4.  If you are more visual, or have a creative side, use pictures instead of words!  Sketch out a small drawing that represents what you are thinking or feeling.  There are endless ways for us to express ourselves, use what works for you.

5.  Try stringing together different lyrics from some of your favorite songs.  We all experience unique emotional connections to music, and there are certain lyrics that can resonate deep within us pulling on either positive or negative emotions.  Pick three or four lines from different songs that stick out to you and put them together in any order.  Take a look at what you created, what do you think it says about your current emotional state?

There is no right or wrong way to journal.  You can do it on the computer or keep a small notebook.  It doesn’t really matter what you write about, just as long as you are putting your thoughts down.  It’s always interesting to look back a few years, or even just months, later and see what was going on for you!

Wishing you blue skies,
Barbie

If you live in the Denver/Aurora area and would like some help on self-exploration contact the Center for Healing and Change to set up a counseling appointment today.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 

meditation

With the fast paced nature of our everyday lives it can be difficult to consciously make time to slow down, to breathe.  Now more than ever it is important that we take time for ourselves, even if that it only five minutes.  But how do you make the most of those five to ten minutes?  With cell phones ringing, kids looking for their other shoe, dogs needing to go outside, dinner to be cooked, and emails to be answered how in the world do we spend a few minutes in a tranquil state of mind?

Many people turn to “mindfulness meditation” for that calming, mini time-out.  Mindfulness meditation is all about creating a sense of calm within yourself.  In order to do this there are 5 simple steps.

First: find a place where you will feel calm.  If your living room is often a hectic intersection or the dining room makes you feel stressed out, don’t use these places!  It is important that the lighting and temperature makes you feel relaxed.  Try to go to a place with as few disturbances as possible.
Second: sit with your back straight but not rigid.  You can cross your legs, bring your knees up and wrap your arms around them, whatever position your body feels comfortable.
Third: now it is time to close your eyes and turn your mind inward.  You will notice how your mind immediately wants to flood with countless thoughts.  It is hard not to follow these thoughts and lose sight of what you are in that space to do.  In mindfulness meditation the goal is to have no real interest in the thoughts that enter your mind.  Allow them to flow freely through your mind, not focusing or attaching yourself to a single one.
Fourth: while you’re allowing your thoughts to flow through your mind, focus on your breathing.  Take deep, slow, purposeful breaths pulling in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.   Focus on the sensation of the air streaming in and out of your lungs.  Focus on your chest and belly rising and falling.  Focus on your breath.
Fifth: when you feel that you are ready begin to bring your awareness back to your surroundings.  After you have brought your awareness back to your surroundings, slowly begin to open your eyes.  Continue to engage in the deep and purposeful breathing during this.  Take one more deep breath, and smile gently.

While this may seem like a long and complex process, it becomes easier with practice.  Your mind and body will be grateful for this break and likely return the favor with leaving you feel a sense of peace and reenergized.

If you live in the Denver/Aurora area and would like more information on meditation, or perhaps would like to exeperience guided meditation please contact the Center for Healing and Change at 720-204-8747

Wishing you blue skies,
Barbie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Anger Management Classes

If you or someone you know is struggling with anger issues, please check-out our “Groups” page.  We are currently looking for individuals to participate in our 10-week anger management group.  This is a voluntary and court-ordered group with low rates and free registration/intake and materials.  For more information or to register please call us at (720) 207-8747

We look forward to working with you!

Blessings,
The Center for Healing and Change

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment