Alternatives to Anger

What are some things you can do with your anger besides lashing out? Anger is strong emotion that can be helpful to us in some situations.  It is part of the “fight or flight” response that we need for survival.  Our heart rates and breathing increase and we become extremely focused.  The problem is that we cannot fight everything that makes us angry.  We could get in trouble, lose relationships, or destroy things.  The piece of anger where we become extremely focused is helpful when we are being attacked, but not so helpful when we are pissed off at the fast-food worker for getting our order wrong.  We get into trouble when we cannot let it go, be assertive without being aggressive, or calm ourselves down.  These three alternatives are ways to handle our anger without being aggressive.  “Letting it go” can be helpful in the moment and allow us to handle the situation the way we want to.  However, using this tool as our only resource can lead to unresolved feelings in the long run.  Calming ourselves down is the same type of tool but it helps with the physiological aspect of anger.  Calming techniques help lower our heart rate and slow down our breathing, allowing our minds and bodies to relax enough to handle the situation how we want to.  A third technique is to be assertive without being aggressive.  This will help us get our feelings off our chest and express what we need without harming another person physically or emotionally or breaking something.  The problem with this technique is that we cannot always tell someone how we feel or what we need. For example, we cannot have a civil conversation with the person who did not use their turn signal.  Following them until they get out of their car to talk with them and tell them how frustrated we are is typically unacceptable. Using these three tools at different times in different situations can be so helpful.  However, this can be easier said than done.  For help implementing these tools into your daily life, please schedule an appointment with us at The Center for Healing and Change.

To Healthily Expressing Ourselves,
Courtney Crotty, Graduate Intern

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Writing Our Chapters

old-books-32Do you ever look back on your life and wonder, “What have I been doing all these years?” It can be easy to focus on the hard times we’ve had and forget about all of the good things.  Dr. Ira Progoff developed a specific method of journaling to help us notice high points and low points and to look at how these events impact our world today. An important note to make here is to resist placing judgment on the events in our lives and simply notice how they impacted us, how they made us feel, and how we feel thinking about them now.  Journaling can be a weird, foreign language for people.  This exercise does not have to be structured like a journal but we can think of it as a map of our lives.  We are picking out stepping stones that led us to where we are now.

There are different variations of this exercise but I’m going to focus on “My life as an autobiography.” This about your life in chapters.  These can be chronological chapters, divided up by people or events, or placed in any order that makes sense to you.  They key is to come up with 10-12 “chapters” with titles.  An examples of a chronological setup: “High School: Learning about Independence,” “College: Refiguring myself.” Here is an example of chapters by people: “Stephanie: Losing a Best Friend,” “My Mom is my Rock.” Make sense?  Go ahead and try this out yourself!  Don’t feel like there is a right way or that you have to be happy with how you set it up the first time.  Try not to overthink the process but focus on the events that shaped you.

Now that you have your autobiography, you may be thinking, “What do I do with this information?” For help going through your chapters and figuring out the best way to handle this new way of thinking about your life, visit us at the Center for Healing and Change.  We are happy to help make sense of your chapters.

To read more about journaling your life, visit this website.

To learning about ourselves,
Courtney Crotty, Intern

 

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Finding Contentment

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut.  Something in our lives has been hard and isn’t going the way we planned.  It can be a terrible feeling and sometimes this rut can turn into depression.  When we get depressed, we can often feel hopeless, alone, and uninterested in living life to its fullest.  The hard times turn into something more and it can be hard to deal on our own.  This is a time when counseling can help.  Overall, the goal of counseling is to help us figure out our emotions and learn how to handle these emotions.  Sometimes we go into counseling wanting to feel better that day, but learning about our emotions can be a process.  We can feel better simply knowing someone is there to care about us and listen to us but we will have to work a little bit to see lasting effects.  One article suggests that feeling content is a better goal to begin with than feeling great.  Feeling content can get us to a place where we can start to enjoy the things we used to, be interested in finding joy in life, and learn to take the hard stuff in stride.  Brown (2014) suggests that contentment is a state of mind and happiness is a mood state which is less stable and found in moments.  Below are some of her tips on how to find contentment in our life in order to find happiness in special moments.

  1. Practice being present minded.
  2. Recognize that our emotions are fleeting.
  3. Contentment is a lasting state.

Read the full article here.

One way to help us recognize and be aware of feelings that we are experiencing is the Feelings Wheel.  By studying this, we can get a closer look at what feelings we might be experiencing under the surface.  For example, sometimes when we feel mad, we may be experiencing shame, guilt, or frustration.  These deep feelings can come to the surface as anger.

 

 

Come to the Center for Healing and Change for help gaining contentment in your life and happiness in your moments.

Wishing you peace of mind,
Courtney Crotty, Intern

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Tips for a Strong Relationship

The relationships we choose to foster have a huge impact on our lives. The strength of the relationship and the value we place on it determine what kind of impact it will have. Relationships can be on a spectrum from strong to fragile and from high importance to indifference. If a relationship is important to us, the strength is going to impact our feelings, our thoughts about ourselves, and our overall happiness more than if the relationship is not as important. This applies to relationships with our significant others, co-workers, friends, and families. There are a few ways to determine how strong those important relationships are and if there are areas that need some work. It is important to remember that no relationship is perfect and they always require work to stay in balance.

1. No games are being played.
2. Everyone is on the same page.
3. The line of communication is open, honest, and clear.
4. Loving deeds consistently reinforce loving words.
5. Expectations of perfection are strictly forbidden.
6. Honesty, vulnerability, and presence are held sacred.
7. There is a healthy blend of freedom and teamwork.
8. Personal growth is embraced, celebrated, and shared.
9. Outsiders aren’t calling the shots.

These tips are from the blog Mark and Angel Hack Life.

Learn more about Couple’s Counseling or how counseling can help you make the most of your relationships at The Center for Healing and Change.

To strong and happy relationships,
Courtney Crotty, Intern

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Now vs. Later

Procrastination is something many of us struggle with.  It can keep us from doing the best we can on projects or it can keep us from attempting our biggest dreams.  We’ve all been in the position where we have something we’ve been meaning to do for weeks but Netflix sounds so much better, right? Though it is good to have time to ourselves, consistently putting things off until a later time can increase our stress and anxiety.  We’ve found 7 tips that can help you get things done sooner.

  1. Do it first thing in morning.
  2. Do it every day.
  3. Do it for one hour every day.
  4. Find someone to keep you company.
  5. Make necessary preparations.
  6. Commit.
  7. Think about the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the tunnel.

For the full article, visit Psychology Today and if you’d like help getting started on a new, productive you, contact us for a consultation!

To a fruitful week,

Courtney Crotty, Intern

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Deep Breathing

As summer begins to wind down and fall settles in, it can be easy to lose the peacefulness and calm we achieved during the warmer months.  Often, we associate fall with a more hectic time.  Schools have begun, work deadlines are approaching, and the stores are already preparing for the holidays! It can be helpful to remember that autumn is a beautiful season and we can find peace year round.  A key resource we have to find the calm within ourselves is our breathing.  Deep, controlled breathing is the gateway to relaxing our minds and bodies.  Think about times when you’re angry or stressed.  Your muscles are likely tight, thoughts narrowed, and breathing shallow.  Now think about how much more efficiently you could process the situation if your muscles were neutral, mind opened, and breaths deepened.  There are many deep breathing techniques available to you and different techniques have different effects on the body and mind.  The key is integrating deep breathing into our daily lives, as a preventative measure.  If you continuously cut a weed back, you’re putting a band-aid on the problem.  It’s not until you take care of the roots of the weed that it can be solved.  If deep breathing exercises are practiced often, throughout our days, our overall physical symptoms of stress should reduce.  That being said, practicing deep breathing during stressful moments can help us be more intentional with our reactions to stress.

Check out some deep breathing techniques

Learn more about how breathing deeply can help you!

Sign up for stress management or mindfullness counseling!

To a calm transition from Summer to Fall,

Courtney Crotty, Intern

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De-clutter your life, De-clutter your mind

With summer peeking its head around the corner the idea of refreshment and restoration is everywhere.  Now is the time when most people are doing their “spring cleaning,” preparing for the clarity and sense of peace that comes with warmer weather, green grass, and longer days.  The goal of spring cleaning is not just to de-clutter your living space but also to de-clutter your mind.

Clearing out and letting go of things can prove to be a difficult task.  I’m not referring to sentimental items, rather the things we look as and say “I’ll keep this just in case” or “I might need this later.”  The trouble with this is that we continue the cycle of clutter!  The focus of our lives shifts from what is important internally to the material objects we have around us.

Below is a wonderful piece written by a pair of friends who embarked on a journey to live a meaningful life with as little as possible.  They explore the topic of keeping items for “just in case” purposes, the potential issues that arise, and helpful tips on how to de-clutter your life and thus your mind.

Enjoy!

GETTING RID OF JUST-IN-CASE ITEMS: 20 DOLLARS, 20 MINUTES

By Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus · Follow: TwitterFacebook

 

JUST IN CASE

People often hold on to things just in case they need them. We don’t let gobecause we might need something in some far-off, hypothetical future. And we pack too much stuff for trips and vacations just in case.

But we needn’t hold on to these things just in case. The truth is, we rarely use our just-in-case items, and thus they sit there, take up space, get in the way, weigh us down. Most of the time they aren’t items we need at all.

Instead, if we remove the just-in-case items from our lives, we can get them out of the way, we can free up the space they consume.

Over the last year, the two of us let go of the vast majority of our just-in-case possessions. And during our tour, we made sure we didn’t pack anything just in case.

And then we tested our theory…

20/20 THEORY

Anything we get rid of that we truly need, we can replace for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes from our current location. Thus far, this theory has held true 100% of the time. Although we’ve rarely had to replace a just-in-case item (less than five times this year for the two of us combined), we’ve never had to pay more than $20 or go more than 20 minutes out of our way to replace the item. This theory likely works 99% of the time for 99% of all items and 99% of all people. Including you.

More important, we haven’t missed the hundreds of just-in-case items we’ve gotten rid of, and we didn’t need to replace most of them at all.

Getting rid of these items clears one’s mind, frees up their space, and takes the weight off their shoulders.

So: what are you holding on to just in case?

Wishing you simplicity,
Barbie

If you live in the Denver/Aurora area and would like some guidance on how to simplify your life in order to achieve inner peace please contact Center for Healing and Change today!

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Successful Relationships

Friendship

Relationships are a fundamental piece of the human experience.  We are known as “social” creatures; living in groups, partnering, thriving on interaction.  But just because we need relationships in our life does not necessarily mean that they go smoothly!  Navigating a relationship of any sort can be quite challenging.  Check out what PsychCentral has to say about building healthy relationships in any sphere of your life!

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/positive-psychology/2011/05/5-keys-to-building-relationships-in-any-sphere-of-life/

If you are in the Denver/Aurora area and would like to examine your interpersonal relationships please contact Center for Healing and Change today.

Wishing you joyous moments,
Barbie

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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

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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

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