The Winter Blues

Seasonal Affective DisorderThe Winter Blues = Seasonal Affective Disorder

(Updated from November 2015)

It’s that time of year. It hits me every fall with the time change and even though I’m aware it may come . . . it stills kicks me in the butt every time. The winter blues.

This has been a really tough week of feeling that “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” I’m down, negative, grumpy, unmotivated, tired . . . you know the symptoms. If you are feeling this way too – take heart! It’s SEASONAL, right? So it’s not permanent, it’s not forever, and the winter blues can be managed. (I’m writing this for myself as much as anything.) So, here’s what we know from studies: First, eating healthy and exercise really help. Those two things are crazy hard though when one is feeling crappy like this. All I crave is comfort food – aka carbs – and I have absolutely NO energy to get up and move. Then I feel fat and lazy, which makes me feel even worse, which makes the cycle continue, right?

Small Steps

Okay, small steps then. Start with light. Turn lights on, add an extra lamp to your desk or room. Light a candle – it’s surprisingly soothing and cheery. Turn on some upbeat music – “Happy Music” I call it. Make yourself a collection of songs that give you a good feeling, make you smile, remind you of fun times. I’ve just done those three things at the start of writing this blog, and honestly, I feel a bit better. I may even go to a yoga class tonight!

Practice Gratefulness

And finally, think about starting a “Gratefulness Journal” (idea stolen from Oprah). Take just a moment to jot down one or two things each day that you are grateful for. Years ago I saw a bumper sticker that said, GRATEFUL PEOPLE ARE HAPPY PEOPLE AND THOSE WHO AREN’T, AREN’T.” I’ve never forgotten that saying and recently made a cute chalk sign to hang on my fridge as a reminder. The winter blues will pass.

Okay – let’s go! We can do this.

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Posted in Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder Tagged with:

How to Practice Joy this Holiday Season

How to practice joyAs expectations mount, the stress of the holiday season can dampen even the most well-intentioned spirit. It’s hard to feel festive when disappointment looms large. If you give yourself the gift of joy this season, it just might ripple to others in your circle and make the season brighter for both you and your loved ones.  Here are five tips on how to practice joy from an assortment of sources:

Plan ahead. Approach the season with the intention of practicing joy.

In a recent Huffington Post article, Michael Thomas Sunnarborg suggests, “one solution is to find positive small ways to nudge us towards things that are more joyful than painful—more productive than destructive.”

Accept what you cannot change and reward yourself with time to recover.

In her Psychology Today article, Dora Calott Wang, M.D. prompts us tosimply accept what you can’t change—and know it won’t last forever.  Enjoy what you can—and keep the end of it firmly in mind.”

She also suggests that you plan “a relaxing reward, and keep it in mind, through the holidays.” She takes it even further by adding, “after exhausting holiday celebrations with relatives, some families take a separate vacation on their own, to recover.”

Ditch the phone, remember what you already have, and truly connect with others.

Emma Sappälä Ph.D. tells Psychology Today readers, “ironically, stress reduces our ability to really connect with others empathically. As a consequence, we may be with other people, but not really forming any meaningful connections. You might still feel lonely in a crowd, or irritable or even sad.” She goes on to remind us that, “by focusing on what you can do for others, research shows you will not only be happier, but also healthier.”

One way to accomplish this, according to Sappälä, is to “take time off of work: When you notice your mind wandering and an itch to check your work email, take a deep breath and come back to the here and now. This is an opportunity to reconnect with the things you enjoy doing.”

Set realistic expectations and avoid feeling trapped.

In an article for Popular Science, California State University Psychology Professor, Pamela Regan, points out that “Sometimes, as we work through the discomfort of shifting familial roles (kids growing up, parents getting older), we snap back into old behavioral paradigms.”

In the same article, Terri Orbuch, a relationship expert and sociology professor at Oakland University, suggests the following:

  • “…manage your expectations, to set realistic ones so that you don’t get frustrated or angry around the holidays.”
  • “Keep the mood light, keep people laughing; you can guide the conversation to avoid topics that you know are stressful.”
  • “…make sure you arrive at the gathering with your own method of transport so that you don’t feel trapped if you feel like you need to leave.”

Take a cue from the bible.

In his Psychology Today article, 3 Examples of Self-Care in the Bible, Steve Austin references the following biblical passage:

1, Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:26-30 MSG

I wish you joy this holiday season. If you need a jump start, book a session with me and I’ll help you map solutions for the season.

Lisa

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Posted in Counseling Bainbridge Island, Stress, Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,

Be Thankful for You

ThankfulThe Benefits of Being Thankful

By now it’s no secret that practicing gratitude improves your health. The scientifically proven benefits are numerous and widely reported by Forbes, Psychology Today, Huffington Post, and the like.  Being thankful can:

  • Strengthen your relationships by accentuating the positive
  • Improve your physical health by boosting your immune system and reducing hypertension
  • Improve your psychological health by decreasing stress and granting a sense of belonging
  • Enhance empathy and reduce aggression by promoting prosocial behavior
  • Help you sleep better by clearing your mind of negative thoughts

Did you know thankful high schoolers have higher GPAs? At least according to a 2010 study the Journal of Happiness Studies.

 Are You Thankful for You?

As we approach Thanksgiving, many of us take time to express gratitude for our families, friends, homes, and communities; but we don’t often take time to express gratitude for ourselves. When was the last time you were thankful for you?

We are often so focused on what we’re doing wrong that we forget to acknowledge what we’re doing right. Even beyond what we do, we need to be grateful for who we are. Take a moment and name three things about yourself that you’re thankful for. They might include passions, abilities, traits, or attributes.

Now answer the following:

  1. When were you brave (even in the smallest way)?
  2. What are some good choices you’ve made?
  3. When did you turn a failure into a lesson that propelled you forward?

Thank yourself. Acknowledge how far you’ve come. Be kind to yourself and try to recognize the good qualities other people see in you.

“Today you are you: that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you.” – Dr. Seuss

I’m thankful for you.

Lisa

 

 

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Posted in Self Care

For the Love of Yourself

I juLove Yourselfst finished a book a called Brain on Fire, by Susannah Cahalan, a fascinating story about how the author, a young woman in her mid-twenties, went through a year long battle with a rare auto-immune disorder that affected her brain functioning and mimicked the signs of schizophrenia.  She eventually recovered fully.  As Cahalan chronicled her amazing, long and arduous recovery, which included massive amounts of steroid treatment, among other things, I was really struck by something I noticed in her narrative.  Cahalan repeatedly described how ashamed she was of her weight gain and round, moon-like face – both typical side-effects of steroid treatment.  She used words like, “apalled,” “embarrassed,” “roasted pig,” “disgusting” in recalling how she looked during recovery.

 

To be perfectly honest, this made me extraordinarily sad, not just for this author, but for people in general.  Think about this:  if your sister, friend or co-worker were going through a treatment that had adverse physical side-effects, or even permanent symptoms, how would you think about that person?  Would you be critical, sardonic and negative about them – or would you have thoughts like, “They are going through such a tough time,” and “Wow, so-and-so is so strong!  Look at all she’s handling and she still keeps going!”  My guess is, like me, you would feel compassion and admiration for anyone else.  So then, why are we so MEAN to ourselves?

Why is our self-talk so often negative, derisive, judgmental and unforgiving?  I would venture to say all of us say things to ourselves (or at least think things) that we would never say to someone else!

 

I kept thinking, as I read Cahalan’s self-criticism, about how much she deserved to be thinking things like, “I am AMAZING!  I am making such great progress!  I am so grateful to be alive!  I’ve been through so much, I need to give myself grace.”  Really, that’s something we all need to take to heart.  You and I are our own worst enemies.  We experience something awful, hard, excruciating, and then we heap a bunch of nasty self-talk on top of it all.  Well, I say “ENOUGH!”  Every life comes with it’s share of garbage – the last thing we need to be doing is compounding it with our own thoughts and words.  So, STOP IT!  Yes, I’m talking to you.  STOP being unkind, mean, rude, and hurtful to yourself.  Ultimately, you are all you’ve got baby, and you’d better be your own best champion.

 

So, next time you’re struggling with something, whether it be learning something new, an illness, or a set back of any kind, I want you to think of yourself just as you would a dear friend.  Be encouraging.  Be kind.  Be hopeful and uplifting.  Give yourself lots of credit and lots of grace.  Nap when you need to.  Eat good food.  Say no to everything non-essential (and that’s nearly everything we pack our lives with really.)  Cheer yourself on as you make progress, no matter how slow, and show yourself LOVE – just as you would to anyone else you care about.  Because in the end, you taking care of you will make your road to healing that much more achievable.  And guess what?  It will make you a better person to those you love too.

Lisa Bernardin

 

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Win a Fall Wellness Package

Treat Yourself to Wellness

Fall Wellness PackageHow is fall going for you? While you have a moment, take a deep breath and check in with yourself. Are you carving out time to nurture your mind, spirit and body? Scheduling a wellness session is a great start.

Before the holiday season hits, prioritize your emotional and physical well-being. Sound Counsel would like to help by offering you a chance to win a free FALL WELLNESS PACKAGE. We have partnered with Dr. Angela Potter and Dr. Lucia Vracin of Island Health and Chiropractic to offer the following package to one lucky winner:

 

Subscribe at the top right corner of this page and enter today to win. For mobile users: scroll to the bottom for the subscription form. The winner will be notified on October 18, 2016.

Rules and Regulations (continue) Read more ›

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Win A FREE Fall Wellness Package

Sound Counsel PromotionDetails coming soon. This promotion is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 3, 2016. Please check back then. Thank you for your interest.

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Transition Well

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Transition: an abrupt change in energy

If you google ‘transition from summer to fall,’ you’ll find a host of fashionable ideas on how to blend your summer and fall wardrobes. You’ll find very little, however, on how to blend the conflicting emotions a change of season can elicit.

 

The autumnal equinox is on transitionSeptember 22, 2016 and it’s important to nourish your mind, spirit, and body as the season shifts. Shorter days and colder nights have a profound impact on our bodies and minds. We can grow melancholy as the golden hue of the low set sun illuminates the changing landscape. While some find fall invigorating; others find it bittersweet. Feelings of grief and sadness grow more prevalent this time of year.

The following articles offer tips on how to navigate the transition:

 

Seasonal Transition Tips

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center:

From Summer to Fall Dealing with Seasonal Change

“September especially is associated with a time of change for just about all of us, and that can really affect a person’s mood,” says Stephen O’Neill, LICSW, BCD, JD, Social Work Manager for Psychiatry and Primary Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “Some people are ready for cooler weather and school to begin, but others aren’t quite as resilient to change.”

 

Chopra:

9 Ways to Transition Gracefully into the Fall Season 

“To help you transition more smoothly from the summer season, here are nine ways you can get into the fall groove, including a few activities to help give summer a proper send-off.

 

Darling Magazine:

Back to Reality: Navigating The Emotional Transition From Summer To Fall 

“The pressure of succeeding and meeting expectations that come with a new year can consume our energy. We use worry like a form of long-distance control when we feel like our goals are merely another opportunity to fail.”

Let the dead things go

If you or someone you know are struggling through a transition, solution-focused therapy can help. Just like your physical health, staying healthy emotionally will reap benefits over your lifespan and add richness to daily living.

Contact me today to schedule your free thirty minute consultation. I can partner with you to find the best approach for your situation.To learn more about my counseling practice, my background, and the psychotherapy modalities I use, visit my about page.

Lisa

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Posted in Counseling Bainbridge Island, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Transition Tagged with: , ,

Creating yourself vs. finding yourself

Don't find yourself, create yourself. Sound Counsel.Before you go looking for yourself, consider the possibilty that creating yourself will yield greater fulfillment and deliver more positive results. It will also steer you away from the pitfall of not finding what you’re seeking.

Sometimes we need to reshape the stories from our past first. An article titled Rewrite Your Life for Psychology Today states:

“There is something intrinsic in our drive to explain, order, and extract meaning from the chaos of our lives. Storytelling is, after all, an adaptive behavior dating back as far as 40,000 years. The stories we tell ourselves don’t get fact-checked, but they do have to feel authentic to our personal experience. Our ability to make sense of, and create meaning from, memories defines how we feel about ourselves and shapes the identity we create throughout our lives.”

Creating Sense of Self

Developing a stronger sense of self is one way to accomplish this. One of the modalities I use to achieve this process is Internal Family Systems. To learn more about IFS or for direction on how to navigate this journey, contact me to schedule a session.

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Posted in Counseling Bainbridge Island, Psychotherapy, Transition Tagged with: , , ,

Prepare Intentionally for Back to School

Approach the school year intentionally with Sound Counsel. Are you ready?

Whether you’re the parent of a first grader or a college student, BACK TO SCHOOL can trigger a host of conflicting emotions. Some of you are clinging to the last remnants of summer while others are counting the days to freedom. Either way, you’re probably checking off the required list of supplies and pulling out your calendar to fill in orientation and  extracurricular dates.

Remember to take care of yourself in the process.

Back to School can signal a fresh start for you as well as for your child. If you need help shaping the year ahead, contact me to find out how solution-focused therapy can help.

Whether you’re kicking and screaming or chomping at the bit, here is a list of links to helpful articles to help you through the transition: Read more ›

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Posted in Anxiety, Counseling, Counseling Bainbridge Island, Parenting, Parenting Strategies, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

Summer Survival Tips for Busy Parents

Summer Survival Tips for Busy ParentsIf you’re like me, the approach of summer can be fraught with anxiety about how to keep your kids busy, healthy, happy, and more than anything, away from the endless hours of TV, computer and video games.  Now that I’m working and my kids aren’t little anymore, the pressure to keep them meaningfully occupied is greater than ever. However, since it’s not in the budget to sign them up for 15 different camps, classes or events, I’ve had to come up with my own summer survival approach.

Below  is a link to a printable Boredom Busters pdf and a list of the top three strategies I’ve used to tackle the challenge of summer and significantly alleviate my angst: Read more ›

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Posted in Counseling, Counseling Bainbridge Island, Parenting, Parenting Strategies Tagged with: , ,