It’s Never Too Late to Heal From Trauma

K-Counseling & Anxiety Treatment, LLC Anxiety Counselor | OCD

As a psychotherapist, my goal is always that my patient leaves the session feeling better than when they arrived. And, psychoeducation is an important part of the therapeutic experience. I teach them about the mind-body connection and how the two cannot be separated. If we can calm the mind, the body will follow.

Patients Love Guided Imagery

Guided Imagery is a mind journey that slows down the stream of consciousness. It is a guided meditation that includes rich imagery. It is an effective technique for calming down the central nervous system.

It is simple, yet relaxing. It often slows down the brain and, as a result, calms the sensations, like tightness, pain, fear, shallow breathing, heart racing, etc. in the body.

Traumatized Patients Respond Favorably to Guided Imagery

Shockingly, less than ½ of people diagnosed with Post-traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD), receive treatment. For traumatized patients, the expectation is that we will be preparing for Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR), as it is a widely accepted evidence-based  intervention for PTSD. During the first few sessions, I often use Guided Imagery as a way to stabilize and resource my patient before we begin EMDR. The response to Guided Imagery is overwhelmingly positive, especially those whom I have diagnosed with PTSD. Many report that they ‘feel calm and relaxed’ at the conclusion of the Guided Imagery. If you have never experienced Guided Imagery and are curious, contact K-Counseling & Anxiety Treatment at 208.258.3510.

~Lisa Schiro, M.S., LCPC

Hello, Lazy. Good-bye Guilt.

 

Stop chasing the moving target.

It is possible to unplug and get lazy without the guilt. Call it self-care. Call it unplugging. Call it going dark. Call it getting off the grid. Call it what you want.

And then — do it. Yes, you can relax and do nothing. In fact, I highly recommend it. Even God took a break. You deserve to take a break, too.

The issue is how does one get lazy without feeling guilty.

Simple.

Give it a time limit with a timer. Or — set a time that the ‘lazy’ will conclude. This is an effective way to do it without feeling bad about it.

And, quit comparing your productivity to high achievers. This is not helpful. And, stop apologizing for being unavailable for a little down time. After all, your cell phone is for your convenience; not everyone else’s.

Do your focused work sans distractions and the do your lazy sans distractions. not only will you be able to restore your energy and your mind, but it will help you feel more in control of your daily activities by squeezing a little lazy into it, as long as there is a time limit.

If you don’t restore your energy with some down time, you may run the risk of allowing your anxious mind to negatively effect your mood and your physical health.

~Lisa Schiro, M.S., LCPC

Reinvent Yourself

You can reinvent yourself; below are some guidelines to make this fundamental shift in your life:

  • Accept discomfort; it’s part of life but often only temporary
  • Careful with your self-talk; your brain cares more about the words you use than anyone else’s words (avoid inflammatory language)
  • Reward yourself along the way
  • Hire a coach
  • Get organized; your outer world is often a reflection of your inner world
  • The most successful people usually have a coach
  • Dress the part
  • Hang onto the friends that make you the best version of yourself
  • Do those activities that boost your confidence in your natural abilities
  • Even though it may feel fake at first, get your thoughts, actions and beliefs in alignment with you short term goal
  • Failures are not failures (unless you give up on your goal); stay in pursuit. Envision every failure as a mere detour sign
  • Know ahead of time that goals are difficult to reach and you will likely encounter many detour signs
  • Break long term goals into shorter goals; working backward is very helpful. A reverse timeline if you will
  • Create habits that move you closer to your short-term goal
  • A good Plan A has a good Plan B in the back pocket
  • Prepare ahead of time how you will stay on course and how you will navigate setbacks

Imposter Syndrome

 

K-Counseling & Anxiety Treatment, LLC | Anxiety Counselor

Imposter Syndrome

You are not alone.

Doubts creep in, despite how successful you are. Imposter Syndrome is the tendency to discount obvious evidence of our abilities. And, while it isn’t a diagnosable mental illness, it can be debilitating. And, sharing with others that you believe you are an imposter is likely not going to serve you well. The good news is, however, that it is all about the story you are telling yourself.

Would you be surprised to know that nearly 70% of people have experienced Imposter Syndrome?

Have you ever found yourself (silently) telling yourself:

“If they only knew that I wasn’t an expert at this, they would have never hired me; I wonder how long I can fake it until I am found out?”

Or…

“I’m in over my head and am not qualified for this!”

Or…

“I cannot believe everyone is making a big deal out of my recent accomplishment. I mean, if I can do it, how hard could it be.”

Or…

“I cannot believe I have fooled everyone into thinking that I deserved that promotion. I wonder how long before they figure out that I am truly just faking it?”

Change the story.

Would you be surprised to learn that you can think your way out of this? You can change the story you tell yourself. When you make a mistake, you may feel shame and compare yourself to others. That is thinking like an imposter. Non-imposters understand that they cannot be brilliant at everything and they are okay with that. If you can learn to think like a non-imposter, you can overcome this feeling. Pay attention to the thoughts on which you focus and you can learn to reframe them. For example, next time you find yourself comparing yourself to a particularly analytical colleague, instead of dwelling on how you are more less analytical than him, switch your focus to “It is so great to have him on my team, being that I am the creative one and he keeps me grounded; we make a great pair.”

It is all in the story you are telling yourself. And, while you cannot control impulsive thoughts you think, you can control the thoughts on which you focus. Focus on the reasonable thought that you cannot possibly be an expert in everything.

Celebrate your little wins.

Considering your accomplishments does help. Make a list of your major accomplishments to which you can frequently refer. Put them in a visual field that you look at often, like your bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, etc.

You have a mission in your life and you are making a difference. Never underestimate the influence you have on the others around you. You have had a kaleidoscope of millions of experiences that have formed you into who you are today. You are unique and you have a unique skill set.

Feelings are the last to change

No one feels confidence 24/7. You don’t have to feel confident to act confident.  Start today, by telling yourself a different story and stop waiting to not feel like an imposter anymore. Your feelings about this will be the last to change. Take control back by reframing errors in thinking that you are an imposter. Tell yourself a better story. The better story pushes the imposter out of the book and brings the hero in.

 

Improve Focus

When you learn to focus on one thing, you can learn to focus on anything.
 
How do I do this?
 
Simple; do the 4 steps below:
 
  1. Turn off all distractions.
  2. Find an image in your immediate surroundings.
  3. Set your phone timer for 2 minutes.
  4. Focus only on the chosen image.
 
When your mind wanders, (and it will), don’t feel bad….just bring your focus back to the image. Over and over…until the 2 minutes conclude.
 
Good job. The more you do this, the easier focus will become. This is a tool that can be used for focused performance as well as beginning meditation.
 
Good luck. Drop a line and let me know how it goes.
 
You so got this.
~Lisa Schiro, M.S., LPC

Photo by L U C R E A T I V E on Unsplash

Meditation Matters (Really, it does)

Your Brain Needs a Break

Your mind likes to stay busy – all the time. It spends the vast majority of the time in the past (depression/rumination) or in the future (anxiety/what ifs).

Your mind needs a break; it never gets a break…not even when you sleep. It likes to stay busy to help you survive. Mindfulness can give it a break.

Mindfulness is a practice to be in the present moment, which helps you cope with emotional states, such as depression and anxiety. Mindfulness is also beneficial to your physical state; there are numerous benefits, not the least of which includes reducing symptoms of chronic pain.

That sounds pretty good; right?

How do you start? What does it look like?

You can start today by doing one thing at a time. (For example: Don’t eat while you are working or watching TV; simply eat and savor all of the textures and flavors in your meal.) Pay very close attention to the present moment, at least for a short while. Look up, look around you, deeply inhale, through your nose, the color blue (calming thoughts); slowly exhale, out your mouth, the color red (thoughts that don’t serve you well).

Exhale longer than you inhale. Extended exhalations stimulate the vagus nerve and natural pace maker; feel your heart beat begin to slightly slow down. You may have concluded, at this point, that we are referring to a meditation practice. How do you know if you are in a meditative stance? Read below for more juicy goodness:

Meditation is different for each person. The best way to consider the definition of meditation for you is to consider this: “What is that one thing that you do that you truly enjoy – that when you are engaged in that activity, time and space cease to exist.”

For some, this may be water color, drawing, writing, creating. For others, it may be more physical, like walking, hiking, running, etc.

If you haven’t tried meditation before, you will immediately notice that your attention wanders and is not easily controlled. Be patient; it takes approximately 66 days to create a new habit.

Meditation strengthens your ability to pay attention in the present moment, but also increases your awareness of how our minds fluctuate, often in unhelpful ways. People who regularly practice meditation are often better able to control what they focus on throughout the day. You can’t control your thoughts, but you can control the thoughts on which you want to focus.

~Lisa Schiro, M.S., LPC

k-counseling.org

208.258.3510

You Don’t Have To Act The Way You Feel

You cannot feel good 100% of the time, right?

Sometimes, negative events occur that are outside of your control and can leave you feeling emotionally unhinged. You don’t have to be transparent with your emotional state, however. When you are highly emotional, you still have the option to preserve your composure and dignity. You have options; you can hold it back so that it doesn’t contaminate your current social interactions, like in a work, academic or recreational setting.
 
How?
 
Self regulation. Imagine you are comprised of more than one self. Your other self is analytical and cool under pressure and may even have a different voice from the self that experienced the negative event. This simple distancing technique can provide the space you need to distance you from the situation. It is giving yourself a pep-talk, if you will, from a third person’s point of view. (Example: “All right, Donny, so you don’t know why this friend has dumped you. It happens. It isn’t the end of the world. You are a loyal and genuine friend and there are a lot of people who want a loyal and genuine friend like you.”)
 
The more intense the emotional state is in the moment, the more distancing is required.
 
~Lisa Schiro, M.S., LPC
 
K-Counseling & Anxiety Treatment, LLC Anxiety Counselor | OCD

Psychopathology is Not Always Criminal

Psychopathology Is Not All Bad

Charming & intelligent is just the tip of the iceberg. Try fearless, calm, cool and collected. They are the people you want around you in chaotic environments. They don’t get caught up in emotional states. They aren’t governed by fear; they just look at risk vs. benefit.

They are action takers. They are decision makers. They are present and not concerned with the past or future. Traits common in the movers and shakers of our world — not just criminals behind bars. There is a downside, however…for the criminally psychopathic.

Criminal psychopaths, however, cannot just turn off their psychopathology. They always follow their psychopathic tendencies.

Yet, functional psychopaths are successful.  They are not bound by male of female. They are sometimes lawyers,  politicians, CEOs, and high level executives. They activate their charm, their recklessness and their inclination to act — in certain moments where they’re useful, but also withhold them in certain situations where they might do more harm than good. In this way, they don’t end up in prison…because they aren’t criminally psychopathic.

Take successful lawyers as an example: in the courtroom, they are known for crushing their adversaries, but then can assume a completely different role outside of the courtroom.They  know when to turn it ‘off’ and when to turn it ‘on.’

They have a huge repertoire of behavioral patterns they can leverage to sculpt the most varied and difficult of situations to their benefit. This is a valued commodity, given that leadership positions are best suited to people who act recklessly and fearlessly at the right moment — and who can play the part of the conventional family man and philanthropist in the next.

~Lisa Schiro, M.S., LPC

Owner/Operator K-Counseling & Anxiety Treatment, LLC

Go To Bed

Sawing Zzzzzzzzzzzzs

Sleep is an essential element of self care. In fact, if you aren’t spending 1/3 of your life in a state of high-quality sleep, you’re doing it wrong. This article will address ways that you can increase your chances of getting a better night’s sleep.

The benefits of sleep are numerous. Ideally, the average adult should be getting 7–9 hours of quality sleep. 7-9 hours of quality sleep is associated with:

>Higher creativity
>Increased performance
>Lower stress
>Increased longevity
>Improved memory consolidation
>Decreased inflammation
>Fewer heart attacks (a 2010 study revealed that for adults that get less than 6 hours of sleep, it affects the C-reactive protein function, which is associated with heart attacks)
>Higher grades
>Increased attention (for children who do not get 8 hours of sleep, there is an increase in maladaptive behaviors that mimic unmedicated ADHD)
>Healthy weight (sleep and metabolism are regulated in the same region of the brain)
>Lower cortisol (stress hormone)

The aforementioned is not exhaustive of the total benefits a quality night of sleep can improve, but it may be just the incentive you need to get to sleep. Below is a list of some pointers that may help improve the chances of you getting the required 7–9 hours sleep that an average adult needs to function at his/her highest potential:

· Don’t spend too much time in bed.

· Get up at the same time each day.

· Daily exercise can help deepen sleep. (Humans are diurnal; we are biologically designed to be active during the day and asleep at night).

· Make your bedroom comfortable and free of disturbing noise and light. (Eliminate any unfinished projects in your room; move the projects to a different room)

· Keep room temperature on the cooler side. Cool head; warm body.

· Eat regular meals and do not go to sleep hungry.

· Try to avoid drinking a lot of liquids after 8p.

· Avoid alcohol in the evening; it elicits adrenaline release in the wee hours.

· Try not to smoke when you are having trouble sleeping.

· Don’t take your problems to bed (journal them on paper; get them out of your head; you don’t have any problems to solve in bed except going to sleep)

· Reduce or eliminate caffeinated beverages in the evening, especially after 8p

· Only use the bedroom for sleep and sexual activity. Do not read, eat, or watch TV in bed.

· Don’t watch the clock; turn clocks away from you.

· Avoid daytime naps.

· Don’t “try” to fall asleep.

· Eliminate exposure to backlit devices (TV, Tablets, Mobile Phones, Laptops) 45 minutes before you intend on being asleep. (The blue light frequencies turn on the part of your brain that responds to daylight).

Author, Lisa Schiro, M.S., LPC

End the Self-Sabotage

 

End Self-Sabotage

 
Ever wonder why every time you commit that ONE THING that you want to accomplish, that one dream just out of your reach, that you begin to self-sabotage before you get there?
 
Well, we have all been there. You are not alone.
 
Self sabotage is so frustrating and is a frequent reason why so many goals are never realized. Since your brain likes what is familiar, it stands to reason that you must approach your goal in a different way – a way that is unfamiliar.
 
Otherwise, if you continue doing what you are doing, (i.e., self-sabotage), you’ll continue getting what you are getting (i.e., not reaching your goal).
 
Here are 3 simple tips to begin eliminating self-sabotaging behaviors.
 
1. Identify your goal.
2. Identify the self-sabotage events (i.e., how you have failed in the past) that keep you from reaching that goal.
3. Commit to 10% (measurable) weekly improvement, cumulative, actions that will help reduce the self-sabotage events.
Over time, with the small new changes, you will watch your self-sabotaging behaviors diminish and you will be more likely to achieve your goals over time.
 
Small steps are always easier to establish and maintain than large sweeping actions.
 
Every journey begins from the beginning….one foot in front of the other.
 
~You got this.