Readjusting to Socialization Post-Pandemic

Since most of us have been locked in the house for the majority of the past year, face-to-face interactions have been limited to members of the household and the occasional pet. Pre-pandemic, social anxiety posed challenges to those introverted individuals who prefer staying in the house to going out. This side of COVID, even the most extroverted individual can find themselves feeling uncomfortable when it comes to socializing. Here’s a few tips to reference when we start intermingling again.

Embrace the Awkward

When you start to put yourself back out there and engage in conversations with strangers, it’s going to feel a little weird. Know a level of discomfort is expected. Take comfort in the fact that you’re responding normally to change, give yourself permission to laugh it off, and keep going!

Be Polite

When having daily interactions, it’s important to be kind. Saying please and thank you, sharing a smile, and speaking with gentleness can ease any tension or awkwardness that may be in the room. You can’t control how others may respond to you, but you can make it a point to share positivity!

Body Language

Communication over cell phones can’t reveal the non-verbal communication humans share. When in a social setting, be mindful of both the body language of others and of yourself. Inward turned-posture generally signifies an individual who is uncomfortable and/or closed-off. Being aware of others’ stances can help you avoid invading someone’s space. Opening up your stance may also make you more approachable.

Speak Up 

While body language is important to be aware of, it is not ideal to rely on alone. Non-verbal cues can sometimes be lost in translation. To assure that your feelings are understood, it is important to accompany your body language with words. In addition to the way you physically react, you have the right and responsibility to verbally express your thoughts, feelings, and boundaries, as well as when someone has crossed them. By speaking your thoughts out loud, your message is more clearly communicated and there is less room for misinterpretation.

Be Yourself

You may be feeling pressured to present yourself as this new and improved version of yourself post-quarantine. The truth is, the best way to present yourself to others is as yourself. You are an awesome individual created in the Image of God! No one can be you better than you. Walk in confidence and reassurance that you are loved!

Helping Kids with Anxiety & Stress During the Pandemic

It’s not a secret COVID-19 pandemic has left the general population grieving major loss:loss of income security, loss of personal health, loss of loved ones, loss of human interaction, loss of normalcy…the list goes on. While adults usually have some type of process to deal with their emotions, some healthy and some unhealthy, children are watching and absorbing all that is going on around them with no idea how to decipher what they are actually feeling. This can lead to major stress, anxiety, and even depression in these young persons. While both adults and children can experience anxiety and depression, the symptoms can look different in children. According to child psychologist Jernigan-Noesi, anxiety in young children can result in reverting back to behaviors they may have previously outgrown, such as tantrums, bed-wetting, thumb-sucking, clinginess, etc. Giselle Rodriguez points out that for adolescents, signs they’re dealing with anxiety can be withdrawal, loss of appetite, over-eating, heightened sensitivity and agitation, etc. If you’re a parent of children experiencing some of these symptoms, know you are not alone, and know there is something you can do to help your children.

Create Open Communication with Children

Providing a safe space for children to express their feelings, emotions, and fears allows children to feel more secure and can lessen anxiety. Additionally, while adults generally know how to put our feelings into words, young children don’t have the vocabulary to do so. Ask them questions like, “What does this make you think of?” or “What does this make you want to do?” Help them identify their anger and fear and work through it in a healthy way. Teach them to replace negative thinking with positive thinking. Showing them they are not alone and are heard are BIG helpers. Also, this creates an opportunity for parents to teach their children about hope–while the future is uncertain there is hope for better times.

Create a Routine

Younger children need routines to help keep them grounded in a type of normalcy. To some extent this may not be possible due to working-from-home, virtual schooling, etc., but keeping morning routines, mealtime routines, and bedtime routines can help them orient to their surroundings. Older children need the stability of routines, too. With age appropriate involvement, figuring out a structured day can help them stay productive and feel more in control. An example would be: wake up, breakfast, school, lunch, chores, personal time, dinner, family activity, bedtime.

Family Time

Facilitate intentional family time for fun activities. This can help grow the relationships within the family, build trust, and raise morale. Maybe even let the children decide activities they would like to do. Physical activity releases endorphins which can help combat depression as well, so finding activities where you can get moving is always a plus!

Social Interaction

Social interaction is IMPORTANT! Humans have a basic need to be social, and it’s no different for the tiny humans. Meeting this need for small children and adolescents will look different and have its own challenges. For young children, allowing them to facetime with grandparents or other child-friends can be helpful. For older children, texting can be beneficial, but it does not replace face-to-face interaction. Organizing facetimes or socially distanced activities with other families better fulfill needs for socialization than text messaging and/or social media. 

Take Care of Yourself

This may seem out of place when we are talking about how to help children, but parents, your children are watching you. These little minds are learning how to cope with their big emotions by seeing how you are, or aren’t, dealing with yours. It’s important that you are creating a safe space for them, but in order to do that you need to know coping mechanisms for yourself. Dealing with stress productively by going on walks or taking a moment to say, “I need a minute to feel my feelings,” is imperative to teaching the younger ones how to cope. Sometimes it’s okay to be sad, mad, or afraid. Allowing yourself to feel these emotions and searching for answers together both helps your mental health and theirs. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

 

6 Tips to Deal with Anxiety by Changing Your Habits

Anxiety is something almost everyone deals with, to varying degrees. For some people, it’s an annoyance that pops up when they’re overly busy or have to do something stress-inducing, like interview for a job. For the most severe sufferers, it can become a vicious cycle, as anxiety over the prospect of having a panic attack becomes the very thing that triggers the attack. If you struggle with anxiety, here are six things you can change about your daily habits to reduce its effects.

DO Sleep At Least Eight Hours A Night

A lack of sleep is a major contributor to anxiety, as your body interprets the lack of rest as an indicator that you’re in physical danger. Getting a solid eight hours of sleep, or more if you can manage, will greatly reduce the feeling of free-floating anxiety that sleep deprivation can exacerbate.

DON’T Isolate Yourself

When we’re struggling with feelings of nervousness, we usually avoid the company of others, withdrawing inward to try to deal with the issue ourselves. The problem with this ought to be apparent — you’re the one with the anxiety, so limiting your dialogue to your own anxiety-ridden thoughts is counterproductive. Instead of isolating yourself, reach out to the people who care about you and let them know what you’re going through. They can commiserate, provide advice, or at the very least remind you that you’renot alone. 

DO Go Outside

As is the case with the previous tip, anxiety often compels us to avoid the outside world for fear of encountering more anxiety-inducing situations or stimuli. But studies have shown that staying cooped up indoors only makes the problem worse. Your lack of exposure to sunlight and fresh air won’t help your anxiety, and will probably make it worse.

DON’T Stare at Your Phone

Your phone can be a retreat from reality, a distraction from the bubbling font of panic at the forefront of our minds, but in the long term, it only makes anxiety worse. The phone can become a security blanket of sorts, and when we depend on the constant stimulation of Twitter or Facebook, we don’t develop healthy strategies for coping with stress.

DO Learn to Meditate

The ancient practice of meditation has its place in many cultures, who have recognized its potential for improving mental health and getting in touch with nature. Believe it or not, meditating can greatly reduce your anxiety. If you have racing thoughts, an app like Insight Timer or Headspace can provide guided meditation, with sounds and instructions to focus on. Many sufferers of anxiety report that a meditation session can head off a panic attack

DON’T Binge on Junk Food

Not only does “comfort eating” have bad effects on your weight and blood pressure, butit can also actually increase your anxiety! The gut-brain connection means that unhealthy foods can lead the body to produce more stress hormones and fewer hormones with the opposite effect. Instead, try incorporating more fermented foods, like kefir, into your diet, as these have been shown to fight anxiety. 

Stress is a fact of life, but severe anxiety doesn’t have to be. Improve your life by taking putting these steps into place today.

Clinicians who provide Counseling for Anxiety:

 

Jordan Daugherty, lcpc, ctc

CLINICAL DIRECTOR

Owensboro

270.926.6957 x 105
jordan@revivecounseling.org

Jordan Daugherty is a Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor and Certified Temperament Counselor serving female clients in our Owensboro office.

 

Meet jordan Schedule an Appointment

 

Kansas Corley, LCC, CTC

CLINICAL TEAM LEADER

Owensboro | Hartford

270.926.6957 x 106
kansas@revivecounseling.org

Kansas Corley is a Licensed Pastoral Counselor and Certified Temperament Counselor serving clients in our Owensboro and Hartford offices.

 

Meet kansas Schedule an Appointment

 

Jeff Harris, lpcc, lcadc, CTC

CLINICAL THERAPIST

Owensboro

270.926.6957 x 104
jeff@revivecounseling.org

Jeff Harris is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Licensed Clinical Alcohol & Drug Counselor, and Certified Temperament Counselor serving clients in our Owensboro office.

 

Meet jeff Schedule an Appointment

 

cyndi murphy, ctc

ASSOCIATE THERAPIST

Owensboro

270.926.6957 x 107
cyndi@revivecounseling.org

Cyndi Murphy is a Certified Temperament Counselor and Associate Therapist serving clients in our Owensboro office.

 

Meet Cyndi Schedule an Appointment

3 Ways to Keep Anxiety from Ruining Your Holidays

The other day I saw a meme on Facebook that said, “It’s time for me to put up my regular anxiety and put on my fancy Christmas anxiety”. I kind of laughed, but only because it’s so true.

Are you stressed up to your eyeballs right now? This time of year, we see so many folks come in who are completely stressed and aren’t sure what to do about it. They’re trying to get to all the places, to do all the things, to make all the people happy. And yet, they’re miserable. Parents are rushing around trying to get all the junk their kids asked for this Christmas. You’re trying to frantically clean the house so when your in-laws show up they’re not judging the crap all over the floor. Or, you’re considering moving to a far-off island so you don’t have to listen to your mother while you’re stuck at her house for nine hours straight on Christmas Day.

Sound familiar?

The problem is, you’re only wearing yourself out. However, you don’t have to spend this Christmas season completely exhausted. And there is an opportunity to find freedom. Use these tips to make anxiety stop ruining your holidays:

1. Take the pressure off yourself

If you set high expectations for yourself and everyone around you, you’re going to be let down nearly every time. Planning for the holidays is important, but so is being aware that some things won’t go exactly to plan.

2. Most people aren’t paying much attention to you

A lot of times during the holidays, we feel like we have to “play the part”, looking like the perfect host, child, grandchild, in-law, etc. However, most people aren’t staring you down waiting for you to mess up. They’re probably worried about the same things themselves. Give yourself the grace to not be perfect. And that’s okay.

3. Choose to say no

You don’t have to say yes to everything. And there’s a lot of freedom in saying no. If your family gets upset with you over your no, chances are it’s time to put up boundaries with them.

Although some report that the holidays lift their spirits, many people say that the holiday season makes them feel a lot more anxious. Don’t add yourself to those statistics.

Dr. Zakk Gammon is a Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor and the Director of Revive Christian Counseling.

He works with people who a struggling with anxiety and are ready to find practical ways to get break free.

To schedule an appointment, call Zakk at 270.926.6957, email him at zakk@revivecounseling.org, or skip the conversation and click here to schedule an appointment.

It’s time to get your life back.

 

10 Simple Ways to De-Stress Right Now

Let’s face it, at one point or another, we’re all stressed out. Whether your job requires a lot of you, you’re busy getting kids to and from where they need to go, you’re keeping up with and trying to maintain a social life, or you have responsibilities at church, stress can creep into your life and begin ruining everything. From anxiety about what the future holds, to feelings of exhaustion, to lashing out at family members, the repercussions of not dealing with stress in a healthy way can be major. And it doesn’t just affect one aspect of your life – it can cause negative damage to your spiritual, emotional and physical health.

These simple steps can help you begin to get a better handle on your stressful situations.

1. Exercise

Listen, I’m not here to be your doctor. But since you may have rolled your eyes at number 1, let me just remind you the importance of exercise.

A 20-minute walk or jog around the blog can bring you up to 12 hours of improved mood. Find something you enjoy doing, whether it’s running, doing yoga, investing in a punching bag, or so on – every little bit helps.

2. Socialize

Yes, it’s important – even for the introverts! The idea of hanging out with people probably isn’t very high on your priority list when you’re feeling stressed out. However, being around others you love or care about gives you a sense of belonging, purpose and it’s just fun. A great way to get around others is to spend time with people at church (hint, hint).

3. Write and/or Journal

Setting aside a specific period of time each day to write thoughts out about a situation that’s bothering you can help reduce tension and give you stress relief for the rest of the day. It can also help you solve problems and find positivity in the midst of a negative situation.

4. Laugh

It really is the best medicine. Studies have proven that laughter lowers tension, and at the same time improves blood flow and the health of your heart. Rent a funny movie or hang out with those friends who are always cracking jokes.

5. Clean up

Seriously. Get all that crap off your desk that’s been piling up for weeks. Make the bed. Do the dishes. Fold the laundry. Each of these and similar items help to give us a sense of productivity. (In fact, I recommend making your bed every day as soon as you get up. It helps to start your day with one task already accomplished.)

6. Get some fresh air

If you’re stuck inside all day, take a few minutes to walk around outside. Open a window if you can. Fresh air and a change of scenery can help lift your spirits.

7. Be kind to yourself

Stop calling yourself names and telling yourself you’re not good enough. Thinking negative thoughts only makes you feel bad – and it increases your stress. Tell yourself you’re doing a good job – and actually believe it!

8. Pray

Did you really think the Christian counselor was going to write about all this and not talk about praying? When’s the last time you prayed about your situation? When’s the last time you prayed at all? Ask God to help in these areas, and be willing to give them up to Him.

9. Be thankful

Showing thanks for your family, friends and loved ones and being thankful for the positive aspects of your life has a calming affect. Not only does it give you perspective, it makes other people feel good too.

10. Make a change

Sometimes the best way to deal with something stressful is to remove your source of tension. I realize that we don’t all have the luxury of not going back to our soul-sucking job anymore, but are you looking for other work?

Maybe your spouse is the source of your stress. Have you considered counseling?

Maybe it’s a financial issue. Look for ways to cut and invest in a credit or debt counseling service.


Stress doesn’t have to continue ruining your life. And it won’t, as long as you don’t let it. How do you intend to lower your stress today?

 STRUGGLING WITH STRESS AND ANXIETY? Let’s work together to get you back on track. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. It’s time to get your life back.

Rebuilding Your Life After Addiction

Once you have gotten clean and built up a support system to keep you clean, you may be anxious to get back to work and rebuild your life so that you can really thrive.

Rebuilding a life after addiction isn’t easy. Addressing the physical and psychological issues that caused your substance abuse in the first place is an around-the-clock battle in many cases. Combined with the pressure of providing for your needs and those of your family, it can feel like too much to bear. To minimize stress and frustration that could threaten your sobriety, you must be patient, both with the process and with yourself.

Don’t neglect the habits that got you here

Sobriety is your first priority, so you can’t neglect the systems that got you clean in the first place. For instance, if Alcoholics Anonymous was a big factor in helping you recover, keep going to meetings. If you opted for methadone or buprenorphine, you have to keep up with those treatments, often on a daily basis.

If your faith is what got you to a state of recovery, don’t bypass Sunday services and Bible study. Similarly, if your family was your a large part of your process of healing, make sure to stay accountable to them and follow their rules.

Make sure you have identified the underlying cause of your addiction. New research suggests that most addiction is rooted in trauma or despair. It’s important that you have received counseling that enabled you to come to terms with that underlying issue. Therapy may need to be ongoing.

Find a job 

By finding employment, many recovering addicts find the structure they need to stay clean and sober. You get up in the morning at a specific time, and you have somewhere you need to be. That’s about half the battle for some people who might otherwise get up in the morning, wondering how to get through the day sober.

Be aware that some companies make a point of hiring recovering addicts. And other companies have a mission to those with disabilities. However, unless you were convicted of a crime while using, you are not obliged to share your experiences of addiction and recovery with an employer.

That said, there might be advantages to pulling back the curtain on your experiences. Some recovered addicts feel, rightly, that recovery and ongoing sobriety are the most heroic achievements of their lives. If you can frame your story as a story of persistence, faith, and achievement, you may move employers with your narrative.

If you choose to maintain your privacy, you will still need to explain any gap in employment of more than six months. “In treatment for a serious health issue” should be enough to satisfy most employers. You can also claim a nervous breakdown.

Benefits of Volunteering

If you are unsuccessful in your job search, consider volunteering. Volunteering gets you out doing something you are passionate about and helps you build a social network that you can then fall back on to find paid employment. Your volunteer coordinator can be a reference. Sometimes the company you volunteer for will hire you as an employee.

Other routes to full-time employment are working part-time or on a temporary basis. Another good pathway back to employment is national service. Americorps, VISTA, and the Peace Corps accept a broad range of talent and have a mission to employ people over 50 and people with disabilities.

Getting your life back may not be easy. But with some creativity and patience, you will do it. Remember you have a lot of options. If you don’t succeed going down one road, try another. And, above all, be patient with the process.

 STRUGGLING AFTER ADDICTION? You don’t have to go through this alone. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. It’s time to get your life back.
This post was written for Revive Christian Counseling by Adam Cook of Addiction Hub, an online resource for addicts and those in recovery, as well as their families.

Five Ways to Beat Your Anxiety

Anxiety, unfortunately, is a bit of an irrational disorder and struggle. The problem is, we know it’s irrational but we still can’t change the thoughts in the moment of extremely anxious thoughts or a panic attack. However, there are five ways you can begin working to beat your anxiety to help put it behind you.

1. Write down harmful thoughts

I’m not a big fan of the word “journaling”. I think it leads to thoughts of somebody sitting at a table with sad music playing in the background, tears streaming down their face writing down every sad thought that’s ever entered their mind.

However, there is a lot of benefit of keeping a daily log of the thoughts that are causing you trouble. Anxiety can come out of nowhere. It’s important to recognize those triggers as that can help you understand how to prevent them. Whenever you start feeling anxious with no apparent reason, begin thinking over your last few thoughts.

If you can catch them, you can examine and challenge the irrational thoughts that cause anxiety.

Writing them down allows you to keep a record so that you can examine their frequency, the timing, and any patterns that might exist.

2. Challenge those thoughts

After you’ve spent some time writing down those thoughts, you can begin the process of challenging them. It’s not much help for you to just write them down and do nothing with those.

See, the problem, is that our anxious brains are incredibly unreliable at judging those situations. Our brains will set off every alarm, and yet we still have trouble attaching those thoughts to the physical sensations that come with anxiety.

Some thoughts will be easier than others to challenge. No matter how difficult, though, challenge everything you have written down.

3. Find solutions in your thinking

Most of the thinking we do is what’s called “solution-oriented”. That means when we think of a problem, set-back or issue, our mind automatically searches for a solution to a problem. For instance, if you can’t find your car keys, your next logical step is to begin looking for them. This usually happens without much thought. You realize that if you want to find your keys, you must look for them. Seldom do we sit in a puddle of our own tears because we can’t find the keys — so why do we do that over other issues that cause us anxiety?

When we refuse to focus on solutions, we’re doing nothing more than overthinking. This overthinking, many times, is what leads to panic attacks and feelings of being sad or depressed.

Whenever we engaged in non-solution-oriented thinking, we’re essentially manufacturing our own unhappiness. Nothing good comes from obsessing about things we cannot control.

“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” -Psalm 61:2

If you find yourself overthinking often, begin asking yourself what the solutions to your situation is. It is important to remember that obsessing over a problem isn’t always unhealthy. Sometimes big issues require a lot of thought. You certainly shouldn’t go out and buy and new house on a whim. Deciding to get a new job should take some time. As long as your goal is problem-solving and finding solutions, your thoughts are just fine.

4. Accept your anxiety

Trying to fight, avoid or struggle against anxious feelings is only going to make them worse.

Trying to oppose anxiety naturally means investing time into thinking about anxiety, or doing everything you can to avoid thinking about it. It requires time and energy that could be better spent cultivating positivity.

The healthiest course of action is to accept and observe what we’re feeling, but without reacting and becoming emotionally invested. The truth is that anxiety is not something negative, and it’s not something we have to fight or hate. It just is.

5. Get to know your anxiety

Understand and actively seek more knowledge — not only about anxiety in general — but specifically about your own anxiety. There are a wealth of topics to research, such as reading books, following blogs, joining support groups, and writing about your own experiences.

The idea is that through immersion in the subject, a resilience toward anxiety will naturally develop. You’ll begin to learn that it’s easier to handle a panic attack if you know it’s not a heart attack. You’ll realize it’s easier to accept and face anxiety without fear if you know what it is. And it’s easier to cope if you have a support network that knows what you’re going through.

Of course, it’s important to remember you don’t have to fight this battle alone. There’s no shame in reaching out for professional help when necessary.

 STRUGGLING WITH ANXIETY? You don’t have to fight this battle alone. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. There is hope. It’s time to get your life back.

14 Ways to Accept Criticism Without Being Defensive

I see it all the time – couples who want to improve their relationship by sharing things their spouse could do better. Heck, even outside of marriages – things like relationships with your best friend, or perhaps dealing with your boss at work – there are times in life when you receive criticism, and many times, it’s not fun.

After all, who likes to hear a list of negative things about themselves, especially when those points are true?

However, it’s important to be able to take and hear critical feedback without without getting defensive. People who can accept criticism at face value are able to make positive changes, and take their relationship or situation to the next level.

If you tend to get defensive in your marriage, your job or with friends and family members, you may have trouble growing and making healthy, long-lasting changes. These tips can help change your perspective on accepting criticism.

1. Actively Listen

Active listening means that you’re really hearing the feedback rather than just waiting for your turn to speak. It’s really the most important thing you can do when you’re receiving criticism. Give the conversation your full attention, concentrate, respond and make sure you can remember the main points.

You want to shut off the part of your brain that starts coming up with answers and pushback to what’s being said. Your defense is really beside the point right now. What does matter is being able to listen actively to what the person is saying and process it without the situation turning into a debate.

2. Ask Questions

It’s important to ask questions to fully understand where you have room for improvement. This might (and probably will) feel unnatural, but it’s one of the most important things you can do when receiving criticism. It’s hard enough to receive said feedback – it’s a whole other level to start asking questions about it so that you can get more information about where you can improve.

When you start asking questions, have an eye toward understanding the feedback. The point to your questions is not to find a flaw in the criticism, but rather to fully digest it. Remember that most of the time, the person is giving you feedback to see positive changes.

3. Understand Why Feedback is Important

Others can see flaws in you that you typically can’t see, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s true, people tend to be their own worst critics. The problem is that you’re too critical where you shouldn’t be, and you may have blind spots to areas where you need feedback the most.

This feedback from others is important because it’s more objective than what you’re going to give yourself. Don’t see feedback or constructive criticism as a reason to be upset. Rather, see it as an opportunity to improve.

4. Take Note

If you struggle with shutting out feedback, write it down so you can remember it. Feedback in your relationships is only as good as what you can remember. If you are in a situation and your spouse, friend or boss is telling you something they’re concerned about, take time to write it down after the conversation is over.

Of course, make your own notes alongside what you’ve been told, figuring out ways to improve what was discussed.

5. Follow Up

Just like taking notes doesn’t sound super fun, following up on the conversation sounds about as much fun as getting a root canal. It’s so much easier to ignore the conversation and pretend like it didn’t happen. If you follow up on the conversation, you’re going to have to revisit the same uncomfortable issues. And when you have the follow up meeting, that’s the time for you to not make counter arguments, but rather discuss and ask what changes the other person is seeing.

Focusing on the positive changes instead of arguing the point shows you’re serious about hearing the other person out and understanding their concerns. Even before you’ve started making progress and positive changes, you’re showing that you take the other person seriously and that it’s important to you.

6. Understand the Other Person’s Point of View

Obviously, getting this type of feedback is unpleasant. But it’s equally important to realize the other person is likely uncomfortable as well.

Especially if the situation is about an uncomfortable topic, like a common disagreement, or something really personal, the person providing the feedback isn’t likely having a lot of fun either.

Be sensitive to the fact that the other person isn’t comfortable; that may make you less anxious and more receptive.

7. Get in front of it

Don’t be afraid to ask for honest and frank feedback from your spouse, friends, family, boss or co-workers. The more you hear it, the more comfortable you’ll be hearing it when it’s totally unsolicited. That’ll make you more capable of hearing the negative feedback and improving your performance rather than getting defensive and rejecting what’s being said to you.

Asking for critical feedback also provides you with more opportunities to become better.

8. Surround Yourself with Frank People

Being around friends or co-workers who aren’t afraid to give feedback on the fly will help you to become more comfortable hearing it. You’ll also be more skilled at giving critical feedback yourself when necessary.

People who aren’t afraid to give feedback to their loved ones, friends and co-workers tend to have great relationship skills – something else that can rub off on you.

9. Understand the Difference Between Effort and Results

Feedback and concerns typically aren’t intended to point out that you weren’t trying hard enough. But it does mean there are things you could change to make life a whole lot easier or better.

This is part of not having to answer back when you’re being confronted with potentially uncomfortable criticism. Your job is to take it in, not fight back.

Being aware that your efforts aren’t being called into question helps you to prevent yourself from becoming negative and resentful.

10. Don’t Ignore the Positive

When your better half, best friend or other person in your life is talking to you about yourself, hopefully there’s some good in there too. Don’t forget that.

The positive stuff may give you a way to make the improvements and changes the other person is hoping to see. What’s more, it’s going to make it easier for you to have the rest of the conversation.

Remember, getting criticism doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, but you may be doing something that’s hard to live with.

11. Listen to Intent as Well as Words

Let’s face it, not everybody is good at these conversations. Maybe your husband sucks at communicating. Maybe your wife looks angry while you’re talking. Perhaps your best friend stutters all over him or herself when trying to explain the situation. However, just because it’s inartful doesn’t mean what they’re saying is unimportant.

Sometimes, you have to listen for the ideas behind the words. That can be difficult if you’re confronted with somebody who doesn’t give feedback all that well.

Still, listening to what they’re trying to tell you and ignoring the actual words they’re using will help you to receive feedback better and perform better as a result.

12. Do as They Say, Not as They Do

So maybe your better half tells you that you need to stop yelling so much, even though every time you get into an argument they yell at you. Does that make their feedback any less valid? Absolutely not.

If a person with 10 DUI convictions tells you not to drive drunk, it’s still good advice. Just as you shouldn’t make getting feedback personal, you also shouldn’t make it personal in the other direction.

Good advice from a badly behaved person is still good advice. Lead by example and follow the advice. Don’t be surprised if they start following you.

13. Explain how the Feedback Helped You

Going back over the critical feedback will help you to acclimate yourself to hearing it. Expressing how it helped you will help the person who gave you the feedback better understand how they helped.

This will make hearing critical feedback much smoother in the future as you and the other person make communication easier.

14. Say Thank You

It can be humbling, to say the least, when somebody tells you something you don’t want to hear. This is even more true when you say “thank you” at the end of the conversation.

This lets the other person know you’re taking them seriously and you’re open to these conversations in the future. Opening that door gives you opportunities to grow and become better, without becoming defensive or standoffish.

Obviously, this doesn’t solve every problem. If you have a particularly difficult marriage, friendship, work environment or relationship with family, many times the things you hear may not be constructive, and is instead used as a way to try to control, guilt, or manipulate you. It’s important to learn to discern and understand the difference.

 STRUGGLING WITH NEGATIVITY, FRUSTRATION OR RESENTMENT? Let’s get you back on track. Give us a call, message us on Facebook or schedule your appointment right here. It’s time to get your life back.

Eight Practical Ways to Improve Your Mood

Y’all. We’re now officially in Spring, and yet it feels like January 59th outside. This is like the winter that never ends. This time of year, especially with a winter season that refuses to give up, it’s easy to feel down and depressed. Some people struggle with clinical depression, but many, however, deal with the “wintertime” blues. Here are eight practical ways to improve your mood when you’re feeling sour, whether it’s because of Mother Nature, a fight with a friend or trouble in your family.

 

 

 

 

1. Go outside

Yes, I realize this is the winter that refuses to go away. However, walking outside – even on a dreary day – can really improve your mood. If it’s raining, grab an umbrella. If it’s chilly, put on a jacket. Take a walk around the block and clear your mind. You’ll be amazed at what a ten minute walk can do for you.

2. Listen to music

Listening to music does a couple of things. First, it takes your mind off what’s going on around you. Second, research shows people who listen to music with an upbeat tempo have more energy and are able to keep more stamina throughout the day. Before bed, listen to calming tracks.

3. Get some essential oils

You’re not going to find any endorsement of a specific brand here (and yes, the cheap ones work just as well). Get a diffuser. Get some lavender. Also, grab a bottle of a citrus oil, like orange or lemongrass. Grab your diffuser and put that bad boy to work. Those oils can help to lift your spirits and give you more of a spring-time feel. Obviously, if you are allergic to those scents or oils, or have a medical condition that would not interact well with essential oils, don’t use them.

4. Get lost on purpose

When’s the last time you just got in the car and drove somewhere? Grab your phone, but don’t use it until you need the GPS to get back home. Go somewhere you’ve never been before. Go for a drive with no destination in mind. The change of location can help take your mind off of troubles.

5. Reconnect

Reach out to a friend. Invite them to lunch or for coffee. Go for a walk with them. Being around people can lift our spirits, especially when we’re struck inside for long periods of time.

6. Find entertainment

Listen, we’re all capable of binge-watching something on Netflix. That’s not what I mean here. Go out for dinner. Go to the movies. Visit a craft store. Research shows that a majority of people with depression feel better when they participate in a leisure activity they enjoy.

7. Do Small Projects

Be productive! According to research, 79% of people feel better after completing a task. Clean, organize a junk drawer, write out a to-do list, or tackle some small project around the house to get a sense of accomplishment. However, don’t overdo it and become overwhelmed by a to-do list that’s a mile long!

8. Pray

You didn’t think you were going to get through a post from a Christian Counselor without this being mentioned, did you?

God doesn’t leave us alone in our suffering. In fact, He explicitly instructs us to not be anxious about anything, but to pray about everything. Have you prayed about it today? Have you taken the time to reconnect with God?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Of course, if you’re struggling with what you feel like may be more than some frustration, small stress or seasonal blues, it’s important to reach out to a professional. Don’t try to go it alone.

 STRUGGLING WITH FEELINGS OF STRESS, DEPRESSION, OR ANXIETY? You don’t have to go through this alone. We’re here to help. Give us a call, schedule your appointment right here, or message us on Facebook. Appointments are available in Owensboro and Online via video-based counseling. It’s time to get your life back.

8 Causes of Procrastination – and Ways to Manage It

You know, it’s funny. I was thinking about what to write this week, and every time I sat down to write something, I kept thinking, “Nah, I’ll just do it later.” And then it hit me what to write about.

Procrastination sucks. (Yes, this Christian counselor just said something sucks.) It sucks the life right out of you and keeps you from being productive.

The key to beating procrastination isn’t just to get up and do something (which you totally should), but it’s important to find the reasoning behind the procrastination to understand how to beat it. The key to dealing with procrastination is finding out what specific reasons are causing it, and then addressing them at the core. Check out these eight causes of procrastination, as well as ways to beat them.

1. Perfectionism

Perfectionism limits the definition of success. Read that one more time. Perfectionism limits the definition of success. You know the saying, “If you want something done right you have to do it yourself,”?

What about the saying, “I can’t do it right so I’m just not going to do it at all,”? It’s not something we really say out loud, but it is something many of us have maybe thought in the back of our mind.

Stop trying to be perfect. Jesus was the only perfect person to ever walk the earth. Yes, we should strive to do well, but perfectionism will keep us from getting anything done.

2. Fear of the Unknown

Knowledge is power. But knowing is only half the battle – from there you have to take corrective action if necessary. Living in constant fear only keeps you chained down. Satan feeds on our fear, and he keeps us complacent when we’re afraid of taking a step.

3. I’ll do it later

People make different decisions for what will impact them in the immediate future, rather than what will impact them down the road. In other words, it’s easy to make snap decisions rather than thinking about what happens later.

Sure, taking a nap is great. But maybe it’s more important to get that mountain of paperwork finished so it’s not lingering over your head.

4. Working on Small Tasks Because They’re Easier

The immediate hassle of having to wait for a payoff doesn’t seem worth the unknown future benefits. Seriously, just get the hard crap out of the way first.

5. You Experience a Lack of Motivation

If you’re able to clearly see how your work connects to your interests or goals, you’re more likely to value your work and be motivated to invest your energy in it.

Find ways to energize yourself. I get it, doing the laundry isn’t a whole lot of fun. Find a small way to reward yourself after you finish.

6. You’re not sure how to get started

Use the “getting things done” approach. This helps you break down your complex task into a series of smaller tasks. Don’t let the end goal overwhelm you. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and so in most cases, you don’t have to answer all the questions immediately.

7. You get distracted

Remove any temptation and only think about the task at hand by avoiding looking at your email, put your phone on vibrate (and stop playing Candy Crush!), etc. Walk away from your computer and leave your phone in another room.

8. You know it’ll require hard work

Working on a long project takes a lot of effort. It often leads people to lose their motivation and choose to set aside their projects for a later time.

Taking a break and getting a snack is fine. Laying on the couch eating Cheetos and going on a Netflix binge is another issue. Taking breaks can be helpful, as long as the break doesn’t become an indefinite one.

Procrastination is a hard habit to break. However, implementing these eight tips can begin to change your focus, and change your motivation.

 DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH PROCRASTINATION? Let’s work together to set attainable goals and get you back on track. Appointments are available in Owensboro and via Online Counseling. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. It’s time to get your life back.