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.

 

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.

Helping Children After a Messy Divorce

A messy divorce doesn’t need to transition into a messy post-divorce family situation. Whether you’ve ripped up the custody papers or had a public screaming match, it’s never too late to change.

Children are affected by divorce. It’s the truth, but it doesn’t have to be as negative as it sounds. There are positives to take away and getting through a tough time teaches children a lesson. It will teach them about obstacles and life in general while shaping their character like tackling any issue can. As the old saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Of course that doesn’t mean they won’t need support. Structure and stability during life challenges such as divorce are imperative and a topic I covered in my last post. There, I highlighted the importance of communication and stability between co-parents and working on an amicable shared custody parenting setup. This time I’m going to focus more on what you can do to help your children through this and I’ll be making the assumption that due to a messy divorce, an ideal parenting partnership maybe be impossible or at the least untenable.

Reassure

A “bad” divorce often means your children have been exposed to conflict and at a minimum bad energy between you and your ex-partner. It may be obvious to them you don’t love each other anymore but you have to reassure them that you both love still love them, the same as before, unconditionally. That aspect of your family will never change.

Additionally you need to reassure them that it’s okay to love their other parent; they need that regardless of your feelings. Depending just how badly your relationship with your ex husband or wife has deteriorated, your children may even feel guilty for loving or spending time with the other parent. Don’t encourage this; it will only leave them feeling confused. You need to absolve them of guilt at every possible opportunity and reiterate that no one is going anywhere; they still have two parents and always will do. Remember to not only refrain from alienating your children from their
other parent but help them with feelings of alienation from society. A divorce can feel like a broken, damaged family. Your children must recognize it’s not a reflection of them.

Reassure them that it’s okay to have feelings. Normalize their reactions and try to understand them, legitimize their feelings by agreeing and empathizing. Acknowledge their right to be angry or upset, never deny them that. Encourage conversation, answer their questions with honesty whenever possible and hopefully they will do the same. This can give you a window into just how much they are affected and the level of support they need. Sometimes it’s healthy to shield your children from too much information until they’re of appropriate age. Unfortunately after a conflict-filled divorce, that age may have prematurely arrived and they may be aware of more than you expect. It’s not always easy to be honest, especially if you don’t have all the answers, but just be prepared for some difficult questions.

Minimize Blame

A step toward minimizing any guilt or confusion your children may be feeling is to also minimize blame. Save that for therapy sessions! When I said a messy divorce doesn’t necessarily need to develop into a messy parenting or family situation part of the reason is that you leave that baggage there, in the past. There’s no need to let that person, or what happened, continue affecting you or your children’s lives; if that happens, everyone has lost.

While being careful not to badmouth your ex, it’s important you make clear to your children that you’ll never be getting back to together. This is a new stage of your life and there’s no space for false hope, clarity is everything. With a new life come new opportunities. Establish a new routine, go on a vacation, buy a new pet or just create something fun and different – a different meal, game or trip for example. Now that you’ve separated it gives you freedom to create the family dynamic you want or have always wanted. You will have special time and activities with your children that are just yours
and yours alone, relish and enjoy this!

Don’t forget about yourself

You’re an example – the biggest role model your children have. It can be easy to forget about how you may feel when you’re so concerned about your children but if you let yourself completely fall apart, that’s not going to help you or them. They need the love and support of someone who has it together as best they can. They need healthy parents.

You’re bound to feel pressure from all angles, and that’s why you shouldn’t shy away from help. That includes everything from a shoulder to cry on, support groups and online forums to consulting a parenting expert, therapist or attending counseling sessions. When someone’s life is changed irrevocably, it’s a big transition and you need to accept the support for your temporary mental well being. Once you speak to people going through similar situations you’ll realize you’re not alone; you’ll get perspective and have support from people who can help you get on with your new life
with your children.

This post was written for Revive Christian Counseling by Krishan Smith, Senior Editor of Custody X Change, a custody software specialist company.

 STRUGGLING AFTER A MESSY DIVORCE? Let’s work to get you back on track and find peace in life again. Call us, send us a message on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. 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.

Five Steps to Tame Your Temper

Anger is a natural emotion, and there’s nothing wrong with having anger or expressing it. In fact, Jesus expressed His own anger. The problem is that sometimes our anger can get the best of us. Anger in and of itself is not a sin, but the way we handle it certainly can be. It shouldn’t be held in, but it also shouldn’t run our lives. Our goal when it relates to anger should be to learn to control it, rather than allowing it to control you.

These five simple steps can go a long way in learning to keep your anger under control, and give you the opportunity to express it in a healthy way.

1. Know what pushes your buttons

Most of us, if not all of us, have things in our life that pushes our buttons and can instantly make us angry. You shouldn’t walk around constantly worried that something will set you off, but you should at least be aware of those things that can push you over the edge. When you are prepared for them, you have a much better chance of keeping your anger under control.

2. Know your body’s warning signs

You know that feeling you get when you start feeling angry? Maybe it’s a flushed face, or shaking. For some people, it could be crying. Whatever the case, begin to recognize those things. When you feel them start to bubble up, take the opportunity to cool down and remove yourself from the stressful situation. Consider a breathing exercise to help bring your level of anger down. Or, as Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood used to tell my children, “When you’re feeling mad and you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four.”*

*Don’t judge. You probably remember all those songs from Sesame Street and Barney too.

3. Stop and Think

Ask yourself: “What happened that made me angry?”
Yes, I know that’s a bit overly simplified. But it’s still an important question to ask yourself. Was it really something that a person said to you, or was it the rejection you felt when they said it? Was it really that somebody didn’t follow through with a promise, or was it that you feel really let down on the inside? Understanding the basis of our anger helps us to begin to improve our situation and begin feeling better.

It’s also important to ask, “What else did I feel when it happened?”
Remember, anger is a secondary emotion. That means that some other emotion always happens first. What is that emotion? Sadness? Jealousy? Hurt feelings? Rejection? Get to know yourself and answer these questions.

4. Keep it Together

It’s really hard to take back a hurtful remark after it’s been said. In the heat of the moment, you may not be able to change how you feel, but you can decide not to tear the other person down. Don’t lash out. Walk away. Get control of yourself before you have a conversation.

5. Decide What to Do

Anger has a way of making us want to throw our hands up and give up. Sometimes following anger, fear creeps in and keeps us from doing something.

Get your response under control, and then decide how you’re going to handle it. Keeping it bottled in and not doing anything to change it makes you just as guilty as the person who made you angry.

 STRUGGLING WITH ANGER? Let’s work together to get you back on track. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. You don’t have to keep feeling this way. It’s time to get your life back.

10 Ways to Manage Your Fear

Fear can be crippling and debilitating. These feelings can literally begin ruining your life, pushing you into feelings of depression, anxiety, or both. However, there are practical ways you can manage this fear and keep it from controlling you. These 10 tips can mean the difference between controlling your fear, or allowing it to control you.

1. Do Something

Seriously, do something. Anything. Fear feeds on inaction. Satan loves to kick you while you’re down, and if you’re down, he has easy access to you. Even a quick walk around the block or walking into a store can help to lift your spirits and keep you active.

2. Make a decision

Let go of the belief that you can’t make a choice until you are certain of the outcome. Fear feeds on indecision. Not allowing yourself to make a decision keeps you from feeling peace and joy.

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give you is a peace the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27 NLT

3. Don’t focus on the unknown

Imagine the very worst thing that could happen, and then decide on what you’d do if it actually did happen. Chances are, it won’t happen. But if you take time to consider it, then you’ll have a better handle on it. Fear feeds on indecision.

4. DO Focus on the good

Imagine the very best thing that could happen and how you’d feel it if did happen. Remember, you are worthy of joy. You have value. And you have a specific purpose. Fear feeds on feelings of unworthiness.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? – Psalm 27:1 NLT

5. Remember, anything is possible

When we say, “Anything is possible,” rather than “This is impossible,” we remember God’s promises. With Him, by faith, we have the strength to conquer anything. Fear feeds on feelings of impossibility.

6. Say, “I can.”

Yes, you can! Say, “I can,” and “why not?” instead of “I can’t.” Fear feeds on negativity.

7. Look for truth

Always seek the truth instead of hiding from facts. It’s easy to find the negatives in any situation. And the longer we circle around negativity, the harder it is to find the truth. More often that not, the truth is that the situation isn’t as bad as we think it is. Fear feeds on lies.

“This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 NLT

8. Breathe

Take in air instead of holding your breath. Fear feeds on suffocation.

9. Embrace Your Mistakes

We all make mistakes. We all fall short. We all mess up. Embrace those mistakes instead of pretending you won’t make any. Fear feeds on perfectionism.

10. Take a Step

Take one step today instead of waiting to run a marathon tomorrow. Fear feeds on waiting for the right time. There may never be a right time. Just go do it.

 STRUGGLING WITH FEAR? Let’s work together to help you overcome it. Call us, schedule online, or message us on Facebook. Appointments are available in Owensboro, as well as Online via video-based eTherapy. It’s time to get your life back.

This Simple Breathing Exercise Can Help Lower Your Anxiety [VIDEO]

When you start dealing with stress and anxiety, it can literally feel like everything is falling apart. Your heart starts racing. Your breathing gets more shallow. It may even feel like you’re having a heart attack. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to lower your level of anxiety, especially when it feels like you’re on the verge of a panic or anxiety attack.

In the video below, check out what I like to call the “10, 4, & 7 Rule”. This breathing exercise is so incredibly simple, but it works well. If you can remember these three numbers, you’ll be able to successfully navigate many stressful and anxiety-provoking situations.

It’s important to note, though, that this exercise doesn’t take the place of treatment to deal with anxiety. Rather, it’s a great tool to get you started as you being working through and understanding what’s causing you anxiety.

 STRUGGLING WITH ANXIETY? Let’s work together to get you back on track. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment here. Sessions are available in Owensboro and Online via video-based e-Therapy. It’s time to get your life back.

Providing Stability for Your Children Post-Divorce

Keeping things stable: it’s no easy task, but an imperative one. Stability runs parallel with consistency, and if you take the time to sit down and discuss things with your ex-partner, you can set some ground rules in order to maintain consistency.  Your children need you now more than ever. Spending prolonged time with the other parent so soon after a divorce may be less than ideal for you, but it is definitely necessary for your children. Being on the same page as your ex and having a discussion will help avoid potential disagreements further down the line or at least slightly negate their effects on stability.

Points to Keep in Mind

Divorce affects children of all ages; this is a time when they need maximum support and understanding. Coping with divorce can better prepare them for further obstacles in later life; they will develop into more capable and tolerant adults.

Organizing regular time with both parents and sticking to similar rules for each household will help create a stable environment for your children. Structure in terms of a set custody schedule is vital in this preliminary stage. While you and your children are adjusting to the new state of affairs, it’s better to minimize schedule changes.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, fighting in front of your children creates a much more tense and pressure filled environment. It also makes the objective of stability that much further to reach. If you’re anticipating heated disagreements and conflicts in parenting style it may be best to consider mediation. This way you can get an objective point of view. Either way, you have to get in the mind-set of compromise. Accept your differences, at least in the short term, all in the name of providing that stability.

As is the case with any adult going through divorce, children also have mixed emotions and may feel hurt or angry about the situation. This needs to be tackled properly in order to prevent behavioral problems further down the line. Speak with them and don’t always take their word that they’re okay. Look out for disruptions in their sleep or changed attitudes in school to indicate that they’re being affected.

You should consider their stability at school. If possible it is better to avoid changing schools for your children so that they have familiar routines and structures in their school life parallel to their home life. The same friends and teachers can help preserve consistency, the same goes for relatives; try not to cut any of their relatives out of their lives.

Dealing with bad behavior

It goes without saying that this aspect of parenting will become more challenging post-divorce. You’ve got a lot on your mind and it can feel like you’re trying to juggle too many balls at once. All the previous points to keep in mind in addition to providing stability will hopefully go some way to keeping behavior in check. Putting your children in a difficult or uncomfortable position (for example caught between both parents) will result in them being more likely to act out.

If the other parent has sole custody and you spend less time than you’d like with your child it can be tempting to over indulge and spoil them to compensate for the limited time. This is not a good idea for several reasons. Of course you should make the most of the time you get together but monetary compensations are no replacement for quality time and it can influence your child’s behavior negatively. They can begin to expect too much without having to abide by rules, furthermore acting towards them out of pity or guilt could further compound their feelings of self-doubt in regards to them handling this new situation.

Be careful how you treat your child post-divorce, frequently emotion is expressed through actions and gearing all your efforts towards maintaining stability and a positive family relationship will go a long way to combating bad behavior. If behavioral problems do not cease to persist don’t be afraid to seek professional help in the form of a child therapist or behavioral expert. Sometimes it will be easier for your child to speak to someone removed from/not personally involved in the situation. Above all, be understanding. Sometimes adults aren’t constantly mature enough to handle divorce well so you can’t expect children to be!

This post was written for Revive Christian Counseling by Krishan Smith of Custody X Change, a custody calendar software program.

 STRUGGLING THROUGH SEPARATION OR DIVORCE? Let’s work together and help find solutions. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment here. Appointments are available in Owensboro and Online. It’s time to get your life back.