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ANXIETY! How Being Anxious Can Affect You

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Anxiety is unique mental health symptom because it is something that somehow affects everyone. Yes, everyone! Anxiety does not care who you are; it can have its effect on you. Anxiety can strike at a variety of times. Many people r may recognize some of the physical symptoms before they are mentally aware that they are anxious. Learning to recognize the warning signs of anxiety can help us bring relief to our symptoms before it spirals out of control.

I previously worked with a bright young woman. She was highly ambitious, extremely successful in school, was social, seemed to have it all together, and yes, she had anxiety.  Her anxiety symptoms primarily physical–chronic vertigo, sleeplessness, and lethargy. Because of their physical nature, she was not aware they were linked to her mental health, and they went left untreated. For this young woman, the start of her treatment was learning to recognize the warning signs; which, for her consisted of worrying, angst, and over stretching herself by not being assertive with peers. Learning to recognize our warning signs can help us to manage our anxiety appropriately.

Some physical warning signs of anxiety consist of the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Increased muscle tension
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Feelings of numbness in limbs
  • Nausea or Diarrhea
  • Feelings of fatigue or weakness
  • Sleep disturbance

You might be asking yourself “Well, I have some of these symptoms. What can I do to overcome them?”. Well you are in luck because there are a number of things that we can all do to manage anxiety appropriately.

Therapy is a great way for anyone to be able to explore these symptoms and what maybe causing them in a safe, non-judgmental, and therapeutic environment. Having a therapist who you can discuss these anxious feelings with, determine possible causes can bring symptoms of relief. During a therapy session, the therapists discuss individual’s’ specific situations and possible solutions. A study done by Quast (2014) found that therapy has a positive effect on the reduction of symptoms of anxiety.

Anxiety can also be treated at home with a few simple things. Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere anytime. It allows individuals to bring more awareness to their current situation by assessing their thoughts, feelings, senses, and how their body feels. The more people practice mindfulness the easier it can be to overcome anxiety. Mindfulness can be found in phone apps; such as, Headspace. These apps provide a great way to begin a mindful h daily structured routine. Mindfulness can be as simple as yoga, meditation, coloring, or drawing.  The use of mindfulness alone has been shown to reduce worrying and helps to prevent the negative effects of anxiety (Hoge, Bui, Goetter, Robinaugh, Ojserkis, Fresco, and Simon, 2014).

Deep belly breathing can be an easy way to overcome anxiety in any situation. At times when I get frustrated or anxious I must stop what I am doing to take three deep breaths. It is important that while taking these deep breaths the amount of time you inhale, hold the breath, and exhale are five seconds or more. During these breaths ensure that your breath is coming deep from your stomach and rather short breaths from your chest. While working with children I recommend that they “fill their balloon” which is their diaphragm, or stomach area. If you have done yoga this is like abdominal breathing or ujjayi breath. After completing these breaths your body will be back in a more relaxed state.

The young girl mentioned above could overcome many of the physical symptoms of her anxiety by seeing a therapist who helped her recognize her triggers, negative thoughts, and by building healthy habits; such as, mindfulness and deep breathing. Anxiety should not be the one in control in your life. You can take back control by utilizing the techniques mentioned above. If you continue to struggle with managing your stress or anxiety do not hesitate to contact us at Wasatch Family Therapy at 801-944-4555.  Together we can learn further tools to help you through your specific challenges.

Quast, A. (2014). Yogerapy: An Integrated Yoga and Cognitive-Behavioral, Family-Based Intervention for Children with Anxiety Disorders in High Achieving Environments. Ph.D. of Pyschology. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 2014. Print.

Hoge, E., Bui, E., Goetter, E., Robinaugh, D., Ojserkis, R., Fresco, D., & Simon, N. (2014). Change in Decentering Mediates Improvement in Anxiety in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Cognitive Therapy and Research Cogn Ther Res, 228-235.

Nathan Watkins, MFT INTERN

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I’ve Had It! What Should I Do?

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We’ve all been there before. Stress can build until you feel out of control. I often have clients come in so defeated because of a myriad of different reasons. In session, I always ask a few questions to see if we can find a pattern to what lead them to this difficult place. If you are are feeling overwhelmed and unable to figure out what to do next, ask yourself the following questions.
  1. Have you eaten recently? If your car was out of gas, would you still expect it to run smoothly on a road trip? Of course not! You would make sure your tank was full so you had plenty of fuel to take you where you wanted to go. Our bodies need the same fuel. You cannot manage your stress, anxiety, depression, or life without properly fueling your body with healthy food. Want to have more energy to fight through difficult times? Make sure you’re eating!
  2. Are you  properly hydrated? My family laughed at our aunt growing up that always gave the advice to go have a glass of water. Having a bad day? Go grab a glass of water. Stressed out? Water. Feeling sad? Water. Can’t focus? You guessed it…water. However simple it may sound drinking a proper amount of water each day helps keep energy up and will make you feel healthy. Instead of grabbing a caffeine filled drink when you’re out of energy, slow down and grab a nice glass of water. Being properly hydrated will help more than you know. 
  3. When was the last time you showered and got ready for the day? People often skip over this important daily ritual when life gets busy. Slowing down and taking time for yourself will make a big difference in how you feel about yourself and the day ahead of you. 
  4. When was the last time your heart rate was up? Walking briskly for even five minutes can get your heart rate up and provide your body with much needed chemicals that will help you feel healthy and focused. 
  5. Are you sleeping too much or too little? Make sure you are getting a healthy amount of sleep. It can be a tricky balance. Too much sleep can result in feeling lazy, lethargic, and depressed. Too little sleep can leave you feeling tightly wound, exhausted, and stressed. Make sure you are balancing sleep correctly so you can have enough energy and motivation to get through your day. 
  6. When was the last time you got out of your house and connected with someone? Go out and connect with someone face to face. Technological connections are great, but actual face to face connections will do much more for your mental health. 
While these questions may seem like a “no brainer,” you may be surprised to find how many of these small things get neglected when you are stressed or having a difficult time. Try asking yourself these questions next time you find yourself frustrated and stressed out to see if they help.
If you need further help managing your anxiety or depression, call Wasatch Family Therapy at 801-944-4555. You can learn further tips and tools to help  you through your difficult time.
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Finding “ME” in Meditation

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Living in a society where we are all required to do more, sleep less, perform better, get richer, and find room for others, it’s hard to find the “me” in much of anything. So much of daily living is performing. Where our minds are constantly racing to the next thing. Sleep is interrupted by alarm clocks and delayed by late nights. No matter what the reason, whether it’s family, work, or school, it seems there is not enough time in the day.

Reports of declining mental health is increasing in depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and addiction. The big question is: How to cope? Is it really possible to find time for “you?” To build a way to relax, think, and rejuvenate without any artificial replacements.

I say, absolutely! The way to finding “me” is through ME-ditation.

Meditation is defined as many different things. Marsha Linehan defines mediation as the ability to open the mind and acknowledge thoughts and senses, without showing judgment or analyzing, while embracing the unknown, through daily practice.

The benefits of meditation far out weigh any screen time on a smart phone. From decreasing depression, lowering anxiety, decreasing heart rate and blood pressure, improving relaxation skills, potential to improve sleep, and finding spiritual connection. It’s also used in addiction recovery. The biggest evidence is that it improves emotional intelligence!

John Cabot Zin outlines the ABC’s:

A-Awareness: Becoming more aware of the mind and body. Thinking and doing.

B- Breathe: Allowing yourself to be with your experience. Create your story without reacting or responding. This can create compassion for yourself and others.

C- Compassion: By creating pause between the experience and our reaction we can make wiser choices.

Research is beginning to show that mindfulness and meditation increases our emotional intelligence, and the way we monitor the emotions in others and ourselves.

The beginning to meditation is as follows:

*Acknowledge you need “me” time.

*Slow down

*Find a quiet space

*Sit or Lay down

*Put your hand by your side

*Relax

*Clear your mind

*Listen

*Close your eyes, or try a sleepy gaze

*Breathe in through your nose for 5 counts

*Pause or hold for 5 counts

*Exhale through your mouth for 5 counts.

*Repeat

*Practice Daily.

If thoughts come into your mind during your exercise, sweep them from your mind. Be aware of your body and sensations. Focus on the your breathe. Feel the air in your nose or mouth as you inhale and exhale. Acknowledge what you hear or smell. Feel your body relaxing. And breathe. Start with 5-10 minutes daily. The key to prolonged benefits, is to practice, practice, practice. If you fall asleep during your exercise, that’s good! You need it!

If you enjoy this simple meditation, seek out our trained therapists to deepen meditation skills and other powerful approaches to mindfulness.

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How to Rock Valentine’s Day… When Your Relationship is on the Rocks

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With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, many people are excitedly stocking up on chocolates and bears, making reservations, and trying on endless sexy ensembles for that perfect February 14th date. However, what if you’re not one of those people? What if you’re not single, but your relationship is currently not in a great place, and you can’t stomach the thought of trying to fake it through an awkward dinner with your spouse? Don’t panic! Here are a few ways that you and your partner can still make it through enjoy Valentine’s Day without a major dose of anxiety and tension.

Plan ahead

Whatever you do, don’t let the day sneak up on you. If you wait until the night before to start thinking about it, you’ll definitely find yourself stressing. Take control of the situation now, and start planning out what you would like the day to be like. Do you and your partner want to try and do something together that maybe doesn’t include romantic pressure, but that could be fun, relaxing, and enjoyable? Would the two of you rather plan an evening at home with your kids and make it a family affair? Do you want to do absolutely nothing but watch movies in your pajamas? The point is, prepare ahead of time so that you and your partner both know what to expect.

Seek connection

Although Valentine’s Day is marketed as the romance-seeped, blissful, sex-filled holiday of the year, let’s try to remember what it’s really about…LOVE. What is love? Well, that’s a loaded question! Love is many things besides romance and sex-it’s friendship, caring, empathy, respect…the list goes on and on. Maybe this Valentine’s Day, you and your partner seek to connect with each other on a different level. For example, you could agree to give each other the gift of respect for the whole day, and agree to practice talking kindly to each other. Or, perhaps you feel like roommates, and maybe you could do an activity together that allows you to try and be friends for the evening. If even any of that is just too much, consider seeking connection with the other people you and your partner love and care about. Maybe you take cookies to a neighbor, or have some trusted friends over for dinner. Whatever you do, seek connection-don’t spend the day soaking yourself in feelings of loneliness.

Love yourself

Again, while Valentine’s Day is promoted as a day to think solely about your partner, it might be a good idea to do something nice for yourself too! Especially if the day is going to be hard for you this year, make sure you and your partner encourage each other to practice some self-care. Go get a massage, spend the morning reading a good book, or go for a walk. Self-care can be done together or separately, but either way it can feel soothing and comforting on a day that may otherwise be filled with painful reminders.

Best of luck to you! I hope no matter what your current relationship situation is, that you are able to find peace, connection, and happiness this Valentine’s Day. And remember…it’s just 1 day. :0)

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How to Best Help Your Junior Athlete

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Competition can be extremely stressful, especially for children and teenagers. They can feel so much pressure that they will literally worry themselves sick. Kids will oftentimes try to prove their worth to themselves, their coaches, their peers, and their families through winning. Anxiety and the fear of failure affect their performance—which makes them even more fearful. It becomes a vicious cycle!

I recently wrote an article in conjunction with renowned PGA Tour Golf Instructor, Boyd Summerhays, on ways to best help Junior Golfers. After completing the article, it dawned on me that the information would be beneficial to all junior athletes and their families. Obviously, the intricate details about golf in the article are unique to golfers, but the same concepts (bolded section headings) can definitely be applied to any sport or competition that your child is engaging in:

The 8 Best Ways To Help Your Junior Golfer

Good luck to you and your family! I hope you can find joy, fulfillment, learning, and bonding through the competition (and not just stress!).

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Putting A Positive Spin on Anxiety


The word “anxiety” makes us a little, well, anxious. The truth is, though, that everyone gets nervous; it’s nothing to be ashamed of. The problem comes when we psyche ourselves out and make a difficult situation worse by compounding our worries (also, please understand that I’m referring to normal anxiety, not anxiety disorder, which is a legitimate mental health condition that requires professional treatment).

There’s some interesting new research that shows how reframing anxiety into a form of excitement can help us cope better. I love the idea of viewing our nervousness as a positive thing that can prepare us for demanding situations. Here are 3 ways we can rethink anxiety and use it for our good:

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Feeling out of bounds? Running out of time? Feeling overwhelmed? Feeling out of line?

canstockphoto1624254If any of that applies to you then welcome to the club. You’re not alone. During times of intense stress and anxiety, things can get bleak, dark, dreary, and grey very quick. You need something to shake things up in order to maintain your sense of purpose and also your sense of sanity. Well I have just the thing (or three things rather) to help you out because like Andre 3000 you know I got your back like chiroprac…tic!

1) Plan something to look forward to. Life wouldn’t be very awesome if there wasn’t anything to strive toward so plan the prize to keep your eye on while you battle the imminent forces life presents you. This way when you feel defeated or spread like butter across too much bread like my boy Bilbo, you have that motivation to carry on solider!

2) Give yourself permission to be good enough. We put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves to be perfect all the time in our society and that is overwhelming in and of itself. Do not fall victim to this popular mindset as it is a one way ticket to the Hotel California where you can check-out any time you like but you can never leave! Instead, give yourself permission to be good enough as is because you know what? YOU ARE! Now come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

3) Treat yourself. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this in a previous blog and for good reason! Tom and Donna were really onto something in Parks and Recreation and you should tap into this goldmine of validation and confidence boosting! Rewarding yourself for all your hard work in persevering through the ebb and flow of life is what it’s all about! So TREAT YO SELF 2016 baby!

Now for those of you who were paying attention…name all the song lyrics and movie references laced throughout this blog and reward yourself for being awesome and observant!

Until next time reader…live long and prosper!

Cheers!

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How to Help Your Anxious Daughter: Studio 5

How to Help Your Anxious Daughter: Studio 5


All parents want to raise strong, confident, happy daughters, but there’s evidence showing that female adolescents are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. A recent article in the Deseret News suggests that young women are having a rough time; researchers are seeing anxiety, self-harm, and even suicide in girls as young as 10. In recent years, I have witnessed an increase in the number of referrals of young people (girls and boys) to my therapy practice who are experiencing these same sorts of issues. Clearly, we have a real cultural problem to address, and there’s certainly reason to be concerned.

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Nutrition and Depression

canstockphoto0173381Nutrition and Depression
Have you ever considered food as a treatment or means of reducing your symptoms of Depression.  Through the research of Nutritional Psychology studies are finding concrete links between nutrition and relief of various mental health symptoms.
Take a look at this Psych Central Article published By Jane Collingwood
http://psychcentral.com/lib/can-nutrition-help-fight-or-ward-off-depression/
Melanie Davis CMHC NCC is currently studying within the field of Nutritional Psychology and excited about offering her clients a wide variety of options for reducing common symptoms associated with Anxiety and Depression.
For more information contact Wasatch Family Therapy at 801.944.4555
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Do Your Thoughts Ever Run Away With You?

Do your thoughts ever run away with you?

If you answered “yes” to that question, you’re not alone. Thoughts may come and go like clouds in the sky, and emotions may change like the weather, but when a thought storm comes rolling in, it can feel overwhelming, stifling, and paralyzing. In those moments, it is helpful to remember the following:

  1. Anxiety is the body’s natural response to fear. It puts your body into “fight or flight” mode and it is completely legitimate to feel  a fear response to a real or perceived threat.
  2. Tuning into your body’s fear response is the only thing you can control and it’s the first thing you’ll want to attempt. Your brain can’t function and help you dial back your fear response if your body is readying itself for a fight or a sprint.
  3. When you experience anxiety, check to see if you are in current danger or if you are worried about potential danger. Then adjust your response. If you are in current danger, get to a place of safety. If you are worried about potential danger, begin a calming process to help yourself understand what it is you’re worried about and why.
  4. Pay attention to your breathing. When we are in fight or flight mode, our breathing changes to rapid, shallow breaths to help us move quickly in defense of our safety. Once we reach a place of safety, our breathing changes to slower, deeper breaths to help our system calm itself and return to a baseline of normal functioning. How do you breathe when you are anxious? If you can recognize your breathing and mindfully work to slow it, you will begin to calm yourself in the process.

CALM THE STORM

So what do we do with our thoughts? We treat them like clouds passing in the sky, like pieces of the weather patterns in our lives. We treat them like cars on the freeway. We watch them come and we watch them go. We recognize that some thoughts will make our breathing rate increase and others will help it decrease. We realize that our thoughts are powerful but they are not the only reality we can choose to believe. We see our thoughts for what they are, ongoing experiences and commentary about our lives. Like radio static in the background or elevator music when you’re placed on hold during a phone call. Thoughts are present but they do not have to always be overwhelming or overpowering when we are able to remember that they change as frequently as the clouds in the sky.  As we learn to watch the shape that our thoughts form, we can give our thoughts permission to change without taking us along for the ride. In doing this, we give ourselves permission to observe the process without becoming overwhelmed by or hooked into it.  It takes practice and it takes awareness to get into the habit of observing your thoughts as thoughts on the stage of your reality. It is one of the most helpful ways to assist you in managing your relationship with anxiety.

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