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5 Ways to Decrease Anxiety

http://kutv.com/features/fresh-living/clair-mellenthin-5-ways-to-decrease-anxiety

“Today on Fresh Living Clair Mellenthin, a therapist at Wasatch Family Therapy, sat down with Brooke with some coping skills anyone can use to help deal with anxiety. About Clair Mellenthin: Clair Mellenthin, LCSW, RPT-S is a sought after speaker, author, and trainer.” – KUTV 2News

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How to Deal

canstockphoto1624254Difficult challenges seem to come in bulk- it’s a real phenomenon of life. These strange time periods in which there is a piling of  negative events one on top of another is experienced so universally that we all say, “When it rains, it pours.” How do we outlast the down-pour?

 
Stress is a fact of life. Thankfully, some of it can be alleviated by honestly evaluating our priorities, relationships, behaviors, etc., and making different and healthier choices. But, some of it just has to be lived through. (Example: last week I was dealing with a horrendous tax audit chore when my car decided to break down, expensively. That was chased with an extended family emergency and a two day migraine… You’ve been there, right?) Stress is part of life, but misery does not have to be! If you choose to, you can navigate the rainy times of life healthfully and resiliently. You can, and should, honor your feelings and acknowledge that things suck sometimes. Write it out, talk it out, and don’t pretend everything is okay. But then give yourself a break and navigate the storm with confidence.

Here’s how:
Write down as many pleasurable and relaxing activities that you can think of. Many of them should be free, in case of financially stressful times. Use this list to take care of yourself and wait for the sun to start shining again. Worrying solves nothing. Take a break; enjoy something. Get lost in a book. The problem will still be there when you’re done playing with your dog, trust me. Memorize some mantras that are empowering to you for times of emotional overwhelm. Positive self talk is everything when you feel fatigued from life! I’ll let you peruse some of mine if you need some ideas:

  • It’ll be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.
  • This, too, shall pass.
  • I’ve survived a lot of hard things, and I’ll survive this, too.
  • Anxiety won’t kill me, it just doesn’t feel good.
  • I’m strong enough for this.
  • Everything changes. This is only temporary.

Finally, a few basic coping skill reminders: Get enough sleep!! Drink water, eat well. Take walks and breathe deeply. Get enough sleep!! Learn how to say ‘no’ to unwise time commitments. And did I mention, get enough sleep?!

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4 Ways to Stop Surviving and Start Living

shutterstock_1516681One of the most common issues I see when I first begin meeting with a client is that almost all of them are worn out, and feel like they’re running on fumes. When I ask them what they do for themselves, or what types of activities they enjoy, I usually get one of two responses-either they look at me like I’m speaking a foreign language, or they laugh at me. The truth is, most of us have gotten into the habit of simply trying to survive from day to day. We get so caught up in bills, schedules, and other obligations that we forget that it’s okay to actually enjoy life every once in awhile. If this sounds like it might apply to you, here are a few things for you to think about, and maybe start doing if you want to feel like you’re living vs. simply surviving.

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Ask A Therapist: Lost My Virginity and Now I’m Sleeping Around and Drinking A Lot

Q: I have a question. I’m 21 and I was dating this guy and well, I lost my virginity to him and I loved him. I felt like he used me. I was so hurt when we broke up and I then slept with his best friend and then another guy 6 times.  I drink a lot and I have low self esteem please I need some advice. I’m so lost.

A: It is incredibly painful to feel so deeply for your boyfriend that you would share your heart and your body with him only to have the relationship end. I’m so sorry that your boyfriend didn’t value the gift that you gave him, your first full expression of your sexuality.  While it’s incredibly difficult to feel used, there are many healthier options for dealing with your hurt than by doing things that cause more pain for you and others. Drinking and sexually acting out may temporarily make your feel powerful and numb your emotions but won’t lead to a healthy emotional place and will likely create more pain and hurt.

Please turn toward healthy relationships. Who have you gone to in the past for emotional support? Have you reached out to friends and family during this difficult time? If not, please share your pain with people you trust so you can receive comfort and strength.  Also, please consider seeking a therapist to sort through the loss of your relationship, understand the root of your unhealthy behavior, and to develop healthier coping skills. Click here if you need help to find a therapist in your area. You can feel good about yourself again. You can develop healthy love relationships.  Remember, you deserve to be with a man who wants to be with you and who cherishes you, body and soul.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: How Do I Know If I Still Need Therapy?

Q: I am a married woman of 24 years with 3 grown children.  I have had a pretty rough past and struggled with mental illness most of my life.  I grew up in a very dysfunctional violent family with an alcoholic parent.  I was abused and neglected.  I attempted suicide at the age of 17.  Through the years I buried my past and attempted to live a normal life.  I did not have an identity, I did what everyone wanted of me, and even believed the beliefs of the people around me. I was an empty shell being filled up by other people.  I had another breakdown in 1999 and attempted suicide again.  That is when I began therapy.  It took me a realy long time to open up to my therapist.  It seemed I got much worse before I got better.  I began cutting and binge eating became  a huge problem.  I had always coped with food but now it brought my weight up to 322lbs.

As the years went by, and with medication I began to slowly deal with issues and start to rise out of my depression.  I trusted my therapist and told her things I would never tell another soul.  I was getting better and I decided to improve my life. I had gastric bypass to lose weight and in the past year I have lost over 120lbs.  I was using good coping skills and having more rational thoughts.   Unfortunately my bones suffered from the weight and degenerative bone desease.  This past October I had a total hip replacement and this past February I had a total knee replacement. It has not been 2 months yet and it has been a slow painful recovery.

My therapist retired this past December.  I do not have a regular one yet, although I did meet with one just one time to feel it out.  I am unsure if I need to stay in therapy.  I have been in it for a very long time and although I am better than ever before, I still have depression and dysfunctional thoughts.  I am still on medication, Wellbutrin, Lexapro and Neurontin for mood disorder.  I have been labeled as PTSD and BPD. I am starting to binge eat again and I am afraid the gastric bypass will be worthless to me someday.  I do not want to gain all that weight back as I could hardly move then.  I feel very sad that my therapist retired and I feel pretty lost right now. Is it normal to be in a therapy program for as long as I have been? Do some people stay in therapy all of their life?  I feel that I will never get out of this dysfunctional rut. Is there hope for me? I am very tired and very afraid to live this way.  I just want relief and to feel a bit of satisfaction in how I live.  I appreciated any input.
Thank you 🙂

A: What a brave women you are to have faced your past trauma and to have actively sought treatment to move toward a healthier and happier life. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have your therapist retire after working so hard to develop enough trust to open up and share things you’ve never shared with anyone else. It is very normal to feel lost, sad, and to grieve the loss of this therapeutic relationship, just as you would if you said goodbye to a close friend or family member. I imagine that finding a new therapist and developing that trust again is a scary thing to consider, but a necessary one.

Some health problems, like diabetes, are chronic and require lifelong attention, management, and treatment, while others are acute, like strep throat, and generally require one course of antibiotics. Mental illness can be conceptualized in a similar way. Your mental health history, your history of abuse and neglect, and your psychological symptoms seem to fall in the chronic category. It is common for individuals with severe childhood abuse and neglect to be in treatment on and off throughout life to help manage the emotional and psychological consequences of the early experiences.

Your continued struggles with dysfunctional thoughts, depressive symptoms, and binge eating suggest that you need to get back into therapy to maintain the progress you’ve made and to continue to develop coping skills and insight. You may in be in treatment throughout the rest of your life. If that’s what you need to continue to move forward, to manage your symptoms, and continue to create the life you want, then that is nothing to be ashamed of.  You deserve to have nurturing and support.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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