Tips to Beat the Winter Blues

It’s that time of year. The holidays are over and it’s back to reality. You’ve returned to school or work and are trying to get back into a “normal” routine. If you are feeling run down, tired, lethargic, and unmotivated you may have a case of the winter blues. Don’t worry, you are not alone! Most everyone feels like this from time to time. If after a couple weeks you are not feeling better it could be a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or depression.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is believed to be caused by the changing seasons and lack of sunlight. Typically, symptoms begin to worsen in the fall and peak during the winter months. Symptoms of SAD are similar to that of other forms of depression, including feelings of hopelessness, lack of concentration, social withdrawal, and fatigue.

If you have been diagnosed with depression or SAD it may be time to seek professional help. The earlier the treatment, the more effective. Treatments for SAD include light therapy, a healthy diet, exercise, relaxation, and counseling and medication. For more ideas for treatment for living with SAD click here.

If it’s a case of the winter blues, it should pass. In either case it’s important to be kind to yourself, implement self-care techniques, and seek professional help if symptoms do not improve. Here are a few tips to help shake your winter blues:

Light therapy

If you feel like the lack of sunlight really does affect you, Light Therapy Treatment is an easy way to boost your light intake. Other options include getting outdoors if possible up to 20-30 minutes a day or taking vitamin D supplements after consulting with your doctor.

Eat mood boosting foods

Eat mood-boosting foods such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries may help prevent the release of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland, lean foods high protein like turkey, chicken, omega-3 fatty acids (flax seeds, walnuts and salmon), foods with folic acid that can be found in leafy greens, oatmeal, sunflower seeds, oranges, fortified cereals, lentils, black-eyed peas, and soybeans.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the best mood boosters. It’s difficult to get motivated when you are feeling tired, so find something you enjoy whether it’s walking, yoga, running or spinning or zumba class. If you can find a workout partner or an accountability partner that will help with motivation.

Meditate

Meditation helps to focus and quiet your mind, while increasing your level of awareness and inner calm. There are many ways to meditate including: breathing techniques, guided visualization and mindfulness. If possible, start with a few minutes a day. There is a great app called Headspace that can be downloaded and used anywhere.

Plan something fun

Get together with friends or make plans for future fun activities and events. Studies have shown that anticipating a fun event may even bring just as much or more happiness that experiencing the event. Most importantly, it’s experiences rather than items that boost our mood.

Relax

Everyone can feel down from time to time in the winter months and the worst thing you can do for yourself is feel like you should always be happy. Take time to focus on yourself. Do things that make you happy and feel calm such as reading a book, drinking a cup of tea, or taking a bath. Reflect on what you want most for yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself.

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By: Allison West Kaskey  M.Ed., Eds., LPCC-S

 

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Introducing Your Child to the Idea of Therapy

Tips to help your child get used to the idea of going to therapy

 

1.) Do not lie to your child, regardless of their age

They need accurate, age appropriate information about what to expect at their first appointment. Providing them with facts they can understand not only helps decrease their anxiety, it helps lay healthy groundwork for a positive experience in therapy. Telling them their therapist’s name, office location, or even showing them a picture of their therapist are all helpful ideas.

2.) Give them some say in the matter

When kids feel like they have choices, it helps them feel more confident about new situations. Younger kids might like to pick what outfit they will wear to their first session, or select a special toy to bring. Older kids might have a day of the week they prefer, or may even have preferences about whether they see a male or female therapist.

3.) Let them express their thoughts and feelings

They might cry and tell you they don’t want to go. That’s ok-therapy can be overwhelming for adults at first thought too. Children respond well to stories and characters they can identify with personally. Reading some books together about beginning therapy also might help ease the transition. The following are available on Amazon:

4.) Encourage them to ask questions

It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers! Letting them know that, together, you can ask the therapist all sorts of questions when you meet will help reinforce the idea that everyone will be working together!

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If your child continues to be distressed about the idea of therapy, please reach out to their therapist for more personalized ideas about how to help!

 

By: Torrie Giovinazzi, M.Ed., LPCC, NCC

 

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Welcome to our Newest Clinician

Welcome Torrie Giovinazzi to the TY & Associates Family

Torrie graduated from Kent State with a Master’s degree in Community Counseling. She is an independently Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in the state of Ohio and is endorsed by the National Board for Certified Counselors. Torrie has provided therapy for a wide variety of mental health issues in both outpatient and community settings. Her specialties include early childhood, trauma, sexual behavior problems, adjustment issues, anxiety, depression, and behavioral concerns. Torrie utilizes an array of therapeutic techniques and interventions to individually tailor to each clients’ needs. She enjoys working with people of all ages, and strives to make sure her clients understand the therapy process through psychoeducation and a collaborative treatment approach.

5 Tips to Help to Help Ease Back-to-School Anxiety

Returning to school after winter break can cause increased anxiety for children. Transitions can be especially difficult for children with anxiety, autism spectrum disorders and ADD/ADHD. This can be a stressful time for the child, parents, and the entire family. It is normal to feel anxious during times of change and transition. However, if anxiety is interfering with your child’s ability to return to school or to perform his or her daily activities, here are a few tips on how to ease the back to school anxiety:

1.) Encourage your child to share their fears

Ask him or her to be specific and allow them to be the expert and problem solve. For example, “If _________happens, what could you do?” or “Let’s think of some ways you could handle that situation” or “What has worked in the past, when you felt this way.”

2.) Create a routine

Ease your child back into a school routine by waking up, eating, and going to bed at regular times, and gradually limiting screen time on devices. Continue everyday activities as normal. To involve your child ask him or her to help plan school lunches for the week and pack their backpack in advance together. If your child would like, have them pick out their outfit for the first day or the week.

3.) Develop a plan and reward system  

Discuss the schedule for the week ahead and allow your child to plan an activity and/or reward that they will look forward to each day or each week. For example, allow your child to pick out a snack every day after school, choose a game to play, or t.v. show to watch each evening. Then at the end of the week, allow your child to plan an outing of their choice, for example going for ice cream, to the zoo or to see a movie. 

4.) Teach and practice coping skills

Here are coping skills to use when your child is feeling nervous, such as journaling, artwork, or using methods such as How to Do Calm Breathing, Developing and Using Cognitive Coping Cards or Creating a Worry Box (see links below).

5.) Remember: Easing anxiety is a process 

It takes time to adjust to a new schedule. Be patient. It is normal for children to have trouble for a week or two after a break or the start of school. Each day can bring new challenges. This is especially true for older students, who are navigating new classes, different teachers and schedules.

When to seek professional help 

There are some warning signs that your child may need some extra help. Here are a few: If after a few weeks you see your child is still struggling, not wanting to go to school, finding it difficult to perform normal activities, feeling increasingly anxious at nighttime seek help from a professional. 

Links:

By: Allison West Kaskey  M.Ed., Eds., LPCC-S

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Resolve to Be Your Authentic Self

As we start 2018 and we take the annual inventory of our lives let’s consider a different approach.  It’s normal for us to focus on the results of the behavior vs the cause of the behavior.

We spend a lot of time telling ourselves, I need to lose weight, I need to get a better job, I need to exercise more, and I need to improve a relationship.

We don’t spend the time asking ourselves why we haven’t lost weight, have the same job, are not exercising, and are still unfulfilled emotionally.

Let’s resolve to spend 2018 on exploring our minds and souls. Working on being authentic and mindful will lead to productive changes in our 2019 annual inventory.

Check out the following article from mindful.org to get started

4 Questions to Foster Your Authentic Self

Welcoming our New Clinician

TY & Associates is thrilled to welcome our new clinician Allison Kaskey

Allison has her Master’s Degree in Community Counseling and her Educational Specialist Degree from Kent State University. She is an independently licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with her Supervisory status in the State of Ohio. She has worked in a clinical role in higher education for the past eighteen years. Allison has experience providing individual and group counseling, consultation and diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders.  She has worked in a variety of different settings where she has gained insight into serving diverse populations and works collaboratively with clients to meet their goals.

Her specializations include treating psychological and developmental issues in adolescents and psychological issues in adults. Her expertise is in providing counseling to clients with disabilities including: autism spectrum disorders, ADD/ADHD, psychological  disorders (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder) and chronic health conditions. Allison also provides consultation services, training and workshops for high school students with disabilities transitioning to college.

 

Mindfulness

I love this video on mindfulness.  We can begin to teach young children mindfulness.  Teens and adults can also learn how to be mindful.  It can be daunting to figure out how to learn mindfulness.  We can help.  It’s important for us to assess how you learn and what your needs are so we can tailor implementing mindfulness training for you.  One of our favorite ways to practice mindfulness is through mindful eating exercises where clients bring in their favorite food.  Talk to your therapist today about learning mindfulness, which can benefit so many areas of your life!

 

 

Talking about Abuse

Talking about assault, rape, or any type of abuse can be extremely difficult

 

People often cope with trauma by burying and pushing it down deep inside to the point it may reoccur as a bad dream or health problems. Clients may come to therapy not even aware that they have been a survivor of abuse.

Family and friends of survivors often mean well and want to help, however; they also may have been affected by your abuse and not be able to help you before they help themselves, or not have the tools such as communication skills to help.

Coming to therapy can be a scary step because you may wonder or say:

  • Am I crazy?
  • What did I do that caused this?
  • It was my fault
  • I can handle this on my own

Please know that when you come to therapy to talk about assault, rape or any experience that we know you may feel hesitant to share, and that we move at your pace.

Therapy is guided by the therapist but lead by the client. You will have control over how the sessions go, are able to set limits on what you do and do not want to talk about. Although, we are the “experts” in this topic and will help educate, support and help you with coping, we are not an expert on you as a person. We will help educate you on the process, what happens to your body and mind after an experience, and ways to deal with stress.

So, if you feel like you want to talk about an experience, but don’t feel like you are ready to share details, or even acknowledge it, you don’t have to. We do want you to tell us that and value you are feeling safe and comfortable in therapy.

We also want to know when you feel you are ready to be challenged. When you are ready, and prepared to cope with the stress of talking about your situation (which we will help you though this process) we will.

 

More Reading, GoodTherapy.org