Anxiety-free traveling- How to take a vacation and actually relax!

travel anxiety After the holidays end, the travel bug kicks in. Not only does the bug start to appear more and more, but Spring Break comes up quickly as well. For some traveling is exciting, but it can also be a pain. Do you want to learn how to ease into vacation better? Are you looking to actually relax and enjoy the trips you take? Whether you are alone or with your family it is possible to eliminate travel anxiety as your constant and primary companion.

 

Here’s how:

  • First and foremost, resist the urge to procrastinate. If you know that the budget is tight, and you need to be scoping out travel costs and hotel prices, make this a fun part of the planning process. It can be fun by making the time for it and not pushing it off until the last minute. So, try setting aside time in your schedule for planning around lodging and how you are going to get to your destination in a way that doesn’t break the bank. The more you put it off, the more it will feel like a burden as opposed to an exciting part of the trip.
  • Try to keep in mind the times that you have successfully approached barriers and difficult situations during previous trips. You may not realize this, but you are already your own traveling expert! That’s right…you are your own expert! This is a good reminder for many different situations that can come up in daily life, and if you take the time to do this you will have a tool you can use forever. “How do I do start?” you might ask. Start by acknowledging that you are the primary expert on all things you! Therefore, take some time to reflect on difficult moments when you have had to approach anxiety-ridden situations and how you successfully got through those times. This exercise will help you come up with tools you can use if similar situations arise while you are away from home.

Continue reading Anxiety-free traveling- How to take a vacation and actually relax!

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Think You’re Afraid to Fly? You May Not Be.

Taylor Newondorp MA, LCPC

flying fear  Fear of flying is one of the most common phobias in the United States. You may have a flying fear yourself, or, if not, you definitely know someone who does. A vast majority of the population reports experiencing at least some level of discomfort while flying. For many people it is such a crippling fear that they simply refuse to get on a plane anymore. People frequently use alcohol and/or prescription (or even non-prescription!) medication to help themselves get through a flight with less anxiety, and most people feel a sense of relief once they have landed safely at their destination. But what if I told you that it’s not actually the flying part that freaks you out?

Continue reading Think You’re Afraid to Fly? You May Not Be.

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3 Ways to Increase Mental Wellness

Do these three things to help you start improving mental wellness today!

Abigail Yeomans, LPC

Embrace uncertainty

The more we try to create absolute certainty in our lives, the more we may realize how much uncertainty exists around us. It is a losing battle. Sure, uncertainty is uncomfortable, but is it hmental-health-2019924_640armful? Discomfort will not hurt us and while it is difficult to sit with, there is relieving power in doing so. On the other side of things, rejecting uncertainty can lead to avoidance of people, places, and situations that trigger uncomfortable emotions in our daily lives. That avoidance can then create a shield between you and what you truly value and enjoy in life. It is my advice to embrace uncertainty in order to let go of all things unknown. Letting go of what is unknown to us as opposed to constantly seeking out answers and certainty, will help you start living in the present moment and feel more balanced.

Continue reading 3 Ways to Increase Mental Wellness

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“That’s OCD?” Part 2

3 More Types of OCD You Haven’t Heard Of

By Taylor Newendorp, M.A., LCPC

Previously I wrote about 3 OCD subtypes that most people are not familiar with: Harm OCD, Pedophile OCD, and Sexual Orientation OCD. In the interest of continuing to try and break through stereotypes of what OCD is and help people better understand the complex ways in which OCD may manifest itself, here are 3 more types of OCD that most people haven’t heard of:

Continue reading “That’s OCD?” Part 2

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“That’s OCD?” Part 1

OCD treatment- Chicago Counseling Center(And That People Don’t Like Talking About)

By Taylor Newendorp, M.A., LCPC

The most common stereotypes of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are that it is characterized by someone being overly concerned with cleanliness (excessively washing hands, cleaning and disinfecting things, etc.), someone liking things very organized, or someone repeatedly checking things like locks. These can be symptoms of OCD, and are highly distressing and even debilitating for the person suffering from the disorder. There are names for these OCD types: Contamination OCD, Just Right OCD, and Responsibility OCD, respectively and they are relatively common. However, OCD can manifest itself in an almost countless number of ways, and there are several other sub-types of OCD that are not well-recognized. This is problematic in that people struggling with one of these types of OCD may not have any idea that they even have the disorder, which may cause even more anxiety for them and prevent them from receiving the proper treatment for it. It can be challenging for medical and mental health professionals to properly identify these sub-types as OCD, too, which can lead to misdiagnosis and improper treatment as well. So here are some of the lesser-known types of OCD that people don’t like talking about because of the subject matter they involve:

Continue reading “That’s OCD?” Part 1

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4 Tips to Help You Transition Home This Summer

By: Abigail Yeomans LPC

You may remember how you felt when you left or school in the Fall. There may have been a bit of uncertainty, excitement and anxiety and that makes total sense! Transitioning to college is a big adjustment and one that is only fully realized when you find yourself putting all your belongings into a tiny dorm room with a complete stranger!

After some time, maybe that uncertainty started to dwindle, and the development of a life independent from parents began to settle in. Fast forward nine months and you are headed back home, to all that was so familiar. It may bring up some of the same feelings you had when you left last Fall, but this transition can be even harder. There is a delicate balance between demonstrating respect at home and maintaining freedom, the freedom of identifying as an adult. Therefore, I have come up with a few helpful tips to help out during this time of transition.

1. Communication

A key component of that balancing act is respectful and consistent communication. Communication is essential. The “rule makers” of the house need to communicate with you and vice-versa. Even though at first it may feel frustrating to have to talk more often and check in, but putting the time in sooner rather than later will help you and the entire family adjust more quickly to each other’s expectations for the summer.  In conclusion, it can be difficult for others to know how we feel unless we remain open and honest. So it is an excellent opportunity to assert your needs and wants as you move toward more independence.

2. Routine

It is natural to feel uncertain about how to spend the extra time you have over the summer. Some students describe feelings of anxiety and say things like “I should be doing more” while others describe emotions related to boredom and depression. One way to counteract the worry and rumination associated with anxiety and depression during times of transition is to establish a routine. Routine development and maintenance may help you gain a sense of control and is something that has been proven to assist individuals diagnosed with depression in their recovery. Therefore, why not give it a shot? I would recommend Google Calendar or getting a new planner that you update weekly.

3. Self-Care

Developing a routine is part of taking care of yourself, but self-care is defined a littler more broadly. According to Psychology Today, “Self-care means choosing behaviors that balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors: exercising, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, practicing yoga or meditation or relaxation techniques, abstaining from substance abuse, pursuing creative outlets, engaging in psychotherapy.”

One way to start practicing self-care right now is to ask yourself how well you have been keeping up with hygiene and keeping your space clean and organized. If you want to be doing laundry once a week and notice it is evening out to doing laundry more like every two to three weeks, I have a suggestion for you. Reward yourself for completing your goal of doing laundry every week. Rewards can be anything that motivates you, and they don’t have to cost any money.

4. Balanced social life

You and your old friends are now back in the same place! There is nothing better than being reunited with people you care about, and it is equally as exciting to hear from new friends made at school this past year! However, some people report feeling overwhelmed with social responsibilities and anxiety about whether they are doing enough to maintain new and old connections. Balancing time is critical so that the transition home doesn’t quickly feel like a typhoon of social responsibility. Find some time for yourself and time for your family throughout the week for consistency and let your friends know the days and times that work best for you to prevent potential distress.

If you or someone you know starts to feel like the level of pain and emotion experienced during this transition is too much to handle alone, please reach out for support. As I noted in the communication section of this article, time put in now can reduce the long-term impact of mental health concerns you are noticing and that are disruptive to your daily functioning. There is no shame in getting some additional help, and it is never too late or too early to put yourself first!

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Why Not? 21 Self-Care Ideas You Can Try Today!

By: Abigail Yeomans LPC

There are so many articles out there that describe how to take care of yourself. That must mean something, and you guessed it! This constant conversation suggests that self-care is not only important but entirely necessary to lead a satisfying and healthy life.

The first step to practicing self-care is to acknowledge that you deserve to take care of yourself. Practice saying “I deserve this time for myself” and pay attention to the effect that has on your mood! Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to take a few minutes to decompress.

Here a few other ideas:

  1. Allow yourself two mindful minutes before, during or aself-care and wellnessfter work/ school today
  2. Look up mindfulness apps on your phone and try one of the exercises
  3. Follow through on plans today even if you’re tired!
  4. Take a bath
  5. Light a candle
  6. Dance to your favorite song
  7. Take the scenic route home
  8. Play a game with your friends, kids, partner
  9. Try a new hobby
  10. Cook your favorite recipe
  11. Start an inspirational Pinterest board
  12. Re-read your favorite book
  13. Call someone who you care about
  14. Exercise, even if it is only for 5 minutes
  15. Go to bed early
  16. Write in a journal- try to focus on all the things you did well today
  17. If you have the tendency to be hard on yourself, try saying “I notice I am having the thought that____.” (for more tips like this try reading The Happiness Trap by Dr. Russ Harris)
  18. Take a minute to hold the door for someone when you are out and about today
  19. Look up positive affirmations and try saying one to yourself in the mirror
  20. Instead of dwelling on the past, look out the window and observe what is happening right now
  21. Create a self-soothe kit- put items in a box that help ease anxiety during times of high stress. Focus on the five senses and include items in the kit for sight, sounds, touch, taste and smell.

These are only a handful of ideas that are helpful for folks I have worked with when they want to practice self-care. Even though it may seem like there is absolutely no time to do any of the things listed above, it is so important to give yourself just one to five minutes to simply be! Have any self-care ideas you want to share? Go to our Facebook or Twitter pages to share what works for you!

 

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Depression and a Treatment That Works

By: Abigail Yeomans, LPC

Individuals struggling with depression commonly report an overwhelming sense of impairment when it comes to motivation and engaging in activities that once provided a sense of pleasure or joy. If you have ever thought to yourself, “I know what would help me feel better, but I just don’t feel like doing it” you are not alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, it is estimated that 16 million adults in the United States have had one or more major depressive episodes in the last year (http://www.nami.org/). This statistic includes individuals from various demographic backgrounds. In other words, depression is not exclusive.

The symptoms to look out for are: consistent fatigue, a significant increase or decrease in appetite, psychomotor agitation, depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness and emptiness, interrupted sleep, difficulty concentrating or indecisiveness, feeling extreme worthlessness or guilt, loss of interest or pleasure in most activities and thoughts of death or hurting yourself. If the answer was “yes” to five or more of the listed symptoms, and if you have been experiencing those symptoms for at least two weeks, seeking help from a professional counselor is the next step (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

Ok. So, what could help me feel better? Believe it or not, depressive episodes and chronic depression are treatable, and there is substantial empirical evidence to support how we treat it at Chicago Counseling Center (Jacobson, N. S., Martell, C. R., & Dimidjian, S., 2001).

Using Behavior Activation (BA), we focus on the various events in an individual’s life and how he or she responds to those events. BA is based on the idea that life has provided little rewards too many stressors or problems. Understandably, this can lead to feelings of hopelessness and sadness which can then disrupt basic routines and result in doing less and less of what was once enjoyable and valuable such as spending time with friends and family, going to work or school, and health and wellness related activities.

What treatment looks like with BA:

  1. Discuss what areas of your life are most disrupted by your depression
  2. Collaboratively work to increase awareness of avoidance patterns and unhelpful behaviors that fuel feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  3. Assist in identifying values and creating short and long term treatment goals based on those values
  4. Help clients take small and manageable steps toward increasing involvement in once enjoyable activities and developing a sustainable routine using:
    • Activity monitoring logs
    • Behavior Activation hierarchy
    • Active coping and avoidance tracking
  5. Work together to address barriers that arise outside of sessions and continuously come back to active coping and resisting avoidance 

While it may feel hopeless and extremely difficult to do almost anything right now, coming back to what you value most in life can make all the difference. While implementing BA, it has been demonstrated time and time again that motivation grows when we come back to what is most valuable to us. Eventually isolating and avoiding becomes less comfortable than engaging in what was once difficult before coming to treatment.

 

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC.

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Retrieved June 17, 2016, from http://www.nami.org/

Jacobson, N. S., Martell, C. R., & Dimidjian, S. (2001). Behavioral activation treatment for depression: Returning to contextual roots. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 8(3), 255-270.

 

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