"WHen you live in a society where exhausting, spreading yourself too thin, and living off of coffee are 'cool' the temptation to consume coffee is everywhere."
What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and there was no coffee left on planet earth? If you’re anything like me, you would go into a straight panic. As soon as I realized that the thought of no coffee was so terrifying, I realized that the only terrifying part of that was my addiction to caffeine. At the request of a class project, I was asked to give up something that I felt I was “addicted” to. It did not take much more than a few moments before I knew that caffeine was going to be the thing that I gave up.
I contemplated it for awhile trying to justify something else so that I could keep my ever so precious coffee in my life, but ultimately I knew: coffee it was, but not just coffee, all forms of caffeine. The project included giving up caffeine for a total of six weeks. Throughout this journey I kept a daily record of the ways that I was thinking and feeling through this process. Many days consisted of headaches, nausea, and feelings of exhaustion. As I worked through the weeks the physical effects lightened, but the mental cravings still persisted. “I just need one cup of coffee because I am tired and I have a long night ahead of me,” was often a thought that I had to myself. “What will one cup really matter?” was oftentimes another. And let’s be honest, there were a few nights along the way that I “slipped” and had a cup of coffee.
Much to my surprise however, when I did have these few cheat cups of coffee, I never finished them. How could I crave something so strongly, but then not even endure when I gave myself the opportunity? Was it guilt? Was I truly adjusting to life without caffeine?
When looking at change in life, Prohaska and DiClemente created a Stages of Change Model which consists of 6 stages of change. It is important to understand that these stages are not linear and that it is normal to jump around in the stages. This model is simply a guidance of what different stages may look like. Personally, I worked through all 6 stages multiple times, some more than others, throughout my 6 week journey.
Identifying the stage of change you are in
Maybe you don’t feel like you are ready to make such a sacrifice like giving up caffeine, but next time that you’re facing a large change in your life, I want you to recognize the stages of change that you pass through on your own personal journey!
Pre-Contemplation: In this stage you have no intention to change your behaviors. There is denial of a problem existing, and therefore there is no motivation to change.
Contemplation: Someone in this stage is able to identify that there may be an issue, but has not yet committed to any change yet. There are lots of hesitations and ambivalence about this stage.
Preparation: At this point, the decision has been made that a change needs to occur, and that starts
with coming up with ways to change behaviors.
Action: In this stage you take action to change your problematic behaviors. You work to find ways to
change the problematic behaviors that have been addressed, and you put those plans into action.
Relapse: After making changes, the person returns to their problematic behaviors in this stage. Relapse
is part of the process when it comes to maintaining change.
When you live in a society where exhausting, spreading yourself too thin, and living off of coffee are “cool” the temptation to consume coffee is everywhere. People all over are making millions off of apparel, mugs, and many other material possessions with witty comments about the need for coffee; and this is not helping the addiction that many suffer from.
When such addiction is encouraged, it’s REALLY hard to choose to give up that particular substance! While I chose to give up caffeine, addiction is found in many more forms such as alcoholism, drugs, and prescription medications. If you feel that you suffer form any form of addiction, here at Resolve we have many counselors who specialize in addiction counseling. There are ways that you can get help and not make this change alone! We can be in this together, what are you waiting for?
Andrea McDonald, Counseling Intern
"Comparison always takes. It never gives. It tends to creep up when we least expect it --even when things are going well. Actually, mostly when things are going well."
Comparison is never on the invitation list. We don't welcome it with open arms. We don't want it around. We try to limit our interaction with it as much as possible. Comparison feels like a pit in your stomach. A race in your mind that you can never win. A belief that you can't get rid of. A fear that rests in the front of your mind, like a stranger waiting outside your door, knocking until you gather enough courage to open and see what she wants.
Comparison always takes. It never gives. It tends to creep up when we least expect it --even when things are going well. Actually, mostly when things are going well.
So what can we do with comparison? It's easy to fall in the mind and body trap when you answer Comparison at your door. It's hard to scroll through Instagram without comparing ourselves to the countless people who seem to have it "all" -- or at least seemingly more than you.
Our minds tell us that we aren't good enough in many areas. Not limited to body image, parenting, dating, relationships, work, marriage, finances, cars, friends, and travel. Many categories scroll through our mind faster than our fingers on the news feed. Remember that there are countless opportunities that Comparison will pound down the door to your mind, but there are things we can do to ease the pit of comparison that rests in our stomachs or our chests and the countless thoughts that it brings with it.
When thinking of comparison, please remember it is a HUMAN condition. It is biologically necessary that we compare ourselves (at least, it was mostly important in caveman days) as a mean of survival. What is not necessary is letting comparison lead to shame and by being attentive to your thoughts and actively working to acknowledge and modify them, we can decrease the voice of the inner critic and build higher self-compassion.
Robin Helget, LSCSW, CPT
"The earlier you raise concerns, the easier it is to reduce symptoms and improve your child’s well-being."
Understanding a child’s behavior can be difficult sometimes. All children have trouble from time to time with emotions, but unlike adults, children are not as good at regulating their emotions. How do you determine when challenging behavior is typical or something more? Let’s start by asking yourself the questions below.
Are my child’s problems getting in the way of his or her day-to-day functioning? A tantrum or procrastination getting ready in the morning, avoiding chores or homework and/or getting to bed on time can be typical. However, if this behavior happens daily, or multiple days a week, for many weeks without successful redirection, this is worth looking into with the help of a professional.
Does my child get enough sleep, exercise and nutrition? Adequate sleep, exercise and nutrition are essential for healthy kids. If you feel your child is lacking in any of these areas, set some goals to make sure these needs are met.
Can my child stay focused when they need to? Sure, children get distracted. But if not being able to focus is preventing them from getting their homework done each week, it may indicate a mental health problem.
Does my child change moods for no apparent reason? Children and parents can have bad days, but if noticeable changes in mood are happening often, there could be an underlying mental health issue.
Is my child flexible with changes to their routine or new situations? All parents hear “I don’t want to” at some point, but if it feels like a struggle whenever something unexpected happens, it’s worth looking into further.
Did something scary or violent happen to my child? When children experience an event that is extremely upsetting or violent, they can develop symptoms and behaviors that may need specialized treatment.
Parents and caregivers are in the best position to observe and consider their children’s behavior. Communicating what you know and asking questions of yourself and mental health professionals can support children in overcoming barriers to mental health. The earlier you raise concerns, the easier it is to reduce symptoms and improve your child’s well-being. Just like your child’s physical health, there is a certain time when you may need to get a professional’s help.
Lori Cull-Deshmukh, LMSW, CPT
"People who use humor during times of stress tend to manage negative situations and emotions better than those who don’t"
Why do we talk about the holidays so much? Because they can be stressful! While there is an abundance of holiday cheer to go around, the holidays can bring added stress as well: kids home for winter break, making your budget stretch to accommodate Christmas gifts, traveling long distances/getting stuck at the airport, surviving dinner with that one family member that just grinds your gears.
How can we cope?
One of the most basic coping skills everyone uses from time to time is HUMOR!
Did you know that people who use humor during times of stress tend to manage negative situations and emotions better than those who don’t use humor? (1,2)
I didn’t either.
This doesn’t mean you have to be Dane Cook or Ellen DeGeneres. You don’t even have to say anything out loud to use humor. Part of what makes humor a good coping skill is that is encourages you to look at a situation from a different perspective.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you are taking the bus downtown to watch a tree lighting ceremony with some friends. You’ve had a bad day and are running late and the bus is crowded. Really crowded.
A person not using humor may think “Just my luck. Now I have to stand on this crowded bus. I hope this is worth all the trouble.”
A person using humor might think “In no other circumstance would it be appropriate for me to stand this close to someone and not know their name or even make eye contact. What would it be like if I stood this close to a stranger at the grocery store?” I imagine thinking about that scene would incite at least a smile as you bounced around, hanging on to the handrail for dear life.
How might these two very different reactions impact the rest of your night? If you could make your life a little more enjoyable, if even for the duration of the bus ride, would you?
One caveat: Not all humor is created equally.
Self-defeating humor and aggressive humor (sarcasm, teasing, anything that damages relationships) while popular among certain types of comedians and television personalities, is associated with increased aggressiveness, depressive symptoms, low self-esteem, and poor psychological well-being.
Instead, stick to affiliative (tell amusing stories to strengthen relationships) or situational/perspective-taking humor like my example above. These types of humor are associated with high self-esteem and lower anxiety and depressive symptoms. (2)
On days when it’s hard to use humor, spend time with friends who make you laugh or watch videos that help you see the world in a humorous light. Take a minute to think about your go-to videos or movies that help you lighten the mood?
Samantha Stites, Counseling Intern
1) Martin, R.A, Lefcourt, H.M., 1983; Sense of humor as a moderator of the relation between stressors and moods.
2) Erickson, S.J., Feldstein, S.W., (2006) Adolescent Humor and its Relationship to Coping, Defense Strategies, Psychological Distress, and Well-Being
"I need to let go of the idea that exhaustion is okay, and put more effort into receiving adequate sleep and increasing time for self care." - andrea mcdonald
In a world that is constantly pulling you in what seems to be hundreds of different directions every day, what do you do to stay true to your own goals and ambitions? We are often told that we need to sit down and set weekly or monthly goals for ourselves to keep grounded, but sometimes that’s just not fun, and can often become defeating! To ensure that this does not happen to me, I am always looking for fun ways to do a little self reflection and self motivation. I stumbled across this challenge and thought it would be the perfect one to share as we end 2018.
For the past 30 days, I have been asking myself a meaningful inquisitive question every single day. I first took a few minutes to reflect on the question in my mind, and then I took a few minutes to record my thoughts in a journal. While these questions may not necessarily have been related to traditional goals, they were food for thought, and something that I otherwise probably would have never taken the time to think about.
My challenge to you is to do the same for the next 30 days. If you miss a day, don’t stress, we’re all human, but then do your best to get back on track and continue the practice. If your results are anything like mine were, you will quickly realize that not only did you develop a new goal and ambition list, but you will have developed an accumulation of entries with much deeper meaning than when you are forced to organically create a goals list.
To get you started, and to learn a little bit about me, I have decided to vulnerably and honestly share with you seven (one full week) of my entries from the past month.
Enjoy my reflections, and cheers to the beginning of your own reflections and growth. Choose to end 2018 by diving more into your intellect, heart, spirit, and core.
If you would like to embark on your own self-reflection journey, here are questions, challenges, and lists that you can use exactly or pick your own questions from.
30 Days - Setting the Intentions
Journal Bullet Questions
For the Joy
"Children are more likely to remember the joy of simple family traditions and time spent together more than the shiny gifts under the tree." - JUlie gettings, lscsw
Last week, you may have celebrated the holiday of Thanksgiving. If not, there are many holidays during this time of year you may be celebrating instead. Either way, this time of year is supposed to be a festive time of fun and family connection; however, for many, the holidays also spark a feeling of underlying dread and anxiety of a hectic and rushed time. Holiday parties, buying presents and getting out those yearly greeting cards are just a few of the things we add to our already hectic schedules during this time of year. We all want our children to have warm and happy memories of the holidays so here are a few tips to help manage the anxiety that comes with the season and enjoy this special time with our kids:
With the holidays here and the snow on the ground, it’s important to take stock of our expectations. Children are more likely to remember the joy of simple family traditions and time spent together more than the shiny gifts under the tree. Take the time to evaluate what’s important and meaningful to you and your family. Make those things your focus and let go of the rest.
Julie Gettings, LSCSW
PCIT and TFCBT Therapist
"It is not your job to cure your loved one of whatever pain they are experiencing. You are there to be part of the solution, not the entire solution."
Trauma happens. Whether it occurs to you or someone close to you, it is something that invariably is surrounding our world, our nation, our state, our community, our friends, and ourselves at times. When we see our friends or loved ones experience trauma, we recognize that we are going to be a main source of support for them during their journey towards healing. Knowing what to say or what not to say can cause significant anxiety because we just want to take their pain away--we want them to feel better.
Understanding your role
One of the first things that you have to understand, before learning what to say or do, is your role as a supportive friend or family member. It is not your job to cure your loved one of whatever pain they are experiencing. You are there to be part of the solution, not the entire solution. Once we strip away this expectation of ourselves being a superhero to our loved ones, we can respond to their grief in a way that is effective, supportive, and beneficial to their overall well-being.
Kelsey Crowe, Ph.D and Emily McDowell talk about how to properly support loved ones in their book entitled “There is No Good Card For This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love”. In addressing the trauma of close family and friends, Crowe and McDowell mention three points: 1) Your kindness is your credential, 2) Listening speaks volumes, and 3) Small gestures make a big difference.
What to do
When you hear the news of a loved one going through something terribly difficult, your kindness and outreach is going to be vital in getting them the support they need. Oftentimes, people will shy away from individuals who have gone through something traumatic out of fear that they will say something that would upset them. There is nothing that will make your loved ones feel more alone than a lack of acknowledgement of whatever trauma they are currently facing. Your kindness is your credential that shows your loved one that you will want to be with them, even when they are at one of the lowest point of their lives.
When your loved one informs you of their trauma, the absolute best thing that you can do is be present and listen to them. Unless solicited, it is highly unlikely that your loved one will want advice on how to handle whatever curveball life decided to throw their direction. For example, your close friend may disclose to you that she doesn’t know if she’ll ever be able to have children due to her fertility issues. Instead of asking her whether or not she has tried x, y, and z, ask her how she is feeling in the moment. Let her talk if she is comfortable talking, and hinder any urges you may have to redirect the conversation to experiences that you have gone through yourself. Devoting the conversation to the concerns of your loved one is a vital step in ensuring that they are getting the support they need from you.
After practicing kindness and active listening, the next step is to take action. Actions that can help alleviate any stress that your loved one is going through, no matter how small, can really make a huge difference in their well-being. For example, you may have a friend who lives across the country that just lost her mom unexpectedly. A supportive gesture could be sending her supportive snail mail with fun things stuffed in the cards (such as gift cards, stickers, etc.). Say you have a friend who lives nearby that is going through a rough divorce. Offer to cook her dinners, take her out, do whatever you think will make her happy.
It is so important for these gestures to be relevant to the needs or wants of the loved one who is experiencing trauma. Instead of telling them to contact you if they need anything, suggest actual ways that you can help out tangibly. People are often hesitant to ask for help, even if they need it, so it will make a huge difference if you readily volunteer specific ways to help ease their overall stress levels.
Marissa Martin, Counseling Intern
"When we live in our comfort zone, we become accustomed to our surroundings and experience little challenge." - elise grigg, Counseling Intern
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
“The magic happens outside of your comfort zone.”
“Nothing grows or gets done in your comfort zone.”
“When you step out of your comfort zone, you are stepping into your greatness.”
You've likely heard one of these phrases or others about our "comfort zone". Each speaks about the power of living our lives outside of our comfort zones, indirectly implying that being inside our comfort zone should be avoided. But what if our comfort zone wasn’t positive or negative? What if it was just neutral? What if, then, we could use our comfort zone to our advantage?
The Comfort Zone
A comfort zone is a psychological state of familiarity, security, and ease – a state where minimal stress and anxiety is experienced, where we feel most at home. In our comfort zone, we feel in control, relaxed, and assured in our routines, and we produce steady, consistent performance results.
When we step outside of our comfort zone, we open ourselves up to risk and the potential of stress and anxiety from the unknown. We generally think of stress and anxiety as negative and bad (in some situations they definitely are), but a healthy amount of each can actually prompt growth, positive change, and creativity.
The Optimal Zone
Just beyond our comfort zone lies our optimal zone. Here, we have just the right amount of stress and anxiety to propel ourselves forward – to challenge ourselves and rise to the occasion. Breaking the habits and routines from our comfort zone is scary, but it provides the opportunity to grow, evolve, and improve. If you’d like to read more about facing your fears, click here!
The Danger Zone
The danger zone is where we stretch ourselves too far from our comfort zone and experience significant amounts of stress and anxiety. We may actually regress or hurt ourselves from going beyond our own safety limits and boundaries. Pushing ourselves too far, too fast lands us in this zone.
Using Your Comfort Zone to Your Advantage
Living consistently in one zone provides little opportunity for growth, learning, and change. When we live in the comfort zone, we become accustomed to our surroundings and experience little challenge. When we live in the optimal zone, we experience challenge but have no opportunity to process, reflect, and accept our learnings. When we live in the danger zone, we become burnt out, exhausted, and in a perpetual state of anxiety.
The ideal zone is a balance between your optimal zone and your comfort zone.
Think back to playing tag as a child. If you stayed on home base the entire game, you wouldn’t experience the risk and challenge of getting tagged. If you never touched home base, you would become tired very quickly from constantly being chased. If you balanced running around and using home base when you needed to, you would have a much greater chance of winning, learning, and enjoying the experience of the game.
Your comfort zone is your life’s home base. Use it when you need a break from your optimal zone. Use it to process, reflect, and absorb your challenging experiences. Use it to learn and re-energize yourself to step back into the optimal zone. As important as it is to break out of your comfort zone, it’s just as important to revisit it.
Elise Grigg, Counseling Intern
"NO one will protect your recovery but you" - whitney harken, eating disorder specialist
The holidays can be a stressful time of year for just about anyone. It’s supposed to be a joyful time of giving gifts, spending time with loved ones, and indulging on delicious foods all while smiling and laughing constantly, right? The truth is, that’s not the case for anyone really. For someone in recovery from an eating disorder, the holidays can be especially difficult with the change in routine, comments and questions from loved ones about their recovery/weight/eating & exercise habits, and overall availability and pressure to eat certain foods.
If you or someone you love is recovering from an eating disorder of any kind, keep in mind the following tips to help you all survive this stressful time of year!
Whitney Harken, LSCSW, CEDS
"By playing games, keeping score, or withholding parts of ourselves, we might be protecting ourselves from potential pain, but we are also depriving ourselves of being truly connected with our partner." -james mcmillian
The ultimate goal of romantic relationships is true connection with another person. To know and accept another and for them to know and accept you. This can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience; however, it can also be scary. Fear of abandonment or disapproval creep up and cause us to play games, keep score, or withhold parts of ourselves. By doing these things we might be protecting ourselves from potential pain, but we are also depriving ourselves from the experience of being truly connected with our partner.
I want to preface these points with the fact that the relationship needs to be a safe place, where vulnerability will be met with acceptance and not abuse of any kind (including verbal and emotional).
The following are some ways to show vulnerability and authenticity in a relationship.