September 26, 2019

Benefits of Mindfulness

Posted in Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , at 2:00 pm by kellyfdennis

calm daylight evening grass*

Mindfulness is certainly a buzz word right now, but it’s been around a long time. Mindfulness is paying attention in the present moment on purpose, without judgement. Mindfulness helps us to get unhooked from ruminating about the past or worrying or over planning for the future. Really, all we have is this present moment and if we’re busy focusing elsewhere we are contributing to our own distress.

Mindfulness has been shown to improve well-being, physical health, and mental health. In recent years the research has shown that individuals who practice mindfulness on a regular basis are more able to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, are more fully present in the activities in which they engage, and have a greater capacity to deal with adverse events. In addition, mindfulness can help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.

There are so many reasons to try it! Click here to learn more.

*Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

September 24, 2019

Stress Headaches

Posted in Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , , at 8:00 am by kellyfdennis

person people woman hand

One question that I often get asked is “Can stress cause headaches?” Yes! Distress can cause activation of the primitive part of our brains, the one responsible for the flight, fight, freeze response. When this part of the brain is activated, chemicals begin coursing through our bodies, readying us to react. These chemicals have various functions, but one is muscle contraction or tension. The body’s stress response, when chronically activated, can cause insomnia, prolonged muscle tension, tightening or “holding” of the muscles (do you find yourself clenching your jaw when stressed?). All of these reactions can cause headaches.

The good news is that mindfulness meditation can help you to pay more attention to your bodily reactions. If you are aware that you’re tensing, you can actively breathe and relaxing. If you become aware that you are ruminating, you can learn to actively stay in the present moment (rumination is a common cause of insomnia). Check out my website for information about upcoming mindfulness meditation workshops, classes, and retreats! Tension headaches can become a thing of the past!

September 3, 2019

Can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Help Anxiety?

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy tagged , , , at 12:19 pm by kellyfdennis

figure-thinking-with-question-mark-100152866

The simple answer is “Yes.” Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of counseling in which negative patterns of thought about the self and the world are challenged in order to change unwanted behavior patterns or treat mood disorders such as anxiety. It is very collaborative in nature and includes homework outside of sessions. Contact me here, to sign up for a free 15 minute phone consultation to see if CBT is right for you! Be well and have a wonderful day!

August 27, 2019

Courage, It Takes Courage

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, Well-being tagged , , at 9:00 am by kellyfdennis

green rice field*

Change is hard. As human beings we really have trouble with adjustment. Sure, some people will tell me they “like change”. What they really like is excitement and novelty, but even they seek familiarity.

Today think about one place you feel stuck in your life. Then take a moment to visualize what it would be like to make the change you’d like to make. Really imagine how your life would be different.

Change is inevitable…spring turns into summer without any input from us. Children go through developmental stages, our bodies age and mature. Might as well learn to embrace it! Sign up on my website for a free 15 minute phone consultation to see if you’re ready to make a change!

*Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

August 26, 2019

10 Ways You Can Benefit from Counseling

Posted in Well-being tagged , , at 8:00 am by kellyfdennis

I am often asked questions like “How does counseling help?” or “Why is counseling important?” I believe seeking counseling is a sign of courage and strength because it helps you take charge of your mental health and leads you to create a life worth living.

The potential benefits of counseling are numerous, but here’s what I think are the top 10:

  • Learning how to change self-defeating behaviors
  • Improving communication skills
  • Personal empowerment
  • Learning life skills
  • Emotional identification and regulation
  • Hope
  • Learning healthier coping skills
  • Greater acceptance of things you cannot change
  • Personal insight
  • Support during difficult times

Sign up on my home page for a free 15 minute phone consultation to find out if counseling is right for you!

August 22, 2019

Choose Joy

Posted in Compassion, Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , at 10:12 am by kellyfdennis

Our brains have what is described as a negativity bias. The brain scans for threats or what might go wrong in any given situation. It’s one of our survival strategies that been a part of us since our creation. It’s a great strategy for avoiding real threats and danger, but when there are no real threats, it gets in the way of us enjoying and living our lives. When the negativity bias is front and center, we get hooked on anxiety, mistrust, and hypervigilance.

In recent research on happiness and joy, a common thread with those who were happy and joyful is that they are actually choosing happiness and joy. As writer Henri Nouwen writes: “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and then keep choosing it every day.”

Brain science is learning more about neuroplasticity. We have learned that how we pay attention rewires the circuits in our brains. Intentionally turning towards joy creates a pathway that refocuses our minds and disconnects the negativity bias. It creates an atmosphere that allows true happiness to exist.

Whatever we practice grows stronger. When we run thoughts about situations over and over in our minds, we are strengthening anxiety and worry. It creates a biochemistry in the brain that causes a kind of “mental rut”. Likewise, when we are grateful, kind to others, caring for ourselves and others, then those are the pathways that deepen and grow.

We can train our minds to soak in the good when we really notice and savor our moments of happiness and joy. Researchers found that just 20-30 seconds of immersing ourselves in the feelings we have when we are hugged by a dear friend, or the laughter of a grandchild, or the beauty and awe of a sunset, we can strengthen the neural pathways in our brains. It can be transformative to pause and sense the goodness that is right here in this moment. When we can notice and feel the happiness and joy for the simple things, then we know we can choose happiness, no matter what.

I offer monthly workshops that can help you learn to train your brain. Click here for more information and to sign up. Be well and have a wonderful day!

July 16, 2019

Mindfulness Meditation to Reduce Stress

Posted in Compassion, Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , , , , at 11:49 am by kellyfdennis

landscape photography of white mountain*

Saturday, August 17, 2019 from 9:00 am-10:45 am. Location: Counseling office: 304 N. George St., Millersville, PA 17551

This workshop is designed to introduce and practice the concepts of mindfulness and mindfulness meditation strategies in a purposeful way in order to facilitate the integration of mindfulness into your daily life.

As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.” As we learn to create intentional present moment awareness, we begin to see changes in our lives that reduce stress. We learn to relate to our difficulties in life with more openness, compassion, and acceptance.

Mindfulness Meditation practices will include: Attention and awareness, Mindfulness of breath and body, Sensory mindfulness, Mindful movement

Each session will be a combination of practice, lecture, and group discussion. Each session is taught in a supportive environment with no more than 8 people. This workshop is suitable for all levels of mindfulness meditation experience.

Cost: $50.00 Kelly F. Dennis MS LPC is the facilitator. Please contact Kelly to sign up or for further information: (717) 951-0266 or kelly@kellyfdennis.com

*Photo by Julius Silver on Pexels.com

June 21, 2019

Dealing with Life’s Uncertainties with Mindfulness Meditation

Posted in Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , at 1:52 pm by kellyfdennis

mountains near body of water panoramic photo*

Saturday, July 20, 2019 9-11am

Counseling office: 304 N. George St., Suite A, Millersville, PA

Whether coping with small annoyances or full-blown catastrophes, this 2-hour workshop leads you through a mindfulness meditation process to strengthen the response flexibility innate in your brain and your being. We will explore how to find calm, clarity and courage in the midst of any adversity.

 In this workshop you will:

-Learn/participate in three practices to return the nervous system to its range of resilience
-Learn practices to cultivate the positive emotions that counteract the brain’s negativity bias
-Participate in guided meditations that create new resources of support in your brain

Facilitator: Kelly F. Dennis MS LPC; Contact Kelly to sign up, space is limited. Kelly@kelyfdennis.com Cost: $75.00

*Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

May 29, 2019

Anxiety

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , at 10:06 am by kellyfdennis

person people woman hand*

The feeling of anxiety is a part of human nature. Looking for danger and negatives kept our ancestors safe. They had reasons to be hypervigilant. In our modern world, occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision.

Anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school, and relationships.

However, being hyper vigilant 24/7 triggers the fight, flight, freeze response in our brain and body, which cause the fear center of the brain to become more reactive over time, leading to a vicious cycle of fear, anxiety, worry and insomnia. Thinking patterns of individuals with anxiety disorders are based in rumination about the past and/or apprehensive expectation (worry) about the future.

There is good news, though. Mindfulness, meditation, and cognitive behavioral therapy can help a person break out of the anxious thinking cycle and actually reverse the damage that anxiety does to the brain. It does this by helping the person focus on the present moment experience, thereby disengaging from the rumination and worry. It also activates parts of the brain that are in charge of relaxing and secreting feel good chemicals. Check out my latest You Tube video to get started on your path to less anxiety!

Be well and have a wonderful day!

*Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

May 15, 2019

Depression

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy, Compassion, Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , , , , at 1:53 pm by kellyfdennis

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair*

Losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, going through a divorce, and other difficult situations can lead a person to feel sad, lonely,and scared. These feelings are normal reactions to life’s stressors. Most people feel low and sad at times. After a good cry or talking with a friend, we usually feel better.

However, in the case of individuals who are diagnosed with depression, the manifestations of the low mood are much more severe and they tend to persist. Crying does not help and talking with a friend is hard because one tends to feel alienated, because others can’t seem to understand why they can’t just “snap out of it.”

Major Depressive Disorder is a debilitating illness. Those suffering describe feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, despair, isolation and lonliness. One of the most difficult parts of treating depression is the negative cycle in which sufferers engage. Feelings of low self worth, negativity, and hopelessness beget more of the same thoughts and the cycle sends the person into despair.

Fortunately, when the individual learns to distance themselves from the cycle of negative thinking, he/she can begin to see a glimpse of light and hope. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, and Meditation are awesome tools to help begin the process of distancing.

Check out my YouTube video for a Cognitive therapy-based mindfulness mediation designed to help you begin to learn the process of not engaging with every negative thought.

Be well and have a wonderful day!

*Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

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