January 2, 2018

Try Some Therapy in the New Year

Posted in Well-being tagged , , , , at 12:15 pm by kellyfdennis

Discover a New Day logo smallDid you (or someone you know) ever have the experience in which life is going along pretty well, you feel reasonably successful in most areas, but there is just one area you can’t seem to get a handle on and it really brings you down and frustrates you? Perhaps you have a great job you love, but you can’t seem to get a handle on snacking excessively while TV watching in the evening. Maybe you’re a great mother with awesome kids, but there is this nagging negative body image that compels you to work out, even when you don’t really want to or need to work out. Maybe you’re a father who is a super sports coach for your child’s team, but you feel incredibly awkward and tongue tied in social situations with your peers.

People often think of counseling as something only needed by people with diagnosed mental disorders; and certainly, counseling is very helpful in those situations and many of my clients fall into that category. However, counseling can also be helpful for those frustrating little stuck spots that annoy an otherwise pretty content existence. Counseling can help with creative blocks, learning better communication skills, and learning how to get along better with the in-laws!

Counseling is also great for life transitions: kids taking off for college, getting married, bringing children into a relationship, retirement. All of these are healthy, but can cause distress from some people. Talking about it, really does help.

The collaborative approach I take with counseling allows you to explore any of those little troubling areas that might be getting in the way of Discovering A New Day! Take that first step and give me a call! (717)951-0266.

Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

December 11, 2017

5 Steps to Improve Mental Wellbeing.

Posted in Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , , at 6:09 pm by kellyfdennis

MandalaColoringEvidence suggests there are five steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing.

If you give them a try, you may feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from life.

What is mental wellbeing?

Sarah Stewart-Brown, professor of public health at the University of Warwick and a wellbeing expert, says: “Feeling happy is a part of mental wellbeing. But it’s far from the whole.

“Feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence and engagement with the world are all a part of mental wellbeing. Self-esteem and self-confidence are, too. So is a feeling that you can do the things you want to do. And so are good relationships, which bring joy to you and those around you.

“Of course, good mental wellbeing does not mean that you never experience feelings or situations that you find difficult,” says Professor Stewart-Brown. “But it does mean that you feel you have the resilience to cope when times are tougher than usual.”

It can help to think about “being well” as something you do, rather than something you are. The more you put in, the more you are likely to get out.

“No-one can give wellbeing to you. It’s you who has to take action,” says Professor Stewart-Brown.

Five steps to mental wellbeing

Below are five things that, according to research, can really help to boost our mental wellbeing:

  • Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
  • Be active – you don’t have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
  • Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?
  • Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
  • Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.    From: www.nhs.uk

Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

March 16, 2014

Self-Appreciation: The Flip Side of Self-Compassion

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 6:02 pm by kellyfdennis

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Originally blogged by Kristin Neff

“Sometimes it’s more difficult to see what’s right about ourselves than what’s wrong. For some of us even thinking about our positive traits makes us uncomfortable. Praise and compliments can make us squirm, and we often don’t know how to respond without self-consciousness. Flattery feels a lot better than insults, of course, but how many of us really take the praise in? Own it. Delight in it. For a whole host of reasons it’s often trickier than you might think to feel positively about ourselves; most of these stem from fear.

One fear involves setting up overly-high expectations. Underplaying our good points means that we’re more likely to pleasantly surprise others by doing well rather than disappoint them by doing poorly. We’re also afraid of letting go of the devil we know. If we’re in the habit of cutting ourselves down, recognition of our positive qualities will feel alien to us. Another fear is the perception of being vain. Nobody likes a narcissist — except the narcissist.

So how do we celebrate our admirable qualities in a healthy way? I believe the answer is self-compassion, which involves treating ourselves with kindness, a sense of common humanity, and mindfulness when considering our perceived inadequacies — though in a different guise. I like to call it “self-appreciation.” When we can enjoy what’s good about ourselves, acknowledging that all people have strengths as well as weaknesses, we allow ourselves to revel in our goodness without evoking feelings of arrogance or overconfidence.

Let’s first consider kindness as it applies to self-appreciation. Would you take your friends’ good qualities for granted without ever acknowledging them or letting your friends know what you like about them? Probably not, yet many of us do so to ourselves. It’s a great gift of self-kindness to appreciate ourselves and to demonstrate our approval with sincere praise. We don’t have to speak this praise aloud, making ourselves and others uncomfortable in the process. But we can quietly give ourselves the inner acknowledgement we deserve.

The sense of common humanity inherent to self-appreciation means that we appreciate ourselves not because we’re better than others, but because all people have goodness in them. To appreciate others’ goodness while ignoring our own creates a false division between us and them. But as a distinctive expression of the universal human condition that animates all our experience, we honor everything when we honor ourselves. As the Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn writes, “You are a wonderful manifestation. The whole universe has come together to make your existence possible.” Celebrating our achievements is no more self-centered than having compassion for our failings. We can’t really claim personal responsibility for our gifts and talents. They were born from our ancestral gene pool, the love and nurturing of our parents, the generosity of friends, the guidance of teachers, and the wisdom of our collective culture. Appreciation for our good qualities, then, is really an expression of gratitude for all who have shaped us as individuals. Self-appreciation humbly honors those who have helped us become the person we are today.

Self-appreciation also entails mindfulness. Just as we need to notice others’ good qualities in order to appreciate them, we need to consciously acknowledge our own positive features. However, we’re often so focused on our mistakes and flaws that we don’t even see when we get things right. What do you notice most when you get a work evaluation, the nine points of praise or the one point of criticism? Some may be concerned that if we focus too much on what’s right about ourselves we’ll ignore much needed areas of growth. This is true only if our focus is, in fact, “too much.” If we take a lopsided view of ourselves — “I am perfect and have no weaknesses whatsoever” — that would certainly be a problem. But the truth is that every human being has both positive and negative traits. Rather than running away with an exaggerated storyline about either, good or bad, we instead need to honor and accept ourselves as we authentically are. No better and no worse. The key is having balance and perspective so that we can see ourselves without distortion.

William James, one of the founding fathers of Western psychology, once wrote that “the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Luckily, we can meet this essential need without depending on other people to approve of us. When we treat ourselves with the same kindness with which we treat our good friends, we’ll have the support and care required to help us thrive.”

To learn more about self-compassion you can visit Kristin’s website at www.self-compassion.org. There are informational videos, research articles demonstrating its benefits, a way to test your own self-compassion level, and a variety of exercises and guided meditations. You can also read more about self-compassion in her book “Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind,” published by William Morrow.

For more by Kristin Neff, click here.

February 14, 2014

Anxiety…Friend or Foe?

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy tagged , , , , , , at 4:15 pm by kellyfdennis

anxiety-fear-puzzle-means-anxious-and-afraid-100236308Many of the clients with whom I work struggle with anxiety; we all have a little anxiety. It helps us study harder for tests, or to be more cautious in a dark alley late at night. Anxiety is adaptive and helpful in normal amounts. However, sometimes, our normal anxiety gets ramped up. Our primitive flight or flight response switch gets triggered when it really doesn’t need to be. Our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes shallow, all of our physical resources rally to confront the danger…but there really is no danger. The “danger” switched got flipped when it didn’t need to be flipped.

This kind of anxiety for some people becomes a panic attack. Fear increases to the point where s/he thinks s/he is going crazy or is going to die of a heart attack. It becomes debilitating because once a panic attack happens, the person then becomes fearful that a panic attack will happen again and takes great precautions not to have this happen. The individual may stop going to places with a lot of people, may stop riding mass transit, and may stop interacting with friends. The fear of having a panic attack becomes all-encompassing.

For others anxiety manifests in social situations; the individual becomes increasingly self-conscious to the point of desiring to leave the situation. There are also people who become severely anxious around feared objects or animals.

There are many different forms of anxiety. If you find that the amount of anxiety you are experiencing is causing any of the symptoms above or is getting in the way of being able to work or have relationships, then it’s time to get it checked out. The first stop should be to you primary care physician to make sure there aren’t any underlying medical conditions that can masquerade as anxiety. If not, then give therapy a try. Cognitive-Behavioral therapy has been found to be very beneficial in the treatment of anxiety disorders. There are also some helpful visualizations and grounding exercises on my You Tube Channel. I hope you’ll check them out and help yourself on the journey to feeling better!

Be Well and Have A Wonderful Day!

 

stefdennis

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Grace on the Moon

Do Not Weigh Your Self-Esteem on a Scale

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