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Anxiety

Impact of Perception on Depression and Anxiety

When we are rigidly fixed to any one role, the loss or fear of loss can bring us depression, fear and anxiety.  The anticipation of change and its uncertainty can consume us.  Depression is lamenting about the past and anxiety is fretting about the future. Neither allows us to touch our lives here and now and connect with a more extensive view and understanding of ourselves.  Depression and anxiety tend to keep us stuck.  They can fuel an inner dialogue that limits our potential, creativity, and openness to life.  This inner dialogue stirs emotions that are real, because we feel them, but not true because they are most often based on incomplete and false narratives that we allow to define our reality. Our perceptions color our reality.  This means that much of our reality, our life, is based on how we define it within ourselves.  We have all experienced days when we have felt down, melancholy, and see the positive in nothing.  On the other hand, when we wake up feeling positive the day is bright even if it brings challenges.  If we can see ourselves from the broader and deeper perspective we learn that we are much bigger than any one role. We begin to be available to learning opportunities in every experience, whether we perceive it as good or bad.  We begin to tap into our inner resources and strengths when we permit ourselves to access them.  The obstacles are the stories we tell ourselves and these stories, again, fuel depression and anxiety. For some they become a habitual loop that plays over and over again.

Life is constantly fluid and evolving.  Change is inevitable.  The roles we play today may not be the ones we embody tomorrow.  How we respond to change can result in suffering, fear, and anxiety. However, if we change our perspective we can be open and receptive to life and the ever-present opportunity for growth.  We often experience significant stress (including fear and anxiety) when we experience something we perceive as a loss.  We may experience a form of loss as retirement, loss of a job, a divorce or break up, the loss of a loved one, or illness.  In these circumstances, some feel helpless, experience fear, and suffer with anxiety.  Those who seek to find opportunity in difficult times often begin to have new and refreshing experiences. They may experience the transformation of sadness into joy, sickness into health, fear into gratitude, and anxiety in to peace. Change allows plants to ripen and fruit, children to grow and learn, adversity to turn to victory, and pain to transform once again to happiness.  We can remain present even during unstable times and become aware of a deeper part of ourselves that allows us to live full lives despite how we perceive the twists and turns of life.  It is important to understand that regardless of what we have lost, or what has changed, we are still whole at our core; we are not simply the roles we play. Through this learning, depression and anxiety may be reduced.

How do we do it? One way we may see ourselves as more than the roles we play is to embark on a journey of increasing self-awareness that leads us to better understand ourselves in an ever-changing world.  Such a journey requires us to seek that constant part of ourselves that remains steady despite outer circumstances and allows us to draw from inner resources and strength.  To foster this journey of self-awareness, we only need to ask ourselves the questions that help to guide us toward deeper meaning and purpose, however we define that.

Such questions help to expand and deepen our awareness of ourselves in the world.  They lead us to uncover blocks that prevent us from living our true purpose, such as rigidly held views or old patterns of thinking.  Make space for some quiet time apart, get in touch with the breath, and quietly explore these questions.  Listen without expectations and allow your inner resources to come up in their own time.  You may want to journal any insights that arise.

“Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life.” -Viktor Frankl

One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves is, “Who am I?” As we ask this question, typical answers arise, such as, “a mom” or “a lawyer.” And as we keep asking this question and listening for the answers, we start to realize that we are more than a parent, a sibling, our career choice, and more than our past mistakes and successes.

When we keep asking the question and start to get beyond the obvious answers, what happens? Answers start to come. First, we identify the external anchors of our identity. But as we keep asking the question, “who am I?” the true answers become clearer. Our internal truth starts to arise.

Answers to this question can allow us to begin exploring our individual wants, needs, and authenticity to create a more meaningful life.  Exploring this question allows us to open, even when we are afraid, to the greater reality that we are, to question the inner dialogue, and connect with our true selves.  Are you willing to ask the question, “who am I?”

Holiday Stress

Managing Holiday Stress

Holiday Stress – Managing to Enjoy the Season

Holiday stress aside, this is an exciting and inviting time of year.  The atmosphere is vibrant with the colors of celebration with family and friends.  The spark of our inner child shines with the warmth of the season and the joy it represents.  As a child, this simply meant soaking it all in and enjoying the lights, food, sweets, and gifts.  As an adult, it can be stress inducing.  We are aware of the time, preparation, and stress that comes with the season.  The holidays, though wonderful, can bring about anxiety and tension if we are not diligent in managing our time, setting boundaries, and taking good care of ourselves in the process.  The holidays can remain a fun and loving experience if we do not lose ourselves in the expectations and angst that often come with trying to create the ideal holiday experience.  Selecting gifts, cooking, attending holiday parties, hosting guests and being with family for extended periods of time can take a toll.  Old wounds and tensions can arise and we may get caught up in the physical and emotional pressure and exhaustion.  So, it is important to take time in advance to consider how you can create a loving and peaceful holiday season that is enjoyable and jolly.

Practical Guide to Managing Stress

Following are some ideas that may help you to better manage the season to avoid holiday stress and maintain peace in your heart!

  • Leave politics at the door. We’ve just been through a contentious election process and we are indeed sensitive to the opinion and position of others.  The country appears divided but that does not mean that we should be!  There is plenty of time throughout the year to voice your thoughts and no one’s opinion will change over a dinner discussion that very well may alienate someone and hurt feelings.
  • If feelings have been hurt, forgiveness and acceptance may be the way. Setting healthy boundaries and not letting them push your buttons will help you more easily deal with uncomfortable and trying situations.
  • Plan your season and decide what you want and don’t want to do. You can say “No” so that you can better manage time and tasks and not be left exhausted.  Maintain your energy so you can enjoy the most important parts of the season.  You are not obligated to participate in everything and you can bow out early if needed.
  • Expect that things will not be ideal. As much as we plan and labor, things do not always live up to our expectations.  The holiday does not have to be perfect and neither do you!
  • If family is far away and you’re unable to join them, get out and about and enjoy places where lights, music, and cheer are waiting. You can also take advantage of the season of giving by helping those in need.
  • Remember the reasons for the season: friendship, family, love, and cheer.  You don’t have to overextend your wallet to enjoy the company of others.
  • Rest and take time for yourself. Exercise and use healthy coping skills to manage your mood and attitude.
  • Keep it simple! The holiday does not have to be elaborate or complex, neither do the gifts, to be enjoyable.  Simplifying allows you to relax into the season in a calmer and more thoughtful way.
  • Be mindful! Not just in meditation, which is a sure way to reduce stress and anxiety but, in daily activities like moving, eating, and shopping.
  • As the holiday winds down, be aware of changes in mood as you get back to life as normal. Plan some personal time at the end of the season and recuperate and regenerate.

Slow Down and Enjoy the Season

These tips can help you to slow down and have space to enjoy the season and the time you choose to spend with others.  Think about what makes the holiday special for you and make sure to include these fun and heartwarming gifts to yourself.  May your holiday season be warm and full of joy.

Jody Morgan is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Boca Raton, Florida. He focuses on treating those affected by trauma, depression and anxiety. He is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and an EMDR Certified clinician. Contact Morgan Center at 561-366-2476.

Anxiety Counseling

Hope for Fear and Anxiety

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.” – Pema Chodron

Life never stands still. It is a river of moments flowing in time. It twists and turns seeming to hide what is just around the next bend. It dries up, becoming monotonous, and the floods with unexpected storms. Its highs and lows create a constant flux that can energize and motivate, empower and enrich, or far too often, confuse and frustrate.
anxiety counseling
The issues and challenges we face are not when we feel energized by life and things are going as expected, but during periods of transition and turmoil. Whether a breakup, loss of job or loved one, illness, retirement, major move, or any other innumerable detours that life can take, we are sometimes unprepared to face the problem at hand. This can result in fear and anxiety. The good news is that there is help.

Depending on our past experiences and coping abilities to deal with difficulties, we may handle the unexpected with ease or find ourselves crippled emotionally and feeling inadequate and groundless. We don’t have to be impeded by fear and fall into the traps of anxiety and depression. We can draw strength and face adversity in the midst of troubling emotions. Here are a few that may be helpful:

  • Get in touch with your feelings and see if they are appropriate to the situation. Identify and acknowledge what you are feeling.
  • Recognize and challenge negative and biased thinking (I can’t handle it, I’m a failure, I’m no good, I can’t do it, etc.) and challenge it. We do not want to feed the internal monster of fear, anxiety, or depression that prevents us from thinking and acting clearly.
  • Change the storyline. We too often create stories that are disempowering and biased. Say “no!” Begin empowering yourself with a more truthful narrative.
  • Focus on what you can control. Let what is out of your control go. You will make more progress identifying and attending to your own behaviors and reactions.
  • When possible, recall how you handled difficult situations in the past and write down the steps you took to resolve it successfully.
  • Think about the desired outcome and your values. What is important to you?
  • Make a plan with realistic goals and commit to action despite distressful feelings like fear, anxiety, and depression.
  • Be kind and gently with yourself, not hard and critical. Engage in self-care that nourishes and strengthens.
  • Seek guidance when needed. Do not be afraid to ask for help.

You can increase your ability to manage distressful emotions and better cope with life’s twists and turns, even the flooding of an unexpected storm that causes anxiety. We are strong and resourceful and far more capable that we give ourselves credit for.

Contact the Boca Raton therapists at Morgan Center for Counseling and Wellbeing at (561) 366-2476 for more information or need help. We offer anxiety counseling and other forms of therapy.

Meditation for Anxiety

meditation for anxiety

Meditation and Mindfulness, a form of meditation, are now well established in the American lexicon and can be heard in almost all areas of life from television advertisements to corporate America. Meditation, in all its forms, is a growing trend as people seek to live healthier and grounded lives in a busy and stressful world. So what is meditation and how can it help you?

Many strange and fantastical images may arise when we think about meditation so it may be easier to begin with what meditation is not. Meditation is not just some exotic man in robes meditating in a remote cave abandoning the world. It is not difficult, inaccessible, or a means to escape from life’s problems. It is also not only practiced in the confines of religion or spirituality though it can be if that is what you are seeking.

Though some of the images that arise may be accurate, it is not complete without including images of business professionals who need to reduce stress and increase clarity, or an athlete wanting to improve performance, or even a friend who wants to reduce anxiety and be more present in life. Meditation is a means of transforming the mind that goes back at least 5,000 years. It encourages and develops positive qualities like concentration, clarity, positive emotions, and calmness. It is a means to take responsibility for our own states of mind and improve them by acting as an antidote for our fears, anxieties, and confusion. Meditation also cultivates positive thinking in negative situations which helps to increase coping skills. It also fosters awareness, being present with life as it is, and being open to life as it unfolds.

“Meditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively.”  -Sharon Salzberg

There are many meditation traditions that use different skills to help the meditator relax and be still. You are welcome to explore the traditions or simply learn to follow the breath and just “be.” Whatever the method you use, meditation trains you to be present with whatever is happening as well as observing thoughts, feelings, and sensations in a nonjudgmental way. This process helps experience thoughts, emotions, and situations with more balance and acceptance.

The benefits of meditation are inclusive of the mind/body dichotomy. It has to potential to increase our physical and mental health. Physical health benefits founded in science include lower blood pressure and hypertension, lower cholesterol levels, restful sleep, increased oxygen intake, and increase in the anti-aging hormone DHEA.

Meditation – Backed by Research

Cognitive and emotional benefits of meditation and mindfulness meditation backed by research are improvements in memory and stress regulation, provides a sense of calm and peace, and brings new perspectives on stressful situations. Meditation, including mindfulness meditation, also helps us to be more present and let go of distressful thoughts, prevents “worry” while increasing “problem-solving,” and help to manage anxiety, depression, and pain.

Mindfulness meditation has been researched extensively and is now included in many clinical interventions and becoming more popular in clinical settings. Boca Raton therapists find that Mindfulness can enhance the tools learned in the therapy session and is a skill that brings its own rewards. One of the many goals of meditation, or mindfulness meditation, is developing “witnessing awareness” which means to watch our actions and thoughts as an observer. This is beneficial because it allows us to take a step back and look at the larger picture. It helps us to recognize negative patterns and behaviors so we can make more nourishing choices.

Meditation is a gift that keeps on giving. It is an oasis in an increasingly busy world. Invest in your own wellbeing and reap the benefits. Whether anxiety, depression, or other difficult situations in your life are leading you to seek assistance, be open and know that change is possible.

Mindfulness is one of the many skills that Morgan Center teaches to enhance a client’s capacity for change and wellbeing. For more information about our treatment approaches, visit Morgan Counseling. For more information about mindfulness or therapy in Boca Raton, contact Jody L. Morgan, LCSW or visit http://morgancounseling.net.