stress

EMDR To Reduce Post-Divorce Conflict

Posted on

emdrMarital conflict, separation, dissolution and court proceedings can be stressful and even traumatic.  The arguments, verbal attacks, grief and feelings of loss or betrayal can be devastating. The result of that trauma, if not resolved, is often anxiety, overt stress, and resistance to interactions with one’s former spouse that trigger extreme anxiety and defensiveness.  When there are children involved, interacting with one’s ex is necessary, but can be the source of ongoing feelings of traumatization, stress and anxiety, in turn creating more conflict, further escalating the negative feelings.  None of these feelings and behaviors are conducive to productive co-parenting or communication, not to mention personal health and wellbeing.  However, EMDR can help.

 

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a well researched and established technique that combines imagery, mindfulness, and cognitive techniques to meet the client’s treatment needs.  EMDR therapy is often used in trauma counseling, the treatment of anxiety, and in the treatment of a number of other issues.   The process of doing EMDR involves focus on a traumatic or disturbing memory while doing back and forth eye movements, listening to alternating tones, and/or feeling alternating vibrations in your hands.  This process enables the brain to resolve emotional trauma and gain insight into the circumstance in a way that is often more effective than traditional talk therapy.

What can EMDR mean for someone struggling with divorce or post-divorce conflict?

  • It can help to facilitate trauma processing.
  • It can reduce undesirable feelings and responses to the triggers of the anxiety.
  • It can help to improve one’s ability to maintain a more rational, productive and un-emotional mindset when interacting with their former partner.
  • It can help to reduce anxiety.
  • It can help to improve an overall sense of well-being.

In a nutshell, the trauma and bad feelings resulting from divorce can fuel conflict and ongoing resentment.  By treating the trauma with EMDR, there is tremendous potential to change the dynamic of the interactions between former partners, and to reclaim a life of peace and dignity following divorce.

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC  http://www.thcounseling.com

Advertisements

Peaceful tip for regulating stress

Posted on

Relaxing on the beach

How I love to think about the beach.  Whether it is in the middle of a Colorado winter, or the middle of the summer, I find great peace thinking of the rolling waves, gentle breezes, salty aroma, and warm sand of a beach.  Many therapists refer to this as a safe place, but  I prefer to think of it as a peaceful place.  Either way, it’s a wonderful reprieve during a stressful time in life.  I often tell clients who are struggling with anxiety, stress or trauma to think of their peaceful place when they have an onset of anxious or stressful symptoms.  I tell them to imagine the sights and sounds, smells and feelings of their place.  I encourage them to breathe deeply, enjoy the sights and sounds, relax and spend a few minutes there. Doing so can lower heart rate, decrease cortisol levels and increase endorphins, all of which improve the way one feels.  As I consider my next vacation- literally or figuratively, I invite you to consider yours.  Where is your peaceful place?

 

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC  http://www.thcounseling.com

Why Learn Positive Thinking?

Posted on

Tree

Take a deep breath and look around you.  Name a few of the wonderful things about this day.  Is it the weather? A conversation with a friend? A delicious meal?  Giving thanks for the goodness in our lives is a great way to start on the path to more positive thinking.   If you need some help getting motivated to begin practicing the art of optimism, here are some things to think about:

  1. When practiced regularly, positive thinking changes the neural pathways in the brain reducing depression and autonomic pessimism, and increasing happiness.
  2. Increasing a non-judgmental stance improves one’s ability to grow and take responsibility for mistakes without feeling the added weight of stress, pressure or shame.
  3. Improved confidence.
  4. Less impacted by the stressors of life.
  5. More positive, connected relationships.
  6. Some research has shown that people approaching life with a positive attitude tend to find more meaning in life.
  7. Positive thinking often leads to a more pro-active approach to physical health and preventative measures for health.  Positive thinkers are more likely to engage in exercise programs and good nutrition.
  8. Improved immune system.  Whether it is due to the pro-active approach to physical health or the reduced stress, research has shown that positive thinking correlates to an improved immune system and greater disease tolerance.
  9. Greater life satisfaction.

So start by being thankful for the small things in life, such as a smile someone gave you or a beautiful day. See where those thoughts lead you in your life and the good things that follow.  Take an opportunity to change a negative thought into something positive—or take a non-judgmental approach to negative people or negative interactions.  There are opportunities in all that we do and ultimately we have choices every step of the way in how we choose to see things.

For more information on thankfulness, please visit: https://denvercounselingblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/thankful-list/

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC             http://www.thcounseling.com

 

Taking Time for Yourself

Posted on

Over the years, I have seen many people come in for therapy to work on feeling happier.  They are sad, struggling in relationships, recovering from divorce or struggling with parenting.  Yet, in their struggles they have forgotten about themselves.  Their focus has been outward on relationships and pressures, but stopping, turning attention inward, and nurturing themselves has been overlooked.  Without properly nurturing ourselves, we run out of fuel faster, leaving us with nothing to give.  We also may run into difficulty genuinely feeling good about others if we have forgotten how to feel good about ourselves, or have allotted no time for ourselves, hence causing friction in our relationships.

Take for example, the case of Julia, a thirty-something mother who works part-time and has two young children.  Her states that her marriage is good, although both she and her husband seem to always be busy or exhausted and in recent years have had very little time to devote to their relationship.  Julia is feeling sad and lonely, in spite of the constant time spent with her children or work.  She also is feeling anxious, worrying excessively about her health or her children’s health.  After spending some time hearing about her frustrations, I ask her how she spends her “alone time” and how she feels about that time, and about herself.  Not surprisingly, Julia really has to think about it.  She has no “alone time” and really has taken little to no time to consider how she feels about who she was before her life became so busy, who she has become, or who she wants to be.  She has lost touch with herself and her feelings of individuality.  In doing so, she has also lost some enjoyment of the simple pleasures that life offers.

At our very core is the need to love ourselves and enjoy our journey.  Enjoyment doesn’t always mean “fun,” but often means simply finding time for peace and contentment.  It can be as simple as a sense of satisfaction for a job well done or taking pleasure in a beautiful sunny day.  Without this, our mood can become dark or overwhelmed, triggering anxiety or depression.  If any of these feelings ring true for you, here are some ways you can break the cycle of self-neglect:

  •  Take action right away when you become aware of having overlooked yourself.  It is much easier to get back to feeling good if you make some changes early on, rather than letting the bad feelings affect relationships.
  • Make it a habit to spend at least 20 minutes alone each day doing something you enjoy.  It could be exercising, soaking in a hot bath, reading a book, or working on a craft.  As long as you enjoy it, and do not feel demands from others when doing it, then it can be extremely helpful in allowing you to regroup and center yourself.
  • Try not to judge yourself.  This is a hard one, as judging comes so naturally for most of us, particularly in this competitive society.  Nevertheless, particularly during your alone time,  allow your thoughts and feelings to flow without judgment of whether they are good are bad, productive or unproductive.  Thoughts and feelings just happen, and, at times, it is good to let them float in and out of your soul just like the clouds passing through the sky.
  • Try to be your own best parent.  How would you compliment your child for a job well done? Try to do the same for yourself.  The same thing holds true for consoling.  If you have had a bad day, comfort yourself with kind words or by wrapping yourself in a warm blanket and relaxing.  It is healthy to nurture ourselves and love ourselves just as we would our child.
  • Be open to accepting that you are human and will make mistakes.  By accepting your shortcomings, making amends, and moving on, you are carrying less weight and are more apt to forgive others.  This goes a long way towards contributing to happiness.

Remember that finding joy in life is often about taking pleasure in the small things and about loving yourself.  Setting aside time to be still and listen to the voice inside is a habit worth nurturing, and is one that can lead to satisfaction and peace both within yourself and in your relationships.

 

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC  http://www.thcounseling.com

 

 

Relationship Stress During the Holidays

Posted on

‘Tis the Season: Shopping, decorating, holiday gatherings, baking, wrapping, and still juggling the day to day responsibilities of work and home. It’s no wonder the holidays can create such stress in our lives and friction in relationships.  Unfortunately the enjoyment of the season can be lost when the tension invades your love life.  However, a few simple changes can help you to maintain peace and make the most of your time together during what is supposed to be a memorable and meaningful time of the year.

Make it a point to tell your partner something positive that you like about them every day.  Do they look nice or did you appreciate something they did?  Be sure to approach the season and your loved ones with an ‘attitude of gratitude.’  You’ll find it is contagious and sets the tone for positive interactions throughout the day! 

Take time each week to spend together relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.  It’s easy to put this one on hold during the holiday season since there are often so many holiday gatherings that can consume your weekend time.  But if you set aside some time to spend together, even if it is taking an hour or two before or after a holiday party, the benefits can go a long way.  Spending some of this time reflecting on memories from previous holidays can be a delight!  Talk about your joys from the past year, your favorite holiday memories, the events you are looking forward to in the year ahead.  You will be quickly reminded that it isn’t the ‘things’ that matter, it is the love and the relationships that make the season so special.

Listen to your partner. With all of the activity at this time of year, tension can build up within each of us as we run from one activity to another.  It is therapeutic just to feel heard.  By listening to what your partner is saying, any tension that they may have accumulated throughout the day could be diminished simply by feeling you have listened to them.  When they feel less tense, you will too!

Remember the ‘Reason for the Season.’  Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, or Kwaanza, the message remains the same:  Spread peace, be thankful and remember that the joy comes from giving rather than receiving.  Being a giver during the holidays as a partner and a friend by listening, slowing down to take time for each other, and being thankful for the simple pleasures in life, can recharge a relationship and help you to get the coming New Year off to a great start!

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC    http://www.thcounseling.com