Loving Your Body

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happywomanMany of my clients struggle with excess weight, body dissatisfaction, and low self-esteem.  They want to feel good in their skin, so they diet, they exercise, they struggle for the lower number on the scale, the thinner silhouette in the mirror. If they achieve their goals, they may feel a temporary boost of self-confidence, but eventually the junk food in the cupboard calls, their willpower wanes, their waistline expands, and their self-esteem plummets again. When weight loss is viewed as an act of self-depravation or punishment it is destined to fail sooner or later.

You only get one body for your whole life, and this incredible organism allows you to experience and interact with the world. Your eyes allow you to see the sunrise, your brain holds all your memories, your legs carry you through every adventure and journey you pursue, your arms allow you to hug the people you love, and your hands allow you to do work that makes the world a better place. No matter what the size, your body is a gift and a treasure. Treat it as such. Stop measuring it, weighing it, judging it, criticizing it, and hiding it. Value it.

John Mayor sings: “love is a verb”. What is he saying? Love is more than just feelings. It is care and generosity toward something that you value. Love is a steady stream of actions. Do you want to feel good about yourself? Do you want to love your body? Then start treating it like something you love. Care for your body. Let it sleep when it is exhausted. Fill it with foods that are nutritious and life giving. When your stomach is a cranky toddler screaming for more cookies, kindly offer it an apple instead. Go for a walk, a run, or a swim because your body is made to move and it feels best when used.  Join a yoga class and help your poor body relieve some of that stress it is constantly carrying around. Get a massage. Drink more water. Your body will most likely thank you by looking and feeling better when you treat it well.

And as for your self-image, remember that feelings follow behavior. So, as you choose this path of healthy living (motivated by a spirit of compassion and kindness, rather than self-deprivation and shame), you will gradually grow in confidence self-respect. The simple truth is this: the way to love your body is to love your body. If this is a struggle for you, get some outside help. Find a friend or counselor who can encourage and support you along the way.

Carla Munger, MA LMHC

Listening Ear

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Phone2A recent customer service experience reminded me of the importance of listening. I had a question regarding some software, and I called the company’s technical support line. The person who answered was polite and asked what the problem was. I explained it briefly, and he responded with a suggestion. However, it was clear by his response, that he did not understand my question, or the problem I was trying to describe. I attempted to clarify, using more descriptive words “in the upper right hand corner, the orange button, the dropdown menu has 3 choices…”  The customer service representative again repeated the same suggestion. I was beginning to feel like I was talking to a machine, and my message clearly was not getting through. I attempted again to express the problem. This time I started with “I’m not sure if you’re understanding my question. Let me try to describe it again.” I spoke more slowly, I used even more descriptive words, as many as I could think of. I really needed help, and this was the only venue I knew for getting my questions answered. I needed this guy to understand what I was asking. For the third time, when I finished speaking, the representative repeated similar advice. The advice was not relevant to my question. In fact, it was so irrelevant that I could only conclude that this person either didn’t hear anything I said, or they were intellectually challenged. Either way, continuing the conversation was a waste of time. By this point I was frustrated. I could feel my breath becoming shallow, my heart beating faster, and I had to bite back a rude comment. Instead, I thanked him for his time and hung up the phone.

It is maddening not to be heard or understood! I was not upset that he couldn’t answer my question. I was upset that I didn’t feel heard. No matter how hard I tried, my message was not getting through. This same dynamic is often the reason that toddlers go through the “terrible twos” stage. They have begun to form their own opinions, thoughts, and preferences, but they don’t yet have the vocabulary to communicate what is going on inside. This frustrating experience can lead to temper tantrums and melt downs. When people (young and old alike) don’t feel heard, frustration is the most frequent emotional response.

How could the customer service representative have done a better job? He could have repeated what I said, assuring me that he actually heard me. “So you clicked the orange button and then you saw the drop down menu.” He could have asked some clarifying questions “How long has this problem been happening? Does it happen every time, or only occasionally? Have you tried running the program on another device?” He could have made a comment that let me know my problem mattered to him “I am sorry that you are experiencing this, I will do my best to help resolve the problem.” And finally, if he didn’t know the answer, he could have said so, and then re-directed my question to another person who could help. I would have appreciated his honesty and his listening ear, whether or not he was able to answer my question.

You can show those around you that you care by simply giving them a listening E.A.R.:

Explore: Ask questions to help them tell you the whole story “How long have you been dealing with this? What solutions have you already tried? What are you thinking about all of this”

Acknowledge: Repeat what you have heard them say, and ask “is that right? Show that you see and respect the person’s experience and their feelings “It sounds like you’re feeling stressed” or “If I was in that situation, I might feel angry.” Or “That sounds really disappointing.”

Respond: Remember to ask before you answer! “Would you like to hear my thoughts?” “How can I help?” “Can I tell you what I have noticed?” “What would you think about trying _______?” “Have you thought about______”

Once we are heard and understood, our frustration level goes down, we are more receptive to what others have to say, and those we are communicating with are far more helpful because they really understand what we are saying.

Carla Munger, MA LMHC

Holiday Family Boundaries

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Parenthood ChristmasAs the holidays approach, our TVs are flooded with commercials depicting blissful families, gathering around delicious meals, in perfectly decorated homes… It appears that every family is happy and drama free (as long as they use the right kind of mayonnaise or whatever the advertisers are selling).

And then there is real life. Relationships can get messy and complicated. Even with the best of intentions, parents of adult children can get too bossy, in-laws can act insensitively, and many of us give of our time or resources beyond what we are comfortable with out of a need to please or a fear of saying “no”.  If you find yourself approaching family gatherings with ambivalence, guilt, anxiety, or even resentment, you may want to take a look at your boundaries.

For centuries, cultures through out the world have had some form of the proverb: “good fences make good neighbors.” We can also say that good boundaries make healthy families. Why? Because in order to have a healthy relationship, we must be clear on where I end and you begin. If your personal boundaries are weak, you may find yourself giving gifts that you can’t afford, disclosing personal information to a nosey inquirer just because they asked, or spending the holiday driving all over town because you feel guilty if you don’t visit all of the extended family.

By stopping to clarify your personal boundaries, and creating a plan for maintaining those boundaries, I hope that you can alleviate some of that guilt and stress and find more satisfying connections this holiday season. Here are some simple steps to establishing your personal boundaries:

Define: What is most important to you, and how will you honor your values this season. How will you spend your time, money, and energy? Do you want to see everyone, or will you invest your time in a few special relationships this season? How much money will you allot to giving this holiday season? Will you keep your parent’s traditions or start some of your own? Are you comfortable attending religious services? Before agreeing to an activity, ask yourself “if I say ‘yes’ to this, what will I be saying ‘no’ to?”’

Plan: Be proactive in establishing plans that reflect your values. If you have realized that you can’t afford to participate in the traditional family gift exchange, let them know early through a group email. For example, “Just wanted to let you know, I plan to show my love through home made gifts this year.” If you feel strongly that you would like to spend Christmas morning at home this year, decide how much time you want at home, and let your extended family know what time you will be ready to join in the activities. It is much easier to set boundaries when you focus on the things that matter to you, rather than things you want to avoid.

Be Prepared: There will always be requests or expectations that you are not able or willing to meet. If you anticipate those situations, mentally rehearsing how you want to respond, you will be ready to hold your boundaries. It can help to let others know that while you would like to say yes, the cost for you would be to great. For example: “I would love to come visit this year, but if I bought that plane ticket I wouldn’t be able to afford my rent next month.” Or, “I’d like to host Thanksgiving, but since I have to work the day before I would be up all night cooking and I would be falling asleep in my mashed potatoes the next day.” When you feel cornered by an overly personal question, have a few other topics that you can gracefully change the subject to. For example, when Great Aunt Lucy asks why you’re still single, try responding with “I know that you care and want to see me happy. I would really rather talk about the things I’m doing right now. Did I tell you about the new project I’m working on?”

If you want to implement these steps, but you’re having trouble getting started, there may be some deeper roots involved. Perhaps your boundaries have been overstepped one to many times, or you have trouble believing that your feelings matter as much as everyone else’s. If setting boundaries is a challenge for you, individual counseling is one of the most effective paths to healing. I would love to help you establish boundaries and enjoy the upcoming holiday season!

- Carla Munger, LMHC

Call to make an appointment today at: (425) 295-7697

Not All Bad Words Have Four Letters

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Not All Bad Words Have 4 Letters: Tips for developing a more positive perspective

One of my least favorite words is SHOULD. I am trying my best to eliminate it from my vocabulary completely. Easier said than done. What’s so bad about should?  It turns even the most innocent of plans into a matter of good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, success vs. failure.

For example: “I should eat more fruits and vegetables.” Sure, more fruits and veggies are great for my health, but when I use the word “should” in this statement, I feel a sense of burden and obligation. An apple suddenly sounds like a punishment, instead of a healthy snack. Now, I’m thinking if I don’t eat more fruits and veggies I’m really blowing it. I start beating myself up and my self-esteem suffers. However, if I tell myself “I want to eat more fruits and veggies so that I feel better and have more energy.” I am reminding myself that I am in control of my choices, and I am focusing on the benefits my healthy choice will bring me.

“Should” statements don’t work well relationships either. When I think about others in terms of “should,” it often leads to blame and anger. When I think to myself “my spouse should have called to tell me he was running late.” I find myself feeling frustrated. And, if I tell him “You should have called.” He is likely to feel criticized and respond defensively. Alternatively, if I say “I was worried. I wish you would have called” he is more likely to understand my feelings and be more aware next time.

Other versions of “should” include “have to” and “ought to.” They are all just as demoralizing. A simple change in wording can make a big difference in the emotional content of our thoughts and conversations. Here are some more examples, and some simple alternatives to get your mind going

“I should call my friend” Vs. “I want to call my friend.”

“I have to go to the bank.” Vs. “I am going to the bank.”

“I ought to exercise more” Vs. “I will feel better if I exercise more.”

“You should have remembered.” Vs. “I am disappointed that you didn’t remember.”

Should is just one of the 10 Automatic Negative Thoughts “ANTS” that I often help clients to overcome. Words, weather thought or spoken, have power. If find that your internal dialogue is bringing you down, let’s talk.

-Carla Munger, MA LMHC

Self-Care or Selfishness?

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Self-Care or Selfishness?

I recently read an article in which Gisele Bundchen, supermodel wife of famous quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, spoke of how she intentionally chooses daily acts of self-care to be a better mother and wife (http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/style/article1470593.ece).  This statement stirred up a fair amount of controversy from the public and media.  Some called her selfish for putting her needs before her child’s, some dismissed her ability to engage in self-care as a benefit of the wealthy and privileged and still others supported her statements as truth.

Self-care is something which is not often fostered within us when we are young.  Even if our parents discuss it with us it often it takes a backseat to watching the people who raise us sacrifice every piece of their own time in service of their jobs, children and extended family and friends.  This teaches us that others are more important than ourselves.  The result of this is a disconnection from our own needs, desires and deeper sense of self, resulting in discontentment and struggle.

Some signs that you are not engaging in enough self-care activities are:

·         Feeling overwhelmed

·         Feeling depleted and fatigued

·         Feeling disconnected from others

·         Feeling anxious, angry or irritable

·         Having a sense  of just moving through the motions

·         Sorrow, tearfulness, moodiness

·         Poor sleep 

Self-care does not have to cost money.  By definition self-care activities are intentional time set aside to nurture yourself in some way.  These activities are highly individual, what one person experiences as re-energizing and fulfilling another may find exhausting and draining.  Self-care may be spiritual, physical, social or emotional.  Some examples may be:

Spiritual:  prayer, meditation, study of religious texts, singing, spending time in nature

Physical:  exercise, sleep, nourishment (food), going to the doctor, massages, recreational pursuits

Social:  connecting regularly with friends, dates with your partner, asking for help, spending time with pets

Emotional:  keeping a journal, finding ways to laugh, giving yourself daily affirmation

We cannot be our best in connection with others in our lives if we do not care for and nurture ourselves.  This is the opposite of selfishness, it is benevolent.  As Gisele aptly stated, “You know how they say on the plane you have to put the oxygen mask on first and then put it on your child?  So I think it is the same, as a mum, to take care of myself.”

How will you put on your oxygen mask today?  Tomorrow?  The next?  Make a list and make time for you, every day.  With time, you, your family and community will benefit from your commitment to your own well-being.

 

-Aimee Bakeman LMHCA

Teen Friendship Issues and the Art of the Comeback

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Upset Teenage Girl With Friends Gossiping In BackgroundIn my practice I frequently hear teens refer to the kids who bother or annoy them as bullies. I think schools do a fairly good job on getting the word out about who bullies are and how to stand up to them, but I’m not sure they differentiate between the other type of teasing teens experience which is more normative and how to respond to that. The way that your teen responds to teasing will determine how often they get teased. If you’re like most well intentioned parents, you listen to your son or daughters concern about their friendship issues and give them advice such as to “ignore them”, “walk away”, or “tell a teacher”. Unfortunately this advice does not typically work. It can make the teen look weak and subject them to further teasing in the future. The key is to not give the teaser the reaction that they are looking for. Less skilled teens may respond defensively or geared up for a fight. Others may not respond at all, or walk away giving the teaser power. Research investigating what socially skilled teens do reveals that a short comeback that conveys indifference actually decreases future teasing. A comeback is defined as a quick reply to a critical remark. Here are the steps to respond to verbal teasing:

Act like what the person said didn’t bother you and was kind of lame or stupid

Give a brief comeback that shows your indifference

Walk away after a few verbal comebacks

Use non-verbals such as rolling eyes, shrugging shoulders, shaking head in disbelief

Some examples of short comebacks that are effective include:

Who cares?

Big Deal

And?

And your point is?

And why do I care?

Whatever

So

Anyways

Okay

Am I supposed to care?

Is that supposed to be funny?

Tell me when you get to the funny part?

Next

Teens often need to practice this for it to come off effectively. Parents can help by role playing situations with their teen so they are ready with their comeback when the teasing hits. Caution them to not engage in any insults or the teasing will likely escalate to a fight. Effective use of the comeback builds confidence and decreases future teasing. The key is boredom and indifference. 

Dr. Amy Ford

Hello My Name is Kris and I had a Video Game Addiction

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kid video gamingHi, my name is Kris and I used to be addicted to video games.

Growing up during the Great Console Wars of the late 1980′s and 1990′s, I recall having a great fondness for various types of video-games. I grew up as a devoted Nintendo fan and loved games that took you on a grand quests. Legend of Zelda, Secret of Mana, and Chrono Trigger expanded my love for games that, like a book, made you part of a journey to discover yourself little by little.

The love for adventure later transferred to Xbox and Playstation games that brought visually appealing cinematic features into gaming. Rather than playing games for briefly 30 minutes, I became caught up in the cinematic and gaming mechanics that draw you in even further. Halo and Final Fantasy games expanded the number of people that I could interact with and share the same fondness of gaming with.

But was I addicted to such an entertaining gaming life lifestyle? In a sense, I might have been. There were times when I would constantly distract myself in 3rd grade math and obsessively think how to successfully clear Metal Man’s stage in Megaman 2 or cut down the time to complete Super Metroid. Or find better ways to farm money and get more XP in Borderlands playing solo or with my friends. Or obsess about designing the best and fastest sniper mech in Armor Core 4.

Then I asked myself, “Was I playing too much? Did I obsess about clearing stages or getting achievements without any care about my personal health or welfare? Did I play video games to avoid negative feelings or lie to others how much I’m actually playing?”

The answer was… Yes.

What I realized was that I needed a balance between the gaming world and real life. It became an issue when the gaming world started to dominate how I interacted with others in real life. Correcting this issue for me needed to come through taking personal responsibility and making a dedication-but different methods work for different people. Over the past few years I have been able to help people work through their video game addiction and get to the root of the underlying issues.

If you or someone you know is stuck in this loop and wants to learn more about how to overcome video game addiction, please contact our office to set up an appointment with Kris Rouse.

Office: 425-295-7697

Email: www.dayspringbehavioralhealth.com/contact/

- Kris Rouse, LMHC-A

 

 

Is It Better to Have Dieted and Lost?

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iStock_000030947772MediumIs it better to have dieted and lost, than never to have dieted at all? Unfortunately, research tells us the answer is no. In fact, 80-90% of dieters return to their original weight within a few years, and two-thirds regain more than they lost. This launches the cycle we often refer to as “yo-yo” dieting. The reason for these disappointing statistics is that few diets teach the permanent lifestyle changes necessary for long term weight management, and even fewer address the mental and emotional aspects. While these statistics are disheartening, there is good news as well. Research shows that people who engage in cognitive behavioral therapy as part of their weight loss treatment greatly improve their chances of maintaining weight loss over time.

As an advocate of the holistic healthcare approach, I believe that weight problems are most often a symptom of a life out of balance. Perhaps the issue is stress, an unhealthy relationship, or an emotional wound from the past that has not yet healed. Maybe negative self-talk and low self-esteem have become a self-fulfilling prophecy trapping you in a cycle of shame and emotional eating. Let me encourage you today. There is hope for a healthier and happier life. Take a moment and ask yourself “how would my life be different if I was at my ideal weight?” Would you enjoy social gatherings more, spend more time in nature with your family, or eliminate the need for blood pressure or cholesterol medications? The first step is seeing a better future ahead.

I am here to help. I provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in a supportive, encouraging, and non-judgmental environment. We will start with a comprehensive intake where we will get to know one another. You will share with me your goals and challenges, and I will answer your questions about my therapeutic approach and treatment plan.  In order to provide comprehensive care, I network with reputable naturopaths, nutritionists, and personal trainers in the Issaquah area. This makes Dayspring a great place to begin pursuing your weight loss goals in a healthy and balanced way.

To begin taking the next steps toward a better you call my office today and schedule an appointment at 425-295-7697 or www.dayspringbehavioralhealth.com

Carla Munger, MA LMHCA

The Same Old Argument

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iStock_000019747017MediumEver feel like you and your partner argue about the same things repeatedly?  I remember the first argument of our marriage over cleaning supplies; specifically the cost and the necessity of them.  We each were on different sides of the fence; one on the side of necessity of specific products for each job and scheduled cleanings, and the other on the side of doing it when necessary with what products you have.  Even though that was well over a decade ago, looking back I can see it was about deeper values than housecleaning styles; one of us valued conscientiousness, perfection and structure and the other thrift, flexibility and spontaneity.  And we continue to have similar arguments about different things with the same underlying value differences:  Should the kids have to go to bed at a certain time or just when they are tired? Do we plan our vacations for the year or decide just before?  Book childcare for days I may work or just wait until I know I will be working?  They all tie back to the same conflict:  conscientiousness, control and structure vs. thrift, flexibility and spontaneity.  It is unlikely that this will change.  In fact, Dr. John Gottman has researched how and what couples fight about and has found that 69 percent of the conflicts couples have at the start of their marriage never go away despite whether the marriage is satisfying or not.  This is because on a core level there is a difference in values based on the family we were raised in and our dispositions.  Does this mean this marriage match is doomed to failure?  In fact no, because we can build skills to manage conflict effectively at any point in a relationship.  Some tips to successfully navigate conflicts are:

 1.  Make “I” statements instead of “you” statements –  “I feel hurt when you tease me in front of friends”  vs.  “You’re mean for teasing me last night.”

1.  Make “I” statements instead of “you” statements –  “I feel hurt when you tease me in front of friends”  vs.  “You’re mean for teasing me last night.”

2. Describe what is happening instead of evaluating and judging – “I seem to be doing a lot for the baby today and I am exhausted.  Would you please change him for me?” vs. “you never help with the baby”.

2. Describe what is happening instead of evaluating and judging – “I seem to be doing a lot for the baby today and I am exhausted.  Would you please change him for me?” vs. “you never help with the baby”.

3. Be appreciative even when in conflict – “I appreciate that you are willing to discuss this with me.”  Using “please” can also help take the edge off of a conflict.

4.  Notice when you or your partner appear overwhelmed and take a time out – When we are physiologically over-aroused by conflict our problem solving abilities disappear, making communication difficult.  If you notice your heart is racing, you are sweaty or you are having trouble listening ask for a time out with an agreement on a specific time to return to the discussion later.  Wait at least 20 minutes.  This might sound like “I am feeling really overwhelmed right now and I don’t seem to be doing a good job listening.  Can we take a break and discuss this after dinner when I am calm?”

Even though an argument may seem to be on replay, it doesn’t have to undermine the satisfaction of the relationship.  When conflict arises, communicating respectfully, appreciating the other person’s perspective (even if not agreeing) and owning your own feelings, thoughts and behaviors by voicing them can make the conflict less damaging to the relationship.

 

To find out more about successfully managing conflicts or improving your relationship call Aimee Bakeman for an appointment at (425) 295-7697 or www.dayspringbehavioralhealth.com

Hope, Patience and Persistence

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HopeOur challenges provide us opportunities to grow, change, reset our goals and strive for something. I believe this stronger now. On May 23rd, 2012 I began a journey of one of my most difficult challenges. Hit by a texting driver going 40mph into my stopped vehicle, the impact is something I can still vividly recall. The next two years of doctors, chiropractic, painful massage, tests, and rehab appointments to treat the injuries were exhausting.

The daily chronic pain and headaches is something only another chronic pain sufferer would understand. Doctors asked about my mood and if I was depressed. Being a mental health professional I thought I knew depression well from my patients, but had never experienced it myself. I denied symptoms of depression because I continued to move forward, go to work, and live my life. They say hindsight is 20/20. I realize now that I am past the worst of it, that I was depressed and I know more about depression because of it. Depression affects people differently and often when we are in it, we can’t tell, we just feel muted. For me, the chronic pain and stress of trying to treat my symptoms and limited exercise negatively impacted my mood.

“There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow.”- Orison Swett Marden

Hope was an essential part of my healing story. I had hope that the next treatment would work and trusted the professionals that I worked with. Hope is something that grounds us, whether its an expectation of something better or the meaning we assign to difficult times. Hope was a beacon of light for me that got brighter and stronger as I moved through my journey of healing.

Patience has never been my strong suite. I’m the type of person who likes things fast, and would rather do it myself than wait. The past two years required me to be patient. To be patient with the doctors, the appointments and the process. To be patient with my body and not push it before it was ready. To be willing to rest, recover, and be still. To be more mindful and prioritize self care.

Finally I had to be persistent. Persistence is defined as a firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. Benjamin Franklin said “energy and persistence conquer all things.” To overcome this challenge, I had to be persistent. That meant showing up, following the advise and guidance of health professionals, and advocating for what I needed. Persistence for me meant not giving up hope that I could recover. It meant expecting that I would.

In June of this year a neck surgery to remove a rib and scar tissue largely fixed the problem. The doctors said I was done treating. That was both thrilling and terrifying news to hear. The medical profession views treatment end as absence of symptoms related to the injury, but what about my fitness and mental health? What about making me whole? Yes my “treatment is over” but now my journey to physical and mental wellness and wholeness has just begun. The pain has subsided, but I am not who I was two years ago. That’s the interesting thing about life’s difficulties, you never come out the same person and in many ways I am grateful.

I was hit by a car and it changed me. I am better. I am stronger. I am mentally tougher. I understand and can help.

Call us today for an appointment. 425-295-7697 or www.dayspringbehavioralhealth.com

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