Monday, May 20, 2019

Why Worry?

Recently, a reprint of the book Why Worry by friend and prolific author, Eric A. Kimmel was recently released. Gayle and I loved this book and read it to our children, then sent it around to friends and because we liked it so much. With major encouragement to Eric from Gayle and me, we pushed Eric to see about getting it back in print. He was successful.This book has an empathetic message to help children with worry and anxiety.  We felt that this book was quite timely to help children understand there are ways to manage their worry, especially during these very stressful times in schools. We highly recommend this book for all parents who have children with anxiety problems, worry or tendencies to be fearful. There is a lot to be learned from Cricket and Grasshopper on having a positive attitude, optimism and trust. In psychotherapy lingo, CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques can be very helpful to children. The message of the book addresses doubt, worry and negativity. Parents can use this children's book as an opportunity to explore and redirect worry in a creative manner. Highlighted at the end of the book are various methods to help with worry. Gayle (mostly) and I put together ideas of re-framing worry with reassurance, re-focusing on a positive adventure, opportunities to role play with your child managing their worry, ideas on  managing conflict, enhancing communication, relaxation strategies, and how to intervene when your child is struggling. In fact, there is even a curriculum developed for teaching to help with expanding the book in creative ways. Just click on the bold links to go to the sites to take a look at what is available to you. 
Why Worry Book Guide Written by Eric A. Kimmel Illustrated by Aiko Ikegmai Guide created by Val Hornburg.
To purchase this book, go to this link. 
Why Worry? Amazon link. 
For this and other amazing and wonderful books by Eric, go to his website. 
Eric Kimmel Website

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Meditation Class

Zazen, which means sitting meditationIf you have ever been interested in learning to meditate, you can't find better teaches than those being offered at the Houston Zen Center. Link to: Houston Zen Center.
Zen, "Learning to Still Your Mind."  Benefits and research on meditation is prolific. Some noted benefits include the following; Improved sleep, attention span, reduced stress, enhanced immune system functioning, lowered blood pressure, and improved blood flow, However, most significant is in the realm of enhanced spiritual growth, physical and emotional well-being. After meditating with these sitting meditation practices, you will find a greater sense of compassion and kindness from within. Go ahead, you know you have wanted to learn to meditate your whole life. Take this opportunity. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Curse of Prorastination

Common thoughts or inner dialogue of procrastinators. "I'll get to it later. I'll do it tomorrow, I still have time."
Procrastination is a thief of time, value and a dream killer.
Well, what is really happening is avoidance, fear, anxiety or worse, feeling incapable or unable to measure up to the task or challenge to be perfect!! If you have to be the best but inwardly feel you may fall short, you avoid even trying. Waiting until the last minute for any endeavor creates more stress and adds to a sense of feeling overwhelmed by a project. Waiting or delaying a project will add to the fear and ultimately sense of urgency, if not desperation to get going. Lateness  for work, class, deadlines, appointments also become more common making you feel even worse. Excuses and rationalizations become a way of being. However, take a look at this poster. The reward of delaying, avoiding pays off in the present moment. What is the remedy?Get started!!!! 
Taking on projects in small time increments, being disciplined and scheduling is where to start. Mark Twain said this way: EAT A LIVE FROG EVERY MORNING AND NOTHING WORSE WILL HAPPEN TO YOU THE REST OF THE DAY." Once you take on the most difficult task, project or problem, everything else becomes easier and possible. There is a book of 21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating, of course, if you are reading this blog, you won't likely take action on reading it. A good reference article can be found on this link. Procrastination Article

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Compassion Fatigue in Lawyers

This is a wonderful panel discussion put on by the Texas Bar to help lawyers with managing their lives in a positive manner. This is a link to the podcast. 
TLAP Podcast Chris Ritter and Eric Grigg from TLAP describing their struggles as a lawyer, person and professional.  Stress, anxiety, depression and extreme pressures of law school, perfectionism and managing the demands of their clients took a huge toll. This program presented in conjunction with  TYLA or Texas Young Lawyers Association was outstanding. I was happy to be a subject matter expert on the topic of compassion fatigue. So, what is compassion fatigue?
Compassion Fatigue also know as Secondary or Vicarious Trauma can make a tremendous emotional impact on lawyers over time. Secondary trauma is commonly referred to as "the stress resulting from helping or wanting to help a traumatized or suffering person."* Dr. Laurie Pearlman, an expert in the trauma field prefers the term vicarious trauma to describe the "cumulative transformative effect of working with survivors of traumatic life events." 
Over time, these conditioons can even lead to PTSD. 
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition characterized by either witnessing or experiencing a terrifying life event. Common symptoms include nightmares, severe anxiety, flashbacks, and obsessive or uncontrollable thoughts. These symptoms may occur immediately after the event, or they may not develop until years later. There are four types of PTSD, including intrusive memories, avoidance, adverse changes in mood and thought, and emotional reactions and physical changes.
Coping mechanisms tend to be rather unhealthy. Avoidance of feelings, drinking, drug use, overeating, symptoms of sleeplessness, loss of appetite, anxiety and depression follow. 
How do you fill your tank? Well, that all depends on how out of balance you life, relationships, sleep, nutrition, work, exercise and spiritual live has become. The remedies are reliable and work, but require time, attention and support. Get help sooner than later. Remember, the balance of work, love and play matters. If your life was a pie with 3 slices, what would each slice size look like right now? What would improve your life to make changes in how you allocate your time?

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Criticize or Affirm Your Child...

Take a moment to consider how much of the time are you correcting, criticizing or critiquing your child's behavior? If your comment count is not more positive than negative, you might want to rethink how and what your communication is doing to your children. You may say, well, I am just trying to help them, save them grief, stress or show them the "right" way to do something. It is my belief that mistakes or even failing at something builds character and resilience. Learning to take responsibility for actions is actually one of the best way to learn and self-correct. If you as a parent are always vigilant working to solve problems for your children, how will they learn to do this for themselves? Or course, issues around safety is another matter. Setting limits, having boundaries and providing a framework for independence is a great place to start and parental responsibility. Checking grades, or hounding your child about homework is not your domain, it is theirs. The earlier this is learned, the more opportunity for self-responsibility and the building of confidence and self-esteem. In the graphic are some statements Katie Hurley posted which makes a lot of sense to me. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Dealing with Unplesant Emotions with Alcohol, Drugs and Addiction

This photo on the right describes a position I take on any addiction problem. Alcohol, drugs, overeating, pain killers, smoking, sex, and vaping are problems unto themselves however, all reflect an attempt to escape both reality and unwanted emotions. If you don't want to feel some unpleasant emotion, try an addiction, it works fast and is quite effective. What to do? Well, therapy will help. Quit the addicting behavior and look deeper to explore what you are truly trying to escape. Notice and realize the solution and impact is temporary. The "drug" may distract or ameliorate the mood or emotions at that moment, but they will be repressed, stored and become ever more prevalent.
  • Develop a plan or strategy on what to do instead. 
  • Understand that the emotions will not go away, but become more intense and remain unresolved.
  • Identify triggers and stressors that induce or contribute to the addiction.
  • Find the courage to confront the feelings and address them.
  • Develop a support network to redirect your emotions. 
  • Liberate yourself from the addiction and emotional prison.
  • Get support and help to uncover and deal with your emotions.
  • Remember, alcohol is a depressant influencing sleep, energy, mood and more.
  • Prepare yourself for a flood of emotions that you have repressed. 
It may be time to find, create, reconstruct a reality that works for you. Of course, you have to stop, treat or eliminate the addictive process, then proceed with the deeper exploration and remedies. Out with the old, in with the new. Replacing habits is the pathway to change. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

Compassion Fatigue--What is it? What to Do?

On Friday, January 11th, 2019, I participated on an esteemed panel of professionals from the Texas Bar Association in collaboration with TLPA (Texas Lawyers' Assistance Program) and TYLA (Texas Young Lawyers Association) on the topic of "Compassion Fatigue" among lawyers. Chris Ritter, Director, Texas Lawyers' Assistance Program,
Erica Griggs  from TLAP presented programs and services available for lawyers in Texas from the Texas Bar Association.  Stan Perry, attorney with ReedSmith LLP was the moderator. Jenny Lee Smith was the program organizer for this CLE program. My role was to elaborate on the impact of compassion fatigue mentally, physically and behaviorally. This is a delicate and crucial topic impacts many lawyers in very destructive ways with severe consequences over time including, problems with depression, anxiety, irritability, sleeplessness, cumulative stress. It is not uncommon for lawyers with compassion fatigue to attempt to ameliorate these symptoms with alcohol or drugs, causing even greater dysfunction. Self-care gets neglected and overtime, problems with work, marriage, children escalate can become catastrophic in their lives. These problems  don't have to be the case. TLAP CAN HELP. Life balance, wellness, time for social interaction, exercise all contribute to a greater sense of well-being. Review this problems, symptoms and treatment options in the handouts that were provided to the attendees. There will be a podcast available to listen to the  entire program soon. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Sharks........Good advice for all of us!!!

The show the Sharks has a cast  of talented, rich, successful entrepreneurs, who know how to succeed in business and make LOTS of money. The show invites people make a pitch to get funded by one or all of the Sharks to expand their business. The 16 "opportunities" are the graphic is to help you better understand the elements to consider for your own business, company, programs or practice. If you are a manager, get with your team to go over these different qualities and see how you measure up. Take an inventory to determine where you stand on the principles the Sharks use to help them decide to invest or not into  a proposition or pitch. Can you answer these questions adequately? Where do you need to focus to meet your goals? Take time to do an inventory and beef up the items you find weak or lacking. Makes sense to me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Online Therapy: The Future is Here.........Now

The field of psychotherapy is evolving in some pretty dramatic ways. Access to care, social media, apps to track mood, blood pressure, nutrition, days of sobriety, and a vast number of other psychological and medical changes in delivery of services are expanding daily. Trends and data show new levels of comfort and trust utilizing video conferencing for anxiety, depressions, addiction and drug problems is not only viable, it has been found to be quite efficacious. Confidential and secure TeleMental Health platforms are making access to psychotherapy easier while garnering greater access to mental, emotional, and medical concerns.
The landscape is changing for how to access and receive mental health programs, services and treatment. TeleMental Health is a very positive and effective new delivery system and gaining tremendous traction in the world. These new videoconferencing systems are secure, encrypted, and HIPAA compliant (medical records privacy rules). These programs work on your phone, iPad or tablet and computer. All you need is a good internet connection. This wave is already happening. As it turns out, most people these days are quite comfortable with online communication. Maybe too much so, but TeleMental Health Counseling is here to stay. It is safe, secure and confidential. Thus far, I have worked in over 23 counties with various video platforms. There are consents, needed, just as in any psychotherapy practice, training and etiquette to be followed. Video conferencing and video therapy makes getting help easier, more accessible with a wide network of providers. In the VSee photo below, famous Olympic Gold Medal swimming champion Michael Phelps, has done a commercial about how he was helped with his depression and saved his life via video counseling. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

Compassion Fatigue

Compassion fatigue is defined as the cumulative physical/emotional/psychological effects of continual exposure to traumatic or distressing stories/events when working in a helping capacity where demands outweigh resources. The two largest contributing factors are:
1) high volume work load,
2) exposure to client distress and trauma.
How do you avoid burnout? Well, the easy answer to say is keep your life in balance, but not so easy to do. Work and family demands, children, financial stressors all contribute. However, exposure to conflict, listening to clients that are angry, depressed who make demands and expect you to fix all of their problems can wear you out creating a series of other consequences. What happens to sleep, longer work hours, less time with friends, plan, fun or nutrition? Some waring signs of compassion fatigue: 
  • excessive workloads the encroach on personal time,
  • Feeling exhausted all the time; nightmares,
  • becoming pessimistic, irritable and losing faith in humanity,
  • becoming generally unhappy and unproductive and no longer feeling on top of your game.
This is when other more serious problems can emerge like excessive drinking to cope or even more destructive coping mechanisms. Eventually, health breaks down, marriages fail, and addiction can take over. 
To determine if you have compassion fatigue, this link will take you to a brief self-scored test. Compassion Fatigue Self-Assessment
Research based suggestions (increase self-awareness, debrief, self-inventory, be more intentional about balance and self-protection)
Buffers (humor, exercise, adequate sleep, friendships, hobbies, vacations, healthy team environment, supervision and support)
Re-establish boundaries (work, family)
Conclusion. . . . Get Help, Refresh, Renew, and Feel Rewarded

For a more extensive self-evaluation, click on the link below. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Many Faces of Anxiety

As you can see by this photo, anxiety has many faces and ways it can present itself. Everyone reacts differently to anxiety. Essentially, anxiety is fear, connected to your Amygdala, an organ in your brain designed to protect you from danger. Once the Amygdala is alerted to danger, very powerful stress hormones are released such as cortisol and adrenaline. Your entire system is setting up for battle to protect you, however, what happens when the fear is imaginary? What are the long term effects of activating your Limbic System repeatedly? I will tell you, physical and mental breakdowns occur. Anxiety eventually invades your life and takes over. Problems with sleep, energy, concentration, social engagement, become problematic. Your world begins to shrink down from "anticipatory anxiety." Now you begin to worry about everything and go into an avoidance mode, which only increases anxiety, more stress hormones are released and additional  physical and emotional problems. 
Your entire life gets hijacked by anxiety unless you learn to control it, confront it and learn skills to relax and calm yourself down physically and mentally. Methods that are scientifically proven to help manage anxiety include; meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, yoga, biofeedback, hypnosis, CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Thought Stopping, mental rehearsal, desensitization (via gradual exposure), use of imagery are all effective tools and ways to manage anxiety. 

Why Worry? Recently, a reprint of the book  Why Worry  by friend and prolific author, Eric A. Kimmel was recently released. Gayle and ...