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What Are Panic Attacks And Can They Be Treated?

What Are Panic Attacks And Can They Be Treated?

Panic attacks are best described as a set of physical symptoms brought on by intense anxiety.  Sometimes panic attacks are mild, but they can also be completely debilitating.  In fact, these attacks can be so severe that some people may think they are having a heart attack.

If you’re experiencing panic attacks for the first time, they can seem overwhelming and you might feel like you cannot function or live a normal life.  The good news is that anxiety and panic attacks are treatable.  Understanding the symptoms you’re experiencing and exploring treatment options are the first steps towards getting well.

Common Symptoms of Panic Attacks

There are many different symptoms that are associated with panic attacks, but not everyone experiences them the same way. A person with this type of anxiety disorder could experience only two or three symptoms while others experience many more.

Some of the more common symptoms of panic attacks include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Chest pains
  • Nausea or stomach discomfort
  • Headache or migraine
  • Light-headedness
  • Muscle weakness or tingling
  • Labored breathing
  • Feeling of losing control
  • Urge to urinate or defecate

Those who get panic attacks typically experience a combination of these symptoms, and in some rare cases all of them at once. The combination of symptoms can be very overwhelming and are often accompanied by powerful thoughts and emotions.

Triggers for Panic Attacks

Panic attacks generally occur when a person begins feeling stressed, but there are many different potential triggers. Often times a person will begin having one of these attacks when they are in a public place. The fear of having an attack around other people can escalate the symptoms. One of the most common fears of those with an anxiety disorder is having other people see them when they are so vulnerable.

Some people get panic attacks when they are at work, stuck in traffic or in social situations. Any high-stress environment can easily lead to a panic attack. This often leads people to isolate or avoid certain situations, which only makes the condition worse.

Treating Panic Attacks

There is not a single treatment that works for everyone who suffers from panic attacks.  However, there are many treatments and coping methods that are very effective; individuals just need to learn what works for them in particular. Learning the various coping mechanisms is important to managing anxiety.

Focus on Your Breathing

One of the most effective ways to get a panic attack under control before it becomes a serious problem is to focus on your breathing. There are a lot of different breathing exercises that you can do to calm yourself down when you start to feel really stressed. These exercises can have a real physiological impact on your nervous system, and they have been proven effective in combating panic attacks. Even just taking some deep breaths and slowly counting to 20 can help a lot. If breathing techniques aren’t effective for you at first, don’t worry. Sometimes there are other coping mechanisms that need to be learned via professional treatment like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy first.

Distract Yourself

Sometimes the best thing that you can do to prevent the onset of a full-blown panic attack is to find effective ways of distracting yourself. There are tons of little ways to distract yourself, such as playing a game on your smartphone, watching TV, or just going for a walk. Anything that occupies your mind that you enjoy can act as an effective distraction when you want to prevent a panic attack. The more occupied your mind is with something else, the less likely it will be to escalate your anxiety symptoms.

Medication

Certain anti-anxiety medications can be very effective at keeping panic attacks under control, though it is usually best used as a short-term solution. This medication can be habit-forming, so you will need to be careful if a doctor prescribes it to you. A doctor will decide whether or not you should be on medications, and which ones to give you if they determine it is necessary.

Meditiation

Daily meditation or mindfulness practices can be very powerful in helping individuals deal with stress, anxiety and panic attacks.  Meditation works at the root of the issue by addressing problems with racing thoughts. It also teaches us to be present, or in the moment, which helps individual suffering from anxiety because these individuals frequently struggle with obsessing about the future in negative ways.

Avoid Stimulants

You should make a point of avoiding any stimulants that could actually make your condition worse, such as caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes. While it’s true that alcohol is actually a depressant, it can make panic attacks much more for some people. The more jittery you become, the easier it is to have an attack. If you must drink caffeine or alcohol, you should only consume it in moderation.

Get Plenty of Sleep

A lack of sleep can also make you more vulnerable to panic attacks, so you will need to make a point of sleeping at least 7-8 hours each day. If you have difficulty getting to sleep, there are a lot of different things you can do. Make sure that you don’t consume any caffeine 3-4 hours before going to sleep, and try playing some white noise to relax you. Adequate sleep is essential for being healthy as a whole, so you will need to keep this in mind.

Panic attacks can definitely be very scary and difficult to deal with, especially if it’s the first time you’re experiencing them.

When you take the time to learn about anxiety disorder and the different treatments for panic attacks, you will be able to gain a lot more control over your condition. You will eventually be able to find numerous treatments that will work for you, though it might take some time. Many people get panic attacks every day, so you aren’t alone in the way you feel.

If you are struggling with debilitating anxiety or stress, contact us for a free consultation. We have successfully treated many people who have anxiety disorders .

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What is Emotional Trauma?

What is Emotional Trauma?

Emotional or psychological trauma occurs when a person experiences an extremely upsetting or disturbing event or events in their life. Whether it is one big even or a series of smaller events, the resulting trauma can be crippling. The fact is that emotional trauma can be just as damaging as physical trauma, even though it is not visible in the same way.

Traumatic Events

Many different events can trigger emotional trauma in a person. Some people are more vulnerable to this type of trauma than others, depending on their personality and past experiences. A lot of the emotionally traumatic events in people’s lives occur in early childhood. Some people repress the memories of these events, but they eventually manifest later on in adolescence or adulthood.

Child abuse is one example of an early emotionally traumatic event that can negatively impact a person for their entire life. A disturbing event is much more likely to result in this type of trauma if it occurs very suddenly, such as with the death of a loved one. People often feel powerless in these situations, which compounds the emotional trauma significantly.

Some of the more common events that trigger emotional trauma in adulthood include:

Breakups

It isn’t uncommon for those who get broken up with by someone they are in a long-term relationship with to experience emotional trauma. Many divorces result in emotional trauma, especially when there are children involved. This is often when people are at their worst, which can inflict a lot of psychological damage to both parties.

Humiliating Experiences

A particularly humiliating experience can also cause lasting emotional trauma. People often fear that something humiliating will happen to them, and when it does they become scarred psychologically.

Physical Accidents or Injuries

Physical trauma can easily lead to emotional trauma. Some people who get into very bad car accidents and sustain serious injuries become traumatized, making it difficult to even get back in a car again. There are many types of accidents that can cause emotional trauma, and they are almost always associated with physical trauma.

Diagnosis of Serious Illness

When someone is diagnosed with a serious or terminal illness by a doctor without warning, the news they receive can cause emotional trauma.

Spousal Abuse

A lot of people who suffer abuse at the hands of their spouse become emotionally traumatized. Even verbal abuse can be very psychologically damaging to the person who it is being inflicted on, especially when it occurs on a regular basis.

Ongoing Stress

Those who experience a high level of mental/emotional stress on a regular basis for long periods of time can easily become traumatized. Once a person becomes so accustomed to experiencing stress all the time, it can be difficult for them to recover.

Military Service

Those who serve in the military often come out with emotional trauma to one degree or another, especially those who have been in combat situations. The things that soldiers see in combat can have a significant and lasting impact on their psyche.

Signs of Emotional Trauma

There are many common signs of emotional trauma that you should know about so you can recognize them in yourself and others. Some people don’t even realize they are emotionally traumatized, or they don’t know the full extent of it.

One of the more common signs of emotional trauma is intrusive thoughts. A lot of people who are traumatized in this way find themselves thinking about the original event(s) out of nowhere and on a regular basis. These thoughts often seem impossible to get out of one’s head, and they can cause a person to become distracted at work and in other aspects of their life.

People who are carrying around emotional trauma also sometimes have mood swings. They go from being completely happy and acting normal to flying into a rage or becoming severely depressed in a very short period of time. These mood swings can be very mentally and physically exhausting for those who experience them, and they often drive others away.

Changes in eating and sleeping habits are also common with emotional trauma. Some people tend to eat or sleep more than usual, while others do them less.

It isn’t uncommon for people with these issues to have trouble focusing in school or at work as well. This is because they find themselves constantly thinking about the traumatic events over and over.

Recovering from Emotional Trauma

While it is true that recovering from emotional trauma can be very difficult and take a long time, it is very possible with most people. The time it takes for a person to recover depends on the kind of trauma they have suffered and how hard they work at getting their life back on track.

It is important that those who have emotional trauma see a therapist, specifically one with a relevant specialty. There are some therapists who specialize in treating emotional trauma, so if you know you’ve experienced a traumatic event, it’s best to look for a therapist who is specifically trained to treat in this area.

There are other things that people with emotional trauma can do to begin the recovery process on a daily basis, such as exercising and meditating. It’s also important to talk to people close to you when you feel the need, as keeping your feelings bottled up is not a good idea.

Getting Help

There is no question that emotional trauma can be extremely destructive in a number of ways, and there are many different ways to become traumatized. The pain that people with this type of trauma endure can last for many years if its left untreated.

If you are struggling to deal with an emotional trauma, contact us for a free phone consultation. The sooner you start getting help, the sooner you will be able to get on the road to recovery.

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How Cognitive Therapy for Anxiety Works

How Cognitive Therapy for Anxiety Works

Are you one of the 40 million adults in the US who suffer from anxiety disorders each year? Unfortunately, anxiety is a common occurrence in our society. It can have negative impacts on your life and impact your ability to go about your day-to-day activities. The good news is that there are treatment options available, including cognitive therapy for anxiety.

Keep reading to learn more about cognitive therapy for anxiety and how it might be able to help you overcome your anxiety disorder.

What Is Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders often manifest themselves as excessive fear or worry. There are 11 different anxiety disorders. These include separation anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety, among others.

Regardless of which specific anxiety disorder you have, the common characteristics include extreme fear or worry, inability to control that fear or worry, restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, and difficulty concentrating. These things often impact a person’s ability to function in social or work settings.

They often go hand-in-hand with negative thought process and poor social adaptations. This makes them ideal disorders to treat with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

CBT is the most commonly used treatment for anxiety disorders. Research has consistently shown that it works in treating panic disorders, phobias, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.

CBT works by addressing the negative thinking patterns that people with anxiety have. The cognitive piece of CBT examines how our negative thoughts (or cognitions) contribute to anxiety. Behavior therapy examines how we react and behave in situations that cause anxiety.

The main assumption of CBT is that our negative thoughts impact the way we feel. If mental health professionals can help you identify those negative thoughts, then CBT is an option to reduce anxiety.

How Does Cognitive Therapy for Anxiety Work?

To treat anxiety, CBT uses something called thought challenging. Thought challenging is a process where you challenge the negative thinking that caused your anxiety. You then replace them with positive and realistic thoughts.

This process occurs in 3 steps:

  1. Identify your negative thoughts. To do this, you can ask yourself what you were thinking when you began to feel anxious.
  2. Challenge your negative thoughts by thinking about their cause. Also, think about how realistic these thoughts are. To do this, you might conduct an experiment or weigh the pros and cons of worrying or avoiding the things you fear, and think about how likely it is that what you are worried about will really happen.
  3. Replace the negative thoughts with realistic ones. You might think of calming statements you can say to yourself when you face a situation that causes anxiety.

A trained therapist can lead you through this process.

One additional feature of CBT is the use of assignments to do at home. CBT isn’t just limited to what happens in your therapist’s office and wants you to practice this process at home.

Your Next Steps

If you have an anxiety disorder, a mental health professional can help you decide if cognitive therapy for anxiety is right for you. Contact us today for a free consultation to see if we can help you overcome your anxiety.

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3 Signs It’s Time to Consider Couples Sex Therapy

3 Signs It’s Time to Consider Couples Sex Therapy

Many couples agree that sex is a huge part of what makes up their relationship. It’s a very direct way of showing your romantic feelings for your spouse, and it brings you closer to one another.

That being said, there are few things more upsetting in a relationship than a lack of intimacy.

Feeling a disconnect between you and your spouse is never a good thing – but that doesn’t mean your relationship can’t be saved.

If you feel like your relationship is on the rocks, couples sex therapy may be able to help.

When to Consider Couples Sex Therapy

If you’re seeing some of these signs in your love life, it may be in your best interest to seek out some extra help.

You Constantly Bicker

Every relationship has its arguments, but there is a difference between one argument and constant bickering.

Constantly being at each other’s throats is a sure sign that you need to fix up your romantic life. Bickering is the result of not being able to see eye to eye, and sex could very well be affected by it.

Usually, the problem doesn’t start from sex itself. However, if you’re constantly angry with your partner (or vice versa), you’re not going to want to have sex, which in turn could further damage your relationship.

You’re Stuck in a Sexless relationship

This is a tricky one, and it could happen for a number of reasons.

Having very little sex or no sex at all might happen because of a falling out. Sometimes, couples are getting distracted by what life throws at them.

It could be that you have kids and they’ve become a priority in your life. Or maybe your recent promotion takes up all your time and you come home too drained to connect.

There is an infinite number of reasons why you may not be having much (or any) sex, but one thing’s for sure – you need to mention it to your partner.

Chances are, if you don’t know what’s causing the problem, your spouse doesn’t either. Get connected and find out what’s going on, before the problem gets worse.

You’re Considering Breaking Up

This is not a situation you or your spouse should want to be in.

Usually, a lack of sex isn’t enough of a reason to call for a breakup, but it can certainly get the snowball rolling.

If your mind is constantly imagining your breakup like a scene from a soap opera, you need to seek sex counseling – and fast.

Often the root of the problem is simple. Maybe it’s too little communication, or one partner is constantly doing little things that annoy the other. Luckily, most situations can be handled with proper counseling.

We’re Here to Help

We realize that couples sex therapy could play a big part in saving a relationship, but it’s only a part of what we do.

Helping you is our number one priority. We specialize in many forms of counseling, including individual therapy, couples counseling, and group counseling.

If you feel you may be in need of any of our services, Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would love to be there for you in any way we can.

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What Should a PTSD Treatment Plan Include?

What Should a PTSD Treatment Plan Include?

Around 7.8% of Americans will struggle with PTSD at some point in their lives. This disorder does not discriminate between age or gender and can affect anyone.

If you or someone you love is experiencing PTSD or similar trauma-related disorders and you aren’t sure what to expect, here’s a look at what a PTSD treatment plan should include.

What Is PTSD?

While PTSD has been around for quite some time, it was only named as a treatable mental disorder in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Before it was called PTSD, it was “shell shock” because it was mainly thought that victims of combat trauma were the only ones to experience it.

Though, now we know it’s a psychiatric disorder that can become present when someone experiences any traumatic event in their lives such as:

  • Car accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Combat
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Sexual or violent assault

In most cases, the person who is experiencing PTSD will still have memories or feelings related to the event or person that caused harm to them in the first place. These feelings can come in the form of nightmares or flashbacks.

What Are Symptoms of PTSD?

Many symptoms can accompany PTSD, and it’s important to look at them as a whole. This can help medical professionals provide the right diagnosis and treatment options that are appropriate for the patient.

Flashbacks

Flashbacks of the event or trauma are very common. Anything can be a trigger, such as a scent, a familiar sight, or a loud sound.

In this case, it’s as though the person is relieving the experience again.

Avoidance of Certain Triggers

When someone experiences something traumatic, you might be able to tell when that person needs PTSD therapy if they show signs of avoiding specific triggers.

For instance, if someone you know was in a car accident, and you begin to notice the avoidance of driving or taking rides in vehicles, then treatment for PTSD might be needed.

Easily Startled

Have you seen the yard signs during the Fourth of July announcing the presence of a Veteran, asking for sensitivity while setting off firecrackers?

That is a good example of the PTSD symptom “hyperarousal,” which is the state of being easily startled by loud sounds, or even by touch.

What Is a PTSD Treatment Plan?

The idea behind therapy sessions is to get the affected individual to open up and speak about their experiences. By talking about the trauma, you can effectively alter the thought patterns that accompany the memories.

The hopeful outcome for you or your loved one’s therapy sessions:

  • Effective coping skills
  • Improved symptoms or behavior
  • A boost in self-esteem

Because everyone is different and will respond in various ways, the cure for PTSD won’t look the same for each individual. You can opt for individual or family therapy sessions, depending on your needs.

We Can Help

If you or someone you know has been through something traumatic and has exhibited one or more of these symptoms, don’t hesitate. If you think a PTSD treatment plan is right for you, check out our traditional counselingapproach.

If a traditional appointment doesn’t work for you, we also offer web sessions for your convenience.

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5 Signs You Should Consider Couples Counseling

5 Signs You Should Consider Couples Counseling

Whether you’re going through a tough time in your relationship or you just want the strongest possible relationship before committing to that special person, couples counseling can be extremely beneficial.

Trying to determine when to seek out a couples therapist?

Here are five signs that you and your partner could benefit from talking to someone.

1. You Can’t Trust Your Partner

At the core of every relationship is one common component: Trust. A lack of trust in a relationship, no matter how small, is often a sign of a greater issue.

In fact, Psychology Today reports that trust is the most important factor in a successful relationship.

Whether there’s reason for the lack of trust, such as lying or infidelity or you just get a bad feeling, it never hurts to talk things out and work on trusting again.

2. You’re Looking to Strengthen Your Communication Skills

If trust is at the core of a relationship, communication is the foundation. It’s no secret that everyone communicates in his or her own individual way. And sometimes, that can lead to some tricky misunderstandings.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone just said what they meant?

Learning to communicate with your partner in a more effective way is a fantastic way to strengthen your relationship. By seeking out a couples therapist, you and your partner can learn to express your needs and desires in a more thorough, healthy way.

3. You’ve Experienced Trauma

Trauma can break down even the strongest relationship. It’s no one’s fault, per say, but grieving and withdrawing in an unhealthy fashion can lead to fear, resentment, and anger.

No matter what type of trauma you’re dealing with, it’s important that you learn how to properly cope. Learning those coping skills with a loved one can make the process far easier.

4. You Don’t Feel Like a Team Anymore

A relationship consists of individuals. But it’s only when those individuals come together to form a team that the dynamic begins to resemble a relationship.

Being a team is integral in a healthy relationship.

It means having someone you can turn to in your time of need. It means having someone to share the most important moments of your life with, both good and bad.

When that sense of unity begins to disappear, we have a tendency to put up walls and shut people out. But couples therapy is a great way to work at reestablishing those bonds.

5. You’re Considering Marriage

Want to enter into your marriage with the strongest possible bond? Relationship counseling can help.

Before saying ‘I do’ to that special someone, learn what it takes to make a marriage work. You’ll be better prepared for the challenges and hardships you’ll face along the way and you’ll feel closer to your partner, to boot.

Couples Counseling Can Strengthen Your Relationship

In truth, couples counseling could benefit just about every couple out there. If we all learned to take better care of each other, the world would be a much simpler, happier place.

If you’re interested in counseling, reach out for a free consultation. Whether you’re in a rut, experienced a hardship, or you just want to know your partner better, Dr. Quintal & Associates can help.

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Distorted Thoughts – Getting Back To Reality

One of the best tools we have for living a healthy life is our ability to think. Our world is composed of a large number of events that happen constantly.

Business investor in deep thought looking at the business ideas written on the whiteboard. Businessman thinking while holding his spectacles to mouthSome are positive and some are negative, and most are neutral. We interpret these events as they happen with a series of thoughts that flow continually through our minds. This process is called our internal dialogue. We constantly think about present and past events, and sometimes about things that will happen in the future. And here’s the important point – these thoughts need to be accurate. We need good reality testing in order to live effectively.

Our moods or feelings are created by the thoughts we have, and not by the actual events themselves. We need to think about events and attach a meaning to them before we experience an emotional response. People have different ways of interpreting the same event. Let’s say that our friend, Rhonda, has decided to move to a different part of the country. Some people will congratulate her for making a move that could bring her the happiness she has sought for a long time. Other people might condemn her for running away from the life she has here. Some will call her healthy. Some will call her greedy. Some will call her heartless. How we think about Rhonda will reflect our core beliefs about the world.

We define Rhonda’s actions in terms of how we personally interpret the world – and these interpretations reflect the basic assumptions we have about how the world works. Her move in itself signifies nothing until we think about it and place an interpretation or meaning on it. If we see it as a healthy move on her part, we can have a happy response. If we see her as being selfish, we might have an angry or depressed response to her move. Once we give meaning to an event, we can experience an emotional response to it. In other words, our thoughts can influence how we feel.

If the meaning we give to events is usually negative, we might constantly find ourselves feeling depressed. If the meaning is usually positive, we may find ourselves feeling good much of the time. If we give threatening meanings to events in the world, we might find ourselves living with a lot of anger. If we see the world as a stressful place, we might experience anxiety as a result. Sometimes we give meaning to our own actions that are negative (that is, we judge ourselves in a negative light). This might arise from a negative self-image and our mood will reflect this core belief in a variety of negative ways.

Our emotional health depends on our ability to make good, reality-oriented judgments about what is going on in the world around us.

Sometimes events are positive. We need to interpret them in precisely this way and have an appropriate emotional response to the situation (that is, happiness). At other times, events are negative and we ought to be able to give proper meaning to these events so that we can take correct action to deal with the problem in a reality-based way.

Most of us distort our thoughts to some degree. We all have unique lives, with different experiences, different parents, different friends, different problems to work through – so that throughout the course of our lives we have learned our own ways of interpreting the world. Our interpretations are not always based in reality and are often colored by our unique needs. We develop our own core beliefs about how the world operates, and, when various situations present themselves, these beliefs lead us to automatic thoughts (these are well-learned ways of thinking about situations that are instantaneous and reflect our underlying beliefs about the world). Sometimes these automatic thoughts are distorted. It is important to examine our cognitive distortions so that we make the right decisions in life and increase our chance of experiencing a good mood. Working with a trained therapist in examining these distortions is an especially effective way of dealing with depression.

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Is there help for OCD?

Although there is no absolute cure for OCD at this point, there is substantial help available for those who suffer from this disorder.

The repetitve repetition of an obsessive-compulsive disorder.Life for the OCD sufferer can become normalized so that the symptoms don’t interfere with everyday living. With effective treatment, people with this disorder can live full, productive, and normal lives. Many have found antidepressant medication to be a helpful part of their treatment for OCD. These medications, called SSRI’s, can increase the level of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, in the brain, and this seems to reduce OCD symptoms. Dosages of these medications are usually higher in treating OCD than when they are used solely for depression. Medication alone, however, is not usually as helpful in controlling OCD as a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, is an important part of recovery from OCD. This form of therapy provides the tools and skills necessary for managing obsessional and compulsive behavior. One
helpful therapeutic tool used with OCD is exposure and response prevention. This technique reduces the anxiety associated with obsessive thoughts through a process called habituation. When a person is exposed to anxiety
repeatedly, the nervous system gradually adjusts to the anxiety (just as our hands adjust to being dipped in cold water after a period of time). Thus, we learn to tolerate the anxiety associated with obsessive thinking and decrease the need to engage in compulsive techniques for reducing the anxiety. Psychotherapy also aims to challenge the faulty thinking patterns that drive and maintain the obsessive thoughts. Another valuable technique is called mindfulness, in which we increase our awareness of the thoughts that
guide our debilitating behavior. Supportive therapy with a concerned professional can help the person to gain knowledge and courage to try to deal with anxieties without resorting to obsessional thoughts and compulsive behavior.

An important component of therapy is to bring other family members into the process so that they can learn appropriate ways of coping with the disorder and provide a supportive and understanding environment for the sufferer. Most people who suffer from OCD try to keep their condition secret and may engage in denial. The first step in overcoming this debilitating circumstance is to make an appointment to talk to a professional psychotherapist.

The sessions with your therapist are safe, trustworthy, and supportive. Getting your condition under control is a challenge – but things will only get better after making that first call.  Help and hope are just a phone call away.

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Can I Really Change An Old Habit Like Procrastination?

Can I Really Change An Old Habit Like Procrastination?

Procrastination may be such an ingrained pattern that it seems impossible to change it.

It may help to see procrastination as a symptom of some of our underlying personality issues. For example, negative self-image often plays a role in our tendency to put off accomplishing tasks. Sometimes we postpone our duties because we lack self confidence or feel that we might be rejected or abandoned by others if we don’t turn in a perfect job. For some people, procrastination is a symptom of depression. Our reasons for procrastinating are as varied as people are different. Therapy is the best way to explore these deeper issues in a supportive, trustworthy, and professional setting. The goal is to define procrastination as a symptom of a deeper issue and then to explore the nature of this underlying problem and discover how to deal with it more effectively. Your life becomes more satisfying when you can find ways to express the most effective parts of yourself.

Yes, an old habit like procrastination can be changed. You have to use the techniques that work for you and remember that these techniques are not a simple all-or-nothing “cure.” Look on behavior change as a process composed of many steps. You may have success in dealing with some components of the problem only to find later that you are resistant to making more changes. Then, in therapy, you look into your resistance to see why moving on is difficult at a particular stage. And don’t forget that most people relapse. Research has found that only about 20 percent of all people make complete changes on their first try. Most people have setbacks during the change process. Expect this to happen and look on it as something positive
– after all, you can learn from your setbacks. To relapse does not mean that you have to start all over again.

You can change uncomfortable patterns of behavior, and procrastination, fortunately, is one of those habits most amenable to change. But don’t put it off – just do it!

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What makes people happy?

Recent research has focused on how a person can work toward a happier life.

Happy family playing at sunsetMartin Seligman and his associates at the University of Pennsylvania base Positive Psychology on years of research into what makes people happy. They have concluded that happiness is an internal experience based on staying true to one’s genuine or authentic self. When people are able to function well in the world using their strongest abilities (they call these abilities our “signature strengths”), they have a chance to achieve authentic happiness. They have identified twenty-four signature strengths found in cultures across the world. The first step is to identify your own personal strengths. From there, you can explore ways to incorporate these strengths into your life so that your best abilities can be expressed in whatever you do in your daily life. When you can stay true to the best in yourself, you can achieve an authentically happy life.

The following are the twenty-four signature strengths identified in the Positive Psychology approach. Identify the two or three that fit you best. To work toward authentic happiness, try to see how you can incorporate these strengths into your daily life experiences.

1. Curiosity / Interest in the World. Curiosity suggests being open to experience and flexibility in dealing with ideas that do not fit your preconceived notions about the world. Curious people not only tolerate ambiguity well, but they seek it out and are attracted by it. Curiosity implies an active involvement in learning about new information, not just a passive interest in new things, and it is the opposite of being bored.

2. Love of Learning. This strength refers to the strong enjoyment of learning new things, and it implies that you seek out learning wherever you can find it – through reading, taking classes, going to museums. You love learning even when there are no external incentives for you to do so.

3. Judgment / Critical Thinking / Open-Mindedness. This trait refers to thinking things through based on solid evidence. You examine all sides of an issue before coming to a conclusion, and you are able to change your mind in the face of new information. The opposite of this strength is seeking out information only if it conforms to what you already believe.

4. Ingenuity / Originality / Practical Intelligence / Street Smarts. This attribute refers to an ability to find novel ways of achieving your goals, as long as they are appropriate. It means finding new and creative ways to get what you want, and not going through conventional routes to get there.

5. Social, Personal and Emotional Intelligence. People with social intelligence are those who are able to read the moods, needs and motives of other people and can respond appropriately to others. It does not refer just to being introspective – it also implies being able to engage in socially skilled behavior. Personal intelligence means being tuned into your own feelings. You are able to put yourself into situations that bring out your best abilities, such as a job where you do what you do best.

6. Perspective. This strength is similar to wisdom. It implies that others draw on your experience to help them solve problems and gain perspective for themselves. It means having a way of defining the world that makes sense to you and other people.

7. Valor and Bravery. This trait pertains to having the courage to face difficult situations or stand for your beliefs in the face of opposition or challenge. This is not mere boldness or rashness. It refers to the ability to face danger, despite fear, without the loss of dignity.

8. Perseverance / Industry / Diligence. Perseverance means being able to finish what you start with a positive attitude. You do what you say you’ll do. It does not refer to obsessively pursuing unattainable goals or perfectionism. Rather, it implies flexibility and a realistic approach to finishing projects.

9. Integrity / Genuineness / Honesty. You live your life with genuineness and authenticity. You are down to earth and let others see your true self. This is more than just telling the truth. It means showing the world who you really are without pretense.

10. Kindness and Generosity. This strength involves doing good deeds for others, taking their interests as seriously as your own and acknowledging the worth of other people. Empathy and sympathy are related to this trait.

11. Loving and Allowing Yourself to Be Loved. This trait implies an ability to form close and intimate relations with other people, and to choose people who feel the same way toward you. While some people can show love to others, this trait also implies the ability to let others love you in return.

12. Citizenship / Duty / Teamwork / Loyalty. You are a loyal, dedicated member of groups and can always be counted on to do your share. You are able to put the interests of the group above your own, respecting the authority of the group.

13. Fairness and Equity. This trait involves an ability to treat people equally and fairly regardless of your own personal biases. It implies that you are able to give everyone a fair chance and that you are guided by principles of morality.

14. Leadership. A good leader is effective at organizing the activities of people, getting the group’s work done while maintaining good relations between group members. This person maintains a humane approach when dealing with group members, as well as in coordinating activities between groups.

15. Self-Control. This characteristic involves the ability to hold your impulses and needs in check when appropriate. It implies expertise in regulating your
emotions when things go bad, as well as maintaining a positive attitude when faced with difficult situations.

16. Prudence / Discretion / Caution. This strength implies an ability to be careful. You avoid saying things you might later regret. You are more aware of long-term goals and their consequences rather than going for short-term gain.

17. Humility and Modesty. Humble people do not seek the spotlight, and they let their accomplishments speak for themselves. You do not define yourself as special, realizing that your life victories and defeats are unimportant in the grand scheme of things. You are unpretentious and others recognize, and admire, you for this quality.

18. Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence. You are elevated by beauty, excellence, and skill in all domains. You are able to appreciate the awe and wonder of life all around you – in nature, art, science, and little, everyday things.

19. Gratitude. You are aware of what is good in the world and you don’t take these things for granted. You appreciate the good in people and their accomplishments, as well as in nature. You take the time to count your blessings, and you show this in your actions.

20. Hope / Optimism / Future-Mindedness. You have a goal-directed life based on your expectation that you will achieve the best for yourself in the future. Your optimism helps guide you in planning and working hard to achieve your goals.

21. Spirituality / Sense of Purpose / Faith / Religiosity. You have strong beliefs in your attachment to something larger than you are. You search for your place in the universe, and these beliefs both mold your actions and serve as a source of comfort for you. You feel that your life has purpose and meaning.

22. Forgiveness and Mercy. This strength refers to your ability to forgive those who have done you wrong. You are guided by mercy rather than revenge, and you always give people a second chance. Your way of dealing with others is to be kind and generous rather than avoidant or retaliatory.

23. Playfulness and Humor. You enjoy laughing and bringing lightness and fun to other people. You are able to mix work and play, and you, and others, appreciate your ability to lift others out of seriousness and into humor.

24. Zest / Passion / Enthusiasm. You are true to your spirit. You approach life with passion and energy and you can enthusiastically throw yourself into activities. You feel inspired by the mere act of living life to the fullest.

Are you the happiest version of yourself?

If not, we can help.  Schedule a free consultation to discuss how our team of experienced therapists can make a difference for you.

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