The MLRA Therapy Blog

Insights and ideas from the therapist team at Meghan L. Reitz and Associates.
  • Finding Peace Amongst Chaos

    Finding Peace Amongst Chaos

    Finding Peace Amongst Chaos

    Feeling like you’re always sprinting on the treadmill of life? Trying to keep up with our own expectations and the expectations of others can be really challenging. How can we ever slow down to a calm and collected stroll? It may seem impossible, but it just takes a little practice and patience find peace amongst the chaos of our daily lives. 

    Did you know, that according to the American Psychological Association, 75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high stress in the past month and they also reported that their stress has increased over the past year. It doesn’t take a research study to convince us. Most people recognize that American society is stressed out where many feel the expectation to always be running on a hamster wheel to “stay ahead”. Add in the fact that life stressors can and will occur at any time and a crisis doesn’t really care to check how stressed you already may be or what kind of chaos you are already living in before piling on, and that’s a lot of stress to deal with! 

    Many factors, even what we would define as positive factors, can increase our stress levels. The time of year, holidays, big life changes like getting married or having a baby, moving and changing jobs are but a few examples. Consider if more than one of those things happens within a small time frame? You got it. Stress and chaos.

    So, how do we achieve finding some balance and feeling some peace amongst all this chaos? Let’s talk life hacks: 

    1. Prioritize what REALLY needs to get done
      - as opposed to what you want or think needs to get done in that moment. Take a moment before attacking a big task and break it down into smaller tasks and then put these in a priority list before starting on it. Then, knock each item off your list and celebrate each one!

    2. Take Breaks.
      Mentally you need to take a break between tasks. You will perform better and it will take less time to do each task in the long run. Sitting for long periods is harmful to your health, so get up and walk around for a minute before moving on to the next task.

    3. Breathe.
      Seems like common sense, yet you may find yourself going through your day and actually be subconsciously holding your breath or breathing too shallow. Set an alert on your phone to remind yourself to close your eyes and breathe for a few seconds or better yet, a few minutes.

    4. Ask For Help.
      Communicate to your partner, friends, family or co-workers. Asking for help could alleviate your chaos and you might be surprised how willing others are to jump at the opportunity to help you.

    5. Don’t multi-task.
       While we all like to think we can accomplish many things at once and “save” ourselves time, according to Forbes magazine, multi-tasking does not lead to more productivity and can actually make you less efficient. Do one thing at a time and pace yourself.

    6. Be Present in the here and now.
      Remind yourself you can only be in one place at one time and that there are only so many hours in the day. Be realistic about the time you have versus the tasks you want to complete.

    7. Put Down That Smartphone. 
      Schedule finite amounts of time to check emails and messages and avoid getting sucked into social media.

    8. Stick to a Schedule.
      Wake and sleep times, meal times, break times and any other way you can structure your day will help you stay on task and rest your brain and body along the way. 

    Remind yourself of this above list as much as you need to in order for you to put it into practice. You got this! Now let’s make some peace amongst the chaos.



    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Meghan Reitz, LCPC, NCCMeghan Reitz, LCPC, NCC, has worked within the counseling profession for over 14 years. Her therapist experience includes providing individual, couples, family, group, and crisis counseling. She also speaks with companies and groups on mental health and wellness topics. Learn more about Meghan HERE.

  • A Time for Stress, Scheduling and School Supplies

    Stress Scheduling and School Supplies

    A Time for Stress, Scheduling and School Supplies

    Back-to-School time can make parents stress over school supplies, their children's transition back to classwork and their own transitions at work or home. Anytime the seasons change, the school year begins or ends, a family moves homes or  any other transitional period, we can face some real unexpected or complex challenges. Most adults don’t typically do well with the “unknown” that an impending change creates and our kids can feel similarly. It’s normal to feel a bit overwhelmed and a little unsure.  Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

    So, how to deal with our own anxieties as parents, teachers or other professionals working with kids? How do we help our kids cope more successfully at the same time? Let’s start with the basics of how adults can be successful at the beginning of the school year:

    1. Take care of yourself in order to take care of others.
    2. Lower your expectations of being the perfect parent or teacher. That doesn’t exist.
    3. Seek help and support when you need it.  You don’t have to go this alone without complaint or a pick-me-up of your own.
    4. Work with and organize with the other parents or professionals in your kids’ lives.
    5. Communicate with your spouse or partner to share the load if you can.
    6. Get organized ahead of time. Get the supplies a few weeks before school starts.


    Here are a few ways to support the kids in your life as the school year starts:

    1. Be clear with your expectations (household chores, homework time, etc.).
    2. Keep a schedule/routine.
    3. Have consistent wake times and bedtimes now that the school year is here.
    4. Less screen time, more interpersonal interaction or time outside (before it gets too cold!).
    5. Let your child be bored. Increase the need to use imagination and be creative.
    6. Spend time with your child. Don’t wait for the perfect time or event.
    7. Open the door to communication without interrogating them.
    8. Empathize. In their world,  a day of school may sound way worse than that all-day meeting about the process of building a process you just sat through at work.
    9. Problem solve with them.
    10. Take breaks if highly emotional or a heated situation arises. 

    While this is not an exhaustive list of tips and ideas, healthy communication will increase healthier interactions and smarter choices for both you and the kids in your life. Get involved in your kids’ lives but don’t overextend yourself. Ask for help when you need it. You’re not alone and just do the best that you can. 

    “At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.”
    - Jane D. Hull



    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Meghan Reitz, LCPC, NCCMeghan Reitz, LCPC, NCC, has worked within the counseling profession for over 14 years. Her therapist experience includes providing individual, couples, family, group, and crisis counseling. She also speaks with companies and groups on mental health and wellness topics. Learn more about Meghan HERE.

  • 8 Ways to Tune-Up Your Parenting

    Eating Disorders and Therapy

    8 Ways to Tune-Up Your Parenting

    There are ups and downs and sometimes sideways or even upside downs when it comes to being a parent. Children can be challenging and often our adult brains tell us to handle our kids as if they are mini-adults. Unfortunately, this can run us head-on into challenging situations. As counselors, we recommend periodic tune-ups for parenting education. In this post, we will suggest a few easy-to-implement tips and ideas to enhance your positive parenting style. WARNING: With time and practice, positive changes in the behaviors of your children may occur!

    1. Proactive vs. Reactive
      Being proactive tends to be far more productive than being reactive in almost every aspect of our lives. However, putting that into practice can be a bit more difficult with your kids. Be conscious of your own coping style with regards to your child’s behaviors. Try to set ground rules and expectations BEFORE there are problems.
    2. Choose Priorities
      If you find yourself feeling like “nothing works” or your child’s behavior is “always” a problem, stop and think about your priorities and the real-world actions your child is taking. In short, pick and choose your battles more carefully. Leaving socks on the floor versus failing a test due to not studying should not be treated as the same offense. Consequences you institute as a parent should reflect this.
    3. Structure, Consistency, Frequency
      Children thrive on schedules and routines even if they outwardly avoid them. It may appear that they desire more free reign but this in actuality is part of their developmental growth and learning process. They are testing boundaries, figuring out what’s acceptable and unacceptable behavior, etc. Routines lessen the chance for anxiety and maladaptive behaviors.
    4. Patience is YOUR virtue
      Grace under pressure should be the motto you carry with you on a constant basis and in every reaction to your child’s behavior. By regulating how you react to a child’s maladaptive behavior, you minimize highly charged emotions. So, what to do when you’re having a bad day and just walked in the door from work to find your child is watching television when he/she was supposed to be doing homework. If you start screaming and yelling at him/her, it is virtually guaranteed that this will escalate and most likely turn into reactive responding. Instead, take a moment to check in with your emotions. You’re frustrated and disappointed. That’s ok. Request that he/she discontinue the activity and rely on what consequences you have set out ahead of time as an intervention.
    5. Emotional Regulation
      Just as the above motto is important to keep in mind, making sure you’re taking care of your own emotional health is key to healthy parenting. How do you deal with your anger, frustration, or sadness? Your child is not a mini-adult and cannot be reasoned with when you’re feeling large doses of these emotions. If you escalate an argument or a consequence because you can’t regulate your own anger or frustration, you are role modeling a behavior for your child that they will then use themselves in the future.
    6. Sensory Activities and Learning
      With the advent of parenting activity blogs, Pinterest, and other online resources at our fingertips, taking active approaches to spending time with your kids has never been easier. Be sure not to over-structure with a constant stream of prepared activities but maybe consider spending every Sunday afternoon as a time for sensory play or activities. We’ve learned that some fan favorites like sand trays, glitter jars, and glitter slime can all be completed with common household items. This encourages tactile learning, creativity, and family interaction.
    7. Have a sense of humor!
      There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Have realistic expectations of yourself, your spouse or partner, and your children. Just as we pick our battles, know that there is time for laughter and joy, even when things don’t go to plan.
    8. Work with a Counselor
      Professional counselors do more than “fix problems” and can be an extremely effective guide to teach skills for more successful parenting before problems start. Some common parenting education areas we focus on are:
      • Listening Skills
      • Communication Skills
      • Appropriate Consequences and Rewards
      • Practicing Skills in Real Life
      • Accountability

    Parenting is hard but rewarding. There is no perfect parent no matter what you see on social media. If you are struggling, try to follow some of the above approaches for a happier and healthier home and family environment.



    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Meghan Reitz, LCPC, NCCMeghan Reitz, LCPC, NCC, has worked within the counseling profession for over 13 years. Her therapist experience includes providing individual, couples, family, group, and crisis counseling. She also speaks with companies and groups on mental health and wellness topics. Learn more about Meghan HERE.

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