The MLRA Therapy Blog

Insights and ideas from the therapist team at Meghan L. Reitz and Associates.

Everything listed under: stress

  • 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.

  • 10 Ways to Shake off the Holidays

    10 ways to shake off the holidays

    Are you a bit more on edge than normal? Does your to-do list seem out of control? Does the mere thought of the impending holidays fill you with dread or anxiety?

    The approaching holiday season can cause your world to seem like it is spiraling out of control exactly when you would prefer to be enjoying a special time of the year. Many of our clients describe their holiday-infused anxiety as a feeling of being unnerved, shaken or rattled. So, we call what you are experiencing “the holiday shakes.” Not to be confused with a delicious peppermint or eggnog shake, but a generalized nervousness or anxiousness that drastically elevates around the end of the year leading up to New Year’s Eve. As you might imagine, this experience makes for a really unpleasant month of December.

    The good news is that the holiday shakes are completely normal and even somewhat expected. So, let's talk about coping strategies and how to be proactive, rather than reactive, this holiday season. Don’t wait! Start practicing these ten holiday skills now, before the end of December hits:

    1. Don't Overbook

    It's ok to say no, even to pushy relatives. Keep things simple by not making too many commitments.


    2. Don’t Drink and Stress

    Avoid alcohol, it may seem like a solution, but drunken family arguments are still arguments that are better left out of the holiday celebrations.


    3. Stay in a Routine

    Keep healthy exercise, diet, and sleep in your routine. Consciously prioritize these higher.


    4. Avoid Caffeine

    Caffeinated drinks or foods will exacerbate that shaky feeling all season long.


    5. See Your Breath

    Do you find yourself ever just holding your breath? Be aware of this and remind yourself to breathe from the belly.


    6. You’re Making A List

    Journal your worries or holiday shake triggers on paper.


    7. Schedule Me Time

    Even a few minutes of breathing, walking, or closing your eyes every day can be rejuvenating.


    8. T'is the Season to Be Grateful

    Each day identify three things you are grateful for.


    9. Let it Go! Let it Go!

    Christmas ham overdone? Family member makes snide remark? Political or religious debates at the table? Pick and choose your battles. Let it go!


    10. Give Yourself The Gift of Therapy

    Make an appointment with a counselor or psychologist to work on coping skills and sort out your holiday shakes.


    Feeling like you don't quite have the hang of all these skills? Don't feel pressure to try them all at once, but just try one or some and see if you can shake the holiday shakes. Remember to reach out to family and friends. If your support system is limited, get involved in church, community events, or meet up groups. There are resources all around you; you just have to be willing to seek out help and support. Remind yourself: Everyone experiences the holiday shakes and it is temporary!



    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Meghan Reitz, LCPC, NCCMeghan 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.

  • 6 Holiday Stressors: How to Cope

     

    The holidays are a joyful time but can also be very stressful when family, work, faith and finances get thrown at you at once. Regardless of how you might celebrate, your religion or faith, or your past holiday experiences, this time of year can produce stress in many different ways. Here are some of the top holiday season stressors and how to combat them:

    1. Family

    The holidays are a time when families spend more time together than normal which is something many look forward to. But it can also bring out irritations and frustrations especially if you spend this time with relatives you normally are unable to see or even avoid the rest of the year.

    HOW TO COPE: Ground yourself in the knowledge that this family togetherness will come to an end. Inspire yourself with the knowledge there is something to be gained by, or at least find humor in, the hearing of granny’s story for the 150th time or hearing your in-laws gripe about the government. Stay in the moment and don’t let old squabbles get the best of you.


    2. Preparation

    Additional holiday tasks that get added to your normal schedule can be overwhelming. Entertaining, shopping for gifts, cooking, and travel can feel like too much especially if you already have a packed daily schedule.

    HOW TO COPE: Prepare in October or early November by clearing out excess commitments in December so you have time for your nephew's school winter pageant or to make the hundreds of cookies you’re planning to bake for a family gathering. Pay a little extra now to pamper yourself later during travel by using an airport lounge or get a seat upgrade. Or book your plans to travel on off-peak days so there will be less crowds at the airports. The knowledge you planned well will let you relax now and then.


    3. Remembering the ones we’ve lost

    The holidays can be a big trigger when grieving the loss of a loved one. It often becomes more “real” during the holidays that your loved one is no longer physically with you. This becomes particularly true when it is the first holiday without this person.

    HOW TO COPE: It’s OK. We all grieve in different ways. Try to share moments of happiness or humor with your family and friends. Remember funny stories of the person or great accomplishments. Honor them in the way you know best and lean on those around you for support.

    NEW: In 2016, MLRA is offering a new Grief and Loss Support Group. LEARN MORE >>>


    4. Holiday Let Down

    Do you ever feel that things “should” be a certain way during the holidays? Breaking from traditions or experiencing a holiday that doesn’t match up with your visions often leads to disappointment. Your high expectations for the holidays can lead to a let down when things just don’t work out the way you wanted or expected.

    HOW TO COPE: Grounding to the rescue again! Think about the things that you find truly important and meaningful about the holiday. These are usually easily attainable things that will help you better set your expectations. Maybe your parents are fighting or the turkey you made is too dry. At least you have your family there and something to eat. If there is no silver lining you can come up with… make one! Do a kind gesture for a neighbor you barely know or donate food or money to a charity to make sure you get your needs for a successful holiday met by helping others.


    5. Finances

    During the holidays, your wallet often takes a hit. It is an expensive time of year with all the gifts, parties, food, and travel. If finances are something you already have concerns about, the holidays can increase the pressure.

    HOW TO COPE: Reduce your obligations and think outside the box for low cost, meaningful gifts. It is also okay to admit financial issues to family or friends if you are comfortable with sharing that information. The holiday season isn’t about going into debt. You might be surprised by how supportive others can be if you are open and honest about it. Also, consider a “no-gift” holiday where the focus is more on the time spent together in the spirit of the holiday. Be upfront about your financial ability to travel as well. With new technologies like FaceTime, you can often connect virtually to family and friends afar, which should be the focus of the holiday either way.


    6. Overwhelming Holiday Obligations

    Everyone’s schedule gets jam packed around the holidays with cookie exchanges, work functions, school performances, shopping, cooking and visiting with friends and family. It can be very overwhelming! Needing to be somewhere, remembering to do something and interacting with others can take a lot out of you both physically and emotionally. There can also be added exhaustion from the over indulgence in sweets and alcohol as well as those late nights.

    HOW TO COPE: Say “No”. It’s hard to say no to holiday events and requests, but by not obligating yourself to everything everyone asks of you, you will be taking the first step to self-care. When you can’t say no or don’t want to, then it is important to practice some mindfulness techniques to keep everything in perspective and positive. Think about the joy you’re bringing to those around you as well as look forward to the feeling of success you will have when you complete these tasks. For each thing you take on, let it be the only one in your mind, keep yourself focused on that task and the good that your obligatory task is bringing you or others. When all else fails… just breathe. A few minutes of calming breathing or meditation a few times a day can push the holiday crazy away and let you focus on successfully accomplishing your Holiday activities.

     

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