coping skills

Avoidance Causes You To Miss Out!

Do you ever avoid situations or people because it’s too stressful or painful to be in that experience? Avoidance is a natural human defense mechanism, but sometimes it can be detrimental to our own growth and happiness.  

Today, I was walking through our freshly cut hay-field to get a message to my husband and father-in-law.  While talking to a family friend who was present, I said “I love the smell of fresh cut hay, but it does not love me.”  I knew for even the maybe 5 minutes I was standing there, I was going to have some discomfort. As I walked away, I noticed itching in my legs.  Then while driving away, I could feel a little discomfort in my breathing.

You see, I am a very allergic person.  But I live in the country where I am exposed to all things I am allergic too.  Now, I could move (but I’m pretty sure I’d have to leave my husband behind), but staying here is more beneficial to me than avoiding.  

 

Not to mention how BEAUTIFUL it is where I live!  

So what is an allergic country girl to do?

Be Aware…

If you know situations cause you discomfort (maybe it’s not an allergy but more depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, panic), be aware of those triggers.  I am aware of what triggers my allergies and am prepared for the consequences of being around them.

Find the Win…

For me, I was able to see God’s beauty in this hayfield.  I took a beautiful picture of it. Being outdoors is so inspiring and calming to me.  It’s worth it to have the experience!

Have a Plan…

So let’s say you are going to be around family that triggers your depression or anxiety…  If it’s not an unhealthy relationship, and you want a connection with that person, then have a plan of how you will combat the negative reactions your body will likely experience.  

  • Know your limits and have a plan of escape.  

When I am around certain people from my past who tend to cause difficulty for me, I make sure I visit them instead of them visiting me.  This way I can leave when I’m ready instead of having them in my home wishing they would leave already and not wanting to ask them to leave.  

If your reaction is anxiety or panic, make sure you have a go-to method for calming your body and mind.  

Sometimes avoidance is good when it’s too overwhelming for you to manage.  But just remember, avoidance can become a very unhealthy way to cope, and you will miss out on some great life experiences and connections.  

Need some assistance in creating your plan?

Click Here to Download a Free Worksheet!

Then, comment below and share with me how avoidance affects your life!  

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Dayna Sykes

Licensed Child & Teen Therapist

Gordonsville Counseling & Play Therapy

 

P.S.  If you have a teen girl who struggles with avoidance and you’ve tried everything to help her break out of this, then Empowering Teen Girls Group may be just what she needs to build her confidence, boost her ability to cope with difficult situations, and learn to connect with others in the process.  

P.P.S  Do you tend to walk on eggshells around your teen and avoid her throughout the day?   Every effort you make causes her to lash out and become angry. Sign up for my free email course, “Learn to Connect Better with Your Teen”, and get 5 days of action steps you can take to better support and connect with your teen.  Just Click Here!

 

Open Enrollment for Empowering Teen Girls Group-Only 2 Spots Available!!!

I am opening enrollment for my Empowering Teen Girls Group, and there are only 2 Spots Available...So Hurry!!!

 

What group members have to say about group...

"Group give me inspiration."

"Group is encouraging."

"Group helps me stay grounded."

Help your teen navigate the ups and downs of growing up by enrolling her in Empowering Teen Girls Group today!

For more information about this group, click here, or email me at daynasykes@daynasykeslpc.com.

 

I look forward to hearing from you!

Dayna

100 Ways to Cope with Stress and A Story On Self-Care

     The more you practice self-care and the better you take care of yourself on a daily basis, the more natural it becomes.  I've had one of the worst weeks in a long time in my life.  My father-in-law had a very serious accident with a chainsaw that could've been the end of all for him.  By the grace of God, he is healing and rehabilitating very well for an 81 year old man.  Through all of this, I have learned that my support system is bigger than I could've ever imagined, and now a week out I see that I have taken care of myself during this journey better than I may have in the past.

"If you practice self-care daily when you aren't facing tremendous stress, you will turn to healthy habits when you do hit a stressful period."

In the past, I may have comforted myself with junk food and quit taking care of myself and only focused on the stressor.  And even though I still struggled to find time to sleep or eat, I did realize I wasn't stuffing my face with junk and I WAS praying frequently and taking lots of deep breaths.  This week, we are traveling for my son's ball team, and I am finding myself seeking quiet spots to de-stress from last week.  I've kept my Bible close.  I have made time to run (my most effective tool to cope with stress).  I am continuing to fill my body with healthy choices, and I've found time to read leisurely.  These are my favorite ways to provide my own self-care, and the view in the mountains helps tremendously!

I encourage my clients to practice daily self-care.  Practice makes perfect right?  Well......practice doesn't really make perfect, but it does make it more natural and creates habit.  If you practice self-care daily when you aren't facing tremendous stress, you will turn to healthy habits when you do hit a stressful period.

"The more you practice self-care and the better you take care of yourself on a daily basis, the more natural it becomes. "

Let's face it, life happens!  It happens to us all, even me.  Difficult struggles do not discriminate.  Be prepared.  Practice your daily self-care.

Click here to sign up for a FREE list of 100 Coping Skills and let me know in the comments which skills you find most helpful.

Dayna

What Coping Skills Are and What They Are Not

Today we talked about Coping Skills in my Empowering Teen Girls Group and I wanted to share with you some ideas about what Coping Skills are and what they are NOT. You can watch the video here.

 

I think people get confused when someone asks them about Coping Skills.

I am  going to talk a minute about what coping skills are and what they are not.

 

Image result for eye rolling emojiBecause I often get this eye roll or people just shut down and say "It doesn't work".  This happens across the board.  Children-Teens-Adults alike.

So what are coping skills?

These are skills you use to help yourself be in control.  They can be calming like a bubble bath- a walk- or soft music.  Or they can be uplifting like your favorite song to sing to loudly in the car (one of my favorite things to do after a long hard day) or being creative with paint or drawing-hanging out with friends and socializing.

Coping skills should be Healthy Activities you enjoy that you can kind of lose yourself in the moment.

What coping skills are not---

They are not a one time fix all solution.  They are not a magic pill to take away all your problems.  They won't do anything to take away your problem!  You still will have to deal with whatever is causing your stress at some point, but coping skills help you manage your emotions and actions around that stress.

I hope this makes sense and helps you understand the importance of having  coping skills.  I will jump back on here next week to give you an example of how I use coping skills to manage stress in my own life.  Because guess what, I need them too!

 

If you want more information about coping skills, you can visit my website by clicking on the link in this post.  Have a great day!

Mindfulness Activity: 5-4-3-2-1

What is mindfulness?

Sometimes we get overwhelmed with unpleasant feelings..  Mindfulness is a way to recenter our mind and body and quickly relax tension that we may be experiencing from these unpleasant feelings.  Mindfulness is a way to recognize and cope with overwhelming feelings  so you can focus on the present.    

 

Mindfulness is not….

Mindfulness is not a magic solution.  It will not remove your stress or cause you to feel completely and utterly relaxed for all time.  But if practiced often, it will help you manage your stress and unpleasant experiences so you are not overwhelmed by them.  

Try this activity

This mindfulness technique teaches you to hone in on your senses and forces you to really focus on each sense.  You may find yourself noticing things you’ve never paid attention to before.  Think about how often you drive home and don’t even realize your surroundings or that you passed a certain marker on your way until you are already home.  Mindfulness helps you soak in your surroundings and be present with them.  

For this exercise you will need to be in a comfortable position.  Spend several minutes 2-3 on each step, some may require more focus and more practice.  

 

5 Things You See:

Get comfortable and begin observing your surroundings.  Try to focus on 5 things in the room around you.  Make a mental note of what you can see.  You may notice a mark on the floor you’ve never seen or vibrant colors you haven’t realized were there.  

 

4 Things You Hear:  

Focus on what you can hear.  Really listen to the noises around you.  Try to block every other thought out of your mind and just really focus on sounds.  Can you hear the hum of the heat/air unit?  Is there a distant sound of cars passing?  Maybe you can hear a clock ticking in a room closeby.  

3 Things You Feel:

For this step, I want you to notice sensations against your body.  What can you feel?  Work from your toes up if you need to.  Can you feel the pressure of your feet on the floor?  Do you feel the seat against your body?  Can you feel air against your skin?  Maybe you notice unpleasant sensations like a tag scratching your neck.  Just sit and feel for a couple minutes.  

2 Things You Smell:

This sense will take a little more focus as you differentiate smells in the room or area you are in.  What can you smell?  If you can only smell 1 thing, don’t give up.  Keep your focus and really channel your nose to pick up smells.  

1 Thing You Taste:

For the last step, you will be focusing on your taste buds.  Just focus on what you taste at the moment.  It may be pleasant or unpleasant.  Maybe you are tasting the remnants of your previous meal or drink.  You may taste stale breath.  Focus and taste the sensation.

 

Once you have moved through each step, think about the senses you noticed and what got your attention the most.  You may have noticed things you have never realized were present.  Maybe you began to smell or taste something you hadn’t noticed 15 minutes ago.  When we really take time to focus on things, we can be enlightened.  Now pay attention to how you feel.  Are you more relaxed?  Is your mind clearer?  Once you have completed this exercise, you can either decide to engage in another activity or go right back to what you were doing before.  If you become stressed and agitated, take another break and try this exercise again.  

 

Mindfulness takes practice, so use this activity often to build good coping habits.  Mindfulness can be done anywhere but I recommend practicing it while you shower  and when you are lying in bed.  These are times our minds often wander onto stressful thoughts and we can become tense and frustrated very quickly.  

Let go of the stress, and enjoy the present.

Dayna

P.S.  To receive my free list of Top 5 Coping Skills Your Teen Can Use Now, Click Here.

 

 

BELLY BREATHING

One of the most common tools I teach teens and adult clients is belly breathing.  It is one of the most successful tools when treating anxiety and fear.  This trick can calm you down quickly and can be used ANYWHERE, which is what I love about it.

Belly breathing is also known as deep breathing.

Before you practice this technique, I want you to imagine your belly is a balloon….

image1

OK—Got it?

When air is blown into a balloon, it inflates.  So as you breathe air in, your belly will inflate like a balloon.

When you release your breath, your belly should deflate as a balloon would when slowly losing air.

image0

 

 

 

 

Step 1: Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.

Step 2: Clear your thoughts

Step 3: Take a slow deep breath in through your nose, slowly counting to 7, while focusing on your belly rising.

Step 4: Hold that breath for 2-3 seconds.

Step 5: Slowly release your breath, counting to 7, while your belly releases air.

Step 6: Repeat for 1 minute.

The trick to this technique is that you are breathing through your belly—Not— your chest.

Practice this Belly Breathing daily to build your stamina and increase the number of seconds you are inhaling and exhaling.  Work your way up to increments of 5, 10, 15 minutes of deep breathing.

A relaxed body cannot be an anxious body…

More on how to teach deep breathing to your child in the next post…

DEEP BREATHING FOR CHILDREN

As promised, here is a post on helping your child learn deep breathing techniques or belly breathing.  Deep breathing is a quick trick to help alleviate anxiety and calm worries.

When teaching a child this technique, there are 2 different ways I approach it, depending on the child’s age, developmental level, and comfort.  Most children are open about practicing techniques in front of others, but older children may feel a little weirded out when you start asking them to perform belly breathing in front of you, especially if they already have anxiety.

Trick #1-Teaching deep breathing using Bubbles. soap-bubbles-870342_640

I have a pack of bubbles in my office like this one that I can hand out to children in sessions.  I have the child blow bubbles and discuss how hard/soft to blow to get lots of bubbles or big bubbles.

I then suggest this as a trick to help them fight off their worries or (fill in the blank)-tummy ache, jitters, etc.-most of the time children cannot label anxiety/nervousness/worries.  But they can tell you what somatic complaints they have easily, which is a sign of anxiety depending when and how often it’s occurring.   (Please be advised that tummy aches do not mean your child has anxiety.  If you are concerned your child may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety, schedule an appointment for further assessment with a Pediatrician or Mental Health Professional.) 

 

Trick #2- Teaching Deep Breathing using a stuffed animalbear-678607_640

Have your child lay down on his/her back comfortably and place a small stuffed animal on their belly.

While directing them to slowly breathe in through their nose and out their mouth, guide them to watch the stuffed animal move up and down on their belly.

This will teach them belly breathing, and they can visibly see if they are breathing correctly.  Most times, this is modeled for the child by first doing the technique and then asking them to teach it back to me.  Children love to be the teacher!  I always end a session reminding them to teach their parent what they learned.  This keeps parents involved in progress and helps them hold the child accountable to practice daily.

Alright, that’s it-2 simple ways to help your child practice deep breathing!

MY TOP 5 TIPS FOR BATTLING ANXIETY

Here is a round-up of my top 5 tips most helpful for you and your battle against Anxiety! 

1. Deep Breathing:  I teach deep breathing, AKA belly breathing A LOT in my practice because it is so effective and easy to do.  Click here to see how I teach this technique to children.

2. Mindfulness: This is a post I wrote a while back on my 3-2-1 approach to fighting off anxiety.

3. Change Your Thoughts: I teach teens and children this technique.  Our thoughts are what drive our feelings.  Our feelings drive our behavior/reaction, and the circle continues. Instead of thinking “this is going to be a horrible day”, change your thought to a positive one!   You could change it to “OK-this is a new day, and I’m going to make it a good one.”—“That was a bad dream, but it wasn’t real.”—“1 bad thing is not going to ruin my whole day!”  See how I did that?  More on this later…

2. Apps!    Click here to find apps that you can use as tools while you are working through your anxiety and depression. (Note: These are not to replace therapy, if needed, but to aide you in your ability to overcome your struggles.)

5. Talk it out.  This may be with a friend or a therapist.  Having meaningful connections can ease so many issues we struggle with.  You need someone in your life who gets you and who accepts you.  If you have no support, let me help you find it.

Don’t fight this alone!  I am here to help.

Call 615-683-1111 to set up a free 30 minute phone consultation.

3-2-1 APPROACH TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR ANXIETY

I woke up this morning feeling not so great.  My jaw and shoulders are tense.  I have a tingly sensation in my body.  I sit and think what is wrong with me?  Then I remember the bad dream I have and the people who are in it.  I’m experiencing anxiety at this moment.  I tell myself “I’m really anxious”.  So I work through ways to decrease my anxiety.

Yes!  I suffer from anxiety just like many other people do.  I’m hear to share with you ways to overcome your anxiety.  I teach adults and younger people many different techniques to manage their anxiety.

Here is my 3-2-1 Approach to Take Control of Anxiety3 Ways you need to Assess your body:

1.  Know the signs your body is sharing.  What do you physically feel like?  For me it’s muscle tension from my head down.  Sometimes I have headaches and shoulder pain from it.  Many people have stomach issues, trembling, dizziness even.  Get to know your body when you feel anxious, angry, sadness.  It’s not just an emotional feeling, it affects you physically too.

2. Find the trigger.  What is causing you to feel this way?  For me, it was the after-effects of a bad dream I had . I didn’t even remember I had the dream until I sat and thought about why I was feeling anxious.

3. Manage those thoughts in your mind.  Don’t let the trigger consume you.  Tell yourself for instance, “It was a bad dream.  Everything is fine.”  For me, my bad dream is a piece of my past that I know cannot happen again.  And because it was a dream, it was more intense than my past experience.

2 Techniques to Fight the Anxiety:

1. Deep Breathing: Take a deep breath in and let it out slowly.  When I teach people this skill, I use a balloon so they can visualize their stomach as the balloon.  When you take in breath, the balloon expands, then you slowly let it out as if air is seeping out of the balloon.

             Inhale:                                                                   Exhale:image0

 2.  Mindfulness: Another technique I often love to use for myself is mindfulness.  Today I did this while sitting at my desk.

Take a Deep Breath and Do These 5 Easy Steps:

5 Things I see (my messy desk : ), the light shining bright, books stacked up, a picture my kids made, my dusty blinds.

4 Things I hear…

3 Things I feel (the cold desk against my arms, my legs touching together crossed, the feel of the floor on my bare feet.)

2 things I smell (coffee brewing, the smell of my house)

1 thing I taste

Practice this technique.  as you get closer to 1 it gets a little more difficult to hone in on those senses.  I love to teach this technique.  It is very effective in bringing you to the present.  It will relax your body the more you are able to focus on just those senses and divert your attention to what is surrounding you.  The here and now….

So, as I completed this exercise, I thought this would be a good thing to share with you.  To let you know there are ways to overcome your anxiety, and yes, I too suffer from it at times.