What is making you sick?

I keep hearing a similar story too often.  Someone goes to repeated appointments, has multiple tests, sees different doctors until finally someone talks with them about their mental and emotional health. Culturally, we forget or discount that our mental and emotional health impacts our physical health.  If you feel sick to your stomach then the problem is in your stomach, right? It’s worth reiterating about what mental health problems feel like physically.

Depression

  • constantly tiredstomach pain
  • no energy
  • trouble sleeping
  • trouble staying asleep
  • physical pain or soreness
  • lack of sexual desire, decrease in sexual performance
  • weight changes, changes in eating habits
  • trouble focusing, poor concentration

Anxiety

  • nausea/stomach pain (upset stomach in children)
  • indigestion
  • IBS symptoms
  • sore muscles, back or neck pain
  • weight changes, changes in eating habits
  • headaches
  • jaw pain, grinding teeth

Panic Attacks

  • heart palpitations, feel like you are having a heart attack
  • feel like you are going to die
  • light-headed/dizzy, fainting
  • can’t catch your breath
  • sweating
  • nausea

It’s important to note that you are not making up your physical symptoms or just not being ‘tough enough’.  For example, most people genuinely thought they were having a heart attack or are dying when they have their first panic attack. Physically, your heart is racing, you can’t catch your breath, and you are about to pass out.  You aren’t making that up and simply calming down isn’t an option.  Mental health issues are medical problems because it effects the whole body.

Certainty these symptoms can have purely physical origins.  If the root is emotional or mental though, medications will only treat the symptoms and will not change the underlying condition.  Therapy is needed to ultimately resolve these symptoms.  Hopefully, we will all get better at recognizing and treating the actual problem.

-Jennifer

A Calm Mind

An anxious mind is a powerful force. It was spin and swirl thoughts, worries, and fears around at a mighty pace and handicap your ability to focus, make decisions and be at peace The most common initial strategies for dealing with anxiety I use are: 1. accept that you are anxious. 2. manage your thoughts. 


Accept that you are anxious.
This might initially sound counter-intuitive. People often try not to be anxious or to ignore that they are worried. This results in the equivalent of ignoring a bear in your living room.  If you are anxious, then you ARE anxious. It is wasted energy to try not to be anxious when you already are. 

Manage your thoughts. 
Anxious thoughts are like a wayward pilot on auto-pilot. You don’t intend to be worrying or be thinking about things but you just find yourself doing it. We must take the plane off of auto-pilot and learn to steer manually. You can steer straight into the thoughts and worries or you can steer clear of these issues. 

To dive straight in, spend some time purposely thinking about your worries and concerns. I strongly recommend you do this by writing out your thoughts. First, identify one worry and write everything associated with that worry. While doing this, you will identify another worry. Write it in the margin and write about it after finishing the first worry. Do this process until you have written through what is on your mind. Don’t try to be logical or fix your worries as you write. Just write down your thoughts. 

When you are finished you might find that the process of writing it down, alleviated your concern. If you still feel anxious, reread it. Are your fears realistic? Proportional to the situation? Is situation changeable? What’s the repeated theme of your anxiety? Is there a core fear? 
Option two in managing your thoughts is purposeful distraction. When you catch your mind on anxious auto-pilot, tell yourself to stop those thoughts. For example: I am not going to think about that now, I have already thought about all of it. I am not going to think about it now, I will think through it all tonight. I have already thought about all of it, I just have to focus on ______. Switch over to different thoughts (i.e. favorite memories, plans for this weekend, what task you need to do next) or a new activity that requires more focus. The anxious thoughts will probably creep back in. Every time you find it there again, you have to tell yourself to stop and switch over again.

Keeping a calm mind is difficult and requires focused effort. You have to work with your anxiousness regularly to keep it in check. The goal isn’t not to worry but to worry in control and in proportion. 

-Jennifer

A Calm House

How do you keep a high octane culture from changing your household? Two main principles: go back to the basics and focus on keeping your calm.

The Basics
When starting therapy with children, most therapist will start with the basics:
    — Is the kiddo getting enough sleep?
    — What development changes are going on?
    — Do you have an established, predictable routine?
    — Do parents and children have fun, positive time together?
    — Is there a consistent plan for discipline? Does that plan work?

A lot of family therapy is re-establishing the basics of discipline, positive time together, conflict resolution and communication. Often when things gets stressful and problems arise, we overcompensate and overreact and make the problem worse. Shoring up the basics of your family helps remove the stress of the unknown and of change for kids. It can not be emphasized enough how sensitive children are to change and to ongoing tension. Even if they don’t know what is going on, they feel it and their behavior will show it.

My easiest recommendation for families dealing with stress, change or conflict is to sit and play with your child for 20 minutes. Give your kids an opportunity to reconnect with you. YOU are what makes them feel normal and stable. Parents are a child’s attachment base which means when they feel stressed, uncertain, or anxious, they need your presence to feel calm again. Give their your presence by giving their play your full attention (sit on the floor, turn off the TV, put the phone away). Follow their lead in play and don’t add your ideas unless asked.

Focus on Keeping Yourself Calm.
It goes without saying that children will be trying to your patience. How you respond is just as important if not more than what your response is. Yelling a perfectly crafted logical consequence to your child will have no impact. Your child will be focused on your reaction instead of focusing on their wrong actions. So let’s debunk some myths that cause us to lose our calm. 

Must respond immediately. Often parents feel the need to respond to their children immediately when they misbehave. If you have to chose between responding promptly or responding calmly: choose calm. 

Must always have it together. No one is level headed enough to respond to everything our children throw at us at all hours of the day and night with the most logical, calm head on our shoulders. If you have been worn to the end of your rope, feel free to give yourself a time-out. A person has their quota of “no”, tantrums, whining, arguments, and attitude she can effectively respond to without a break. 

Must always have the right answerKids can really surprise you with how they manage to misbehave. You can’t expect yourself to have the appropriate response primed at all times. You might have to think over how to respond. For example, what’s the logical consequence for giving the cat a haircut? 

Must go with first response.  Often our initial impulse is often the wrong impulse. The right response often requires a greater calmness and thought than we have in the moment. Allow yourself to walk away for a minute.  Also our children need to see us model how to regulate ourselves in stressful situations so they will learn to do it too.

-Jennifer 

A Calm Culture



A Calm Culture

This is the first post in a series about anxiety. Taking solution focused mindset, it will focus on the positive: being calm instead on the negative: being anxious. 


There is a notable rise in the mental health field of people seeking treatment for anxiety and anxiety related disorders. So much so that I believe it is fair to say that we are becoming an anxious culture. Think about words related to anxiety: keyed up, up tight, worried, stressed, tense, high pressure, constant. Are these not words that could describe an 21st century lifestyle? 

We are bombarded with things seeking our attention, things to decide to do or not do, things to learn about or ignore. There is always something to do, see, read, or watch. All of this noise has takes it toll. For many people, the constant nature of our culture, along with other factors, results in anxiety issues.

So lets flip the coin and focus on the goal. The opposite of anxious is calm: relaxed, mellow, peaceful, at ease. We need a grassroots effort to reclaim ourselves and our families for an anxious culture by creating places of calm and rest. We have to make effort to calm and relaxed because the natural flow of life is toward tension and stress. 

What does it look like practically? When was the last time you did this or what would it be like if you:
 — Sat in your car for 2 minutes before you get out – no radio, no phone, just sat.
 — Went outside and listened to every noise you hear. Its astounding what we tune out.
 — Stayed seated when you hear your text alert go off.
 — Reserved some time on your weekend to have no plans, nothing particular to do.
 — Visited someone you love just to hang out.

If as individuals we can start pushing back on our anxious culture, then we will start to see a bigger shift. More to come on how to create calm for yourself and your house. 

-Jennifer 






Promises from the Bible about Worry

Christians often struggle with the dual reality that the Bible calls on us not to worry yet they still have problems controlling their worry. I think the Bible talks about worry and fears because God knew that this would be a difficult issue. There are many ways to approach dealing with anxiety and one way I think can be helpful for believers to turn to scripture. To make it more helpful, you should expand beyond the verses that just tell us not to worry. I listed some verses (most are NASB translation) below and have a handout. If you would like a copy, email me at jennifer@familysolutionsok.com

You likely know the scriptures about not worrying.

“Don’t let your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me.” John 14:1

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27


And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Luke 12:22


And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Luke 12:35-26


Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:27


So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day 
has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

But it also helps to remember that God loves you and has promised to care for you.
Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all! 2 Thessalonian 3:16

“I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b


You drew near when I called on You; You said, “Do not fear!” Lamentations 3:57


…but the Father knows that you need these things. Luke 12: 30b


For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Matthew 6:25-26


God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Psalm 46:1-2


He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. Psalms 62:6


And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28


But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

The Bible tells us that God will protect and help us in our times of worry and fear.
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12: 9


But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3


Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10


If I should say, “My foot has slipped.” Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up. When my anxious inner thoughts becoming overwhelming, your comfort encourages me. Psalms 94:18 -19

You are promised that you will endure.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33


Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James1:13

The Bible tells us how to cope with your worry. 
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 34:4


When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. Psalms 56:3


Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7


Hope these can help,
-Jennifer