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Self-acceptance

If you’ve been following our blog posts you’ll have noticed that this month is focus on self-love. As we’ve discussed in the previous posts, self-love is quite ambiguous and there are a lot of different facets to dive into to truly master the art of it.

This week we will be focusing on how to improve your self-love through self-acceptance. 

In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-acceptance is defined as:

 

“: the act or state of accepting oneself the act or state of understanding and recognizing one’s own abilities and limitations.

//In each moment you’re either practicing self-acceptance—or you’re judging yourself.— Linda Arnold”

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Moving toward self-acceptance

The first steps towards greater self-acceptance are: 

1-Recognize your faults, your strengths, your likes, your dislikes, and everything else that makes you, you. 
2-Completely accept all parts of you without qualification, conditions, stipulations, or exceptions.
3-Let go of others expectations of you and take back your power by not caring what other people think.

STeps 1 & 2

 

The first two steps may be harder than they appear. They mean to embrace your rock star traits and qualities… but also to accept the less than stellar parts– the parts we like to keep secret, hidden away. The first two steps of recognition and acceptance must occur in order to get to the third step. You cannot let go of others’ opinions of you unless you are comfortable and accepting of yourself first.

To begin working on the first two steps you must stop downplaying your great qualities.  Acknowledge them to yourself. Be confident and proud of who you are. Being confident and proud are very different from being conceited and vain. You are proud of the accomplishments, good traits, and are able to recognize the amazing qualities of others. Why wouldn’t you do the same for yourself? Own who you are. Take pride in being you! 

While it is a lot easier to accept the good, you cannot be fully self-accepting unless you embrace the bad as well. Is it hard? You betcha. You may be asking yourself, “Isn’t that counterintuitive though? Shouldn’t I reject the things I don’t like about myself in order to change them?”

While it may seem counterintuitive, most people don’t realize that it is the only way to begin self-improvement and growth. You cannot heal, change, or grow unless you are in a state of love and understanding. Healing does not happen in a place of judgement or ridicule. You must move from rejection and resistance to understanding and peace. Make peace with your short temper, your ugly feet, your procrastination, or whatever your faults and shortcomings may be, and you will find the freedom and an increased ability to be at peace with them or overcome them. 

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step 3

Once you are accepting and understanding of all sides of yourself you will stop looking to outside sources to feel loved, worthy, or validated because you will find it all from within.  You will love yourself and know you innately are worthy and deserve to be loved. It will become easy to let go of the opinions of others because their opinion will not change who you are or your worth. 

This means, you do not have to do things to please other people, you can let go of others expectations of you, and you can be you to your fullest, without reservation or apology. Do you have a dream of being a rodeo star? Or to sing on broadway? Don’t be embarrassed of these dreams. Someone else is doing them, why can’t you?

Just because other people do not share the same dream or understand its importance does not mean it is silly and an unworthy goal.  As long as it is important to you, it is important and you should own it no matter how odd or quirky it may seem to someone else. Do what makes you happy. Your happiness is the only one you are in control of. 

 

 

 

Get help

Working on self-acceptance is an individual process, but sometimes we have deep-rooted beliefs or issues that oppose our commendable efforts. This ultimately can keep us back, no matter how much we try. This is typically where most of us give up because it seems impossible to move past. 

It can be a little uncomfortable at first, but reaching out to a trained professional such as a therapist or counselor can help you get out of your own head and move past whatever is keeping you from fully and truly accepting yourself. You are worth the effort, time, and money and deserve to live an exuberant life. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-love Through Self-care

Self-care is a hot topic these days, but when actually done, a lot of people feel guilty or selfish for doing something for themselves.  If this resonates with you, take a moment and reflect on this quote:

“You can’t pour from an empty cup. You must fill your own cup first.”

– Author unknown.

What if you couldn’t afford NOT to take care of yourself? What if taking care of yourself first meant that you had more love, more energy, more joy, more quality time, and just plain more of yourself to give to others? Self-care and self-love aren’t a form of selfishness, but are a way to ensure that we are taken care of first so that we have more to give to those we love.

Below are a list of ways to have self-care in all 5 of the areas of wellness.

Physical self-care

Grooming

For grooming make sure to keep good personal hygiene, have presentable hair, dress in clean clothes,  men shave your face or trim your facial hair, and women put on make up or jewelry or whatever helps you feel nice. Good grooming can help increase self-confidence, self-esteem, and when you respect yourself, others will respect you more as well.

Exercise

Exercise tends to have a negative connotation, but exercise doesn’t have to be grueling and strenuous. Exercise can be simple and the purpose is to get your body moving. Types of movement include walking, bike riding, dancing, yoga, stretching, and so much more.

Finding a movement that is enjoyable and that resonates with your body has major health benefits. Exercise releases a happy hormone called endorphins, it can increase your energy and focus, aid in bone density, and decrease risks of chronic disease.

Diet

One of the most important aspects of physical self-care is nutrition. What we eat affects everything in our bodies from hormones, energy levels, mental state, gut health, and illness. Almost more important than how much you eat is what you eat.

The easiest way to better the quality of food consumed is to focus on small, manageable changes that move you closer to a healthier lifestyle. This could be changing one of your snacks to a healthier alternative, changing one or two processed carbohydrates that you routinely eat to more complex carbohydrates i.e.  whole grains, oats, lentils, beans, fruits,  and vegetables, or substitute some of your caffeinated beverages/juices for water.

These are a couple of simple ways to get a head start on your nutrition and taking care of your body from the inside out. You only have one body after all so take care of it.

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Mental/Emotional self-care

Mental wellness is very distinct from emotional wellness, but they are both so closely related that it is hard to differentiate between the two. Because they both influence one another we will be grouping them together here.

Mental wellness deals with the ability to process information while emotional wellness is the ability to express your emotions based on what your mind processed. If one’s mind is altered by anxiety they might be so fixated on one thing that they wouldn’t process their surrounding information like normal. If they are unable to process information accurately, then their reaction to the situation would also be altered.

Here is a list of ways that we can give ourselves some love mentally and emotionally.

Mental
  • Practice positive self-talk
  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise
  • Drink enough water
  • Practice gratitude
  • Serve others
  • Get a mental workout
  • Manage stress
  • Have a hobby that brings you happiness
emotional
  • The above list will apply to emotional health as well
  • Be more mindful- be present in the moment, be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and environment
  • Foster healthy relationships and cut out negative relationships
  • Accept your emotions
  • Speak up for yourself
  • Be inspired
  • Laugh

social self-care

Social wellness is our perception of belonging in relationships and how we interact with others. The best way to increase your social wellness is first to identify your specific needs. Do you like having a lot of friends or do you prefer a smaller circle with closer relationships? Identifying your needs will help you know how to proceed to fulfill those needs.

Ways to improve social wellness include:

  • Be more approachable. Smile and let people know you are open to talking
  • Pursue your interests and find like-minded people
  • Join a club or a group
  • Listen more intently and be more engaged when talking with others
  • Reach out and keep in contact with supportive family and friends

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Spiritual self-care

Spirituality is the quality and consciousness of the human spirit or soul. It is a connection with something greater than ourselves. This could be worshipping a God or deity, connecting with Mother Earth or the Universe. The best way to develop spiritual self-care is to start. Find something that feels right to you and don’t be afraid to explore it.  Finding our spirituality can help fill a hole we never realized we had.

The Month of Love: Falling in Love with Yourself

The word love is so common place today in our society. We use it to describe our favorite ice cream or to compliment a friend’s new haircut. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching we think of love and associate it with chocolate hearts, kisses, romantic dinners, and roses

These forms of love we are all familiar with, but when it comes to self-love many of us are confused as to its true meaning. We will be discussing what self-love means and how it can appear in our lives.

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WHAT IS SELF-LOVE:

Self-love is thinking positively about yourself and feeling good about yourself the majority of the time. It is forgiving yourself when you make a mistake and being compassionate with your faults. It is believing that you are important and special enough to be a priority in your own live, believing you are worthy of love, and having confidence and satisfaction in yourself, your worth, and your abilities.

SELF-LOVE TIPS:

Black woman smiling on bench on city street

BE MINDFUL OF YOUR THOUGHTS

The way we feel about ourselves is directly correlated with the way we think of ourselves, therefore, self-love begins in the mind. The best way to begin self-love is to become aware and conscious of the self-talk going on throughout the day. Begin to monitor the thoughts you are having. Are your thoughts full of mostly negative self-talk or positive self-talk? Are you  belittling yourself for the mistakes you’ve made or are you congratulating yourself for small victories? Once you find your thought patterns you can recognize the areas you struggle with. Then, begin to replace the negative thoughts with more positive and uplifting ones.

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NEEDS VS WANTS

Self-love can begin to grow as you do hard things. You can take pride in your accomplishments and feel satisfied in your achievements. A great way to start incorporating this principle is to say yes to your needs and no to your wants.  Focusing on our needs versus our wants helps turn us away from our automatic behavior patterns that we would typically do whether it be in shopping, relationships, food,  how we react when we’re angry, what we do when we’re feeling lonely and every other decision we make. By following your needs you will stay strong, centered, and moving towards your goals instead of being swept away by the exciting and new things that easily distract us.

Self-Love-Techniques-quote

MAKE YOURSELF A PRIORITY

A great way to improve self-love is by making yourself a priority and acting on what you want rather than what others want for you. This is taking ownership of your life and your happiness. In order to be able to do this you must know who you are, what you like, and what you want. If you don’t already know yourself in these areas, then begin to explore your likes and dislikes. What things do you like to do? What qualities do you admire? What morals are important to you? Once you figure out what is important to you it is a lot easier to make decisions that align with your morals, your wants, and your goals.

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Can Neurofeedback Help With ADHD?

The short answer? Yes. Neurofeedback can help with ADHD.

Neurofeedback has been shown to improve impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity, which are symptoms associated with neurofeedback.

Neurofeedback is an alternative to ADHD medicine

If you don’t want to put your child on ADHD medication, or your child doesn’t want to take ADHD medicine anymore, you’re probably wondering what your options are. On the one hand, ADHD medications are extremely helpful for your child, but maybe your child just doesn’t like how they make them feel. One option you could try is neurofeedback.

Working with your child’s pediatrician or psychiatrist is essential in making sure this process happens smoothly. They will know how to best help your child transition off or lower the dosage of the medication. Consult with your physician before making changes in your child’s medication use.

Some people find that neurofeedback helps them reduce their ADHD medication but not fully go off their meds.

The effects of neurofeedback on ADHD is long-lasting

The great thing about neurofeedback is the effects are long-lasting. In a study conducted by Vincent Monastra, founder of the FPI Attention Disorders Clinic, he found that children who received neurofeedback along with their medication were able to lower their ADHD medication doses by 50 percent.

So while the treatment will take time to complete (you need to do at least 20 to 30 sessions for it to be long-lasting effects), it can be worth it for the long-lasting effects.

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What does neurofeedback do?

Neurofeedback trains your brain to help you have better attention, focus, sleep, and emotional regulation, among other things. Basically, your brain emits many types of waves, and you want them to perform in a certain way that will help you stay focused. Neurofeedback fixes things up so that you have the right amount of brainwaves in the right areas of your brain.

For people with ADHD, neurofeedback will help their brain produce the right brainwaves to help them focus better. After undergoing neurofeedback, people with ADHD can notice they’re less impulsive, distracted, and act out less.

If you want to know more about the brainwave science behind neurofeedback, check out CHADD‘s (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) website.

What’s involved in neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback sessions take about 30 to 45 minutes each session and are usually pretty pricey. According to ADDitude magazine, most practitioners charge $2,000 to $5,000 dollars for the treatment; however, at Aspen Valley Counseling, prices are lower to make the service available for more people. At Aspen Valley Counseling, you will only pay around $1000 for your neurofeedback treatment with an option to add on a qEEG brain mapping (that will show where to pinpoint the areas of your brain in neurofeedback training) for only $550 (usually around $750).

When you or your child go to complete your neurofeedback treatment, the therapist or neurofeedback tech will put the electrodes on your skull, pinpointing areas where your brain needs training. Then you’ll either play a game or watch a movie or image. If you’re “playing” a game, you’ll be watching a screen that will reflect what’s going on with your brainwaves. If your brainwaves are moving toward behaving how you’re supposed to, you’ll do well in the game, but if they’re not, you won’t do as well in the game. This kind of feedback teaches your brain what types of brainwaves to produce.

Neurofeedback alters brainwave activity that impacts symptoms related to ADHD.

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Are there any downsides to neurofeedback?

Just like any therapy, there’s no guarantee that it will work for you if you have ADHD. Some people go completely off medication and opt to just use neurofeedback; others use a combination of ADHD medication and neurofeedback. Each case is very individual, and individuals should work closely with healthcare professionals when weighing the options.

There are many studies that support neurofeedback as a treatment for ADHD, but there are also some that don’t support it.

And the most annoying downside is that it’s also not covered by most insurance companies. But, for that reason Aspen Valley Counseling is committed to low prices for neurofeedback.

If you have any questions about neurofeedback pricing or payment plans, you can email Aspen Valley Counseling at aspenvalleycounseling@gmail.com or call the office at (801) 224-1103.

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ADHD in Children: How to Help

Raising kids is hard enough as it is since each child comes with their own unique challenges. When you find out your child has ADHD, you can’t expect the same types of behavior from them as you would children without ADHD. Here’s what you need to know if your child is diagnosed with ADHD.

What is it?

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a condition caused by problems related to the structure and wiring of the brain and can affect one’s ability to focus, sit still, and make appropriate decisions. We still aren’t sure exactly how ADHD is developed, but we know it can be linked to family history as well as brain injury. It is usually diagnosed in childhood but can often continue into adulthood.

What does ADHD look like in children?

Psychologists have categorized ADHD into three groups or “types” based on their symptoms: inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type, or combined type.

If your child has been showing six to nine of ADHD symptoms for the past 6 months, it is likely that they could have ADHD. It’s important to note that you as a parent might not see all these symptoms displayed in the home. Be sure to talk to your child’s teachers, parents of friends, and other adults who they interact with to get a better picture of how your child is behaving in various situations.

Here are the two types of ADHD and their corresponding symptoms:

Inattentive type:

  • Doesn’t pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school or tasks
  • Has problems staying focused on tasks or activities
  • Doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to (seems to be elsewhere)
  • Doesn’t follow through on instructions and doesn’t complete schoolwork or chores
  • Has problems organizing tasks and work
  • Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Often misplaces important things
  • Is easily distracted
  • Forgets daily tasks, such as doing chores and running errands

Hyperactive/impulsive type:

  • Fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat
  • Unable to stay seated (in classroom, workplace)
  • Runs about or climbs where it is inappropriate
  • Unable to play or do leisure activities quietly
  • Always “on the go,” as if driven by a motor
  • Talks too much
  • Blurts out an answer before a question has been finished
  • Has difficulty waiting his or her turn, such as while waiting in line
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others

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How can I know for sure if my child has ADHD?

Many of the symptoms mentioned might sound like a normal part of growing up for young kids but can also be significantly impairing their day to day tasks. If your child is exhibiting an unusual amount of the symptoms mentioned above, talk to your child’s pediatrician or a therapist who specializes in ADHD. They can help set your child up with a treatment plan. If your child’s pediatrician is unfamiliar in diagnosing and treating ADHD, they may refer you to a child psychologist. Some mental health clinics may even offer ADHD screenings.

You can go to this website to look for psychologists in your area that can better help with diagnosis. You can even go to your child’s school counselor to seek help.

What treatment is available for ADHD?

An ongoing study from the National Institute of mental health has shown that the most effective treatment for ADHD in children is stimulant medication. This type of medication, is designed to help children in their interactions with others, reduce symptoms of hyperactivity, and help them focus more. Ritalin, Adderall, and Vyvanse are some of the common brands of stimulant medication. Talk to your child’s pediatrician or a psychiatrist about whether or not your child can benefit from this treatment.

Psychologists and counselors will not be able to prescribe medication for your child, but they can help your child with behavioral issues that come with ADHD. Studies have shown that a combination of medication and behavioral therapy can significantly improve symptoms, especially if your child is struggling with any other type of emotional disorders.

You should also look into neurofeedback as a non-medication option for ADHD. It has been shown to help kids with ADHD think more clearly.

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What can I do to help as a parent?

Catching and treating ADHD early is crucial to your child’s social and educational development. One of the most important things you can do is to praise them for their efforts and notice when they show good behavior. Reinforcing good behavior and appropriately addressing bad behavior will not only help their self-esteem but also help them learn right from wrong.

Additude Magazine has outlined 12 “Dos and Don’ts” for how to best help your child with ADHD. Some of them include punishment and positive reinforcement, avoiding blame, and modeling appropriate behavior.

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Addiction Recovery: How To Recover

Anyone who has struggled with addiction can tell you it’s a difficult journey, and recovery will take time. But where do you even start? Addiction recovery usually requires professional help, but there are some things you can do to help you get started or help you progress as you’re working with a professional.

Addiction Recovery: Noticing Your Behavior

Addiction recovery isn’t just about getting rid of a bad habit; it’s about creating a lifestyle that will help you get rid of your addiction. So where do you start? You start by getting at the root of the addiction, creating new patterns, and noticing risky situations.

First, start thinking about what triggers your addiction. Is it when you feel sad? After you have a fight with a loved one? There could be many reasons. Write these down. These are your high-risk situations, when you should be aware that you have a habit of giving into your addiction.

Writing them down won’t change the fact that you have an addiction, but it will help you identify your behavior better so you can be aware that you’re reacting to something when you’re giving into the addictive behavior.

Now, think of how you feel before you succumb to your addiction. Are you feeling angry, lonely, or tired? For each high-risk situation you wrote down, write down how you feel in that situation. These are the emotions you’re going to want to watch out for. These emotions aren’t bad, but these are times when you might be more susceptible to your addiction because you’ve created a pattern of behavior. So, when you feel sad, you might automatically go to substance abuse to avoid the sadness. These are patterns you want to identify so that you can interrupt them. If you notice you’re sad, then you can learn to acknowledge that feeling, and then use a different coping method rather than give into the addiction.

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Addiction Recovery: Learning Skills

Addiction recovery won’t be solved in a day with a list. You’ll have to learn new coping methods, change your lifestyle, and in some cases alter the way you think about things or heal from trauma.

Coping Skills

Sometimes we are faced with difficult situations or feelings we don’t know how to handle. In these cases, many people turn to their addictions. But there are other coping skills you can learn to replace your addictions with. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Meditate: When you take time out of your day to recenter your mind on what’s important, you can let go of feelings of frustration.
  • Learn mindfulness: Mindfulness is something you can use whenever and wherever you are. All you have to do is learn to focus on the here and now. What can you see, smell, feel, hear? When you stop worrying about what’s going to happen, you can learn to calm down.
  • Breathe deeply: Breathe in through your nose for six seconds and then out through your mouth for six seconds. Do this until you notice your heart rate is at a calm pace.
  • Keep a journal: Sometimes writing things down will help you organize your thoughts and help you stop worrying so much.
  • Exercise: When you exercise, your body releases a chemical called endorphins that will make you feel happy.

When you find a coping method that fits you best, try it out when you notice yourself start to feel one of the emotions on your list or after you encounter a high-risk situation. Even if it doesn’t work the first time, stick to it. Your addiction recovery will take time after all.

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Being Patient With Yourself

And of course, through this addiction recovery process, be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. And don’t give up.

Yes, you will have to make a big lifestyle change, but it will be worth it. It’s important that you start to notice other parts of your life that will have to undergo changes. Are there people who encourage your addiction? Are there places where you go that encourage your addiction? Be aware of these and avoid them when you can. But of course, you won’t always be able to avoid these things, so build up your arsenal of good habits and coping skills.

Getting professional help is going to be crucial in your recovery. If you don’t want to do an in-patient treatment program, or you have done one and need extra help, consider seeing a therapist who can help you. Here are some types of therapy that can help you in your journey of addiction recovery:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This type of therapy will help you think more rationally and interrupt your thoughts that lead you into addictive behavior.
  • Neurofeedback: This therapy helps train your brainwaves so that you can think more clearly and make more progress in your addiction recovery.
  • EMDR: If you are suffering from trauma, this type of therapy will help you heal and move forward with your addiction recovery.
  • Motivational interviewing: This therapy is very goal oriented and will help you take steps toward recovery.

Remember, your road to addiction recovery will be your own, but you don’t have to do it alone. Get help from people who will encourage you to get rid of the addiction, therapists, specialists, and others who’ve recovered. And be patient. You’ll get there.

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22 Beautiful Suicide Prevention Quotes

We all need a little inspiration. Here are 22 beautiful and empowering suicide prevention quotes for National Suicide Prevention Week.

Suicide Prevention Quotes

 

Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle. Christian D. Larson

 

Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. Harriet Beecher Stowe

 

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Despite the cloud of my depression and anxiety, I woke up every morning with a choice, give up or trudge through. Trudging sucks. Giving up sucks. Sometimes life comes down to the lesser of two evils. Aaron Behr

 

Having difficult times and grief and brokenness, does not mean that life is over. These are just bumps in the road, obstacles to be overcome and made stepping stones into a long successful life. Teresa St. Frances

 

Grit your teeth and let it hurt. Don’t deny it, don’t be overwhelmed by it. It will not last forever. Harold Kushner

 

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. Maya Angelou

 

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There’s no shame in having to fight every day, but fighting every day, and presumably, if you’re still alive to hear these words or read this interview, then you are winning your war. You’re here. You might not win every battle. There are going to be some really tough days. There might be several tough times in any given single day, but hopefully, this will help somebody to think, “This isn’t easy; it is a fight, but I’m going to keep fighting.” Jared Padalecki

 

However long the night, the dawn will break. African proverb

 

Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures. Joseph Addison

 

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

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Take a shower, wash off the day. Drink a glass of water. Make the room dark. Lie down and close your eyes. Notice the silence. Notice your heart. Still beating. Still fighting. You made it, after all. You made it, another day. And you can make it one more. You’re doing just fine. Charlotte Eriksson

 

To all who walk the dark path, and to those who walk in the sunshine but hold out a hand in the darkness to travel beside us: Brighter days are coming. Clearer sight will arrive. And you will arrive too. No, it might not be forever. The bright moments might be for a few days at a time, but hold on for those days. Those days are worth the dark. Jenny Lawson

 

Never give up. Winston Churchill

 

One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks. Jack Penn

 

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 

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“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think and loved more than you know.” Christopher Robin (A.A. Milne)

 

If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise. Rupi Kaur

 

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive. Dr. Howard thurman

 

You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging. Brené Brown

 

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Sometimes even to live is an act of courage. Seneca

 

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. Dale Carnegie

 

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” Mary Anne Radmacher

National Suicide Prevention Day

When mental health problems affect so many people around us, it’s important that we all take part in national suicide prevention day (September 10, 2018). You don’t have to go out and do something big, but start by doing something small. This year’s theme for suicide prevention is, “The Power of Connection.” But what does that mean?

The Power of Connection is all about connecting with other people and the influence that can have on mental health. When we connect with other people, we are opening ourselves up to meaningful relationships.  And when we feel like we are safe talking to someone else about our feelings, we don’t feel so alone in the world.

If you or someone you know has ever experienced depression, you’ll know that sometimes people with depression can experience a kind of downward negative spiral, where they feel trapped in negativity. These incessant, negative thoughts will leave them feeling hopeless and unmotivated. And often, they aren’t sharing these feelings with others. But when they do decide to open up to someone else, a friend can help them reframe things and help them out of the trap of hopelessness.

Connections are about more than just having business contacts through LinkedIn or virtual friends on Facebook. Connection is about finding a way to connect with others who can build you up and help you find hope.

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Making Connections on National Suicide Prevention Day

Making connections is a great way to participate in National Suicide Prevention Day. You can probably name off a couple of people you know who struggle with mental health, but there are probably a lot more who you don’t know experience difficulty with their mental health. Every day we talk to people who are suffering silently.

Because we don’t see depression or anxiety the same way we can identify a broken arm or a bruised knee, it can be hard to know who is needing our help. And perhaps some people don’t want you to know about their struggles with mental health because of the stigma associated with it.

A good rule of thumb is to just connect with the people you already know. For National Suicide Prevention Day, you don’t have to go seek out someone new. Start with the people around you. Make connections with them and let them know you care about them.

There are so many people who feel alone in the world, even when they have friends nearby. And that’s because people aren’t reaching out to each other to make connections.

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Ways to Connect

Making a connection with someone can be something so simple. Here are some ideas that you can use to connect with people:

  • Start a conversation with someone at the grocery store (such as the checkout clerk or the greeter at the door).
  • Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.
  • Scroll through your Facebook friends and randomly choose someone, and send them a message.
  • Sit down and join your family member in whatever they’re doing and talk to them.
  • Invite someone to go out to ice cream with you.
  • Think about which of your friends you haven’t seen or heard from in a long time, and reach out to them.
  • Tell someone why you appreciate them.
  • Make plans with someone you care about.
  • Ask people how they’re doing, and when they respond, “Good,” ask them how they’re really doing with life. Perhaps disclose how you are doing (if you are feeling stressed or sad, etc.). Self-disclosure can go a long way and help the other person feel more comfortable opening up.
  • Invite some friends over to play games or to eat dinner.

There are so many ways you can connect on National Suicide Prevention day, but don’t let the connections stop after September 10th!

Making National Suicide Prevention Day Every Day

It’s nice that there’s one day a year where everyone celebrates National Suicide Prevention Day, but extending the ideas of suicide prevention to every day is the real goal.

This year’s theme, “The Power of Connection,” is such a great theme because it speaks to something we can do every day. Don’t let a day go by without connecting with someone. Every little effort you make to connect is helping prevent suicide.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please call the national suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255

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Suicide Prevention: Noticing the Warning Signs and How to Help

Four in five people know that suicide is preventable. But do they know how? Suicide prevention starts with knowing the warning signs and then taking action to help.

September 9th through 15th is National Suicide Prevention Week and September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, so we thought we’d join with the voices to prevent suicide and outline the warning signs of suicide and how to prevent suicide.

Since 1975, the National Suicide Prevention Week has brought people together to bring awareness to suicide, the 11th leading cause of death in the United States. The goal of National Suicide Prevention week is to raise awareness for the growing problem in our country and engage in discussion about mental illness, warning signs, and resources for someone struggling with thoughts of suicide. This year’s theme, “The Power of Connection”, emphasizes our ability to understand people, to love them, and to want to help them.

 

Suicide Prevention: The Warning Signs

It’s hard to tell when someone is struggling with thoughts of suicide, here’s what to watch out for according to the American Association of Suicidology and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

  • Talking about self harming or talking about having no purpose in life
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior
  • Feeling of hopeless
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Isolating themselves/withdrawing from activities
  • Substance abuse

If you notice any of these signs in yourself, it’s important that you seek out the help of a mental health professional.

 

The Role of Therapy Suicide Prevention

There’s no one cause that determines if someone commits suicide, but an underlying mental illness can be a risk factor. Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the nation and is present in at least half of all cases of suicide. If you or someone you know could be struggling with depression or another mental illness, it’s important that you seek the help of a therapist.

Mental health professionals are specially trained to handle someone who may be at risk for suicide or who may be already showing signs of suicidal ideation. “Suicidal ideation” is the term that’s used to mean that someone is thinking about suicide. Therapy is a crucial step in overcoming mental illness and getting rid of suicidal thoughts.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) have been shown to be successful interventions for people with multiple suicide attempts.

Suicide Prevention: How to Help

There are multiple ways you can help in the battle of suicide prevention. Maybe you’ll be the person who will drive a loved one who’s in crisis to the emergency room, or you’re sitting next to them as they call the suicide hotline phone number. Or maybe you’re volunteering for an event to increase awareness of suicide prevention.

Here’s a list of some things you can do to support in suicide prevention.

  • If you feel that a person may be at immediate risk for suicide, call 911
  • Share the number for the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline with people you know or on social media: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Get involved in volunteer opportunities near you
  • If someone you know seems more withdrawn than usual, reach out to them.
  • Read/share stories of survival and hope here

Don’t be afraid to speak up and help someone who’s struggling. The power of connection will make a difference.

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Dealing With Depression: The Basics

Dealing with depression is simply no fun. But there are some basic things that you can do to help you feel a little better. They won’t solve your problems or make you magically feel motivated. But they’ll help you take care of your body and get those natural happy chemicals (endorphins) to fill your body.

Dealing With Depression: Symptoms

But first, how do you know if you’re dealing with depression? According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, you may have depression if you experience these symptoms:

  • Feeling sad or “empty”
  • Hopelessness, helplessness, and negativity
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Feeling tired and having sleep problems
  • Difficulty making decisions and concentrating
  • Low appetite or overeating
  • Irritability
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

If you’re feeling those symptoms, a therapist will be able to help you find more help and resources, but if you’re nervous about going to see a therapist, you still have options. You could set up a Skype or phone appointment with a therapist as well. So if dealing with depression is making it hard for you to get out of bed, you can talk to your therapist in the comfort of your own home. The National Network of Depression Centers also keeps a list of online resources that could be helpful.

Dealing With Depression: Tips

When you go to a therapist, they will help you work through the things that contribute to your depression. They might try to help you figure out what’s at the root of your depression. They may help you realize it’s genetic and that you should try taking medication. Or they may give you coping skills, such as things you can do when the depression arises.

But no matter what approach the therapist takes, they’ll probably suggest you take care of your health, which will help you feel just a bit better and more able to function.

Eat Better

When we are eating poorly, we won’t feel great. And when you’re dealing with depression, you’re already not feeling so great. So one thing you can do to help your mood is to eat good foods. Try to cut down on super sugary foods, things high in carbs, and do your best to eat balanced meals. Instead of snacking on chips, try some fruits and veggies. Eating healthy is just a small way you can improve how you feel.

Make Sure You’re Sleeping Enough

When you’re dealing with depression, you’re probably also dealing with sleep problems. Maybe you’re sleeping too much or too little. Maybe your sleep is restless. But sleeping the right amount will actually help you feel more emotionally stable and help manage your irritability. Start by creating a schedule for your sleep. Try to shoot for 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Make sure you don’t eat or drink caffeine a few hours before bed, and then try to go to sleep and wake up each morning around the same time. Doing this will take a while to get used to, but your body will adjust to the schedule.

Exercise

If you’re looking for a quicker fix, exercise might be the key to dealing with depression. Though it might be a chore to get out of bed, into exercise clothes, and leave the house, you’ll eventually be glad you did. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins, which is a chemical that makes us “feel good.” That will give you a boost of energy and help you feel better.

To get more understanding about dealing with depression, watch this video called, “I had a blag dog, his name was depression” from the World Health Organization.

If you’re looking for more ways to help you deal with depression, the National Institute of Mental Health also gives great explanations about medication and other therapies that can be helpful for someone dealing with depression.