From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - 10 Gifts to Give Yourself This Year

  1. Turn off the TV news for the holiday season.  Instead, light candles and put on music.

  2. Notice even the smallest of your daily accomplishments instead of what you DIDN’T get done. Keep a “success list!” 

  3. Remember that we get what we focus on in life. Focusing on good points in yourself and others will bring MORE of them.

  4. Take a “senses walk” for 20 minutes, 4 times a week. Notice the breath in your lungs, the smell of the air, the change of the seasons. Outdoor light and exercise both stimulate serotonin production, lifting mood.

  5. Take a few minutes daily to “hibernate.” Close your door, remove your shoes, dim the lights, and focus on what makes you happy.

  6. Breathe in to the slow count of four. Hold it four slow counts. Release in four slow counts. Repeat until you feel the muscles relax all over!

  7. Stay aware of your thoughts. 

  8. Don’t take on another person’s bad mood. Guard yourself, removing yourself from their company if necessary.

  9. Find freedom by letting go of criticizing and complaining about yourself or someone else.

  10. If you need to make changes, act NOW. Don’t put off health or happiness! 



From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Get Fit Now!

Great article from American Heart Association News. It’s never too late to get in shape, but don’t put it off too long!

Middle age isn’t too late to get moving and improve your future health. But don’t wait too long. 

Putting it off until well into the 60s could bring exercise benefits, but research has found the reversal of heart damage won’t happen.
 
“If that aging process goes unchecked, you’re unlikely to change the structure of the heart and blood vessels,” said Dr. Benjamin Levine, a sports cardiologist. He’s director of the Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medicine, a collaboration of UT Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

study(link opens in new window) by Levine’s team published in the journal Circulation in January 2018 sought to find the “sweet spot” in middle age for restoring the elasticity of the heart through exercise. Study participants were in their early 50s on average.

Heart stiffness, a potential precursor to heart failure, decreased for those who engaged in two years of the right kind and right amount of exercise.

Think of the difference between an old, stiff rubber band that’s been sitting in a junk drawer and a new rubber band pulled from a fresh pack, Levine said. The new one is more flexible.

“You stretch them, and they snap back,” he said. “That’s true for the heart and blood vessels as well.”

Participants who took part in a training program of high- and moderate-intensity exercise four to five times per week showed improvement in heart elasticity and in how their bodies used oxygen. 

Levine said exercise each week should break down into these segments:

  • One high-intensity workout, such as an aerobic interval workout that boosts the heart rate for four minutes at a time in several spurts during the session. 

  • An hour-long moderate-intensity workout doing something you find fun, such as tennis, biking, walking or Zumba.

  • Two or three more moderate workouts per week that might make you sweat, but still allows you to talk with someone. 

  • A strength training session.

Getting physically active is one of Life’s Simple 7, measures and actions identified by the American Heart Association as having the most impact on heart health. The others are eating healthy, managing blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, reducing blood sugar, losing weight and quitting smoking.

A Chicago-based study in 2017 using several Life’s Simple 7 metrics found that middle-age people with no major heart disease risk factors lived longer and had more years without chronic illnesses. They also had lower health care costs later in life.

Overall costs of cardiovascular disease in the United States were $555 billion in 2016. By 2035, that number is expected to grow to $1.1 trillion. Heart failure costs alone are more than $30 billion each year nationally.

Heart disease prevention and living a healthier life can be exercise motivators in their own right. Unfortunately, many people “just get overwhelmed by life” by middle age, Levine said.

To make physical activity a priority, he advises making exercise part of your daily routine, like getting dressed or brushing your teeth.

“Exercise needs to be part of your personal hygiene. It’s not something that you just add on,” he said.
 
Walking is an easy, inexpensive and safe way to start an exercise plan in middle age. Cross-training, which avoids performing the same movements day in and day out, can help guard against repetitive stress injuries in joints, Levine said.

There also are outside sources of support, including employee incentive programs that encourage workers to maintain good health like a discounted gym membership. Medicare offers a SilverSneakers(link opens in new window) program that provides free access to gyms and fitness classes.

The key is getting in the exercise habit, especially by late middle age.

“It’s critical to your health,” Levine said. “It can change the structure of your heart and blood vessels. That’s a really powerful tool.”

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Gratitude

“In the depth of winter, I finally realized that deep within me there lay an invincible summer.” A. Camus

Let’s face it, life in Fort Lauderdale can throw us curves sometimes. We all experience the ups and downs that lead some of us to seek a counselor’s help: relationship issues, money problems, job struggles, grief and loss. Add any of those stressors to our current economy and it becomes even more challenging to stay positive and thankful! And yet, an optimistic focus is an essential quality for mental health and happiness. What do we do?

The Practice of Optimism

The alarming thing about tough times is that negativity feeds on itself. As we “talk fear” to others, we contribute to THEIR anxiety. They then spread that talk to more people, keeping us all in a state of uneasiness. Negativity is truly contagious, a “mental virus” spread by thoughtless conversation, news stories, and emails. Before you know it, a whole nation is panicking, which helps cause the very hard times we fear.

What we Focus On, Grows…

An ‘attitude of gratitude’ simply means that we make a conscious choice to put our attention on what we like about our lives. One easy exercise is to list the three best things that happened to us today, and then note why they happened. The “why” is usually because we chose to make an effort to improve our lives, whether it’s the good feelings we get from working out, or the pleasure of calling a friend. This helps us see that we are not victims and we are not powerless. There is always one small thing we can do to improve our present circumstance and ease our anxiety. Some ideas:

  • Lay the problem down. Take a break from trying to solve the situation. Put aside the divorce papers and take a walk. Leave the resume writing behind and watch a funny movie. Let your mind rest.
  • Limit the time spent dwelling on and talking about the problem. Just as not talking about it at all makes it worse by suppressing it into the body, so talking about your problem obsessively can keep you panicked. Your discussions should be brief and you should only confide in a positive, non-advising friend, family member, and your counselor.
  • Give yourself healthy treats. A nap, a novel, or signing up for a class can be a little lift to help you get through a hard time.
  • Examine the problem on paper. Write down how you feel for a few minutes to release the problem. Things look different on paper than in your head!
  • Let yourself grieve. Grief is a natural and necessary process when facing a loss, whether you have lost a job, a person, a lifestyle, or a marriage. Crying is important for release of cortisol, a damaging hormone that builds in the body during stress.
  • Avoid negative people. There will always be those who are determined to “spread the virus” of negativity. Some people get a sense of importance from repeating bad news and the media depends on bad news for ratings! Be wise about who gets your attention.

There is always something hopeful to say, something to be grateful for. Fix your attention on what you appreciate, and more good things will come along!

 

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Emotional Support Animals

Maesk Group Counseling provides Emotional Support Animal (ESA) evaluations.  It is well documented through research that pets provide benefit to people suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, insomnia and many other conditions.  Having an ESA prescription letter allows you to have your pet in no-pets housing, and allows you to travel with your pet in the cabin on airlines at no additional cost.

There are other details/benefits.  Feel free to contact the office to schedule your consultation.

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Codependency

Codependency is excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.

Being in relationship with an alcoholic, addict, or otherwise out of control person often causes behavior traits to emerge that cause great misery for the “helper.”  I often see this person in my office, who comes in wanting to know how to change their loved one. Unfortunately, we cannot change another adult, and efforts to do so usually make the addict resist control by going deeper into their addiction.

The Mistaken Beliefs of Codependents:

“If I AM: good enough/nice enough/skinny enough/vigilant enough/accommodating enough/loud enough/upset enough…

“If I say it enough times in enough different ways…

“If I give enough money/withhold enough money, give sex/withhold sex, pout, criticize, get you out of bed in the mornings, do all the irrational things you demand…

THEN YOU WILL BECOME THE PERSON I WANT YOU TO BE.

You will do what I think you need to do to fix your life, our relationship.

You won’t drink/cheat/use drugs/yell/hit/get mad at me.

You will appreciate me.

If I do all of the above and you STILL DON’T become the person I want you to be, then I FEEL LIKE A FAILURE. I FEEL GUILTY.

I keep doing these things because I believe it will make you/others/God pleased with me. You/others/God will admire me for my sacrifice. This is what makes me worthy.

I know exactly what YOU think, feel, and need, and why. I can analyze you endlessly.

I have no idea what I think, feel, or need, or why. And I am uncomfortable when my counselor asks me to be still, listen to myself, journal, dig deeper, try new things that might make me happy, set a boundary with you.

I would much rather figure out what’s wrong with YOU than look at ME.

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

Maesk Group Counseling provides Emotional Support Animal (ESA) evaluations.  It is well documented through research that pets provide benefit to people suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, insomnia and many other conditions.  Having an ESA prescription letter allows you to have your pet in no-pets housing, and allows you to travel with your pet in the cabin of airlines at no additional cost.

There are other details/benefits.  Feel free to contact the office to schedule your consultation.

maesk-counseling-emotional-support-animal.jpg

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Following Your Plan of Care

Many times, patients quit their treatment prematurely because the immediate crisis is over. This is equivalent to quitting a two week antibiotic prescription after the second day’s dose; the SYMPTOMS are eased, but what about the root cause? It will surely return later because it hasn’t been thoroughly addressed. Momentum toward recovery will be lost as well.

Depression, anxiety, relationship issues, panic attacks, teen and children’s behavior issues, anger management, divorce recovery—these all take time to change, to heal. You didn’t GET this way in a month or two, and it will take longer than that to heal completely. Often, we’ve carried problems of poor self- esteem, drug or alcohol addiction, and other counseling issues for most of our lives.

Periodic check ins, where we go over your progress and look again at your goals in the Plan of Care, help us understand where we have been together in therapy, what we have accomplished, and what still needs to be addressed. This is also a great time for you to “dream” and set new goals for a better life! When these goals have been met and all issues addressed, you are ready to go on to “maintenance care,” where you come in to see me every few months or so for checkups. These checkup visits can go a long way toward maintaining the growth and rational thinking you worked so hard to achieve in our sessions.

When I give you a Plan of Care, I’ve carefully considered your issues, your hopes and dreams, and your goals, using all of my education and experience to help you toward as happy a life as possible. It can be painful to go deeper at first, but the rewards you can experience can be very gratifying and life changing!

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Healthy Boundaries

“My mother is always telling me what to do, and then she wonders why I don’t call her more often,” my client sighed as she wiped away tears of frustration. 

“Do you tell her that you’d prefer her not to do that?” I prodded gently.

“No! I can’t talk back to my mother,” she replied, shocked.

All of us have personal space that we must protect from invasion by others and most of us are aware that our bodies belong to us. This is why we recognize that it’s not OK to force or coerce our children into hugging or kissing people against their will. Our bodies are ours alone.

We realize we should protect our physical space from those who get closer or more physical than we’d prefer, but do you know that you have emotional space that belongs to you as well? I use the hula hoop as an illustration of this.

My feelings, my decisions, my consequences…

As an adult, it’s my right to determine my own life. Imagine a hula hoop worn by each of us. Inside that hoop are decisions such as when you sleep, what you eat, whether or not you exercise, take care of yourself, whether or not you attend worship, have hobbies, political or religious beliefs, how you raise your children-well, you get the idea. 

When we start to tell people our opinions about how they choose in these areas, we are jumping their hoop and getting into the space that rightly belongs to them. When we allow others to criticize or lecture us about our choices, we allow invasion into our hula hoop as well. This causes insecurity, resentment, and the presence of control.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me…

Keeping our opinions to ourselves about the life choices of other adults is part of respecting the freedom we all have to live our lives the way we see fit. Saying a firm but friendly “hey, that’s my call about how I live my life, so let’s talk about something else” is essential to taking care of YOU.

 I can help you with assertive and kind answers to keeping others out of your hula hoop. Let’s get started!