Tips for Reducing Stress in Your Life #2

Stress can creep up on you, but if you've got a good list of stress-relieving tips you like to practice, you can feel better in no time! Here are a few more tips:

  • Breathe
  • Take time for yourself to do something you enjoy
  • Organize your life so you don't spend time looking for things
  • Eliminate unnecessary commitments
  • Delegate responsibility

Tips for Reducing Stress in Your Life #1

Tips for Reducing Stress in Your Life #1

Stress comes in all forms and is an unavoidable part of life. Ideally the best thing would be to eliminate as much as you can, but when there is stubborn stress that keeps sticking around, there certainly are ways to cope with it. This week Imagine Hope wants you to look at these tips and pick several that seem doable to implement into your day to day life.

Spring Book Recommendations: "Simplify."

When the sun starts shining again and the air starts getting warm, there's nothing like sitting outside and reading a good book. That's why we like to give Spring book recommendations. This year, I read a really great book that challenged me that I wanted to share. 

Simplify. Ten Practices to Unclutter your Soul. By Bill Hybels

I have been working really hard this year to unclutter my house. I never really thought of uncluttering my mind or soul. This book addresses many areas of our lives that we "clutter" creating chaos, frustration, and ultimately exhausted, unfulfilled lives. Hybels breaks it down into 10 chapters that deal with issues that clutter our lives such as overscheduling ourselves,  lack of focus, isolation (when you are surrounded by people), lack of rest, and not feeling satisfied just to name a few. 

Hybels is a pastor of Willowcreak Community Church in Chicago. Who would have more clutter in their lives than a pastor of a megachurch? Using his own examples of burnout, he helps us see the importance of taking care of ourselves, having boundaries, and using more positive, effective ways to schedule our lives. He does this in such a humble, down to earth way, with no judgement at all. 

As I uncluttered my home this year, I liked thinking about ways I could unclutter my mind and soul as well. I'm now living out some of the peace that is offered when we do the hard work of uncluttering. Thank you, Pastor Hybels, for your guidance and practical ways I have found to unclutter! 

Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC LCAC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.

Are You an Enabler? 4

Enabling is a way that we knowingly or unknowingly protect an addict-- which actually helps the addiction get worse, instead of helping the individual learn to become healthier.  Today we will finish discussing different ways we enable another person:

  • Protecting them from negative consequences.  It's difficult to see a loved one suffering consequences, even if they are obviously the direct consequences of their addictive behavior.  Sometimes it's the most difficult to see how we might protect someone from negative consequences when it doesn't seem to be related to addictive behavior.  Either way, protecting someone from negative consequences means that they never have to feel the impact of their unhealthy choices.  For example, if your drug addicted son or daughter can't afford to pay their cell phone bill, so it gets shut off and you pay to get it turned back on.  This might not seem to be directly related to their use, but if they are using their money for drugs and not paying their bills, you are protecting them and enabling.  Another example would be if your spouse is too hung over to go to work or a family function and you call his work or smooth things over so no one is angry with him/her.  Or maybe your wife or husband hits a car while driving drunk, and you get the car fixed on the side and lie to the police so they don't get in trouble with the law.  Natural consequences are how we learn to change.  If an addict doesn't feel the uncomfortable feelings as a result of their choices, they will most likely stay exactly like they are.
  • Avoiding social functions.  When you make excuses to avoid social situations because you are embarrassed by your loved one's addictive behavior, you are enabling them to keep their behavior a secret.  This causes you to become the one in the relationship carrying the weight of shame that belongs to the addict.  It also isolates you and decreases your support system, keeping you even more dependent on your relationship with the addict (even though you aren't getting your needs met).
  • Offer the addict a job.  This is a way that rescues the addict from once again facing the necessary consequences to their actions.  Maybe they have lost their job for addiction related reasons (poor attendance, viewing pornography at the workplace, coming to work while still under the influence, etc.).  Providing them a job is like handing them money to go use, which is enabling.  It doesn't allow the addict to take full responsibility for finding their way in life and being an adult, which only feeds their addictive behavior.
  • Pay for school.  Many times, it's easy to become so hopeful that if an addict only gets what they need, they will be happier and stop using.  This can make a parent or loved one step in and offer to pay for things, such as school, that seem like providing them the "tools" to succeed.  However, when an addict is still using, they will most always pick their drug of choice over the day to day responsibilities of adulthood.  Doing this takes away the addicts sense of ownership for the decisions to get better, and can prevent them from feeling the pride of accomplishment for going through something difficult to make a better life for themselves.  It can then leave the enabler angry and bitter when the addict isn't following through with investing in classes, homework, or attendance.
  • Pay for alcohol or other drug use.  Sometimes the fear of what a person might do (or how they might feel) when they are without a substance can cause an enabler to actually provide the very thing they hate the most.  Maybe you are afraid your child will start selling their body for drugs or fear they will harm you in anger, threaten you or steal from you, so instead of setting boundaries with them and being firm, it's "easier" to give in and buy them what they are addicted to.  It might also be the only way you know how to feel close to them-- since drugs or alcohol are the most important thing to them, you "join" them to feel as though you are a part of their life.  However this manifests, it only shows the addict that you aren't willing to set the boundaries necessary to take care of yourself and that you don't really believe in them or their ability to get clean.  It also can create a great amount of shame for the enabler, knowing you are helping their addiction thrive.

Did you recognize any of the enabling behaviors this week?  Loving an addict can be a very difficult thing, and it's something that most of us can't do without a healthy support system and the help of others to hold us accountable.  If you are struggling with addiction in your family or with a loved one, we encourage you to seek out the help of a professional to work on your enabling behaviors and learning healthy boundaries.  The positive changes of one person in a family system can have a dramatic impact on the rest of a family system.  Even if the addict continues using, you will feel healthier, happier and more whole because you are taking care of yourself-- and letting them take responsibility for their own life. 

Joleen Watson, MS, LMFT, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Are You an Enabler? 1

Do you enable an addict in your life? Many people think they are helping a loved one with an addiction, when in reality they are giving an addict permission to sink further into it. As the addiction has more room to grow, the addict gets sicker and loved ones become more discouraged that the addict will ever recover. An addict needs to hit rock bottom in order to make a paradigm shift and get into recovery. Consistent rescuing of the addict will only extend the time it takes for someone to hit rock bottom.

This week Imagine Hope is pointing out some common ways people enable an addict without even thinking about it.

  • Give or Lend Money- Giving an addict money might open up more doors for the addict to invest in their addiction. Having easy assess to money can keep them from realizing how much their addiction is actually costing because they don't experience the pain of struggling to get money.
  • Provide a place to live- A roof over our heads is a necessity. If an addict has pushed the boundaries so far that keeping them in your home will feed their addiction more, than you might need to consider kicking them out. This can be a painful and scary situation for both you and the addict, but might be what creates a rock bottom moment for the addict.
  • Clean up after messes- When an addict doesn't have the chance to see what messes they have created, they will not know how bad it has gotten. As hard as it might be, you need to let things sit until they are able to clean things up on their own.
  • Supply a car- Having a car gives an addict an easier ability to engage in their addiction. The freedom a car provides can enable them to be blinded to their addiction. This could also be a safety issue in that they may use their car after engaging in their addiction and could hurt themselves and/ or someone else.

Addictions are a painful reality for all involved. Whether it's alcohol, drugs, food, sex, gambling, or the list of many others, make sure you are doing your part by not enabling them to continue down their self destructive path.

Keep checking in this week to see if you are an enabler!

Written by guest blogger Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Renewed Horizon Counseling. Teri does virtual therapy for residents of Indiana and Florida using videoconferencing technology. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling and adolescent counseling. 


Struggling with Communication? Part 4

Struggling with Communication? Part 4

Communication can be so difficult. You put all our experiences (childhood, past relationships etc) + our current mood and that can = a disaster! We all struggle with particular ways we do not like for people to communicate with us. It's easy to focus on them. I like that we are focusing on what WE might be doing this week to harbor difficulty in relationships in regards to communication. Here are a few more characteristics of poor communication

How Dysfunctional Families Affect Children Part 5

How Dysfunctional Families Affect Children Part 5

Many people grew up in a family where there were more children than the ability of the parent(s) to adequately care for them.  Perhaps the parents were single parents who worked full time and needed the help of the children to run the household.  Or maybe one of the parents worked night-shift hours, leaving the oldest child in the position where they filled the absent parent's role while they were gone.  Another example is when one parent has an active addiction that keeps them from being fully present and engaged in the family system.

How Dysfunctional Families Affect Children Part 4

How Dysfunctional Families Affect Children Part 4

A child naturally feels wants and has needs. This is built into them as babies- we are helpless, therefore we need and want things from our caretakers. In a dysfunctional family, a child can become too dependent on their family or even anti-dependent (meaning they are without needs or wants).

How Dysfunctional Families Affect Children 3

How Dysfunctional Families Affect Children 3

So far this week we have discussed the natural states of children.  We have discussed that a child naturally feels valuable and vulnerable.  Today we explore how the natural state of being imperfect can be used against a child in dysfunctional families. Healthy parents expect our children to be imperfect.  We know our children will learn and grow and make mistakes along the way.  That is how children learn!