Lighten up

Tips for reducing stress in your life #4

Tips for reducing stress in your life #4

So, how many tips have you used this week to reduce stress in your life?  Looking for more?  Well, here they are!

  • Be optimistic
  • Visualize accomplishing your goals
  • Practice grace
  • Pray
  • Light candles

Self Care: Joleen

Self Care: Joleen

As Natalie was saying, it is SO important to take time out for self-care... And not just waiting to do it when you are stressed out!  Taking time for yourself helps you refuel your "tank" and recharge your batteries, which provides you with much more to give others, better quality of care when you do give, and can prevent a lot of resentment and conflict with others in your life!  Here are some of my favorite things to do in the area of self-care

Natalie's Favorite Christmas Memory

I love everything about Christmas- the meaning, the giving, the lights and trees. Most people seem "different" this one time of year. But for me, my fondest memory among many is when I was probably 4 or 5 years old. I shared a bedroom with my older sister Stephanie, then probably 7 or 8. One of our friends had told us that he actually SAW Santa last year in the sky! (We later found out he was a pathological liar- literally!) So my sister and I decided we were going to wait up all night and see him ourselves. I remember listening to my little AM radio (Oh I am aging myself!!) and hearing "Grandma got ran over by a reindeer" for the first time! We couldn't believe someone would write such a song! Then we saw some twinkling red lights in the sky!! Was it him??? It stayed at a distance and moved past us in the sky. We were sad- it was just an airplane! We stayed up as late as our little bodies would allow us. We never saw him....  But we had fun waiting up! And in the morning a pink Big Wheel with flowers on it was waiting for me! I hope you remember and create many Christmas memories this year. Have a wonderful Christmas and our best to your New Year!!

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.

Our Thanksgiving Memories- Joleen

So far this week, we've heard some funny and wonderful Thanksgiving memories from the ladies of Imagine Hope.  We hope this has sparked some great memories for you as well! My favorite Thanksgiving memories aren't from growing up-- they are from a tradition that was started by my sister and I about 4 years ago.  Both my sister and I have always balked at the "Black Friday" tradition.  I mean, who would want to get up at 3:00 in the morning and stand in line for hours in the freezing cold, just to get a good deal?!  Several years ago, my sister and I were going through the advertisements in the newspaper Thanksgiving day, when the "bug" hit us, too!  We were unknowingly plotting and planning out our course of action the following morning in painstaking detail.  Feeding off of each other in the excitement, we set the alarm and decided to do it!  More than anything, it has become a humorous experience, watching the "stampede" of shoppers and joining in with them to hunt out our own deals.  The whole experience is filled with the rituals of getting the newspaper, going through the ads, planning out where we will go first, standing in lines and fighting the crowds while using teamwork, having breakfast and heading home.  My sister and I talk about how it's not really the shopping and deals, but rather the idea of setting the time aside and planning the yearly event that makes it so special.  We have some great conversations and "bonding" time catching up on each others lives, which neither of us would trade for anything!

So, what are your Thanksgiving traditions and memories?  We hope you've had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!

Joleen Watson, MS, 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.

Our Thanksgiving Memories- Tammy

Tammy's Memory Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday & always held at my parent's house. I love the gathering of my family, the smells of the food and fun games we play once the tables are cleared. I do have two memories that immediately stuck out when we decided to do this blog. Both include flying animals, and I'm not talking about the turkey!

When I was around 10 years old I remember on the very day of Thanksgiving some baby Turtledoves hatching in a nest in our front window awnings. I was so amazed at this new birth and showed everyone as they came to our house for dinner that day. I somehow felt they were a gift to us that day and that they were "mine" to take care of and watch over. I can remember walking out on our front porch several times to check on them and make sure they were doing alright.

This next memory isn't so warm and fuzzy. It happened just a couple of years ago as I was helping my mom with last minute cleaning before setting out dishes. As I looked up at the ceiling of my mother's kitchen, I saw something small, black, and strange affixed to the ceiling. "Mom, what is THAT?!"  We quickly came to the conclusion that it was a bat. Yes, you heard me. A cave dwelling, shouldn't-ever-be-in-your-house bat! After appropriately freaking out, we called a man who traps "exotic" animals and releases them back into the "wild". (Thankfully, we celebrate Thanksgiving on Fridays at my mom's, so we were able to get a hold of this man!). Come to find out the bat likely came in through the chimney a few days prior.

Who knows what this Thanksgiving will bring? Perhaps a flying squirrel? I'll keep you posted. Thanks for reading. Have a blessed Holiday!

Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.

Recognizing and dealing with stress Part 4

Good reminders ladies of how to recognize and deal with stress. It sure is a stressful world for us adults, but what about our kids. Oftentimes a child will mimic their parent's emotional state. So if we are stressed- our children will feel it and could be stressed as well. I know many people who say, "If only I could go back to the carefree days of being a child." Yes, there is less responsibility in our growing up years- but STRESS is still there. I see many kids in my practice and the issues kids are dealing with these days are much worst than when I was growing up. Dealing with friend drama, pressure to do well in sports and with grades, parents fighting or divorcing, perfectionism, temptations of alcohol, drugs, sex, and cutting, body image issues, being over scheduled running from activity to activity, not to mention the crazy things their bodies are doing while they are growing and as they hit puberty. This list could go on and on. As adults we may look at that and say, "Piece of cake. I can handle that." But a child isn't cognitively or emotionally equipped to. This is where a parent's understanding of a child's stress can help support them through it. You might not hear your say "I am so stressed". A child's stress is usually exhibited through their behaviors. Here are some behavioral warning signs to look for:

Crying without a cause

Intense anger

Hitting other children or adults

Screaming over small things (i.e. making their bed)

Problems sleeping

Lying

Nightmares

Significant increase or decrease in eating and/or weight

Digestive problems ("tummy aches")

School problems/ drop in grades

Trouble getting along with friends

Acting out through addictions (i.e. alcohol use, smoking, drugs, cutting, sexual promiscuity)

If you notice your child exhibiting any of these symptoms and their lives are being significantly impaired, try guiding them to use the tips Tammy and Joleen discussed in Part 2 and 3 this week.  You might also monitor their exposure to things on tv and the computer , and talk to their teachers to see if they are noticing these behaviors at school as well. If things don't seem to be getting better it might be time to get a professional involved. Many times just having an objective listening ear can help them find clarity towards a less stressful life! Remember a stressed child can create a stressed family!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.  Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

Recognizing and dealing with stress Part 2

Yesterday Natalie posted physical, emotional and behavioral signs of stress. You might have read those and thought "Yep, that's me!" Or, maybe you don't identify with much stress (congratulations!), but want to keep your life as peaceful as possible. Whether you're pulling your hair out frequently, or find yourself whistling along, today we're going to talk about 5 ways to stay healthy in today's world.

  1. Drink H2O & eat a balanced diet. Water cleanses the toxins out of our systems and we all know that fruits and veggies have tons of antioxidants and nutrients that fortify our bodies beyond belief. Why mess with a good thing?
  2. Get sleep! If we're not getting enough rest, then our body can't repair itself from the day before & gets rundown, unable to defend us for what we face in the coming days. Sleep also helps our body rejuvenate and relax.
  3. Exercise. Blah, blah, blah, right? Wrong! Did you know that 30-45 minutes of exercise releases endorphins and the anti-depressant chemicals (serotonin & norepinephrine) in our brain? It's a natural anti-depressant! Now who wouldn't want that?
  4. Ask for help. This is really hard to do. The key to a healthy life is knowing your limitations and where you need assistance. Whether it's help cleaning the house, someone to watch your children so you can run errands (or take a nap!) or help getting organized with other projects. Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness. It's a sign of strength. Asking for help allows you to take care of yourself so you can continue to take care of the other people & responsibilities in your life.
  5. Meditation. Whether this involves praying, yoga, daily devotionals/reading time, journaling or another form of individual or organized activity, it's very important to have a time of reflection.  Meditation allows for a clear head, and reflection time for goals of the day/week/month/year. For those struggling with anger, it's also great anger management.

Keep reading throughout the week as Joleen discusses more stress-reducing tips and Teri shares how to notice stress in children.

Written by: Tamara Portee, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.

How To Create Fireworks in Your Marriage- Dream

Dream Together! Many couples begin their dating relationship full of dreams for their future, but once the marriage has become comfortable, they stop dreaming about things to come in the future.

To create more sparks in your marriage, you need to have something to look forward to-- what better way to do this than to dream!

Ask each other questions, such as:  "Where would you like to take a dream vacation in the next five years as a couple?", "What are your dreams for retirement?", "If you could have a dream home anywhere in the world, where would it be?", "What is your ideal kind of family week?".....

Dreaming together doesn't mean that your dreams have to be realistic.  Sometimes, it's fun to just dream about the things you would love to have or do, even when they seem unreachable.  Remember that it's the process of dreaming together, not necessarily what the content of the "dream" is about.  It helps you to continue learning about each other, as well as thinking about your future with your spouse!

Joleen Watson, MS, 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.

What Memorial Day Means To Me- Teri

Memorial Day can be a great time for family and friends to get together and celebrate having a day off at the beginning of summer. But many use the day to memorialize lost loved ones, lost opportunities, and fallen soldiers. This week Imagine Hope is sharing our personal meanings behind this special day! What Memorial Day means to Teri-

When I think of Memorial Day my first thought is friends and family. This day historically is a day that I celebrate great relationships in my life. I love having a backyard BBQ and relaxing with laughs and fun conversations. It’s a great time for me to catch up with those I’ve missed and to slow down and just “be” with them. So much of my life I am moving from one thing to the next and continually make promises that “We will get together soon- I promise.” The next thing I know months have gone by and the promise has been broken. Taking a break to nurture relationships gives Memorial Day special meaning and reminds me that if I don’t slow down in life and put the effort in with the ones I love, I will miss out on extremely special times.

I wish each of you a special and safe Memorial Day and hope you take advantage of the time to slow down and connect with those you love. You never know when you’ll get your next opportunity! Check in tomorrow to see what Memorial Day means to Tammy!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.  Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

Accomplishing Goals- Natalie

It has been so cool to read Teri and Tamara's stories. Although I know them both well, I seem to always learn something new when we blog about our own personal journeys. I look forward to Joleen's as well. Natalie's Story

I have always loved learning, whether it be formal education or a simple self-help book. However, after college I did decide to take a break from school and get some "life experience" education in the field to see exactly where I wanted to specialize. So when I went to Graduate School, I felt a little rusty next to my younger, fresh out of college peers. I remember feeling shocked at orientation when they shared with us the stats of how many would actually make it through. I remember thinking, "Ok- you got in- let's just see how far you can make it. Let's make it through first semester." That was the first step in reaching my goal- taking it in small pieces when it looked impossible.

I remember studying for mid-terms and literally crying while I was trying to memorize things. My sister walked in on me and couldn't believe how upset I was. I told her it was impossible but I just had to do the best I could and hope for the best. I gave it my best and actually got A's in my 1st semester classes! I was so excited to keep going. Then 2nd semester rolled around. YUCK- Neuropsyc! In my Graduate School we had to pass every class with a B or it was a fail. I am a HORRIBLE test taker and this class was based entirely on our tests. Needless to say, I "failed" with a B-. I honestly thought about dropping out of school. I had NEVER failed a class. But I decided this was just a set back and that I would have to double up next year and re-take the class. I had to look at the big picture- being a therapist, not a Neuropsyc doctor! I can't believe I almost quit! I ended up getting an A the second time around. I look back today and can't believe that I actually almost gave up on being a therapist because I would have to retake one class and I didn't believe I could do it. Persistence and learning from your set backs are both so important when you are trying to reach goals.

It helped me tremendously that I had a great support system while I was in school. This is a must to reach your goals! I ended up graduating with very good grades, wonderful recommendations for jobs, and found a job being a therapist almost immediately. I am so glad I broke it into small pieces, stuck with it, and did not give up. Look at me now!! :)

*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC 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.

Lessons from Kids Movies- How To Tame Your Dragon

How To Tame Your Dragon The main lesson from How To Tame Your Dragon is Be true to yourself! 

The main character, Hiccup, is a Viking who is supposed to learn how to fight dragons to protect the village. When he gets his first chance to do this, however, he ends up saving the dragon, Toothless, instead.  Hiccup says he isn't like the rest of the Vikings. He has the courage to stand up for himself and what he believes in!

Another important lesson is that what we think is going on, doesn't necessarily mean thats that's what  is happening! The dragons are hunted in the village because they keep attacking the villagers. We find out that the reason they attack the village is because they are taking food back for the big dragon that is bullying them. If they don't comply, the bully dragon will eat them! They aren't doing it because they are mean-- they are doing it out of fear. This teaches us that when we see someone 's behavior that seems unfavorable, often times, there is pain underneath what they are doing-- even if it's not okay!

What lessons have you learned from a children's movie?

We thank you for reading and look forward to seeing everyone after the Christmas Holiday!

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counselingrelationship counselingcouples 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.

Quotes That Inspire- Joleen

One of my favorite quotes is by Lili Tomlin:  "Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past". This quote is so revealing and true, in so many ways.  In therapy, though we do focus on gaining a  better understanding of how our family system and childhood has impacted us to be the person we are today (strenghts and weaknesses, alike), it's also about learning how to change life patterns.  To stop reacting to things as though we are stuck in our past.  This quote is a great example of how, when we choose to forgive, we are accepting the very thing we cannot change-- our past-- while at the same time, creating hope for our future and how things can be different, if we only challenge ourselves to be different from this point forward.

Forgiveness means letting go-- freeing ourselves to move forward and accept what we cannot change about our history.  It truly is a sense of freedom when you forgive.  You are basically saying that, from this point forward, I am no longer allowing my past (or anyone in my past) to have control over me and my future.

How have you forgiven from your past?  Do you still hang onto hope that somehow your past will magically be different?

Joleen Watson, MS, 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.

 

Let Go & Let In 3

Today we continue to talk about the negative things that we need to let go of in our lives and the positive things we need to let into our lives-just thinking about these two put a smile on my face! 5. Let In Laughter

Are you going through life being too serious?  Is everything in your life “business” and something you “just need to get through”?  It’s time to lighten up and have a good laugh!

Laughter truly is the best medicine!  If you find your life void of laughter and fun, there is a very good chance you are depressed, withdrawn, and just existing.  It’s ok to have fun and let your guard down.  If you are serious all of the time, you will miss out on so much.  God gave us a sense of humor for a reason!  Let go of all the seriousness and just laugh-it will lighten your mood and improve your attitude-and life won’t feel like such a chore.

6. Let In Joy

What brings you joy?  If you have a hard time answering this, you need to think long and hard about your life and priorities.  We all deserve to feel love and joy in our lives-it’s what helps us get through the really difficult times.  Think about what makes you smile, and let it into your life.

If there are things or people in your life that are stealing your joy, it may be time to make some changes.  Maybe it’s time for a job change, or time to start setting boundaries with a toxic family member or friend.  It’s not always easy, but it is worth it.

Find joy in the little things.  Your children learning something new.  No line at Starbucks this morning.  Your spouse texting you just to say “I love you”.  A positive compliment from your boss.  Joy really comes to us in many different ways throughout our days-we just need to make sure we let it in.

Continue to read this week as we talk more about letting go of negatives and letting in the positives.  Have a great day!

*Adapted from “You Are Worthy of Receiving: 10 Things To Let Into Your Life” by Kathy Kruger

 

Written by Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW

Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group.  Christy enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling.  Christy also provides family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.

Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.