Tag Archive: Decrease anxiety

Is It Depression Or Something Else?

Many celebrities are talking about the positive mental health movement. They want to take away the stigma of mental health challenges and encourage everyone to be more proactive. While I was thinking about today’s post, I came across a story on a popular TV show that dealt with depression…. only the lady didn’t have depression. In fact, she had pancreatic cancer! Her psychiatrist was seeing her for other reasons, noticed the change, and encouraged a follow-up with her doctor.

SIDE NOTE: Here’s a blog I highly recommend from Health Ambition that foods that contribute to depression.

Depression is serious on its own, but sometimes there are underlining medical issues that need to be considered (or ruled out) before anyone starts treatment for depression. We tend not to think about underlining medical causes for depression because, well – we tend to be busy people with varied stressors within our lives. Depression can happen or we can be hiding it for years, or we don’t want to deal with the stigma of seeing a mental health professional and then we decide to simply “live with it”.

I’m here to tell you, today, that simply “living with it” isn’t a good option because you deserve to address your happiness – or, in rare cases, an underlining medical condition!

I am GIVING AWAY online therapy consultations. I can help you discover what the online therapy benefits are and you get to test-drive my services and see if we are a good match. To learn more about me, my programs, and read my free blog- please click here: http://thejoyofliving.co/programs/

Here and Now….

As a therapist who uses Gestalt therapy techniques, focusing on the here and now is important when helping clients understand how to overcome current challenges. Many people want to focus on the past in order to move forward. While this does work and is a great tool to use, I believe that understanding the past means dealing with the here and now.

by-take-the-future-exhale-the-past-tattoo

Through therapy, people learn to discover feelings that may have been suppressed or masked by other feelings and to accept and trust their emotions. Needs and emotions that were previously suppressed or unacknowledged are likely to surface as well. Through this process, my clients gain a new sense of self as overall awareness increases.

Again, this doesn’t devalue what working on the past has in a person’s everyday life. But thinking in terms of the present can help dissect the past and really address how to cope with different and even similar situations going forward.  Think about people , maybe even yourself, who suffer with anxiety. Usually, anxiety is rooted in an incident from the past. When the feelings or circumstances of today relate or refer to yesterday, the anxiety is usually ignited.  While we work with the past to think about how and when the anxiety started, it isn’t enough to move forward.  Dealing, however, with the triggers of today will help to harness the feelings associated with anxiety and the past.  It is important to have a conversation with yourself about today as much as you need to have it with yourself about your past.

I can help you navigate these often difficult conversations with yourself to address current and past behaviors and even others who may have caused you harm.  If you’re a bit curious about my technique, of Gestalt therapy in general, please do not hesitate to contact me. All my sessions are confidential and I work by phone or Skype. Yes, I’m HIPAA compliant.

Dreams and Gestalt Therapy.

Frederick (Fritz) Perls is considered the “father” of Gestalt Therapy. The basic concept of Gestalt Perls believed that unresolved conflicts from the past had a great deal of influence upon present behavior, and that these conflicts needed to be “worked through” (Perls, 1969). Dreams were a cornerstone of this type of therapy because of the dreamsenergy and reference work it provides to help people better understand the present.

When working with myself, my patients often discover just how powerful dreams can be when seeking insight into our day-to-day lives and possible hidden issues that we can’t see within the present.  You see, Fritz Perls felt that dreams were highly symbolic and made extensive use of interpretation and I couldn’t agree more.  I believe dreams are a subjective presentation of the person and that there is a sense of wholeness in every image.  By using dreams as a part of therapy, we can better connect to the meaning of what may be parts of ourselves that are veiled or living within a fantasy during waking life.  The meanings have to be carefully talked about, sometimes even talked through using an empty chair as a “third” party.  And we can always evaluate the idea of the intrapsychic dream landscape.  For example, was that angry dog really someone angry at you or yourself angry at a situation.

Dreams are powerful and there are many ways to decipher what they do and do not mean. I tend to believe our unconscious mind is always trying to help our conscious lives by providing clues to not only unraveling what is nagging us, but by presenting options for us to address, work through and then discover how to apply solutions in everyday life.

If you’re just as fascinated by dreams as I, let’s talk. I have plenty more information to provide to you and consultations are always welcomed. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook for daily updates on this and other subjects related to Gestalt therapy.

Tips for September – Easing back into school and Autumn routine

Along with a change in seasons comes, for many of us, the increased responsibilities and workload of school and classes.  You yourself may be attending school or part time classes after a complete workday, or you may be a parent helping your family get back into the routine of schoolwork.  If your family is anything like mine, we had plenty to do that was important to us up until now, and are having some difficulty managing the extra duties and activities required during this new season.  Things like homework, work priorities, family priorities tend to blend right about now, and often cause stress.anxiety and school

Here are a few things you can do to help you and your family relieve some of that stress and at the same time keep your eye of what is really important.

Prioritize.  I once got advice from a former colleague that I continue to use to this day:  list everything I feel I need to take care of.  Everything! Then classify these in terms of what is critical, what is important, and what is nice-to-have.  After classifying, review the list once more – you may find that some “nice-to-have’s” are really critical and some “critical’s” are actually not so critical compared to other things.  Once you have refined your list, circle the critical tasks and copy them onto a separate piece of paper.  Place that second paper in a prominent place, and focus only on that list.  This is the real key – those other tasks are merely distractions until everything on your critical list is complete.  Only then do you revisit the first list.

Clean up the clutter.  Clear off your study desk.  Get rid of or put away anything that is physically cluttering up the space.  Just as with prioritizing, clutter distracts and really clouds our focus and our inner space.

Take care of yourself.  So often, this is the first thing to go when we begin to stress over workload.  And yet, without our health, the workload will only become even more burdensome.  So even if you only have 10 minutes, take time for yourself.  Go for a walk, sit quietly with your morning coffee, do something that is only for you and that takes care of your physical and emotional health every day.

Connect.  Humans are social animals.  We learn and grown through connection to other people, and the things in our environment.  Take the time, even if only a few moments to connect with your world – a hug, a kiss, a pat, a caress.

Laugh.  Above all, don’t loose your sense of humour.  It is the best balancer I know and will always help you better adjust your perspective.

 Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit http://www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

Needless Suffering

“The most ancient form of suffering is what we do to ourselves and our body – in what we say or don’t say, feel or don’t feel, do or

Truth is Crying by Suzy Kasse

Truth is Crying by Suzy Kasse

don’t do.  In our search for the Eden we lost as children, we lose the magic of the present.  The story of our lives that we hang onto no longer works for us and seems never finished.

Self-acceptance is the real Eden.  There is a way of finishing the cycle of self-doubt. The energy we liberate from our needless suffering is available once more for creative living in the here and now.”

I wrote that several years ago, then filed it away.  It surfaced when I was tidying up old files.  It is the reason behind my desire and passion for doing what I do, and why I chose to call what I do “The Joy of Living”.

Have you ever done that?  Jotted down something that many years later strikes you as immediately meaningful in your life?  Perhaps it’s time to take another look and see what the elder within you was trying to tell you.  You may find something that moves you from wuat others have said.

 Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

Distractions

A close friend pointed out the other day that I was distracting myself; when I thought I was doing something meaningful, I was actually avoiding that very thing.  Thinking about what she said, I had to agree with her.  Sometimes, though, distractions let me distractionshave a break in the middle of a heavy day.

After taking a good look, I came up with three kinds of distractions that I busy myself with far too often.

Entertainment – like a good movie (well known by that industry), solitaire (mindless and not very satisfying), daydreaming of what I want and would like, reading mystery novels.

Productive – much more subtle because I feel as though I’ve accomplished something, even while not accomplishing something possibly much more important.  These are self improvement classes, crafts, diets and “good” eating, exercising.  It isn’t that these aren’t worthy things to do – it’s when they replace things I’d rather avoid that they are a distraction, such as marketing my work, or assessing someone else’s work.  Even housework looks good then!

And finally, there are the really devious distractions – ones that make me feel as though I am doing something that is meaningful and that make me special, when I’m not really.  What I’m really doing is hiding a very young part of me that is afraid and overwhelmed.

When I am honest with myself, those things that truly give meaning to my life are about relationship with myself, my world and the people I truly care about.

Do you sometimes entertain yourself with distractions?  How do they help and how can they hinder?  What is truly meaningful to you?

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

Every Day Unique: Never to be Repeated

For those that are just joining my journey now, this series of posts are about the beauty of ceremony and ritual.  It is something that nourishes my spirit every day, and I want to share this with you. To catch up to this post you can read “The Beauty of Ceremony and Ritual”, “Healing Nature:  I gave up a pleasure cruise for this!”, “Morning ritual with coffee:  soul hungers”, “Bracketing support”, “How to live fully” and “Greeting my partner”.

I began this series in nature and am ending it also in nature. Sitting in front of a fire in a cabin in Algonquin Park, a Canadian nature preserve north of Toronto on the Canadian Shield. It’s cool and filled with life. Yesterday we hiked to a white pine that is over 400 years old. That means it was here before this country was disturbed too much by any changing culture. This tree was young when thewhite pine air was clean and animals and humans made space for one another, respected one another. I spent time in ceremony and connected with this ancient white pine, appreciating its ancient tree wisdom and deep roots. Then left a gift offering in thanks. The day was beautiful and unique, as every day is; never to be repeated.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto-based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

Bracketing Support

For those that are just joining my journey now, this series of posts are about the beauty of ceremony and ritual.  It is something that nourishes my spirit every day, and I want to share this with you. To catch up to this post you can read “The Beauty of Ceremony and Ritual”, “Healing Nature:  I gave up a pleasure cruise for this!” and “Morning ritual with coffee:  soul hungers”.

The other day, I faced a personal crisis that involved a number of people. A big deal. To emotionally prepare, I found a quiet moment and went inside to see how I was doing… I offered myself support by breathing into any area of my body that needed it. final_fantasy_xiii_cocoon_background_by_miku8-d4p4mbzThen I focused on what was important, what I wanted to accomplish and how I wanted to deal with the situation as a result. This brackets the event for me in a supportive cocoon. Did it work? Not completely – not everyone wanted what I did or felt as strongly – I made mistakes. But one thing for sure, I was able to live with the end result and sleep well that night.

How do you support yourself when your world does a flip?  Does it work?  How can you support yourself even better?

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto-based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

Gardening your way to happiness (Or) The secret to happiness isn’t money…Really?

If I wrote you a check for $ 1 million, would it make you happy? How long do you think the ‘happiness’ would last? A week? A Tulips in vausemonth? A year or two? You could probably purchase expensive gifts, vacations, or pay off debts, but will the ‘happiness’ end when the money does? Unfortunately, I can’t write you a check, but I can share something with you that can help add happiness to your life.

Here’s what a dear friend of mine advises:  “Want to be happy for 10 minutes?  A whole day?  A week?  The rest of your life?  Simple!  Garden.”  I thought about it for a while and realized he was right. Gardening is therapeutic, relaxing, and allows us to connect with nature. The same techniques and principles that are required to nurture the gardens in our homes can also be applied to the gardens of our inner selves. When you are looking at the following tips, think about how they can be utilized in your personal life:

1.       Clear out old debris (leaves, twigs, weeds . . . bad relationships)  By getting rid of old things that hinder growth, you can create a clean slate fresh ground for positivity (insert a few ways people can de-clutter their lives).

child gardening 2.       Turn over some sod, plant new seeds in fertile soil  With a fresh start you can begin to plant new seeds in a healthy environment that promotes growth and life. Don’t forget to protect your garden by utilizing organic fertilizer to keep weeds (negative energy) at bay.

 3.       Nurture your new garden with water, light, and love  Watch and enjoy the new beautiful garden, but DON’T forget to water it.

Then sit back and admire your healthy new garden. While reflecting on your garden, think about the personal progress you have made in your life.

Start working on your garden today. You’ll be surprised at how these steps will help to bring you every day happiness and a sense of balance and purpose. What have you gardened lately?

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto-based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

 

As natural as riding a bike

For those that are just joining my blog now, the last few posts were about being stuck in anxiety.  This is a continuation of those posts. To catch up you can read “Fear is not an emotion! ”, “Anxiety girl! ” and “Getting started – deep down we are all pretty similar ”.

bikes Remember when you learnt to ride a two-wheeler?  Many (if not all) of us went into this with hopeful glee. If we were lucky enough to have someone steady the back we got started on our way pretty quickly. Then at some point we realized that our support was gone … We were on our own… And, if you were like me, lost our balance and scraped our knees coming down.

We all begin in innocence and openness – in a state of blissful ignorance. This is the only way we can begin something – if we are guarded at this point we will very likely miss the opportunities offered in the process and we won’t learn and grow from the experience.

Nearly always, painful mistakes – valuable lessons – are a part of the process. And on the way we encounter people places and things that can make us wary and less trusting of our environment.

Next time we embark on some similar event or process we will remember the pains of our initial venture and feel the angst.  And this may stop us in our tracks.  If it does, remember that its simply part of the package of learning and growing.  We’ve all heard that the best thing we can do is immediately get back on because the longer we wait the harder it will be and we will be stuck.

Life events aren’t always this straight forward and sometimes we need help getting back on. And yet I believe – whatever the intensity of our experience – that our anxiety is normal and to be expected.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

Next Page »