For many individuals the holidays are not The most wonderful time of the year…… The holiday season can stir up a lot of emotions and pain associated with grief, relationship problems, loneliness, stress, financial problems, family conflict, and well the list can go on and on. The holidays tend to amplify many feelings, especially the negative ones. How can you manage the holiday season and your mental health??? Here are some thoughts and tips:

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Limit time with or avoid toxic people: You do not have to spend holidays with people who are toxic, no other explanation is needed here! If you feel an obligation to a toxic family member, limit your time with him or her. Maybe schedule a visit with another relative right after or before your visit with your difficult relative. This season the Coronavirus has given us all a great excuse to avoid people; you can also apply this to people who are bad for you too! If you feel guilty about not seeing a family member who is toxic, send them a nice letter in a Christmas card, a small gift, or make a donation in their name to charity. It does not matter what time of year it is, you are always entitled to protect yourself and surround yourself with healthy people.

Practice setting boundaries: During the holiday season, we all have to set limits. Think of ways you can perfect the art of saying “No” during the holiday season. This can be with finances, gift giving, social activities, or at work.  If you can’t do something during the holidays for whatever reason, you can just say “No”. You do not need to apologize, explain, or justify your reason. If “No” feels too harsh you can try something softer like, “I would love to but I can’t”. Avoid overextending yourself and putting yourself in stressful situations this holiday season.

Focus on your values: What does the holiday season mean to you? Are the holidays about religion, spirituality, family, giving back, or celebrating? Do not feel pressure to conform to others’ traditions around the holidays. Take some time to reflect on the meaning of the holiday season and allow your holiday celebrations to focus on what is important to you.

Take time to relax: Schedule down time during the holiday season. It is important to have some time to slow down, enjoy a peppermint hot chocolate or gingerbread chai hot tea, and just relax. Do not pack your schedule during the holiday season. You will only feel more stressed.

Recognize your feelings: It is okay if you are sad, angry or anxious this holiday season for whatever reason. Practice saying; “I feel ______ because ______” multiple times a day. This is a way of checking in with yourself.  Remember you can be sad and still find joy or happiness during the holiday season. For example, maybe you are sad because your mother is very sick in the hospital but you can still take time, appreciate, and find joy in things like the festive lights, some homemade cookies, or a holiday card from your old neighbor.  You can be sad and still have moments of joy, peace, and hope. Do not feel guilty about positive feelings during the holidays if you are going through some tough stuff, it is always okay to embrace happiness. Emotions are temporary and they come and go. Remind yourself of that too.

Practice self-care: Put your name on your holiday gift list and buy yourself a nice present! Take time to show yourself kindness and compassion during this busy and stressful season. You can take a walk around your neighborhood and look at the decorations, meditate to some instrumental holiday music, journal about your favorite holiday memories, take a warm bubble bath and light a balsam and fir candle, enjoy some winter apple scented hand cream, or schedule a holiday massage. Do whatever is comforting to you. Often we focus on giving and doing for everyone else around the holidays and we neglect ourselves. Take time for you and practice self-care this holiday season.  Self- care is not selfish, it is essential! 

Clean out your emotional closet: 2021 is almost here, a new year brings new challenges and goals but we still have to clean out our emotional closet and wrap up some mental health goals. What emotional baggage do you need to let go? What negative feelings do you need to release?  What conversations do you need to have? Do you need to apologize to anyone? Are you ready to forgive anyone? How has your mental health been this year? What do you need to reflect on? 

Do something nice:  Giving back, volunteering, and helping others is a great way to feel good on the inside. With the pandemic, this may be more challenging this holiday season but you can still do a lot of good. You can send holiday cards to a local nursing home, ask your local school if any children are in need of gifts and buy a student something special, go through your closet and donate clothes, make a donation to your favorite charity or send a gift card to a neighbor in need. 

Wishing you love, joy, peace, and good mental health this holiday season.

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Apologizing is an important element to maintaining healthy and happy relationships. Sometimes apologizing is tricky but a sincere apology can make both parties feel better and help you to move on to happier times.  Why is apologizing so challenging for some people? Apologizing makes you very vulnerable and opens you up to criticism, blame, and attacks. When you apologize, you also have to recognize your flaws and shortcomings and this does not feel so good.  It takes a lot of courage and integrity to apologize.  No one likes to work with, be friends with, or date someone who cannot admit when they mess up or take responsibility for their mistakes.

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Here is a guide to delivering a sincere apology:

  • Ask for permission or state that you would like the opportunity to apologize
  • Take responsibility for your behaviors; clearly state what you did or said that was wrong
  • Acknowledge that  you hurt the other person
  • Discuss appropriate behaviors and boundaries in your relationship
  • Express regret and remorse
  • Express that you will try to avoid making the same mistake again
  • Don’t make promises about your behavior that you cannot keep
  • Ask for forgiveness
  • Reflect on your behavior, the apology, and how you want to move forward
  • Let it go; after you apologize sincerely once, it is okay to move on and put your mistake behind you

Think about the above list the next time it is your turn to apologize! 

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Communication is a two way street and the listener plays a very important role in facilitating communication. Often with good listening skills you can extract more information and provide comfort and support without verbally saying anything at all. Listening skills are essential in so many professions. Counselors, teachers, doctors, lawyers, law enforcement, and clergy all need to have sharp listening skills in order to do their jobs effectively. Actually, all professions and individuals can benefit from good listening skills. Listening, like any skill set, is something that you need to practice and perfect. When individuals feel heard, they feel validated and understood.  Actively listening to someone is a way of showing them respect and letting them know that their story and experience matters. Here are some tips to improve your listening skills:

Pay attention to nonverbal body language– When you are listening make an effort to reflect emotion with your face: tilt your head, raise your eyebrows, smile, and open your eyes wide to provide nonverbal feedback about your speaker’s message.  Nod your head to encourage your speaker to continue talking and stay still or look down when you want your speaker to slow down or stop.

Be aware of your expressions- Try not to show judgement with your facial expressions. If you know that you are going to be talking about a difficult subject, try to prepare yourself in advance for what your speaker may say. Try to express compassion, interest, and patience with your face.  Practice reflecting these emotions in the mirror so you see how you look when you want to convey these messages. If you do not have a good “poker face” try to develop one.  

Summarize and reflect what your speaker is saying– You can achieve this by creating a question or statement out of the last few words your speaker says.  If your speaker says: “I feel like I am going crazy, I can’t take living at my house anymore, every day I feel so stressed and angry at home.” Then you follow by saying – “It sounds like home is an environment that is creating a lot of stress and anger for you.” This technique makes your speaker feel understood and validated and will encourage him to provide additional information.

Confirm you are getting the right message– Try saying, “What I hear you saying is…….. am I correct?” Avoid making assumptions and check to make sure you understand your speaker.

Be aware of personal space and other cultural differences– Different cultures and individuals have different comfort levels regarding personal space. Do not overcrowd your speaker.  Do not feel offended or disrespected if your speaker avoids eye contact with you.  Pay attention to their nonverbal cues and body language and ask your speaker how you can make him feel more comfortable.

Do not interrupt- Allow your speaker to finish his statement. If you catch yourself interrupting, apologize. If you have to end the conversation early, apologize and schedule a time to continue the conversation. 

Put your technology away- Avoid having conversations when the television or radio is on. If you need to have some background noise, try a sound machine or instrumental music. Put your phone and computer away too. You want to give your speaker your undivided attention.

Less can be more– You do not always have to respond, offer advice, give an opinion, or defend yourself. You can say a lot with nonverbal communication and body language. Sometimes in a conversation, fewer words are better.

Be courteous– Whether you liked your speaker’s message or not, thank them for their time and the information. Show respect with your language. Ask for feedback; ask if you could have done anything that would have improved the conversation.

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May is Mental Health Awareness month and this is a great time of the year to reflect on your brain and emotional wellbeing!  Your brain is the most important organ in your body and just like sometimes your heart, kidneys, or blood pressure can get out of whack, your brain can also get offline.  The good news is that you can do so many things to prevent this and to keep your mind healthy. Just like you go to the gym to keep your body in good shape, there are numerous things that you can do to keep your mind in good shape such as:

Meditation

Journaling

Counseling

Mindfulness

Massages

Yoga

Practicing positive self-talk

Practicing self-compassion

Practicing self-care

Stretching

Breath work

Exploring spirituality

Spending time with your support system

Eating healthy

Exercising

 There are many great resources online to learn about mental health. It is very important to be an educated consumer of research and to understand that not everything that you read online is accurate. The below list includes reliable sources that you can trust to learn more about mental health. During the month of May take time to reflect, learn about, and work on your mental health!

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

http://www.samhsa.gov/

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

http://www.samhsa.gov/

American Psychiatric Association

http://www.psychiatry.org/mental-health

American Psychological Association

http://www.apa.org/

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

http://www.aacap.org/

Mental Health America

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

http://www.nami.org/

The Kim Foundation

http://www.thekimfoundation.org/

Mayo Clinic

http://www.mayoclinic.org/patient-care-and-health-information

PsychCentral

http://psychcentral.com/

Psychology Today

http://psychologytoday.com

Treatment Advocacy Center

http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/

Harvard Health Publishing- Harvard Medical School

https://www.health.harvard.edu/

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Serotonin is one of the many chemicals in the brain that impacts how we feel. Serotonin regulates many things including appetite, sleep, mood, and happiness. Some things like a poor diet, disease, and alcohol and drug use can lower the production of serotonin in the brain. Other things such as certain medications, a healthy diet, light, and exercise can increase the production of serotonin in the brain. According to Medical News Today, the below foods have been linked to an increase in serotonin production in the brain:
Salmon Poultry
Eggs
Spinach Seeds
Milk
Soy Products
Nuts
Eating these foods mixed with carbohydrates and staying hydrated have also been linked to an increased production of serotonin. Besides a healthy diet, getting sufficient vitamin D from the sun and daily exercise have been associated with the increased production of serotonin. Artificial sweeteners, red meat, and trans-fats have been correlated with reduced serotonin production so it is beneficial to your mood to avoid these!

Why is this topic so important? Serotonin is one of the main chemicals discussed in the treatment of depression. It is reassuring to know that there are choices that you can make that can make you feel happier and that you do have some control over your mood. Pay attention to your diet, try to get outside in the sun ( with sunscreen on of course!) and get moving! All of these strategies will help to boost serotonin levels and support your mood!
Take good care!
Karah Molesevich and Suzanne Presely

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Memory is one of our favorite psychological processes and neuroscientists are still learning how our memories work and studying strategies to improve and maintain it. A basic breakdown of memory looks like this: an individual encodes or takes in information, stores that information some place in the brain (current research indicates the pre-frontal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, and the cerebellum are holding houses), and then retrieves it when needed. There are three main types of memory: short term, working memory, and long term memory and then we have subtypes of those including auditory, verbal, nonverbal, visual, and kinesthetic memory. Some of us may find our visual memory is stronger than our auditory memory, so it might be easier to learn and retain new information presented to us visually, rather than verbally. Memory is a very important component to traditional education and learning. Basically, if you have strong memory skills you are very likely to do well at school. Strong performance on memory assessments is highly correlated with academic success at all levels. It would be unusual to find a gifted student that did not shine on the memory components of the cognitive assessment, while students found in need of learning support services may have low scores on the memory components of the cognitive assessments. As with most brain related things, memory is subject to neuroplasticity meaning it can be changed, shaped, improved or damaged. Memory is also an ability that can improve with practice just as a muscle is strengthened when exercise. What damages the memory? Alcohol, smoking, drugs, age, injury, and disease are some well-known offenders. What improves memory? Learning new information, brain games, mindfulness activities, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and sleeping a sufficient amount daily.
What are some tricks that you can use to help yourself and your students to sharpen memory? Repetition, drill and practice exercises, and frequent review– this helps with things like math facts, learning geographic information, and historical facts. Mnemonics, acronyms, abbreviations, songs, and rhymes- this helps with lists of information that phonetically do not have things in common.

Chunking and grouping information– this strategy helped you learn your social security number and phone numbers back in the day.

Use all of your senses– paying attention to how something looks, sounds, tastes, smells and feels helps you to remember it.

Rely on the GPS and Google less- our brains have become lazy because they do not have to work so hard. Try to do pencil and paper math, look for landmarks to find your way, and think through problems before relying on technology to help you.

Use a Memory Palace – this is an imaginary location you visualize in your mind where you can store mnemonic images. It’s like making a mental visual map in your mind of what you need to remember.

Sleep- your brain needs sleep to encode and retrieve information. When you cram for a test the night before and do not sleep, that information will be stored in short term memory only and then be discarded. A great study tip is after an hour of study, try to take a nap, then repeat this cycle for a few days. Make sure you always sleep 8 hours the day before an exam.

Drink Water– Dehydration has been shown to cause memory problems.
Eat more of these– The brain responds to food. The Mediterranean diet, especially fatty fishes, have been linked to strong memories:

  •   plant-based foods, especially green, leafy vegetables and berries
  •   whole grains
  •   legumes
  •   nuts
  •   chicken or turkey
  •   olive oil or coconut oil
  •   herbs and spices (Tumeric)
  •   Coffee and dark chocolate
  •   fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines

Use a Memory Palace – this is an imaginary location you visualize in your mind where you can store mnemonic images. It’s like making a mental visual map in your mind of what you need to remember.

Eat less of these– sugar, fats and processed foods have been linked to impaired memories:

  •   sugar
  •   processed foods
  •   butter
  •   red meat
  •   fried foods
  •   Alcohol
  •   salt
  •   cheese

Be well and exercise that brain! Karah and Suzanne

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Compassion fatigue is a very interesting condition that impacts many people in the helping professions like teachers, counselors, doctors, and first responders and those who are caregivers of a loved one. So what is compassion fatigue?  Compassion fatigue is the negative consequences associated with caring about someone. Compassion fatigue is not a disorder or a disease but rather symptoms that professionals and caregivers experience from being exposed to second hand trauma, suffering, inequality, and distress. Like most conditions associated with mental health, individuals with compassion fatigue will manifest traits in many ways.

 Some common symptoms can include lack of empathy or compassion for those who are suffering or feeling numb to the pain and suffering of others. This is your brain’s way of trying to protect itself from second hand trauma and being affected by the pain of others. Another common symptom of compassion fatigue may be over empathizing and feeling others’ pain too deeply to the point where it causes anxiety, irritability, and depression in the caregiver. Individuals who manifest compassion fatigue in this way tend to “take their work home with them” or “take on other peoples’ problems to solve”. 

 We see so much sadness and dysfunction at work, in our communities, on television, and at home and we all process it in different ways. Especially during  the pandemic, there has been an increase in physical illness, mental health struggles, and financial woes that have impacted so many of us. Compassion fatigue is a real thing, especially in the present moment.  So what can individuals do who are experiencing compassion fatigue?

Set boundaries– Set limits to the time you spend at work, to your charitable donations, and the time you spend thinking about or doing work outside of hours. Practice saying “No“.

Stay grounded– Try to stay present, check in with yourself multiple times a day and name what you are feeling. Mindfulness activities are great ways to stay in the moment and will help with feeling numb to others’ suffering and pushing your feelings aside.

Feel your feelings– Don’t spend too much time ruminating about the sadness or pain you come across in your day; however, it is healthy to name what you are feeling and to honor that feeling then gently let the feeling go.

Practice self-care– Taking care of yourself, being kind and gentle with your self-talk, and making time for you are great ways to combat compassion fatigue. If you dedicate 100% of your time to any one person, place or thing, you will end up resenting it. Take time for you.

Accept reality- Life is unfortunately filled with suffering and injustice. Accept what you can control and change and what responsibilities come with your role. Don’t get stuck on the “why” things are unfair or sad.  People get sick, people die, and people take advantage of and hurt others. These things are all very sad but you cannot control, fix or prevent any of that. Focus your energy on what you can do. You are only responsible for your behaviors. Become familiar with your values and moral obligations.

Take care of yourselves!

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Emotional trauma can come in many shapes and sizes and some clinicians colloquially use the words Big T and Little t to describe different types of trauma. What is important to know is that everyone handles, processes, and recovers from trauma differently and that is okay! It is also important to know that all trauma is painful and will impact the survivor.  Big T and Little t trauma can alter your brain, behaviors, and emotions. Just as trauma can change your brain and your behaviors, healing, practicing coping skills, and making a commitment to care for your mental health can also change your brain and behaviors in very positive ways. 

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Examples of Big T trauma usually include witnessing or being present at a life changing or very high stress, violent or dangerous event. Examples of Big Ttrauma include:

Being present when a shooting takes place

Being present when a natural disaster is taking place (hurricane, earthquake, tornado, etc.)

Living in or being deployed to an active war zone

Combat

Witnessing or being the victim of a violent crime

Sexual Abuse

Terrorism

Being in a severe car or work accident

Sudden death of a primary caregiver for a child

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Examples of Little t trauma usually include nonviolent, non-life threatening events that sadly are more common in society. Due to these events being typical, often individuals brush them off or rationalize their experiences as normal bumps in the road of life. Some examples of Little t trauma include:

Interpersonal conflicts and bullying

Emotional and verbal abuse

Infidelity

Divorce

Family separation

Moving

Legal problems

Financial troubles

Losing a job

Living with or having close relationships with people suffering from addictions, physical illness, or mental health conditions

Living in extreme poverty or unpredictable environments 

The problem with trauma is that the effects are cumulative and someone who has been exposed to multiple Little t traumas for a long period of time sometimes can have more severe symptoms and difficulties than those who have been exposed to one Big T trauma. Looking at both lists, think of how many people you know who may be struggling with symptoms of trauma!!!! Consider this before becoming frustrated or angry when you see behavior that is upsetting to you.

Individuals that have trauma may present with nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, isolation, insomnia, depression, emotional dysregulation, memory problems, difficulties concentrating, irritability, and hostility. All kinds of trauma are very unpleasant and many individuals avoid dealing with or talking about their trauma. In order to treat trauma you have to work your way through it, not around it. 

Please consider this information and practice kindness and compassion with others and yourself!

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The emotional dance of couples:

We meet…date…get married… and then experience either healthy or unhealthy relationship patterns between us and our partners. No matter how our love story unfolds we owe it to ourselves and our partners to be aware of the deeper emotional patterns that are often not discussed or even identified within our romantic relationships. Too often couples enter our doors in distress, holding on by a thread and no idea how their relationship became so fractured . Typically the unspoken theme is around tremendous fear of “what happened and what’s next”. We want to help you and your partner recognize the hope that is still possible even when the relationship feels unrepairable.

The first message that a couple gives the therapist about their emotional connectedness is demonstrated by how the partners sit in relation to each other in the counseling room. It is the most obvious sign that a couple can demonstrate to show the state of their relationship without saying a word. Nonverbal body language between two partners is a good starting point in stripping away facades and beginning an authentic discussion. The couple usually consists of one partner anxiously desperate to keep the relationship together and working hard to engage the other partner. The opposite partner is often already disconnected and presenting to the session in efforts to appease their partner. This partner is often already “emotionally checked out” of the relationship and sometimes even using the session as a “last ditch effort”. The couple can usually verbalize easily how each partner feels wronged by the opposite partner and what they want different in the relationship. However, rarely the two individuals can pinpoint their own roles within the distress of the relationship. This is where the real work lies.

There is a therapeutic value focusing on growing communication skills, quality time, or dividing household duties but the deeper emotions that are driving the partners’ behaviors are the real areas for concentration in the relationship distress. The “Emotional Dance” as Sue Johnson defines is often the driving force to the observable negative behaviors that couples experience. Feeling emotionally insecure in a relationship can lead an individual to either shut down or ramp up. Fear is often the underlying emotion that fuels either of these behavioral patterns and keeps the couple in an emotional dance that is disguised by negative relationship behaviors between the two partners. In the counseling room the couple and the therapist can start the journey into unearthing those underlying unmet emotional needs that weave through the couple’s conflict and distress. Allowing your partner to see you emotionally vulnerable by literally and figuratively “showing up” is the first step in breaking through the underlying fears and forming a solid foundation of trust to build the relationship.

If you and our partner are experiencing relational difficulties and are not sure if couples counseling is the right step for you, I would encourage you to read Sue Johnson’s book “Hold Me Tight”. This books is a great starting point in learning about you and your partner’s roles in the relationship distress and begins the journey of emotional reconnection.

DISCLAIMER: A very wise mentor once gave this therapist excellent ground rules for when working with couples in the counseling world. If a couple presents in relational distress but posses one of the three A’s (Addiction, Abuse, Affair) the individual problem must be addressed first before any relational healing can occur. An unsafe physical or emotional environment is not a breeding grounding for healing and deserves the individual attention and establishment of safety prior to any joint counseling. Eliminating the A’s from the couple’s distress is the beginning path of healing for the relationship, which allows room for the deeper therapeutic work to take place.

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the more common neurodevelopmental disorders that is often diagnosed during childhood and can last across the lifespan. Individuals with this disorder can demonstrate a whole gamut of symptoms and the disorder can look very different depending on the individual and their developmental stage in life. Not all people with ADHD are bouncing off the walls and can’t sit still. Some individuals with ADHD can present as very inattentive and distracted and some can have struggles in social situations and relationships. 

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ADHD is broken into three subtypes: Primarily Hyperactive/ Impulsive, Primarily Inattentive, or Combined Type.  There is no medical test to identify ADHD; rather clinicians use self-report ratings from the client and teacher/ parent observations along with clinical observations to identify ADHD. Often students with ADHD struggle with learning and poor academic performance at school and adults with ADHD can struggle with staying on top of bills and household responsibilities and tasks at work. Adolescents and adults with ADHD can struggle to understand social norms, appropriate boundaries, and interpersonal communication in relationships. There is no cure for ADHD but people can learn to manage their symptoms.Symptoms can be more problematic depending on the expectations of the environment. Psychotherapy to work on organizational, social, and coping skills and stimulant medications are often used to treat the symptoms of this disorder. 

Individuals with ADHD can be extremely creative, artistic, and adventurous.  It is very possible to be successful in life if you have ADHD, you just need to figure out what works best for you to manage your symptoms. 

So what can ADHD look like in an elementary school student?

José talks a mile a minute and won’t sit still….. ever. He does his math fact sheet standing up.  He seems to always be wondering around the room. José blurts out answers and never raises his hand.  Most of the time, the answers don’t have anything to do with the question. He also is always touching the other kids and taking their markers without asking. José’s book bag is filled with papers, candy wrappers, and trash. José always forgets his homework at home or hands his homework inincomplete. At the end of the day he seems to just throw everything into his book bag or takes nothing home at all. José struggles to walk quietly in the hall and is usually running out of the room when it is time to transition to lunch. Jose’ seems like he has so much energy and like he is constantly moving and talking. José is a happy kid and likes to please others. – Jose has ADHD Primarily Hyperactive/ Impulsive Type.

What can ADHD look like in a middle school student?

Daisy is very quiet and sweet. She likes to doodle and draw in her notebook during class. Sometimes she just stares off and seems to enjoy daydreaming. Daisy will stare out the window the majority of class and seems to easily get mesmerized or drawn off task by any interruption.  Daisy is respectful and doesn’t cause any trouble. She seems to be forgetful and often leaves things in her locker and at home. Daisy is always the last one to finish tests and does poorly on timed tests. Teachers always have to repeat directions and questions to her. It seems like Daisy doesn’t get things or has memory problems. Her teachers wonder if maybe she has hearing or vision problems because she works so slowly and seems to never get all the details right for assignments.   Daisy has ADHD PrimarilyInattentive Type. 

What can ADHD look like in a high school student?

Ryan is always getting into fights at school and talks back to his teachers. He can be very sarcastic and doesn’t seem to think before he talks. Ryan is the only one who thinks that his jokes are funny and he seems to tell jokes at the most inappropriate times. His mouth often gets him into trouble. He also tends to get too close to girls when he talks to them and this creeps them out. Ryan makes poor choices and is easily influenced by his peers; he has been caught drinking and smoking.  Ryan hates writing essays and math class. He has poor grades, doesn’t do his homework, and often doesn’t finish his tests. Ryan is slow to start working and slow to finish his work. His favorite class is gym where he excels but he has a poor grade because he always forgets his clothes at home. In his other classes, if Ryan is not sitting right in the front of the room, he doesn’t do anything except bother his classmates. Ryan just seems like such a hard kid to like, he is smart and has potential but he just doesn’t know how to use it. Ryan has ADHD Primarily Combined Type

What can ADHD look like in an adult?

Abbie just graduated college and started her first job. She is late to work every day and usually spills coffee on her outfit at least once a week. Abbie is usually running in the door 10 minutes late with wrinkly clothes and never looks put together. She always interrupts her coworkers and forgets to respond to emails. A few times her coworkers had to pick up her lunch tab because her credit card was declined. Abbie is awful at managing money and usually pays overdraft fees and forgets to pay her bills on time. Abbie fidgets at her desk and constantly taps her pencil in meetings. She says this helps her to focus but it seems like she is never paying attention. Abbie also constantly talks over people and interrupts them during meetings. She usually waits until the last minute to start projects and rushes to get them done. Her work is sloppy and she gets poor reviews especially for time management and organization. Abbie has ADHD Combined Type.

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Radical Acceptance is a current buzzword in mental health- Lady Gaga is a big fan of this principle. Radical Acceptance is a concept that emerged from Dialectical Behavior Therapy and it is a very useful skill to apply when navigating challenging relationships with your boss, coworkers, family, friends or spouse. Radical Acceptance is a technique that you can use when you feel frustrated, betrayed, hurt, or let down by someone and you get stuck in that emotional state.

When you radically accept something, you are accepting the facts and the reality of the situation, including all the positives and the negatives. You also let go of control or judging what happened when you decide to practice Radical Acceptance. When you practice Radical Acceptance, you do not try to fix or change the situation and you do not worry about it. You accept that “It is what it is” and you set realistic expectations while focusing on your responsibilities and values.

Emotionally, when you radically accept something, you name and honor your feelings around the person or event. You are honest with yourself and you do not deny your feelings or the truth. You also don’t spin your wheels and continue to think about the hows and whys of your feelings, you just name them.  You do not make excuses, justify, rationalize or try to change your feelings, you just recognize and accept them. 

Radical Acceptance is not justifying or overlooking bad behavior and it does not mean that you let people walk all over you or take advantage of you.  It means that you are honest and realistic about what and who is in your environment and your role in these relationships.  When you practice Radical Acceptance, difficult people, situations, and memories have less power over you. You also feel less disappointed. 

 Why get upset when your grumpy neighbor scowls at you in the morning instead of waving if he has been doing that every day for the past ten years? Everyone, including you, knows that he scowls at people. Why get mad that your sister skipped your son’s 5th birthday party when she tends to “no show” for most family occasions? You cannot make her attend anything.   Why worry about everyone getting along at Thanksgiving since there is no way you can control that?   Why stress about attending team meetings when you know your coworkers always end up arguing? Make a list of your questions and what you need to say, and then leave when the fighting starts.

 Here is an example of how to apply Radical Acceptance:

·        Ask yourself what can I control in this situation?

·        Name the facts, what are the truths here?

·        Identify your role and your responsibility in this situation.

·        Ask yourself what do you know about this person or situation? What has the past taught you to expect?

·        Don’t try to change or influence the person or situation.

·        Don’t judge your behavior or anyone else’s. 

Situation:

“My supervisor is such a mean jerk. He never answers my Emails and he has such a bad temper. Every Monday morning I walk the long way to my office just to avoid him before he has his coffee. I am sure he must think I am such an idiot because I am new and do not know how to work all these computer programs and I ask so many questions. I’m going to try to figure out how to make him like me and how to make him happier at work. I heard other people at work talk about his temper and how difficult he is to work for.  I am so afraid he is going to yell at me. All I do is think about how awful he is and how I can avoid getting in trouble.”

Radical Acceptance:

“My supervisor seems to have a short fuse and yelling at employees is not okay but I am not going to take it personally. I can’t control if he decides to yell at me. I do not like how he acts but I cannot control his behavior nor is it my job to make him happy. I am new and I am going to focus on learning my job better, all new people have a lot to learn. If my supervisor will not answer my Emails, I will ask someone else my questions. I am going to take the most direct route  to my  office in the morning because that makes the most sense to me and I am going to greet and smile at whoever I see because I value being friendly.  My supervisor’s tone does make me feel uncomfortable, but that is normal, it seems like he makes other people feel uncomfortable too. I am on to my next task and do not have to think about this anymore!”

Posted on by karahmolesevich | Comments Off on Radical Acceptance: