Anxiety

Helping Law Enforcement Combat Stress

Law and StressWhile the general public as a whole struggles with a variety of life stressors, law enforcement personnel often have more extreme stressors to combat. While local citizens might worry about their career, family, and finances on a regular basis, people who choose a career in law enforcement take on additional stressors. According to a 2014 study on police personnel and stress resilience training, these additional stressors may include psychological stressors connected with the mission, extended duty cycles, and exposure to horrific scenes of death and injury. (1)

If you are a police officer, military personnel, or another form of law enforcement with an overabundance of stress, this article is for you. To help you battle not only criminals, but also stress- Here are a few tips for helping combat stress.

  1. Recognize. As with most things you must work to overcome, recognizing the problem is the first step. Take the time to assess your personal stress levels regularly. By keeping a close watch you can begin to sense trigger stressors before they build and get out of hand.
  2. Lead a healthy lifestyle. Though the hours of those who have careers in law enforcement can be demanding, it’s important to prioritize good health in your life. Do your best to maintain a regular sleeping schedule, eat healthy foods, and stay active.
  3. Take time away. Don’t be afraid to take a step away from the field whenever you need it. Small vacations away or extra time spent at home relaxing with loved ones can be just what the doctor ordered to help eliminate on-the-job stress.
  4. Prioritize. Law enforcement personnel have a rather important job, but never more important than your family or loved ones. Be sure to prioritize and bring things into perspective regularly to help ward off unneeded stress.
  5. Invest in a hobby. When you’re off the clock, choose to invest in a hobby. Weather its model cars, an instrument, or even sports by learning something new or engaging in an activity you enjoy you can naturally melt away stress and reenergize your body for another day on the job.
  6. Seek help. If you find yourself carrying a heavy weight of stress on your shoulders wherever you go, take the step toward seeking professional help. Confiding in a professional can help you receive the necessary help required to tackle your stress.

While everyone struggles with stress at one point in their life or another, people in law enforcement often have additional stressors. Combat unwanted stress on the job by learning to recognize stress in your life, leading a healthy lifestyle, taking time away, prioritizing, investing in a hobby, and of course- seeking help when you need it most. By doing so you can not only battle criminals but also stress.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation

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Sources:

  1. Police Department Personnel Stress Resilience Training: An Institutional Case Study, Potential law enforcement stressors, 2014, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24808985

Can Hobbies Improve Mental Health?

Improve mental healthIt is easy for people to get wrapped up in various treatments, therapies, and medications when it comes to controlling mental illness but did you know simply engaging in hobbies you already love can help too?

According to a 2009 study testing the potential of managing anxiety in eating disorders with knitting found that, ‘patients reported a subjective reduction in anxious preoccupation when knitting, more specifically- 74 percent reported it had a calming and therapeutic effect.’ (1) Engaging in a hobby you already love may be just the treatment you have been looking for. Some people find that listening to music, volunteer work, keeping a daily journal of events and how they feel, laughter, playing with pets, shopping, or other forms of common hobbies helped them to relax. (2)

From singing to cooking and just about every hobby in-between, taking time to relax with an activity you enjoy can help you reap a multitude of benefits when it comes to mental health. Here’s a few that you can look forward to.

  • Reduces stress. Transitioning the focus from the chaos of life to a fun, easy, and enjoyable task can instantly help reduce stress levels. Harness this benefit by opting for more relaxing hobbies. These may include knitting, painting, photographing, journaling, or even bird watching. Whichever hobby you choose, be sure it makes you feel more relaxed.
  • Improves mood. Taking a break to do something you already love beats an extra hour spent at the office anyway. Investing in hobbies can feel similar to taking a break and enjoying yourself and obviously breaks and joy often produce an improved mood. A hobby should always be something you desire doing.
  • Encourages socialization. Though not all, but some hobbies can help encourage socialization where you would otherwise spend time alone. And numerous studies have found a connection between relationships and happiness. Consider participating in group hobbies like team sports, clubs, or other activities that draw a crowd.
  • Improves memory. Did you know studies have shown that people who regularly challenge themselves through puzzles, games, and reading can not only improve their memory now, but also help themselves avoid memory loss later in life? If you enjoy challenging your mind with puzzles you can expect to reap this benefit.
  • Wards off depression. If your hobby of choice is an activity you find happiness in, it can easily help ward off feelings of depression and sadness. If you find yourself not loving a hobby, stop doing it and find something new that you do love. Hobbies are meant to be fun, and in order to benefit from them you must enjoy doing them.

While people may be consumed with treatments, therapies, and medications- sometimes all you need to lift up your spirits and improve your overall mental health is a little time spent doing a favorite hobby. Invest in yourself by taking the time to participate in things that you love. By doing so you can begin to reap the many mental health benefits that can accompany hobbies.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation

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Sources:

  1. Managing Anxiety in Eating Disorders with Knitting, Results quote, 2009, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=knitting+anxiety
  2. Management, Information about hobbies, 2015, http://www.stress.org/military/combat-stress/management/

Seeking Compensation: Physical vs Mental Pain

Mental PainWhen it comes to the court room we are quite familiar with law suits over physical injuries like broken bones and bruises but are you aware of the many law suites occurring over mental pain as well? Law suits are filed every day on behalf of mental pain such as anguish, emotional distress, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and so on. But do these victims seeking mental compensation win battles within the court room just as well as those seeking compensation for physical pain do?

In a 2008 Texas case 17-year-old Laura Schubert sought compensation for injuries she suffered during an exorcism. Her injuries included physical- cuts and bruises and also mental- mental anguish, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and a suicide attempt. The court ruled in favor of compensation for her physical injuries but not for her mental pain. (1) But why? Is there a double standard? Does physical pain somehow trump mental pain?

Prove it. It certainly is not that mental pain is not comparable to physical pain. We certainly know that feelings of depression, loss, anger, etc. can hurt worse than a scrape or bruise at a times. The challenge is proving your mental pain within a court room. Unlike physical pain you cannot simply submit a photo of a marking on your arm for the jury to examine. Proving mental pain is far more challenging.

Jurors especially are apprehensive to leaning in the favor of mental pain compensation because there is the potential for deceivers to lie and profit from it. Not only do you have to prove it, but you have to make the jury believe your plea.

Make the connection. In order for a ruling to go in the favor of providing compensation for mental pain, the courtroom must first make the connection between physical and mental pain. Many of the uneducated public do not understand that physical health issues like diabetes can cause mental issues such as depression and anxiety, according to the American Psychological Association. (2) These connections are what will award you appropriate compensation.

While there may be a small double standard within the court room when it comes to physical pain vs. mental pain compensation, it’s our job to inform the public. By teaching the mass population about the pain experienced mentally after incidents and its connection to physical issues we can pave the way to a fairer courtroom, without the double standard for all.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Physical vs. Mental Pain: A Legal Double Standard?, Information on 2008 Texas case, 2009, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/02/jn.aspx
  2. Physical vs. Mental Pain: A Legal Double Standard?, Physical can cause mental, 2009, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/02/jn.aspx

Practical Application Tips for Coping with Sleep Insomnia

Tips for InsomniaAccording to the National Sleep Foundation, 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more.(1) Clearly, getting adequate sleep is a nationwide problem, and one that is leaving lasting negative effects.

“Millions of people don’t get enough sleep, resulting in such problems as daytime sleepiness, poor decision making, interference with learning and accidents,” according to the American Psychological Association (APA). (2) If you are someone who struggles with sleep insomnia you know firsthand how challenging it can be to cope. But there’s hope!

To help, here are proven, practical application tips for coping with sleep insomnia and gaining a good nights’ sleep.

  • Restrict. Restrict the amount of time you spend in your bed to only time actually sleeping. Refrain from laying in your bed to read or rest signaling the brain mixed directions. Your bed should be restricted to a place of sleeping only.
  • Wait. Instead of going to bed at a routine time every day, wait until you begin to feel sleepy before putting your head to the pillow. This will help insure a nights’ sleep with minimal tossing and turning.
  • Try again. According to the APA, if you are unable to sleep within about 20 minutes or so, you should get out of bed and go to another room until feelings of sleepiness return. Notice, you are only to return to your bed with you are feeling tired again.
  • Maintain. While it is recommended that you do not go to sleep at a set time, but rather when you are feeling sleepy- you should maintain a strict sleeping schedule when it comes to waking up. Be sure to wake up each morning at the same time regardless of the amount of sleep you received.
  • Avoid. Often times, those who struggle to sleep at night time, turn to day time cat-naps. Unfortunately, this can make getting into a regular sleep routine even more challenging. Try waiting until night to catch up on all your sleep. This will help you fall asleep quicker and feel more rested in the morning.

With sleep insomnia affecting Americans all across the nation many people are struggling with how to cope. Putting proven, practical application tips like restricting, waiting, trying again, maintaining, and avoiding into action can make all the difference. By doing so you can gain a good nights’ sleep!

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

    1. Getting a Good Night’s Sleep With the Help of Psychology, Number of Americans with sleep disorder stats, 2004, http://www.apa.org/research/action/sleep.aspx
    2. Sleep, Negative effects of sleep insomnia, 2015, http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/index.aspx

 

 

Sports and Mental Health: What’s the Connection?

Sports and mental healthTeam sports have long been a popular activity for people of all ages. While some people play just for fun, there are many others who play at an extremely competitive level. No matter your reason, however, there are benefits and dangers of playing sports.

Benefits

  1. Mental. Any type of physical activity can be beneficial to a person’s mental health, from walking to aerobics to sports. For people at risk of mental illness, exercise can be preventative; in those who already suffer from mental illness, activity can be used as a form of treatment. Exercise has been proven to lessen depression and decrease the number of psychotic episodes in other illnesses – and this is true for males and females of all ages. The more physical activity, the greater the improvement in mental health will be, according to the American Psychological Association (APA) (1).
  2. Emotional. One of the biggest areas of emotional well-being is self-esteem. Belonging to a team, having people depend on you, and knowing that you are needed can all help a person have a positive view of themselves (2).
  3. Social. Someone who struggles socially can greatly benefit from team sports. A team usually consists of a people of a common age and interest, so you already have something in common with everyone. What a great start to form new friendships.
  4. Familial. So many mental health issues are worsened or even partly caused by a person’s home situation; this is especially true in children with mental disorders. Playing team sports can give a family a chance to spend time together and give a parent the chance to encourage the child.
  5. Physical. Playing sports has many physical benefits. Being in good shape does not just aid in sports performance but also in the performance of your body’s systems. Physical activity is good for the heart, the respiratory system, and the circulatory system among others. The healthier your body is, the healthier your mind will be.

Dangers

  1. Mental. If the athlete has obsessive tendencies or an addictive personality, sports and exercise can actually become detrimental to their mental health. Being so reliant upon physical activity for mental well-being, it could cause problems if you were to become injured or unable to continue for other reasons. Make sure that there are other treatment options in place.
  2. Emotional. There are times that a person playing sports can have a lowered self-esteem due to poor performance or inability to contribute to the team. Choose a sport in which you know you can be successful.
  3. Physical. Competitive teams really emphasize training, and with good reason. However, it is possible to injure yourself if the body is over-exerted. To avoid this, pay attention to your body’s signals of needing a break.

As long as you are aware of the dangers and do everything you can to avoid them, most psychologists will greatly encourage team sports to enhance your mental health.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Exercise Helps Keep Your Psyche Fit, Exercise and mental health, 2004, http://www.apa.org/research/action/fit.aspx
  2. Benefits of Sports, Emotional benefits, 2015, http://www.muhealth.org/services/pediatrics/conditions/adolescent-medicine/benefits-of-sports/
  3. The Benefits of Playing Sports Aren’t Just Physical! Social benefits, 2012, http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/blog/post/the-benefits-of-playing-sports-arent-just-physical!.aspx
  4. Exercise and Mental Health, Dangers, 1990, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2192422

The First 3 Steps to Changing Unhealthy Behavior

Change BehaviorsUnhealthy behavior can include bad habits such as smoking, drinking, poor diet choices, and lack of physical activity. These behaviors can cause greater health risks, especially in middle-aged people. Statistics show that over 20% of people smoke or drink (or both), over 40% of people are physically inactive, and over 30% of people are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control (1).

However, these people are not the only ones affected by the poor behavior – approximately 25% of health care costs is spent on treating the effects of this voluntary unhealthy behavior (2). So what can be done about this increasing problem? If you or someone you know is making poor choices, a change needs to take place.

1. Determine the cause. There are many things that can cause a person to make poor choices.  These causes can vary for people of different ages, genders, and races.  In young people, habits such as smoking or drinking can be a result of peer pressure; poor diet and exercise choices can come from a lack of education regarding these issues.

In adults, however, the most common cause for unhealthy behavior is stress (3).  Turning to comfort food can cause obesity and inactivity while having a drink to relax after work can easily cause a drinking problem.  Recognizing the cause of your unhealthy behavior is the first step to changing it.

2. Make a plan. Once you have determined why you make the poor choices, you need to determine that you want to make a change.  It must come from you, not others, and you must put a plan of action in place to achieve it.  There are some people who know they have a problem but don’t do anything about it; there are others who know they need to change but continually put it off (4).  In order to accomplish a lifestyle change, a firm decision and commitment must be made.  One way to reach your goals is to find motivation.  Whether it is your health or that of someone that you love, find a reason for the change.

3. Seek support from others. There are support groups created to help people cope with dependency, disease, and social issues (5).  These support groups allow you to share with and learn from others in a face-to-face setting.  When making a change, it is very easy to relapse into your old habits.

A support group will provide the accountability you need to stay on track.  If you are unable to find a good support group, you can start one in your area.  This may provide you with even more motivation since others will be relying on you to lead by example.

Changing is hard – there is no doubt about that. However, it is possible. It simply takes determination and a conscious effort on a daily basis to make better choices in your life. Changing your unhealthy habits will be beneficial to you as well as your family and friends, and in the end your only regret will be not doing it sooner.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Prevalence of Selected Unhealthy Behavior Characteristics, Statistics of unhealthy behavior, 2007, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5916a7.htm
  2. Voluntary Health Risks: Who Should Pay? Cost of unhealthy behavior, 2015, http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v6n1/voluntary.html
  1. Americans Engage in Unhealthy Behavior to Manage Stress, Causes of unhealthy behavior, 2015, http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/01/stress-management.aspx
  2. Why It’s Hard to Change Unhealthy Behavior, How to change, 2009, http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-its-hard-to-change-unhealthy-behavior
  3. Receiving Social Support Online, Importance of support groups, 2001, http://her.oxfordjournals.org/content/16/6/693.full

Coping with PTSD as a Family

Coping with PTSD as a FamillyPTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is an anxiety problem that develops in some people after extremely traumatic events, such as combat, crime, an accident or natural disaster, according to the American Psychological Association. (1) PTSD is often acted out through nightmares, hypervigilance, flashbacks, anger, or depression and can often complicate close relationships like families.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), PTSD is considered one of the mental health conditions most likely to lead to relationship problems (2) but families can find hope in learning new ways to cope.

  • Stress management skills. Families should take the time to learn stress management skills. These skills may include eating healthy, getting active, allowing for alone time, getting adequate sleep, and establishing necessary support. By learning these skills as a family you can help one another along the way.
  • Realizing everyone is impacted. In most scenarios, one family member, often mom or dad, is diagnosed with PTSD- not the entire family. But this does not mean that others are not affected too. In fact, the APA stresses that everyone in the family is affected by PTSD even if it’s not apparent at first or some members aren’t as quick to show it.
  • Everyone processes trauma differently. Like with many emotions, there are a variety of ways to process trauma. Not everyone will react in the same way as you. Realizing this will help you understand one another and in return, be able to offer help when needed. Just because someone doesn’t handle trauma in the same way you do, does not mean they aren’t experiencing affects.
  • Establishing a universal plan. Together, families need to establish a plan. How are you going to address the event to outside family and friends? Especially for emotional traumas such as rape or abuse, this step can be important to healthy coping. Establish a universal plan that everyone agrees with.

To families experiencing it, PTSD is so much more than a stress disorder. It’s a mental illness that threatens to tear their family apart. By turning to each other to cope instead of trying to tackle extreme traumas individually you can better help lessen the relationship effects of PTSD. Coping with PTSD as a family means learning stress management skills, realizing everyone is impacted and processes trauma differently, and establishing a universal plan. Together you can cope, conquer, and thrive as a family despite PTSD.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Definition of PTSD, 2015, http://www.apa.org/topics/ptsd/index.aspx
  2. Helping Families Cope with PTSD, Relationship impact of PTST, 2015, http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan08/helping.aspx

5 Ways to Better Cope with Stress

cope with stressToday, chronic stress- stress that interferes with your ability to function normally over an extended period- is becoming a public health crisis, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). (1) Caused by a variety of triggers such as money, work, the economy, job stability, personal health, and even family responsibilities, stress is wreaking havoc in the lives of most Americans these days. But what can we do to better cope?

According to the Centers for Disease control, “The best ways to manage stress in hard times are through self-care.” (2) To help you better understand exactly what I mean by “self-care” here are 5 ways to better cope with stress in your personal life today.

  • Find support. Weather from a partner, friend, counselor, doctor, or close family member finding the support you need is critical to coping with stress in a healthy way. Choose someone who is willing to listen to you without judgement, offering constructive advice when needed.
  • Stay connected. When times of high stress arise it’s far too easy to isolate yourself socially but isolation is not the answer. Instead choose to spend those times with a group of close loved ones you can find support in.
  • Say “No” to drugs and alcohol. While both drugs and alcohol are popular coping mechanisms for a number of problems as a quick, temporary fix they tend to create a snowball of problems in the long term. Simply say, “No.”
  • Get active. A 2015 study comparing stress and exercise found that one year of physical exercise intervention improved mental well-being among working adults. (3) To better cope with stress, get active through exercise. Join a gym, take a jog, become part of a favorite team-sport. How you choose to be active is not important, simply being active is.
  • Eat healthy. You know what they say, “We are what we eat.” By striving to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet you can prepare your body to better cope with stress naturally. Choose foods high in protein and low in sugars and carbs along with lots of healthy fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

And as a bonus…

  • Take a break. Far too many people are constantly going with the petal pressed to the floor, speeding through life. Sometimes the best way to deal with an overabundance of stress is by taking a break. This means a vacation, time off from work, or maybe just a night to yourself. Don’t be afraid to allow yourself a break every now and then. It’s good for you!

With stress impacting so many Americans today in ways that make life far more difficult to live, it’s time to fight back. Whether it’s money, work, the economy, job stability, personal health, family responsibilities, or something else learning how to best cope with stress can make all the difference. By finding support, staying connected, refraining from both drugs and alcohol, eating healthy, and of course- allowing yourself to take a break when needed you can not only change the way you respond to stress, but also decrease the amount of stress you experience. And who doesn’t want less stress?

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Stressed in America, Chronic stress crisis, 2011, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/stressed-america.aspx
  2. Managing Stress, Self-care for stress quote, 2012, http://www.cdc.gov/features/handlingstress/
  3. A 12-Month Exercise Intervention Decreased Stress Symptoms and Increased Mental Resources Among Working Adults, Get active study, 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26159956

Inmates + Pet Therapy = Healthy Relationships

pets; relationship therapyFamilies all around the world embrace animals such as cats, dogs, fish, and gerbils- just to name a few. They welcome these small or large critters into their home because they make them happy and offer companionship. They teach children responsibility and friendship. But did you know pets can also do the same for inmates?

According to a 2015 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “When pet therapy is used in prisons a symbolic relationship develops between pets and prison inmates.” (1) Through pet therapy, inmates at a correctional institution were able to develop good relationships and promote healthy development and cultivate reciprocal empathy. Pets offer people so much more than something soft and cuddly to play with. Here’s a look at what your pet is teaching you about healthy relationships without you even realizing it.

  1. Be yourself. No matter what species your pet stems from, one things for sure- it’s teaching you to be yourself. There is no need to put on a show for guests. 100 percent of the time, your pet acts exactly like himself, no matter who’s watching. You should be too! Embrace the person you are and be yourself in all your relationships.
  2. Forgive mistakes. No one forgives mistakes like pets do. They truly forgive and forget. While forgetting may be something of its own challenge, certainly focus on forgiving. Learning to forgive in the same way your pet does can help you overcome obstacles that take place in relationships.
  3. Embrace silence. Silence is not always a negative thing. Your pet understands this! Embrace silence in your life and in each of your relationships. Often times silence allows us to breathe, rest, and regroup for whatever is next.
  4. Show love. Like a dog who greets his owner with a sloppy, wet kiss so too should you show your love in relationships. Take the time to regularly demonstrate your affection for family and friends. In return, they are likely to do the same back.
  5. Be active. Most pets tend to be active in life and we should strive to be too. Take it from your pet, and get active. Weather you choose to join a team sport, attend a gym regularly, or simply take a daily walk around the block, being active can help improve not only your relationships with others but also your relationship with yourself.
  6. Let loose. Your pet certainly doesn’t allow stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions to control their relationship with you. You shouldn’t either. Don’t be afraid to let loose every now and again like your pet and enjoy socializing with others.

Because good relationships promote growth and healthy development, (2) it’s time to take a cue from your pet. Like with inmates who benefit from pet therapy, so should families of pet owners. Embrace the relationship lessons your furry (or scaly) friend is teaching you and better connect with others.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

Pet Therapy in Correctional Institutions: A Perspective from Relational-Cultural Theory, Relationships develop, 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26083555

Helping Children Cope with Tragedy

Cope with TragedyIt’s unfortunate today, how tragedy has become such a routine part of our lives. Whether on a small scale, such as the death of a loved one or on a national scale with the influx of terrorism, tragedy is hitting home far more frequently than ever before in our history. We would be gullible to believe these tragedies aren’t affecting our children too.

Helping children understand, cope, and live through tragedy can be challenging but it’s important they know they are not alone. Teaching them how to move forward in a positive manner is key to them living a successful adult life as a member of society. To better equip you, here’s how to help children cope with tragedy.

  • Recognize. The first step in helping a child cope with tragedy is being able to recognize the signs of disaster-related stress. According to FEMA, these signs could include difficulty communicating thoughts, difficulty sleeping, limited attention span, headaches/stomach problems, colds or flu-like symptoms, depression, fear, or overwhelming guilt. (1)
  • Communicate. While it may be difficult at first, it’s important to keep communication open between you and your child. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings about the tragedy including how it made them feel. And answer any questions they may have honestly. Maintaining a calm persona will help them feel at ease.
  • Listen. As your child shares their feelings about the incident with you it’s important that you listen intently. “It’s also key to listen closely to your child for misinformation, misconceptions, and underlying fears,” according to the Mayo Clinic. (2) Turning an ear to these details can better help you correct any misinterpretations and reassure them of any concerns of new fears they may have.
  • Limit. For coping with large, media-based tragedies, it may be best to limit your child’s time spent listening or watching media. This allows you to control exactly what your child sees and hears about the event.
  • Seek help. Parents should never be afraid to seek help for their child. By finding a professional to speak to you can better help your child cope with the tragedies happening around them. A professional will also be able to direct you and provide additional tips for assisting your child.

Tragedies happen almost on a daily basis it seems. No matter how small or large a tragedy may be, it’s important to take the time to help your child cope. They are likely fearful, sad, and unsure. By recognizing these stress signs, opening up communication and listening, limiting their media exposure, and seeking help you can offer your child the loving support they need.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation

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Sources:

  1. Coping With Disaster, Disaster-related stress signs, 2015, https://www.fema.gov/coping-disaster
  2. Helping Children Cope, Listen closely quote, 2012, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/helping-children-cope/art-20047029

 

 

 

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