Trauma

What is Identity and Why is it Important?

By Amanda Polster, LMSW

“The strongest force in the universe is a human being living consistently with [their] identity.”

~Tony Robbins

Our identities helps make up and define who we are. Our identities are comprised of both our personal lived experiences and environments (nurture), and our biological and genetic composition (nature). Our identities are made up of the intersection and layers of various characteristics, including gender, social class, age, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, religion, age and disability to just name a few. These characteristics play a significant role in how we understand and experience the world, as well as shape the type of opportunities and/or challenges we face. Identities are very complicated, and can also vary based on the situation or circumstances we encounter.

As part of our identity, it is important to acknowledge that we all have certain biases that we have learned through our experiences and environments. Malcolm Gladwell, a well-known author and researcher, helps us identify that although we all come with certain biases, we have an ability to [unlearn] some of these assumptions by changing our perspectives, beliefs, and experiences (Gladwell, 2005).

Let’s look at a riddle below:

A father and son are in a car accident and are both badly hurt. They are both taken to separate hospitals. When the boy is taken in for an operation, the surgeon (doctor) says “I can not do the surgery because this is my son.”

How is this possible?

Now if you first guessed that the surgeon is the boy’s gay, second father, you could be right. However, a less common, yet accurate guess to this riddle is that the surgeon is the boy’s mother.

This riddle has been used in many studies to identify gender biases, and during these studies, only about 15% of individuals are able to identify that the boy’s surgeon is his mother (Barlow, 2014).

It is important that we acknowledge our own biases and assumptions to increase our openness and connection towards others. The more grounded we are in our own identities, the more openness and acceptance we can have towards others.

Tips to help us feel more grounded in our identities

Using mindfulness to enhance self awareness

Identity formation is a key part of life, and evolves and shifts over time. It is easy to feel insecure at times, especially when we find ourselves in challenging transitions (i.e. new relationship, moving to a new city, starting a new job, etc.) To help improve self-confidence, we can begin to learn ways of feeling more secure with our identity.

We can ask ourselves questions that prompt greater self-awareness:      

1.       What part of my identity am I insecure about?

2.       What have I experienced in the past that impacts my identity?

3.       What am I currently going through that can be impacting my identity now?

4.       What do I need right now to feel more grounded?

5.       Who can I seek help from to work through these challenges?

If these questions are too challenging in the moment, this is a perfect opportunity to use mindfulness techniques to be present and accepting of this challenge. Take a few moments to breathe into the discomfort of not knowing how to overcome challenges, and validate yourself for being courageous to learn ways of building self awareness.

Using affirming self talk can help reframe challenges we may have when attempting to feel grounded in our identity. We can use some of these statements to help us think about our relationship with ourselves and with others as learning experiences and opportunities to enhance our self awareness and overall confidence:

        1. “I reflect and explore pieces of me to learn about my talents, capabilities, and growth.”

        2. “Exploring my identity in comparison to others helps me learn new cultures and experiences.”

        3. “When I feel less secure, this is a normal human experience and part of me learning about

        myself”

Using CBT to become more self aware and grounded

One way for us to feel more connected with our identity is to reflect on our beliefs, values, and actions. When we understand the beliefs and values that we feel closely connected with, we can assess whether our actions are in accordance with these values - i.e. if generosity is an important value to our identity,  do we treat others with generosity? If we find ourselves acting in ways that contrast our values - i.e. saying hurtful things during an argument - we can use these moments as opportunities to learn more about our triggers, become more self aware of what these triggers mean, and assess how they impact our behavior.

 

Asking better questions to get better answers

We all have the right to identity the way we prefer. When we generalize how we identify with others, we might be making assumptions about other people’s identities. These assumptions often come from our comfortability of wanting someone to identify the way we believe is most acceptable. We naturally categorize people into boxes to help us relate to them, yet we might be oversimplifying their identity or identifying them incorrectly. Although the intention of assuming identities may come from a place of wanting to connect with someone, we might be harming someone or minimizing their preferred identity through this process.

We can ask these questions to reflect on our experience with assumed identities

1.    “Have I ever assumed someone’s identity? (i.e. assumed someone’s gender)”

2. “What can I do in the future to prevent this from happening”

3. “Has someone ever assumed my identity? (i.e. assumed my race of ethnicity)”

4.  “What do I need in moments when I believe someone is making assumptions about me, and how can I communicate that appropriately?”

We all experience the ebbs and flows of forming our identity. While identities are naturally complicated, we have many opportunities to lean into our identity to increase overall self confidence and acceptance.

Barlow, Rich. 2014. BU Research: A Riddle Reveals Depth of Gender Bias. https://www.bu.edu/today/2014/bu-research-riddle-reveals-the-depth-of-gender-bias/

Gladwell, Malcolm. 2005. Blink. Malcolm Gladwell.


A Snapshot of Brené Brown’s Study of Shame and Resiliency

By Amanda Polster, LMSW

“If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs 3 things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a petri dish and douse it with empathy, it cannot survive. The two most powerful words in a time of struggle are me too” - Brene Brown

Brené Brown, an American researcher, professor, author, and inspirational speaker, has spent two decades studying difficult emotional experiences such as courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. Brown’s extensive research has helped us understand how these emotions relate to each other, and how to work through difficult emotions like shame. In her recent book, I Thought It was Just Me (But It Isn’t) , Brown illustrates the power of shame and helpful tips to work towards shame resiliency. Whether its relationships, parenting styles, work environments, family dynamics, you name it, Brown demonstrates that shame impacts all of us,  it’s an unspoken epidemic, and the less we talk about it, the more power it has over our ability to feel connected.

Brown defines shame as “an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging. Shame creates feelings of fear, blame, and disconnection.” She goes further to describe the gender organization of shame, in which “women most often experience shame as a web of layered, conflicting and competing social-community expectations that dictate who we should be, what we should be, and how we should be.” Brown’s definition highlights that shame is part of all of us, and is often impacted by the environment we live in and our gender identify.

Brown shares in her book that we often confuse shame with guilt because these two emotions can seem similar in the ways they impact us and our relationships. Yet, she helps us understand the important difference between shame and guilt: shame is focused on ourselves while guilt is focused on our behaviors. Some common thoughts below illustrate the differences between shame and guilt, and the impact shame has on our identify, self-confidence, and connection towards others.

 

Guilty Thought                                                          Shameful Thought

“I did something bad”                                                  “I am bad”

“I made a mistake”                                                      “I am a mistake”

“I made a stupid choice”                                             “I am stupid”

 

When we experience guilt, we have a strong desire to take accountability and ask for forgiveness from the person or people we harmed, which involves empathy, compassion, and courage. However, when we experience shame, we feel hopeless, isolated, and unforgiving. Brown describes how this harmful self view has been a leading cause for addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide, and eating disorders.

Shame is not a hopeless epidemic though. How do we build strength to work through some of our most shameful experiences? Brown shares some helpful tips on how to develop shame resiliency to overcome some of our deepest struggles.

To get out from underneath shame, we have to understand how it affects us and the relationships we have.

Brown describes the ways human connection - our ability to forge meaningful and authentic relationships with others - is on a spectrum where empathy is on one end and shame is on the other. She also illustrates the nob that moves us on this spectrum is vulnerability, where the more vulnerable we are - the more capable we are of sharing our strengths and struggles - the more empathy we hold. Brown uses four tips to help us move this vulnerability nob further from shame and closer towards empathy and shame resiliency.

 

1. Recognizing Shame and Understanding Triggers

Brown shares that the first step towards shame resiliency is recognizing shame and understanding our triggers. When we become more aware of our shame and things that increase these feelings, we can make mindful, thoughtful decisions about how we can respond to shame in a productive and healthy way. Brown provides a helpful companion worksheet to help us increase awareness, identity, and connection to counter shame symptoms. https://brenebrown.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/ITIWJMreadingguide.pdf

 

2. Practicing Critical Awareness

Brown helps us identify the ways shame can feel like the zoom lens on a camera; when we feel shame, the camera is zoomed in and all we see are our struggles and flaws. This experience can feel isolating, as if “I am the only one and something is completely wrong with me.” Brown challenges us to zoom this internal camera lens out to think more broadly about our struggles and to reflect on how these situations can be impacting many other people in the same way. We can begin to ask ourselves questions that challenge where expectations come from and what type of pressure we naturally feel as a result of these expectations to normalize our shame. Some questions Brown suggests we ask ourselves to increase critical awareness are:

•    What are the social-community expectations?

•    Why do these expectations exist?

•    How do these expectations work?

•    Who benefits from these expectations?

 

3. Reaching Out

“Regardless of who we are, how we were raised or what we believe, all of us fight hidden, silent battles against not being good enough, not having enough and not belonging enough. When we find the courage to share our experiences and the compassion to hear others tell their stories, we force shame out of hiding and end the silence”

 

Brown emphasizes in this tip the ways we can heal through our connections with others. She also highlights the ways we are more alike than we are different, in that we all need to feel valued, accepted and affirmed. Reaching out and giving space to hear other people’s stories of their internal struggles increases empathy and connection and reduces experiences of judgment and rejection. Brown shares six ways we can reach out to increase our connection with others and to use our voice as power to counter shame symptoms; she calls these the six P’s:

•    Personal: your interactions with family, friends and co-workers

•    Pens: writing a letter to organizational leaders and legislators

•    Polls: getting educated about leaders and issues, and voting

•    Participation: joining organizations that support your issues

•    Purchase: buying from companies that support your values

•    Protests: standing up for what you believe in

 

4. Speaking Shame

This is likely the toughest tip because it requires us to seek the vulnerability to share our shame experiences with others. Brown helps us understand the benefits of sharing and the ways storytelling helps us communicate who were are, how we feel, what’s important to us and what we need from others. Telling others how we feel and asking for what we need are basic requirements of resilience and connection. Brown also highlights that speaking shame holds people accountable for the ways their actions might have impacted us, and creates opportunities for others to increase empathy towards us to build stronger relationships.

 

While shame can feel deflating, there are many ways we can get out from under shame to build resiliency, courage, compassion, and empathy. If you are struggling with shame, we are here to help. Call us at 347.994.9301 to schedule an appointment to begin working through your experiences of shame together.

 

Coping with Loss During the Holiday Season

By Amanda Polster, LMSW

Grief and bereavement are natural experiences of life, and none of us are immune to this type of pain. At some point in our lives, we have experienced grief – a death of a loved one, a loss of a job or financial security, divorce or relationship separation, an estranged family member, a miscarriage, ongoing trauma that compromises senses of safety, etc. Although a healthy response to loss, grief can lead to suffering and symptoms of depression if we are unable cope and feel supported during these tumultuous experiences.

 

The intensity of grief is often related to the attachment to the person or thing we lost. For example, if we lose someone very close to us - a partner, a friend, a parent, a sibling, a child - we will be more impacted and challenged to accept reality that this person is no longer here.

 

The correlation between our attachment to someone and the impact their loss has on our lives is not to discourage healthy and strong relationships at the fear of potential loss; it is the contrary. By experiencing healthy attachment relationships, we gain a greater connection with our identity and needs. If we are challenged with a sudden loss and are left questioning how to repair or fill this void in our lives, we are given an opportunity to identify our needs during this difficult life experience. We can ask ourselves questions that can prompt a greater sense of self compassion and connectedness. Anodea Judith, an American author, therapist, and public speaker grounds her work in internal healing methods, and suggests asking ourselves these questions in time of grief and crisis:

 

“Why was this person in particular so special to me?” 

“What did this person bring to me that I am missing in myself?” 

“What part of me was particularly bonded to this person, and what does that part need?” 

 “What have I lost touch with in myself as a result of this ending, and how can I nurture and regain that part of myself once again?” (Judith, 278)

 

Along with these thoughtful questions, below are some additional practices that can move us from pain towards healing in times of emotional adversity.

Connecting to Our Heart Center

“When our heart is heavy with grief, it is hard to open, even hard to breathe. When grief is denied, we become numb to our feelings and our aliveness. We become hard and cold, rigid and distant. We may feel dead inside. When grief is acknowledged and expressed, however, we find a vital key to opening the heart. Tears are shed, truth expressed, and the heart lightens. The breath deepens. There is a sense of spaciousness that emerges, allowing more room inside for our spirit. Hope is reborn. Coming to terms with our own grief leads toward compassion for others”

 

Grief challenges and counteracts the heart’s connection to ourselves and others, and makes it feel closed and heavy. For this reason, feelings of isolation and disconnect are common in times of need. In these distressing times, it is important to allow ourselves to share our pain with others to relieve the heaviness of these moments. Times of grief are a perfect opportunity to validate that not being ok is ok, and feeling pain is part of our humanity. Validating our state of grief allows our hearts to open during this process to begin working through the pain.

 

Using Mindfulness Practices to Grieve

“Grief, after all, is not a pathology or an illness, but a natural part of life that causes us to experience suffering. Since the goal of mindfulness practices is the cessation of suffering, it can only make sense to bring the two together” (Stang, 10).

 

The good thing about mindfulness practices is they are easily accessible - all you need is yourself. Mindfulness allows us to pay attention to our bodies with observance and curiosity, eliminating acts of judgment that come naturally, especially during times of grief. Mindfulness can help relieve various emotional expression: stress that come with expectations to grieve within a certain period of time; anger that comes naturally with the loss of someone or something we are attached to; denial that the information in front of us cannot be true.

Qualities that come from using mindfulness to work through grief:

            -improved self-perception

            -improved sense of strength

            -improved level of compassion

            -better relationship with others[1]

 

Breathe. A helpful mindfulness practice during bereavement is focusing on our breath. When grief causes panic, focusing on our breath can be very soothing and calming, and relieve us of the immediate overwhelm during adversity.

 

 

Tapping Into our Support System

When we lose someone close to us, it can feel disturbing or discontenting, as if pieces of our identity have been removed or lost as well. In these times, it can be easy to try to fill that void by taking on the role of healer and making sure loved ones around you are safe and supported. This act of kindness can demonstrate our unconditional support for those closest too us. While this might feel powerful and helpful as a distraction, it is important to ask ourselves:

“What do I need right now?”

“Am I allowing myself the time to grieve?”

“Why is it important to me to help others at this time?”

 

Additional Resources

Honor yourself for your openness to explore this time of adversity with hope and optimism.

 

Grief is very powerful.

 

It can change your relationship to others, your worldview, and your relationship to yourself. The energy that comes with grief can influence our physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional capacities. However, we have the power to determine how we grieve. We have the ability to allow grief to either hinder our progression or become an opportunity for self reflection compassion, and acceptance. This form of acceptance does not mean we have to fully accept that our loved one is no longer with us, but we can accept our ability to move forward and to have a different yet still personal relationship with someone who holds a special place in our hearts.

 

If you are seeking additional support to work through your grief, we can help. Contact Us Today for a free 15 minute consultation.

 

1.      Judith, Anodea. Eastern Body Western Mind. 2004. Anodea Judith.

2.      Stang, Heather. Mindfulness and Grief: With Guided Meditation. 2014. CICO Books.


[1] Stang, Heather. Mindfulness and Grief: With Guided Meditation. 2014. CICO Books.

Self-Care For Turbulent Times

By Amanda Polster, LMSW

Social media can be toxic and scary. As much time as we spend on social media, we need an equal (or greater) amount of time mentally recovering from the bombardment of painful images and rhetoric. Today’s blog is all about stressing the importance of being in tune with our energy and checking in with thoughts and feelings that come up during this turbulent political climate.

We can use any activity as self care if we do it mindfully.

Part of implementing self-care is practicing being in harmony with our mind and body. During this blog, practice noticing the emotions and sensations that come up, and acknowledge yourself as courageous for taking this opportunity to learn healthy and sustainable methods of personal growth. At any point during this blog, if you begin to feel uneasy or triggered, recognize that as an opportunity for observation and take the necessary steps for yourself to take a break. Breathe

Breath is the foundational practice of self-care. We can focus on our breath no matter the activity. We can begin to practice it now in this blog.

Breathe.

Mindful Self Care Becomes Even More Important When Tragedy Strikes

This blog hits close to home in the wake of recent national events that have occurred unexpectedly, yet are now occurring ever too frequently. Especially in an era where violence has become more prevalent, it is important to identify ways we can take care of ourselves so to not get consumed by the losses in our community.

The more we practice self-care, the more capable we are at supporting our ourselves, our families and our communities

Below are some tips on how to reframe and implement self-care in our lives.  

1.      Self-Care is Not Selfish – You cannot serve from an empty vessel

You may have heard the saying, “you can’t help others if you are not helping yourself.” Or, as they always say on the airplane before takeoff, “In the event of an emergency, make sure you put your oxygen mask on first before helping the person next to you.” If we do not take care of ourselves, we will not have the capacity to support and serve others. Now, some people are great at helping others as a distraction from dealing with their internal struggles. However, this is not a sustainable practice, and without self-care and proper support, we will eventually reach a breaking point where we feel too overwhelmed and overloaded. In these instances, setting boundaries for ourselves becomes a practice of self-care to identify ways to most appropriately limit the amount we are giving and provide greater opportunity to receive and give back to ourselves. An example of setting boundaries is noticing our triggers and removing ourselves from spaces where we acknowledge triggers may occur. A personal example is recognizing when social media is not serving me and choosing to take a break to limit my access from overwhelming information that comes through my news feed.  

2.      Self-Care is an Opportunity to Grow

Many self-care practices are opportunities to observe and understand our own identities. Self-care practices are things that make us feel happy and provide us with joy and ease. They are activities that give our lives meaning and remind us of the importance of taking care of ourselves, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. These practices help us learn where we feel we are the most supported and areas where we may feel neglected or want additional support. Self-care is also an opportunity to check in our self-talk, and acknowledge the ways we are either affirming and validating our experiences, or judging ourselves for our emotions and behaviors. While we often seek validation and support externally through our support networks, self-care is also an opportunity to learn greater self-compassion and self-gratitude. Mindfulness practices such as loving kindness meditations are a great way of tapping into these self-care practices.

3.      Self-Care is a Priority and Necessity, Not a Luxury

This is my favorite tip, because people often think of self-care as a luxury or privilege. Now, I am not dismissing or denying the fact that not everyone has the same access to a diverse range of self-care practices (i.e. gym memberships, travel opportunities, health care resources). However, many self-care practices can occur internally, such as meditation, self-reflection, self-talk affirmation, that only require conscious awareness. Using our physical bodies as forms of revitalization and energy is often one of the most effective self-care practices. As Tony Robbins states, “emotion is created by motion,” and how we feel is often determined by the physical state our body is in at any given time.

Regardless of if we choose to join a new yoga class, or take a moment to “smell the roses,” self-care requires an investment in taking time for ourselves to remove ourselves from the stressful and often fast-paced environment we live in daily. Taking time for ourselves is not only vital to our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual capacities, but also supports in our ability to be the best versions of ourselves and aids in our overall quality of life.

If you are in immediate distress please contact the number below:

The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

1-800-273-8255

If you would like to make an appointment for ongoing care, schedule a time to speak.

Denial of Toxic Love

By Brittany Dursi, LMSW

Denial. Denial. Denial.  What is it?  Could it be our mind claiming something to be untrue, even if the facts say otherwise? Maybe it’s a shield of defense when reality is too much to bear. Or possibly, it’s the fear of surrendering to the truth.  Whichever the case, denial is no stranger to us.  We all have used it in our own unique way: to cope, to avoid, to protect etc.   In love, denial is a common mechanism adopted to protect the relationship in times of distress.  For the time being it encases the relationship in a thin lining, a band aid for when we aren’t ready to clean the wound.

Often times, the foundation of consistency in a destructive relationship is the damaging and deliberate use of manipulation and abuse.  This creates a mask for the partner being victimized, losing parts of their identity.  They may constantly feel guilty when they actually did nothing wrong.  Depending on the relationship, some may report feeling as though they were never good enough for their partner: fighting for acceptance, fighting to prove they deserve them.  Some may feel a heightened sense of emotion, or absence of, due to their lack of control in the relationship and a decrease in self- worth.  Often times the relationship is priority over work, personal interests and family or friends.  So how could anyone stay in this?

Here’s the thing.  When we are faced with isolated and constant real or perceived threat, our body instinctively responds. Stress hormones are released, shutting off the part of our brain used to solve problems (prefrontal cortex) and we enter a stage of fight, flight or freeze. This is great if we are being chased by a lion, the problem is when our stress hormones are activated for too long.  Our brains naturally will put a threatening situation to the forefront and shut down everything that is not necessary for that threat.  If we are constantly feeling threatened by our partner, we are consistently in a state of fight, flight or freeze, making it impossible to function appropriately. 

If we are being faced with infidelity, abuse (physical, mental, verbal, emotional) confusion, lack of self-worth, fear, anxiety etc. it is too much for our brain to sort through.  Manipulation commonly becomes the focal point in destructive relationships, resulting in the vulnerable partner feeling dependent on the toxic one.  The threat also becomes the safety blanket in these relationships.  While we may be living in a state of constant intimidation and emotional distress, the moment validation, intimacy and acceptance is received it stimulates our reward system and we feel safe again, creating a debilitating cycle.  For example, maybe our partner cheats, the facts have been proven, and we become emotionally distressed.  They lie about it but begin to show interest and connectedness to us, we might choose to believe it, because in those moments, they are accepting us.   Somewhere in us we know it is not true but we push it so far down because denial is sometimes perceived easier than facing the facts

Facts are Facts are Facts

If there is concrete factual information, it happened. 

If your significant other hits you because you came home an hour later than expected but then cooks you a three course meal, it does not change the fact they hit you. 

If your significant other calls you cruel names regularly but will also spend quality time with you and makes you feel special, it does not change the fact they verbally hurt you. 

If your significant other is not loyal but will not admit the truth, it does not change the fact they betrayed you. 

If they are hurting you in any way and try to validate their actions based on something you have done in the past it does not change the fact they hurt you and chose to be spiteful. 

You are not to blame for their actions. You cannot alter facts.

Tools For Managing School Anxiety

Post By Amanda Polster, LMSW

Test, essays, project deadlines, pop quiz! Whether you’re in high school or college, managing a rigorous schedule can cause a lot anxiety. People experience school anxiety in different forms - test anxiety, difficulty studying, trouble focusing which leads to procrastination. Anxiety is the most common mental health challenge of children, teens, and adults in the United States. (1)

Some stress is actually necessary (and can be helpful) for students. . Performance anxiety can actually motive us to prepare and focus harder to achieve our high expectations. The stress of poor performance can encourage us to study longer or prepare harder for say… a presentation worth 30% of our grade. This type of stress is called eustress - the feeling good stress! Eustress can actually help boost motivation, focus, and energy, and can improve overall performance and decision making. (2)

You’re probably thinking, “why do I not usually feel good when I’m stressed?” Eustress is often short-term in nature and only occurs when we are able to rationalize and organize the tasks we have to complete without feeling a sense of overwhelm. And…dondadadon! This is where distress seeps in. Distress is the experience of stress that feels like overwhelm, confusion and difficulty completing tasks.

When we think about the amount of work required of us in such a short period of time we often start neglecting self care. We might reach for that fourth cup of coffee because… who has time for sleep? It’s easy to understand why this would happen if it feels like our lives might literally be over if we don’t pass an exam. Many of us have been there, including me.

Perfectionism often accompanies distress. This can prevent us from actually enjoying the process. Doesn’t it seem unreasonable to think the quality of an entire year’s work is determined by one letter written at the top of a test page?

Now that we are on the same page (pun intended), I want to share why I love using cognitive therapy to help students with school anxiety. It’s amazing to see how a student’s life can change when they realize they have complete control over their school experience. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to gain more control of school anxiety:

 

1.      Breathe!

One way we can rethink the amount of work we have to achieve in such a short period of time is to take a step back and recognize when we begin to rush our thoughts. Breathing allows us to hear our thoughts more clearly. After we recognize them, breathing allows us to stop spiraling into self-defeating thoughts that counter our capability and resilience.

2.   Reframe Stress

When thinking about the two types of stress - distress and eustress, we often categorize all stress as problematic and want to run away from it as quick as possible. However, being mindful and present with our stress is a helpful way of shifting our stress from an unpleasant experience to a productive and motivating experience. Reframing our stress can help us begin categorizing our tasks and motivate us to learn effective time management tools, which leads me into the next possible strategy.

3.   Creating a To-Do List

My personal favorite! Some people prefer the standard planner, but I’m more of a color coordinated, few doodles on the side type or organizer. I began creating a to-do list after grad school when I recognized planners did not have enough space for me to write down the amount of tasks I needed to complete each day. Creating a to-do list not only helped me prioritize my most important daily tasks, but also it helped me feel accomplished each day when I was able to check off all the things I completed. Having this list also helped me enjoy the process of completing larger tasks because I could recognize the steps I was achieving along the way. Yes, there are times when I didn’t get to everything - I’m not superwoman unfortunately - but I was able to start my to-do list for the next day prioritizing those things first to ensure I got everything done in a timely manner.

4.  Develop Realistic Expectations

This is where cognitive therapy steps in. Cognitive therapy helps address the pressure of family and society to meet educational demands. Understanding our thoughts, feelings and actions more clearly can help in overcoming the apprehension of not knowing if we will get a job once we graduate. Cognitive therapy teaches us how to give ourselves a break, re-evaluate our expectations of what we need to accomplish to stay above water, yet the most important.

5.   Practicing Self Care

You may be thinking right now… who has time for self care when there are 4 essays due and 3 exams? The bottom line is we cannot do our best work if we are not energized and revitalized. Taking time for ourselves to recharge is the most important part of achieving our goals and sustaining a healthy learning environment and practice.

Does your son or daughter need help with school anxiety?

I’m happy to help! Connect with me here – amandap@ruschellekhanna.com

References:

1.      https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics#

2.     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eustress