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Kathy Marshack News

Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Solitude to Refresh Yourself

Monday, May 01, 2017


Don’t be afraid to be alone with your thoughts, because only through productive solitude and introspection can you know yourself and find peace.Do you make time to be alone with your thoughts? Many people are actually afraid to allow such solitude. Any lull in a conversation and they have to jump in and say something. And when they’re alone, they’re always plugged in…to their phone, to music, to noise in the background. Quiet makes them nervous.

The Altlantic ran a recent article that said that embracing solitude can have huge psychological benefits as it helps you confront who you are and how you can “out-maneuver some of the toxicity surrounding you”. Yet it also reported on a study that a quarter of the woman participants and two-thirds of the men chose experiencing electric shock over being alone with their thoughts. That’s severe!

Clearly, many people are suppressing unresolved issues rather than facing them. While it can be uncomfortable or even painful to confront these issues, in the long run, your mental and physical health will improve if you allow yourself the time to process them. Many people find that enlisting the help of a trained mental health professional gives them the support they need to effectively resolve these stresses. (I’ve had wonderful success using NET – Neuro Emotional Technique to help my clients let go and move on.)

While it’s true that solitary confinement has been used as a punishment that can drive some people crazy, intentionally seeking solitude can be a rejuvenating experience if you know how to regulate your emotions effectively. Productive introspection let’s you get acquainted with yourself, one of the most important relationships you can have. Without such times of solitude you can develop a group mentality. Instead of thinking for yourself, you may let the group define who you are more than you think possible.

How can you find solitude in your busy life?

  • Rise before others and go for a walk outside as the sun rises.
  • Leave the radio off when you drive.
  • Start a practice of meditation.
  • Take solitary walks at lunchtime.
  • Make a day trip by yourself to wander around a contemplative place like the Portland Japanese Garden.
  • Turn off devices and journal about your thoughts in the evening.

The more you seek times of productive solitude the more pleasurable it will become. Some of the long-lasting benefits are that you’ll gain clarity on your priorities, desires, and needs. You’ll know who you are and what you stand for. You’ll reinforce your convictions and beliefs.

If the silence is too painful because you’re plagued by something that you can’t resolve, please seek the help of a trained professional. You deserve to enjoy life more fully. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Or if you’re an American living in a foreign land, please feel free to request remote counseling.

Why Expatriates Can Benefit from Remote Counseling

Monday, April 17, 2017


Woman smiling and looking at computer screenAre you an expat? Are you living and/or working in a country other than your native one? Your reasons for moving abroad may have included secular work, volunteer work, retirement, or a quest to immerse yourself in a new culture for an extended period of time. It is an amazing privilege and experience to live in a new place and learn new things.

To be a successful expat, you know that you cannot simply recreate your old home and environment. So you’re probably working hard to learn the language. Maybe you’re experimenting with new ingredients and cooking techniques. You’re finding your new favorite market, coffee shop, breakfast nook, and bookstore. And you’re getting to know your new community and seek to become a contributing part of it.

These exciting changes and adjustments, though, are part of why some expats struggle emotionally. Take, for instance, suddenly living in an environment where few people speak your language. The people at work may speak it, but those in the community, on public transportation, at the market, and behind the counter at a restaurant may not. To be constrained by language barriers is isolating. Even when you have some grasp of your new language, fluency takes time and the process can be frustrating.

As an expat, you also have to adjust to your new environment. Your new area may not be as safe as your previous neighborhood, limiting mobility and walks alone. Or maybe your spouse is working, leaving you to fend for yourself during the day. And if you do want to grab lunch with a friend while your spouse is at work? They are all back in your native country, and phone calls can be expensive!

This can all lead to feelings of isolation, frustration, or depression. You realize that you could really use the help of a therapist to navigate your transition to a new life in a new country. But how do you find a therapist when you live abroad?

It can be a challenge. There may not be that many qualified therapists in your area. And finding them isn’t always easy. When you do find a good therapist, they may not speak your language. If you are living in a small community, there is also a chance you know the therapist. It can be uncomfortable to open up to someone who has connections to your outside life.

What is an expat to do? To fill this void in mental health care, I am starting a new service designed specifically for expatriates. Remote Counselling Services for Expats utilizes a HIPPA compliant, online video program to connect us, no matter where you are in the world. Via video conferences, I can help you navigate the unique situations that you face.

I have over thirty years of counseling experience, and I am so excited to offer my services to those living abroad! If you are an expatriate and are experiencing trouble adjusting to your new life, please take advantage of this unique, new service so you can get the most of your international experience and your life!

How to Use Mindfulness to De-Stress at Your Desk

Monday, April 03, 2017


Here are some practical ways to use mindfulness to de-stress at your desk so you can mindfully choose mental and emotional states that most benefit you.Is work getting you down? Do you carry the job stresses home to your family, inflicting them with your bad mood? That just creates more stress, doesn’t it? If you’re ready to try something new that stops this cycle, I’ve got a recommendation for you…try mindfulness.

What is mindfulness? Basically it means you’ve developed a focused mental state based on your awareness of the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

If you have a daily practice of mindfulness at your desk, you can release the tension as it begins rather than letting it build like a pressure cooker ready to explode. Try these simple mindfulness ideas and see if they don’t work for you…

  • Focus on one thing at a time. Mindfulness helps you hone in on the one thing you need to accomplish at this moment in time. This helps you avoid the temptation to multitask.
  • Be aware of what your body needs. You know how sitting for hours staring at a computer screen makes you feel. It’s not pleasant. Don’t just sit there and take it. Move your body until it’s relieved. Stand up, stretch and move at least once an hour to relieve any tightening and to remind yourself to keep good posture.
  • Keep yourself centered. You know how stress can make you feel off kilter and out of sorts. Take time to collect yourself. Find a quiet place and relax through meditation or going for a walk.
  • Clear out the clutter to stay in the moment. When all those nagging, little tasks pile up, it’s amazing how much stress they exert on you. If they can be done in 5 minutes or less, clear them out of the way.
  • Breathe. When you get up to stretch, do a few breathing exercises too. Draw air deeply into your lungs and feel yourself relax. Too often people breathe shallowly, which adds to your feelings of anxiety.
  • Remember your purpose. The job isn’t everything. Work is a means to make a living so you and your family are happy and healthy. This puts things in perspective and helps you create boundaries so work stays at work, so you’re no longer taking it home with you.

Sometimes stress builds up and becomes a chronic problem that detrimentally affects all areas of your life. If this has happened to you, please seek the help of a mental health professional. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please feel free to contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can get it resolved and you can move on.


Read more on my website: Managing Stress and Releasing Unresolved Stress.

Parents – Are Your Financially Dependent Adult Children Draining You?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Financially helping your adult children get established on their own may seem harmless, yet there’s danger in giving them money without skills to use it wisely.As a parent, you want the best for your children. So when they’re trying to get established on their own, giving them money seems so simple, so harmless. But what if it goes on year after year? When and where do you draw the line?

If you’re providing financial assistance for your adult children, it may get to the point that you feel like you’re not helping them any longer, that you’re actually hindering their progress toward standing on their own two feet. It’s important to consider these things, since ongoing financial help is a growing trend that will have long-term consequences for your child’s well-being and happiness. Well-meaning help can become an ongoing handout that destroys your joy and your child’s initiative and self-confidence.

A recent New York Times article reports on a survey of more than 2,000 young adults from 2007 to 2013. The findings show that today almost half of them receive financial assistance from their parents. Although two-thirds of high school students go to college, only half end up graduating. And they’re taking longer to get it done.

There are many factors involved such as the high price in rent in urban area, the cost of college tuition, the low payoff for the types of jobs they acquire. Whatever the reason, how long is “long enough”? When is it no longer a kindness? When should parents “cut the apron strings”?

When you provide financial assistance, it’s vital to require that your child learns financial and emotional self-management skills. Help them understand what credit really is, how to balance a checkbook, why it’s important to budget and live within one’s means, and that instant gratification or impulse buying doesn’t result in happiness. This can be started at an early age. Otherwise, they can lose whatever motivation and discipline they may have had. You may unwittingly be sending the message that ‘you’re not capable or competent’.

At times, financially dependent adult children may also have mental health issues including anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Anything that feeds the sense of powerlessness will worsen these problems.

It’s never too late to instill financial independence in your adult children. It may, however, involve a series of painful conversations and decisions. Taking control of the situation may feel less daunting when a trained mental health professional guides you through the process. It is possible to help your adult child to become independent of your financial purse strings, without alienating him or her. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment, so we can get your family back on track.

Read more on my website: Am I a Good Parent?

Are You Managing Your Anxiety or Is Your Anxiety Managing You?

Monday, March 27, 2017


Woman feeling anxiousAnxiety, despite being an unwelcome feeling, is a part of life. It is a feeling of nervousness, fear, or apprehension. Typical situations that cause anxiety are new experiences where you can’t for-see the outcome, high-pressure situations, or stressful events. Anxious feelings are often manifested physically through an upset stomach, headaches, or a racing heart.

For many people, anxiety goes as quickly as it comes. Once the anxiety-inducing event is over, their feelings normalize. They are able to handle the discomfort and uncertainty of anxiety without outside intervention.

This isn’t the situation for everyone though. There are many people who on a daily basis deal with nagging feelings of anxiety. Sometimes they can push these feelings down and go about their day without being too affected. Other times the feelings are so severe that they begin to affect a person’s work, relationships, and health. Anxiety becomes controlling, debilitating, and inescapable. In this case, help is needed to manage the mental and physical discomfort and learn how to cope.

Whichever group you fall into, it is necessary to manage your anxiety more effectively. Pushing your feelings to the back of your mind is not “managing” your anxiety; it is just procrastinating dealing with it.

What can you do if it feels like anxiety is gaining the upper hand in your life? Take a look at these suggestions:

Accept your feelings. Don’t dismiss how you are feeling. Accept your thoughts and feelings, and spend time examining them. By taking ownership of your feelings, you take back your power and control, making the problem feel much smaller. Practice mindfulness. This form of meditation helps you regain control of your thoughts. Consider your thoughts and feelings without judgement.

Challenge anxious thoughts. A lot of anxious thinking is not only negative; it is irrational. Ask yourself: Is there real evidence for your frightening thoughts and predictions? What are the pros and cons of worrying about it? You may think the worst will happen, when in reality there is no basis to think that. Challenge what you believe to be true about what you fear. Retrain your mind to process things in a way that does not feed your anxiety.

Replace anxious thoughts with realistic thoughts. Once you’ve identified the irrational distortions behind your anxious thoughts, replace them with realistic and positive thoughts. Give attention to things that are good and beneficial. Make a choice to be optimistic. Actively look on the bright side. It takes time and practice, but it can be done!

Practice gratitude every day. Looking for reasons to be grateful has a powerful effect on your mental health and emotional wellbeing. What you choose to remember and focus on become the pathway the brain will automatically take. If you constantly dwell on negative things that cause anxiety, your thoughts and feelings become dark and worrisome automatically. You’ve worn that pathway in your brain. But the good news it that those pathways can be shifted. Choosing to practice gratitude shifts your brain to see constructive, positive themes in your life instead of destructive ones.

Do you feel like your anxiety is too severe for these suggestions to help? Do you experience excessive anxiety and worry about daily activities? Does it interfere with your normal routine, job performance, or relationships? Are your everyday worries accompanied by physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, trembling, and stomachaches?

If so, you may one of the millions of American adults suffering from an anxiety disorder. These chronic conditions fill people’s lives with exaggerated worry and tension. Simply the thought of getting through the day can provoke anxiety. Anxiety disorders are relentless and can grow progressively worse if not treated.

The good news is that you can treat your anxiety disorder. Research is yielding new, improved therapies to help those with anxiety disorders to lead productive, fulfilling lives. If you think you may suffer from an anxiety disorder, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office for information and treatment.

Entrepreneurs – How to Conquer Your Own Worst Enemy

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Shoe squishing the word impossibleWhat do you consider to be your worst enemy as an entrepreneur? The ever-changing market? Fickle customers? Your competition?
 
What about your own negative attitude?
 
You may have heard that attitude is everything, and indeed it is. The mind and body connection is very real and very powerful. Our emotions affect our bodies and dwelling on negative ones can cause many physical health problems.
 
But did you realize that optimism could also greatly impact the health and wellbeing of your business? Optimists tend to be solution-oriented. When they encounter a setback, instead of throwing their hands up, they continue to search for a way around the problem because they are convinced there is a solution. They are also willing to try new things because they recognize that what looks like failure is really a learning experience.
 
While optimism can positively impact your life and business in a very large way, negativity can quickly tear down what you have worked for. Negativity adds to the normal stress felt by entrepreneurs everywhere. It also has a debilitating effect, sometimes preventing people from moving forward and getting past a situation or starting something new.
 
Do you tend to have a pessimistic attitude about life or your business? Or perhaps all the negativity in the media of late is having an impact on your state of mind?
 
Let’s consider three steps that can help you turn your negative thoughts around:
 
Accept your thoughts and feelings. It is important not to dismiss your negative thoughts and worries. Worrying about worrying is not going to help you! Accept your thoughts and feelings and take time to examine them. When you accept the existence of the negative thought and take ownership of it, you take back power and control. The problem no longer feels so large.
 
I often suggest to my clients that they make the effort to practice mindfulness, a simple form of meditation that helps you get control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is the act of focusing all of your attention on the present. Focus on what you are doing or feeling without thinking about why you’re doing it or feeling that way, what you should do next, or what you think you should be doing. Mindfulness requires that you consider your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
 
Challenge your negative thoughts. Once you accept your negative thoughts, you are in the position to challenge them. Ask yourself: Is there real evidence for your frightening thoughts and predictions? Are they founded in unhelpful beliefs? What are the pros and cons of worrying or avoiding the thing I fear?
 
Replace negative thoughts with realistic thoughts. Once you’ve identified the irrational or negative distortions in your anxious thoughts, replace them with new thoughts that are more realistic and positive. It can be helpful to view your negative thoughts and worries as incentives to search for solutions. Especially in business, solutions do not come from worry or fear. They come from putting our attention on what is good and beneficial.
 
Often, negative thoughts are part of a lifelong pattern of thinking. It takes time and practice to break these habits. To help you adjust your thinking to a more positive perspective, I suggest starting each day with a positive thought. That may sound small, but it will help you set the tone for how you will choose to think for the day. It is also beneficial to practice gratitude every day. People who look for reasons to be grateful experience better mental health, emotional wellbeing and resiliency in the face of difficulties.
 
If you still feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts and you live near Portland OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment. I can help you put your negative thoughts into perspective and cultivate a positive attitude that will help you succeed in life and business.

Don’t be a Casualty of Social Isolation!

Friday, February 10, 2017


Don’t be a Casualty of Social Isolation!Ironically, while we now have the ability to connect digitally with millions of people around the globe, the problem of social isolation is growing. More and more people are feeling loneliness. Not only is this emotionally devastating but it creates serious health issues such as:

  • disrupted sleep patterns,
  • altered immune systems,
  • inflammation,
  • obesity,
  • higher levels of stress hormone,
  • increased risk of heart disease by 29 percent,
  • increased risk for stroke by 32 percent,
  • accelerated cognitive decline,
  • and premature death.

A recent NY Times article shares some disturbing statistics on social isolation:

40 percent of American adults say they’re lonely, which has doubled since the 1980’s.

One-third of Americans, older than 65, live alone.

Socially isolated individuals have a 30 percent higher risk of dying in the next seven years, mainly among those who are middle age.

Socially isolated children have significantly poorer health 20 years later, even after controlling for other factors.

The article includes this interesting observation:

“New research suggests that loneliness is not necessarily the result of poor social skills or lack of social support, but can be caused in part by unusual sensitivity to social cues. Lonely people are more likely to perceive ambiguous social cues negatively, and enter a self-preservation mind-set — worsening the problem. In this way, loneliness can be contagious: When one person becomes lonely, he withdraws from his social circle and causes others to do the same.”

How well do you recognize social cues, such as facial expressions? Do you tend to jump to negative conclusions? Negative thinking is not incurable. There’s much you can do to improve your life. It’s never too late to develop a warm social network. Depression, anxiety, and stress are all issues that you can overcome with the aid of a professional. Contact my office if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area to make an appointment.

Click here to read the entire NY Times article and see how some people are trying to solve the problem of social isolation.

5 Ways to Ensure That a Mid-Life Change Doesn’t Turn Into a Crisis

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Businessman jumping from one rock to anotherWe’ve all heard about the stereotypical “mid-life crisis,” a time when people act out their frustrations with life in seemingly crazy ways. Maybe you know someone who dropped a lot of money on a pricey convertible, had an affair, or walked away from a perfectly good job. Or maybe an entrepreneur who took an uncalculated risk or decided to start three new businesses at once. Perhaps this risky behavior secretly sounds somewhat alluring to you?

What is it about the period of mid-life that causes some people to react so “crazy”?

It ultimately boils down to a feeling of panic when you’re lacking a sense of purpose. It usually takes a while to reach this point. Most people start to suffer from lack of energy and creativity. They think about dreams left behind and start to long for something different. They get anxious and unsettled. Feelings of being unfulfilled and unhappy with their home and business life start to creep in.

The crisis or transformation that is occurring during this stage of life involves reevaluating one’s life and mission. Those pursuits or accomplishments that seemed so important in earlier years are no longer challenging or appealing. At this time, people are looking for new ways to make or find meaning in their lives because they want to make the most of the second half of their life.

A mid-life crisis happens when the different aspects of a person’s life interacts to produce conflict, confusion, change, reorganization, and, ultimately, growth. Their own life, family developments, and entrepreneurial pursuits converge and results in change. To deal with these exterior changes, the entrepreneur in their mid-life must change and grow too.

How can you ensure that this life change doesn’t become a dramatic crisis? Here are 5 ways to make this transition gracefully:

1. It is critical to reclaim your sense of purpose. People with a strong sense of purpose live longer, happier, more fulfilling lives than their peers who feel aimless. Find what brings you joy and gives you a reason to live. Take time to learn new things and start new interests to keep your brain active and interested.

2. Stay connected with your partner, family and friends. If business pursuits have kept you away, or life in general has kept you apart, make the effort to reconnect. These are the people who truly love and support you.

3. Cultivate a grateful attitude. Gratitude has a greater effect on your emotions than you realize. Having a grateful attitude is linked to less stress and anxiety, better physical health, and greater satisfaction in life and relationships. Take note of what you are grateful for and express gratitude when you can.

4. Give back to your community. This can be by donating to charity, getting involved in your church, or volunteering with a non-profit. It helps you regain your sense of purpose when you are part of something bigger than yourself.

5. Take time to exercise and stay healthy. Part of staying healthy is having fun. Don’t take yourself, life, even your business, too seriously. View life with some levity, and it will help you avoid that panicked, crisis feeling.

The mid-life is an exciting time, personally and professionally. It is definitely a transition, but remember that transitions can be good. You just have to be aware of the transition, what to expect, and how to cope. If you need some help with this new stage of your life and business, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Entrepreneurs – Reduce Stress by Caring for Your Mind, Body and Spirit

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Man standing on cliff with arms outstretchedWhile entrepreneurs are good at accomplishing goals, they're usually not very good at establishing healthy habits. You probably work tirelessly building your business, working long hours while simultaneously caring for your family. It’s no wonder that self-care quickly takes a backseat to more immediate priorities. With what result? A lot of built-up stress with no relief in sight.

What can you do to minimize the amount of stress in your busy entrepreneurial life? Stress comes when the different aspects of your life fall out of alignment. In order to keep all parts of your life in healthy productive alignment, you must attend to the whole person. That means caring for your mind, body and spirit.

Care for your mind. Take time to refocus and recharge. One way to do this is through the practice of mindfulness, a simple form of meditation that helps you get control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is the act of focusing all of your attention on the present. Focus on what you are doing or feeling without thinking about why you’re doing it or feeling that way, what you should do next, or what you think you should be doing. Mindfulness requires that you objectively consider your thoughts and feelings, a process that helps you be truly present and live in the moment.

The benefits of practicing mindfulness extend beyond the initial session of meditation. People who practice mindfulness experience greater focus and decreased stress, even beyond the meditation session. It keeps you from jumping from one thought to the next or dwelling on negative thoughts. Even just a few minutes can quiet your mind and reduce stress.

Care for your body. Physical needs are some of the first things left behind when entrepreneurs really get busy. But caring for your body is necessary for staying healthy and keeping your stress levels in check. Get some sleep. This is easier said than done, but it is important. Take time to prepare and eat nourishing foods. The vitamins and minerals in healthy foods keep your body working properly, enabling you to power through the daily demands of entrepreneurial life.

Also, move your body more. Exercise reduces stress, increases your energy levels, and helps you sleep better. Even small amounts of exercise can make a big difference. The mind and body are in state of constant communication. What the mind thinks and experiences is sent from the brain to the rest of the body. This is why you can often physically feel the effects of stress. The good news is that our bodies are also sending messages to the brain so exercise can help calm the mind.

Care for your spirit. The spirit is that part of each human that makes us a distinctive personality. It is the part of a person that defines us and yet connects us to others. Keeping our spirit healthy is essential to the process of achieving healthy balance in life. Some feed their spirit through belief in God and the practice of religion. Others maintain a spiritual connection in some other way. Find your sense of self that extends beyond the boundaries of this life and commit to it.

Stress is a part of life, especially for entrepreneurs. However, it can be managed by taking care of your entire being. When you balance your mind, body, and spirit, you will be able to have a more meaningful, and less stressful, life to share with the ones you love. If you’d like to achieve balance again and live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

How Negative Thinking Fans the Flames of Anxiety

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Negative thoughts fuel the feelings of fear and anxiety, so when you suffer from OCD or panic, change your thought patterns and you change the way you feel.Negative thoughts are like pouring gasoline on a smoldering fire. Normally, anxiety, like the smoldering fire, will die down as you complete the letting go process. However, people who have developed anxiety disorders, such as panic attacks, phobias, or obsessive compulsions, have trouble processing things. In fact, their negative thoughts add fuel to their anxiety as they tend to jump to wrong conclusions or predict the worst case scenario.

However, if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, be assured you can identify and correct these negative thoughts and beliefs. You can change the way you think, thereby changing the way you feel. You’ll finally be able to douse and extinguish the fear and anxiety you feel.

How can you stop negative thoughts?

Identify negative thoughts. Do you perceive situations as more dangerous than they really are? It may not be so easy to see negative patterns in yourself, so one strategy is to ask yourself what you’re thinking when you start feeling anxious. Often it helps to have a mental health professional assist you in identifying your specific anxieties and negative thought patterns.

Challenge negative thoughts
. Evaluate these anxiety-provoking thoughts by asking yourself: Is there real evidence for your frightening thoughts and predictions? Are they founded in unhelpful beliefs? What are the pros and cons of worrying or avoiding the thing I fear?

Replace negative thoughts with realistic thoughts. Once you’ve identified the irrational or negative distortions in your anxious thoughts, replace them with new thoughts that are more realistic and positive, which is easier said than done. Often, negative thoughts are part of a lifelong pattern of thinking. It takes time and practice to break these habits. So don’t expect instant results, but be kind and patient with yourself.

Anxiety disorders are not all treated the same, and it’s important to determine the specific problem before embarking on a course of treatment. Your doctor will conduct a careful diagnostic evaluation to determine whether your symptoms are due to an anxiety disorder, which anxiety disorder(s) you may have, and what coexisting conditions, perhaps alcoholism, may be present. The coexisting condition will need to be treated at the same time or before treating the anxiety disorder. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Coping with Anxiety Disorders.
 



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