Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill Therapist Sara Cole.
Unhealthy ways of thinking and reacting to things can cause depression and anxiety, actually make problems worse, and create a chronically stressed states of mind that can negatively affect your heart health and immunity. Negative thinking can get into anyone's head from time to time. Let's talk about how to shift to the positive. If you keep redirecting your negative thinking over months and years, you may even change the patterns of connections in your brain so that you react to life’s events in more grounded ways, with less panic and judgment. Here are few tried and true tricks to use when you want to get positive.
1. Notice your thoughts.
This may seem obvious but stopping to notice your thoughts takes practice. Thoughts often feel automatic, but you can retrain your brain. When you notice that your thinking starts to get repetitive and negative, make yourself break the cycle and stop. Get up and go for a walk, talk to friend, read a book, listen to music, etc. You can retrain your brain, but it takes practice. Stopping the habit when you notice it is the first step in the retraining process. Try to change your thinking to a problem-solving focus that is more realistic and strategic. For example, maybe you notice that you just thought "no one will ever love me". Ok, how do you know this? Is this even a likely prediction? Is there any evidence that this is true? Has anyone ever loved you?
You get the idea. Now you can change the the thought to something more realistic. "I don't feel loved right now, but that can change" or "there are people who love me and more people will love me in the future".
2. Look for evidence.
I sort of already started doing this in number one, but let's look at this trick a little more closely. Negative thoughts are often all or nothing types of statements or blanket types of judgements. For example, "these kids never listen to me". Is that true? They NEVER listen to you? Is there any evidence to prove or disprove this statement? Is this an over exaggeration? When you start looking at the facts and reality, it becomes clear that things are not so black and white. There is alot more gray area. Once you disprove the statement or thought, you can come up with a more accurate replacement.
3. Replace the original thought with something that more closely reflects reality or even looks on the positive side.
Back to the statement "the kids never listen". When you start to think about it and look around, you realize that "Actually, they listen most of the time. They are just not listening right now." So how can you change this statement to be more accurate? How about "I get frustrated when the kids don't listen" or "the kids usually listen. They must be tired right now, because they are having a hard time". Do you see the difference? Even typing these words, I get a different feeling in my body. The all or nothing makes me feel hopeless and heavy. The rephrase suggests hope and possible solutions.
4. Practice chilling out.
Overthinking is a common habit that can result in anxiety. Melanie Greenberg Ph.D. explains in her psychology today article, "Overthinking is when you go over and over different choices in your mind, trying to imagine every possible outcome and everything that could happen in the future, to make sure you make the perfect choice. Your focus is on avoiding mistakes and risk. The problem with overthinking is that it’s an attempt to control what isn’t controllable."
Practicing mindfulness and relaxation in other areas of your life can help lower your anxiety. Anxiety is often the cause of over thinking. So, don’t be so hard on yourself: You are only human, and it’s not the end of the world if you make a mistake. You can learn from it. Overthinking results from anxiety, so practice stress-management techniques like yoga, running, nature walking, meditating or other activities that you find enjoyable and relaxing. For a quick de-stressing exercise check out this blog post.
Sara Cole MFT has been practicing in San Diego for over ten years and is dedicated to helping people live their best lives. To find more information and ideas or to see how Sara can help you, check out www.saracolemft.com. She has offices in Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill.
Clients often say to me in the therapy that they should have gone to counseling a long time ago. There are lots of reasons people give for seeing a counselor or therapist. There are also many reasons people give for avoiding therapy. Sometimes people don't know much about therapy and so it can be intimidating or they may incorrectly think that therapy is only for problems much worse than what they are experiencing. Don’t let things get worse by continuing to put it off and book an appointment today. Here are some of the excuses people give for avoiding therapy.
1. "Small Problems Don’t Require Counseling":
Many people think your problems must be HUGE before you go to counseling. So, they put off seeking help because it seems silly to go to counseling over what they conceive to be a minor issue. Who is to say what minor is? If there is something thats bothering you or keeping you from living and enjoying your life, that's enough of a reason to look into seeing a therapist. The thing is, small problems can snowball into big ones. It often makes sense to get counseling if you have a problem that is bothering you or your relationship, no matter how minor, so you can prevent it from getting bigger.
2. "I can always talk to a friend. I don't understand how talking to a stranger can be helpful"
Friends can provide wonderful support and empathy, and that’s often enough to help us through difficult times. But a counseling relationship is different in a very important way. In a friendship the needs of both people must be attended to. Friendships involve a mutual exchange of listening and sharing. In counseling, the focus is solely on you and during this dialogue about you, your counselor is trained to use therapeutic techniques to help you.
3. Fear of being judged by the therapist:
Many of my clients have told me during their first session that they were nervous to come because they were afraid I’d judge them. This always leaves me surprised and a bit sad.
Therapists undergo specific training to create a safe therapeutic environment. Besides being taught how to cultivate warmth, unconditional positive regard, and a nonjudgmental atmosphere, current therapists are also required to go through multicultural studies, which increases our insight into the variety of cultural norms that exist in our country.
4. Fear of being judged by other people:
For a long time there has been a stigma around going to therapy or seeing a therapist. People are often under the impression that we should be able to handle any problem on our own and that seeking help is a sign of weakness. The truth is that almost everyone can benefit from having someone to talk to about life. Knowing when you need help and how to access that help is a strength. Many people never get the courage to admit they are having a problem and even fewer actually take the steps needed to solving those problems. People who know they need therapy and take the steps to seeing a therapist, are strong and brave and they have the commitment to themselves to live their best lives. If others judge you for going to a doctor or to therapy, must not know you well or they are still misinformed about the value of therapy.
5. "I don't believe just talking can do any good"
Talking can actually do a lot of good. Discussing something with someone who cares about you and who is not judgmental helps relieve the emotional pressure caused by keeping our thoughts and feelings to ourselves. But counseling involves much more than just talking. Counseling provides a to understand who we are and how we relate to the world around us. In counseling we focus our attention on aspects of our experience that we may have been previously unaware of. This provides new ways of looking at problems and often gives us new ways to handle these problems.
6. "I won't know what to say":
Don't worry. There is not right or wrong thing to say in therapy. Your time in therapy is about you and your life and thoughts and feelings, so you can talk about anything you want, or say nothing at all. If you find yourself lost or uncomfortable in a therapy session, that's ok. Your therapist is trained to guide you through the process when you want or need them to.
From time to time, some issues CAN be resolved without outside help. That doesn’t always happen, and only you know if a problem continues to persist. If a problem doesn’t seem to go away, or you find yourself in the same pattern over and over again, it may be time to consider confronting the issue with the help of a professional. When you are ready to find a therapist that is right for you, check out my blog post titled "12 Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist".
Sara Cole MFT is a therapist in San Diego, with offices in Scripps Ranch and Banker's Hill. She has been helping people for over ten years. If you are interested in learning more about therapy or how Sara may be able to help you, check out www.saracolemft.com.
You know those times when you are in a situation and you just feel overwhelmed, like you could have a panic attack or just sort of "lose it"? Yeah, I think we all know that feeling. Maybe it's too loud, the situation is super stressful, you have a lot going on in your life, or something else. For me, when I am somewhere where and there are a lot of people and it's really noisy, I feel like I can't concentrate. I feel like I need to get out of there and sometimes feel a little panicky when there are really loud noises. For other people it may be taking a test that throws them off. Or maybe you just get stuck thinking about something and can't let it go. It could be anything really. Luckily there are some things you can do to help.
This exercise is not a magic wand, but I find it very helpful. I recommend giving it a try. You can do it anytime, anywhere and it doesn't require any tools, training or a specials environment. And really, what can it hurt? It doesn't really matter what order you do it in, as long as you hit all five of your senses.
Part of what I really like about this exercise is that it forces me to focus on right here and right now. It also involves some numbers and going through steps which distract me from my racing thoughts. Try counting and naming items in your environment without being distracted from your thoughts. I can't do it. Being forced to focus on the present can be a reminder that you are ok. Your body may be telling you that it's time for fight or flight, but once you slow down and look around, your brain gets a chance to tell you that you are safe.
Give this a try. I think you might find that it helps.
Sara Cole MFT is San Diego Therapist who has been in practice for over 10 years. For more ideas or to find out how she may be able to help you, check out www.saracoemft.com. Sara has offices in Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill.
If you have experienced the death of a loved one, you know the pain and confusion and sadness that follows. Death is a natural part of the life, but it does not feel natural when someone you care about dies. I don't know if you can really ever fully get over such a loss. You can find your path again, you can regain your sense of direction, you can start to smile again, but you don't forget that person or the place they hold in your heart. It is important for you to know that you won't always feel as raw and crazy and overwhelmed as you do right after someone dies. It takes time and care and sometimes, guidance to get through it. But you do get through it. You will find joy in life again and you will sleep peacefully again and you will think of your loved one without feeling like your heart is being ripped out of your chest. That will happen a little bit at a time. Seeing a counselor can be very helpful as you traverse this unknown and painful territory.
"Grief is a wilderness". I cannot find my own words to describe grief any more accurately than this. So I borrow the phrase from singer/songwriter/author Dustin Illingsworth. After the tragic and sudden death of his longtime girlfriend, Illingworth crafted this album, Grief Is A Wilderness. His songs are about his process of grieving her death. Think about being dropped in the middle of nowhere, in the wilderness on your own. You wouldn't know which way to go. You wouldn't know what you need to survive. You might be cold and lost and afraid to do anything. Lost and overwhelmed are often a part of the grieving process, just like if you were lost in the deep dark woods.
Illingworth most likely borrowed the phrase from Author Alan D. Wolfelt. Wolfelt writes about grief in his book, The Wilderness of Grief: Finding Your Way. In his writing Wolfelt presents the idea of wilderness as a strong and lasting metaphor for grief—and likening the death of a loved one to the experience of being plucked from one's normal life and dropped down in the middle of nowhere. Feeling lost and afraid in new and uncharted territory, people are initially overwhelmed, but they begin to make their way through the new landscape and slowly begin to find their way again.
When a dear one dies, grief is overwhelming, but there are things you can do to help yourself or someone you know get through the process of grieving. Talking about the person who died can be helpful. Talking about memories your shared with that person. Talking about your sadness in losing them can help. Just letting yourself cry is okay. Many people find comfort in commemorating the departed in some way. This could be through writing, making a donation, having a celebration, planting a tree in their name, organizing and displaying photos, creating art, making a small altar with pictures and small objects or any other activities you can think of.
Knowing and understanding that it is normal and healthy to grieve can be helpful in itself as it is common for people to feel like they are going crazy. The process is not the same for everyone. It doesn't last the same amount of time for everyone and people do not all find comfort in the same things. It is common to bounce around from sadness, loneliness, denial, anger, confusion, depression, anxiety, guilt and more as you process this sort of loss. People often feel like they should have somehow prevented the death or that it was their fault. They may feel guilty that they are still alive or that they should have been the one to die instead. This is all normal. People may lose their ability to find joy or they may suddenly have a new appreciation for their own life. These are also normal experiences in the grieving process. The grieving person may try to isolate themselves and this is okay for short periods of time, but then they need to have at least some social interactions.
If you or someone you know is experiencing grief and loss, know that this time is a tough one and that is to be expected. You need compassion, patience, care and time. Accomplishing small things can help sometimes because it brings back the sense that you have control over somethings in your life when it feels like life is overwhelming and out of control. While it normal for this to be a hard time, if you feel like your emotions are getting in the way of living your life, it's time to reach out for help. This can be through your church, a support group or with a therapist who specializes in grief and loss.
Sara Cole MFT is a San Diego Therapist providing counseling in Bankers Hill and Scripps Ranch. To find out more about Sara and how she may be able to help you, check out www.saracolemft.com.
Too much screen time can result in isolating and missing out on social interactions which results in feelings of loneliness. Loneliness can cause or increase depression and anxiety and it can even shorten your lifespan. A blog Post by Sara Cole MFT.
We are social beings. There are lots of explanations for why we need to interact with other people. If you take an evolution and survival perspective, you see that we have needed one another to simply reproduce and survive. Connecting with others, gives a person feedback, stimulation, comfort, protection, the opportunity to care for another, new ideas, motivation. The list goes on. But beyond survival and reproduction, we thrive when we feel connected to other people. As far as I know, even the most introverted people need some connection to other people. Well actually, they need to feel connected to other people. The types of connections may vary from person to person and the amount of people or number and depth of connections will vary as well. Isolation can actually drive a person mad. Loneliness can feel overwhelming. It can cause depression, anxiety and even shorten a person's life span. But if you look at our lives, you see us becoming less social and less connected overall. Why is that?
Loneliness is quickly becoming one of the top reasons people are seeking counseling or therapy. The bad news is that with social media, everything available on line and busy work, family, school lives, the number of meaningful social interactions we experience is shrinking quickly. What seems like convenience, could actually be making people mentally and physically ill. Take for example Amazon. You don't have to leave the house or even speak to another person to do your shopping. Or think about Netflix. Instead of going to a theatre with friends, you sit at home and watch Netflix alone. All of these conveniences are shrinking our social networks. Screens are reducing the amount of social connections we make with other people.
Is a Facebook friend a real friend? Probably some yes and some no. There is value and connection on via media is better than no connection. So when that's the only option, by all means use it. But remember, it is not at all the same as a real life interaction with another person. For one thing, you can't hug your friend when you read their update on facebook, but you can reach out and give a hug or hi five in person. You don't hear the tone of their voice or pick up on their energy. For people who are far apart from one another, the internet and phones can provide a sort of connection when , there would be none otherwise.
If there is one thing you do to improve your overall mental and physical health, consider this. Get social, at least a little bit. People who have "friends" and connections with others, live longer and report less depression, anxiety and loneliness. Put down the screen, walk away from the tv, put down the game controller and make some real live connections. For one thing, getting off the couch and engaging in an activity with another human requires physical movement, mental and emotional interactions, and much more. Those things are better for your health than laying on the couch ar sitting in front of the computer by yourself. You may even want to consider making one of these connections outside where you also get the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.
I am not saying that you need to have a full social calendar. I am saying look for ways to make connections with other people. It can be at work, with family, at the gym, talking to a neighbor, joining a club or group, volunteering, or pursuing an interest you have. The list goes on. This is one of those things that can feel hard at first, but it really does get easier. As you do it, you see and feel the positive benefits. Then soon you won't be trying so hard to make this happen and it will feel more natural. The more you do with other people, the more there is to do. They have ideas and invite you to join. Oh and one more thing, don't turn down invitations to be social. Especially if you don't have any plans or your feeling lonely. And certainly don't let anxiety stop you. Tell your self doubt and anxiety to shut up and let you get out there and live your best life. You may feel insecure , but I promise you, almost everyone else does too.
For more ideas on how to help yourself feel better or to find out how Sara Cole MFT might be able to help you, visit www.saracolemft.com or give her a call at (619) 316- 3171. She has been providing therapy and counseling in San Diego for over 10 years. She has offices in Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill in San Diego CA.
By Sara Cole MFT
When you feel like stress is ruling your life, it’s time to step up your self care routine. Here are 7 ideas to keep in mind as you come up with a successful self care plan for yourself.
Living your best life starts with successful Self Care and that doesn’t mean taking an OCCASIONAL Bubble Bath. True self care takes commitment to you and the ability to stick with your plan.
And now for the secrets to success…
Self Care involves addressing 7 areas of your life for maximum benefits. Few realize that these areas exist and even fewer are addressing ALL of them.
*There’s no “one-size-fits-all” plan but it’s certain that to best care for yourself, these 7 domains need to be nurtured.
The seven Domains of Complete Self Care
1) Physical: This means being active, eating well and taking care of your physical health. It’s going to the doctor for a check up or when you don’t feel well.
2) Emotional: This is attending to your emotional or mental health. It means identifying, accepting and expressing a range of feelings, which is vital to your health. Try finding outlets for your feelings. This could be anything from drawing to landscaping or playing an instrument. Relaxation techniques are also very helpful. Try guided meditations, for example. **If you’re having a challenging time with this aspect of life, it may be time to see a therapist. for some support.
3) Spiritual: The idea that we are in “an ongoing search for meaning in life and what may extend beyond”. It’s exploring and expressing our beliefs and values. This also means understanding your place in the universe and connecting to something larger than yourself. Spirituality isn’t necessarily religion, but it can be for some people.
4) Intellectual: This is all about using your brain. This involves critical thinking, an interest in ideas & creativity. You can approach this type of self-care in many ways. You might focus on career development or your favorite hobby.
5) Social: This part of your life involves nurturing relationships with people outside of your immediate family. Friendships are critical to our quality of life. Friendships become especially important over time, because as we age, we face difficult challenges like sickness, divorce and the death of loved ones.
6) Relational: Is strengthening and maintaining relationships with significant others, kids, parents and other family members. Daily familial interaction is a key factor in promoting your overall health.
7) Safety and Security: Involves being proactive about ensuring personal safety, understanding your finances. Always remember that regardless of how busy you are, you deserve to feel safe, secure, happy and fulfilled.
For more information about self care or about Sara Cole MFT and how she may be able to help you, check out www.saracolemft.com. Mental Wellness is an important part of your overall health and happiness. Sara provides therapy in Scripps Ranch and Banker's Hill in San Diego
Did you ever wonder what your therapist was writing or how they know what to say or when they get a chance to eat? Do you wonder why anybody would want to sit and listen to other people's problems all day? Or maybe you wonder if a therapist could actually help you. Well here is your chance to ask whatever you like and I will try to answer. I cannot give you therapy in the form of an answer or solve your deepest darkest problems. This is meant to be fun and informative. So with that in mind, let the curiosity take over and ask away.
In the past people have asked me if I have a favorite client. I could give the teacher answer and say "all of my clients are my favorite clients". But in reality it is much more complicated than that. The reason I chat with people on the phone is that I want to make sure it feels like we are able to connect and that we don't trigger one another for any reason. I do actually really enjoy working with all of my clients and I want to assure you that if for some reason I met a potential client and they reminded me of an ex or were dealing with a situation I didn't feel like I could address in a neutral way, I would refer them to someone who I think would be a better fit. I have a client that I think has a great sense of humor and I have a client who I think is so incredibly strong and I have another client who I really enjoy their ability to tell a story. So none of them is my "favorite client" but they all have different characteristics that I can truly appreciate.
People often also ask me about what I am writing during session. I have been in the client seat before and wondered the same thing. I can assure you that if you were to look at my notes, they would make very little sense to you. My purpose in writing notes is to write down just enough that if I look a them latter I will remember the session, if I gave you homework or anything else I would need to know at some later date if I came back to them.
Okay, now it's your turn. What do you want to know?
If you would like to know more about Sara Cole MFT or therapy or anything else, visit www.saracolemft.com. Sara has offices in Bankers Hill and Scripps Ranch and is ready to help in any way she can.
To Stress or Not to Stress...
Sara Cole has been providing mental health services in San Diego for 15 years. Sara specializes in working with women and teen girls to overcome trauma and major life changes, including postpartum depression and anxiety. She is also passionate about providing treatment to those whose lives are affected by the addiction of a loved one.