10 Ways Counseling Can Help You Reduce or Stop Drinking

At Silver Lining Counseling in Charlotte, I have been helping my patients reduce or stop problematic drinking for over 10 years.  Counseling is extremely helpful because it can help you identify what is triggering your alcohol use, and can teach you healthy ways to cope with feelings and life stressors.  Here are just some of the ways counseling can help you reduce or stop drinking.

1.        Counseling can help you identify ways to reduce stress

Stress is probably the number one trigger that can lead to problematic alcohol use.  Whatever the cause of the stress, stress can increase blood pressure, heart rate, and lead you to want to drink alcohol to relieve those feelings of stress.  I can help you find healthy ways of managing your stress, whether that is setting boundaries in relationships, making changes at work, or using breathing and meditation techniques to reduce the physical feelings of stress. 

2.       Counseling can help you identify triggers that lead to drinking

Stress is not the only trigger that can cause someone to drink.  Most people who are trying to cut down or stop drinking have internal and external triggers.  Internal triggers are irrational or unhealthy thoughts or feelings that lead to drinking, and external triggers are things in our environment that trigger thoughts of drinking such as bars and restaurants, relationships, or time of day.  It’s important that I help you identify your triggers so that you can avoid what you can, or change the way you are interacting and responding to triggers.   

3.       Counseling can help you express your feelings in healthy ways

A lot of people drink in order to escape uncomfortable feelings.  However, drinking does not get rid of or resolve those feelings, it simply covers them up temporarily.  Learning how to express your feelings in healthy ways is an important part of the recovery process.   I can help you learn how to express your feelings in healthy ways so that your feelings don’t trigger you to drink.

4.       Counseling can help you learn to think in more positive, healthy ways

Another really important part of substance abuse counseling is identifying irrational or unhealthy thought patterns that trigger uncomfortable feelings like shame or depression.  I can help you identify unhealthy thoughts and then help you restructure them into healthy thoughts that lead to more reasonable and healthy feelings.  This technique is known as cognitive behavioral therapy, and is one of the most well-known and well-studied counseling theories.

5.       Counseling can help you learn coping skills to prevent drinking or drinking too much

Another part of substance abuse counseling that is very important, is developing coping skills that you can use in specific situations in order to prevent drinking or drinking too much.  Many people have to be in situations where they are around alcohol, and this can be stressful and uncomfortable, especially if they are trying not to drink.  I can help you identify ways to handle the situation in order to reduce the likelihood of drinking or drinking too much.

6.       Counseling can help you identify if your drinking behavior is substance abuse or addiction

Addiction is a medical disease that develops after someone has been abusing substances and the brain starts to depend on the substance to feel normal.  If you are unsure if you have addiction, I can help you evaluate your substance use behavior and help you identify if you have any symptoms of addiction.  If you think you might have an addiction, it’s important to have an evaluation by a Licensed Addictions Specialist, like myself. 

7.       Counseling can help you examine your family history to see if there is any genetic predisposition to addiction

We now know that addiction is a genetic disease.  People that have addiction in their family have a much higher chance of developing addiction, especially if one of their parents has struggled with addiction.  Understanding your genetic predisposition gives you knowledge and power in making healthy decisions about your own substance use. 

8.       Counseling can help you identify other untreated mental health symptoms that might be underlying the addiction

Many people who are abusing substances or who have addiction also have a co-occurring mental health disorder like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.  Having another mental health disorder can make it difficult to cut down or stop drinking because the symptoms of the other disorder can trigger substance use.  If you think you may have symptoms of another mental health disorder, it’s important to see a therapist who can treat both the mental health and substance abuse or addiction issues.  I can help you manage the symptoms of mental health disorders, while also cutting down your drinking or stopping altogether. 

9.       Counseling can help you increase your self-worth and self-esteem

One of the most important things I do for my patients is help them increase their self-worth and self-esteem.  Everyone deserves to feel valuable and worthy, regardless of the mistakes they have made.  Not feeling worthy or good enough can lead you to turn to drinking again and again.  I can help you increase your self-worth and self-esteem so that you can start to believe in yourself and know that you can meet your goals and live the life you want.   

10.   Counseling can help you increase your motivation and provide accountability

Research shows that it is important to have accountability if you are trying to cut down or stop drinking.  I can help you find the motivation you need in order to meet your goals, and I can also provide accountability by following up with you each session on how you are progressing toward your goals.  You are in charge of your goals and treatment plan, I am here to support you in meeting those goals. 

I hope this article has been helpful in outlining the many ways that counseling can help you reduce or stop drinking.  At Silver Lining Counseling in Charlotte, I address all of these 10 items and more in helping my patients reduce or stop drinking. 

To schedule an appointment with Kristin, click on the home page and then click the Request Appointment button.

"When Getting Sober Reveals an Underlying Illness" - Great article from Liv's Recovery Kitchen

I really like this article, “When Getting Sober Reveals an Underlying Illness” from Liv’s Recovery Kitchen. Liv describes how adverse childhood experiences can increase the likelihood for chronic illnesses, substance abuse and addiction, injury, and many others.

She also discusses the famous ACES study which is one of the most famous studies done that outlines how our childhood can positively or negatively affect us based on the types of experiences we had as a child. Here’s the link to the study in case you want to read more: https://harmreductiontherapy.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Origins-of-Addiction-ACE-Study.pdf

"The Heart and Science of Kindness" - Article from Harvard Medical School

I’m a firm believer in karma and the notion that you get back what you put out into the world. Being kind to others is something that we know makes us feel good, but research shows that when we are kind to others or watch kind acts by others, it makes us happier.

“The Heart and Science of Kindness” is an article by Brodrick for Harvard Medical School. Brodrick explains the ways in which we can practice kindness to others, but also to our selves. She points out that when we are kind to ourselves we are kinder to the people around us as well. Just like any new behavior, remembering to be kind to ourselves and others takes practice. Brodrick discusses how feeling compassion towards others can help lead to acts of kindness.

How to Increase Self-Worth in Addiction Recovery

So, you’ve made the decision to get sober. You’ve gone to detox or treatment, or stopped using on your own and now you’re trying to get a hang of living life sober. You feel like you’re doing everything right, but you have this nagging self-talk that is critical and judgemental about your every move. This type of self talk is actually pretty common in early addiction recovery, but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can change your self talk and increase your self worth and confidence. Here are a few tips for how to increase self-worth in addiction recovery:

  1. Surround yourself with positive healthy people that support your recovery

    It’s really important when you’re getting sober to surround yourself with healthy, positive support people. Seek out family and friends who will affirm your choice to get sober and are willing and happy to do sober activities with you. If you don’t have any family or friends who are supportive of your recovery, attend sober support groups such as AA or NA and start to form a group of sober friends that affirm and support you.

  2. Practice positive self talk and affirmations

    Addiction can lead to painful consequences and broken relationships. Some people feel a lot of guilt and shame when they get sober because of what might have happened while they were using. Some people had negative core beliefs about themselves before they started using, and used substances to escape these negative beliefs. It’s really important to begin to talk to yourself in healthy and positive ways when you stop using in order to build positive self -worth and reduce the risk of relapse. Begin by choosing an affirmation every day that is present tense and true. Some examples are: “I am worthy”, “I deserve recovery”, or “I am good enough just the way I am”. Say the affirmation to yourself out loud at least 20 times per day while looking at yourself in the mirror. It might seem uncomfortable at first, but it gets easier every day, and can have a big impact on how you feel about yourself. Another important part of building self-worth is noticing critical and judgemental self talk and replacing it with healthy self-talk. A helpful strategy is writing down the negative statements and then writing out healthier statements in order to practice restructuring your thoughts.

  3. Engage in behavior that makes you feel good about yourself

    Another effective way of increasing self worth is to engage in behavior that makes you feel good about yourself. For example, waking up early and getting to work on time contributes to more positive thoughts about yourself then if you had slept through your alarm and were late to work. Make a list of all of the behaviors or things you do that make you feel good about yourself and try to practice some of these each day. Everyone has their own unique list of behaviors that make them feel good about themselves in healthy ways, but here are some common examples: Stay sober, go to a meeting, exercise, call sponsor, pray or meditate. Practicing behaviors that make you feel good about yourself will help you build self-worth and self confidence over time.

    I hope this article gives you some ideas on how to increase your self worth in addiction recovery. If you have tried some of my suggestions but you are still struggling with negative self-talk, it might be helpful for you to see a therapist who can help guide you through the process.

"7 Tips to Sleep Better Naturally" - Great article by Laura McKowen

When getting sober, a lot of people struggle with insomnia or other problems sleeping such as difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep. Sleep is SO important in early recovery. The brain is trying to heal and balance itself out after addiction, and it needs that time to regenerate during sleep. Sleep also helps us balance out our emotions during the day, and so not getting enough sleep in early sobriety can cause some people to relapse.

Check out this article by Laura McKowen, “7 Tips to Sleep Better Naturally”. She is a sober woman who uses these techniques to help her sleep. I really like the 7 tips that she discusses, especially making your bedroom a sanctuary and getting a weighted blanket. I’ve used various weighted blankets as well, and they are great for calming anxiety before bed, but you can really use them anytime.

Check out this article and try out some of these tips tonight!

Source: https://www.lauramckowen.com/blog/2018/10/...

"Can Exercise Help Conquer Addiction" - Interesting article from Harvard Medical School

We know that exercise is a part of healthy lifestyle and has also been shown to help combat anxiety and depression as well. It appears that exercise may help treat addiction as well. According to this article “Can Exercise Help Conquer Addiction” by Claire Twark for Harvard Medical School, there is some research that shows promising results that exercise may help treat addiction.

In her article, Twark outlines some recent studies involving animals and humans that show promising results. She also discusses how there are now organizations popping up throughout the country that promote physical activity for people in recovery.

I personally feel that exercise is an important part of a recovery program for a number of reasons. Exercise can help new sober people create a healthy schedule and routine. Exercise and sports can help sober people connect socially in healthy ways, and also helps the body and the brain start to heal after addiction. While exercise is an important part of recovery, I do think it’s important to remember that a recovery program combines many forms of treatment modalities like exercise, meditation, psychotherapy, self help support groups and medication assisted treatment if appropriate.

"The Summer Party Survival Guide for People in Recovery" - Great article by Anne De Santis Lopez for Shatterproof

The summer months are usually associated with cookouts, outdoor activities and parties. So what does this mean for people in recovery from addiction? It definitely can make things challenging, especially if you are newly sober.

Anne De Santis Lopez for Shatterproof wrote a great article “The Summer Party Survival Guide for People in Recovery” that outlines 10 ways to survive these summer activities and parties sober. She outlines great tips if you CHOOSE to go to an event, I do think it’s important to remember that you DO NOT have to go if you feel like the situation will be risky for your recovery.

Some of the tips she mentions are:

  • Get the Scoop Ahead of Time - get useful information before hand from the hosts like number of people, activities at the party, and who will be going

  • Ask for Support - Reach out to people who will be at the party for support. Talk to the host if you feel comfortable

  • Have an Exit Strategy - Always drive yourself and decide in advance what the right time will be to leave. Plan a 12-step meeting to attend right after to help get yourself grounded again if need be

If you have a party or event coming up check out this article to make sure you feel comfortable and keep your recovery safe!

Source: https://www.shatterproof.org/blog/summer-p...

5 Signs You Might Be Codependent

Codependency is not a clinical diagnosis, but it’s a word that’s been around for decades.  Made most famous by Melody Beattie’s Codependent No More, codependency is now a term that we hear a lot, but what does it mean?  How do we know if we are codependent?  What’s wrong with being codependent? There are plenty of times in life when we do nice things for others or take responsibility for certain aspects of a relationship.  For example, in a parent child relationship, the parent is obviously responsible for making sure the child’s basic needs are met. 

However, in a relationship with another adult the dynamic is very different.  Both adults are equals in the relationship and are responsible for their own thoughts, feelings, and behavior.  The problem comes when one person in the relationship takes on the role of being responsible for the other person’s feelings or behavior.  An extreme example of this is in an alcoholic family system.  One family member normally becomes the chief enabler in order to try to control the alcoholics behavior, prevent consequences, and “keep the peace” in the home.  The problem with codependency is that it prevents the codependent person from taking care of themselves.  Many codependent people have spent years taking care of others and not addressing their own emotional, spiritual, and physical needs.

Here are 5 signs that you might be codependent:

·         You’re a people pleaser

Have you been told you are a people pleaser?  Are you constantly trying to make other people happy?  Being a people pleaser is an exhausting role to play.  You are constantly having to read people and their behavior in order to try to “guess” what they are thinking or feeling.  People pleasing once in a while is not a problem, but if you are always trying to read others and what they might be feeling in order to please them or control their feelings or behavior, you’re fighting an uphill battle.  It’s impossible to know exactly what others are thinking or feeling, and no one has the power to make someone feel a certain way, we just aren’t that powerful. 

·         You put other’s needs before your own

Do you think other people’s needs are more important than your own?  Do you sacrifice your own needs so that loved ones can get their needs met?  You may not be doing this consciously, but some people are so used to putting other’s needs before their own that they do it automatically.  In some extreme situations like an alcoholic home, the stress that the alcoholic creates in the home can be extremely overwhelming and the other family members feel they have no choice but to do what is necessary to control the alcoholic’s behavior in order to prevent consequences.  This normally means the family members end up sacrificing their own needs because all of their time spent is directed towards the alcoholics needs. 

·         You take responsibility for other people’s emotions or behavior

Are you only happy if your loved ones are happy?  Do you think that you can control other people feelings or behaviors?  Do you think you can make someone feel happy or joyful?  Do you feel you can take away someone’s sadness, anger or depression?  Taking responsibility for other people’s emotions or behavior is a trait that most codependent people have.  Codependent people mistakenly think that they can control the way people feel or behave. 

·         You don’t set boundaries

Do you stay quiet when someone hurts your feelings?  Do you feel like its “mean” to tell someone how their behavior has affected you?  Do you avoid conflict at all costs?  If you answered YES to any of these questions, it might be beneficial for you to start to set some boundaries with people around you.  If you are not setting boundaries because you are afraid of how the other person might respond, this is usually a sign of codependency because you are taking responsibility for how the other person might react.  The truth is that you cannot control other people’s feelings or behaviors.  If you choose to set a boundary in a healthy and respectful way, you are not responsible for how the other person chooses, yes chooses, to respond.  Notice how I emphasized that other people choose how they respond, you do not make them respond in a certain way. 

·         You harbor resentment towards others

Deep down do you feel resentful towards others because of how they treat you?  Do you react in passive aggressive ways in order to try and get what you want in your relationships?  If you answered YES to either of these questions, it could be that you are not speaking up for yourself in your relationships and it is leading to you building resentment towards people whom you have not set boundaries or have not been assertive with.  One of the consequences of not setting boundaries or standing up for yourself is not feeling heard or getting your needs met.  If this is the reason you are feeling resentment towards others it might be helpful to seek the help of a counselor or therapist to help you start to set boundaries and practice assertive communication. 

I hope this post has been helpful in determining if you might be codependent.  If you think you might have a problem with codependency, it might be helpful to schedule an appointment with a therapist to discuss how to begin to set boundaries in your relationships. 


What is the "Sober Curious" Movement?

I’ve been hearing the term “Sober Curious” for a while now. What does it mean and how did this movement get started?

Ruby Warrington wrote the book “Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other side of Alcohol” which is what the Sober Curious movement is based on.

It seems that the “Sober Curious” movement is trying to challenge our societies current state in which alcohol is woven into every aspect of life. In our society it’s nearly impossible to attend any event where alcohol is not served. Since Warrington’s book came out, the movement has spurred the start up of sober bars and hangouts in major cities. As a substance abuse counselor, I am hopeful that this movement will make it easier for people with substance abuse problems to come forward and get help.

However, an article from the Guardian talks about how this movement could actually minimize the seriousness of substance abuse and addiction, and the fact that addiction is a chronic medical condition that requires treatment. Treatment for substance abuse and addiction is a lot more than just choosing to be “sober curious”. For many with addiction, getting treatment is a life or death situation and requires interventions such as medical detox, residential treatment, outpatient treatment, sober living, etc.

As with any new movement or trend, there are things we can gain, but also things we need to be cautious about. The Sober Curious movement can help our society see that living sober can be rewarding, satisfying, and enjoyable, and it may prevent underage drinkers from choosing to drink at all. The movement can also help those in the beginning stages of substance abuse feel more comfortable choosing sobriety or getting help due to sobriety becoming more accepted in our society. However, we have to be careful not to minimize the seriousness of addiction and that for some, intensive treatment will be needed for them to achieve and maintain sobriety.

If you are concerned about your own substance use but are not sure if you can stop on your own, it’s a good idea to get an assessment from a Licensed Addictions Specialist.

Do I Have a Drinking Problem?

Do you often wonder if you have a drinking problem?  If so, below are 4 questions you can ask yourself to better determine if you have a drinking problem.  These questions come from the Cage Questionnaire.

Have you ever felt that you should cut down on your drinking?

This is an important question.  If you answer YES to this question, this means that you are starting to feel concerned about your drinking.  For example, let’s say you go out with some friends and only plan on having 2 drinks, but you end up getting drunk and needing to take an Uber home.  The next morning you wake up feeling concerned that you drank too much and maybe cutting down would be a good idea.  This is an example of feeling concerned about your ability to control how much you drink. 

Have you become annoyed when people criticize your drinking?

If you have felt annoyed when others have criticized your drinking, this means that others are noticing your drinking behavior and they are concerned.  This is also a sign that your drinking may be starting to affect your relationships.  If someone has criticized your drinking, it might be a good idea to take a look at how your drinking might be affecting others.  Is your drinking causing you to get in fights with family or friends?  Is your drinking causing you to miss important events with friends and family because you’re too hungover to attend?  These are just two examples of why others may be concerned about your drinking. 

Have you ever felt guilty because of your drinking?  

Most people who are concerned they have a drinking problem have felt guilty at some point.  The reason for this is that if your drinking is a problem it is going to cause you negative consequences.  These negative consequences might surface in your relationships with family and loved ones, at work, or legal problems such as a DUI.  You are experiencing guilt because you know that your behavior is affecting you and others in a negative way.  If you are feeling guilty about your drinking, it’s important to take a look at how your drinking is negatively affecting your life. 

Have you ever drank in the morning to get rid of a hangover? 

If you answer YES to this question, what this means is that you have developed a tolerance and possibly physical dependence to alcohol.  This definitely suggests that there is a drinking problem present, and most likely alcoholism. 

If you answer YES to 2 or more questions, there is a possibility that you might have alcoholism and it is important to have an assessment with a licensed substance abuse counselor.  However, if you answer YES to even 1 of these questions it’s time to take a hard look at your drinking.  Normal social drinking does not result in you or others being concerned, feeling guilty, or morning drinking.  If you are unsure if you have a problem with alcohol, it definitely won’t hurt to schedule an appointment with a licensed substance abuse counselor and see what they have to say.  The most important thing you can do is be completely honest with yourself and others.  It might be easy or convenient to try and convince yourself that your drinking isn’t that bad.  However, if you are not honest with yourself and there is a problem, it will only progress and continue to cause you negative consequences.  I hope this article is useful in helping you determine if you might have a drinking problem. 

"Creating Recovery-Friendly Workplaces" - Great article published by Harvard Medical School

I found this article recently and thought it was a great way for employers to get more education on how to support their employees in recovery. Employees in recovery have their own unique needs, and historically most work environments have not acknowledged or addressed these needs. It is also important for employers to understand that some industries are more prone to employees having addiction, such as the construction industry. Not only would it be helpful and supportive for their employees to create a recovery friendly workplace, but it would also increase productivity. The article outlines a number of great ideas such as having peer support group meetings in the workplace, and also offering flexible schedules so that employees can get to therapy or treatment appointments.

Check it out!


The Blanchard Institute's Family System Workshop - July 26th-28th in Charlotte! Free for the whole family!

The Blanchard Institute’s Family System Workshop is a fantastic resource for those in recovery and their families. I have attended the workshop myself and can speak to how powerful and informative it is!

It’s coming up in a few weeks, July 26th-July28th and is free for families! Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity!


Source: https://theblanchardinstitute.com/events/f...


Anxiety is a common feeling that most of us experience throughout life.  However, for some, anxiety can be more pervasive and debilitating.  As someone with an anxiety disorder, I have learned and practiced many tools to help me relax and reduce my anxiety.  Here are just a few that I use on a daily basis:

1.       Count your breaths

If you’re feeling anxious, a simple but very effective way to calm anxiety and your nervous system down is to count your breaths.  You can do this in a number of different ways, you can count your inhales until you reach 10, and then start over again.  Or you can practice counting your breath in cycles of 4:  Count to 4 on the inhale, hold for 4, exhale for 4, and then hold for 4, then repeat.  Counting your breaths brings your focus to your breathing and off of the thoughts running through your mind that might be causing you to feel anxious.

2.       Focus on your 5 senses

Another way to calm yourself down when feeling anxious is to focus on yours 5 senses.  Focus on what you are seeing, what you could touch, what you are hearing and smelling, and what you are tasting in that moment.  Bringing your attention to what you notice through your 5 senses helps you to not focus on the thoughts in your mind that might contributing to your anxiety.

3.       Focus on facts NOT fears

If you know for a fact that it is the thoughts you are having that are causing the anxiety, a helpful tip is to write down the facts of the situation.  Too often when we’re anxious, we are actually thinking about the future and worse case scenarios that probably won’t happen.  Writing down the facts of the situation can bring your rational brain back on line and help challenge the anxious thoughts and fears you are having. 

I hope these tools help you as much as they have helped me!



1.     Avoid or minimize time spent at events with alcohol

Holiday’s like Fourth of July can be especially hard for those in recovery.  Being around alcohol can trigger thoughts and cravings to use, regardless of how long you have been sober.  It’s always safest to avoid situations like parties where alcohol will be served.  If you absolutely must go to a party this Fourth of July, consider only staying for a short period of time and driving yourself so you can leave when you need to.  Also, consider bringing a sober companion to add another level of comfort and accountability. 

2.     Plan your 12-step meeting schedule in advance

Go ahead and plan out which meetings you will attend on Fourth of July, but also the days that follow.  If this is your first Fourth of July sober it can be helpful to schedule a meeting early in the day and then one at the end of the day.  Plan on attending even more meetings if you feel you will experience frequent cravings.  This can help keep sobriety at the forefront of your mind, and help you cope with any using thoughts or cravings that might arise throughout the day. Sometimes using thoughts or cravings won’t surface for a day or two, so go ahead and plan out your meeting schedule for the days after the holiday as well.

3.    Make plans with other sober people

If this is your first Fourth of July sober, consider finding other ways to celebrate with other sober people.  There are plenty of fun things to do without having to be around alcohol.  Talk to some sober friends today and plan fun ways to spend the holiday together. 



How to Turn Daily Chores into a Mindfulness Practice

Many of my patients tell me they would like to start practicing mindfulness, but they just don’t know where to start.  Mindfulness may sound difficult, but mindfulness can actually be practiced while doing simple daily chores.   Here are a few you can try:

1.        Washing the dishes

The next time you wash the dishes, intentionally bring your attention to the act of scrubbing, washing, and rinsing.  Whenever you notice your mind start to wander, simply bring your attention back to the act of washing the dishes.  Pay special attention to the details, textures, and colors of the dishes you are washing.

2.        Baking

This is actually one of my favorite hobbies in my down time because of how calm I feel while I’m baking.  I find that I am completely focused and present when I have to follow a recipe exactly. Focusing on a recipe doesn’t leave any room for my mind to wander.

3.        Brushing and flossing your teeth

This is an easy one to get in the habit of because we do it every day.  Bring your focus to the act of brushing your teeth.  Maybe you slow down the brushing so that you can pay specific attention to which teeth you are brushing and how it feels.  You can even count the brush strokes. If you notice your mind starting to wander, intentionally bring your focus back to brushing or flossing.

4.        Folding laundry

I know this may not seem mindful at all, but you can very easily make folding laundry into a mindfulness practice.  Focus on the texture, color, and pattern of the clothes.  Pay special attention to the fabric while you are folding it.  This can actually be a very calming exercise.  Once again, if you notice your mind wander, simply bring your focus back to folding.

These are simple daily tasks that can be an easy way to practice mindfulness. Try one today!





3 Ways to Improve Your Self-Worth Today!

1. Change The Way You Think About Yourself

This is probably the most important thing you can do today to make yourself feel better about you. Stop the criticizing, blaming, and negative self talk and start to say positive statements to yourself. Acknowledge what you did well today.

2. Get Help for Anxiety or Depression

If you think you might be depressed or anxious outside of normal day to day triggers, you may have an anxiety disorder or depression. Make a call today to schedule an appointment with a mental health professional. They can help you work through underlying issues or triggers causing the depression or anxiety symptoms.

3. Practice Self-Care

Practicing self-care on a regular basis can directly affect how we feel about ourselves. Self care includes all of the basics like diet, sleep, physical exercise and stress management, but it also includes other things like spending time with loved ones. Pick one thing you can do today for your self-care.

You Can Do It!

Burn Out? Act Now Before its Too Late

A few months ago I noticed those all too familiar signs that I was starting to burnout.  Burnout can look different for all of us, but for me I notice increased stress and anxiety, impatience with loved ones, difficulty turning work off after hours, and difficulty sleeping.  I do my absolute best to prevent burnout from happening, but despite my good intentions, sometimes I forget to do the things I need to do.  The dangerous thing about burnout is that if we don’t do something about it, burnout can affect the care we offer our patients, and secondly affect our own wellbeing. 

The most effective way to prevent burnout is to have a well-rounded self-care regimen.  Self-care includes emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health.  The key is finding a way to address all of these areas.  It doesn’t have to be something ground breaking.  For example it can simply be saying the Serenity Prayer between each patient, or doing a deep breathing exercise on your lunch break.  The key is routine, intention, and longevity. 

When I noticed my own signs of burnout, I evaluated my self-care regimen and realized I needed to make some changes.  First, I needed to cut back on the number of patients I was seeing per week.  I also needed to make sure I was able to get to the gym 2-3 times during the week, which meant making sure I could leave work in enough time to get to the gym and pick up my daughter from preschool.  There were a few other things I decided to do as well.  I decided to cut my caffeine intake in half.  Caffeine is a stimulant and will increase anxiety, so I decided it would be worth a shot.  The final change I made was to increase the time I spent doing yoga and meditation each day.   My hope was that if I committed to practicing yoga and meditation each day for 15 minutes twice a day, I would see a faster reduction in my burnout symptoms. 

A month later, I’m feeling much better.  I’m feeling more rested, more relaxed, and I’ve created a much healthier work life balance.  To be honest, I felt better after just a couple of weeks.  I think all of the changes I’ve made have contributed to feeling better.  However, I feel that the increase in yoga and meditation and the reduction in caffeine helped the most. 

As therapists, it is our ethical responsibility to strive to be the healthiest person we can be.  This means continually evaluating our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health in order to best serve our patients.