Category: <span>Stress</span>

family making breakfast in kitchen

The Benefits of a Morning Routine

Are your mornings a little chaotic? Between rushing the kids to school, getting ready for work, or walking the dog before you leave, these AM hours can get neglected. However, the psychological benefits of routine are huge. From managing stress to lowering your blood pressure, here are some scientific benefits of a morning routine.

Manage Stress

Let’s start with a big one — managing stress. Stress is a normal human reaction to a stimulus that includes physical, emotional, and intellectual responses. However, when you experience chronic stress, mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression can be exacerbated. 

One of the key benefits of a morning routine is that it helps you manage your responses to life’s daily stressors. Instead of scrambling to find your keys that you swear you hung on the hook by the door while the kids are running around trying to find their shoes, imagine this: Your keys are in the bowl right beside the door that’s sitting on top of the shoe rack where all the kids’ shoes live.

Some might call this organization, and that’s a part of it. However, the bigger part is the routine — you always put your keys in the same place, and your kids always put their shoes away. That’s the benefit of a morning routine: the habits you develop that help lower your stress levels.

Improved Mental Health

One of the psychological benefits of routine is improved mental health. Not only will you lower your stress, you’ll potentially lower your anxiety levels.

Why? Routine creates a feeling of control. Even if it’s only a feeling of control, it can help lower anxiety levels. Plus, studies have shown that one of the scientific benefits of a morning routine order (including lack of clutter) helps lower anxiety and stress levels. Think of every time you’re looking at the clock, stressing because you have to leave, and yet you still forget to grab even an apple as you rush out the door. Now take all that stress out of your day and imagine how calm your mind and energy would be as a benefit of your morning routine.

Improved Sleep

Your daily routine influences your quality of rest. It’s true that your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day, and that includes how you wind down at night. It’s an interesting trickle-down effect.

For example, say you don’t have a morning routine so you’re always rushing. You don’t have time for breakfast so you either skip it or stop for something quick on the way to work. Before you know it, your nutrition during your day has suffered and by the time you get to bed, your stomach is upset.

A strong benefit of a morning routine is starting your day off right. In the same example, eat a healthful breakfast that energizes you until lunch so you make healthier choices throughout your day and get in bed settled.

How to Implement a New Routine

Okay, you know the psychological benefits of routine. Now, how do you go about starting a new one?

Start Small

hand holding steaming cup of coffee on patio

Take advantage of the scientific benefits of a morning routine by starting small. Changing habits is tough, so set yourself up for success.

For example, try setting your alarm only five minutes early the first day. Sit up in bed and take those five minutes to breathe deeply or listen to a podcast or write down three things you’re excited about. Anything to ground and center you before jumping out of bed and into the rush.

You can take advantage of the benefits of a morning routine with this small foundation. Once you’re consistently waking up five minutes early, move it to ten. Then, with your spare five minutes after your centering, pick one task that usually escapes you and go do it.

For example, if you never have time to make your bed, get up and make it. Or, if you always wanted to savor your coffee on your porch instead of rushing out the door with it in a thermos, do that.

Starting with a task you’ve always wanted to do will motivate you to keep it going.

Prepare as Much as Possible

The benefits of a morning routine hinge on prep work. Lay out the clothes you want to wear the night before so you don’t have to choose the next day. Put some overnight oats in the refrigerator so you have breakfast ready to go. Prep the kids lunches the night before so they’re ready.

Any task you can do the night before will make your morning routine that much easier.

Morning Routines and Mental Health

Want to take advantage of the psychological benefits of routine in your life but aren’t sure where to start? We can help. Schedule a phone consultation with us to learn not only the scientific benefits of a morning routine, but also the science-backed ways we help you implement one.

man resting legs after a walk

5 Coping Skills for Anxiety & Stress

During uncertain times, we can take a number of different steps in order to reduce anxiety and stress. One of the best ways for dealing with difficult situations is not waiting until life throws us another curveball, but rather be ready to face the challenges when they do arise! Take a step today towards feeling better by learning about these 5 coping skills for anxiety that will help when faced with the unexpected.

Physical

Move your body

Feelings don’t just live in our mind: they also manifest in various ways throughout our body, which is why it is important to find a healthy outlet for them. Moving is a practical way to do so as a coping skill for stress. You can go for a walk or do as little as 5 minutes of yoga as a coping skill for anxiety.  Moving your body in such a way will make you feel more grounded and allow mental focus on the present moment. Do a few jumping jacks. Play frisbee with your dog. These activities included in your habits will help you ease your emotions and focus on what’s happening now, instead dwelling on past events that are beyond your control or future events that have yet to happen.

Focus on your breath

Breathing can help you find peace instead of panic along with the 5 coping skills for anxiety. The more you breathe, and focus on it, the calmer it will make you feel. Imagine your stomach lowering while you breathe in for a minute – focus on these sensations by holding your hand close to your belly button as it lowers every breath you take.

woman writing on a journal

Build your resilience muscle

Anxiety and stress come in waves, and much like waves, the intensity may ebb and flow from a high tide to a low one. There’s a handful of ways to ease stress and further build on the 5 coping skills for anxiety.

Writing down your thoughts, for example, and keeping them in an organized journal can help you feel more relaxed or even revisit what causes your stress so that you’re better able to manage it effectively later on.

Emotional

Identify your triggers

In order to find out what is triggering your negative thoughts or feelings, it might be a good idea for you to take some time with yourself or consider therapy as an added coping skill for stress

When undergoing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) sessions, people are able to become more aware of how they think and react in certain situations. A therapist can also help you create and maintain uplifting beliefs to supplement these 5 coping skills for anxiety that will keep you from spiraling into negative thought patterns.

Woman doing yoga during sunset

Acknowledge what you feel

Have you ever had a conversation with yourself as a coping skill for stress? It’s not easy to pinpoint a particular emotion. What matters is that the body has its own language and it needs us to listen! Tell yourself what sensations are happening within you. By acknowledging your feelings, you lessen any form of resistance and ease things up with the help of 5 coping skills for anxiety.

Spiritual

Practice acceptance

We can’t control everything, but if we’re patient with ourselves then it’s possible to practice radical acceptance with the 5 coping skills for anxiety. Techniques like grounding and mindfulness help you come into a state of peace where you are safe. Take some time out away from others if needed and bring yourself back to the center when ready.

Another thing that needs our acceptance to move forward is our past. The goal of EMDR therapy is to assist people in understanding and coping with the emotional trauma from their past, so they can move forward with life and successfully achieve goals.

Social

Be realistic with self-care

Remember it is okay to be unproductive when you feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to rest and not do anything like jog outdoors or socialize with other people as a coping skill for stress. Take it one day at a time.

Try and adhere to the usual schedule and establish boundaries between your working time and your family time. Decide when you’ll catch up on news and keep it at that time while choosing your news sources carefully to prevent any unnecessary anxieties led by misinformation. 

Consider hypnotherapy for social anxiety

Some people, especially those suffering from social anxiety or a persistent sense of worry may find it difficult to get the help they need that supplements with the 5 coping skills for anxiety. That’s where hypnotherapy can come in handy! Hypnosis helps you create an environment that is relaxing, friendly, and reassuring during times when you’re looking to explore your fears lessening any shame or guilt that may get in the way of feeling better.

therapy session

Feel better today

To develop the 5 coping skills for anxiety mentioned earlier, one must constantly work at them as they would on any other physical skill such as swimming laps every day or going to the gym to stay fit.

Is there something holding you back? We believe that anyone has the ability to change his or her life for the better with just a little push in the right direction. Our certified and licensed mental health counselor, Anna Marchenko, LMHC, Ed.M, M.A., works to serve her clients in Miami to help them uncover whatever’s holding them back. Book a phone consultation today and get started!

 

A stressed man leaning against a wall with forehead on his fists

Understanding Acute Stress Disorder Criteria

The criteria for acute stress disorder (ASD) can include any stress reaction occurring in the initial month after exposure to a traumatic event. Acute stress disorder is an unpleasant reaction that starts shortly after an overwhelming traumatic event and usually lasts less than one month. If the symptoms persist longer than one month, it is then deemed to be more chronic, and the diagnosis changes to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Differences Between ASD and PTSD

Person looking worried and stressed in a window sill

Both ASD and PTSD are reactions to traumatic events, but there are a few differences with acute stress disorder vs. PTSD.  An acute stress reaction occurs initially, with the chance of its manifesting into post-traumatic post disorder after. That being said, sometimes you may develop post-traumatic disorder symptoms that last more than a month without having had that initial acute stress reaction.

PTSD symptoms start slower than ASD symptoms but can last longer up to several years if not treated. Another disorder that also has similarities to ASD is adjustment disorder, but like PTSD, there are subtle differences.

Differences Between ASD and Adjustment Disorder

An adjustment disorder is similar to acute stress disorders in that it is an emotional or behavioral response to a stressful event in a person’s life. With acute stress disorder vs. adjustment disorder, the criteria for adjustment disorders involve an unhealthy and potentially excessive reaction within three months of the stressful event. 

Adjustment disorders are also caused by more broadly stressful events such as job loss, a marriage, or the birth of a child. In contrast, acute stress disorder criteria include more extreme causes of trauma.

Causes of Acute Stress Disorder

The causes of ASD can include a wide range of issues, including:

  • The death of a loved one
  • The threat of death or severe injury
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • A physical attack, mugging, rape, or other sexual violence
  • Natural disasters

Risk Factors for Acute Stress Disorder

Many factors may contribute to a person’s risk of developing ASD, and a few include the following:

The symptoms that may develop also vary depending on the type of manifestation that occurs. 

Multiple-Type Symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder

Acute stress disorder criteria include many symptoms that can occur during the traumatic event and manifest further through physical, psychological, dissociative, intrusion and avoidance-type symptoms. 

Physical Symptoms

  • Heart palpitations or thumping heart 
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Headache

Psychological Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability and difficulty concentrating
  • Emotional ups and downs

Dissociative Symptoms

  • Feeling disconnected from one’s body
  • Emotionally unresponsive
  • Feeling dazed and confused 

Intrusive Symptoms

Another very significant symptom of acute stress disorder is the overwhelming feeling of intrusion where the traumatic event plays back repeatedly through flashbacks and recurring dreams. When these intrusive thoughts take over, they can feel incredibly overwhelming and restricting, adding to the feelings of stress.

Avoidance Symptoms

Avoidance is another signifier in acute stress disorder criteria, signaling someone is avoiding potential triggers from the originating distressing event. These symptoms should present themselves at a severe level to be considered ASD, at which time proper treatment should be given.

Treatment for Acute Stress Disorder

Person sitting on a wood table thinking

One successful treatment for ASD is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT works by changing the thoughts or the patterns of beliefs surrounding the traumatic event and making them a more positive influence rather than harmful. CBT also works to change the behaviors that cause anxiety and stressful feelings that may occur. 

Another treatment option is hypnotherapy which can help address what constitutes acute stress disorder criteria since hypnotherapy can be extraordinarily effective for dealing with trauma.

Seeking therapy is highly recommended to navigate PTSD. There are many different therapy forms, so finding what therapy is best for you or someone you love is an essential first step.

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we offer a wide range of treatments, including CBT, hypnotherapy, and many others. Our tailor-made treatments are often blended to form an integrative type of mental health healing designed to work for your individual needs. We will work with you to determine if what you are experiencing falls under acute stress disorder criteria, and offer help to process what you’re going through in a safe, supportive space.

Learn how to let go of unwanted fears that are holding you back from living the joyful life you were meant to have. Transform your life, and book your appointment today!.

A happy teen girl holding a sunflower

5 Tips for Helping Teens Manage Stress

Teenhood can be an incredibly stressful and confusing time in a teen’s life.  Teen stress levels rise more and more every single year. Bullying, depression, peer pressure, social media, and academic pressures are just a few of the social issues that teens are faced with. Parents, guardians, and friends may wonder what they can do to guide teens in a safe and healthy direction. Finding the right kind of teen stress management can make a tremendous difference in the life of not only a teen but the entire household. 

Getting More Sleep

We know that getting more sleep can be easier said than done. A lot of teens have loads of homework, extracurricular activities, and social lives. But, getting more sleep is essential to avoiding teen stress. Experts recommend that teens get 8-10 hours of sleep within 24 hours. 

Some practices that you can use in your healthy bedtime routine are;

  • Avoiding large meals
  • Being consistent
  • Limiting screen time

Yes, you read that correctly – limiting screen time. Think about being at a party and there are tons of flashing lights. It would be near impossible to just lay down and go to sleep. Providing the brain with time to leave the party, come home, and snuggle up under the covers makes a big difference in your bedtime routine. 

Another way that teens can get more sleep is by taking naps. The world seems to scream the word “naps” at babies and toddlers. But, if a teen has additional teen stressors like exams or a strenuous project that is due soon, a nap can contribute to getting in those 8-10 hours of sleep.

 

Spending More Time Outdoors

A teen girl hiking outdoors

Spending time outdoors has been proven to significantly reduce stress and anxiety. We know that a lot of teens are involved with sports and other activities that require them to be outside. But, spending time outside without instruction or a specific goal provides natural stimulation and motivates exploration. Not to mention, physical movement is a healthy and easily accessible way to handle teen stress

 

Decrease Negative Self Talk

Transforming negative thoughts into positive thoughts does not only change the way you see yourself. Instead of saying, “I can’t do it. I will never be able to succeed at this”, say, “I can do this. I just have to think of a method that will work for me and try again”. Your classmate may study by only reading over their notes once and get an ‘A’ on every single test. You may need to use flashcards or repeat your notes out loud the night before the test. Using what works for you doesn’t make you any less of a person or less smart. 

Practice saying positive affirmations to yourself every morning and night. It may feel silly at first, but it will help you to feel better over time. Tell yourself that you are smart, courageous, and successful – every single day.

Take a Break

A major key to managing teen stress is recognizing when you’re about to “burn out”. To burnout is to be in a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion due to being under high stress for a long period of time. This is an awful feeling and it’s important to take a break before you reach the point of burnout. Breaks can be a 30-45 minute nap, closing your study book for 10 minutes, grabbing a quick snack, or even going for a brisk walk. 

Working hard is great and admirable but you can not enjoy the results of hard work if you are exhausted. Learning how to navigate what works best for your mental and physical health while simultaneously accomplishing your goals is essential to conquering teen stress management

Talk to Someone

Two teens talking about teen stressors with warm beverages

Feelings are always “better out than in”. Talking to positive and like-minded friends about teen stressors can be relatable and helpful for some teens. Just like adults, teens can find comfort in speaking to people who can relate to them. 

Teen stress can also be healthily managed by talking to a trusted adult. Some issues that teens deal with are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep issues
  • Family changes
  • Academic pressures 
  • Trauma and more

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy we understand that growing up can feel like you’re stuck in a whirlwind and that’s why we offer an innovative approach in our teen therapy practices. We believe that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a highly effective method for managing teen stress. Life transformation starts with taking the first step. Take the first step and we’ll walk you through the rest. Contact us today.

Young person shaking head fast with hair across her face

5 Symptoms of An Acute Stress Reaction

We all know what stress feels like, regardless of how minor or major the stressor was. How we respond to those stressors, though, is what matters. Some can experience an external event and process their stress response effectively. Others may not have the same mechanism in place, which is where what was an acute stress reaction could develop into something deeper.

Causes of an Acute Stress Reaction

An acute stress reaction is an initial response to a major event that triggers the body’s natural stress response. In response to a traumatic experience, this may lead to a long-term response known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unlike ongoing PTSD, an acute stress reaction typically lasts 3 to 30 days following the event.

Approximately 5 to 20 % exposed to a traumatic event will develop an acute stress reaction. When a traumatic event occurs, the body has a built-in stress response that kicks into either a fight, flight, or freeze mode, and traumatic events can be caused by many things.

A few traumatic events that can cause an acute stress reaction include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • The threat of severe injury or death to oneself or a loved one
  • A motor vehicle accident
  • Sexual assault, rape, or domestic abuse

Trauma of any sort can affect a person differently depending on how they handle the stress emotionally, physically, and mentally, and the symptoms can also range in severity. So, what are the five symptoms of acute stress?

Psychological and Physical Symptoms of An Acute Stress Reaction

The psychological symptoms of an acute stress reaction can vary in intensity from person-to-person, and include the following five main categories:

  1. Intrusion Symptoms – These symptoms occur when a person cannot stop thinking about the traumatic event through flashbacks, memories, and dreams.
  2. Dissociative Symptoms – These symptoms include an altered sense of reality and feeling numb and detached without a clear recollection of the event.
  3. Arousal Symptoms – These anxiety-like symptoms can involve sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, easily startled, agitated, and extremely tense.
  4. Depressed Mood Symptoms – These symptoms may encompass negative emotions such as feeling worthless, broken, sad, depressed, and potentially suicidal thoughts.
  5. Avoidance Symptoms – These acute stress reaction symptoms include purposely avoiding anything that reminds that person of the traumatic event, such as thoughts, feelings, people, or places.

Physical Symptoms of An Acute Stress Reaction

When stress occurs, the body has a physical response by releasing adrenaline (epinephrine) as well as putting the nervous system into overdrive, causing the following:

  • Heart palpitations and or a pounding heart
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

These physical symptoms tend to develop within minutes to hours and may last for weeks. In some cases, symptoms can be even more severe, especially if a person has any risk factors present.

Some people are at a higher risk of developing an acute stress reaction.

  • Any prior confrontation, experience, or witnessing of a traumatic event
  • A personal history of having acute stress reactions or PTSD
  • Being under 40 years of age
  • A history of other mental health disorders

Acute Stress Reaction Versus PTSD

Besides the timeline of acute stress reaction taking place sooner and PTSD occurring later, for PTSD to be diagnosed, the person’s symptoms must persist for more than 30 days or first appear more than one month after the traumatic event occurred.

Managing Acute Stress Reactions for Balanced Coping Strategies

Woman stretching and holding the back of her neck at a coffee table

Regardless of the severity of an acute stress reaction’s symptoms, there is hope! The treatment plan should include ways to reduce the symptoms, improve coping mechanisms and prevent PTSD from occurring.

One of the best forms of treatment for an acute stress reaction is trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which effectively develops solid coping skills. CBT also helps the person affected identify and challenge irrational and unwanted thought patterns.

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we offer a wide variety of therapies, including CBT. We create individualized treatment plans because we know each person has unique needs in their quest for wellness. We may also incorporate other forms of therapy, such as hypnotherapy which can help clients attain treatment goals faster.

The benefits of therapy can be an extraordinarily life-altering experience. Not only can you learn how to cope with debilitating fears, but you will also acquire the ability to have a better handle on future events that may cause an acute stress reaction. Find help for reframing whatever life throws at you with a more neutral and balanced approach, and rediscover joy!

Take that first step in living a more joyful and stress-free life, and book your appointment today so you can conquer anything tomorrow!

Featured Blogs

family making breakfast in kitchen

The Benefits of a Morning Routine

Are your mornings a little chaotic? Between rushing the kids to school, getting ready for work, or walking the dog before …

Family taking a walk at sunset on the beach

Coping Skills for Families in Substance Abuse Recovery

Recovering from substance abuse is a challenging but navigable road. The person in recovery has their work cut out for them, …

5 Effective Couples Counseling Techniques

Do you find you and your partner saying the same things to each other over and over again, but nothing ever changes? It’s …