It seems as if the practice of mindfulness is getting harder and harder these days with technology always at our fingertips. We are surrounded by distractions. But being mindful has a host of benefits on happiness and stress levels.
So, what does it mean to be mindful?
It is a lot like it sounds. It is the act of being present in the moment. It is about not letting your mind wander and instead really being engaged and active in the physical moment you are in. It simplifies life.
“Wherever you go, there you are.”
Being mindful is a state of mind. And, while it takes some work and practice to achieve regularly, it is an extremely helpful tool in therapy and life.
Mindfulness is about being aware of what is going on around you, how you feel, your emotions, your thoughts, your bodily sensations. It is about calmly acknowledging yourself as you are in the moment. It might sound pointless, or silly. You might be thinking — “of course I am mindful, I am in my mind.” But are you?
It is so easy to let your mind wander. Have you ever driven somewhere and don’t remember the drive? Have you ever taken a walk or read a sentence and don’t remember it? That's because these are things we do every day, they are second nature, and during these moments we aren’t thinking about what we are doing — we are thinking about other things.
Mindfulness is a basic human ability to be present. It is the act of bringing ourselves back to earth, back to where we are. It allows us to simply be there, rather than thinking about where we could be or what could go wrong.
And the best thing about being mindful is — anyone can do it. We are all capable of being mindful.
The psychologists at Wellness Psychological Services are uniquely and expertly specialized in helping you learn understand and apply mindfulness skills to help enhance your well-being. We welcome the chance to discuss an individualized plan to meet your needs. Contact us for an appointment anytime.
After some time has passed following a traumatic event, it is natural to assume your mind and body have healed. But, unfortunately, the reality can be much different. Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can show themselves months, even years after the event itself.
Our bodies and minds have a way of trying to protect ourselves by pushing traumatic events deep inside our brains. But, as with any problem, eventually, it too shows its face in a variety of ways.
It can be hard to identify PTSD for what it is. On the surface, it can look a lot like depression or anxiety. It can impact the way we sleep, our relationships, jobs, and the ability to perform basic everyday functions.
How do you know if it is PTSD? When should you seek treatment?
1.)You are having flashbacks or Intrusive memories of your trauma. Flashbacks and memories can appear as dreams or can occur during the day. Many times they are caused by a particular trigger that may be difficult for even you to identify. Flashbacks can be so vivid that they cause you to relive the event as if it is happening for the first time. This can cause you to feel anxious, ill, afraid, guilty, suspicious, etc. They can show up as a headache, stomachache, heart palpitations, panic attack, and more.
2.)You are practicing avoidance. You don’t want to talk about the event. You don’t want to be around anything that reminds you of the event. You are trying to avoid thinking about things or facing your new reality. You are just trying to get by. It feels too difficult to address things. You might think this is helping you. But, really it is just pushing things deeper and deeper within causing them to show up in more physical symptoms or later down the road. Avoidance can also mean total seclusion. Maybe you don’t feel yourself anymore or you don’t know how to live your normal life so you avoid doing it altogether. You feel detached. Alone.
3.) You are having mood swings and/or experiencing behavior changes. PTSD does not always come with flashbacks, many times it can lead to mood swings that are triggered by something unrelated. You might feel overcome with anger over things that don’t warrant that kind of reaction. You might feel numb, hopeless, or bad about yourself or others. You might be overcome with shame or guilt. You might have thoughts of suicide that come and go. You might have a hard time focusing or have trouble sleeping.
If you are experiencing PTSD you might not find joy in the activities or hobbies you used to love anymore. You might not be motivated to maintain relationships with family or friends. You might prefer to be all by yourself.
PTSD does not have to ruin your life. It doesn’t have to break you. With the right help, care, and recognition that you are suffering, you can find a way to move forward and heal. If you are unsure if you are suffering from PTSD but are experiencing any of the above symptoms it could be beneficial to seek the help of a licensed mental health professional. A professional can help you learn coping mechanisms and healthy ways to move forward.
You can find yourself again. You can find happiness and feel secure, again. There is hope for the future.
The psychologists at Wellness Psychological Services are uniquely and expertly specialized in helping you cope with trauma and the symptoms of PTSD. We welcome the chance to discuss an individualized plan to meet your needs. Contact us for an appointment anytime.
Meet Dr. Nicole Biondoletti, who will be joining Wellness Psychological Services full time in August. We are very excited to be adding Dr. Biondoletti to our team of psychologists. She brings a wealth of specialized experience in treating Anxiety Disorders, Trauma and PTSD.
What inspired you to pursue a career as a therapist?
To be honest, I’m not quite sure. There isn’t one “lightbulb” moment where I knew this would be my path. I’d say it was more of a combination of life experiences, curiosity, luck, toil, and randomness. My mother has been in the field of nursing my whole life. Her work ethic and skill absolutely inspired me, and because of that I always felt the drive to emulate that somewhere in the realm of public service. I took a psychology course in high school and I enjoyed it, so I decided to study it in college. In college, as I learned more about psychology and human behavior, I realized that in order to help people in the way I wanted I would need a doctorate, so off to grad school I went. I can say this though, although I never quite had my end game all mapped out, I never doubted or questioned the path I was on; it’s always felt right. The never-ending challenges and rewards have kept me going.
What is your favorite thing about being a therapist?
I’m pretty sure I have one of the coolest jobs out there. I get to listen, to hear people’s stories, to bear witness to their deepest struggles and their triumphs. This doesn’t get to happen, though, without trust. That is the daily challenge I enjoy tremendously about this work. Most do not walk into my office blindly granting me their trust, I have to earn it. That brief moment when I can feel the initial subtle shift in someone who is rightfully skeptical, unsure, and afraid, to a moment of hope, openness, and connectedness. That’s pretty cool.
What are your specialties and what drew you to them?
Most of my training and experience has involved the assessment and treatment of trauma and anxiety-related disorders. I first came into contact with veterans in a mental health treatment setting when I was an undergrad at UCF (go Knights!). Their Anxiety Disorders Clinic was conducting research on using virtual reality to treat Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. I was totally captivated by all of it. The journeys and struggles of these individuals, and the amazing treatments that helped them get their lives back. I’ve never looked back. Since then, my understanding of how trauma impacts people and what helps or hinders recovery has vastly broadened. To me, there is nothing more rewarding than being able to help facilitate someone’s recovery from trauma. I have a similar interest in anxiety-related disorders, particularly Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. PTSD and OCD can be incredibly debilitating and complex. Interestingly, they very often co-occur, which most people don’t know. These disorders never quite look the same across individuals, which keeps me on my toes and keeps me curious.
What makes you unique as a therapist?
I believe I strike a good balance of empathy and compassion with directness and candor. I often “think out loud” in session, as I want my patients to be included in my thought processes. In doing so, I hope to demystify the process of therapy and equalize any power imbalance there may be in the room. I also strongly believe in being authentic in the therapy room. I try to remain true to myself, which I hope serves as an invitation for whomever I am with to do the same. Facades, when left unchecked, only stall therapeutic growth.
How would you describe your therapeutic approach?
My philosophy is that our past, particularly our upbringing, shapes who we are. However, that is not always the focus of my work with people. I also believe that everyday we make choices and those choices shape our future. Overall, I would say my style is eclectic and holistic. Most of the time I listen, interspersed with moments of teaching, modeling, challenging, and coaching. I use techniques from a variety of approaches to help foster holistic health and integration, meaning mind, brain, and body are all on the same page. I also recognize that vocalized words are not the only way to express one’s experiences, so I like to incorporate creative avenues of expression, such as writing, music, or artwork.
What is your favorite quote?
Whenever I’m looking to add a new quote to my wall, Deepak Chopra and Albus Dumbledore are my go-to’s. Here are 2 of my favorites:
“All great changes are proceeded by chaos.” – Chopra. I think this speaks to all aspects of life. If we aren’t pushed, moved, or uncomfortable we will remain stagnant.
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Dumbledore. This is a reminder that even at our lowest points when we feel completely hopeless, we always have power in the choices we make.
What is one thing that is important for anyone to know?
Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.
What's most important to you?
Living as balanced of a life as I can. In doing so, I hope I can be a model for others. I love to work; in fact, I haven’t really stopped since high school. Spoiler alert: almost everyone who goes through graduate school has some degree of neurotic work ethic. But I also love to not work. I love to do nothing. I love to spend time with loved ones and my dog. Sometimes I like to recharge by being alone. Having a number of different adaptive activities to balance out life’s stressors is one of the most important things, I believe, to longevity. This is actually something I have prided myself on for a long time, being able to find a balance that works for me in any given moment in time. This is how I am able to show up, for myself, those I care about, and those I work with.
What is your take on a current social issue?
At the risk of sounding totally predictable, mental health stigma and access to mental healthcare are very problematic in our country. Great strides have been made in reducing stigma, that’s for sure, and there is more work to be done. I think this starts with early conversations and more tolerance. Our culture perpetuates the “pursuit of happiness,” which conveys that if you are not happy all of the time then there is something wrong with you that needs to be fixed. We have an intolerance for the uncomfortable aspects of being a human: sadness, anxiety, pain, anger, etc. Which seems a little strange, given that the vast majority of people experience things like depression and anxiety at some point in their lives. Maybe the problem is our attitude towards these internal experiences, rather than the emotions themselves.
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment or doing a brief phone consult with Dr. Biondoletti please Contact us.
Your heart feels like it is beating out of your chest. You can’t get your brain to shut off. You are consumed by thinking the worst. You can’t focus. You feel like drowning yourself in anything that will numb these feelings. You are finding it hard to smile, relax, and breathe.
This is anxiety and it can be all-consuming and exhausting. It can feel like you are facing a mountain that needs to be climbed or an ocean that needs to be swam. It is a lot to take on. But, it doesn’t have to continue to take over your life. You can cope. You can move forward. You can live your best life, even with anxiety.
Here are some techniques to help get you through your anxiety and back to beautiful, unique you:
1.)Meditation and Breathing — I hear you reading this right now — “who has time for that?” But, really it can do wonders for those suffering from anxiety and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. The key is to shut off your brain for a few minutes — it could be 5, 10, 20, whatever you have time for at the moment. This brief moment allows you to rejuvenate, to recognize that you are ok, and to put things into perspective. If you need guidance, there are some apps or videos on the internet that can help walk you through and bring you down to earth.
2.)Self-Care — When you are feeling overwhelmed your anxiety can sky rocket making it even harder to get things done, which leads to a never-ending cycle. Taking time to care for you—whether it be a yoga class, a massage, exercise, or time with friends—can give your brain some rest. Caring for yourself is one of the most important things you can do. It is important we don’t forget that.
3.)Practice Mindfulness — Next time you feel overwhelmed, like you might “lose it,” or you are “seeing red,” take a moment and stop. Ask yourself what is currently happening in the moment? Bring yourself back to where you are standing, not where your mind is taking you. Look around. Take in what you see. Appreciate. Chances are things are nowhere near as bad as your brain is making it seem.
4.)Cut Caffeine — I know, I know, this is a tough one for some of us but have you ever noticed how caffeine makes you feel. It can mimic anxiety in a lot of ways by increasing your heart rate. You have your own little caffeine source inside of you when you suffer from anxiety, you are already operating a little more on edge than others. You don’t have to cut it all out, but try to cut back. Caffeine just makes anxiety symptoms more pronounced.
5.) Change your schedule — If you are constantly struggling with anxiety over getting things done, tackling busy to-do lists and over-crowded calendars, then consider switching things up. You can set your alarm to wake up a half-hour earlier to get things done. You can skip that PTA event and stay home to get things crossed off your list. You don’t have to commit to everything. Go back up to number two and take care of you.
If you find that you just can’t get a handle on all your anxious feelings, seek the help of a therapist. They can help teach healthy coping strategies and help you troubleshoot any roadblocks you may be hitting and ensure you that you are ok. You are not alone. You can get through.
The psychologists at Wellness Psychological Services are uniquely and expertly specialized in helping you target these kinds of anxiety management skills. We welcome the chance to discuss an individualized plan to meet your needs. Contact us for an appointment anytime.
Anxiety can easily rule your life if you let it. Certain thoughts increase anxiety symptoms and make it even harder to cope with anxious feelings. Recognizing and working to cut back on these thought patterns can be life changing. But, what are they? What are these harmful thoughts?
There are several but I am going to start by focusing on three main ones:
1.) Focusing on the negative — This is also called “catastrophizing” or the tendency to focus on and imagine worst case scenarios. If you are always consumed with the worst that can happen, or what went wrong, then you are always going to feel pretty crappy. Instead, switch gears. Next time you notice your internal negative self-talk, put a cap in it. Ask yourself to name three positive things or things you feel grateful for. Try to shift your focus toward the good or to things that are more “helpful” and your mood with follow.
2.) All-or-Nothing — If we always focus on getting exactly what we want or nothing at all, we aren’t allowing any room for other positive outcomes. Try shifting or reframing your perspective on how you are viewing it. It is still possible that even if you don’t get everything you want, you will still get something. For example maybe you didn’t get the exact job you applied for but you did get another one that will allow you to potentially move into the other job later. You could react by being distraught that you didn’t get the job you wanted, or you could focus on the fact that you still got something. It might not be exactly what you want but it is better than nothing.
3.) Shoulds — Many anxiety sufferers have ways that they think things “should” work out. They think they “should” act a certain way. They “should” do this or “should” do that. End the should. There is no clear cut answer. Nobody says you have to act exactly a certain way to be a good mom, a good employee, a good friend. You might have your own personal way of doing things and just because it isn’t what you think “should” be done doesn’t mean it is wrong. When we always think about things in black and white it is putting an awful lot of pressure on ourselves and the people around us. There are so many different colors in the middle, so many other options.
It might feel impossible to tackle these patterns on your own, and that is ok. It may be helpful to you to seek out a therapist to help establish these coping techniques. It is also helpful to get a friend or close family member on board, surround yourself with positive people who will cheer you on and lift you up. The psychologists at Wellness Psychological Services are uniquely and expertly specialized in helping you target these kinds thoughts. We welcome the chance to discuss an individualized plan to meet your needs. Contact us for an appointment anytime.
I think of “high functioning anxiety” as the kind of anxiety that is usually well concealed. I have heard it described as “anxiety hidden behind a smile and the outward picture of success.” It is the person who may appear calm, successful and very well put together on the surface, but internally they are in significant distress. It is common for it to be the type of anxiety that can be channeled into propelling individuals toward career and financial success and can be associated with several positive characteristics. However, while it may look like ambition is the driving force, it is actually usually crippling fears of failure, of disappointing others or making a mistake or “impostor syndrome” that is driving the achievement. The unfortunate consequence then becomes that no amount of success is rewarding or lowers the anxiety. If you don’t address the underlying distorted beliefs, then no amount of outward achievement will resolve the inner feelings of distress, anxiety and seeking of external validation. Individuals with high functioning anxiety are often objectively successful on paper but may tend to feel empty, overwhelmed and constantly worried and preoccupied. Essentially it is hard to ever feel satisfied or to slow down.
HOW AND WITH WHOM IT MANIFESTS