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Role Reversal: Caring for & Coping with an Aging Parent By Tara Lindahl, PsyD

Taking care of an aging parent can be a rewarding as well as an overwhelming, exhausting job. A parent who is living with chronic illness and/or dementia may have dramatic mood swings, become confused, intolerant, or demanding at times, and may forget names, people, and even important memories frequently. Important to remember is that older adults typically are experiencing multiple, emotionally provocative changes, transitions, and limitations in several areas of their lives. Becoming more mindful about these challenges will support your well-being by heightening your acceptance, empathy, and healthy adjustment as your parent’s condition and needs evolve. Here’s a list of some of the issues your parent may be facing as they get older: Strength and stamina may deteriorate. It’s frustrating not to be able to get around as easily as before. Eyesight, hearing, and sense of taste and smell may begin to wane. This makes it harder to connect with...

Be Nice: It’s All About Self-Talk By Tara Lindahl, PsyD

If you take the time to really listen to the things you say to yourself every day, you may be shocked at how harsh you can be. We all say to ourselves things like, “Well, that was a stupid thing to do,” or “You will never get this right.” Could you imagine if you spoke to someone else like that?! Being aware of these automatic self-abusive statements can help you have a more positive view of yourself, others, the world, and your future. Do you catch yourself using negative labels—basically calling yourself names? When you think about it, are these names something a parent once called you or perhaps another family member, a sibling, or a bully from childhood? You probably didn’t like it when they treated you that way, so why accept this behavior from yourself? Be aware of negative words ending in “n’t.”  Common negatives are don’t, can’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t,...

8 Tips for Surviving a Blended Family By Tara Lindahl, PsyD

1. Expect loyalty conflicts. These conflicts are inevitable and normal! Don’t be surprised if they appear soon after remarriage even when they didn’t exist before. 2. Pace yourself when it comes to changing or imposing rules where none existed. Everyone needs to learn to trust each other first. 3. Try viewing value clashes as different, not right vs. wrong. Imposing one communication style or value can cause resentment or hostility all around. Instead, try to encourage, invite, and integrate different styles of relating to each other and be prepared to make compromises. Open disagreement and discussion are far more favorable than withholding, stonewalling, and resentment. 4. Do not expect your new family to feel like it used to feel during the first marriage. Achieving an instant connection is unrealistic. All members of the family are learning about each other which takes time. 5. Validate each other’s perspective and demonstrate empathy. Take risks toward showing...

Transitional Trepidation: College Students & Mental Health Concerns

College students represent our hope for the future, and they need fresh, motivated minds as they learn more about themselves, pursue their educational interests, and begin to solidify who they want to be in the world. College can be a place of inspiration, creativity, and exciting growth as students. Yet, the changes associated with transitioning into college, living independently, exploring new friendships, and taking on increasingly challenging responsibilities and academic demands also can be overwhelming. A new study by the World Health Organization highlights the disheartening fact that many college students are struggling mightily with mental health issues, particularly during their first year of school. One out of three freshmen around the world, for example, are living with symptoms of an anxiety, depression, or a substance use disorder, and this is especially true for transgender students and those over 20 years old. The study included nearly 14,000 freshmen from colleges in...

7 Natural Ways to Combat Depression Tara Lindahl, PsyD

When you’re depressed, it is easy to feel out of control, unaccomplished, and unfulfilled by life. For some simple yet practical, natural steps to help you cope with these feelings and start feeling more like yourself, download our guide. https://bit.ly/2QVmRfG Remember, you aren’t alone, and there is always help. Hope can be difficult to see when you’re in the throes of depression, but it can get better. Want to start a conversation now? Email us at [email protected] We’d love to hear from you.  ...

7 Ways to Make Enduring Changes by Tara Lindahl, PsyD

Many people have the intention to change, but only 20% stick with the changes they are trying to make. When contemplating making meaningful changes in your life, these steps may be helpful catalysts toward making them last: Take an up close and honest look at the reasons you haven’t changed before. For example, many people attempt and fail to develop healthy eating habits not because they don’t want to lose weight, but because they eat to soothe an underlying emotional issue. Before they can reach and maintain their weight loss goals, they must bring greater awareness and understanding to the emotional patterns that are getting in the way. Define some small, specific steps that will move you in the right direction. It’s one thing to say you want to exercise, but it’s another to develop a concrete plan for when, where, and how you will get it done. Take ownership...

10 Basic Mindfulness Tips for Busy People

You may have noticed how mindfulness comes up often in today’s age—sometimes in ways that, unfortunately, make it seem like more of a buzzword than a building block for mental health. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn in his national best-selling book, Wherever You Go, There You Are, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” Effectively, mindfulness is being aware of what you are doing while you are doing it, and it is at the heart of responding thoughtfully and skillfully to the thoughts, feelings, and other experiences we have throughout our day-to-day lives. If you’ve never practiced mindfulness, don’t be intimidated. Spark Center’s Dr. Tara Lindahl gives us ten easy tips for incorporating mindfulness into your life: 1. Take a couple of minutes to notice your breathing. Sense the flow of the breath, the rise and fall of your belly. 2. Notice what you are...

THREE IMPORTANT REASONS TO TAKE YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO THERAPY

  Have you ever considered attending couples therapy? You aren’t alone. As human beings, we’re wired to want (and need) healthy, happy relationships and the reassurance that someone close to us has our back. But even under the best circumstances, building a strong, connected partnership can be exceptionally challenging. When we can’t reconcile our hopes for security and stability with the painful realities of disconnection or intensifying conflict in a relationship, it’s not unusual to feel unmoored and overwhelmed. Unavoidably, relationships become strained as partners confront the ups and downs in their lives and evolve as individuals. It takes work to stay on the same page while making room for each other’s unique needs and goals. Whether you’re addressing infidelity, loss of sexual intimacy, parenting challenges, poor communication, or just feeling disconnected from one another, couples counseling can be an effective way to help you move from surviving to thriving through difficult times....

When a problem can’t be solved now (or ever, for that matter)…what then?

Take a quick glance at the posts on social media, and you’ll see that most of us clearly have a lot on our minds, particularly when it comes to socioeconomic and political uncertainties.  A new study from the American Psychiatric Association found that 39 percent of the population is feeling more anxiety than they did this time last year. To determine the National Anxiety Score, the American Psychiatric Association surveyed 1,004 U.S. adults from March 22-25, 2018 and compared the results to a survey of 1,019 adults from April 20-23, 2017. This year's score, on a scale of 0-100, turned out to be 51, a five-point increase from last year.   Unfortunately, we aren’t in a position to easily resolve many of the difficult and anxiety-provoking circumstances that confront us because the direct power to do so—in many cases—is out of our hands.  Don’t get me wrong: I firmly believe that we...