Stress. It’s part of everyday life. But guess what – it doesn’t have to be! Whether you’re working on your New Year’s resolutions or you’re just trying to improve your mental health, these tips from Midwest Psychological Services will help you lower your stress levels. Check out this comprehensive stress management plan.
Declutter Your Schedule
People often associate stress with physical clutter. A messy desk, a packed closet, or a trash-filled car can trigger stress. However, scheduling clutter can be significantly more stressful, and it often goes unnoticed.
To start your journey through stress management, take a look at your schedule. Are you overstretched in certain areas? Are there responsibilities you could eliminate? Prioritize how you spend your time, and consider taking a break from non-priorities. This will free up time for you. Just you.
Don’t feel obligated to replace that cleared space in your schedule. Instead, keep your time free to finish tasks you may have been neglecting. You may need to catch up on sleep from an aggressive work schedule, or maybe you have some unfinished projects around the house. With a bigger timeframe available, you can check off those to-do’s that are creating passive stress in your life.
Break Large Projects into Smaller Tasks
This is one of the most crucial steps in stress management. A large project can feel overwhelming and unattainable. If you break it into smaller components, you can accomplish them one by one. For instance, if you want to deep clean your house, start with just one room or one space. It could be a small closet, your bathroom cabinet, or that junk drawer in your kitchen. As you progress through the small tasks, you will see your end goal within reach.
Be aware of your personal limitations, and be realistic with your goals. You may have heard the saying. “A done something is better than a perfect nothing.” Use that as a mantra as you progress through your tasks. Every step you take is one step closer to your goal. When you finally reach the end, you will be able to look back at those steps and see how far you’ve come.
Continue to Part 2Learn More
Conflicts happen in a marriage, and sometimes they are unavoidable. By learning how to overcome these conflicts, you can maintain a long-lasting relationship. We have already reviewed the common causes of marriage problems. Here we will explain how to resolve marriage problems quickly, with helpful tips from our licensed marriage counselors.
Try not to talk over one another during a disagreement. You may be tempted to share your side when the other person is talking, but respect what he or she has to say. Listen to the full statement, and then provide your input. If you struggle to do this, you may use a “talking stick” or similar object to create boundaries. Only the person holding the object can speak. Then the object is passed to the other person. In time, you will have healthy communication habits that won’t require this tool.
Discuss Solutions, Not Just Problems
You should express your concerns, but you should also suggest solutions. If you cannot come up with any, prompt your spouse to find solutions with you. “We need to find a way to…” Problems are stressful, but solutions are motivating. The solutions you suggest will show that you do want to work through your issues, and you’re hopeful for the future.
Avoid Negative Comments and Threats
Threatening to leave your spouse is never effective for conflict resolution. This rarely ignites the response you want, and it tells your spouse to be guarded. Every threat damages the trust in your marriage, which is difficult to rebuild.
Negative comments are also hurtful, and they detract from the conversation. Instead of insulting your spouse, focus on the underlying issues. What is this argument actually about? What can you do to fix the core issues? Your marriage counselor can help you with this.
“I Want to” vs. “I Want You to”
During a discussion, avoid phrases that put pressure on the other person. Instead of saying, “I want you to spend more time at home,” say, “I want to spend more time together as a family.” The message is the same, but the phrasing takes the blame off your spouse. This will lead to a more productive discussion.
Take a Break to Gather Your Thoughts
If the argument is escalating without progress, take a break. Give yourselves time to gather your thoughts and think about what you really want to say. A simple reset will provide a calmer environment for conflict resolution.
Talk to Your Marriage Counselor (Even after Resolution)
Your marriage counselor can help you resolve marriage problems. However, your therapist can also help you build on your own success. If you recently resolved an issue in your marriage, talk about it during your counseling session. Your therapist will help you identify what you did right so you can use the same tactics in the future.
Midwest Psychological Services offers marriage counseling, individual counseling and family counseling. Give us a call at (715) 381-1980 to schedule an appointment with a therapist near you.Learn More
Understanding the cause of your marriage problems will help you overcome them. If you do not treat the underlying issues, you will repeatedly experience the same struggles. In this guide, we will explore five common causes of marriage problems, along with solutions you can use in your marriage.
Stress in general can put a damper on a relationship, but financial stress is particularly damaging. This could come from debt, monthly bills, limited income, upcoming expenses, and more. The first step in managing financial stress is to be transparent with your spouse. Discuss the concerns you have, and find solutions for each of them. You may need to eliminate or reduce a few of your monthly bills to make room for saving and debt repayment.
Balancing your busy schedules may be tricky, especially if your work shifts do not align. This may lead to distance in your marriage, which we will discuss later in this guide. It’s important to find a work/life balance that allows time for yourself and your family. Do not overcommit at work, and do not bring your work home (if you can avoid it). Once you’re home, focus on spending quality time with your spouse or relaxing after a hard day. This will ease your stress, which will help your marriage.
In addition to having a work/life balance, you need a balance of household responsibilities. The nature of this balance will depend on your individual abilities. One person may handle most of the household chores because the other person has longer work hours. You may split the chores 50/50. If one person feels like he or she is carrying the weight of the house, marriage problems may develop. Your marriage counselor can help you find a setup that suits your family.
A sense of disconnection does not happen overnight. This usually develops over months or years of gradual distance in the relationship. A simple way to combat this is to set aside 15 minutes of your day to talk to one another. This may be right when you come home from work or when you go to bed. Discuss events from the day, no matter how boring they may seem. You will each feel more involved in each other’s life, which will strengthen your relationship as a whole.
Ineffective Conflict Resolution Strategies
Many marriage problems come from improper communication and ineffective conflict resolution strategies. Do you feel like you have the same argument over and over? That may be because you never resolved it in the first place. By bringing closure to disagreements, you will eliminate unneeded stress in your marriage.
Communication and conflict resolution are two of the biggest focuses in marriage counseling. Your marriage counselor will help you understand your spouse better and establish a healthy flow of communication. If there are longstanding issues in your relationship, you can resolve those through counseling. The experts here at Midwest Psychological Services will guide you every step of the way. Give us a call at (715) 381-1980 to schedule a confidential marriage counseling appointment.
Discuss Your Child’s Disciplinary Issues
If your child is acting out in school or in a particular environment, your former spouse needs to know about it. This will give him or her a forewarning about issues that may come up, and it will also give you a chance to discuss ramifications. What are you going to do if the actions persist? What disciplinary tactics have not worked so far? What would you like to try in the future? These are the kinds of questions you and the other parent should go over together.
Drop off Instead of Picking up
This simple tactic will send a great message to your child. Instead of having the other parent pick up the child, drop him or her off at the other person’s house. Then have that person dropped the child off at your house at the end of the visit. Picking up suggests that a child is being pulled away from a home. If you dropped the child off, it shows that you approve of the household he or she is going to. It’s a subtle message, but it makes a big difference in a child’s perspective.
Do Not Talk Poorly about the Other Parent
It does not matter if that person is behind on child support or has consistently cancelled plans with the child. Your child will make up his or her own mind about the other parent. It is your job to be as supportive as possible. If you create a negative view of the other parent, it may alter the memories that your child is able to make. Let your child and draw his or her own conclusions when the time is right.
Be Fair and Realistic about Visitations
You may want to have your child for every holiday and every major event, but that is usually not an option with co-parenting. Allow your child to have these experiences at both households. You could switch holidays every year, where one year you have him or her for Thanksgiving and the other year you have him or her for Christmas. Find a schedule that works for you, your former spouse, and your child. Your family will be better for it.
Talk to a Co-Parenting Counselor
The suggestions in this guide work as a general guideline, but they may not suit your family’s specific needs. With co-parenting counseling, you can find personalized solutions that work for every member of your family. You can also resolve long term conflicts that may be creating tension between you and the other parent. The experts here at Midwest Psychological Services are here to help. Give us a call at (715) 381-1980 to schedule an appointment with a co-parenting counselor near youLearn More
Parenting is difficult for everyone, but it can be particularly challenging when the parents are no longer together. If you recently got divorced, you still have to work together to raise your child in a healthy and happy environment. As tricky as this may sound, there are countless families that overcome this challenge every single day. In this discussion, we will provide some co-parenting tips after divorce to guide you along this journey.
Do Not Use Your Child as a Messenger
This can be damaging to a child’s mental health in an already stressful situation. If you want to send a message to your ex, do so directly. If you have a court ordered mediator to assist you in these kinds of communications, utilize their services. Whatever you do, do not make your child feel like here she is in the middle of an argument.
Establish Similar Rules for Both Households
You may not have the exact same parenting style as your former spouse, but you need to have similar rules and disciplines strategies. This shows your child that you and your ex are in a united front, and it sends a clear message about what will and will not be tolerated.
This will also make it easier for you to discipline the child when necessary because your child will know household expectations. There is no ‘fun’ house or ‘strict’ house. It is simply two parents implementing the same strategies at two locations.
Keep a Consistent Custody Schedule
This may not always be an option, but you should try to provide as much structure as possible. If one parent is going to get the child on the weekends, make that a consistent occurrence. If you are going to alternate weeks or months with your former spouse, make that consistent as well. You may need to make adjustments to accommodate scheduling conflicts, but your child will do best when there is persistence in structure.
Attend Important Events for Your Child
You do not have to sit with your former spouse at the event, but you should both make an appearance. This includes award ceremonies, sports games, assemblies, musical performances, and other moments that are important to your child. Your child deserves to feel support from both parents. Put your personal conflicts aside to lift your child’s spirits.Learn More
Depression affects millions of Americans every year. It impacts every race, every gender, every age group, and every social class. While there is no definitive cause of depression, there are factors that can lead to depression. Here we will explore some potential causes of depression, along with tips for how to get depression treatment.
Experiences from the Past
Depression is often sparked by a traumatic event. The loss of a loved one, parents getting a divorce, abuse, neglect, a difficult relationship breakup – any number of instances can plant the seed for depression. These events do not have to be traumatic either. You could simply go through something that affected you in a negative way. If you go through depression therapy, you will learn how to bring closure to the past so you can move forward to a brighter future.
A family history of depression may make a person more susceptible to depression. With that in mind, you are not guaranteed to develop depression if several family members have had it. Depression is a personal experience, and no two cases are exactly alike.
There are countless personal factors that could influence a person’s depression. For instance, you may have developed depression because of an addiction. You may have taken prescribed medication with depression as a potential side effect. You may be surrounded by negative people who alter your perspective on the world. You may have chronic pain or illness that makes you feel depressed and isolated at times. The possibilities are endless, but a depression therapist can help you get to the root of the matter.
Distorted thinking occurs when your mind interprets a situation in a negative way. The best example of this is jumping to conclusions or predicting the future, where you assume something will turn out wrong without enough evidence to conclude that. Overcoming distorted thinking is an important part of depression treatment. You can learn how to recognize negative thought patterns and adjust them over time.
How to Get Personalized Depression Treatment
No matter what caused your depression in the first place, there are treatment options available for you. You can work with a professional depression therapist to find personalized solutions for your experiences. Learn how to handle your depression symptoms on a daily basis, and bring closure to events from your past. If you need medication for depression treatment, you can work with a psychiatrist to find the right prescription for you.
Midwest Psychological Services offers depression counseling and psychiatry services. We accept many forms of insurance, and we pair each client with the best mental health professional for his or her needs. For more information or to schedule an appointment with a therapist near you, call (715) 381-1980.Learn More
When anxiety strikes, you want relief now. Anxiety can feel scary, overwhelming and unbearable at times, so it’s logical to want to escape from it. In this guide, we will provide tips for real-time anxiety relief so you can feel better as quickly as possible.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Breathing techniques are some of the most common anxiety relief strategies out there. That’s because they work. Anxiety involves mental and physical reactions. Breathing techniques control the physical elements so your mind can focus on the mental side. If you start feeling anxiety, breathe in slowly for four seconds. Hold your breath for a couple seconds, and then breathe out slowly for four more seconds. Repeat this until your heart rate calms back down.
Grounding is another popular anxiety relief technique. Identify sights, smells, sounds, and feelings around you. Your favorite rug, your hairbrush, the scent of a candle in the corner, the neighbor’s TV next door – these are all elements that can remind you of where you are and make you feel safe. When you realize you are in a familiar place, or at least surrounded by some familiar things, you are less likely to panic in the moment.
Go to a Less Chaotic Area
If you are in a crowded room or noisy area, go somewhere quiet and open. This follows the concept of “getting some fresh air.” Anxiety symptoms get worse if you feel claustrophobic, confused and suffocated. Excuse yourself from the situation, and take a moment to relax and think. If your anxiety is persistent, you may want to identify this safe zone any time you go somewhere new. Know where you can go if your anxiety prevails.
Remind Yourself That This Is Anxiety – Just Anxiety
Your mind may start playing tricks on you, creating numerous scenarios that seem logical at the time. You’re not having a heart attack. You’re not a bad person. You’re not being made fun of. You’re not being crushed. You are experiencing anxiety, something you’ve probably gone through several times over. Remind yourself over and over again that this is just anxiety. It will pass, and you will feel better shortly.
Get Personalized Anxiety Relief Tips
What works for you may not work for others. Work with a therapist to find personalized anxiety relief solutions that fit your lifestyle and personality. You can also learn how to prevent anxiety and how to deal with anxiety triggers on a daily basis. You may need to be referred to a psychiatrist to receive anxiety medication (a service we provide here at Midwest Psychological Services). Having a trusted therapist by your side is a great resource, and it can tremendously improve your progress with anxiety treatment.
Midwest Psychological Services offers anxiety therapy in Hudson, WI. We have two locations to serve you, and we have extended hours to suit your busy schedule. Give us a call at (715) 381-1980 to get matched with an anxiety therapist near you.Learn More
We have already discussed the signs that your depression medication is working, but what about the signs it’s NOT working? When should you look for a new antidepressant, and how can you ease that transition? The guide below will help you determine if your depression medication is not working, along with tips for switching to a new antidepressant.
You Immediately Feel Better
Believe it or not, feeling better right away isn’t necessarily a good sign. Most depression medication takes at least 4-6 weeks to start being effective. You won’t experience the full results until 8-12 weeks. If you feel better right when you take the medication, you’re either experiencing a side effect, or you’re in a placebo effect. That means that your brain thinks you should be feeling better, even if you really don’t. Wait a few weeks before you make a decision about the effectiveness of your medication.
You See No Change after 3 Months
As we mentioned above, depression medication can take up to 12 weeks to be effective. If you have not seen any changes after that time, you may need to talk to your psychiatrist about other medications. There are many antidepressants on the market, so there are other options for you to explore.
You Experience Significant Mood Swings
Antidepressants are designed to act as mood stabilizers. If you are experiencing significant mood swings, you may not be on the right medication. Once again, wait a few weeks before making a decision about the medication, and talk to your psychiatrist and therapist about your experiences.
Your Depression Symptoms Get Worse (Including Suicidal Thoughts)
The wrong medication can make your depression symptoms worse. That is why it is important to find the right treatment as early as possible. If you have been on your medication for a while and your symptoms seem to be getting worse, talk to your psychiatrist about other option. If you have an increase in suicidal thoughts, regardless of how long you’ve been on the medication, talk to your psychiatrist. They will immediately transition you to a medication that does not put your life at risk.
You Just Don’t Feel Right
You know your body better than anyone. Does something just feel off? You may not be able to pinpoint what’s wrong, but you can tell that something is not right. Some people experience a feeling of numbness. Others may feel like they are not thinking clearly. Trust your instincts, and tell your psychiatrist about your concerns. He or she will determine the next step to take based on your unique situation.
How to Transition to a New Antidepressant
Do NOT stop taking your antidepressant on your own. Abruptly stopping the medication can cause negative side effects, similar to addiction withdrawals. Even if you do not wish to switch to a new medication, you need to talk to your psychiatrist about weening off your current medicine. He or she will recommend the appropriate dosages to get you off the antidepressant safely.
If you are switching to a new depression medication, there will be a transition regimen to abide by. This may involve weening off the first medication and then gradually taking the new medication. In some instances, you can start taking the full dosage of the new medication without issue. Your psychiatrist may also recommend a higher dose of your current medication, along with tips for how to safely increase your dosage.
No matter what the circumstances may be, follow your psychiatrist’s advice to get off of or transition to a new depression medication.
To schedule an appointment with a highly-rated psychiatrist in Wisconsin, call Midwest Psychological Services at (715) 381-1980.Learn More
Depression medication takes time to go into effect. If you’ve recently been prescribed antidepressants, you may feel discouraged about your progress. You don’t need to see a major change doesn’t mean your medicine isn’t doing its job. Here are some signs your depression medication is working so you can feel confident about your improvement.
You Sleep Better at Night
When your depression is under control, you’re more likely to get a solid night of rest. Better sleep further improves your depression treatment, creating a positive cycle that works in your favor. If you’ve felt more rested and more at-ease at night, it may be a sign your antidepressants are working.
You Are Less Emotional throughout the Day
Mood swings and emotional bouts are common with depression. In fact, many clients find themselves crying or getting angry throughout the day without a logical cause. Once your depression medication starts to work, those emotional moments should happen less frequently. This doesn’t mean you won’t have emotional times. They will just be less severe and less consistent.
Your Depression Symptoms Are Less Severe
Your depression symptoms are completely unique. You know how your depression affects you most, and you know what changes you want to see. If your depression symptoms are less severe, there is a good chance your medication is working.
Note that most depression medications take at least 30 days to be effective, and the actual results may not happen for 8 to 12 weeks. Assess your symptoms after the first month or two on an antidepressant, and discuss your progress with your psychiatrist. Your therapist can also help you determine if your medication is working.
You’re Getting More out of Therapy
Do you feel more open during therapy? Do you get more out of each session? Are you excited about the progress you’re making? These are all signs that your medication may be working. Of course, they are also signs that your therapy is working – it may not be the medication alone. Continue to work with your therapist and your psychiatrist to improve your depression symptoms and your overall quality of life.
If you would like to discuss your options for depression medication, call Midwest Psychological Services at (715) 381-1980. We have several psychiatrists in Wisconsin who provide depression medication management.
Continue to Part 2: Signs Your Depression Medication Is NOT WorkingLearn More
Back-to-school season is stressful for everyone, but it can be particularly stressful for co-parents. How will you split the expenses? Who will get the child to and from school? Where will the child go after school? These are matters you need to agree on before your child returns to school. Check out these co-parenting tips for back-to-school season, courtesy of Midwest Psychological Services.
Establish a Definitive Pickup/Dropoff Schedule
You need to have an exact pickup and dropoff schedule that everyone can abide by. This may need to change over time, but there should be some structure from the beginning. If your child rides the bus, include that in the planning. Will someone be home after school? Does the child need to ride a different bus in the morning and afternoon? Discuss these plans with the other parent, as well as any caretaker who may be involved with your child’s life.
Note: The school will most likely ask you for a list of people approved to pick up your child. List both parents, grandparents, caretakers, stepparents, or anyone else who may pick up your child. If there is anyone you do not want to pick up your child, provide that information as well.
Make School Sound Exciting and Fun
Both parents should create a pleasant atmosphere for back to school. Some children dread going back to school because that means they have more work and responsibilities. Reframe their minds by emphasizing the fun elements of going to school. They get to learn new information, see their friends, play on the playground, participate in extracurriculars, etc. The more positive you are, the less anxious your child will be.
Determine How to Split Back-to-School Expenses
School supplies and clothing can get expensive. You may want to split the costs with your child’s mother or father. For instance, one parent could buy the school uniforms while the other buys school supplies. One parent could pay for the food account while the other pays for books and school fees. How you split the bills will be based on your unique situation, including child support and other sensitive matters. Be transparent about the costs, and come to an agreement that works for both of you.
Keep Each Other Informed about School Matters
Both parents should be informed about school matters. If the child has a bad day at school, let the other parent know. If the child does well on a test, talk about that as well. Share the accomplishments and the struggles so you can work through them together as a family.
Attend Important School Events Together
The “co” in co-parent means that you may have to spend time together on occasion. You don’t have to sit next to each other or even talk during an event, but you should attend school events together to show support for your child. Sports games, plays, award ceremonies, parent-teacher conferences – make these moments a group effort. Your child will enjoy having support from his or her family, and you will both get to enjoy the special moments in your kid’s life.
For more co-parenting tips of for personalized co-parenting counseling, call Midwest Psychological Services at (715) 381-1980. Our family counselors in Wisconsin work with families from all backgrounds, and we would love to help you find a balance in your lives.Learn More