October 25, 2015

Using Exercise To Fight Depression & Anxiety

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Exercise, the magic pill

I have talked quite a bit about the importance of physical exercise on strong emotional health. I firmly believe movement and physical exercise are necessary components to a good body image as well as to optimizing a whole sense of self, not to mention the benefits of decreasing anxious and depressive emotions. As one of my clients likes to say, exercise is the magic pill. It won't cure everything, but it will make many things in your life more bearable.

Exercise is a great coping mechanism for dealing with all of the garbage and stress that life will throw your way. I have had clients who struggled with anxiety who were able to control their anxiety with daily exercise instead of anti-anxiety meds. I have been amazed at the results.

Do something that motivates YOU

It is important to find a type of exercise that you don't mind doing, or you will likely burn out. For some people, being part of a recreational league, or exercising with a friend can help them be accountable to continuing the exercise. But for others, the solitary and meditative exercise of running can be very motivational. Ashely Womble talks about how she combats depression, in an article entitled "Using Running to Fight Depression." As Womble points out there is considerable body of research that link physical activity and mental wellness. The type of exercise you do is less important than the simple fact of having sustained physical activity for at least 15 minutes a day.

The obvious challenge is in starting and maintaining an exercise program. I recommend you begin with small challenges. There are some great apps that have 7 minute workouts. Check your app store for examples. Or challenge yourself to walk 10,000 steps a day. You can often fit these steps into your daily routines by doing things like taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Many people I know love using fitness trackers like the Fitbit to track their steps. Making a game of it can motivate you and make the whole process more fun.

Keep it going, and monitor your emotions

If you are struggling with stress and depression in your life, I challenge you to think of adding some type of movement into you day. Set a modest goal for the week and when you meet it, increase the goal the following week. People generally overestimate what they can accomplish in a short period of time and underestimate what you can do over a long period of time. Don't expect dramatic results over night, but you will find yourself changing over time if you stick with this lifestyle of activity. You will find that both your physical and emotional health will increase. Exercise can be a magic pill for many of the things that ail you.

If you are struggling with pain or feeling stuck in your life, professional counseling can help. You can contact our Houston therapists by phone at 713 - 591 -3612, via email at nancy @ wilsoncounsleing. org or visit the Wilson Counseling website at www.wilsoncounseling.org  to find out more. Help is just a phone call away!


October 1, 2015

Understanding Your Teen: Resources For Parents


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For the parents of my teenage clients, I think understanding their kid must feel like trying to read the Rosetta Stone without the knowledge of Greek, Demotic or Hieroglyphics, i.e. frustrating, mysterious and sometimes downright impossible.

I received a call from an upset parent recently. The call was similar in content to calls I have taken in the past from other parents. "Lindsey has done something and I don't know how to handle it. I just need to talk to somebody who knows my kid."  The tone in their voices is usually a mix of sadness, disappointment, and sometimes panic.

This call came from a parent who has always impressed me. In my interactions with her and her daughter, I have felt that she parented in a very balanced, wise and caring way. But even good parents go through moments when they have used all the tools at their disposal and they don't know what to do next. In those moments, it is helpful to be able to talk out your problem with a fellow parent, a therapist, or a friend.

There are also some good books, articles, and blogs that can help parents navigate parenting teens. One that I have found to be helpful is a blog called Understanding Teenagers. The author Chris Hudson gives practical advice.

Your teen is bound to mess up, to disobey, and to lie to you at some point. How do you handle that?

Chris points out, "Good discipline is educative and restorative rather than punitive. There should be consequences for betraying trust, but they need to be connected to and in proportion to the breach committed. "

When your teen does violate a boundary you have set with them, Chris mentions the following things which are helpful to consider:


  • Listen to what your teenager has to say before making any judgments 
  • Don’t respond out of anger or a desire to punish, take a few deep breaths and calm down before passing sentence 
  • Only make consequences that you can follow through with or they won’t work 
  • What might work for one young person might not work for another  
  • Set consequences that can be enacted quickly and provide your teenager a chance to try again, e.g. “You came home very late after we agreed on a time, so tomorrow I will pick you up” 

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs out there. Be patient with yourself as you parent. You are not going to get it right every time. Sometimes you will yell at your kids and then feel like a jerk. Welcome to parenthood. Surround yourself with others who have been there and can support you as you walk through this journey of parenting.

You may not be able to read the Rosetta Stone, but if you need help trying to read your teen or pre-teen, I recommend checking out some of the articles on the Understanding Teenagers Blog.  

Happy Parenting! You are doing important work.

If you are struggling with pain or feeling stuck in your life, professional counseling can help. You can contact our Houston therapists by phone at 713 - 591 -3612, via email at nancy @ wilsoncounsleing. org or visit the Wilson Counseling website at www.wilsoncounseling.org  to find out more. Help is just a phone call away!