Do You Have Unexpected Anxiety Attacks?

Anxiety AttackI was in the dentist office watching my daughter have some work done on her teeth when my heart began pounding  and racing. My daughter was fine. She was not in any pain as the dentist and assistant were very polite and the environment was extremely friendly. But I felt like I was losing it.

Shortly afterwards my stomach took it’s turn. It felt like it was in my throat, my palms became sweaty, I felt light-headed, my breath became shallow and my thoughts began to race. I am physically healthy with very low blood pressure and normal cholesterol levels so this was clearly not a heart attack.  Rather, it was an anxiety attack.

Perhaps this has happened to you recently. You run into someone unexpectedly, walk into a hospital room, watch something on TV, or eating dinner out and all of a sudden, for no particular reason, you have an anxiety attack. At the moment, it seems as if the attack comes out of nowhere. You realize that analyzing the problem in the moment is futile. So instead, you need a quick solution to settle down immediately and then later evaluate the potential cause.

Mental Solution. During my anxiety attack, I looked for a distraction in the room to minimize the intensity. Sometimes, just focusing your thoughts on something else other than how you feel can be helpful. There was a picture hanging on the wall that caught my attention. It seemed a bit out-of-place and overly simplistic yet the image of the fish was very colorful and the fish seemed to be smiling. This odd distraction reduced the intensity but it was not enough to remove all of the anxiety.

Physical Solution.  Next, I focused on my breathing taking not so obvious deep breaths. There was no need to alarm the dentist or my daughter about my anxiety. I breathed in for a count of four, held it for another count of four and breathed out for a count of four. Repeating this four times while simultaneously becoming aware of the tension in my face, shoulders, hands and even toes. These breaths brought relaxation to tense areas, reducing the anxiety even more.

Needing more help, I remembered my “happy place” on the beach, a place of serenity and calm.  Despite the drilling sound, I imagined the crashing of the waves, the birds singing in the air, the smell of the sea, the soft cold sand in between my toes and the warmth of the sun. A feeling of peace began to peek through the anxiety but the drilling sound was far too distracting. So I moved onto the next solution.

Spiritual Solution. Finally I recalled a passage in Scripture that reminds us to have no anxiety but instead with thanksgiving make your request known to God (Phil. 4:4-6). So I prayed. Thought about all the things I had to be thankful for and the many blessings in my life. That worked, the anxiety disappeared. The rest of the visit was spent focusing on my daughter’s needs instead of fearing that I would pass out.

Several hours later, I reflected on the real cause behind the anxiety attack. My fear was really about not having any control over the potential pain my daughter maybe in during the visit. Although she reported no pain, as a mother I was still concerned for her and wanted the visit to go well.

The next time you have an anxiety attack, try some of the solutions above including spending time later to discover the real cause behind the attack. Knowing your real cause and addressing it quickly can keep the attacks to a minimum and help you to focus on what really matters.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Struggling with Parenting? Begin with You

sad-black-woman-378x329Parenting is hard work.  At times it can be overwhelming, lonely, exhausting, discouraging, exciting, joyful, rewarding, encouraging, and fun within just a few short minutes.  The wide range of emotions  you feel from excitement over watching your child finally ride a bike without training wheels to paralyzing fear as they ride that bike straight into an on-coming car is enough to drive you into some unhealthy potato-chip-eating-addiction.  Yet despite the stress, you couldn’t imagine your life without your kids and you try hard to be the very best parent.

So you read lots of parenting books, talk to friends, and listen to experts on how to be a better parent.  But how much time have you invested in understanding your natural parenting style?  Yes, how you were raised has a lot to do with how you parent both good and bad, but you are also born with a personality style that is directly comparable to your parenting style.  When you understand your personality and parenting style (and perhaps more importantly, your spouse’s style), you will naturally be a better parent.

Active.  It is easy to tell if you are an active parent just by looking at your family calendar.  Is it full of too many things to do with not enough time?  Do you find that when you have some down time as a family, you want to go and do something rather than just sit at home?  As an active parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Who”.  Who else is going? Who are your friends?  Who do you want to be?  Active parents have a lot of energy, are exciting to be around, and adventurous but they usually over commit or don’t follow through with promises.

Bookkeeper.  Imagine an invisible ledger which details all of the gifts, grades, thank-you notes, kind acts, punishments, harsh words, phone calls, and hugs for each child.  Now imagine trying to keep that ledger in balance so that one child is not favored over another, so gifts are equally divided, and punishment is equally distributed.  This is the bookkeeper parent who can do such a task in their head.  As a bookkeeper parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “How”.  How are you going to do that?  How do you feel?  How did you get that done?  Bookkeeper parents are very fair, diplomatic, and loyal but can easily get their feelings hurt in the process of parenting.

Cautious.  Danger lurks behind every corner which is precisely why a cautious parent is so careful about what they say, do or act because you would never want to be irresponsible about anything in front of your child.  Setting a proper example for your child in behavior, thought, and control of emotions is important to you.  As a cautious parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Why”.  Why did you do that?  Why didn’t you finish that?  Why aren’t you doing it this way?  Cautious parents are detail oriented, analytical, and perfectionists but when pushed they can become irrationally moody and over explain.

Direct.  There is no beating around the bush with a direct parent; whatever they are thinking will be stated in a short period of time and not always at the most opportune moments.  There is no question as to who is in charge if you are a direct parent, you are and your child knows it.  As a direct parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “What”.  What are you doing?  What are you trying to accomplish? What is your point?  Direct parents are goal oriented, focused, and motivating but they can easily overpower a child and miss an opportunity for tenderness.

Knowing your style of parenting compared to your spouse’s style might just be the life-saver you need in preparation for your next parenting argument.  All of these styles have good, bad and ugly elements as one style is not better than another.  Rather, a child does well when all styles are represented and a more balanced approached to parenting is taken.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Related Articles:

Struggling with Parenting? Active Parents are Fun

Struggling with Parenting? Bookkeeper Parents are Fair

Struggling with Parenting?  Cautious Parents are Aware

Struggling with Parenting?  Direct Parents are Motivating

ADHD Medication Not Working For Your Teen? It May Be a Sleep Disorder

Bedtimes-and-Adolescent-DepressionIt is yet another counseling appointment for Sam who is 13 years old and is struggling in school, home, and everywhere he goes.  He has been diagnosed with ADHD and depression in the past but all of the medications have failed to work and his is getting worse, not better.  He is a bright boy who can do well at school but he frequently falls asleep while doing homework saying that it is too boring.  Socially he struggles with his peers as he seems disconnected, detached, and distracted.  You are beyond frustrated, having tried numerous therapies and medications convinced that something is wrong but unable to identify it.  Finally you begin to believe that he is just lazy.

While laziness may play a factor in Sam’s teenage brain, there might be something else.  Frequently, lack of proper sleep can have waking symptoms of ADHD or even depression.  Without proper REM sleep, a still growing teenager will struggle to stay awake during the day, seem distracted, forgetful, moody, prone to anger, unable to focus for long periods of time, and sleep excessively.  A teenager should get approximately 9 hours of sleep with an additional hour of sleep if going through a growth spurt.  If you are concerned that your child may have a sleep disorder instead of ADHD or depression, ask your doctor to order a sleep study.  This is the best way to diagnose sleep disorders.

Narcolepsy.  The movie version of narcolepsy has a person walking in a mall and suddenly dropping to the floor and going to sleep.  This is not entirely accurate as there are many forms of narcolepsy all ranging from mild to severe.  In a teenager, narcolepsy looks like falling asleep while in class, doing homework, watching TV, or reading.  The teen may also be talking to you one minute, look away, seem to be somewhere else for a second and then return back to the conversation claiming an inability to follow the conversation.  This is likely to cause problems at school and home as it may seem disrespectful to you.  The good news is that once it is diagnosed, proper medication can mitigate the symptoms as well as a strict sleep schedule including a nap.

Sleep Apnea.  During the night, a person with sleep apnea is suddenly startled in the middle of a deep sleep because breathing has stopped.  This can happen many times during the course of the night leaving the waking person to feel exhausted in the morning.  In a teenager, falling asleep during class, jerking while asleep, and snoring are all commons symptoms.  The treatment varies for teens but common practices are to remove the tonsils and adenoids for relief of the symptoms.

Insomnia.  Having difficulty falling asleep at night, staying asleep or not feeling rested could be chronic insomnia.  Without regular sleep a teen seems distracted, depressed, struggles to concentrate at school, is moody, clumsy, and irritable.  Again, early diagnosis is the key as there are many medications which can be beneficial in reducing the symptoms of insomnia.  In addition, a regular sleep schedule is essential to condition your body when to rest and when to remain awake.

While there are more sleep disorders, these are the ones most commonly seen in teens.  Still there are other medical conditions that could be contributing to sleep problems such as Restless Leg Syndrome so it is important to speak with your doctor to rule out any other contributing factors.  However, the most important element in teaching your teen about good sleep patterns is by modeling them yourself.  Develop a relaxing nighttime routine such as reading, yoga, a bath, or a cup of chamomile tea to release the day’s stressors and allow your body to naturally relax.  In addition, do your best to go to bed at the same time every night waking up approximately 7 hours later around the same time every morning.  This routine will not only improve your sleep habits but can aid in weight loss, reduce anxiety, depression and stress all of which can be beneficial for you and your teen.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to Stay Married to an Attorney Part 3

lawyers_in_courtJust in case you missed this other key fact while being married to an attorney here it is: law colleagues change the way you relate.  It all starts in law school were students are ranked against one another in a feverish attempt to climb to the top ranking spot.  The rewards promised for such an accomplishment are better internships and subsequently better job opportunities.  In order to get there however, many try to psyche their higher ranked colleagues out in an effort to bring down the top grades and therefore increase their possibility of climbing higher.  The same principle applies to many law firms were the competition for the most billable hours and eventually partnership is equally cut-throat.

It is no wonder that at your last dinner party, your attorney spouse was a bit reluctant to take a new acquaintance and turn them into a friend.  The questions, “What do they really want from me” or “How can they use our relationship to hurt me” or even “Why do I need another friend” swirl around in your spouse’s brain without filter.  Having most likely been betrayed by a classmate, work colleague, or friend in the past, your attorney spouse is reluctant to enter into new relationships without an abundance of caution and ample amounts of time.

It’s all about competition.  Everything about practicing law is competitive from competing over handling a case, to competing over a settlement or trial, to competing over hearings or briefs, to competing over billable hours, to competing over paralegal’s time.  Someone is always competing with your spouse and trying to find the flaw or weakness.  For your spouse who knows this all too well in the work environment then has a difficult time transitioning into a home environment where it is not all about the competition.  Unless of course you make it about competing over who spends more time with the kids or who does the most housework or who has the most friends.  This practice is not advisable.

It’s all about control.  Think about it for a second, your spouse’s job is to control an outcome based on the expectations of their client.  The opposing attorney’s job is the exact same agenda.  Each attorney through their writings and speaking is trying to control what the opposing attorney is doing to achieve the best result for their client.  Exhausting!  Now translate this into personal experience where an innocent reminder about exiting off the highway can be perceived as controlling where and how to drive.  Turning off the “I’m being controlled” button is not as easy as you may think when your spouse is confronted with it day in and day out.

It’s all about being right.  Winning cases is more than about being right; it is about thinking and believing you are right even when you are wrong.  Worse, it is about convincing others that you are right regardless of actually being right.  For some attorneys, it does not take a lot of effort to constantly put on the “I’m right and you are wrong” face, as many of them come by this naturally.  However, trying to turn this attitude off at home or at a dinner party is an entirely different ball game especially when confronted with a competitive, controlling person.

Trying to out-compete, out-control, or out-right your attorney spouse is a waste of time, energy and effort.  In the end, they will win and the relationship will be destroyed.  Instead, understand your spouse’s lessons on relating to others and work within instead of against their boundaries.  Don’t compete with your spouse, resist the urge to control and forget about being right.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to Stay Married to an Attorney Part 2

English: Yale Law School Library Reading Room ...

English: Yale Law School Library Reading Room (L3) ‪中文(简体)‬: 耶鲁法学院图书馆3层阅读室 ‪中文(繁體)‬: 耶魯法學院圖書館3層閱讀室 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just in case you missed this other key fact while being married to an attorney here it is: law firms change the way you work.  Many law firms operate on the concept of billable hours which are the hours an attorney works that can be billed directly to a client.  Even firms that do not charge by billable hours, operate on this same basic principle.

Here is how it all breaks down.  Not all hours spent at the firm are billable so in order to maintain an average of 2200 hours per year or 183 hours a month or 9 hours a day, most attorneys find they are at the office 3058 hours per year or 255 hours a month or 13 hours a day.  This does not include commute time, sick days, training days, funerals, or client development.  If you don’t believe the validity of these numbers or the expectations, here it is in detail from Yale Law School: http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/CDO_Public/cdo-billable_hour.pdf.

Time=Anxiety.  If however reviewing these numbers gave you an anxiety attack, then you are a tenth of the way to understanding the amount of pressure your attorney spouse is under on a daily basis. Time becomes a commodity of sorts because everyone is happy when billable hours are adequate and unhappy when they are not.  That blank stare your spouse gave you the last time you asked for help cleaning out the garage was an attempt on your spouse’s part to mentally calculate where the most anxiety will be generated from, work or home.  More anxiety at work if time is spent on the garage versus more anxiety at home if time is spent at work.

Time=Expectations.  The expectation to perform consistently is high at work and if your spouse was not obsessive about their time before becoming an attorney, they will become that way now.  Everything at work rises and falls on the value of your spouses’ time which is precisely why excessive time expectations at home are met with such resistance.  When every minute at home has an expectation attached, when is there down time?  When does your spouse get to relax and recoup?  Home should be a place of rejuvenation not additional demanding nagging expectations.

Time=Money.  Time spent at work equals money earned and the converse is true as well: time not spent at work equals less money earned.  Suppose the lawn needs to be mowed and it takes one hour to complete the task.  That translates into one less hour at work or one less hour with the family.  Most likely you can hire someone to mow the lawn for less than your attorney spouse earns in the same hour.  However, if you expect your spouse not to work or mow the lawn, then understand there will be additional financial consequences.  The equation is simple: more money means more time at work, less money means less time at work.

Time=Pressure.  It is the constant pressure to do well all the time.   This pressure at first is external but after several years of being an attorney, it becomes internal.  As an attorney, you cannot be off your game for even one day or there could be consequences far beyond financial.  So when the pressure at home is greater than the pressure at work your spouse will remain at work because an overworked attorney can at least receive a monetary bonus for the added pressure.  However when the pressure at work is greater than the pressure at home your spouse will come home because the additional money will not be worth the extra time away from home.

Once you understand how your spouse views work through the lens of being an attorney, it will become easier to anticipate and correctly interpret the blank stares over the messy garage or the sighs over mowing the yard.  These are not signs that you are being ignored; rather your spouse is being very analytical and not emotional about the work that needs to be done, just like at work.  Don’t let your emotions get the best of you in the process of communicating with your spouse.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

The Most Stressful Songs of Christmas

English: A rendition of the musical notation f...

English: A rendition of the musical notation for the chorus of “Jingle Bells”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you remember the old nursery lyric “Rock-a-bye Baby” that tells a story about a baby in a cradle in a tree that falls crashing down to the ground when the wind blows?  It’s not the most calming of lyrics nor is it a concept that is “baby appropriate”.  Yet the tune is sweet so we blindly sing the song.  But this is Christmas time and it is likewise full of similar songs that are more stress producing than peaceful.  Here are just a few samples:

  1. “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know. Where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.”  Perhaps your Christmas memories are different but I have yet to experience a Christmas when any “children listen” to bells or even adults for that matter.  Having an expectation that a child will be patiently listening for a bell in the snow is frankly silly and unrealistic.
  2. “Deck the halls with bounds of holly…tis the season to be jolly…strike the harp and join the chorus…follow me in merry measure.”  The demand of a decorated house, being happy all the time, playing cheerful music, singing, and dancing is a lot to accomplish when life usually hands the toughest of blows this time of year.  Statistically, this is the most depressed and lonely time of the year as many families are experiencing their first Christmas without a loved one, without a job or in worse financial condition than ever.
  3. “On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me…on the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me.”  This song portrays 78 gifts that a “true love” gives to another which is an unusual amount of gift giving and excessive by most standards.  It sounds more like the “true love” is trying to buy love instead of showing love.
  4. “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”  Have you ever tried to roast chestnuts in your oven?  If you don’t score them precisely, they will explode in such a mess that it will take weeks just to get all of the gummy like nut off the sides of your walls.  Forget about an open fire, where a chestnut exploding can knock an eye out!  That shiner will definitely be a Christmas to remember.
  5. Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, and since we’ve no place to go, Let It Snow!”   Just one look at your calendar will probably reveal that you already don’t have a free weekend and most of the weekdays are quickly filling up as well.  “No place to go”?  You must be kidding this season is packed with too many places to go and too many decisions to make resulting in too many people to disappoint.
  6. “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.”  Any repetitive noise such as a bell for long periods of time is not likely to cause fun but rather a piercing migraine.  Add to that an open sleigh which is cold and horses that poop along the way which is smelly and there is definitely no fun to be had.  Just because one person believes an activity to be fun does not mean that another person is going to agree.
  7. “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?”  What is this song saying, that we should forget our acquaintances and not bring them up any more?  Granted there are usually some acquaintances that you want to forget and never bring up anymore but unfortunately these are usually the ones that seem to hang around into the New Year.

Sometimes reducing our stress during Christmas is more about thinking through the programmed songs that are sung and resetting your expectations to more realistic levels.  It might not be the “most wonderful time of year” for you but that is ok; it does not have to be.  You can however make it more wonderful by not expecting children to be patiently listening, decorating every inch of the house, insisting that others have fun your way or getting frustrated that you can’t forget something that you would rather not remember.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Ever Wondered If You Have An Anxiety Disorder?

One of several versions of the painting "...

One of several versions of the painting “The Scream”. The National Gallery, Oslo, Norway. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take this short quiz on-line to see if you have an anxiety disorder.  Some disorders can be minimized with medication, change in diet or talk therapy. There is no need to continue to struggle with the same issue when you have options for getting better which work.

http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/anxiety.htm

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.