Eugene Counseling - Priya Thiele, Licensed Professional Counselor
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Common Responses to Grief
Grief Therapy
Natural Strategies For Alleviating Seasonal Affective Depression
Healing Through Self Care and Love
Breathe Away Stress and Anxiety


Grief Counseling
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Mental Health
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Integral Blog

Mental Health

Natural Strategies For Alleviating Seasonal Affective Depression

Seasonal AffectiveDisorder (SAD) is an acute depression that most commonly occurs during the late Fall/Winter months as the days become shorter with less sunlight.  Serotonin, one of the feel good chemicals in the brain drops when there’s less sunlight because serotonin is used in the brain to produce melatonin the chemical that makes you sleepy therefore levels of serotonin drop.  SAD is thought to be a form of major depression and has similar symptoms such as loss of energy, change in appetite, tendency to oversleep, difficulty concentrating, irritability, lack of motivation, and feelings of hopelessness.
If you notice these symptoms occurring during this time of year you may be experiencing SAD.  Here are some natural ways to increase your serotonin level and alleviate depression.
Get Social Support – share how you feel with trusted family and friends, show up for a social activity, email or phone someone, join a support group, book club, or take a class in something of interest where you will meet like minded people.  Being with and around other people helps alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness. 
Exercise – I know when you feel low you probably don’t have the energy or motivation to exercise, but it doesn’t have to be a hard core time consuming routine.  Simply making a commitment to walk around the block once a day can make a big difference in uplifting your energy and mood.  Getting outside even if it’s cold and wet will invigorate and stimulate your senses.  I recommend walking where you can see, hear, smell, and feel the natural environment.  This can be a spiritual experience which uplifts and connects you with the Divine that dwells in all life.
Sleep - Try to normalize your sleep pattern by going to bed and getting up around the same time. This is very important for one’s physical and mental well-being.  If you have trouble falling asleep or wake up multiple times in the night try an herbal sleep remedy like valerian, passion flower, hops or a combination of these herbs before bedtime.  Create a bedtime ritual that tells your body/mind it’s time to wind down and go to sleep, and be sure to get up at the same time in the morning.  If you do this for thirty days straight you will develop a positive habit and will feel better through out the day.
Healthy Diet – The foods and drinks we consume have a profound effect on our health and mental state.  Start to notice how your body and mind feel after eating and drinking certain things.  You might feel energized by sugar and caffeine at first but then comes the crash and you’re even more tired and irritable.  Eat a whole foods diet that includes complex carbs, vitamin B, chromium, and omega 3 fatty acids (salmon,nuts, flax oil, etc.), and cut out refined sugars and excessive caffeine.
Having a pet helps reduce stress and gives unconditional love which is important in self care.
Self HelpTools - Do things that reduce stress and nurture your spirit such as: getting out in nature, listening to your favorite music, dancing, journaling, getting a message, taking a aromatherapy bath, watching a funny movie, playing with a pet, and working with your favorite yoga DVD.  These can all be ways to increase your serotonin and uplift your mood.
Positive Self Talk – Talk nicely and encouraging to yourself.  Notice when your inner critic is beating you up with negative self-talk and tell that part of your brain to knock it off.  Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts, visualizations, affirmations, and prayers.  This will help create a sense of calm and upliftment and change negative thinking patterns.
Counseling - If you can’t apply these strategies on your own get help from a professional counselor who can support and guide you.       

Healing Through Self Care and Love

Counseling and therapy for Depression What does it mean to care for and love our self?  It means to love and nurture our own being.  To care for our self is to treat ourselves as worthy and valuable players in our world and not accept abusive treatment from others.  When we love our self we heal the wounds of the past and learn to recognize in the present when we are being treated in ways that are harmful to our self-esteem and well-being.

If we grew up in an environment of abuse we might not know that it isn’t normal to be disrespectful, angry, or manipulative.  We might think these behaviors are expressions of love or that we deserve it. When we get older we find ourselves being attracted over and over to people who treat us poorly and may find some comfort in it because it’s familiar even though it doesn’t feel good or right.  We may have learned to beat ourselves up by an abusive inner critic who is never content or accepting of who we are. 
How do we change these patterns?
First, we must become aware of the dysfunctional dynamic and how we play into it.  Do you engage in defending your self when someone blames you for their bad behavior?  Do you pursue people who reject you over and over and make you feel unworthy of respect, love, and affection?  Do you make excuses for the person who is mean and punitive towards you? Do you dwell in negative self-talk and depressive thinking patterns?  Start to watch your own thoughts, words, and actions.  How are you contributing to the problem?  Once you become more aware of how you think and react to situations you can start to make better choices.

When you find your self swept up in the drama take a break…. Stop…. Pause…. take a deep breathe. Ask yourself what do I need right now? Maybe you need to go outside for a few minutes, take a walk, or leave and go somewhere else.  Maybe you need to tell the person or your inner critic what they are saying is not acceptable and you’re not going to continue the conversation. Maybe you need to just be quiet and do something else like read a book, play some music, take a bath or shower, or sit and meditate.  These activities are positive ways to engage your mind and body doing something that is nurturing and healing.
As we treat ourselves as worthy of love we no longer are attracted to or attract people who are unloving into our space. Rather we attract and are attracted to healthy, loving, and caring people who are capable of giving and receiving love.  We no longer give in to negative thoughts about ourselves but rather affirm our positive attributes and qualities.  True love is within our own hearts and as we nurture that love it heals our body, mind, and soul and radiates out to others and the world.

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True Love
Healing Song for Self Unfoldment

Four Traits of Good Mental Health

A Good Sense of Humor
Four traits of mental healthSeeing what’s humorous in a situation can change your whole perspective and experience of that situation.  Although at the time it might not seem funny at all, if we look for the humor we might find something funny or hilarious in the situation which can lighten the mood and bring laughter.  Comedians do this for a living they see the funny and ridiculous in everyday situations that most of us just find annoying.  So instead of dwelling in negative thoughts and feelings that create depression, anxiety, and stress try finding something to laugh about.  Watch a funny movie, go to a comedy club, learn the art of being funny, or just enjoy laughing and don’t take your self too seriously.
Always Having Positive Expectations
best of don omar1 (inside) 
We all know the friend or family member who tends to take the negative stance on any situation and lo and behold their prophecy comes true.  Well a healthy person does the opposite they always expect the good and positive to be their experience and when things don’t turn out as expected they are able to reframe it as having some constructive meaning or purpose.  How we think about people, places, situations, or things creates our mental state of mind.  Having free will we can choose how to perceive and respond to what we experience.
Meaningful experiences are important for good mental healthRegular Outbreaks of Joyful, Happy Experiences
People with good mental health create experiences that bring a sense of joy and happiness to their lives.  Activities like: spending time with family and friends doing something fun together or just getting together to talk and enjoy each others company,  Going on walks in nature and breathing in the fresh air, taking a vacation to a new place and exploring the sites and culture.  Participating in a group of like minded people who enjoy similar interest, or being alone sipping tea and reading a good book are examples.  Create regular daily, weekly, monthly or yearly rituals that bring enjoyment for your body, mind, and souls.
Spiritual Involvement
Spirituality is an integral part of a person's being and important to mental health and well being.  We address spirituality in counseling as part of a holistic approach.
Never underestimate the health benefits of having a spiritual connection to a higher power or sense of oneness with the universe.  There are many religious and spiritual paths in this world because people have different ways of thinking and each one of us has a right to choose the spirituality we resonate with.  Spiritual involvement can mean different things there are many ways to practice our spirituality according to the particular affiliation you connect with.  Some people like having a Church or Temple community they belong to and can meet with on a weekly basis.  They may come to attend services, socialize and create a social network of friends who have similar values, beliefs or practices and they may do volunteer projects to help out and be of service.  Others like to commune and meditate in nature where they experience a sense of connection with plants, animals, the elements, and the creator.  They may find inspiration for art, writings, and dance while out in a natural setting and experience a sense of bliss and oneness with all creation.
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