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Emerton SeanneTherapist's Corner...
Harvesting Blessings

     Do you know that song, “Count your blessings, one by one?” It’s a good one to put life in perspective. And I love this time of year with the focus on bounty and harvest. It’s a good reminder that we literally feel better when we focus on gratitude and blessings. Research shows that gratitude and joy resonate at higher vibrational frequencies in our bodies than worry, guilt, anger or sadness. So a daily practice of “harvesting” your gratitudes can literally give you an emotional bath of endorphins.Who doesn’t need/want that?
    Of course being consistent with a gratitude practice is easier said than done. Life happens…including trauma/loss/conflict. Lots of things happen beyond our control. The one thing we CAN control is how we respond. We have a choice on our internal self talk and we have a choice on our mood. We can either allow an external event to control our mood or not. However, it takes emotional self awareness to recognize that you have that choice…and then it takes a skill set to shift the mood. If you happen to be experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety it can take a bigger skill set but the good news is that these skills can be taught.
     Therapists do a lot of mood-shifting work and the primary tool is HOPE. Our job is to offer hope to cope along with the tools to actually do the job. When we lose hope, gratitudes are hard to find.  However, just focusing on what is going right can often be enough to recognize gratitude, which then nurtures hope and gives energy. 
   I come from a long line of worriers…my great-grandma, my grandma and my mother were all self professed “Worriers”. They could anticipate a negative scenario, project it and make it quite real in their heads. This created a lot of needless suffering. Bless their hearts...they really didn’t know any better and no one helped them see that it could be done differently. However, I know differently…and it’s still hard to do. It takes awareness and practice.
     I like and actually need to have a time each morning and night where I sit quietly and recall what I am most grateful for in that moment. I have a good friend who taught me her way of practicing Compassionate Understanding which helps allow room in the heart for more gratitude and joy.  She just notices her internal feelings…whether negative or positive…without judgment and then practices accepting what is. We can still have boundaries that respect our own needs, yet by practicing compassionate understanding we can release from our bodies any associated negative emotion. 
     May you count your blessings one by one and may hope, joy and gratitude flourish in your heart.  You, your family and your friends will be glad you did!

~ Seanne Emerton, Therapist

FRGNTherapist's Corner...
Hope for the Future (Pt. 2)
(This is a 2-part story which started in the 10/7/14 newsletter)

Weeks later, my doctor told me she hadn't witnessed very many mothers handle miscarriage as well as I did. It's not a bragging right for me...the truth is, I handled it so well for many different reasons, but I think the main two were allowing myself to 1) FEEL and ACCEPT the emotions/thoughts that came with the loss without holding onto judgment and 2) REACHING OUT to others for comfort, especially my spouse. I didn't hide the loss from my kids and tried to explain it to them in a way they understood, as well as incorporating our beliefs. I let them see me cry.
     In therapy, and through witnessing loss, it is amazing how often we, as humans, withdraw into ourselves and try to handle the situation "appropriately." What does that even mean? Don't cry? Don't "bother" other people with our suffering? There's a part of us that fears making others uncomfortable. Our society doesn't talk about death, even though it's a part of our lives that we ALL share. As my doctor put it, "It's a taboo subject, especially when it comes to miscarriages, babies and children."
     I researched miscarriages as part of my coping. One in four women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime...possibly more, as some women miscarry before they even know they are pregnant and some women have multiple miscarriages. I read posts and blogs about all the "wrong" things to say to someone who's experienced a miscarriage. I also realized, as I read these statements and heard them for myself, that people genuinely care. They aren't trying to offend; on the contrary, many are trying to make someone feel better. Their words just don't work to express what they want to express. I chose to not be angry with the “wrong” words coming from people who cared about me.
     A friend of mine has experienced multiple miscarriages. I took the following from her Facebook post:

4 Things That People Said That Helped Me Through:
1. You are not alone. I had no idea how many women have gone through this till they heard we had miscarried. I honestly got a bit overwhelmed hearing so many others' stories, but it really helped to know others lived through the same season of grief. None of them ever forgetting the child that was lost, but still living with restored hope.
2. Hearing stories of hope. This is sort of like number 1, but for the fact that some stories had a hopeful kind of ending. Sometimes you get to see good come from trials in this life. Sometimes mothers got pregnant after a miscarriage and had healthy babies the next time. 
3. You can get mad at God. You can be honest about your doubt or disappointment with Him. He is big enough to handle all of your emotions and questions. And loves you through it all.
4. People say dumb things sometimes. They don't do it to hurt you. Don't add to the pain by making more out of people's comments than you need to. I wish we all knew the right thing to say and when to say it all the time, but we don't. Not even with all of the training or degrees in the world do we always know the right thing to say. 
That's what has helped me through. That and Romans 12:12, "Be joyful in hope, patient in tribulation and faithful in prayer." But to be honest, I had to ask for a lot of help with "being" all of these things after hearing news of another miscarriage.

     Along with my friend’s hopeful words, I would add that honesty is helpful for healing For example, if an acquaintance tells you about a miscarriage, recognize that all of our experiences are different. You may have experienced a miscarriage yourself, but if you haven’t, saying “I don’t understand what you’re going through, but I want you to know I’m here for you if you need to talk” is appropriate.
     Others have a form of understanding about miscarriages, but everyone’s experience is different and grief reactions vary from low to high. Of course, honesty is helpful as the grieving parent…neither my husband nor I hid our loss from others. My husband said each time he spoke to someone about it, he felt better. It also introduced us to the staggering realization of how many of our friends had experienced their own losses through miscarriage and ways they found healing.
     Sometimes, not saying anything at all is appropriate. If you can’t find the words to help a friend through a loss, or you’re scared of saying “the wrong thing,” just offering to be there for them, allowing them to talk and cry, and just holding them and allowing them to grieve is healing.
     Another form of healing can be found in remembering. Here it is, October again. I lit a candle on the 15th for my angel, Jordan Lee. I allowed tears for the lost hopes, dreams, and experiences I will not have with Jordan. I wore my necklace, a memento from a group called Held Your Whole Life (see the pic with this article). My grandmother died at the beginning of October and my 5-year-old daughter said “I bet great-grandma can give Jordan a hug from us now.” Hope in a young child; I hope she’s correct and thatjordan my grandma gave my baby a big hug!
     I also placed my hand on my bulging stomach to celebrate our next hope, due around Thanksgiving. It took 6 weeks for my body to recover from the pregnancy (according to my doctor); it took months for me to mentally be ready to have another child because I did not want to feel like I was "replacing" the one I lost. It took my husband even longer because he did not want to experience a loss again, nor did he want to take another chance that he wouldn't be there for me if something went wrong.
     But hope wins out. In our situation, we have been able to have a healthy pregnancy. For others, situations vary and hope comes in different forms: adoption, foster parenting, being the best parents to the child(ren) they already have, etc. It's a matter of finding the hope that "fits" or "works" in each individual's situation.
     Wikipedia gave this definition of hope: "Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one's life or the world at large."
Where would the world be if we didn't have hope? Hope gives us the strength to keep moving.

~ Jessica McCaslin, Therapist

HainATips from Our EAP...
Boosting Employee Morale...With No Budget

High morale reduces turnover, improves performance, creates loyalty, and generally makes for a more pleasant work environment. Nothing makes a manager’s job easier than supervising a group of people who enjoy coming to work. What many managers don’t realize is that the best ways to boost morale are free.

YOUR ROLE (The first six can be found in the 10/7/14 newsletter)
7. Discipline privately and discreetly. Don’t allow disciplinary action to become personal. Be brief and to the point, and then let it go. Never humiliate or demean an employee. Never bad-mouth your employees to others. 
8. Build trust by backing your employees, protecting their interests, and shielding them from unfair criticism. 
9. Address employee concerns promptly, and give verbal status reports on issues that you are still working to resolve. If you can’t resolve an employee concern, be up front about why. It’s important for employees to know that you didn’t forget about them due to lack of interest.
10. Use small perks like allowing an employee to knock off work a few hours early after completing a big project. This reinforces to employees that hard work is recognized and appreciated. 
11. Learn something about each employee’s personal life and show an interest in it. Share some part of yourself with them. Loan an employee one of your favorite books, share a recipe, or swap tips on the best places to shop. 
12. Give employees control over their work space, desk, decorations, lighting, and other small matters. Everyone needs an occasional win. 
     Developing good employee morale is a matter of developing your own personal and managerial skills. Employee morale, your own included, can fluctuate as workplace dynamics change over time. View your attempts to lift morale as an ongoing process rather than an ending point. No one gets it right all the time, but t
he more thought and effort you put into it, the greater your success will be.

~ Anna Hain, EAP Coordinator

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