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Ryan LindaTherapist's Corner...
Mindfulness Like a Newborn    

     I was recently able to spend time with my daughter and her husband around the birth of their first baby. It was the most mindful experience I have had in a long time.
     
 For me, mindfulness is, as simply as I can say it, being aware in the present moment, with acceptance, and a non-judgmental attitude. 
    That new baby was such a joy to my heart! For the first couple of days, the baby did not have his eyes open much, but within the next several days he began to open his eyes and look. Just look. He really didn’t focus very much at first, then began to. He just began to gaze. It was that gazing look that began to affect me. I worked to imitate it. And believe it or not, even though I have been working on this for several years now, the impact this time really affected me. In his gaze there was no judgement, just observing. 
    Because I was in my daughter’s home, and because we only took care of the baby, there was not much else on my mind. I spent long periods of time just gazing at him. My contentment grew. No need to go shopping, which is what we usually do when I go see her. I do not generally enjoy cooking but my time spent in her kitchen preparing meals became more enjoyable. I went slowly, more thoughtfully. There just seemed less rush, less need to get this done to do something else. 
    I have also been reading a book on Emotional Intelligence and had just read this following excerpt:
    “In his research on the prefrontal lobes of the brain, University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson made an amazing discovery regarding meditation. The prefrontal lobes of the brain are a type of executive center of the mind. These lobes are the decision makers regarding whether a given situation requires moving to the fight/ flight mode in a given situation or to a more calm response. When we are in our left prefrontal lobe, we are into sadness, feeling down, being depressed, feeling low, but when we are into our right prefrontal lobe, we are upbeat and happy, feeling positive about life. Most of us are a type of bell curve between these two lobes— that is, we spend about equal amounts of time in each lobe. In a test group one morning, Davidson had a retired monk from a Buddhist monastery. To his surprise, this individual was way off the scale to the right (i.e., upbeat and happy). Davidson then began to wonder whether all meditators would score the same. He found the resources to conduct a similar test on other “supermeditators”— namely, people who had already meditated between thirty thousand to forty thousand hours in their life. With a few exceptions, he found that they, too, were way off the scale to the right. It appears that seasoned meditators are the most happy, upbeat people on the planet! Davidson subsequently proceeded to test people whom his team had put through an intensive forty-eight-hour meditation training course. Even though their training was slight, they also had moved farther to the right in their prefrontal lobes. As a result of some of this research, Davidson himself developed greater use of the practice of meditation in his own life.”1
    Many of us, myself included, tend to rush through our days, getting stuff done, attending to the next thing, considering what needs to be done tomorrow, and not really enjoying the fullness of the moment.  Not just “being” in the moment. It’s hard. It’s hard to monitor yourself. Life can sometimes be a blur.
    So, I ask myself, “how can I keep this sense of observing without the need to accomplish or “get something done”, so I can move on to the next thing. I know I need to keep practicing mindfulness.  There is so much information online and in magazines now about mindfulness that it is hard not to notice. I know it just takes the 5-10 minutes to do it consistently, day after day, AND I suppose it would work well to keep looking at those baby pictures and remembering his gaze.

Source 1: Oswald, Roy M.; Jacobson, Arland (2015-01-22). The Emotional Intelligence of Jesus: Relational Smarts for Religious Leaders (Kindle Locations 785-796). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Kindle Edition.

~ Linda Ryan, Therapist

Thibault Sarah for webTherapist's Corner...
Fall Mindfulness           

    Fall is a time of year that I have always enjoyed.  In fact, I believe that I am one in millions of people who love this time of year that without fail, tends to pass ever too quickly.  You cannot go into any grocery store or coffee shop without being reminded of the many companies trying to capitalize on the season.  It is impossible to miss the pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin cookies, cider, Halloween costumes, or fall themed home decor.  It becomes nearly impossible to avoid getting swept up in the marketing schemes of this time and forgetting to slow down and enjoy all of the other, dare to say, more meaningful hallmarks of the season.
    In therapy, one thing that I try to instill in many of my clients is the practice of mindfulness.  How often are our thoughts so caught up in the tasks on our to-do lists or regrets about a mistake we may have made earlier in the day that we are blinded to the beauty of the present.  Many of us live our lives on auto pilot and are so caught up in past and future worries that we do not take the time to stop and notice what is around us in the present.  The phrase “stop and smell the roses” doesn’t even touch our fast paced culture.  We are typically so busy that we fail to even NOTICE that there is a rose bush nearby. 
    Fall is a wonderful season to start practicing mindfulness.  Try starting small.   Take five minutes of every day to sit somewhere relaxing.  Perhaps this is a place in nature or a comfortable spot in your home.  Notice your surroundings.  Attend to each five of the senses.  What do you see? What do you smell and feel? Perhaps you see the changing leaves on the trees of vibrant reds and yellows. Perhaps you smell the smoke of a nearby chimney and feel a slight chill in the air. Allow yourself to relish in the beauty and joy of all things around you and spend time attending to each part of your experience.
    It is amazing to finally see all of the things that we have missed when we too busy to look.  As the air becomes crisper and the days become shorter, I invite you to stop, notice and actually see the changing of the seasons.

~ Sarah Thibault, Therapist

HainAFrom Our EAP...
Lighten the Load with Humor at Work

Laughter…the Best Medicine
     There are few better ways to break out of a funk than with a deep belly laugh. As it turns out, the “medicine” that laughter provides is very real. Research proves that laughing not only lightens your mood by releasing pleasure-inducing endorphins, it also inhibits stress hormones and lowers blood pressure.
Coming Together…By Cracking Up
    Ever notice how just one person can lighten the mood of an entire group? It’s the same reason that a comedian is always funnier when you’re right there in the audience cracking up along with everyone else -- laughter is contagious.
    Now why would that be? Well, some medical researchers suggest that laughter is more about social bonding than humor. It makes sense if you think about it. There are very few interpersonal conflicts that can’t be at least temporarily diffused by a healthy dose of humor. Laughter is a release that naturally breaks tension, and the effects are immediate.
Why We’re So Afraid to Have Fun
    That being the case, why are so many offices so lacking in humor? Part of the reason is that the business world often frowns upon humor, viewing it as being unprofessional or a sign that people aren’t working hard.
    The other part is that we simply become conditioned to lose our sense of fun and silliness as we grow older. We’re expected to be serious. And for those of us who aren’t naturally funny, social inhibition can keep us tied to a safe, quiet demeanor.
Making Laughter Part of Your Day
    Laughter is part of a healthy work environment and best of all, it’s free! So let humor be your secret weapon the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed. Here are some tips to lighten your mood and get the laughs flowing when you need them the most.
 Choose to find humor in situations. Instead of “I’ll laugh at this one day,” choose to laugh now.
 Learn to laugh at yourself. Self deprecating humor is the easiest to pull off (and often most             appealing to others).
 When you find yourself having a hard time finding humor and laughter, surround yourself with          positive people.  Be there to support others in time of need.
 Make a game of being silly. Find a coworker you’re comfortable with and try to outdo each others’     absurdities.
 Develop an “Emergency Laughter List”.1  List five memories, jokes or even funny internet videos    that always make you smile.  Use the list as needed.
 Fake it ‘till you make it.  Research shows that simply smiling will improve your mood.
 Develop a humor bulletin board that encourages fun and appropriate humor.  Readers Digest is an    excellent source for jokes and funny stories that most everyone can relate to.
    Use fun, laughter (and music) in training to encourage engagement and memory.
    Bring a few kids toys with you to work and keep have them ready for the next time you need to blow off steam.

1Teaching is Too Important to Take Seriously by Scot Endres with permission and other contributions and inspiration by Patricia Vanderpool, LPC, CEAP, SAP, EAP Lifestyle Management, LLC

~ Anna Hain, EAP Coordinator (resource: Daniel Feerst, LISW-CP, WorkExcel.com)

BurrE

FRGN Spotlight...
Introducing Emily! 

Emily Burr is a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (LMHP) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) who joined the Family Resources of Greater Nebraska team in September 2015. Emily has actively been providing therapy services since 2012 to children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families. Emily has experience treating issues related to depression, anxiety, trauma, couple and family relationships, adolescent and parent conflict, child-behavioral problems, family of origin issues, financial conflicts, life transitions, personal growth, self-esteem, and divorce and co-parenting. “My passion is helping individuals, couples, and families learn how to cope with and work through personal life struggles and emerge as confident, inspired, hopeful people.”

Emily has specialized experience and training in helping clients overcome triggers, flashbacks, and other negative symptoms related to past trauma and disturbing life experiences through the use of the EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) protocol. Additionally, Emily has interest and experience in providing Financial Therapy, an integration of personal financial counseling and marriage and family therapy, to help clients deal with money conflicts and gain a better understanding of financial topics.

Emily received a Bachelors of Science degree in Child, Youth, and Family Studies from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Masters of Science in Family Studies and Human Services (specializing in Marriage & Family Therapy) from Kansas State University. Emily is a current member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Nebraska Association for Marriage and Family, and National Financial Therapy Association.

What is Financial Therapy?

The Financial Therapy Association defines Financial Therapy as the "integration of cognitive, emotional, behavioral, relational, and economic aspects that influence financial well-being, and ultimately, quality of life." Financial Therapy sessions combine personal financial counseling and marriage and family therapy principles to provide education on financial topics and help client develop skills to increase financial wellness. Financial Therapists are experience in helping individuals, couples, and families explore their beliefs, values, and experiences involving money and understanding how these can affect their relationships.

 

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