Posts Tagged ‘happiness’
Wow!!! Its been a while since I have posted on this blog. Winter has come and gone and now in my “part of the woods”, it is officially spring! Spring is a time of renewal and growth. The spring flowers are beginning to show signs of growth and blossoms for another season. The property I live on is surrounded by woods that continue to be overgrown with “brush and briers”, meaning all sorts of wild growing vines such as raspberries, wild rose, honeysuckle, poison ivy, etc. Once they start their new growth most of our woods become unusable. For the past several years, my husband and I have talked about this dilemma and have done some research into some alternatives for clearing out the woods. In our research we came across the idea of using some type of livestock animals to help. In narrowing the search down even further we decided that goats would be the best and most efficient alternative in helping to clear them out.
There are many different species of goats but all require about the same type of care and shelter. We then decided that pygmy goats were the type of goats that we wanted to best suit our situation. They remain smaller so the fencing requirements were different than other types of “full size” goats. They also seemed easier to manage and for many people they become another pet in their family. So after much preparation in getting the area ready for our goats (fencing, housing, feeding supplies, etc) we were finally ready to acquire the goats themselves. Late winter and early spring is a time when many goats give birth to their kids. We purchased two male baby goats in early March, however, they will not be ready to bring to their forever home until late April or early May due to their ages. In the meantime since we thought we were prepared we also purchased 2 young female goats from another place in which the conditions were horrible and were trying to give them a much better and healthier environment.
So – our goat adventure had begun. Well as it turns out goats are very sensitive to any change in their diet, environment, and any other stress. The most common ways that goats react to any stress is by developing scours (diarrhea). From the time we brought them to their new house, the one had started to show much major distress. She was coughing on the way home (not good) and had the scours. In all our attempts to help her she ended up dying several days later. The other young doe, who had no scours for the first several days then developed them as well. In doing more and more research about how to stop this awful condition it became more and more apparent how serious this condition in a goat can be. Dehydration is the culprit for many young goat deaths. You see when goats become stressed, they stop eating and drinking fluids. Due to their very small size they quickly become dehydrated and it becomes life threatening. The stress and changes that our new “kid” has been under is tremendous. She was bought from a place that raised large amount of livestock to sell and profit from, her living conditions were very crowded and she had never been outside. There was no socialization with humans, she was never held or handled in a gentle way. We bring her to a new home in which she is picked up and held by humans, is now alone without other goats, her diet had been completely changed,and the weather outside has been colder and more wet than normal for this time of year. Is she stressed? Yes, in many different ways so the onset of the diarrhea is completely understandable.
We now have her stabilized and her scours are improving every day as is her demeanor. She loves being held and cuddled. She is receiving a healthy diet and very clean living conditions. She has room to roam and play. So what does this goat have to do with a mental health blog? You see people respond in very similar ways to stress and changes but don’t recognize it as such.
Many people are feeling the effects of stress on their lives. Stress is the result of changes that we can’t control such as a loss of job, financial difficulties, family problems, change in living conditions, grief and loss issues, the list goes on and on. As a result of the stress people react in many different ways. A change in eating habits (some eating more and some eating less or none at all), using and abusing alcohol or other drugs, change in sleep patterns, changes in their moods, and changes in their digestive systems. Most people under stress will give a history of irritable bowel syndrome, in women it can be changes in their menstrual cycles, as well as many other physical symptoms such as aches and pains.
Just as the first step in helping to get our new little kid adjusted to her new environment was to recognize the signs for what they were. There had been an enormous amount of changes in her life in a very short period of time. We needed to stop and take those all into account. So when you are feeling the effects of stress in your life by any of the above mentioned symptoms – STOP and evaluate what all has been going on in your life. Is this something that you have control over or is it completely out of your control? If it out of your control there are things that you can do to help yourself better deal with the pressure and stress.
Check your diet and try to eat regular healthy meals. Stop eating junk food and if you don’t have an appetite, try to eat small servings of healthy soups or meal replacement supplements.
Get regular exercise. Study after study has shown that any type of exercise helps to reduce the “bad” hormones such as coritsol and increase the good ones, dopimine.
Take a daily vitaman.
Practice some type of meditation, such as reading the Bible and prayer, listening to soothing meditative music, or doing yoga.
Be more gentle with yourself. Realize the stressors in your life and do the best you can. Some days are going to be better than others but give yourself daily praise and work on getting your life in balance so that external stressors don’t have quite the impact on your internal organs as they once did.
If you continue to struggle, make an appointment with a mental health professional. Talk therapy is very effective in helping you to learn to cope.
Until Next Time, Lory
Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC is a professional counselor in private practice in Shippensburg, PA. She provides counseling in her office as well as by distance means such as Skype, telephone, and email. To contact Lory for an appointment please call (717) 729-3895. She is here to help you lead a happy and healthy life.
The holiday season is now behind us and in the Northeast part of the United States we are in the middle of the winter season. The days are shorter, its cold outside, and sometimes the sun doesn’t shine for days on end. For many this is a season that brings with it many unwanted symptoms: sleeping longer, feeling tired, anxiety or sadness, losing interest in activities you usually enjoy, craving carbohydrates and weight gain.
These symptoms are not imaginary, they are real and what you are suffering from is a mental health diagnosis termed: Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Approximately 4-6% of Americans suffer from this each winter and as many as 20% of the population present with some symptoms but fall outside a strict diagnosis.
SAD is generally defined as a set of symptoms which are related to sunlight levels and the seasonal variation of that light. These symptoms may be present to a greater or lesser degree in people who have the condition. A diagnosis of SAD is usually based on 3 consecutive winters of the same symptoms. The symptoms include:
- sleep problems (too much or too little)
- loss of concentration
- social problems
- loss of libido
- mood problems
Short of moving south or to the tropics there are several ways to reduce your symptoms that have proven to be effective.
I always say to my friends that I run on solar energy. When the sun is out bright for several days, my moods are more positive and I have energy to do so many things. That is because our skin and eyes both respond to light. Skin makes vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet rays in sunlight. The retinas, the tissue in the back of our eyes, have receptors that process not only how much light we see, but also what wavelength (or color) the light is. These receptors affect hormones that help our brain set a sleeping and waking cycle.
There are many full-spectrum lights that you can currently purchase through the internet. Some are in the form of a single light that you “expose” your face to for a set peiod of time each day. Others are in the form of a bulb that you can use instead of a standard light bulb in a light fixture. Personally, I have several of these bulbs in my kitchen. Since the kitchen is the area where I spend a good bit of time in early mornings, I can benefit from the light exposure and help to get my day started off right. It has been proven that 15 to 30 minutes daily of full-spectrum lighting can have a significant improvement on your symptoms.
Specifically Vitamin D is also recommended. Daily winter dosages can range from 2,000 IU to 4,000 IU depending on the person.From the reports I’ve been reading, people who take Vitamin D are saying that they have an increased sense of well-being, improved sleep patterns and even weight loss. These are all things I find are disrupted when you have SAD so if taking Vitamin D can help resolve these issues, I think that’s awesome.
It has been proven that regular exercise, especially in bright light can help lessen the symptoms of SAD. Whether you get this exercise from joining a gym, walking in a mall,or exercising at home, when it is too cold outside make sure you are in a well lite area. Most gyms and stores use bright lights, they understand the benefit to their customers. If you are exercising at home turn on the overhead lights in the room or exercise near a window that lets in plenty of sunlight.
There are still some shorter days left, but the hours of sunlight are slowly increasing again. If you or someone you know has symptoms of SAD, treating it can make these days seem brighter and may even make it possible to enjoy the rest of winter.
Until Next Time,
Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC maintains a private practice counseling office in Shippensburg, PA. She specializes in depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other mood disorders in children through adults. She offers counseling in her office and by distance means such as secure email, chat and Skype. Please visit the rest of the web site for more information.
It’s hard to believe but the holiday season is once again upon us. It is to be “The Most Happiest Time of the Year”, but for many if not most people it can be the most stressful time of the year! If the past holiday seasons have taken their emotional toll on you here are some tips to help stop or reduce those feelings this year.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS- If someone close to you has recently died or can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
REACH OUT- If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
BE REALISTIC- The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold onto, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as using social media to share pictures, chat, and even Skype each other during the holiday season.
SET ASIDE DIFFERENCES- Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression too.
STICK TO A BUDGET- Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget! Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Try these alternatives: Donate to a charity in someone’s name, give homemade gifts, or gifts from second hand stores or start a family gift exchange. My girlfriend and I started this several years ago giving a certain amount of money (that we usually spent on each other) to a specific cause over the holiday season. One was a family that had just lost their mother and needed help paying for the funeral expenses.
PLAN AHEAD- Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
LEARN TO SAY NO- Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
DON’T ABANDON HEALTHY HABITS- Don’t let the holidays become a free for all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.
TAKE A BREATHER- Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP IF YOU NEED IT – Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the season. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you may find that you enjoy the holidays this year more than you thought you could.
Wishing you a stress free and fun holiday season!!
Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC is in private practice in Shippensburg, PA. She provides counseling in her office and by distance methods such as secure email, chat, and by Skype. Lory specializes in Anxiety, Depression, ADHD, Adjustment Disorders, and Drug and Alcohol Abuse and Dependency.
My husband and I have an anniversary coming up soon. It will be our 27th! My parent’s celebrated their 61st anniversary this year, wow. In our local newspaper they list anniversaries under the celebrations category including those couples who have celebrated 25th, 50th, 60th and more. It is a time of celebration to mark those milestones in ones relationship with their partner. Many couples married this year for the 1st time. It is a very exciting event for the couple. All the planning and expectations of sharing their lives together. Although all marital unions are not created equal-they all go through some predictable stages. According to, Rita DeMaria, PhD, a marriage and family therapist and author of The 7 Stages of Marriage, the timing may differ, and the way a couple manages the phase they’re in varies widely but understanding the stages gives you the tools you need to move through with your loving union intact. Below are the list of the stages and some of the challenges that go with that stage:
- HONEYMOON STAGE: The first year or two is a passion-filled period that all about the two of you and your intense focus on the excitement and romance of the relationship. Differences seem relatively unimportant as the focus is on discovering each other and sharing life together. Usually you cannot get enough of each other sexually. At this stage, we love the way our partner makes us feel as much as we love him or her.
- Challenges At This Stage: Learning to live as a couple and share decision making together. Many times this is the first time that decisions affect someone other than yourself. Should you invest in a home, car, or travel? What are the expectations concerning your careers or educations? How will you handle financial matters? What about extended family (parents and in-laws)? Many couples feel that their love for each other will automatically determine the answers to these questions and many are “caught” off guard when discussions turn into arguments in hearing the other’s viewpoint.
- REALITY STAGE: In this stage couples are learning more about themselves and each other in situations they haven’t faced together before. You may learn things that you might not have known about your spouse’s strengths, weaknesses and personal habits. Power struggles can arise as the two of you work towards both shared and separate goals. Working together as a team should be the focus of this stage. In this stage couples may discuss having children. Many couples feel that the “Spark” has left their marriage and interpret this to mean that one of the partners has fallen “out of love”. They may decide that bringing children into the marriage at this time, may help reignite that spark. In actuality, euphoria is replaced by more solid emotions like trust, respect, empathy and admiration. The highs aren’t as high and the lows aren’t as low; the relationship becomes more stable, predictable and dependable.
- Challenges At This Stage: There may be feelings of disappointment, aloneness along with a “let down” as reality sets in. This is marriage’s vulnerable stage. It’s a time when a woman can go from feeling cherished to being taken for granted and when a man can go from feeling admired to be belittled. Reality and a wide range of roles and responsibilities start to impose upon the lust and love. This is the stage that you need to establish open communication. Set time aside each day, either in the mornings or evenings, where you just check in with each other and talk about your day. If regular open communication is not established during this stage, years later you may wake up lying next to a stranger in bed wondering how you grew so far apart. It is also in this stage that marriage counseling can have the most benefit for the couple instead of trying to ignore the problems and differences until they reach a point that some of the damage is irreversible.
- FAMILY CENTRAL: This stage is often referred to as “the meat of marriage”. Most of the years spent in this stage consist of raising their families, buying a home, building and/or changing careers and trying to hold together a crazy, busy, modern life. This period of time is also another danger zone, due to the shifting of demands and responsibilities. The stress level is usually the highest in this stage. It’s very difficult to keep sufficient focus on the marriage relationship with the attention that kids demand and other stressors in the relationship, but it is important to do so. This is also the time period that many couples become disappointed and disillusioned to the “Ground Hog Day” type of routine. Partners may begin having an affair, or worse yet, asking for a divorce due to the lack of focus on the marriage.
- Challenges at This Stage: Not losing sight of your partnership in the swirl of demands on your time and energy. Now is the time to pay close attention to your marriage. Give yourselves time to communicate without distractions. Plan a regular date night when just the two of you share regular time together. Plan a getaway weekend to reconnect without all the stresses of the outside world. Open, honest and sensitive communication is the key to surviving this stage of the marriage. If the same issues continue to arise and one or both of you are feeling frustrated, couples counseling can be very helpful in this stage to help you get unstuck.
- STILL IN LOVE; This is the stage when you now have adult children and there is more time to focus on the two of you. During this stage there is a reconnecting with getting to know each other all over again. There are still disagreements but rather than hold onto the anger, partners choose to forgive and trust. We easily learn to live the lesson of mature and lasting love.
- Challenges at This Stage: Focusing on the two of you and having time to spend together may be a struggle for some couples. Focusing their energies on the children, careers, and other life stressors for so many years may be a huge adjustment for many couples. Without consistent, open communication throughout the marriage, your partner may feel like a stranger. It is during this time that couples need to focus their time on doing things together, such as a new activity or travel, as well as spending time apart, pursuing individual goals and dreams. You can rescue a marriage that’s been ignored for a long time, but it will take work, so seek out professional counseling.
- “TILL DEATH DO YOU PART.”: This stage is also referred to as the completion stage. You have enjoyed the lust, lived the love and come through the chaos of family life- without splitting up in the face of troubles. You still enjoy being together and are committed to each other for the rest of your lives.
- Challenges at This Stage: Many couples in this stage are totally committed to each other. Health issues may be a primary concern at this stage. You may have dreamed of the freedom to travel and do what you want, but one or the other partner is unable to do so because of health concerns. There may be added financial stress due to living on a fixed income and the current recession. Changes in lifestyle such as living arraignments may be a source of stress and adjustments.
At any time during you marriage you may experience unexpected life stressors that can interrupt the forward motion of your life together, such as fertility issues, a death in the family, a major illness or the loss of a job that leads to serious financial strains. Seeking support during those times is very important. You may seek advice from friends, family members, religious counselors or professional therapist.
Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC is a professional counselor in private practice in Shippensburg, PA. She sees client’s in her office but is also able to provide counseling by distance means such as email, chat, and Skype.
Parenting a teenager is one of the most difficult challenges a parent will face. A Yiddish proverb states, Small children disturb your sleep, big children your life. All parents face this time in their children’s life and wonder what has happened to the child they used to know. Volumes of books have been written about the subject. In looking back over my own experience of raising teenagers I feel lucky that I survived. I’m very proud of my young adults and who they are becoming. My daughter and I clashed a lot. I was her target of blame for almost anything at times. I had to learn to pick my battles carefully and then be firm and follow through with the consequences. I was not her friend I was her mother. Below are some tips to follow as you navigate parenting a teen.
- Set Limits and Follow Through on the Consequences – Your teenager still needs your guidance and even though they will never admit it at the time, they need you to say no. By setting and enforcing rules, parents give teens predictabiltiy and structure, as well as a way to combat peer pressure. Without your caring oversight, teens are left feeling isolated and alone. One of the most common reaction from teens in regards to this, I need limits. I’m going to yell at you and react to them, but when you don’t give me any, it makes me feel like I’m in charge. I may say that’s what I want, but it really scares me.
- Always Listen – You may know what it’s like to be a teenager, but your child know what it’s like to be a teenager today. Teens today are dealing with a whole new set of stressors. Your teen may not want to talk about things when you want to talk but letting your teen know that you are available when they want to talk is important. Many times we would have conversations in our household with our teens at the oddest times. No they weren’t always convient but looking back they were very powerful. Try to find a common interest with them in regards to a movie, sport, or other activity and talk about it without being critical. I love having conversations with my daughter about the Twilight saga. It’s interesting to find out which character they identify with and why. The teens response to this is, Sometimes I actually do want to talk to you. I just don’t know how. Find creative ways to make me talk to you. It’ll take the pressure off.
- Keep your Anger focused on Their Actions Not on Them as a Person- Teenagers can become very angry people. They continue to fight for their independence and less control by their parents. Teens can and do get overloaded with stress. They have poor coping skills, and getting angry is the only way they know how to avoid feeling sad, hurt, or afraid. Some of the most common teen responses to this include: I don’t always know why I’m angry, irritable, sad, or worried. Sometimes I may need you to help me figure it out. But sometimes, I may want to figure it out alone. And I’m not as in control as I am trying to look. Sometimes my hormones make me feel crazy. I haven’t learned how to regulate myself yet. One phrase I used quite often with my teens was that I really loved them, I just didn’t like their behavior at the moment.
- Give Your Teen Honest Compliments- Yes, I totally understand how hard this can be at times. But as parents it is easy to see all the things that they are doing wrong and not give notice to the things they are doing right. This is extremely important at this age. Teens do care what their parents think! You may give compliments as to how they handled a difficult situation, or in regards to their grades in school, or particular friends they are choosing to hang around with. I remember giving my daughter compliments on how she did her hair and makeup and trying something new (going out for a sports team). Because I was a professional counselor, she often asked advice on how to handle some of her friend’s problems, and I would be amazed as to how she thought she should handle them. Teenagers especially love to hear their parents give positive feedback about them to others. People would often ask me about raising a teenage daughter and I would say, ” I love the person she is becoming”. Teens want their parents to be proud of them and accept them for who they are. This means resisting the urge to compare your child to others. Teens already spend their days assessing how they measure up and feeling badly about themselves – they are relying on you to be their biggest supporter.
- Try to Find a Compromise that Both Parties Can Accept - Teens consistently push their boundaries. When incorporating open communication as best you can, let your teen know that you are willing to trust them more but along with that trust comes more responsibility on their part. Compromises are and will always be a part of any type of relationship. Talk openly so both parties can accept what was agreed upon.
If you continue to have conflicts with your teen, it is especially helpful to seek counseling with a professional. Not only does this give your teen a chance to express themselves but also to talk to someone other than a parent or friend. Most professional counselors will also work with the parent on communication and parenting skills along with support for all parties involved.
“I am every emotion times ten, I conform yet I’m rebellious, always obeying but somehow still an outlaw, always talking but never heard, I am a teenager”. Author Unknown
Until Next Time,
If you like this article, please let me know and share it with family and friends. Thanks and have a great holiday weekend.
It happened again this week, someone from our community had died unexpectedly. Some have had health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure, sometimes it is found out later that they had a heart defect, whatever the reason it is still a shock to family and friends. Unexpected deaths can also be the result of traffic accidents or other types of “freak” accidents. No matter how the person died it bring the subject of death and dying to the forefront. We all die someday. Most of us don’t want to think about dying but honestly living and dying go hand in hand.
There are many songs written about living and dying such as Tim McGraw’s, ”Live like you are Dying” or Daughtry’s “Home”. The message in both of these songs is to live life to the fullest each day because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
For those of us that live with anxiety and worry, I’m not trying to make you more anxious just the opposite by not focusing on the future but on the gifts of today. As I am writing this entry the sun is out, the spring flowers and trees are blooming and the birds are singing. Spring is finally here and no matter what other worries or problems I am dealing with they don’t matter at this moment, I am taking in all the scenery. Here are some of the ways that I try to live each day to the fullest:
#1 Be Happy and Laugh at Life – Each day is a gift, begin each day by being grateful for the people and relationships you have in your life. Smile and see that your glass is half full and not half empty. When you begin to focus on the positives in your life it will radiate all around you. People are drawn to positive people. Have you ever been around someone who was so negative all the time, it sucks the energy right out of you, but on the other hand being around someone who is positive, despite the problems they are dealing with, makes you feel good. Laughter should be an everyday part of life. One of my constant sources of laughter is just laughing at myself. Whoever said that if you learn to laugh at yourself, you’ll always have something to laugh about, was absolutely correct. There is always a reason to laugh it is something that you purposefully choose to do. Begin today to choose to be happy, smile and laugh.
#2. Forgive Others and Yourself- Revenge and hatred always keep people from living life to its fullest. They are like poison that spill over into every aspect of a person’s life.People who are unforgiving create their own captivity, a type of horible prison they made for themselves. All the good emotions, joy, peace, hope, and dreams are buried under the unwillingness to forgive. Forgiveness is an incredible thing, not only being forgiven by others for our wrongs, but to forgive others who have wronged us. Forgiveness is a choice and then an action. Forgiveness is true freedom. God sent his only son to die for our sin debt on a cross. If we are forgiven for our sins through Jesus Christ surely you can make the choice to forgive others.
#3 Tell Others What They Mean to You Each Day – This is something that I have begun to practice in my own life. Relationships are what life is all about. Your family and friends are your most precious possessions. Nothing in this life can match their existence. No matter where you are or in what position, small gestures of love, acceptance, and respect can give real meaning to your life. Life is a journey, make sure you express yourself to those who are sharing this journey with you each day, for we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
#4 Be Flexible-This is easier for some than others. We never know how the day is going to unfold. Some people are so set in their ways and schedules that when something unexpected arises and believe me it will, it “throws” them into a tizzy for the rest of the day. Unexpected things come up. Some are good and some are bad, that’s just life. Some of my most memorable times with friends and my husband have happened on the “spur of the moment”. Yes, I could have been doing laundry, yard work, or housework but guess what those things got done anyway.
We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, we don’t get a ”do over” or second chance at life. Carpe diem – Seize the Day- make the most out of everyday and start living life to its fullest.
Until Next Time,
Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC