Sunday, October 31, 2010

Enjoy The Holidays

As I sit here passing out Halloween candy, I have caught myself thinking about the other holidays that are fast approaching. The wonderful big meal my family prepares at Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday Christmas, and the fact that I will have the opportunity to spend time with my family and friends.

Thanksgiving, if you are not the organizer of the family/friend gathering, the chef, or traveling, is more or less stress free. However if you are performing one of these tasks, Thanksgiving can be quite stressful. Then comes the December holidays. With Christmas comes the stresses of planning, cooking, traveling, different holiday parties, decorating, gifts and a hundred other little things.

However, remember when the holidays were nothing but joy, family, celebration and love? Holidays can be that again, the thing to remember is to manage your stress so that you can enjoy yourself. Here are some helpful tips to help you with holiday stress:

1. Be sure to take care of your health. While the holidays are filled with great food, limit your portions instead of stuffing yourself, make sure to limit your "junk" food intake, and get plenty of sleep.
2. Utilize exercise, meditation and relaxation techniques. Whether you take a walk around the block, hit the gym, utilize Yoga or Tai Chi, or implement deep breathing or guided imagery.
3. There are two different types if time management skill that are important. First, be sure to coordinate with each family members' schedule of holiday events. Also set a schedule to assist you in accomplishing whatever tasks you need to do. Second, take time for yourself. Sometimes there can be TOO much togetherness with family and friends. On the flip side, do not isolate yourself, be sure to engage with your family and friends. The key is to find a healthy balance.
4. Finally, understand that it is okay to say "no." For example, if you do not have the time to bake cup cakes for your child's class, say so. Or compromise and buy already-made ones from the store. One of the fastest ways to increase your stress level is to take on responsibilities that you cannot handle.

Hopefully you will find these tips helpful this holiday season, and be able to enjoy yourself to the fullest. Let the holiday seasons begin!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


     Have you ever found yourself frustrated in a relationship, had that "stuck" feeling and wanted things to be different but have no clue how to change?  This is a common trait of those who find themselves reacting to those they love in ways that either take care of them, gripe, whine and cry at them or generally have hurt feelings because of the way the are treated (or not treated) by their significant other.  The relational trap referred to as codependency, is very unconcious.  It creates a pattern in which one finds themselves reacting instead of choosing to ct in a mindful and concious way.  It results in one being limited to behave in one of three roles:  caregiver (enabler, rescuer), victim (martyr), or abuser (bully, intimidator, whiner, griper). 

 When one is limited to one of these three roles in their significant relationships, one tends to find others who also are most comfortable acting in one of these three roles as well.  People who have a need to be in one of these three roles to feel comfortable in relating to others are mosst comfortable seeking out others who also operate out of one of these roles because they automatically know "the rules" and fit into the pattern of the other.  These roles become very comfortable and familiar.  In actuality, it is highly discomfiting to behave outside one of these familiar roles.  Thus lies the challenge.

In order to make a change, one of the partners must break the pattern and learn to live in a mindful way, making decisions and choosing behaviors that are independent of the others reactions. 

If you would like to learn this way of relating and believe you have a "stuck" relationship, give the office a call and allow one of our qualified counselors to assist you in finding a new way of interacting.

How to Help a Grieving Child

“What happens when we die?” “Where is heaven?” “Does everybody die?” These are all very common questions for children following the death of someone or something they love. The majority of children will have their first death experience through the death of a pet.
A child’s hunger for understanding about death can be a difficult dilemma for parents to deal with. Parents sometimes are stuck in their own grief, or simply lack the skill set to address the seemingly complicated questions posed by their children. Prior to going into a complex explanation about death, try to take time and think about why the child is asking the question. Is it simple curiosity? Are they seeking safety and emotional security? Are they afraid? Sometimes figuring out why your child is asking the question can guide you in how to answer their question. Always answer their questions honestly, in age appropriate ways and reply with “I don’t know” if you really do not know the answer. Adults cannot make the grief go away and cannot bring the loved one back. Adults should recognize that grief is a normal and healthy process that for their child to experience.
Children of all ages struggle with a constant need for reassurance that they are loved, safe and well taken care of. During time of grief, these needs become as important as food and water for the child. The underlying fear and/or anxiety of his or her own mortality is something they yet have the ability to verbalize. Instead children often act out behaviorally, have more crying spells and whine when they do not get their way. Children engage in these attention seeking behaviors because they lack the ability to verbalize the underlying need of wanting reassurance that they are loved, safe and cared for. Take time to reassure your child that you love them, will protect them and meet their basic day to day needs.
How your child understands death will have a lot to do with how you understand death. Speak with your child honestly and remind them that they are surrounded by many adults who love them and care about them. Children often are in tune with how the adults around them are feeling. If you feel sad it is ok to let the child know you are sad. Normalizing the sadness in losing someone we care about is a great way to help children understand not to be ashamed of how they are feeling. Also, we can role model for children how to continue living, meeting our daily obligations and loving those that are still in our lives. This not only teaches the cycle of life, it also teaches the child that things in their world are still stable.
Sometimes there is a sudden death or a family tragedy that affects multiple family members. There are times when a child has a significant impairment in their ability to function after a death. Some children experience clinical levels of anxiety, depression and may seek unhealthy coping mechanisms. If you are a parent of a child experiencing grief, please contact our office for more information on how we can help your child, at 386-736-9165.
Jennifer Nadelkov, MA, LMFT

Monday, October 25, 2010


I was reminded this evening about how important it is to pay attention to the tone of your voice when speaking. It can really change the message you are trying to send (or annoy the other person) when your tone is aggressive, overly assertive, condescending or if you are speaking to loudly. Remember, 70% percent of our communication is done through our non-verbal behaviors and the tone of our voice. So be aware of not just the words you are saying, but how you are conveying those words and expressing them non-verbally.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dealing With The Pain

Imagine after a long day of work or play that you lay down to sleep, but you can't sleep due to physical pain. Can you picture not being able to play with your children or grandchildren because you are simply in too much pain to do so? Or not being able to work? These scenarios and more are are the reality for over 76.2 million American who live with chronic pain, according to the American Pain Foundation.

Of those 76.2 million, of which I am one, an estimated 46 million people have been told by their doctor that they have arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia, diseases that affect multiple parts of the body. The four most common pains reported are lower back pain, migraines/headaches, neck pain, and facial pain. Approximately twenty percent of American adults have reported having pain or physical discomfort multiple nights a week, so much so that it interferes with their ability to sleep. In addition to impacting people's quality of life, chronic pain also impacts the economy. The American Pain Foundation estimates that chronic pain costs the economy 100 billion doallars annually, due to healthcare expenses, lost income and lost productivity.

If you are one of the 76.2 million American, here are some tips to help you manage your chronic pain.
1. Be healthy. This includes eating healthy, stop smoking, reducing alcohol intake, and rest,
rest, rest.
2. After consulting with your doctor, exercise. In addition to the health benefits of exercise, when
you exercise, brain chemicals called endorphins are released which helps your mood and
blocks pain signals.
3. Develop your relationship with your doctor. Communicate with your doctor about your pain
and any questions you might have. Keep a pain and activities log and bring it to your doctor so
that they can get an accurate idea of your daily struggles. Write down any questions you
might have, do NOT simply think you will remember, you might get side tracked or the
doctor could be in a hurry that day. If you have questions written down, you will remember
to ask them.
4. Educate yourself about your disease/pain. In addition to reading about your illness, and
talking with your doctor, use your own knowledge. For example, if you are having back pain,
does using a heating pad help? What about ice packs? Those trial and error exercises can be a
huge help in how you manage your pain.
5. Try getting a massage to help reduce stress, relieve muscle pain, and increase circulation.
6. Try to reduce your daily stress, stress can intensify the body's sensitivity to pain. Learn about
relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and
guided imagery.
7. Be open and honest with the people around you. Do not try to be Superman. Be willing to ask
for help on the days that you need it.
8. Try to maintain a positive attitude. Remember the things that you are able to do.
9. Find ways to distract yourself. Engage in hobbies, chores, exercise, reading, etc.
10. Finally, join a support group. Support groups serve a wonderful purpose in that in addition to
providing support, they are a wonderful place to find resources, share ideas, and they help
reduce the feel that no one understands what you are going through.

Hopefully some of these ideas will be able to help you better manage your pain. If you are struggling with chronic pain, and would like to talk with someone on a one on one basis, please feel free to contact our office at 386-736-9165.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bipolar Disorder

Many who suffer from Bipolar begin to experience symptoms in childhood or adolescence but go through various treatment methods and diagnosis prior to being actually diagnosed and treated for Bipolar. Bipolar at onset is different for all who experience it. It may present as depressive or manic or both and even the depressive and manic symptomology can manifest as a range of varying degrees of mood instability. One may present as tired and withdrawn or irritable and be depressed. One may lose their appetite altogether or have very little need for sleep. Manic phases may be observed as a person being very impulsive and driven with a grandiose sense of self or suicidal and delusional, seeming out of touch with reality. There are as many manifestations of bipolar as there are individuals who cope with it. Patterns are there, criteria are met, but it all takes on the distinct flavor of those who must live within its scope everyday of their lives. It can be tough to face and a mystery to those to whom it is merely today’s disorder of note.

There is hope for those who are challenged with bipolar. There are medications that are highly effective, often taken in combination, to combat the diverse symptomology. There are psychotherapies (talk therapy) and cognitive behavioral treatments which address thinking errors. There are community support groups which can increase coping skills and allow participants to practice socializing in a safe and known environment. A weekly adult support group will begin on Monday, October 25 from 5:30 – 6:30 PM. If you or someone you care about could benefit from such a group, please call (386)747-9858 for details.

by: Janice Suskey, M.Ed. Ed.S. LMHC

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Childhood Obesity

The Mayo clinic staff defines childhood obesity as occurring when, “a child or adolescent is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height”. The primary concerns of childhood obesity can lead to more serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, bone and joint issues, sleep apnea and high cholesterol. From a mental health standpoint, there is real concern about the child’s self esteem, use of emotional eating and depression.

According to the Center for Disease Control, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last thirty years. Parents are often informed during routine physicals at the pediatrician’s office of their child’s BMI (body mass index). The BMI is calculated by measuring the child’s height and weight and comparing the child on a percentile rating scale to other child his or her age of the same height and weight. The center for disease control established the rankings that determine what is considered overweight.

Addressing childhood obesity should be done through proper consultation with your pediatrician. Involving the family in good eating patterns and a more active lifestyle is a win-win situation for the entire family.

The mental health issues that can arise from this problem can be quite serious. Obese children often become targets of bulling, shy away from activities that require wearing a bathing suit, have difficulty playing sports, develop body image issues, experience low self esteem, have nervousness or anxiety symptoms and even depression symptoms.

Signs and symptoms to look for that your child may be experiencing emotional problems related to obesity are:
You notice your child has become withdrawn, shy or self isolates
Your child does not want to go to school
Your child is showing a preoccupation with food
Your child is sleeping too long
Your child is cutting him or herself
Your child is verbalizing threats of harming him or herself

If you notice any of theses signs in your child, please contact our office to set up an evaluation for your child, at 386-736-9165.

Jennifer Nadelkov, MA, LMFT

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How's Your Day?

Ever have "one of those days?" Maybe even one of those weeks? Sometimes it can feel as though our day gets away from us, and we are not even sure how. One thing for us to be aware of is our attitude and how we respond to certain situations. Here's an example.....

Have you had a morning, where in your waking up process you maybe stub your toe on the corner of the bed or dresser? I have, and generally I'm left with one of two trains of thought, either: that's a bad way to start today, my day will probably be bad; or ouch! well my day can only get better from here. On the days I go with the first thought process, everything has a negative shade to it, kind of like I'm being followed by Charlie Brown's rain cloud. Traffic is horrible, that person just cut me off, and I tend to be more sensitive to the way in which people talk with me (boy that person really has an attitude today). On the days when I take the mindset that things can only get better from here, the same traffic situation is now normal, not horrible; the person who cut me off, I'm paying more attention to and prepare for it, so it does not bother me; and I tend to see the way in which people are interacting with me in a more positive manner. The mindset I start the day with not only influences the way in which I perceive my day, but additionally it has either a negative or positive impact on my energy level for the day.

Now the example I have given was stubbing my toe, but stubbing my toe could also be your children waking you up early, siblings arguing with each other, a comment from your partner, any one of a thousand things. It is important to be aware of how we are feeling, and if we are upset, identify why we are upset and try to reframe it through a more positive lens. The great thing about our attitudes and perceptions is that we have the power at any point throughout our day, to re-start our day. If we notice that we have allowed the negative thought processes to take over, we can stop, perform some sort of starting over process and begin our day anew. For me, when I have identified that I have allowed my negative mindset to take over, I try to get a minute or two to myself, take several deep breathes, and give myself a little pep talk. Whatever you do, make it personal to yourself, and give yourself the opportunity to have a great day!

In Control or In Charge?

An accident in the blink of an eye, a partner decides to leave the relationship, hurricane force winds destroy a home; these things happen so fast and are beyond our control. Depression, anxiety, obsessions-compulsions, these come on fast or gradually and are beyond are control.

We talk of “being in control” but the truth is that we are never as “in control” as we like to think we are. Life is cumulative. Events, reactions, and patterns form prior to the time we are even able to be conscious of them.

A better way for us to think, instead of control, is to learn how to be “in charge”. In charge implies something completely different than in control. In charge implies a willingness to make decisions about what happens to us and also invites input from other sources that can be taken into consideration or ignored. In charge is to delegate to others the responsibility that belongs to them and encourage them in that responsibility. In control is just the opposite.

We may not have control over things that come to us, but we can, with help and support, learn how to be in charge of the effect anxiety, depression, anger, obsessions, moods, other people and events has over us. Don’t hesitate. Do your life the honor of learning how to take charge, today.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Step Grandparents

There are a few different scenarios that might place you in the role of being a step grandparent. For the stepparent the expectations of how they prefer their stepchildren be integrated into the family could vary. To date there is little research on the expectations of step grandparents. The primary goal of stepfamilies is to build a bridge to unify two separate entities into one, while not building a wall that blocks the old family unit or unit(s) from being a part of the new family. As the step grandparent you may struggle with managing old loyalties while trying to build new loyalties.
Typically after divorce and remarriage a child will look to his or her Grandparents for support and a sense of normalcy among the many changes they are facing. Children that are not forced to relocate have an easier chance at maintaining those close bonds with Grandparents. Step grandchildren may be forced to relocate and may have limited access to their new step grandparent and biological grandparent. This factor can create difficulty in trying to establish a bond with the child.
Some Grandparents provide a lot of emotional, financial and even childcare responsibilities for their children’s children while the initial marriage is ending. This can cause caretaker fatigue, which can result in Grandparents being emotionally exhausted and “taking a break” while the stepfamily is bonding. This intergenerational dependency is not a new phenomenon, although is becoming more and more common as the divorce rate increases. The step grandchild is not usually around for the marriage dissolution, thus the child could experience some confusion as to why the step grandparent is not a part of their everyday life.
Step grandparents have often been blessed with the honor of being a part of their biological grandchildren’s births and subsequent major milestones. However, with step grandchildren, depending on their age, a lot of milestones have already happened. This can pose a difficult dilemma for the Grandparent who has adored their biological grandchild since birth and is now trying to bond with a step grandchild that they know very little about.
If you or a loved one has recently found themselves in the position of being a step grandparent, be assured you are not alone in your struggle to adjust to your new family dynamics. Redefining relationships can be a difficult task, although is not a hopeless situation. If you are interested in getting more information on this topic, please contact our office at 386-736-9165.

Jennifer Nadelkov, MA, LMFT

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Don't put off until tomorrow, what you could do to....

Ever have an assignment at work, or a project at home, that always seems to be on your "to do" list, yet you never quite get to it? If you are anything like me, you do. This is commonly referred to as procrastination. Procrastination is defined by as "to defer an action; to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost." But what really are the negative effects of procrastinating?
There can be negative physical, employment and relational effects due to procrastination. Procrastination can lead to stress, depression and low self-esteem. Procrastination can have a negative economic impact as well. If people put off paying their bills, they might have to incur penalties, fees or maybe reconnection costs. Additionally, a person's credit score could then be impacted, thusly affecting a person's ability to purchase a car, home or other necessities. In the career world, procrastinating on projects can have a person labeled as lazy, lead to cluttered work areas, and missed career advancement. Finally, in relationships, people can become angry, annoyed, or frustrated when someone tells them they will do something and they don't come through.
Here are a few tips to help you overcome procrastination:
1. If a project or assignment seems overwhelming, break it into smaller tasks, to help you feel like it is more achievable. How would you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
2. Set yourself a timer to accomplish tasks. For example complete all your phone calls within a thirty minute time period.
3. Be aware of the messages you send yourself, they impact your motivation. Instead of using phrases such as "I should" or "I have to" which can lead to a negative thought process, try using more positive phrases such as "I choose to" or"I want to."
4. Organize...organize...organize. Set yourself a schedule, and prioritize the things that need to be completed in order of time/importance.
5. Reward yourself for not procrastinating. Provide yourself with little incentives as a means of accomplishing your tasks.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


“You must pay the rent!” the Landlord rants, “But I can’t pay the rent” pleads the put-upon renter, enters the rescuer, “I will pay the rent”! Ah, peace reigns; but at what price?

These roles (that of victim, abuser, and caregiver) are often played out in stories, movies, plays, and music are the stuff of life. They hit a common thread with many people because the truth is, most of us, have played one or all of these roles more than once in relationships either at work, school, socially, or with our families. How many times have you complained and whined (victim) about a situation in your relationship with a friend or loved one, only to find yourself caving and giving in to whatever the demand, behavior or request is you are complaining about (caregiver), then griped (abuser) about the outcome and your sacrifice either to the person you caved in to or to someone else about the person you gave in to?

“That’s just human nature.” you say. True, but it is also one of the most ultimately destructive dynamics to human relationships there is. It is the push-me-pull-you of a no win situation in which neither party is satisfied however the dynamic keeps interaction going in such a way that it simulates intimacy by creating engagement without ever honestly taking ownership or straight forwardly asking for what one needs. In the long run, both parties will typically become worn out and disengage rather than go through profitless engagements or believe they are engaging and engage for engagements sake, repeating the cycle, whether or not it’s productive, for the sake of the habit which simulates intimacy at the price of never really getting close.

Our ultimate goal as evolved people is to be able to be clear with ourselves and our most important relationships as to our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in a genuine way as we progress through and process life events. This requires us to know ourselves and be willing to take ownership of all the pieces of who we are (weaknesses and strengths) and risk letting others know us as well. Sounds simple but for many of us it is a huge undertaking. Often we have not had the equipping or role models to live in such a congruent and clear manner and knowledge never has created change without some type of implementation.

So how do we become evolved to the point of genuine and honest behavior? Some will attempt to find reality in the most false God there is and turn to substances and alcohol in an attempt to “be who I am”. Others will create relationships that allow them to feel what they have always felt in the same way they have always felt it, thereby creating a “comfortable agony” in which the risk of change is not attempted at the price of upsetting the equilibrium of the known. What is clear is that the manifestation of a genuine and honest life is one we all know immediately when we encounter it. Our human interactions get bogged down in agenda, mistrust, and fear. To become genuine and honest takes practice and persistence. One must be willing to risk being real in relationship to another and that can be tough if you are not even sure what “real” is.

If you have not had relationships in which your feel genuineness has been possible in your family of origin (the family in which you grew up) it may be an uphill climb to create it for yourself as an adult but there is hope. If the dynamics written here strike home with you, call a licensed professional to learn how to break the circular pattern that keeps you in a cycle of ineffective, non-productive relationship.

Posted by: J. Suskey M. Ed. S.Ed. LMHC