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Advice from our Therapists

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Build The Perfect Self-Care Day From These 13 Activities

PICK A FEW AND RECHARGE OR DO THEM ALL AND HAVE THE BEST DAY EVER

Exercise. It’s about moving, not about pushing yourself past your limits. Self-care when exercise makes you feel good about yourself, not when you’re focused on burning calories.

Meditate. Meditation is the perfect way to focus inward and acknowledge all of the thoughts and feelings you’ve been neglecting.

Create. Paint, draw, origami, knitting, macrame… Wherever your creativity is, you can fall into a creative trance and relax your mind.

Get outside. Even if its just our own backyard, the outdoors can really impact your mood.

Sleep. The big one. Try settling into bed a little early and get some quality rest. It’s that simple.

Eat healthy. Whether meal prepping for your week, making a nutritious dinner, or cooking up some Sunday breakfast, it’s worth the time.

Read a book / listen to a Podcast. An escape from the ‘real world’, of your choosing.

Take a bath instead of a shower. It’s simple, you can relax in a hot bath.

Meet a fried for a tea. Doesn’t have to be tea, but surround yourself with all of the positive relationships in your life

Spend time with a pet. Everyone knows the unconditional love a pet can give. If you don’t have one, head to the park or local rescue…

Do something for someone else. These acts can get you out of your own head and make someone’s day a little better.

Turn off your phone for 30 minutes

Unplugging can give you a chance to reconnect with the things that really matter to you. Self-care doesn’t get much better than that.


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What is Generalized Anxiety disorder?

Generalized Anxiety disorder (GAD) is where Anxiety is present constantly, and is there is no relief.

It interferes with daily function and makes it difficult to get a good night sleep. Anxiety can also manifest through physical symptoms such as: headaches, nausea, diarrhea, increase heart rate, hyperventilating and sweaty palms. Anxiety can be so debilitating that it can interfere with work and your relationships.

GAD effects women twice as often men. Treating GAD through psychotherapies, either talk-therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy along with physical exercise can elevate symptoms. Simple changes in your life style can help; yoga, meditation, avoiding caffeine, daily exercise, these all are proven to have a calming effect on ones Anxiety. Herbal remedies may also work to relieve anxiety for some people, Kava, Valerian root, St John wart, but before using them speak to your doctor.

Women who experience anxiety may have other psychological issues. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Social Phobia, Panic attacks, Stress or Depression.

It is not healthy to let these symptoms continue indefinitely. Schedule an appointment with one of our friendly and experienced Therapists. We are here to help you.

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It’s totally normal to feel stressed or anxious from time to time, but there’s lots of things you can do to manage your anxiety.

Remember: there’s a difference between feeling stressed every now and then, and experiencing ongoing anxiety. If the stress or anxiety is starting to take a toll, consider talking to a mental health professional.

1. Talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling
Just talking to someone about how you feel can take a weight off your shoulders. Make sure you trust the person, then work out what you want to say to them. We’ve got four more steps for talking to someone you trust here.

2. Focus on the present
Have you ever noticed that feeling stressed or anxious often coincides with dwelling on the past or worrying about the future? Simply focusing your mind on the present moment can help you feel a little more relaxed. You might be surprised to know there’s lots of ways to do this, even if you don’t like meditating. Here’s five simple ways to be more mindful.

3. Take some time out
A fully packed schedule would make a lot of people feel stressed. Make sure you fit in at least one thing you enjoy each day, whether it’s a hobby, a Netflix show, or a chat with a friend. It can also help if you schedule the enjoyable activity into your day, so that you don’t feel guilty about not doing something else.

4. Monitor your thoughts
Sometimes we don’t even know what’s making us stressed or anxious. Writing down your thoughts can help you figure out what the cause is. Once you’ve done that, you can work on challenging and changing your negative thoughts. You can use a diary to do this, or an app such as Mindshift.

5. Challenge your thoughts
If your head is full of negative thoughts, of course you’re going to feel stressed or anxious. But even though our thoughts feel true, it doesn’t mean they reflect what’s really happening. Try writing down what you’re thinking, then adding facts that support or disprove each thought. You might be surprised by how many of your thoughts are exaggerated or aren’t reality. Read more about how to challenge negative thoughts here.

6. Move more, eat well, sleep
It’s pretty well known that exercise lowers stress, reduces anxiety and improves mood. And the good news is: you don’t need to run a marathon to get the benefits. It takes just 30 minutes of exercise a day to make a difference. We’ve got some tips on how to exercise when you’re not feeling motivated.

7. Face your fears
If you always avoid situations that make you anxious, this might be stopping you from doing things you want or need to do. It sounds weird, but facing the things that make you anxious can reduce your anxiety.

It’s best to do this with the help of a professional, though, so that it doesn’t get too full-on for you. If you’d like to speak to a experienced, qualified and friendly Counselor – click here

Article by reachout.com


 

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an article by
Julia Di Giacomo, LCSW

When human beings are in danger their bodies produce a heightened state of arousal know as fight or flight response. This response is meant to warn us about the threat to our safety and therefore serves to be very useful in protecting us. However, for many people this type of reaction can become attached to perceived threats which are not real and therefore the response becomes maladaptive and creates a great deal of distress for the person experiencing it. At that point, the person may begin experiencing what we refer to as an anxiety disorder which can manifest anxiety symptoms in any general sense, in social situations, can lead to panic attacks or can be extreme as part of the post-traumatic stress disorder after a traumatic event.

Due to the unpredictable nature of the onset of these symptoms, anxiety disorders are one of the main reasons people seek mental health counseling and therapy. In my professional experience in working with these disorders, I have found that clients do best when they are offered tools and techniques to manage their anxiety. These techniques are called Grounding Techniques as they are meant to “ground” the person and help them return to a state of homeostasis. Since the anxiety symptoms have everything running at an accelerated speed and have persons affected worrying about the future or regretting the past it is essential for the individual to be able to “ground” themselves to the here and now in order to return to a state of calm and well-being.

One of the first tools the clinician can offer is to help the client identify something they can use as an “Anchor” to remind them to return to the present moment.

Anchors:

Clients can use a rubber band, hair tie or bracelet around their wrist and when they feel themselves becoming anxious, they can snap themselves back to the present moment.

Clients can download a picture of a favorite person, place or art on the home screen of their phone and stare at it when becoming anxious to return to the present moment.

Clients can use a favorite symbol or toy on a key chain and hold it and rub it when becoming anxious so that they can return to present moment.
Clients can use a favorite song on speed dial or sounds that create a sense of calm and peace and help them to return to present time.

After the clients have anchored themselves then the work on “grounding” them and calming down the anxiety can begin.
Grounding Techniques:

Physical techniques:

Breathing- it must be deep breathing where they breathe in from the diaphragm for 3 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, release for 3 seconds and make a ssshhh sound when releasing to ensure they have emptied it all out and not holding the anxiety in their bodies.

Client sits up in a chair with feet firmly on the ground and place palms of hands on legs and count until their body calms down.
Client uses cold compresses near pressure points and hold it there until their body starts to regulate and calm down.
Client shakes themselves free of the anxiety by shaking their arms and legs and making loud sounds to get all the anxiety out of their body.

Clients get physical literally-They go for a walk, run, exercise, or dance until they feel their body return to its natural state.
Clients use an essential oil or favorite body cream on their skin and breathe it in until they feel themselves calming down.
Observation and physical description:

Clients are asked to focus on anything in the environment and describe everything about it. Whether it be a painting, a book, a car, a sign on a train or bus or in your office, etc. I have literally used a fire extinguisher when I have not had anything else and asked a client to describe everything about it. The idea is to use it as a distraction and to focus their energy on it. By the time the client is done describing it they will have calmed down.

Cognitive Techniques:

Cognitive techniques are also to be used as distractions that clients can access through memory such as recalling all the details from a favorite place or vacation. Once they focus on describing all the details of that time or place they will be reminded of the pleasant feelings associated with it and they will calm down.

Clients can also recite a favorite poem or song with this type of technique and the intention is the same by distracting their energy and focusing on the details and positive feelings they will return to present moment and feel better.

Client can also pray, meditate or participate in a guided meditation. These can all be used as distraction that help them return to the here and now and their state of homeostasis.

Client can also draw or use art as the distraction to soothe themselves and calm their anxiety.

Auditory Techniques:

Clients can listen to music or any other sounds that help them calm down. It can be the ocean, nature, birds, the sound of a loved one’s voice. The goal is the same to calm the anxiety and return them to the present moment.

It is only after clients have grounded themselves, achieved a state of homeostasis and safety that they can begin to work on the underlying issues and conflicts.


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an article by
Nicoletta Pallotta, MD, LCSW
CEO & Founder

As the much anticipated ‘return to work’ takes hold… my overwhelming concern has been once the pandemic was under control and social distance has been lifted, how would I manage our physical locations, for our clients and the 150 therapists that work for BCS Group.

I not only need to consider everyone’s safety, but also the new ‘norm’ for our practice, many clients and therapists have expressed a strong desire to continue with our tele-health model.

When COVID first forced me to shut down the physical locations, my focus abruptly shifted from assigning rooms to schedule our clients, to providing secure, Live Video services. The upside to this change gave us the ability to extend our hours, care for more clients, and hire more therapist. But also, it gave us the capability to reach out to more remote areas, where clients and therapist that previously may not have been able to connect with us, now could.

As I plan for the opening of locations and develop a real sense of the future balance between in-person and online, I decided the best way to forecast the future was to engage directly with our therapist and clients, to see what their preferences really are.

I was really surprised to learn that most therapists are more interested in the remote model, as are our clients, they are really enjoying tele-mental health; the convenience and flexibility, generally they feel their therapy sessions have been more relaxing from the comfort of their homes, along with not needing to arrange childcare, no more commute or waiting rooms. Overall, online counseling is a lot less stressful.

I think the pandemic helped us all realize that remote care is here to stay.


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Even through, as an essential worker, i was in my office everyday through the pandemic – i saw my clients via Live Video Chat, i supervised therapists through Live Video Chat and i managed most of my staff through Live Video chat.

I have been asked a number of times “it must be so much better seeing clients in person, right?” I have spent much time thinking about this, and caught myself reflecting on just this question during sessions… I stumbled on the realization that when we see our clients in their own environment, over Live Video, we really do learn a lot about them we might not get to see when they come to our office.

Their home environment tells the clinician a lot about how they live and what is important to them, whether it is art they have hanging on their wall, or their connection to a dog or a cat or maybe both!

Seeing our clients in their own comfort zone allows us more understanding to who they are, which will undoubtedly help the therapeutic relationship. People often take for granted their environment and wouldn’t think to share some of the aspects of their home life with their therapist.

One of the main benefits of Online Counseling, besides the end of the commute and no more uncomfortable waiting rooms, is when our client is in their natural environment, often they are more relaxed and open to the process.

Dr. Nicoletta Pallotta
BCS Group – Founder, CEO


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An article written by our Founder and CEO,
Nicoletta Pallotta, MD, LCSW

14 months of a Pandemic no one saw coming and no one was prepared for. I have seen clients struggle with social distancing, isolation, struggling with remote working, and/or home schooling their children. We have all been mentally challenged with having no physical contact and not being able to see our friends and loved ones. And of course, the devastating reality of some of us losing loved ones to Covid-19.

I was committed to being one constant in the lives of our clients, to continuing to see every single one of them that needed us, but also being available for so many, many more that reached out for our help. These unique and stressful times pushed us to do psychotherapy in a different way that we were used too. Our roles became overwhelming with responsibilities, with day-in and day-out struggles for my amazing team, who’s dedication and compassion came shinning though day after day after day.

What does the future of mental health look like?
“I believe that we don’t know the full impact of the pandemic, and that many people are still in survival mode.”

Many people are still living day to day, coping with the devastation of personal loss and financial concerns as best they can. Mental services are now more needed and demand than ever before. We still don’t fully know the consequences of social isolation and how it has impacted us and what effect it might have on our children and their futures. We will have to wait and see.

Tele-mental health is here to stay. Technology helps us reach more people who need us, particularly in remote areas, and our therapists turn up every day to help those who need us. And I am here to support them every step of the way.

The future is brighter – I am sure of it.


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An article written by our Founder and CEO,
Nicoletta Pallotta, MD, LCSW

The fear is, because tele-mental health is a newer, alternative form of treatment, it is somehow less effective or a less desirable standard of care.

But the truth is, this technology platform represents much of the future in healthcare, and will likely lead the charge into the next era. In my opinion, having provided mental health care for over 35 years, tele-health works particularly well using digital, video-based care models, allowing us to reach more people in need, who otherwise, go without quality care.

This is one of the few health specialties that does not necessarily require ‘touch’ when doing an assessment or delivering treatment. Without that physical need, the Care Provider does not typically need to be in the same room as the client, allowing many more ways this care model could benefit their clients.

One might ask; does this communication between client and provider be as good as an in-person visit?

This may have been true when tele-health was in its infancy and lacked the technological capabilities it currently has. With the recent advancements in video conferencing systems and the ability to access much higher Internet speeds, the quality of video provides an environment in which there is little difference to an in-person consultation. The Care Provider will still be able to pick up on nonverbal cues and observe other factors such as their behaviors, facial expressions, hygiene, and speech patterns.

Tele-mental health care is as effective as in person sessions.

It also greatly increases access to care for many clients who may not otherwise be able to seek treatment. Allowing the client to seek treatment in their community, or even in their own home, has led to less travel, fewer absences from work, less time waiting, more choices for treatment, and ultimately, these factors lead to greater access for clients. This is especially important given the huge shortage of providers in this field.


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You should never underestimate the affect that stress can have on your body and your mind.

The symptoms of large amounts of stress include tiredness, illness, and the inability to concentrate or think clearly. Sometimes, prolonged periods of stress can even cause a mental breakdown. If you suffer from extreme stress or are stressed for a long period of time, your body will eventually wear itself down.

But sometimes a small amount of stress can actually be good in that it can help you gather yourself and take action. For example, when you have an important task to perform, stress can kick in and motivate you to meet your goals. During times of crisis, stress can send you into “automatic pilot” mode where you are able to block out the chaos around you and react effectively in the situation.

Some common stress factors include academic demands; moving house; being on your own in a new environment, new responsibilities; a new job or promotion; changes in family relations and your social life; financial responsibilities, and of course, a global phenomenon such as COVID-19, where our way of life has changed completely and the future is uncertain.

Whether in school or employment, pulling an “all-nighter” can lead to stress-driven exhaustion the following day. Caffeine starts with a temporary energy boost and ends in a crash, which can leave you feeling worse than you did originally. Waiting until the very last minute to get something done which forces your body to run on adrenaline.

Some ways to manage stress relief would start with managing your time wisely and staying organized. Try to get some form of exercise daily and eat healthily. A very important consideration when you are going through a stressful time, get enough sleep, it may seem a simple answer, but it’s also works.


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Life has a way of teaching us how to love ourselves through aging, an inevitable metamorphosis, whether we accept it or not.

I’m 69 years old. I’m proud of who I am, what i have achieved, and what i have contributed to my community. My age has never defined me, how i look, how I dress, how I act.

I know women who are younger than I am, that seem… well, older some how. This led me to a theory; maybe the way we perceive age is mainly, in part, due to how the women who raised us also perceived it? As child, I grew up with sisters who where 20 years older than me, through my eyes, the women in my family always seemed old and looked old. I thought they represented aging as slowing down until death.

I personally, like to perceive getting old as a promotion, or a victory celebrating what I have overcome throughout my life. What I began to understand was that maybe the resentment of aging is more psychological than physical. I am convinced that aging is not the end of a beautiful thing, but is the beautiful thing itself.

In spite of my upbringing, I am learning to dwell in the present, embracing each phase of my life for what it is, and what it has to offer, without resenting the years that I have yet to be graced with. When we grow older, we tend to only think of the end, we can lose sight of the fact that life is not about preparing for the end, but how we seize the years in between.

There will be days when I do not recognize the face of the woman I see in the mirror, although her eyes look the same. Despite that, I have decided that I will be mindful even now, not to burden my older years with dread. I know who I am, and i will not let my age or society dictate what I should be. I will live in the moment, and i will live my life to the fullest.