individuals counseling Articles

How To Live Well With Social Anxiety

Many of us experience social situations that cause us anxiety. For some, meeting new people is a challenge. For others, just walking into a room full of strangers is uncomfortable. Because we like to avoid discomfort, most of us try to develop workarounds that allow us to be out in the world and forming new relationships.

When the anxiety begins to keep us from activities, interfere with work, or prevent us from participating in social gatherings, it may be time to look more closely at our social phobia, understand it and get help.

Social Anxiety Disorder

For the purposes of this discussion, it is good to have a sense for what an actual diagnosis of social anxiety disorder looks like, so we can better assess our own symptoms and determine whether or not we should seek the assistance of a mental health counselor. The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition), describes Social Anxiety Disorder as follows:

  1. Marked fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others. Examples include social interactions (e.g. – having a conversation, meeting unfamiliar people), being observed (e.g. – eating or drinking), and performing in front of other (e.g. – giving a ...
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Trauma Treatment and Recovery from a Christian perspective

In my practice, individuals coming in with traumas make up a significant portion of those I see. In fact, many people coming in with depression and/or anxiety are experiencing this as a result of trauma, often without even realizing it.

Trauma can take many different forms. For many, when we think of the effects of trauma we think of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This collection of symptoms first gained major attention after World War I and II, with many veterans showing difficulty readjusting to “regular” life.

At the time, we called this “Shell Shock,” and over the years the hallmark symptoms of PTSD, such as flashbacks, intense anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and nightmares, have been given different labels, but the underlying process remains the same.

However, trauma can come from a variety of origins, not just war. We might think of domestic traumas as things like being a part of or witnessing a major accident, death, or significantly terrifying life event. While these might feel like “flashbulb” incidents -- bright, vivid memories that are engrained in our memory, just like how a flashbulb allows for an image to be engrained on film -- trauma can come from a “slow burn” as well.

This can look like an abusive relationship or living in a high...

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What are the Causes of Eating Disorders: 7 Common Risk Factors

Most people either know someone or know of someone who has struggled with an eating disorder. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), national surveys have estimated that in the United States about 20 million women and 10 million men will develop an eating disorder at some point during their lifetime.

In addition, eating disorders can have devastating effects on a person’s life and the lives of their family and friends. Therefore, prevention, recognition, and treatment of eating disorders are crucial.

As you are likely aware, there are three types of eating disorders that are often discussed in popular media: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. For the sake of simplicity, we will be focusing on factors that contribute to these three diagnoses.

Before we discuss risk factors, it is important to know that eating disorders are complex and multifaceted. We do not see one single cause creating an eating disorder, but rather that there are many factors that contribute to someone developing an eating disorder.

Furthermore, not everyone who displays risk factors will go on to experience an eating disorder. Throughout this article we are going to examine several of the risk factors that have been associated with eating di...

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What is an Anxiety Attack and What Should I Do If I Have One?

You may have heard someone at work or a social function say, “I feel like I’m having an anxiety attack.” Usually if you can say that, you aren’t actually having an anxiety attack.

You may be on the verge of an anxiety attack, but an actual anxiety attack is usually quite debilitating. The symptoms may come on suddenly, like a panic attack, or more gradually, but are no less distressing when severe, and may include:

  • chest pains
  • racing or pounding heart
  • feeling faint, weak, or dizzy
  • difficulty taking a deep breath, or rapid breathing
  • feeling sweaty or having chills
  • a sense of impending doom or terror

Some victims of anxiety attacks say it feels like they are having a heart attack. When experiencing these kinds of symptoms, a trip to the emergency room is a wise precaution, just to make sure something more serious is not happening.

Physical Processes of Anxiety

The human body is equipped with a remarkable defense mechanism—the sympathetic nervous system—that kicks on in moments of crisis. When we are under threat, we may have a split second to decide whether to defend (fight) or flee (flight). At that moment, the entire body prepares to go into action.

Imagine walkin...

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Christ as the Foundation for Spiritual Development

Have you felt a desire to grow and develop spiritually? If so, it is God who placed the desire within you. Have you felt unsatisfied with a faith that lacks the depth and transformational power you long for? God is drawing you closer.

Have you felt helpless and confused in the face of painful situations? God is calling you deeper into harmony with His will for your life. This is not a divine guilt-trip or a sign of heavenly disapproval. As always, God’s motivation for this calling in your life is pure, perfect, relentless love.

As the hymnist George Matheson wrote in 1882,

“O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.”

Why do so many Christians live with spiritual stagnation and defeat? Perhaps many considered the moment of their justification before God (by grace, through faith in Christ) as the pinnacle of their spiritual journey. However, this allows no active role in the life of the Christian for the Holy Spirit, who Jesus said “the Father will send in my name” to “teach you all things” and “remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit is also the One who can produce the “fruit” of divine love...

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How a Personal Coach Can Help You Reach Your Goals

We work best when we have a sense of purpose. A sense of purpose engages not just our will, but our best thoughts, our passions and gives life a much needed sense of meaning. In Proverbs it says not having vision can kill you; I would add both physically and emotionally. I’m reminded of the old Disney short cartoons that would include a businessman trudging to work at his soul-sucking day job, rings under his eyes, despondently going through the motions. Life is much better lived when it is about meaningful activity, whether at work or play, to be on purpose and engaged with those around us. If you are dissatisfied with your current job or life path, a personal coach can help you reorient yourself so you have a greater sense of purpose and meaning.

What Do You Want?

Another way to phrase this is, what are my objectives? Too often, people get an opportunity to work at some job or project, and because the money is good, or the prestige, or who is involved, they don’t pause long enough to ask, “Is this something I really want?” If we don’t ask the question, we end up living on impulse, aimless, and our sense of purpose becomes circumstantial. There’s an old business saying, “Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it every time.” Brainstorm first. Wave your magic ...

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Grief Stages and Dealing with Death Across the Globe

Birth and death are the two indisputable experiences that we share as humans. Each person has entered the world from the womb and will one day die. We join the world screaming, unaware of self and others and begin, well … being. It is a bright time brimming with possibility. There is a middle, where we are now, and where we focus most of our attention. And then there is death – a universal reality. Heavy, dark, and mysterious.

Despite the hard facts of the life cycle, the way we approach death varies greatly. I wish that I could tell you “There is one way that humans deal with death. Pay attention and I’ll give you the steps to avoiding the pain that accompanies it.” Much to my disappointment, and I’m sure yours as well, that just isn’t the way death works and that is not the direction this article is going.

Consider your own thoughts about death. Probably different from a six-year old’s, right? A six-year-old may realize that when a person dies they will no longer be around, but perhaps the complexity in which they understand the death will develop at a later age.

Similarly, the emotional response to death, known as grief, is different from person to person. Age, environment, and religious beliefs are key factors in an individual’s narrative of death ...

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