Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is an extremely beneficial practice, as it has been shown to help develop inner stability, calmness, and awareness.  This experience allows for other issues in our lives that may be out of balance, to be appropriately supported and addressed.  Practicing mindfulness meditation consistently has been shown to provide many positive benefits for our physical, mental, and emotional health, including improved immune function, decreased heart rate and blood pressure, improved sleep, and improved cognitive functioning (memory, decision making, focus, etc), healthier relationships, and stress reduction.  We are so often flooded with information and stimulation from sources outside of our selves, that becoming still and quiet seems like a foreign concept to most of us.  It is a ‘wish’ or a ‘goal’ to put the phone away earlier in the evening, it’s a ‘new year’s resolution’ to cut back on social media or other ‘screen’ time. Reducing the flooding of stimulation is a rare experience, rather than a normal state of being. How different we could function if we were able to slow down and truly rest in a quiet self-focused time?  Mindfulness and meditation are two practices that are being talked about more recently in pop culture as effective ways to quiet the mind and create a sense of calm and balance in one’s life.  There are many ways to practice mindfulness and/or meditation and more importantly there is a very long list of benefits these practices have been documented to provide, to include reduction in depression, anxiety, and pain symptoms.  Just a quick google search of those two words {mindfulness meditation}will provide you with many resources on the topic.  Of course, when there is a wealth of information on any topic…it can be overwhelming.  It is important to remember that mindfulness and meditation can be incorporated into your life and personality in a way that feels supportive and empowering, not overwhelming and stressful.  Just allow yourself to read a few of the articles and resources that you feel drawn to, and you will likely find that there is a basic platform to mindfulness and meditation that a beginner can grasp and easily begin to practice.

 

Sarasota Counselor: Courtney Davenport, LCSW

Courtney Davenport, LCSW has a private practice with two office locations, Sarasota and Venice.  www.CourtneyDavenport.com

 

Insomnia: Can’t Sleep? Read this!

So often insomnia can be an incredibly difficult challenge for people because our sleep…the only time our bodies have a chance to rest, recover, heal…affects every aspect of our waking life.  When you are tired, or worse, chronically tired, there is a core ache; that is your body craving restorative sleep.  Without consistent sleep, just getting through the basic expectations of daily life can feel daunting.  Your body becomes anxious, ‘awake’, in a fight-or-flight state, twenty-four hours a day.  When exploring your sleep difficulties, it is important to think about the root causes of your sleep struggles.  Most often, insomnia is triggered by stress.  However, there are also medical reasons why you may be having difficulty sleeping.  It is important to have an appointment with your health care provider and discuss any health issues you may have that could be affecting your sleep patterns.  If medical/health reasons are ruled out, talking to a therapist regarding your stress and any other life issues that may be contributing to your insomnia can be incredibly helpful. When we are awake at night (and chronically tired), we are often alone and feeling vulnerable.  It’s easy to ruminate on life’s stressors and get caught up in a destructive conversation with yourself.  This conversation can include worry-focused thoughts, fear, anticipatory anxiety and can lead to a flood of negative feelings and self-defeating thoughts.  However, when processing your stress with a therapist, a productive conversation can be had.  A productive conversation in which you feel supported, and can focus on the root causes of your sleep difficulties…which can be the best way to address insomnia on a long term basis.  A few environmental changes can help support a healthier sleep pattern as well.  First, begin by taking a look at your bedroom.  What are your thoughts about what you see?  Does the space appear calming or chaotic? Focus on areas you can clean and organize the bedroom to create a visually calmer space.  Often when our external environment is chaotic, it’s difficult to cultivate an internal sense of calm.  Take sources of media (phones, computers, televisions, tablets) out of the bedroom, or turn them off after dinner. Our brains are extremely stimulated by these sources, turning them off or (better!) keeping them out of the bedroom at all times, allows your brain a chance to slow down, relax into the evening.  If you wake up in the middle of the night, get out of bed, go to another room and read or write in a journal until you feel sleepy.  Although it can be tempting to use media (tv, computer, phone) in the middle of the night, this will only serve to stimulate your brain even more.  Throughout the day, focus on nutrition choices that are healthy and serve your body’s needs (a sugar or caffeine crash will only exacerbate your already sluggish feelings).  Consistent exercise can be very helpful as well; however, it’s best to complete your exercise at least four hours before bedtime, as most exercise is stimulating and will energize you.  Some people find that a slow, gentle stretching routine can be helpful before bed. Creating a calm environment and treating yourself with kindness as you adjust to a new bedtime and self-care routine are the first steps to addressing insomnia and fostering a consistent healthy sleeping pattern.

 

Sarasota Counselor: Courtney Davenport, LCSW

Courtney Davenport, LCSW Counselor in Sarasota, FL

 

Courtney Davenport, LCSW, LLC provides insomnia counseling and therapy to children and adults in Sarasota, Florida.  Contact the office at 941-330-5348 for more information.

New Year’s Resolutions: Go Back To The Basics!

It’s now almost two weeks into the new year…how are those New Year’s Resolutions settling in with you?  Many of my clients have been discussing experiencing a big push of motivation in their lives around the new year…then a few weeks later, they experience an emotional crash…which often includes abandoning well-intended New Year’s Resolutions. When contemplating New Year’s resolutions, it’s often tempting to think big and focus on what pop culture and the media pressure us to focus on.  In this season, we are constantly inundated with advertisements on tv, social media, and magazines on what resolution you should choose:  “Lose Weight!” “Start Dating/Find a New Relationship!” “Find a Hobby!” “Join a Gym!” “Start a New Diet!”.  Everywhere you turn there is another gym advertisement, diet plan or dating website offering “new year’s” special pricing, or other resolution-focused, consumer driven pressure.  Many of my clients describe feeling pressure to align with these resolutions, even when they don’t necessarily address the most important core issues in their lives.  It’s like attempting to run a marathon race with absolutely no training, wearing improper shoes, and having low hydration…you won’t be very successful in the bigger race if you don’t first take care of the basics.  In processing this issue with clients in my practice, I find it’s often best to go back to the basics in resolving to live a healthier life and have a healthier relationship with your SELF. Ask yourself some basic self-care questions: How has my sleep hygiene been? Could I stand to have an earlier, calmer bedtime routine? Am I feeding myself healthy, nutritious foods on a consistent basis? Are there ways I could take care of myself emotionally that I am neglecting?  What physical movement would best serve my body’s needs right now?  Pay attention to your answers to those questions…see where it takes you.  If you find it difficult to tap into what to do for yourself, you can start with some tips from Psychology Experts. It’s often tempting to try to create a big goal to work towards… However starting with some basic self kindness and self-awareness, you are able to foster a healthy start to the year, which springs into a cascade of positive behaviors.  Perhaps once you focus on improving your sleep hygiene (stay tuned for a future blog on this subject!), you will find you have more energy to take on other healthy habits and relationships.  Starting small, focusing on the basics allows you the building blocks to slowly create change that is sustainable, supportive, and healthy.

Reduce Anxiety with a Morning Routine

The holiday season is upon us and finding ways to reduce anxiety can help make it more enjoyable.  This season is often full of mixed experiences and emotions for many of my clients.  Lately, I’ve noticed many of my clients discussing an almost-constant buzzing feeling within themselves…a chronic state of tension, that makes it difficult to slow down and take care of themselves and their lives.  They describe tense muscles, headaches, high blood pressure, racing pulse, racing heartbeat, any many other symptoms that seem to stay with them – in the background at times – from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to sleep.  As you can imagine, this quickly becomes  an exhausting level of functioning to maintain – and contributes to a cascade of other negative experiences and symptoms (increased stress, difficulty sleeping, poor nutrition choices, etc).  There are many options when exploring ways to address these chronic symptoms.

Beginning your day with a brief ritual is a healthy way to begin to address this challenge.  Just committing yourself to spending five or ten minutes first thing in the morning, to gently stretch, meditate, or journal can make a tremendous impact on your day.  Beginning your day with a brief, calming ritual signals to the mind and body that it is okay to relax and support yourSELF…rather than rushing through your day in a chronic state of chaos (or serving others).  This five or ten minute ritual should be something you can commit to doing with yourself every day, first thing in the morning as a good way to set a calmer, more peaceful tone to your day.  The excellent resource website Good Therapy.org and The American Psychological Association (APA) offer several additional tips to help manage stress, including: exercise, utilizing social support, making healthy nutrition choices, and laughter.

 

Sarasota Counselor: Courtney Davenport, LCSW

Courtney Davenport, LCSW Counselor in Sarasota, FL

Sarasota Counselor, Courtney Davenport, LCSW, LLC provides counseling and therapy to children and adults in Sarasota, Florida.  Contact the office at 941-330-5348 for more information.

Reduce anxiety and depression with pets?

Anxiety and depression can be reduced in children and adults, according to new research from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).   When a child (or adult) is experiencing anxiety or depression, choosing the right pet can reduce anxiety or depression symptoms. When a child has a pet, such as a dog or a cat, there are a myriad of learning and growing opportunities within that experience that address the anxiety and depression symptoms and beyond (play, caretaking, social interaction, problem solving, etc). The most important first step is to identify what kind of pet would best suit the needs and patterns of your family day to day needs and emotional needs.  Some things to think about: What are the emotional needs of each family member? How often is someone home and able to tend to the pet? How often do you travel?  Does anyone in the family have any specific pet allergies or fears?  Who will be the pet’s primary caregiver?  Once you have identified a good pet-match for your family, it is a good idea to go to a local shelter or rescue center and see several different ages, sizes and breeds of the pet you are interested in.  This would be a good opportunity for the whole family to interact with different pets and ensure the pet choice is a good match for all the members of the family.  Once you have chosen a pet and are home, it is important to set up a family plan about the pets needs…perhaps having a family meeting or creating a visual aid will help everyone understand their role.  This provides a baseline understanding for the children to grasp some of the basics of pet caregiving.  Each day will bring a new opportunity for your child to interact, problem solve, or take care of the family pet.  As time goes on, you can reinforce positive behaviors (in both your children and pets) and help redirect negative behaviors.

 

reduce anxiety and depression with pets

Model for how pet dogs may influence the physical and mental health of children. From http://www.cdc.gov

Sarasota Counselor: Courtney Davenport, LCSW

Courtney Davenport, LCSW Counselor in Sarasota, FL

Courtney Davenport, LCSW, LLC provides counseling and therapy to children and adults in Sarasota, Florida.  Contact the office at 941-330-5348 for more information.

Anxiety Tips

Nine ways to help yourself manage anxiety symptoms.

 

When we are struggling with anxiety, it can quickly spiral into a combination of anxiety about the present as well as anxiety about the future (or anticipatory-anxiety).  Anticipatory-anxiety can create anxiety symptoms when you think about a future activity or interaction that triggers anxious feelings.  This article outlines nine ways you can help yourself at the onset of anxious feelings.  Responding to your feelings right away can help you support yourself and feel more empowered to manage your anxiety symptoms.

Here is the article:

http://psychcentral.com/lib/9-ways-to-reduce-anxiety-right-here-right-now/

 

Counseling and therapy in Sarasota Florida

boat rivers- counseling office

If you are looking for therapy or counseling in Sarasota, FL contact Courtney Davenport, LSCW, LLC.:
http://www.courtneydavenport.com/

Individuals and couples of all ages are treated.

Counseling and therapy for:

  • Eating Disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Life Transitions
  • Communication / Trust
  • Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADD, ADHD)

This counseling and therapy blog will post content related to counseling and therapy.

More to come soon…