Monday, August 22, 2011

Adjusting to Change

Autumn is a season for many changes. Students are going back to school, teachers are going back to work, and everyone is starting to hang up the summer beach towels and preparing for the fall’s new schedule. If you are like many Americans, the word ‘schedule’ sounds like it is suffocating you from the easy-going, free-spirited summer lifestyle you just enjoyed. Sure you enjoy a little bit of a guideline to life, but how can you get pleasantly acquainted with this change you need to adjust to? Lifechanging Counseling has 5 simple tips to help you enjoy harmonizing with your new schedule.

1. Get a good night’s sleep. Sleeping the recommended 7-9 hours has many positive effects on the mind and body including boosting positive mood, energy to get through the day, and the ability to focus.

2. Eat breakfast. Fact: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast within the first hour after waking kick-starts the body’s metabolism, helping it to work faster throughout the day. Eating breakfast will help you focus on your morning tasks, not on your moaning stomach. Did you know that eating an apple for breakfast actually gives you more sustaining energy than a cup of coffee? The natural sugars in an apple give your body the pick-me-up without the crash.

3. Think positive! Robert Merton came up with the first psychological definition of self-fulfilling prophecy. He said that a false definition of a situation may convince a person to act in that preconceived behavior, which can make the original false idea come true. So, approach your new adjustment challenge (whether it be school, work, or just back from vacation) with a smile. Tell yourself that today is going to be a great day, and list your reasons why. You may be surprised how the people around you begin to notice the positive energy you give-off.

4. Exercise. Make time for a 30-minute walk with friends or family. You will gain quality social opportunities, and the endorphins (the “feel-good” compounds in the brain) trigger a positive feeling in the body.

5. Prepare. Get everything you need for tomorrow (such as your lunch) prepared the night before. Doing this will help you to not feel bombarded with tasks first thing in the morning.

These five simple steps can help you adjust to your new fall schedule with ease and delight!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Is There a Risk of Autism in Siblings?

In the past couple years, there have been many proposals thrown to the public on autism and its onset. Some say it is a result of a child vaccine, others say it was the pregnant mother’s diet, and even more say it is a result of taking anti-depressants during pregnancy. While none of these have been dismissed yet, one thing has recently been shown to be true: if one child is diagnosed with autism, it is likely that a future brother or sister will be autistic as well. The largest study yet on children with an autistic sibling found that the average risk of a brother/sister also being diagnosed with autism was almost 19 percent. Children who had more than one sibling with autism had an even higher risk of being autistic: a significant 32 percent. Even though these results highlight genetics as a determining factor for autism likelihood, they still offer hints at environmental factors that could also explain autism in siblings, such as influences in the womb. If you are concerned about your child/children possibly being autistic, talk to the school counselor, or teacher. A key factor is catching this as early as possible. Research has found that if a parent detects the early signs of autism (i.e. abnormally large head circumference, missing crucial language development milestones, or lacking basic communication skills), there can be great benefits from taking advantage of therapies as soon as possible, which can help treat some of autism’s symptoms.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"The Help"

Yesterday at about 3pm, I was sitting at my computer, ready to post my blog about the highly-acclaimed novel-turned movie The Help. For some reason, though, something told me it still was not quite finished. So here is my "new and improved" message to you, part two.
Last weekend, I saw The Help with my family. There seemed to be a unanimous sense of approval coming from the audience; the movie was "up to par" at exemplifying the early '60s in the South. However, after reading another author's take on the movie, my perception of the film's wide-spread acceptance was nothing more than a complete delusion. Instead of applauding author Kathryn Stockett for a job well-done at writing the women of The Help's true stories, some African American women were unappreciative and somewhat resentful by the fact that a "white woman told a black woman's story". Was the story not told, nonetheless? I was baffled by the reactions I was reading! One woman wrote that a white woman could never know what the African American women experienced.
Kathryn Stockett's primary purpose for compiling these true stories of The Help into a book was not to cause an uproar against the white race, nor was it written to promote a handicap for African Americans. Stockett wanted her listeners to relive these historical and heart-wrenching events to soak up the lessons of courage and liberation! Rather than waste time and effort arguing at who wrote this inspirational story, let's come together and look at how far Americans have pushed and fought to get where we are today from just 50 years ago. One woman beautifully wrote: "If we look seriously at what is happening in America today, there is a need for that knowledge. There is a need for that connection. There is a need for seeing the spirit and determination of those people." This was said by an African-American woman whose husband was gunned-down on his front lawn in Jackson, Miss. in 1963. It is a precious gift to live in today's America, where men and women can vote; people of all races can attend the same schools and universities; mothers can also be working professionals; fathers can shamelessly be stay-at-home dads; and people of all religions are free to practice their choice of spirituality. Let us not forget who we are as a society now. To have history is to have a road map for the future. I encourage you to listen to the morals of the story from The Help and take them it for what they are really worth. We each have one life to live. Live yours, love yours, and let others do the same.

If you feel that you or someone you know may be struggling with a social or a personal battle, Lifechanging Counseling would love to help be that extra guide. Give us a call today or visit our website! Also, be sure to sign up to receive your free book, written by Ms. Jama Thurman, LPC herself!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love: A Book Review

Have you ever found yourself at a point in your life where you felt more trapped than a feral lion at the zoo? Nothing brings you the happiness that it used to. Many of your close relationships with friends and family have drifted farther and farther away from your heart. Where is your out? You have responsibilities to take ownership of: finances, maybe a spouse and/or children, your career, spirituality, etc. Another huge responsibility many Americans forget to take ownership of is THEMSELVES! I would like to invite you on a journey through author of Eat, Pray, Love Elizabeth Gilbert’s life as she transformed her life from a depressed, trapped housewife to a culturally rich and recharged spiritual guru.

As readers of Eat, Pray, Love are first introduced to Liz, she is a sad Manhattan woman, trapped in her recent marriage, literally crying on the bathroom floor night after night, weeping over the circumstances life has currently abandoned her with. At this point in time, Liz does not know God, nor does she really even know herself. Finally, after another night of ritualistic sobbing in the bathroom, Liz decides to try something she has never done before. Pray. After that night of releasing many confessions, pleads, and tears, Liz writes a dramatic new schedule for the next year of her life.

To some, dropping a lifestyle one has spent his/her entire life to make can be nothing less than utterly terrifying. To Liz, it was the perfect prescription. In a matter of days, Liz filed for a divorce, told her job she was leaving (to return with a promised novel about her adventures), and rented a new apartment where she would begin living in Italy. Eat, Pray, Love takes the reader through three different experiences in three very different countries: Italy, India, and Indonesia. I will not spoil the entire book for you, but I will tell you that the difficult and heart-wrenching situations Liz triumphs over in the next 365 days will warm your heart. For many, it will hit a spot close to home. This book personally taught me how to be brave and take ownership of my life. I laughed; I cried; and I carried the book with me everywhere I went, just in case I had any chance to pick it back up and continue to prevail through my own challenging life vicariously through Liz’s story. Ms. Elizabeth Gilbert brilliantly hits a nerve her American audience sometimes desperately needs to feel.

If you are looking for some personal and professional words of encouragement without having to spill the beans to another individual, I strongly encourage you to take a wild chance on this book. The stories of soul-searching by stepping out of one’s comfort zone reflect that of Man’s Search for Meaning with a twist of The Stranger’s existentialism. Feel your soul rejuvenate as you eat, pray, and fall in love with Liz Gilbert.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Big Move-In Day! College-bound: What Not to Forget When Packing.

If you are like the thousands of students across America beginning their journey as a college student, there are a few things you will not want to forget to pack! Many do not realize the importance of tools. As a young adult not too far out from college, I cannot tell you how many times I needed a screwdriver! Things may unexpectedly break or get a little loose, and you may need a quick fix to tighten your desk drawer or a screw in your chair. Another handy tool to have is a flashlight. The weather is unpredictable, and so can be the power lining, so it may be helpful to have a flashlight if the power ever goes out, or even if you may have a dark corner you need to look at to find where you dropped last night’s M&M’s between the bed.

Another useful tool to have on-hand is a set of jumper cables. If you are feeling ambitious, learn how to use these cables before you go to college too! Again, the unexpected happens, and you want to be prepared to take care of yourself. First aid kits can also be extremely helpful to store in the trunk of the car for those occasional bumps and bruises.

The freshman dorms are probably one of the most anticipated and decorated places student will live in. For many, it is the primal opportunity for a room makeover. So, if you have a little extra to spend, go ahead and splurge on some fun posters, curtains, picture frames, or new bed sheets. One fun gift I was given after my high school graduation was a box of stationary, complete with a book of stamps, return address labels, and envelopes. I never thought I would write as much mail as I did throughout my four years of college. Mail is fun! Scheduling can be difficult with classes, campus clubs, part-time jobs, social life, etc., so mailing can help parents and students keep in touch if phone time cannot be fitted into a regular schedule. Planners/calendars are also a smart idea to bring to college. They help students keep track of assignments, log future exam dates, and even remember special peoples’ birthdays. They are also fun to look back at later and remember all of the great things you were a part of in college.

The last and most important thing to remember to bring to college is your own unique YOU! Moving away from home and adapting to a new and foreign lifestyle can be incredibly horrifying, yet extremely exciting at the same time. It is normal to experience a whirlwind of emotions the first few weeks or even months before and during freshman year. Freshmen are going to come from all parts of the country, with various backgrounds. Some will be bilingual, some will be the first of their family to enter a university, and some may be an avid athlete, scholar, or musician. The best part of college is that everyone is different, but are coming together to learn and excel. Bring what you have to offer, and be proud that YOU are going to a school where there will be an abundance of resources to help you excel in any way you desire. Just remember to seek, and you shall receive.