Author: Kristin Thorisdottir

Man with mental illness

Online therapy is opening many doors, not only for kids & adults in the countryside but also men with mental challenges

I admit that I was very hesitant to try online conversational therapy and had a bit of prejudice towards the concept. I can be very old-fashioned and online therapy was definitely in line with my old fashion way of thinking.

 How can I as professional build trust and structure through a video conversation? And is it secured? Yes, it is! Thanks to Thorbjorg Helga Vigfusdottir : https://karaconnect.com/

Anyway, my childhood friend who lives in east Iceland (a small village with a limited number of psychologists) had been pressuring me to step into the 21st century and to help facilitate access to mental health care.

I my myself am raised up in the countryside of Iceland and have a full understanding of how many doors this has opened for small towns in Iceland. In addition, I live abroad and can understand that many Icelanders want to speak their language in treatment. Therefore, due to all that I decided to give it a try and I don’t regret it.

Online therapy has been surprising in a number of ways, first of all, it is very simple and accessible to anyone. Secondly, many teenagers today, especially boys, are used to sit in front of a computer and talk to people worldwide through video games. Hence this form of therapy is not so far off from their reality.

 Furthermore, are children comfortable in their home environment and do not need to adapt to both a new place and a new person. Besides, access to parents is also easy when it comes to working with children and their parents. I have been talking to teenagers with their parents, and without the parents, without them driving back and forth to my praxis.

What further came as a surprise to me is that men are in majority of individuals that have been asking me for online therapy. Men of all ages from 14-50 years and not only in Iceland but also across Europe.

Studies have shown that men are far less likely to seek help than women so maybe online therapy is opening some door for them?

For me personally this form has had great value for me. I learn so much from the individuals I work with, but in this way, we can add another kind of learning, cultural one. I am getting to know a certain culture through my clients who live outside of Iceland and Denmark and this has given me a lot.

 I highly recommend this form of therapy for anyone. 

Picture: Snæþór Sigurbjörn Halldórsson 

Mindfulness

Three things to reduce anxiety

Anxiety is often a vicious circle of thoughts and physical reactions. You get one thought which is accompanied by an anxious stomach, and that reinforces some more thoughts and then the nervous system gets even more active so sweating increases &, etc.

Mild anxiety is something that everyone experiences every now and then, e.g. when taking a test, holding a presentation or just confronting some things that are a little bit unpleasant.

However, if your anxiety has become a daily feature it is time to activate some tools to reduce it.

Negative and unconstructive thoughts patterns are not of any use. Because let’s face it, it is not encouraging you or motivating you in any way. They only enhance negative emotions and reduce well-being.

What can you do?

  • Make anxiety your friend instead of your enemy. Why the anxious stomach? What is it telling you? Maybe you could think of the stomach knot as your friend. A friend who is warning you about something unpleasant. I worked with a young boy that had anxiety towards school. He had a knot in his stomach when he had to go to school. Together we found out that it was due to his grades. He was afraid to face his grades. Instead of being in the vicious circle of anxiety and thoughts, he was going to think of the knot as his friend. A friend who was warning him that now was the time to face his fears and take action.

 

  • Practice Mindfulness. It will help you to distance yourself from your thoughts and take control of them at the same time. If meditation is out of the question, you can go for a walk and leave your phone at home and just practice being mindful. Put your focus on the environment. What do you see? What do you hear? Feel the wind blow in your face and hair. Be curious & open about your surroundings without judgment. Judgment is thought, and we are practicing calming the mind. And remember to breathe, deep breathing.

 

  • Practice letting your thoughts come and go without responding to them. It is exhausting to always respond to your thoughts, physically or mentally. You don’t have to react to every thought. It is your thought, you created that thought and you can also send that thought away. Just put that thought into a balloon and release it out into the sky if it is disturbing you.

 

Changes take time. Don’t give up. Just by being aware of some things that are triggering your anxiety is the first step towards healing.

If you find your anxiety too overwhelming to deal with on your own, and it is disabling you in any way, please seek help.

For questions or booking an online therapy contact me here : 

Contact me

 

 

 

A swing in front of a spa in Bali with letter that say Self Love

Self-Compassion can reduce stress, anxiety & depression

Self-compassion is a rather new concept, not everyone has heard of it or understands it, so what does it mean & why is it relevant?

The American psychologist Kristin Neff, has defined it in three main respects.

  • To be good and caring towards yourself, like you were treating a friend. We all deserve compassion like everyone else around us.
  • Understanding and knowing that we are not alone in this world suffering. It is a part of being human and everyone goes through some kind of struggles in their lives.
  • Being present (mindfulness) instead of ruminating about things that make us sad.

The past is gone and will never come back. The past cannot hurt you anymore. It is impossible to experience the pain that the past has caused you to the exact extent that it did then.  

It can sound very simple to just be self-compassionate. However, it can very challenging, especially for women. Studies have shown that men are a little better at not judging themselves too hard and have more compassion for themselves than women.

But why is this important?

The main benefits of self-compassion according to research are:

– Gives more joy

– Gives more optimism

– Has a positive effect on body image

– Increases motivation

– Increases self-worth & self-esteem

– Can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression

Here is one simple exercise to get you started if you are interested in an overall better being:

  • Next time you talk down to yourself, notice and try to think about how you would talk to your best friend or your partner in the same situation?

Would you really talk to your friend with the same harsh criticism? Change that inner voice to a more self-compassionate and loving way. Being harsh on yourself is not useful for you. It is only going to bring you down and we don’t need that in our lives.

I want to encourage you to give it a try. Writing your thoughts and feelings down in a constructive way can reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. Furthermore, can it distance you from you some negative thoughts.

Contact me for more information or for booking an appointment or online therapy: 

Contact me

Picture by Content Pixie

 

Young girl looking at the pavement

Parental burnout

When it comes to burnout, individuals often associate it with the workplace, but it also exists in the parenting role and even in relationships.

But what is burnout? When individuals experience long-term stress that leads to mental, emotional or physical exhaustion. What characterizes burnout among parents in this context is when life can become overwhelming due to long-term fatigue because of constantly meeting the demands of the child/children (spouse).

Research from 2019 found that parents who experience burnout are at risk of disconnecting from the child. The parent can easily start to associates the distress & the negative feelings to the child.  This can have serious consequences for the parent-child relationship. Furthermore, a parent begins to doubt himself as a good parent, which further increases the parents’ distress. More homes today consist of both parents working compared to before, this can increase the strain on parents. In addition, there has been a significant increase in single parents compared to before. The work and other duties start to compete with the child´s attention.

It should be noted that there is no such thing as a perfect parent, and trying to do so can also cause stress, anxiety or exhaustion.

Studies have found it difficult to find gender differences, but because men generally score slightly higher than women on a self-compassion scale, women might be more vulnerable. One study showed that working mothers are in a special risk group of experiencing burnout.

Research has shown that what might be the biggest risk factor of parental burnout is neglection. Neglections towards yourself. Many new-born parents find it difficult to leave their child/ren, and this can become a habit. However, it is, in fact, better for the parent and the child if the parent can have some rest and do something also without the child. Something that can recharge the batteries can also act as a preventative.

Parents must be careful not to neglect themselves and their interests. The social part is very important. One of the first things people want to put on hold when they experience stress is social life. That is very unfortunate because social life is often accompanied by your time & joy plus the laughter can release some happy hormones that is good for everyone.

It is important that parents are aware of taking good care of themselves. If you are a parent who is experiencing fatigue or exhaustion, then it may be a good time to seek help, whether it is from friends, relatives or professionals.

In this article, I mainly addressed parental burnout, but would also like to draw attention to the possibility of linking the burnout definition to your relationship with your spouse. Whatever it is, it is important to be aware and nurture yourself 

Contact me for more information or for booking an appointment : 

Contact me

Picture by:  Snæþór Sigurbjörn Halldórsson

 

Mindfulness at work can prevent work stress & anxiety

Today, when work stress on the rise, it is quite important that individuals are able to use some tools as preventative. The separation between home and work is far less today than before due to all this technology & flexible work hours. This can add more strain to everyday life as you are never quite sure when you are at work and when you are not.

Mindfulness can reduce stress, depression & anxiety and furthermore work as preventative. In addition, it doesn’t take too much of your time on a busy day. You can even use it at the workplace itself without a huge cost.

 Here are some different exercises that you can start with to become more present and thereby reduce stress:

 1)        Being here and now. You can start your workday with the goal of being totally present. For example, if your work requires that you document something, try to devote your entire attention to that documentation. If some thoughts come up (for example, remembering to reply to an email), you can imagine that the thought is like a car passing by quietly. You do not have to respond to the thought because you are being present in the documentation right at that moment.

 2) Stop multitasking and start single-tasking. Many individuals multitask and feel that they are more productive when they do. Unfortunately, research has shown that the brain has difficulty constantly shifting focus to new tasks. Try to do one thing at a time and do that thing properly and then start the next one. This point is very much related to point 1.

 3) Active listening. When talking to a colleague for any reason, try to practice listening actively to that person. Use all your senses to listen and notice how that person is talking and feeling. Use your curiosity and openness without judging.

 4) Focus on your breathing. If you feel stressed or overwhelmed, try shifting your focus to your breathing. If your mind is racing and you are having a hard time quieting the mind, try saying to yourself “now I am here”. When you focus on breathing, here and now, your mind cannot be focusing on all the other tasks that you should be doing. Most stress thoughts have to do with the past or the future and if you are present you cannot be in the past or the future.

On that note, I want to mention some benefits of being more Mindful in the workplace:

– Better communication

– Positivity

– More productive

– Better management and stronger teams

– More robustness

– More confident about change

– More creativity

– Better in making decisions

– Less stress

Start practicing today to be as present as possible. Remember that it takes time for the brain to quiet the mind and being present. Don´t give up. Only 10 minutes a day can reduce stress & anger and in addition effects joy and motivation.

However, if you are already experiencing severe physical & mental symptoms of work stress/burnout I advise you to seek help. The sooner the better.

Contact me for more information or for booking an appointment : 

Contact me

 Picture by Snæþór Sigurbjörn Halldórsson

 
Divorce is hard. Dark siluets of a man and woman in sunset, clearly in argument.

Divorce is hard

Divorce is so much more than the word indicates. Divorce is one of the biggest stressors that can arise in the lives of individuals, and the sorrow process is often a side effect as well.

Apart from grieving the spouse, there is also grief about the future & future plans that have been made. Feelings like shame, anger, and regret are very common emotions that can be very unconstructive. Those emotions accompany the sorrow process as well. Anger over being abandoned by their spouse, regret over past events & shame that the spouse has decided to leave.

Marriage is a unit or team that makes plans for the future and is always working towards some common goals, whether it is child upbringing, taking care of the household or planning the next holiday.

Individuals often feel like they have to start all over again. If individuals have to move as well, it adds more strain. If a child or children are also involved it is an inevitable extra stress factor.

Studies have shown that between 30% and 40% of individuals that go through a divorce experience anxiety or depression. Divorce involves so many major uncertainties concerning not only the future but also the present. This often leads to fears that develop into anxiety.

It is so important that family and friends show support. Instead of wondering about why, individuals who are going through a divorce need assistance, & care. It is tempting to go over all the possible reasons why a divorce is taking place, but it may not be the best time for those who are in the middle of the divorce process. Being there for your friends or family has the most value for those who are going through a divorce.

Divorce should be taken very seriously. It causes a great deal of emotional stress that needs to be dealt with, in one way or another. Stress, anxiety, or depression can have serious consequences if ignored.

For those who are going through a divorce, I recommend seeking help, either from relatives, friends or professionals. If you know that your friend or family member is going through a divorce I encourage you to be there for that person.

Contact me for more information or for booking an appointment or online therapy: 

Contact me

Picture by Eric Ward 

 

 

 

TILMELD DIG NYHEDSBREVET HER (GRATIS)