Fatigue and Chronic Pain

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August 21st, 2018 >> fatigue and chronic pain

Chronic Pain Support Group

Fatigue and Chronic Pain

Have you been feeling tired lately? Does the word “tired” not even begin to cover the level of your seemingly constant exhaustion? You might be experiencing fatigue!

If you are not familiar with the term, fatigue is not just feeling tired. It is a severe, sometimes incapacitating feeling of exhaustion that is made worse by physical and mental exertion. Unfortunately, those who experience chronic pain can sometimes find themselves encountering debilitating fatigue in addition to the physical strain they already face. If this fatigue persists for more than six months, you might even be experiencing chronic fatigue syndrome. Be aware that there are many symptoms of chronic pain and chronic fatigue that overlap, and so, differentiating between the symptoms of each illness may become difficult. Those experiencing both illnesses may notice non-restorative sleep, brain fog, widespread chronic pain, neurological abnormalities, and sensitivity to light, sounds and odors. Of course, presentation and severity of symptoms can vary for each individual, but in all cases, both illnesses require heightened awareness of individual needs.

As mentioned, fatigue can become exacerbated if you overly exert yourself, as is also true with chronic pain symptoms. As such, it is imperative that those experiencing chronic pain and chronic fatigue remain in tune with their body’s and mind’s needs at all times. In your case, self-care is not a luxury; it is a way of maintaining quality of life. There are several ways to be mindful of your needs when experiencing both chronic pain and chronic fatigue.

 

  1. Do a body check.

    When was the last time you stopped what you were doing and conducted a mental scan of how your body is holding up? If your last body check was recent, do you conduct the scan regularly, or wait until you are already feeling pain and exhaustion? Pay attention to your body when it’s trying to speak to you! Proactively checking on your sensitive areas and being aware of your warning signals is extremely useful if you want to lessen the amount of times you feel the worst symptoms of your illness.

  2. Plan and prioritize.

    Planning breaks during activities is essential in order to avoid aggravating your symptoms. Over-exertion may not seem like too big of a problem when you are in the middle of having fun or getting chores done, but you will feel the negative effects soon enough when your pain flares up or severe exhaustion drags you to sleep. Take scheduled breaks, even if you don’t feel like you need one yet! If you are out and about, the break can include simply sitting down or leaning on something for five or ten minutes so your body can relax. If you are hard at work and forcing deep focus on your assignment, switch to a mindless or easier task for ten to fifteen minutes so you can give your mind a chance to rest and recalibrate. Regularly plan breaks based on your limits and needs. Prioritize your mental and physical health over your tasks and activities.

  3. Mind your sleep hygiene.

    Conducting regular body scans and planning much needed breaks are good to do during the day, but figuring out a healthy sleep schedule is very important during the night hours. Bad sleep hygiene can have many negative effects on both chronic pain and fatigue, especially since both include non-restorative sleep as a symptom. As you may have discovered, getting sleep does not always mean getting rest. Therefore, it is important to have a nightly routine that prepares your body and mind for rest. For example, try going to sleep and waking up around the same time every day to maintain a consistent sleep cycle. Avoid exposing yourself to the blue light emitted from your TV, phone, or tablet before sleeping, as this stimulates the brain and reduces the release of the sleep chemical melatonin due to the blue light being perceived as daylight. Lastly, make sure your sleep environment is comfortable and lacking any disruptive sounds or lights. Remember, you might not be able to control your pain and fatigue, but you can certainly control what you do to mitigate the intensity of your symptoms! Be kind to yourself. You are worth the effort.

 

References:

  1. What is ME/CFS: About the disease. Retrieved from https://solvecfs.org/about-the-disease/
  2. What is sleep hygiene. Retrieved from https://sleep.org/articles/sleep-hygiene/

When Social Anxiety Meets The Dating World

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August 21st, 2018 >> social anxiety and dating

When Social Anxiety Meets The Dating World

Can you be socially anxious AND also be able to date?

If you struggle with social anxiety, you might believe that the answer to this question is NO….how can you have social anxiety and be able to go out on dates? Well, good news…. there ARE ways that people with social anxiety can make dating work!

Anyone experiencing social anxiety knows that it can be an extremely life hindering battle. The persistent nervousness and accompanying negative thoughts can be crippling and sometimes it’s difficult to leave home unless it’s absolutely necessary.

However, we were born to live in community, to love and be loved. Social anxiety can make it difficult to initiate romantic relationships, but that does not mean we don’t want to have physical and emotional intimacy with someone special.

Having social anxiety does not mean that you have to live in isolation or that you won’t be able to find that special someone. You just need a different approach.

Here are 5 DATING tips that can help you work through your SOCIAL ANXIETY:

Practice Celebrating Who You Are

A hallmark feature of social anxiety is the fear of being judged. People with social anxiety are often their own worst critics. Usually, the only person judging you is you.

Minimizing self-judgement can be done by frequent positive self-talk.

Answer the following questions:

What is it about your personality that a romantic interest would find attractive?  What physical qualities do you have that you like about yourself?  Try to name a few.  Frequent acknowledgement of these attributes can help build your confidence.

Create a Mock Dialogue

Consider the social settings where you might meet someone for a date. Mentally place yourself in that scene. Next, think of a few lines that you can easily memorize and could use during your date. Having a few phrases memorized can help to ease you into the flow of conversation. By using this technique, the pressure of saying the “right” thing can be reduced, which can reduce your overall anxiety.

Don’t Hide Your Nervousness

It’s ok to be nervous! Remember that your romantic interest is also human, and could also be feeling nervous during a date. Dating is not easy for anyone and first dates can be especially difficult for everyone involved.

Admitting that you are nervous is ok and most likely not something that your date would perceive as negative.

If You Get Nervous Keep Going

For those with social anxiety, it is common to want to run away from conversations after you think you made a mistake or said the “wrong thing.” Learn to accept those embarrassing moments.  Maybe you can turn them into a joke.  When dating, one thing that people look for in a potential partner is a sense of humor.  Whatever you do, make sure that you own the awkward moment and embrace it!

Meet People Under as Little Pressure as Possible

When you are looking to date, you might want to avoid social settings that are large.  People with social anxiety typically find partners at small venues and not around large crowds. Small groups tend to ease anxiety.

You can also try meeting your “hot date” through a friend.  Let your friends know that you are looking to date and ask them if they have any acquaintances they think would be a good fit.  Meeting someone through a trusted individual tends to ease pressure and you might find a good match!

When to seek Professional Help

If you are struggling with social anxiety, the best method to gain better control of your life is through therapy. Consider reaching out to a therapist or joining a support group.

I hold social anxiety groups at my Sherman Oaks office. Contact me at (818) 426-2495 for more information on overcoming social anxiety!

 

Anita Avedian, LMFT, CAMS-IV
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Certified Anger Management Specialist IV
Director of Anger Management 818
Social Anxiety and Dating

Disclaimer: The recommendations given in this article are not a replacement for therapy. Please consider seeking help from a mental health professional if you are experiencing mental or emotional distress. If you have a medical or psychological emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Thank you.

References

Social Anxiety Disorder. (n.d.) In Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved from adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder.

Conversation Starters for People with Social Anxiety

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April 22nd, 2015 >> Social Anxiety and Shyness, Uncategorized

Have you ever been in a social situation and didn’t know what to say? Social anxiety can lead to avoiding starting conversations because of our insecurities. We might think that we don’t have anything interesting to say or that people wouldn’t care about our opinions. How many times have you been to a party, or a conference, or out for an evening of fun, and seen people that you’d like to get to know. But rather than allowing yourself to be vulnerable and exposing your interest, you chose to avoid approaching them? Though these worries may be common for many people, it is extremely difficult for the people with social anxiety.

If you have social anxiety, and would like to take some steps towards overcoming this concern, answer the following questions:

1- What is the worst that could happen?

2- Will introducing yourself result in being criticized or teased?

3- If you don’t hit it off with someone right away does that mean you won’t ever get along with another stranger?

If you really think about numbers two and three, the answer is probably “no.” What’s likely to happen when you have a small conversation with someone is that it may not lead into something meaningful; however, the practice of starting such conversations will help you build some confidence to approaching more people. Eventually starting conversations will lead to the possibility of developing more meaningful and deeper relationships. Think about it: we’re all strangers before we become friends, associates, colleagues, or even lovers.

In order to better prepare you for starting a conversation in any situation, we have four tips for you to try.

First, don’t worry about the first words out of your mouth being the funniest, cleverest or most meaningful openers. It is common for someone with social anxiety to have the perfect approach, and opening. We are very critical of ourselves. A casual introduction or comment on the weather works just fine. For example, “I noticed your smile and think it’s very endearing.”

Second, depending on where you are when meeting someone, you can ask rely on comments pertaining to your current surroundings. If you are at an event, you could ask how the other person knows the host. Or whether they’ve been part of the event in the past.

Third, talk about a positive aspect rather than a negative experience. It’s not fun for people to hear negativity.

Fourth, ask open-ended questions and maintain a good balance of comments, stories, and questions. Be sure not to ask too many questions consecutively. And also make sure you’re not the only one talking. Oftentimes it is easier for the socially anxious person to ask questions and take the attention away from themselves.

These four tips can be practiced in a safe setting such as a social anxiety group before you take them into the world. Each time you initiate a conversation, it will get easier. Moreover, the more you practice, the easier it gets. Conversations are wonderful learning tools. Once you have developed a few simple skills, you will be on the road to developing more meaningful relationships.

“There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation.” ~James Nathan Miller

 

Examples of Conversation Starters

1. “I don’t know anyone around here so I thought I’d come talk to you.” or  “I’m a little nervous talking with strangers, but I just had to come say hi.”

2. Talk about something you know the person is interested in. “What about the game last night!” “Yankees (or other team) aren’t doing so well this season.” Or “Your flowers are looking lovely.” 

3. “You look like a [lawyer/CEO/baker/some noble profession].” The person is bound to ask why  you guessed that particular profession

4. Talk about a funny, embarrassing moment.

5. “What’d you get up to earlier today?

6. ‘You look lost. Do you need help?”

7. My daughter’s birthday party is this weekend. It’s taken so much planning! What do you do for your kids’ birthday parties.

8. I bet you $50 you’re gonna turn me down.

9. ‘I notice that you bought some apple cider vinegar. I have always wondered, what are the health benefits?’

10. That’s an interesting T-shirt. What does that symbol stands for?’

11. Do you have any trips coming up?

12. Are you watching Game of Thrones? House of Cards? Enter popular TV show here __________?

13. I’m planning a special occasion meal. Do you have any restaurant recommendations?

14. I’m looking for a new book? I really enjoy (biographies, fiction, sci-fi) Have you read any good books lately?

15. I love your necklace, tie, ring, brooch? Where did you get it?

16. Are you looking forward to anything special this week?

17. How did you hear about this event? How do you know the host of the party? Do you come here often?

18. Did you have a chance to listen to the news today? I didn’t have time to check in. Did I miss anything?

19. What are you passionate about?

What is Social Anxiety and Should You Join a Support Group

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February 10th, 2015 >> Social Anxiety and Shyness

 

What is Social Anxiety and Should You Join a Support Group?

Social Anxiety is a psychiatric disorder. It is the third most common psychiatric illness in the U.S. right below depression and alcoholism.  It affects millions of Americans and can be a debilitating and life altering condition that can prevent us from going out, experiencing social situations, having fun, strengthening our self-confidence and being our best selves.

Sufferers of severe anxiety will dread the thought of meeting strangers or expressing their opinions especially if they disagree with the status quo. People with social anxiety contemplate negative thoughts in anticipation of their pubic interactions. One of the main contributors to social anxiety is low self-esteem. It is the feeling that we’re not good enough to be heard or to have our opinions valued. While anxiety can get in the way of our life it can also be arrested and prevented as long as we’re willing to do the work and make some changes to our everyday behaviors. Sufferers of social anxiety tend to focus on the negative, such as being judged, focusing on our imperfections, what people won’t like about us and a lack of interesting discussion topics, rather than focusing on all of the fascinating accomplishments we’ve made and our interesting opinions.

 

Reasons for joining a social anxiety support group:

Support groups aren’t for everybody. Many autodidacts and independent people will be averse to joining a support group in the belief that they can overcome their problems on their own. And while that may be true for some people it is not true for everyone. We are unique individuals with secular needs and no two approaches to life are meant to be the same.

One excellent reason for joining a support group is because one of the better ways to working through an anxiety is to face it, and learn to deal with the discomfort. For social anxiety, that would mean to put yourself in a situation involving others. The group is a safe environment since you will be surrounded with others who experience the same worries and fears, and who are there to work through their struggles as well. One of the reasons why overcoming social anxiety is difficult is because one typically avoids social situations in order to not feel the anxiety. In a support group, you will have the opportunity to work through your anxiety in a supportive atmosphere.  Are you ready to stop feeling so isolated?  Come connect with others, and take a step toward overcoming your own social anxiety. In a therapeutic setting, you are able to practice the skills and techniques suggested by the therapist to help you deal with social anxiety.

 

What are some strategies for change?

 

  1. Identify situations you fear and avoid so that you could select appropriate exposure practices.
  2. Identify the extent to which you are fearful of the physical feelings that you experience when anxious. This will help determine whether you should practice exposure.
  3. Assessing which social skills need improvement; assertiveness, public speaking, dating, or general communication.
  4. Approaches to treatment such as, TFT, EFT, and/or Cognitive-Behavioral.
  5. Medications/ holistic approaches.

 

 

New Social Anxiety and Shyness Support Group starting Wednesday, June 6, 2012, at 6:30 PM in Sherman Oaks.

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May 25th, 2012 >> Social Anxiety and Shyness

Support Group for Adults experiencing Social  Anxiety

                                            Facilitated by: Anita Avedian, MFT

New Group Starting on Wednesday, June 6, 2012, at 6:30 PM in Sherman Oaks.  

Do you avoid social situations? Do you worry about what others are thinking while you’re in public, at school, at the mall, or in social situations? Not sure what to say when people approach you?  

If you have answered “YES”, contact Anita TODAY!

           

This group helps participants:

  • Feel more comfortable and confident in feared social situations.
  • Increase the ability to express themselves.
  • Learn to be more comfortable with other’s perception of them.
  • Reflect on interpersonal skills.
  • Identify patterns in life, and find more constructive ways to cope.
  • And MORE…

 

FREE half hour consultation with Anita prior to entering the group!

$225/ month

 

Contact Anita Avedian at (818) 426-2495 for further information.

You may also visit her website at www.AnitaAvedian.com.

Social Anxiety and Shyness Support Group for Adults!

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October 14th, 2011 >> Social Anxiety and Shyness

New Social Anxiety and Shyness Support Group for Adults. Facilitated by Anita Avedian, MFT. Co-ed group is now forming. Start date for the group is scheduled for Tuesday, October 25. This group will either meet at 12 or 6:30 PM. Cognitive-Behavioral, TFT and EFT are used. $225 fee is prepaid monthly. Free 30-minute intake prior to entering the group. Contact Anita Avedian at (818) 426-2495 for further information. www.AnitaAvedian.com.

The Social Anxiety and Shyness Support group is designed to help socially anxious and shy individuals to work through their discomfort with social settings. If you suffer with social anxiety and/or shyness, you may benefit from this group.  You may find yourself avoiding social situations, which oftentimes interferes with relationships and daily activities. You may avoid situations such as social events with work, interviews, or having friends over for dinner.

Expressing your opinion can be difficult since you may fear being judged by others.  In this group, you will have the opportunity to be in a safe environment where you could learn about social anxiety and the skills to help you work through difficult situations. By participating in this group, you will have the opportunity to practice the newly learned skills within the group, as well as with your surroundings.  In time, goals will be set to practice learned skills outside of the group to help you work through your social anxiety. There are field trips as part of the group where you may be challenged to approach people in a public setting. Behavioral work is necessary when trying to treat social anxiety and social phobia.

If you do have a PPO plan through your insurance, I can provide a superbill for you to receive reimbursement. If you have any questions about this group, please contact me at (818) 426-2495 or email at avediana@aol.com.