0 comments on “What is a boundary, and why should I have them?”

What is a boundary, and why should I have them?

Hong Kong psychologist offering counselling services

Boundaries are an essential aspect of self-care. They help us to maintain perspective and keep our energy and focus.  You can still have limits while remaining caring and compassionate towards others.  Boundaries can be difficult for people who put others before themselves.  When we don’t take care of ourselves, we can not take care of others.  Here are some boundaries and why you should have them.

1. Put yourself first: Putting yourself first does not mean that you do not care about others.  Putting yourself first says that you understand and respect your personal goals, emotions and needs.  When you appreciate your own needs, you do not put the needs of others before your own.  When you continually put the needs of others before your own, resentment builds.  Often times in relationships and in your career, you may need to find a way to have your needs met while still respecting the needs of others.

2. Self-awareness: When you are self-aware you understand what you are emotionally, physically and psychologically capable of.  You do not push beyond this because you understand that this will cause damage to your personal well-being.  When you push yourself over your limits you become drained, stressed and lose perspective and energy.

3. Keeping guilt in check: Sometimes we might feel guilty if we don’t help out a friend, co-worker, family member or spouse.  Helping others is a positive thing that can help to bring happiness and increase your self-esteem.  However, when we are already tapped out mentally or physically, helping others might interfere with the balance in our own lives.

4. Remain balanced: Balance means that we have enough physical, social and mental activity to keep us happy and motivated.  When we lack balance, we become irritable and tired.

5. Don’t take things too personally: Sometimes people become irritated, critical or upset with you.  Understand what is going on with the other person, you and the situation from a third party perspective.  Can you improve your behaviour?  Is the other person projecting their own insecurities onto you? Is the situation one that needs to be fixed?

6.Communicate your needs:  Often times people have a different needs priority list.  Miscommunication happens if you expect people to read your mind.  Tell the other person what your needs are, and stand firm.  Do not let the other person take your needs for granted.

7.Cost-benefit analysis: If you find yourself confused if you should stay in a situation or with a person, do a quick cost-benefit analysis.  Is this situation going to pay off in the future with a cost now?  Is the cost higher than the benefit?  Is there any benefit at all?

8. Be patient with yourself: If you are not used to asserting your needs, boundaries will be difficult.  Take it a day at a time and give yourself some space.  Keep trying until you understand your needs and are communicating your needs.

9. Reach out for help: If boundaries are difficult for you due to past abuse or a lack of confidence, reach out for help.

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Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment.  Reach out to Dr Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel

0 comments on “Understanding Trauma”

Understanding Trauma

Hong Kong counselling therapist services

red-cross-538878_1280.jpgTrauma occurs when an accident, abuse, loss or something unpredictable causes us to feel emotions such as intense fear, shock, denial and distress. For the most part, people might have trauma reactions such as nightmares, hypervigilance or physical symptoms after a tragic or dangerous event that heals by itself after a short period. However, depending on the intensity and duration of the trauma, people might need to reach out to a trained mental health professional to recover and get back on track. Here are some concepts to help you understand trauma for yourself and your loved ones.

  1. The mind-body connection: Our mind is connected to our body, and there is a constant feedback loop between the two. During an accident or traumatic event, our system goes into fight or flight for protection. If our body is in fight or flight for too long, our mind becomes distressed and hypervigilant. Our immune system and nervous system might also be affected, and we might experience physical symptoms. After a trauma, it is essential to find ways to relax so that our mind and our body can get back to normal. If you are having a difficult time sleeping or focusing at work, a mental health professional can help you.
  2. Avoidance or seeking: Often after a trauma, we want to avoid the person, place or situation that caused the trauma. This may or may not be in your favour. Reflect on the situation and ask yourself if avoiding will raise or lower your quality of life. If avoiding will reduce your quality of life, but you can’t go back to the situation, seek a professional. Those who do not avoid might tend to seek out the situation, person or place that caused the trauma to relive and figure out the situation. Just like avoiding, this can be dangerous or helpful. If seeking out the situation is dangerous, and you find yourself doing it, reach out and seek help.
  3. Not everyone wants to talk about it: Everyone copes with trauma and loss differently. If someone is not ready to talk about it or seek help, do not push them. This might be doing more harm than good because it might interfere with the person’s natural coping system.
  4. Express and release: Express and release the trauma through art, music, dancing, sports or writing. This can help to release the trauma’s powerful hold on you.
  5. When to seek help: You can seek help at any point after a trauma. However, if you’re relationships or quality of life is suffering, reach out as soon as possible. Some symptoms to pay special attention to are constant agitation, hypervigilance, strained relationships, flashbacks, nightmares and physical symptoms such as tension, a pressure in the chest, chronic pain, stomach and headaches.

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Dr Monica Borschel is a US trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment.  Get in touch with Dr. Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel

0 comments on “Navigating a break-up or divorce”

Navigating a break-up or divorce

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Break-ups and divorce sometimes break our hearts and leave us feeling depressed or lonely. An unexpected or sudden break-up or divorce can be an end to our hopes and dreams for a future with our loved one. We might find ourselves having a difficult time trusting again or finding the motivation to move on with our lives. Here are some pointers on how to navigate this difficult time to get your life back on track.

  1. Be patient with your emotions: It is natural to grieve after a break-up or a divorce. Sometimes we are mourning the loss of mutual friends, finances and a future with the other person. During this period of grief, allow yourself some time to feel your feelings. If your feelings become overwhelming and consuming, reach out to a professional in the mental health field.
  2. Reconnect with loved ones: Reach out to friends and family who have been supportive and warm to you in the past. Social support is a great way to reconnect with yourself and others, helping to reduce loneliness.
  3. Focus on your desires and goals: Take the break-up as an opportunity to discover who you are and what you would like to do with your life. Set some goals and work towards them daily.
  4. Exercise: Physical activity releases stress and builds confidence. Often times after a break-up or divorce our self-esteem drops. Exercise helps us to feel healthy and fit as well as stimulates our mind and increases focus.
  5. Appreciate your journey: Appreciate the good times you had with your partner and the love that you once shared. It may seem like you will never find someone to love during this period of loss. On the contrary, you can use this experience to decide who you are and what you would like in your next partner.
  6. Rediscover who you are: A break-up or divorce can give you the opportunity to reflect on your own vulnerabilities and strengths. Who are you, where are you going and what have you learned from this experience. It can be helpful during this period to hire a psychologist to help you on your path to self-evolution.
  7. Do something nice for yourself every day: Everyday find 10-15 minutes to do something kind for yourself. It can be taking a nice bath, doing yoga, meditating, or reading a book. Make sure that you find the time for self-care.
  8. Self-compassion: After a break-up or divorce it can be easy to place blame on yourself or the other person. Blame does not heal or solve any problems. Be compassionate towards yourself and speak to yourself without judgeme

 

Monica_in

Dr Monica Borschel is a US trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment.  Get in touch with Dr. Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel

0 comments on “Coping with your child’s behaviour and emotions”

Coping with your child’s behaviour and emotions

Hong Kong counseling therapist services - child therapy
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Children – Play and Art Therapy

Many parents struggle with what they consider to be bad behavior from their children.  Demands from work and relationships can lead to a sense of feeling overwhelmed.  The last thing an over-stressed parent has patience for is children who misbehave.  The following is a guide to behavioral management to use at home to gain control over what feels to be an out of control environment.  Children often push boundaries. Therefore, changing behavior requires patience.  At first, children will resist the boundaries and rules; they may even behave worse than before.  Stick to the plan with patience and diligence, and in time behavior will improve substantially.  Offer children choices so that they feel as if they have some control in their lives.  Children are often told no, don’t do that, or do this.  They don’t have as much power as an adult; this can be frustrating at times.  Treat your child with respect, like you would any other human being in an age appropriate manner.

Some sound advice on behavioral management for children

  1.  There are no bad children, only behavior that can improve. Often children with behavioral problems suffer from anxiety or are gifted; they find themselves easily bored.  When children are anxious, they can become easily overstimulated. Turn down the noise and the activities within the room.  Create a safe environment by providing predictability.
  2.  Action and consequence.  Develop house rules where everyone in the household is expected to follow.  Try to phrase the house rule positively.  Always let the child know exactly what is expected of them and what the consequence will be if the rule is broken.  For example, house rule number 1: “Hands and feet are for playing and not hitting or kicking.”  It is important that everyone in the household follows the rules and enforces the consequences.  This means that parents are also not allowed to hit or kick the children.  Children learn from watching adults. Children think, “if mom and dad hit me when I am angry, then I can hit others when I am angry.”  Condition children through positive reinforcement.  Always reward the positive behavior by acknowledging it, ignore behavior that you believe is just to get attention – like temper tantrums. Use negative reinforcement if they misbehave. For example,  if you throw your toys, I take the toys away.   Do not raise your voice to shout at children. Lower your voice so that they have to calm down to hear what you are saying.  You can say the following, “I know that you are angry, but I can’t understand you when you are kicking and shouting.  When you are ready, we can talk about what you want.”
  3.  Maintain eye-contact. Children are easily distracted by sound and other things in the environment.  When you want their attention, ask them if you can see their eyes.  Say, “Can I see your eyes please?” If they are still running around and not listening to you, walk over to them and place your eyes at the same level as theirs; this may require you squat or kneel down.  Maintaining eye-contact lets the parent know that the child is listening, and allows the child to know that they are being seen.  Kneeling down to be at the child’s height also allows the child to pay attention and contains a level of respect between the child and the parent.
  4.  Modeling behavior and emotions.  Children model the behavior of their parents.  If a parent reacts to anger by punching the wall or throwing objects, so will the child.  If you are too angry to deal with your child, walk away until you have calmed down.  When you are ready, model emotions by talking about how you feel.  Example, “I am feeling angry right now because the internet isn’t working and I need to finish my work.”  Then the child watches you take deep breaths as you try to calm down without shouting or throwing things.  Children are kinesthetic and connected to their parents.  If a parent is anxious, the child becomes anxious.  This is also known as “mood contagion.”
  5.  Create predictability. Let your child know what is planned for them that day.  Children are under their parental control and often do not have a choice in what happens within a day.  Let them know the schedule ahead of time.  If your child is playing, tell them we need to clean up in ten minutes.  If you are in a rush, tell them they have one more minute to play and then they need to go.  This way the child mentally prepares for what is to happen next.
  6.  Let your children play. Children relieve stress and anxiety through play, as well as learn how to create, negotiate and problem solve.  Play is also a great way to connect with your child.  When playing with your child, let them direct the play. If they want to play with legos, you follow.  Out of respect, ask them if you can play with their toys as well.
  7. Manage your stress. It is hard to feel patient when you are overwhelmed with your stress.  Allow yourself some alone time to exercise, read or do an activity that you enjoy, daily if possible.  Respect your needs and request that others do so as well.  Express gratitude and appreciation daily.  This trains your brain to focus on the positive instead of the negative.

Monica_in

Dr Monica Borschel is a US trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment.  Get in touch with Dr. Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel

0 comments on “Fitness for Mental Health”

Fitness for Mental Health

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The mind and the body are connected.  When we are out of sync mentally, our body suffers.  When we are out of sync physically our mental health suffers.  Our central nervous system includes the brain and is wired marvelously to nerve endings through out our entire body.  Here are some of the benefits of exercise:

1. Increased endorphins:  Endorphins help our pain tolerance and make us feel happy.  We can release endorphins through exercise.

2. Increased confidence: When we exercise, we feel better about ourselves.

3. Increased Energy: One excuse people often have not to exercise is that they are tired.  Once your body starts moving, you will get more energy.  Overtime, your body will crave the exercise and you will have increased energy throughout the day.

4. Increased focus: When we sit all day, our brain become lethargic.  Exercise creates blood flow in the brain leading to increased focus.

5. Decreased stress: Exercise reduces our stress levels and anxiety.

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Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist Get in touch with Dr Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel

Monica is also a boxing and fitness coach at Basic Reflex. http://www.basicreflex.com/      email: mborschel@gmail.com

0 comments on “How to talk to your child about divorce”

How to talk to your child about divorce

Hong Kong counselling therapist services-child therapy

child-blackandwhiteDivorce is a difficult situation for adults, let alone children and teenagers.  Parents who are separating might be experiencing their own grief, sadness and anxiety.  As the adult, it is important that you are able to be the secure base for your child or teenager during this time.  Children are intuitive and can sense the mood of their parents.  To hold a safe space for your child, make sure that you are calm.

Key points to remember while speaking to your child about divorce:

1. Unconditional Love: It is important that children understand that none of this is their fault.  A child might side with the parent who they feel is hurting or the same sex parent. No matter who the child lives with, or spends time with, it is important for them to know that you still love them and that they will not be punished for this.

2. Do not involve the children in the conflict.  The children should not know about the financial pressures or constraints of the divorce.  This is one more stress they do not need, they should not be involved in adult situations.

3. Expect to answer a lot of questions.  Your child or teenager might be hurt and confused.  Be prepared to answer the same questions over and over again as they try to process the situation.  Do your best to remain patient through this process.

4. Don’t interrogate your children.  Don’t ask them about the other parent or what the other parent is doing.  Do not make your children take sides.  When you say something negative about the other parent, the child unconsciously feels as if you feel the same way about them as they are genetically half of the other parent.

5. Listen to your child’s emotions.  Acknowledge your child’s emotions patiently.  You might say something like, “I know this is scary and you are sad.  It’s ok to cry and talk about it.  You mum and dad will love you no matter what.  Even though you don’t live with both of us anymore, we are always your mum and dad.”

6. Be honest and sincere.  Children do not need to know the adult matters, but it is best, to be honest about the living arrangements.  Children understand more than adults often give them credit for, and lying upsets and angers them.  It is best not to introduce a new partner to your child or teenager for at least six months.

Monica_in

Dr Monica Borschel is a US trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment.  Get in touch with Dr. Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel

0 comments on “Understanding your teenager”

Understanding your teenager

Hong Kong psychologist offering teen therapy

girl-1848477_1920Parents and teenagers often get frustrated with one another because they feel as if they are misunderstood and unheard.  As a parent, if you understand some of the developmental needs of a teenager, you may feel less stressed when they act out.   Here are some key points on how you can better communicate with your teenager.

1. Social Pressure: Teenagers are under pressure to fit in with their social group.  They are constantly looking for validation from their peer group because they have not yet developed a solid sense of identity.  They might ask to do things their friends are doing, or have what their friends have so that they fit in. It is important to be flexible with this while still setting clear boundaries around what is safe and reasonable for your teenager.

2. Rejection: Teenagers often feel rejected if they have not found a peer group that they fit into.  They might also feel rejected by a love interest.  This sense of rejection can be horrible for your teen’s self-esteem.  It is important that they come home to a safe space that is free of judgement.  As a parent, you might feel stressed by your teenager’s emotions and actions.  It is in these moments that you remind your teenager that you love them unconditionally, but you have to set boundaries to keep them safe.

3. Cutting: Sometimes teenagers feel overwhelming emotional pain, rejection or pressure.  They might resort to cutting to punish themselves, distract themselves from the emotional pain or to help them feel something other than numb.  If your teenager is frequently cutting, a professional should be consulted.

4. Self-Identity: Sometimes it might seem like teenagers are rejecting their parents.  This is in part because they are forming a self-identity.  This is part of their developmental process as they figure out who they are.  Try not to take this personally as it will increase conflict.  Instead, ask what activity you can do with them.  Set time aside to be with thim.

5. Respect: Teenagers are often said to be disprespectful.  People in general, including teenagers, are more likely to respect those that they feel offer them repsect.  If your teenager is being disprespectful, be curious if you are respecting them.  Make sure to take the time to listen to their concerns.

6. Sleep: Teenagers need more sleep than adults.  Allow them to sleep in on the weekends.  Try to get them to sleep earlier at night.  Waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day will help with fatigue.

If you feel overwhelmed by your teenager’s emotions and behaviours, reach out to a professional.  Practice compassion and empathy towards yourself and your teenager.

Monica_in

Dr Monica Borschel is a US trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment.  Get in touch with Dr. Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel

0 comments on “Grief is a natural process.”

Grief is a natural process.

Artwork by www.instagram.com/crowded_studios

Grief is one of the most tragic and beautiful experiences that one can go through. Our heart aches, and we yearn for the one that we lost. We see them in crowds, we remember their scent and dream about them. We might feel confused and mentally slow. We might become angry or distant. Just as a snake sheds his skin to grow, grief can lead us to become more resilient and compassionate. Pain is an opportunity to analyse where our priorities are, and recognise who we love and appreciate. Here are some tips to move through the bittersweet:

Appreciation: Appreciate what the other person taught you and use that to help you become a better person. Appreciate those that love you and that you love.

Love: Tell those that you care about why you love them and why they are important to you. This helps you to stay connected and also receive social support.

A time to grieve and a time to focus: If you have lost your focus or motivation for life, set a time to grieve. For example, if you have children to take care of, allow yourself some space at night when they are sleeping to cry, journal, feel your emotions or reflect on the loss.

Be patient with yourself: Loss might slow down your brain. You might not be able to get things done as quickly or as efficiently as you used too. Be patient with yourself through this process. Go slow throughout the day and prioritise what must be done and what can wait.

Meditate: Close your eyes, slow down your breathing. Focus on creating a space around your heart, let your heart be as big as it needs to be. Breathe into that space. Allow your feelings to be there.

Don’t feel ashamed to reach out for support from friends, family or a professional.

Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment. Contact her at m.borschel@mindnlife.com or schedule an appointment at +852 2521 4668

0 comments on “Easing Academic Stress in the Home.”

Easing Academic Stress in the Home.

Hong Kong counselling therapist services-child therapy

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Academic pressure is a major source of anxiety and stress for many children and teens.  As a parent, you want what is best for your child.  Here are a few pointers to help you ease the academic pressure your child might be feeling.

  1. Have a stress free homework routine.  After school allow your child or teen to have a snack.  Food will help them to be in a better mood and help their brain concentrate better.  It is difficult to think when you are hungry.  Set a regular routine where after they eat, do homework, and then they can be rewarded with play or exercise.
  2. Allow your child breaks.  The brain can only focus for certain amounts of time.  Children have a shorter attention span than adults.  If your child is having a difficult time sitting still, make a game out of the homework.  Say, “If you can focus and do this worksheet properly, you can have two minutes to play, or do whatever you like.  When I count to ten, we resume the homework again.”
  3. Take the pressure out of the home.  Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.  If your child is struggling in math, do not add more pressure by shouting or punishing them.  Sit down next to them and patiently explain it to them. If you are unable to be patient with them, hire a patient tutor.  Speak kindly to your child.  When your child is calm, they can think better.
  4. Allow play and exercise for added focus and brain power. Your child or teen needs to play and exercise in order to sit through school.  Exercise increases blood flow to the brain making it easier to focus and learn.  Children need to play to reduce stress.
  5. Stress reduction.  Anxiety and stress hinder learning because the fight or flight system is activated.  Anxiety and stress make it difficult to focus and learn.  Stress and anxiety can be reduced in different ways, such as play, art, exercise and breathing techniques.  Allow your child to open up to you and express how they are feeling without judgement and punishment.
  6. Sleep. Make sure your child or teenager is getting enough sleep at night.  Lack of sleep makes it difficult to learn.
  7. Proper nutrition.  Too much sugar will create fatigue and shorten attention span.  Proper nutrition and diet lead to a healthy body and brain.
  8. Remain calm.  The calmer you are, the calmer your child will be.  This enables a better learning environment in and outside of the home.
  9. Decrease screen time. Overstimulation from the iPad, television, computer, video games and phone decrease attention. Limit the amount your teen or child is allowed to use these electronic devices.

Monica_in

Dr Monica Borschel is a US trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment.  Get in touch with Dr. Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel

0 comments on “Mental Health Spa Day”

Mental Health Spa Day

Hong Kong psychologist offering counselling services

People are often intimidated by seeing a psychologist, counsellor or therapist because they think that they don’t need one or because of the stigma attached to mental health. Psychologists and other counsellors are there to provide a safe space that is free of judgement.  Trained professionals can help anyone become more successful in their career, relationships or promote overall well-being.  A trained professional can help you to understand yourself and others better, leading to increased peace and happiness.  Here are a few ways that psychologists, counsellors and therapists enable your success.

  1. They help you to understand and regulate your emotions.  Being able to remain calm under pressure and stress is a superpower.  When you understand your emotions better, you are able to regulate them which decreases stress and anxiety.
  2.  They help you understand your thought patterns.  Often times we are unaware how our own thought patterns are affecting our self-esteem, behaviours and relationships.  Our past relationships and experiences have dictated how we speak to ourselves.  Often times we need to retrain our thought patterns to be happier.
  3. They help you to understand your own strengths and weaknesses.  Often we are unaware of how we are underutilising our strengths and avoidant of our weaknesses. It is much easier to avoid our selves than to face ourselves.  When we begin to take responsibility and action, we become a better person.
  4. They promote resilience.  Trained professionals have spent years studying human behaviour and thought patterns.  This knowledge enables them to lead you towards resilience, grit and success.
  5. They help you to have better relationships. Trained professionals understand different personality types and how to communicate and interact with the personality types.  They can help you get along better with your boss, spouse, friends, and co-workers.  Better relationships often lead to increased happiness and success.
  6. You are able to be yourself without judgement.  Being able to speak to someone objectively who will not judge you can be liberating.  When you feel free to say and be your authentic self, you become aware of your passions, goals, and thought patterns.  Becoming authentic enables you to have increased overall feelings of well-being and happiness.
  7. They help children and teenagers overcome.  Teenagers and children are a vulnerable population that has difficulty verbalising how they feel.  A professional can use play and art therapy to help your child or teen do better in school and become happier.

Monica_in

Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment.  Get in touch with Dr Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel