Listening to your body

I am one of these people whose emotions manifest somewhere in their bodies, almost instantaneously! Particularly anxiety or worry will be felt in my stomach usually as a swirling emotion and sadness/grief in my chest or head area.

I am one of these people whose emotions manifest somewhere in their bodies, almost instantaneously! Particularly anxiety or worry will be felt in my stomach usually as a swirling emotion and sadness/grief in my chest or head area. The other part of my body that carries my emotions is my lower back- not all of my back pain is emotionally connected, but when I am feeling down or having relationship issues, my lower back will often hurt.

I have learned to use this as a guidance system to what is going on inside of me and to bring things into awareness that I was out of touch about and then take care of the emotions in some way. For me taking care of worry or anxiety is doing soothing self talk and exercise. I am amazed that even a 5 minute walk with almost always reduce any anxiety I feel. When I am sad or feeling down, what helps me is to journal and to connect with others, and then I usually feel the physical sensations subside.

With the individuals I have seen in therapy, I have had a front row seat in seeing how our emotions manifest in our bodies from fainting, vomiting, heart palpitations, tingly sensations, headaches, movement problems to high blood pressure influenced by stress.

I do believe in a balanced approach to physical pain/problems that may have an emotional component. First and foremost, any medical causes have to be ruled out/ruled in! Then we can look at the mind/body connection and how our emotions may be influencing the physical.
A quick way to see if your bodily sensations are emotionally connected is to:

  • Scan your body in your mind. This can be quick, but notice what sensations are at each part, if any.
  • Describe the sensation, what does it feel like.
  • Ask yourself if this sensation is connected to anything in your life.
  • If an emotion/situation does get identified in this process, take some steps to listen to it and address it (talking, exercising, journaling, positive self talk, etc).

When Worries Overwhelm

Kettle Moraine Counseling has been open for 2 years as of March 1st!! The time has flown by and the clinic is much more successful than I ever thought (or planned) it would be. I am blessed to have the clients and the staff that we have.

When Worries Overwhelm

All of us have worries at different times of our lives, and especially the past year with the all the job losses and financial problems, many of us have been worried about what the future will hold. What happens when the worries become overwhelming and interfere with your lives? Worries may lead to anxiety such as panic attacks or avoidance of things that cause us to feel anxious. Some symptoms that worries are becoming overwhelming are:

  • Sleep problems, often because of thinking about the problems
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Repeated thinking about the worries often most of or many times during the day
  • Panic attack – a sudden onset of fear or apprehension which may accompany shortness of breath, heart palpitation or choking sensations

A few of the ways to help with anxiety are:

  • Relaxation exercises, particularly progressive muscle relaxation. We hold a lot of tension in our muscles, and by relaxing the muscles, the whole body starts to calm.
  • Breathing deeply and fully (exhaling as long as possible). When we are nervous our breaths become shallow, but by deliberately doing deep breathing, our mind and body relaxes.
  • Changing our worry thoughts into thoughts that are more productive or using self-soothing thoughts, such as “this will all work out”, “I am safe”, “all is well”.
  • Exercise is an amazing tool to use for releasing tension and reducing the “stress hormones” in our bodies. Any type of exercise is effective for reducing anxiety, both low intensity (walking, yoga, stretching) and high intensity (running, biking, dancing).

Research Update:

Childhood bullies and victims more likely to have suicidal thoughts
March 2, 2012, Medical News Today
Children involved in bullying – as both a victim and a bully – are three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts by the time they reach 11 years old.

Why we pair up with our emotional opposites
February 21, 2012, The Wall Street Journal

Of all the ways that opposites attract, the thorniest may be when emotionally giving types pair up with types who are emotionally reserved.

Migraines linked to depression in women
February 22, 2012, ABC News

Chronic migraines may trigger the debilitating psychological disorder.

From the director:

Kettle Moraine Counseling has been open for 2 years as of March 1st!! The time has flown by and the clinic is much more successful than I ever thought (or planned) it would be. I am blessed to have the clients and the staff that we have. In the 2 years I have grown as the clinic has grown; to all of you who have referred to us and to our clients past, present and future- thank you for trusting us in providing the highest quality care. Our motto is Experienced- Ethical- Client Centered, and we strive to be the best therapists we can be! Until next time, be gentle with yourself and others.
Devona Marshall

Taking Care of Yourself During the Holidays

Take time to appreciate your loved ones and count the blessings in your life. I see a lot of couples for counseling, and I see what chronic loneliness can do to us. When we don’t feel connected to others, whether it is our significant other,


Taking care of yourself during the holidays……Holidays are an opportunity to connect, reflect, remember and cherish. For some of us, though, they can also be a minefield, triggered by people, places, and events which may not reflect such good memories. While the holiday season is maybe not a great time to confront these issues head-on, it can be a fruitful time to test out healthy boundaries! Family parties, co-worker requests, or a partner’s expectations may all be occasions that we can exercise our will to create healthier interpersonal relationships.

The rituals discussed last month can be comforting—when they’re not, it is so important that we empower ourselves to recognize, voice, and follow our preferences: have clear preferences and act upon them. This doesn’t need to mean that you decline an invitation, but it might mean that this year, you finally do stay in a hotel rather than at the in-laws, so the kids can keep a normal bedtime, and you have physical and emotional space to stay centered.

Staying centered might involve paying attention to thoughts and feelings, rather than losing them in the whirlwind of preparations and parties. Recognize when you are happy or unhappy, share those feelings, and be flexible enough to change plans as needed. Healthy boundaries mean that you don’t brush off your own feelings for the sake of everyone else, every time. Yes, getting just the right toy, making the perfect pie, and decorating a tree might seem important, but none more so than being centered enough to enjoy friends and family. Your feelings and moods should not be shoved aside in order to make everyone else happy.

Our loved ones are likely also busy this time of year, and we may be tempted to be a “yes man” to requests for time, energy, and/or money. It is important to remember that tradition and loyalty should not mean there isn’t room to say no to a request you deem inappropriate, or one which makes you uncomfortable. Only do the favors that you choose to do, those that you feel good about before, during, and after! Chipping in for a gift for mom because you always have, should not overrule a situation where a job loss means a change in your financial circumstances. If your budget, conscience, or schedule does not allow, set limits on whether, or at what level, you can help.

Seeing friends or family whom we have less contact with can be rewarding, or taxing, depending upon historical and current relationship; while “catching up”, remember to protect your/your family’s privacy, as desired. Don’t apologize for protecting your private matters. Just because Uncle Jim shares his annual salary and details of his most recent vacation, doesn’t mean that you have to!

Protecting boundaries can be VERY uncomfortable at first; we are literally flexing our emotional muscles! That first workout at the gym hurts too. The goal for our relationships should be to feel calm, centered, and focused. Healthy boundaries allow a person to experience comfortable interdependence with others, resulting in strong relationships and positive self-regard. With time, acting according to our own desires and dreams will become easier, and the payoffs are huge! Let go of guilt, shame, and traditions that compromise your psychological health—who knows, you might be surprised whom you can influence by modeling healthy boundaries. Have a blessed and centered holiday season.

Julianne is a psychotherapist practicing at KMC whom enjoys working with clients to heal, and to maximize past, current, and future relationships

Blog excerpt:

Anger turned Inward
We harm ourselves when we don’t express our anger, because this leads to self doubt, a stifling of our energy, and the message that our feelings don’t matter. If the wounds are seriously egregious, we may start to harm ourselves as a way to express some of the emotion; it’s a coping mechanism, and we are handling the anger in the best way we can. But, turning the anger outward where it really belongs is very healing for us.

Research Update:

Are violent video games altering your child’s brain?
November 28, 2011, Fox News
A new study has found that violent video games can alter the brains of young men after a mere week of playing.

Exercise modifies the brain to help weight loss, finds new study.
November 25, 2011, Boston Globe
A study examining the neuro-relationship between exercise and diet has found that exercise increases people’s sensitivity to signs of fullness and satiety and helps overcome food temptations.

Too little exercise, too much TV tied to depression.
November 14, 2011, Fox News
Older women who got more exercise and less television time were the least likely to be diagnosed with depression.

Happy Holidays! Take time to appreciate your loved ones and count the blessings in your life. I see a lot of couples for counseling, and I see what chronic loneliness can do to us. When we don’t feel connected to others, whether it is our significant other, friends or family, we feel lonely. We need people! And we need closeness in order to feel the “best”. Nurture those relationships- they are the most important thing in our lives. My own family will be spending the holiday in Italy to celebrate 20 years of marriage. If you check in with my Blog, there will be more on this (anniversary and trip) in the upcoming weeks. Julianne wrote an article in this issue to follow up on “family rituals”. Enjoy! Be gentle with yourself and others.
See you next year!

Devona Marshall Clinic Director

Self-Care Techniques for Stress Management

We are happy to announce that Lester Menke MS TLPC is a new therapist at our clinic! He is seeing teens, adults and couples. Welcome Lester! Tammy Ricke is heading to the annual conference for Internal Family Systems, and Tricia Schutz

by Anne Warren


Throughout the day, take “mini-breaks” to reduce stress and fatigue. Sit down and get comfortable. Slowly take in a deep breath; hold it; and then exhale very slowly. At the same time, let your shoulder muscles droop, smile, and say something positive like, “I am r-e-l-a-x-e-d.” Be sure to get sufficient rest at night.
PRACTICE ACCEPTANCE. Many people get distressed over things they don’t want to accept. Often, these are things that can’t be changed, for example someone else’s feelings or beliefs.
For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.
~Mother Goose


See if you can let the negative thoughts go. Think through whether the situation is your problem or the other person’s problem. If it is yours, approach it calmly and firmly. If it is the other person’s, there is not much you can do about it. Rather than condemning yourself with hindsight thinking like, “I should have…,” think about what you can learn from the error and plan for the future. Watch out for perfectionism — set realistic and attainable goals. Remember: as Hannah Montana sings, “Everybody makes mistakes!”. Be careful of procrastination — practice breaking tasks into smaller units to make it manageable, and practice prioritizing to get things done.
“Fe Fi Fo Fum; I smell the blood of an Englishman!”
~Mother Goose


Develop a realistic schedule of daily activities that includes time for work, sleep, relationships, and recreation. Use a daily ” to do ” list. Improve your physical surroundings by cleaning your house and straightening up your office. Use your time and energy efficiently.
Multiplication is vexation,
Division is as bad;
The Rule of Three doth puzzle me,
And Practice drives me mad.
~Mother Goose


Physical activity is great for relieving stress. In the past, daily work was largely physical. Now that physical exertion is no longer a requirement for earning a living, and we don’t get rid of stress so easily. It accumulates very quickly. Try to develop a regular exercise program to reduce the effects of stress before it becomes distress. Try aerobics, walking, jogging, dancing, or swimming.
“Jack and Jill
Went up the hill,
To fetch a pail of water;
Jack fell down,
And broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.”
~Mother Goose


If you frequently check your watch or worry about what you do with your time, learn to take things a bit slower. Allow plenty of time to get things done. Plan your schedule ahead of time. Recognize that you can only do so much in a given period. Practice the notion of “pace, not race”. Think Mañana.
A dillar, a dollar,
A ten o’clock scholar.
What makes you come so soon?
You used to come at ten o’clock,
And now you come at noon.
~Mother Goose


Every situation in life does not require you to be competitive. Adjust your approach to an event according to its demands. Playing tennis with a friend does not have to be an Olympic trial. Leave behind you your “competition weapons” of having the last word, putting someone else down, and blaming.
“Then I’ll Huff, and I’ll Puff, and I’ll blow your house down!”


Balance your family, social, and work demands with special private times. Hobbies are good antidotes for daily pressures. Unwind by taking a quiet stroll, soaking in a hot bath, watching a sunset, or listening to calming music.
“There was an old woman and she lived in a shoe,
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.
She crumm’d ’em some porridge without any bread
And she borrowed a beetle, and she knocked ’em all on the head.
Then out went the old woman to bespeak ’em a coffin
And when she came back she found’ em all a-loffing.”
~Mother Goose


Eat sensibly — a balanced diet will provide all the necessary energy you will need during the day. Avoid nonprescription drugs and avoid alcohol use — you need to be mentally and physically alert to deal with stress. Be mindful of the effects of excessive caffeine and sugar on nervousness. Put out the cigarettes — they restrict blood circulation and affect the stress response.
“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper;
A peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper,
Where’s the peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked?”
~Mother Goose


Friends can be good medicine. Daily doses of conversation, regular social engagements, and occasional sharing of deep feelings and thoughts can reduce stress quite nicely.
Hush, baby, my dolly, I pray you don’t cry,
And I’ll give you some bread, and some milk by-and-by;
Or perhaps you like custard, or, maybe, a tart,
Then to either you’re welcome, with all my heart.
~Mother Goose


Many people don’t realize it, but stress is a very natural and important part of life. Without stress there would be no life at all! We need stress, but not too much stress for too long. Stress helps keep us alert, motivates us to face challenges, and drives us to solve problems. These low levels of stress are manageable and can be thought of as necessary and normal stimulation.
Distress, on the other hand results when our bodies over-react to events. It leads to what has been called a “fight or flight” reaction. Such reactions may have been useful in times long ago when our ancestors were frequently faced with life or death matters. We can react to many daily situations as if they were life or death matters. Our bodies don’t really know the difference between a saber-tooth tiger attacking and an employer correcting our work. How we perceive and interpret the events of life dictates how our bodies react. If we think something is very scary or worrisome, our bodies react accordingly.
When we view something as manageable, though, our body doesn’t go haywire; it remains alert but not alarmed. The activation of our sympathetic nervous system (a very important part of our general nervous system) mobilizes us for quick action. The more we sense danger (social or physical), the more our body reacts. Have you ever been unexpectedly called upon to give an “off-the-cuff” talk and found that your heart pounded so loudly and your mouth was so dry that you thought you just couldn’t do it? That’s over-reaction.
Problems can occur when the sympathetic nervous system is unnecessarily over activated frequently. If we react too strongly or let the small over-reactions (the daily hassles) pile up, we may run into physical as well as psychological problems. Gastrointestinal problems (examples: diarrhea or nausea), depression, severe headaches, or relapse can come about from acute distress. Insomnia, heart disease, and distress habits (examples: drinking, overeating, smoking, and using drugs) can result from the accumulation of small distresses.
What we all need is to learn to approach matters in more realistic and reasonable ways. Strong reactions are better reserved for serious situations. Manageable reactions are better for the everyday issues that we typically have to face.


Below are situations that cause stress in some people and distress in others. Imagine yourself in each one right now. How are you reacting?

  • Driving your car in rush hour
  • Getting a last minute work assignment
  • Misplacing something in the house
  • Having something break while you’re using it
  • Dealing with incompetence at work
  • Planning your budget
  • Being blamed for something
  • Waiting in a long line at the grocery store

By Anne M. Warren ATRL-BC, LPC
This article was created from information found online through a pamphlet created by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and, of course Mother Goose.

From the director:

We are happy to announce that Lester Menke MS TLPC is a new therapist at our clinic! He is seeing teens, adults and couples. Welcome Lester! Tammy Ricke is heading to the annual conference for Internal Family Systems, and Tricia Schutz did a presentation at the Family Center and children and trauma. I am noticing an increase in Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms in some clients already- the days are getting shorter, but it is beautiful outside, so spending time outdoors will help with the season change. Enjoy the fall colors and be gentle with yourself!
Devona Marshall

What’s Controlling Your Life?

Summer is almost gone already and I feel like I have not made the most of it yet- I haven’t swam enough, looked at stars as often, grilled out as much etc. But I am determined to make the most of the next few weeks!

What’s Controlling Your Life?

Life offers many stressors that we unfortunately have no control over. With ongoing accumulated stress, we may get down and feel life is controlling us; but is that really the truth?

Let’s look at the word “boundaries.” Boundaries are invisible lines that show what our responsibility is and what is not. For example, a fence is a boundary that shows what my property is and what is my neighbor’s property. If we would pick our neighbor’s flowers or repaint his house, we would be in violation of his boundaries. Our skin is a boundary that keeps the bad out of our body and keeps the good inside. Anyone who touches our skin without permission is violating a boundary. Emotional boundaries are similar: the purpose is to keep the bad away and the good inside.

In order to set healthy boundaries, we need to know who is responsible for what. We are responsible for our feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes. Others are responsible for their feelings, thoughts, behaviors and attitudes. That means if we say something respectfully to a person who then gets angry, the anger is his/her problem! It also means we can’t expect someone to take care of us and meet our needs – we are responsible for getting our own needs met. Many times we use the guilt trip, manipulation, blame, or irresponsibility (all of which are boundary violations) to avoid taking care of our personal issues. When someone puts a guilt trip on us, blames us for something they did, or are irresponsible for doing their jobs – it is not our job to accept the guilt, accept the blame or do another person’s job.

So what do we do when someone violates our boundaries?

When people are physically, emotionally or verbally harmful, we can physically move away from them. Another great boundary is words: saying “Stop, I don’t like that, I’m not accepting that guilt or blame, and I’m not doing your jobs anymore…” Of course, we can set consequences: “If you keep drinking and yelling at me, I’ll sleep at my neighbor’s house,” (but we must follow through). If we set boundaries in respectful ways, and as a result the other person behaves poorly, that is his/her problem, not ours.

We can’t change another person or some circumstances in our lives. However, we can set boundaries to take care of ourselves and get our needs met. Healthy relationships respect each other’s boundaries. Unhealthy relationships usually have a violation of boundaries.
We only have so much energy. Often we expend most of our energy trying to change what we don’t have the power to change (a person, job expectations, our past, teen’s natural explorations…)Instead, let’s accept what we cannot change, and use our limited energy to decide what to do about it.

If you have boundary issues in your relationships, Kettle Moraine has a wonderful team of counselors to help you sort through it.

Debra S. Graf, LPC

Research Update:

Fatty ‘comfort’ foods may alter brain’s response to sadness
August 1, 2011, USA TODAY
Research suggests that fatty foods do more than satisfy our stomachs. They may also soothe our psyche, serving as comfort foods.

Rose-colored glasses may help love last
July 25, 2011, Los Angeles Times
Research suggests that happy delusions help when looking at your partner in a general sense (but be more realistic on the details).

Blog Excerpt:

As I get older…. I have more appreciation for the “muddiness” of life, and don’t expect it (or myself) to come in a neat orderly package. I like myself more and even tolerate my inconsistencies. Change in myself and others is more OK, and I don’t have to insist we all stay the same.

From the director:

Summer is almost gone already and I feel like I have not made the most of it yet- I haven’t swam enough, looked at stars as often, grilled out as much etc. But I am determined to make the most of the next few weeks! We have Anne Warren starting to see clients on Saturdays. She is a counselor and an art therapist who sees children and adults. Welcome aboard Anne! In this issue Deb Graf has written a great article on Boundaries. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Devona Marshall