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You Hurt Where You Care

2.13.21

If you are a parent, the love you have for your children is immeasurable. The long sleepless nights rocking your baby or soothing your frightened or sick child are all worth it because you care and love.   There are times when you may not be willing to pay the price that love brings. One young man once told me he didn’t want to date or worse yet, get married, because he didn’t want to experience the pain of a breakup. “I’d rather be alone than experience the pain,” he said. That’s understandable. No one wants to experience pain; yet in any relationship, the chances are pretty high that there will be emotional pain at some point. If he keeps that view of life, he will miss out on the joy that comes with struggles. What this y

Are you struggling with Anxiety?

1.12.21

Annabella’s new book, Let Go of Anxiety: Climb Life’s Mountains with Peace, Purpose, and Resilience, can help you! Below is a sample chapter from the book: 28 Going Upstream—Is It Worth It? The o’opu, a freshwater fish native to Hawaii, hatches in fresh water and literally goes with the flow, swimming downstream to reproduce. Its eggs are swept into the ocean, where they develop into young fish. Like salmon, these young fish instinctively return home. They measure less than three inches in size, but their determination to reach their birthplace and start another generation is huge. These fish don’t just swim upstream to get back home. They literally climb waterfalls by using suction disks.14 “How is this possible?” you mi

Hardships, Growth, and Gratitude

12.10.20

The year 2020 will go down in history as one of our most challenging and disliked years. No question we all have been struggling in one way or another. However, some of us may already have been experiencing hard times in a variety of ways, whether it be mental, emotional, physical, social, or financial. When we are in the middle of hardships, we lament our circumstances with what should’ve, would’ve, or could’ve been, if it weren’t for that particular difficulty. We get stuck with emotions, thoughts, judgments, sensations, and urges to want to control what we cannot, especially our internal pain. We may not notice that affliction can lead us to personal growth. We may be lacking the right tools to face adversity with courage and

What Do You Want Your Life to Stand For?

10.19.20

Halloween, All Hallows’ Day and Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) are part of family traditions for many. Halloween may be most familiar to you if you were born in the United States. Growing up in Guatemala my family used to celebrate el Día de Los Muertos. At that time families visit cemeteries, eat delicious food and remember their departed loved ones’ lives. Today, I’d like to invite you to think about the Day of the Dead and imagine what your grave will look like after you’re gone. Most importantly, what would the engraving on your tombstone say? Picture your loved ones talking about you and trying to decide what to inscribe. What would they think of you based on the way you’ve spent your time and energy every day of your life?

5 Ways to Cope with Parenting Stress

9.6.20

View original article published in Psych Central– The uncertainty in the world may be getting on your nerves, and the problem is that you are not the only one you need to worry about. Your children can also feel your stress and that can create stressed kids. If you and your children were struggling with anxiety before the pandemic, it has now probably heightened. Summer may have provided some respite, but new worries may be cropping up. What’s a parent to do when there are so many issues to worry about and no chance of knowing with certainty that your feared outcomes won’t come true? Here are a few questions to help you gauge your current stress level: Have you found yourself getting upset by trivial situations? Have you found it difficult

Stressed Out? Take A Breather!

8.17.20

Stress is not new. It has been around since life began. It’s part of our survival mechanism to help us stay alive when we are in danger. However, we live in a time of high pressure and demands, and most recently our stress may have heightened due to COVID-19 and uncertainties in the world. Stress can be different for everyone. There are individuals who may experience chronic stress and anxiety. As soon as they wake up, they start feeling the unpleasant sensations of stress and anxiety in their bodies. When we are stressed, our bodies start feeling tension. We may have difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep. Some people may experience headaches, digestion problems, high blood pressure and generalized unhappiness. The question is, are

What to Do with Intrusive Thoughts?

8.13.20

View original article published in Psych Central– If you had a devastating illness and were given one year to live, what would you do? No question there would be grief and plenty of important decisions to make. If it didn’t debilitate you completely, what would you do with your time? Where would you focus your attention and energy? Would you be willing to spend more time with your loved ones despite the pain that shows up? Would you be doing activities that you’ve enjoyed in life or would you stay home lamenting what life would’ve been if you didn’t have this affliction? As mortal beings, we are guaranteed physical, mental and emotional pain. The prospect of getting away from pain is a fantasy, and we all know it. Yet, when we are in the

Learning to Embrace Uncertainty

6.30.20

View original article published in Psych Central– Uncertainty is the reigning emotion during critical times. The response to our feelings may depend on our physical, emotional, and mental health circumstances. The turmoil in the world can surely make for a perfect emotional daily storm. Our protective mind may advise us to curl up in bed and stay there. However, will avoidance provide us with moments of joy despite the turbulence and uncertainty around us? We are constantly being triggered by external signals. We may be aware of how our body and mind respond, but sometimes we may not consciously recognize it. When awareness is absent, we can quickly become entangled with unpleasant and unhelpful thoughts. Uncertainty can take over and pani

Coping with Germophobia in a Pandemic

5.20.20

Annabella Hagen, LCSW, was interviewed and quoted as part of the article, “Coping with Germophobia in a Pandemic”, recently published in BYU’s The Daily Universe. Hagen said a common phrase she hears is, “Being a little OCD,” where the letters “OCD” are used as an adjective. “It’s done innocently, but society needs to understand that OCD is a serious and debilitating illness for many people,” Hagen said. “Their daily distress affects their functioning and quality of life. There is nothing ‘little’ about struggling with this illness.” Read full article here. Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Coping with Losses Due to COVID-19

4.2.20

View original article published in Psych Central– Weddings, graduations, business meetings, travel, friends and family gatherings have been interrupted. Some activities we may have been looking forward to have been wiped out or postponed. Some people’s reaction can be anger, anxiety or stress. Others are mourning what could’ve been in sadness and frustration. A friend whose yearly tradition has been to enjoy the national college basketball tournament during March (March Madness) with his sons and their families is lamenting his loss. For his family, March is usually a time to watch their favorite basketball players and teams compete, and most importantly, an opportunity to bond with one another as a family. Many college students have mixed

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