Category: <span>Stress</span>

Feeling Stressed Out?

With everything that’s going on in the world, on top of whatever you’re dealing with personally, it’s easy to get stressed and overwhelmed.

Currently, everyone is talking about how to stay physically safe and healthy in order to not get sick.  But it’s just as important to stay emotionally healthy. When we’re under chronic stress, our immune system weakens, making you more prone to getting sick.

In this video, I give you three suggestions for ways to better manage your stress, now and for when you return to your normal routine.



Take Care,

Liza J. Alvarado, LPC




Talking With Your Kids About The Chaos In The World.

School shootings. Climate change. Poverty. Immigration issues. With all the chaos in the world, how do you explain it to kids when they come to you for answers?!

As parents, mentors and caregivers, kids look to us for answers. We would love to keep them in a bubble, protected from the negativity in the world. However, that is not preparing them for a life independent from you. It’s very important to explain to kids what is going on around them. After all, they’re the ones that will live on long after we’re gone.

But how do you begin to talk to your kids about the chaos in the world? Here are three suggestions to get the discussion started.

Actually talk to them about it. Especially if they’re bringing it up.

Many parents try to “protect” their kids by avoiding these uncomfortable conversations. But ignoring it is the worse thing to do because they’ll seek answers elsewhere.

Just because your child is home most of the time, does not mean that they don’t know what is going on in the world. Honestly, they’re probably more informed than us since they’re constantly connected to the world online. If you don’t address some of their concerns, they’ll most likely turn to Google or YouTube for answers, where you have no control.

I find that car rides are one of the best places to talk to your kids since there’s no direct eye contact, and they can’t go anywhere. Another good time is during walks.

You can start the conversation by asking “hey, did you hear about…. what do you think about that? Be curious about their point of view without judging.

How you explain things could make them either become more anxious, or feel secure. If you’re not sure how to answer a question, tell them that you don’t know and together you can do research.

Prepare them in case of an emergency.

Sadly, school shootings have become common in the United States. It’s important to have a plan in place as a family in case of a school shooting. Schools now have safety plans. But as a family, you should have a plan too. For example, I have told my teenaged son to keep his cell phone turned off but in his backpack, which he always has with him in school, not in his locker.

It’s also important to have an emergency plan in case you’re in a public place when something happens. is a website that helps you create a family plan.

It’s important to stress the importance of safety with your kids. You don’t want to be paranoid, but you want to be prepared. It’s like insurance. Hopefully you never have to use it, but you’ll be glad to have it when you need it.

Some parents have enrolled themselves and their kids in self-defense classes, in shooting ranges to learn how to safely handle a gun, and outdoor survival skills. Do what feels right for your family. The point is to be informed and prepared.

Have time to unplug.

Today’s kids were born into this technology. They don’t know a world without it. So it’s only natural that they’re going to want to always be on their phone or gaming system where they can play with friends without needing to leave home. Technology has it’s advantages, but it could also be scary as kids could seek out ANY information without you knowing.

It is our job as parents, ants/uncles and caretakers to provide breaks from technology. It could be as a simple house rules that NO ONE goes on their cell phones during dinner, for example. Or doing activities together that will keep kids busy. I hear from teens all the time that the main reason they are on their phone or other electronics is because they’re bored. Schedule time to take the food you cooked and eat it at a park, or have a movie night, or ask for their help with household projects.

Unplugging from the constant information that’s online is not only good for their mental health, but it’s an opportunity to connect with your kids.

I also recommend that you read your news instead of watching it on television where it’s repeated and has graphic visuals. If you’re constantly watching negative stories everyday, you can unconsciously pass on your anxieties to your kids. Unplugging from TV news is just as important as unplugging from the internet.

Remember, you are the adult in the relationship and kids are looking to you for guidance. Although you can’t control what’s online and what’s going on in the world, you can control what values and education you want to instill in your kids. Talking to your kids and providing reassurance helps them feel more secure in a chaotic world.

About the Author
Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves adolescents, adults and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA.


How to Meditate

I’m sure you’ve heard about the benefits of meditation and how it’s such a wonderful thing. Meditating regularly has been shown to decrease stress, slow down a racing mind, improves your memory, gives you a feeling of inner calm, improves sleep and lowers stress hormones, just to name a few benefits.

Many people don’t meditate because they feel that it’s impossible to stop thinking. When you meditate you don’t stop thinking, you slow it down. You completely focus (still thinking) on one thing, instead of a bunch of different things back to back.

There are different types of meditations. But I wanted to teach you a simple, basic mediation to get started.

It does take practice, but the more often you meditate, the easier it gets. I recommend practicing it at night when you’re in bed. Then whenever you have time alone, it’s good to practice.

Step 1: Find a comfortable place where you can physically relax. It could be laying down on your bed or sitting in a chair.

Step 2: Close your eyes to block any visual distractions.

Step3: Take a long deep breath in through your nose and hold for one second.

Step 4: Slowly release your breath through your mouth.

Step 5: Continue to take a few deep breaths until you physically feel more calm.

Now that you’re physically more calm, every time you exhale, relax your muscles. Relax your facial muscles, relax your shoulders, arms, relax your back and hips, all the way down to your toes.

If thoughts enter your mind it’s ok, let the thoughts float out and bring your attention back to your body. Notice the way your chest and belly rise and sink as you inhale and exhale. Use your body to keep your attention on NOW, not what happened earlier or what may or may not happen later. Try to do this for as long as you’re able to.

That’s it! This is a basic Meditation technique. You can do this for 3 minutes of 30 minutes. The whole point is to bring your thoughts to your body. We can’t think two thoughts at the same exact time. Therefore as you’re thinking about breathing and relaxing your body, there’s no room for other thoughts.

At first your mind might wonder and thats ok. As I said, with practice it gets easier and easier.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and the Spanish speaking individuals in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.




Have you ever found yourself reacting to someone else’s negative behavior impulsively? Maybe a friend or family member makes a comment that triggers you and you react with a passive aggressive comment? Or a boss or co-worker sends an email that rubs you the wrong way so you answer with negative attitude?

We have all been there from time to time. But reacting without thinking can get you into trouble, or even cause embarrassment. Here are some tips on how to better control impulsive reactions.

Take a deep breath.

When we feel threatened, physically, psychologically or emotionally, we go into fight-or-flight mode. Fight-or-flight is our survival instinct to protect ourselves by fighting (physically or verbally) or running away.  Take a deep breath to lower the emotional and chemical reaction of fight-or-flight, allowing you to think more clearly.


Wait a few seconds before replying, longer if you’re able to. A few seconds or minutes up front saves you hours or days of a headache. Unless it’s life threatening, you don’t have to answer the person right away.

Are you reacting emotionally?

Ask yourself (during the pause) if your reaction is out of anger, irritability, hurt, or any type of negative emotion. Or is it a rational reaction.

When we react emotionally, we often say or do things that we don’t really mean. Look at the issue for what it is and try reacting accordingly.

Walk away.

Walking away is not a sign of weakness. It gives you physical space between you and the person you’re reacting to and makes it easier to pause. Plus, it helps you not hurt the other person.

If you’re reacting to a complete stranger, like another driver or a random customer at a store, it might be easier since you don’t know them. They’re complete strangers to you so who cares what they think or say. You most likely will never see them again. Ask yourself, “is this going to matter in a year from now?”

If you’re reacting to someone you interact with frequently, you might be tempted even more to react impulsively. If it’s something they frequently do that irritates you, it’s important to set boundaries with them or tell them, appropriately, how their behavior makes you feel.

Ask for clarification.

Could you be misinterpreting what someone is saying? This happens often when communicating through email or text. Don’t assume that the person is being rude. Instead stop and ask for clarification.

Do you have trouble controlling your impulses often?

I’m sorry to tell you this but not everything is everyone else’s fault. Are you over reacting?

Sometimes when you have unresolved issues or hold your feelings in, you blow up more quickly. It could be the smallest thing that a person does, such as body language, tone of voice or even specific words that could be triggering something deeper in you. Maybe the way your teacher or boss talks to you triggers the way a highly critical parent would talk to you growing up.

Recognizing if it’s “your stuff” helps you separate the person you’re dealing with and your own feelings.


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About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.



6 Stretches to Relieve Stress and Tension

If you’re not motivated enough to exercise I have good news. You can do several moves right from your chair, bed, and even your car when you’re at a red light.

It won’t have the same effects as exercise does, but stretching does help with relieving stress. Stretching gets the blood flowing, so it improves circulation and relieves muscle tension. Combine stretching with deep breathing and you’ll notice that it could also help to release mental, emotional, and psychological stress. Here are some simple but effective moves to try.


Grab one hand with the other, take a deep breath in, and lift your arms as high as you could. When you feel the stretch down your arms, hold it there for at least 10 seconds. Try to reach as high as you could. Breath out slowly. You can do this while sitting or standing  up. Like this lady…

stretching up

Take a deep breath in. Stretch out your arms as if your making a “T” or trying to tell someone how long something is. Stretch it as far as you can until you feel the stretch in your chest. Breath out slowly. Repeat 2-3 times.

stretch T

Sit up straight. Keeping your body straight, take a deep breath in,  try looking down until your chin touches you chest. Breath out slowly. You should feel your neck and shoulders stretching. Now do the opposite and look all the way up by only moving your neck. Now move your head so the your right ear almost touches your right shoulder. Do the same on your left ear and left shoulder.


While sitting on your bed or couch, sit up straight, take a deep breath in and reach to touch your toes. Breath out. You’ll feel the back of your legs and your back stretching.

reaching for toes

While sitting down. Place your left leg over right right leg where the left ankle is touching the right knee. Usually how a lot of men sit. With your hands hold your left knee and ankle. Keeping your back straight, take a deep breath in, and try leaning forward as far as you can. You will feel your hip stretching. Now repeat on the other side.

hip stretch

Stand up straight with legs shoulder width apart. Take a deep breath in. Pretend you’re going to sit down. Hold your body in a squat position. Breath out slowly. Hold it for as long as you can.


About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.





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