Interview: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.
Dr. Colleen Cira is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health, PC. She is an anxiety and trauma expert as well as a consultant, supervisor, speaker, writer and advocate.
Talking points for an interview on summer depression:
For people who are vulnerable to depression, summer can make people feel better (sunshine! fun plans! vacations!) BUT Summer can also sometimes make people feel worse, especially if they are comparing themselves to others who seem to be living their best life during these warm weather months.
This comparison to lead to dissatisfaction with one’s own life, shame or self-criticism for not having a more “fun” summer and feelings of isolation. To combat Summer blues (or end of Summer blues for that matter), one can:
- Try to generate a more loving acceptance toward how you are feeling right now. Trying to “achieve” happiness can sometimes be like getting stuck in quicksand: the harder you try to get out, the deeper you sink. Be more accepting of how you’re feeling RIGHT NOW (sad feelings and all) and happiness will come without having to try so hard.
- Try challenging yourself. Feeling lonely and isolated? Push yourself to talk to someone you trust. Feeling bored? Push yourself to make plans doing something you enjoy. Have you been very sedentary? Push yourself to take a walk, go to the gym, play your favorite sport. Eating your feelings? Push yourself to make yourself a healthy, nutritious meal and savor every bite.
- Try meditation. Research is clear that while our happiness set-points can be pretty stubborn, a regular practice of meditation is one of the few things that can change our happiness set points. Part of the reason that it can change our happiness set-point is because over time, it changes the chemistry of our brains and those changes stick around if we practice enough.
- Practice Gratitude. Turns out that when Grandma told you to “count your blessings,” there was a lot of wisdom behind that! Science has proved over and over again that when we take even just a moment to be genuinely grateful for something, it increases our happiness because, again, it changes our brain chemistry. Now we’re not talking about “I’m grateful to have a roof over my head.” We’re talking about noticing the beauty of the sunset, waking up well-rested and feeling awesome about that, etc. It has to be specific, it has to be genuine and we have to actually FEEL it, not just KNOW we SHOULD be grateful for it.
- Be kind to others. One of the things that makes people most happy is feeling like they have purpose. And feeling like you have a purpose typically comes back to doing something nice for other people. So what are you passionate about? Do you love kids? Animals? Do you feel strongly about protecting the planet? Whatever it is that really gets you going, especially when it involves doing something good for someone or something else, will boost happiness levels.
- Therapy. Sometimes you may feel like you are trying EVERYTHING to feel happier and nothing is working despite your best efforts. Or you SO WISH you could get the motivation to do any of the things I listed above, but you just can’t. This is not a sign that you lack self-discipline, are flawed as a human being, or any of the other terrible things you might be saying to yourself. This is a sign that something is wrong and you need some help. There’s no shame in that. It’s great to want to work on yourself, but sometimes you need someone to join you on your journey—and that’s totally Okay.
Available for Interviews: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.
Dr. Colleen Cira received both her Masters and Doctorate from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of Illinois. She’s the Founder and Executive Director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health, PC, a boutique group practice specializing in Women and Trauma with locations in Chicago and Oak Park.
She was named one of the “Top 100 Women in Chicago Making a Difference,” by Today’s Chicago Woman. Dr. Cira is a trauma and anxiety expert, clinical supervisor, writer, speaker, consultant, activist, wife, and Mommy to two little ones.
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