Under Pressure

April 29, 2021

For the last few weeks, I’ve been focused on the fact that April is Financial Literacy month.  Today I’d like to talk about a different subject the April is the “month” of, and that is Read the rest of this entry »


Adjustment, Acceptance and Self-Care

April 16, 2020

by Tricia Warner, CSW-PIP
Clinical Therapist, PATH Program, LSS Behavioral Health Services, Sioux Falls

The COVID-19 virus has changed all of our lives. We are social distancing by staying six feet apart from each other. We are postponing holiday gatherings. We are visiting our older loved ones through windows. We are wearing masks to the grocery store.

I miss my clients as I sit in my office hoping they will successfully transfer over to Telehealth due to the need to be apart for safety. I have concern for them, as I cannot see them in person. I hope they are faring well.

As with grief and loss, there are many difficult firsts with COVID-19. We had our first Easter with COVID-19 and its restrictions. First graduations without in-person ceremonies are coming up. First babies are being born without getting to have visitors in the hospital.

Like we have to adjust to grief and loss, we have to adjust to COVID-19. It is difficult in that the restrictions can change every day. Are we going to have to stay home much longer? Are summer activities going to happen? Are people going to be recalled to their jobs? How long will it be until I can hug my mother again?

There are many questions and no good answers right now; however, we must adjust and accept the trial we are in at this time. It will pass, but we don’t know quite when. Things will get better, but we don’t know quite how. Still, without having the answers, we must learn to cope with COVID-19.

Using mindfulness for coping and self-care is a good strategy in that it provides calmness and a distraction. Mindfulness is a practice during which we focus on the present and utilize ways to relax and focus. We slow down and step away from our technology as well during mindfulness practice. By caring for ourselves, we can build resiliency during stressful times.

“…we think about mindfulness as the ability to be present in the current moment, with awareness of our thoughts, emotions and sensations in the body and what is happening in our environment. Another aspect of mindfulness is cultivating curiosity and openness with what is present in you and around you.” (Salgado, 2016)

Some mindfulness techniques to try are as follows:

Body Mindfulness

  • Take a deep breath.
  • Notice the physical sensations in your body (air flowing in and out; any tight muscles, etc.).
  • Notice any thoughts that come and refocus on your body’s sensations, over and over if needed.
  • Stop after a few minutes.

Breathing Mindfully

  • Notice how you breathe normally. Do your chest and abdomen rise and fall with each breath?
  • Next, breathe deeply in and out and count this as 1. Continue deep breathing until you reach 10.

Mindfulness Walk

  • Keeping social distancing in mind, plan to take a slow walk.
  • Inhale deeply and exhale three times.
  • Begin walking and just go where you wish to.
  • Notice sensory things, such as the sight of the green grass, sound of a bird or the feel of the light wind on your face.
  • Notice what is holding your attention, such as the sight of tree branches being rustled by a breeze.
  • Take three deep breaths again. Note your feelings.

Mindfulness and Eating

  • Sit down in front of your meal. Look at and smell it.
  • Taste a bite of food. Chew slowly and savor this (direct experience).
  • Think about the flavoring and the coloring of the food you had (memory).
  • Taste another bite of food and really notice any feeling or sensation about the experience. Note the differences between the direct experience and the memory of eating the bites of food.

Mindfulness and Belonging Affirmations

  • Find a quiet and preferably private place.
  • Tell yourself three times: “I am good. I am loved. I have value.”
  • Think of someone you love and say: “You are good. You are loved. You have value.”
  • Next, consider people suffering due to COVID-19 and say: “You are good. You are loved. You have value.”
  • Think of a way to offer kindness to someone later in the day.

Source: Real World Mindfulness for Beginners, Edited by Brenda Salgado (2016)


Identifying Depression Symptoms and Getting Help

May 22, 2019

When to Seek Out Counseling for Depression

Depression takes many forms. For people with depression symptoms, it’s often difficult to identify. Everyone can have a bad day or two. But if your mood keeps you from doing things you typically enjoy, you should seek help.

Picture of 30-year old male smiling. Getting help for depression. Let go of the pain. Hold on to Hope.For example, some symptoms include lack of energy, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, weight gain or loss and even thoughts of suicide. Major or clinical depression requires a diagnosis. If you’re experiencing any symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can advise on medications or counseling.

What Causes Depression?

Depression is a very complex condition. There is no way to pinpoint exactly what causes it. But there are a number of things that may increase your chances of experiencing depression, including:

  • A major health issue
  • Death or loss
  • Family genetics
  • Substance abuse
  • Abuse or neglect
  • Major life changes
  • Medications

It may be any combination of these or other things. Some people experience the above and are very resilient. Others who find themselves more affected may require counseling, medication or both. By recognizing your own symptoms and seeking out help, you greatly increase your chances for success. With treatment, you can have a much more enjoyable life.

How Counseling Works

Counseling is really nothing to be afraid of. Depression, anxiety, panic and the many variations of these conditions are quite common. As we’ve learned more about depression, we’ve learned more about how to treat it. Counseling is of course, confidential. But seeking out counseling should never be anything to be ashamed of.

Your Lutheran Social Services counselor will work to explore the full range of your emotions, including feelings you may not even be aware of. Our experienced therapists offer many different types of therapy. You may need longer-term therapy. Most people experience more than one episode of depression. But don’t let that get in the way of feeling better.

At Lutheran Social Services our goal is always to help you live life to the fullest. Schedule an appointment online or call 855-334-2953 toll free. If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911.


Identifying Depression Symptoms and Getting Help

November 7, 2018

When to Seek Out Counseling for Depression

Depression takes many forms. For people with depression symptoms, it’s often difficult to identify. Everyone can have a bad day or two. But if your mood keeps you from doing things you typically enjoy, you should seek help.

Getting help for depression. Let go of the pain. Hold on to Hope.For example, some symptoms include lack of energy, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, weight gain or loss and even thoughts of suicide. Major or clinical depression requires a diagnosis. If you’re experiencing any symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can advise on medications or counseling.

What Causes Depression?

Depression is a very complex condition. There is no way to pinpoint exactly what causes it. But there are a number of things that may increase your chances of experiencing depression, including:

  • A major health issue
  • Death or loss
  • Family genetics
  • Substance abuse
  • Abuse or neglect
  • Major life changes
  • Medications

It may be any combination of these or other things. Some people experience the above and are very resilient. Others who find themselves more affected may require counseling, medication or both. By recognizing your own symptoms and seeking out help, you greatly increase your chances for success. With treatment, you can have a much more enjoyable life.

How Counseling Works

Counseling is really nothing to be afraid of. Depression, anxiety, panic and the many variations of these conditions are quite common. As we’ve learned more about depression, we’ve learned more about how to treat it. Counseling is of course, confidential. But seeking out counseling should never be anything to be ashamed of.

Your Lutheran Social Services counselor will work to explore the full range of your emotions, including feelings you may not even be aware of. Our experienced therapists offer many different types of therapy. You may need longer-term therapy. Most people experience more than one episode of depression. But don’t let that get in the way of feeling better.

At Lutheran Social Services our goal is always to help you live life to the fullest. Schedule an appointment online or call 855-334-2953 toll free. If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911.


Today is the day!

April 4, 2016

Today marks the beginning of a bright new chapter in the history of LSS.

April 4, 2016 will be remembered as the day that launched LSS into its second century of service to the people of South Dakota. Today is the day that LSS officially launches its campaign to create “The Campus on East Bank” in downtown Sioux Falls.

More than five years ago, LSS began to dream of opportunities which might lie before the agency. One of those opportunities was to have a single facility in Sioux Falls which would house multiple services in one convenient location in the downtown core of the city. The new facility would provide greater visibility, be in a campus-like setting with adequate parking, have convenient access to public transportation and allow room to grow.

In the summer of 2013, we shared that dream with the business community of Sioux Falls and were excited by the positive response we received. In November 2013, we presented our dream and our plan to the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Community Appeals Committee and in February 2014 they told us they shared our dream and granted us approval to conduct a fundraising campaign to raise $1.25 million from Chamber members.

LSS.EB.DigiAd.300x250Two years have passed since that day in February when we learned of the Committee’s decision. There have been many twists and turns, starts and stops along the way. Yet we have never wavered in our dream, nor in our work toward realizing it.

And we will realize it. Thanks to the determined and positive leadership of our campaign co-chairs Tom Dempster and Fred Slunecka, our nine team captains and more than 80 Chamber volunteers, we will hit the streets of Sioux Falls to make more than 400 personal solicitations of Chamber members.

We will succeed and soon we will have a permanent home for our Center for New Americans, Center for Financial Resources, Counseling Services, Mentoring Services, Fatherhood & Re-entry Services and possibly LSS administration in the former Kilian Community College property adjacent to the Big Sioux River on 6th Street in downtown Sioux Falls.

Yes…Today Is The Day!

Bill Peterson
LSS Vice President, Development & Foundation


6 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship

February 13, 2015

Happy mature coupleValentine’s Day is a day that some people celebrate and a day that others tend to dread.  For everyone, it can be an important reminder to lift our relationships up and to think about the blessings our loved ones provide.  As a marriage therapist, and a spouse of 43 years, I remind myself that it is often the little things that matter most in a relationship.  The memories you share, the experiences you create, and the love you nurture on a daily basis provide the foundation for a lifetime of marriage.

There are some very simple guidelines to follow when you are in a relationship that, if you follow, will support the relationship through difficult times:

1. Agree on How to Disagree

One of the first ground rules is to agree on how to resolve conflicts so that they are managed with respect and result in some form of agreement.  There are several ways couples can chose to do this, but the common thread involves active listening and empathizing with your partner’s intentions, concerns and needs.  While disagreements can often turn animated, it is crucial that the respect for the other person’s thinking and feelings remain paramount.  According to research, about 75% of our marital conflicts are not solvable, yet that should not be the focus of the marriage.  You may have to let go of some expectations.  Your partner may not become the household chef, or share your standards of organization, but in letting go you gain something much richer than a good meal or an orderly home.

2. Give Technology a Break

Turn off technology at an agreed upon time in the evening when you are both home.  This includes everyone in the home, especially pre-teens and teens who want to text and play computer games.

3. Everyone Needs Their Rest

Go to bed at the same time so there is time to cuddle and relax several nights a week.  Ideally, there should be no technology in the bedroom – no TV, no phones, no computer and no paperwork from your job spread across the bed. If you have children, make sure they are in bed and getting the sleep they need.  They also should have no TV or computer games for 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime.

4. Schedule Time to Relax

As a couple you need to have relaxing time together for 90 minutes or more at least 3 nights a week.  Have evenings that you both agree are “low expectation nights.”  No “we have to talk” discussions should be held after the set relaxation time.  Instead, set a time for those discussions when you both have had time to think about how you can discuss the problem when you are both refreshed with sleep.  If you are sure you are right in a conflict and feel like the victim, you are probably wrong.  You are, in fact, 50% of the answer.

5. Plan a Date Night

Plan a date night every 2 weeks where you have time to relax and talk to each other.  This is a time for play, humor, sharing dreams and goals, and relaxing.  It is not the time to discuss parenting or marital issues.

6. Show a Little Tenderness

Bring kindness into your relationship.  Show that you are thinking about the other person when you are not together by what you do when you are together.  This is not about gifting, but about showing thoughtfulness to the other person.

These are just a few ideas for couples to consider in a relationship. It is important to remember that all relationships require time, resources and energy in order to grow.   Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or dread it, use the day as a reminder to reflect on your commitment and to enrich the love in your marriage.

If you are struggling with your relationship, the counseling staff at LSS can help. Call 1-855-334-2953 or visit www.counseling.lsssd.org to schedule an appointment.

Colleen Miller
Licensed Professional Counselor
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist


Celebrating Compassion & Kindness This Holy Season

December 24, 2014

Today is a good day to cherish memories of loved ones, embrace those who share our daily lives and help lighten heavy loads for those who are traveling along life’s weary and difficult road.

I begin by honoring the memory of Karla Freeman. Karla not only shared her professional talents through her work as office manager at LSS Counseling Services in Sioux Falls for 19 years, but she cared for those whom LSS served. Sadly, we lost Karla in August 2013 to cancer; however, memories of Karla and her legacy of compassion and kindness will continue to live on.

It started thirteen years ago when Karla saw a client family quietly struggling to get through the holidays. A family who would never ask for help, but needed it desperately. A family who needed to know that someone cared for them and that someone was watching over them.

In the distance, Karla was watching with a compassionate and respectful heart. She sought out a few local donors who were willing to provide gifts to help lighten the heavy load this family was carrying.

The following year, Karla matched a few more local donors with counseling clients who had basic needs during the Christmas holiday, but also a special gift or two to warm their hearts. Over the years, these acts of compassion and kindness have become known as the Adopt-A-Family Program.

2014 Dec 24 Blog picToday, I embrace all staff of LSS Counseling Services who continue the legacy of Karla Freeman. Because of the generosity of nine donors, LSS Counseling Services will help lighten heavy loads for 20 families who are struggling with life’s challenges.

I feel blessed and so appreciative to be surrounded by LSS professionals as well as generous and thoughtful donors across South Dakota who have made LSS one of their giving priorities not only during the holiday season, but year round to provide professional, confidential and affordable services.

May this Christmas season allow you to feel God’s presence and compassion in your life as we cherish memories of loved ones, embrace those who share our daily lives and help lighten heavy loads for those who are traveling along life’s weary and difficult road.

Blessings to you and your family this holy season,

Betty Oldenkamp, LSS President & CEO

 

Click here to support LSS services and help lighten heavy loads for those who are traveling along life’s weary and difficult road.


“He gave me my first gun.” Prisoners and mentoring

November 7, 2014
TAKE THREE MINUTES TO WATCH THIS VIDEO THAT ASKS PRISONERS WHY MENTORS MATTER!
It is estimated that 1.7 million youth in the United States have at least one parent in prison and that millions more have a parent in jail. Research suggests that children of incarcerated parents are more prone to struggle with mental and physical health, along with difficulties in the school setting. The Center for Children of Incarcerated parents reports that children of prisoners are 5 times more likely than other children to end up in prison.While the numbers may look grim, it is always important to remember that children are resilient and with the right support system in place, many of these children will find success. Research indicates that the practice of mentoring can be positive for many children and initial results show that this is true as well for the subsection of children with incarcerated parents. The life experiences of these children may differ slightly from other children and it is important for the mentor to keep that in mind during day to day interactions with them.

LSS Mentoring Services is partnering with LSS Fatherhood and Families to present a training on children of incarcerated parents. This training will aim to provide information on the effects of children having parents in prison or jail, insight into children communicating and visiting with their parents in the South Dakota prison system, and the needs and “to do’s” for mentoring children of incarcerated parents.

The training will take place on November 13 from 12:00 to 1:00 PM at the LSS Center for Children and Youth, located at 621 East Presentation Street in Sioux Falls. Click on the session to RSVP.

Read the rest of this entry »


LSS Makes it Easier to Ask for Help

August 8, 2013

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Whether people are experiencing depression, having a difficult time at work, struggling with relationship issues, or dealing with the loss of a loved one, taking the step to start counseling can be a difficult decision.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

LSS Counseling Services recently restructured its intake process to make it easier for people to ask for help. Clients and referral sources can now call 1-855-334-2953 to access counseling services statewide. Read the rest of this entry »


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