Archive for the ‘stress’ Category

Heart for Mental Health Event

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Speaking Event

Christian Family Institute is honored to take part in the Heart for Mental Health event Friday, March 10, 2017.

Come support efforts to educate, raise awareness, learn about resources, and experience training in mental health.

Register your attendance with Dr. Roddy of Advanced Eye Care, Inc. 

Participating partners:

Southern Hills Baptist Church – Celebrate Recovery

Bright Tomorrows

Hope is Alive Mentoring Homes

Teen Challenge

Heart for Mental Health flyer

A Good Nights Sleep

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

sleeping childQuality sleep may be one of the most important things to maintaining our health. Regarding to mental health, sleep has all kinds of significance, both diagnostic and interventional. Often times, mental health issues will affect someone’s ability to sleep. This can ultimately create a negative cycle in which the lack of sleep makes the mental health concern more significant and then the mental health concern can further disturb sleep. Doing some things to improve sleep quality and quantity, can be very helpful in alleviating these concerns.

A common concept, foundational to helping improve sleep is Sleep Hygiene. These are a set of suggestions that are designed to set the stage for healthy sleep to occur. If someone is dealing with a serious sleep disorder these may not be enough to overcome that problem, however, they are still important in achieving a solution. If you are struggling with any kind of difficulty sleeping, you may want to implement some of the following ideas.

Eliminate anything from the bedroom (especially the bed itself) that has is not conducive to sleep. This would include a television, computers, even radios and reading material. The idea is that the bedroom, and the bed specifically, is for sleeping and that should be its lone focus. OK, those who are married might find another use for the bed.

Be careful what you eat and drink. Avoid foods and drinks that are going to upset your stomach and caused distress. Minimizing fatty and spicy food, anything that might upset the stomach or cause distress should be avoided for understandable reasons.

Avoiding caffeine, especially at least six hours before bedtime, is very helpful. Even those people who think they’ve developed some resistance to caffeine, should eliminate it during the evening hours. There’s a reason over-the-counter medications designed to help people stay awake are essentially caffeine tablets.

Avoid thinking of alcohol as a sleep aid. The problem with alcohol, while it may induce some drowsiness or sleepiness, is that it actually decreases the quality of sleep.

Develop a calm down routine before bed. For about an hour and a half before you go to sleep, it is a good idea to do something soothing and relaxing, preferably with the lights dimmed. This could include reading, prayer time, personal Bible study, even a soothing bath or shower. It would be best to avoid anything like roughhousing with the kids or watching something that is likely to rile you up.

Regular exercise is an important part of sleep hygiene. Just be sure it is done several hours before going to bed. Exercise does have a stimulating affect for the few hours immediately after the activity. So sleeping right after exercise should be avoided. When you are exercising, intensity is a lot less important than simply being active. Brisk walks several times a week should do the job. Of course consult a physician before beginning a new exercise program.

The environment of the bedroom is important. A cool room has proven to be more conducive to healthy sleep. Also, a dark room is very important for fostering a healthy sleep environment. Light exposure is an important part of waking up, thus eliminating light is an important part of getting to sleep.

Maintain a regular schedule. It is a really good idea to go to bed and get out of bed at the same time every day. Developing a sleep/wake routine, can be very helpful in setting your circadian rhythm, also known as your sleep cycle.

While this is not an exhaustive list of sleep hygiene suggestions, it is good place to start. If you are having significant sleep issues and would like some help regarding them, please contact us at Christian Family Institute. We can help you determine exactly what your sleep issues may be and help you in overcoming those concerns.

by Eric Clements, M.S.

(more articles on managing stress)

Disaster Mental Health Response in Moore, Oklahoma

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

CFI’s Dr. Tim Doty volunteered last week with the American Red Cross in Moore as a Disaster Mental Health responder. This blog post is reposted from

As you have all seen from the pictures, videos, news reports, etc., the devastation is immense and fierce…but so is the spirit to rebuild.  I had two different assignments while on the scene.  The first was to accompany an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV)into the field to give out hot meals and cold water to people who haven’t had power or access for days.  I was assigned to a team of two nurses and two disaster mental health volunteers to help triage wounds, both emotional and physical. We talked to people who had lost everything…in fact some people had lost everything more than once.  They also survived the May 3, 1999 tornado.

Photo May 22, 10 10 38 AMPhoto May 22, 10 10 33 AM

In Disaster Mental Health, our role is to encourage, support, promote healthy coping strategies and to help identify those who need help immediately (like psychosis or suicidal/homicidal). There has been media coverage about who was let into the disaster areas and who was not (as in some residents) during the search and rescue and search and recovery phases of the disaster response.  Red Cross was given access on Wednesday, so we were among the first to be delivering food and water since Monday.  People were gracious.  They have been through incredible events.

Yesterday (Thursday) I had the honor of assisting with the reunion of the Briarwood elementary school that took place at Bonds elementary in Moore, just down the road from the destroyed Briarwood.  Again, as a Disaster Mental Health volunteer for the Red Cross, 8 psychologists were sent (4 each) to Briarwood and Plaza Towers reunions. It was a touching and powerful event.  Students and teachers reconnected.  Parents and family members were able to hug one another and actually close out their school year, which they were otherwise unable to do since the school was destroyed Monday. Some of the students were telling one another “I saw you on TV, so I knew you were ok.”  In fact, one father did not know that his son was alright until he viewed his son on TV as well.

The work through the Red Cross is emotionally challenging, but very rewarding when you can help encourage healthy coping strategies and help families predict the kinds of emotions and responses they are likely to encounter in the days and weeks ahead.

Our prayers continue to be with the survivors as they rebuild.

Dr. Tim headshot

Tim Doty, Psy.D.

twitter: @DrTimDoty


How to Talk to Your Kids About News and Tragic Events

Monday, April 15th, 2013

The following is reposted from our CFI Facebook page:

man listening to childIn light of the tragedy at the #bostonmarathon today, please be cautious how much of the news you take in around your children. We advise that children who are not of age to understand violence and tragedy (and really, who among us does understand it), can be insulated from the news as long as parents and caretakers shield them from the information. Obviously, at the speed of communication, many of our teens, pre-teens, and adult family members will have seen/heard about the violence and we should take care to console one another in the face of tragic events. For younger kids, there is no need to watch/listen to reports of violence in front of them. If they hear about the tragedy, take time to explain with child-appropriate wording. We will post resources ASAP.

Here are the resources we linked to on Facebook:

If you, a family member, a loved one, or a child are experiencing difficulty in response to tragedy in the news, we have staff available to help you manage traumatic stress reactions.  Give CFI a call to set up a time to meet with one of our professional therapists. 


Holidays for Newly Married Couples: Do’s and Don’ts

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Well, the wedding is over. You and your spouse have returned from your honeymoon in the Caribbean or Branson, Missouri or where ever you spent your first days of wedded bliss. Walking through the store on your weekly grocery trip you begin to see all of the displays of holiday decorations. You think, “Oh how exciting! Won’t our first Christmas together be so special?!” And then out of the blue a thought hits you like a cold chill. “We haven’t decided where we are going to spend the Holidays!” Maybe the realization comes when Mom calls and tells you she’s so excited to have you visit during Christmas. Maybe it’s when your spouse tells you his plans to take off early so you can drive to his parents’ house three states over. Whenever it hits you, you realize “This is not going to be an easy decision…”

One of the first dilemmas that a newly married couple encounters is the decision about where to spend the holidays. His family or Her family? Holidays, birthdays and anniversaries are typically times for family tradition and good memories. However, Thanksgiving and Christmas (or Hanukah or Kwanza) tend to have more of an emotional connection for each spouse as well as both sets of in-laws, therefore making this decision much more difficult.

Because of this emotional connection, the dilemma can be a source of conflict for a newlywed couple. However, with a little proactive planning, a couple can avoid conflict, maintain positive relationships with both families and continue to build new happy holiday memories. By the way, if you or someone you know is currently engaged, this would be an excellent topic of discussion during pre-marital preparation sessions.

Please begin this discussion with a few key understandings and assumptions. First, this is usually not an easy decision. You will need to take deliberate measures to avoid conflict regarding this issue. Second, remember that your spouse likely considers his/her family traditions as just as special as you do your own family’s traditions. Third, you and your spouse need to plan as a team. You will be tempted to side with your parents/family during this time, but avoid that temptation at all costs. And fourth, there’s always next year and many after that. Plans made this year can, and likely will, be altered for future holidays.

Let’s look at some “Do’s and Do not’s” to keep in mind when discussing this topic as a couple.

DO NOT Criticize your spouse’s parents or other family members.

DO NOT Criticize your spouse’s family traditions.

DO NOT Make plans or promises with your family before talking with your spouse.

DO NOT Blame your spouse if you decide together that you will not spend the holiday with your family.

DO NOT Tell your family that your spouse refuses to spend the holiday with them or insists on spending the holiday with his/her family instead.

DO Make plans for the holidays as far in advance as possible.

DO Speak to your spouse respectfully.

DO Use “I” statements as you share your ideas and tell your spouse about the special traditions that your family has.

DO Listen to your spouse with openness. Your number one goal during this discussion should be to understand your spouse’s point of view rather than winning and getting your way.

DO Tell your family your plans for the holidays assertively as a team. Assure them that you understand if they are disappointed. Let them know of any plans to alternate homes in the future so that they have something to look forward to.

Again, this decision may not be an easy one. (Did I mention that already?) Some factors to consider are:

How far do your families live from you?

How far do your families live from each other?

Do your families consider one holiday more special than the other? (for example, Is Thanksgiving celebrated more than Christmas? Does one family celebrate on Christmas Eve and the other Christmas Day? Etc.)

Are there extenuating circumstances, such as the death of one parent, or the return of a family member from military service that may influence your decision?

Above all, BE FLEXIBLE. One exercise that is incredibly helpful is brainstorming. Sit down with your spouse and write down as many options for dealing with the holiday dilemma as possible. Here are a few important rules for effective brainstorming:

  1. Make it fun. Write down even the wildest ideas. You never know, those wild ideas may be something to build from later.
  2. Suspend Judgment. Do not criticize any idea, no matter how unlikely. Remember, have fun and be flexible.
  3. The brainstorming session should be a short discussion. Just write each idea down and move to the next idea.  You’ll come back to review the list later.
  4. Once your list of ideas is complete, discuss and expand on the best ideas.

Here are a few ideas just to get you started on your brainstorming activity.

  1. Alternate holidays. Visit one family for Thanksgiving and the other for Christmas this year. Then switch for next year.
  2. Spend Christmas Eve with one family and Christmas Day with the other.
  3. Have both families over to your house for Thanksgiving and alternate Christmas
  4. Begin your own tradition and go to the Bahamas for Christmas.

After the brainstorming session, decide together which approach will work best for you and your spouse. Then, share your decision with your families as soon as possible. Be assertive when informing them of your decision.  Take the time to express understanding if your family has disappointment about your plans.  If you follow these tips, you will be able to avoid conflict in this area this year as well as years to come.

Chris Giles, M.S.

Holiday Family Challenges

Monday, November 12th, 2012

The holidays are stressful in many ways.  The increase in activities, shopping, travel, and extra costs are only the beginning of the list of stressors.   Holidays are also filled with increased family stressors, such as:

–       Increased family expectations to spend time together

–       Pressure to conform to family traditions

–       Seeing family members who may be kept at arms-length during the rest of the year

–       Reminders of family members who have died

–       Exposure to increased alcohol consumption among some family members

–       Children spending time out of school and at home

–       Reminders of family hurts and disappointments

–       Increased dealings with extended family and in-laws

Even the healthiest of families contain personalities and family members whose personal values clash, or where some family members’ behavior is difficult to be near. These pressures contribute to breakdowns in communication and increased conflict.

We strive to establish comfortable levels of distance and boundaries during the year.  This often collapses around the holidays when we change our routines and increase contact with our extended family.  Intrusions and offenses increase.  Occasionally, these gatherings result in conflict that includes unpleasant escalations and hurtful words.

Though it is probably impossible for most of us to eliminate family stresses and conflicts altogether, there are some ways to reduce stress.  Consider some of the following options:

–       Parents, prior to making holiday plans, can reconsider and re-negotiate what is best for their family, rather than simply doing the same things that have been expected in the past.

  • When visiting conflict-prone family members, make visits shorter
  • When traveling out of town, consider motels rather than cramming large numbers of people into small spaces.  This also allows for some private times to de-stress.
  • Some family confrontations are predictable.  It’s okay to intentionally plan to avoid unproductive and vulnerable situations.
  • When stressors and conflicts are building during a visit, go for a walk or a drive with safe people to decompress.

–        When unresolved conflicts with family members can be identified in advance, be pro-active.  Consider your best conflict-resolution skills and plan to use them in advance of holiday get-togethers.  When you have made your best effort to seek peace with problem family members and it hasn’t worked, consider consulting an expert on family conflict.  They may be able to suggest tools you may not have considered, or they may be able to mediate civil conversations (at CFI we frequently mediate conflicts over the holidays and any time during the year.)

–       If you have lost a significant family member recently, make time to celebrate and honor that person.  Do it in a way that is most meaningful to you.

–       Make the reason for the season central to your family get-togethers.  Christmas is about Christ and His great gift of His life to us through his birth on earth.  Even when surrounded by others who may not share your faith, renew your own celebration of Christ with those who do share your faith.  Pick out verses from scripture that speak to your situation and that assist you to have a fresh perspective and renewed mind, such as:

  • Regarding Christmas:
    • The Christmas Story from Matthew 1
  • The importance of married people setting limits with family:
    • Genesis 2:24 (NIV)  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
  • Dealing With Anger and Conflict:
    • Proverbs 15:1  (NLTSE)  A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.
    • Proverbs 18:13 (MSG)  Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.
    • Romans 12:18 (NIV)  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
    • Proverbs 22:24 (NIV)  Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered,
  • The Goal To Love:
    • Ephesians 4:15 (NLTSE) Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
    • I Tim. 1:5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
    • I Cor. 13:4-8 (NIV) [4] Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. [5] It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. [6] Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. [7] It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.[8] Love never fails.
  • We, like Jesus, need time to reflect, refresh, and pray:
    • Mark 1:35 (NIV)  Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
  • Finding Peace in Even the Most Stressful  Circumstances:
    • Phil. 4:4-8 [4] Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! [5] Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. [6] Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. [7] And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.[8] Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. [9] Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Merry Christ-mas!

Dale R. Doty, Ph.D.

Dr. Tim Interviewed by FOX23 About OKC Thunder

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Dr. Tim Doty was interviewed last month by FOX23’s Adam Paluka about fans’ reactions to OKC Thunder losses.

Here’s an excerpt:

Tulsa psychologist Dr. Tim Doty says the way many people in Green County felt when the Thunder lost Game 3 of the NBA Finals Sunday night is called a “shared grief reaction.”

Dr. Doty says because there is just one big league team in the entire state of Oklahoma, this communal feeling of disappointment and frustration with the result of Game 3 is hitting Okies harder than usual.

Holiday Stress- CFI Video Podcast posted on YouTube

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Dr. Tim Doty, Psy.D. of Christian Family Institute in Tulsa, Oklahoma shares some quick tips about how to stay healthy during the holiday season. He discusses continuing to place an importance on healthy exercise, eating and sleep as well as taking joy in the season.

Feel free to share this link with your friends and family.  Here is the  YouTube link.  Or if you prefer, Vimeo link.

Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress

Monday, December 14th, 2009



With our overcommitted schedules, it is often difficult to avoid stressing
out over the holidays.  Here are a few ideas to help keep you sane during
this stressful time.

  • Take care of yourself.  Remember to eat well, sleep well, and exercise.  You will have much more energy to make things special for your family.  Have healthy snacks on hand to curb the holiday munching on cookies and candies.
  • Set limits and a budget.  Make a list of all of the people you have to buy for and how much you plan to spend on each person.  Keep a running list of the gifts you have purchased. This will keep you from overspending.
  • Be realistic.  Sit down with a calendar and set realistic goals.  How much time do you have each week to devote to shopping and cooking?  Block out time on your schedule to prioritize the most important things.
  • Do not expect perfection.  Unrealistic expectations are a major cause of stress.
  • Delegate.  Ask for help with shopping and food preparation.  Ask everyone to bring along a dish to family get-togethers.  This spreads the expense and the time.
  • Prioritize.  Remember that you don’t have to attend every open house and holiday party.  Practice saying, “No thank you.  We already have plans for that date, but, thank you for the invitation.”
  • Don’t forget to breathe.  Take three deep cleansing breaths each morning and each evening.  This will help keep the oxygen flowing and you will recall this skill during times of high stress.

Jamie Brandon, M.S., LMFT