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Respectful Ways to End a Contentious Conversation

By Anger, General No Comments

One thing we all have in common is that we don’t always agree with one another. Over time we’ve come to accept that there are times when we must respectfully disagree with someone and move forward. Unfortunately, it’s become increasingly difficult to agree to disagree in today’s divided America.

Television and social media reflect the strain political disagreements has placed on people with their family, friends and co-workers. This has only served to magnify the division, making it seemingly impossible to have a civil conversation with someone you don’t agree with. An argument with a loved one or family member could cause you many problems, and an argument with a boss or co-worker could cost you your job. If you find yourself in a heated exchange and you need to diffuse it fast, here are some ways you can politely end that difficult conversation.

Listen

When we’re arguing, typically we’re not listening, but only wanting to be heard. If you want to end an argument respectfully, stay quiet and let the person vent without interruption. You will want to argue with them or defend yourself or your point of view, but if you want to end the conversation on a positive note, it’s best to let them get in the last word.

Ask Questions

Use your natural curiosity to ask questions of the person you’re arguing with. Do so without condescension or sarcasm, but with genuine interest. Even if you already know the answer (or don’t care to hear what it is), asking questions will diffuse the argument by giving the other person an opportunity to share their viewpoint with you. You can then end the conversation politely by saying something like, “That’s an interesting perspective. I never thought about it that way.”

Find Common Ground

To end an argument on a positive note, you can steer the conversation toward things you both agree on. It’ll be easier to end the discussion on a positive note. If they try to steer the conversation back to the heated issue, change the subject to something positive, or let them speak then say “I can respect that. Thanks for sharing your point of view with me.”

Remember the Golden Rule

The old adage “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a common saying for a reason. Treating other people as you would like to be treated is one of life’s basic principles. When you vehemently disagree with someone, it’s difficult to treat them with kindness. But by having empathy for others, you’ll develop character and patience; qualities that will serve you for a lifetime.

 

Are you struggling to get along with friends, family or co-workers? A licensed mental health professional can help equip you with the skills you need to improve your relationships. Call my office today and let’s schedule a time to talk.

4 Tips for Raising Healthy Eaters

By General No Comments

You know that good nutrition is important for your child’s physical health. But did you know it’s also critical for their mental health as well? Hippocrates, the father of medicine said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

With that in mind, here are 4 tips for raising healthy eaters.

1. Give Your Kids Whole Foods – Not Processed

As much as possible, serve your kids fresh foods free of preservatives, additives, and excess sugar. To do this, you’ve got to read those labels.

For instance, your child, like many others, may want to eat peanut butter sandwiches for lunch every day. But most commercial peanut butters typically include added preservatives and copious amounts of sugar. Try and find peanut butter made only from fresh peanuts and no additives.

2. Healthy Breakfasts

Starting your child’s day with a healthy breakfast high in protein and whole grains and low in sugar will set them up for a day of learning and physical activity. While it’s hard to get the family together for breakfast, sitting down with them to eat is a great way to get them to gobble up their eggs instead of lamenting over the bowl of sugary cereal they can’t have. Plus, this morning time is a great opportunity to talk with them about their goals and hopes for the day.

3. Essential Omega Fatty Acids

A new study suggests that supplementing kids diets with omega-3 and omega-6 acids may improve problem behavior in children and adolescents with ADHD. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are called “essential” acids because the body needs them to build healthy cells and maintain brain and nerve function.

Omega-3 acids can be found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, as well as from walnuts and flaxseeds. Other nuts such as cashews and almonds (try almond butter instead of peanut butter) contain omega-6 as well as omega-3. Try the classic tuna fish sandwich for lunches and sprinkling chopped nuts onto oatmeal in the morning.

4. Let Your Kids help You Prepare Meals

People who prepare fresh meals made from whole foods tend to be healthier than people who eat primarily packaged foods. It’s important to teach kids early that taking a little time to prepare a meal (instead of microwaving a frozen dinner) will ultimately lead to a healthier and happier life.

Kids love to help in the kitchen, so invite yours to help prepare family meals. Show them how quick and easy it can be to create a healthy dinner.

While good nutrition can go a long way in helping children deal with and overcome mental health challenges, such as ADHD, sometimes speaking with a family therapist can also help a family to communicate more effectively and begin healing.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

Let’s Go for a Walk: How Regular Exercise Can Aid Mental Health

By General No Comments

By now, most of us know that exercise offers numerous health benefits. From maintaining an ideal weight, to reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis, moving our body every day improves the length and quality of our lives.

But not all of us recognize just how important exercise is to our mental health.

Beyond Hormone Release

Most of us have had that rush after a hike or trip to the gym. We feel energetic and even happy after we exercise. Of course, we now know that when we exercise, our body releases “feel-good” hormones such as endorphins and enkephalins. These hormones instantly improve our mood and outlook on life.

But is that all exercise is good for? A quick fix? An instant mood pick-me-up via a hormonal rush? Or can exercise effect our brains and mental health on a fundamental level?

A study conducted by researchers from Duke University compared the antidepressant effects of aerobic exercise to the popular antidepressant medicine sertraline, as well as a placebo sugar pill. After four months the researcher found that those subjects who exercised regularly experienced the greatest antidepressant effect.

In other words, exercise was scientifically proven to be just as, if not more effective than prescription medications at relieving symptoms of depression.

How is this possible?

It turns out, regular exercise increases the volume of certain brain regions through better blood supply and an increase in neurotrophic factors and neurohormones that support neuron signaling, growth, and connections.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that exercise leads to the creation of new hippocampal neurons, the hippocampus being incredibly important for learning, memory creation, and emotion regulation.

So, How Much Exercise Do You Need?

Psychiatrist Madhukar Trivedi of UT Southwestern Medical Center has shown that three or more sessions per week of aerobic exercise or resistance training, for 45 to 60 minutes per session, can help treat even chronic depression. The key here is regularity, so it’s important to focus on the kind of exercise you do.

If you don’t like going to the gym, then find another activity. Hike, bike, swim, or dance. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get your body moving for around an hour a few times per week and you do so consistently.

In order for all of us to be entirely healthy, that means physically as well as mentally healthy, it’s important to incorporate exercise into our every day life.

4 Reasons to Start Therapy in 2021

By General No Comments

If you’re like most people, you brought in the new year with a list of resolutions. And if you’re like most people, all of those resolutions have one goal: to better your life in some way. Whether that is through eating right, working out, learning a new language or decluttering your home office, resolutions are made to help us live our best lives.

In all of these instances (health, weight loss, decluttering) therapy can help.

You see, most people believe mental health therapy is something you seek when there is a major crisis; when we need help navigating depression or anxiety; when we’re going through a big transition, or when our marriage is on the verge of collapse.

And while therapy can absolutely help with all of these scenarios, it offers numerous benefits you may not have thought of:

Therapy Can Boost Physical Health

Different therapy protocols have been shown to improve different physical symptoms associated with stress. This includes a reduction in migraines, digestive upset, better appetite and improved sleep.

Builds Self-Awareness

Many of us think we are running our lives when really, our lives are being run by subconscious programming from early childhood. Therapy helps clients understand where feelings, beliefs and behaviors really come from. Through treatment, individuals can become more self-aware and empowered to take responsibility for the lives they are creating. In this way, THEY create their lives instead of their lives being something that is happening TO them.

Explore Hidden Desires

Of course, self-awareness also means becoming aware of your passions and desires. Many people spend a majority of their life doing what others want instead of what THEY want. And many people simply don’t KNOW what they want in life.
Therapy can help you become an archeologist of sorts, digging into your heart, mind and soul to uncover what it is you value, love, desire, need and want.

Therapy Helps You Reach Goals

It’s the new year and we all have new goals that we are hoping to reach. Well, therapy can help you reach those goals!
A trained therapist can help you set achievable goals as well as help you outline the micro steps you’ll need to take to get there. They can also then act as coach and cheerleader, supporting your efforts to reach your goals.
Yes, therapy is something that you can turn to for depression, addiction, and help with your crumbling relationships. But therapy can help with so much more. If you’d like to explore treatment options in the new year, please get in touch with me.

SOURCES:

How to Find the Right Therapist in Your Town or City

By General No Comments

It’s a new year and many of us have committed to making changes that will allow our best selves to shine through. And in most instances, we know exactly how to get the help we need to facilitate this change.

For instance, if we want to get into good physical shape, we know to head to our local gym and get help from a personal trainer. If we want to eat better to prevent disease, we ask our doctor to refer us to a licensed nutritionist.

And when we want to work on our mental and emotional health, we know we should seek support from a licensed mental health counselor. But finding the right one can seem overwhelming to many and stop them from getting the help they need.

With this in mind, here are some tips on finding the right therapist in your local town or city:

Ask for Personal Recommendations

There was a time the topic of mental health was considered taboo. But luckily those days are behind us and many people are now open to seeking therapy. You may very well have a friend or family member who has or currently is working with a therapist they love.

Ask Your Doctor

If you already have a good relationship with a doctor, dentist, or anyone in the medical field who honors your confidentiality, they are a great resource to tap into about a mental health professional referral since they are connected to many people in the medial field.

Use Your Insurance Company

If you happen to be one of those lucky individuals with an insurance company that has a stellar customer service department, you might want to ask them to suggest a therapist in your network whom they have vetted.

Do an Internet Search

If you have no one you can personally ask, then you will need to perform an internet search for therapists in your local area. One of the best places to start your search is a website called Psychology Today. This site has a comprehensive list of therapists from around the country. To be listed on here requires a minimum of professional qualifications. In other words, a therapist cannot be listed on this site unless and until they can prove they have a legitimate advanced degree in their discipline and an up-to-date professional license or certification.

The beginning of the year offers all of us so much potential. Let this year be the year you deal with any issues you may be having so you can begin to live your best life!

If you live in the area and would like to explore treatment options, please reach out to me. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

SOURCES:

5 Signs You Aren’t Practicing Self-Care

By General, Self-Esteem No Comments

Self-care is complex. Anyone can tell you to do it, but only you can bestow the gift of self-care onto yourself. But before you can begin bestowing, you’ve got to first recognize that you are worthy of caring for yourself as you do others.

How do you do this? By noticing the ways in which you are currently not taking very good care of yourself.

Here are 5 signs you aren’t practicing self-care. If any seem familiar, it is time to make more time for yourself:

1. You Get Sick More Often

When we don’t take proper care of ourselves, our health takes a big hit. Lack of proper sleep and nutrition can lead to a taxed immune system, which in turn makes you vulnerable to infections, colds, flu, and other immune-related medical problems.

2. Increased Moodiness

What happens when a child does not get the care and attention they deserve? They begin to act out in order to get any attention. In much the same way, a lack of self-care and feeling of unimportance can lead to increased irritability. Leaving this unchecked can result in personal and professional relationships being negatively affected.

3. Unpleasant Physical Symptoms

What can start out as unpleasant (and even scary) physical symptoms, can be a sign of poor self-care. Symptoms may include dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pains, heart palpitations, abdominal pain, headaches, and fainting spells. All of these symptoms should be checked out by your healthcare provider immediately.

4. A Feeling of Isolation

When you feel you don’t deserve to care for yourself, you naturally feel unworthy of enjoying other aspects of life, like socializing and a true connection to friends and family. This can lead to a detachment of others and a sense of isolation.

5. Depression

Feelings of worthlessness can snowball into feelings of hopelessness and depression. If you have noticed yourself slipping farther and farther into a depression, it is important that you seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you recognize where the darkness has come from, and how to break through back into the light.

If you or a loved one is experiencing depression, or would simply like some help practicing self-care, please be in touch with me. I would be more than happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

How Counseling Can Help You Reach Your Goals in the New Year

By General No Comments

If you struggle to set goals, let alone reach them, you are definitely not alone. In fact, it is thought that roughly 92% of the population has found it hard to stick to goals. This constant cycle of trying to set beneficial life or health goals, but never quite reaching them, can ultimately lead to depression.

That’s because reaching goals is empowering and helps us feel we are in charge of our life. When we don’t reach goals, we feel powerless and even hopeless that our lives can change for the better!

How Counseling Can Help

Just as you must follow a recipe to the proverbial “T” to end up with something edible, there is a formula that must be followed to the “T” to set reachable goals. This formula is often used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help individuals set and reach goals that will help them change behaviors and better their lives.

Goal setting has actually been shown to be a useful tool for those suffering from depression according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE. The study found that individuals suffering from depression had more trouble setting goals and were far less likely to believe they could reach them.

The study found that those who were depressed had more difficulties setting goals and they were also less likely to believe they would achieve those goals. The participants also tended to set avoidance goals rather than approach goals.

An avoidance goal is one you set to avoid a negative outcome. “I want to lose weight so I don’t develop type 2 diabetes.” An approach goal, on the other hand, is one that you set to ensure a positive outcome. “I want to lose weight to have more energy!”

The study shows that counseling can help people with depression set and achieve realistic and achievable goals as well as help them stay on track mentally in pursuit of that goal.

The goal-setting formula used by most CBT therapists is as follows:

  • Identify your goal.
  • Choose a starting point.
  • Identify the steps required to achieve the goal.
  • Take that first step and get started.

A therapist can help you with each one of these steps. From ensuring you select realistic goals that are approach goals, to helping you identify where you are in relation to your goal, breaking down the goal into smaller, actionable steps, and helping you take that very first one, a counselor or coach will be in your corner, helping you every step of the way.

Make 2021 the year you reach those goals that will help you live your best life. If you’d like some help getting there, please get in touch with me. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

 

SOURCES:

Could Your Family Benefit from Family Counseling?

By General, Parenting No Comments

Does your family love and support one another unconditionally? Do you have fun together? Do you find talking with your spouse and children is easy and effective?

If you had to really pause and think about your answers to these questions, there’s a chance your family may not be as cohesive as you once thought or hoped. And that’s okay, not every family acts like something out of a 1950s television sitcom. Most have their own fair share of problems.

If you’ve never considered working with a therapist before, here are some benefits of family therapy:

Improved Communication

There aren’t many families out there that have flawless communication skills. It’s actually far more common for family members to feel that they can’t open up to one another. This of course leads to a disconnect between spouses or parents and children.

A family therapist can facilitate effective and respectful communication between your family members.

You’ll Understand Your Kids Better

Do you find yourself going slightly insane in an attempt to understand why your one child lies so much? Are you scratching your head as to why your other child is constantly hitting your first child?

We all think because our kids are made from our DNA that we’ll have some magical insights into why they do what they do. Nope. The truth is, most parents are in a constant state of stupefaction over their child’s behavior.

Family therapy will help your child feel safe enough to express their thoughts and feelings, giving you many A-ha moments.

Help Your Kids with Self-Esteem Issues

Healthy self-esteem is the foundation for a successful life. But unfortunately, many kids grow up feeling less than confident or good about themselves. A child with self-esteem issues may be the product of a parent with self-esteem issues.

The great news is, a family therapist can help both children and their parents build up their self-esteem to become happier individuals and, a happier family.

Help You Deal with Grief

Whether it’s a divorce or the loss of a loved one, most families are ill-equipped to handle loss, especially sudden loss. A family therapist can guide each one of your family members through the stages of grief so they can heal.

If you’re interested in exploring treatment options, please get I touch with me. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

 

SOURCES:

Pets Are Better Than Medication

By General No Comments

Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling an emptiness we didn’t ever know we had.”

– Thom Jones

For many of us, our home is just a house unless there is something with four legs and a tail sharing the space with us. Our pets are not only cuddly and cute, they give us unconditional love.

But it turns out our pets actually offer us more than “just” unconditional love; they seem to also have the ability to help our physical and mental well-being.

Research has found that the bond we share with our animals can do everything from improve our cardiovascular health to lower our cholesterol and decrease our blood pressure.

Beyond these physical health benefits, our animal companions can help our mental and emotional life as well. Here are some ways your pet is better than medication.

Our Pets Teach Us Mindfulness

Have you ever just watched your dog or cat find a swath of sun as it streams into your house in the afternoon? They seem to luxuriate in the warmth and energy of the sun in those moments. Nothing else matters to them but enjoying the feeling of the sun on their body.

Our pets can teach us how to be more mindful and enjoy every moment of our life if we let them. Studies have shown that mindful meditation, which simply means to be fully in the present moment, helps alleviate stress and anxiety.

Let your pets be an example and try and spend more time just “being” instead of “doing” so much.

Pets Relieve Stress

Let’s face it, each of us faces our fair share of stress in life. But research has shown that our dogs and cats act as de-stressors. This is why a growing number of companies such as Atlantic Health System, Mars Inc., Amazon, and Etsy, to name a few, are allowing employees to bring their dog to work.

College students are a segment of the population that also feels a lot of stress. When the University of British Columbia brought therapy dogs on campus, allowing a group of 246 students to pet and cuddle them, the students reported their stress levels decreased significantly after the interaction.

Pets Offer Empathy

There are numerous accounts of war veterans who, when they experience pain and agitation, are comforted by their service dog who will run into the room, somehow sensing their need for empathy.

Recent findings from the University of Vienna suggest that dogs can sense emotions and even differentiate between good and bad ones. There are numerous reports of cats living in nursing homes, sensing when someone is about to pass and going to lie on their bed.

The long and short of it is, when we are feeling tired, scared, sad and alone, our pets are there to remind us that we are not alone and that they love us very much. For those of you who have pets, hold them tight and show them your appreciation. For those of you that don’t have pets, it may be time to take a trip to the local shelter.

 

Coping with the Holidays After Loss

By Depression, General, Grief No Comments

For many people, the holidays are about spending time with loved ones. But for those who have suffered a recent loss, the holidays can be painful and isolating.

Here are some ways you can cope with the holidays after a loss:

Recognize You are Not Alone

It’s easy to feel as though you are the only one experiencing great pain during the holiday season. Everywhere you turn, people seem to be happy, putting up decorations, buying gifts and making holiday plans. It’s important to recognize the truth right now, and that is that you are not alone. There are people all over the world who have experienced loss, some perhaps very recently.

Honor Your Pain

No one expects you to feel joyful and in the holiday mood right now, so don’t feel as though you must pretend for others’ sake. It is very important that you honor whatever emotions you may be experiencing, whether it’s sadness, anger, regret or a combination.

Take Your Time

The holidays are usually a busy time for people. There is much to accomplish and many events to host and/or attend. You do not have to keep your normal schedule this year. You simply will not have the mental or emotional stamina for it. So take the time you need. If you don’t feel like attending many (or any) events this year, that is fine. People will understand.

Help Others in Need

One of the worst parts about losing a loved one is the feeling that we no longer have any control over our lives. Loss makes us feel helpless. One way to fight this feeling is to help others who are in need. As a bonus, connecting with others who are hurting can often be a salve on our hearts as well.

When Don’t These Guidelines Apply?

If you have children, it’s important to understand that they are looking to you right now to know what life will be like from now on. To a child, the loss of a parent or sibling can frighten them terribly. Though you may not at all feel like celebrating the holidays, doing so helps your child know that life does go on and that there is space in your life to feel joy along with sadness.

 

If you have experienced loss and would like to explore grief counseling, please be in touch. You don’t have to suffer alone.