What are some things you are most thankful for this year?
"Gratitude can be a natural antidepressant. When we take the time to ask what we are grateful for, certain neural circuits are activated. Production of dopamine and serotonin increases, and these neurotransmitters then travel neural pathways to the “bliss” center of the brain — similar to the mechanisms of many antidepressants. Practicing gratitude, therefore, can be a way to naturally create the same effects of medications and create feelings of contentment" (Emily Fletcher).
Challenge: Take some time today and make a list of all the things you're thankful for. Try to maintain this exercise everyday for a whole month.
When we look into receiving therapy, we may carry some unrealistic expectations of what therapy is and what we are wanting to receive from it.
Therapy is not a magic pill where the therapist is able to heal you from the things you are currently going through. (Although I, along with many other therapists sometimes wish we had such powers). The therapist is there to support you, reflect with you in order to raise self-awareness, provide ways to consider how to challenge negative destructive unhealthy ways of thinking, point out potential blind-spots, provide coping skills and tools, and even help provide insight (in collaboration) with the client on their situation.
It's been shown that a client's motivation for change is one of the most important factors for effective therapy. All that to say that client's are not always at a stage of being willing to "change," because of a trauma they are going through, or because of recent events that is causing them to experience feelings of depression and anxiety, or because simply, they're just not ready. And all that is ok! Just don't expect a therapist to push you towards change because it's been shown that a client must be ready for that step before the therapist. A good therapist will check in with the client, and make sure they are not going too far ahead, but rather, side by side. That is to say that the therapist may have a general roadmap, suggesting and directing in certain ways, but it will ultimately be the client's decision to make a step in that direction.
Healthy communication takes practice and planning. Here are some tips to help you get started.
· Use "I statements.” Say things like, "I feel upset when you ___" instead of, "You're making me upset." Steer clear of blaming or accusing them of purposely trying to hurt you.
· Be clear and direct. No one can read your mind, so tell them what you think, feel, and need.
· Don’t push aside your feelings. Bring up things that bother you early on so they don’t build up and become bigger problems.
· Build trust. Unless someone has given you a reason not to, believing that they’re telling you the truth and assuming that they mean well helps establish trust.
· Ask questions. If you don't understand what they're saying or why, ask questions. Don’t make assumptions.
· Talk in person. It's really easy to misunderstand or misinterpret a text message or email. Talking in person (or through video chat) will allow you to hear their tone of voice and see their body language.
· Don’t yell. Getting angry or defensive during an argument is totally normal. But if you’re feeling upset or angry, take a break until you both cool off.
· Be willing to apologize. Everyone makes mistakes. Saying you’re sorry (and meaning it) goes a long way in helping to move on after a fight.
All these tips are easier said than done. Entering into couple's counseling can help partners understand each other's blind spots with the goal of increasing empathy and understanding. I have found that the issue for most people is not that they don't know what to do, but rather having the ability to change. Book a free consult and invest back into your relationship today.
(Taken from Therapistaid.com, 2012)
Recognize your Anger Early: If you’re yelling, it’s probably too late. Learn the warning signs that you’re getting angry so you can change the situation quickly. Some common signs are feeling hot, raising voices, balling of fists, shaking, and arguing.
Take a Timeout: Temporarily leave the situation that is making you angry. If other people are involved, explain to them that you need a few minutes alone to calm down. Problems usually aren’t solved when one or more people are angry.
Deep Breathing: Take a minute to just breathe. Count your breaths: four seconds inhaling, four seconds holding your breath, and four seconds exhaling. Really keep track of time, or you might cheat yourself! The counting helps take your mind off the situation as well.
Exercise: Exercise serves as an emotional release. Chemicals released in your brain during the course of exercise create a sense of relaxation and happiness.
Express your Anger: Once you’ve calmed down, express your frustration. Try to be assertive, but not confrontational. Expressing your anger will help avoid the same problems in the future.
Think of the Consequences: What will be the outcome of your next anger-fueled action? Will arguing convince the other person that you’re right? Will you be happier after the fight?
Visualization: Imagine a relaxing experience. What do you see, smell, hear, feel, and taste? Maybe you’re on a beach with sand between your toes and waves crashing in the distance. Spend a few minutes imagining every detail of your relaxing scene.
My 7 and 5 year old boys, just began school after an unprecedented year following covid and the pandemic. Days before starting, they were in tears at times, anxious and worried saying, "I just want to be at home with mommy and daddy and play with my toys."
Change and transition is hard for all of us, especially after such a challenging year coupled with the uncertainties that lay ahead. But one thing that I've noticed in my boys is what I can remind myself of during hard times, resilience.
It's amazing that my boys are learning to express their feelings whether good or bad, that they can still choose to take one step ahead although there is fear. They do go through their tantrums and over-exaggerations, but like all of us, they're simply trying to manage and cope with their stressors and worries. As I try my best to support them and remind them that mommy and daddy are there for them, I think they're reminded that they're not alone. And it is that added strength that moves them to gravitate towards the uncertainties of who the other kids will be in their class, or what they'll eat for lunch, or if their teacher will be nice. And soon, after a few days of adjusting to change and testing the waters, they're doing it, they are building resilience.
Seeing my boys encourages me to see the challenges that confront me each day as an opportunity to build resilience. They remind me to be vulnerable to admit my struggles and express how I'm feeling. They remind me to seek out support when needed. Most of all, they remind me to simply take things one day at a time.
There is so much research you can do on the topic of depression. As a mental health professional, I wanted to just highlight a few things in case you are needing help navigating depression for yourself or a loved one.
1) Depression isn't just a biological issue--sure there are scenarios where your chemical imbalances can play a role in effecting mood but often doctors will be quick to mention this as a way to encourage the use of anti-depressants. But unfortunately, there is no magic pill in treating depression. I have recommended certain clients in the past to look into the use of anti-depressants but ONLY when their daily functioning is severely impacted by their mood.
2) The social and cultural factors that impact one's mood is a core reason many suffer with depression. This can be multifaceted but there are many contributing factors such as childhood upbringing, narratives and beliefs we come to believe about ourselves, etc that need to be resolved in order to help one's symptoms of depression to be relieved. This is where counseling plays a significant role in helping.
3) By nature, we are created to be individuals with purpose and hope. Someone who is struggling with depression often suffers with having a lack of purpose and hope--that is not to say that this is a weakness on their part. But through counseling, one can navigate why/how they have arrived at the point they are at today.
Book a free consult today for yourself or a loved one to get started in receiving the help needed.
Simone Biles has had tremendous success in her gymnastics career, known as being the most decorated American gymnast in history. In 2021, she is becoming known for her bravery and courage outside of the sport by prioritizing her own mental health. As a result, she is making world-wide impact on continuing the journey of breaking down the stigma of mental health care.
-using the word "but" as it can invalidate a sincere apology. (I'm sorry that I...but")
-using the word "if" as it can suggest that a hurt never happened. (I'm sorry if you felt hurt...)
-justifications and explanations as it can muddy up an apology and cause confusion.
-generalizing with vague wording as it can sidestep taking responsibility.
-first listen to the person's hurt and understand it from their perspective. Repeating is a great way to communicate that you understand and can also clear up any misunderstandings. (I heard you say....)
-own up to your wrong doing and assume responsibility.
-be specific in your apology for the action and words that offended the other person.
-make proactive attempts to rectify a conflict if you are in a position to do so by "making up" for the wrong doing.
Having two boys is exhausting! Not only do they have bounds of energy which make it difficult to keep up with, I've noticed that they don't always do what I ask them to do. No surprise there, yet it often catches me by surprise as if they are ALWAYS supposed to be nicely kept, obedient boys. Of course discipline and boundaries are an essential part of parenting, but what doesn't need to be mixed within, is frustration, anger and anxiety.
Operating from a place of calm is often the hardest challenges I face as a parent. I realize that I can often be bound up by my own anxieties and frustrations, which can easily spill into the way I parent. That results in control issues, yelling more than I should, and tearing down with my words as oppose to building up in correction.
Recalibration is something I always have to do--and for me, my faiths acts as that recalibration for me as it allows me to see myself and my kids in a way that allows me to be the best parent I can be.
Simply put, gaslighting is a technique that someone uses that can make you question your perception of reality. It is a form of psychological abuse whether the person intends to do this consciously or unconsciously. As a result, you can leave a conversation second guessing yourself and how you feel. They may say things like, "you're so insensitive," or "it's not that big of a deal," or "how could you think such a thing."
If you have experienced being gaslit, remember that you're not being too sensitive, and that more than likely you've just not felt seen, heard or understood. Remind yourself that you're not overreacting but that more than likely you've been triggered by a wound or a past trauma.